Friday, October 9, 2009
Deathnote (12 volume manga series)
Tsugumi Ohba/Takeshi Obata (2003)
I'm not a big violence fan, even in my comics; this does have a lot of frequent and indiscriminate murder, although mostly "off screen" and not graphic at all. For older students it does raise questions regarding capital punishment, the battle of right vs. wrong, corrupt power, etc. It's well done with twists and puzzles, interesting characters, and bits of humor. The later issues tend towards inner monologues and less action.
After Tupac & D Foster
by Jacqueline Woodson (2008)
Newbery Honor Book
Three 11-13 yr old girls deal with families, foster parents, growing up, a gay brother in prison, and the music/death of Tupac. Very well done, the girls deal with personal freedom and maturing while staying respectful of adults and their own self-worth and potential. Positive role models, coming of age.
Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCammilo (2001)
Newbery Honor Book
A dog that smiles and is afraid of thunderstorms. A mother that runs off and a father that preaches. Quirky townsfolk that help a girl cope. Great book.
I think this book would be useful in helping students start writing, using pets/animals that communicate with children.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I enjoy reading graphic novels and comics/comic strips; I think students should be taught to read them critically, just as they would a boring ol' book with no pictures -- why this layout, these colors? what does the facial expression or font style tell you about the characters? Reluctant writers can create comic panels as a way of learning and practicing the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing. Can you tell me a story using these images and/or can you tell me the story without the images?
Kenneth Grahame (1908)
I think this is the oldest book on my list so far... probably better as a read aloud than independent reading for most students. Poetic, old fashioned, most people know Mr Toad but I really enjoyed Rat and Mole (and would love to spend an evening toasty by the fire with Badger.
(confession: didn't actually finish this one yet, but the Library wants it back)
Christopher Paul Curtis
Newbery Medal 2000
This was supposed to start my summer reading, but for some reason something else kept getting shifted to the top of the stack. My loss. Now that I finally got to it, the week before school started, I wish I would have read it earlier so I could flip back to page 1 and read it again.
I like books I can connect to music; reading this in class would be accompanied by jazz and 1930's tunes.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
por Manlio Argueta
A folk tale about the magic dogs, cadejos, of El Salvador. I love books written in both Spanish and English, I want to have a ton of not only for my ELLs but for all students -- how can you live in SoCal and not know how to say "quesadilla"?!?!?
Karen Romano Young (2002)
I love maps, exploration, cartography, etc. I think students should make and read more maps, and this book shows many varieties beyond the traditional road map no one could ever refold.
My first Junie B Jones book -- I tried to get one during 3rd grade "DEAR" time, but they were always snatched up too quickly. This one would be good to read aloud in the beginning of the school year, even for older students. Honesty, cheating, consequences for actions.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Very spunky, this Catherine, aka Birdy; she's a poet, an artist, a diarist, a nurse, and a mischievous, troublemaking runaway rebel. Good book to help show what a child's life was like in other times, as in 13 going on bride and mother. My 5th graders last year were shocked to learn girls were not always, and in some places are still not, allowed to go to school. Probably more appealing to girls than boys.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy
Me Oh Maya
by Jon Scieszka (say it like "fresca")
Oh, those three wacky kids and their magical book! Traveling backwards and forwards through time (usually backwards) and getting involved with a variety of historical characters and events, with interesting factoids tossed in for good measure. Some of these read like the weaker Magical Treehouse series, the kids are only put in trouble to get them out quickly, but with much more personality and humor.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1933/1971)
I have a soft spot for the Little House books; I received the set for my 8th birthday (still one of the top 3 birthdays of my life -- these books and a baseball glove & bat, all of which I still have around. Sentimental or Pathetic?) and read along with my teacher when she read them aloud to the class, plus my mom probably read them when she was growing up as well.
Anyway, I only have one son left to pass the treasured stories on to, the first 2 have rejected them soundly (without really giving the books a chance, I believe) due to lack of lasers, monsters, or appearance of any magic wands. Their loss.
I love this book in part for the food: pies, breads, ice cream, turkey, sausage, ribs, fresh berries... Almanzo is a hard-working growing frontier boy, and he appreciates his meals! I wonder if my boys have noticed I've stepped up their chores and duties since reading of the dawn to dusk work it takes to run a farm...
Andrew Clements (1996)
A smart-aleck kid defies authority and causes chaos at an elementary school... oh, wait, a creative student leads his classmates in thinking outside the box and expressing their inventive talents.
King of the Wind
by Marguerite Henry
Newbery Medal 1949
The story of a mute Moroccan boy and his horse traveling across Europe as their fortunes go down, up, down, up again, down further, slightly up, down and out, and finally up again for a happy ending. Especially for the horse, who becomes a very popular stud.
