Monday, May 30, 2016

Jacky Ha Ha

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This book had a lot more heart than I was expecting.  Sometimes books by James Patterson and his coauthors are just funny or fluffy.  This one had a lot more meat to it.

Jacky is the middle girl of 6.  She stutters and to overcome that she has developed into quite the class clown.  The problem is that she gets into a lot of trouble.  The book takes place in the early 90s.  Her mom is in Iraq fighting Saddam Hussein, her dad is being secretive, her sisters are all over the place and Jacky is trying to turn over a new leaf.  She is talked into being in the school play and a speech team.  Can she overcome her stutter and use her ability to make people laugh in a more productive way? will enjoy this - it was funny, a fairly quick read, light enough fare but also a decent plot.  My quibbles - how the one teacher and Jacky went against her father's orders.  It worked out in the end but...  Also the fact that the father never explained himself until the end...  yes, it also worked out but his secrets caused a lot of needless anxiety and trouble for the family.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Towers Falling

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It has been 15 years since 9/11 and Deja doesn't know anything about it.  She has lived in Brooklyn her whole life but no one has ever talked about it.  Deja's dad suffers from anxiety and headaches and can't keep a job.  As a result her family is living in a homeless shelter.  When Deja starts school she befriends a boy and a Muslim girl.  Her school is teaching about 9/11 with a focus on the bravery of the people afterward and how Americans, all Americans, came together.  What Deja doesn't know is that 9/11 impacted her family personally.  

This was a good look at 9/11 through the eyes of someone born afterward trying to make sense of it 15 years later.  It also touched on the repercussions for survivors.  I thought this was good. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

American Ace

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After the death of Connor's grandmother, Connor's dad finds out that the person he thought was his father, was not.  His mother, Connor's grandmother had a baby with an American Ace.  She left Connor's dad a ring and a mystery.  As the story, told in poetic narrative, unfolds Connor's dad finds out that his father was a Tuskegee Airman - making him half African American which is a shock to a man who thought he was half Italian and half Irish.

I felt the story was pretty good but a few references put it out of range for my students. 

Memoirs of a Sidekick

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Adrian is Boris' sidekick.  They are best friends and together they try all sorts of harebrained schemes and get into trouble. When Boris decides to run for Student Council President, Adrian stays by his side through the attempts to win over certain groups of kids.

The bullying bothered me - the fact that the mean kids got away with stuff right in front of teachers.  The principal was awful as well.  

Kids won't mind as much as I did.  It is overall an okay book but not my favorite.

Summer of Lost and Found


Oh the cover.  I really wish that the cover had represented the fact that Ambrose was also a major player in the plot.  The cover really would lead a reader from my school to have a totally different perception of the plot.

Nell is forced to go with her mother to the area of the lost colony of Roanoke to study a mysterious grape vine when her father leaves suddenly.  Filled with questions and concerns, Nell has trouble acclimating to the summer.  Then she meets a mysterious boy, Ambrose, who seems to appear suddenly, is always dressed in reenactment clothes, and is drawn to the mystery of Roanoke.  Together the two of them make discoveries about both the lost colony and themselves.

So, as an adult reader I had Ambrose figured out right away and I was annoyed with Nell's bad choices.  But, a middle grade reader would not feel the same way about the book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beetle Boy

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When Darkus' dad disappears while working in a museum, Darkus moves in with his uncle.  One daya beetle starts hanging out around him and the weird thing is that the beetle seems to understand and respond to him.  As Darkus starts investigating his father's disappearance and the mysterious beetle he finds out there there is a lot more to the story.  Darkus finds out about old research that his father had been doing with a no famous fashion designer, Lucretia Cutter.  He also finds a mountin of beetles in the house next to his uncle.

With the help of two friends and a lot of beetles, Darkus starts to unravel the mystery of his father's disappearance and the beetles.  

There was some violence in the book and I was a bit taken aback by the neighbors when they kidnapped Darkus.  But, overall I liked the book - action, interesting beetle facts, suspense, and friendship.  The ending sets up for a sequel and there are many loose ends but it was pretty satisfying.