Sunday, January 28, 2007

Chicken Boy by Frances O’Roark Dowell

South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee- 2007-2008

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5stars.gif5stars.gif - 2 out of 5 stars rating - Fails to engage reader, characters not well-developed

Mother dies.  Father is absent - physically and emotionally.  Main character must learn to survive on his own....Sound familiar?  This is a plot line that is becoming a bit repetitive in 'tween lit.  Remember The Young Man and the Sea by Philbrick - also, a SCJBA nominee from 2006-07?  The difference between Young Man and the Sea  and this story, however, is the plot in the former engages the reader and the main character, Skiff, is very likable and admirable.  I do not feel the same way about the plot in Chicken Boy or the main character, Toby.

The action in the novel is pretty much nonexistent, and many of the characters are not well-developed.  The main character, Toby, was less interesting to me than his granny, a wacky in-your-face spitfire, and Henry, Toby's classmate, who has developed a fascination of chickens and speaks with a voice much more mature than his young years.  To me, the book leaves so many potential conflicts undeveloped - the relationship between Toby and his young teacher, the tension between Granny and his father, Toby being torn between his new caring foster parents and the dysfunctional family in which he was raised, the relationship between Toby and his juvenile delinquent siblings, the teasing Toby endures with his classmates until he finally begins to prove himself.....

I guess I am missing the appeal of this novel.  I think there's much more interesting realistic fiction that is not on this year's list.  This book may appeal to some reluctant male readers, but overall, I think students will find it boring.

Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell

South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee- 2007-2008

chickenboy.jpg

5stars.gif5stars.gif - 2 out of 5 stars rating - Fails to engage reader, characters not well-developed

Mother dies.  Father is absent - physically and emotionally.  Main character must learn to survive on his own....Sound familiar?  This is a plot line that is becoming a bit repetitive in 'tween lit.  Remember The Young Man and the Sea by Philbrick - also, a SCJBA nominee from 2006-07?  The difference between Young Man and the Sea  and this story, however, is the plot in the former engages the reader and the main character, Skiff, is very likable and admirable.  I do not feel the same way about the plot in Chicken Boy or the main character, Toby.

The action in the novel is pretty much nonexistent, and many of the characters are not well-developed.  The main character, Toby, was less interesting to me than his granny, a wacky in-your-face spitfire, and Henry, Toby's classmate, who has developed a fascination of chickens and speaks with a voice much more mature than his young years.  To me, the book leaves so many potential conflicts undeveloped - the relationship between Toby and his young teacher, the tension between Granny and his father, Toby being torn between his new caring foster parents and the dysfunctional family in which he was raised, the relationship between Toby and his juvenile delinquent siblings, the teasing Toby endures with his classmates until he finally begins to prove himself.....

I guess I am missing the appeal of this novel.  I think there's much more interesting realistic fiction that is not on this year's list.  This book may appeal to some reluctant male readers, but overall, I think students will find it boring.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Media Center Book Club

Ok. Ok.

So I have been a little slack. And a lot busy! It's time to get rolling again with our student book club! First, we need a name for our book club. Something very coolish...Any ideas?

Also, we will meet in December for our first discussion - Not As Crazy As I Seem by George Harrar.

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More info to come! Can't wait to see you all at our first meeting! Check back later for our blog discussion.

Mrs. S

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Here are a few of the following quotes I received from teachers regarding their favorite South Carolina Junior Book Award nominees they read this year:

Ms. Haney:

There were several I liked, but reading The City of Ember caused me to read the sequel, and the “prequel.” The book went along well with many sci-fi movies showing the world in a destruction aftermath. I liked the difference of this series having children being the main characters and the story written through their eyes.

Mrs. Edwards:

Double Dutch was an incredible book. It told the gut-wrenching truth of teenagers struggling to survive and overcome life’s trials. It was a great reminder of what some kids face on a daily basis, and how they still manage to overcome.

Mr. Woodall's Review:


Book Reviews 2006-2007


 




North, by Donna Jo Napoli



This is a story that highlights a boy as he tries to discover what it is to be a man. Alvin
s mother will not let him prove that he has guts. Alvin sets out to in the footsteps of his hero Matthew Henson to prove her wrong. This is a great book for any young man exploring his own journey to manhood.

 




The Young Man and the Sea, by Rodman Philbrick



This story is about how Skiff fights to reclaim his father
s fishing boat. At the same time he is fighting to reclaim his father as well. This is great book about family struggles in time of strife.

