Raina Telgemeier does it again. She has a knack for telling a serious yet humorous story with colorful, fun artwork. I loved her main character Callie- she was a very real 7th grade girl. I also loved that this book was not about the lead actress in a musical- it was about the stage crew (though some actors did play a part). Raina also does a wonderful job at introducing middle school boys who are questioning their sexuality in an unbiased, nonjudgmental way. It is completely appropriate for middle grade and it is very accessible to readers. Well done!!!(less)
So beautifully written. One of those books that you want to tell everyone to read because it is so literary and lyrical. While reading, I felt I had to keep stopping to take notes because I had so much I wanted to share with you all. In a way, Aristotle & Dante reminded me of John Green in that way. His characters are so intelligent, the voice so pure and mesmerizing, and the story so enthralling- all aspects of a literary young adult novel. I am not surprised at all of the awards that Aristotle & Dante took home from the ALA Awards as it deserved each and every one of them (Stonewall Book Award, Printz Honor, Pura Belpre Author Award). I know this seems mighty gushy, but I just really fell in love with this novel.
There was so many passages throughout that could be used for exemplar pieces of writing (specifically while reading I picked up on the literary devices, characterization, and voice) and can be used to practice reading strategies. The only thing I worry about is the teen appeal for this novel. I could see students thinking it was pretty slow because it is more character-driven than plot-driven. It is about Aristotle & Dante growing up and finding themselves (once again, reminds me a bit of a John Green Novel). Though I can see students who give it a chance being as touched by the book as I am.
Mentor text for: Characterization, Voice, Descriptive (p. 19 et al.), Compare/Contrast (p. 20), Dialogue, Literary Devices, Vocabulary, Literary writing, Metaphor (p. 261 et al.)
Topics: Poetry (Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams), Philosophers, Literature (Heart of Darkness, Grapes of Wrath, Sun Also Rises, War & Peace), Art History (Mexican Art, Edward Hopper), Comics (p. 19), Identity of 2nd Generation American Immigrants, Light Pollution, Mental Health, Teaching (pgs. 67, 165), Anger, Counseling, PTSD, Survivor's Guilt, Sexual Identity, Puberty, Family Secrets, Hate Crimes, Loyalty, Love (p. 247 et al.), Vietnam, Spontaneous Creative Writing (p. 21 et al.), Guilt/Shame, Family
Writing Prompt: Aristotle & Dante love to make up stories about the people on the bus (see p. 21); go and sit outside where you can people watch and spontaneously write short stories about a handful of them.
"The war changed him. I was born when he came home. Sometimes I think my father has all these scars. On his heart. In his head. All over. It's not such an easy thing to be a son of a man who's been to war. when I was eight, I overheard my mother talking to my Aunt Ophelia on the phone. "I don't think that the war will ever be over for him." Later I asked my Aunt Ophelia if that was true. "Yes," she said, "it's true" "But why won't the war leave my dad alone?" "Because your father has a conscience," she said. "What happened to him in the war?" "No one knows" "Why won't he tell?" "Because he can't."" (p. 14)
"I felt alone, but not in a bad way. I really liked being alone. Maybe I liked it too much. Maybe my father was like that too. I thought of Dante and wondered about him. And it seemed to me that Dante's face was a map of the world. A world without darkness. wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?" (p. 56)(less)
If you follow my reviews, you probably know that I lack in my history education. However, I have been fascinated (and appalled) by the history of Worl...moreIf you follow my reviews, you probably know that I lack in my history education. However, I have been fascinated (and appalled) by the history of World War II since I was a young girl and my grandfather would tell me stories of his time on the front and as a POW. Throughout my life, I have read many novels about WWII, but it wasn't until last year when I read The Boy Who Dared and Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti that I began to learn about the other side of the story. The way that Hitler manipulated and brainwashed such a huge population of young people is terrifying. I had not realized the cult-ness of Nazism until reading those books. I always thought it was just a bunch of evil people; never did it occur to me that good people were talked into doing bad things.
During World War II, Hitler controlled more than just the military; he controlled the entire country of Germany. Much of what this book explains are parts of the WWII history that is not taught in our schools and shows the true extent of the power that Hitler had over everyone.
The Hitler Youth began as a voluntary organization to support Hitler, but it quickly became a way for Hitler to control the youth. Soon the Hitler Youth was not voluntary and they were being used in much the same way as the military.
This book tells true stories of children in the Hitler Youth and children that were brave enough to speak up. It is truly horrific and fascinating. Susan Campbell Bartoletti uses a combination of narrative and expository writing to take her reader on a journey through Nazi controlled Germany starting with their depression and taking us through the the end of World War II. By intertwining true stories of the youth of Germany with historical fact, Bartoletti pulls at your heart strings and shows the true effect that Hitler had on the entire nation. It also takes you through the steps that Hitler took to brainwash the entire population, starting with the most desperate citizens, including the youth.
Although many nonfiction books are hard to get through and are dry, this one has a voice to it that is deeper and more sensitive than most. You become connected to the people of Germany and the youth of the story, so it doesn't matter if that I already know the outcome- you have to know how they make it out of their deceit filled situation. (less)
I have read a couple of books recently that were really hard to review (Wonder, The Fault in our Stars, The One and Only Ivan) because they are books that reach into your heart and settle there. It is hard to write a review of a book that becomes so personal. See you at Harry's is one of those books. As I sit here trying to write a review, I don't know how to put all of my feelings into words. I keep on trying to write more, but the words just don't sound right...
