Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jimi & Me

Jimi & Me

Jamie Adolf (2005)

Coretta Scott King New Talent Award 2006

written in free verse, sometimes very rhythmic and lyrical, makes yer head bob while reading... a boy loses his dad suddenly and then learns some hard truths about him, and about life. Not preachy, good surprise at the end, many music references.

Good to use for poetry/music, even for younger kids (some parts)...

connections: music, Jimi Hendrix, poetry, race relations

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Small Steps

Small Steps

Louis Sachar (2006)

A "follow-up" to the immensely popular Holes, putting a couple of characters into a new predicament... not up to Holes level, a much lighter story/quicker read, but enjoyable. I was concerned at first because the main character wasn't exactly exemplifying excellent ethics (say that 3x fast!), which even given the setting and personalities of Holes, it seemed to be missing the redeeming tone of the first book. But by the second half all is well, and the story brings up quality points and is worth the read.
connections: Holes, career plans, pop music, writing lyrics, seizures, ethical dilemmas

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bat 6

Bat 6

Virginia Euwer Wolff (1998)

6th grade girls playing softball after WWII, and the racial tension that ensues... told as recollections from the girls, some a sentence or two, some a few pages long, as they tell about getting to play in the traditional town game and deal with the reverberations from the just-ended world war, including the Japanese family returning to the home they were
forced to leave and the girl whose father died at Pearl Harbor.

Some of the reflection/perception is too mature to come from 10 year old girls, but a lot of it does capture the fragile and confusing emotions of the age, and of learning harsh realities of the adult world and relationships.

connections: WWII, japanese internment, race relations, softball

but seriously, have you ever heard a worse title?
this is cool, all the places I've lived/visited...
(scroll aaaaaallllllll the way down this page for mine)

make your own at

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Higher Power of Lucky

The Higher Power of Lucky

by Susan Patron

Newbery Medal 2007

Probably best known for the "scrotum" passages, otherwise the story of an orphan and her French caretaker abd the cast of characters in a very small town... not too cohesive, it seemed to want to go in 2 or more directions, but cute/clever characters and a happy ending...

The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey

Bestest graphic novel ever. Absolutely hilarious, even the parts I didn't get the first time and had to go back and read carefully, because I'm laughing too hard and can't read through the tears in my eyes and because I'm nowhere near as smart as Rabbi Harvey.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Call It Courage

Call It Courage
Armstrong Sperry
Newbery Medal 1941
Coming of age, overcoming fears and challenges, a Polynesian boy survives on an island and returns home a man. Good story, nice action and drama, rich descriptions and use of metaphor (or is it simile?)... minor peeve of mine, when the illustrations don't match the action on the page: after telling how the mast snapped and was lost, next page has full sail, etc....
connections: island life, sailing, oceanography, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson (prob next on my list, #2 is reading it now), cannibalism, The Cay
I didn't include the "violence" tag since it was fights against sharks and octopuses...

The Well

The Well

Midred D. Taylor (1995)

Another in the Logan family saga, this one is from when the adults in Roll of Thunder... were kids. Racism, compassion, justice, accountability, using violence to solve problems... Discussions of slavery, Reconstruction, and why didn't the Logan family just move somewhere else?

connections: Slavery, Civil Rights, Dr. King/Pacifism, Pink and Say by P. Polacco, the other Taylor books...