Wednesday, October 05, 2011

More Rejects

In addition to upcoming 6th-grade booktalks in November, I now have added 8th grade.  Hurrah!  It's "hurrah" because we haven't been invited to the 8th grade in at least 4 years or more.  However, the 8th grade reading teacher would like tailored booktalks-- one booktalk presentation for her 3 "normal" reading classes, and special one for both her high reading class and her low reading class.  Why yes, I'd love to present 60 different books today, thanks!  I'm going to be reusing alot of books I've taken before to other classes, and looking for books that will appeal to/be appropriate for more than one group.


Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem, by Mailyn Nelson.  At only 1/2 an AR point, this won't be a big draw.  The information in the book is pretty interesting, but the book is half information, half poetry (and not very interesting or moving poetry at that).  A slightly longer look at the story of the bones, including more history of the area and of medicine at the time, would have been more interesting.

10 Things to Do Before I Die, by Daniel Ehrenhaft.  I read this through exactly half-way, but I can't get into it.  While the premise is interesting and could potentially be a good book-- a teen thinks he's been poisoned and has 24 hours to live-- I can't buy that, thinking he's going to die, he won't go to the hospital and that, thinking the same, his friends' first response is to get drunk with him instead of getting him medical care.
Some definitely-high-school themes come up that, while good and appropriate for that age group, are not quite right for middle school.

Inside Out, by Terry Trueman.  I started this one, and it is beautiful and powerful and I will finish it on my own, but I won't be able to take it to booktalks, primarily because of the swear words.  A mature 6th or 7th grade reader that can handle a little language and that I can personally recommend this to, yes, but I can't give  a blanket recommendation to 260 kids I don't know.

Once a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough.  This looks interesting and, based on the first couple pages, a writing style I'll enjoy, but it's not what I'm working on and I'm not in the mood for it now.

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies*, by Laurie Rosenwald.
* Or, frankly, anybody else.
What is this?  This is crap!  This is useless and full of "art" and stories that don't teach anything or make any sense, separately or together.  Why did I buy this?  I want my money back!

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman.  This seems like a very interesting and, so far, well-written book, but it is a little slow-going for sixth-graders.  I need to keep this in mind if I ever go to 8th or 9th grade, though.

Will Super Villains be on the Final?, by Naomi Novik; illustrated by Yishan Li.  This is a fun graphic novel. Like with all graphic novels, I felt a little lost, and I never know if that's because I'm no good at reading graphic novels or if because something was indeed missing.

113 Things To Do By 13: With Tips from Your Fave Celebs and Tween Insiders, by Brittany MacLeod, with a little help from mom, Terri MacLeod.  Kids may enjoy this, but I see nothing worth promoting.  The suggestions are by and large not important or life-changing, but silly, time-wasting activities.

Alone in the Wilderness!: Brennan Hawkins' Story of Survival, by Tim O'Shei.  A 32-page book (including index, glossary, title page, and all-- 7 pages that aren't actually part of the story) is not appropriate. The story is not told in an exciting way, and I have trouble finding sympathy for a family that let a tween go camping without teaching him basic safety beforehand.  Lost for 4 days and he was scared to approach rescuers he saw because they were strangers?  I'll be putting away the other Edge Books publication, Shark Attack! without even cracking the cover.

Encyclopedia of the End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More, by Deborah Noyes.  This sounds very interesting, but the writing is pretty dry.  The entries for each subject are a good length, though.

Name Me Nobody, by Lois-Ann Yamanaka.  There is (or at least, might be) a good story in here, but the writing style, or rather, the narration, is throwing me off.  I've known a few people from Hawaii, and while I'm sure they don't represent the entire population, they didn't talk at all like anyone in here speaks.  Is this accurate?  It's hard to follow.

A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban.  I really like this main character, and I think this is a great book, but it's not picking up or really seeming to go anywhere.  I'm not sure how many 7th graders are reading a book because they really want to get to know the main character.

Poor Little Witch Girl, by Marie Desplechin.  11-year-old suddenly manifests magical heritage, doesn't want to grow up and be like mom, sounds like a good premise.  However, the book is told from multiple perspectives, starting with the mom's.  She's not so much a character as a caricature, completely unbelievable and unsympathetic.  The second section, which I started but didn't finish, is from the grandma's POV, and, while she's a more believable character, there isn't alot going on in the story that kids can feel invested in.  The section in the main character's voice is only 30 pages, and then there's a section by someone else, another character and not a family member.
Good idea, bad set-up.

Cloaked, by Alex Flinn.  Boring boring boring.  Nothing is grabbing me.

Raven Summer, by David Almond.  This could be a really powerful book in the hands of an advanced reader, someone with time and focus, but I don't know how to sell this in a 3-minute spiel in front of a classroom.  It's powerful, but I cannot adequately convey the mysterious and interesting parts.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

If you ever need help putting those 60 books together, I'd be glad to help you out. Just shoot me an e mail and let me know what grades, topics, etc. you're looking for! Middle school is my kingdom!