The Book Reviews – Website

December 19, 2010

The First Woman Doctor

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First Woman Doctor by Baker: Book Cover

The First Woman Doctor

 

Author: Rachel Baker

 

Page Length: 210

 

Reading Level: 6

 

Genre: Biography

PLOT SUMMARY: It’s the early 1800s and Elizabeth Blackwell is a fortunate young woman. She’s been born to a progressive father who believes staunchly in equal rights. He believes in educating both his sons and his daughters broadly rather than confining the girls to studies of the home. He is the greatest champion for his daughters’ future success. Elizabeth will take the courage and determination she inherited and persevere despite hardships. She will often be told no – but she will not take no for an answer. Elizabeth wants to be a doctor, a surgeon, and even start her own medical school. Nothing can succeed in the face of such determination.

REVIEW: This is an excellent book. I love what it teaches everyone about courage and perseverance – where there’s a will there’s a way. Historically this book is also a great look at women’s rights, slavery, and even the treatment of the social classes. This book is an engaging and intriguing look into what early medicine was like (including the use of leeches).

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  sequence of events, cause and effect, character traits, making predictions, analogies, historical context, context clues

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: issues of prejudice

RELATED BOOKS: Mary on Horseback, After the Dancing Days, The Story of George Washington Carver

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: The Blackwell Story (1957)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/elizabethblackwell.htm

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/features/profiles/b/elizabeth-blackwell.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/blackwell/

http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/calendar-activities/elizabeth-blackwell-became-first-20402.html

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

The Boxer

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The Boxer by Kathleen Karr: Book Cover

The Boxer

Author: Kathleen Karr

Page Length: 169

Reading Level: 4

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: It’s the late 1800s and times are hard for John and his family. His father has run off, his mother barely makes enough money to get by, and he’s left trying to support his brothers and sisters. Tired of struggling, John decides to try to win the prize money in a fight – there’s only one catch – fighting is illegal. John winds up in the slammer for six months, but it’s in jail that he truly learns what it means to be a champion. Never giving up his love for boxing and determined to provide well for his family, John Woods overcomes the odds to become a famous boxer.

REVIEW: This was interesting read. John’s warm heart and love for his family above himself is an excellent lesson to promote to teenagers. The theme of perseverance and survival in the book is wonderfully and vividly presented. Readers get a feel for the economic circumstances of the time, the limitations imposed by one’s class, and the determination it takes to prevail during hard times. John never gives up on his dreams, his family, or his ethics. This book is a good read and would likely appeal to boys – with its boxing sequences and blow by blow descriptions.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: historical connections, connecting text to self, connecting text to text, cause and effect, sequence of events, compare and contrast

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: boxing, incarceration, betting

RELATED BOOKS: Fortune’s Fool, Born For Adventure, World’s Apart, Mama Went to Jail for the Vote, The 7th Knot, Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free

MOVIE & ART CONNECTIONS:

“Rocky” movies

Boxing paintings – http://www.edgarbrown.com/the-loss-boxing.php

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.buildingrainbows.com/bookreview/reviewid/18518

http://www.childrensbookguild.org/kathleenkarr.html

http://litplans.com/authors/Kathleen_Karr.html

http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/159.html

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

August 30, 2009

Brian’s Song

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Brian’s Song

Author: William Blinn

Page Length: 119

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Teleplay

PLOT SUMMARY: Brian Piccolo and Gayle Sayers were unlikely friends. After all, they came from very different backgrounds. For one of them being the best was easy; for the other, being second best was normal. One of them was outgoing while the other was reserved. One of them was black, and one of them was white. Despite their differences, they had one thing in common -they both wanted to be first string for the same position on the Chicago Bears pro football team. They challenged each other, they never gave up, and through it all – they never stopped giving life their best effort. 

