Love That Dog is a book that would be appropriate for upper elementary or middle school students. Even high school students coulSummary and Analysis:
Love That Dog is a book that would be appropriate for upper elementary or middle school students. Even high school students could appreciate the story and format of this book. Love That Dog is a novel told in free verse and is about a young boy named Jack's struggle with poetry. Although he likes some of the poems that his teacher reads to the class, he struggles with writing poetry. Even though his teacher compliments him on some of his work, Jack requests that his name not be put on the poetry that is displayed on the classroom wall.
Eventually, Jack's confidence grows - especially when he is introduced to Walter Dean Myer's poetry. Jack even writes a poem "inspired by Mr. Myers" and writes a letter to Walter Dean Myers, inviting him to his school. Due to a lucky coincidence, Walker Dean Myers does come and reads some of his poems to the students. Jack makes sure that his teacher hides his poem that was inspired by Walter Dean Myers so the poet doesn't get mad that Jack "copied" him.
Throughout the book, information about Jack's yellow dog is revealed through his poetry. However, it is not until Jack's final poem, Love That Dog (inspired by Walter Dean Myers' Love That Boy) is revealed that the reader knows the tragedy that befell Jack's beloved yellow dog. To thank Walter Dean Myers for coming to his school, Jack mails him a copy of the poem, Love That Dog.
I listened to this book on Playaway format. This was something that was completely new to me and I must say that I enjoyed it. As always, I have some critiques for the voice actor on this particular recording. The book was clearly read by a man - not someone who at least sounded like an elementary school boy. Also, the narration was a little creepy and robotic at times, as the voice actor strived to make his diction show the format of the free verse. Although I loved the little audio player and would recommend the format - I would recommend actually reading Love That Dog and not listening to it.
This book also has a sequel, Hate That Cat. I am currently reading it now but I cannot tell if I like it as much as Love That Dog. ...more
Joey Pigza Loses Control is the second book in the Joey Pigza series and is appropriate for upper elementary o**spoiler alert**
Summary and Analysis:
Joey Pigza Loses Control is the second book in the Joey Pigza series and is appropriate for upper elementary or middle school students.
In this book, the story picks up right where Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key left off. Joey has just finished a year of school and the medicine patches that he now uses as a result of his stint at the special school are still working wonderfully. He feels like he is a different kid entirely. However, Joey is now alone every day, as his mother is at work. He tries to amuse himself by playing with his Chihuahua, Pedro, and practicing the trumpet but he finds himself getting into some trouble - not because he's "wired" but because he's bored. Finally, Joey finds out that he will be spending several weeks with his father in Pittsburg - as his father has approached lawyers about visitation rights and custody issues. Against her better judgment, Joey's mother brings him to see his father, Carter Pigza - who is living with Joey's grandmother.
As he was described in Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Carter Pigza is truly a large version of Joey. Carter displays a lot of the same ADHD symptoms that Joey had, along with a criminal record, a smoking habit, and alcohol abuse. Although Joey really wants to have a relationship with his father, he feels torn because of Carter's behavior and the fact that they never truly have a conversation due to the fact that Carter speaks a mile a minute. Things begin to look up for the father and son when Carter discovers Joey's amazing pitching arm and Joey joins the baseball team that Carter coaches, as a part of Carter's mandated community service stemming from a DUI. However, problems begin to start for Joey when his father flushes all of his medicine patches down the toilet and begins to talk about Joey moving in with him permanently. Joey becomes frightened of his father's wild mood swings and intense temper as well as his own deteriorating focus and winds up running away during the final game of the baseball championship. Luckily, Joey is able to contact his mother, who comes just in time to take him home safely.
I must say that I enjoyed this book just as much as the first one in the series, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. Both books were short, quick reads because of the way that Jack Gantos pulls the reader into the story. Joey is a likeable character and I found myself really pulling for his success. The interesting thing about this book is the contrast between how Joey is in the first book and how he is in this book. As Joey says himself in Joey Pigza Loses Control, there are two Joeys - the old wired Joey and the new Joey. He fears that the old wired Joey will come back because he is just around his father and once he is without his patches - the old Joey really does come back. The scary thing is that Joey didn't even realize, initially, when the "old Joey" was back. After a few days of being off of his medication, Joey spent an entire day running around Pittsburg doing the craziest things. Joey, as he described what he was doing, was complimenting himself on staying in control and being normal. It wasn't until the very end of the book that Joey realized how bad things had become for him again, and reached out to his mother for help.
