This is a book about a girl named Sara who gets a lucky break and moves out of her small-town New England home to go on scholarship to Jersey Ballet s...moreThis is a book about a girl named Sara who gets a lucky break and moves out of her small-town New England home to go on scholarship to Jersey Ballet school. Of course life is very different near New York City compared to home. There are loads of issues that Sara deals with or sees others struggle over: being away from home, communication, becoming sexually active, being used by the person she loves, eating disorders, making and keeping friends, hard curriculum in a new private school, being a teenager with parents who can’t read her mind, etc. And it is all in poetry.
So I liked the poetry. But I didn’t love this story. I didn’t like how Sara just did what Rem wanted to make her feel better about herself. It was like she kept doing all these destructive things and couldn’t stop. Now I know that many teenagers don’t think through all their actions…but this teenager just drove me nuts. Now, I do know that my personality doesn’t mean that this isn’t an amazing book for many other people. But since I had to force myself to care about the main character and that parts of it were too crude…it just wasn’t for me. Meh.(less)
This would be a good book to add to a haunted, ghost, monster, Halloween display. AND it would also be an interesting addition to a school book talk a...moreThis would be a good book to add to a haunted, ghost, monster, Halloween display. AND it would also be an interesting addition to a school book talk about things that are underground (the dead are buried you see). The book is full of epitaph poems about animals. And some of them are just funny. My nephew who was 5 had me read it to him. (He picked it out of my book stack of things I brought home to write about.) And he didn’t quite get it. But my older nephew did. And thought some of these were funny. I could also see reading these to teens who stop by the library desk and just want to chat…especially if they are ready for some SRP 2013 “Beneath the Surface” jokes. However, it is an oddity that will only hit those few readers who really like to laugh at the idea of animal epitaphs. Some wouldn’t like it at all. And therein lies the trick of how to book talk this one. But, here is an epitaph or two that made me laugh:
Mourning a Dove Go, wing, go, wing… gone.
Hasta Manana, Iguana I wrestled a tumbleweed, just for practice, then I got pinned by a saguaro cactus! (less)
We first meet Ha when she is trying to adjust to a changing life in South Vietnam after all the American soldiers left. Her father is missing, prices...moreWe first meet Ha when she is trying to adjust to a changing life in South Vietnam after all the American soldiers left. Her father is missing, prices for food are getting higher, and Ha is sometimes frustrated and doesn’t want to be “good”. The only trouble is that life doesn’t get any easier when her family begins their journey to escape before the Northern Vietnam flag flies over their city. Ha doesn’t enjoy her journey to the United States. And once in the state of Alabama, she is disillusioned with how life is so different from what she is used to.
Ha’s story is beautiful and heartfelt. The poetry is amazing. And I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes and well-chosen words. Since it is a book of poetry, I think that many readers who are daunted by long chapter books will be happy with all the white space on the page. However, they will still need to pay close attention to each poem in order to understand the source of Ha’s frustrations and what she and her family do about them. For example, when Ha and her family are in the United States, she sounds out words that are around her. When reading words like “Ha Le Lu Da” need to be translated to “hallelujah”.
I liked how this story was told from Ha’s point of view. She wasn’t afraid to “write” in her poetry the confusion and anger that come from being one of the smartest girls in a school class to feeling dumb because she can’t understand the new language or the culture around her. I think many young readers will relate to “how [Ha] shoulder[s] the world!”(less)
I really liked the illustrations and the poems...EXCEPT for the fact that I couldn't tell until I started reading if I should read the poem from the t...moreI really liked the illustrations and the poems...EXCEPT for the fact that I couldn't tell until I started reading if I should read the poem from the top down or from the bottom up. I REALLY wish that there was some indication as to what way to read it so I (and kids) won't get discouraged.(less)
Ha! Such funny poems, and I love that just by looking at the title kids will realize that a president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get pulled o...moreHa! Such funny poems, and I love that just by looking at the title kids will realize that a president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get pulled out. Fun facts about all our presidents!(less)
Have you ever had to say "sorry" when you really didn't mean it? This is a book of poetry that celebrates the appology that isn't an appology. For exa...moreHave you ever had to say "sorry" when you really didn't mean it? This is a book of poetry that celebrates the appology that isn't an appology. For example one poem is an appology of a witch who bakes a house of gingerbread to lure Hansel and Gretel. She is appologizing that she baked such a great house that she will be able to eat the young duo. Or another poem appoligizes for planting poison ivy in a yard of a person who didn't pay the author for mowing his lawn.
These poems will be fun to read with kids/tweens who know what it is like to want to do something that they should be sorry for...even if they aren't. In other words, this would be great for a school book talk!(less)
This is book 11 for the YALSA best books challenge. I can see why it was on my list twice (once for the Morris Award and once for the Best Fiction for...moreThis is book 11 for the YALSA best books challenge. I can see why it was on my list twice (once for the Morris Award and once for the Best Fiction for Young Adults).
This is a book of poetry (which also means quick read for those reluctant readers). Lupita is the oldest of eight kids. She was born in Mexico but her family moved to Los Estados Unidos when she was young. Although she often goes back to Mexico to visit her family there, she doesn't quite believe her parents when they tell her she has two homes. She feels like a transplanted Mexican girl in the United States. And to top it all off she hears The Secret that her parents have been hiding from her. Her mother has cancer and is very sick. It will take all that Lupita has to not only figure out who she is but to hold her family together as well. That is why she takes the time every day to write under the mesquite, a stubborn tree that is stronger than it looks.
This was good. Lupita has a powerful voice and intense struggles. Each word is well chosen and echos her emotions well. The reader will feel the shock that Lupita has when her friends are cruel at lunch. Don't her friends know what she has been through and what she is doing? Why would they be so heartless when she is always on the verge of breaking down? Lupita states the harsh reality of what life is like when she has her father go to Houston with her mother. The desperate cunning to take care of and feed herself and her siblings was subtly mentioned and yet it magnified the character of who Lupita is and why the book was so powerful. Although there are not as many words as a traditional young adult book, the text sinks into the mind and won't let go of the reader's imagination...almost like the stubbornness of a mesquite growing in a garden of roses. Beautiful.(less)
Some are better than others. But I love the idea that you can read a poem from top to bottom and get one perspective and then read it again from botto...moreSome are better than others. But I love the idea that you can read a poem from top to bottom and get one perspective and then read it again from bottom to top to get a second perspective. (less)