REVIEW: I love this format. I used this before with my seventh grade classes, they really enjoyed reading it aloud. The movie caps the entire teleplay off beautifully (I think the newer version is better than the 1971 version). The story is moving in many ways and provides excellent discussion material about – courage, perseverance, strength, the true meaning of friendship, and how critical attitude is to success.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: connecting text to self, sequence of events, cause and effect, making predictions, elements of plot, varied writing formats (using the teleplay as a classroom writing activity)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: reality of battling racism and cancer

RELATED BOOKS: Gayle Sayer’s I Am Third, Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, Story Sense, The Screenwriter’s Bible  

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Brian’s Song, Remember the Titans

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.bearshistory.com/lore/brianpiccolo.aspx

http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/Piccolo_Brian.html

http://www.christianitytoday.com/moi/2000/003/may/16.16.html

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

December 7, 2008

Wrestling Sturbridge

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Wrestling Sturbridge

Author: Rich Wallace

Page Length: 133

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Have you ever wanted something so bad you can almost taste it? Victory seems so close but it’s just out of reach? Benny is a member of the championship Sturbridge wrestling team. He wants to so badly to win state. The problem is that his friend Al is number one and no matter how hard he tries he just can’t seem to beat him. But Benny never gives up. Every challenge match he has, he tries to outdo Al. He can feel the drive and he’s determined to win. Can he out match Al? Will the coach even see his true talent before it’s too late?

REVIEW: For wrestling fans, this book is a must. For the rest of us, it’s still an interesting read because there is more depth to the story than just a wrestling match. Victory in wrestling symbolizes Benny’s victories over his life and insecurities. The book also details a mild romance between Kim and Benny and deals lightly with the fact that they are from two different races. I was a little confused by the dad’s habit of stealing things — it’s just almost seemed out of place and totally unnecessary for the book. Overall, the book is compact and the action of preparing for the next big match keeps the reader turning the page. The short descriptive facts between chapters also help the reader get to know Benny better (it develops a kinship with the reader almost as if he is revealing secrets about himself that no one else knows).

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence, author’s purpose, character motivations, point of view (Grandma about Kim), cause and effect

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: some mild race issues, under-age drinking, mild sexual references

RELATED BOOKS: Playing Without the Ball, The Roar of the Crowd, Losing Is Not an Option, Perpetual Check, One Good Punch, Emergency Quarterback 

   

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://biography.jrank.org/pages/1488/Wallace-Rich-1957.html

http://www.bookrags.com/biography/rich-wallace-aya/

http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679885559

http://www.highschoolwrestling.info/

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

October 17, 2008

Mary on Horseback

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Mary on Horseback

Author: Rosemary Wells

Page Length: 53

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Biography

PLOT SUMMARY: The year is 1923. People in the hills of Kentucky are dying from lack of medical care. Mary Breckinridge is a nurse destined to change the lives of the people she cares for. John’s pa is a logger who has been injured by a giant log falling on his leg. A child is ill with diphtheria. Twins are born and the mother is failing. What would the people do without Mary? Can she save them all? When will medical supplies and help arrive?

REVIEW: This story is a true account of the help that Mary Breckinridge brought to the people of Kentucky. She worked tirelessly with limited supplies to bring relief and hope. Mary creates her on frontier nursing service. This story is good for examining the life of someone who refused to give up when times were tough. Students will learn from her “will do whatever it takes to get it done attitude.” Three brief stories make this book ideal for classroom use. Students can stay engaged and entertained.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: historical context, character traits, visualizing, understanding author’s purpose, cause and effect

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: dealing with death

RELATED BOOKS: The Fog Comes on Little Pig Feet, Leave Well Enough Alone, When No One Was Looking, Through the Hidden Door, Wide Neighborhoods: A Story of the Frontier Nursing Service (written by Mary Breckinridge)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://biography.jrank.org/pages/1112/Wells-Rosemary-1943.html

http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/press/pioneers/breckinridge.html

http://www.frontiernursing.org/History/MaryBreckinridge.shtm

http://www.greatwomen.org/women.php?action=viewone&id=27

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

September 2, 2008

Brian’s Winter

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Brian’s Winter

Author: Gary Paulsen

Page Length: 133

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Brian’s Winter was written as an alternate ending to the one given in Hatchet. Brian is faced with winter in the wilderness. He must adapt his shelter and find ways to sustain himself under harsh winter conditions. Can he survive when the weather is below zero for days and days?  Can he evade being ripped to shreds by bears that are foraging for their last meal before hibernating? Will anyone ever find Brian, or is he destined to live alone for the rest of his life?

