Suzy is quite an interesting character and she's dealing with some heavy grief. She also deals with a changing friendship. I found the science in theSuzy is quite an interesting character and she's dealing with some heavy grief. She also deals with a changing friendship. I found the science in the book to be incredibly interesting. I didn't like it as much as some people. Some things were just more than I could believe, but overall, it was a nice middle grade novel. Strangely enough Suzy reminded me of Elise in the YA book This Song Will Save Your Life. They are both precocious characters struggling with self worth and finding friends. I also thought that Sarah Kay's poem Jellyfish https://youtu.be/d6OAWaxPHQo fit well with this book though it has the word *ss in it so probably couldn't be shared with young students....more
This book had a very unique perspective. I found it interesting to be inside the head of a child who was having difficulty adjusting to his adoptive fThis book had a very unique perspective. I found it interesting to be inside the head of a child who was having difficulty adjusting to his adoptive family. I did wonder a lot about the whole situation though. I know international adoptions can be very dicey and stress inducing, but I also found some of the choices the parents make to be hard to believe.
In the acknowledgement we see that many adoptive parents were consulted, but I also wondered about whether adoptive children could have been helpful too.
It is certainly a unique look at adoptive families and I wanted to see Jaden continue to grow. He did not seem like a middle school age child either. He still seemed to be elementary age. The goodreads summary says he is eleven, but the book itself said he was 12....more
In Escaping the Tiger, readers get an intimate look at life in a refugee camp following the withdrawal of UReview copy: Author provided Kindle edition
In Escaping the Tiger, readers get an intimate look at life in a refugee camp following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Southeast Asia. Vonlai shares what it is like as his family escapes from Laos into Thailand and waits for the day that they will be able to begin their new life in another country. The wait seems endless though and he and his family begin to lose hope. Vonlai finds friendship in the camp, but is always hungry.
There are some stories in this book that are difficult to read. War is so ugly and there are tragedies that shaped the people in the camp.
There are many people in our community who have shared this type of experience either first-hand or have family members who also fled Laos. This is a book that could be both a window and a mirror for the teens in our community. I will definitely share it with our young adult librarians....more
This was a sweet middle grade book about a girl going through a tough time. Her mom has been deported and her father (who hasn't been a big part of heThis was a sweet middle grade book about a girl going through a tough time. Her mom has been deported and her father (who hasn't been a big part of her life) has stepped in, but isn't doing a stellar job. Fortunately she has good friends and a community service project that keeps her involved with the animals she enjoys. I generally avoid animal stories because they often make me cry. This one did too, but not really because of the animals, but the troubles that Gaby was facing in her life....more
This book made me cry. The illustrations are beautiful and the text tells the story of a man's family and how they came to love two countries. It's inThis book made me cry. The illustrations are beautiful and the text tells the story of a man's family and how they came to love two countries. It's interesting that the boy grows up with the Grandfather's dreams becoming his own....more
I got an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.
For people concerned about having fully developed characters with flaws and all, Rafe fits theI got an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.
For people concerned about having fully developed characters with flaws and all, Rafe fits the bill. He messes up and he makes decisions that frustrate me, but I was continually rooting for him. I was also holding my sides laughing for a good chunk of the book. I laughed out loud and had to share bits of it with anyone lucky/unlucky enough to be near me while I was reading. A good part of the humor comes from the unique personalities in Rafe's life including his rather free-thinking parents (nude yoga in the backyard!?).
Beyond the humor though, the book does deal with some rather heavy issues surrounding identity and how to be true to yourself. There were moments that brought me to tears, but thankfully the laughs outweighed them.
I had really been looking forward to reading this book after reading the review from Debbie Reese at American Indians in ChiReview copy from Netgalley
I had really been looking forward to reading this book after reading the review from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Whenever she raves about a book, I know I will love it or at the very least find something that makes me think. I was not disappointed. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. If I Ever Get Out of Here is a look into the life of a boy as he's coming of age. Like many young people, Lewis is searching for his identity. He thought he knew who he was, but as he comes into more contact and closer relationships with people outside his reservation, he questions himself. He straddles that line of embracing his home culture and feeling the need to distance himself from it so he can fit in with the mainstream culture of his classmates.
Gansworth has crafted an intriguing story that will appeal to a wide variety of young people with music, humor, fights, friendship, and romance. He wove the music of the Beatles and Paul McCartney throughout using songs as chapter titles and within the storyline too. Music is something that can connect people across age, gender, and even culture lines. We don't have to share the same background to share an enjoyment of music.
I loved the subtle and not so subtle moments of humor in the story. Lewis and his friends and relatives hassle each other as part of their way of bonding with rather rude nicknames like Stinkpot. Often though, the humor is just his matter of fact rather deadpan style like the exchange with his mother after he had someone cut off his braid. "You look like a Welfare Indian." "I am a Welfare Indian," I said. "You don't need to look the part," she said. Another example is way back in the acknowledgments. Even there Gansworth is still cracking jokes. He begins, "If you're reading this book for class, you can skip this page. There will surely not be a quiz on any of this information."
Along with humor, Gansworth has included quite a few heavy topics. Bullying and how to fight or not fight takes up a good deal of the book. More importantly, friendship is examined. Friendship across cultural lines can be an amazing thing, but it can also be difficult and Gansworth reveals this over and over again.
Another aspect of this book mentioned within the first five pages is the history of the Indian boarding schools and the long-term damage that they caused. The effect of the Indian boarding schools is far reaching and is being brought to light in more and more works of children's literature (there are a few titles for older readers in this list also).
The boys start navigating the waters of dating before too long. This brings up the complications of dating and marrying non-Indians. If a man married a non-Indian, their children wouldn't have legal status as an Indian. That is some heavy stuff to think about as a middle-schooler and being the kid that he is, Lewis is thinking about it.
I would highly recommend this book to any young adult. Lewis and George come alive in the book and there are so many fabulous personalities. Lewis's Uncle Albert and George's father add great voices to the story. I am going to be sharing this title with many people because these characters should not be missed.
Meg Medina does an excellent job of bringing us into Piddy's world. Piddy enjoys school, especially science courses and wants to work with animals someday. She's Latina, but when she transfers to a new school, she doesn't think she'll fit in with the Latina crowd. She never gets a chance to try. Before long, Yaqui and her gang are not only excluding her, they are targeting Piddy.
Piddy has no idea how to handle this, but her primary method is keeping her mother and adults in the school out of it. She fears that it will only get worse if those particular adults get involved. Fortunately, Piddy also has Lila to turn to in a crisis. Lila, a family friend, is a strong woman with a lot of love and support for Piddy.
Piddy has to decide who she is going to be and how she can make that happen. This book is a wonderful look at the experience of bullying and the many far reaching effects it can have on a person. It isn't just the physical effects that matter. The bruises and other damage are only one part of it. The constant fear can affect relationships, academics, and so much more.
For students going through bullying, this will be a book that shows them they aren't alone in their experience. For others, it is a huge reminder that the bystanders are choosing to be either part of the problem or part of the solution.
Recommendation: If you haven't read it yet, get it as soon as you can. I enjoyed the audiobook, but did prefer reading the hardcopy myself. Piddy's voice is real and I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to spend more time with this girl who was finding herself and working through this very difficult situation.
Extra: I was able to talk to Meg Medina a while ago and posted that interview over at Rich in Color. In it, she shares that the book is based on some experiences in her own life. You can read that interview here: http://richincolor.com/2013/07/meet-m.......more