Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reply to Comments

nevermind, guess I can... Blogger's touchy tonight?

Nope, I can't. It worked that once and then deleted this reply several times, so I give up... here's my reply to the comments from my violence post, if Blogger doesn't muck the whole thing up...

Anyway, excellent points.  I understand violence is a fact of life and needs to be a part of teaching children/students -- can't tell them not to touch the stove without teaching what burning is, right? But I think the line gets crossed, usually unnecessarily, too often and exposes and inures readers to the very thing we want them to avoid.

I haven't looked at my entire list of reviewed books, but the recent Tangerine, which I liked, had unsavory elements that probably did not need to be a part of the book. I won't avoid books like Charlotte's Web on my "violence boycott" but I would pass on Tangerine... and don't get me started on video games!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Violence Overload

Or at least attempting to severely curtail my personal exposure to anything and everything violent, which obviously must include books.  On my original "Inspired..." blog*  I am writing about this quest to eliminate violence in my life, and will probably have some duplicate posts here when relevant to Juvenile/YA literature.

 Is it even possible to participate in and discuss childrens' books without violence (not that we get violent discussing books, but the books contain violence) -- even dear Wilbur is threatened with an axe, and death is certainly an integral part of much quality literature.  How much should we limit a student's exposure to violence, at home or in the classroom, especially if Goosebumps is all he/she will read?

I use the tags violence (51 books), war (12), and action/adventure (44) on this blog, and the "violence" covers a wide range, from battles and fist fights to implied danger.  I just wanted to mark the book in some way that would let me know there is something of a physical, harmful nature in the story.  Hunting is considered violence, as is bullying.  Even a heroic tale or a slapstick comedy may get labeled with the tag.

The world is violent.  Some students' lives are violent on a daily basis.  Pop culture is certainly violent, sometimes overwhelmingly so, which is why I am trying to recognize ways I can avoid as much violence as I can and find alternatives for my children and students, if at all possible.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions.

*Violence is hard to get away from -- I was going to say "I have hijacked my other blog..."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Encyclopedia Brown

Saw this awesome collection of original Encyclopedia Browns...  these were big for me in 2nd grade, I remember reading along in my copy as the teacher read to the class.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Henry and Ribsy

Henry and Ribsy

by Beverly Cleary (1954)

This copy I just found on our shelf has only the one date, 1954, so it may have been my mother's book waaaaaay back in the day... I think I may go on a Beverly Cleary jag and get reacquainted with Henry, Ramona and the ol' gang!

03/24: No, I could never forget The Mouse !  Just grabbed a bunch of Ramona & her crew for the afternoon's reading...

Saturday, March 20, 2010



by Edward Bloor (1997)

Kind of a strange book, several types of books blended together -- spooky in the beginning (I'm sure a zombie was mentioned) then a lot of sibling rivalry/jealous of the football star brother mixed with the new kid in school, then a good dose of racial/economic class confrontation, then wraps up with the evil brother terrorizing the neighborhood and dysfunctional family horrors from the past... that said, I liked it!

It's different, and covers a lot of ground, but it's exciting and moves quickly -- perfect for active boys that don't need one theme repeated and dwelt on for an entire book, gives 'em lots to think about and react to. The bad seed football star older brother was a little cartoonish, but the end result is quite dramatic.  The middle section revolving around the new school and the soccer season is the best part, and could actually be read apart from the rest of the book.  Good read.

why I picked it up:  Again, a recommendation from Son #2, plus I'm a big sports fan and do enjoy a cold glass of orange juice.
why I didn't put it down:  At first it was because I thought there would be zombies, then for the sports action, then to save the fruit trees, then to find out just how the heck he was going to wrap this whole thing up!  It's a gripping, involving read on several levels and I couldn't put it down until it was finished.
who I would give it to:  mystery fans, soccer players, new kids in school, underdogs.

The Bubble -- found it!

The Bubble

by Brian D. McClure (2006)

Teach your kids to read, they'll want to go to the library and/or bookstore. Take them to get books, and they'll want to bring home an armful (and drop several between the door and the car -- Every. Single. Time!). Let them bring books home, and inevitably one will get lost among the shelves, stacks, and baskets of books... 

Anyway, found The Bubble and re-read it a few times.  It's a strange little story about the dangers of selfishness; a boy hoarding his toys has a good dream of wealth and possessions turn into a nightmare as everything he tries to keep for himself disappears (even the soil gets fed up with him and takes off) and he dies trapped in a lonely bubble.  A la Ebeneezer, he wakes up and realizes the error of his ways, and we presume goes on to lead a selfless, sharing life.

Very colorful art, great facial expressions, and an important lesson taught slightly in the traditional parental threat You better share or you'll grow up sad and and lonely but with a humor that should easily connect with children.  Good for kids of all ages too, not just the little ones learning how to share toys but with middle school/early teens developing connections to society, peers, and the world around them.

Previous Post: I would like to review this book, as I said I would when the publisher sent it to me, but I cannot find it.  It is somewhere in the chaos called "the boys' room" where I dare not venture without excavation tools, one of those cool helmets with the light on the front, and someone holding on tightly to the other end of the strong rope tied around my waist...

I did read the book before youngest Son #3 absconded with it, and it's a brightly colored story of selfishness resulting in loneliness -- lucky it's only a dream!  I'll revise this review after said Son returns from school and can be tossed into the morass that is his bedroom.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Losing Joe's Place

Losing Joe's Place

by Gordon Korman (1990)

My son has been trumpeting this book for years, and I'm glad I finally got to it in the stack; it's fun, funny, quick, entertaining, and has positive messages without being heavy in the message department.

Jason and two friends are set for a teenage boy's dream summer, complete with bachelor pad, Camaro, and no parents.  But before the all-to-typical Hollywood version of the "dream summer" can develop, Jason and buds face situations that require them to think and get creative to solve problems, as well as get along with several interesting characters.  It's not pure realism, but connectible to many real world situations.

why I picked it up:  Son #2 can be very insistent, and  I needed a lighter read after a few bouts with cancer and racism.
why I finished it:  A lot of interesting characters, plus I related to Jason, the jobless and housekeeping lead.
who I would give it to:**  Boys and girls, overachievers, chefs, kids with older brothers.

*minor quibble: Joe, the big brother, is supposedly a studly and intimidating model/body builder, but dude on the cover looks mighty skinny...
**shouldn't that be "to whom would this I give" or something like that?

"Unshelved" -- Librarians and Book Reviews

Great site! Not only do the comics crack me up, but I easily get 3-4 reading suggestions from each weeks' reviews, from graphic novels to YA to adult books.  And I like the new review elements such as why I picked it up and why I finished it -- good idea for student book report/reviews too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

kira - kira

kira - kira *

by Cynthia Kadohata

Newbery Medal 2005

Not to be glib, but isn't this my 3rd book in a row where a kid dies?  I need a dose of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or read some Roald Dahl  for awhile...

 Good book for a portrait of a strong family dealing with poverty, racism, and most devastating the death of a child.  Not easy to read, but worth it for the relationships.  As a father and teacher, I really liked the differences and the bond between the sisters.  I thought most of the characters were very believable and multi-faceted, not just props to move a point of the story along.

*should it be capitalized, or not? both k's or just the first?