Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Module 15: Uncle Bobby's Wedding


Citation: Brannen, S. S. (2008). Uncle Bobby’s wedding. New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Summary: Young Chole, loves her Uncle Bobby dearly and always enjoys her time with him but she’s afraid that may all change when he gets married.  Uncle Bobby is marrying his boyfriend Jaime and Chole worries she will not be as special to him.  Will this family of guinea pigs be able to stay close after the wedding? Of course, Uncle Bobby and his new husband still spend time with Chole and she soon discovers that she is still special to her uncle.  She is very happy when he expresses this by asking her to be the flower girl in his wedding.


Impression: Peace, Love and a Warm Read!

It doesn’t matter that the true moral of the story is an introduction to a homosexual couple getting married, because sweet Chole is still special to her uncle and the peaceful and loving feelings shine through. The story gives you that warm feeling because the focus is on family and love.  This makes for a friendly way to introduce homosexuality.


Reviews: When her favorite uncle, Bobby, announces that he is getting married to his boyfriend, Jamie, Chloe worries that he won’t have time for her anymore. The characters are all guinea pigs in human dress, and the sweet, doublepage spreads in watercolor and graphite show the idyllic bond between the child and her uncle, as they walk together in the woods, row on the river, and more. In contrast are the scenes of her sadness and jealousy until she learns to have fun with both Bobby and Jamie together—even as they talk about their plans to raise their own kids. The climax is the joyful, exciting wedding—the couple in tuxedos, Chloe as the flower girl, and the big, extended family all together, smiling and teary. A celebration of same-sex marriage, this is about family happiness. Pair with Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three (2005).

Rochman, H. (2008). Uncle Bobby's wedding. Booklist, 104(9/10), 96.


K-Gr 2-- This is a spare story about Chloe, a young guinea pig who is jealous of her Uncle Bobby's new friend, Jamie; however, that obscures the other main theme, which is that her favorite uncle is going to marry him. Everything happens too abruptly. Readers and Chloe meet him for the first time on the day that Bobby announces, "We're getting married." It seems likely that a special niece would have already met the man her uncle loves enough to wed. Michael Willhoite's Daddy's Wedding (Alyson Wonderland, 1996) introduces same-sex marriage adroitly when a little boy asks one obvious question, "Can men get married to each other?" The boy is reassured with an affirmative response. Chloe neither asks nor gets a direct answer; instead, her mother tells her that people who love each other "want to be married." The watercolor-and-graphite illustrations are sweet and tender. One scene shows Chloe, Uncle Bobby, and Jamie sitting on the floor roasting marshmallows at a fireplace. While the cover shows the two males dressed in formal clothing, the use of animal characters and a name common for both males and females may confuse and delay some children's comprehension. The themes of jealousy and gay relationships are introduced naturally in Pija Lindenbaum's Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle (Farrar, 2007).

Cutler, K. (2008). Uncle Bobby's wedding. School Library Journal, 54(4), 103.

Use in Library: This book could be used as part of a banned book display during Banned Book Week. Another suggestion would be to include other books in similar content that it can be paired with it: Daddy’s Roommate, Heather has Two Mommies, and And Tango Makes Three.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Module 14: Crank

Citation: Hopkins, E. (2004). Crank. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

Summary: This verse novel tells the story of Kristina, a perfect daughter who is smart and always does the right thing.  But the problem arises when this high school junior takes a wrong turn in her path in life. On a trip to spend time with her father, she gets introduced to crank through a boy she likes. This wild story is told through Kristina's verses and at times through her alter-ego "Bree".  “Bree” is not afraid to try new things, flirt with disaster and dance with the monster: crank. Now, the monster puts her is difficult situations and leaves her constantly wanting to get high but there are consequences that come along and Kristina is left having to fight her battle of being addicted.

Impression: No Peace, Love & A Teenage Must Read! 
Unfortunately, there was no peaceful feeling while reading this book.  I must admit I do love this book because of the potential it has to inform and sway a teenage mind to stay away from drug and alcohol abuse.  Teenagers are the targeted age group that could get intertwined within the poetic verses and use this as a lesson to take to heart whenever they may be faced with difficult decisions.

Reviews: Gr. 8–12. Like the teenage crack user in the film Traffic, the young addict in this wrenching, cautionary debut lives in a comfortable, advantaged home with caring parents. Sixteen-year-old Kristina first tries crank, or crystal meth, while visiting her long estranged father, a crank junkie. Bree is Kristina’s imagined, bolder self, who flirts outrageously and gets high without remorse, and when Kristina returns to her mother and family in Reno, it’s Bree who makes connections with edgy guys and other crank users that escalate into full blown addiction and heartrending consequences. Hopkins tells Kristina’s story in experimental verse. A few overreaching lines seem out of step with character voices: a boyfriend, for example, tells Kristina that he’d like to wait for sex until she is “free from dreams of yesterday.” But Hopkins uses the spare, fragmented style to powerful effect, heightening the emotional impact of dialogues, inner monologues, and devastating scenes, including a brutal date rape. Readers won’t soon forget smart, sardonic Kristina; her chilling descent into addiction; or the author’s note, which references her own daughter’s struggle with “the monster.”

