A book that takes place in England; the story was one that touched me and has stayed with me these many years. I'm sad Pilcher didn't write more like...moreA book that takes place in England; the story was one that touched me and has stayed with me these many years. I'm sad Pilcher didn't write more like this. I'd like to reread this sometime....(less)
Nancie Atwell's book,In the Middle, was one that I read early in my teaching career, and it convinced me of the importance of the workshop model in la...moreNancie Atwell's book,In the Middle, was one that I read early in my teaching career, and it convinced me of the importance of the workshop model in language arts instruction. Still, it seemed to me to address writing more than reading (maybe that was the influence of the professors and instructors I had when I was reading it). Fast-forward over 15 years and I was browsing the "educational" section of a Barnes and Noble store when my hand fell onto this amazingly thin book! (For an educator who never has enough time to read all the professional books, children's books,-- much less personal books in my ever growing "to read" list, a thin book was a good thing!)
I have read The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers several times since I bought it in the spring of 2007. It is a short but powerful book about the importance of having kids truly engage with books that they choose and they care about. Atwell spends time on her philosophy-her thinking-on this topic, and then moves to some very practical "how-tos" that can help guide teachers in the logistics of managing reading workshop, assessing student progress, and helping kids find their way "into the zone" when they are reading.
For those who love Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, this book is a nice companion. Atwell's and Miller's philosophies are very similar, and The Reading Zone is a nice, short reminder of why we do what we do as teachers in a language arts classroom, and ways to implement practices that will help us achieve our goals of making real readers of our students.(less)
Wow. Just, wow! This book held my attention so that I could hardly put it down, and so I ended up reading it way too fast. I know I need to reread it,...moreWow. Just, wow! This book held my attention so that I could hardly put it down, and so I ended up reading it way too fast. I know I need to reread it, but I want to give it some space first. My first foray into modern YA lit was with Green's Looking for Alaska, and that book had a profound impact on me. This book goes way beyond that one in my mind. It has made me think about my own humanity, mortality, and the whole purpose of "why we're here." Thoroughly enjoyed this book, and look forward to combing through it a bit more deeply soon. I definitely need to add a few quotes from this one to my quote book!(less)
Ever since I started writing reviews of my books on Goodreads, I've struggled with ratings. Is the book I just finished really a "5", or is it just a strong "4"? Today, I learned how to answer that question, because today, I finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. When you finish a book with a lump in your throat and tears pooling behind your eyes, you know that you've been touched by something extraordinary. I didn't cry because the ending was sad (though it was bittersweet), so much as because of other things: the beauty of the writing and the beauty of the message, the fact that the story was over.
For a long time I avoided reading this book...; after all, with a title like The Graveyard Book, I was expecting something macabre or frightening--and those types of books are really not my style. While there is definitely some tension, suspense, and the supernatural in the story, there's much more to The Graveyard Book. This story is fresh and inventive--it isn't "like" some other story you've already read. While the story is fantastical, the characters are completely real. I cared about Bod and the Owenses, about Silas and Liza, and about Scarlet. I suppose that is the other reason I cried at the end...; it's always hard to leave people you care about behind. This book is a true "5", and one that will stay with me, I believe, for the rest of my days.
Beautifully written in free verse poetry, Hesse makes us feel the dust, feel all of the characters' emotions, and feel as if we have lived through thi...moreBeautifully written in free verse poetry, Hesse makes us feel the dust, feel all of the characters' emotions, and feel as if we have lived through this bleak time in U.S. History. One of my all-time favorite books--for children or adults!(less)
When I started this book, I was hooked by the voice and story of the main character, Abilene. Gideon, Abilene's father, is living on the road and movi...moreWhen I started this book, I was hooked by the voice and story of the main character, Abilene. Gideon, Abilene's father, is living on the road and moving from place to place to find work, and he decides this isn't an appropriate life for a young girl. As the book begins, Abilene arrives in Manifest, Kansas to live with a preacher friend from her father's past. Abilene and two girls who become her friends spend the summer working their way through clues that help them to understand the Manifest of their parents and ancestors. While the story's setting is during the Great Depression, much of the story's action occurs approximately 20 years earlier-- at a time when the U.S. was fighting in the first World War and when millions of immigrants were entering the country through Ellis and Angel Islands. Through the stories Abilene hears from Manifest's citizens, what she reads from the old newspapers she borrows from the newspaper office, and letters and trinkets she finds in a box hidden in her bedroom floorboard, Abilene begins to piece together Manifest's story, and how she is connected to that story.
