I was blown away by the great tale that Neil Gaiman weaves in "The Graveyard Book." It is a fantastic piece of children's literature, and winner of th...moreI was blown away by the great tale that Neil Gaiman weaves in "The Graveyard Book." It is a fantastic piece of children's literature, and winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal. I absolutely adored the character of Nobody Owens, nicknamed Bod...I think watching Bod grow from an infant to a boy to a young man by story's end was one of the things that made this book so enchanting (and the fact that most of the story takes place in a graveyard added to the intrigue too!). Neil Gaiman has crafted a well-balanced tale, full of adventure, mystery, humor, and, at times, the macabre (or should I say 'macabray'? :), and it is so well-written. The illustrations, by Dave McKean, are beautifully done, in simple, clean black and white, and really add to the interpretation of the story.
This book practically begs to be read aloud--children ages 9/10 and up would enjoy the story, characters, and descriptive language of this novel. Parents (or teachers) don't be put off by the opening chapter (a grisly murder of a family happens)-the book immediately shifts following this opening scene into a magically mysterious story that children and adults will both enjoy (I read it aloud to my 11-year-old soon-to-be stepson and he was utterly enthralled with the story--he would plead with me to read 'just a few more pages' before lights out. To me, this is definitely the mark of a wonderful book!).
I am now looking forward to reading more of Neil Gaiman, as well as Kipling's "The Jungle Book," from which Mr. Gaiman drew his inspiration for this story.
I absolutely recommend this book; read it aloud to your older children--they will be captured by the story, and I bet most adults will too!(less)
I had read this Newbery winner back in 4th grade, and while I remember absolutely loving it, I could barely recall the plot! I'm so glad I decided to...moreI had read this Newbery winner back in 4th grade, and while I remember absolutely loving it, I could barely recall the plot! I'm so glad I decided to reread this one. It is an excellent story, full of intrigue, fun, and wonderful plot twists. I can imagine 4th graders on up reading this mystery, and trying to solve the 'whodunnit' right along with the rest of the characters. The book, published in 1978, only dates itself in one place (by referring to a girl with cognitive disabilities as a "Mongoloid"--yeesh). But otherwise, this was a riveting mystery, and well-worth a reread! (less)
Let me preface this review: I distinctly remember that when I was in 4th grade, my teacher read this book aloud to our class. However, I could not rem...moreLet me preface this review: I distinctly remember that when I was in 4th grade, my teacher read this book aloud to our class. However, I could not remember the story at all, so I assumed it just wasn't very good or did not interest me. Boy was I wrong.
I'm so glad that I decided to give Spinelli's Newbery Award winning novel another chance as an adult. "Maniac Magee" is the wonderful story of Jeffrey Magee, a preteen orphan who runs away from his aunt and uncle's home...and doesn't stop running. It is such a clever story, full of humor and great descriptive writing. I think kids 10 and up could relate to Jeffrey's many predicaments on an emotional level, even if they have not encountered such issues as homelessness themselves. The messages of tolerance and compassion are deftly woven throughout the story. Spinelli, unlike other children's authors I've read, does not 'force' the "don't judge a book by its cover" theme into his narrative; instead, it seems to flow effortlessly into his storylines.
As a teacher, I absolutely recommend this to kids (and adults!) ten and older. It definitely has that "unputdownable" quality that great children's literature ought to have. (less)
I don't know how I missed this one when I was a kid. This short novel was so tender and heartfelt--it nearly had me in tears several times. MacLachlan...moreI don't know how I missed this one when I was a kid. This short novel was so tender and heartfelt--it nearly had me in tears several times. MacLachlan tells the sweet story of Anna and Caleb, who live on the prairie during the pioneer days. Their mother died after giving birth to Caleb. Now Papa is lonely and writes an ad in the paper requesting a wife. Soon the family receives a letter in response...enter Sarah, plain and tall. I have always loved stories about family and relationships, and this one certainly did not disappoint. I think many children ages 8/9 and up would enjoy this story since it is humorous, sweet, and very relatable in many ways (think sibling relationship and forming bonds with new step-parents). And of course anyone who loves good historical fiction will like it too--it is full of rich imagery that puts a clear image of the prairie in your mind. Highly recommend this one.(less)