Lottery Rose

By: Ms. Unterholzner
Lottery Rose is 185 page young adult fiction written by Irene Hunt. It has a lexile level of 1070.
It is not a new book to the reading scene but remains a great one. Lottery Rose is a lotteryroseNewberry Award winner that allows teens who have gone through some more serious life struggles that they have managed to hide or keep covered express and process those memories and emotions through the main character 7 year old Georgie Burgess. It may help others realize how fortunate their lives have been. It also builds discussion on how critical community is and that we have a responsibility to one another.
Georgie Burgess finds himself disliked by his teacher, marked as “retarded”, abused and neglected in his home, and mistrusting of all adults. He has one love in his life and it is flowers. Through a twist of fate he is able to reach his dream and discover he is lovable and able to love.
I truly enjoy this book of self discovery and healing. The idea that no matter how badly things have gone you will survive and attain what you may have once believed was impossible.
Advertisements

Buddha Boy

By: Ms. Unterholzner
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja is an ALA “Best Book for Young Adults” winner. It has a lexile level of 1090 and is a fairly quick read at a 128 pages.
BuddhaThe book mirrors a typical middle to upper class high school and the struggles of bullying, cliques, finding out who you are, what you believe in, and what you are willing to take a stand for.
The book is primarily focused on the two main characters Justin and ‘Buddha Boy’. Justin gets assigned to do a group project with Buddha Boy which we can all relate to. He plans to do what he must, finish the work quickly, and get away from the new freak in school ASAP. Yet the more Justin gets to know Buddha Boy and why he does not wear a coat in the winter and begs for money at lunch the more Buddha Boy – Jinsen – shows Justin what life is about.
This book was fairly enjoyable but a bit predictable for me. I always enjoy seeing a character struggle with their inner self and evolve into something better while simultaneously battling the culture around them. However, the book held very few surprise outcomes. Something I truly love.
3.5 / 5 Stars

Bonechiller

By: Ms. Unterholzner
Bonechiller by Graham McNamee is your classic thriller. It has 294 pages with a lexile level of 580. It is a great book that gets your attention and makes it fun to read.
It starts in the middle of NOWHERE and follows the main character Danny who has been jumping from place to place for awhile witbonechillerh his dad. Before you know it, you start to question exactly what kind of book is this? A book about people out for vengeance? A book about people who have gone crazy in the dead of winter? How can the characters be doing and seeing what they are doing and seeing? How many “ghosts” of the past can come to haunt the each of them?
I enjoy this book and love to look for textual clues as to what is going to happen next. Mr. McNamee does a wonderful job of keeping the plot twist and turns fresh and new.
I recommend the book to anyone looking for a light fun read.
4/ 5 stars

Fresh Off the Boat

By: Mrs. McLean

Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off the Boat offers a unique perspective on culture. His frankness about race and cultural relations in the United States made this white girl fresh off the farm feel uncomfortable and confused at times, and that was likely his goal. It’s easy to identify a plethora of reasons that growing up as a minority in white America is difficult, but knowledge and understanding are two very different things. Although I will not claim to understand Huang’s experiences, how can anyone claim to understand anyone else’s life, I will say that reading this text gave me a glimpse into what his life was like. I learned some things about Asian cuisine, streetwear, and Taiwanese customs, but more importantly, Huang’s text made me think. Specifically, he made me consider how I work with students who are first generation American or who are new to the country. He made me think about how I work with students with whom I do not easily identify. He made me think about why students act out. I am confident that I am kind and fair and empathetic…just like every other white teacher I know. Teachers all want to think that we do the best we know how with all of our students, and white teachers want to think that we do the best we know how with our students of color. Maybe I (read: we) have been missing something though. Huang has spent a huge portion of his life being angry, and he talks a lot about how educators did not understand him or his anger. Perhaps this is because his teachers did not care enough to chip away at his armor or perhaps it was because they did not know how or perhaps it was because his defenses were impenetrable. In any case, he rarely got what he needed from the American education system, and it gives me pause. Do I give my students of color what they need? Can I?Fresh Book Cover

