The Book Reviews – Website

December 19, 2010

Runs with Horses

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 9:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Runs With Horses by Brian Burks: Book Cover

Runs with Horses

Author: Brian Burks

Page Length: 117

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Runs with Horses is a teenage Apache warrior in training. He lives in the Sierra Madre mountains and must endure many tasks to become a great warrior. Within Runs With Horses tribe is the infamous Apache leader – Geronimo. Geronimo requires Runs With Horses to prove himself worthy of being a warrior. Run With Horses must never show fear and never even consider surrender. He is trained to be tough and to endure any hardship. Run With Horses completes every task they assign him to. Being raised in the old world ways, Runs With Horses becomes dismayed when Geronimo announces that the tribe will surrender to the army and move to the reservation. He believes that he must do whatever is necessary to be faithful to his Apache ways.

REVIEW: The book relates to teenage boys in terms of proving themselves and discussing cultural rites of passage into manhood. Runs With Horses has to have nerves of steel and an iron will. For example, one of his tasks is to dive off the cliff and plunge his naked body through the ice layer on the pond below into the freezing water; then, he must remain away from the tribe that night and survive alone in the wilderness. Many other tasks are given to him to prepare him for his extreme life as an Apache warrior. Having completed nearly all the tasks, Runs With Horses then learns of the approaching surrender – this is an interesting discussion point with students about how hard it is to accept change and disappointment when all your hopes and dreams have been in another. Teachers can also discuss how despite all his training – perhaps the Apache’s were missing an element of adaptability (it was there way or no way – of course didn’t the Army see it that way too….). 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: connecting text to self, historical connections, sequence of events, cause and effect, setting, character traits

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: scalping, raiding / killing others

RELATED BOOKS: Walks Along, Soldier Boy, Murphy’s Ambush, Wrango, Murphy’s Trail

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Sitting Bull, Battle of Chief Pontiac, Fort Apache (1948)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.greatdreams.com/apache/apache-tribe.htm

http://impurplehawk.com/apgallery.html

http://www.bigorrin.org/apache_kids.htm

http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=1154442

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

Advertisements

Romiette and Julio

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 9:08 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper: Book Cover

Romiette and Julio

Author: Sharon Draper

Page Length: 320

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Julio has just moved to Cincinnati from his home town of Corpus Christi to get away from gangs and so that his father could find work. The Devildogs run things at Julio’s new school and let him know right away that they don’t want him in their school. Then Julio meets Romiette and his luck changes. He’s finally met a girl that he loves talking to. However, the Devildogs don’t want Romiette talking to Julio and their threats are increasing. Can Julio and Romiette make a relationship work amid so much chaos? Why does Romiette keep having a nightmare about drowning and what could it mean?

REVIEW: To all the Draper fans, I apologize but I did not enjoy reading this book. I feel that her use of dialogue is excessive and totally weighs the book down. The idea of modernizing Romeo and Juliette is a good one, however the delivery was poor. Reading becomes labored because it’s too much “blah, blah, blah” between the characters (exactly what most English teachers tell their students to avoid when writing their own stories). I feel that like most Draper books this story really doesn’t deliver a solid storyline – it seems to stay too superficial and never really goes deep enough to drive the point home. On a positive note, Draper does try to address the issue of gang violence and its dire consequences.

I was disappointed and I would not want to read this as a class novel.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: character traits, elements of plot, comparing and contrasting the characters, comparing text to self, point of view, how not to use dialogue

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: gang intimidation, kidnapping, gang violence

RELATED BOOKS: The Battle of Jericho, Just Another Hero, November Blues, Fire from the Rock, Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette”

MOVIE CONNECTIONS:

“Romeo and Juliette” (1968 and 1996)

RELATED WEBSITES:                            

http://sharondraper.com/

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

http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=857

http://sharondraper.com/lessonsdetail.asp?lesson=5

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

Rock Star Superstar

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 9:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Rock Star Superstar by Blake Nelson: Book Cover

Rock Star Superstar

Author: Blake Nelson

Page Length: 229

Reading Level: 3

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Pete loves music and playing his bass. He’s in the jazz band at school and plays with his band after school. His band even get gigs at parties sometimes. At sixteen life seems ok for Pete, but then he gets better. He meets Margaret and soon gains a girlfriend. He gets recruited by a new band with a great following and radical new sound. As his popularity begins to soar, will Pete lose sight of who he really is? Is he really ready to be just some band boy – or is there more to Pete than meets the eye?

