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December 19, 2010

In the Woods

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In the Woods by Robin Stevenson: Book Cover

In the Woods

Author: Robin Stevenson

Page Length: 124

 

Reading Level: 3.2 

 

Genre: Fiction

 

Career Connections: Social Worker      

PLOT SUMMARY: When Cameron gets a strange call from his twin sister, Katie, to ride to the park on his bike, he feels his all-star sister is hiding something. As Cameron circles the park in pouring rain, he hears a small cry in the woods.  He gets off his bike and follows the sound—discovering a baby wrapped on the forest floor.  Trying not to panic, he wraps the baby in the blankets and his jacket to protect it from the rain.  Luckily, a woman stops on the side of the road and rushes them to the hospital. After being questioned by the police, Cameron goes home and he questions Katie about the baby, but she completely denies knowing anything about it. 

At school the next day, Cameron confides his secret to Audrey, a girl with whom he is working on a school project. Audrey urges him to find out who the mother is, because Audrey herself is adopted and would like to know who her birthmother is. 

That afternoon, Cameron approaches Katie, again.  She does admit the baby is hers, but still wants to keep it from her mother.  Later, Cameron finds Katie in the bathroom having complications from the birth.  He convinces her to go to the hospital and tell her mother.

REVIEW: This book is an excellent high interest low level story for the reluctant reader.  Cameron’s character is nicely developed as he demonstrates gentleness and responsibility with the baby, his sister, Audrey, and his mother. These are traits young teens often try to hide.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Mild profanity

AREAS OF TEACHING: Character, Conflict, and Sequence of Events

RELATED BOOKS: Hanging on to Max, November Blues, and Saving Grace

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.orcabook.com

www.robinstevenson.com

www.pbs.org/ttc/lessonplans_teenpreg.html 

MUSIC, MOVIE, AND ART CONNECTIONS: Where the Heart Is (2000), Juno (2007)

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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Impact

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Impact by James C. Dekker: Book Cover

Impact

Author: James C. Dekker

Page Length: 94

Reading Level: 3.8

Genre: Fiction

Career Connection: Police officer, pathologist, lawyer, detective

PLOT SUMMARY: As Jordan’s dad speaks to the court about his son who was murdered, Jordan recalls the events that led to his older brother, Mark’s, death. Jordan’s mind wanders as the judge listens to the impact each of the boy’s had on Mark’s death.

Mark was the dream guy – good looking, athletic, intelligent, and outgoing. Jordan was more on the shy, introverted side. Jordan had seen a girl, Shannon, at school and wanted to ask her out. When he talked to Mark about asking a girl out, Mark encouraged him. However, he did not get the nerve up when he saw her in the hall. When he arrived at the football game, he saw his older brother Mark, arm in arm with Shannon. It hit a nerve. There was no way that Mark knew Shannon was the girl Jordan had wanted to ask to the game, but he was with her.

Shannon’s boyfriend, Tony was jealous and wanted to get Mark to stay away from her. Kyle, a neighbor of Jordan’s, saw Jordan on the street and showed Tony who he was. When Kyle approached Jordan and asked him where Mark worked, Jordan knew it was to gain information for Tony. Jordan told him where Mark worked.

At the end of the trial, Jordan wonders what impact he may have had on his brother’s death.

REVIEW: Impact is an easy, independent read and would be good for the reluctant reader to try as a first book. The interest level is high with the action in the courtroom and the details Jordan remembers that lead up to Mark’s murder.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: None

TEACHING AREAS: Compare/Contrast, Sequence of Events, Conflict

RELATED BOOKS: Scum, Spiral, First Time, Learning to Fly

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Heathers (1988)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.orcabook.com

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

June 5, 2010

I Have Lived a Thousand Years

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I Have Lived a Thousand Years

Author: Livia Bitton-Jackson

Page Length: 234  

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Non-Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: As the story begins, Elli Friedmann and her family live in the country of Hungary.  Although, their general store has been taken over by the Nazi’s, they do not realize the imminent hardships they are about to endure.  When her brother, Bubi, returns home from school in Budapest, his parents do not believe that the capitol city has been overtaken.  Within days, Mr. Friedmann is arrested and taken from his family.  Then, the rest of the family is sent to a ghetto for Jews.  Next, they are taken to the first of several concentration camps where they are stripped of their clothing, their bodies are shaved and they are packed into living barracks with little to eat or drink. 

