This book was beyond inspiring. Malala has an amazing story to share, but more than that she has an amazing spirit to share with the world. I'm so glaThis book was beyond inspiring. Malala has an amazing story to share, but more than that she has an amazing spirit to share with the world. I'm so glad she did and was able to write this book - to be able to put into her own words the things that she believes in and why she has been doing what she is doing.
If you're not familiar with her, Malala is a young woman from Pakistan whose town was being taken over by the Taliban. Despite all of the bombings and fear in her town, Malala continued to speak out about girls' right for education and going to school. She was eventually contacted by news outlets around the world, and because of this the Taliban shot her point blank. She survived, and continues on to tell her story and campaign for education around the world.
How many of us could be as selfless and brave as Malala? I love that this edition was written directed at kids and teens, because it starts off as a real eye opener. We are so caught up in our daily lives that we don't think about the reality of living in that kind of fear, where bombs shake the house and you're afraid just to step outside to play. It really gets you thinking about it and caring.
Some of us may have heard of Malala when she was shot, but I will admit I didn't realize how much she was already doing to speak up on behalf of Pakistan before that incident. She is truly someone special, and if the book is any indication she is extremely humble too. She 100% deserves all of the accolades she has received, but continues to feel that perhaps she doesn't. The world is lucky to have someone like her, and I'm glad that she was able to put her story down in words - especially in a young reader's edition.
I only read this edition but I am interested in seeing how the original version, geared toward adults instead of children, might compare. ...more
I got an ARC of this book from Book Expo America. This is a companion book to Wonder, and it's really three short stories/novellas from the perspectivI got an ARC of this book from Book Expo America. This is a companion book to Wonder, and it's really three short stories/novellas from the perspective of different characters in the book.
The first is Julian's Chapter, and I was really hesitant about this because it felt like it could go horribly wrong to do a "from the bully's perspective" sort of thing. It could just be too cheesy to show that the bully was abused or something and that's why he picked on kids, etc. But it wasn't like that. (view spoiler)[ Yes, in some ways the story "redeems" Julian, but it really felt like more of a realistic perspective. He's always had horrible nightmares about deformed people/monsters. And his mother does what she does because she can't stand to see her child hurting. It doesn't make either of them right, but it does explain some things. And in the end Julian does come around. (hide spoiler)]
The next story was Pluto, and it's from Christopher's perspective - the boy who August had been friends with growing up. This was probably my least favorite of the three stories, but it was still good. Christopher got on my nerves a bit because he's clearly entering that annoying pre-teen phase - doing things like calling his mother by her first name and just being generally rude. The ending felt a bit cliché, but all in all it was a fine read.
The final story, Shingaing, was probably my favorite. It's from Charlotte's point of view, whom we see briefly in Wonder. She has plenty to deal with outside of August. It's nothing super crazy, but shows a lot of the typical middle school drama. It's very well written and realistic - at least realistic to my own middle school years 15 years ago. I remember that girl drama all too well, and Palacio captures it here. While the story itself wasn't wildly special, I thought Charlotte was a really cool character and that's what made me enjoy it so much. In some ways she's a typical middle school girl, but in others she's different - she's nice to (almost) everyone, hard working and dedicated, and into musicals and dancing.
All in all I thought these were really enjoyable stories, and anyone who read and enjoyed Wonder should like these as well. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book at BEA, and it was so utterly charming and adorable. Being a big cat lover I couldn't help buy enjoy theI was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book at BEA, and it was so utterly charming and adorable. Being a big cat lover I couldn't help buy enjoy the story of Miss Petitfour, a fantastical Mary Poppins type character and her 16 cats. She sometimes takes off in flight by grabbing a tablecloth and puffing it up like a balloon, and her cats all follow by grabbing tails and forming a long string of cats. Sound weird? It totally is, but in way I could really appreciate.
The book has 5 short stories in it. There is no real overarching story line, so just enjoy the little tales for what they are worth. There are many things that occur that feel ridiculous (imagine cats taking dance lessons, or just flying around). This should give you a good feel for the book: "The cats, who ever missed an opportunity to fly, leaped into formation, linking tails and toes, and up drifted the furry catrope, dark and wavering against the white winter sky."
The writing style is also unique. According to her bio Anne Michaels is a poet, and the prose in this book definitely has a flower-y sort of feel to it. She also plays around with storytelling a bit, introducing the reader to concepts such as how a story shows it's going to change directions but using a phrase such as "then one day." It feels more like a person sitting down to tell you a story, rather than being totally submersed in the tale.
The book contains a number of illustrations by Emma Block, which are just lovely and perfectly capture the spirit of the writing. The colors and technique feel very whimsical, and though my copy was mostly in black and white, the final version will have full color illustrations.
Overall I loved this quick little read that made me laugh out loud numerous times. I'm not quite sure how kids will react to it and if they will find the nuances as charming as I did, but for me it was extremely pleasant read....more
When the publishing rep gave me this advanced copy at BEA, she warned me that I would want to have lots of tissues. As I was reading I was getting a lWhen the publishing rep gave me this advanced copy at BEA, she warned me that I would want to have lots of tissues. As I was reading I was getting a little teary-eyed at parts (there is no denying that this is pretty much a sad book throughout), but not full on crying so I thought I was good. Then I got to about the last five pages and I was just bawling my eyes out. I've seen it described as "heart-wrenching" and "devastating" and this is all accurate. It's also beautiful.
Gary Schmidt may very well be one of my favorite children's authors - after the Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now I was hooked on his writing, and he doesn't disappoint here. What starts out as a story that might seem slightly typical or cliché (a boy from a juvenile detention center gets taken in by a foster family on a farm - they're so nice and he's grumpy and doesn't want to milk the cows!) quickly gets turned around into a story that feels unique and personal.
One of the main themes here that seemed to hit me, and also touched me deeply in Okay for Now, is the idea of judgment. How people judge others based on what they know or hear about them and not who they actually are. When Joseph comes to town many of the people there, including both kids and teachers, immediately think the worst of him because of where he came from. We see things from the perspective of Jack, who is Joseph's foster brother. Jack and his parents see the good in Joseph, and so do we. That makes it all the more difficult to watch people treat him so unfairly. On the outside he might seem like he's just acting out, but there are reasons why he is doing that and the way that people treat him, especially adults, is a huge part of the problem.
Another theme that resonated strongly with me was the idea of grappling with why certain things happen to certain people. In the book (view spoiler)[the family goes to church on Christmas Eve and Joseph hears the story of baby Jesus for the first time. Afterward he asks the pastor how much of it was true, because he's skeptical about the part where angels came down to assure Mary and Joseph that everything would be all right. Our Joseph thinks of his own situation and demands to know if angels are real, "Where the hell were they?" (hide spoiler)] It's another heart-wrenching moment and we find ourselves asking several times throughout the book, "Where the hell were they?"
This book is shorter than some of Schmidt's others, but he doesn't need twice the number of pages to tell this story. It's a pretty heavy subject matter for kids, so I would definitely aim it toward the older middle school crowd, or maybe even male reluctant readers in high school. And yeah, just be prepared to cry.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more