Wow. I often worry about reading a book that has a lot of hype around it because I fear that I will not love it as much as others do. I should not have been worried about this book. It is beautiful. As Ricki said, I found myself rereading portions of the text just because of how well the verse flowed. By the end of this book, you will wish that you were Woodson’s friend and that you you could write as well as her. The stories she tells are so true and heartfelt that you live her life along with her through the pages. You experience with her the hardship of growing up in the 1960s and 70s during the Civil Rights movement; the challenge of religion and finding the truth in it; the loss, addition, and conflict of family and everything that comes with these changes; and trying to find an identity as a person, sister, daughter, student and a writer. It is only a truly powerful, well-written book that can make you feel all of these elements.(less)
This is a special book. First, because of the characters who tell the story. K.C. is a young girl with learning disabilities which have caused her to hate reading, writing, and school. Nawra is a refugee in Darfur who continues to have an optimistic view of the world even after she has been surrounded by horrors that I can’t even imagine. Both of these girls are not represented very often in books, and they are both so important to know. Through this book, the reader gets to see the intensity of the situation in Sudan and refugees’ power in overcoming however they can. They also get to see the brilliance of students with learning disabilities. There are so many students in our school just like K.C., and too many of their peers would judge them by their struggles instead of by their heart and soul.
Second, this book is special because of the way the author is able to intertwine these two stories in a flawless way, and a way that keeps the reader engaged in both stories simultaneously. Third, the lyrical writing of Whitman makes this story not only interesting and important, but also beautiful to read. Last, the power of this book lies in the book, and how the book will change those who read it.(less)
This book is about depression, friendship, poetry, music, loyalty, teachers, and family.. It is amazing that through Sam’s interactions with Luis and introduction to poetry, he goes from trying to be invisible on purpose to having a whole different view of his surroundings. Luis changes how he sees the world because Luis ends up being everything he thought he wasn’t.
This book surprised me. I didn’t know what it was about when I started, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. At first Sam seems to just be a slacker that is hard to connect with, and I thought it was going to be similar to many other books with a bully that I’ve read. But it ended up being like Luis was to Sam–everything I thought it wasn’t going to be, and it was so unpredictable. From page 1, the author had me. The images just jumped out at me. And that was just the beginning of me being thoroughly impressed with the book. Both of the voices in this book resonated with me for a long time after (As much as I end up liking Sam in this book, I think Luis may be one of my favorite characters ever. He has a beautiful voice, and I felt privileged to meet him.). It was one of those books that I had to let marinate before I could pick up another one because it was still banging around inside of my head (and I couldn’t stop hearing Sam and Luis’s voices).(less)
This book makes you feel. As Yaqui fills Piddy’s world with fear, Piddy begins to lose herself and get caught up in the terror. As a reader, you find yourself afraid with Piddy whenever she leaves her house, goes to school, or even thinks about doing either. A book that can do this is brilliant. Meg Medina has a way of sucking you into the world, and I think it is her use of imagery throughout. You can see the characters, hear the music Piddy listens to, feel the fear, etc. And Piddy’s voice is so crystal clear, that is something she never loses. When you finish reading, you can still hear Piddy’s voice in your head. I also feel that this is a wonderful diverse book in a time when the YA community is calling for diverse books (http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/). This one should be in high school classrooms, and should be discussed as it has such important themes and beautiful writing (no matter what anyone thinks about it! http://megmedina.com/2013/09/04/autho...).(less)
Imogen is broken and she must overcome this feeling of hopelessness that surrounds her constantly. What an intense way to introduce us to a character? We then go on a journey with Imogen as she tries to rebuild her life, her memories, her friendships, and her family.
At first I struggled with this book because the timeline was choppy, and Imogen was hard to pinpoint. But then, through the flashbacks, Imogen starts to become clearer to us, the reader, and Imogen’s memories start to become clearer to her. Then you are so sucked into wanting to know everything, and you can only know everything if you stick with the book and see Imogen’s memories as they are revealed. This is a pretty brilliant tactic in making the reader feel like they are in the protagonist’s brain.
Bruised actually reminds me a lot of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Both young ladies are thrown into a tragedy, let that tragedy eat away at their hearts and souls, and have to figure out how to find themselves again. Truly a remarkable journey to go on with a character. And, like Speak, there are some intense topics/themes dealt with in Bruised that will definitely grab a teen’s attention: sibling rivalry, a disabled parent, disconnected family, friendship, sex, love, survival, and martial arts. It is one of those books that teens need to read, so they can learn to become resilient and to overcome whatever is in their path.(less)
*A very unique idea and executed very well. I loved how the back story of the characters were revealed through "shots" from the past documentaries. Ea...more*A very unique idea and executed very well. I loved how the back story of the characters were revealed through "shots" from the past documentaries. Each scene gave a little bit of insight. I also really connected with the main character who was just trying to figure out who she was and didn't know if she wanted the whole world to be part of her search. (less)
This graphic novel does for Shakespeare’s text what Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo and Juliet film did for the play. It makes it so accessible and helps the reader SEE what is going on in the play so that the Shakespeare’s words are easier to interpret. This graphic novel should be in every classroom and school library and should be used whenever the play is. I also found Garth Hinds’s afterword very fascinating and gives a deeper look into Verona.(less)
I will say that I struggled a bit with getting used to the British lingo, but once I did, it was free sailing. I loved Pearl. She was someone who I wish was my friend. She loved books, had a great imagination, was empathetic, and overall a good person. Jodie was harder to swallow. She was going through what many girls go through in their mid-teens, trying to find herself, and I wish the book had been from her point of view because I wish I understood her more. Instead, we see her from Pearl’s point of view and Pearl loves her sister, but just doesn’t understand her. Also, Pearl, once they reach the boarding school, is working on finding herself and finally making friends. Now, the one person that I probably flat out disliked was their mother. I’d love to talk to someone who has read the book to see if you took her the same way I did…
Also, just for fair warning, this book does elicit many different types of emotions—be ready!(less)
World War II is the most infamous war and it is taught to all students at some point in their career. They learn about Pearl Harbor and the Atomic Bomb and the Holocause and Hitler, but way too often what happened here in the US is not discussed. All of the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the US (62% were US citizens) were interned because our fear overwhelmed us so much that it was the only solution that seemed plausible. I felt that the fear that was felt after the Pearl Harbor bombings is very similar to what was felt 12 years ago today.
