This book is one of those books that I don’t like to tell people what it is about because any summary just doesn’t capture the brilliance of the characterization and story. However, through the word-of-mouth compliments of middle schoolers, it has become a favorite book for many of our school’s students and even won our HCMS Mock Newbery Award! I think it is Jason Reynolds’s way of connecting with adolescent readers through a true voice and circumstances that so many of them will connect to....more
Whoa. Wiles's ability to mix nonfiction with a fascinating piece of historical fiction is just brilliant.
Revolution is a perfectly-crafted look at one of the toughest times in American history. What Wiles does is truly delve into the emotions felt during the Freedom Summer and some of the smaller actions that may not have made the history books. One of my favorite things about Wiles’s Sixties Trilogy books is that she includes historical resources throughout the book that truly puts the story in context. The primary sources/stories and other embedded pieces of history really show that the narrative she has created is not truly a work of fiction. It may include fictional characters, but the setting, the feelings, the conflict, the time period, the history–those are all fact.
Revolution couldn’t work without the Sunny and her cast of characters though. This book could have gone terribly wrong if the voice, thoughts, and feelings of our protagonist were not so believable since Wiles was having us learn about such a tumultuous time through the eyes of a child. However, no need to worry about that because Sunny is perfect. She is easy to connect to and seems true. My favorite characters are those around her that push her and help change her: Annabelle, Jo Ellen, and Ray. Annabelle is so patient, truly loves Sunny, and has some of the best lines in the book; Jo Ellen is so head-strong, forward-thinking, and intelligent; and Ray is just crazy but also overwhelmingly brave.
I am part of an informal Twitter book club, and our June read was Revolution. Deborah Wiles even stopped by to chat with us! If you are interested in reading it, I archived it here. Warning: There may be spoilers if you haven’t read the book. Some of my favorite quotes from the chat that truly show the impact of the book are:
“What a brilliant idea Deborah Wiles had with these books–to embed all of the history.” -Carrie Gelson
“Sunny’s story hit my heart.” -Michele Knott
“Countdown and Revolution are like…seeing beyond the headlines.” -Cheriee Weichel
“So hard to read how something you think people could do (register) but couldn’t because of effects (lose job, name in paper, etc.)” -Michele Knott
“It took Sunny witnessing the civil unrest to grow up and realize how to accept her own life.” -Kellee Moye
“There is so much about the Civil Rights Movement that seems like it should be easy, but ignorance stops it.” Kellee Moye
“Immerse as much as possible.” -Deborah Wiles, referencing part of her research process
Favorite quote from the book: “Everything is connected. Every choice matters.Every person is vital, valuable, and worthy of respect.” pg. 361...more
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....more
*This book took me a while to get into, but once I did, I had to know how it ended. I loved the unique narrator and the fairy tales throughout. I will*This book took me a while to get into, but once I did, I had to know how it ended. I loved the unique narrator and the fairy tales throughout. I will say half way through the book changes directions drastically and it surprised me, but the ending redeems and weirdness about the change. overall a beautifully written book full of mystery....more
Sophie is a normal teenager who struggles with going between her divorced parents mostly when they live in completely different cultural situations- her father has a office job in America and her mother runs a bonobo sanctuary in Congo. Though she was born in the Congo, the last handful of years have been spent in America with her father and returning to Congo and her mother's sanctuary. The book begins with Sophie being picked up and while waiting in a check point, she spots a baby bonobo who is not being treated well and, against everyone's wishes, buys him. Otto now enters into her life and ours. He becomes the co-star of the book and begins to change Sophie's feelings about being at the sanctuary. But then, right before she is about to leave, chaos at the hand of revolutionaries envelopes Congo and Sophie finds herself in a completely type of situation. Now if you follow me here or on Twitter, you know that I am a sucker for ape books and I have been lucky that many people who care a lot about apes write some amazing ape books - this is a book to add to that list. It left me with even more of a passion for saving these animals who are our closest relative. I. Love. This. Book. It quickly moved into my favorites list even while I was only half way through with it. It is such a journey that you take with this young lady and the growth you see in her (and Otto) is incredible. On top of that, Eliot Schrefer is an author who not only can tell a good story, but he can help you become part of the story and visualize and feel everything that is happening. And I am not alone in this love. Endangered was a finalist for The National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer was a hit at the Scholastic Brunch at NCTE, and it is being gushed about on Twitter: "ENDANGERED is one of those books that has a powerful impact, makes you think, and sticks with you long after you've closed the final pages." -Jillian Heise (@heisereads)