REVIEW: Paulsen continues Hatchet because he received fan correspondence wanting to know how Brian would have handled winter. Brian is indeed faced with a harsh winter. He must learn all over again how to survive. He must adapt his clothing, shelter, and hunting techniques or starve and freeze to death.

Paulsen is well known for his survival of the fittest like stories. This book is a good read for anyone – because one never knows when survival on your own might be necessary. This book leaves the reader considering how they could survive and pondering what they would do in Brian’s situation. Brian never completely gives up hope as he must learn the hard way to kill or be killed and to do whatever it takes to survive. This story is thought provoking about what is important in life. It sends a clear message that survival depends often depends upon one’s mental attitude (a lesson many teenagers could use).

Brian’s Winter is a great teaching tool. It naturally lends itself to journal responses (students might write entries as if they were Brian after each chapter). Students can connect with Brian’s feelings and experiences. Critical thinking is required for survival.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: theme, setting, point of view, characters, author’s purpose, responding to text, visualizing as you read, making predictions

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: killing animals for survival (vivid descriptions of skinning and gutting them)

RELATED BOOKS: Hatchet, The Cookcamp, Dogsong, Canyons, The River

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.allreaders.com/topics/Info_28922.asp

http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780440227199&view=tg

http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/paulsen.htm

http://litplans.com/titles/Brians_Winter_Gary_Paulsen.html

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/65720/wildnerness_survival_basics.html?cat=11

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

August 6, 2008

True Believer

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True Believer

Author: Virginia Euwer Wolff

Page Length: 264

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: LaVaughn is 15. Despite the fact that she lives in poor neighborhood filled with violence, LaVaughn longs to go to college. LaVaughn begins to dream about life after high school. She sees how her friend, Jolly, suffers to make ends meet, take care of her two young fatherless children, and try to earn her credits to graduate. LaVaughn knows that she must find a way to a better life. Her friends have turned to a new interests, and Jody, a boy that used to be a close friend, has moved back to town. LaVaughn’s heart races every time she’s never him or even smells his wonderful chlorine scent left behind in the elevator. Life doesn’t always turn out the way LaVaughn expects. Can she keep her friends and find true love before her sixteenth birthday arrives?

REVIEW: Although this book lists as a reading level of 7, it has the potential to appeal to a lower reading level because of the short , easy to navigate and understand chapters. The only qualifier for a level 7 to me it seems are the large science vocabulary words LaVaughn shares with the reader as she learns them. The book has an excellent message about education and expectations and the discord that can arise between friends and family members who aren’t comfortable with the new developments sometimes perceived as “snootiness” in the person who is changing for the better. The book details friends who were lost to violence and a school shooting. LaVaughn walks in on two males kissing; the readers experience her shock and reaction.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: cause and effect, character sketch, technical vocabulary, conclusions and predictions, setting, theme, characters

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: violence, homosexuality, death of a parent, death of a classmate

RELATED BOOKS: Probably Still Nick Swanson, The Mozart Season, Make Lemonade

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?sid=812&pid=417088&agid=21

http://www.multcolib.org/talk/guides-true.html

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780807206935

http://crhssreadingolympics.blogspot.com/2007/05/wolff-virginia-euwer-true-believer.html

http://www.simonsays.com/subs/pdfs/kids/Wolff.pdf

www.hbook.com/magazine/articles/2001/may01_wolff_sutton.asp

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

July 1, 2008

The Glory Field

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The Glory Field

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Page Length: 375

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: This novel tells the story of generations of the Lewis family. The story begins in West Africa in 1753 when Muhammad Bilal is captured, bound, and taken on a ship. Young Muhammad longs for his family, watches many of his shipmates die, and wonders what his own fate will be. He longs for his freedom. Next we meet, Moses and Joshua Lewis on a South Carolina plantation in the year 1864. They too are on a dangerous quest for freedom no matter what the cost. The story continues across the family tree in each generation concluding in modern times. The Lewis family must summon all of their strength and courage to overcome hardships that continue to present themselves in different forms to each generation.