 




Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett




A classic mystery. Two young sleuths search for the answers found in 3 mysterious letters, none of which were addressed to the two. Petra and Calder ponder the paintings of this 17th century Dutch painter. Along the way they learn about themselves and their friendship. And by the way, can you find all the frogs?


 




Close to Shore: the Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916, by Michael Capuzzo



Capuzzo takes an interesting look into a series of shark attacks that plagued summer resorts along the Eastern Seaboard during the summer of 1916. Capuzzo takes the actual events and tries to speculate what the individuals, as well as the shark, might have thought and experienced. These attacks were the basis for the novel and blockbuster movie JAWS.

 


Race for the Sky: the Kitty Hawk Diaries of Johnny Moore, by Dan Gutman



Gutman takes an unusual twist in this book of historical fiction. Gutman creates a fictional journal of Johnny Moore, a resident of Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, who actually witnessed this first historic flight. While the entries are not true the events described in them follows the real trials and struggle that Orville and Wilbur Wright experienced as they made history.

Drowning Anna

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 Fat…Ugly….Trashy….Noone likes you…you are so stupid…how can you stand looking at yourself in the mirror?

What if you heard these taunts everyday at school? How would you feel about yourself?

When Anna Goldsmith moved to a new town and began attending a new school, she thought she was the luckiest person alive. Everyone believed she was beautiful, smart, and admired her great sense of humor. She even became BFF with the most popular “It” girl at school - Hayley Parkin.

Anna’s dream world, though, soon becomes a nightmare.

Hayley begins bullying Anna - first it was just words….mean, hateful, ugly words. Later the abuse turns physical. Hayley even manages to turn the entire student body against her. No matter what Anna tries to do - be nice to Hayley, ignore her, report the abuse - it still does not stop.

Finally, Anna becomes so desperate to escape the hurt that she makes plans to end everything - once and all.

To find out what happens to Anna, read Drowning Anna by Sue Mayfield.
Here's a recording of The Librarian of Basra:  A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winters. the_librarian_of_basra.mp3  - read with a nice, Southern accent for your listening pleasure

Monday, January 8, 2007

Student and Teacher Reviews Welcome!

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Book Club Discussion

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This month's book is Pool Boy by Michael Simmons.  Feel free to post your comments below!

Books, Books, and More Books

               Over our Christmas break, I read 3 very different books that are new to our media center.

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     The book I most enjoyed is Blood on the River: James Town 1607  by Elisa Carbone.  Though this book is classified as fiction, it contains many true events that occurred during the Jamestown settlement.  The story focuses on eleven- year- old Samuel Collier, a page to Captain John Smith, who decided to travel to the New World.  An orphan who likes to use his fists, Samuel felt like he had nothing to lose by embarking on this journey.  The adventure he encountered, however, was beyond anything he ever could imagine.  You may be thinking..."Oh great...another book about Jamestown."  This book is very different, however.  The details give the reader insight into other people who were key to the Jamestown settlement, beyond Captain John Smith.  To me, the best part of this book is the view of  Native American culture and daily life.  The book is suspenseful, interesting, and historically accurate. 

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     Another book I read is The Boy in the Basementby  Susan Shaw. I really did not enjoy this book nearly as much as Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It.  The book is the same concept - a story of extreme child abuse and the impact on the child.  One key difference is this story is fiction v/s Pelzer's nonfiction account.  I also prefer A Child Called Itbecause it is more detailed, contains more insight into Dave's emotional struggles, and (with the trilogy) lets the reader know what has happened after he was removed from the situation. 

Regardless of my opinion, some of you may still enjoy reading Shaw's The Child in the Basement.  Let me know what you think!

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     Finally, I enjoyed the nonfiction book titled Good Brother, Bad Brother:  The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth by James Cross Giblin.  The account begins by describing the family's background, focusing on the two brothers and their childhood.  At first, you believe that the brothers are very similar in nature.  As your reading continues, another view of John Wilkes Booth is revealed, a darker side...one that finally explodes when he brutally assasinates President Abraham Lincoln.  This story is very well-detailed,  including photographs, replicas of letters and documents, and first hand accounts from people who were close to the Booth family.  I like reading nonfiction and enjoy history and suspense - this was the perfect book for my tastes!  Give it a try - I bet you'll love it, too!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Media Center Blog

Welcome to the D.R. Hill Middle School Media Center Blog!  The purpose of this blog is plain and simple - to share a love of reading.  Here you will find book reviews by teachers and students.  I also will post our monthly book club discussion.  You can read tidbits about our students' favorite authors and books, as well as information concerning new books that have been ordered.  I hope you enjoy reading this blog and will participate in our discussion.  Happy Reading!

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