I can think of several students off the top of my head who were frustrated, angry. Some were minorities, some were not. Some were privileged, some were not. Most were marginalized. I am ashamed to say that I know I did not make progress with several of them. I recognize that this is part of teaching. Not all students will like you. Not all students will enjoy your class. Not all students will open up to you. I am a good teacher, but I am not a good teacher for every child. That’s impossible, but most of the time there are other teachers in the building who are good where I’m not, and then students are able to connect with someone who cares about them, their stories, and their direction. I worry about those students who do not find that though. Eddie Huang did not have a great educational experience. He did not connect with his teachers, but he turned out great from what I can tell. He’s successful because he followed his passion and his heart. He worked very hard for this success, and from his tale, I doubt he takes it for granted. But not all kids are like him. He was angry, but he was very bright. Though he struggled with family dynamics as outlined in his book, he had a support system. A lot of kids don’t have that, and that is scary.

I want people to read his book because it makes a person think about some tough issues and challenges one’s conclusions. I want teenagers to read his book because it’s relatable and thought-provoking. I want those on the fringe to read his book because he delineates between the things about which a person should be angry and those for which anger is a wasted emotion. Further, Huang brings the humor through the pain, and when a person can do that, he or she has beat out whatever demon he or she was fighting.

5 stars

milk and honey

By: Miss Luckow

This collection of poetry and prose by Rupi Kaur is split into four chapters ranging from pain to love to healing. Her poems are paired with simple illustrations to23513349 bring the reader through the darkest moments of her life and find the sweetness in them.

I have been trying to find more modern poetry to read lately and it’s been a struggle to find an author that doesn’t come off as pretentious or trying too hard.

This collection was exactly what I was looking for. Kaur hits all of your emotions with a punch that’s cathartic in a way that is accessible and relatable.

Some poems, I actually cheered afterwards because someone was finally perfectly putting into words feelings I’ve never been able to.

The illustrations that are paired with some of the poems are super simplistic as to not distract from the words and are a nice pairing to the messages throughout.

I would highly recommend this collection of poetry to people who love poetry and to people who have never read a poem in their lives.

5/5 stars

342c9651406ce4e3a6426d87d37aa5b7

Girl Walks Into A Bar

By: Mrs. McLean

Rachel Dratch’s Girl Walks Into a Bar was supposed to just be a quick, easy read over Spring Break for me. I love Rachel Dratch, but I did not expect much in the way of connections or themes. Boy, was I wrong.

12867423

Girl Walks Into a Bar is funny without being just schtick. It is thought-provoking without being touchy-feely. It is inspiring without being a sob story. So often I think famous people all have a similar Cinderella story. They have a goal, they pay their dues, and eventually they make it. Hooray! The end! Happily ever after! Rachel Dratch is different though. She had a goal, she paid her dues, and she made it, but she goes further. She goes on to describe her “Now what?” Dratch is brutally real about her life post-SNL. She discusses her struggles to find meaningful work and meaningful relationships in way that while a little self-deprecating is also relatable.

 

4/5 stars

Lunch In Paris

By: Senorita Alwan

Having travelled to Paris twice and given my interest in cooking/cuisine, I thought that Lunch in Paris could be a good read.  It turns out that I was right.  The book is more than unnamed.pngyour classic love story.  It has elements of how an American, Elizabeth Bard, can navigate the culture of Paris and her French boyfriend with an open mind.  Not only does Elizabeth fall in love with, Gwendal, but she gets caught up in cooking up wonderful French cuisine.  At the end of each chapter is a compilation of the recipes of French dishes that she prepared.  Her connection to food reminds me of the food aspect of the novel Como Agua Para Chocolate

 