*** Summary: As Fern enters middle school, everyone in her family is dealing with their own problems. Her father is worried about the business, her mother only pays attention Fern's baby brother Charlie, her sister Sara is miserable working at the family diner while all of her friends have gone off to college, and her brother Holden, who she is normally close to, is dealing with his sexual identity. In the middle of all of this, Fern feels ignored- well except by Charlie who is always following her around and annoying her. The only person keeping Fern sane is her level-headed and optimistic best friend Ran. He almost makes her believe that everything will be okay. But then everything changes and even Ran cannot believe that all will be well.
What I Think: This book is brilliant. Jo Knowles has taken a story that seems like a coming of age story and made it about not only her, but her family and so much more. Now, I don't want to say too much as the devastation in the book was not what I expected and I want to allow you to feel the same shock as I did. What I thought this book was going to be about ended up being a subtext to what the family must really wade through.
I read this book in one sitting and the emotions I felt through this book were such a roller coaster ride. I cried for about 1/3 of the book, I laughed often and was so very proud by the end. My heart was exhausted by the time I finished.
I love this book very much. I will give you three reasons. 1) Very rarely (like only 2 other times) has a book made me laugh out loud and cry within pages of each other. 2) Fern is a young girl that is so relatable and likeable that you can't help loving her and her voice. 3) This book is beautifully written and will stay with you for a long time.
Snatch of Text: "When we finished sniffling, my mom adjusted herself in the bed so she could look at me. 'Fern,' she said softly. 'Do you know why I named you Fern?' I nodded looking at the drawing of the girl on the cover of the book. 'Why?' she asked. 'Because Fern is one of your favorite characters?' 'And why is that?' I shrugged. 'Because Fern cares,' she said. 'From the moment you were born, I could tell you had a special soul. I knew you'd be a good friend. A hero.' I looked at my chest and tried to feel my soul buried in there, deep in my heart. 'It's true,' my mom said. 'Not everyone would share a sandwich with Random Smith.' I smiled, feeling my soul stir a little." (p. 3)
"Holden is always running off in a huff, and I am always the one searching for him and bringing him home. Holden's named after the main character in The Catcher in the Rye. I wasn't supposed to read it until I'm older, but I snuck my mom's paperback copy out of her room last year. The pages were all soft from her reading it so many times. The book is about this boy who's depressed because he things everyone he knows is a phony, so he runs away. I understand why my mom liked the book and all, but I personally think is was a big mistake to name your kid after a boy who tries to kill himself, even if he is thoughtful and brilliant. My favorite parts in the book are when the main characters talks about his little sister, Phoebe. Sometimes I think I'm a little like Phoebe to our Holden. Because in the book she's the one he goes back for. And that's sort of like me. Only I have to go looking for him first." (p. 25-26)(less)
Ben is introduced to Zan when he is 8 days old. Zan is his new baby brother. At first Ben is resistant to loving Zan, but that changes as he gets to know him. Ben loves Zan more than anything in the world. He would do anything for him. But others, including his father, don't understand why he has such an attachment to Zan. Yes, Zan is his brother, but Zan is also a chimp. A chimp who Ben's father is researching by conducting an experiment to see if chimps can learn language. To Ben, Zan has become a member of the family, but to others, he is just a specimen.
Ever since I started teaching and I was introduced to Willie B. through a short story and Sukari in Hurt Go Happy, I have gotten a mild obsession with apes- specifically chimps, gorillas and orangutans. I have often visited the Center for Great Apes where I learned even more about the life of chimps in entertainment, testing and living with humans.
Also, in the last couple of years, I have been introduced to Kenneth Oppel through his other books- Matt Cruse series, Victor Frankenstein and Silverwing- and I have adored every word of his that I have read/listened to.
So, when Half Brother came out, I knew it was a book I had to read. But then it got pushed aside again and again. For some reason, I just never got around to it. Until my best friend listened to it and insisted it be the next audiobook I read- and I am so glad she did! Half Brother is such a touching, suspenseful, well-done, amazing story. It pulls at your heart strings throughout and makes you think about all that it means to be human.
Kenneth Oppel obviously did a lot of research for this project. Half Brother is set in the 1970s at the peak of chimp research including research for the space program, medicine and language acquisition (Project Nim & Project Washoe) and also the beginning of protest against such experiments. This book teaches you the history of this time through a fictional experiment that is not much different than the real ones.
Half Brother is an emotion-filled, thought-provoking book which brings Zan and his family to life in 1973. This book is made to be a discussion as it introduces so many tough topics and is one that I cannot wait to discuss with students. (less)
Sean Beaudoin definitely has a unique style that you cannot confuse with anyone else. It is like when you see a movie and you know who the director is - that is how distinct Sean's writing is. And what he does so well is keep his style yet still has characters that have distinct voices that you can distinguish between. He actually reminds me of John Green in that way; however, Sean Beaudoin is more of the underground, quirky, dry twisted humor sort of way. This book also reminded me of the humor you found in Libba Bray's Beauty Queens in that it is very much a parody of qualities of pop culture and primarily emulated at zombie flicks such as Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead.
Once you get used to Beaudoin's style, the story sucks you in. An incomparable cast of characters takes us through a survival guide against those who want to eat you. You lose some you care about, you cheer when some turn and many will dream about one particular female. Between the cast of characters, the humorous plot line and Beaudoin's style, many will eat up this novel.
