Slow pacing and weird genre mix left me scratching my head. I kept waiting for the fantasy side to kick in and it really doesn't. It is more of a realSlow pacing and weird genre mix left me scratching my head. I kept waiting for the fantasy side to kick in and it really doesn't. It is more of a realistic school story with this odd fantasy world. Ness is a good writer with sentence fluency, descriptive writing and dialogue. Much of the character development was surrounding the exploration on sexual identities. ...more
So often I read a book and it makes me think of a certain student and what they like to read. This one brings to mind a grade 2 student that loves, loSo often I read a book and it makes me think of a certain student and what they like to read. This one brings to mind a grade 2 student that loves, loves, loves any book about the planets and solar system. While it is a nonfiction book, I know this student will like the nonfiction facts in the back, particularly the part about light pollution. The story about a girl that's disappointment is turned into a blizzard of happiness when she is able to see the stars at night is memorable with its beautiful mixed media illustrations.
Phoebe draws the solar system on the sidewalk outside her family's store. Her father has the telescope ready because Mars and Saturn are going to appear in the sky. Phoebe can't wait. She loves to find the constellations in the sky and look for the planets. But tonight, she is having a hard time seeing the sky because all the city lights make the stars look gray and dull. Will she be able to see the planets or will the city lights make it impossible?
The story is not very clear at the start that this is a planetary conjunction which means certain planets are lined up between the Earth and the Sun. It is a temporary event that doesn't happen every night. The nonfiction text at the end explains it, but I think the story would have been clearer if it had been mentioned in the beginning. The descriptive writing is beautiful with some strong metaphors, "Phoebe peered through the window at her sidewalk solar system dissolving into chalky streams." Phoebe's character goes from disappointment to spending a special moment with her dad where they both share the same interests.
The illustrations use mixed media such as pastels, watercolors, acrylic, pencil, and collage to create a dreamy night sky. My favorite page is the one with the storm that reminded me of Dorothy's house being picked up in the tornado and blown to the land of Oz. Here the storm picture reflects Phoebe's disappointment and stormy feelings toward the uncooperative weather. I can't wait to pass this on to the students. Make sure to add it to your library....more
I was thinking this reminded me of "Wonder" with its emotional punch and melodramatic ending but it was written ten years before "Wonder" by R.J PalacI was thinking this reminded me of "Wonder" with its emotional punch and melodramatic ending but it was written ten years before "Wonder" by R.J Palacio, so to be more accurate, I should have reversed that statement. Terrific pacing and a strong voice make this rise above the typical school story. It starts out framed using the convention of a middle school kid writing in his journal in English class but that gets dropped halfway through the novel. Some parts are predictable and a bit dated as this topic has been in the media for ten years with students at schools helping others in need or that are battling cancer. What makes this story particularly good is the strong character development, the protagonist's interest in music, and humor that lightens the serious topic of a sibling dealing with his five-year-old brother who has been diagnosed with Leukemia.
Thirteen-year-old Steven is in eighth grade, loves to play the drums, play with his younger brother, drool over the hottest girl in school, and tool through school as the funny kid when life changes the day his brother fell off the kitchen stool and gets a nosebleed that won't stop. Steven's mom comes home from the hospital only to inform them that Jeffery's nosebleed has revealed that he has Leukemia. First all of them feel guilty for not seeing that Jeffrey was sick. Then Steven's dad withdraws into himself going into denial, while Steven feels anger over the Jeffrey's rotten diagnosis. To top things off, Steven's mom is now gone all the time and his brother is having painful chemotherapy treatments. Steven hides it from everyone at school until an intervention is called and he is forced to deal with his brother's cancer.
Steven's character arc goes from him being angry and resentful because his parents are not paying any attention to him, to one that is not so self-centered. In the end he stops feeling sorry for himself and he recognizes how his parents are doing all they can to help Jeffrey. Steven deals with his anger by banging on his drums for hours learning new musical pieces and driving out his worries at least temporarily. This came across as really authentic. The author says he is a drummer and it comes through in the detailed writing. I particularly like it when Steven talks about being in "the zone" while playing the drums. Anyone that has played sports or been on a team that clicks in a way that all of them work like one unit or just made an individual effort above and beyond, knows the magicalness of moments like that.
At times Jeffrey responds to Steven in ways that sound too old and jarred me out of the narrative. Steven even comments about how does Jeffrey say this stuff and I wonder the same thing. I just can't picture a five-year-old using the phrases like "magnet babe". But who knows? His brother is 8 years older. You'll have to decide for yourself. It does add humor so it isn't annoying. The parents are normal and loving but they too are trying to deal with their lives being turned upside down. Steven sees that it is hard on them but their issues stay on the plot's fringes allowing the reader to get completely absorbed in Steven's point of view. I found this book hard to put down and a fast read. I also thought the subplot with Samantha helped tone down the melodramatic ending. It is a sobering reality but one that many cancer patients have to face. Not everyone survives the disease. A gripping story.
Interesting book on grief and anger. The grade 4 students didn't really get it at the end so we discussed what it meant as they couldn't make the neceInteresting book on grief and anger. The grade 4 students didn't really get it at the end so we discussed what it meant as they couldn't make the necessary inferences. The translation might account for the few clunky transitions. Beautiful illustrations and quite different....more
Can be used to launch a discussion with older students (grade 5) about Mexican immigrants migrating from Central America to the United States. That saCan be used to launch a discussion with older students (grade 5) about Mexican immigrants migrating from Central America to the United States. That said, it is from the point of view of a very young girl that asks questions but gets no answers from her father. The pictures tell much of what the text does not. I would have liked more information. Read the author's note in the back - it fills in some blanks. The students found it interesting but I wanted the text to be more compelling. ...more
This is not for everyone as it is a story about Pinocchio picking his nose, but it is wood boogers and it's pretty funny when he tells a lie and his nThis is not for everyone as it is a story about Pinocchio picking his nose, but it is wood boogers and it's pretty funny when he tells a lie and his nose grows so fast it takes off his arm or the time he pushes the cricket up his nose. I like the twist even though its sort of gross. Some kids were laughing so hard they were rolling on the ground. Or they were rolling on the ground in embarrassment. ...more