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!

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!

Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins


Shop Indie Bookstores

Review:

The final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy did a great job of tying ending the saga.  I felt like most of my questions were answers, though some new ones were brought to light.  I think leaving some things unanswered allows for healthy debate among readers.  With all that being said this was my least favorite of the books.  I can’t put my finger on why, but it is what it is.

Overall this is the best YA series I’ve read and I recommend it to anyone who will listen!  What was your overall impression?

 

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 6-8  (As with Catching Fire I think this is a little off- I’d say more 7-10)
Grade Level: 5.4

Teaching Resources:

Book talk and Discussion Guide available from Scholastic.com

AWARDS:

#1 USA TODAY BESTSELLER

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES

#1 WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

#1 PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLING SERIES

NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOK OF 2010

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY’S BEST BOOKS OF 2010:
CHILDREN’S FICTION

A BOOKLIST EDITORS’ CHOICE, 2010

A KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF 2010

NPR BEST BOOKS OF 2010

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE

A CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR’S BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2010

BARNES & NOBLE BEST TEEN BOOKS OF 2010

AMAZON BEST BOOKS OF 2010:
#3 ON CUSTOMER FAVORITES LIST

Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins


Shop Indie Bookstores

Review:

LOVE.  This sequel to The Hunger Games definitely expands upon and lives up to the first book of the trilogy.  Following the lives of the characters post Hunger Games we continue to be invested in their fates.  I was hooked from page one, and read this book very quickly.  I finished it on a snow day- and was SO upset that I didn’t have Mockingjay at my apartment with me.  A complete page turner, the ending made me very eager to read the next, and final book.

As with The Hunger Games I see this book appealing to both male and female readers.  As I mention below, Scholastic has the interest level being grades 6-8 but I feel the themes and content are more appropriate starting at 7th grade and going up to 10th (for in the classroom- older students would also enjoy it!).

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 6-8  (I think this is a little off- I’d say more 7-10)
Grade Level: 5.4

Teaching Resources:

Book talk and Discussion Guide available from Scholastic.com

AWARDS:

#1 USA TODAY BESTSELLER

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

#1 WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

#1 PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLER

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE

TIME MAGAZINE
TOP 10 FICTION BOOKS OF 2009

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY’S BEST BOOKS OF 2009:
CHILDREN’S FICTION

A PEOPLE MAGAZINE (TOP 10) BEST BOOK OF 2009

A LOS ANGELES TIMES BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK OF 2009

A BOOKLIST EDITORS’ CHOICE, 2009

A KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF 2009

AN AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
BEST BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS SELECTION

#1 YALSA’S TEENS’ TOP TEN, 2010

NYPL “STUFF FOR THE TEEN AGE” LIST, 2010

2010 CHILDREN’S CHOICE BOOK AWARD
TEEN CHOICE BOOK OF THE YEAR WINNER

2010 INDIES CHOICE AWARD WINNER–YOUNG ADULT

TOP 10 ON THE FALL 2009 CHILDREN’S INDIE NEXT LIST

BARNES & NOBLE BEST TEEN BOOKS OF 2009

BORDERS BEST BOOKS OF 2009: TEENS

AMAZON BEST BOOKS OF 2009:
TOP 100 EDITORS’ PICK
TOP 10 BOOKS: TEENS

Love That Dog- Sharon Creech


Shop Indie Bookstores

This book was handed to me by the woman in charge of curriculum at my current school.  She told me that it was the newest book that they had ordered for bibliotherapy.  I was immediately intrigued because I have read other books by Creech before and was interested in what this one was like.  Once I found out it was written as a series of free verse poems I was a little more hesitant but decided to give it a try.  It took me 15-20 minutes to read straight through- which especially for the population of students I’m working with is a big plus!  The book is written as if a early teen boy wrote the poems and through them a small story line develops revolving around his feelings about poetry and about his pet dog.

One of the things I really really enjoyed about this book is that Creech included references to well known poetry such as The Red Wheelbarrow, some of Robert Frost’s poems, and poetry by Walter Dean Myers (one of my favorite YA Lit Authors).  The focus for the bibliotherapy aspect of the book is to encourage our students to use writing as an outlet, identify their feelings, and to discuss loss and grief.  In addition to that I think that we can really use this book to explore a poetry unit- focusing specifically on the poems mentioned int he book and then writing our own poetry as well.

When I hopefully do teach this book I will fill you in on how it goes, and perhaps find a way to post any activities that I create or adapt to go with it!

This book is definitely a 6-9th grade book.  I would recommend it for middle school primarily, though reluctant readers in 9th grade may appreciate its brevity.  Our class is primarily male and we are hoping that the male protagonist will make it appealing to them.

Awards:
Christopher Award
Mitten Award (Michigan)
Claudia Lewis Poetry Award

New Moon- Stephenie Meyer

I read New Moon a couple of months ago and never got around to reviewing it… so here it goes.

I had high expectations for the second novel in the Twilight saga and I was disappointed. I was much less intrigued by the characters at this point and was frustrated with them throughout.  I found myself not siding with either Edward or Jacob.  I did not like the fact that Bella spent so much time upset over a guy.  I get that this is meant to be a very intense relationship- but I prefer strong female protagonists.

Watching the movie I felt the same way.

I have this book on my shelf for my students to read.  One of my girls has eagerly gobbled up the entire series after I lent her the first three books.  In fact I ended up having to let her read Eclipse before I did! (Review of that coming soon!)  I do not think that I would ever use this book in a whole class setting though.  I’m glad I read it though, because it was necessary to understand everything that happens in Eclipse.

Tears of A Tiger- Sharon Draper


Shop Indie Bookstores

 

Written in 1994 Tears of A Tiger will still resonate with students now, 15 years later.  This story deals with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident that kills a high school student.  The relationships between friends, children and parents, teachers, and counselors are all discussed through transcripts of discussions, newspaper articles, diary entries, and letters.  This is the first book in the Hazelwood High trilogy, but each book stands completely on its own.  I have taught this book to 10th graders before and they ATE IT UP.  Many went on to read the next book in the series, Forged By Fire.  I highly recommend this book for use in a classroom (9-10th grade) and for individual students to read.  

 

Here is a link to Sharon Draper’s Teacher Resources for this book.  As a National Board Certified English teacher, she knows her stuff:  Sharon Draper’s Site

 

Awards:

Winner–1995 American Library Association/Coretta Scott King Genesis Award for an outstanding new book
ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Outstanding book by

-The Children’s Book Council
-The New York City Library
-Bank Street College
-National Council for Social Studies

Best of the Best by YALSA as one of the top 100 books for Young Adults