Saturday, January 28, 2012

What to read? Pay attention to readers!

I've got more reviews from the 7th graders at Voorheesville Middle School.

Preller, James. Six Innings. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2008. Print.
Do you enjoy baseball? Well if you do read Six Innings by James Preller. This book takes place in a little league baseball field. Sam Reiser is the main character. Sam has cancer and he can’t play in the championship game so he announces the game.
The coming of age moment for the main character Sam is he is going through a tough time. Sam realizes that he is growing now. The reason that I like this book is because it is not just about baseball. It has stories about a handful of the characters. It has a strong baseball setting throughout the book. ~David

Weeks, Sarah . So B. It. New York: Harper Collins Children Books, 2004. Print.
Imagine a 14-year-old girl traveling across the country by herself. A girl named Heidi is a strong-willed girl determined to find “soof”. Heidi lives in a small apartment with Bernadette and her mama who has a “bummed” brain.
Heidi comes of age when she gets over the fear of not being able know everything; when she leaves the house and travels alone to New York. I think this book is for people who enjoy a little bit of a mystery, a little sadness, and a thrilling adventure.~ Victoria

Connor, Leslie. Waiting for Normal. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 2008. Print.
Waiting for Normal jumps out and grabs you. In this book by Schneider Family Book Award Winner Leslie Connor, Addie is growing up in her own little world. Addie has found herself in Schenectady, NY living in a bright yellow trailer. Addie is the main character of this story, very musical and plays the flute. She has to miss her concert because she is very scared that someone is going to see something that is hers.
This book is a very good book. She has to make some big decisions about who she wants to live with. It portrays the coming-of-age theme. Addie matures to become a young lady and takes matters into her own hand. People would like this book if they like surprises; because this book has many surprises that jump up and grab your attention.~Julia

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Award Announcements

Throw the confetti; blow your horns; the announcements were made on Monday, in Dallas, of the most distinguished books for young people. I was thrilled by the announcements, although I did not read a lot of these books, so I can't really comment on them until I do. What I can write is that I am positive the committees gave thoughtful deliberation to all the titles that were excellent. It is hard to make a final choice, as I had quite a few titles that I was hoping to see win.

Here are the winners for the big awards:
Newbery Award: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Caldecott Award: A Ball For Daisy by Chris Raschka
Printz Award: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Sibert Award: Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

What I can tell you is that I saw original art for Balloons Over Broadway and A Ball for Daisy in New York City. The Society of Illustrator's always has a show in November of the very best children's illustrations. Both of the books were represented and Sweet's collages were incredible. Her collages are hung in a box because they are 3-dimensional with her different materials. I was very impressed with the colors and the size of the different elements. This is a story of the man who made the giant Macy's Thanksgiving parade balloons. Raschka's illustrations are filled with lines and curves, action and joy. How is he able to do this in a wordless book? His art propels the story with emotion and personality.

We'll have more quest reviews tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Award Winning Books

ALA (The American Library Association) is about to announce (Monday, January 23rd) the very best literature for young people. I am always excited by these announcements and have favorites that I want to see honored. I'll be writing about them next week. In the meantime, here are some more guest reviews of the coming-of-age project from Voorheesville Middle School. Many of the titles are award-winning, too.

Schmidt, Gary. The Wednesday Wars. New York :Clarion Books,2007. Print.

Seventh grade is tough but especially for Holling Hoodhood (that is his real name). The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt is about Holling Hoodhood dealing with his teacher, his religion, and father. The book is set in the late 1960’s (1967-1968) during the Vietnam War. The setting is mostly at his school Camillo High School in Long Island New York. The book tells about Hollings relationship with his teacher Mrs. Baker and how they don’t see eye to eye. They do become good friends. This coming of age book is perfect for kid’s grade 4-8. This is a fast read. I was not a fan of the book, but other people might enjoy it. Gary Schmidt is a creative author and puts creative things in the book. ~Connor

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1967. Print.