For over a year, Elli and her mother are victims of Hitler’s army.  They must learn to survive through injuries, starvation, and physical abuse.

Eventually, they find Bubi who has been separated from them.  But when they are finally freed by the American army, they learn that they are three of 32 who survived from their former community of 500 families.

REVIEW:  This is a true recollection written in the first person by Livia Bitton-Jackson.  She eloquently tells of her her experience of joys as a young child and, then the terror and desperation she endures in the camps.  The book includes a family chronology of events, significant dates and events relating to the Holocaust and a glossary. 

This is a good book to use when studying the Holocaust and World War ll. 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Historical Context, Sequence of Events, Conflict, Setting, Point of View

TOUCHY AREAS: Harsh treatment in the concentration camps is described but relevant to the context of the book.

RELATED BOOKS: My Bridges of Hope, Hello, America, The Cage, Why Do They Hate Me, Parallel Journey, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Reader, Night

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: The Reader (2008), Schlinder’s List (1993), The Grey Zone (2001), The Pianist (2002), The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), Out of Ashes (2003, TV), Anne Frank (2001, TV)

RELATED WEBSITES:  

www.plymouthlibrary.org/yaholocaust.htmwww.rogertaylor.com/clientuploads/documents/curriculum/Handouts/10304AHA.pdf

www.lindaslinkstoliterature.com/lll/booktitles2.htm

 REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

November 14, 2009

Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Island of the Blue Dolphins

Author: Scott O’Dell

Page Length: 184

Reading Level: 5.5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The only life Karana has ever known is as a young Indian woman on her tribe’s island. Their peaceful world is disturbed when hunters arrive one day to rob the land of its treasures and start a great battle. Out of sadness and despair, Karana’s people decide to leave their village life behind. But as the boat sets sail, Karana realizes that her little brother has been left behind. Will she save him? If she gives up her chance for rescue, will there be another or is Karana prepared to survive on the island alone?

REVIEW: Karana’s story is heart wrenching and interesting; however, I think that struggling readers will become lost in many of the details and descriptions of the hunt and island life. Yet, O’Dell uses vivid imagery; students could respond by recreating scenes from the story. Helping students to visualize the island and the conditions (possibly through pictures and drawings) would help improve comprehension and engagement in the last half of the story. I’ve seen this book used as a sixth grade classroom read and most of the students were not engaged in the story. However, the novel brings to light some interesting discussion points about sacrifice and survival. It definitely provides a springboard for discussing bravery and courage. As a book, with a character who endures many hardships and prevails, it is a worthwhile read. It was a winner of the Newberry Medal.

The story is based on the true accounts of the Lost Woman of San Nicolas.

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  character traits, cause and effect, author’s purpose, sequence of events

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: fighting among the natives and the Aleuts (p. 22-24)

RELATED BOOKS: Gary Paulsen’s Dogsong, Hatchet, S. M. Sterling’s Dies the Fire, Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe, Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Island of the Blue Dolphins (1964)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=1068

http://www.webenglishteacher.com/odell.html

http://www.emints.org/ethemes/resources/S00001393.shtml

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/fiction/activity/5242.html

http://www.scottodell.com/

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

September 28, 2009

I.D.

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I.D.

Author: Vickie Grant

Page Length: 101

Reading Level: 2.8

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Chris is tired of his life of growing up on the bad side of town. One day, he finds a wallet lying in the street. Chris matches the physical description of the guy and assumes his identity. The money and credit cards inside the wallet help finance Chris’s new life as Andrew Kirk Ashbury. Although, Chris means to stop by and give the wallet back, events keep occurring that distract him. Will Chris really be able to become Andrew or will his true identity be revealed?

