Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm excited about...

I just got these two yesterday and am very excited.  More to come as I hopefully get some time to read this weekend.  I am still working on The Dead Father's Club and will moving on to one of the many books on my to be read soon many books so little time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Also Known As Harper - by Ann Haywood Leal

Harper Lee Morgan and her brother, Hemingway were both named after famous writers because her mother loves stories and literature so much.  Harper's mom is a hard-working woman who does her best to take care of the kids.  Times have been hard, thought, since Harper Lee's dad left.  Even though Hemingway doesn't remember everything about Daddy, Harper does, and she doesn't really even want him to come back.  Life gets even more complicated, though, when Harper returns from school one day to find all her family's belongings sitting in the front yard.  Their house is locked shut and they are kicked out.  They sleep in their car and then get a room in a motel.  Harper's life is turned upside down.  She writes her poems as she goes through all of this, but she'll probably miss her school's big poetry reading contest because she has to stay home with Hemingway while her mother looks for work.  

This was a wonderful book about family and making it through tough times.  I enjoyed Harper Lee Morgan as a narrator very much.  She lives up to her name by being as spunky and thoughtful as the real Harper Lee's Scout.  

Harper's poems are good and I enjoyed hearing how she experienced a situation twice, once through the narration and then again in the poem.  Harper is so observant and sharp; I appreciated her views.  

Not only was Harper a good narrator, but there were other colorful characters as well.  Winnie Rae Early is the mean girl that Harper fights with.  Loraine is a young girl that doesn't talk after she lost everything in a fire.  And finally, Dorothy was a kind old lad who looked like a bag lady at first, but Harper Lee learns there's a lot more to people than what you notice on your first glance.  

I liked this book because it was real.  Some books out there are all about getting messed up on drugs and the subject matter is extreme.  Those books are good and important, but this story just seemed pure.  Harper is there for her mom and brother.  Plush, we are all hearing about economy blues and how people are losing their jobs and that is just what happens here.  

Grade:  B

Because I Am Furniture - by Thalia Chaltas

Written in poems, Because I Am Furniture, tells the story of a high school girl named Anke who lives with her family whose life seems great from the outside...but in reality, there's a lot going on in Anke's home that no one knows about. 

Anke's father is abusive to everyone else in her family, but not her.  She witnesses her father's violent behavior but is never directly a recipient of it.  Anke doesn't talk to anyone about it and just goes to school and does her best.  She is silent and invisible.

Anke begins to find her voice, though, when she makes the volleyball team.  She meets some new friends and gains confidence.  But can she stand up to her father?  Can she help her sister, brother and mom realize that what's happening to them is not ok?

I enjoyed this book.  I kept turning pages because I wanted to find out what Anke did and what she experienced.  This was a fast read and I think many young adult readers would like it.  It really shows details about living in an abusive home  that might look ok from the outside.  

Grade:  B-

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Return to Sender - by Julia Alvarez

I really learned a lot about illegal immigration from this book, and Tyler and Mari are still in my head.  The book wasn't preachy at all, just a glimpse into how illegal immigration affected these characters.

Tyler is about to turn 12 when disaster strikes his family farm in Vermont.  His grandfather dies, his older brother is leaving for college, and his dad is hurt badly in a tractor accident.  With no one to work the farm, Tyler's family hires three Mexican men for help.  The only problem is that these men are illegal immigrants.  Mr. Cruz, one of the men, also has three daughters, one of whom, Mari, is in Tyler's class at school.

At first Tyler is very unsure of all these changes.  He knows that his parents should have hired these men, but he sees how much they help him and his family.  They are angels that help save the farm.  Tyler learns about them and from them and develops a very strong friendship with Mari.  

Each chapter is told from each Tyler and Mari's point of view.  It was nice to see how each of them interpreted different events. 

I liked how this book just showed a story of two families trying to make it in America.  No matter what the government says or what the news or t.v. people say, this issue affects good people and children and is important.  Some immigrants help us here and others do not.  We must hear their stories and understand as much as we can. 

Grade: B

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart


Frankie Landau-Banks was a normal dorky freshman at Alabaster Prep, tagging along with her senior sister and trying hard just not to embarrass herself or her sister too much. 

Sophomore year, however, was very different.  Frankie got taller, filled out a bit, and was, well, a much hotter chick.  She gets noticed by the guy of her dreams, Matthew Livingston.  Matthew is great, but Frankie can't seem to really get him to understand her.  She's not like other girls.  She's way smarter and not concerned with the normal high school girl stuff.  Frankie wants power, and to be noticed, and to fit in...even with the guys.  

When Frankie finds out about a secret society at Alabaster, the Loyal Order of Bassett Hounds, she immediately wants to know more and desires to be a part.  

This book uncovers Frankie's plans to figure out the Loyal Order and to become a part of something historic at Alabaster. 

I loved Frankie.  She is a cool girl.  She's pretty and smart, but she is hard core crazy sometimes, too and knows what she wants.  She thinks about things more than most of her friends and sees opportunities for social commentary in even the smallest (and largest) of pranks.  She gets what she wants and goes after her goals with an almost psychotic passion. 

This book has some awesome pranks in it.  It also shows boarding school life, which is fun, especially if you went to normal high school.  Frankie's passion stuck with me and I felt that I wanted to do something crazy after reading this book, but it also made me remember that it's cool to be a strong woman that not every guy understands.  Girls are powerful and can be great leaders and I love that Frankie always stayed true to herself, even when she could have given in and taken the easy way out. 

I loved this book.  It is very deserving of its Printz medal and is one of my favorites now.

Grade: A