Sunday, March 29, 2015

Big Top Burning

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This was a really interesting account of an event I had never heard of before.  The burning of a Big Top of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Curcus in Hartford, CT in the 1940s.  The book gave information about events leading up to the disaster, the events of the day, an accounting of the recovery and identification of bodies, and then a more detailed account of the two mysteries that still surround the event.  One of the mysteries involves how the fire started.  Originally it was believed to be an accidental cigarette or match but evidence now points to arson.  There is a suspect in the arson but he has since passed away.  Interestingly enough the suspect was originally from Portland, ME.  Score 1 for a local connection.  The other mystery surrounds one of the girls who died.  For a long time there was an unclaimed body but it was not believed to be her.  This has changed but uncertainty still remains.

I liked this for a few reasons...
1)  Local connection
2) Short text
3)  Photographs
4) Element of mystery

This was a "readit readit" for me.

More detailed review at

A Glance Backward

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Another graphic novel that I am not sure what to do with.  Although the main character is 11 this book delves into some pretty deep topics of love, loss, depression, death.  Without researching more into it I am not sure of the intended audience but pretty sure it won't be my students.  As an adult I found it okay but...

How to Fly with Broken Wings

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This was an interesting book.  It was told from the points of view of William who has Aspergers and Sasha who lives nearby.  The community they live in has trouble with 2 rival gangs.  One of the gang members is Finn who has been a friend of Sasha's since they were quite young.  As they are growing up Sasha finds herself struggling with whether she still likes him or not especially with his tendency to bully and his gang affiliation.  When Finn and his friends bully William into "flying" resulting in William breaking an ankle, Sasha decides to become friends with William.

Meanwhile, an older man named Archie moves to the community and tries to heal the gang rift by giving the boys something to do - fix engines.  But will it be enough?  Where do their true loyalties lie?  

Overall I appreciated the plot and the struggles that the 3 main characters faced but it was hard going at first for me.  Set in Britain, there are many British saying that I am afraid my readers will not understand.  The reference to Sasha's "bumps" bothered me.  Finn was a real bully and it was painful to read about his actions toward William and how William, though he tried to be cautious, wanted friends so much.  And the teachers and adults - OY.

While there will be an audience for this I didn't feel like it worked together completely and will find readers at my school.

Edward Scissorhands: Parts Unknown

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First up Edward Scissorhands graphic novel.  I just noticed that NetGalley has a separate graphic novel category and in my attempt to incorporate more graphic novels and be in touch with what my students are reading  I requested a few.  I think I should have looked them up on Amazon or Titlewave first because I am thinking most are not appropriate for my grade level.

I loved the movie Edward Scissorhands.  Love Johnny Depp.  So I thought this might be interesting.  While I was able to understand the story to some extent because of my background knowledge I feel this would not be accessible without it.  I appreciated the plot but again it is because I already know the movie.  

I do try to read graphic novels but I know I don't spend enough time on the visual aspects.  I am supportive of my students reading them but they are not my favorite and this wouldn't work for my school.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Anywhere but Paradise

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I loved historical fiction as a kid - Little House on the Prairie and others.  In my years of teaching and as a librarian though I find historical fiction a really hard sell.  Sure you have some who read American Girl but overall... would this book fare?  It is set shortly after Hawaii becomes a state.  Peggy Sue and her family have moved to Hawaii from Texas.  Her cat is quarantined for half a year, a bully at school is threatening her, and she doesn't seem to fit in.  Add in a natural disaster and Peggy Sue is having a rough go.  While the book was okay I felt that the characters were never really developed - mom and dad mere blips and the plot didn't move quickly enough to keep me interested let alone my students.  Sorry - didn't work for me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dinosaur Boy

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As a result of some science experiments that went wrong some scientists and their descendents now have a dinosaur gene that manifests itself in different ways.  The gene skips a generation so sawyer knows he will probably exhibit some sort of dinosaur characteristic as some point and right before fifth grade he grows a tail and bony plates.

Well if that doesn't single you out for bullying I don't know what does.  The only thing is that the new principal has a zero tolerance policy on bullies and those who bully Sawyer disappear.

Enter Sylvie, a new student.  Sawyer, Sylvie, and Sawyer's best friend Elliot soon find themselves investigating the disappearances and along the way find out that the dinosaur gene might not be the weirdest thing going on.

I found the book to be amusing but not fantastic.  Not totally sure if i will buy it or not - I think my younger readers will like it so it's a maybe.