REVIEW: I enjoyed the historical perspective this book provided. Myers did an exceptional job of helping the read feel the struggles of each generation. He truly relays how arduous the struggle for equality has been for African Americans. Different generational stories are told by both the males and females of the family – making the book equally appealing for all students. The novel is rich with historical connections and would make an excellent teaching tool.

The one thing I found hard to follow at times – or really that I wish he had done differently would have been to follow one specific family line all the way through instead of taking different characters along the way. However, the stories are woven together well; sometimes, just glancing back at the family tree diagram helps the reader keep it all together in their mind.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: author’s purpose, conclusions, generalizations, predictions, compare/contrast, sequence of events, symbols (shackles),  point of view, causes and effects

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: whippings, slavery, prejudice, cruelty, drugs

RELATED BOOKS: The Color Purple, Gone With the Wind, Up From Slavery, If You Lived When There was Slavery in America, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

RELATED MOVIES: “Gone With the Wind,” “Roots,” “The North and the South,” “The Color Purple,” PBS – “Slavery and the Making of America”

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.classzone.com/novelguides/litcons/glory/guide.cfm

http://www.glencoe.com/sec/literature/litlibrary/pdf/glory_field.pdf

http://tc.education.pitt.edu/library/Clusters/GloryField.html

http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schooladventures/slavery/

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

June 25, 2008

Slam

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Slam

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Page Length: 266

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction, Adventure

PLOT SUMMARY: Greg Harris, aka Slam, is an outstanding basketball player. He has just recently transferred from his Harlem high school team to a magnet school. The pressure is on to perform in the classroom and on the courts where Slam has to learn to be a team player. All around him struggles are taking place. Life in Harlem is far from easy. Grandma is ill and in the hospital, Derek is following his lead. Ice may be dealing, and he can’t seem to get Mtisha off his mind. As the pressure mounts, Slam has to make some difficult decisions and dig deeper than he ever knew he could. Can he keep it all together and still prevail on the courts or will the pressure be too much?

REVIEW: Myers writes a moving story about the struggles of a young man in Harlem. Slam has talent, but he has to learn how to balance the demands of life without giving up or giving in. Slam! is a compelling story and a must read for basketball fans. This book would be good in an audio version. In general, the book would appeal more to boys. High school students can relate to Slam’s relationship issues, worries about his best friend’s new choices, and the pressure of making the grades and finding a path for the future. This book contains strong characters and play by play descriptions at times of basketball games and moves (which could bore students who do not understand the game of basketball). Great book for an African-American male who loves basketball to read.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence of events, causes of Slam’s difficulties – effects of his choices, setting, theme, conflict, writer’s motive, context clues (about Ice)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: allusions to drugs

RELATED BOOKS: Basketball by Mike Kennedy, The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams, How to Be Like Mike: Life Lessons about Basketball’s Best, Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk, The American Dream, The Beast

RELATED MOVIES:  Hoosiers (1986), Hoop Dreams (1994), Above the Rim (1994), Finding Forrester, Coach Carter (2005), Glory Road (2006)

RELATED MUSIC: Shaquille O’Neal – Respect, Hit Em High – Space Jam Soundtrack, We Are the Champions – Queen

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://faculty.salisbury.edu/~elbond/slam.htm

http://litplans.com/authors/Walter_Dean_Myers.html

http://www.bookhooks.com/detailed.cfm?Report_number=4652

http://www.walterdeanmyers.net/

http://aalbc.com/authors/walter1.htm

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

May 2, 2008

Harry Houdini Master of Magic

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Harry Houdini Master of Magic

