The Battle of Jericho- Sharon M. Draper

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I am a fan of Sharon Draper.  I love that her books are urban, but have subtle and not so subtle morals.  When I’ve used some of her other novels in class the students really identify with the characters.  She does it again with this book.  The characters are all easy to identify with.  This book looks at the initiation rites of an elite group of boys.  Think a non-school sanctioned high school fraternity.  The novel deals with issues surrounding fitting in and bullying.  I think that both boys and girls could identify with this book.  It could be used in a classroom, but I think I’d use Tears of a Tiger or Forged by Fire (both by Draper) before I used this one.  All in all it was a good read, and took me about 2 hours to finish it.  

One of the things I love about Draper is that, as an English teacher herself she always has resources on her website for teachers to use in class with her books.  Here’s the link for her discussion questions and other resources for The Battle of Jericho.


Arizona Young Reader Book Award Nominee 
Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List (NY) 
Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book 
IRA Young Adults’ Choices 
Rosie Award Nominee (IN) 
South Carolina Book Award Nominee 
YARP Award Master List (SD) 
Young Hoosier Book Award Master List (IN)

American Born Chinese- Gene Luen Yang

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American Born Chinese might be my favorite book of 2009.  It was so much FUN to read.  I laughed out loud several times, from the dialogue and the illustrations.  Written in the format of a graphic novel it follows three story lines that come together at the end.  It took me a minute to figure out the connection at the end, but it worked.  Though I’m not an immigrant or the child of immigrants, I have several friends who are- and the references to what life is like in a new country seem to be spot on.  There is nothing preachy in the story- but it does touch on the issues of racism, fitting in, crushes, and general teenage angst.  I am definitely going to be buying a copy of this book to keep in my future classroom.  This book would be appropriate for middle and high school students.  I’d be interested to hear if other people love it as much as I did!



2007 Printz Award Winner
National Book Award finalist
American Library Association best Book for Young Adults, Top Ten List
Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Booklist Editors’ Choice Book
San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
NPR Holiday Pick Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the Year 


Tangerine- Edward Bloor

  Tangerine kept me interested for the entire novel.  Paul, the seventh grade protagonist, is an engaging character with whom I was able to empathize.  One of the story lines that kept me the most intrigued throughout the book was the mystery of how Paul’s eye sight was harmed.  There is just enough mystery and intrigue in this book to keep you guessing.  There is also a focus on soccer, fitting in, and differences between social class in the book.  This book is very appropriate for middle school students and I think could be used for individual reading or whole class reading. 




ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults

Horn Book Fanfare Book

An American Bookseller Pick of the List

NYPL “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing”

A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

Bullyville- Francine Prose

  I picked this book up in the hopes that it would address the issues of bullying in a way that speaks to students.  In that regard it fell short.  While I found the novel interesting, it did not do enough to show the negative effects of bullying and what the best ways do deal with it are.  However, it would help facilitate a discussion of bullying.  The story follows a 14 year old boy named Bart through a family tragedy surrounding 9/11 and his subsequent attendance at a prestigious all boys boarding school.  Based on content and reading level I think this book would be best used with 7th and 8th graders.  There are very few female characters but I don’t think that would keep girls from enjoying the story.  Overall I didn’t mind the book, and would consider using it if my class were having bullying issues and I wanted to be able to start a dialogue about it.  It would be a fine choice for individual reading as well.

There is a reading guide available for this book through the publisher.


Publishers Weekly Best Book