Mentor text: Voice, Style, Humor, Parody, Allusions, Word Play, Vocabulary
"But Petal Gazes was a whole other universe, a different orbit, a brighter sun. She was a tenth straight espresso, pure feedback, wet-toe-in-socket beautiful. At least to him. Which went directly against Nick's long-standing policy: Never Want Anything. Treeless Christmas? Eggless Easter? Toastless morning? It's hard to be disappointed when you don't give a crap. But now he really, really wanted something. Petal Gazes." (p. 8)
Also, LOVE pg. 35, 160-161, 88, 170, 227, and Ch. 22 title!(less)
I've been sitting here for a while and I just don't know where to begin. This is a precious book and it is hard to put into words how important it is and how well done it is. I am thoroughly impressed. It will be a great introduction to Anne Frank for many and will hopefully lead them to want to learn more about her and the injustices that happened during WWII.
A misconception I had was that I thought it was a graphic novel of Anne Frank's diary. It isn't. It is included, but this is a biography of Anne. It starts with her parents and continues all the way until the death of her father. It showcases Anne's life pre-hiding, during hiding, in the concentration camps and as her father makes sure that her legacy lives on. And it is done with primary sources woven in including Anne' diary, letters and interviews. The book even includes photographs of Anne and her family in the back along with a timeline of the Franks and WWII.
Also throughout the biography, the authors periodically pause to give the reader a snapshot of a certain aspect of WWII that pertains to the story. It helps readers who may not have the prior knowledge of the war and Nazi power.
After reading this book, the 5 stars of other books just don't seem justified. This little book is a piece of genius.
Also, I had a hard time putting it on the fantasy or horror shelf (although it is) because it is the most real book I've read in a long time. Books make me emotional very rarely (though it has been happening more often recently) and this one makes me cry even thinking about it. But it also made me laugh and be frightened. It truly is a journey. A rocky, scary, psychological journey for the reader as well as our protagonist, Conor.
Conor is a boy that is going through one of the hardest things any child could go through: his mother has cancer. On top of that, his parents divorced and his father is too busy with his new family to pay attention to Conor. Also, Conor doesn't exactly have the most pleasant time at school. At this point, he is okay being invisible. But then the monster calls. It comes shortly after midnight. It is not a monster that Conor fears, but the monster wants what Conor fears the most: the truth. (less)
You know a book is good when in the first 5 pages you already know and feel for you main character. Cath is like many college freshman--afra...more*4.5 stars
You know a book is good when in the first 5 pages you already know and feel for you main character. Cath is like many college freshman--afraid. She has known one world for so long and everything around her is changing. This book is about her figuring out her way. Anyone that went to college will connect with Cath and her struggles of finding a balance between who you were in high school and who you are becoming. I really appreciate Rainbow Rowell's main characters and how they are not perfect--this makes them so much more relatable. (I just give a shout out to the Emergency Dance Party scene--this made me love Cath so much!)
Oh, and the dialogue! I love the way her characters converse. The banter is hilarious and just perfect. Also, I cannot review this book without giving props to the secondary characters. They are so solid and thought out. Although Cath is the main character, no one feels like Rainbow Rowell didn't put love and time into them. I especially love their father who is probably the most flawed character but is so full of love. (Oh, and Levi. Who cannot love Levi?!?!?!)
[As a teacher, I also liked the look into Levi's struggle with reading yet his amazing intelligence. I think it is a great conversation starter and a great example of many of the students I encounter. Pg. 168 is Levi's explanation of his struggles--powerful.]
And all of the book love! Anyone who has ever loved a book or series will adore the fangirl moments. Although an obvious allusion to Harry Potter, Cath and Wren's love of Simon Snow will make any reader think about their favorite novel which they lose themselves in.
Also this book is about writing: the beauty of good writing and the struggle of good writing. Cath can write in the world of Simon Snow, but struggles in finding her own world. This actually runs parallel quite beautifully with her finding of her self. She is literally and figuratively trying to find her own voice. (And I love that a teacher plays a role in this.)
Overall, a just-right book. I read it in one sitting and didn't want to put it down. Does remind me a lot of Anna and the French Kiss (maybe that's what is keeping me from giving it a straight 5 stars?), but it really was a solid story filled with just enough love, nerdy, and soul searching.
Teacher's Tools for Navigation: I can see how many aspects of this novel could be used in a creative writing course. So much of Cath's story revolves around writing and different scenes or pieces of fanfiction could be pulled out to use in class. I especially like the discussion about "Why write fiction?" on pg. 21-23.
I also would love to analyze more the excerpts that are put before each chapter and how they connect with the chapter. Many have theme connections or direct character connections. They were placed very intentionally and discussing why would be so interesting.
We Flagged: "Cath wasn't sure how she was going to keep everything straight in her head. The final project, the weekly writing assignments--on top of all her other classwork, for every other class. All the reading, all the writing. The essays, the justifications, the reports. Plus Tuesdays and sometimes Thursdays writing with Nick. Plus Carry on. Plus e-mail and notes and comments... Cath felt like she was swimming in words. Drowning in them, sometimes." (p. 100)(less)
Summary: In O'Connor's fourth installment of the Olympians graphic novel series starts with the journey into the Underworld after death but reveals itself to be about the myth of Persephone's abduction and the consequences that follow such. This graphic novel is not only about Hades, but about Demeter and Persephone as well.
