Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty



 












4 stars

Criminal or kid?  Murderer or misunderstood? 


 


 In this graphic novel based on a true story,  eleven-year-old Roger tells about the life of his classmate Robert, a young boy nicknamed Yummy.  Yummy, like many other kids in the inner city, never had a real childhood.  He was taken away from his abusive drug addict mother at a young age and lived with his elderly grandmother.  His grandmother loved Yummy, but with 19 others living with her, she had little money or time to give him.  Yummy could come and go as he pleased and often  did - leaving his home for days at a time.  Before long Yummy found a place he could belong - where he would be taken care of if he just followed their orders and proved his worth.  Yummy joined the Black Disciples, the same gang the narrator's brother, Gary, belonged to.  


 


Yummy begins his venture as a member of one of Chicago's toughest gangs with a petty crime spree - shoplifting, fighting, breaking and entering, and stealing cars.  Yummy never planned on killing anyone - despite having been given a gun by his gang.  He only meant to scare away a few rival gang members hanging in their 'hood.  When Yummy fires his gun as a warning to others, the stray bullet hits and kills a sweet, innocent young girl who was only sitting outside her apartment.


 


Suddenly, Yummy is on the run -  an 11 year old boy now wanted for murder.  Yummy trusted his gang to take care for him, and he couldn't understand why everyone now hated him and wanted him captured.  He wasn't a killer.  It was just a mistake.  Yummy would give anything to take it back and give the pretty young girl, Shavon, her life back...


 


Roger thinks he knows his classmate Yummy, but he suddenly realizes life is not white and black.  Yummy could be ruthless and mean, but he also was still just a lonely little kid who never had a chance for a good life.  When Yummy  is captured and killed - not by the police but by his own gang family-Roger realizes the young girl Shavon is not the only victim in this tragic turn of events.



 

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

 






4 Stars




A Long Walk to Water tells the true story of a young girl named Nya and a young boy named Salva, one of the lost boys of Sudan. The reader learns about life in war-torn Sudan - the fear, famine and dehydration, the desperation of the Sudanese as they are forced to flee their homes and walk thousands of miles through the hot desert in order to locate one the the refugee camps - where living conditions were also deplorable.




With the belief that his family has been killed, Salva is left alone and must fend for himself.  Though he walks with the others, he is not shown much mercy by the adults.  Silva loses his one friend to a lion who drags the young boy away at night.  Silva knows no matter how difficult things become, he must keep walking or die.  Despite his never-ending thirst, the blistering sand underneath his bare feet, and the gnawing, deep hunger which never goes away, Salva is determined to survive.




Eventually, Salva is chosen by American missionaries to come to America and be sponsored by an American family.  Salva is amazed by the luxuries America can afford him and decides he must return to Sudan in order to share his good fortune and to help his people.  It is during his first trip home where Salva learns his family is still alive, and his life intersects with the young Nya.      



Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann


5 Stars

In Quill, 13-year-olds were divided into two groups - the Wanted and Unwanted.  The Wanted were chosen to study at the University and if proven to be loyal and valuable to their government, were later selected to serve Justine, the powerful High Priestess of Quill.  The Unwanteds were the children who had been in trouble before, not followed the rules, or had shown at a young age the desire for creative expression.  These 13 year olds were "different" from the Wanted were deemed unworthy to live.  The Unwanteds were taken away from Quill and their families - eliminated and executed.  

Alex was chosen as one of the Unwanteds.  Taken from his family and his Wanted twin brother, Aaron, Alex knew his life was now over.  Once he arrives at the Death Farm, however, Alex learns he has a much better fate awaiting.  The Death Farm is actually a different society which is overseen by a kind man named Marcus Today.  Marcus has created a new world for the Unwanteds - one where magic and creativity abound.  The Unwanteds are allowed to be themselves here and to continue living in a world far from Quill - one which encouraged them to become the person they each wanted to be.  

