Friday, January 25, 2008
Fathers and sons, boys and mentally challenged homeless immigrants, small town vs. the space race... smooth, clear writing, dated references but still resonates as a story of a boy learning to make his own decisions and facing the prospect of growing up...
For older students, the role of the US in the world (back then it was communism, now...) and facing career/life choices; for all, caring for others, respecting beliefs/cultures, communication...
Plenty of excitement, different events to keep the reader interested -- a solid 5 stars for this one...
* (in hushed, deep Oscar-telecast voice:) Mr. Krumgold has previously won the Newbery in 1954 for ...And Now Miguel
Monday, January 21, 2008
The Tale of Despereaux
Kate DiCamillo (2003)
Newbery Medal 2004
Our hero is the runt of the litter, but has magical gifts. He falls in love with the Princess and finds the honor and bravery within himself to save her, and restore soup to the kingdom. I thought the portrayal of the rats as spiteful filthy creatures was uncalled for, and this book should be banned. The fat, deaf, slow servant girl was hilarious though.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Autobiography of My Dead Brother
by Walter Dean Myers (2005)
National Book Award Finalist
Inner city boys, struggling to stay out of gang/crime life, unsure of how to stand up and act like a man, and unsure how art and music and childhood friendship meshes with the violent world they're faced with. Contains drawings and cartoons by narrator/1st person lead, a graphic novel feel. Music of gospel & jazz.
Worldview/Teaching Philosophy I need to work out: I think kids (and adults) of all race/culture/socio-economic backgrounds should read a wide variety of points of view, but not just to say "see, black people write books too..." or "some kids grow up this way..." -- I want to remind kids of the common bond they shared in kindergarten, the commonality of daily life that goes under skin color...
I'll have to come back to this...
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
A Year Down Yonder
by Richard Peck (2000)
Newbery Medal 2001
A city girl goes to live with her country Grandma during the Depression; hilarity ensues. Lots of personality and humor, believable narrator voice and many episodes to explore (hunting/stealing, Halloween, high school cliques, neighbors, 193o's, radio...)
This is the sequel to A Long Way to Chicago, Peck's 1999 Newbery Honor book.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Part of a series, "life as it was" through diaries of people in America, Biddy Owens is the clubhouse attendant for a Negro League baseball team in 1948. Not fluff, very well written; poignant in touching on race, family, and even the realization of not being good enough to make the team. It helps to know baseball for this one, to follow the action (reminds me of those old-time sports stories for boys) and for the real world characters that populate the book (Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, the new center fielder Willie Mays)... there are even photos of baseball in the 40's, and historical notes on baseball integration and the Negro Leagues. I did not like the "Epilogue" detailing the fictional lead and his family's life after the story, it rang false, almost like trying to trick me into thinking Biddy was real, and unnecessary.
(some comments and an interview with the author here)