Engberg, G. (2004). Crank (Book). Booklist, 101(6), 595. 


Gr 8 Up-- Seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow is introduced to crank on a trip to visit her wayward father. Caught up in a fast-paced, frightening, and unfamiliar world, she morphs into "Bree" after she "shakes hands with the monster." Her fearless, risk-taking alter ego grows stronger, "convincing me to be someone I never dreamed I'd want to be." When Kristina goes home, things don't return to normal. Although she tries to reconnect with her mother and her former life as a good student, her drug use soon takes over, leaving her "starving for speed" and for boys who will soon leave her scarred and pregnant. Hopkins writes in free-verse poems that paint painfully sharp images of Kristina/Bree and those around her, detailing how powerful the "monster" can be. The poems are masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing, compelling readers on to the next chapter in Kristina's spiraling world. This is a topical page-turner and a stunning portrayal of a teen's loss of direction and realistically uncertain future.

Jones, T. E., Toth, L., Charnizon, M., Grabarek, D., Larkins, J., & Korbeck, S. (2004). Crank (Book). School Library Journal, 50(11), 145. 


Use in Library: -This book is perfect to recommend to high school students as an individual read.  Of course you should warn the content because it includes some sexual content.  It could also be used with high school students who are walking a thin line between choosing a wrong or right path.  To do so, it is best to offer it to the counselor and possibly collaborate to provide resources that are similar in content. The counselor would have knowledge of which students are in need to such a book.  It could also be used while teaching poetry units to high schoolers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Module 13: The Truth About Stacey: A Graphic Novel

Citation: Martin, A. M. (2006). The baby-sitters club: The truth about Stacey. New York, NY: Graphix.

Summary: Stacey is fresh from a recent move away from New York and her best friend.  It is before her move that she discovers she has diabetes and her best friend doesn’t fully know about her disease or why she’s sick. Because of this, they part on a strange note and this leaves Stacey apprehensive with sharing her disease with her new friends in her new town.  She is able to make new friends and even become part of a baby-sitting club. Trouble arises when her club suffers some competition from a new baby sitting club that is not of good quality.  Stacey and her friends struggle with finding a way to inform their old, regular customers of the unsafe situations their competition is placing children in. A fast, graphic novel read that using pictures to help tell Stacey’s story.

Impression: Peace and a Girl Read!
I think this graphic novel does a great job of targeting girls' issues. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to read this book and actually it is my first graphic novel I have read.  It is a peaceful read because it has a happy ending with the baby-sitters club outlasting their competition and Stacey being able to mend her friendship with her friend from New York.  Typical girl issues with friendship and competition makes this book a girl friendly read. Sorry, but I cannot say that I truly love this book, although I do feel it is a good one.

Reviews: Gr 5-7Stacey is the new girl in town, She has made three good friends in a babysitters club but her memories of her old friends still haunt her. Many of them, including Her best friend, Laine, ditched her after she was diagnosed with diabetes. Her parents aren't much help; they keep dragging her from doctor to doctor looking for a miracle cure. All Stacey wants to do is manage her condition on her own terms. An impending trip back to New York and a rival babysitting club has Stacey confused and nervous. Will she be able to reconcile with Laine? Will this new group, complete with sitters who can stay up late, end the club for good? The graphic adaptation of the hugely popular series has as much heart as the original. The girls" dedication to the kids they care for and to their friendship never comes off as hokey. The black-and-white cartoons capture each character's personality; the facial expressions say a lot. Each girl has her own style. The outfits have been updated but the skirts haven't gotten shorter. A solid purchase for both school and public libraries.

Mattox, S. (2007). The truth about Stacey. School Library Journal, 53(3), 238.

Use in Library: -This book could be paired with the counselor for him/her to use when completing individual or group sessions with students having problems with friends or having diabetes.  It could also be used with middle school aged girls reading club.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Module 12: Rosa

Citation: Giovanni, N. (2005). Rosa. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Summary: A book about Rosa Parks and the day that her life was changed.  That momentous day hardworking, seamstress Rosa Parks was on her way home early from work.  While on her bus ride home, she was asked to move to the back of the segregated bus.  After her kind and calm refusal because she was tired of being treated unfairly, she became arrested.  This sparks a movement toward equality and the story tells of how others followed by boycotting the bus systems. It also mentions a young boy named Emmett Till who was "viciously lynched" in which this event, as well as others, lay the beginnings for the movement.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Must Read!
A peaceful and informative read that I did love reading myself because I was able to learn more information about other events that took place around the infamous Rosa Parks incident.  Because I felt that I wanted to learn more about the lesser known events that did occur, I did some more research about young Emmett Till. I'm on the fence about this picture book being considered "user-friendly" with young children, simply because it mentions lynching, but none the less, I would definitely share the book with others. 

