Penny From Heaven is a Newbery Honor book and is intended for students in grades 6-8. This book is based on the author’s own Italian American family....morePenny From Heaven is a Newbery Honor book and is intended for students in grades 6-8. This book is based on the author’s own Italian American family. It depicts the 1953 time period when being Italian meant you were the enemy. The book also is rich in its description of families, more specifically about the things that separate them and being them together. Penny’s life is not easy, having a father that is deceased, an uncle living in a car, and the two sides of her family not speaking to each other. Overall the book has many layers and themes including history, love, laughter, and the importance of family.
This is both a heartwarming and sad story, as many coming of age events occur for Penny. With her father being deceased, Penny is torn between her maternal side of the family and her father’s large Italian family, who is still extremely important to her. In addition, not having much money, having an uncle who lives in a car, as well as having a tragic accident happen to her forces her to grow up much faster and have maturity beyond her years. Overall, this book is very enjoyable because while it contains historical information, it pulls the reader in by being emotionally appealing. Any reader will be able to relate to this book because of the importance that is placed upon love and family, despite the difference in the time period and experiences. The author’s note at the end also greatly adds to the book. (less)
The Green Glass Sea is intended for students in grades 6-8 and has won the Scott O’Dell award (2007). This book is set in 1943, where Dewey Kerrigan l...moreThe Green Glass Sea is intended for students in grades 6-8 and has won the Scott O’Dell award (2007). This book is set in 1943, where Dewey Kerrigan lives with her mathematician father in a town that does not exist. The town, which is referred to as Los Alamos is home to scientists and mathematicians from all over Europe and America. They are all collectively working on “the gadget”, which is really an atomic bomb. The plot has many unexpected twists and turns as “the gadget” affects many lives in ways they never thought possible.
This book is interesting, enjoyable, and sad, as strong relationships between a father and daughter are described, unexpected situations and decisions occur, and lives are lost in the pursuit of finishing “the gadget.” Dewy gets along well with the adults at the site since she is very mathematically inclined, but is teased by girls her age. However, she is forced to form a relationship with a girl her age after tragedy strikes. The development, closeness, and unique features of their relationship are unexpected, but enjoyable to read about. The very scientific atmosphere of the community, as seen through the eyes of the children and their families who live there will draw readers in immediately. Dewy the main character is also interesting with the scientific projects she creates, which is unusual for a girl. Occasional first-person accounts give the book an emotional feel. Interesting ethical concerns are also explored after they are able successfully make the atomic bomb and learn in what way it will be used. The readers will play a guessing game throughout the entire book, as facts about “the gadget” are released slowly. The ending of the book, where the green glass sea is described in detail almost has a magical and science-fantasy feel. Readers will experience this book in different, but equally powerful ways depending on whether they know the history behind Los Alamos. Overall, this book is interesting, emotional, heartbreaking, and magical and I am sure it will be a favorite of boys and girls alike. (less)
This book is a novel recommended for children ages 9-12 and is A Booklist Editors Choice, A Hornbook Fanfare Selection, A Judy Lopez Memorial Honor Bo...moreThis book is a novel recommended for children ages 9-12 and is A Booklist Editors Choice, A Hornbook Fanfare Selection, A Judy Lopez Memorial Honor Book, A Parenting Reading Magic Award Book, A Beatty Award Winner, A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. It is a unique collection short stories that display the themes of love, friendship, growing up, success, and failure. Through this book, readers get to see and feel the joy and pain poor Latino Mexican Americans living in California’s Central Valley feel everyday.
The short stories represented in this book are moving, humorous, and entertaining, while the themes represented are quite subtle. The stories tell about the joy of receiving a new doll, anxiety over little league tryouts, and the desire to be better and stand out above the crowd, among others. They demonstrate the themes of love, friendship, growing up, success, and failure. The stories represented are honest and moving, yet simple. It is clear through his writing that the author has sensitivity to teens’ concerns and does a nice job of portraying these concerns through the eyes of teenagers. This book is a must read for any teenager, as I believe they will be able to greatly relate to the stories represented throughout the book.
This series chapter book is intended for girls who are 9-12 years old. This book is the first book in the Addy American Girl series and introduces the...moreThis series chapter book is intended for girls who are 9-12 years old. This book is the first book in the Addy American Girl series and introduces the subjects of slavery, the underground railroad, and the Civil War. Addy, a nine-year-old girl and slave on a North Carolina plantation hears her parents who are also slaves talking about possibly running away in order to gain freedom. That possibility becomes reality after Addy's father and older brother are sold to another master. It is then that Addy and her mother begin their journey to a “safe house” and from there are transported to a ship that takes them to Philadelphia and to freedom.
