Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Review

 This must have been a busy week because I didn't read a lot.  Here are my reviews of what I did read:

Anything But Typical Anything But Typical By Nora Raleigh Baskin
character-development, characters-with-disabilities, class-book-group-book, empathy, inference, intermediate-kids-book, point-of-view, theme, vocabulary, writing-connections

This book touched me. Baskin did a wonderful job telling this story from Jason Blake's point of view. Jason is a twelve-year-old autistic boy who knows he is not a neurotypical kid. He knows other people view him as weird, unusual, and odd. He has stopped doing things he's loved because of being rejected. Through writing on Storyboard, an interactive writing site, he meets Rebecca who seems to understand him. They end up meeting at a Storyboard conference in Texas, and things don't go quite as he expected. This is a story of the struggle to accept oneself, as well as a story of a family (the character of Jeremy, his little brother, is expertly written) struggling to understand their autistic son, and a story of writing and its power to make sense of the world. I look forward to using it in my empathy unit. I think kids will need a little support in understanding autism and the point of view since it will take some inferring to capture all the nuances. It's a very complex text, but I think a little more accessible for the age students I teach for independent reading than Mockingbird. Good ladder to Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison if you teach high school.


animals, picture-book, science, theme

VerdiVerdi by Janell Cannon
Gorgeous pictures accompany this amusing story of a young, yellow striped snake who doesn't want to become big and green like the adult snakes in his life. They just hang around, boring and dull.  Alas, he DOES grow up to be big and green, but hangs on to his adventurous side.
The Hundred Dresses
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
anti-bullying, character-development, character-motivation, character-traits, classroom-read-aloud, empathy, inference, intermediate-kids-book, theme

I read this years ago, but reread it since some teachers in my building were reading it aloud to their fourth graders as the first read aloud of the year. It's such a heartbreaking story of Wanda Petronski, a Polish immigrant girl with a "funny" name and raggedy (but clean) dress. After saying she has a hundred dresses all lined up in her closet one day at recess, and 60 pairs of shoes, she becomes the object of ridicule by Peggy and her posse. The story is told in third person, but focuses on the point of view of one of Peggy's followers, Maddie. Maddie joins in on the taunting, but keeps fairly quiet, thinking she wishes Peggy would stop. Finally, the hundred dresses story is revealed, and the class receives a letter from Mr. Petronski explaining in his broken English, why they've moved away. Great classroom discussion material and a touchstone book for the rest of the year. I followed it up with the next read aloud, Wonder. Perfect follow-up with a much different tone but similar message.


  1. Molly's Pilgrim has a similar storyline to Hundred Dresses...lower reading level, but a great little story of being proud of who you are, family heritage and accepting the differences of others

  2. Thank you for the recommendation! I'll be sure to check it out.