Robin and Dia agree - no smacking required: Inside Out & Back Again moves on.Robin's comments: Inside Out and Back Again gets my vote. I'm a sucker for free verse "prose" or whatever it's called - is there a term for this genre that I should know? I loved the first person narrator's sense of voice, her spunk, and the author's ability to put a haiku-ish like twist/surprise at the end of many of the chapters/poems. My biggest reservations would be (a) the protagonist is a 10 year old girl, and I find that many junior and senior high readers are not yet distanced enough from their own childhoods to enjoy/appreciate a child's version of events, and (b) the actual leave-taking and time aboard ship seem to be a bit glossed over and "safer" than I remember reading about in the late 70's/early 80's when the Vietnamese "boat people" were making their way out of the country. However, perhaps the author wanted to concentrate more on the immigrant experience, and this is where I really liked the book too. I think it is a good reminder to teacher readers and an eye-opener for student readers of the intense frustration of our newly-arrived ELL (English Language Learners). I love any opportunity to see the world realistically through the eyes of one whose experience is not my own.
I enjoyed Island's End, and I think those of you who teach Social Studies would appreciate the many opportunities to use this novel as a tie in to First Nations' early encounters with Whites and the challenges of keeping traditions versus embracing the inevitable changes of colonialism, but I found some of it a bit far-fetched, despite being apparently research based. A strong female protagonist and a good read, but overall I preferred Inside Out & Back Again.
Dia's comments: Inside Out and Back Again I am also someone who loves free verse poetry and our community has new immigrants on a daily basis. I think this book sits nicely at the division two to grade seven category. I also think this book could be a good jumping off point for writing lessons too.
Island's End I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I very much like my history and anthropology delivered in novel form but in this book I find it unbalanced. Story is sacrificed to stuff in more information and opinions and slows the reader down. The tsunami at the end of book did ramp up the action and the reading for about 10 pages but ultimately this was a no contest bracket for me.