What I Think: Persephone's myth is one of my favorites. I love how clever the Greeks were to have such an elaborate tale to account for the seasons that we all experience. And saying that, this graphic novel is by far my favorite version of the story.
I am such a fan of George O'Connor's style of art and his storytelling capabilities as I've loved the two other Olympian graphic novels that I've read and I love this one as well. The way that O'Connor takes the myth, stays true to it, but adds his own interpretation of aspects is what makes his graphic novels unique. For example, the thought that went into why he made Persephone a little dark in this story is so thought provoking.
Also, as I've said in my reviews of Zeus and Athena, I love the G(r)eek notes, drawings, bibliography, recommended readings, discussion questions and author's notes at the end of all of his graphic novels- they make them accessible for not only children & teens, but teachers to use in their classroom.
*Thank you Netgalley and First Second for access to this title*(less)
Marty McGuire is one of my favorite protagonists ever. I don't know if it is because she reminds me a bit of myself or because I wish I knew her, but either way, she is wonderful. Kate captures a 3rd graders voice with such brilliance- making her authentic and likeable.
On top of the amazing character and story, Marty McGuire is a great resource for the classroom. First, the whole story in this 2nd installment fits perfectly with any Earth Day activity or unit that a teacher is planning. Second, the vocabulary throughout the book is never dumbed down and will definitely enriched a reader's vocabulary. Third, the whole book is about science experiments, inquiry, observing, and journaling!!
Another great Marty read and I cannot wait for a 3rd! *fingers crossed*
Snatch of Text: "Mondays are the best because we have library, and if you tell Ms. Stephanie about the last book you read, she gives you a Starburst from her secret stash under the librarian desk." (p. 1)
"I love being classroom helper because you don't have to sit still so much." (p. 2)
"Annie and I know all about chimpanzees and mountain gorillas because of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, these awesome scientists who went to Africa to try to save them. Sometimes, we pretend to be Jane and Dian in the woods behind Annie's house. We pretend the crayfish are chimpanzees and mountain gorillas, even though they're not as cute." (p. 12)
This picture book would be so much fun as a read aloud (original story than the modified one). Also, I can also picture bringing in picture books (maybe older ones or bought at a used book store) and letting the students modify their own! How much fun!
This book made me laugh out loud! What a perfect insight into the mind of a young boy (reminds me of so many doodles I’ve seen on papers over the year!). Also, I was blown away by the creativity of Sceiszka and Barnett. I wish I was teaching in a classroom because it would have been a book that I would have brought into the classroom to share with kids (yes, even my middle schoolers. Actually, definitely my middle schoolers.) because it is just so awesome!(less)
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I agonized about how to rate this book. I love Shel Silverstein and before this book I would have said "and everything he writes"; however, I cannot say that any more. Every Thing On It was such a mish-mash of poems. I think that Shel may not have put him in his other anthologies because he knew that they did not work. Some as fantastic, carefree and fun as I remember Shel, but others were not. Some were thought provoking. Some were depressing. Others were just plain weird. And I did not like the depressing and weird ones. Maybe in a different context- an adult poetry book where you are expecting Shel's darker side, but not in a book that is sitting right along side his other fun-loving children's anthologies. But then how do you rate something like this? There were some poems that were definitely a 1 star for me, more that were 2, even more that were 3, some that were 4 and some that were 5. So, I went with a 3. Average. But this 3 star, does not represent all of the debating that went on in my head very well. (less)
Summary: In a dusty field in the province of Mosvingo in Zimbabwe, Deo plays soccer with his friends will his older brother Innocent watches. Then the soldiers show up and Deo and Innocent's world is turned upside down. They are now on the run, refugees from their own village, and must find a way to survive. As Deo works to protect his mentally challenged older brother while still making hard decisions, there are struggles at every turn. And during this time in Africa, refugees are not accepted with open arms. As Deo and Innocent find themselves in Johannesberg, South Africa, they find that the place that they thought would save them is the toughest place they've been yet.
What I Think: This is a book like Patricia McCormick's Sold where you hope it is taking place in the past, but cannot hide from yourself the fact that it is taking place in the present. The horrors that are told in this story are beyond recognition of those of us living in America. Deo and Innocent's struggles are more than just being hungry, they are the fear of being killed. Xenophobia is the fear and hatred of people who come from another country. In May of 2008, xenophobic attacks happened in the Alexandra township of South Africa and these attacks were just one example of the prejudice and violence that refugees in South Africa were experiencing.
This story deals with this hatred and horror; however, it also deals with how one person and one opportunity can change everything. How a sport can bring together people at even the worse times. This story has many underlying elements which layer perfectly into a heart wrenching tale. This one will not be leaving me for a while. It is a true survival story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and with tears in your eyes. (less)
Jane Yolen weaves a beautiful retelling of the hero's journey where the hero is a liar and his mentor is *gasp* a girl. Yolen's story is accompanied b...moreJane Yolen weaves a beautiful retelling of the hero's journey where the hero is a liar and his mentor is *gasp* a girl. Yolen's story is accompanied by amazing artwork that at times is so delicate that it resembles traditional Japanese painting.