Reviews: Gr 3-5-- Rosa Parks's personal story moves quickly into a summary of the Civil Rights movement in this striking picture book. Parks is introduced in idealized terms. She cares for her ill mother and is married to "one of the best barbers in the county." Sewing in an alterations department, "Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. Her needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom." Soon the story moves to her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus, but readers lose sight of her as she waits to be arrested. Giovanni turns to explaining the response of the Women's Political Caucus, which led to the bus boycott in Montgomery. A few events of the movement are interjected-the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the aftermath and reactions to the murder of Emmett Till, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., as spokesperson. Collier's watercolor and collage scenes are deeply hued and luminous, incorporating abstract and surreal elements along with the realistic figures. Set on colored pages, these illustrations include an effective double foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Many readers will wonder how it all went for Parks after her arrest, and there are no added notes. Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience.
Bush, M. (2005). Rosa. School Library Journal, 51(9), 192.
Rosa Parks sat. "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." When she refused to move out of the neutral section of her bus to make way for white passengers, she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. She was tired of putting white people first. Giovanni's lyrical text and Collier's watercolor-and-collage illustrations combine for a powerful portrayal of a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement. The art complements and extends the text, with visual references to Emmett Till, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Martin Luther King, Jr. The yellowish hue of the illustrations represents the Alabama heat, the light emanating from Rosa Parks's face a shining beacon to all who would stand up for what's right. A dramatic foldout mural will make this important work even more memorable. An essential volume for classrooms and libraries. (Picture book. 5+)
Rosa. (2005). Kirkus Reviews, 73(14), 789.

Use in Library: - Everyone is pretty familiar with the name Rosa Parks, but are they clued into some of the details that surround her story? This book would be a great place to start to inform others of how the people were treated unequally and unfairly based on their race or color.  A guest speaker could also be invited into the library to discuss racism and inequalities.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Module 11: Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin


Citation: Barretta, G. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.



Summary: This informative book will show you the many inventions of the infamous Ben Franklin.  Told in an interesting manner of beautiful illustrations combined with an introduction to some of his inventions on how there were used many years ago and also within the present day.   It is uniquely described within two page spreads of how Ben came up with his ideas for problems, issues or things of his interest and how it affects our world now, thus the title “Now & Ben”.  Many inventions are mentioned like the library, hospital, daylight saving time, bifocals, and the lighting rod are a few of the significant contributions within this book.



Impression: Peace, Love and an Informative Read!
Who would love this book? The illustrations are so eye catching and can maintain little one’s attentions because you just want to stare at every page with great detail.  It also gives that peaceful feeling because you can see where many of the thought for Ben’s inventions began.  It’s quite interesting how many of his inventions came about because they were a common sense way to solve any problem he may have run into. Kids of all ages will appreciate this informative read.



Reviews: Gr 2-5-- A clever, concise introduction to the contributions of this colorful colonial figure. The first spread depicts Franklin standing proudly by his family home with his wife and children smiling from within. His various occupations-writer, printer, diplomat, musician, humorist, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humanitarian-are written on the cobblestones beneath him. Next is a spread of a busy city street today, which challenges readers to guess which modern conveniences are owed to the subject's creativity. Subsequent spreads take a closer look at each invention from political cartoons, bifocals, electricity, lightning rod, and Franklin stove to daylight saving time and more. Each spread features a "Now…", description of a modern concept or convenience facing an early "Ben…", idea. "Now every automobile has an odometer to measure the distance it travels. Ben… invented the odometer when he was postmaster general so he could measure his postal routes." The fanciful final spread depicts a futuristic scene with flying-saucer vehicles and robot servers, which encourages youngsters to imagine how today's inventions will evolve in time. Engaging and humorous watercolor cartoons depict just how Franklin's inventions were conceived and developed. The yellow mottled endpapers are filled with sketches of the inventions featured within. Both Aliki's The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin (S & S, 1988) and Rosalyn Schanzer's How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning (HarperCollins, 2003) offer more background and biographical information, though this lively offering is sure to inspire readers to learn more about its fascinating subject.

Auerbach, B. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. School Library Journal, 52(3), 206.

The jacket portrait of a serene, grandfatherly Ben Franklin belies his energy and myriad contributions, such as inventing the lightning rod, charting the Gulf Stream, and helping to shape the Declaration of Independence. Inside, however, the book covers twenty-two of his inventions, first by showing their use in today’s world (a pedestrian looks down through his bifocals to read a wanted poster and then looks up to identify the criminal across the street) and second by explaining Franklin’s role in their development (he designed bifocals to avoid switching between two pair of glasses). By organizing the contents in a compare/contrast pattern between “Now” and “Ben,” Barretta leads readers from what they do know to what they probably don’t. “Now we understand the benefits of vitamin C. Ben was an early promoter of eating citrus fruits to help prevent a disease called scurvy.” “Now” appears on the left page, “Ben” on the right, visually   reversing a traditional timeline but conceptually reinforcing the here and now before introducing the long ago. Read this one aloud; the busy cartoon illustrations might distract beginning readers, but they offer plenty for listeners to contemplate.



