Tuesday, March 28, 2017

So B. It

So B. It is a book that I have been wanting to read for years, so I was happy that I finally got a chance to check it out. It was totally unlike what I expected it to be (in my head, it was a novel in verse), but enjoyable just the same.

Heidi's mother knows only 23 words and one of them mystifies Heidi: "soof." She gets it in her head that if she understood what that word meant, Heidi would know about her mother and her own life. This sets her off on a journey that will change her life.

This is a touching book that doesn't hold up to too much inspection. There are so many unanswered questions about how Heidi survived so many years in the care of her mentally disabled mother and agoraphobic neighbor. While none of these issues will bother middle grade readers, my adult perspective on things took me out of the story a bit.

Still, I know of a few readers who will enjoy So B. It and I will recommend the book to them.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Enemy

Every reader knows the thrill of discovering an excellent new series, and then realizing that there are many more volumes to discover. I feel fortunate to learn about Charlie Higson's The Enemy just as the final book was published. I read the first in one day and am now eagerly working my way through the series.

I love the premise: a disease has turned everyone in London over the age of fourteen into a zombie, and the children are trying to survive by living in supermarkets and scavenging. When an invitation to start a new life in Buckingham Palace arises, the kids risk everything to make their way across London to safety.

In a novel like this, a lot of characters are going to die. It never felt gruesome or gratuitous, and it was fascinating to see which characters would actually survive until the end of the novel. Nobody was sacred, and I really enjoyed it because it seemed realistic for a doomsday situation.

There are brilliant, tiny details here. The kids call the zombies "mothers" and "fathers," which is just so sad. There are reminders all over that our heroes are children in a terrifying new world. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dancing in the Rain

I love Lynn Joseph and wish she was prolific, coming out with something new and gorgeous every year. Unfortunately, that isn't the case and we need to wait for titles like Dancing in the Rain. This book still isn't widely available, even Amazon doesn't sell it directly. This is a shame because it's sad, beautiful, diverse, and hopeful.

September 11th changed many lives forever, including our protagonists, Elizabeth and Brandt. Elizabeth lives in the Dominican Republic, although her father worked on the top floor of the World Trade Center. Brandt's mother is a lawyer in the building, but after the tragedy, she decides to move Brandt and his older brother Jared back to Sosua. There, the children become friends while their mothers are numb with pain.

Nobody writes about the Caribbean like Joseph. Her descriptions evoke the tastes and smells and passions of the region where I've made my home. She also has created a gem in Elizabeth, who reminds me a bit of a Lia Francesca Block heroine. She believes in mermaids and whimsy and the power of hope. Elizabeth is the friend that everyone wishes they had.

Reading this just strengthens my desire to read Flowers in the Sky, the only Lynn Joseph book I haven't read. She is just too talented.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mirror, Mirror

Imagine being as brilliant as Marilyn Singer, who created her own form of poetry. Reverso poems come in two columns. The first is read from top to bottom; the second has the same words but is read from bottom to top. Only the punctuation and the meaning changes. I love this idea and how it complex it really is to write them.

I purchased Mirror Mirror for our class' poetry unit and will challenge all the students to read the book and write their own reverso poems. It's often the student you least expect who succeeds in these challenges. Mirror Mirror's poems are all about fairy tales and usually tell two sides of the same story. Below, you'll see "In the Hood," from the perspective of Little Red and the Wolf.

Singer has written two more books in this form, one about Greek mythology and the other about fairy tales. I want to add both to our collection because I love this clever idea.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A STEM Picture Book

There is a strong STEM emphasis at my school and it starts in the early years. Here is a popular picture book that relates to science, technology, engineering, and math.

Iggy Peck has always wanted to be an architect, ever since he created a tower of dirty diapers. While his parents support his ambitions, his second grade teacher has no interest in his passion. Iggy is undeterred and ends up using his skills to save the day. 

Unless a family member is an architect, it's an unusual ambition for a small child, so this book is a fun introduction to what that job is. I also like that Iggy had his classmates working with him to collaborate on the final solution. I read and loved about Iggy's classmate, Rosie Revere, Engineer and am excited to check out Ada Twist, Scientist, the next book in the series.