The Fault in Our Stars- John Green

Mini Review:

I read this book several months ago and- like everything I’ve read by John Green, I loved it.  LOVED.  I of course bawled my eyes out and all that jazz.  But let me take a minute to explain what I liked about it… I liked, that once again, John Green is making smart kids cool.  That the sexual experiences in the book are well thought out and purposeful and not at all gratuitous.  I like the flow of the dialogue.  And, I really liked, that it got students reading.

I have yet to see the movie but I will soon.  Anyways, I give this book a big thumbs up and think it’s definitely a book both tens and adults can enjoy and learn from.

I think this book is most appropriate for high school students.  I do think it could be used as a whole class read but I would probably just keep it on my bookshelf and recommend it to students.

Keep Reading!

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Teaching Tools: Tears of a Tiger- Sharon Draper

Full disclosure- this is shameless self promotion.

That being said- I’ve created a packet of vocabulary activities, spelling/vocab tests, and questions to assist teachers with a 4 week long unit on Tears of A Tiger by Sharon Draper.  I’ve used all of the provided information in my own classroom and was met with success.  You can buy just the vocabulary packet, just the comprehension packet, or them all together as a bundle.

 

Vocabulary Packet $2.50 

Comprehension Packet $4.50

Vocabulary + Comprehension BUNDLE! $6.00  <— Your best value!

 

Want to see your own stuff on TPT?  Click HERE and sign up!

 

Check out my review of Tears of A Tiger!

Just Another Hero- Sharon Draper

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Just Another Hero (Jericho Trilogy, The)

The Review:

The third book in Draper’s Jericho trilogy, Just Another Hero didn’t quite grab me nearly as much as The Battle of Jericho, and November Blues.  The back of the book immediately tells you that there is going to be an incident involving a gun in the story and for the better part of the book I was waiting for that.  On one hand that was good as it built some sense of suspense.  I kept wanting to turn the page to find the action.  However, after the incident occurs I wish Draper had spent more time examining the aftermath.  How did everyone change due to the experience?  It wasn’t a bad book at all, but I just thought it could have gone a little further.  I’d definitely include this  in my classroom with the rest of the trilogy but I would not teach it as a whole class novel.

As with most of Draper’s books this will appeal to girls and guys alike, urban students, and those in likely 7th grade and up.

The Lowdown (Via Scholastic)

 Interest Level : Grades 9 – 12 (I would include 7-8)

Grade Level Equivalent: 4.8

Includes: Scholastic Reading Counts! Quiz , Accelerated Reader Quiz

 

Around the Web- Summer Reading Flowchart: What Should You Read On Your Break?

On Facebook I saw someone post this awesome info graphic from teach.com  What do you think?

Summer Reading Flowchart: What Should You Read On Your Break? | Teach.com

Follow this link to see the accompanying post!  Summer Reading Flowchart: What Should You Read On Your Break? | Teach.com.

Racism and The Hunger Games?

When I was looking at my Facebook newsfeed this evening I saw that a friend had posted this link: Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed.

Intrigued, I clicked on it and checked out the article on Jezebel.com.  Apparently people who saw the movie this weekend (I have yet to see it) were upset by the fact that Rue and other characters were black.  The article points out that in the book several of the characters are described as having dark skin.  So it made me think- did I picture these characters as black?  Did I picture them as white?  I honestly can’t remember.  But I can also say I don’t ever remember watching any movie, tv show, etc and being disappointed by the race of the actor cast in a role.  In many stories in fact I think race can be somewhat of a non-issue.  The Hunger Games doesn’t take place in a specific country or even a time that we can relate to so I don’t see race as we see it even being an issue to be discussed.  It’s a great story with great characters.  I’ll reserve judgement on the movie itself but this article is truly frightening to me.  If these are the opinions of our youth, of the future leaders of our country, and if they feel comfortable enough expressing these seemingly racist views then we still have a LOT of work to do in regards to race relations.

