Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Oh my goodness, reading Chomp is like watching a movie in your head.  Realistically I know I’m sitting on my swing under the maple tree in my backyard, but in my head I’m in the Everglades in the middle of a thunderstorm.  I’m speeding through the swamp on an airboat with Wahoo, Tuna and Link while a crazed lunatic is chasing us.  The mosquitoes are swarming and biting…oh wait, that part’s real.  Seriously, I cannot put this book down; I will be highly recommending it to all my students this fall.  This story has it all:  action, adventure, lovable wild animals (wouldn’t you love to take a swim with Alice the alligator?), villains, good guys, and even a little romance thrown in just for fun.  Has anyone decided to make this into a movie yet?  If not, someone definitely needs to send a copy of the book to Disney or Pixar.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

“It’s a perfect night to run away, thought Fadi…”
So begins the journey of Fadi and his family as they make their desperate attempt to flee Afghanistan in Shooting Kabul.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was a middle grade fiction book as I read the first few chapters.  The horrible and heart wrenching decisions that Fadi’s family had to make as they ran for their lives made we want to stop reading at times, but I reminded myself that for too many people this story is uncomfortably close to the truth.  In the midst of all this turmoil, Fadi’s six year old sister, Miriam, is accidently left behind in Afghanistan as the family escapes to Pakistan and later the United States.

While family and friends back in Pakistan and Afghanistan search for Miriam, Fadi and his family try to settle into their new lives in San Francisco.  Fadi’s thoughts are never far from Miriam, he blames himself for her being separated from the family.  His one goal: to return to Afghanistan and find Miriam.

This book is hard to put down; the readers easily become wrapped up in Fadi’s life as he tries to make friends, adjust to his new surroundings, and find Miriam.  Then it’s September 11, 2001, and Fadi’s world changes yet again.

As I read about the events of 9/11, many of the memories of that day came flooding back.  Who will ever forget where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news of the planes hitting the towers? The memories are so powerful, even so many years later.  In the story, Fadi’s family and community suddenly become targets as they struggle in the aftermath of the attacks.

It always amazes me every year when I have students that don’t know anything about 9/11.  They were only toddlers then.  I will be using this book as a read-aloud in the classroom to help spark some intelligent discussions and promote a culture of acceptance and understanding for all.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wonder Book Trailer!

Just found this!  Book trailer for the book, Wonder.  I get chills just watching this.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Teacher/Blogger on Vacation!

What makes for a perfect vacation? Warm weather (Ok, it's really hot), sun, the lake , family and of course time to read. Sayner, WI is perfect. It has all that plus a wonderful library full of great books and it's the local wifi hotspot!  I always bring great books to read with me up north, but there is something so magical about walking into this little northern library and finding my special "vacation" books!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Out of My MInd by Sharon M. Draper

 “I have never spoken one single word.  I am almost eleven years old.”

Melody Brooks has lived her life unable to speak, unable to write, unable to communicate in any meaningful way with her family, friends, classmates, and the world.  Melody was born with a body that she has little control over, but a mind that is sharper than most.  While cerebral palsy has left her a prisoner to her wheelchair, totally dependent on the help of others to get her through each day, she has a photographic memory.  She is eager to learn and has a brain that understands new concepts easily and quickly.  Blessed with parents and friends that love and care for her, as Melody gets older harsh reality hits – the world is full of people that judge others by what they see, never taking the time to look below the surface and find what’s truly there.  When Melody was five years old, a doctor, an “expert” on working with the disabled, informed Mrs. Brooks that Melody was “profoundly retarded” and recommended placing Melody in an institution since she was “at a perfect age for her to learn to adjust to a new environment.”    Fortunately, Melody’s parents have no use for “experts” so they enrolled Melody in public school.  Now Melody has to find a way to let everyone, her family, classmates, and teachers, find out what’s really going on inside of her head.
Told from the perspective of Melody herself, the reader is offered a rare glimpse inside the mind of someone who can hear and understand everything that is happening around her (including unkind words), but has no way to respond except with shrieks, grunts, and jerky body movements.  As a reader you’ll find your self totally immersed in Melody’s world, cheering her on as she refuses to let anyone keep her down!
I consider this book to be a must read.  It will forever ever change how you view anyone considered “different”, opening up new possibilities for all!