"ENDANGERED was a can't-put-down book with an emotional and intelligent story that left me wanting to learn more about bonobos and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I enjoy books that engage me and leave me thinking, and Eliot Schrefer has balanced that beautifully in this novel." -Jillian Heise (@heisereads) "ENDANGERED is so, so good! Highly recommend to everyone, even though I am only halfway through it. @kelleemoye, you weren't kidding." -Ricki Ginsberg (@ReadwithPassion)
"@kelleemoye @eliotschrefer It is such a complex book. Would be great to teach! Very accessible for kids, too." -Ricki Ginsberg (@ReadwithPassion)
Read Together: Grades 6 and up
Read Alone: Grades 7 and up
Read With: Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Chimpanzees I Love by Jane Goodall, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya (via Jillian Heise), Non-fiction books about bonobos and the Democratic Republic of Congo
Snatch of Text: "The man released the bonobo. The little ape sat down tiredly in the dirt and lowered his arms, wincing as his sore muscles relaxed. I kneeled and reached out to him. The bonobo glanced at his master before working up the energy to stand and toddle over to me. He leaned against my shin for a moment, then extended his arms to be picked up. I lift him easily and hugged himself to me, his fragile arms as light as a necklace. I could make out his individual ribs under my figures, could feel his heart flutter against my throat. He pressed his lips against my check , I guess to get as close as possible to my skin, and only then did I hear his faint cries; he'd been making them for so long that his voice was gone." (p. 3-4)
Mentor Text for: Imagery, Emotional Impact, Figurative Language
Writing Prompts: Sophie makes many decisions throughout the book that many people, specifically her parents, would not have agreed with. Would you have made the same decisions as her? Were there any you would have done differently? Do you think her decisions were worth it? Use text evidence to back your answers.
When I started Never Fall Down, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I began it because Ricki recommended it to me, but I didn’t read the back or have any prior knowledge about the book. So, when I began, I had no idea how tough this book was going to be.
I also have to preface with my ignorance of the Cambodian Genocide. I blame my lack of world history education because this is a time of history that should be taught. It, along with the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide, was based in racism and the attempt to purify a country. Reading Arn’s story throws you right in the middle of the genocide, and Patricia McCormick doesn’t hold anything back. Every time you think nothing can get worse for Arn and the Cambodians, something does, but you also have such hope for Arn’s survival as you seen him overcome every obstacle he faces. Even though death actually stares him in the face throughout the book, this young boy somehow continues. He continues through starvation, excessive work, lack of sleep, and murder surrounding him. Arn stated in interviews with McCormick that music saved his life, but I think it was more about his willingness to do whatever was needed to survive and especially anything to help those he cared for to survive.
Patricia McCormick tells our story in a broken English dialect that was influenced by “Arn’s own beautiful, improvised English” that McCormick heard in her head after interviewing him and traveling with him to Cambodia over a couple of years. The extent that Ms. McCormick went to ensure that Arn’s story was a true representation of his trials and heroism is honorable....more
When you hear the word refugee, most people will automatically think of refugees from Africa, but there are refugees from all parts of the world. This book shares a story of a young girl fleeing Vietnam during the war. It is 1975 and the war is threatening her city, Saigon, and life is getting worse and worse. When it was possible, her mother took her whole family to US where a family from Alabama sponsors them. This book is interesting because it deals with many different aspects- Vietnam war, refugee, ESL learners and bullying.
I will admit, I wish that this book was in prose. I felt that I was missing some of the story by it being in verse. I am a big fan of verse as I feel it really shows emotion beautifully and this is true with Inside Out as well; however, I wanted more of the story than this novel had. I wish it was a mix of prose and verse actually with the story in prose and her true emotions in verse, but that is wishful thinking just because I liked it so much and wanted more. It is an interesting book that will find an audience and deserved the awards it got....more
Whenever you hear great things about a book and you go to pick it up, your first thoughts are, "I hope it doesn't disappoint." Well, Okay for Now is oWhenever you hear great things about a book and you go to pick it up, your first thoughts are, "I hope it doesn't disappoint." Well, Okay for Now is one of the books that I've been hearing about for months now. It is on most people's mock Newbery and Printz lists. Everyone told me I should read it. Boy, am I glad that I listened to them. I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down and I know that it'll be a book I'll be thinking about for a while.