REVIEW: Kids who are really in to music and bands would probably enjoy this book. There are several passages about playing live, the sounds of the group, and descriptions of everyone’s playing and talent. Pete gets a new girlfriend and it isn’t long before he’s making out and getting out his condoms. As his stardom rises, Pete begins to let other areas of his life go. He also lacks a clear supportive figure at home – as his dad drinks too much and is out on dates too often. In the end, Pete recovers, comes back to his senses, and realizes that what he really wanted in life might just have been right there in front of him all along.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: comparing text to self, compare and contrast, sequence of events, setting, conflict, resolution

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: teenagers having sex, discussion of condom use, drinking, fighting

RELATED BOOKS: The New Rules of High School, Girl, User, Gender Blender, Paranoid Park, Exile

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Girl (1998), The New Guy (2002)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://booksforkids.blogspot.com/2004/11/rock-star-superstar-by-blake-nelson.html

http://www.blakenelsonbooks.com/reviews.html

http://www.blakenelsonbooks.com/bio.html

http://www.kff.org/youthhivstds/upload/U-S-Teen-Sexual-Activity-Fact-Sheet.pdf

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

Responsible

Filed under: R,Uncategorized — thebookreviews @ 9:04 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Responsible by Darlene Ryan: Book Cover

Responsible

Author: Darlene Ryan

Page Length: 100

Reading Level: 3.2

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Kevin is the new kid again in his fourth high school. His new “friends” are the school bullies led by Nick. Nick has perfected the art of accidentally shoving and tripping others. One day Nick chooses the wrong girl to mess with. Erin’s fed up with Nick’s bullying and she isn’t backing down. Nick’s anger grows as he decides that Erin must pay. Kevin becomes involved in Nick’s plot to get revenge and as Nick’s attacks on Erin grow more vicious Kevin is caught in the middle. Does Kevin follow Nick’s lead and protect himself or does he help Erin before it’s too late?

REVIEW: This is the typical Orca book. The sentences are short. The action happens quickly to keep students engaged and the problem is handled on the surface. Students should find the bullying issue and the feeling of being stuck in a difficult position relevant and interesting.

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

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Topic of bullying, Language – “we’re not done pussy boy,” “get your ass out of my way”

RELATED BOOKS: Mirror Image, Pigboy, Daredevil Club, Saving Grace, Rules for Life

RELATED MOVIES: “Chicken Little,” “Ice Princess,” “Heavyweights”

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.darleneryan.com/books/responsible.php

http://www.stellaraward.ca/2007/author.php?id=36

http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/index.asp

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2008/10/bullying-1030.html

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

June 5, 2010

Ray Charles

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 7:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ray Charles

Author: Sharon Bell Mathis

Page Length: 40

Reading Level: 3.5

Genre: Biography

REVIEW: Ray Charles’ life is condensed in this easy-to-read biography that touches upon most of his positive years. Ray Charles was a man who rose above adversity and trial to become one of the most influential and talented musicians of the 20th century.

From his ability to race other sighted-boys in the school yard to his gift of “perfect pitch”, Ray Charles had many talents with which is used to his advantage. His beginnings were a struggle and as well as lonely, but Charles made the most of what life tossed his way.

Ray Charles was able to play numerous instruments, learned how to read using Braille, championed the cause of those with hearing loss and Sickle Cell Anemia, and braved the then world of racism and intolerance in America.

This book is a very simplified version of Ray Charles’ life, especially when compared to the recent movie version that came out in 2004 titled “Ray”. None-the-less, it is a quick read that highlights a man’s achievements despite his disability. Many lessons can be learned by the great things this Ray Charles has accomplished in the midst of his inability to see. The book is written in present tense and at times floats between the present time and Ray Charles’ past.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: biography, facts, sequence of events, present tense writing

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Ray” (2004), “The Blues Brothers” (1980)

MUSIC CONNECTIONS: “Georgia on My Mind” (1960), “Hit the Road Jack” (1961)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Charles_discography

http://www.raycharles.com/the_music_discography.html

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.leeandlow.com/p/ray_tg.mhtml (Teacher’s Guide)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

Romiette and Julio

Romiette and Julio

Author: Sharon M. Draper

Page Length: 320

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Romantic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Romiette and Julio begins with a strange recurring dream about drowning and a male voice that Romiette Cappelle is having. She is terrified of water and cannot swim.  Julio Montague, 17 years old, is forced to move from Corpus Christi, Texas to Cincinnati, Ohio. He hates Ohio. Everything is gray and there is no where to swim. Julio is an excellent swimmer and loves to swim. The only companionship he has is with a girl he has met in the chat room. Come to find out this girl, Romiette, whom he shares a great deal in common, goes to the same Ohio school. On the first day of school Julio meets Ben during a fight. Ben is a quirky, lighthearted character who changes his hair color everyday. Romiette’s best friend is Destiny who is also quirky and thinks she is psychic. As Romi and Julio’s online friendship develops, they decide to meet in person. Julio and Romi immediately feel a strong attraction to one another. Julio brings with him a bottle of hot sauce and a rose to their first meeting. As they start hanging out together more often, the school gang, the Devildogs or “The Family” begin to threaten Romi and Julio just because Romi is African American and Julio is Hispanic. Also, Romi’s parents do not approve of Julio because he is Hispanic and Julio’s parents do not approve of Romi because she is African American. The gang intensifies their threats which force Romi, Julio, Destiny, and Ben to devise a plan to obtain proof that the gang exists and is threatening them. However, the plan goes horribly wrong. The gang has a plan of their own. They capture Romi and Julio leaving them helpless, tied up, and unconscious in a boat floating in London Woods Lake during a severe thunderstorm. What happens to Romi and Julio? Whose voice was in the dream? What happens to Destiny and Ben? Does the police and search party rescue them in time or is their fate sealed as in Romeo and Juliet?        