Greasers and Socs, poor and wealthy, theses are the characters you will find in S.E. Hinton’s book The Outsiders. If you want an action packed and all around good story than this is your book. Growing up in a rural small town is hard when you are a person like Ponyboy. Ponyboy, Sodapop, Darry, and Johnny are the main characters of the book, who are struggling to fit in. They are faced with many difficult obstacles. Their rivals the Socs, who they despise, and the loss of a gang member add to their conflict.
Ponyboy is the youngest greaser in his gang. With his parents dead, and his two brothers looking after him, he realizes that his rivals, the Socs, are real people too. This book is for anyone interested in an action packed, coming of age book. I thought the book was a great book. S.E. Hinton’s book The Outsiders is the book is the book to read if you have to do a book report or any other school assignment. ~Trevor

Giff, Patricia, Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods. New York; Random House of Children’s Books, 2002. Print.

Pictures of Hollis Woods was a heart-breaking, tear jerking book this novel is written by Patricia Reilly Giff. This book had the best description about growing up!

The book takes place in the woods and in people’s houses that Hollis might have to spend her whole life with, but she runs away from them. The time that the book takes place in is not in the past of the future, it is most recent. The whole book is mostly about Hollis. You will go for a ride and see how different her life is from yours. Throughout the book Hollis has to realize she probably won’t be normal. She also has to meet new people. When she runs away from the family she might live with, she realizes her life will not ever be normal. She realizes she won’t have a family that is really related too. She starts to know that she needs to take care of herself, but until she sees clearly her heart will be a blur. So are you up for a lesson on how hard someone’s life is without a stable family. Are you ready to cry for Hollis? Then this book is for you. I personally think the book needs to have more action, but it was definitely great to read for a coming of age novel! ~Jessica

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Reviews - Great Reads!

Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars. New York: Clarion Books, 2007. Print.

Imagine you are hated by your teacher for no reason. In Gary D. Schmidt’s book, The Wednesday Wars, that is the case for seventh grader Holling Hoodhood. Set in 1967 at a typical middle school, some very peculiar things are going on. Holling Hoodhood is a normal seventh grade Presbyterian boy. However, on the first day of school he seems to be hated by his teacher. Why? Because on Wednesday afternoons his classmates leave for religion and he is left alone with his English teacher. Now I read this book expecting a coming-of-age moment for Holling; however there really wasn’t. He ends his rivalry with his siblings and he has a fight with his dad but other than that nothing. This book would be good for kids ages 10- 12. ~Eli

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1967. Print.

The Outsiders was a memorable book with various people dying and a battle between gangs. The setting is a rural small town. One of the most important characters in the book is Ponyboy. Ponyboy has a conflict much like the rest of the gang. The Greasers don’t like the Socs but he realizes the Socs are people too.

Ponyboy “comes of age” in this book in a very meaningful way. He “comes of age” by realizing even people you might not like are still real people. I liked the book because of all of the conflicts that happen during the book. ~Travis

Spinelli, Jerry. Crash. Toronto: Random House, 1996. Print.

My thoughts about this book are that it is a great book. I liked the characters, the setting, and the plot. Overall I would give it 5 stars out of 5 stars. It was a fast read but within its small number of pages it was great.

The setting, characters, and plot was awesome. The setting was in a small town in Pennsylvania, it was around the 90’s. The characters included the main character Crash, an athletic kid who was very strong and tough. There is Mike, his friend who has similar character traits. Penn Webb, Crash’s neighbor who is nerdy and dorky. Another character is Crash’s grandpa, Scooter. The plot was very good also; it started out with Crash meeting Penn when they were about 6, ever since then he has always picked on him and messed with him. But something happens that changes everything; I’m going to leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil it.

Overall I recommend this book. It has a great plot to it. It’s hard to put down. Jerry Spinelli is a great author, he is very creative. I have read 2 of his books and they were both great. READ THIS BOOK! That is all. ~Andrew

Friday, January 13, 2012

More Reviews - More Books!

