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June 2023

Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

07th December 2012

This was a fun book, perfect for young fans of  “Harry Potter” style stories. It’s a blend of dystopia survival with magical elements and intrigue. While it’s action packed and suspenseful, it’s not frightening or gruesome, and would be an excellent read-aloud or independent read for grades 4-7.

One of the best new juvenile fiction books I’ve read in a long time.  The themes remind me a lot of Andrew Clements’ books.  Students who have enjoyed Clements’ many wonderful stories, will certainly enjoy Buyea’s first novel.

Mr. Terupt is a first year teacher at Snow Hill School.  His class of 5th graders is like any ordinary class.  There’s the Brain, the Troublemaker, the Gossip Queen, the kids with secrets and the kids who just want to have fun.  And while Mr. Terupt’s teaching methods may not be orthodox, they sure are exciting!  As tentative new friendships begin to form, and the class learns to trust Mr Terupt, a horrible accident happens which changes everything in an instant.  While this book would make a difficult read-aloud, as the story is told alternately by 7 different students, it would be a fantastic addition to any 5th grade classroom or literature circle.

A writing teacher shows a classroom of 4th graders and their teacher how to use the written word to change their lives.  Teachers will want to use this book in their own classrooms.  It will entertain, inspire, and serve as a reminder that the teaching of writing in the classroom is more than teaching the mechanics.  When students learn to write, they can change their lives.

Book Overload

08th October 2009

The stack of books on my desk, waiting to be reviewed, is insurmountable.  I will never get to them all.  So for the sake of time, I need to do a combo post.  Here are the books I’ve been reading the past few weeks.  Most of them have been fantastic:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf–Two young girls are missing in the woods.  Told through multiple perspectives, the families work to find their girls, and one of the girls, Callie, works to regain her voice.  I had a hard time putting this one down.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant–A fictional account of the October 1945 rescue of Jewish detainees from the Atlit internment camp in Israel.  A grim reminder that the plight of the Jews didn’t end with the surrender of Germany.

The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam–The autobiographical account of Somaly Mam, who was sold into prostitution in Cambodia as a young girl, was able to escape, and returned to help other girls.  An amazing and heartbreaking story that continues today.

While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty–A college student and her mom try to figure life out.  I love the way Moriarty writes about mother-daughter relationships.

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone–A fictional account of Samuel Collier, page to Captain John Smith and his journey to Jamestown.  I read this after having visited Jamestown Settlement.  The book brings the familiar story to life.

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick–I can’t believe I didn’t discover this book earlier!  A love of reading and writing saves a dystopic civilization.  Great book.

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements–Twin brothers take turns going to school, and in the process, discover who they are as individuals.  Not my favorite by Clements, but well done nonetheless.

Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan–One of the most amazing adventure stories I’ve ever read, based on the real journey made by Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they attempted to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914.  Highly recommended.

Goodman’s first Young Adult novel is fantastic!  Honor and her parents live on Island 365.  Honor tries hard to obey the rules of their totalitarian government and just “fit in”, but her parents long for the freedom of days past.  When Honor’s parents are “redistributed,”she must decide whether she will accept their loss, or risk her life for change.

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