Monday, September 30, 2013
Module 5: Other Award Winners
Author: Melina Marchetta
This book follows Taylor Markham and her friends through the territory wars. The wars are between the “townies,” “cadets,” and the students at the Jellicoe boarding school. Taylor is the leader of the students, and the readers follow her thoughts through the wars and other various happenings in her life. Taylor doesn’t know much about her past or her family, but she spends a lot of time with Hannah who lives right next to the school. Hannah is also writing a book (that is featured as a sub- story, so the readers get to meet Hannah’s characters as well). Taylor soon begins to realize though, when Hannah disappears to be with a “friend,” that the characters in Hannah’s story are real. Taylor, with the help of her friends, eventually pieces together her past and her connection to those “characters.”
APA Book Reference:
Marchetta, M. (2006). Jellicoe road. New York, NY: HarperTeen.
I loved the prose in this book. Marchetta is a great writer, and I look forward to reading more of her books when I have the free time. I will admit thought that when I first starting reading, I was a little bit confused with the back and forth of the story. The use of italics really helped me though, and as the story went on it became easier to follow. Also as the story went on, it was easier to see how the stories connected to one another. The main character was very troubled yet relatable, and I really enjoyed following her narration through the story. I found myself not wanting it to end. And according to Marchetta’s Wikipedia page, she is supposedly writing a screenplay adaptation of the book. I really hope, if it’s true, that the movie comes to America and doesn’t just play in Australia.
Stevenson, D. (2008). Jellicoe road (review). Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 62(3), 124-125. DOI: 10.1353/bcc.0.0492
“Jellicoe Road is where Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother years ago, and since then she’s been living at the Jellicoe School and with Hannah, who works at the school and who has taken a special interest in Taylor. Now Hannah has suddenly disappeared, leaving Taylor feeling abandoned all over again, and the timing couldn’t be worse: the military Cadets have returned for their annual local camping stint, making it time for the resumption of the long-running and secret territorial war between the Cadets, the Townies, and the School, with Taylor this year the leader of the School—and trying to forget her history with Jonah, the leader of the Cadets. Into this already intense and elaborate plot intertwine segments of another story about similar teenagers, a quintet of friends drawn from School, Cadets, and Townies and linked together by tragedy, and as the interpolated passages accumulate to make a clearer narrative, it becomes apparent that these segments of what was initially supposed to be Hannah’s unfinished novel is actually her true life story, which hides the mystery of Taylor’s own past. The book uncompromisingly starts with the fragments unconnected, leaving readers teased by a mystery they can’t even begin to piece together even as they’re enticed by the taut intensity of the atmosphere and Australian author Marchetta’s impeccable, long-striding style. Though the elements are melodramatic, they serve to heighten the intensity of emotion rather than the drama itself, steeping the book in loss and longing. Yet the solution to these griefs is subtly constructed before Taylor’s eyes as the people around her demonstrate that she matters deeply to them, and it’s clear that her circle is, in its own way, recreating the bonds of the previous generation and offering a happy ending that their predecessors were largely unable to find. Even readers with boringly normal lives will recognize the strains of Taylor’s individuation (about Hannah, she says, “I hate her for not working out what I need from her”), and they’ll be relieved to see her and her collection of surprising yet staunch friends finding their way at last.”
Jellicoe Road would be a good book to feature in a book talk to high school students. It features some mature themes, but the major of theme of the book is family whether that family is blood related or friends that become like family. This book could also open up discussion s about feelings of loss, abandonment, and dealing with suicide.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Module 5: Other Award Winners
The Tequila Worm
Author: Viola Canales
The Tequila Worm follows a young girl named Sofia through her young adulthood. She starts out as a young girl practicing for her first communion and eventually becomes a young woman with a scholarship to a private high school with her pick of the “big three” colleges to attend. Sofia is close to her family, and the book follows her through many family events such as her cousin’s quinceanera, the Day of the Dead celebrations, and the Christmas traditions in which Sofia is made the Christmas madrina. Sofia is away from home throughout the story, but she is not without a cure for her homesickness. All she must do to feel better is eat the tequila worm.
APA Book Reference:
Canales, V. (2005). The tequila worm. New York, NY: Wendy Lamb Books.
I’m going to be honest and admit that the only reason I wanted to read this book was the title. I assumed a book entitled The Tequila Worm would be an interesting read, but I had no idea what the meaning behind it was. I know now that the significance of the tequila worm is that eating it cures homesickness. I loved that the notion of eating the tequila worm kept coming up throughout various parts of the story. Something that surprised me about this book was how it was emotionally compelling. I thought it would be a quick read about a family with facts about the Mexican American culture thrown in, but this book had me crying by the end (maybe I shouldn’t have been reading it at work). The characters are so relatable, and the situations (growing up, leaving home, family obligations) are also relatable to people from any culture who read this book. I also knew that the Spanish language would be featured in the book, but I was not overwhelmed by the Spanish that was sprinkled throughout. In fact, it added to the culture of the story.