I hope you are enjoying and reading our guest reviews. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm for titles that some of these students would never have read.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods. New York: Dell Yearling, 2002. Print.

Imagine being a twelve-year-old foster child who was left in the woods at two days old with no evidence of your identity, except for a tag pinned to your blanket that read, “Please name her Hollis Woods”. Patricia Reilly Giff, a Newberry Award winner, takes you into the unforgettable story of a young girl in Pictures of Hollis Woods. Pictures of Hollis Woods takes place in a modern-day time period at multiple different places including: a car, present foster homes, past foster homes, and more. The main character is a twelve-year-old girl, Hollis Woods, who has a great imagination, memory, and artistic skill. She has been placed in multiple foster homes and eventually runs away from these families as she gets tired of them.

In this story, Hollis has to help out her current foster parent, Josie, as Josie gradually gets older. Hollis never experienced something like this before, and she realizes that she can’t keep running away from her problems. This experience causes her to mature and become more responsible. If you think you’d like a realistic fiction story about a young girl and her relationships with past and present foster families, then you should read this book. Overall, it’s a good story about life and feelings; however, the book’s ending was to be expected and lacked interest. ~Karly

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: Scholastic, 2004. Print.

Some things in life a person just can’t know. Sarah Weeks creates a wonderful story, called So B. It, around this very sentence. This story takes place in a small apartment in the city of Reno. The most important characters in the book are Heidi and her Mama. Mama is mentally disabled and Heidi is trying to understand her even though she says the strangest things, like “soof”.

Heidi is at Hilltop Home when she realizes the true meaning of knowledge. She hears the word “soof” wherever she goes. It is the one word in Mama’s vocabulary that Heidi can’t figure out. In the end, Heidi realizes that some things in life a person just can’t know. Anyone between ages eleven and fourteen will love this book about a nice girl with the quest to know everything. I love this book because it combines a world a world falling apart around a little girl and a mystery almost impossible to solve. Happy reading. ~Spencer

Leslie Connor. Waiting for Normal. New York, NY: Harper Collins: 2008. Print

In this Schneider Family Award winning book, Leslie Connor creates a twelve-year-old girl that has to deal with family problems. Waiting for Normal is about a girl that lives with a crazy irresponsible mother that keeps leaving Addie home alone. Addie is a smart, responsible, and mature girl and not at all like her mother. This story takes place in present day Schenectady, New York.

Addie comes of ages by maturing and becoming a young woman. Addie learns how to take care of herself when her mom leaves her alone at home. However when Addie needs help she can always go to Dwight, her stepfather, or Soula and Elliot, her neighbors and close friends.
This book has many happy and sad moments. If you like reading books that have unexpected endings, fiction, or overcoming family problems, then I highly suggest this book for you. ~Annie

Monday, January 09, 2012

More Guest Reviews from Voorheesville Middle School

Park, Barbara. The Graduation of Jake Moon. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. Print.

If you know anything about Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s is a bad thing. The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park is set in New York with a young boy named Jake Moon. His grandfather, Skelly, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Jake must cope with the fact that his grandfather has a terrible disease. All-the-while, Jake must maintain a normal life. But, as he tries to make friends and maintain his, “normal” life, Skelly can destroy it in seconds.

Jake feels angry with Skelly for how he acts even though he knows he has Alzheimer’s. Jake
will soon realize how much he does truly love Skelly when he wanders off and gets lost in a city. If you like depressing, funny, or heart-warming books, this is the perfect book for you. This book truly shows the problems of theaverage boy; plus, an Alzheimer’s diseased grandfather. ~Alex

Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion. New York: G.P, 2003. Print.