Alex is relieved to have a second chance at life.  Instead of being truly happy, though, he finds himself constantly thinking of his twin, Aaron.  He knew Aaron would love living there with his brother if only given the chance. Determined to learn magic and find a way to reach out to his brother and "rescue" Aaron from the tyranny and oppression which existed in Quill, Alex finds a way to transport himself back to Quill. Instead of a happy reunion where Alex shares with his twin Aaron the secret wonderful, magical world which exists beyond Quill's walls, Alex learns his brother is not who he seemed to be.  Aaron only cares for himself and has his own ruthless quest for power.  He will betray his friends and sacrifice his own twin to prove his loyalty to Justine.

Alex has now exposed the Death Farm to Quill.  The secret world and escape for the Unwanteds will be destroyed unless the government of Quill is defeated.  The Unwanteds must prepare for battle in order to protect and defend their world. The young teens know the odds may be against them as they prepare to fight against trained soldiers - and even worse, many will be forced to fight their own former friends and family, the Wanteds who watched them be sent away to die - in order for the Unwanted to continue living.

A great page turner!

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann


5 Stars

In Quill, 13-year-olds were divided into two groups - the Wanted and Unwanted.  The Wanted were chosen to study at the University and if proven to be loyal and valuable to their government, were later selected to serve Justine, the powerful High Priestess of Quill.  The Unwanteds were the children who had been in trouble before, not followed the rules, or had shown at a young age the desire for creative expression.  These 13 year olds were "different" from the Wanted were deemed unworthy to live.  The Unwanteds were taken away from Quill and their families - eliminated and executed.  

Alex was chosen as one of the Unwanteds.  Taken from his family and his Wanted twin brother, Aaron, Alex knew his life was now over.  Once he arrives at the Death Farm, however, Alex learns he has a much better fate awaiting.  The Death Farm is actually a different society which is overseen by a kind man named Marcus Today.  Marcus has created a new world for the Unwanteds - one where magic and creativity abound.  The Unwanteds are allowed to be themselves here and to continue living in a world far from Quill - one which encouraged them to become the person they each wanted to be.  

Alex is relieved to have a second chance at life.  Instead of being truly happy, though, he finds himself constantly thinking of his twin, Aaron.  He knew Aaron would love living there with his brother if only given the chance. Determined to learn magic and find a way to reach out to his brother and "rescue" Aaron from the tyranny and oppression which existed in Quill, Alex finds a way to transport himself back to Quill. Instead of a happy reunion where Alex shares with his twin Aaron the secret wonderful, magical world which exists beyond Quill's walls, Alex learns his brother is not who he seemed to be.  Aaron only cares for himself and has his own ruthless quest for power.  He will betray his friends and sacrifice his own twin to prove his loyalty to Justine.

Alex has now exposed the Death Farm to Quill.  The secret world and escape for the Unwanteds will be destroyed unless the government of Quill is defeated.  The Unwanteds must prepare for battle in order to protect and defend their world. The young teens know the odds may be against them as they prepare to fight against trained soldiers - and even worse, many will be forced to fight their own former friends and family, the Wanteds who watched them be sent away to die - in order for the Unwanted to continue living.

A great page turner!

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri


4 stars


Criminal or kid?  Murdered or misunderstood? 

 In this graphic novel based on a true story,  eleven-year-old Roger tells about the life of his classmate Robert, a young boy nicknamed Yummy.  Yummy, like many other kids in the inner city, never had a real childhood.  He was taken away from his abusive drug addict mother at a young age and lived with his elderly grandmother.  His grandmother loved Yummy, but with 19 others living with her, she had little money or time to give him.  Yummy could come and go as he pleased and often  did - leaving his home for days at a time.  Before long Yummy found a place he could belong - where he would be taken care of if he just followed their orders and proved his worth.  Yummy joined the Black Disciples, the same gang the narrator's brother, Gary, belonged to.  

Yummy begins his venture as a member of one of Chicago's toughest gangs with a petty crime spree - shoplifting, fighting, breaking and entering, and stealing cars.  Yummy never planned on killing anyone - despite having been given a gun by his gang.  He only meant to scare away a few rival gang members hanging in their 'hood.  When Yummy fires his gun as a warning to others, the stray bullet hits and kills a sweet, innocent young girl who was only sitting outside her apartment.

