Divergent

Image

Title: Divergent Author: Veronica Roth Illustrator: Publisher: New York; Katherine Tegen Books

Genre: Fantasy  Level: Upper Number of pages: 487 Pub. Date: 2011

Summary:

On the day of her classification test Beatrice Prior finds out that she is Divergent, but she doesn’t realize what that means. What she does know is that her test won’t help her pick a faction. On the day of her choosing, she decides she is fearless and chooses Dauntless and her life changes forever. Now she’s Tris and she is training for her life because only the 10 best get to become a real initiates. Then there’s the whole problem that if her new faction finds out she’s Dauntless they’ll kill her. To top it off she has a huge crush on her trainer, Four, and he seems to be returning the feelings but he still won’t let her in. It seems Tris is going to need to be brave if she is going to make.

Critique:

This book is a Science Fantasy story about a dystopian society. This story is set in Chicago, which makes it seem very realistic. At the same time the setting is not the Chicago that we know today and there are only small landmarks that help the reader to make the connection. Also this book like many high quality fantasy stories, the characters are relatable and the reader can easily see them fitting into the society that Roth created.

Response:

Divergent was a truly amazing read. This was a birthday present from my roommate and I wasn’t planning on reading it for this project until I saw my sixth graders reading it. Then I decided to give it a shot. I was amazed.  I like this book even more than the Hunger Games series although there are many similarities between the two. I think what made this book better was that there was no love triangle in Divergent. This allows the reader to get more connected to Four and fall in love with him as much as Tris.

Assignments:

After: Write a one page comparison between either the Hunger Games or the soon to be released movie.  

Advertisements

13 Reasons Why

Image

Title: 13 Reasons Why Author: Jay Asher Illustrator: N/a Publisher: New York; Penguin Group

Genre: Realistic Fiction  Level: Upper  Number of pages: 336 Pub. Date: 2007

Summary:

Hannah Baker has killed herself and Clay Jenson is upset by it. However it is not till the tapes with the 13 reasons why she did it reach Clay that he really starts to feel it. He cant help but wondering why he is on these tapes. He liked Hannah, he even had a crush on her and he was devastated by her death. Now he listens to the tapes hoping he can figure out why he is on these tapes and listening to her 13 reasons why.

Critique:

This book is definitely a coping with the human condition type of realistic fiction. It focuses completely on Hannah’s death and the horrible things that happened to her that drove her to it. This story is set in a very realistic high school setting. In fact it was a bit scary because I could relate to some of the things Hannah was talking about her school. I think that many students would also be able to relate to the teasing and bullying Hannah goes through.

Response:

I actually picked this book specifically because so many of my students in my placement this semester were reading it. I figured if so many of them read it, it must be good. I was right this book was life changing. It made you think about every interaction you make with peers. At the end when the teacher is one of the reasons and he misses Hannah reaching out for help, I was appalled. I could only imagine how bad the teacher must of felt. As a future teacher I could relate to this but as somebody who had to reach out for help in Junior High I was thankful I had a teacher who was there for me.

13 Reasons Why I’m Thankful to be Alive:

  1. My Family loves me and is always there for me
  2. I go to an amazing school that has a wonderful teaching program
  3. I get to work with amazing students every semester
  4. Jimmy is the cutest dog ever and he is all mine
  5. I do well in all my classes
  6. Music always makes the world a happier place
  7. There is always a good book to read
  8. President Burger is changing the face of Southwestern
  9. I have the Best Roommate ever, she gives me free things
  10. Pep Band allows me to bond with First Years also the Flute Section Rocks my Socks
  11. Jeanette and Angelyn allow me to express myself through them
  12. Treyman and Cole are my strait gay best friends
  13. Dr. Pepper is the nectar of the Gods

Assignments:

After:  Students will create a list of 13 reasons to… (be thankful, try something new, they’re happy to be alive, the book impacted them, they love their family)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

Image

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian Author: Sherman Alexie Illustrator: Ellen Forney Publisher: New York, NY; Little, Brown and Company

Genre:  Realistic Fiction Level: Intermediate- Upper Number of pages: 230 Pub. Date: 2007

Summary:

This is the story of Junior a young boy growing up on an Indian Reserve. One day he decides that the education he is getting on the Res is not good enough and convinces his parents that he should go to school off the Reservation. This creates problems for Junior as he tries to figure out where he fits in, with his people on the reservation or with his classmates. This story is based off of the life events of the author.

Critique:

This book falls under all three types of Realistic Fiction. It is a “becoming one’s own person” type because Junior must grow to understand who he is as a person without his tribe. Also Junior works to gain acceptance from both his tribe and his classmates at his school of the reservation. This book is a “Coping with problems of the human condition” type because Junior has to deal with his own disabilities. Also there are multiple deaths of family members that are dealt with during this book. Finally this book is part of the “Living in a Diverse World” type because it talks about the unequal treatment of the Native Americans on the Reservation versus individuals who live Reservation. This book also talks about the discrimination of the Native Americans when they leave the Reservation.

