A Boy Called Bat is one of those quiet yet impactful books that will find a special place in many hearts. The story is about Bat’s Asperger’s and his parent’s divorce without it being about that at all. The main character, Bat, is one of those special characters that as I was reading about him I knew that readers getting to know him will make them grow as people and that their empathy to fellow kids who may seem different will grow as well.
Bat’s story will not only appeal to our readers that love stories that promote empathy and understanding of others, Bat and his skunk, Thor, will definitely appeal to our readers who love animals. Bat’s mother is a veterinarian and Bat is 99.9% sure he is going to be as well. There are many animal references throughout the book, so these will all draw in readers who love animals. ...more
I really, really, really enjoyed this book. First, it made me like Shakespeare more than I did before. Second, I think that it dealt with sexual identity in a gentle and realistic manner.
I must admit that Shakespeare is a fear of mine because I just never have felt like I got him the way I should as an English Lit major and English teacher; however, it is what it is. When I see Shakespeare plays, I am always transported into the story and understand what all the hoopla is about, but reading it cold, I just never get it. I worried that a story about a middle school putting on Romeo and Juliet would let the Shakespeare bog it down, but it did the opposite–it helped this story be what it is. The reader learns to love Shakespeare as Mattie learns to love him. And since we are in class and at rehearsals with Mattie, we also get to be part of some of the lessons about the play thus helping the reader understand the text as well as Mattie is supposed to. It was brilliantly intertwined.
Mattie’s feelings toward Gemma are obvious to the reader before Mattie even realizes what they are, but that felt truly realistic to me because if you are someone who has already crushed on boys, feeling the same way towards a girl could be confusing, but Dee never makes it seem like what Mattie seems is anything but natural which is beautiful to see in a middle grade novel....more
I always worry about sophmore books because there is always a chance that the story will just not hold up to the premiere; however, Zack is back and better than ever! The first Zack Delacruz adventure really introduced us to the diverse cast of characters at Zack’s school and just how rough of a time Zack has on a day-to-day basis. Book two begins with one of the funniest days I’ve ever read about in a book! Not only does he knock down the new girl who he wants to get to know during a game of dodgeball, but it definitely gets worse than that (but I am not going to tell you!). Next to the humor, the thing I love most about Anderson’s choice of character is that he makes sure that Zack’s school reflects a real school and the teachers and kids that go there. ...more
When I originally started this book over the summer, I had just finished Truth or Dare by Barbara Dee which was about a young girl’s grief after the loss of her mother, so when I picked up Be Light Like a Bird and Wren’s father passed away in the first few pages, it just emotionally wrecked me. I tried continuing, but the grief that Wren and her mother feel just lept off the page and into my heart–I had to put it down for a bit. When I picked it back up, after Augusta Scattergood recommended it, I jumped right in, prepared this time, and loved every second of my journey with Wren and her mother.
Be Light Like a Bird was so tough for me to read the first time because the emotions that Monika Schröder evokes through her writing are just so real. Wren’s mother is in the anger stage of grief and just cannot seem to leave it while Wren wants to accept and learn to live without her father, but when your only remaining parent is in such denial and anger, it really affects the young person’s life that they are raising....more
Full review with teaching tools: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1... The blurbs for Hundred Percent state that the book delves into the true emotiFull review with teaching tools: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1... The blurbs for Hundred Percent state that the book delves into the true emotions and experiences of a sixth grader, and that it does. It actually is so realistic that it will make adults, myself included, a bit uncomfortable. Thinking back to sixth grade, it was the time where everyone was figuring out their identities: social, emotional, physical, sexual. Hundred Percent captures this. Tink is trying to figure out who her friends are, if it is worth liking boys, how to deal with changes all over the place, and so much more. I do know that there are parts of the book that some adults will be uncomfortable with their students/child reading if they are the same age as Tink. For example, there are derogatory terms used such as slut/slutty and horny skank, a lip syncing scene to “Honky Tonk Women,” and a discussion of what “sleeping together” is. Although this may be a bit uncomfortable, the more I think about the more I have come to realize that these conversations are definitely happening between 6th graders, and we can’t, as the adults in their life, pretend like they are not (though I still don’t know why the teachers let them choose “Honky Tonk Women”). With all this being said, I still think this text is for our most mature sixth graders, but those students need Tink’s story.
