Monday, February 28, 2011
Flash Burnout was a tougher read for me mostly because I found myself not really liking Blake, the narrator of the book. The book is well-written, which is always a bonus, and the characters are well-developed, but I found myself rolling my eyes at the amount of teenage angst that was often displayed in the book. I also found myself cringing at certain points as to how Blake viewed his girlfriend. I sensed that Blake was going to end up cheating on his girlfriend, and I wasn't too fond of the "I just couldn't stop myself in the heat of the moment" line. I did like the fact that Blake suffered the consequences of his actions, and that the author didn't wrap it all up neatly by having his girlfriend forgive him at the end of the book. I also enjoyed the relationships Blake had with his family; they obviously cared for each other and he appreciated the wisdom they had to offer. I am going to keep my copy of this book (have I spent my $100 yet?!) as I teach high school, and I think many boys could relate to Blake and the feelings he had throughout the book. I think really, though, that the reason I can't pick this book is because I loved Amy and Roger's Epic Detour .
I do agree with my fellow readers that at times, this book was prediticable, but I found Amy to be such an authentic character that I could over-look the predictablity of some of the outcomes. Amy is struggling in life, and she is all alone - feelings that so many teens experience. She needs to sort her life out on her own, and she does so by breaking free of her mother's rules and regulations and rebelling in her own quiet way. She has always been the perfect daughter (a stong contrast to her drug addicted brother), but she is terribly isolated in dealing with her grief over the loss of her father. Her family has fallen apart, and she is left to try and pick up the pieces on a drive across the country with a perfect stranger. With this stranger (a thoughtful, young man a few years older than her), she takes a detour from her mother's chosen route across the country... she also takes a detour from her bottled up feelings. She comes to understand herself, and her family, through her journey.
My choice, as I am sure you have all guessed, is Roger and Amy's Epic Detour. I have already passed the book off to a student who I know would love it. I am in a bit of an unusual spot as I teach both high school and junior high. I know I may be a bit too cautious as to which books I recommend to my junior high students, but I'm not sure I could recommend Flash Burnout to my younger students. As a mom, I don't think I would want my own 12 year old son coming home with a book that has the protagonist sleeping with a girl and taking pictures, even "tasteful" ones, of her in his bed afterwards. I guess ultimately, that is why my pick is Amy and Rodger's Epic Detour. All of this being said, the vote is two to one!! Rats.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The Riverbenders had a few discussions about our selections but were pretty agreed on where we stood. Let the SMACKDOWN BEGIN!!!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Why Scrawl? I’m not ready to say this takes it all…I’m always reading but I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator which Scrawl has in spades. Though it seems like a book about what a bully really thinks it isn’t. Though Tod thinks he’s a tough guy the continued plot of the book shows you how he really doesn’t see himself clearly and neither do a number of staff members at his school. (Okay, I really hate the crappy teacher stories –but the guidance counselor is redeeming – yeah). The book unravels Tod bit by bit until even he begins to see what his guidance counselor has known from the beginning. I think we have a good work ethic but when I look at our post next to others I realize I haven’t really boiled down the plot…will you hear more then? No, look back at earlier posts for the gritty, nitty details.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I am quite thrilled to say that, even as early as round two, I enjoyed both books. They’re quite different, so the comparisons are a bit of apples and oranges, but here goes:
As I was reading the book I was thinking of many students to whom I would recommend it. My students in grade nine who read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier would go for this. I am considering reading portions to my grade eights during our examination of modern day conflict in our Peace unit. I will also include it in my book talks during my grade nine Justice unit. There are some supporting texts and videos about child soldiers in Burma on the book’s website, http://www.bamboopeople.org/ that are worth taking a look at, as well. Students are always engaged when looking at social justice issues and they can be quite empathetic to issues involving child soldiers. In my previous discussions with them, I had focused on places like Sierra Leone. Forgive my ignorance, but it wasn’t until reading this book that I realized that Burma has the highest number of child soldiers in the world, according to Human Rights Watch. It’s always good when you learn something new while you’re connecting to characters in a book! This seems like another vehicle to inspire students to become involved as global citizens.