Response:

This book covered many important issues and would be a great book to use as a class literature circle book. It talks about diversity, death, and substance abuse. All of these things are important topics that students need to learn about. I think that this book could be used with a wide range of students because of its easy reading level. That being said I think with younger students (5th graders or younger) you would have to focus on only one of the key issues instead of all of them so that they could truly get what they were suppose to out of it.

Assignments:

During: Students will look for key themes in the book and discuss in literature groups.

Underworld

Image

Title: Underworld Author: Meg Cabot Illustrator: N/a Publisher: London; Macmillian Children’s Books

Genre: Fantasy  Level: Upper Number of pages: 309 Pub. Date: 2012

Summary:

A continuation of the Abandon series by Meg Cabot, this book follows Pierce as she struggles to deal with her budding relationship with the Lord of the Underworld. In a modern day twist on the classic Greek myth about Persephone and Hades. Pierce has been taken to the Underworld so John can protect her from the Furies. Then piece gets a video of her cousin Alex trapped in a coffin. It’s up to Pierce to save him, but to do that she must convince her captor to let her back into the land of the living.

Critique:

I love how this book mixes a Modern Fantasy with the ideas from an ancient Greek myth. This story has many elements of a Fantasy book but the most prominent is the ability to make the reader feel like the events could happen. Also although part of the book takes place on a real island, it also takes place in the author’s interpretation of the Underworld.  These things work to help blur the line between the realistic and unrealistic book. This book is definitely a high fantasy with major undertones of good versus evil.

Response:

I should start of by saying that I am biased, my favorite author is Meg Cabot and I have been reading her books for almost half my life.  I thought this book was super creative. I love how Cabot made a modern interpretation of the Persephone myth. It integrates ancient myths, which I believe most students find fascinating with fantasy, which students also tend to love. I think this book is definitely more geared toward girls because of the underlying romance but that the slight violence would also attract some male students, which is important. Overall, this is one of my favorite books by Cabot yet.

Assignments:

            Before: Students will read the Persephone/Hades myth

During: Students will keep a chart of parallels between the two stories. (Ex: Pierce sounds similar to Persephone)

After: Students will right modern day versions of Greek Myths they’ve chosen.

Wonder

Image

Title: Wonder Author: R.J. Palacio Illustrator: Tad Carpenter
Publisher: United States; Random House Children’s Books

Genre: Realistic Fiction Level: Upper Number of pages: 315 Pub. Date: 2012

Summary:

August Pullman is a 5th grade boy, who is starting public school for the first time. This is mainly because of the medical problems associated with the facial deformities. The book changes points of view between characters throughout the book, allowing the reader to get a sense of how August affects everybody he’s in contact with.

Critique:

This book is a mix between the “Becoming One’s Own Person” and  the “Coping with problems of the human condition” type of realistic fiction.  It is a becoming one’s own person realistic fiction because August grows throughout the book. Also the students in his class must learn to accept him. At the same time, the book talks about disabilities and helps to build empathy in the students.

Response:

This book covers so many important issues. I think that even though this book is at an easy level for a chapter book, I would only use this book with older students. I think that only 6th graders and older would really get everything out of this book that they were really suppose to.  It is a very intense book and makes the reader experience the feelings of the different characters of the book. This would be hard for a young student. That being said, I do believe that every future educator should read this book. It covers so many issues about students who develop unlike their average peers. Also it gives insight into how these students affect the lives of everyone around them from family to classmates and beyond.  It shows how even a person who has grown up around a disabled student may struggle with it sometime. At the same time it shows the struggles of a boy who while physically disabled, was extremely bright and was able to understand why others did not like him. For this reason, I recommend this book to any teacher, or future teacher it explains so many important things.

Assignments:

After: Students will write their own precept on a postcard and mail it to Palacio at:

PO BOX 150025
275 9th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
attn: R. J. Palacio      

My Precept- A book can take all the evil from the world, if only for a moment.

The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers

Image

Title: The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers Author: Richard Maurer Illustrator:  n/a
Publisher: Brookfield; Roaring Brook Press

Genre:  Biography Level: Upper Number of pages: 127 Pub. Date: 2003

Summary:

This story tells the life of Katharine (Katie) Wright from her birth, through her brother’s success to her death at age 54.  Katharine was an extremely intelligent college graduate who became a teacher. Later she was an instrumental part of her brother’s success, believing in them and even becoming a part of their company for a period of time. She died young after coming down with pneumonia.

Critique:

This book is a factual portrait of Katharine Wright’s life. It even uses direct quotation from her. The book cites its sources and does a good job of portraying the facts without any biases. Another thing that adds on to this book are the pictures of Katie and her family and friends as she grows up. This makes the book both more visually appealing and adds some context to what it’s talking about. This book admits a small portion of Katie’s life but sums it up so that nothing is left out. The book also mentions many of the cultural and societal norms at the time to put Katherine’s life into context. Overall very well done.

