Tried to like it since it won the Newbery, but couldn't get through it. I stopped about halfway through and skipped to the end. I just wasn't compelleTried to like it since it won the Newbery, but couldn't get through it. I stopped about halfway through and skipped to the end. I just wasn't compelled to know what happened to Bod....more
Cute story, quirky characters, and what 13-yr.-old doesn't dream about having a "saavy" of their own? Really, it's a modern-day tall tale. A fun, quicCute story, quirky characters, and what 13-yr.-old doesn't dream about having a "saavy" of their own? Really, it's a modern-day tall tale. A fun, quick read and a big hit with the students at the elementary school where I work. The librarian and I conducted a "mock" Newbery election with some of the 5th and 6th grade students, and this book won by an overwhelming vote....more
I will be posting a review for this book when I feel I can do it justice. Or you could just read my friend DaNae's in the comment section below becausI will be posting a review for this book when I feel I can do it justice. Or you could just read my friend DaNae's in the comment section below because she is a much more entertaining writer than I.
However, I must take a moment to interject this one comment. We read this in our book club--all of us work or teach at the elementary school--and we had very polarized opinions of it. We either loved it or disliked it (a pretty strong dislike, too). The dissenters got tired of the poetic language and description, and admitted to not liking "sad animal stories." HOWEVER, this being a children's book, I must report that all of the 5th and 6th graders in my classes that have read it have RAVED about how much they love this book. (They are reading it as part of a "mock" Newbery election we are having.) That being said, I must side with the target audience and sing praises for Kathi Appelt and The Underneath. 'Nuf said....more
Like The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, I am seeing polarized reactions from students and teachers. This is another selection from my 5th/6th grade "mockLike The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, I am seeing polarized reactions from students and teachers. This is another selection from my 5th/6th grade "mock" Newbery. They are all advanced readers and have liked it and thought it was quite titillating. My book club read it and were non-plussed. It wasn't as captivating as I expected from the jacket cover, but then again, it is written for children, and the children I know who have read it have gotten the reaction I expected. The book jacket states this book is for 9-12 year olds, but I wouldn't suggest it to anyone younger than 11. The underlying theme is pretty serious (a child dies due to neglect and abuse). There is quite a bit of tecnical terminology and description about photography and developing photographs from negatives, which has the potential to bore children of our digital age.
As I said earlier, most of our book club did not love the book. I was not present for the book club discussion unfortunately, because I think I read it very differently than the other members. I studied some Victorian Lit. in college, so I read it through the lenses of what was going on during that time period. In England, this era was a time of technological and scientific advances, and many people had a hard time reconciling Religion with Science; hence a crisis of faith was in full swing. I don't know if it was the same cultural climate in New York, but the book seems to underscore this type of angst, especially in Horace.
Another important theme, I think, is how adults use their power over children. Mrs. Von Macht and Mr. Middleditch both exhort authority over Pegg and Horace, and it is interesting to discuss how children do not feel they can buck that authority, even when the adult is lying or committing a crime. It takes a lot of courage on a child's part to do so.
Overall, it's a decent read. Nothing too life-changing, but still thought provoking enough. And there is the spooky element that will grab young adults--though it was too scary for my 12 year old daughter and she stopped reading it halfway through....more
I am going to hold a mock Newbery Award for a group of 5th and 6th graders at school, and this is one of the books I am pre-reading to decide if I wilI am going to hold a mock Newbery Award for a group of 5th and 6th graders at school, and this is one of the books I am pre-reading to decide if I will include it in the reading selections. I didn't really like it at first because I had just read Trouble by Gary Schmidt, and he is such a great writer that the language in this book paled in comparison. This historical fiction story is about a boy named Joseph, whose parents immigrated from Russia to New York. His parents invented the "Teddy" bear after they saw a cartoon in the newspaper about Teddy Roosevelt not wanting to shoot a bear cub. Joseph's life turns upside down with his parents' success. Their family is caught up in the work of making bears, and therefore no longer has time for play or to fulfill Joseph's greater wish--to go to Coney Island.
Karen Hesse uses plain language, which is probably better for the younger readers, and the plot is fairly straightforward. However, she contrasts the main story with a subplot about a community of children who live under the Brooklyn bridge. Each of their stories explains why they have come to live under the bridge--some by choice, some because they have no where else to go. Each of their stories parallels Joseph's in some way, and highlights how fortunate he is to have the family he does despite their preoccupation with the bear business. The book also underscores the irony of America's promise as the "land of gold" during that period in our country's history. Hesse carries the bridge and bear theme throughout the book.
I've been reading quite a few coming of age stories lately, and this is another one that is well-written. Although I didn't like it as much as Wednesday Wars or Trouble, I think it is more suited for elementary-age readers....more