Listened to Recorded Books audio edition narrated by Lyle Lovett. Highly enjoyable thanks partly to Lovett's Southern-tinged, thoroughly charming narr...moreListened to Recorded Books audio edition narrated by Lyle Lovett. Highly enjoyable thanks partly to Lovett's Southern-tinged, thoroughly charming narration. Appelt's repetitive, rhythmic language is at play here - this time in the style of a tall tale. I can see how this was a divisive title - the folksy writing style is very strong and is likely to appeal to some and repel others. The environmental themes and the wackiness reminded me of Carl Hiaasen's books for kids.(less)
**spoiler alert** Despite having finished this one awhile ago for the ILA Young Adult Services Forum Battle of the Books, I'm still mulling over my re...more**spoiler alert** Despite having finished this one awhile ago for the ILA Young Adult Services Forum Battle of the Books, I'm still mulling over my reactions. Some bits I loved (the quiz show; the fact that Jacob had to sing to get Jenny's attention), but in the end, I felt like not everything hung together all that well. I don't remember the singing being important until the last quarter of the novel or so which seems late to introduce the solution to unraveling the major mystery. Also, I don't think I'm fond of the fact that the teens were unable to save themselves. In a book for adults, I wouldn't blink twice at that, but in a book for teens or younger, I expect to see a little more agency for the young people allowed - even though that's often unrealistic. The setting is a little questionable as well, I think. TVs and recording devices exist, but not cell phones. So this is either set in the past with no other indications of that or it's set in an alternate world cell phones never came to be. I understand why no cell phones were mentioned (otherwise Sten Blix's plans wouldn't have worked nearly as well), but that seems to call for some sort of explanation (although what I'm asking may be an impossible request - how do you explain that cell phones don't exist in a world without them? Unless you clearly define it as the past. Hmmm.). Anyway, I'm glad I read it; I enjoyed it, but it's not destined to be one of my favorites.(less)
Arn's story is a hard one to read, but enormously powerful and an important one to know. What's interesting is that I felt like McCormick's choice to...moreArn's story is a hard one to read, but enormously powerful and an important one to know. What's interesting is that I felt like McCormick's choice to have the voice use broken English worked to remove me from the story somewhat. I can't decide if that's a good thing or not - did I need the distance in order to be able to read the story at all? Or would I have been more involved and even more moved if the language was fluent? I did think it was an excellent choice to extend Arn's story into his time in the US in order to make it clear his ordeal was far from over.(less)
**spoiler alert** Once I started this book, I did not want to put it down - I even missed church Sunday because I couldn't pull myself away. After lis...more**spoiler alert** Once I started this book, I did not want to put it down - I even missed church Sunday because I couldn't pull myself away. After listening to Schmidt's Trouble and now reading this and loving them both, I think I need to run right out and read the rest of his books. So, why not 5 stars? Well, I thought Schmidt got a wee bit cutesy with his historical setting at the end - "Could you ever imagine an actor becoming president?" and someday slide rules will be antiques and we'll all be carrying around little computers - I suppose someone might be able to convince me that these are deliberately done to bring notice to the historical setting, but I thought they were a little too winky. Also, I don't know that I believe the dad would have turned himself around at the end like that. In fact, every adult ended up having something redeeming about them, which is nice and hopeful, but in the end didn't ring true for me. My final quibble is one I'm not sure kids would even notice, but Doug's mom made me mad. Those boys worshipped her and I know it was a different time when divorce wasn't as common, but it did happen sometimes and who wouldn't leave after the tattoo incident? I'm probably underestimating kids, but I feel like Schmidt paints her as a saint (as makes sense since the story is told through Doug's eyes) when she's not really and I'm not convinced kids can see that difference the way I do. Anyway, I still think this was really excellent and look forward to all the discussions that are bound to occur around it during Newbery season this year.(less)
Copper wiring, aluminum, nickel, even steel clips and tiny staples – this is the “treasure” Nailer’s light scavenge crew sweats and scrapes to retriev...moreCopper wiring, aluminum, nickel, even steel clips and tiny staples – this is the “treasure” Nailer’s light scavenge crew sweats and scrapes to retrieve from the hulking wrecks of tanker ships. Ship breaking is a hard life, the crew face possible death or permanent injury every day, but it puts at least a meager amount of food in their mouths. Nailer hates scavenge work and avoids his druggie father, but he gets by as best he can even as he worries about what he’ll do when he gets too big for the tight spaces that hold the best scavenge. Until then, at least Nailer’s got his crew – a makeshift family that will always have his back. They all dream of the lucky strike that might take them to the top of the ship breaking heap or even away from the destroyed beachfront, but everyone knows lucky strikes are one in a million. At least, that’s what Nailer thinks until after a hurricane he finds the fanciest storm-wrecked ship he’s ever seen - days before anyone else knows it exists. With scavenge from this lucky strike, Nailer could be set for life. Only one thing stands in his way: Nita - the one survivor of the shipwreck - a swank, beautiful girl. If Nailer kills Nita, the ship’s contents will be his, but could she be the ticket to a better life or just to a world of trouble? Packed with action, danger and tough decisions, you won’t want to put Nailer’s story down!
