What an excellent and engrossing novel from the author of the Alcatraz series. Set in San Francisco in 1900, this book brings Lizzie to life: smart, dWhat an excellent and engrossing novel from the author of the Alcatraz series. Set in San Francisco in 1900, this book brings Lizzie to life: smart, defiant, sometimes insecure Lizzie. She loves science and medicine--totally unsuitable! And she hates the private finishing school she attends. Over the course of the book, as she battles her aunt and uncle, prejudice (mostly in others, but even a little bit in herself), the plague, dishonest doctors and journalists, street performers, thugs, her own brother and beloved father, Lizzie learns more about the world and the way things work. She discovers unexpected allies and friends, and she opens her eyes to see the grey in the world, even though black and white is simpler. Lizzie is the kind of friend I'd like to have. She goes through terrible things, but she comes out stronger and smarter and better. I'm not a big reader of historical fiction, but I can always count on Choldenko's books for gripping reads that drop me into fascinating places and times and make me care about the people there....more
What a fabulous novel--the perfect mix of reality and heartbreak and hope and love. There are no easy answers here, and Jackson's story will both breaWhat a fabulous novel--the perfect mix of reality and heartbreak and hope and love. There are no easy answers here, and Jackson's story will both break your heart and begin to stitch it up again. That's how I feel when I read a book I know will stay with me a long time.
I moved out of my parents' house as a teenager, and I think I could've used a Crenshaw to help me through it!...more
When I first started this book, I was a little disoriented. I haven't read the other Mr. Terupt books, and I found the seven viewpoint characters tougWhen I first started this book, I was a little disoriented. I haven't read the other Mr. Terupt books, and I found the seven viewpoint characters tough to keep straight. And they reference past events so often that I felt very left out of the loop. AND they speak with such reverence about Mr. Terupt (who is offstage for the first 1/3 or 1/2 of the book) that it seems overdone and almost comical.
But. But...then I slowly fell in love with the book, the kids, and Mr. Terupt. Do I wish I had read the other titles first? Yes! (If you haven't read them, read them before reading this one.) But this book is about kids facing totally real, contemporary problems that involve their families, their friends, their school. And it's about the bonds that a great teacher forges with his students, and the impact that can have for years to come.
By the end of the book, I felt like it was a bit of magic, and I'd have been right in there baking brownies for Mr. Terupt, too....more
Hmm. This was an okay read. But if you've read HOLES and loved it, approach this book with caution. It's an all right story, but for a writer of SachaHmm. This was an okay read. But if you've read HOLES and loved it, approach this book with caution. It's an all right story, but for a writer of Sachar's talent, that's clearly not what you expect. It seems almost like a sketch for a novel--maybe some prewriting or a first draft--rather than a completed work....more
Lovely novel in verse! I learned a lot about a period/time I was really ignorant of. Wonderful details and characters--I especially enjoyed the poemsLovely novel in verse! I learned a lot about a period/time I was really ignorant of. Wonderful details and characters--I especially enjoyed the poems from the forest's/creatures' points of view....more
I really enjoyed the main storyline here. I cared about the characters, and the plot really gets into touchy choices that teens face today (sharing inI really enjoyed the main storyline here. I cared about the characters, and the plot really gets into touchy choices that teens face today (sharing inappropriate photos, disapproving of family members' actions, etc.). It felt contemporary but never gritty, and I don't like gritty, so I liked that!
I like the story alternating between Bridge and Sherman, and the big issues they're both dealing with. The people of this school, the friendships with each other, the way things evolve...it all just feels so natural, so real. Really lovely.
What I didn't care for was the structure of the chapters woven in that were told in second person from a secondary character's point of view, and that character is not identified until the very end. This felt false and engineered to accomplish something, but whatever it was, it didn't, for me. It was just a distraction.
Still, overall, it's a 4 out of 5 for me. Wonderful main story.
A few quotes I love:
Bridge knew why she was here. It's why we're all here, she thought.
There was no black line between friendship and whatever might come next.
[E]very time a decision is made, the universe splits into two.
Because if she truly remembered, she'd know that everything is exactly as terrible as it feels....more
I enjoyed this novel--wow, what an eye-opening immersion into rural life in Norway in the 1800s! I'm not a huge folktale lover, so the weaving in of tI enjoyed this novel--wow, what an eye-opening immersion into rural life in Norway in the 1800s! I'm not a huge folktale lover, so the weaving in of those didn't really do a lot for me. But a young girl sold as a goatgirl who stands up for herself, rescues her little sister, and finagles her way toward America? I'm in. Astri is not always that likeable, because she doesn't think she's a good person. But as the novel goes on, I like her more and more. The way Spinning Girl works into the story, and the adventures on board the ship, and the danger (of rape, of death, of discovery) that's ever-present in her life all make for a rollicking good adventure.
I didn't like being left hanging about various plot elements--(view spoiler)[whether she finds her father in America, how things work out for her and Greta, and whether she is ever reunited with Spinning Girl (also her sister, though she doesn't find that out until she's left her behind) (hide spoiler)]--I did feel a sense of completion with Astri herself, and the way her feelings about herself have changed.
This is a dark and dramatic tale, and don't miss the excellent author's note at the end!
(One note on the audio download version: The narrator doesn't pronounce the author's name correctly! That's pretty sad.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
What a lovely book! It's always a bit scary reading a book a friend has written. I always want to like it, but...you just never know. I know Liz is aWhat a lovely book! It's always a bit scary reading a book a friend has written. I always want to like it, but...you just never know. I know Liz is a wonderful poet and picture book writer, but this is her first novel, and to top it all off, it's a southern road-trip novel--two genres I'm NOT immediately drawn to. And it's a beautiful book, so there you go.
