Month: December 2012
I’m taking this class, Literature for Children and Youth, as part of my school library certification coursework (I know, right! Like, I get to read amazing picture, chapter, and young adult books for class…and get a grade!). Every week we are assigned to choose anywhere from two to fifteen titles from an extensive list based on genre, award, topic, etc. One week we were assigned to read four Newbery Award winners. Another week was historical fiction, etc; then, we are supposed to blog about them. Tough life, huh!
|(part of) my TBR stash hanging out with some faves|
But here’s the thing…I’m getting ready to wrap up on this class. This week is our final week of assigned reading (the topic, by the way, is banned and challenged books). As I’m going back through my blog posts one last time and publishing them, my eyes keep wandering over to my TBR (to be read) stack on the book shelf that my excellent friend and reading mentor, Donalyn Miller, bequeathed to me last spring as she was packing up her classroom library in preparation of her move from 6th to 4th grade. Here’s a small sample of the greatness that awaits me:
- I am Arthur by Phillip Reeve
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
- Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman
- Happy Face by Stephen Emond
- Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler
- White Cat by Holly Black
- This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
- Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
- Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
What happens when the cows on Farmer Brown’s farm learn to read and write and type? They leave notes demanding certain improvements, of course.
Cronin, D. (2000). Click, clack, moo: cows that type. New York, NY: Simon &Schuster Books for Young Readers
Cronin’s humorous story of barnyard animals who band together over a typewriter and their new-found delight in the power of sending messages delights young readers, teens, and adults. Lewin’s water color images with bold tracings convey the expressiveness of both Farmer Brown and his animals as messages are sent and received. The simply repeated phrase, “click, clack, moo” sets the book’s light-hearted rhythm, inviting readers to participate whenever the familiar stanza appears, accentuated with large and bold font. Older readers might even recognize some parallel’s with George Orwell’s Animal Farm and enjoy discussing the irony of Farmer Brown’s situation and the pigs from the classical novel.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.
illus. by Betsy Lewin.
S. & S. 2000.
RTE $15.95. ISBN 0-689-83213-3.
Auerbach, B. (2005). Click, clack, moo: cows that type [Review of the book Click, clack, moo: cows that type]. , (9), 58.
Use this text alongside Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin’s other works including Duck for President and Giggle, Giggle, Quack (all which take place in Farmer Brown’s barnyard) for students to explore the work of one author/ illustrator team more in depth.
Shaun Tan explores many of the themes and issues present in modern day suburbia through a collection of comic, illustrated stories and sketches. The stories are presented through a satirical lens and offer the the reader a sophisticated but humorous examination of suburban lifestyle.
Taun, S. (2008). Tales from outer suburbia. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.
illus. by author. 96p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks.
2009. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0-545-05587-1.
LC number unavailable.
Tales from outer suburbia [Review of the book Tales from outer suburbia]. (2009). , 40.
Unlike his award-winning The Arrival, which focuses on a singular plot and cast of characters, Tales uses a series of short vignettes, some not even prose, to explore fantastical stories of stick people, whales beached in backyards, and even a “how-to” grow your perfect pet. Even taking the graphics out of consideration, the text alone in this work would not warrant the label “novel.” But, because it has illustrations, we are quick to place it in the graphic novel genre.
Readers who enjoy illustrated texts that invite deeper exploration in the graphics and images will enjoy this book. The quirky alien neighbors and random how-toinfluences provide some laugh-out-loud moments as well as moments for further consideration where you may even stop to wonder if Tan is sneaking in a social commentary of some sort in between his more light-heared sic-fi moments.
This title is an excellent discussion starter for graphic novels as a genre. Invite students to explore how this book is organized, the role of the graphics and the text, the multiple story lines and modes of writing, and them invite them to compare this to more linear-styled graphic novels such as The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick or any number of more traditional graphic novels.
Over the course of the two evenings that I read the book, I found myself dreaming about Philadelphia and illness! Anderson’s descriptions and details were so vivid and strategically placed in the storyline (ex., the dress Mattie takes out of her mother’s chest when she runs out of clean clothes, the way the sun seemed to bake the cobbled stones of the city, the sights, sounds, and tastes from the open market, the vinegar-soaked clothes and sponges), that they imprinted on my subconcious mind. This is the mark of great historical fiction for me– being transported to a time period and landscape that I have never experienced in person.
