Spoiler: The elephant gets easier to find as the jungle around her disappears and a city encroaches, eventually forcing the elephant into a tiny zoo.Spoiler: The elephant gets easier to find as the jungle around her disappears and a city encroaches, eventually forcing the elephant into a tiny zoo. But she and her parrot and snake friends bust out of the zoo and hop on a boat to a fresh jungle.
This is literally the only picture book in my (large) library system about a child in foster care. We have a few books on the subject in easy nonfictiThis is literally the only picture book in my (large) library system about a child in foster care. We have a few books on the subject in easy nonfiction, but this is the only one that's a story for very young children.
It's not a perfect book. For example, one reviewer thought that Elliot is developmentally delayed. I think this interpretation is valid, but that's not how I read it. Elliot's parents "don't know how to take care of him" when he cries, yells, and misbehaves. I read that as a gentle way of saying they are neglecting him. I guess it depends on how old you think Elliot is. Crying, yelling, and misbehaving are normal behaviors for a child under the age of five or so. Maybe Elliot is older and his behaviors are due to developmental issues. It's ambiguous, I think.
I can see someone asking for this book to use as either a mirror or a window for a kid. Maybe it would be right for a child who is going to get a sibling from foster care. Or for children who are going through the foster care system themselves. It is a super gentle version of what can be an ugly experience. It paints the birth parents in a forgiving light. Elliot's emotions are intense (he's scared, he cries, he worries). But the book has a happy conclusion. ...more
I wanted to like this, but I found it boring. It reminded me too much of Defiance. Both books are about a kid who meets an eccentric old lady with a cI wanted to like this, but I found it boring. It reminded me too much of Defiance. Both books are about a kid who meets an eccentric old lady with a cow. The old lady helps the kid see the world differently. Thanks, magical old lady! Thanks, cow!
I think the blank verse/concrete poetry/creative typography stuff will appeal to fans of, like, Geronimo Stilton? I wasn't impressed by it. It seemed somehow lazy for a writer as talented as Creech. Like, let's write "drip" like this:
d r i p r i p
and, oh, isn't that cool, don't you just get what drips are like from the way the letters are spaced?
(Now I'm just being mean.)
So, if you want a children's novel in verse about how special cows are, I'd recommend Home of the Brave.
Apologies to Sharon Creech for the snark. I suppose this is a sweet book in it's way. I really do love Love That Dog and Walk Two Moons and recommend them all the time. Maybe I'll try reading MOO again sometime when I'm not feeling pressure to come up with brilliant Mock Newbery picks. ...more
I remember being a young kid learning about slavery and thinking something along the lines of, "Why would anyone accept being a slave?" At the time II remember being a young kid learning about slavery and thinking something along the lines of, "Why would anyone accept being a slave?" At the time I didn't understand a lot of things. I didn't understand the drive to stay alive, even if it means living under unbearable conditions. I didn't understand what it means to be born into a culture that denies your humanity. If I had had the opportunity to read this book back then, I think it would've helped me understand the psychological shackles of slavery, not just the literal ones.
Grace is nine years old and has always lived with her mother in slave quarters on a tobacco plantation. But now Grace is being forced to live and work in the Big House serving the white Master and Missus. It's just on the other side of the hill from her family, but it means Grace won't see her mother. And it means Grace will be scrutinized by the hateful Missus. Through poetry, the reader feels Grace's fear, her intense love for her mother, and also her desire to speak her mind even though it's forbidden. When Grace discovers the Master and Missus intend to sell her mother and brothers at a slave auction, she finds the courage to try to save her family.
This story is based on new research about the Great Dismal Swamp, a seemingly uninhabitable area in Virginia and North Carolina that was a refuge for people escaping slavery. You can read more about it here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history...
Well, this made me bawl my eyes out. So I have to give it five stars.
Topher, Steve and Brand are sixth graders. They're the target of bullies, but thWell, this made me bawl my eyes out. So I have to give it five stars.
Topher, Steve and Brand are sixth graders. They're the target of bullies, but they're also resilient and fun dudes. Topher is an artist with a wild imagination. Steve is a little like Spock, super logical and intelligent. Brand thinks there's nothing special about him, but the fact that his dad is disabled means Brand has taken on a lot of adult responsibilities, making him especially determined and capable.
These three friends each tell part of the story in turn. They go on a kind of quest to see their teacher Ms. Bixby in the hospital. It is, of course, part adventure and part comedy of errors. They have to skip school, take a bus into the city, and procure certain items, at least one of which is illegal for minors to purchase.
The heart of this story is each boy's connection to Ms. Bixby. She is a Cool Teacher (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...) but it doesn't play like a stereotype. She gives each of these three boys what they need and they want to give her something back in her time of need.
Like The Great American Whatever, this manages to be both funny and heartbreaking, which is a winning combination like salty and sweet or comfortable and stylish. A perfect book for a 6th grader, just edgy enough not to be babyish (there's a little bit of swearing and just a touch of risque) but not beyond what an average preteen can handle.
There are allusions to great poetry, music and literature (you'll probably want to read or re-read The Hobbit after this and go look up Walt Whitman), which is a hallmark of the Cool Teacher. She turns you on to cool stuff.
Is it a drawback that Steve's character calls on a certain Asian-American stereotype? He has tiger parents and a perfect sister who's a pianist. In popular culture Asian people tend to be portrayed as logical, good at math, and socially reserved like Steve. But Steve is a well-developed character with a rich inner life. He is not just a series of stereotypical traits. Maybe his parents are, though. I'm not sure where I ultimately come down on this but I mention it because I'm sure there are readers who are tired of seeing this stereotypical set of attributes. But I did love Steve. To get into spoiler territory: (view spoiler)[ I thought there was a subtle implication that Steve is gay and feels more than just friendship for Topher. That definitely shades his character, right? To be 12 and dealing with an attraction to your straight BFF? That would explain being reserved in how you express your emotions. (hide spoiler)] And I liked what the author did with Steve's relationship with his sister.
