Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Help

     A friend of mine recommended this book to me.  It took me a while to read it because I had so many other books and projects going on at the same time.  I think that was a good thing because the slow pace seemed to fit the south where the book takes place.
     I learned a lot about the Civil Rights Movement that I didn't know before.  I knew that there were different public bathrooms, but I didn't know that black maids were not allowed to use the same bathrooms in the houses they cleaned.  The scene with Mae Mobley being toilet trained and her mother's reaction shocked me.
   I enjoyed seeing the different points-of-view of the women in the book, but it also made the book less personal for me.  Just as I got attached to one character, we switched to a new character.  It made me feel like an observer, rather than one of the characters. 
     I read the miscarriage scene when I was very sick and unable to leave the bathroom myself.  I felt as if the scene was happening around me.  This scene horrified me and I will never forget it. 
     One of the things I didn't like about the book was that we hear about how dangerous life is during this time.  We hear of people being blinded, beaten, and even killed.  However, we hear about it second hand, so it loses its emotional impact on the reader.  The women in the novel are taking a huge risk and nothing bad happens to them, only to other people.  This seemed contrived to me.  It also seemed to take away from their bravery because it made it seem like it wasn't that big of a risk, when they were truly risking their lives. 
      I was horrified by the prejudice in the book.  Unfortunately, I don't think we have come very far still today.  This book made me think about racism and the ways we treat people. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

     I love this book by Tom Angleberger.  I love Yoda anyway, but this book was hilarious.  I laughed out loud through the entire book.  It is an easy read and has lots of cartoon illustrations to go with the story.
     Dwight is a nerdy sixth-grader that wears a Yoda finger puppet on his finger.  Yoda gives amazing advice, and like the real Yoda, the advice doesn't make sense at the time but is totally on the mark. 
     I loved reading about the sixth graders and found myself remembering similar things that happened to me when I was a sixth grader just starting middle school. 
     I loved the chapter with the dueling Yodas.  Another fun part of the book is that it contains the directions to create your own origami Yoda in the back of the book. 
     This book is great for any Star Wars fans, 3rd-6th graders or reluctant middle school readers.  It is easy to read, funny, and has interesting characters.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Daniel X Demons and Druids

     I am a huge fan of Daniel X, but Demons and Druids Daniel X was a big disappointment.  James Patterson seemed to forget what we loved about Daniel X - the humor, the quirky characters, and the original storylines.
     Nick and I hardly laughed at all in this sequel and that was one of the things we loved best about Daniel in the earlier books. 
     Daniel wasn't his usual quirky self.  He was extremely boring.    
     The storyline had us travel back in time to battle an alien in King Arthur's time with Arthur and Merlin.  When the alien comes forward in time, Daniel defeats him with Stonehenge.  I bet you didn't see that coming, right? 
      The other stories were fun and original and made us fall in love with Daniel.  If you already love Daniel, don't read this book.  If you don't already love Daniel, there isn't really a point to read this book at all. 

I Am Number Four

     I am Number Four is written by Pittacus Lore - a pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes. 
     When Mogadorians attack the peaceful world of Lorien, the guardians take eight small children into a ship and leave for Earth.  The Mogadorians follow them to Earth to  kill the children.  Besides their guardians, the children only have one small protection - they can only be killed in order unless they are together in one location. 
     The first three children are dead when the book begins, and John is number four.  John is now 15 and beginning to develop special legacies that will make him harder to be killed. 
     In the meantime, he needs to stay in hiding from the Mogadorians.  John's guardian, Henri, warns John to fly under the radar, but John falls madly in love with Sarah.  Mark, her old boyfriend, bullies John, trying to break up John and Sarah.
     Stange things are happening that alert the Mogadorians to John's location.  Who will win the epic battle?  Will Sarah be able to handle John's past?  Will John's legacies develop in time to protect him from the Mogadorians' wrath?
     I am Number Four is a great book for reluctant readers.  The first half of the book was a bit slow for me, but my students loved the whole thing.  They enjoyed the love triangle between John, Sarah, and Mark.  They also enjoyed the bullying at the beginning that led to John's first legacy. 
     Once Henri leaves town to find news about the Mogadorians, the book had one thrill after another.  I did not want to put this book down. 
     My favorite character was John's dog Bernie Kosar because he was so original and endearing.  My favorite part of the book was finding out about Sam.  He is a shy teen who is obsessed with alien abductions.  He is certain his dad was abducted by aliens and misses him terribly.  Sam even wears his dad's Coke-bottle prescription glasses so he can see the world through his dad's eyes. 
     I really enjoyed this book and can hardly wait for the sequel.  It is a great book for teenagers who don't like to read, as well as teens and adults who do like to read.