REVIEW:  Romiette and Julio is a present day Romeo and Juliet without the tragic ending. Reader’s still experience the themes of friendship, romance, suspense, love, prejudice, racism, and familial pressures exemplified within Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. However, in Romiette and Julio, Sharon Draper allows the reader to identify with the themes in a modern day setting even allowing Romiette and Julio to meet in a chat room. A strong affection develops which leads to gang threats due only to the fact that Romiette is African American and Julio is Hispanic; thus, suspense ensues. Romiette and Julio is a definite supplement for the classic, Romeo and Juliet.  Readers can identify with many themes throughout the book whether it is racism, peer pressure, romance, or soul mates.   

AREAS FOR TEACHING: main idea and supporting details, theme, setting, characters, point of view, conflict, plot, compare/contrast, cause/effect, sequence of events, inference, conclusions, generalizations, predictions, voice, mood, tone,  5 steps of the writing process, allusion, protagonist, antagonist, comic relief

RELATED BOOKS:  Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet in Beverly Hills (Readers Theater), The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson,  Who Am I Without Him? By Sharon Flake, Books by same author: Tears of a Tiger, Forged be Fire, The Battle of Jericho, Copper Sun, November Blues, Darkness Before Dawn, Double Dutch, Fire by the Rock

MOVIE CONNECTIONS:  Westside Story (1950), Romeo and Juliet (1996), Romeo and Juliet (1968), Gone With the Wind (1939), The Notebook (2004), The Outsiders (1983)

MUSIC CONNECTION: Love Story by Taylor Swift

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romiette_and_Julio

http://www.schoolbookcenter.com/html/romiette_and_julio.html

http://www.allreaders.com/Topics/info_35032.asp

http://www.teenreads.com/reviews/0689842090.asp

http://sharondraper.com/lessonsdetail.asp?lesson=5

http://sharondraper.com/

www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=857

http://www.etherpad.net  (secure chat room suggested by the technology department)

REVIEWED BY: Tammy Leitzel

January 18, 2010

Rosa Parks

Filed under: *AWESOME BOOKS!!!,R — thebookreviews @ 1:47 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Rosa Parks 

Author: Camilla Wilson     

Page Length: 74

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Biography

PLOT SUMMARY & REVIEW:  This is a biography of Rosa Parks.  The book goes back to when she was born poor in a small town in Alabama.  She feared the Whites from the beginning of her life, but she learned patience and became affluent with the NAACP because of her writing skills learned when she lived in Montgomery.  She married at a young age to Raymond Parks who shared her vision to help the African American people become independent.  Rosa was the person many Blacks could talk to about their problems with beatings or harsh punishments.  

Segregation Laws continued to keep Blacks from having any power.   However, Rosa Parks earned the right to vote and continued sitting in on NAACP meetings, taking notes, passing out flyers, and calling for important speakers.

In the year of 1954 she took her personal stand by not moving to the back of bus when told to do so.   She was arrested, and charged for the incident.  It was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.  Later on, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took Rosa Park’s start and began his personal Crusade to end segregation – to give all Blacks the same rights that were granted to Whites.  The Civil Rights Movement was a journey that Rosa Parks began by her bold move.  She was the light that kept the Civil Rights Movement burning when some wanted to put it out.   What an awesome and inspiring woman! This was a very good book.

AREAS FOR TEACHING (TEKS):  

4.9 draw upon experience to for word meanings

4.10 know main idea and details

4.11 connect and compare the various ideas

4.12 analyze characters

RELATED BOOKS:   Quiet Strength:  The Faith, the Hope, and Hero by Gregory J Reed,  If a Bus Could Talk by Ringgold Faith

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and Freedom March in Washington DC.