REVIEW: This is the typical Orca book. The sentences are short. The lesson taught in this book is that there is no real right or wrong here. The character’s only remorse is that he almost got away with it. The story lacks depth and never really explores the consequences that Chris will face. The story ends with Chris being arrested as Andrew for a long list of crimes. Perhaps the only good lesson to teach from this story are the philosophical statements about the “grass being greener” and things not always being as they seem.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence of events, internal conflict, external conflict, character traits, dialogue

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: subject of theft, smoking, drinking, language

RELATED BOOKS: Dead-End Job, Pigboy, Quid Pro Quo

RELATED MOVIES: “Identity Theft: The Michelle Brown Story”

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://orca.powerwebbook.com/client/PDFs/TeachersGuides/Orca%20Soundings/IDTG.pdf

http://www.vickigrant.com/books/id.html

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/july-dec05/idtheft_8-29.html

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

January 17, 2009

Ice Drift

Ice Drift

Author: Theodore Taylor

Page Length: 224

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: Alika and Sulu are brothers who are out seal fishing in the Arctic when they feel the floe they are standing on breakaway from the land.  Alika, the older of the two, quickly frees all of his dog sled team, so that they can swim back to the mainland and hopefully get back to the village.  Alika and Sulu are part of the Inuit population that inhabits Greenland.  The boys are stranded on the floating piece of ice.  Aware that they may not be rescued for weeks or months, Alika uses his knowledge of survival skills that he has learned from his dad.  The boys build an igloo and make provisions with the supplies that were on the sled. 

When the dogs of the sled team return to the village, the boy’s parents realize what has happened.  They make futile rescue attempts and because the father’s leg is broken, their mom attempts to travel in a kayak to find the boys down the river.  She is again unsuccessful, but the two young men continue to fight for survival on the broken iceberg.

REVIEW: This story is about life in the Arctic Circle and is full of information about the native animals and the harsh seasons of days with no light and wind blowing blizzards.  Each of the characters learns about themselves and their ability to survive and what is essentially important in life.  This is a great book of adventure and suspense for boys who enjoy realistic fiction.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Sequence of Events, Cause/Effect, Theme, and Setting

RELATED BOOKS: The Sign of the Beaver, Iceberg Hermit, and The Night of the Twisters

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Arctic Tale (2007)

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

January 16, 2009

Iditarod Dream

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Iditarod Dream

Author: Ted Wood

Page Length: 48    

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Non-Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: This is the story of Dusty Whittemore’s second attempt Alaska.  Dusty attends school but is training for the race he will participate in that is a 158 mile course over Alaska’s barren terrain.  After Dusty makes his final practice run, he and his dad sit down together and review Dusty’s checklist to make sure his dogs, sled and supplies are ready to go.

The following day, they load the dogs and sled and travel to the Junior Iditarod Headquarters where they check-in and pick Dusty’s starting position.  As the race gets started, Dusty leads the pack.  He makes the journey in less than 15 hours but does have some detours before he crosses the finish line.  

REVIEW:  This book has excellent photos of Dusty, his home, dogs, sled, and the beautiful scenery of Alaska.  It would be a great addition in teaching the geographical parts of northern North America.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Sequence of Events, Setting, and Cause/Effect

RELATED BOOKS: Ice Drift, The Iceberg Hermit, The Sign of the Beaver, Dog team, Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod, Sled Dog Race, Dogs of the Iditarod,

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.librarything.com/work/625111

 REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

November 3, 2008

It’s Not About a Bike

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It’s Not About the Bike

Author: Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins   

Page Length: 288

Reading Level: 8

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography        

PLOT SUMMARY: Lance Armstrong tells of his life from childhood to winning his first and second Tour de France titles. Lance grew up in Plano, Texas, with his mother.  He writes of how he became a competitor in triathlons, which eventually drew him into cycling as a sport. On the brink of his career, he is diagnosed with testicular cancer.  He describes the fears of facing cancer and the treatments that follow.  After he is cancer free, he faces the decision whether to go back to the world of cycling competition or to hang out with his friends playing golf, eating Mexican food, and drinking beer and let his wife support him.

REVIEW: It’s Not About the Bike is a well-written book which unlike most autobiographies offers excellent descriptions of the landscape of France, the agony of cancer, the joy of love and parenthood.  Lance Armstrong vividly chronicles the challenges he faced living with a single-parent in prominent Plano, Texas.  He admits he was an angry young man and describes how surviving cancer helped him become more disciplined and appreciative of life.  He shares the joys of falling in love, the reality of being sterile, and the panic of seeing his wife suffering through childbirth.  Lance Armstrong does an excellent job of sharing his life as a world champion cyclist, a son, a husband, a father, a cancer survivor and a human being.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Some profanity