In addition to her relationship with Gwendal, Elizabeth is plunged into a world of bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and French fashion. She learns to gut her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen), soothe pangs of homesickness (with the rise of a chocolate soufflé) and develops a crush on her local butcher (who bears a striking resemblance to Matt Dillon). Elizabeth finds that the deeper she immerses herself in the world of Frenchcuisine of France the more she understands Paris and the French culture.   French culture, she discovers, is not unlike a well-ripened cheese-there may be a crusty exterior, until you cut through to the melting, piquant heart.  Overall,  Lunch in Paris is a story of falling in love, redefining success and discovering what it truly means to be at home.  boo

The Girl With All the Gifts

By: Miss Luckow

Going into this book, I knew nothing about what to expect. I knew it was a zombie novel and that it got good reviews. What I got was a heart-warming zombie novel that explores what it means to be human. 17235026

Taking place in a near-future after an epidemic spreads around the world, turning most humans into zombies, a girl named Melanie sits in her cell and awaits for her daily routine of going to school, showering and going back to her room. The only thing she knows is that she feels  love from her teacher Ms. Junstineau and that something isn’t right when students start disappearing.

From there, the story takes off in a fast-pace looking at this world from multiple perspectives, creating a complex world with even more harrowing issues that each character has to face, including the demons within themselves.

Each character is absolutely fascinating and so well developed and I became deeply attached to each one of them. This book made me feel all the feels possible and just left me in shock when it was over.

I can’t even begin to recommend this book enough.

5/5 stars 

Boy 21

 

By: Mrs. Weinke
Boy 21, by Matthew Quick, tells the story of Finley, who is a mediocre varsity basketball player and the only white player on the team.  Even though he is not a star, he is a very kind and quiet person who his coach trusts.  In fact, his coach trusts him so much that he asks Fin11138172ely to mentor a new student.  This new student is not an ordinary student.  He is a star basketball player who is being scouted by the NBA. Unfortunately, his parents were murdered right in front of him a few months before and now he has “put on” a persona of an alien. Finley tries his hardest to become friends with this boy, who has named himself Boy 21, without encouraging him to go into basketball because if Boy 21 does, Finley will lose his spot starting.
Stars: 3.5/5

Assassination Vacation

By: Mrs. McClean

With a recommendation from Mr. Nelson, a colleague for whom I have great respect, I recently read Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation in which the author explores her passion for the circumstances and lore surrounding the Presidential assassinations of Lincoln, McKinley, and Garfield.

 

Although I am not a natural history buff, I enjoyed this text immensely as Vowell went beyond the dreaded names and dates of the standard history text, telling not only the assassination-vacation.jpgstories of the horrific events themselves, but also those of her pilgrimage to different museums and historical sites while she conducted her research. Vowell seamlessly combines her sense of humor with sober reflections on death, murder, children, luck, heroism, politics, and Americans as a people.

 

I live for an audiobook. As an English teacher, people assume that I spend the majority of my time outside of school reading. This is false. In fact, I am typically the person who falls asleep open mouth having not completed a paragraph only to wake a few hours later recognizing that I will be returning yet another library book with drool stains on page one. Fortunately, the local library also has a plethora of audiobooks available, and I have about a half hour commute to work. Some audiobooks are better than others, and it has everything to do with the voice and cadence of the narrator(s). Sarah Vowell narrates her own work (I love it when authors do this because only he or she is able to capture the true tone and essence of the text.), and she brings in some others to bring history to life. Conan O’Brien, Catherine Keener, Jon Stewart, and Greg Giraldo all make appearances, to name a few. Perhaps the best part about listening to this text, after getting to hear Violet Parr’s voice from The Incredibles tell me about the dichotomous personalities of John Wilkes Booth and his brother Edwin, is listening to a woman tell me about some interesting pieces of our nation’s history. In thirteen years of public school and nine history credits during undergrad, I had just one female social studies teacher: Ms. Odell for seventh grade civics. She reminded me of a cross between Nurse Ratched and General Patton, and while I learned a lot from her, it was out of sheer terror. History is such a male-dominated subject area in schools (perhaps due to a male-dominated curriculum) that I think many girls, myself included, have been a bit turned off of studying it. Sarah Vowell (and, to be fair, Mr. Nelson) have gotten me interested in history again through Assassination Vacation, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

 

4/5 stars