RELATED WEBSITES:

www2.scholastic.com/browse/collateral,jsp?id=790_type=Book_typeId=2640 

www.myhero.com/myhero/her.asp?hero=rosaParks

REVIEWED BY: Linda Schwegler

August 30, 2009

Romiette and Julio

Filed under: *AWESOME BOOKS!!!,R — thebookreviews @ 10:20 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Romiette and Julio 

Author: Sharon Draper

Page Length: 274

Reading Level: 5

Genre:  Romance fiction

PLOT SUMMARY:  The two main characters, Romiette and Julio are alike in spirit and feelings, but they are culturally different.   Romiette “Romi” Cappelle is sixteen years old, and is an African American teenager who lives in Cincinatti, Ohio.   As the book begins Romi has a nightmare of drowning which remains in her dreams throughout most of the book.   She searches for an understanding of her fear of water, but comes up with nothing.   Sixteen year old Julio Montague is a Mexican teenager who has just moved to Cincinnati.  He hates the cold weather in Ohio and wants to move back home to his grandfather’s ranch.  However, Julio knows it’s impossible since his parents moved from Texas, because of the heavy gang pressure in its schools. When Julio meets Romi online in a teen chat room and they discover that they attend the same high school, they make an instant connection.  Romi can’t believe that Julio is so good looking, charming and sensitive, and Julio has never known another girl like Romi, who is so beautiful, smart and caring. Although neither Romi nor Julio sees their different races as a problem, other people begin to object to their budding romance.   Julio’s father tells him straight out that he will never approve of his son dating a black girl. And then there are the “Devildogs”, an African American gang at school who wear all purple and make it glaringly obvious to Romi and Julio that they don’t like the races mixing.  When Romi and Julio stand up to the gang members and turn the tables on them, the gang members threaten to get even.  The danger escalates when the gang begins stalking the couple and making overt threats with guns.

Julio and Romi are terrified by the threats of violence. When Romi, Julio and their best friends Ben and Destiny forge a plan to break away from the gang’s grip, Romi and Julio find themselves caught up in a deadly situation.   The parents finally become close enough to mend their ill feelings of prejudice and work right along with the police to help their children.   Although the danger is pending throughout the plot’s climax the book’s resolution is breathtakingly awesome.  

REVIEW: It was a great book, and I would recommend it to anyone, young or old.

AREAS FOR TEACHING (TEKS):  

5.9 draw upon experience to for word meanings

5.10 know main idea and details

5.11 connect and compare the various ideas

5.12 analyze characters

RELATED BOOKS:  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.   Other books by Sharon Draper: Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire, Darkness before Dawn

MOVIE & MUSIC CONNECTIONS:  Romeo and Juliet vs. West Side Story

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.allreaders.com 

www.buildingrainbows.com 

www.goodreads.com 

www.teenreads.com

 REVIEWED BY: Linda Schwegler

Rat

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 10:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rat

Author: Jan Cheripko

Page Length: 205

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Rat loves everything about basketball –except for the fact that he is disabled and feels that he can’t play the sport on the same level as his peers. He’s still a part of the team as the manager, but one day all of that changes. Rat witnesses something he wishes he hadn’t (or maybe he is glad that he could help – he really can’t decide). Coach has his hands all over one of the cheerleaders. Rat’s the only witness and he becomes caught in the crossfire. Will he tell the truth? Will the team treat him any differently if he “rats” on the coach? How far is he willing to go for a friend?

REVIEW: This book really packs in quite a few moral lessons and dilemmas. Rat is turned against by the basketball team because he tells the truth. No one will talk to him, he’s bullied and threatened, and he can’t even get his dad to see him for who he is. The new coach changes how Rat feels about himself and his relationships. We’re introduced to not only bullying, the cold hard truth about how doing what is right is not always popular, and two characters suffer with the loss of their loved ones to cancer. The new coach of the team not only teaches the boys great plays but also teaches them the elements of successful character traits (a lesson in and of themselves). Altogether it is a nicely crafted story that should appeal to both male and female students. There are great lessons in this book and wonderful vivid discussion points about decisions, actions, and repercussions – and about believing in yourself and standing up for what you believe in. Cheripko also teaches students that everyone has heart and everyone makes mistakes – great classroom read!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: huge potential – connecting text to self, sensory images, elements of plot, cause and effect, sequence of events

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: death from cancer, bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment

RELATED BOOKS: Imitate the Tiger, Brother Bartholomew and the Apple Grove, Voices of the River

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Cheripko__Jan.html

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=172619

http://www.boydsmillspress.com/contributors/contributors/cheripko_jan.html

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

Rachel Carson

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 10:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Rachel Carson

Author: Kathleen Kudlinski

Page Length: 56

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Biography

PLOT SUMMARY: Rachel Carson was a woman who didn’t take no for an answer. Although most women during her time became nurses or teachers, Rachel refused to follow the norms – instead she followed her dreams. She brought her love of science and exploration together with her love for writing; she shared her passion for science and her knowledge of how our actions affect the world around us. Rachel became known as the “pioneer of ecology.”

