Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Review

Well, the Christmas season obviously caught up with me because I only finished one book of my own.  However, I did finish our read alouds in three out of four classes, and I shared some fabulous picture books with my class this week for our word play unit.

Matched (Matched, #1) Matched by Allie Condie

audio-book, dystopian-novel, romance, young-adult-book

It's time for Cassia's Matching ceremony, and she's amazed to learn that her Match is Xander, her childhood friend. It's very rare to be Matched with someone you know. She's very happy about it - Xander is trustworthy, kind, and above all, safe. Later, when she takes time alone to watch the microcard to learn more about Xander, another face comes up temporarily, and oddly enough, it belongs to another person she knows, Ky. The rest of the story involves Cassia trying to find out what's behind this "perfect" society, the society that she trusted and believed in. She also becomes confused about who her true love really is. I really liked this book, and so did my 16-year-old daughter -  I'll be listening to the sequel next!

The One and Only Ivan  The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
I just finished this read aloud in one of my classes, and the response was phenomenal.  I didn't think I could ever equal Wonder with the emotional impact it made, but this one gave it a run for its money!  The kids loved it, and it got a standing ovation when I finished it on Thursday.  See my previous blog post (Dec. 7th) for more information.

animals, mock-newbery-2013, point-of-view, middle grade novel

This is a wonderfully told story from the point of view of a gorilla, Ivan, who has been kept at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for so long, he's forgotten what it means to be a silver back. His best friends are Bob, the dog (a favorite for my students and me), and Stella, the elephant. When baby elephant, Ruby, joins them, they rethink what it means to be in their domain/cage, far away from others of their kind. Julia, the caretaker's daughter, befriends the animals and connects with Ivan through art. Mac, the owner, is a complicated antagonist - he's not all bad. What's amazing about the writing is that it's so simple and sparse, but incredibly poignant, and in parts, funny. The story is a cross between Water for Elephants and Charlotte's Web - it captures the complicated relationship between people and animals without being sappy or didactic. 

  Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

Capture the FlagI just finished this as a read aloud in three of my classes, also following up Wonder.  Again, I was worried I could ever find a read aloud that the students would love as much, but they really enjoyed this perfect middle grade mystery.  It was funny, though - they figured out the culprits much sooner in the story than I did when I first read it!  It was fun watching/listening/reading about their inferences and predictions throughout the story.  I read it aloud while they read their own mysteries.  I was also thankful to Messner for all the figurative language throughout the book because we were studying word play and literary terms while reading it.

history, idioms, mystery, middle grade, mock newbery 2013

I enjoyed this mystery about Anna, Jose, and Henry, 3 kids solving the case of the stolen famous flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner."   It's part National Treasure, part From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, part Chasing Vermeer, and part DaVinci Code since there's even secret societies.  I love that Kate Messner has two Nerdy Book Club finalist books for 2012 - this one and Eye of the Storm, which several of my students have read and really liked.  Messner is also the reason why I write this blog.  I was inspired by her Teachers Write program this past summer.

I hope I read LOTS during this holiday break and can review a lot more the next several Sundays!




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