There a couple things that I specifically liked about this graphic novel- 1st, I loved the personification that Yolen used to describe the dragon and its surroundings at the beginning of the book: "dragons slept by the ocean's edge, in the green shade of trees that wept their leaves into the water." Phenomenal writing. 2nd, although the 3 sisters were kind of stereotypical for fairy tales (Rosemary: plain and a hard worker, Sage: one beautiful and air headed, Tansy: one hard headed and unique), Sage was entertaining throughout the story. Loved the comic relief. Other puns and humor were thrown in throughout as well such as the name of the town is Meddlesome because everyone quarrels and Yolen would put thought bubbles of what characters were thinking that were hilarious.
This graphic novel is perfect for so many readers and will certainly find a home in many classrooms and probably curricula as well.
(There were a couple of things I didn't like- 1st, I hated that a character that I really liked had to die so close to the beginning to get the story going. It does fit into the hero/fairy tale story, but I really liked him. 2nd, I didn't like the dialogue font, but I think since it was an e-galley that could change before final printing.)(less)
4.5 stars Such an interesting novel that will definitely get a second read. Told in a dual format of prose and graphic novel, Cecil Castellucci tells us the story of two very different girls- One is a modern day Medusa who hates what she has become and keeps turning everyone she loves into stone; the other is a teenage girl filled with jealousy for her younger sister who is dating the boy of her dreams. When finished with the book, you will definitely see why I want to go back and reread.
The Year of the Beasts is one of those books that exudes teen angst right from its core. Both girls have such a repulsion filling their being that it is almost hard to read at times; however, also hard to stop. And it is a feeling that almost all of us felt in those high school years.
I found it fascinating how the author used the Greek monster, Medusa, to embody one of her characters. She along with other monsters and creatures in the graphic novel section, are symbols for the person inside of the monster. It is so much more than it seems on the surface.
I'll be completely honest; I was so confused throughout most of the book. Not because either story is confusing, but because I didn't understand how they fit together. They seemed like such a dichotomy, but there is a method to the madness that makes it all the more powerful. This book will be one that the reader will have trouble forgetting. (less)
In my review for Susan Beth Pfeffer's apocalyptic novel, I said, "This is the first book I've ever read that made me be scared for an apocalypse... his book terrified me; however, this made me not want to put the novel down." Ashfall does what Pfeffer's book did, but Ashfall also intrigued me in a different way because of my fascination with volcanoes- I was filled with a mix of terror and fascination all through the novel. Mike Mullin took a possible future disaster that in all speculations could happen and threw us as readers into the middle of it.
When you start the book, you know that a horrible event is going to happen. Alex, our narrator, tells us how different everything is now, but this slight preface cannot prepare you for all of the destruction, criminal activity, devastation and loss that happens throughout this novel.
Some favorite parts: *Loved that Alex described history books and si-fi books as past & future history. *The analogies throughout the novel to help readers understand what Alex is going through are superb. My favorite was describing explosions as Zeus machine-gunning thunder. *Liked that Mike never felt he needed to explain about the gay couple who lived across the street from Alex, it was just normal.
Now I just have to wait for the sequel :)
(view spoiler)[Questions I have (and Mike Mullin has been kind enough to answer my wonderings!): *Why did Joe wait so long to tell Darren and Alex that it was a volcanic eruption? Mike Mullin's answer: I saw Joe, Darren, and Alex as being shell-shocked and not really in much condition to talk about anything when the noise starts. And they have no idea how long it's going to go on, so Joe is waiting/thinking it's going to end. And they all prefer the relative safety of the tub. It's too loud to talk about it and be heard, of course. By the next morning it's obvious it isn't going to get better quickly, so they leave the shelter of the tub, find a candle and go to the trouble of writing out the information about the volcano. *Is that really how a FEMA camp is run? Or is that speculation about what would happen in this situation? It was at this point that I felt that the novel went from apocalyptic to dystopian. Mike Mullin's answer: FEMA camps are NOT run the way I depict in ASHFALL. That said, FEMA has never had to deal with a situation like this. 55,000 people responded to Katrina, which totally overwhelmed FEMA's organizational capacity. In the far worse disaster portrayed in ASHFALL, FEMA presses subcontractors with little disaster relief training or experience into place, and the priority becomes protecting unaffected states from the hordes of refugees fleeing the ash, rather than taking good care of those refugees. I think panic and a desire to protect one's own is a real possibility in a disaster like that.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was enchanted with this book from the opening pages when the descriptive language grabbed me! I could close my eyes and picture exactly what Anne Ursu was describing. Ursu also alludes to so many great novels and fairy tales throughout Breadcrumbs such as When you Reach Me, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, and The Little Match Girl on top of the main inpsiration for the story: The Snow Queen. Though I am not familiar with The Snow Queen either, it was easy to fall into Ursu's magical world.
On top of the language of the book, the protagonist is such an exceptional young girl. Hazel is someone that I wish I was friends with! She has the best imagination, but this also separates her from what is expected in "the real world" which is why she always navigates back to Jack- the one person who seems to get her. So, when Jack stops talking to her, you see Hazel having to mold herself to fit into a niche where she is not tormented- this devastated me! However, when she learns that Jack needed to be rescued, Hazel returns to her old self and knows that she must be the princess to save the knight (pretty empowering for a 5th grader!). (less)
I am fighting inside about how to rate this one. This book is loved by many, many people who I respect and this is one of the times where I felt a bit...moreI am fighting inside about how to rate this one. This book is loved by many, many people who I respect and this is one of the times where I felt a bit of peer pressure to love a book. But I really struggled between a 3 and 5 star on this one.