Inspired by real Bangladeshi ship breakers, Bacigalupi has created a fascinating, near-future world devastatingly changed by technology and ecology in ways that seem quite possible. If you love dystopian science fiction or want to know what to read after The Hunger Games, try Ship Breaker. (less)
Both hysterically funny and heartbreaking all at once, Joey Pigza is a kid everyone can root for. When we first meet Joey Pigza, he is bouncing off th...moreBoth hysterically funny and heartbreaking all at once, Joey Pigza is a kid everyone can root for. When we first meet Joey Pigza, he is bouncing off the walls - literally! Joey is wired all the time, but especially in the afternoons, even though his medication is supposed to help him focus through the whole school day. Life is definitely never dull around Joey - you never know what he'll get into his head to do next: Sharpen his fingernails with a pencil sharpener? Pretend to be a tasmanian devil? Eat a whole shoofly pie and jump out of a hayloft? Swallow his house key? Joey's mom and his teachers do what they can to help Joey make good decisions, but these adults are far from perfect and they don't always know how to help. While Joey's adventures can be funny, they get more and more dangerous and soon he's landed himself in Special Ed - his last chance - what happens if he can't make it work? Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is an insightful look into the mind of a kid who's doing the best he can against the overwhelming odds of ADD and an unstable home.
Parts of this book just tore my heart out while I was reading them. When Joey's grandmother tricks him into thinking his mom has called and that if he can just sit still and quiet she'll come home, it's absolutely gutwrenching. I love that Gantos makes most of the adults far from perfect, but still invested in Joey's best interests. This was a great discussion title for my 3rd-5th graders; although some of them thought it was too gross, they all had interesting things to say about what they had read.
A classic adventure story from Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji shows us one afternoon in the lives of Peter and Judy, two children who go from being compl...moreA classic adventure story from Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji shows us one afternoon in the lives of Peter and Judy, two children who go from being completely bored to having a little too much excitement all thanks to Jumanji, the board game they find. Van Allsburg does some really interesting things with perspective here; we almost never see people's faces. When the lion first appears his head is cut off at the top of the illustration. The effect is that the reader feels like this is a real house we are seeing where our field of vision would just barely catch some things, but not take everything in, almost as if the reader were a hidden observer throughout the story.
The text is long enough that it limits the group read-aloud audience to older kids. My 2nd and 3rd graders seemed to like it alright, but to not be on fire about it. Some of them had seen the movie and they seemed to like the book better than the other kids - maybe because they grasped what was going on better? I think this would most appeal to mid and upper grade school kids as a read-alone where they could spend time poring over the pictures.
