Sunday, March 04, 2012

Popular Titles

It isn't easy to know in advance what will be popular or what will sit on the bookshelf. My friends at the Voorheesville Middle School have certainly fooled me with their thoughts on the books they chose to read with a coming-of-age theme. I would never have thought that The Outsiders would still be so popular, and enjoyed by so many! Here are more reviews of books that surprised me:

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. Print.
Ponyboy just witnessed the murder of a man and he doesn’t think he’ll ever forget it. And, you’ll never forget this memorable book by S.E Hinton. Action-packed, yet so believable, The Outsiders will continue to amaze you over and over again. Ponyboy is a Greaser and he lives on the rough side of a 60s city. (Even though this story takes place “back then”, this is the kind of story that won’t ever age.) Besides Ponyboy, the other Greasers are: Twobit, Steve, Darry, Johnny, Sodapop, and Dallas. Ponyboy is faced with trying to escape trouble and cope with death, all while trying to accept what is happening around him.
After a great night at the movies (and a not-so-great fight with his brother) to top it all off, the rival gang, the Socs, show up. Ponyboy and his friend Johnny are frightened. When a Soc begins to drown Ponyboy in the park fountain, Johnny, who is desperate to help, does the only thing he can: stab the Soc next to him. Ponyboy is happy to be alive…but police sirens are wailing already. Johnny saved his life and took another. But what does this mean Ponyboy needs to sacrifice in return? Do you think that you’re ready to join the Greaser gang? If you’re age 12 or older (adults, you too) will enjoy this book. I did not dislike anything about this phenomenal book and strongly suggest you read it. So head on over to the wrong side of the tracks, bring some cokes and your leather jacket and join Ponyboy and the gang. You’ll rumble with the Socs and learn the story of The Outsiders for yourself. ~Madison

Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars. New York: Clarion Books, 2007. Print.
The Wednesday Wars by Newbery award winning author, Gary D. Schmidt is an interesting coming of age story about a normal Presbyterian boy, named Holling Hoodhood in the 60’s. It is a tale that will tickle your funny bone and capture your heart. As the Vietnam War rages on, Holling and his classmates are living peacefully in Farmingdale, NY, a small town on Long Island. In this book, some of the smaller characters have important roles, like Holling’s sister, Heather or Doug Swieteck’s brother. The main characters such as Holling or Mrs. Baker have very interesting characteristics and personalities.
Holling comes of age towards the end of the book when he realizes that Mrs. Baker does not “hate his guts”. He goes through experiences that make him mature and grow up. I think this book could appeal to anyone above age 11. The characters are easy to relate to and readers will see themselves in the characters. Overall, I would give this book four out of five stars. It got a little slow in the middle but redeemed itself with a great ending. ~Carl

Connor, Leslie. Waiting for Normal. New York: Harper Collins, 2008 Print.
Leslie Connor writes another inspiring novel about a 12-year-old girl named Addie. Addie and her mom live in a trailer house in Schenectady NY. Addie ends up staying home alone for many nights in a row. She is not telling her stepfather this because she is afraid of losing something important to her. Her mother has a tough time taking care of Addie. Despite her young age, she is able to take care of herself. Throughout the book she becomes a woman.
Addie solves spending time with her sisters and her stepfather who live in a separate house. One day she makes a terrible mistake while her mother isn’t home. Social services get involved and her life takes an interesting turn. Finally her stepfather adopts her. I think that middle school kids will love this book because it shares an inspiring story of how a young girl faces some big life changes. ~Veda

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. Print.
So B. It, written by Sarah Weeks is about thirteen-year-old Heidi taking an adventure to uncover her mother’s true identity. Heidi, her mother, and Bernadette, her loving neighbor, all live in Reno, Nevada. Heidi’s mentally disabled mother can only speak a few words including, “soof” which neither Bernadette nor Heidi can understand the meaning of.
Brave and lucky Heidi goes on a quest to find out more about her mother and the mysterious word “soof”. Heidi travels alone to the Hilltop Home where supposedly her mother lived and was pregnant with Heidi. Here she finds the meaning of “soof” and finally comes of age and realizes that you can’t know everything in life. If you are a young reader and like short books you may be interested in reading this intense, inspiring, and adventurous book. ~Robin

Friday, March 02, 2012

March into Great Reads

I'm still sorting through my friends reviews and have more for you today.