I am not completely wild about the title, cover illustration, or back jacket copy, to be perfectly honest. So when I started this book, I worried that it might be too full of abstract ideas, ruminations on life, and overall sweetness. Luckily, I was wrong. Liz has built a world that feels as concrete as the dying geraniums on my deck right now, as close as the Coke Zero by my mousepad. Ivy is kind and full of faith, yes, but she's also a bit short-tempered and tired of being patient. I love that about her! She tells people off, gets her feelings hurt, and judges what her mother has done--as well she should!
I fell in love with Ivy and Paul, and I wanted so badly for things to work out perfectly for Ivy. And they do work out, not in a perfect, unrealistic, could only happen in a novel kind of way, but in a real life, dying geraniums and Coke Zero and life is still pretty good kind of way.
To top it all off, I was a Spacecoast baby, and my dad was an engineer at NASA most of his adult life, so the Space Shuttle subplot was a sweet spot for me.
So, even if the elements of a religious girl, a southern setting, and a mother who's run off with Hallelujah Dave don't hook you immediately, as they don't me, give this book a try. I'm betting you'll be so drawn in to Ivy and her humor and honesty that you won't be able to put it down after the first chapter....more
Really enjoyed this suspense/science novel by Kate. The setting was spooky, the plotting was tight, and the main character was relatable. Read this inReally enjoyed this suspense/science novel by Kate. The setting was spooky, the plotting was tight, and the main character was relatable. Read this in bed while I was sick, and I was so glad to have the distraction of a good book!...more
I love a poetry collection that's a good mash-up, so Leslie Bulion's latest, Random Body Parts (Peachtree, 2015), makes me squeal with joy! First, it'I love a poetry collection that's a good mash-up, so Leslie Bulion's latest, Random Body Parts (Peachtree, 2015), makes me squeal with joy! First, it's poems about body parts. Yes, please. Annnd, it's poems in a ton of different poetic forms. Excellent. But wait. There's more. Every poem has a nod to Shakespeare's writing. Say whaaaaaaat?
I know. It's too much to take in, isn't it?
To get the idea, I'm going to have to share a poem, its sidebar, and its end note. Since my stomach growls all the time (so embarrassing), I'm sharing the poem "Lunchtime." Seatbelt buckled? Here we go!
Thrice the empty pot has whined. Thrice times thrice the cavern gapes. The signal comes: 'Tis time, 'tis time!
In the cauldron, mix and stew Choice ingredients for our brew:
Flesh of fowl ground into hash, Blood of berries bled from mash,
Wheat paste wet with human spit, Plant parts mangled bit by bit.
Grumble, grumble, roil and rumble, Acid burn and slurry tumble.
Lumps of lard from fatted swine, Shellfish innards laced with brine,
Spuds unearthed from ud, then fried, Mucus oozed from deep inside,
Milk that's soured into curd-- Borborygmus roars are heard!
With a pulverizing rumble, Churn and thrash the slushy jumble.
--Leslie Bulion, all rights reserved
Sidebar: Your stomach, more a muscular bag than an empty pot, churns food into a thick, liquidy shake called chyme. Putting food in your cavernous mouth signals your stomach to produce strong acids and digestive juices that help break food down into nutrients your body can use. Luckily, the stomach is coated with slimy mucus so it can't digest itself! The growling sound your stomach and intestines make as they work is called borborygmus (bor/bor/RIG/mus). [Addendum: Now on school visits, I can apologize for my borborygmus!]
End note: Lunchtime: This poem is written with the same rhyme pattern and number of beats, or meter, as the witches' speech in William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth: "Double, double toil and trouble;/Fire burn, and cauldron bubble." Imitating a well-known poem is a wonderful way to practice rhythm and rhyme in poetry. After the first three non-rhyming lines, the rest of the poem is written in couplets--two lines in a row that rhyme. What part of your body is "the cavern" in the beginning of the poem?
Wow. You've got your STEM, your poetry writing, your Shakespeare reading--all tied up in a neat, clever collection. I got to see a sneak peak of this back at NCTE when Leslie posed for my Be a Star campaign!
And we got to go out for a yummy breakfast and walked the exhibit floor a bit, too, where I admired Leslie's new book at the Peachtree booth.
I highly recommend Random Body Parts--perfect for science teachers, English teachers, poetry lovers, Shakespeare fans, and anyone who like a bit of dark humor. If you're hungry for good poetry, stave off borborygmus (see what I did there) with a copy of Random Body Parts....more
This book kind of broke my heart. The relationships are so finely drawn, and the chapter right after (view spoiler)[ Chirp's mother commits suicide (hThis book kind of broke my heart. The relationships are so finely drawn, and the chapter right after (view spoiler)[ Chirp's mother commits suicide (hide spoiler)] was exquisite. I felt like I was right there in Chirp's grief. Joey's home situation was so realistically drawn, too. So many kids are dealing with so many hard home situations, and this lovely novel really reminded me of that....more
I really appreciated the way Max problem-solved and came up with some unexpected solutions. That was interesting and appealed to my logical side. TherI really appreciated the way Max problem-solved and came up with some unexpected solutions. That was interesting and appealed to my logical side. There were too many plot coincidences for my taste, though, and I felt a curious lack of tension for a story about a boy whose parents disappeared under curious circumstances. ...more
What a fun mystery for kids who like fast-paced thrills. I haven't read the earlier books in the series, but I'll be checking those out, too! BetweenWhat a fun mystery for kids who like fast-paced thrills. I haven't read the earlier books in the series, but I'll be checking those out, too! Between the various spooky scenes of Paris, the engaging plot, and the undercurrent of depth provided by Henry's worries about his father, stepmom, and new baby sister, this one delivers a satisfying read. What kid doesn't want to be a hero, after all?...more