All The Bright Places (ARC)- Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

This recently published YA lit is also slated to be made into a movie!  I wasn’t sure what to expect when cracking open All the Bright Places but I was happy with what I found.  Niven uses the seemingly increasing in popularity, multiple point of view narrative technique, to put you inside the heads of two teens, Violet, and Finch.

Throughout the book you discover that both have demons they are wrestling.  The issues dealt with in this book are numerous, and intense.  Depression, suicide, death of loved ones, divorce, abuse, sexual contact are all touched on.  I believe each is dealt with largely in a realistic way.  The sexual contact could, in my opinion, focus a little attention on practicing safe sex however it is not overly explicit and I’d be comfortable with high school students reading it.

Though there is a male and a female protagonist I feel this book will appeal much more to female teens.  I think it is appropriate for 11th and 12th graders.  I would be reluctant to just leave it on my bookshelf in the classroom because of the potential to trigger students who have been touched by the above mentioned issues.  In the past year suicide and attempted suicide has touched my family a lot and I know that for some members of my family reading about it would re-traumatize them.

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Death, Car Crashes, Physical Abuse

There is currently no information available for reading level or interest level.  This is definitely a high school book though the reading level is not particularly difficult.

Check out the author’s page for other ways to interact with the book:  http://www.jenniferniven.com/books/allthebrightplaces/

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!

Counting to D- Kate Scott (ARC)

Counting to D

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Counting to D by Kate Scott.  This book, which is set to be released on the 11th of February, was a fun read.

The main character, Sam, is a teenage girl with Dyslexia.  She is also highly gifted in math and has far above average listening comprehension skills.  While the focus of the book is on how Sam navigates through her school work with her learning difference the story also looks at many other difficulties that teenagers face.  There is a bit of a love story, different friendships, and sub plots on mental illness as well.  What I really liked most about this book is it makes you think about people you know and the challenges they might face that you don’t even know about it.  It is not preachy but helps students realize that different isn’t necessarily bad, and special ed doesn’t mean stupid.

This book is a very easy read and isn’t demonstrative of many different literary techniques so I would be unlikely to use it as a whole class read.  However, I would absolutely have it on bookshelf and encourage students to read it.  It would be a great book to have students read and then conduct a research project based on it.  I think the interest level of the book would be 8th grade and higher due to some frank discussion of sex- though I think that was done exceedingly well!

Added bonus: If you have Amazon Prime you can borrow this book from the Kindle Owners Library FOR FREE!!  Check it out!

Beauty Queens- Libba Bray

Beauty Queens

Review:

This was one of the books I downloaded onto my Kindle to read while on vacation this summer.  It was by far my FAVORITE summer read.  I   found this book to be laugh out loud hilarious and ended up reading excerpts aloud to my parents while we were on a 12 hour car trip.

The story follows a group of teen beauty queens who have been stranded on a desert island.  The cast of characters is incredible.  Girly girls, pretty boys, gay, straight, transgender, black, white, and more.  The references to current pop culture are abundant and cleverly done.  Bray examines our cultural norms in such a way that we can laugh at ourselves.

This book is definitely a book for females.  There are some strong discussions about sexuality that are extremely well done, though may make some young people who have not yet started to explore that area of themselves uncomfortable.  For that reason, and for many of the references I think this book is best suited for older high school students, and even first or second year college students.  I would be comfortable having it in my classroom.

This really makes me want to go back and read Going Bovine, Bray’s Printz winning novel that I never finished.

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 9th grade

Grade Level: 5.3

AWARDS:

A 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Young Adult Literature

2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author

2012 Audie Award Nomination for Best Teen Audiobook

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

 

13 Reasons Why- Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

Review:

I had so many people suggest this novel to me that when I saw it on a clearance shelf I had to buy it.  I then decided it would be my gym read… this was probably a poor choice as it took me forever to finish, but I am glad I did.  The story follows a teen boy who has found 13 tapes in the mail.  They were recorded immediately prior to a classmates suicide and explain how many different events affected her.  There is interest and intrigue and you find yourself really invested in finding out what happens.  Why does he have the tapes- how did he contribute to her depression, to her ultimate suicide?  I think this would be a great discussion starter.  Too often our students don’t realize the affect that they can have on others.

This book is definitely a high school level book.  There are discussions of alcohol use, sexual encounters, sexual assault and other serious topics.  However, there are CLEAR consequences to these actions that I think are appropriately handled.  I think it would make a great classroom read.  The main character is a male, but the suicide victim is a female so I see it appealing to both genders.

The Lowdown (Via Scholastic)

Interest Level :Grade 9 (I would include 10-12)

Grade Level Equivalent: 3.2

Includes: Scholastic Reading Counts! Quiz , Accelerated Reader Quiz

CLICK HERE FOR A DISCUSSION GUIDE!

Awards: (List from official website)

New York Times Best Seller Publishers Weekly Best Seller

California Book Award Winner

Best Books for Young Adults (YALSA)

Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers (YALSA)

Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults (YALSA)

Borders Original Voices finalist

Barnes & Noble – Top 10 Best for Teens

International Reading Assoc. – Young Adults’ Choices

Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice

Book Sense Pick – Winter

Chicago Public Library Best Books

Association of Booksellers for Children – Best Books

State Awards – Winner (voted on by students): Florida, Kansas, Kentucky

Also, for further reading about using this book in your classroom, and or other resources for dealing with the topic of bullying, check out the July issue of NCTE’s English Journal…

English Journal, Vol. 101, No. 6, July 2012

Happy Reading!