Suddenly, Yummy is on the run -  an 11 year old boy now wanted for murder.  Yummy trusted his gang to take care for him, and he couldn't understand why everyone now hated him and wanted him captured.  He wasn't a killer.  It was just a mistake.  Yummy would give anything to take it back and give the pretty young girl, Shavon, her life back...

Roger thinks he knows his classmate Yummy, but he suddenly realizes life is not white and black.  Yummy could be ruthless and mean, but he also was still just a lonely little kid who never had a chance for a good life.  When Yummy  is captured and killed - not by the police but by his own gang family-Roger realizes the young girl Shavon is not the only victim in this tragic turn of events.


A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park


4 Stars

A Long Walk to Water tells the true story of a young girl named Nya and a young boy named Salva, one of the lost boys of Sudan. The reader learns about life in war-torn Sudan - the fear, famine and dehydration, the desperation of the Sudanese as they are forced to flee their homes and walk thousands of miles through the hot desert in order to locate one the the refugee camps - where living conditions were also deplorable.

With the belief that his family has been killed, Salva is left alone and must fend for himself.  Though he walks with the others, he is not shown much mercy by the adults.  Silva loses his one friend to a lion who drags the young boy away at night.  Silva knows no matter how difficult things become, he must keep walking or die.  Despite his never-ending thirst, the blistering sand underneath his bare feet, and the gnawing, deep hunger which never goes away, Salva is determined to survive.

Eventually, Salva is chosen by American missionaries to come to America and be sponsored by an American family.  Salva is amazed by the luxuries America can afford him and decides he must return to Sudan in order to share his good fortune and to help his people.  It is during his first trip home where Salva learns his family is still alive, and his life intersects with the young Nya.      

Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon


3.5 Stars


     Ella was used to being the outsider.  All the students at her school were white, and some teased her for her discolored facial skin, calling her "Camo."  Z was the only friend she could count on.  Sure Z was strange.  He usually wouldn't respond unless you called him Agent Z, and he frequently lived in a fantasy world.  Z was always a little different, but he really began acting strange after his father left his family.  Ella didn't care, though.  Z was always there for her and accepted Ella just as she was.  Ella didn't think anything would ever change until the new boy moved into town.

     Bailey was the new goodlooking African-American boy who transferred to Ella's middle school.  Everyone wanted to be his friend.  Bailey, though, seemed most interested in becoming good friends with Ella.  Suddenly Ella belonged.  She sat at the cool table during lunch and started getting invitations to parties.  Though Ella never turned her back on Z, he suddenly seemed threatened by Ella's new relationship.  

     Ella feels torn.  She enjoys feeling good about herself again but cannot forget Z's loyalty and friendship.  Ella knew she would have to make a choice - choosing the friend she could always count on or the life she has always dreamed about...   


Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon


3.5 Stars


     Ella was used to being the outsider.  All the students at her school were white, and some teased her for her discolored facial skin, calling her "Camo."  Z was the only friend she could count on.  Sure Z was strange.  He usually wouldn't respond unless you called him Agent Z, and he frequently lived in a fantasy world.  Z was always a little different, but he really began acting strange after his father left his family.  Ella didn't care, though.  Z was always there for her and accepted Ella just as she was.  Ella didn't think anything would ever change until the new boy moved into town.

     Bailey was the new goodlooking African-American boy who transferred to Ella's middle school.  Everyone wanted to be his friend.  Bailey, though, seemed most interested in becoming good friends with Ella.  Suddenly Ella belonged.  She sat at the cool table during lunch and started getting invitations to parties.  Though Ella never turned her back on Z, he suddenly seemed threatened by Ella's new relationship.  

     Ella feels torn.  She enjoys feeling good about herself again but cannot forget Z's loyalty and friendship.  Ella knew she would have to make a choice - choosing the friend she could always count on or the life she has always dreamed about...   


Digital Portfolio Tools for Education

As a former high school English teacher, then Library Media Specialist, and now Instructional Technology Specialist, I am always on the look...

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