Carter, B. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. Horn Book Magazine, 82(3), 339. 
Use in Library: This would be an excellent book to use at the elementary level as an introductory read aloud for historical figures and their contributions.  It could also be used as a supplement to resources for students’ research projects if anyone has Ben Franklin as their topic.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Module 10: Henry's Freedom Box

Citation: Levine, E. (2007). Henry’s freedom box. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Summary: An informative, historical story about a slave named Henry Brown.  Born a slave, Henry doesn’t know his birthday because slave birthdays are not considered important and no one keeps track of that type of information.  After he marries and has children, something tragic occurs to his family and now even more than before, Henry desires to be free.  He decides to mail himself to Philadelphia in order to finally reach his dream and although he doesn’t get to see his loved ones, he now has a birthday which is the day he became free.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Definite Read!
This book is one of my faves because Henry does get his freedom he deserves.  It’s a little heartbreaking because of the trials he goes through because he is a slave. It does bring a peaceful feeling because he gets his wish to be free and I think it is a definite must read for everyone. I even read it aloud to three of my fellow co-workers because I thought it was such a great story.

Reviews: In a true story that is both heartbreaking and joyful, Levine recounts the history of Henry “Box” Brown, born into slavery. Henry works in a tobacco factory, marries another slave, and fathers three children; but then his family is sold, and Henry realizes he will never see them again. With nothing to lose, Henry persuades his friend James and a sympathetic white man to mail him in a wooden box to Philadelphia and freedom. Levine maintains a dignified, measured tone, telling her powerful story through direct, simple language. A note at the end explains the historical basis for the fictionalized story. Accompanying Levine’s fine, controlled telling are pencil, watercolor, and oil paint illustrations by Kadir Nelson that resonate with beauty and sorrow. When Henry’s mother holds him as a child on her lap, they gaze out at bright autumn leaves, and the tenderness is palpable, even as she calls to his attention the leaves that “are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.” There is no sugarcoating here, and Henry is not miraculously reunited with his wife and children; however, the conclusion, as Henry celebrates his new freedom, is moving and satisfying.

Lempke, S. (2007). Henry's Freedom Box. Horn Book Magazine, 83(2), 186-187.


Gr 2-5Inspired by an actual 1830s lithograph, this beautifully crafted picture book briefly relates the story of Henry "Box" Brown's daring escape from slavery. Torn from his mother as a child, and then forcibly separated from his wife and children as an adult, a heartsick and desperate Brown conspired with abolitionists and successfully traveled north to Philadelphia in a packing crate. His journey took just over one full day, (hiring which he was often sideways or upside down in a wooden crate large enough to hold him, but small enough not to betray its contents. The story ends with a reimagining of the lithograph that inspired it, in which Henry Brown emerges from his unhappy confinement — in every sense of the word — and smiles upon his arrival in a comfortable Pennsylvania parlor. Particularly considering the broad scope of Levine's otherwise well-written story, some of the ancillary "facts" related in her text are unnecessarily dubious; reports vary, for instance, as to whether the man who sealed Henry into the crate was a doctor or a cobbler. And, while the text places Henry's arrival on March 30, other sources claim March 24 or 25. Nelson's illustrations, always powerful and nuanced, depict the evolution of a self-possessed child into a determined and fearless young man. While some of the specifies are unfortunately questionable, this book solidly conveys the generalities of Henry Brown's story.
Threadgill, C. (2007). Henry's freedom box: A true story. School Library Journal, 53(3), 176. 

Use in Library: -Pair this book with a theme unit of the slave time period which could lead into further research about other famous slaves and their successes after they gained freedom.  This could also be used as a read aloud to introduce a history lesson or read aloud during African-American history month.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Module 9: The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose!

Citation: Gosling, G. (2004). The top secret files of Mother Goose. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Summary: The Queen of Hearts has a problem and Detective Mother Goose is who she calls to help her.  Her strawberry tarts are missing and with some clues Detective Mother Goose begins her investigation to discover who the culprit is.  She questions various suspects: Mary Contrary, Little Miss Muffet, Bo Diddle and many more until she finally figures out who’s initialed HM hankie got left at the scene of the crime.

Impression: Peace and A Kid-Friendly Read!
I can’t say that I love this one, L sorry. But I will say that it is a peaceful and cute mystery that reminds you of many fairy tale characters and their traits. Of course more of that peaceful feeling comes on when you reach the end of the story and the mystery is solved. This kid-friendly read is sure to please when the guilt one is forced to write lines on a chalkboard stating “I will not steal the Queen’s tarts”.

Reviews: K-Gr 4-- When the Queen of Hearts discovers her strawberry tarts missing, she calls in Mother Goose, "Chief Detective of Nursery Rhyme Crime." The clues include a trail of crumbs, a dish and a spoon, and a hankie with the initials HM. As Mother Goose questions each suspect, a full-page illustration of that individual appears opposite the text, which is printed on a manila-folder background. A handwritten note with humorous details about that particular character appears to be paper clipped to the file. Readers may question the detective's technique as she chases down alleged perpetrators who do not have the correct initials. However, logic aside, the comical rewording of familiar facts will appeal to those who are conversant with nursery rhymes. The vibrant cartoons pop off the pages, and the witty details will have youngsters studying the pictures with interest. Serving as a foil for the boisterous cast of characters, Mother Goose appears almost too charming and sweet to be pitted against this wild and wacky lineup of possible criminals, but that only adds to the comedy. With its retro artwork and imitation of hard-boiled detective speech, this text-heavy mystery is more appropriate for older children, but the story and its solution may be a bit too simplistic to hold their attention. Fans of Jon Scieszka's humor seem the most likely audience for this book's campy art and puns.