More of an animal story than a boy story, we never get to know too much of the boy or see him grow/change, except through the fortunes of the horse. But quick pace, some humor, and the underdogs come out on top in the end.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
A Visit to William Blake's Inn
Newbery Medal 1982
I am a big William Blake fan, painting and writing, but not a big poetry fan. This is one of those "It won the Newbery? Really?" I liked the art (Caldecott Honor) and the ideas behind the poems better than the poems themselves.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Midwife's Apprentice
Timothy of the Cay
Theodore Taylor (1993)
The follow-up to The Cay alternates between Phillip's rescue and recovery and Timothy's past life from cabin boy to captain of his own ship. Phillip becomes quite independent and makes many important decisions, eventually going with his father back to the cay and Timothy's grave. Timothy's story is a quality portrayal of working hard to overcome fears and predjudice to become a strong, productive man.
connections: shipwrecks, survival, blindness; Hatchet, The Slave Dancer, Winter Danger, Follow My Leader
Monday, June 29, 2009
summer's first week's results:
The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965) & Runaway Ralph (1970) by Beverly Cleary
Timothy of the Cay (1993) by Theodore Taylor
Freak the Mighty (1993) by Rodman Philbrick
plus assorted graphic novels (Batman) and parts of a couple of history books...
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Follow My Leader
by James B. Garfield (1957)
This is a read-aloud book for my 3rd grade class, but I brought it home to read ahead so I wasn't surprised by anything. I'm normally biased against books published more than a few decades back, and the Eddie Haskell dialogue had me involuntarily rolling my eyes ("Golly, guys, dry up, would ya?") but it turns out to be a worthwhile read.
The hero's name is Jimmy Carter and he's the class president -- how weird is that? --before being blinded in a firecracker accident. He needs to learn Braille and how to work with a guide dog, as well as forgive the boy who caused the accident and prove to the fellows he can still be a good Scout. A lot of opportunities for additional learning: empathy for the blind, of course, and Braille, guide dogs, constellations, bats and radar, and telling time without gasp! a digital clock.
So what is the acceptable/preferred "label" these days, what do I file and tag this as? Handicap, disability, challenged... ???
Friday, April 17, 2009
by James Patterson
this book, witch is the fourth, and last book in the series, is about a girl named Maximum Ride, who has wings on her back from the result of being experimentented on by a bunch of mad scientists. when she escaped from the lab, she teamed up with 5 other bird kids. she became the leader of their little group. on their quest to find their real parents, they team up with Max's mom, who is the leader of a group that is trying to raise global warming awareness. When her mom disappears, its up to her to find her(with a little help from the navy) to find her mom.
I enjoyed this book because it has a lot of adventure, suspense, mystery and action.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as i did.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Graveyard Book
Newbery Medal 2009
Possibly the spookiest Newbery winner ever? Maybe I could tell you if I didn't try to read it while covering my eyes...
Okay, I finished it. Great book, on the different side from most Newberry winners, but definitely deserving. With all the interesting characters and subplots I wished at times it was a thicker book, but the focus rightfully stayed on the main character.
update: haven't listened to this yet, and will make sure all the lights in the house are blazing brightly when I do, but here Neil Gaiman reads his Newbery winner!
by Esther Forbes
Newbery Medal 1944
Coming-of-age during the American Revolution, a poor but selfish/arrogant boy finds himself and a greater purpose during the birth of our nation.
I heard a lot of negative comments about this one on LibraryThing, mostly within the "books kids are forced to read" threads, but I enjoyed it; as a 6th grader I* may have felt it was long and therefore boring. Who has time in a classroom to have kids read novels anyway? There is some awkward prose, choppy almost fragmented sentences, possibly due to when it was written (?)...
I think there are several movie versions, anyone recommend a particular one?
connections: Paul Revere, colonial/revolutionary America, My Brother Sam is Dead , the Dear America series
*"I" as in a broad, generalized assumption of 6th graders-- I personally probably would have loved it, and I'm surprised I'd missed it way back then...
Thursday, January 29, 2009
William O. Steele (1954)
A boy and his father live the "woodsy" life, sleeping in hollow trees and hunting for food, until a extremely hard winter forces the father to leave the boy with relatives; the solitary, independent boy learns about family, community, depending on and helping others. Plus he has a cool battle with wolves.
connections: LHontheP, Hatchet
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Guts: The True Stories Behind "Hatchet" and the Brian Books
by Gary Paulsen (2002)
Paulsen's childhood and adult adventures in the wilderness, focused mainly on hunting and flying; interesting, and good for students to see how real (and dangerous) some seemingly fun "adventures" can be, and also to point how important it can be to "write what you know" -- inspiration for those that can't think of anything to write...
Possible compare/contrast the true accounts and the fictionalized versions from his books.
While reading it, I did feel a little guilty whining when our temps here dropped below 60... brrrrr!