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
»

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I Second the Rebellion & Deceiving Covers

Beautiful Blue World vs. Drowned City

Since this is sliding into over a week overdue, I will keep it short and sweet. 

In my mind Beautiful Blue World was a historical fiction book until I read the names of the different nations. I then told myself that maybe these were areas of Europe from World War II that I was not familiar with. Then, it became apparent that this was not historical fiction, but instead a dystopian novel. Yet the cover looks to be so innocent and childlike with the two young girls in blue hued dresses in the snow. I will just just give you the Lisa synopsis:
Please pay special note to her closing comment. Humpf. The group was in agreement (well except for Lisa) that the book dragged at times and that although interesting, we were not sure which of our readers would be inclined to pick up this book. The ending left a lot to be desired. I think this book would fit in a 6-8 classroom, but the audience would be slim. A few of us said we may consider reading the next book. 

Drowned City is a historical graphic novel that details the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. It is interesting because the novel does not have a main character, but instead goes through the disaster in a sort of day by day, moment by moment way. I would like to call myself knowledgeable about this particular event, having had my father working abroad just outside of New Orleans for three years and getting to visit the area multiple times a year, and I felt like Brown did a great job showing all sides of the disaster; from the perspective of the people and the government. The dreary color palette lends itself well to the story. I liked that Brown included the story lines of the people who came with their own boats to rescue people, how many police officers ended up evacuating themselves, and the pain of having to leave pets behind. 

This book does its job: explains a historical event to a generation of students who may not know it existed, using images and text in a succinct way. I think it would be wonderful to pair with novels such as Zane and the Hurricane or Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

The only place I felt it was lacking was the afterwards. The resiliency and spirit of the people of New Orleans was not included, the thing that makes them so endearing still to this day. I am sad it didn't have a place.

If you are interested, I suggest Spike Lee's documentary When the Leevees Broke: a Requiem in Four Acts.

In sum, we feel important historical events like Hurricane Katrina deserve a place in our discussion of history, so deserves to go forward. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ahh...Down with Deadlines - Rebellion Edition

So we have decided to advance Ecco to the next round but it should not be a lot of surprise in that the novels have already been allocated for Round 2.

However, since Dia has given us this soapbox and repeatedly reminded us to blog - sorry :( - we thought it important to allow you a quick preview into the collective minds of our group.

Ecco is beautifully written and far more engaging. We, literally, found it a challenge to put down. With historical elements woven into its fairy tale world, the novel finds a place with students that enjoy this genre - with works like Once Upon a Time and Land of the Lost.

Conviction is a much more challenging read. Teenagers may be able to relate to it more easily. It just lacked any special qualities. It falls into a large group of novels that are well written and well developed but fall quickly from memory.

Good luck moving forward Ecco!!

Anna and the Swallow Man vs. The War That Saved My Life

Team 15 was unable to blog but they did vote for The War That Saved My Life to move on.  Wondering why? Here is a little quote from Elizabeth Wein's review in the  New York Times about Anna:

There are two questions about Gavriel Savit’s splendid debut novel that are sure to be asked repeatedly: Is it an allegory, and at whom is it aimed? The first I believe Savit answers clearly. “The world understands stories,” he has one of his main characters come to realize, “not as absolute, irrevocably factual truths that simply don’t exist, but as flaccid allegories or metaphors.” You may read the novel as allegory; go ahead. All stories are allegory. This one makes use of stock figures from European folklore (the fool, the golem, the trickster, the demon, animal shape-changers). It’s also tempting to expand on ways in which the novel’s characters represent aspects of the Polish people during World War II. 

From School Library Journal here is a piece of Elizabeth Bird's review:

Ada is ten and as far as she can tell she’s never been outdoors. Never felt the sun on her face. Never seen grass. Born with a twisted foot her mother considers her an abomination and her own personal shame. So when the chance comes for Ada to join her fellow child evacuees, including her little brother Jamie, out of the city during WWII she leaps at the chance. Escaping to the English countryside, the two are foisted upon a woman named Susan who declares herself to be “not nice” from the start. Under her care the siblings grow and change. Ada discovers Susan’s pony and is determined from the get-go to ride it. And as the war progresses and things grow dire, she finds that the most dangerous thing isn’t the bombs or the war itself. It’s hope. And it’s got her number.


Sounds like both books are in the same genre and both look like they are worth a read.