Travel Team by Mike Lupica

A few weeks ago I brought in an assortment of sports novels for my 7th graders.  Among the titles were several by Mike Lupica and Tim Green.  I’ve never been a sports fan, though I did enjoy Friday Night Lights in all its forms, so I asked those who read them which one I would like better, Tim Green or Mike Lupica.  They suggested Mike … Continue reading Travel Team by Mike Lupica

El Deafo by Cece Bell

I confess, at first it bothered me that all the characters in Cece Bell’s graphic novel El Deafo were rabbits.  Just this morning, I as was passing my copy of the book along to the school librarian, I realized why Ms. Bell made them rabbits. Duh. I was also a little put off by the language, as I usually am with graphic novels.  Full honesty here, … Continue reading El Deafo by Cece Bell

Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass

Wendy Mass wrote one of my favorite YA novels, Every Soul a Star.  For some reason, I had it in my head that she also wrote Criss Cross but it turns out that was Lynn Rae Perkins. So, with what I thought were two terrific books under her belt, I was willing to cut some slack with my review of Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall.  Now after … Continue reading Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass

Noah Webster: a Man of Many Words by Catherine Reef

I needed to read a biography.  This semester I  invited my students to play “Book Bingo” with their reading.  Everyone has a “Book Bingo” card glued into their English journal.  Each time you finish a book, you check off a corresponding Book Bingo square.  Up to three bingoes earn extra credit and anyone who completes a blackout by June 4 is entered into a prize drawing. … Continue reading Noah Webster: a Man of Many Words by Catherine Reef

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is not a book I would like. It’s one of those children’s books that really appeal more to adult readers. It’s a message book.  The plot is set up to drive home a message in the way adults sometimes think children’s books need to have messages. It’s a the kind of book that’s meant to be good for children facing certain problems, as though … Continue reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Reasons why The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things could get you into trouble if you try using it for 7th grade book clubs: The narrator is seeing this guy who is trying to get to second base with her. The narrator kind of wants him to get to second base. He gets there. The narrator has serious problems with her mother. The … Continue reading The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

I believe stories about dogs should come with a disclaimer  stating whether or not the dog lives.  If you read stories about dogs, you probably understand my position.  While I can take dark, dystopian science fiction, stories with psychotic serial killers as protagonists, pain and suffering piled on top of angst and despair, if the dog dies, I do not want to read the book. … Continue reading Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

What do you do when the whole world turns against you? Estrella de Madrigal has a good life. The beautiful daughter of a successful businessman, she is well on her way to a good marriage when trouble comes to her home town of Encaleflora, Spain. The year is 1500, a new age has dawned. But when an ancient hatred rears it’s head, Estrella finds her … Continue reading Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Incognegro by Mat Johnson

It can be hard to tell who’s black in America. This is something our history books tend to downplay when not denying it outright. It’s also something that can be used to one’s advantage in certain situations. In the early part of the 20th century, Walter White, the former head of the NAACP went undercover as a white man in the deep south to investigate and … Continue reading Incognegro by Mat Johnson

Ragged Dick or Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks by Horatio Alger

Horatio Alger is a writer people talk about as though they’ve read him without ever actually reading him. I am guilty of this. We think we know what a Horatio Alger story” is, but few of us have first hand experience. So I picked up a copy of Ragged Dick or Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks at a used book store … Continue reading Ragged Dick or Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks by Horatio Alger

Best of Three: School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblacki and No Place by Todd Strasser

Okay, I confess.  I didn’t quite have a full lesson plan to keep the kids busy for the second to the last day of school so I decided each class would begin with fifteen minutes of reading time.  Their all supposed to have a book with them throughout the day, just in case they have free time for reading, so this should work. I arrive, set … Continue reading Best of Three: School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblacki and No Place by Todd Strasser