Let's begin with the obvious: the writing is beautiful. It is obvious why this book one literary awards. I found myself stopping to take notes about mentor text snatches of text often. The twists and turns of the story definitely takes the reader on a ride and I can see why many people say they want to reread the book after they have the whole story.
However, MAN the book is dense. I fought all the way through. I never thought about giving up because I always wanted to know what was going to happen, but I found that I could only read for a short while. Many people said that at part 2 they really got into it and I agree that in part 2 many very interesting things are revealed, but I felt I was into it the whole time, it just took a while to read it no matter where I was in the book.
I don't know if I am explaining this well... It reminded me of reading many of the books I read during my literature degree. The brain power that is taken to digest, analyze, understand, and enjoy some literary books are at a different level than others.
Teaching thoughts: Allusions to- Shakespeare, mythology (minotaur), Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, A Little Princess, Wizard of Oz, Dickens Mentor text for: Point of view (57-58 et al.), Personification (108) Topics: Green man, Orwell, Green flash, Orwellian socialism, Fears, Kipling, World War II, French Resistance, Nazis, Interrogation, Planes, Weapons Snatch of text: p. 68(less)
I went back and forth between a 4 and a 5 for this book, but overall the story won me over and I had to give it a 5. The story is emotion-packed, filled with beautiful, descriptive writing, and includes some of my favorite male characters.
Matt Bliss, Alice's father, is the center of this book without actually being in most of is. In the first section of the book, Matt is deployed to Iraq leaving his wife and two daughters behind. Though we don't know him for every long, it is made quite clear that he is an amazing person. I love when the father figure within a book is a positive presence as I feel that too often in young adult books parents, especially the father, are shown to be the bad guy when we all know, as adults now, that more likely they are just trying to protect their children. In this book, Alice loves her father and he is only shown in the positive light that you hope your daughter would have of you. The other character I loved was Alice's best friend Henry who was such an old soul. He is a great teenage boy character and you love him almost instantly.
Along with this truly realistic father figure and a wonderful friend, Laura Harrington has included a cast of believable characters within a story that is happening across the country as we speak. It will touch anyone who reads it, but will especially be special for those going through a similar situation as Alice's.
My only issue with the book was the point of view. I normally understand why authors make a certain choice for POV and even if I don't understand why, I can usually get used to the style; however, in this book I never found myself flowing along with the transitions within the narration. The POV is 3rd person omniscient and switches the focus of the narrator throughout. I wish that it had been 1st person (even alternating) or 3rd person limited. This is the 2nd book that I've had trouble with the POV choice, but I am glad that this time it didn't affect the impact of the story too much for me. The story still was poignant and emotional and I found that I could ignore my trepidation because I loved the characters and story so much.
Snatch of Text: "A climate of expectation fosters the possibility, even the near certainty of achievement. If I believe in you, and I communicate that to you, you will find things in yourself you never knew were there." (p. 198)
"Mrs. Baker says there can be ineffable joy in pursuing the absurd." (p. 60)
"What's your new favorite word?" Gram asks. "I have two: Acnestis. Noun. On an animal, the point of the back that lies between the shoulders and the lower back, which cannot be reached or scratched. And pandiculation. Noun. The stretching that accompanies yawning." (p. 213) (less)
This book tells you seven stories through an interactive tour of a map. Each map has a different theme and starts with an introductory story.
While reading, I thought of so many different ways that this book could be utilized in a classroom:
First, the book teaches map skills because it has a key and directs the reader to different sections of the map by using the grid system and the scale.
Second, the setting of each map would be a great jumping off point to writing a story.
Third, many of the settings are based off of books or history and would be easy to connect to novels. For example, the first map is "The Ghostly Galleon Cruise of the Seven Seas" which could be connected with the Young Jack Sparrow books. "Land of Mythical Monsters" is set in Greece so could connect to mythology and any book like The Lightning Thief. "Roundup of the Western Terror-tories" to The Case of the Deadly Desperados, "Tour of the Wicked Woods and Witchfield Village" to Tales of Dark and Grimm, "Trip Through Transylvania" to Dracula Doesn't Drink Lemonade, "Sleepwalking Tour of Nightmare House" to All the Lovely Bad Ones, and Museum of Haunted Objects to The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde.
I am sure there are even more ways I am going to keep thinking about it. I, personally, cannot wait to use this in my classroom.
Snatch of Text: "Land of Mythical Monsters: Who better to lead a tour through the birthplace of the foulest, ugliest, and fiercest monsters of all time than Hercules, a legend himself. This tour is for experts only. Pack your best hiking shoes and sunscreen. Might Hercules will meet you at Athena's Temple. You will trek through snowcapped mountains, sail to the sunny island of Crete, and hike back to the dark door to the Underworld. Test your skills and see if you can make it through the Minotaur's famous labyrinth." (p. 7)(less)
Ginny Rorby writes books about animal-human relationships and the healing power of these animals. This is animal fiction that falls into a completely different realm than others. She breathlessly intertwines human problems with animals. Her previous book, Hurt Go Happy, dealt with Joey, a deaf young girl, her mother’s inability to deal with her disability, and how Sukari, a young chimpanzee, helps Joey and her mother accept their life. Her newest book,The Outside of a Horse, deals with Hannah. Hannah Gale feels so alone. Her mother passed away from cancer a few years ago, her father is fighting in Iraq, her stepmother doesn’t really connect with her, and her brother, Jeffy, is just too young to be there for her. The only comfort to Hannah is when her school bus drives by the stables and she gets to see the horses. It is through these horses that Hannah finds comfort during this difficult time in her life that just keeps getting worse and worse.
