Divergent

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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.  

13 Reasons Why

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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

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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

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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

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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.