Clare Vanderpool does a wonderful job of weaving history through Abilene's story so that the reader is not only drawn into Abilene's situation, feelings, and struggles, but also begins to understand the dynamics of these important periods in U. S. History. I was impressed by how well this book fits a need for historical fiction appropriate for 4th and 5th graders that deals specifically with the time period around WWI and the era of immigration, without being specifically about those topics.
Most of all, I was blown away by the ending of this book-- which I did NOT see coming. This is one of those books that I will always remember as being one in which the ending MAKES the story. I was sitting at 4 stars, until the last 50 or 60 pages. This is one of my new favorites!(less)
This book is a hoot. I think it's almost better for older children (and adults!) who can appreciate the humor. I would definitely share it with my cla...moreThis book is a hoot. I think it's almost better for older children (and adults!) who can appreciate the humor. I would definitely share it with my class of gifted/talented 3rd graders! I have heard some people disparage the book because of the behavior of the bear(less)
Love That Book! A great story with so much heart! The way it is written-- from the point of view of a boy in response to his teacher's instruction and...moreLove That Book! A great story with so much heart! The way it is written-- from the point of view of a boy in response to his teacher's instruction and nurturing in the love of poetry-- grabs the reader. Even reluctant readers are encouraged because of the free-verse type of writing that doesn't put "too many words on the page". I love to use this when I'm teaching poetry and/or writing to my own students. This is a keeper for sure! (less)
Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin is one of the most powerful books I've read...maybe ever. This book is written as an informational text for children and young adults, probably ages 10-15. It was awarded the Sibert Medal for best informational book for children and young adults in 2013, as well as numerous other accolades and recognition. Still, the book is an excellent read for adults as well. Sheinkin does a great job of maintaining the weight of such a serious topic, yet writes in such a way that most readers can understand the basics of the scientific principles involved in the creation of an atomic bomb, as well as the different political ideologies of the time.
Bomb grabs the reader at the very beginning, introducing the story by starting near its end-- with the arrest of Harry Gold, a spy for the Soviets who helped them obtain the U.S. plans to create an atomic bomb. The book reads like a spy novel in many regards, but is also filled with quotes, facts, and details obtained from many of the "characters" who were central to the events described.
This book had a huge impact on me. Normally it would not be "my kind of book", but it was so well-written that I found I couldn't put it down. I grew up in the late 70s and early 80s. I have vivid memories of the concerns we had about the complete annihilation of our planet by nuclear weapons. Prior to the end of Communism in the USSR, we worried that one day we could be attacked by nuclear weapons. Until reading this book, I never knew all the history that led to that fear. Sheinkin has included information in the book that has only become public knowledge in the last 15 or 20 years. This is an excellent book for helping students (and adults!)understand the history of WWII and the Cold War. The amount of research, documentation, and detail included in this book is amazing. I would highly recommend this book to almost any reader.
This book is different from most everything I've read before. Parts of it felt familiar, but I found myself caught up in the main character's- Oscar's...moreThis book is different from most everything I've read before. Parts of it felt familiar, but I found myself caught up in the main character's- Oscar's- story. As he struggles to understand who he is and his place in the "grand scheme", I also found myself wondering about what he would learn..., and I had very strong feelings about what the outcome might be.
Other than the very believable characters, my favorite parts of this book were more related to the author's craft and purpose. Ursu has a lovely way with words-- the language of this book is rich with sensory description and "turns of phrase" that captivate the reader. They made me think of how I might do some things to make my own writing stronger. The other selling points for me were the themes: things like living a life of gratitude, being grateful for what you have, and the power of true friendship are just a few of the ideas woven throughout the book.
