A very nice read about loss and dealing with loss. And zombies. An interesting approach here. I kept forgetting where there was a zombie-element and tA very nice read about loss and dealing with loss. And zombies. An interesting approach here. I kept forgetting where there was a zombie-element and the reveal at the end was a little anti-climactic for me as I was really reading into the relationship between Wil and Graham. So, this is not a criticism but a celebration of the approach. If you want to read about zombies coming back to life, you're in. . .and if you want to read about love and loss and putting it all back together. . .you're in. Handing this one over to Noah next. . ....more
You need only that Mr. Hankins would tell you to read this and to share this with your younger readers.
In the tradition of Dahl and Dickens, Creech pYou need only that Mr. Hankins would tell you to read this and to share this with your younger readers.
In the tradition of Dahl and Dickens, Creech plucks two hapless heroines from the world's "free box" and gently places them into a quirky community with one-armed, story-loving men, a mysterious "witch," and a family who seems to keep every dog in town.
So, what could be so strange about a young boy who falls out of tree one day and tests their very friendship as each tries to win over his affections?
The cover indicates that Sharon Creech was awarded the Newbery for WALK TWO MOONS. I'm thinking with her gentle weaving of stories here with a little Irish folklore thrown in. . .she may be vying for a repeat. Newbery piles shuffle with this fall release. ...more
No spoilers here, but fans of WHEN YOU REACH ME will appreciate the references Stead makes within the story that can lead to conversations outside ofNo spoilers here, but fans of WHEN YOU REACH ME will appreciate the references Stead makes within the story that can lead to conversations outside of the text to include art, popular culture, and the joy of the time-honored classic Scrabble. Extensive conversations about taste buds invite a cross-content area reading and research opportunity.
With WHEN YOU REACH ME, Rebecca Stead is "stead"-ily becoming the M. Night Syamalan of middle grade literature. Everyone will want to know how a science experiment will turn out for the main character, Georges. . .
. . .and by the end of the book, you'll wonder who was playing it "safer. . ." the characters IN the book or the reader HOLDING the book bracing for what they think they might know early on in the reading....more
Review to come. Fans of ONE CRAZY SUMMER will not want to miss this non-fiction based account of the Young Lords and the East Harlem Garbage OffensiveReview to come. Fans of ONE CRAZY SUMMER will not want to miss this non-fiction based account of the Young Lords and the East Harlem Garbage Offensive of 1969. ...more
Daniel (E.) Anderson collects stories of the dead in an attempt to make sense of his brother's death in the war. TReview to come as August approaches.
Daniel (E.) Anderson collects stories of the dead in an attempt to make sense of his brother's death in the war. The book takes place over the course of a summer vacation. A very nice coming of age story that has plenty of "ladders" to spare.
If you are on NetGalley, request this book. Then we can talk before August.
Through some cosmic circumstance, I love that this book shares a namesake with another of my favorite Candlewick titles, ELI THE GOOD....more
I read this in advance of Noah (11) reading this for his ELA class. But actually, I read this because I saw so many of my elementary teacher friends aI read this in advance of Noah (11) reading this for his ELA class. But actually, I read this because I saw so many of my elementary teacher friends at Facebook and Twitter talking about this book this year. I knew I had better put the title in my reader advisory toolbox.
Their Mama once told them they were the best family of all. . .
The Boxcar Children.
While Gertrude Chandler Warner only wHenry. Jessie, Violet. Bennie.
Their Mama once told them they were the best family of all. . .
The Boxcar Children.
While Gertrude Chandler Warner only wrote nineteen of the original Boxcar Children books, the other books--numbering over one hundred titles--always pay respects back to the creator, a first grade teacher/writer.
Patricia MacLachlan (1986 Newbery Winner SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL) gently--tenderly--drafts the prequel to the stories that will set the four children out to begin their adventures.
We get to meet their mother and father and we get to spend some time on Fair Meadow Farm where friends are taken in, makeshift circuses entertain the family and neighbors, and familial love and admiration (with all of its inside experiences that solidify the bonds of family members)are all part of the experience.
The prequel serves as a nice introduction to the series for a new generation of readers and older readers/fans will appreciate MacLachlan's attention to the tradition of the stories.
Wonderfully suited for younger readers, The Boxcar Children books are a return to a simpler time, but even more than this, the prequel will afford in introduction into a series of books wherein younger readers can make a quick--and ultimately sustained and consistent--relationship with the endearing characters.
No spoiler for fans of the series, but the sequel will have to set the children apart from family in order to go out alone and to eventually meet their grandfather. The scene is rendered quickly, but this might require some navigation with younger readers with a reader advisor in the room. As the children prepare to leave their farm, there are some promises made between the children that may be tender for younger audiences, but as the book is written specifically for them, I sense that older readers will have more emotive episodes over these scenes than the newer readers into the series.