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Print.
What is the word “soof?” It’s a word that Heidi It’s mentally ill mother always says, but what could it mean? Find out in the spectacular novel, So B. It, by Sarah Weeks. Join protagonist, twelve-year-old Heidi, as she travels alone on an exciting adventure from Reno, Nevada to Liberty, New York on a search to learn about her past. Her challenges include a mentally ill mother and an agoraphobic neighbor who hold her back. Another challenge is her naïveté combined with her overactive curiosity.
There are two events that occur in this book that cause Heidi to “come of age.” First is her cross-country trip to Liberty, New York where she meets new people, experiences new things, makes decisions, and learns a lot. Secondly, when a tragic event occurs, Heidi learns about the meaning of life. She learns how to deal with her problems, and, by the end of the journey, is much more mature and experienced.
Any young person who likes a touching, exciting well-written novel will enjoy So B. It. This book has just the right amount of everything: suspense, mystery, happiness, love, and more! ~Abby

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. Print.
In The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, the characters are a group of boys who are like family. Even though the book was written 40 years ago, you can still relate to the characters. The Outsiders has a universal setting. There is no specific time or place. Ponyboy, Two-bit, Dally, Darry and Sodapop are all great friends. None of the boys ever think anything serious will happen, especially not murder.
The coming of age moment is when Ponyboy and Johnny save little kids from the church that was burning to the ground. Pony and Johnny sacrificed themselves for those little kids. This is important because they realize it is not about escaping, but helping others and not being selfish. People who would like this book would be kids from seventh to twelfth grade. S.E. Hinton writes a great novel about the life of kids who are unfortunate and the tests of friendship. This book is possibly the best book I have ever read. ~Braden

Bauer, Joan. Stand Tall. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002. Print.
In Stand Tall by Joan Bauer, Tree is inspired by his grandfather Leo as his grandfather struggles to walk again and as he shows his perspective of life. It’s winter time where Tree lives and he walks back and forth through snowy, rainy weather from his dad and grandfather’s home to his mother’s. The two most important characters in Stand Tall are Tree and Tree’s grandfather Leo. Tree learns how to accept being tall and not be so insecure about his height. He also learns how to deal with the simple things in life like divorce and health. Leo learns how to do things that he knew how to do when he was a baby, walk!
The “coming of age” moment for Tree is acc. epting his height and himself and accepting the divorce of his parents. Another “coming of age” moment for Tree is going through the pain of his grandfather while helping Leo get back on his feet. A mix of people would enjoy reading this book, like teens who like reading books about people their age. People who simply like reading books about the stories and trouble everyday life would like this book too. ~Amanda

Preller, James. Six Inninngs. New York: Macmillan, 2008. Print.
How would you feel watching the six innings of a baseball game that you can’t play in? In the book, Six Innings by James Preller, that’s how Sam felt during the championship game between Earl Grubb’s Pool Supplies and Northeast Gas & Electric. Sam is jealous of his friend Mike because Mike is playing and Sam is announcing. Also, Sam has cancer and Mike thinks that Sam needs him because he is sick. But Mike really needs Sam as well because he is going through his friend being sick and they are best friends.
If you are the type of person that likes baseball you will like this book. Sam is growing up not thinking about himself all the time and now is thinking about his friend Mike. ~Ryan

Holt, Kimberly Willis. My Louisiana Sky. New York; Dell Yearling, 1998. Print.
In the book, My Louisiana Sky, by Kimberly Willis Holt, Tiger has to face problems that will change her life. Her parents are mentally slow, and she doesn’t fit in with the popular girls. Imagine having a life like that. Living in a small town in Louisiana she isn’t that popular and she likes baseball, and the other girls don’t. She also gets teased a lot. Tiger is the main character in the book. The important characters are, Granny, Tiger, her mom and dad, Aunt Dorie Kay, her aunt’s maid, Jesse Wade, and Abby Lynn. When her Granny died, her Aunt Dorie Kay asked Tiger if she would like to move with her to Baton Rouge. At first, Tiger agrees, but she realizes she needs to care for her family, and that they need each other. I think peoples ages 12-13 will like this book, because the girl in the book is around that age. I liked the book more towards the ending because it gave more action, and things you didn’t expect to happen, happened. I didn’t really like the book that much in the beginning because I didn’t get the point of it, but it became clearer towards that end. ~Caitlin