Doug. He is such a phenomenal character. He is probably at the lowest of lows when you start the book: alcoholic father, abusive brother, depressed mother, picked on at school, poor... But he quickly sees that the only way to go is up. After moving to Maryville, Doug meets Lil, a sassy young lady, who gets him a job as a delivery boy and introduces him to the library. I don't think the reader, or Doug for that matter, could foresee how much these two things would change his life. And for that matter, I think Doug ends up truly changing the lives of many in Maryville as well, showing them that they shouldn't judge people based on first impressions.
There are some things that Gary Schmidt does in this book that truly makes it superior. First, I love how starting from the beginning of Doug's journey in Junior High, he intertwines the NASA Apollo mission and has it parallel Doug's journeys. Throughout the book, we meet different Audubon birds and Doug uses the birds as analogies for situations in his life. Also, the way that Mr. Schmidt talks about art and drawing is captivating. Lastly, Okay for Now shows how important good teachers (inside and out of school) can be for that one student who has never had anyone to care before. This is a book that shows how art, reading and teachers (as well as other unexpected things) can really change a person's life.
I don't normally mark a book that I am just reading for fun, but throughout Okay for Now there were times where I had to mark a quote. Some may not seem important, but they really meant something to me. I want to share them with you (also to document them since the book I read was from the library, so I won't have the marks when I get my own :D). I am going to mark with spoilers, because some come from later in the book. (view spoiler)[ *Skinny Delivery Boy, you have it all wrong. Look how she's standing close to her little one. She's looking around to watch for the next spectacular thing that going to come into his life. (page 68) *It looks more like I'm showing what isn't the bird. (page 72) *That is why you are sitting here tonight, and why you will be coming here in the months ahead. You come to dream dreams. You come to build fantastic castles up in the air. And you come to learn how to build the foundations that make those castles real. When the men who will command that mission were boys your age, no one knew that they would walk on another world someday. No one knew. But in a few months, that's what will happen. So, twenty years form now, what will people say of you? 'No one knew that this kid from Washington Irving Junior High School would grow up to do'... what? What castle will you build? (page 83) *And then we opened up Jane Eyre and picked out words that pretty much looked impossible but we figured them out because of what we were learning about letters and their sounds working together. No one ever told me this stuff! How come no one ever told me this stuff? How come? (page 129) *I should tell you that I was revealing this terrible secret to Lil while Miss Cowper was trying to teach us the Wonders of the Adverb and that when she asked if Lil and I had anything we'd like to share with the whole class, we stopped, quickly understanding that Miss Cowper was watching us angrily and would beat us mercilessly if we did not cease immediately. And I'm giving you that last sentence to show that you can too talk and learn at the same time. (page 190) *Maybe the Snowy Heron is going to come off pretty badly when the planes come together. Maybe. But he's still proud and beautiful. His head is high, and he's got this sharp beak that's facing out to the world. He's okay for now. (page 202) *I knew that Lucas was awake in the dark that he carried around with him all the time. (page 222) *You know, there are good reasons to learn to read. Poetry isn't one of them. I mean, so what if two roads go two ways in a wood? So what? Who cares if it made all that big a difference? What difference? And why should I have to guess what the difference is? Isn't that what he's supposed to say? Why can't poets just say what they want to say then shut up? (page 235) *In the whole story of the world, bananas have never once been a special treat. (page 249) *Polly had this book about a house in a forest where Laura lives with Pa and Ma and her sisters. You'd be surprised how good this was, especially considering that nothing happens. (page 284) *You can't imagine an actor ever becoming the president of the United States, for example. (page 300) LOL (hide spoiler)]
Originally read: July 6, 2011 Reread: June, 2012...more
In this multiple perspective novel, it deals with the issue of minding your own business. When is it okay to step in and when do you just let things gIn this multiple perspective novel, it deals with the issue of minding your own business. When is it okay to step in and when do you just let things go? When it means life or death, is it okay to interfere?