AREAS OF TEACHING: Descriptive writing, Sequence of Events

RELATED BOOKS: Brian’s Song, Every Second Counts, by Lance Armstrong

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Breaking Away (1979), 2 Seconds (1998), 20 Shades of Pink (1976), Brian’s Song

RELATED WEBSITES:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It’s_Not_About_the_Bike:_My_Journey_Back_to_Life,  

www.br.cc.va.us/book/armstrong.html,

themonitor.com/…/armstrong_13766___article.html/cancer_lance.html

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

October 30, 2008

Inside Out

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Inside Out

Author: Terry Trueman

Page Length: 117

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

 

PLOT SUMMARY: Zach isn’t your average high school guy. He suffers from Schizophrenia and is haunted by the voices inside his head. One day as he’s waiting for his mom to pick him up at a local store, a robbery takes place. The voices are beginning to talk inside Zach’s head, he’s past due for his medicine, and he’s in no shape to be a hostage. Will Zach get help before it’s too late or will the voices yelling “Die!” win out?

 

REVIEW: As if Schizophrenia by itself wasn’t bad enough, Zach running out of medication and being under the stress of a robbery only compounds the situation. The reader gets to feel what it’s like to be Zach. We can hear the voices, sense the tension, and feel how hard Zach has to fight for understanding and control. In that sense, the book is a beautiful tool for teaching others how it might feel to be in someone else’s shoes. On another note, the reason behind the robbery prompts much discussion in and of itself. Two teenage boys led to desperation by the need for money to care for their ailing mother end up in a horrible situation. Together they all learn from each other.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: description, imagery, word choice in writing, mood, tone, author’s purpose, sequence of events, cause and effect, internal conflict, external conflict

 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: quote – “he cocks the weapon and lifts it up, taking the muzzle into his mouth,” issue of suicide

 

RELATED BOOKS: Stuck in Neutral, Cruise Control, No Right Turn

 

RELATED MOVIES: “A Beautiful Mind” and “What About Bob”

 

   

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://www.terrytrueman.com/books_inside.htm

 

http://www.purplepens.com/inreview/review_insideout.htm

 

http://www.schizophrenia.com/

 

http://unjobs.org/authors/terry-trueman

 

http://www.terrytrueman.com/

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

April 8, 2008

Inside Out

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Inside Out

Author: Terry Trueman

Page Length: 117

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Zach Wahhsted, 16, is waiting, as usual, in a coffee shop after school for his mom to pick him up. Two teenagers with guns show up to rob the coffee shop, but a witness calls the police and soon there is a tense hostage situation. The two gunmen, brothers who just want to help pay for their mom’s cancer treatment, don’t want to hurt anyone and they ask for quiet and promise safety for the hostages. When Zach, who suffers from schizophrenia, begins talking back to the voices in his head, they perceive him as being disrespectful and rude. Zach knows he has difficulty determining what is real and what is not, but he doesn’t have a lot of control over his disease. This makes a dangerous situation even more so especially when Zach is not able to take his medication.

REVIEW: Reading this book reminded me a bit of watching a Hitchcock film. I really felt for Zach, a bright kid dealing with a terrible illness. Two of the voices in his head, Dirtbag and Rat, tell him he is worthless and try to get him to kill himself. Zach knows that he has trouble knowing what is real and what is not and he knows he responds inappropriately in many situations. What he does not know is how to fix it. Trueman, one of my new favorite authors, gives us an insight into just what Zach is thinking and his daily struggles. Throughout the book a relationship develops between Zach and the two brothers who are trying to rob the coffee shop. He even helps them, by contacting his doctor, to make a deal with the police. The hostage situation ends peacefully, but we learn that a few months later Zach does take his own life as so often happens with this disease. The ending was a real blow after coming to care for and admire Zach.

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  The book can provide an insight into dealing with mental illness as well as the lengths people can sometimes go to when they feel desperate. This book could also open a discussion for how stories we see on the evening news don’t always paint the whole behind the scenes picture.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: The entire book is pretty intense. The final two pages reveal that Zach has committed suicide. Throughout the book when Dirtbag and Rat show up to taunt Zach the dialog is harsh.