Barbed Wire Baseball does discuss the internment camps, but I think that the theme of this book is not about the camps but about how a love of something can turn a poor situation into something else if you are determined.
The story is just one part of the book. What moves it to a higher level is the author and illustrator. Marissa Moss has someone captured the tone of the story. It begins with hopefulness then to hopelessness and finally back to joyousness. Her ability to manipulate the tone throughout makes the story touch the reader even more. Yuko Shimizu’s illustrations are done with a Japenese calligraphy brush and ink adding to the connection the reader will feel with the story. Just beautiful.(less)
In 1856, John Price, his cousin, and a friend risked their lives to cross the Ohio River in hopes of finding freedom on the other side. As slaves, leaving Kentucky and making their way into Ohio was the only way to even hope for freedom. However, the real goal was to get to Canada since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 stated that slaves could still be returned to their owners if caught in a free state. On his way to trying to get to Canada, John was lucky enough to come across the town of Oberlin, Ohio. A town that did not believe in slavery and even embraced runaway slaves as one of their own. But what would happen when slave hunters came to town looking for John? What is the town willing to do to save their own?
I love how this book was put together. The best way to teach nonfiction, in my opinion, is to make it into a narrative that catches readers' attention and makes them want to learn more. The narrative in Price of Freedom was put together very well- a perfect plot arc- yet leaves you wanting more. It starts out with just enough prior knowledge (not too teachy yet makes sure that it teaches enough that the reader will understand) and takes us through what happens to John Price as a story and finally the end is a bit of a cliffhanger that makes you want to research more. My favorite type of nonfiction. And to add to this the watercolor illustrations bring the story to life and are so very well done adding even more depth to the picture book. This book puts the reader straight into a tense situation and invites them to take part of a historical situation that does not appear in history textbooks. While I'd been taught about the Fugitive Slave Act and realized that there were oppositions to the act, but I had never read a narrative like this one.
In the classroom, I think this nonfiction picture book is important to start conversations about the two sides of the civil war. It would also be a great jumping off point to start talking about people who stood up against laws, the Underground Railroad, and the transition into the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, etc. The authors even gave websites that are perfect to use as an extension.
Why do you think that the people of Oberlin and other Underground Railroad risked their lives to help escaped slaves?
What do you think happened to John Price? Do some research and see if your hypothesis was correct.
"Oberlin student William Lincoln was in his room when some classmates pounded on his door. He was the man to rescue John Price, they told him, offering him a gun. Lincoln hated slavery, but he also hated violence. Unsure what to do, he knelt on the floor with his Bible and asking himself: "if it were your own brother, what would you do?" His answer? "Rescue him or die!" Lincoln grabbed the gun and raced to Wellington." p. 23(less)
I found this book fascinating. It dealt with many different topics from stuttering to racism in the South and definitely shows the power of others in helping a young person find his/her voice (and in this book, that is a literal statement). I loved how it was written because although our narrator wasn't very vocal in his life, he loved writing and found his voice through his writing. It is through this art that he is able to tell his story. It is also quite interesting that though he is writing his story, he withholds his name until the very end because he has trouble saying it himself. He is referred to mostly as "Little Man" throughout the book.
But, by far, my favorite thing about this story is all of the characters our narrator gets involved with when he begins his paper route. First is Little Man's first crush, a pretty young wife who likes to drink and who Little Man cannot figure out. Second is a homeless man who bullies Little Man out of some of his possessions and is haunted by his past. Third, and most importantly, is a Merchant Marine who shows Little Man that there is more out there and that he can be whomever he wants to be. It is through these different adults that our narrator really starts to become his own.
In the classroom, this book would be a great discussion start about many different topics. Since it is historical, it gives a different perspective into many different topics including television and racism. Vawter also writes this novel with a great voice and makes interesting choices with punctuation that would be interesting to talk to students about.
Snatch of Text: p. 11 (simile), p. 101-102, p. 108-109 (poetry) Mentor Text For: Voice, First Person Point of View, Grammar, Simile, Making Predictions, Contractions (p. 30), Poetry (p. 108-109) Writing Prompts: There are some unexpected players in this young boys life that he would have never thought would affect him the way they did. Think of someone in your life that you thank for helping, influencing, or changing you and write them a thank you letter. Topics Covered: Candide, Voltaire, Speech Pathology, Baseball, Alcoholism, Anxiety, Infidelity, Genetics, Fathers, Heidegger, Existentialism, Segregation, Linguistics, Language, Race Relations, Faith, History of the Alphabet (p. 64-65), Myths (p. 66), Television (p. 44) (less)