Monday, August 1, 2011

Book List

Chapter Books:
The Tequila Worm- Pura Belpre
One Crazy Summer- Coretta Scott King
Out of My Mind- Bluebonnet
Wild Times at the Bed & Biscuit- Bluebonnet
Turtle in Paradise- Newbery
26 Fairmount Avenue- Newbery
Shiloh- Newbery
The Cricket in Times Square- Newbery
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda-Notable
When You Reach Me- New York Times Bestseller
The Hunger Games
The Witches- Most Challenged
Anastasia Krupnik- Most Challenged
Bridge to Terabithia- Most Challenged

Picture Books
First Day in Grapes- Pura Belpre
Goin' Someplace Special- Coretta Scott King
A Sick Day for Amos McGee- Caldecott
Henry's Freedom Box- Caldecott
Knuffle Bunny- Caldecott
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed- Caldecott
Goal!- Bluebonnet
The Duchess of Whimsy- Bluebonnet
The Quiet Book- Notable
Selavi- Notable
It's a Book- New York Times Bestseller
Interrupting Chicken- New York Times Bestseller
And Tango Makes Three- Most Challenged
In the Night Kitchen- Most Challenged

Anastasia Krupnik

Lowry, L. (1979). Anastasia Krupnik. New York: Random House.
This book is on the 100 Most Challenged List.

Anastasia Krupnik is, obviously, the main character in this series.  This first book introduces us to a precocious ten year old who is dealing with issues such as school crushes and her parents having a new baby. Anastasia is struggling with the impending birth of her new baby brother, and having been an only child for ten years, really sees not sense in it!  This reminded me of my oldest daughter and her reaction, as a 7 year old, to the news that she would be a big sister.  It was very similar to Anastasia's!  Anastasia seems wise beyond her years, and I'm sure that has to do with her parents treating her almost as a little adult.  She often treats them like they are all equals, even asking why they wouldn't have talked with her before deciding to have another child. One of the parts that I really identified with was when she spent days writing the poem for school.  With her dad being a poet, she obviously felt a lot of pressure to succeed on this assignment.  Poor Anastasia was devastated when the teacher gave her an F.  This is something that frequently happens in schools, when creative students are punished for their creativity.  The teacher, Mrs. Westvessel, was upset that Anastasia hadn't followed the directions exactly.  Anastasia probably spent much more time on her poem than the students who made up a quick little rhyming poem. Young readers will be able to sympathize with Anastasia and the lack of understanding from her teacher about her poem.   

After reading the first book, I was a little surprised it made it to the 100 Most Challenged List.  There are several references to beer and her father does let her drink the foam off the top, but I really didn't notice anything offensive or inappropriate.  In searching online about the challenges on the series, I did note that there are references to suicide and an adult magazine in the series, so I would assume that is why the series has been challenged.

When You Reach Me

Stead, R. (2009). When you reach me. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.
This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller for Children List.

When You Reach Me was a very engaging read that kept me interested until the very end.  With two story lines, one with Miranda's mom practicing to be on The $20,000 Pyramid show and the other with Miranda's friendships with various people (Sal, Marcus, Annemarie) in the story and how that plays a part of "the story" she is suppose to write.  The reader is left wondering what is going on and the only way to find out is to keep reading!  Miranda's favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time and this is about the only book she reads.  She begins a conversation with another student about time travel, which gets her mind going as well as the reader's mind. The reader knows this is important, but the author weaves such a tight story, that you aren't sure exactly how everything will play out.  There are also secondary characters that play important parts in the story, and again, it takes a little while for the reader to figure out exactly what role they play.  You know the laughing man (the crazy man on the street) is an important character, but you aren't quite sure what role he will play.  As you continue to read, you feel the loss that Miranda feels from the unraveling of her friendship with Sal.  You also cheer a little when Colin gets up the nerve to give her a kiss and she kisses him back.  Stead does an excellent job of capturing the reader and putting you right in the middle of the story.  You can even understand Miranda's confusion about time traveling as Marcus attempts to explain it all to her.  And then you are intrigued by the notes she gets throughout the story, trying to figure out who is writing them.  With the secondary story of Annemarie's epilepsy, it makes the reader wonder which friend's life will be saved.  All of these questions are answered at the end, leaving the reader with a feeling of satisfaction.

