Real Friends


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!


Maybe A Fox


Maybe A Fox (paperback)

by Kathi Appelt

AR Level 4.9, 5 points


Maybe A Fox is one I’d read about on Twitter, but hadn’t put much thought  into buying it, because I didn’t really know what it was about, so it sat on my Amazon shopping list.  Then I saw it was in Scholastic, bought it, and waited until a student read it.  FYI: When a sixth grade boy brings it to you with tears in his eyes and tells you you should read it, you stop what you’re doing and pick it up.  That’s what I did, and I’m glad!  Also a warning, though- it is not a “feel good” book.  It is sad.  You will likely cry, or at least get teary or a little depressed after.

I’m partially torn, because it was too real for me.  Two sisters, very close in age (like my two daughters) lost their mother and are connected at the hip.  They fight with each other, share friends, and love each other more than anyone.  Like my two daughters.  Then one of the sisters goes missing at the exact moment a litter of foxes is born, and that’s where the fantasy comes in… that’s not like my two daughters, but the thought of one of them dying while the other one has to go on… too much!  I was ready to stop right there!  So the little fox feels drawn to the remaining sister, and helps her to find closure, since  no body was ever found.  At the same time, a young man is dealing with the death of his best friend in Afghanistan, and a wild cat is spotted.  It sounds like a lot to take in, and it is, but this story was written beautifully and all of the coincidences make sense in the end.  When you’re done, you will close the book, and sit in contemplation, soaking it all in.

What I liked about the book was the beauty of the relationships.  Maybe it was the sister-sister connection, the best friends, the fox kits, the mother to her daughter or the father to his daughters- they were all lovely and well-developed, I felt.  I felt the pain of the loss, and I didn’t lose any of them myself.

What I didn’t like about this book was the end.  I won’t spoil it, but there was one last jab in my heart that some felt was unnecessary.  I didn’t see it as unnecessary, but it hurt just the same.  I won’t give spoilers, but when you think it’s over, just wait for one more thing to happen.  This isn’t a funny book, and it isn’t heartwarming, but it will leave you feeling like it came full circle.

Book 46 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

The Crossover


The Crossover (hardcover)

by Kwame Alexander

AR Level 4.3, 2 points

John Newbery Award 2015, Coretta Scott King Award


The Crossover is the second of Kwame Alexander’s novels I have read, and it did not disappoint.  Josh (“Filthy McNasty”) and Jordan (JB) are twins in junior high.  Their father is a retired basketball player and their mother is their assistant principal.  Both boys are star basketball players, but JB finds a girlfriend and starts to lose focus on basketball, and this creates a rift in their relationship.  Josh finds himself in trouble when he injures his brother during a game in a fit of rage, but the brothers have to come together to support their family in a time of tragedy.

What I liked about this book was that it was very relatable for athletic boys who enjoy books about boys their own age.  I have several boys in my class who are athletic and need books they can relate to.  There are lots of themes throughout the book outside of sports, though… family, resentment towards siblings, new love, fear, etc.  Although it is boy-centered, it is so well-written that girls will also enjoy this book.  It is written in verse, and that’s a big appeal for those who enjoy the change-up.  The chapters weren’t by number, either, but by quarter, and then finally, Overtime.  That was pretty creative.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it was sad.  I was kind of expecting the end, but my prediction changed part way through.  It also hurt me to see these two brothers, who needed to stick together through tough times, estranged from each other.  I felt like it was a little too realistic.  There was one poem where I hurt for Josh and what he was going through.  I think that’s what made it such a great read- it pulls at your emotions, even if you as the reader can’t relate to the character.

Book 7 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)