I loved this story, and believe that many of my students will as well!(less)
This first book in Jennifer Nielsen's Ascendance trilogy grabbed me in a way few books have in quite a while! The main character, Sage, and three othe...moreThis first book in Jennifer Nielsen's Ascendance trilogy grabbed me in a way few books have in quite a while! The main character, Sage, and three other orphan boys are recruited by Connor, a nobleman, to vie for a role in a dangerous and potentially treasonous scheme. The characters are rich and believable-- readers will rally to Sage's quick wit, sharp tongue, and overall desire to do what's right. The setting is elaborately depicted so that the reader feels the tension in the time and place of the events. The storyline moves quickly, with twists and turns that catch the reader off-guard, and then have you hurtling off in a new direction until you find the final twist-- of THIS book! I can't wait to read the next two!
This book is a good cross-over book between children's and YA lit suitable for kids beginning in late 4th or early 5th grade. Readers who love adventure, mystery, and strong characterization should love The False Prince !(less)
Okay, first off I need to admit that until the last ten or so pages of this book I was ready to rate this book 5 stars. The book is a mystery about th...moreOkay, first off I need to admit that until the last ten or so pages of this book I was ready to rate this book 5 stars. The book is a mystery about the murder of a fourteen year old boy. The book is told from the point of view of the town's assistant DA, who begins investigating the homicide, but is pulled off the case when his own son becomes a suspect in the murder.
Because the majority of the story is told as a flashback that this character is relating to the reader, there are often little comments made that allude to events the reader will learn more about later. I was riveted as I came to know Andy Barber and his wife Laurie and son Jacob. The story is a mystery, and though mystery is not generally one of my genres, I understood that there would be plot twists, turns, and surprises. I expected that. I also guess that I expected the end to be a surprise. I certainly was not ready for the surprise I got, and was left with more questions after finishing the last page than I was comfortable with.
(view spoiler)[Maybe that's what makes a good mystery, and maybe most mystery lovers are satisfied with the book's ending. I just wasn't. I guess I'm one of those who needs "closure". I will say that after reading other GR reviews I have a bit of a better appreciation for the ending than I originally had. (hide spoiler)]
I loved the writer's voice, the excellent characterization, and pace of the story. As the mom of a teenaged boy, the book certainly gave me a lot to think about-- not just the lengths you would go to to protect/defend your child, but also the impact that certain everyday aspects of his technological world (Facebook, text messaging, etc.) could come back to haunt him ( or any of us) if we're not careful about how much we share. If you are a real mystery reader, you may find that this book is a great fit for you. It did come highly recommended from two people whose opinions I respect, so I have a feeling that my interpretation may not be about "you", Defending Jacob, but more "about me".["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I completely expected to NOT like this book, but found that it was very good AND very funny! Lots of great wordplay, and the characters have some very...moreI completely expected to NOT like this book, but found that it was very good AND very funny! Lots of great wordplay, and the characters have some very humorous lines. I listened to this as an audiobook, and highly recommend it that way-- the performer was great!(less)
This historical fiction novel tells the story of the events leading to and surrounding the beginning of the American Revolution in New York City, but...moreThis historical fiction novel tells the story of the events leading to and surrounding the beginning of the American Revolution in New York City, but it is told from the unique perspective of a young slave girl belonging to a Loyalist family. Descriptions of conditions, conflicts, and sentiments of the time are realistic and compelling. Anderson's main character, Isabel, is well- developed, and it is easy for the reader to become attached to her quickly. One of the best elements of Anderson's writing style in this book was her use of actual snippets of primary source documents relative to the chapter's topic at the beginning of each chapter. There are quotes taken from letters written by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as excerpts from documents written by slaves, military leaders, and government officials of the day. A fascinating, informative, and action-packed novel from a well-loved author!(less)