It is through Ginny Rorby’s believable characters and realistic situations that the reader feels so connected to the animals and humans of her novels. Both The Outside of a Horse and Hurt Go Happy deal with not only a human issue, but an animal issue as well. The Outside of a Horse shows the reader the truth behind horse racing. What makes Rorby’s books different, though, is that she teaches about an animal issue, but does not preach. She lets you take in the truth and decide for yourself if it is an injustice or not.
Summary: August, Auggie, has never been to school. It isn't because he never wanted to, it was because he never could. After being born with an almost unknown birth defect, he has had over 25 surgeries in his short 10 years of life. Now, after a time of surgery-free life, Auggie's parents have decided that it is time for Auggie to go to school. As a 5th grader. Which is the first year of middle school. As Auggie's dad says, it is like leading a lamb to slaughter and the ride that Auggie goes on is a roller coaster of emotions.
What I think: There are certain books that while you are reading, you wish that you could share it with every person, adult and child, that you know. This is one of those books. It is almost too hard to explain because of how wonderful it is. It is a book that will make you want to be kinder to every person that you meet. It is already a lesson that I try to teach my students and a book like this will assist me in showing them how words and actions can affect another person.
Although August is amazing and you cannot feel for and love his character, there are 2 other characters that made this book for me. First, Summer. She shows that there are 10 year olds that are still loving and thoughtful. The other is Mr. Browne. I love his precepts and how he teaches his class. What a way to make students reflect about their lives and to think deeply.
"I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go... My name is August, by the way. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." (p. 1)(less)
In the world of paranormal romance, Spellbound is a book full of cliches, but fights them and actually stands alone pretty strongly. Overall, a fun romance with action, legends and great music references!
Cliche 1: Emma moves to NYC to live with her rich aunt after a life of loss with her family and has to start school at a posh private school. At the private school she meets: 1) Kristen- A blonde *itchy girl who hates her right away; 2) Anthony- An aggressive, *ss hole rich jock who harasses her; 3) Brendan- A hot, rich jock who she falls in love with at first site; 4) Cisco- A gay best friend; 5) Angelique- An outcast, scholarship kid who accepts Emma for who she is.
Overcoming cliche 1: Emma is quite snarky and keeps you on your toes while reading her narrative. The rest of the characters may fit into cliches, but they are struggling to crawl out of the box. Although the snobby girl and the a-hole boy fit their niche pretty exactly, the rest don't. Cisco is essential in making Emma feel comfortable at her new school (although naming a gay guy Francisco seemed a bit too predictable) and Angelique becomes quite important when the paranormal aspect of the story enters. I was sad that Cisco faded as Emma's relationship with Brendan came into focus. And Brendan....
Cliche 2: A girl falls in love with a bad boy (who is described surprisingly like Edward...) Brendan is a misunderstood bad guy and Emma is just the person to figure him out.
Overcoming cliche 2: Brendan is so cool! He is a gentleman (most of the time...), has great taste in music, is one of the smartest boys in the school and is just, so... hot! Usually when I read a paranormal romance (ala Twilight or Hush, Hush) the man is always so overbearing, aggressive, masculine and negative. Brendan, though mysterious and protective at times, is likable. A nice touch to actually have the protagonist fall for a likable guy.
Cliche 3: Their cursed to love each other and will eventually result in one of their dooms. (Seemed very Impossible by Werlin to me.)
Overcoming cliche 3: The build up to the curse, the curse reveal and the result of the curse are quite entertaining. I found parts of it predictable, but other parts came out of nowhere and shocked me. Quite fun!
Cliche 4: Girl cannot live without boy. They are sole mates.
Overcoming cliche 4: Well, this one is not really overcome. They are soul mates, but it is less of a needy situation than other romances I've read. Yes, Emma loves Brendan and fantasizes and daydreams about him, but Emma also has her own personality. She is strong and not afraid to stand up for herself. She is not always relying on Brendan (though he does seem to be there for her a lot).
So if you are looking for a fun read that may be just a bit different than the other paranormal romances you've read, you should pick this up. (less)
This book is such a compelling read and a great addition to the dystopian subgenre. When I started this book, I had never heard of it but I was intrigued by the concept and right away I was glad that this book had crossed my path. This book was non-stop action and was so hard to predict because of all of the twists and turns throughout. Just as you thought that things were going to get steady for Kris and Jade, something happens. I also enjoyed the back and forth between Kris and Jade. Whenever there is a boy and girl character who are blatantly flirting yet pretend they don't like each other, it makes me want to keep reading to see if they figure it out (and you'll have to read to find out if Kris and Jade do). I was particularly enthralled with this book because it seemed to be something that could realistically happen in the near future. The idea of killing off animals who spread a disease already happens and the extreme that the book goes to could definitely happen. It actually hurt me to think of a world where people couldn't have cats- the companionship that cats provide is something no other animal can. Also, I think this is another book that is a great example of "Don't judge a book by its cover" as the cover makes it look so boring! It isn't, I promise.
