Saturday, November 7, 2009

More Cybil Reviews

Operation Yes by Sarah Lewis Holmes
Publisher: Arthur a. Levine Books
Pages: 234
Source: I purchased it.

I’m not really sure what I expected from this book when I got it but I definitely loved it. I could relate to this on some levels. I have had three nephews and a brother in Iraq. I had a student whose mother was sent to Korea and she was sent to live with her grandmother for a year and attended my school. Last year one of our teachers was called back up and deployed to Iraq. I have had students who seemed excited they were going to another country and some who were upset because they were moving again. I know the fear these students face wondering about the safety of their loved one. I am have been put on alert twice by my son. I am one of the lucky ones, his deployment has be put on hold for the time being. That is why I related to this book.

Ms. Loupe is not your average sixth grade teaches. She has a tattoo on her back. Of all things her students think her class is fun. Her first day, she took attendance while taping a large rectangle onto the floor. She then proceeded to step into it and ask questions that made her students question her sanity. They learn all kinds of things as they take turns in the Taped Space. Her dream is to create an improve theater. Students learn that she had been in the Air Force Academy but dropped out. Her brother is currently serving in Afghanistan. Bo has been in trouble in years past but now his cousin Gari is coming to stay with his family while her mother, a nurse is shipped to Iraq.

The Taped space allowed the kids an outlet for facing uncertainties and fears. She teaches her students to look at things from different angles to better understand them. This is a great inquiry technique. When something happens to her own brother her students step up to help her.

This book was to be put on the bottom of my Cybils stack to be read. One of my students picked it up from my desk the day I received it. He is one of my reluctant readers. He asked me if I was finished with it because it looked like a book he would really enjoy reading. I told him I had not started it and he asked me, “Do you think you could have it done by tomorrow?” I read the book during my first two periods so that I could give it to him during my 5th period. As I handed it to him I thanked him and told him I had it on the bottom of my list until he asked for it, which forced me to read it early. I told him I really enjoyed it and knew that he would too.

Bobby vs. Girls (Accidently) by Lisa Yee

Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 172
Source: I purchased

I thought this was the cutest book. When I told my students about it they were telling me similar stories that had happened to them in elementary school. Bobby and Holly grew up best friends. When they reached fourth grade Bobby realized that Holly had started hanging out with someone new. Now it was no longer cool for the girls to be seen talking to the boys and the boys talking to the girls. Bobby ends up with a fish named Rover, and comes home each afternoon and tells his problems to the fish. Throughout the book you read one embarrassing thing after another about Bobby and you find out how true friendship comes through to make things work out. I love having students read a book and discuss it with me and I know this will be one of those books.

A Recipe 4 Robbery by Marybeth Kelsey
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2009
Pages: 282
Source: Library

Lindy wants to attend band camp with her best friend Margaret. The problem is her parents have had a run of bad luck. House repairs, her brother needs glasses, and other financial problems. Lindy’s luck may have changed. She is at their annual Bloomsberry Cucumber Festival with Margaret and they are looking for food. She gets caught in front of a dish made Granny Goose. It looks and smells foul. Granny puts an extra-large helping on her plate. Her mother insists she eat it. When she goes to take her first bite she finds something shiny. It is a gold locket. She learns that there has been a robbery in the neighborhood and Granny Goose is the prime suspect. She and her two friends set out to catch the culprit so that they can get the reward money. There were a lot of twists and turns in this. I honestly didn’t suspect the culprit until they revealed the thief. This was a very easy read and one I think will keep my students engaged.

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2009
Pages: 280
Source: Library

Well, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has done it again. She writes stories that pull you right in and make you feel as if you are one of the characters. One of the first things I liked about this book was the teacher. She had the students brainstorming ideas about the unknown. This is the story of two girls from two totally different backgrounds. They will each spend two weeks in each other’s home. Ivy June comes from the poor, coal mining section of Kentucky while Catherine comes from a wealthier area. The teachers wanted Ivy June and Catherine to write down any preconceived ideas they had about the other person’s lifestyle. There were so many connections to make with this book. My father-in-law grew up in the hills of Tennessee and I had spent some time in my childhood living in Lexington, Kentucky. I personally love the mountains. Another connection I made with this book was the ideas they and their friends had about each other. In eighth grade one of my best friends was a girl people talked about because they lived in a very run down house. The love and friendship in her home was not much different than those friends we shared who had lots of money. In the story both girls learn that prejudice can raise it ugly head in all forms. When tough times came they both relied on their friendship to get them through. They both came away learning something about each other’s world and realizing that change can only happen if we open our eyes to the possibilities without judging first. I absolutely loved this book. I cried when each of them faced their own challenge. I laughed when they described taking a bath in the big round tub one after the other. Yes I could relate to a lot of this. It is definitely a book for my shelves.

Carolina Harmony
Marilyn Taylor McDowell
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2009
Pages: 322
Source: Library

Carolina Harmony lost her parents and baby brother in a terrible accident when she was only nine. She went to live with her Aunt Shen. Aunt Shen had raised her father but was not his biological mother. His mother had been her best friend. Carolina lives in the mountains and loves its simple ways. When Aunt Shen has a stroke some well meaning women from the church step in and she is shipped of to a foster home. She promptly runs away and then is taken to a second foster home. It seems to be worse than the first. She runs away from that one as well and end up at Harmony Farms. She is loved by the whole family. When she tries to help a kid from her former foster home disaster strikes and Carolina finds out what jealousy can do. Once again she runs away only to learn that you can’t keep running. Sometimes the only way you find peace is by telling the truth. This had a great ending. It reminded me a lot of the book “Pictures of Hollis woods”. I have read a lot of books recently with a setting of mountains in them and it makes me hurt. I have not been back to Tennessee since shortly before my Father-in-law passed away and I miss it. I hope to go back this summer. Like Carolina Harmony, that is where I find peace.

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 164
Source: Library

Richard Peck has done it again. Mrs. Dowdel is a formidable character that you just have to love. When the new preacher and his family move next door to her, she reaches out and helps them, even when they don’t think they need her help. Bobby’s first encounter with her is when a group of bullies kidnap him, strip him of his clothes, tie him up with fishing line and throw him in the lake. They then parade him back in then nude and string him up in Grandma Dowdel’s outhouse. She helps him out and acts as if it is nothing new to see a stark naked boy strung up there. She is rough on the outside yet loving and caring on the inside. She is not a church woman, yet she can quote her Bible. It is a story of neighbor helping neighbor, even when pride gets in the way. I will add this to my shelves because I think kids need to learn about this time period. If they can learn and have a great chuckle, then all the better.

The opinions expressed in these review are mine alone and do not represent the views of the panel.

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