REVIEW: This book is written in an easy to read format. These small biographies would align well with the historical periods during which they are written (a great reinforcement of what they students are learning in American history). Due to its simplicity, the book does provide a general view of her life and jump around a bit in sequence. It’s a good light read – with many areas for connections and reflections about Ms. Carson’s life.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: historical connections, connecting text to self, connecting text to text, applying scientific concepts

RELATED BOOKS: Silent Spring, The Edge of the Sea, The Sea Around Us

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS:

Native Huts, The Farm, Place Vintimille, The Lackawanna Valley

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1993)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.rachelcarson.org/

http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/cars-rac.htm

http://kids.nceas.ucsb.edu/

http://www.ecology.com/index.php

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

January 18, 2009

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Author: Mildred Taylor

Page Length: 276

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: The story begins with Cassie Logan and her brothers walking to school. Although they are young children, they are aware of the different ways whites and blacks are treated.  Being Negroes, they must walk to school, while the white children ride a bus. Their schoolbooks are worn, discarded rejects from the white children’s school. They even become the subjects of jokes when the bus driver deliberately splashes them with mud as he drives the white children to school.

As the events of the book unfold, repeated incidents of racism are witnessed at school and in the community.  The Logan family lives in fear of the Ku Klux Klan ,but with the influence of Big Ma, Mama, and Papa they cling together to protect the 400 acres they call “their land.”

REVIEW: Many of the events and themes of the story are adult in nature, but Cassie, a fourth grader, tells the book in narrative form. The children must witness their mother being fired as a teacher, grown men being tarred and feathered, and a rebellious friend, T. J., accused of murder.  They learn the viciousness that prejudicial feelings of racism bring. Through the violence, Cassie realizes the importance of family and why “the land” is an endearment they must protect.

This is an awesome book I would recommend it for reading as a class novel.  The character development and setting are excellently described, as well as the drama in the sequence of events.  It is a great book to read in conjunction with a Civil Rights Movement theme.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Compare/Contrast, Conflict, Characters, Setting, Theme, and Cause/Effect

RELATED BOOKS: The Land, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, A Time to Kill, To Kill a Mockingbird

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1978), A Time to Kill (1996), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.aloha.net/~uncldon/rothmyc.htm

www.litsum.com/rollofthunderhearmy-cry

www.sparknotes.com/lit/rollofthunder

www.scholastic.com/kids/homework/pdfs/Roll_of_Thunder.pdf

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

January 17, 2009

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Author: Camilla Wilson

Page Length: 74

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Biography   

PLOT SUMMARY: Rosa Parks was always concerned with black Americans being treated equally.  As a young girl, Rosa was disciplined by her mother for threatening a white boy.  After receiving a scholarship to Miss White’s School for Girls in Montgomery, Rosa learned there was more segregation in the large city than her small hometown.  Rosa married Raymond Parks in 1932.  She was attracted to Raymond, partly, because of his involvement with the famous Scottsboro case.  While she worked as a seamstress, Rosa spent her lunches and evenings working actively in several black organizations.  She wrote letters and advocated the right to vote for both African Americans and women.

One day after long hours at her job, she boarded a bus that was full of both whites and blacks.  She sat towards the middle of the bus with three other black women.  When a white man got on the bus, the driver told the black women to move to the back.  Rosa refused to move, which caused her arrest.  She went to trial and was found guilty.  She had to pay $23.  However, the bus companies of Montgomery were the actual ones who had to pay.  Rosa’s arrest and subsequent trial caused the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted 380 days and started the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.

REVIEW: This is a brief story of Rosa Park’s adult life.  It tells of her involvement in gaining equality for African Americans that she worked for her entire life.  The book would be a good supplement to a study of the Civil Rights movement or in conjunction with the realistic fiction book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Sequence of Events and Historical Context

RELATED BOOKS: Bus Ride to Justice, Rosa Parks: My Story, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It,

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: The Rosa Parks Story (2002), Heroes of Freedom: Harriett Tubman and Rosa Parks (2008)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.uwlax.edu/teachhistory//african_american_history.htm

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

December 8, 2008

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

Author: Nigel Saunders and Steven Chapman

Page Length: 48

Reading Level: 8.9

Genre: Non-Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Renewable Energy is a non-fiction book full of facts about the sources of renewable energy.  It begins with a two-page explanation of energy.  Then, the book proceeds to discuss the various types of renewable energy that include:  energy from the sun, biomass energy, wind energy, and energy from moving water.  In each discussion, the pros and cons of that type of renewable energy are listed.

REVIEW: The authors have done an excellent job of presenting scientific facts about renewable energy in a concise book that has colorful pictures, a glossary at the back of the book, and a “word store” at the bottom of each page with definitions of probable unknown words.  In addition, “fast facts” and inset notes and graphs are used. 

