Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
Ghost
The Bunker Diary
Echo
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
One
Updraft
All American Boys
»

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wonderstruck vs. Split

I think enough has been said about both these novels as they have progressed through the rounds, that I am just going to get to my pick.

I choose Split to move onto the next round. This book was powerful, brutal, honest and gives a real view into those who are faced with abuse, how they deal with it, and how it affects their lives after the fact. I was engrossed in this novel. I wanted to know if the mother was ever going to leave him, I wanted to know if Jace would continue to follow in a pattern laid out by his father. And I loved the relationships in this novel. I disagree with the previous post, as I felt that all of the secondary characters added alot to the story line- not necessarily as characters themselves, but getting to know them always added to the main characters. Jace had so many complex relationships in the novel, all serving different purposes in revealing more about who he is.

And I believe the author did an amazing job of just that-- revealing her main character, make us understand and feel for his situation, and in the end, want things to be okay.

I found this novel to be truly eye-opening, and I couldn't put it down. For that reason, I vote for it to move on.

(There was nothing wrong with Wonderstruck, it was an entertaining book, but for me it lacked the power that Split had.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The book draw has been updated. It can be viewed here. We are waiting to hear on the last bracket to see what book A Monster Calls will be up against! If you have indicated that you will be in for the next round, your next book will go out right after Spring Break.

Friday, March 23, 2012

To play with an awful pun - because there are so few good ones - I was "split" on which book to put forward for the next round.  My choices were Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck, and Swati Avasthi's Split. And the problem is, I enjoyed them both, but for very different reasons.

Wonderstruck was fun and fantastical.  The weaving of the two plot lines through illustrations and text was seamless, and I roared through the book in one setting.  As long as kids don't get frightened off by the physical bulk of the book, I can see them truly enjoying what Selznick has to offer, and asking for more.

Split's story of abuse, and how it can devastate a family, was also a one sitting read.  I really became involved in the lives of Jace and Christian, and thought the topic was dealt with truthfully and respectfully. I also appreciated that there was not a fairy tale ending: no, dad doesn't miraculously reform, mom doesn't do the right thing and leave, and the boys are still kinda messed up.  Sounds more like real life.

Both novels had their flaws.  The ending of Wonderstruck was contrived to bring everyone together in an improbable, but happy ending. Split has some predictable secondary characters who really don't contribute much to the plot or characterization of Jace.

After much deliberation, though, I am going to plump for Split.  It is a story that can't be told enough: how individuals cope with abuse and conflict in their lives, and find the means within themselves to overcome.

From Jaylene at Riverbend part 2

I am posting for Jay who is off to England with our kids for Spring Break.


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly is really two stories combined. The mystery of the key is interwoven to reveal life at the time of the French Revolution and maintains its importance right to the end. However, the love life component seems quite contrived. At times, the author tries hard to elevate the emotional welfare of the protagonist in hopes of connecting them to the past, but they just don’t work that well. Overall, this novel was a good read for grade 9 students.

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan is an unusual photographic novel where pictures (apparently worth a thousand lies) are used throughout to promote a mystery. Sometimes they even warrant their own alphabetical subsection within a chapter. For example, in Chapter 9 the pictures 9J, 9K, 9L, and 9M are sequential elements of the chapter. On each page, lines of text are crossed out which may or may not (you may get used to it) impact the flow of your reading. The question in this novel is how well do we really know the people we interact with on a daily basis. It is unbalanced in style, probably not a popular read for many students, and somewhat disturbing.

I pick Revolution to go forward.

From Jaylene at Riverbend

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Every You, Every Me vs Revolution


vs



Only speaking on behalf of me....I started Every you, Every me and thought it was really unique. Loved the photos and the story was intriguing - until it got weird. Suddenly a girl from out of nowhere shows up and ends up being the photographer. I didn;t really get where she came from and I don;t believe she was every really introduced properly. Disappointed :(
Revolution was a nice surprise. I've said it before in this very blog - I am not a history buff. What Revolution did was actually make me interested in the French Revolution. I wanted to know more, I wanted cheer for the heroine. Way to go Jennifer Donnelly - my vote is Revolution to move on.

Beauty Queens V.S. A Monster Calls


      Hey there, Misses Jasper Place! Miss Allendale here for the vote! I’m with you, girlfriends! Although I originally giggled out loud with the satirical comedy of Beauty Queens, I got bogged down after a while and threw it into my makeup bag to stagnate while I went on to A Monster Calls. 
     Wow! This one is a  quick read, but lots of depth - a cunning fusion of fairytale, horror, and realistic fiction that draws the reader in with a mixture of suspense and empathy (not to mention nightmarish illustrations). The novel was written posthumously by Patrick Ness, friend and colleague of the late Siobhan Dowd, who passed away at age 47 from breast cancer. Unfortunately, I have just the student who may some support in the reading of this text and will be keeping my copy to pass along (Is that okay, Dia?). 
    I’m voting for A Monster Calls to move on to the next round... and it looks like young readers would agree. On February 23rd, A Monster Calls won the Red House Book Award for Older Readers and best overall book of 2012 – based on the votes of 83,000 young readers. It has also been shortlisted for LA Times Book Award and Bram Stoker Award (horror) and has been nominated for the Carnegie as well.  Siobhan Dowd created a legacy for sharing literature with disadvantaged children and youth in the UK (see  Siobhan Dowd Trust). I’m REALLY hoping to find the time to read some of Siobhan Dowd’s  and Patrick Ness's other works. 
     BTW, I have a feeling the next round will be a tough one...

Saturday, March 17, 2012