Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

     Look in the mirror.  What do you see?  Your face, right?  Now you might not think that’s extraordinary, but what if you were born without a face?  Or what if your face came out all mixed up?  Don’t think it can happen?  Then meet August Pullman.  Auggie (as his family calls him) was born with a rare combination of facial deformaties that placed his eyes too low on his face, basically no ears (just holes and a flap), a minuscule chin and scrambled teeth.  His deformities and the resulting surgeries prevented from attending school like other kids, until now. It’s time to start middle school (5th grade) and Auggie is ready to meet the world, or is he?

     The story starts out being told from the perspective of Auggie, but then shifts with chapters told from the point of view of his sister, her boyfriend, classmates, and others.  As a reader you are able to enter Auggie’s world, feel the sting of bullying and cheer as Auggie and others discover it is what’s on the inside of a person that truly matters.  How does this happen?  Does everyone magically change overnight?  Not hardly. But read the book and you’ll never judge anyone by their appearance again!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ghost Buddy - Zero to Hero, by Winkler and Oliver

Ghost Buddy – Zero to Hero, Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Many of you know how much I love the Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.  So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that they are writing a new series featuring a main character who’s currently in sixth grade.  (Can we make a connection?)
A new stepfather, a new school, a new house, and no friends, just when Billy Broccoli feels life couldn’t get more difficult, in swoops the Hoove!  Hoover is a 99 year old teenage ghost who happens to be Billy’s new roommate.  Are you suitably freaked out yet?  Don’t be!  After reading this book you may just decide a ghost would be the perfect roommate.  Think about it, who’s going to pick on the kid that has a ghost on his side?

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

(From January 19, 2012)
What would you do if you were ten years old,  all alone in this world, and at the last foster home you were sent to, the grown-ups locked you in a hornet-infested shed at night?  That’s the decision facing Bud (“not Buddy”) at the beginning of this book.
I chose this book mainly because it’s one of the “Battle of the Books” books for this year.  But I had also been hearing from students that it was a good book and I noticed it had won a Newbery Award and a Coretta Scott King Award.  All good indications of a wonderful book.
I’m currently on page 180 and hope to finish it tonight.  On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d rate the book a 5 definitely!  The author does a great job of weaving history into the story and letting the reader know what life was really like during the Great Depression in the mid 1930′s.  The Jazz movement had taken hold of the country, the labor movement was born, and equal rights were still not a reality for many.  Even though it was the depression, the author still showed how everyday people went out of their way to help others.  I really liked those parts!

Savvy by Ingrid Law

(From January 9, 2012)
There are no other words to describe this book beside “captivating”!  After the shocking beginning, the story sucks you in and you’re off for a wild ride on the big pink Heartland Bible bus.  As I read the book I really did feel as if I was right there on the bus with Mibs, Fish, Samson, Will Jr., Bobbi, Lester and eventually Lill.   What kid hasn’t dreamed of running away (OK well they aren’t actually running away, but rather running to something) and going on a great adventure?!  And who better to take them on that adventure than Lester?  Good old, afraid of his shadow, Lester.  He was the perfect character to aid the kids in their quest to get to Salina.  I so hope this book becomes a movie someday, there’s something in it for the whole family to enjoy.  I went from laughing, to being scared, to relief, to crying.  Just when I though I knew what was going to happen, off went the bus in another direction!
I especially liked how the author helped us, the readers, to reflect on what we’ve atually learned though this story.  Mibs makes this realization in chapter 33:
“When something like that comes along, whether it’s an accident or a savvy or a very first kiss, life takes a turn and you can’t step back.  All you can do is keep moving forward and remember what you’ve learned.”   p.333

A Dog's Life, by Ann M. Martin

(From December 7, 2011)
The book I’m currently reading is A Dog’s Life by Ann Martin.  It is the story of a dog’s life told by the dog herself.  I was a little skeptical of this book (really what story could a dog possibly share?), but it is a Battle of the Books book for this year and several of my students recommended it, so I had to give it a try.  I’m happy to report, my students were absolutely right about this book, I’m hooked!  Currently I’m almost halfway through the book (p.87) and Squirrel has just managed to survive a horrible dog fight.  After reading this scene I want to go out, buy a huge bag of dog food, go looking for stray dogs and feed them (and I’ve always considered myself a cat person).  I can’t wait to read more...

Note:  Yes, I did finish this book.  While I have always considered myself more of a "cat" person, I now have a new appreciation for dogs and what they mean to us.  I also found it fascinating to view the world through a dog's eyes.  I'm one of those people that always tries to imagine what animals are thinking (OK, even insects sometimes).  This could be a really neat creative writing activity (no groans from the peanut gallery please)!  

New Reviews and an Update!!!

I've decided to re-energize this blog with the reviews I've posted over the school year on our classroom blog.  Unfortunately my Kidblog account can only be viewed by my classroom students as it is linked to the student blogs.  So therefore, I will now be posting all of my reviews on both the Kidblogs site and here!  feel free to leave comments and make suggestions!  I'm always searching for great new books to read and introduce to my students.