Thanks to Jen & Kelle for hosting! Check out what they've been reading at Teach Mentor Texts.
Well, you can't love them all, and this week I'm sharing some candid opinions with you. Don't agree with me, tell me! I love to hear others' thoughts on the books I've read. After all, the reason we write blogs and visit blogs is to share our thoughts and opinions.
Books I Read this Week:
Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
Recommended for grades 4-6
A wonderful book for those girls that are starting to look at that boy in math class with new interest. That is, this is a good fit for those boy crazy girls, as protagonist Adela becomes rather obsessed with a love interest in the second half of the story.
Overall the book did not wow me. It was immediately evident what the mystery of Lady Hortensia's garden was, and since the magic garden was the most intriguing part of the book, it quickly became tiresome. At about the midpoint of the book I felt that the story was over, and what followed felt like a poorly done sequel smushed in with the original book.
Doll Bones by Holly Black, illustrations by Eliza Wheeler
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013
Recommended for grades 4-8
For starters, best cover I've seen in a long time. Secondly, Holly Black is a genius, and if her name is on the cover I want to read the book.
What I loved:
Three kids on the verge of middle school (Poppy, Alice and Zach) play an in-depth imaginary game, each playing their own characters. The characters and the plot of the game is written by the children as they think it up. The game holds them together and perhaps stalls growing up.
The Queen, an antique doll sitting in a shelf behind glass doors, rules over all the game's characters from her glass tower. She is scary because...well, have you seen the cover... What more perfect object of creepiness is there than a china doll? Many of us have had to sleep in a room when away from home that had a china doll sitting somewhere nearby. Good luck falling asleep with that thing waiting to come to life as soon as you shut your eyes!
Anyway, when The Queen turns out to be more than just a doll, but instead the earthly remains of a ghost child, the three friends decide to help her rest in peace by undertaking a quest that most certainly can't be a good idea.
What bothered me was that I truly was lead on to believe that the ghost girl was an evil little thing. Maybe that is in part because I was anticipating it so much, but it was also in part due to some clues in the story. So, when she wasn't living up to my evil expectations I was a little bummed out.
But no matter how you go into this story, looking for evil or not, you will come out of it having enjoyed one wildly creative middle grade tale of friendship and growing up, disguised as one spooky ride.
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco
Recommended for grades 5-8
Just go get your hands on this one. I loved every bit of this book, and will not even attempt to tell you why, because I can't. There is something in this book that gently takes your hand and pulls you along on Bee's journey. If you loved Wonder, and I know you all did, then perhaps you will come to this story with a deep understanding of how hard it is to wear your differences on the outside, and how cruelly you can be treated because of it. How one reacts and finds their way in spite of that hardship is what makes Bee such an interesting character.
Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas written by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wicks
First Second, 2013
Recommended for grades 5-8
Whoa was I excited for this one! After loving Ivan my third graders researched animal relationships (between humans and/or other animals). The topics vary widely, but I knew this book, that takes them back to the root of primate and human relationships, would pique their interests.
However, the story feels too jumbled to me. We meet Jane Goodall, then Louis Leakey, then Dian Fossey, then Biruté Galdikas, and each time we meet a new character we must flashback to how they became players in the primate research game. Some of the details shared were odd to put it mildly. I don't think young readers need to know that Leakey was cheating on his wife with his secretary.
I do give credit to how the author pulled together all the points in these scientists' lives where they intersect, that must have taken a lot of careful research. And yes, I certainly learned new information about all of the scientists, but I think they either could have had their own books, or this could have been longer and not so compacted. The illustrations are wonderful!
Though this book will appeal to younger grades, I would suggest it for 5th and up due to text and story complexities.
I'm Currently Reading:
What are you enjoying this week?!
You know I love to hear your thoughts!