This is an excellent book to use as a supplement for an energy study. I would recommend it for boys who don’t think they like to read. The pictures and short entries make it a fast and interesting read. With all the discussion of our world becoming “more green” it is an informative book for teens to read to become more knowledgeable about the choices of the future for accessing energy.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Supporting Details, Making Predictions, Cause/Effect, and Comparison and Contrast

RELATED BOOKS: Fossil Fuel, Nuclear, Science Topics: Energy, Energy Files: Water, Solar, Wind, Energy Essentials, Energy for Life, Energy Alternatives

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Renewable Energy (History Channel, 2008), Never Blend In (2004), An Inconvenient Truth (2007)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.energy.org.uk

www.eere.energy.gov/kids

www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable

www.kyrene.k12.az.us/…/4th/4_Renewable and Nonrenewable_unit_revised.doc

www.stewardship.nacdnet.org/downloads/EducatorsGuideSSW07.pdf

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

December 4, 2008

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Creepy Stuff

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 11:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Creepy Stuff

Author: Mary Packard

Page Length: 85

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Non Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: This book details fascinating facts researched by Robert Ripley. Packard explains fascinating stories of twins separated at birth who lived the same lives (even married women with the same name). Learn how psychics have predicted the sinking of ships and the assassinations of presidents before they happened. There are stories of how shrunken heads are created, dead people who attend live events, and even a church decorated with bones. This book details the fascinating, statistically impossible, and seemingly unbelievable truths of events that have happened around the world.

REVIEW: I was immediately turned off by the cover of this book; however, the contents weren’t all disgusting and “creepy.” The book is interesting and the quiz questions captivating. I think that students would become hooked easily on the strange and bizarre facts detailed here. This might be used as an excellent opener to the classroom activity for the day – or these stories even re-typed for editing exercises. The quiz at the end of the book is also an excellent tool for assessing student comprehension of the material – I think that surprisingly most teachers would discover that their students will remember quite a bit.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: non-fiction, making predictions, assessing cause and effect

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: references to stuffed dead people and medical oddities

RELATED BOOKS: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Encyclopedia, World’s Weirdest Critters, Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Expect the Unexpected, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Planet Eccentric

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.ripleys.com/

http://comics.com/ripleys_believe_it_or_not/

http://www.palaceofwax.com/FlashSite/default.asp

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

November 3, 2008

REM World

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 2:07 am
Tags: , , ,

REM World

Author: Rodman Philbrick

Page Length: 190

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Science Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: This is the story of an overweight 11 year-old boy, Arthur Woodbury, who is teased by his classmates and called Biscuit Butt.  Arthur loves to eat but wants to lose weight.  He decides to take advantage of an REM Sleep Device that is advertised on the back of one of his comic books. The device promises you can lose weight while you sleep. It is Arthur’s birthday and he celebrates by eating the whole cake himself.  Then, he grabs some Oreo cookies and heads to his room to try out the new device. He places the helmet device on his head and believes he will go to sleep fat and wake up thin.  When he wakes up still fat, Arthur is angry and throws the helmet, but realizing he is still in the REM World, he must use the device or the world will be lost to an evil darkness.

REVIEW: This is a great adventure book based on a problem many children deal with, obesity.  Arthur overeats because he feels a loss for his father.  Through all of his adventures and challenges he doesn’t realize he is losing weight because he is eating less and moving more.  After his journey into REM World, Arthur is remembered for his courage rather than for being fat.

This would be a good book for students with low self-esteem to realize that each of us has worthy attributes if we just look for them.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Descriptive writing (p. 55, 57), Vocabulary, Setting, Sequence of Events, Character

RELATED BOOKS: The Last Book in the Universe, Freak the Mighty, Max the Mighty

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.rodmanphilbrick.com/teaching.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REM_World

scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=1169_type=Book_typeId=4139

www.ga.k12.pa.us/academics/ls/superreader/title/R/remworld.htm

engagedpatrons.org/Blogs.cfm?SiteID=4725&BlogID=61&BlogPostID=631

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

September 30, 2008

Running Out of Time

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 1:39 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Running Out of Time

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Page Length: 184

Reading Level: 7   

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: It is 1840 and Jesse lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana.  One of Jesse’s biggest thrills is to go on late night medical calls with her mom, who acts as a mid-wife, but lately has started treating families for other illnesses.  One night, Jesse’s mother makes an unbelievable revelation to Jesse and sends her on a dangerous mission.

The remainder of the book Jesse learns about the world outside Clifton, the people who are in charge of Clifton, and how she is relevant in saving the lives of the children of Clifton.

REVIEW: This book begins in the 1840’s in what seems to be a traditional colonial setting.  However, on page 21, at the close of chapter 3, Margaret Haddix puts in a shocking detail!  The book then progresses with lots of action as Jesse, the main character, is on a mission to save the children of her community.  The adventures she experiences are described quite vividly, which make the book a fast read.