Engberg, G. (2005). The tequila worm [Review of the book The Tequila Worm]. Booklist Online. Retrieved from: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Tequila-Worm-Viola-Canales/pid=1504439
“From an early age, Sofia has watched the comadres in her close-knit barrio community, in a small Texas town, and she dreams of becoming “someone who makes people into a family,” as the comadres do. The secret, her young self observes, seems to lie in telling stories and “being brave enough to eat a whole tequila worm.” In this warm, entertaining debut novel, Canales follows Sofia from early childhood through her teen years, when she receives a scholarship to attend an exclusive boarding school. Each chapter centers on the vivid particulars of Mexican American traditions--celebrating the Day of the Dead, preparing for a cousin’s quinceanera. The explanations of cultural traditions never feel too purposeful; they are always rooted in immediate, authentic family emotions, and in Canales’ exuberant storytelling, which, like a good anecdote shared between friends, finds both humor and absurdity in sharply observed, painful situations--from weathering slurs and other blatant harassment to learning what it means to leave her community for a privileged, predominately white school. Readers of all backgrounds will easily connect with Sofia as she grows up, becomes a comadre, and helps rebuild the powerful, affectionate community that raised her.”
This book could be used in libraries to teach children about the Mexican American culture. It could also be used in part to teach children about how to deal with homesickness when they are away from home.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Module 4: Newbery Medal
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Meg is a young girl with a loving family. She has a wonderful mother, twin brothers, and she has a very special relationship with her brother, Charles Wallace. However, her father has been gone for some time. When three strange women, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who, come into Meg’s life they take her on an arduous journey to find her father, who has actually been held prisoner on another planet. Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace have to face danger and a seemingly robotic society in order to rescue Meg’s father and return home.
APA Book Reference:
L’engle, M. (1962). A wrinkle in time. New York, NY: Crosswicks, Ltd.
I read When you Reach Me first, so I already knew what to expect: I knew about Meg losing her brother and getting him back with love; I knew that they rescued her father; and I knew it was somewhat of a love story between Meg and Calvin.
It took me a while to get into it, and honestly, if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen, I may have given up on the book. I’m glad I finished it though because it was a well written suspenseful story nonetheless.
I enjoyed the introduction of the dystopian, somewhat robotic, society. I also was intrigued by the notion of IT. However, there were a few things in the story that I disliked. The first was that IT actually had a physical body as it were. Meg describes IT as looking like a giant brain, and that description made me less frightened of IT if I’m being honest. Also, I truly disliked the dialogue of Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who. Mrs. Which speaks in stretched out words, and Mrs. Who speaks in quotations from different languages. Trying to read the dialogue from both of these characters slowed down the story for me.
Wilson, B. (2012). A wrinkle in time. Booklist, 108(18). Retrieved from: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA291352282&v=2.1&u=txshracd2679&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=wA Wrinkle in Time.
By Madeleine L'Engle. Read by Hope Davis.
2012. 6hr. Listening Library, CD, $25 (9780307916594). Gr. 4-8.
This compelling new production helps commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of L'Engle's thrilling and moving 1963 Newbery Medal winner about adolescent Meg Murry, who travels through time and space to find her missing scientist father. Davis deftly narrates this allegorical fantasy-adventure, capturing the excitement of beloved Meg's transformation from awkward social misfit to danger-defying heroine. With urgency in her voice, Davis conveys Meg's multifaceted personality, especially her impatient stubbornness. She also sounds effectively boyish as Meg's jock pal Calvin; delightfully creaky as otherworldly Mrs. Whatsit; and quivery as lovable, multilingual-quote-spewing Mrs. Who. And she does wonders with Meg's five-year-old telepathic brother, giving him a creepy robotic voice after he falls under the Spell of the evil IT. An introduction read by the late author begins this first-rate presentation. Libraries owning the 1994 audio (read by L'Engle) will want to add this flesh version to the collection.--Brian Wilson
This book could be used in a fantasy/time travel book display. It could also be used along with Stead’s When You Reach Me as part of a program that shows how older books do not lose value because they can be mentioned in new novels in a new innovative way.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Module 4: Newbery Medal
When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
In When you Reach Me, Miranda is a latchkey kid living in the city with her mother. Miranda likes to read, one book in particular: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. She observes other kids in her class, recounts old friendships, forms new friendships, and helps her mother study to be on a game show. This seemingly mundane life of a 12 year old is turned upside down by a homeless man living on a street corner that kicks and yells at the sky, a punch to her best friend, and several secret notes.
APA Book Reference:
Stead, R. (2009). When you reach me. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books.
