Sunday, April 18, 2010

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- Jordan Sonnenblick is one of my all time favourite authors! Each book I have read by him (click on the tabs to find them all) made me laugh and cry within the same book- often on the same page.

This book- After Ever After is the sequel to Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. I've read several books that deal with the horror of dealing with cancer, but never have I read one that deals with life after cancer. This book- does that.

Jefferey had cancer when he was 5 years old, but now- he is in grade 8 and is cancer free. Life should be great right? Well, anybody who has gone through grade 8 knows it is a tough year. Girls, friends, school- it's a tough go. Added to that are the ramifications of the cancer treatments that have left math a real challenge for Jefferey. Plus his older brother Steven who has always been there for him has taken off to Africa. Then there is his best friend Tad- also a cancer survivor who deals with his issues with sarcasm. Finally there is Lindsey- the new girl in school who for some reason Jefferey can't quite figure out seems to want to spend time with him.

This book has it all- topics for girls, boys, teachers, parents. Just read it- you won't be disappointed! You don't need to read Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie first- but I would suggest you go and buy all of Sonnenblick's books- they are the best!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

The cover of this book looks a little like Stargirl- and so does the title. But this book is nothing like the Jerry Spinelli books.
Firegirl is a short, simple book- that leaves room for so much discussion to have with kids. Firegirl is about a boy named Tom who is in grade 7. He is a quiet boy who has few friends, but is happy with his life. One day, all that changes when a new girl- Jessica moves into his classroom. Jessica has been burned in a fire and the rest of the classmates are repulsed by her appearance. Because Jessica looks different, she is ignored and talked about when she isn't there. Rumours start to fly about what happened to her.
Tom, isn't a leader within the class, but he finds himself drawn to Jessica and is annoyed by his classmates reactions. As Tom and Jessica's friendship develops, Tom must find the courage to stand up to his friends and to stand up for Jessica.
This book is very realistic. From the students reactions to someone different to the interactions between the grade seven students- I could see my own students in these different characters.
I think this book would be great as a read aloud- but there would have to be a lot of discussion throughout the reading.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Box Out by John Coy

For Liam Bergstrom. basketball is his life. He loves every minute of playing and practicing. When he is in grade 10, he makes the varsity basketball team. This is something he has been working towards since starting high school. His best friend doesn't make it, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for the boys- they hope that next year they will play together.
What is a problem though is the coach. At first, the coach seems great- very serious and intent, but he knows his stuff. What throws Liam off is that before each game and at half time, the coach leads the team in prayers. Liam does attend church and doesn't have a problem with praying, but he feels it is a personal decision and that the coach may be turning people off.
The rest of the team just goes along to get along, but for Liam he can't seem to get it off of his mind.
I liked this book- there was a lot of basketball talk, which will be really appealing to the boys. The bigger moral issue discussed in the book lead to some very interesting discussions. It might be a good read aloud, depending on the class. I know I mentioned it to several boys today in grade 7 and 8 who I think might really like reading about basketball and may learn something along the way too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Egghead by Caroline Pignat

One of my friends told me about this book- I ordered it, received it and read it within 3 days. I loved this book. It will be my next read aloud for sure!
This book was a Red Maple nominee a few years ago. I missed it while I was teaching primary, but I'm sure glad I found it.

It features Will Ried- a boy who is just different. Up until grade 8, his classmates have always accepted him, but now that he is in grade 9, his differences really stand out. Then there is Katie- she has always been Will's friend, but now it is difficult to be his friend and make other friends at school. Finally there is Shane- the bully we all remember from high school.

This story is about the bully, the bullied and the bystander. I can't wait to read it out loud to my class!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game was first published in 1977-and has been republished many times. I've heard about it for years, but finally picked it up a few weeks ago.

Ender's Game is a novel, set sometime in the future and features Ender Wiggin- a boy who has the hopes of the whole world on his shoulders- and he is only 6 years old. Years ago, Earth was attacked by aliens- referred to as 'buggers'. These buggers almost wiped out the entire population. The people in power understood that the aliens could return at any moment and that they needed to start training people in battle immediately.
In this world, children are tested and it is determined early on if they have what it takes to lead earth's next attack on these buggers. Ender Wiggin is the third child in his family who has been tested and met the criteria- brilliant, ruthless, cunning, full of strategy to enter into military training.
The novel starts out with Ender learning about Battle School- a place where military rules must be followed and the students there are constantly challenged in their 'game' play. The story follows Ender's progress, his defeats and his successes. Part of the story is also about his siblings back home- the ones who didn't quite have what it took to stay at the school.
I liked the idea of this book, but felt it went on too long. I wanted it to just be over and for the problems to all be solved. I was glad to finish it, yet I did enjoy reading it.