This is a great book that I can't wait to recommend to readers.  I was disappointed when my daughter told me she tried to read it and didn't really care for it.  I thought the story kept the reader interested, and other than the confusion of trying to understand time travel (whether you see yourself going if you get back 5 minutes before you left) it was a book that you didn't want to put down!

And Tango Makes Three

Richardson, J., & Parnell, P. (2005). And Tango makes three. New York: Simon & Schuster Books.
This is one of the Most Challenged books.  The story is about a penguin who has two dads instead of a mom and a dad.  In the book, this message is made very clear, so even though it is a true story, there appears to be a message in it also.

This is a true story about two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who developed a close friendship that led to them mimicking other penguin couples at the zoo.  The two penguins, Roy and Silo, did everything like the other penguin couples, other than actually have a baby penguin.  They even went so far as sitting on a rock, hoping that a baby penguin would hatch.  The zoo keeper eventually found them an egg, which they cared for until it hatched, and out came Tango, their very own baby penguin.  They then raised Tango and cared for her, like all the other penguin families at the zoo. It definitely has a "happily ever after" ending. 

This story is illustrated beautifully by Henry Cole.  These illustrations support the story and help the reader see the love between this penguin family.  The authors do make it clear throughout the story that these are two boy penguins, and how they didn't pay attention to the girl penguins.  At one point, their keeper says, "They must be in love."  As with other books, I wonder about the purpose of this book.  Is it to tell a story about two penguins at the zoo or is there an deeper message in the text?  Young readers would not understand the deeper message, but the adults in their world would, which is how this book became a "most challenged" book.  It is a sweet story, but I have discovered that it is not in any school library in my district.


Meyer, S. (2005). Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

The story starts off kind of ominous, with the narrator saying that she had never really thought about how she would die.  This page sets the tone for the whole book.  Bella, the main character goes to live with her dad in Washington State after her mom remarries.  She is a little uncertain about this, since she she hasn't been there in a while, but the alternative is less attractive.  Bella's dad, Charlie, tries to make things as comfortable as possible for her, and Bella tries to adjust to being a high school student in a new school.  Bella is immediately entranced with a strange looking boy named Edward Cullen, who she discovers is a foster child of a local doctor.  She has an uneasy feeling about Edward, but is also immensely attracted to him and it is obvious that the feeling is mutual.  To keep the story interesting, a couple of other boys are also interested in Bella.  Jacob Black, whose family Bella has known since she was little, comes into the story and develops a romantic interest in Bella.  Eventually Bella discovers that Edward is a vampire and that her life is constantly in danger when she is around him.  Add to that the love triangle that develops between her, Edward, and Jacob and you have a hard to put down read.  As the story develops, Edward shares secrets about his life with Bella, and even introduces her to his family, who are also vampires.  Bella finds that adusting to being in love with a vampire is much harder than adusting to a new home or a new school.  She also finds herself in dangerous situations with not only Edward (who is constantly fighting off his hunger for blood) but also his family.

Although the writing is simplistic, the storyline makes this a "can't put down" kind of book.  You keep reading to find out how things will turn out between Bella and Edward, and what role Jacob will play in the story and their developing relationship.  You keep reading to find out if Bella survives being friendly with a family of vampires, especially since the story begins with her contemplating her death.  The writing might not be considered the highest quality of literature, but the story does keep you reading!  Meyer's use of language helps paint a picture of Edward that helps the reader visualize his sparkly skin in the sunlight, or the color of his eyes which gives Bella an indication of his need for blood.  The writing is clear and descriptive, so the reader is easily able to "see" everything that is going on.  It is definitely an easy, enjoyable read!