I had already read this book once before, but the second reading was just as good as the first. I really enjoy the style of the writing. I think the dI had already read this book once before, but the second reading was just as good as the first. I really enjoy the style of the writing. I think the descriptions and imagery are simple and fabulous. I think there are many points of the style that can be explored in the metaphors and language and repetition. I think that this book would be most interesting to read with students a few years older than Bruno. I really like the way that we get to see things through Bruno's eyes. I think it would be great for students to be able to identify and recognize things that Bruno did not understand or misinterpreted. I feel like that aspect of the novel really gives readers a sense of accomplishment and ownership about their knowledge of Nazi Germany and the holocaust. This is obviously a book that must be paired with a great deal of background knowledge and research to fully understand everything that Bruno is seeing and hearing. This book is basically crafted for use in a classroom. I also think that most of the characters are fairly complex, even the minor ones. Everyone is given a story and a personality that shows them as more than just "good" or "evil." The story is wonderfully simple without minimizing any issues. After reading the Hitler Youth book though, the one thing that I found to be a little unbelievable was some of Bruno's naivete. Of course, without his ignorance the story could not exist. It seems that boys his age would normally be highly involved in a Hitler Youth program and certainly know who the "Fury" was- even if he was pronouncing it wrong. ...more
**spoiler alert** When I finally got up to the point in the story where the major conflict of Mr. Leroy's money being stolen, I was surprised to see h**spoiler alert** When I finally got up to the point in the story where the major conflict of Mr. Leroy's money being stolen, I was surprised to see how little was left in the book. I stopped for a minute and asked myself, "umm, what has actually happened so far?" I hadn't been bored at all throughout so plenty happened, it was just a thought I had that I'm sharing.
Anyway. I think this would be a good book to introduce or explore the idea of an unreliable narrator and maybe dramatic irony too. There are many times when Elijah allows his gullibility to affect his judgment, most clearly with the Preacher.
I think this story brings to light a lot of details and issues freed slaves faced that might get overlooked in a history classroom. For instance the idea of recognizing a relative but not being able to tell them right away, or the experience of finally making it to freedom but not having a way to know it.
Another thing I noticed about the book that would make it "easier" to teach is the absence of the actual "n"-word. So you could do the whole class and the whole novel without actually saying it or hearing it if you need to. The one time that Elijah goes to say it, he is cut off before the whole word gets out. I thought that whole scene was incredible. Mr. Leroy's explanation of why it is not okay, even for Elijah as a black person to say, was great. I often had experiences while substitute teaching where I would hear students using words of intolerance (never that particular one, though) and I'd want to hurl an eloquent speech in their face so fast that would make them never use that word again! But instead, I'd get angry and flustered and stumble over some sort of reprimand or question about it. I was just so impressed with Mr. Leroy's explanation. Even though he said he wasn't much one for words, I thought he did a great job. I couldn't help being reminded of Mean Girls (the movie), which is based on a really interesting book about teenage-girl social issues, where Tina Fey is lecturing the girls at school and how they shouldn't call each other "sluts" and "whores" because it only gives other people the right to call them that. Totally different issue but I'm sharing my text-to-text connection even if I feel a little silly about it.
I think Eljiah was a very likable character and the story offers a different look at life for escaped slaves than I've ever encountered.
(had to read this for a grad school course, this is my message board post for the post-reading assignment)...more
**spoiler alert** I actually read part of Hattie Big Sky while substitute teaching this past year. I had already read the chapter where Mr. Ebgard get**spoiler alert** I actually read part of Hattie Big Sky while substitute teaching this past year. I had already read the chapter where Mr. Ebgard gets harassed and assaulted, but that didn't stop my eyes from tearing up again once I read the everything before that. I was a little skeptical upon beginning the book because of the time period, I wasn't sure if I'd get interested in it, but the characters are so likable that I ultimately enjoyed reading about them.
I think that young readers would be drawn to Hattie because of her inner conflict. She always wants to do the right thing, but it is difficult when she does not always know what the right thing is. That is something anyone of any age can relate to, but especially young readers. The author's note at the end also shed some light on part of her inspiration for writing the novel, where she mentioned a comparison to the Iraq war. Of course then we can also extend the comparisons to Vietnam. And there are a million other instances in history that we could discuss and compare and contrast of instances where a certain group of people have been unfairly targeted and pegged as "the enemy."
I haven't read the other posts yet, but I have to say I was kind of disappointed that Hattie didn't get to keep her claim. I think I would have preferred a happy perfect ending for her. Additionally, I thought that the revealing of Charlie's sudden proclamation of being "sweet" for Hattie was kind of annoying. But I guess it was believable that Hattie did not have the self-confidence and -esteem to realize he liked her all along. I guess I would have preferred to see a little more evidence that Mildred was not actually Charlie's girlfriend because I was pretty convinced. But then again, I guess it was the author's intention to have me feel what Hattie felt, so then it worked. But I don't know, it still bothered me.