Author: Robert Kraske

Page Length: 72

Reading Level: 3

Genre: Biography

PLOT SUMMARY: This brief biography details the birth, childhood, and career of Harry Houdini a famous magician and escape artist. The details of his rise to stardom as well as his years spent struggling to achieve it are given. Brilliant photographs depict many of Harry’s (born Erich Weiss) most infamous tricks. The story concludes with Harry Houdini’s unexpected death.

REVIEW: This book is a short easy read. If students were completing research projects on a famous person, this book would be an excellent source to compliment additional research. The book is a brief overview and is broken down nicely into small manageable chapters.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence, conflict, cause and effect, theme

RELATED BOOKS: Who Was Harry Houdini?, Harry Houdini A Photographic Story of Life, The Great Houdini World Famous Magician and Escape Artist, Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini

RELATED MOVIES: Houdini the Movie Star, Houdini The Man from Beyond

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.houdinitribute.com/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/houdini/

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/vshtml/vshchrn.html

http://www.apl.org/history/houdini/biography.html

http://www.surfnetkids.com/houdini.htm

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

April 30, 2008

Everything on a Waffle

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Everything on a Waffle

Author: Polly Horvath

Page Length: 150

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The story of Primrose begins with a fierce storm at sea. Her mother leaves her in the care of Miss Perfidy and takes off on the boat to find her father. Her parents never return and are presumed dead by everyone except Primrose. Primrose insists and asks people aren’t there ever times when they know something isn’t true just because they know it. In the meantime, Uncle Jack takes Primrose in. Her guidance counselor, Miss Honeycut, creates problems; she pursues Uncle Jack and wants him without a niece. Primrose finds a friend in Miss Bowzer who teaches her to cook in her restaurant where everything comes on a waffle. Accidents happen and Primrose’s fortunes continue to fall. She is placed in a foster home, loses someone dear to her, and continues to wait along the shore for her parents. Despite everything, Primrose refuses to give up on what she knows in her heart has to be true.

REVIEW: Everything on a Waffle is a touching, humorous story. The adventures and misadventures of Primrose are entertaining and at times saddening. Readers experience Primrose’s belief in her parents return and begin to hope with her despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. This is a great story of the survival of spirit despite adversity. Primrose, her friends, and family never give up either.

Of particular interest to some students might also be the ending of each chapter with a recipe related to its contents.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: descriptive writing and similes: ‘the feeling of joy swept through my soul like fire up a vacuum,” use of dialogue in writing, elements of plot, symbolism

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: smoking by Primrose’s mother and Miss Perfidy, children bullying and belittling Primrose

RELATED BOOKS: The Trolls, No More Cornflakes, My One Hundred Adventures, The Pepins and their Problems

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.discoveryjourney.com/ContentSummary.asp?ContentID=20&List=1

http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/06/17/reviews/010617.rv135343.html

http://www.cherylsigmon.com/pdf/Everything-on-a-Waffle-Books-with-Class.pdf

http://www.holtzbrinckpublishers.com/images/Books/TeachersGuides/0374422087TG.pdf

http://www.pollyhorvath.com/

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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

 

Someone Like You

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Someone Like You

Author: Sarah Dessen

Pages: 281

Reading Level: 6

 

PLOT SUMMARY: Someone Like You is the story of two teenage girls, Halley and Scarlett, who have been best friends for the past five years. The story begins with Halley away at some teen adjustment camp her therapist mother made her attend. It’s the middle of the night, and Scarlett has called to ask her to come home because “he’s dead.” Halley and Scarlett weather the storm of Michael’s death and funeral together. Scarlett, who had just begun dating him that summer, is heartbroken. Meanwhile, Halley befriend Michael’s best friend, Macon. Macon and Halley begin dating and the battles between the properly raised and well grounded young woman Halley is and the more adventurous girl she wishes she were begins. Macon is dashing and exciting; yet, deep inside, Halley knows that he isn’t her type. She struggles with Macon’s disappearing acts, his non-existent home life, and defying her parents to see him. Drugs and sex enter into the picture and it becomes even more complicated.