I got to read the NetGalley edition of this prequel. The artwork was not finished yet, but it looks like the artwork will lend nicely to the overall feel of the book. The hardback release promises and extended afterward from MacLachlan as well as "teaser" pages from the first book, which younger readers will want after finishing the prequel....more
In the rush and crush to get that hot ARC or the newest title, sometimes we get to sit back and capture what might be considered an "older" title (200In the rush and crush to get that hot ARC or the newest title, sometimes we get to sit back and capture what might be considered an "older" title (2006 is really not that old. . .and as we say in the reading business--at least in my circle of friends and influence--it's new to somebody)and today I was able to capture one of these in Susan Taylor Brown's HUGGING THE ROCK.
I don't remember how or when I was able to make a connection with Susan Taylor Brown, but I admire her gentle spirit and her advocacy for poetry communicated through her tweets and social media activity.
So, when I looked through her site and found HUGGING THE ROCK, I knew I would have to go and check out this title. You see--when my own mother abandoned me in the back of her car to go into a bar and drink, my grandmother (my mother's mother) called my father telling him that he needed to come and pick me up--that her daughter was ill-equipped to take care of a young child. I was three.
So a book about a father who comes and a father who stays is appealing to me on a personal level. What Susan Taylor Brown creates in HUGGING THE ROCK is deeply personal and deeply moving. There are stand-out pieces within the book that truly make a novel in verse work. One in particular--celebrating a natural day that would occur in the course of a year--is so brilliant in its understatement that it is difficult not to share it with you here.
In the moment of her leaving, Rachel's mother tells her to hold on to her father, who she describes as a "rock":
Mom says he's a rock the good kind you an always count on to do the right thing.
It's hard for me to think of a rock as something good. Some rocks are heavy and make you sink. Some rocks are too big to move. And some rocks are sharp and cut you if you try to hold them in your hand (32).
Susan Taylor Brown creates the kind of goodbye seen that make us all check that lump in our throats and that little bit of wetness in our eyes reserved for books like BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX and films like HOPE FLOATS. Look at what Susan Taylor Brown does on page thirty-three, in a piece called "Good-bye", appearing on the facing page to the piece wherein Rachel was contemplating the quality of rocks:
I realize that mom is a rock too, the kind that crumbles if you hold on too tight.
HUGGING THE ROCK, a 2006 title from poet Susan Taylor Brown, finds itself in a league of strongly-written novels in verse placing the book in good company with the likes of Sonja Sones, but even more timely, the season is a good one for going back to get this book as we prepare for the release of Amber Turner McRee's SWAY (May 2012).
HUGGING THE ROCK presents a scenario not often found in middle grade or young adult literature wherein the father stays and makes it work when the mother leaves. Susan Taylor Brown does not gloss over this or make it seem that it is the toughness and resolve of a man that makes Rachel's father stay.
In fact, what we find in Rachel's father is something more of a sedimentary--or sentimental--rock formation, layered in the need to respond, the need to rescue, and the need to resolve.
HUGGING THE ROCK addresses issues of mental illness which puts the book into ladders with other titles addressing the same.
More celebration of Susan Taylor Brown's HUGGING THE ROCK include the presence of caring teachers, counselors, and supports in place to help Rachel navigate the loss. The markers of time woven into the book help the reader to follow Rachel through a year of loss, a year of learning, and a year of loving.
Mr. Hankins is putting his readers on THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN for the beginning of 2012's reading season.
Think of all of the good stuff you loved aboutMr. Hankins is putting his readers on THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN for the beginning of 2012's reading season.
Think of all of the good stuff you loved about THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN and TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE and, instead of sitting with Enzo in a cozy living room watching the discovery channel or with Morrie in a study littered with books and notes, you'll be sitting in a cage with Ivan, "the Ape at Exit 8," a thoughtful gorilla tasked with one of the most difficult callings ever. . .caring for a new cast member in a broken down circus, a baby elephant.
Appelgate's prose is beautiful, and Ivan, her narrator, like Enzo, gets to saying some things about being "human" that we all need to hear. . .a lovely, lovely book that will prompt discussions about what it means to live within one's intended calling even when that calling is not made manifest in the day-to-day doings. The book could also foster conversations about what it means to dig deep for that one latent gift that is just waiting for us to tap into it for the greater good--not only of ourselves, but for those around us.
Mr. Hankins is coming out early to predict big things for Katherine Appelgate's THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN in 2012. I predict that this will become an instant classic that readers will return to again and again, sharing it with every friend they can. ...more
You never want to come out too early in review of a book, and CHAINED doesn't release until May of 2012. My apologies--in advance--to not only Lynne KYou never want to come out too early in review of a book, and CHAINED doesn't release until May of 2012. My apologies--in advance--to not only Lynne Kelly (who--by the way--taught Mr. Hankins how to use a hashtag on Twitter ((just in case you wanted to know who to blame for this)) but to the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux as well for this early, early review. . .but you see?
I have to be first on this one.
We're always wondering, right? What book will capture our attention in the next year? Pull at us in all of the places a work can pull? Lead us to discussions--not only with our reading community at large--but that community at very, very small--our classroom. Which titles will lead us to deeper understandings of our place in this world and our connection with others--familiar and unfamiliar? Local and global? With our fellow man. . .and with nature? And we ask all of these questions while holding on dearly to those books we have loved this year, right? And finally, what book will fill up the Goodreads feed with the number of times it will be marked "To Read" by the community here?