RELATED BOOKS: Cut, A Corner of the Universe, Kissing Doorknobs

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.terrytrueman.com

REVIEWED BY: Sherry Hall

 

April 2, 2008

Ironman

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Ironman

Author: Chris Crutcher

Page Length: 279

Reading Level: 7

 

REVIEW: Wow! This book was powerful on so many levels. Crutcher does a great job of analyzing why some young adult males are overly aggressive or angry. He raises some powerful questions about what love is and what good parenting should be. The characters are realistic and wonderfully well put together. I would recommend this to almost every teen male I’ve ever met and their parents.

PLOT SUMMARY: Bo Brewster is a 17 year old in his senior year of high school. His parents have recently separated. Brewster spends his time between a job, high school, taking care of his little brother, and training for the Yukon Jack Triathlon. Beau battles his father who insists on controlling his every move and teaching Beau a hard lesson through every opportunity he can. At the same time, his like-minded coach and English teacher regularly pushes him to the limit. Beau loses his cool and ends up suspended; his last chance is his mandatory assignment to anger management class.

The anger management class is led by a Japanese cowboy, Mr. Nak, who teaches his “misfits” about owning the fear inside them that fuels their anger. Through the characters in the book, we experience their parental abuse and control issues and their fears that they will turn out the same. The reader grows through their experiences and learns about others if not themselves as well. Beau learns control, finds his inner strength, and learns to overcome his prejudice. Fighting against his own issues and the relay team of college boys challenging his success in the triathlon, Bo has to pull together. Through the support of his friends and allies, Bo digs deep fights for a victory and control over his life. Will Bo be victorious? Can he control his outbursts in class and make it to graduation? Will he ever find the support he needs from his father?

TOUCHY AREAS: A must read. The only concerns are strong language at times (but typical of high school students), the graphic nature of the abuse that is described by the students, and Beau’s reaction to finding out someone he trusts is gay. However, the cautions are mild.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: The book is well worth reading – once the students connect to the text – they will be stronger for the experience in many ways. The book varies between narration and Bo’s letters (documenting his rise to fame) to Larry King. This would be a great example of a varied writing method – where students could narrate a story and have the character write to someone within the story. This book is a great source for class discussions on what good teachers, role models, and parents should be like. Some discussion questions might be: Why is inner strength important? How do we learn to make our own decisions? What events in our life have led us to be who we are today? What happens when we push ourselves? How should we deal with people who try to humiliate us? Great book!

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.chriscrutcher.com/content/blogcategory/64/53/

http://www.teenreads.com/reviews/044021971X.asp

http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~kvander/crutcher.html

http://www.motivateus.com/stories/stotans.htm

http://www.ironman.com/worldchampionship

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

 

March 3, 2008

Immigrant Kids

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Immigrant Kids

Author: Russell Freedman

Page Length: 72 (including index)

Reading Level: 8

Genre: Non-fiction

 

REVIEW: In Immigrant Kids Freedman examines what it was like to be an immigrant to America in the early 1900s. The book begins with a brief overview of how the science of photography has developed and what was utilized in the early 1900s. The book is filled with stunning black and white photos of the ships, inside a tenement apartment, in the streets, and many others. Freedman explains how the voyages to America were an “ordeal” because of the cramped below deck living quarters and the nature of life at sea. Once the immigrants arrived in America, they were inspected by doctors for physical and mental disorders. Less than healthy immigrants might have the shoulder of their garment marked with their “defect.” Sadly, Freedman tells us that some of them could have made the journey to America only to be returned to their home country. 

 

Once in the U.S. the American dream wasn’t as easy to realize as it might have seemed. The pay for many of the jobs the immigrants did was substandard. Entire families had to go to work and children even spent their hours after school sewing garments, making cigars, delivering newspapers, and other odd jobs just to make ends meet. Making ends meet often meant an entire family living in a small two room apartment. On page 18, Freedman displays the photo of a small apartment where the children slept in the sleeping/kitchen area and the parents had a tiny room of the side. Bathroom facilities were often shared in the building. Some of the tenement apartments turned into sweatshops where entire families and additional workers slaved away.

 

Freedman also discusses the rules of the sexes at the time.  He tells us how boys played only with boys and girls with girls. Girls had little use for dolls but usually had a baby around in the house to help care for. On page 35, he tells us about how boys went into traditional boy career fields while the girls had choices like dressmaking, cooking, and typewriting.