The day Lonnie Motions parents died his whole life changed. He was separated from his sister and moved into a foster home in New York. He has a new teacher, Miss M, and a foster mom, Miss Edna. Lonnie lives in a foster home near his old home where all the memories come flooding back.
Lonnie’s challenge in the book is to mature and move on with his life after his parents’ death. His sister moves away to a friendly home but doesn’t take Lonnie with her. His relationship with his sister starts to get distant; soon the parents decide they don’t want him to come around her anymore. He finally realizes that his life is never going to be the same and accepts it. He uses poetry to get out of his head and find happiness. I think this book would
be good for kids around 10-13 years old because you can understand the pain of Lonnie and relate to it. ~Brianna

Prellar, James. Six Innings. New York: Feiwal and Friends, 2008. Print.

The title of the book is Six Innings by James Preller. Imagine that you are playing in a
championship game of baseball tied at 3 going into the bottom of the 5th inning. The main characters are Sam Reister, Nick Clemente, and Tyler Weinberg. Tyler and Nick are players. Nick plays for Northeast Gas & Electric. Tyler plays for Earl Grubb’s Pool Supplies. Sam is the announcer of the game. The coming of age moment is that Tyler’s parents are never there. It makes him feel upset and abandoned.

If you like a book about hard work in sports and not giving up, this is the book for you. The game was tied 3 to 3 going into the bottom of the 5th inning and well I guess you will just have to read the book to see who wins the game. ~John

Friday, January 06, 2012

New Year - Guest Reviewers

I've been doing a lot of reading in anticipation of the Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, and Printz awards from the American Library Association. I have favorites and many that I want to share with you. However, I'd like to start with some older titles that were recently read and reviewed at the Voorheesville Middle School with Ms. Kathleen Gaspary's 7th grade English class.

Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza Loses Control. New York City: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.

What could possibly happen to a hyperactive 11-year-old boy when his medicine patches get flushed down a toilet? Joey Pigza Loses Control, by Jack Gantos, tells a funny but serious story of a preteen and his dad who both try to overcome their ADHD. The story takes place in Pittsburgh in the early 1990s. The main characters are Joey and his father,Carter Pigza. The main conflict in the story is between Joey and himself. Joey wants to please his dad by not wearing his patches, but he knows that if he does not wear his patches, the old wired Joey will catch up to him. The “coming of age” moment for Joey happens one morning when he is preparing for a semifinal baseball game. He notices some of his old behaviors, like pulling out his hair. He knows he needs his meds, or else bad things will happen.
The protagonist of this book puts himself in many hilarious situations, such as when he covers himself in shaving cream, making him look like the abominable snowman. Those who enjoy comedy would LOVE this book, but it also has a serious side to it. The story provides an understanding of the challenges faced by an adolescent with ADHD. ~Ryan

Preller, James. Bystander. New York: Macmillan Company, 2009. Print.

Thirteen-year-old Eric Hayes moves to Bellport, Long Island ready to face the new school year andgets off to an interesting start. Griffin, the popular kid in his grade seems nice. But is he trustworthy? Eric becomes friends with Griffin and comes totrust him. (More than he should.), When Griffin takes one of Eric’s most cherished possessions, it is Eric’s “coming of age” moment and Eric takes matters into his own hands. Eric fights back, physically and verbally. He also becomes aware of who to trust. And then he finds out just the kind of person Griffin Connelly really is and that he won’t give up this fight. He also encourages others to stand up for
themselves. I think anyone between the age of 10-14 who has dealt with bullies, had trouble standing up for themselves or moved to a new place would like this book. ~Maya

Bauer Joan. Stand Tall. New York: G.P Putnum & Sons, 2002. Print.

Who could believe a flood and a new girl and a divorcecould change a kid’s life? This book takes
place during spring in a city in 2002. Tree is the most important character in the book. He is trying to get people to stop thinking he is good at basketball just because he is tall. Tree grows up by learning how to take care of himself and others. The other way he grows up is he learns to be morerespectful and responsible.
People who are younger than the age recommendation wouldn’t like this book because they
wouldn’t understand it. I didn’t like how the book started. ~Ian