Out of the gate, CHAINED is one of those middle grade/early YA books we will talk about in the spring of 2012. It has all of elements of a class/student friendly read, and I wouldn't be surprised to see CHAINED adopted not only at the classroom level, but by university professors offering multicultural titles as part of their MG/YA literature survey courses.
When Hastin's younger sister falls ill and has to go to the hospital, Hastin stays behind to take care of the home. His only companion piece in the world now is the small stone that his deceased father left for him along with the story of its coloration and smoothness. An extended hospital stay means that Hastin not only has to stay home by himself even longer, it means that his mother must take on a servant capacity job in order to pay off the rupees necessary to cover her daughter's care.
A chance invitation to go into town to help a friend sell a camel (one of the books early charming moments), affords Hastin a chance to see his mother and her new workplace. When he senses his mother's mistreatment and witnesses the harsh conditions she must endure, Hastin vows to find a way to secure a job to make the payment to the hospital (but not until the camel has eaten part of the master's topiary).
Hastin finds work as an elephant keeper under a seeming huckster named Timir who is planning to re-establish his circus, having had some success as a circus man before. Hastin comes under the "care" of Timir and awaits his duties as a elephant keeper (Timir and his assistant Sharad must first capture an elephant). In the interim, Hastin meets Ne Min (one of the wisest, most tender/gentle mentors you will find in current MG/YA realistic, multicultural literature), a kindly servant who serves in the capacity of cook and general maintenance.
Eventually, Timir captures his elephant and Hastin learns the ways of keeping an elephant. He also witnesses treatment of the elephant, who Hastin names Nandita (which means Joy) that gives him pause for concern. Along the way, Ne Min assists in the care of Nandita making Hastin question how Ne Min knows so much about elephants (one of few times in the past few books I have read in the past year wherein I had that "oh. Gasp!" kind of moments while reading.
Each chapter opens with a quote from a book about the care of elephants. These quotes work so nicely as a pre-cursor for what is to happen in that section of the book and allows Kelly to carry the story with what seems to be veiled evidence of the research she has surely done in the crafting of this story.
As the conditions worsen for Nandita and the threat of sale or extermination loom for her, Hastin must make a decision regarding the disposition of his large, gray friend. But you will have to read that decision for yourself. . .
The moments between Hastin and Nandita are tender and touching. I actually felt like I was in that small sleeping quarter with Hastin, who is tricked into not knowing how long he will have to stay to pay of the debt to Timir, and Nandita. I felt especially close to this book having just finished the newest SCIENTIST IN THE FIELD book about elephants in the past weekend.
The moments between Hastin and Ne Min are of the same ilk. I wanted to know everything about Ne Min right away, but Kelly--in her debut work--let's Ne Min reveal himself in bits and pieces with the touch of a master craftsman writer.
In the end, you will cheer for Hastin and Nandita. Students of the Hero's Journey will not be disappointed for all of the markers in place that will let you follow the circle around.
Themes that come out of CHAINED are worthy of discussion in the reading workshop classroom. Guilt and Shame are covered to the extent that the book makes an interesting ladder to THE CRUCIBLE with Timir and Danforth taking on similar roles in their governance over the disposition of others without any kind of effort given toward their nurture or even basic maintenance (ask Mr. Hankins how this works sometime because the idea is still fresh in my head with possibilities building new rungs and ladders all of the time).
Shorter chapters make CHAINED an excellent choice for classroom read-aloud. As the book releases in May, it would be a nice hit for early fall when the kids come back to the classroom and the summer will afford teachers plenty of time to have the book read and discussed (follow Mr. Hankins at @PaulWHankins and I will personally discuss the book with you).
The multicultural setting and characters will make CHAINED a welcome addition to the reading classroom where more multicultural titles are being sought. The nature of child labor, Indian culture, and elephants just naturally lend themselves to non-fiction texts that would cover the same. Kelly offers some information regarding these in the back of the ARC. And I was so pleased to see that Mitali Perkins (BAMBOO PEOPLE) was one of the authors Kelly sought out to help with some of the details that work their way into the story I read today. Kelly have done her homework as she has written this story, and in a small way I feel as though I have known Hastin for some time--although not by name--from my interactions with Kelly at Twitter and Facebook.
Kelly has a strong inter-web presence already and her advocacy for middle grade/young adult literature as evidenced by her active participation in discussions and forum offered by social media--even before her own book has released--gives her great credibility in this teacher/reader/reviewer/writer's eyes. Here is an accessible, promising, young author who I can only hope has more and more to share by way of story.
As I stated earlier, I had to be the first out on this book. So much, that I am typing and refreshing to make sure that no one else sneaks any stars out there before I have a chance to hit SAVE.
Here is the promise of a super upcoming year of writing/reading. I have read other titles coming out in 2012, but Kelly is one of the first official Class of 2012 title I have read. Her work here in CHAINED allows her to move to the front of the class. And if her work is any indication of what the class of 2012 has to offer us in the new year, we are in for a real reading treat.
Psst. . .if you get to the end of this review. . .Lynne, this is for you. Thanks for everything!...more