This book is a realistic, engaging, and emotional book about slavery, the underground railroad, and the Civil War. Many young girls will be able to relate and empathizes with the strong characters and personalities throughout this book. This book is heart-wrenching as many of the characters are treated like animals and some are even forced to leave behind family in search of freedom. The illustrations, which are done in watercolor and the accompanying captions add to the book, as does the family tree and looking into the past sections of the book. As a classroom teacher, I may use this as a read aloud book and one of many resources when teaching about slavery and the Civil War. (less)
Pedro and Me is a Sibert Honor book (2001) and is recommended for students ages 14 and up. This book is a cartoon memoir that tells the story of Pedro...morePedro and Me is a Sibert Honor book (2001) and is recommended for students ages 14 and up. This book is a cartoon memoir that tells the story of Pedro Zamora, a Cuban immigrant, aids educator, and star of MTV The Real World San Francisco. The author, who was Pedro’s roommate on the Real World, tells the story of their friendship, Pedro’s life, and the affect he had on many people around the world. This book is visually creative and appealing and serves as a vivid memorial of Pedro Zamora’s life.
This is a powerful, captivating, and heartbreaking novel. Its goal was to actively portray the life of Pedro Zamora, an aids activist and educator who had a great effect on many people. It is a very emotional book that not only discusses the realities of AIDS, but also celebrates friendship and life. When reading, readers will become more educated and enlightened about the seriousness of AIDS, and will be drawn into the book by moments of laughter, love, and heartbreaking loss. This life-changing book showcased Pedro’s bravery and good-hearted nature. The text and graphic novel format made the book more interesting, and really showed love, warmth, admiration, and emotion. This story does give the blunt facts about AIDS, but at the same time is warm, emotional, and heartbreaking. It has all the ingredients of a good book that will draw readers in. This book allows one to become emotionally involved in the life of a person who lived with AIDS and may for some people forever alter their thinking about this serious illness. (less)
Hana’s Suitcase has won many awards. It is recommended for students in grades 4-8. I listened to it in the form of an audio book. It is a true story w...moreHana’s Suitcase has won many awards. It is recommended for students in grades 4-8. I listened to it in the form of an audio book. It is a true story when in March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. It read, Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, and Waisenkind, the German word for orphan. Everyone who saw the suitcase on display was full of questions and wanted the Holocaust education center director to find answers. In this audio book, the center director searches for clues across Europe and North America. The suitcase takes her back through seventy years, to a Czech town where Hana and her family lived and where their lives were dismantled by the invasion of the Nazis.
The account is a quick listen, and centers around the Holocaust, and a girl lost in this part of history. It includes many details and facts about the Holocaust, but is also a suspenseful mystery, as family drama, revelations, and the mystery of the suitcase is revealed. Listening to the story in an audiobook form really brings this story to life, and makes readers feel like they are back in this time period, as there are different voices for different people. The language used to explain this story also brought life and emotion to the story. Overall, it is an interesting and intriguing story that was very enjoyable to listen to, explaining well this tragic and heartbreaking time in history.
This chapter book about slavery is a novel in dialogue and is intended for children ages 9-12. This book accurately tells about the hardships during t...moreThis chapter book about slavery is a novel in dialogue and is intended for children ages 9-12. This book accurately tells about the hardships during times of slavery by describing the biggest slave auction in American History through flashbacks, flash-forwards, in shifting first-person accounts.
The author accurately describes slavery in general and transforms what little is known about the biggest slave auction in American History into a dramatic, personal, and real work of art. The personal voices and accounts given throughout the book really help place the reader in the shoes of the slaves represented. When reading, readers get to see and feel what is would be like to be handled like animals, wrenched from family, friends, and love, which is why this book has a deep emotional feel. The theme that every decision has its consequences is also strongly shown throughout the book. (less)
Elijah of Buxton is recommended for children in grades 6-8. I read this book in the audio book format, which was an Odyssey Award Honor book in 2009....moreElijah of Buxton is recommended for children in grades 6-8. I read this book in the audio book format, which was an Odyssey Award Honor book in 2009. This book is focused around Elijah Buxton, the first child born into freedom in Buxton, a settlement in Canada of runaway slaves. He is best known for his ability to throw rocks. He is also known to be “fragile”, but that changes when he goes on journey to America to find a thief who steels money from a friend who is trying to save money to buy his family out of captivity in the south. When traveling, he discovers the hardships of slavery, and becomes extremely grateful for a life in which he is always free.