This is a good action-adventure book that girls will love. However, I was somewhat disappointed in the ending.  I felt it was anti-climatic after all the action in the body of the book.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Supporting Details, Character, Setting, Compare/Contrast and Sequence of Events

RELATED BOOKS: The City of Ember, The Shadow Children Series

HISTORICAL CONNECTIONS: Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Mass.

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/…/runningoutoftime.htm

http://library.thinkquest.org/J0110073/Author.html

www.multcolib.org/talk/guides-running.html

http://epinions.com/review/Running_Out_of_Time_by_Margaret_Haddix_and_by_M

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

September 1, 2008

Refuge Cove

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 1:12 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Refuge Cove

Author: Lesley Choyce

Page Length: 89

Reading Level: 3.2

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Greg and his mother have just moved to the town of Deep Cove. Greg’s father has recently passed away and Greg is embarking on a new adventure in his young life. His love for sailing takes him out to the cold waters of the North Atlantic where he encounters an Asian refugee family struggling for survival.

Greg offers to bring the refugees to his home and care for them. The family reluctantly agrees. At first, Greg hides the family’s identity from his mother, however that does not last long. Deep Cove is a community where everyone knows everyone. For example, the residents of the town feel so comfortable with each other, that they will walk into each other’s homes without even knocking!

Soon, many residents assist the refugee family by providing food and blankets. The refugee family’s fears of being caught and sent back to their own country seem to be lessened. However, one day, the Mounties arrive at Greg’s home and speak to his mother. She unsuccessfully lies to the police and they arrive a second time to take Greg’s mother in for questioning.

Upon witnessing the presence of the Canadian police, the refugee family makes an escape out onto the stormy waters. Greg chases after them, and after a climactic adventure on the sea the family is returned back to Greg’s home. In the end, the immigration service allows the family to stay on the condition that they have a support network from which to turn to. Greg and his mother as well as the Deep Cove community turn out to be just that support.

REVIEW: Students may have trouble connecting to this story initially. The Canadian setting and numerous references to boating and sailing may not hook the reader. Some front-loading on Canadian geography and boating vocabulary may be beneficial. The topic of refugees is not an easy one. However, this book would be a great supplement to such a historical study. I would recommend that this book be read and then discussed as a group or in pairs.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: simile (pages 7 & 26), vocabulary – whitecaps, tiller, dory, gunwales

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: reference to “booze” and “drugs” (page 20)

RELATED WEBSITES:

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

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=9SpEkibVnCAC&dq=%22refuge+cove%22+choyce&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=-wydcNQaj1&sig=bZE9J3RtFmVLXgXFBCTy4NJUzd0&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

http://www.deepcovebc.com/ (website to the city referred to in the book)

http://www.refugecove.com/ (website to a Canadian city of the books title)

http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/index_e.htm (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugee (What is a Refugee?)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

August 23, 2008

Remember the Ladies 100 Great American Women

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 11:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Remember the Ladies 100 Great American Women

Author:  Cheryl Harness 

Page Length: 48

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Non-Fiction           

PLOT SUMMARY:  Cheryl Harness gives a one-paragraph summary of 100 great American Women.  She begins with naming women of the new world, the colonial world, women of the American Revolution, women who were leaders when the United States was a new nation, and as the nation grew.

She recognizes women from the Civil War era, the pioneers of the west, and those who fought for equality.  As the Roaring Twenties approached, she wrote of the women who brought changes to the role of women, and then, she wrote of the role of women in the Great Depression and World War ll. 

The women become more recognizable as she writes of the women of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’, 80’s and 90’s.  

REVIEW:  I enjoyed this quick history review written and illustrated quite well.  Many of the women, I knew about, but just as many were new to me.  Girls who enjoy non-fiction would enjoy this book.  It could be used as a source for a history project for the low-level reader. 

At the end of the book, there are two illustrations that give a quick look at history and the women who helped develop it.  The author also includes a list of each of the women with a one-word description to help recall the importance of each of them.

A detailed glossary and bibliography are included, as well as, some historical sites and women’s organizations.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Sequence of Events, Summarization, Compare/Contrast, and Informative Texts,

RELATED BOOKS: Rabble Rousers: Twenty American Women Who Made a Difference, Ghosts of the White House, Ghosts of the Civil War, Ghosts of the Twentieth Century

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Adams National Historic Site, Susan B. Anthony House, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Harriet Tubman House, Laurel Ingalls Wilder Museum, and Women’s Rights National Historic Park

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.cherylharness.com/remember_ladies1.htm

www.content.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

August 12, 2008

Rebel

Filed under: R — thebookreviews @ 5:13 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rebel

Author: Willo Davis Roberts       

Page Length: 153

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: Amanda Jane Keeling has the nickname Rebel because at an early age she was defiant in all that her parent’s tried to teach her.  Rebel is the only girl in her family and she has three musically talented brothers. As her family prepares for a trip to Europe where the boys will participate in music competition, Rebel’s Gram, decides to buy a boarding house in the University area.  She asked if any of the children would be able to help with house renovations.  Rebel thinks this would be a good opportunity to miss another competition, and plans to stay with Gram and help for two weeks, then join her family for the road trip through Europe.