Edwards, L., & Mandell, P. (2004). The top secret files of mother goose! (Book). School Library Journal, 50(5), 112.

The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose belongs with Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and Rosalind Alchin's The Frog Princess as another excellent example of the fractured fairy tale. As a bonus, this slim picture book also contains the features of an adult detective novel: a crime, a number of clues, numerous suspects with motives, and a sleuth who ultimately deduces the perpetrator's identity. The crime in question is the theft of the Queen of Hearts' breakfast tarts, and, because of his previous criminal record, suspicion immediately falls on the Knave of Hearts. To solve the theft, the Queen enlists the assistance of Mother Goose, Chief Detective of Nursery Rhyme Crime, who narrates the rest of the book. Mother Goose can immediately eliminate the Knave for he has a solid alibi; he's on holidays in Hawaii; however, the Knave suggests that "Mary Contrary might have some information." As Mother Goose follows up on each individual, that person either suggests yet someone else who may be connected to the crime or Mother Goose simply follows the trail of crumbs which leads to yet another suspect. In addition to the Knave and Mary Contrary, Mother Goose questions Miss Muffet, Bo Diddle, Little Boy Blue, Miss Bo Peep, Patrick "Patty Cake" Buttermore, Peter Peter and Humpty Dumpty before recognizing the true significance of one of the clues which points to the real culprit's identity. Banks even follows one of the "rules" of detective fiction by introducing the thief early in the story while disguising the person's means and motive. As the crime genre demands, the "criminal" is punished but, in this instance, in a manner with which kids will be able to identify.

Jenkinson, D. (2003). The top secret files of Mother Goose. CM: Canadian Review Of Materials, 10(2), N.PAG. 

Use in Library: -This book would be perfect to use as a read aloud to the upper elementary grades.  A mock mystery theater could be set up in the library where clues will have to be discovered and a path has to be followed to find a guilty party. Another suggestion would be to have a reader’s theater because of all the various fairy tale characters

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Module 8: Hunger Games


Citation: Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.



Summary: Katniss Evergreen learns early on how to survive in her poor district within the futuristic North America.  Her father is no longer with her and her family, which leaves the sixteen year old as the sole provider for her, her twelve year old sister and her depressed ridden mother.  She lives her life hunting as a means of providing and soon that skill will help her when she needs it the most.  The Hunger Games, which is hosted by the government of Panem, which is made up of 12 districts, is held yearly as an event to remind the districts that they are in control.  This gaming event consists of 2 tributes, a boy and girl ages 12-18, whose name gets picked from a bowl with slips of paper from each district.  But when Prim, Katniss’s sister, is the one chosen, it only leaves Katniss one choice but to offer herself in her sister’s place for the games. This is where Katniss’s hunting for survival skills enables her to get farther within these televised games.  Katniss’s journey to survive is being watched by all the districts in Panem and the people eagerly await while her and Peeta, the other tribute from District 12, compete to be the final tribute standing.  Peeta, a rather strong and attractive boy, may be able to further her in the game.  Through a in love approach to win over viewers and sponsors, Katniss and Peeta are able to get a little further in their survival and with a new rules applied to the games anything is possible.



Impression: Nothing Peaceful, Love & Love it! & a Definite Must Read! 
Okay friends, at the moment Hunger Games is all the rage right now because of the movie coming out. I would say there is nothing peaceful about reading this book because there is just too much excitement.  I was in love with the learning more about the love twist in this brutal game of trying to be the last one alive in all the fight to the death encounters that the gamers have with each other. Love and brutality all in the same story, I have to say that is a brilliant way to grasp a well balance group of both female and male readers, therefore this is a must read!



Reviews: Gr 7 Up-- In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 14 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like "Survivor" and "American Gladiator." Book one of a planned trilogy.


Baird, J. (2008). The hunger games. School Library Journal, 54(9), 176-177. 

Survivor meets “The Lottery” as the author of the popular Underland Chronicles returns with what promises to be an even better series. The United States is no more, and the new Capitol, high in the Rocky Mountains, requires each district to send two teenagers, a boy and a girl, to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a reality show from which only one of the twenty-four participants will emerge victorious—and alive. When her younger sister is chosen by lottery to represent their district, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead, while Peeta, who secretly harbors a crush on Katniss, is the boy selected to join her. A fierce, resourceful competitor who wins the respect of the other participants and the viewing public, Katniss also displays great compassion and vulnerability through her first-person narration. The plot is front and center here—the twists and turns are addictive, particularly when the romantic subplot ups the ante—yet the Capitol’s oppression and exploitation of the districts always simmers just below the surface, waiting to be more fully explored in future volumes. Collins has written a compulsively readable blend of science fiction, survival story, unlikely romance, and social commentary.


J., H. H. (2008). The hunger games. Horn Book Magazine, 84(5), 580. 