So there you have it. Read with tissues at the ready. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is my 1.5-year-old daughter's favorite book. She loves the whole series. I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with them initially but after my 1,000tThis is my 1.5-year-old daughter's favorite book. She loves the whole series. I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with them initially but after my 1,000th reading, I'm really starting to pick up on the nuances of Stanley's existence. He is an auto mechanic, a diner owner/operator, a construction worker, a farmer, and a postal worker. That is one industrious hamster. He ends every day exactly the same way, so maybe he's obsessive-compulsive? He's also very into hats.
Additionally, I've become more invested in the cast of supporting characters. Charlie is the most fascinating - we learn he's a slob and a heartthrob in Stanley the Mailman - but Myrtle, Hattie, Shamus and Little Woo also have their intriguing qualities. How has Hattie's employment at the diner affected her friendship with Stanley? Is Myrtle's car always breaking down because she's such a speed demon - or is it a cry for Stanley's attention? What happened to Little Woo's mother? Is Shamus a widower?
There's a new Stanley book coming out in 2017 (http://a.co/j3srnSc) where it's rumored Stanley is going into the retail business. Even if MJ has outgrown Stanley by that time I'll probably pick it up just to see how my favorite rodents are getting on. Cheers to William Bee! ...more
My book club kids liked this. It deals in wish fulfillment and easy answers instead of reality, so it's a light, fun read (despite one very heavy topiMy book club kids liked this. It deals in wish fulfillment and easy answers instead of reality, so it's a light, fun read (despite one very heavy topic, which I'll get into later). You don't need to be a big baseball fan to follow these books, so that's a plus. We had one of our best book club activities ever, in which I stacked a bunch of paper cups and let the kids throw beanbags at them to try to knock them down. Can you throw hard with accuracy like Satchel Paige? Most could not, but it was fun throwing stuff and knocking stuff down in the library.
Now, to get real with you, I can't give this more than two stars because I cringed a few times at the way racism is handled in this book. At one point Stosh is at a Negro League game, notices that the crowd is mostly black and then think this puts him in the "minority group" for once. And then he says something to the effect of now he knows how black people feel.
Honestly, as I read this I was thinking how it stacked up against last year's The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. AnHonestly, as I read this I was thinking how it stacked up against last year's The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. And I was thinking about how those saboteur Churchill Club boys were more exciting than the pamphleteer Scholl siblings. But then I got to the end of this book and BAM. Whoa. I teared up. I felt awful for thinking for even a minute that the White Rose story was tame by comparison. If I had known from the beginning how it ended for Sophie and Hans I think I would've read the story in a different light.
Beyond my personal reaction, I think this story is told with admirable precision (I read it in about an hour) which makes it appealing for younger readers. But there are some very rattling, morbid parts of the story that make me think it's generally best for 6th grade and up.
You could definitely have quite a discussion around the themes, particularly how the Scholl siblings both professed to know right from wrong by looking inside themselves. Do human beings have an innate sense of good and evil? Or can we only know what we're taught? Hans Scholl: "I'm searching for myself, just myself, because this much I do know; I'll only find the truth inside me." Sophie Scholl: "We carry all our standards within ourselves, only we don't look for them closely enough. Perhaps because they are the severest standards." ...more
I would've given this 4 stars, except I felt strongly punches were pulled in the penultimate scene. Specifically: (view spoiler)[ Scorpius and Albus pI would've given this 4 stars, except I felt strongly punches were pulled in the penultimate scene. Specifically: (view spoiler)[ Scorpius and Albus professing crushes on girls when they are *clearly* crushing on each other. Come on! (hide spoiler)]
Why not 5 stars? Let me nerd out a little and talk about how, IMHO, time travel ought to be portrayed in fiction. As in HP3 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), the best theory of time travel is that, if it happens, it always already happened. You can never change the future because if you traveled back in time, whatever you did is already reflected in your reality. For example, in HP3, Harry thinks his father casts a patronus that saves his life, but when he travels back in time, he realizes it's actually Harry himself who casts the patronus. When he went back in time, he didn't change the future. Because he always already went into the past and cast that patronus.
So, clearly, while I think time travel fiction like Back to the Future is fun, I have more respect for the other theory of time travel. The one I thought JK Rowling subscribed to. But this play soooooo proves me wrong. I'm not too grumpy about it because the alternate timelines allowed for a lot of satisfying character exploration (mostly Ron and Hermione's relationship).
I did enjoy this. I'm dying to see the play. The magic of theater + the magic of Harry Potter = Mind Blown. (I imagine.)
This went over very well with small groups of K-3rd graders. I held the endpapers up over my forehead to give myself the girl's bright red, curly hairThis went over very well with small groups of K-3rd graders. I held the endpapers up over my forehead to give myself the girl's bright red, curly hair and the bear's ears! It was a good way to start and finish the read aloud.
The message of this book is basically that you should forgive someone if they didn't mean to upset you. There's a difference between doing something on purpose and by accident. The fun of this story, though, is really digging into the girl's the bear's anger at each other. I had the kids yell "HORRIBLE BEAR!" along with the girl and some of them got really (maybe too much) into it. You might pair this with When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry to talk about ways to calm down and self-regulate.
Ame Dyckman always does a good job of using minimal text and letting the pictures tell a good chunk of the story. I love her book Boy + Bot! ...more