 

I’ll step off my soapbox now and hopefully will see the movie next weekend and will post a review.  I’m still working on finishing 13 Reasons Why  and The Book Thief which will also be forthcoming reviews!  Thanks for being patient!

Paper Towns- John Green

Paper Towns

Review:

I have been looking forward to reading Paper Towns by John Green since it came out but never got around to it.  While I was at NCTE 2011 in Chicago I had the opportunity to stand in line and have John Green sign a book.  They were selling Paper Towns at a discounted price so I jumped at the opportunity!  I’m so glad I did.  I’ve read other books by Green, An Abundance of Katherines  and Looking for Alaska and enjoyed both so I wasn’t surprised that I liked Paper Towns as well.  I really enjoyed that there was a male protagonist that seemed relatable and that there were significant characters that were male and female which should make this a book that can appeal to all teens.  The book follows one boys quest to find his neighbor, a beautiful girl, whom he has admired for years.  There is quite a bit of mystery and suspense in the novel which appealed to me.  This was not an easily predictable book.  One other thing that I really liked about this book was the including of poetry from Walt Whitman- I like to think that perhaps it will not only expose teens to another form of writing but spark an interest in it as well.

I do not see myself using this book as a classroom read in the future but I would put it on my classroom book shelf.  There is some talk of sex and drinking but in a frank and realistic way that does not glorify it or condemn it.  You will find some “inappropriate” language in the book but again it’s well places and not gratuitous in  nature.  Scholastic labels this book as being a 9-12th grade interest level and I agree.  The characters are seniors in high school and I think the content makes it a high school level book despite it’s lower reading level.

The Lowdown (Via Scholastic)

Interest Level: Grade 9 – Grade 12 (I agree with this)

Grade Level Equivalent: 5.5

Lexile® measure: 850L

Educational Materials Available: SRC! Quiz, AR Quiz

Awards:

2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

The Mockingbirds- Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds

Review:  I downloaded The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney to my Kindle in anticipation of reading the ARC of its sequel The Rivals.  I am so glad I did.  The Mockingbirds seemed to combine some of the best aspects of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War and Knowles’ A Separate Peace.  At times it even reminded me of John Green’s Waiting for Alaska.   But this book stands on its own and has its own merit.  From the first paragraph on the first page you are thrown into the life of the main character Alex, a junior girl at an elite boarding school, who has been date raped.

What I enjoyed about this story is how it dealt with the rape in a very realistic way.  You see Alex attempting to discern where the responsibility for the rape lies and how to move on with her life.  With such a serious subject this book could have become very dark and depressing very fast.  But it isn’t.  There are times where it is graphic, the imagery and the language may make you squirm but that is offset with the very regular interactions the teen characters have.  Crushes, school work, clubs and more.  Whitney also does a great job of examining what happens when schools have a history of caring more for their record than for their students and what types of change students can initiate.

This is definitely a book written for high school aged students.  I think it would appeal more to females than males, but males could get a lot out of it as well.  I think that if I were to teach a book about a subject such a date rape I would be more likely to teach Speak due to some of the graphic nature of this book.  I could however, see myself recommending this book to students or having it on a list (along with most of the other titles I mentioned earlier) to read alongside Speak for some sort of comparison project.  The Mockingbirds is also one of those books that I will be recommending to my friends who don’t read YA the way I do.  I believe this is a crossover book that adults can read and learn from as much as teens.

The Lowdown:

RL: 4-5 grade, lexile rating of HL720L (THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT A BOOK FOR 4th or 5th GRADERS)
Interest Level: High School (I could see 8th graders reading it but it might get a little heavy for younger teens)

Awards:

  • A Romantic Times Best Book of 2010
  • A Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • An NPR Best Book of 2010
  • An Association of Booksellers for Children New Voices Pick for 2010
  • Chicago Public Library Best of Best Books for Teens in 2010
  • Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention
  • An Indie Next List Pick
  • A GoodReads Mover and Shaker for November 2010
  • The Books-A-Million teen book club pick for January 2011

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Rivals!