Use in Library: -This book would be a great to use with a reading club that can meet weekly to discuss what has occurred within the book.  Students can make predictions on what characters have a strong chance at surviving the games.  They can also complete an activity in thinking of  what futuristic special skill they would like to have if they were a gamer in the brutal Hunger Games and illustrating that skill in pictures that can be on display within the library.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Module 7: Frindle


Bibliographic Citation: Clements, A. (1996). Frindle. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Summary: Nick Allen decides to create a new word “frindle” meaning pen because of a lesson about words that came from his fifth grade teacher. It catches on like wild fire with the students at his school and quickly become the popular “it” word that everyone wants to use. The problem arises with his stern teacher, Mrs. Granger, who values the dictionary and the origin of the words and attempts to stop the nonsense around the word. The new idea of using “frindle” goes out of control and takes Nick into an adventure in which he learns lessons from.

Impression: Peace, Love & a Must Read!
A great easy and quick read for upper elementary students. It has a universal appeal and many young minds can relate to Nick’s problem of making a quick decision in which he doesn’t stop to think through or to think about how it can affect others. I appreciate that it has a happy ending giving that peaceful feeling in which his teacher, who chooses to play the antagonist in the situation, ends up revealing that she had her lesson for Nick in her mind the whole time. I love that the teacher wins and the student too!


Reviews: Nicholas Allen, a sharp, creative, independent thinker starts fifth grade looking for a way to sabotage his Language Arts class. The teacher, Mrs. Granger, is a legend, and he believes her when she states that it is the people who decide what words go into the dictionary. Picking up a dropped pen triggers a brilliant idea. He coins a new word for pen-frindle. It's all for fun, but frindle catches on and Nick finds himself on the "Late Show" and "Good Morning America" explaining his new word. Readers will chuckle from beginning to end as they recognize themselves and their classrooms in the cast of characters. A remarkable teacher's belief in the power of words shines through the entire story, as does a young man's tenacity in proving his point. Outstanding and witty.

- Bomboy,P. (1996). Grades 3-6: Fiction [Review of the book Frindle]. School Library Journal, 42(9), 201.


The author has created a fresh, imaginative plot that will have readers smiling all the way through, if not laughing out loud. Nick, a champion time-waster, faces the challenge of his life when confronted with the toughest teacher in school, Mrs. Granger. Always counted on to filibuster the impending test or homework assignment away, Nick has met his match in "Dangerous Grangerous," who can spot a legitimate question in a second and has no patience with the rest. In answer to "Like, who says that d-o-g means the thing that goes 'woof' and wags its tail? Who says so?" she replies, "You do, Nicholas. You and me and everyone in this class and this school and this town and this state and this country." And thus is born frindle, Nick's new name for pen, promising and delivering a classic student-teacher battle along the lines of — but far funnier than — Avi's Nothing But the Truth (Orchard). The battle assumes the proportions of a tall tale, and although outrageous and hilarious, it's all plausible, and every bit works from the premise to the conclusion. The brisk narration is rapid-fire, and Nick is one of the most charming troublemakers since Soup. The merchandising future of this one is too terrible to contemplate; the cutting-edge gift this Christmas has got to be a frindle.

– Watson, E.S. (1996). Frindle. Horn Book Magazine, 72(6), 732-733.


Use in Library: Orally state sentences with nonsense words and ask students to apply reading strategies in order to discover the meaning of the words. Illustrate a picture of anything of the students’ choice and label it with a their own nonsense word to put on display with a Frindle library display.

Module 7: After Tupac and D Foster


Citation: Woodson, J. (2008). After Tupac and D Foster. New York, NY: G. P. Putman’s Sons.



Summary: Two young best friend girls are surprised with a unique and fresh person entering their lives.  Her name is D Foster and she’s an easy-going and free-to-roam girl who quickly fits into their friendship and bonds with them.  They call themselves “Three the Hard Way” and they are all growing up and facing issues going on in each of their pre-teen lives.  Rapper Tupac Shakur’s music is easily relatable to D Foster and while the girls are learning about life they enjoy listening to his lyrics and melodies. But although D Foster is their close friend, the girls realize she still has a mystery about her and her foster child life.  A mystery they want to know more about.



Impression: Peace, Love and a Fun Read!

I love this story because I felt like it took me back to my own childhood.  You know those free from worry days, but on strict rules all the while some of my friends were those D Foster types of free to roam and do whatever they please.  I was that main character and was able to relate to her even more because of growing up on Tupac’s music. I would say it’s a fun read because it touches on so many topics of interest to young readers: family members in jail, being a foster child, abiding by parent rules, and friendships.  