I think the Joey Pigza books are a great resource for anyone who knows a child with ADHD. It was very insightful for me to see into the mind of a child with this condition and to see what their thought processes are and how they really do try to be "normal" even though it might not seem like it. ...more
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a book that would be appropriate for female students in 5-8th grade, due to the subjectSummary and Analysis:
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a book that would be appropriate for female students in 5-8th grade, due to the subject matter. Although this is an older book, I chose it due to the fact that it is both a "classic" and also controversial.
Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret is told through the eyes of a eleven year old girl named Margaret. Margaret had just moved from New York City to a suburb in New Jersey during the summer before her 6th grade year. In her new town, she makes several friends - known as the PTS's (Pre Teen Sweeties). Along with her friends, Margaret frets over boys, menstruation, their new male teacher, and the fact that her chest has not developed yet. Additionally, Margaret has now realized that the fact that she wasn't raised within any particular religion is very unusual in her new community. This leads Margaret to visit many different churches and synagogues in order to explore which religion she would like to choose. Although Margaret already feels comfortable speaking with God in her own way, Margaret doesn’t feel anything special in any of the services she visits.
As I read this book, I thought about the fact that this book is one of the top 100 most banned or challenged books in America. When you take into account that this book was originally published in 1970, the controversy makes sense. One can imagine that this was one of the first books written for young girls that tackled such taboo issues as religion and puberty. However, I can infer that if such a book was published now, it would not be as big of a deal. Contrary to the way that this book was received, I feel like this is a good read for preteen girls, as many of the conflicts the protagonist faces may serve as a "mirror" of their own lives.
On a side note, I found Margaret's grandmother on her paternal side to be incredibly irritating. In fact, the word meddling comes to mind. I know that Margaret and her grandmother are very close and she serves as a source of comfort many times during the novel - I just couldn't like this character. I was actually happy when Margaret couldn't visit her grandmother in Florida - even though Margret was devastated. I'm not sure if this was Judy Blume's intention for the reader, even though it was implied that Margaret's parents don't like the grandmother either.
I listened to this book on CD and I thought that it was a decent recording. The reader had a childlike voice, which was appropriate for the pre-pubescent protagonist. The only part I found annoying was that the voice actor, Laura Hamilton, would raise or deepen her voice when another character spoke. As is my personal preference, I would rather voice actors not do that when reading a book intended for older readers. However, I would still recommend the audio version of this book. ...more
Life As We Knew It is a science fiction novel for middle or high school readers. Specifically, Life As We Knew It falls under thSummary and Analysis:
Life As We Knew It is a science fiction novel for middle or high school readers. Specifically, Life As We Knew It falls under the surviving environmental catastrophes category of science fiction and is told through diary entries. The protagonist within this book is a typical sixteen year old named Miranda. Miranda has conflicts with her friends, crushes on a local figure skater, and is honored to be asked to be the godmother her new step-brother or step-sister. Everything is normal, until the day an asteroid was supposed to hit the moon. At first, the only impact this event had on Miranda's life was that all of her teachers assigned homework focused on the moon. However, as everyone stood outside to watch the big event, things went horribly wrong. Turns out, the meteor was denser than the scientists had anticipated. The impact actually knocked the moon out of its orbit, bringing it closer to earth. This had catastrophic consequences for planet Earth, as anything from tsunamis to earthquakes to volcanoes ensued. Although Miranda and her family were safe from the natural disasters, they experienced hardships in other ways. Electricity, telephone communication, food, gas, and later, water were extremely limited or nonexistent. When freezing temperatures start in late August and the number of people dying around the world increases, Miranda and her family know that their lives depend on the firewood and food that they were able to stockpile.
