Squish: Fear the Amoeba (hardcover)
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Squish is an amoeba who loves reading comics. He has friends and a family and lives like your average child. In this book, he is afraid to tell his friends that a certain movie scares him. They are really into the movie, but after watching it, he is scared of everything, and more afraid to tell them, because he doesn’t want to be made fun of. It is funny and relatable for kids.
What I loved about this book is it is another series by Jennifer L. Holm and her brother Matthew Holm, creators of Babymouse. I am a huge fan of Babymouse, because they are the way my oldest daughter learned to love reading. The short graphic novels are engaging and easy to read, and teach some sort of lesson or moral. If you have a first grader (or somewhere in the range) who is learning to read, or even a child who isn’t loving reading, definitely pick up Babymouse or Squish.
What I didn’t like about the book was that it took me a few minutes to read (and not much longer for my 8 year old). I love that my kids love the series, but it won’t last them very long!
Book 81 of 2018
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway (paperback)
by Jeff Kinney
The Getaway is officially my favorite of the Wimpy Kid series! I made the mistake of just reading “the first few pages” while my class took the writing benchmark, and ended up finishing the entire book at school while giggling and distracting them in my silent testing environment. Luckily, most of my students have read at least one of the books in the series, so they could relate. Several have even read this newest book in the series, and they kept asking what part I was at.
Greg and his family go on vacation to a warm, sunny, tropical, Spanish-speaking resort for Christmas. From the time they left home for the airport, they all got themselves into dilemmas as a family and individually. Greg, as usual, is ignorant to his parents’ wishes and finds himself in awkward situations, but always finds his way out of them. This book was laughs from beginning to end.
What I liked about this book, besides the humor, is that I finally realized it is small moment after small moment, which serves as a great example for my students who are working on narratives based on small moments during Writer’s Workshop. I still can’t believe I was such a snob about this series, because it has turned out to be one of my favorites.
What I didn’t like about this book... I have nothing. There was a big hairy situation with a big hairy spider, but since it was all drawings, it didn’t bother me like I thought it would, although parts were a little cringe-worthy, like when the spider lost a leg.
Book 21 of 40
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (paperback)
by Jeff Kinney
AR Level 5.2, 3 points
This is the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I have heard about this series for the last 10 years (since it was published), but I officially got to meet Greg and his friends and family. This is written in diary form, so instead of chapters, there are dates with different events that Greg experienced. He gets himself into all kinds of trouble, but fails to see how he is responsible for any of the trouble. He, like most middle school boys, thinks he can do no wrong. However, the reader laughs at his antics and hopefully sees what he’s doing to sink himself.
What I like about this book was, well, let’s say I was definitely reluctant to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It seemed like empty-headed silly boy humor that didn’t further one’s vocabulary or reading skills. I realize it’s written at a 5.2, but I figured it was what I call a “gateway” book to get reluctant readers into reading. If nothing else worked, give them Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Well, most of that is correct. However, it isn’t so empty-headed. It is really witty, and I found myself laughing out loud at several parts.
What I didn’t like was the way there wasn’t a solid problem or solution to the story. It followed a diary pattern, not a conflict-resolution pattern. However, I think that’s what grabs students to read it. It isn’t your traditional book.
Book 15 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
by Raina Telgemeier
AR Level 2.6, 1 point
This book comes at the request of one of my students. When I set my basket on the table and asked them to choose “must reads” for me over the summer, he put Smile into the basket, and then chose Drama by the same author. I didn’t ask him why he chose these two books, but because of this particular student, I accepted the request. I also had seen the books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble (aka Mecca), and the woman who works there said it was a good book.
So this is the story of a girl named Raina Telgemeier. I have to assume that since the author shares her name, it is autobiographical. It is set during the late eighties in San Francisco. Raina is a seventh grader and falls after a girl scouts meeting and knocks her two front teeth out. It is obviously very painful, but also mortifying as a junior high student to be missing teeth. The story follows her for several years through her many procedures to fix her teeth. We also witness her struggle with the pains of puberty, her first crushes, and viciously mean girls. The story has a happy ending when her teeth are fixed.
What I liked about this book was that it was all written as a comic book! Is that what brought it down to a 2.6 reading level? Because I really don’t see a second grader reading about zits, crushes, and broken, bloody teeth. In the story, Raina wants to become an animator and shows interest in art. It would make sense that she achieved her dream and is now a graphic novelist. Another thing I liked was that Raina struggled with her self-image and had mean, mean friends. As a reader, we look at her and know that she should be happy with who she is, and we want her to see that her friends are awful and she deserves better. As a tween? It’s not so easy to think the same when in her situation. I appreciate books with a strong, relatable moral.
As a bonus, the website comes with a comic designer so you can continue the story with Raina.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it was a 2.6 level. I’ve said before that it’s hard for me to get through easy books, and this was one of them. I think there are ways it could have been more challenging, but I also see that the author was writing it from Raina’s perspective, so of course she’s not going to use 50-cent vocabulary words.
Book 21 of 52