Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
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
All American Boys

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Aviary Wonders vs. Falling into Place

When one of our fellow smackers - Brad asked me about books for this year's Smackdown  I mentioned Aviary Wonders Inc.  it wasn't long before I got a text saying it's a picture book! At that the first argument of the season of smacking was born. Yes friends it is a picture book but a slow, inquiry based read shows what a great find this book could be for division two or three.

AWI is a beautifully rendered catalogue reading like some of the catalogues that have been clogging my mailbox this festive season. What is it selling? Birds. Why? Because this is a catalogue from the know the one without any birds. When I constantly ask the readers and writers in my class SO WHAT? to make them hone in on author message I might use this book as a mentor text. The illustrations are beautiful and yes, Andrew, many of our students may miss the point and they will need guidance to get there but in this case it is worth it.

Next book was Falling into Place and I definitely knew I had left the clever work of pictures behind to join what has to be the worst high school on the planet. First time author (who wrote this in high school) Zhang tells the story of Liz a high school student who is going to kill herself because...because she is a very mean girl. She has hooked one best friend on drugs and pressed her other best friend to get an abortion. She's also made out with the boyfriend that got the girlfriend pregnant. Liz drinks, does drugs, bullies people into suicide, pregnancy, eating disorders and social isolation. She does this because her mom is absent, obviously the teachers are absent (pet peeve for me) and her dad died in an accident she feels she caused when she was much younger. Would kids read this....yup it reads like an episode of any high school soap you could mention. The condensed mayhem for me was too much. I hope Zhang takes her promise as a writer and lets life experience help her control her stories more in the future.

Aviary Wonders Inc. gets my vote.

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