Reviews: Gr 6-10-- D Foster, Neeka, and an unnamed narrator grow from being 11 to 13 with Tupac Shakur's music, shootings, and legal troubles as the backdrop. Neeka and the narrator have lived on the same block forever and are like sisters, but foster child D shows up during the summer of 1994, while she is out "roaming." D immediately finds a place in the heart of the other girls, and the "Three the Hard Way" bond over their love of Tupac's music. It seems especially relevant to D, who sees truth in his lyrics, having experienced the hard life herself in group homes and with multiple foster families. Woodson's spare, poetic, language and realistic Queens, NY, street vernacular reveal a time and a relationship, each chapter a vignette depicting an event in the lives of the girls and evoking mood more than telling a story. In this urban setting, there are, refreshingly, caring adults and children playing on the street instead of drug dealers on every corner. Readers are right on the block with bossy mothers, rope-jumping girls, and chess-playing elders. With Tupac's name and picture on the cover, this slim volume will immediately appeal to teens, and the emotions and high-quality writing make it a book well worth recommending. By the end, readers realize that, along with the girls, they don't really know D at all. As she says, "I came on this street and y'all became my friends. That's the D puzzle." And readers will find it a puzzle well worth their time.



Vikstrom, K. (2008). After Tupac and D Foster. School Library Journal, 54(4), 154.





Gr. 6–9.“The summer before D Foster’s real mama came and took her away, Tupac wasn’t dead yet.” From this first line in her quiet, powerful novel, Woodson cycles backward through the events that lead to dual tragedies: a friend’s departure and a hero’s death. In a close-knit African American neighborhood in Queens, New York, the unnamed narrator lives across from her best friend, Neeka. Then D Foster wanders onto the block, and the three 11-year-old girls quickly become inseparable. Because readers know from the start where the plot is headed, the characters and the community form the focus here. A subplot about Neeka’s older brother, a gay man serving prison time after being framed for a hate crime, sometimes threatens to overwhelm the girls’ story. But Woodson balances the plotlines with subtle details, authentic language, and rich development. Beautifully capturing the girls’ passage from childhood to adolescence, this is a memorable, affecting novel about the sustaining power of love and friendship and each girl’s developing faith in her own “BigPurpose.”



Engberg, G. (2008). After Tupac and D Foster. Booklist, 104(11), 51.




Use in Library: -Perfect book to pair with a poetry unit for middle school ages.  Tupac’s musical lyrics are poetry and students will be easily interested with this particular poet.  Students could also write poems to go along with the book possibly from the characters perspectives.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Module 6: Lost and Found


Citation: Jeffers, O. (2005). Lost and found. New York, NY: Philomel Books.



Summary: A story about friendship with beautiful illustrations. It begins with a little boy who finds a penguin and believes it is lost and wants to go home. The boy decides to take him home on his row boat and so the adventure to the South Pole begins. As he arrives at the destination and drops off the penguin, the penguin still has the same demeanor. As the boy rows away he realizes that it is not because the penguin is lost as to why he has a sad expression it is because he is lonely. The boy and the penguin’s friendship has begun.



Impression: Peace, Love & a CUTE Read!

This is one of those books that makes your heart melt.  It surely gives a peaceful feeling to the reader because it is so cute that these two very different creatures can come together to become friends.



Reviews: PreS-Gr 2-- "Once there was a boy who found a penguin at his door." From this opening line to the very end, this gentle story of friendship will capture young readers' imaginations. The child assumes that the penguin is lost, which is logical since the lumpy black-and-white bird does look awfully forlorn. Determined to help the creature find its way home, he discovers that penguins come from the South Pole, and the two board a rowboat. During their long sea voyage, the youngster passes the time by telling his companion many stories. However, when they finally reach their destination, he realizes that the penguin was not lost, but just lonely and looking for a friend. The soft watercolor paintings feature simple shapes and a palette that ranges from pale to bold. The boy has a square body, stick legs, and a round head with tiny dot eyes and an expressive mouth. For much of the tale, the characters are placed on crisp white backdrops, while colorful ocean scenes depict their journey. The text's subtle humor and the appealing visuals make this title a wonderful read-aloud.

Gallagher, G. (2006). Lost and found. School Library Journal, 52(1), 103.



A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers's small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin's feelings before the boy himself does--but all's well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence's Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this--slightly--less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Lost and found. (2005). Kirkus Reviews, 73(23), 1276.



Use in Library: -This book can be used as a read aloud with the very young elementary age.  It can also be used in various themed units such as friendship or emotions. Little ones will appreciate the happy ending, seeing the steps leading up to starting a friendship, and can relate to the characters’ feelings.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Module 5: One Crazy Summer


Citation: Williams-Garcia, R. (2010). One crazy summer. New York, NY: Amistad.



Summary: Told through the eyes of 11 year old Delphine who, along with her two younger sisters Vonetta and Fern, get sent in the summer in 1968 to spend time with their mother who left after the youngest sister was born. From the beginning the girls feel unwelcome and their mother, Cecile makes it known they are a bother to her daily routine of writing poems and printing them in her kitchen workspace. She is unmotherly to them and every day they are sent to the Black Panther's free breakfast program in Oakland.  They spend their days at the community center doing activities provided by Black Panthers and learning more and more each day. Hesitantly, the girls go often and although they do not share the views of their peers and women who run the camp they begin to understand the power of and lessons from the Black Panthers. Through time their opinions change and when the ending presents a moment in which their mother's attitude towards them changes it paints a happy ending.



Impression: Peace, Love and Historical Read!