This story is interesting and full of adventure as it describes slavery in a first person perspective. Readers will learn about slavery conditions, through the eyes of someone close to their age. There are several memorable scenes throughout the book, especially when meeting escaped slaves. The language used throughout the book gives it a very emotional feel. The story is also very adventurous and humorous. I think this is a great novel that will introduce readers to slavery. When listening to this story in the form on an audio book, the storyteller was particularly strong with many voices, pausing, and inflection. To me, it was more like performance theater, then the reading of a great novel. (less)
In 2001, the Artemis Fowl novel was published. As a result of the novels popularity, Artemis Fowl has been transformed into a graphic novel format. Th...moreIn 2001, the Artemis Fowl novel was published. As a result of the novels popularity, Artemis Fowl has been transformed into a graphic novel format. Through this graphic novel, readers will be able to see and experience the underground fairy world, examine Foaly’s inventions, and follow their favorite character as this graphic novel is action packed and is designed with full-color panels.
Even though this graphic novel is action packed and I am a big fan of the original novel, I did not particularly enjoy this format. I think the story loses a lot of its depth in this format, because it is so short. Even though I do see the draw struggling readers, ELL students, and visually inclined students could have to graphic novels, this particular novel was hard to follow because of the dark images and small print. I think the images had too much going on and were distracting, as were the character introduction sheets that were randomly inserted after the character had been already introduced. Overall, even though the author’s depiction of the made up world was fascinating to see, there was too much going on to fully enjoy Artemis Fowl in this graphic novel format. However, my opinion might have been skewed because of reading and greatly enjoying the original novel format beforehand. (less)
Savvy is intended for students in grades six-eight and has been a Newberry Honor (2009). This story is about the Beaumont family, who have special pow...moreSavvy is intended for students in grades six-eight and has been a Newberry Honor (2009). This story is about the Beaumont family, who have special powers or “savvy’s”. Each family member gets their "savvy," when they turn 13. Mibs's older brother Fish, has control over the elements, and her mother can do everything perfectly. Mibs’s excitement of what her savvy will be is put to a halt her father is injured in a car accident. Convinced that her new powers will be able to save her father, she and some new friends climb aboard a bus toting pink bibles on her birthday, in the hopes of getting to the hospital. However, they soon find that they are headed in the wrong direction with the cops looking for them. Mibs's real savvy isn't what she expected, and neither are the new friendships she makes while traveling.
This book was very interesting and enjoyable. It had intriguing characters, an action-filled plot, and descriptive text, which all made the book feel very magical. The idea of having “savvy’s’” and the story behind them were all very unique, adding to the appealing nature of the book. This book also lends itself to the themes and emotions of magic, suspense, love, fear, and empathy, among others, all of which are very relatable and at the same time, make the book a very interesting read. This book is full of imagination and depth, and the unique descriptions and figurative language throughout the book make it hard to put down. It is a coming of age story that is sweet, charming, and has many parts that adolescents can relate to, which adds to the greatness of the book. (less)
The Giver is recommended for ages 12-14, and adults alike. It has won the Newbery Medal (1994), Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (1994), Garden State Book...moreThe Giver is recommended for ages 12-14, and adults alike. It has won the Newbery Medal (1994), Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (1994), Garden State Book Award for Teen Fiction Grades 6-8 (1996), An ALA Best Book for Young Adults (1994), and the Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (1995). This book is about an ideal world, a world in which there is no poverty, no crime, sickness, or unemployment. It is a world where every family is happy and has agreed to marry only well-matched individuals, and raise two offspring which includes one boy and one girl. Drugs are taken to get rid of sexual impulses, and careers are given out like assignments. Elders live in group homes and are released (die) in time, as are infants who do not develop properly. Jonas, a boy who lives in this society, is the receiver of memories, and is responsible for discovering the truth about his “perfect world.” The author paints a picture of a very ordered and pain free society.
This book was very interesting, intriguing, and appealing to older readers and adults alike describing how a “perfect world” was created. Everything was chosen and given to them and they acted more like robots than humans. Gradually throughout the book, Jonas and the readers learn just how costly and boring and pain-free society can be. This book lends itself to many what if questions about the world, and would make a great book for discussion concerning the meaning of happiness and individuality, among others. This is definitely a book that can be read over and over again and each time new questions can be raised and new insights can be gained. There were several parts in the book that gave me chills and as I continued to reread some parts, they gained more and more meanings and even various meanings. This book is definitely a must read for everyone and I would read it again in a heartbeat because of the cleverness and the many thought-provoking questions it raised. (less)