Gram is going into her housing venture with another older woman, Old Vi, as referred to by her grandson, Moses.  Both ladies have pet dogs. Gram’s is Pookie and Old Vi’s is Tiger.

Upon meeting Moses, Rebel is pleasantly surprised.  At the age of 14 she is 5’ 10” and towers above all the boys she has ever known.  Moses is 15 and is 6’ 6’’.  While Rebel has overcome some of her rebellious ways, she identifies with Moses on some family issues and expectations.  Moses’ dad is a lawyer and wants his son to follow in his footsteps.  Moses would rather die than be a lawyer.  His interest lies in making movies and he constantly carries a video, capturing all of his surroundings on film.  Rebel’s family expected her to play the piano and follow her brothers in the music field but she expresses that she is “tone deaf.”

The two teens have every intention to help with the painting of the three-story Victorian home, but several events get them distracted.  They witness a thief steal a candy bar from the neighborhood deli and a mystery and adventure begin.

REVIEW:  This is an easy book to read.  The author captures the reader’s attention quickly and it is hard to put the book down, as the characters are developed with unique personalities that are easy to like.  Moses and Rebel establish a bond, and the reader senses there is somewhat of an attraction as they work on the house, hang out, and solve a mystery together.  Gram and Old Vi are feisty old ladies with dogs that add depth to the plot.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Plot, Sequence of Events, Main Idea and Supporting Details, Characters, Conflict, Cause and Effect, and Conclusions, Generalizations, and Predictions

RELATED BOOKS: The Kidnappers: A Mystery, Twisted Summer, The One Left Behind

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.answers.com/topic/willo-davis-roberts-2

www.bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=1185705

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

April 2, 2008

Rats Saw God

Rats Saw God

Author: Rob Thomas

Page Length: 202

Reading Level: 6

REVIEW: This is the story of a high school senior, Steve York, who is called to the counselor’s (Mr. DeMouy) office to discuss how Steve, an underachieving merit scholar, can make up an English grade he failed his junior year in high school. Steve lives in San Diego with his newly remarried mom and sister. He has received a possession and three under the influence citations since the beginning of his senior year.  But Mr. DeMouy, a 30 year old counselor, wants to give Steve a second chance.  He tells Steve he can make up the failing grade by writing a 100 page essay.  He promises Steve no one else will read the essay but him.  Steve decides to take the challenge and titles his essay, “Roads Scholar”.   

The story begins in Houston, the summer after Steve’s sophomore year in high school. Steve is living with his father while his mom and sister move to San Diego after their divorce.  The book is written in two settings.  The first is Steve’s essay, a recollection of the past three years; the second is Steve’s present life, a senior in San Diego.   

Through Steve’s essay, the reader becomes familiar with the strained relationship Steve has with his father. Steve dons large hooped earrings and a bandana in an act of deviance to his Vietnam vet and astronaut father.   He admits loathing his dad as he states on page 110, “ is in better shape than me, buys American, watches CNN nonstop, drinks bottled water, reads the entire newspaper, works 16 hours a day, and has never air-guitared the Rolling Stones.”  The essay also describes the formation of the “Grace Order of Dadaists,” a club Steve and an obscure group of students charter at the high school.  From this group, Steve experiences his first love and loss of virginity.  

As Steve works through these memories in his writing, he works through feelings and relationships he has experienced.  He has both rewards and disappointments.  However, in writing about his past, Steve realizes where he needs to go and what he needs to do. 

I enjoyed this book immensely.  What I thought started off slowly, gripped my attention and I completed the book on an airplane ride to San Diego. 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: The book has mature content about drugs and sex.  On pages 150-154 is a graphic picture of Steve’s first sexual experience.  It is not inappropriate for mature high school students but teachers should be aware of it. I would suggest this book for junior and senior students and any adults in the education field. 

RELATED WEBSITES: 

www.bookrags.com/studyguide-rats-saw-god/

 

www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/Rats-Saw-God.html

 

http://bfgb.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/rats-saw-god-by-rob-thomas/

 

http://moorebrarians.blogspot.com/2007/12/rats-saw-god-by-rob-thomas.html

www.powells.com/biblio/62-9781416938972-0

 

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

Blog at WordPress.com.