Monday, June 30, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary...

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie (2007)

A venture into YA lit from one of my favorite authors... a gifted student from the Indian reservation attempts to change his life by going to an outside/white school, and deals with betraying his friends/making new ones, poverty, alcohol, girls, and basketball...

lots of humor to deal with lots of pain, not the deepest story despite some heavy subjects, very Hollywood-like endings... strength of family, following your heart and being true and brave for yourself...



by Gary Paulsen (1987) -- Newbery Honor

A tale of survival, a boy becoming a man by battling wildlife, the elements, and his own fears... fast-paced, exciting, interesting details... strange little extra on the divorced parents plotline involving catching mom having an affair...

connections: The Cay, Call It Courage

Thursday, June 26, 2008



by Monica Shannon

Newbery Medal 1935

I usually stay away from the older books, but I must not have caught the year on this one until it was too late... not only that, but the writing style is a bit different, almost as if translated by a non-english speaker in some places -- but despite it all, I enjoyed the story!

Set in Bulgaria and with a lot of winter, it's totally different from our part of the world, but the joy and appreciation for nature and life, even of hard work and simple surroundings, make this a quality, recommended read.

connections: Little House in the Big Woods?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pictures of Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods

by Patricia Reilly Giff (2002)

A foster child finally finds a home, then almost loses it by not trusting others... family dynamics, trusting and caring for others, the magic of Christmas...

George's Secret Key to the Universe

George's Secret Key to the Universe

Lucy & Stephen Hawking (2007)

How to get kids interested in black holes and the depths of space... pages from a science text subliminally placed inside a story about a secret super computer that can get you a ride on a comet, with reminders to care for the earth and solve our wasteful ways before it's too late...

Quick, light story but not predictable... great to accompany space/science lessons

The Nobodies

The Nobodies

by N.E. Bode (2007)

I liked the first one better (The Anybodies) but still an excellent book; very Potter-ish, with a dash of Jumanji as well...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jackie and Me

Jackie & Me

by Dan Gutman (1999)

let's teach racial tolerance by being poor sports!

Ok, too harsh. Especially for a book about one of my personal heroes, and a mighty fine ballplayer too. Our time-traveling protagonist goes back to 1947, changes skin color, and learns first-hand about racial inequality and bigotry. Quick, exciting plot, lots to discuss. But as a father and coach I cringe over the blatant unsportsman-like taunting, mocking, and fighting at a Little League baseball game... it's one thing to have Robinson the professional athlete being aggressive in a World Series game, but not a kid who supposedly learned something from Robinson's self-respect and dignity. But still, good book.

connections: Time Warp Trio, Year of the Boar..., Negro League baseball, Jackie Robinson biographies...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Anybodies

The Anybodies

by N. E. Bode/Julianna Baggott (2004)

The entire story was worth the house made of books (which I'm sure is cheaper than the prices here in SoCal)... lots of references to classic children's lit, clever and humorous comments from the "author", nice family connections, a sweet and strong lead character... I really liked this one!

update: I saw on the author's website there are 39 books and their characters, from Charlotte & Fern to the Bible, referenced in this book... can you find them all?