Used for Tons of Fun program November 2008 (National Gaming Day theme). (less)
How many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long figh...moreHow many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long fight for freedom just as Isabel begins the fight for hers - for Isabel is a slave. Meant to be freed on the death of her Rhode Island owner, Isabel and her epileptic younger sister Ruth are instead unscrupulously sold by their previous owner's nephew to Loyalists, the Locktons from New York. At first, Isabel thinks they'll be able to get by with the Locktons by working hard, but soon her nightmare begins as she learns Mrs. Lockton is both petty and vicious. When Ruth's epilepsy is revealed to a horrified Mrs. Lockton, Isabel knows that she must find a way to freedom before Ruth is sold away from her. But who can Isabel turn to when those who fight for freedom uphold slavery? A sequel is in the works and fans of historical fiction won't want to wait to find out what happens next to Isabel in this look at the American Revolution from a brand new point of view.
Anderson includes a question and answer section at the back to address the historical aspects of her novel, particularly the plight of slaves and prisoners during the war. She does a fantastic job of capturing Isabel's spurts of hopelessness and her slow recovery - set back everytime yet another avenue of escape fails her. The characters are so rounded that they just jump off the pages - everyone is realistically flawed in ways that match their motivations. This would be great as a book discussion title or as a supplement to lessons on the American Revolution.(less)
Excellent for reading aloud, A Long Way from Chicago follows the often laugh out loud funny adventures of Joe and Mary Alice as they visit their Grand...moreExcellent for reading aloud, A Long Way from Chicago follows the often laugh out loud funny adventures of Joe and Mary Alice as they visit their Grandma Dowdel in Southern Illinois during the late 1920s to the mid-1930s. Each chapter works as a stand alone story, although together the stories tell of Joey's coming-of-age. Peck fills the book with historical details, but they never detract or distract from the story. Ron McLarty narrates the audio book adequately, but not exceptionally. Having read this before, the voices he affected for the different characters didn't always match what I had imagined. For example, his Mary Alice voice was whinier than seemed appropriate. Overall though, I highly recommend either the book or the audio for fans of humor or historical fiction. Listened to Listening Library CD edition. Previously read.(less)
A pregnant calico cat abandoned in the bayou. An old hound dog chained to a slowly decaying house. The Alligator K...moreApril 2010 COTC Book Club selection.
A pregnant calico cat abandoned in the bayou. An old hound dog chained to a slowly decaying house. The Alligator King, as big as a monster, and the terrible man who chases him - Gar-Face.
With lyrical language, Appelt brings these characters together as events are inexorably set in motion by the birth of two kittens - Puck and Sabine. Twined through the story of how a hound dog, a calico cat and her kittens become a family are two other stories: the story of how the evil Gar-Face came to this place in the bayou and an older story yet of an ancient creature, part human, part snake, of how her family betrayed her and of how she waits for revenge.
Short chapters make this a quick read, but be prepared – Gar-Face is truly evil. The Underneath is a powerful portrait of how devastating loss can be and how love can redeem and give meaning to a life.
The short chapters and lovely phrases make this an ideal read-aloud, but Appelt doesn't pull any punches. This may not be the right book for sensitive animal lovers. David Small's pencil illustrations are placed sporadically but clearly evoke the characters and bayou setting. The intertwining stories and poetic language may be tough for struggling readers to navigate despite the short chapters.
Listened to audiobook narrated by Tanya Eby Sirois. Loved the narration. A fascinating exploration of the social and gender dynamics at an East Coast...moreListened to audiobook narrated by Tanya Eby Sirois. Loved the narration. A fascinating exploration of the social and gender dynamics at an East Coast boarding school. The word play was excellent fun and Frankie is a character I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Not many authors would have had the courage of Selznick to try a completely new format somewhere between a graphic novel, a picture book, and a tradit...moreNot many authors would have had the courage of Selznick to try a completely new format somewhere between a graphic novel, a picture book, and a traditional narrative. Selznick pulls it off admirably although the size of the book may daunt some of the younger readers for which it would also be appropriate. The illustrations are truly remarkable and the insertion of stills from film and some of Mieles art adds even more to the narrative. The only thing that amazes me is that they've somehow made an audio book out of this. I can't even being to imagine how that would work with so much of the story being told through images.(less)