Response:

Before finding this book, I didn’t even know that Orville and Wilbur Wright had a sister. After reading this book, I was surprised that she isn’t portrayed more in the history books since she actually worked for the Wright brothers for a while. Furthermore, she was a prominent figurehead in society and met two US presidents. When talking about women of history Katie gets left out and I think this is wrong. The bias of many history books keeps out these great women, which would be wonderful role models for young girls.  I hope that I will now be able to teach my future students a more well rounded version of history.

Assignments:

Before: Study the Wright Brothers.

Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War

Image

Title: Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War Author: Yukio Tsuchiya Illustrator: Ted Lewin Translator: Tomoko Tsuchiya Dykes
Publisher: Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company

Genre: Biography  Level: Intermediate Number of pages: 30 Pub. Date: 1988

Summary (Use your own words; 3-4 sentences; setting, characters, plot, conflict, resolution):

During World War Two, bombs were dropped every day on countries all over the world. Japan decides that they must put all of the animals in their zoo down so that if the zoo were destroyed the animals wouldn’t get out and destroy the city. They realize that starvation is the only way to put down the elephants because they couldn’t poison them. The elephants are hard to put down and their trainer suffers watching them. Today in the zoo there is a monument honoring the elephants that had to die for war.

Critique:

This book is a biographical fiction. There are no quoted sources and no way of knowing if this actually happened. Although it says it is a true story many question this. However, this story is based around a real zoo, a real time period and the author says it is a true story so we must consider it a biography.

Response:

This book is really sad. While reading this book I could not believe that they killed their elephants by starvation. It is so inhumane. I was horrified. I had never thought about how the zoos would be impacted so intensely by the war. Animals would be dangerous to people but it still seems wrong to me that they would have to be killed. Also this book has led me to wonder if animals in different areas also had to be put down because of the war.

Another thing to mention is that many question the truth of this story. Below is an article about this controversy.

elephant

Assignments:

After: Students will research how different zoo’s were effected by war through out history.

The Palm of my Heart

Image

Title: The Palm of my Heart Author: African American Children Edited by:  Davida Adedjouma Illustrator: Gregory Christie Publisher: New York; Lee and Low Books Inc.

Genre: Poetry Level: Beginner Number of pages: 29 Pub. Date: 1996

Summary:

This is a collection of poems written by African American children about their race. Each poem talks about why the child is proud to be black. Each student is proud of their culture and brings that to life with this poetry.

Critique:

The book uses bold words within the poem to bring the important part of the book out. These poems all start with the word black and go on to tell the students own story. This makes all of the poems seem like they belong together in one big book about the wonders of being black.

Response:

These poems would be a wonderful piece of literature to really empower young black students. The stories told in this book help to get across a point that differences should be embraced and black skin is beautiful. Also the fact that these poems are written by children helps the works be more relatable to students. I’m not surprised this book won a Coretta Scott King Award.

Assignments:

After: Students will write a poem about their race.

Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood

Image

Title: Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood Author: Cynthia Rylant Illustrator: Stephen Gammell Publisher: New York; Bradbury Press

Genre:  Poetry Level: Upper Number of pages: 47 Pub. Date: 1984

Summary:

This collection of poetry tells the story of a young girl growing up. The young girl’s story is set in a town called Beaver. Her story starts in elementary school and ends in high school. The poems cover many topics including living in a single parent home, death, religion, friendship, and romance.

Critique:

These poems use less rhythm and rhyme and rely instead on the imagery the poems create. This poetry is high quality and is very emotional. Unlike beginner poetry that may rely more on goof rhymes to teach children, this poetry is from the heart and tells the author’s story.

Response:

This collection of poems reminds me of my favorite poem by Margret Atwood called This is a Photograph of Me. Atwood’s poem like this collection tells a story. That is why I like it so much. Similarly, I enjoyed this collection of poems because they tell the reader a story.

It was taken some time ago
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you can see something in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or how small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion.

but if you look long enough
eventually
you will see me.)

Margaret Atwood

Assignments:

Before: Students will talk about what they already know about poetry and what they expect when they read a poem.

After: Students will talk about how these poems differ from what they had previously read.

It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles

Image

Title: It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles Author: Jack Prelutsky Illustrator: James Stevenson Publisher: New York; Scholastic Inc.

Genre:  Poetry Level: Primary Number of pages: 159 Pub. Date: 2000

Summary:

This is a collection of silly poems by Jack Prelutsky. The poems tell silly stories and are joke about everything. These do very little other than just make the reader laugh.

Critique:

Jack Prelutsky uses just about every poetic element he can for these poems. In some of his poems, he uses shaping and spacing to make the words swirl around the page or make a picture. In some of his poems he uses rhyme to make the poem sing songy. In some of his poems Prelutsky uses rhythm to keep the poems going. Finally in some of the poems imagery and literary devices work to let the reader picture what he is talking about in his/her head.

Response:

My favorite poem is found on page 101 and is called ZIGZAG. I enjoyed how the words go from forward to backward at angles making it look like the words are zigzaging across the page. This poem created a challenge for me since half the words are backwards. While I enjoyed it, I could see it being to challenging for young readers that this book is written for.

Assignments:

After: Students will write their own humorous poems.