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/

Code Name Verity- Elizabeth Wein

I really enjoy historical fiction.  Not only do I get to read a great story but I get to learn in the process.  I also love books with strong female protagonists.  This book truly delivered on both counts.  Told from the viewpoints of two different girls during WWII this book has action, intrigue, female bonding and so much more.

Some of the things I loved about this book:

TONS of literary and historical allusions.  This book is for smart people!

A new take on WWII.  I’ve read lots of books focusing on the plight of the Jewish population- which of course is very important, but this takes a different angle.

Young women in positions of importance.  This is definitely a book that proves can be/do anything.  Even pilot planes during war time!

I truly think this would be a great book to use in the classroom.  Check out this novel guide on Teachers Pay Teachers that helps students with the vocabulary, allusions, and general comprehension.

The Lowdown: (via Scholastic)

Interest Level: Grade 10

Reading Level: Grade 6  (While this may be technically true, the dual narrator, and the allusions, along with some of the content make this book appropriate for high school.

Awards: 

Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel

Golden Kite Honor

There is somewhat of a sequel available too which I have yet to read.

Divergent- Veronica Roth

Review:  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super excited about this book.  It was one, like Twilight that I knew many teens were reading and had been made into a movie.  I also had seen it on lists saying “If you liked The Hunger Games then you might like…”  When I found it cheap at Marshall’s I figured I’d pick it up.  Well, consider me a convert.  I LOVED IT.  I guess I really can’t get enough of the dystopian YA genre! I found the concept different, loved the Chicago references, and enjoyed the variety of characters.

If I used this in the classroom I’d probably use it in a 9th grade class and as a quick- not overly in depth novel study.  I think there’s a lot to the book, but there are other books that I think make better class reads.  I’ve seen middle school students reading it, and that’s probably fine, but there are some sexual undertones that may or may not be appropriate depending on their maturity.  That said, I really really admire the way Roth handles intimacy between Tris and Four.

Have you seen the movie?  I haven’t made it out there quite yet!

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 8

Grade Level: 9 (What?! A YA book whose grade level is higher than the interest level!  Praise be!)

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!

The Maze Runner- James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Book 1)

Review:  

I read this on my Kindle over the summer because 1. it was a lendable title, and 2. several of my students were reading it last school year.  This story was quite a bit different from the other stories I’ve read.  This is a very male centered book which I think is good because I have a harder time getting my boys interested in reading than my girls.  There is however a female character that enters part way through.  There is a survivalist element, a dystopian element, and it has a science fiction element.  It could be compared to Lord of the Flies.  

I probably wouldn’t teach this as a classroom read due to the fact that I didn’t notice any major literary elements (though there are some).  I would however, and did, have it in my classroom level.  I think this book would be appropriate for grades 6 and up.  It is probably a little young for upper high school but some might like it.  This is also the first in a series, and I believe is being made into a movie, so getting a student hooked on this might lead them into reading more and more!

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 7th Grade

Grade Level: 5th Grade

Teaching Resources: SRC, AR

AWARDS:

2009 Kid’s Indie Next List “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers”
2009 Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Books
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Kentucky Bluegrass Award
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
Charlotte Zolotow Award
Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
Young Adult Services Division, School Library Journal Author Award
New Hampshire Great Stone Face Children’s Book Award
Florida Sunshine State Book Award
Texas Lone Star Reading List

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!