I am definitely not good at the weekly, or even semi-regular posting thing. There just always seems to be a million things to get done, and writing blog posts slips down the priority list. The silver lining of that particular procrastination means that I have more books to talk about for IMWAYR.
Without further ado….
I love most of Nora’s stuff. Our fifth graders read Anything But Typical, which they love, and she has come several years to our school to work with them on creative writing and to talk about her books. This new one is a great middle grade read.
Ruby’s mom is in prison for 20-25 years for being an accessory to a murder when Ruby was only 4 years-old. Ruby lives with her aunt who tries her best to be a good parent, but it’s not always easy. Ruby is eleven and finally starting to realize that she harbors a good deal of anger towards her mother, and she has a lot of questions about what really happened and why her mom was there, and part of the crime. Ruby also struggles with friendships, as she is reluctant to let anyone get too close so they won’t find out about her mom. But in the summer before middle school Ruby meets Margalit whose friendship might mean enough to her to actually share her deepest, darkest secret.
I loved Ruby’s conflicted feelings about her; the desire to be loyal butts up against her very real anger that her mom is not in her life because of bad decisions. I’ve already book talked this one a few times and kids have been clamoring for it every time. It’s right around 200 pages, which I love, makes it completely accessible to so many kids.
Trent is still carrying around an enormous amount of guilt because a hockey puck that he hit into a fellow hockey player with an undiagnosed heart condition, died. Trent’s method of coping is to make sure that everyone around him hates him as much as he thinks they should, and so he checks out of school, antagonizes his father, and basically makes a complete ass of himself. I liked this one a lot, but Trent is a hard kid to like, and it takes most of the book to come around to finding some sympathy, at least for me that’s how it went. Graff’s books are always reliable, accessible realistic fictions, and I love sharing them with students.
This slim volume of poems packs quite a punch. It got a lot of talk and great reviews when it came out last year, but I resisted buying it for my library because of the recommended age level, my school only goes through the 8th grade. Just recently I saw it mentioned somewhere and decided to go ahead and get a copy and I’m glad I did. These fairy tale poems cover a lot of ground about beauty, bodies, eating disorders, girls and love. Together they are quite powerful, I read the lot in only two short sittings, but even taken separately there are some really important poems here that are worth sharing with teens. With titles like “Mannequins Make Me Feel Like a Failure” and “The First Anorexic” readers are immediately drawn in. I can easily see teachers and advisors at my school wanting to share some of these with the older students, girls and boys alike, to spark discussion about some the issues that are prevalent throughout middle and high schools.
In this one, Pinkney writes much like she presents. I had the pleasure of seeing her speak at a conference this summer and she was mesmerizing, and completely compelling. It was like a spoken poem. This history of Motown Records is told in the narrative voice of “the groove” and the words just bounce to their own funky rhythm. I loved reading it, and loved finding out more about the artists that made some of my most favorite music. The motown sound was running through my head throughout the book. I can’t recommend this one enough and can’t wait to share it with my 7th and 8th graders, even if they don’t know Motown music. They will!
Pieces of Why
by K.L. Going
This one I reviewed separately on my blog here.
Phew. It was some good reading these past few weeks, I’m glad to be back into the routine of school, which helps me find the time to read more consciously.
Can’t wait to see what everyone else has been tackling this week!