kathdavis54

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Tennyson

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I recently ordered this book for my school library. I love fiction written about the South so once it came in, I had to read it. In the afterword Blume mentions travelling through Louisiana and Mississippi and staying in plantations to get a sense of the whole world down here. I feel like she did a pretty good job. Tennyson's aunt and uncle were so stereotypical post Civil War Southerns.The ending was a little lacking in my opinion, but the journey there more than made up for it. There is mystery, heartache, and a bit of humor. I would recommend this students who like mysterious reads, but aren't necessarily into ghosts.
Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina

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This was a very short semi autobiography on Maria Tallchief. Rosemary Wells wrote this along with the ballerina. The two writers make the story of Tallchief's early life on a reservation come alive. Many young readers will find it bizarre that Tallchief as different from her peers because she danced. My main issue with the book was that it ended too abruptly. I really would have loved to hear about her early times in the ballet company and what it was like to be a prima ballerina. However, the pair end the story as she boards a bus to New York to try out for a ballet company. I will look elsewhere for the rest of the story, but I wish I didn't have to.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World

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I wanted to like this book so much. Armstrong gives the reader a great introduction, descriptive storytelling, and thorough resources like an index and bibliography. Honestly, I just found the topic very boring. I can say, though, as someone who had no interest in the topic, I enjoyed her style of writing. Armstrong is obviously passionate about Shackleton's story and obviously admires him. If teaching this topic I would recommend this book over Armstrong's children's book version of the same information.
Free of Him

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This was a selection in my graduate school course on adolescent literature. It was one of my favorites of the whole course. The main character is a boy in middle school during the 1970s. Through some simple circumstances he ends up spending a lot of one on one time with his English teacher, who seems to be obsessed with Shakespeare. As luck would have it, Shakespeare still relates to life today and the main character grows as a person from these lessons. There is a copy of this book in my school library. I just need to find a way to encourage students to read it. Once they start reading I am certain they would find it funny.
Coretta Scott

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The author managed to mix verse, nonfiction, and biography. It was a different way to tell a biography and I think any student, teacher, or reader would find it refreshing.
The Author's Guide to Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story & We Rode the Orphan Trains, And the Common Core Standards

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Andrea Warren has found a great way to explain the Orphan Trains to readers. She follows the story of one boy as he goes on his journey. As she points out in the books, many riders do not like to discuss this time period, so we are lucky to be reading this account. Following one person through this time period definitely makes the story more engaging and easy to follow. My only issue is that I felt like the story ended so suddenly. Lee was lucky to find a loving home and have his story wrapped up so well, but I wish readers could have been exposed to at least one depth story of a rider who did not find that happy ending. We get some brief asides about this, but nothing too thorough. The index and bibliography are useful, but brief. Warren is nice enough to point out which resources that she used are for younger readers.
Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution

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Chun Yu was born at the beginning of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. She grew up during a time of change, which would make for a difficult childhood. Everything she experienced, she detailed in beautiful poems. This text is a different kind of primary source for readers. The poetry gives a more personal look at what it would be like to grow up during a time of radical change. Readers of any age will learn a lot about a new culture and time by reading this book.
I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor

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This is the tale of Hannelore Wolff. She was a girl who bravely left her safe school to travel with her Jewish family during World War II. This is her story of survival even in the face of great loss. Although I felt like the ending was rush, the story was captivating.
The Fault in Our Stars

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I have heard a lot about John Green thanks to my English major friends from LSU. This was my first experience with the author and I loved it. It was a hard book to read, because you knew the heartache was coming. The title and topic both did not lend to happy endings. This was not a selection for my school library--this would obviously be too old for elementary readers. I would put this in my library if I worked at a high school.The teens in the book are dealing with issues that most high schools never deal with, but they are still dealing with the normal stuff too. Even though the book is a heartbreaker there is a lot of humor.
What I Saw and How I Lied

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The first time I picked up this book to read it, I just could not get into the story. It sat on my bookshelf for about a year and then it was assigned in one my literature courses. I still found the first part of the story a bit boring, but I had to read the whole thing for a discussion in class. I did not get into the story until about a third of the way through, but once it got going I could not put the book down! As a historical fiction piece, it could be used in a unit about post War World II. Students would be able to discuss racism, change, social structures, and family. I am glad I gave this book a second chance and would encourage anyone reading it to just push ahead a bit and get to the meaty part of the story.
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