 

Scarlett has issues of her own to navigate when she discovers that she is pregnant with Michael’s baby. Her eccentric mother, Marion, demands that she have an abortion. Scarlett has other ideas. With Halley by her side, they learn about pregnancy, deal with the social repercussions at school, and prepare for childbirth. Marion still insists on an adoption. Will Scarlett keep the baby? Will Halley make the right decision, or will she lose a part of herself trying to be what Macon wants? Will the rift between her and her mother mend?

 

REVIEW: I would recommend this to all teenage girls. It is very well written. Halley’s handling of the pressure to have sex and her internal struggle with being the good girl versus the adventurous “bad girl” is something most young women can relate to. I also like the way Dessen portrays the head cheerleader, who let herself go to easily, as washed out and unhappy. Dessen does an excellent job of examining the gravity of the decision to have sex and the repercussions that can follow.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: In the classroom, I would use the novel for small group reading for individuals.

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://www.sarahdessen.com/

  

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=58756739

 

http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-someone-like-you/

 

http://www.smith.edu/ourhealthourfutures/teenpreg.html

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

 

The Landry News

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The Landry News

Author: Andrew Clements

Page Length: 131

Reading Level: 6

 

PLOT SUMMARY: The Landry News is the story of fifth grade, Cara’s adventures as a newspaper editor. Cara’s parents recently divorced and she’s new in town. Although her previous newspapers escapades found her in some trouble, Cara isn’t giving up on what she loved. She learns that truth and mercy are important; this becomes the motto of her newspaper. Mr. Larson, Cara’s teacher, typically spends his days in class drinking coffee and reading the newspaper; he gave up on teaching years ago. Her first edition in her new school is thumb tacked to Mr. Larson’s bulletin board. Mr. Larson becomes alert as quiet falls over the room. Posted on his bulletin board is Cara’s newspaper, with an editorial about him. Cara writes “There is a teacher in the classroom, but he does not teach.” Mr. Larson becomes enraged; yet, over the weekend, he realizes that Cara is right. He isn’t the teacher of the year he used to be; he can’t even remember when he lost the desire to teach anymore.

 

Cara’s paper brings the whole class to life. Mr. Larson leads the class in a discovery of what a newspaper is, what it contains, and what its purpose is. All of the students become involved and teaching and learning are flourishing. However, Dr. Barnes, the principal, puts a stop to the paper, when an article that he deems unfit (personal information about a divorce) is published. He holds Mr. Larson responsible – is secretly thrilled to finally have the documentation he needs to have Mr. Larson removed from the classroom. Dr. Barnes hasn’t been happy with his teaching for years. The students rally behind their teacher who begins to teach them about the First Amendment and what this means. A new paper, appropriately called The Guardian continues to be published outside of school. The entire experience concludes as the board meeting where Mr. Larson is under review. The students show up, the young man who wrote the article on divorce reads it aloud, and a decision is made. Will Mr. Larson’s job survive? Cara’s determination to be heard and to present her viewpoint with mercy and truth may have changed more lives than she could ever have imagined.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: This book would be a great tool for reinforcing the study of the Bill of Rights in history class and for looking at what can happen when we stand up for what we believe in. Another interesting point of discussion and a reality for many students is the look at teacher burn out. This could lead to discussing how does anyone find the will to keep going and trying year after year? What makes one person persevere while others falter?

 

REVIEW: I liked the book. It’s a quick read with an excellent message and a great view of our rights in action. 

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://home.att.net/~clnetwork/ar/landry.pdf

 

http://litplans.com/authors/Andrew_Clements.html

 

http://www.multcolib.org/talk/guides-landry.html

 

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

 

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