I've seen friends' reviews of this book that say they're conflicted about this book, and I completely agree. The prose is often beautiful describing the most mundane experiences lyrically. The story, though it seems overall realistic with Tink searching for her place in the social hierarchy, finds itself too mature in parts so much so that it felt less reliable as a sixth grade narrator. I do think that there are middle school readers will connect with Tink though her experiences are not appropriate for all the same age as she is....more
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
I adore this series. I couldn't stop talking about it as I listened to it. I'm sad it is over, but so glad I went on the journey. Some say Grace is anI adore this series. I couldn't stop talking about it as I listened to it. I'm sad it is over, but so glad I went on the journey. Some say Grace is annoying; I think she's troubled, hunted, and strong. Some say the story is far fetched; I say it is a medieval drama in modern times. Some don't buy the romance; I say Alexei is the perfect example of a bad boy who isn't actually bad, so I'm just glad he's a good example of a guy....more
So glad that Vivi decided to write about what happened between the last chapter and epilogue of Olivia Twisted. It finally fills in the gaps of what hSo glad that Vivi decided to write about what happened between the last chapter and epilogue of Olivia Twisted. It finally fills in the gaps of what happened to Z and Liv. And it is GOOD! I read it in one sitting and couldn't put it down! Start with the first book then definitely pick up this one!
I was very lucky to be one of the early readers for Olivia Twisted (Vivi’s children actually go to the school I teach at! Check out the discussion questions at the back of the book, too–I wrote those!), and I fell in love with Liv and Z. I loved how Vivi retold Oliver Twist yet made the story completely hers at the same time. However, anyone that read the book had one big question looming over them: What happened between the end of the story and the epilogue?!?!? It is something that I am sure Vivi was asked over and over again, and Olivia Decoded is the answer, and it is a GOOD answer. I read this book in one sitting, and I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened because even though you knew what happened because of the epilogue in Olivia Twisted, how it got to that situation was a big mystery....more
I haven’t read any Barbara Dee books until now, and I now see why so many of my middle school girls like her stories. The drama in Truth or Dare (sadly) feels so real to the girl drama I witness as a middle school teacher. Although parts may be a bit exaggerated a bit from the truth, it works to get the point across which I think is often needed when dealing with social situations in middle school to help the reader see the consequences.
I also really liked the truth of Lia’s family, their grief, and the struggle between Lia’s aunt’s eccentricity and Lia’s family’s rigidity.
4 stars since it is perfect for the audience that it is written for....more
Oh man! This book brought flash backs to every boy band obsessed student I have taught over the last 10 years! Emma’s love for Boyz3000 can represent any middle school fangirl/boy who is so in love with the band, their music, and one of their members so blindly that they feel that the love is the most real thing they’ve ever felt! (And this is coming from a girl who cried when she saw Hanson live for the first time, so I know this emotion!) In addition to the story about Emma’s love of Boyz, Emma also has to learn responsibility to earn money to go see them in concert as well as some mean girl issues in middle school all told in a journal format which I think middle schoolers will find true to their voice. ...more
Early chapter books are one of my book gaps, and I have been trying, over the last few years, to read as many of them as I can, so I was very happy to have the chance to read Medina’s Juana & Lucas. One thing I have noticed as I read these beloved early chapter books are that although the characters may be diverse in some aspects of their culture/identity, most of the characters are not diverse in their ethnicity. However, now here comes Juana (and Bea Garcia!). She is a character that everyone reading will relate to in some way, and now Latina/Latino students or students learning English will have a character to relate to in early chapter books.
In addition to the new diversity in this group of books, Juana & Lucas is also just a funny and sweet book about a young girl who has to learn that working hard to learn or be able to do something new is worth the work. This theme will definitely resonate with so many students!
I also want to add that I didn’t know much about Columbia when I started, but when Juana starts talking about Bogotá, you can hear her love of the city come through the pages, so I went to Wikipedia right away to learn more about the city, and I am in love! I told Jim I want to retire there. It is beautiful, and their temperature varies from 43 to 66 degrees! That is the perfect weather! Now, I have to go through the same thing as Juana and learn Spanish, so I am ready to go in 25 or so years ...more
I am loving learning more about early middle grade books, and Bea Garcia is going to be a protagonist that will be welcomed in this group of books. Bea will join forces with so many strong girls that 4th through 6th graders can read about. What I love about Bea’s story is that it is one that so many readers will relate to. She deals with losing a best friend and a bully moving into her classroom and neighborhood. She also has a supportive and real family that will reflect many families out there. Also, I loved Deborah Zemke’s illustrations throughout. They really brought Bea’s personality, dreams, and thoughts. ...more
Love is a language that is spoken in so many different ways. Kiely's book is a love poem to forever love, first love, family love, questioning love, lLove is a language that is spoken in so many different ways. Kiely's book is a love poem to forever love, first love, family love, questioning love, love of music, love of words, and the struggle of love. Beautiful and touching and will fill your heart....more