In her author’s notes, Anderson answers several plausible questions her readers might have for her, inculding details about the fever and her inspiration for the story. It’s clear that she spent a great amount of time and care in researching the event to mine the details that would bring her story and characters to life.
L. Burkam, A. (2000). Fever 1793 [Review of book Fever 1793]. , (5), 562-563.
Jack Gantos loves books and loves writing, but as a mischievous, dreamy-eyed teenager, his determination and drive to get to college to study writing take him down a dangerous and criminal path; he agrees to help to smuggle a boat-load of drugs to Manhattan from the Virgin Islands. As a result, he serves his sentence in a federal prison, chronicling his days in a copy of Karamazov.
Gantos, J. (2002). Hole in my life. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Girous.
It is a memoir about the author’s decisions that led to him being incarcerated in a federal prison at the age of nineteen for smuggling drugs from St. Croix to Manhattan. Gantos was received the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a Printz Honor Book awards for this title.
In the opening and the final chapters, Gantos takes the reader into his experience in a federal prison. He does not shield or protect teen readers from its realities (violence, rape, depression, drug use, etc.), but he doesn’t provide gratuitous and graphic details in excess either. The moments and scenes where he does get graphic are balanced with a sensitivity and profound revelation or reflection on the part of the author, making the overall message of the book that much more effective.
In his first chapter he writes, “Ironically, in spite of all the fear and remorse and self-loathing, being locked up in a prison is where I fully realized I had to change my life for the better, and in one significant way I did” (p. 7). Had he not slowed down and taken us into his world during these pivotal scenes, this message would not be as resounding.
In places the memoir reads like a travelogue, chronicling his days at sea with the cantankerous former British sailor, Hamilton. Gantos also honestly conveys his feelings of limbo, being neither here nor there. As a whole, the memoir is a compelling and sometimes cautionary coming-of-age story, warning of the impetuousness of youth and will appeal to a broad reader base of teens.
Follos, A. (2004). Hole in My Life (Book) (Review of the book Hole in my life). School Library Journal, 50(11), 67.
Hole in My Life would make an excellent selection for a book club for boys. Gantos’ style, humor, and realism might appeal to reluctant teenage boys, especially those with difficult pasts.
King Tut, George Washington, Cleopatra, Marie Curie–what do all of these great historical figures have in common? They all croaked, kicked the bucket, met their maker…they died. Not only did they die, but they died in some of the most strange, gruesome, and mysterious ways. This collection of biographies of the famous chronicles the lives of its subjects–often debunking or proving myths–and provides a scientific analysis of each of their deaths.
Bragg, G (2011). How they croaked. New York, NY: Scholastic.
This title details the gruesome deaths of several famous figures including Queen Elizabeth, Pocahontas, Napoleon, Einstein, and many more. This title is a social science/ biography nonfiction book presented in chapters, one for each figure. The margins are wide and text is often accompanied with black and white drawings and figures that correlate with the subject matter.
Other than just being very informative, How They Croaked is a riot! The writing style incorporates colloquialisms and humor while providing the details and sometimes hilarious facts surrounding each death (King Henry VIII’s body exploded in his tomb because of the amount of infection and gasses that had built up in the layers of fat!)
At the end of each chapter the author provides little tid-bits and related facts such as all the different things that were named after Caesar (calendar, cesarean section, czar, Kaiser, etc.)
As an example of an excellent informational text, How They Croaked engages students through it’s relatable language, humorous tone, and related sketches. The brief chapters make for excellent read-alouds for students of all ages. Even our HOSA (Health Science Occupations) teacher came in and bought one for her class because of the direct tie-in with her curriculum.
Danner, B. (2011). How they croaked: the awful ends of the awfully famous [Review of the book How they croaked: the awful ends of the awfully famous]., (4), 189-190.
This book would be a very entertaining opening title for a book talk featuring biographies for young adults. A trailer could cleverly preview a few of the famous and their deaths.