A busy week again! I wish I had more time to read, but here is this week's reading:
The Junkyard Wonders by Patricial Polacco
anti-bullying, art, connections, death, empathy, gifted, great-read-aloud, memoir, picture-book, teachers-who-inspire, theme
This is a wonderful memoir by Patricia Polacco about treating people with dignity, teachers who inspire children, recognizing gifts, and overcoming odds. This would be a great companion to read with Wonder by R.J. Palacio. One of my schools is doing a Patricia Polacco author study, so I'm reading several of her books to my class, too. We're making connections, collecting sentences, and talking about differences, empathy, and gifts.
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
audio-book, books-for-boys, fantasy-science-fiction, intermediate-kids-book
Peter Nimble was orphaned and blinded by ravens pecking out his eyes when he was a baby. He is now 10 years old and working as a talented thief for the evil Mr. Seamus. While expertly pickpocketing in a crowd one day, he meets a haberdasher and steals a mysterious box from him. When he realizes the box contains 3 pairs of eyes, he tries one pair out and gets transported to a distant land and is sent upon a quest to save a kingdom. He pairs up with a side-kick, Mr. Tode, who is a knight transformed by a curse into a ridiculous cat/horse combination and is quite entertaining. Thus, a swash-buckling adventure ensues. The ending reminded me of another exciting fantasy I recently listened to, The False Prince. Be sure to listen to/read the author's note at the end - it's cleverly written. Warning - it's quite violent! The violence reminded me of A Tale Dark and Grimm (which I loved in spite of the violence!). I think kids would love this one.
The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley (publication date Feb. 2013)
adult women's fiction
I won this ARC from bookreporter.com and William Morrow books in exchange for a review, so here it is! Matt Beaulieu's soul mate and wife, Belle, falls off a ladder, hits her head, and ends up in the ICU on life support. She is declared brain-dead, and even though Matt feels devastated by the thought of life without her, he knows she would never want to be kept alive that way, especially after her mother died a terrible slow death in a similar situation. However, it is revealed that Belle is pregnant. Agonizingly, he decides he wants to keep her alive until the baby is born. He had known Elle since they were kids, and he knows how badly she wanted a baby. Flashbacks reveal their complicated relationship and their trials and tribulations with miscarriages and stillbirths. Other family members, however, disagree, and a battle ensues... I liked this book, and I cared about what happened to Matt and his unborn baby, however, I felt that there wasn't anything original in this story. Jodi Picoult and other popular writers have covered this territory. I also felt like the novel was a tad long, mostly because it was repetitive. The same arguments got hashed and rehashed. I was waiting for a stronger twist (maybe because I am a Picoult fan), but it never came. Nevertheless, it had a very satisfying and emotional ending.
Bully by Patricia Polacco
anti-bullying, friendship, picture-book, theme
This was not one of my favorite Patricia Polacco books. I appreciate her "To My Readers" note, however, on the back jacket flap about the reason she wrote this book about bullying, but I thought the story was less complex than her other titles. It does, however, address the dangers of cyber-bullying, which is definitely worth talking about with kids. She ends the book with a question to her readers, "What would you do?" which makes this story interactive and good for discussion.