In Jumped, Leticia has to decide if she is going to interfere or not. Innocent Trina has just pissed Dominique off and Dominique is going to jump Trina after school. Trina has no idea. Does Leticia tell Trina? Try to stop it? Does she do the right thing or the cool thing? ...more
This was one of those books that I never wanted to end. I got to where I was reading so fast, that I realized that I wasn't reading the chapter titles any more- that is how much I was gobbling up her Caitlin's words. I could have read about Caitlin for days and days because her voice is so beautiful. Beautiful and real. This book puts asperger's into a format where others may find empathy for those around them who are a bit different. I love in the author's note that Kathryn Erskine points out that ignore and ignorance come from the same root. They go hand in hand. We have to be like Emma or Michael. People who look past the differences and find out who someone really is. ...more
Summary: Delphine was forced to grow up quicker than an eleven year old should. Her mother left her and her 2 sisters 7 years ago and since then, DelpSummary: Delphine was forced to grow up quicker than an eleven year old should. Her mother left her and her 2 sisters 7 years ago and since then, Delphine has been in charge. This doesn't change when the girls finally get to see their mother in Oakland, CA Cecile for a month during the summer of 1968- she wants nothing to do with them and Delphine, once again, has to take care of her sisters. The only guidance Cecile gives the girls is where the Chinese take-out restaurant is and how to get to the Black Panthers's summer camp where they have to spend most of their time. This summer makes Delphine and her sisters grow up even more.
What I Think: Rita Williams-Garcia is a genius when it comes to characterization. The two books I've read by her have been VERY different, but the strength of the writing of characters was a constant in both stories. Each character is uniquely written, holds up in dialogue and are completely immersed in the story that Williams-Garcia has put them in. It is a beautiful thing and translates into fluid and poetic narrative. While reading and searching for snatches of text to share, I marked at least 17 different passages that I wanted to share. All in a novel that has a great story and history lesson rolled into one. You want to know what is going to happen to Delphine. You want to learn more about the Black Panthers. You have to keep reading because you want to know more.
Snatch of Text: "Mother is a statement of fact. Cecile Johnson gave birth to us. We came out of Cecile Johnson. In the animal kingdom that meks her our mother. Every mammal has a mother, dead or alive. Ran off or stay put. Cecile Johnson- mammal birth giver, alive, an abandoner- is our mother. A statement of fact... Never Mommy, Mom, Mama, or Ma. Mommy gets up to give you a glass of water int he middle of the night. Mom invites your friends inside when it's raining. Mama burns your ears with the hot comb to make your hair look pretty for class picture day. Ma is sore and worm from writing your wet clothes and hanign them to dry; ma needs peace and quiet at the end of the day. We don't have one of those. We have a statement of face." (p. 14)
"Even the seagulls were seagullier than the ones that flew and squawked around Coney Island. These wide-winged birds seemed bigger and majestic, both close-up and far away. Or maybe it was that we could see and smell the ocean and the tar, salt and wood from the wharf. I breathed in deep to get it all. Too bad there was no way to capture the wharf sell in a jar to take with me." (p. 164)
"At night I talked to myself to stay awake. I said the poems of Homer and Langston Hughes. I liked the words. They comforted me. Their rhymes. Their beats. They made a place for me. They kept me strong." (p. 208)
Fabulous examples of similes in the text on pages 1, 2, 85, 161, 163, 174, 190, 191 Some beautiful pieces of poetry on pages 148-149, 196-197
Reading Strategies to Practice: Characterization, Making connections, Poetry
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Dialogue, Figurative language, Sensory details
Ship Breaker is set in a future where global warming has changed the tide levels, the ice caps no longer exist, oil is like gold, and ships are wreckeShip Breaker is set in a future where global warming has changed the tide levels, the ice caps no longer exist, oil is like gold, and ships are wrecked all along the coast of the gulf- a future that seems almost too realistic.
Nailer and his crew work as ship breakers- they go into the wrecked tankers and scavenge what they can. Life is rough: Money is scarce, there is little food and the housing is built from whatever they can find. Everything changes though after a hurricane hits their town and Nailer, with his friend Pima, find a crashed clipper (a rich person's boat). While scavenging the boat, and finding tons of goods!, they discover a young girl who some how survived the wreck. Nita is the daughter for a rich man and bargains with Nailer and Pima for her life, but just having her there is going to change everything for Nailer and Pima.
The question that Nailer asks himself throughout the entire book is: What is family? He questions if loyalty or blood are the answer to this question.
The book is filled with fight scenes and life or death situations. Ship Breaker is a book not only for dystopian lovers, but for readers of action/adventure as well. ...more
Koly is thirteen. And like most girls her age in India, she is going to get married. When she arrives at her grooms home she learns that much of whatKoly is thirteen. And like most girls her age in India, she is going to get married. When she arrives at her grooms home she learns that much of what they said in their proposal letter was a lie. This begins a downward spiral fueled by tradition for Koly.
This book is a coming of age story set in a different culture which gives the reader a different view of the world. I, personally, knew very little about the Hindu culture and loved that I could learn about it while traveling with Koly in this story. ...more