Yep, this one is a peaceful read because of the warm fuzzy feeling you get after the girls and their non-emotion mother finally make that connection, not to mention it is all told through the reader learning a little more about the Black Panther’s movement in history.  I love how the girls’ strong characters are beautifully envisioned through the Williams-Garcia’s descriptions. This is one well written book!



Reviews: Gr 4-7--It is 1968, and three black sisters from Brooklyn have been put on a California-bound plane by their father to spend a month with their mother, a poet who ran off years before and is living in Oakland. It's the summer after Black Panther founder Huey Newton was jailed and member Bobby Hutton was gunned down trying to surrender to the Oakland police, and there are men in berets shouting "Black Power" on the news. Delphine, 11, remembers her mother, but after years of separation she's more apt to believe what her grandmother has said about her, that Cecile is a selfish, crazy woman who sleeps on the street. At least Cecile lives in a real house, but she reacts to her daughters' arrival without warmth or even curiosity. Instead, she sends the girls to eat breakfast at a center run by the Black Panther Party and tells them to stay out as long as they can so that she can work on her poetry. Over the course of the next four weeks, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a lot of time learning about revolution and staying out of their mother's way. Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.

Markson, T. (2010). One crazy summer. School Library Journal, 56(3), 170.







Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.” Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love.

Engberg, G. (2010). One crazy summer. Booklist, 106(11), 61. .



Use in Library: -A great book to pair with a history lesson about movements.  A guest speaker could also be invited to speak to students about the life and times of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  This would help students to understand and make the connections that the time period in which this story takes place in was not that long ago.


Module 5: Lockdown


Citation: Myers, W. D., (2010). Lockdown. New York, NY: Amistad.



Summary: Maurice “Reese” Anderson is a fourteen year old boy who has made a wrong choice in life and is in a juvenile prison.  He is serving his time for stealing prescription pads and selling them to a drug dealer.  It is while serving time and being given an opportunity to be in a work program that Reese begins to struggle within himself to get his life back in the right direction.  Luckily for him, he is has a glimmer of hope because he’s not at the larger adult prisons where people serve large amounts of time.  He has a chance to turn his life around but it is difficult because he wants to help out another who is often picked on and he still needs to maintain that tough cover to make it through the daily life in jail.



Impression: Peace and a Teen Read!

I must say this is definitely a teen read because of the struggle that the main character goes through. It can be easily relatable to teenager because they are constantly faced with making decisions that can affect the rest of their lives.  I would not say that I absolutely love this book simply because while reading it I felt that I wanted the story to get somewhere fast, you know get to some point fast or have something really exciting happen.  The story gave a peaceful feeling because you know that that happy ending is coming soon.



Reviews: Myers takes readers inside the walls of a juvenile corrections facility in this gritty novel. Fourteen-year-old Reese is in the second year of his sentence for stealing prescription pads and selling them to a neighborhood dealer. He fears that his life is headed in a direction that will inevitably lead him “upstate,” to the kind of prison you don’t leave. His determination to claw his way out of the downward spiral is tested when he stands up to defend a weaker boy, and the resulting recriminations only seem to reinforce the impossibility of escaping a hopeless future. Reese’s first-person narration rings with authenticity as he confronts the limits of his ability to describe his feelings, struggling to maintain faith in himself; Myers’ storytelling skills ensure that the messages he offers are never heavy handed. The question of how to escape the cycle of violence and crime plaguing inner-city youth is treated with a resolution that suggests hope, but doesn’t guarantee it. A thoughtful book that could resonate with teens on a dangerous path.

Chipman, I. (2009). Lockdown. Booklist, 106(7), 38.



Gr 9 Up--Maurice (Reese) Anderson, 14, stole prescription pads to make easy money for his family. Now he's serving time in a detention center. Working at a nursing home, he meets Mr. Hooft, who tells him that he doesn't like colored people or criminals. An antagonistic relationship quickly develops between them as Mr. Hooft verbally attacks the teen each time he attempts to carry out his duties. But there is greater trouble for Reese back at Progress; his impulsive behavior has left him at odds with the lead guard and the newly arrived gang leader. Now he must control his volatile and sometimes violent behavior when he is provoked as he awaits his appearance before the parole board. His fellow detainees have a wide variety of backgrounds, each offering a thread of connection to readers. Returning to common themes of justice, free will, and consequence, Myers again explores the mind of a young man struggling to survive the streets of Harlem. This latest work, while well written, doesn't achieve the emotional resonance of Paul Volponi's similar Rikers High (Viking, 2010). The characters feel static, and the depictions of the justice system and racial tensions will be familiar to many of Myers's readers. Hooft's incarceration in the Japanese camps during World War II is a somewhat unexpected revelation, but needs more historical background. Though not the author's most powerful work, this book has an audience waiting for it and should be purchased for most collections.

Shoemaker, C. (2010). Lockdown. School Library Journal, 56(2), 118-120.



Use in Library: -A book perfect to booktalk to a high school audience.  Teens are always faced with difficult decisions and at the same time want to maintain a certain image amongst their peers. This book is told from the main character perspective and its reader can make connections to him.  It is also an educational read for teens to get some insight on how their freedoms can be taken away by being locked up in a jail for long periods of time.