Towers Falling (hardcover)
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
AR Level 3.3, 4 points
I got on a 9/11 kick and wanted to read all of the books written for children so I would have them for my class library in September. I feel like we are doing a disservice to our students if we aren’t teaching them what happened to the Twin Towers. I ordered this one and let my students read it first, and each one LOVED it and said I had to try it.
Deja is a homeless girl living in a shelter with her parents and two younger siblings. Her dad is ill and shellshocked, but she doesn’t understand why he can’t work, and she has to pick up his slack. Deja starts at a new school and meets 2 new friends – one boy is a transplant from Arizona whose parents recently divorced, and the other is a Muslim girl who is the kindest person Deja knows. Their teachers spend September teaching them about why history is important, building up to the terrorist attack, and Deja learns a lot about her family, her friends, and her existence.
What I liked about this book was that it taught several important lessons, including the power of friendship, judging individuals instead of groups of people, and the impact history can play on the present. I really appreciate how Rhodes taught about 9/11 through a good piece of literature so our students can learn about what happened somewhere besides a history book. We need to make sure they understand WHY we say “Never Forget.”
What I didn’t like about this book was how ignorant Deja was about the entire situation. It was very frustrating to me that she lived in Brooklyn her entire life, but was clueless about what happened. How is that even possible?!
Book 1 of Summer 2017!
If I Was Your Girl (audiobook)
by Meredith Russo
Amanda is an average teenage girl. She moves in with her dad after living with her mom since their divorce, so she has a little adapting to do. Amanda is also new to being female, having been born Andrew. She starts at a new school and quickly meets friends who are unaware of her transgender status. Several boys become aware of her beauty, and she starts dating a boy who loves her, and doesn’t want to know any of her secrets, so he doesn’t know about her being transgender. Amanda enjoys having friends and being able to be who she really is, until her past comes out.
What I liked about this book was the insight I as a reader was given into a world I cannot relate to and have no experience with. I am not transgender and I don’t have any trans friends. I worked briefly with a transgender woman in a school setting, and that is my limited knowledge, except when it comes to reading. I have no problems with people who identify differently than I do, but I think that reading helps to build understanding, which helps to break down ignorance and intolerance, so I am learning as I live, and hoping I can help my students also build understanding and compassion.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it really bothered me when Amanda left the homecoming dance and ran into a guy who attempted to assault her. I have never been sexually assaulted, but I have a very hard time reading about it, and this seemed particularly vicious.
Book 61 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
School is out! Woot woot! I blasted past my 40 book goal!
by Sharon Creech
AR Level 4.4, 3 points
Moo is about a brother and sister who move from a big city to rural Maine with their parents, who are looking for a change. Their mother offers them to a woman named Mrs. Falala, who needs help taking care of her cow, a feisty former prize winner. The siblings are at first afraid of Mrs. Falala and her animals, but quickly fall in love with the farm, and learn that things aren’t always what they appear.
What I liked about this book was the fact that it was partially written in concrete poetry and prose, and partially in standard paragraph, narrative form. I liked the mixture, and while I’ve read many books written in prose, it was a nice contrast to see both forms in the same novel.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I got a little bored at times. I do not blame the book, though. I blame the fact that I’ve only read young adult books lately, and this did not have romance or anything depressing in it, so it didn’t move as quickly for me. I need to diversify my to read list!
Book 60 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (audiobook)
by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Ari is a young man when he meets Dante, who offers to teach him to swim. Both boys are somewhat lonely, isolated from society in a way. They quickly form a close friendship. Their personalities are different, but they compliment each other. This is a coming of age story, and it is broken up into several parts. It would be hard to give too much detail without giving the story away.
What I liked about this book was the topic. It’s not that I particularly enjoy stories about young men or women coming out or discovering their identity, but I enjoy stories about people whom I cannot relate to. I really think people should read books about characters nothing like them, just to broaden their horizons. I think exposure to new topics will help to build compassion and empathy for others’ situations. I am not gay, so I will never understand what it is like for someone to learn to be comfortable with him or herself.
What I didn’t like about this book was the violence. It hurt my soul to read about Dante being beaten because of his sexuality.
Book 59 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Tell Me Three Things (ebook)
by Julie Buxbaum
Imagine your mom (your best friend) dying of cancer. Then your dad remarries someone you’ve never met. Then he moves you into her fancy home in California, away from your friends and all that is familiar. Then you have to adapt to a new climate, a new step brother who seems to hate you, a new school, and culture shock. When you’re on the verge of a breakdown, you start receiving mysterious, but helpful emails from a person named Somebody Nobody, who gives you advice on how to survive at your new school. Jessie narrows the identity of Somebody Nobody down to 3 people, and the end may surprise you.
What I liked about this book was that the end didn’t surprise me. I pretty much guessed who it was, and it was who I was rooting for. This is a cute, romantic story that won’t leave you feeling depressed or angry. It won’t make you want to throw the book away, and you’ll likely finish it as quickly as I did!
What I didn’t like about this book was that the end didn’t surprise me. Ha ha… I like and don’t like books that are predictable, depending on my mood. I didn’t like the idea of being “peened” and the word “peen” to begin with. That made me feel old and prudish.
Book 58 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)