This novel is very conducive to discussions regarding propaganda. It would also be great to teach while students were learning about that time period in their social studies classes to do some cross-curricular activities. I think there are also tons of creative projects that could be created for use with this novel, such as character letter writing (i.e. have Hattie write to her uncle or Charlie, or even her aunt), or additional chapters (choose a character and finish "their story"), alternate endings, write another article of Hattie's newspaper article, etc. because of some of the open ended situations.
I thought that the language of the novel was also really pleasing. So the one thing I will say is that there were a whole lot of metaphors in this story that I thought worked really well. ...more
**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this overall. I think this is the first novel that was a little bit more sophisticated style-wise. I think the 3rd person-**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this overall. I think this is the first novel that was a little bit more sophisticated style-wise. I think the 3rd person-limited had something to do with that. There are many choices made by the author that can be explored and make for great lessons- such as the repetition of the idea that Turner looked into the eye of the whale. Repetition is used other times too.
This is another story where again, some heavy issues are addressed, that would make for really great discussion. Brandi reminded me through her Hattie Big Sky post of the term "Mob Mentality" and I think that's a big topic that could be addressed here. Pressure to make certain choices is put on Turner and his father from many angles. There are really only several characters that seem to escape this pressure at all- and there are consequences for many of them.
I was a little worried with Turner's father as a character, because I didn't know if his transformation would end up seeming "heretical" to readers who are religious. But in the end, I think that it would not be a problem. When Turner begins to question all his father is preaching, and wondering if his father believes it, he is not questioning the "faith" part, he is questioning the moral part. I think also, that the inclusion of Charles Darwin would (hopefully) not be a problem in any of the public schools around here today. I think Turner's father explained the purpose of that detail perfectly, explaining it as something that can inspire you to think and be different:
"Turner," he said, "books can be fire, you know." "Fire?" "Fire. Books can ignite fires in your mind, because they carry ideas for kindling, and art for matches."
I think this book would pull in young readers begins it appears to begin only as a coming-of-age story but gets more complex as it goes on, so it would not be threatening.
This is definitely a novel where vocabulary should be given a high priority. I think this is also the first book of the group where there were quite a few words that I didn't know. Teaching vocabulary is something I don't have much experience with, (I had students do it through Literature Circles while student teaching, and was VERY uncreative with my 11th grade placement). So if you need help thinking of a topic to respond to, I'd appreciate ideas for teaching vocal.
I kind of had a feeling in the beginning of the novel that Lizzie Bright was going to die, but I was still surprised at the way it came. I guess I had expected the townspeople to more directly cause her death (though, they still did). I thought the moment came so shockingly and moved on so quickly.
I'm also really glad that the author included the note at the end of the story about how much was based in fact. I think that would have an impact on students.
I think overall that this would be a really good book to use in a classroom because there are so many teachable lessons, so many relatable moments, and so many cross-curricular references to draw in students with all kinds of interests. Turner is a great role model in a powerful story that I think would interest male and female students. ...more
The Wednesday Wars was a really enjoyable book to read. It made me laugh and it made me tear up at some points too. I think it's really exciting to reThe Wednesday Wars was a really enjoyable book to read. It made me laugh and it made me tear up at some points too. I think it's really exciting to read a book that takes place where you grew up, and I have to admit I got a little giddy about that. I live in Nassau County and I used to go camping with my family in the catskills!
My one negative critique about this novel is that some parts of the narration are just so unbelievable as far as how a 7th grader would sound. It seemed to be a bit inconsistent for me, some parts he sounded 12 years old, and sometimes he sounded like a well-read experienced author. Outside of that issue though, I really enjoyed the details and descriptions found throughout the story, often describing the seasonal weather. I guess I should also take into consideration that Holling was not a typical 7th grader, becoming so well-versed in Shakespeare.
I thought it was really clever how the plots of several plays were worked in to the action of Holling's life. I really enjoyed watching the teacher-student relationship evolve through Holling and Mrs. Baker's conversations. There were a lot of cute remarks that Holling made about teachers that stood out to me- such as the one about the "teacher gene" that teachers were born with that just forced them to become teachers.
Some other things to like about this novel: It’s a boy main character, which hopefully would draw in more male readers; and there is basically nothing “inappropriate” even alluded to so that makes it a “safe” choice to recommend to students. (A teacher I work with recently brought up this issue of "appropriateness" in a discussion with me and it is something I am newly aware of, I suppose because I tend to be very liberal and open to reading about issues that may be objectionable for parents of students. So it is something I am trying to be more conscious of in order to save myself from getting into trouble for it someday).
I thought this book was really interesting stylistically. I like to read historical fiction more than I like reading history textbooks so this novel wI thought this book was really interesting stylistically. I like to read historical fiction more than I like reading history textbooks so this novel was very informative for me. However, I did get kind of bored halfway through. When I finally did continue reading it, I didn't mind it, but I wasn't inspired to pick it up and start reading. By the end it felt like a chore more than a choice. But I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in this period or historical fiction....more