Real Friends (paperback)
by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
AR Level (no quiz yet)
Real Friends made my heart hurt. It hit way, way, way too close to home for me. Not the home I live in today, but the one from when I was in elementary school. This is the story of Shannon, a girl with a vivid imagination who enjoyed writing. She wasn’t perfect, and didn’t always do everything right in her friendships nor with her siblings, but she was gravely mistreated by the girls in the popular group and misunderstood/ignored by her mother. Shannon had to find out the hard way that being in the popular group isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, especially with mean girls who often dress better and compete for attention. Shannon finally realizes who she is and she stands up for herself, but not before suffering a lot of hurt feelings and anxiety, basically ruining her elementary school experience.
What I liked about this book is that students can either relate to Shannon’s experience (like myself), or they can see how damaging being in the popular group can be for someone on the outskirts. It was really hard to read this, because it was such an emotional story. I think it is really important for girls to read this book, because it seems like someone is either out with the in crowd, or the in crowd itself.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it did hurt to read it. I didn’t want Shannon to be abused by her “friends” at school or her sister at home, but it is her experience (the author’s), and important to read.
Book 5 of summer 2017!
by Marjane Satrapi
AR Level 3.3, 2 points
I first saw Persepolis on my sister’s bookshelf. It is her very favorite book in the world. There is a part 2 to this story, and she has the compilation of the 2 books. I only read the first part, called The Story of Childhood. She insists that I read part 2, so I’m sure I will eventually get to it. This is one of my new favorite genres. It is a comic book based on the author’s life. It seems that most comic books (aka graphic novels) I have read have been based on experiences of their authors. I would align this more with Maus that with Drama, though, due to the content of the book and words I wouldn’t want my elementary school child to know.
Marji is a girl growing up during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Iran during the revolution. She sees the change from a more modern society that accepted Western influence to one that was religious with rigid rules and expectations of women. Marji’s parents are also modern and don’t like the change in their country. Their friends and relatives are being jailed and executed, but they do not want Marji to feel that she has to conform. They take her to protest and fight for rights. As the war progresses, they realize it is not safe for her to live in Iran, so they have to make some tough decisions on her behalf.
What I liked about this book is that it is historical fiction (although autobiographical), and it is history that I have next to no knowledge of. I appreciate the way the author explains things as she goes, either through description, subtitles in the comic strips, or through dialogue. She even adds an asterisk or two to make sure I understand what is going on. I enjoy learning, and I appreciate that she anticipated her readers not being informed about the subject.
What I didn’t like about this book is that I can’t share it with my students. Since they are so interested in graphic novels, I thought it would be a great one I could share with them after reading. I’m so glad I read it first, though, because there is discussion of rape and virgins, and the word “shit” is used several times. It isn’t a vulgar or inappropriate story, but it isn’t age-appropriate for my sixth graders. I, however, enjoyed the story myself.
Book 33 of 40 (year 2)