I listened to this book on CD and I found that I really enjoyed it. My only complaint was about the reader. This is the 3rd audio book that I have listened to, both for this class and in general, and I still believe that audio books that are not read by the author are of a lower quality. The version of this book that I listened to was not read by the author and I found that the actor they chose to read the book had a voice that was too juvenile for the 16-year old protagonist.
Life as We Knew is was definitely full of suspense and the reader (or listener- in this case) really joined the characters on their emotional rollercoaster - as they lost and regained hope due to various events in the book. The only part that seemed less authentic to me was the ending. Miranda has accepted her fate toward the very end of the book until she received unexpected news that turns things around completely. This seemed a little too "convenient" to me. Not that I minded the "happy" ending - it just could have been set up differently. ...more
Summary and Analysis: This book is a collection of "fairy tales retold" written by many different authors and contains two versions**spoiler alert**
Summary and Analysis: This book is a collection of "fairy tales retold" written by many different authors and contains two versions of Little Red Riding Hood, a version of Rapunzel, a version of Sleeping Beauty, and many more. This collection would be appropriate for middle school readers, as intermediate readers might miss some of the humor in the tales. The two Little Red Riding Hood tales within this book are called "Little Red and the Big Bad" and "Lupe".
Little Red and the Big Bad gives the traditional tale an urban setting and the narrator tells the tale in urban slang, "You know I'm giving the straight and deep 'cause it's about a friend of a friend. A few weeks back, just 'cross town, a true sweet chiquita, called Red for her fave red hoodie, gets a 911 from her momma's momma." In this tale, Red is given the task of bringing Chinese take-out to her sick grandmother and meets "Big Bad" along the way. Big Bad appears to be a typical neighborhood hooligan but Red finds him attractive and can't help but flirt a little bit. Turns out, Big Bad sees Red's grandmother's address on the takeout slip and beats her there. Once inside, he threatens them for the Chinese take out. This tale is left open ended, as the narrator does not tell us what happens to the characters.
Lupe, on the other hand, presents a more traditional version of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. In Lupe, a young girl named Guadelupe - Lupe for short - spends a great deal of her time in the woods, in order to escape the misery in her family following the death of her baby brother. Eventually, Lupe is given the task of visiting Old Blanca, the terrifying witch that lives in the woods. Lupe's grief-stricken mother gives her this task because, as she puts it, "'Who else can help me? Who else will give me back what I have lost?'" Lupe reaches Old Blanca's house without incident but is confronted by a wolf after she enters Old Blanca's house. The wolf disappears after frightening Lupe, and Old Blanca is suddenly present. One gets the sense that the wolf was actually Old Blanca and Lupe had just passed some sort of test. Old Blanca does agree to help Lupe and her family and upon returning home - Lupe finds that the deep depression that had a hold of her family is now gone. Soon enough, Lupe's mother announces that she is again pregnant.
Both of these tales are very different than the traditional fairy tale version of Little Red Riding Hood and I enjoyed both equally. Little Red and Big Bad was truly a pleasure to read because it was full of humor and it represented the only "realistic fiction" retelling of the fairy tale I had encountered. However, the author's decision to make this tale a "cliff hanger" did not sit well with me but I did enjoy the suspensful implication at the end that "Big Bad" was not too far away from the reader. I also was a little confused during Little Red and Big Bad because after describing Big Bad as a neighborhood thug, it seemed that he was actually a wolf after all during the climax of the story and the traditional dialogue. I would have prefered that the author did not return to the literal interpretation of an actual wolf as the antagonist in this tale.
On the other hand, Lupe was the stronger story, for me, because it did not have the feel of a Red Riding Hood retelling. It seems to me that Lupe can stand alone in its own right. The only major elements that Lupe and Little Red Riding Hood has in common was the woods as a setting and the presence of a wolf. In Lupe, the woods are portrayed in a positive light, a place to be cautious of - but not to be afraid of. In fact, Lupe finds refuge in the woods when her family falls apart following the death of her younger brother. In Lupe, the wolf is a minor portion of the story - one gets the sense that the wolf isn't even real and the traditional dialogue between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf is missing from this tale. ...more