My second book was The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, which I enjoyed in a totally different way. This is an “escape” book for me. I think a lot of my junior high girls would enjoy it and perhaps relate to some of the characters’ observations about life as a teenager. April, May and June are three sisters whose parents are in the middle of a divorce. In addition, they have been uprooted and moved, so they are figuring things out in their new school. Amidst this turmoil, they rediscover their special powers: April can see the future, May can disappear, and June can read minds. While they struggle with their new abilities and how to use them ethically, April has a vision that seems to indicate an upcoming tragedy. The girls have to figure out if they can somehow save the day! Each chapter is told by a different sister, rotating perspective among the three of them. The plot is pretty engaging but I was sometimes mildly annoyed at the teenage girl banter (which, I guess, just makes it realistic). I skimmed some bits of conversation. But, overall, I think many girls would enjoy the sisters’ relationships and the plot. I will recommend it to several girls looking for something to read.
So, because of its broader audience appeal and bigger world view, I choose Bamboo People to move on to the next round.
Looking forward to reading something else one of you picked! Good reads so far.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Whisper, by Phoebe Kitanidis is a book probably enjoyed by majority of the female middle teens that fill the halls in our junior high schools. The protagonist, Joy is a “normal” teenage girl; the only difference is she can hear whispers – often referred to as wishes. Her main goal in life is to help people; however, her older sister Jessica, do not share the same perspective. Icka claims to hear more than just the innocent small worries that Joy can hear, and this worries Joy. She knows that her hearing has fully matured - but has it really? Her doubts continue to rise until the point that her hearing does develop into something more complex, foreign and perhaps dangerous. She starts to hear things that she had never heard before - the more spiteful nature of thoughts. Joy starts to understand the reason behind Icka withdrawing from society so much. Slowly everything starts to become much more clearer - the headaches, the warnings . . .
Then Joy hears Jessica’s whisper something that blows her mind - “I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes.”
Joy knows she has to stop Icka from doing whatever she has in mind. So she does something totally out of character for her. She runs away with a boy she barely knows, “steals” a car; all the while, not telling her parents what has been going on in her life. Rescuing Icka is now a goal that no one can stop Joy from completing - not even Icka herself.
The idea for this book was really refreshing since it was fantasy, but it had real life problems. The problems were realistic and well thought out. The negative aspect of this book was that it started out too slow for me. You really didn't get into the essence of the plot until about the middle of the book.
Stork, written by Wendy Delsol
Moving from L.A. to a small town, Katla, the protagonist, struggles to adjust to the way of life in her new setting. The first thing she finds out is that she is part of an ancient society- The Icelandic Stork Society. This entails the power to give expecting mothers the souls of unborn children. The unexpected conflict she experiences is when she receives one of the most respected seats, which doesn’t settle so well with the rest of the society. On top of everything, Katla has some serious ‘parents that just got divorced’ drama going on.
However, after some not so wonderful experiences with Wade, the scary but popular one at school, Katla decides to make real friends, not just a whole bunch of old ladies entrusted with such an important job. Soon she is writing for the fashion column in the school newspaper and is quickly getting familiar with the school body. Life is as normal as it could get considering she can deliver baby souls to moms, except for one big mystery - Katla’s chief editor Jack Snjosson. Regardless of the arguments that they have, for some reason Katla is drawn to him. A feeling of familiarity. . .but why?
Follow Katla as she learns how to handle all these new responsibilities but still find time to figure out the mystery of Jack.
A typical teenager would have difficulty relating to this character simply because of the origin of the conflict. The climax happens at the end of the book, so the rising actions sometimes seems to be too much. There are many sub-plots to this story, that perhaps may confuse the reader. I would give the book two stars.