Read Together: Grades 6 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: The Girl Who Remembered Horses by Linda Benson, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Snatch of Text: "There was no way she'd let me touch her at first. Trust had to be built up slowly and painfully. I talked to her softly, offered her little treats, and took care not to make any sudden or threatening movements." (p. 10)
"There was one person, however, who found me endlessly fascinating. Kris Delaney. Kris was the bane of my life. It was the entire aim of his existence to test me. I don't know why I interested him so much. It certainly bugged him that I wasn't born in the neighborhood and had lived in a greenhome and, OK, we'd had a boat if only a small one. But Kris was different, too. You'd see him with other lads, kicking a ball about, but you'd see him on his own just as much. There was always a distance between him and his mates." (p. 17)
Mentor Text for: World Building, Conflict, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Jade goes on the run from the authorities to protect Feela. Do you agree with the choice she made? Use text evidence to back up your claim. What is something or someone in your life that you would risk everything for like Jade did for Feela?
This is beautifully written, about prejudice but not in a didactical sense, and truly is a great story. I recommend highly.
What makes me sad about this book is that Astrid has to hide who she is even though she is an amazing person. The book begins with her sending her love to others hoping that they have a better life; such a selfless idea. Yet, Astrid even keeps this secret. She keeps everything true about her secret and all because it is not what is expected. I think that this shows something that is so wrong in our society. Differences should be embraced as long as someone is a good person. (less)
Now, this is not a "normal" Chris Crutcher book, but like all of his books, it is raw, true, and sports plays a role of...more*Chris Crutcher can write. Wow!
Now, this is not a "normal" Chris Crutcher book, but like all of his books, it is raw, true, and sports plays a role of some sort. And this one is SO full of suspense for the last 25%. It is a hold your breath, read as quickly as you can kind of book there at the end. (I do wish that this suspense had been spread out to 50% of the book. This would have helped the pacing a bit and I think it would have given Crutcher more time to give information into the crime. Although the quick pacing at the end adds to the suspense, I think spreading it out a bit would have kept the suspense and given more time to delve further into the bad guys and the mystery.)
I, personally, really loved how he chose to tell the story in 3rd person. Although it doesn't give as much insight into one character, it gives you a little bit of insight into each one, and as you are trying to figure out what is going one, it is really fun to hear from all the different characters. (Some readers and reviewers have stated that having the multiple 3rd person point of views made it so the reader didn't really know anyone, but I think it actually helped me get to know everyone a little bit. It also allows for the reader to get snippets of not just the mystery but of the characters allowing you to build the complete character in your head.)
Another brilliant think Crutcher did was include foreshadowing scenes right at the beginning of the novel that did not make sense until the end and then I had to go back and read it. Well done!
Also, if you ever need a mentor text on complex sentence structure or descriptive language--Crutcher is for you!
Mostly, though, this book will find its home in teens' hands. It will be as loved as other Crutcher books.
We flagged: "He hits the water, involuntarily sucking air as the cold leaks in. The colder the better. He deserves this. Even so, he pees in self-defense, his only means to counter the ice-watery fingers creeping around his ribcage and into his crotch. He swims away from shore for about a hundred yards as his body heat warms the water inside the suit. He turns parallel to the shore and strokes, finding a candence he can hold over the next two hours. He knows how to play games to allay the monotony; fifty stroke hard, fifty strokes easy; a hundred strokes hard, fifty easy; a hundred-fifty hard, fifty easy, and on and on. An hour up and an hour back. He has taught himself to breathe on either side in order to keep the shore in sight and swim a relatively straight line. On this morning, working on zero sleep, he holds an even pace; no intervals. Just his sweet Hannah wedged in his frontal lobe. His gone Hannah." (p. 3-4) (less)
I LOVE retellings of fairy tales and this one is no exception. And what is even better about this one is it is HILARIOUS! It reminds me a bit of Shrek except I liked the humor in Hero's Guide better because I feel it is a very smart funny. Just the concept is funny and smart- the four Princes Charming from the Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty stories star in this book (unlike the original stories where they don't even get credit with their real name!) and the Princes each have such a fun, unique personality.
While reading this, the teacher in me found many different parts that I could use- specifically when talking about point of views. I already use The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and the movie "Hoodwinked" to discuss it and Hero's Guide will be a perfect addition. I even found a part that made grammar funny!! And there is foreshadowing, a perfect plot arc, and suspense. (less)
This graphic novel had pretty basic retellings of fairy tales with extraordinary artwork illustrating them. Each retelling was told by a different aut...moreThis graphic novel had pretty basic retellings of fairy tales with extraordinary artwork illustrating them. Each retelling was told by a different author and illustrated by a different artist.
The retellings were just that- retellings with no flair or adaptation from the original fairy tales (except Princess & the Pea which added humor in the illustrations and dialogue). Although some may come into this book wanting more than what they find, it was nice to go back to the originals and basics.
Although each story had a different artist, the style was perfect for each tale. For Rapunzel: the artwork was sinister and sketchy, Thumbelina: more colorful, friendly, Snow White: Realistic, dark and more like a comic strip, Beauty and the Beast: Cartoony, blocky, Princess & the Pea: Almost anime, looks the most like a picture book.
And the best parts about the book (from a teachers point of view any ways) were 1) Each story started out with a cast of characters. 2) After each fairy tale there was a history page where it discussed the history of the fairy tale or author. The blurbs held some interesting pieces of information.(less)