Saturday, February 26, 2011

Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie RobinsonTesting the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More Kadir Nelson fangirl gushing here.

Lovely paintings. Like the one where all the kids are sitting around listening to Jackie Robinson talk about his early days in the Major Leagues. There's one little boy with glasses and big ears that stick out. He just makes me laugh. A funny character.

And then the painting where he is coming back from testing the ice for all of the neighborhood kids. The text says "All I could think was: My Dad is the bravest man alive."

How wonderful that due to talented athletes like Jackie Robinson, and civil rights workers like MLK, that kids know are more likely to think their dads are amazing because they test the frozen ice on the lake than because they broke racial barriers in major league sports.

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Out of My MindOut of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very well written. Amazing, even. Melody is a beautiful character.

Only, seriously. At one point the teacher posts a video to MySpace. I know it's silly that that bugged me when the rest of the book is so good. But come on. NO ONE DOES THAT ANYMORE. Especially a teacher posting a video of his students.

Opening lines ...

"Words. I'm surrounded by thousands of words.... Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts.... But only in my head. I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old." (p 1-2)

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Gideon's Sword (Gideon Crew #1)Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maybe a two point five as it was enough to keep me reading.
But ... I definitely prefer Pendergast and his crew as my protagonists. So far Gideon Crew is just a little too predictable.

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Jane Austen: A Life RevealedJane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually finished this one a couple of weeks ago. I just didn't really know what to say about it.

I am a Jane Austen fan. Every book and every movie.

BUT ...

there was too much rehashing of her books. For Jane Austen fans it was redundant--we've read the books and don't need to hear it all again. Jane told them best. For readers new to Jane Austen ... why give away the storyline in such a fashion? Entire plots were summarized.

The parts about Jane's life were well written. Nothing super new but then again I am already a fan. I do want to give the author that credit.

Wish I had more to say about it. I'm still getting used to reading on a Nook, so maybe that is part of my frustration. Can't stick postit notes between pages where there are lovely lines or parts that don't work. Too impatient to read with a notebook next to me (at least at this point) and set the nook down every time I want to make a note.

I guess it might be useful for maybe some biography research. I'd rather see a new JA reader read an encyclopedia article about Jane's life and then actually READ ONE OF HER BOOKS, though.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Small Acts of Amazing CourageSmall Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, I wanted to love this one. I really did. I loved Listening for Lions. And have actually convinced several students to read that one and enjoy it. (I have the WORST time getting kids at my school to read historical fic ... I really do. And I can't figure out why because I really do try to get some of the best and booktalk them and hey, they listen to me when I'm recommending mystery or fantasy ... but I digress.)

Really, maybe, as an adult read four stars. Because it really is quite good. I think maybe the intended audience is a little off. Kids (most of them, anyway) are not going to "get" this book. They will miss the beauty in all of the small acts of amazing courage. They will probably not have heard of Ghandi. They won't know where India is or what it meant that Britain held control for so long.

I jotted down a couple of beautiful lines but as they are from the ARC so I suppose I'd better wait to post them.

Worth reading, definitely. Just know that if you are a teacher it may need to be a read aloud and you may need to spend some time building of background knowledge beforehand.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist, #2)The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OOOH! Just started and it is already so good. RY is a master writer!

Later ...

Now I'm done. And really. He is good. But why must it be so gross at the same time? I mean GROSS.

PS Am I the only one who didn't know Wendigo was another word for vampire? Pretty sure I'd heard the word before in other stories. Guess either I wasn't paying attention or this is a liberty RY took with his version.

"Now, a single wold will clear the woods for miles--but what is there that will chase a wolf away?" (p37) (BTW ... the descriptions of the scenes in the Canadian wilderness were beautiful. When they weren't gross.)

"The gray land was deceptively still. It kept its secrets. Something was following us." (p115)

"A word of advice, Will Henry. When a person of the female gender wants to show you something, run the other way. The odds are it is not something you wish to see." (p257)

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10 Miles Past Normal10 Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one for it's quiet ... quirkiness. There's a girl having sort of a hard time fitting in to high school. That happens. (The goat poop part is a little different but hey ... I actually taught at an agriciscience magnet school and if it happened there I am SURE it happens in more rural schools. And it does smell.) Her usual friends suddenly seem a little different. That happens. Family maybe a little embarrassing. Yeah. That happens. (She still loves them!) She starts to make new friends. With a little luck, that happens, too.

I need to learn to start reading these e-arcs from my Nook with paper and pencil in hand because I haven't figured out how to take notes on it. Or maybe I can't? Anyway. Suffice it to say the unexpected lovely turns of phrase one expects from Ms. O'Roark Dowell are in full force.

Don't really like the cover, though.

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