As I had planned on reading A Wrinkle in Time after this book, I did not like that it revealed so much of the plot of the that book. However, I realize that revealing so much was essential to the story as A Wrinkle in Time almost becomes a character itself in the story.
I enjoyed the story once I got used to the time skipping around. Miranda told some backstories about her old relationship with Sid and such, so a few times I was lost in time. However, that could have been a device of the book considering it turned out to have a time travel plot. I assumed the book would lean towards that concept when Miranda got the note about one of her friends needing to be saved, and all of Miranda’s time travel talk with Marcus.
However, I was still somewhat surprised by the ending.
A few small things that bothered me enough to note were: Miranda and her friends worked a job that they did not get paid for, why? Was it fun for them to get yelled at but their boss? And Miranda wasn’t really even allowed to do anything.
Also, the characters in the story were around age 12, and they walked around in the city by themselves. The story was set in 1979, so I assume times were different and people weren’t as overly protective of their children no matter how responsible they seem to be.
Cooper, I. (2009, June 1). When you reach me [Review of the book when you reach me]. Booklist Online. Retrieved from: http://www.booklistonline.com/When-You-Reach-Me-Rebecca-Stead/pid=3389749
“If this book makes your head hurt, you’re not alone. Sixth-grader Miranda admits that the events she relates make her head hurt, too. Time travel will do that to you. The story takes place in 1979, though time frames, as readers learn, are relative. Miranda and Sal have been best friends since way before that. They both live in a tired Manhattan apartment building and walk home together from school. One day everything changes. Sal is kicked and punched by a schoolmate and afterward barely acknowledges Miranda. Which leaves her to make new friends, even as she continues to reread her ratty copy of A Wrinkle in Time and tutor her mother for a chance to compete on The $20,000 Pyramid. She also ponders a puzzling, even alarming series of events that begins with a note: “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own . . . you must write me a letter.” Miranda’s first-person narrative is the letter she is sending to the future. Or is it the past? It’s hard to know if the key events ultimately make sense (head hurting!), and it seems the whys, if not the hows, of a pivotal character’s actions are not truly explained. Yet everything else is quite wonderful. The ’70s New York setting is an honest reverberation of the era; the mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children and adults, are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest. Just as Miranda rereads L’Engle, children will return to this.”
This book can be used in the library as an example of how books can relate to each other. A book like this, that incorporates a main character with a love of reading, can encourage children to read as well. A librarian could use this book to start a conversation with children about what their favorite books are to read over and over again as Miranda reads A Wrinkle in Time.
Module 3: Caldecott Award
May I Bring A Friend?
Author: Beatrice Schenk De Regniers
Illustrator: Beni Montresor
May I Bring a Friend? is a story about a boy who receives invitations to have meals with the King and the Queen. Every time he receives his invitation, however, he asks if he can bring a guest with him. The King and Queen reply that any friend that is a friend of their friend is welcome to dinner. So for every meal, the boy brings a different animal friend with him from the zoo.
APA Book Reference:
De Regniers, B.S. (1964). May I bring a friend? New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.
I was not very impressed by this book. Considering that it won the Caldecott medal, I assumed I would enjoy the elaborate illustrations that reviews of the book had promised. However, I did not care for the illustrations at all. The way they were drawn with the sketched quality with multiple lines made the illustrations appear blurry to me. I had to hold that book at a distance to fully understand the scene. Also, I was not fond of the switching between black and white and color images.
Despite my aversion to the illustrations, I actually enjoyed the story. I also liked that the story was told in rhyme, even though the rhyme was forced at times.
“The King and Queen are most gracious hosts to a certain little boy--and any friend of his is a friend of theirs. When he brings a giraffe to tea, the King doesn't blink an eye and says, "Hello. How do you do?" and the Queen merely exclaims, "Well! Fancy meeting you!" The royal pair continue to invite the boy as their guest for tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner, apple pie, and Halloween, and each time he politely asks if he can bring a friend, waits for their assent, then brings a hippo, monkeys, an elephant, and once even a pride of lions into their elegant home. Beatrice Schenk De Regniers's gentle, repetitive, rhyming story, with the refrain "So I brought my friend," will resonate with young children, who will be pleased to see the well-behaved wild animals wreaking harmless havoc in the palace, and soothed by the unfalteringly open arms and perpetual politesse of the King and Queen. Beni Montresor's distinctive, inky, richly colored drawings earned this book a Caldecott Medal in 1965, and have won the hearts of children ever since. (Ages 3 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition”
Basically, this was not one of my favorite children’s books, and despite its Caldecott medal, I would not have any second thoughts if I were asked to remove it from a library collection. However, with that being said, I suppose the rhyming of the story would make for a good story time. The dinner guests of the boy usually being ridiculously huge animals would probably also elicit laughter from the children.