Hey, Kiddo (paperback)
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Hey, Kiddo is a memoir written about the author’s childhood. He was born to a heroin-addicted mother, and his grandparents quickly gained custody of him. Although he was born healthy, his mother quickly spiraled and was in and out of his life (and jail). His grandparents, although stable, both had problems with alcohol and his grandmother, although she adored him, was very cold and verbally abusive to others at times. Jarrett survived by creating comics and drawings, staying in touch with his mother’s siblings, and doing his best to live the best he could, drug free.
What I liked about this book was that it tells a true story of a boy who had a lot against him, but he persevered and came out on top. I know many of my students have people in their homes who drink or do drugs. How do I know? They’ve told me. I hear about their parents passing out on the couch, drinking too much beer, taking pills and sleeping all day, etc. This story gives hope to the ones who do not have a stable home life, but have perseverance to come out on top. Also, I liked the 90’s references. 🙂
What I didn’t like about this book was the way the grandmother Shirl spoke to Jarrett. I know she had her own issues and they had a loving relationship, but it broke my heart to hear her tell him to get out of the way of the tv and dismiss him.
Book 75 of 2018
by Jason Reynolds
AR Level 4.6, 6 points
I loved this one. Ghost is the nickname Castle Cranshaw gave himself due to his speed. Ghost learned to run when his father chased him and his mother out of their house. Now, Ghost lives with his mom in the poorest part of town with dreams of becoming the next Lebron, but he finds himself on a track team with a tough coach. This coach sees potential in Ghost, despite the trouble Ghost gets himself into. Finally, Ghost learns that he has control of his life and starts making better choices.
What I liked about this book was… everything. This is a great read, and I look forward to the next book in the series, Patina, which should be out this fall. I liked the positive message, the positive role model, and the fact that Ghost faced consequences for his actions and learned a lesson. I think it shows there is hope when you take control of your life instead of just drifting along.
What I didn’t like about this book… there wasn’t anything. It is my first Jason Reynolds book, and I look forward to reading more from him. I think he has a strong voice, and readers of all ages can appreciate his style.
Book 42 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
The Thing About Jellyfish (ebook)
by Ali Benjamin
AR Level 5.0, 7 points
The Thing About Jellyfish is a story of heartache, mourning, science, and growth. Suzy’s best friend drowns before the story begins, and Suzy has flashbacks to their happy times. She also shows us when they started to drift apart, and finally when they were no longer friends. Suzy has also decided to stop talking, despite her family’s efforts and support of her. She has the idea that her friend was actually stung by a deadly jellyfish instead of drowning, and Suzy begins researching jellyfish and decides to travel to Australia to meet the scientist she believes can help her prove her theory.
What I liked about this book is that it includes so much scientific background, and the chapters are based around the scientific method. Any science enthusiast will appreciate this aspect. I personally learned a lot about jellyfish. The author did a lot of research and based the scientists and several events and locations on real people. It isn’t just a compelling story, but it will also teach its readers a thing or two about science.
What I didn’t like about this book is that it was frustrating that the other girls at Suzy’s school were so mean. I wanted to stop reading at certain parts, because some of the kids were inhumane (murdering a frog?). It was also really sad, and I’m sure if someone has lost a friend or family member suddently, it would be even more upsetting.
Book 32 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
One Crazy Summer (paperback)
by Rita Williams-Garcia
AR Level 4.6, 7 points
Newbery Honor (plus many more awards!)
One Crazy Summer tells a story from multiple perspectives. Delphine is the oldest of three daughters raised in New York City during the 1960’s by her dad and grandmother. At the beginning of the book, we learn she and her sisters are flying across the country to Oakland, California to spend the summer with her mother, who abandoned them when the youngest sister was a newborn. Their mother, Cecile (aka Nzila) is a member of the Black Panthers, whose ideology is very different from that of her dad and grandmother. Delphine and her sisters have to adapt to living with and accepting the woman who abandoned them, as well as see their place in a very different culture.
What I liked about this book was of course, the perspective. This is a period of time where America was going through great conflict and change. Much of it is still relevant today. Most of my education about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers comes from history class in high school, or movies I’ve seen. Certainly none of those are from the perspective of a nearly 12 year old African American girl.
What I didn’t like about this book was the hard reality that a mother can abandon her children. That was really hard for me to read about, and it was hard for Delphine to accept as the abandoned child. I was supposed to learn about Cecile’s reasoning behind leaving, but I just couldn’t accept it myself, because moms just don’t leave, no matter what.
Thank you, Jazmin, for lending me your book!
Book 31 of 40 (year 2)