 

We learn how the children became Americanized while their parents often did not –“often this caused painful conflicts in immigrant families” (39). Illegal labor practices also flourished during this time. Young girls were sent to work the cash registers at stores. One story even details how the owner of a shop always knew when the inspector would be coming. The children would be hidden away in a crate and covered with scraps during the inspection. We learn about the Children’s Aid Society where the homeless and orphans could stay for six cents a night.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: With students, I would recommend this book as a teacher read aloud and discussion tool. It’s a fascinating look at an important era in American history. The photos are fabulous and could even be used as journal starters for the day before discussing what they portray. Students could compare and contrast the roles of boys versus girls or life today versus life then.  

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3774

 

http://www.daily-tangents.com/BOB/BookLink/L/L_immig.shtml

 

http://www.eduplace.com/kids/hmr/mtai/freedman.html

 

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/snpim1.htm

 

http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/timeline/progress/cities/nycphoto.html

(photos) 

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

 

January 4, 2008

Inkheart

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Inkheart

Author: Cornelia Funke

Page Length: 534

Reading Level: 7th

Genre: Suspense / Fantasy

 

REVIEW & SUMMARY: I really enjoyed reading this book. My eight year old daughter was also enjoying the suspense as she listened to the first half of this book aloud (we would read a couple of chapters a night). The characters were entertaining and the suspense was well paced. I was anxious to read the next chapter to find out what would happen. Funke leaves questions nicely unanswered inviting the reader to find out more.   

 

In the book we meet Meggie, a twelve year old girl, and Mo, her father. Mo has instilled in his daughter a love of books. She has her own special book box that she carries with her everywhere. Mo himself loves to read and makes a living restoring books. Things seem “normal” until the arrival of an old friend of Mo’s named Dustfinger. After Dustfinger visits, Mo packs them up and they are on the move (something which we discover is common for Meggie and Mo as they have never stayed any one place too long). Meggie eavesdrops to discover Dustfinger and Mo discussing a particular book that a man named Capricorn wants to regain in his possession. The book is secreted away with the three of them to Elinor’s house. Elinor is Meggie’s mother’s aunt and an avid book collector. Strangers of the mob-kind visit in the night and leave with both the book and Mo. Meggie is heartbroken, but the adventure is just beginning. Meggie, Elinor, and Dustfinger are hot on their trail. How were they found so easily?  What does Capricorn want with Mo?

 

Perhaps the most startling discovery for Meggie is that this mob and Dustfinger refer to her father as Silvertongue. Meggie soon discovers Mo’s unique power of reading characters to life from books. She also learns that as characters come out of the story, objects and people nearby have disappeared. The book in question is in fact called, Inkheart. The mob of villains after Mo and the book are in fact characters from the book. When Meggie was a young child, her father read the book aloud to Meggie and her mother. Her mother disappeared and three prominent characters came to life. Mo has been on the run away from them ever since and try as he might he hasn’t been able to find Meggie’s mother. The adventures unfold as the forces of good and evil must battle. Who will win? How will they triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds? Can the author of the book help? What does Capricorn want the dreaded Shadow for?

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: This book is a fascinating tool for teaching about the power of words and the richness of language. After all, Silvertongue (Mo) can bring characters to life. Funke came up with an original idea – characters coming to life from the book. It’s interesting to discover their longing or dislike for their homes. Teachers could discuss what makes a home and what connects people to one another.  What are our motivations in life? What makes us happy? Why do we need other people?  The list of discussion topics and writing response prompts the book yields is enormous. We also find characters in the book and who can not read and are therefore more easily controlled by Capricorn. Teachers could springboard discussions about how education, reading, and being able to consider all the alternatives changes one’s outlook. Why is knowledge important if one wants to control his/her own destiny?

 

It is a long book. Fantasy readers will be more interested. In general, I think that this book would be more successful with a student who already enjoys reading. I would not use for independent reading with a struggling reader – although as a read aloud it would work well. Great book!

 

BOOK CONNECTIONS: Since writing Inkheart, Cornelia Funke has continued the trilogy with Inkspell and Inkdeath. The first chapter of Inkspell is provided at the end of Inkheart. It looks as promising as the last. A movie, based on the book Inkheart, was made in 2008.

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://www.corneliafunkefans.com/mainSiteIEUSA.html

 

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REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

 

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