Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cybil Review

These books were read for Cybils and the review and opinions expressed here are my own and have no connections to the Cybils at all.

Gone From These Woods by Donny Bailey Seagraves
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Eleven Year Old Daniel would do anything to please his favorite uncle, Clay. That is why he has agreed to go hunting with him. Clay is the man he has looked up to. His father has been a changed man ever since the accident that killed Daniel’s grandparents and left his father with permanent injuries. He has seen his father turn into a cigarette smoking, beer guzzling, mean man. He seems to be angry all of the time. Daniel tries his hardest to avoid him. He does this by spending time with his Uncle Clay. It is one of those quiet mornings when Clay and Daniel go hunting. Clay is excited to share his passion with his nephew. When the opportunity comes to kill his first rabbit, Daniel just can’t take the shot. As he leans on his gun to stand up he forgets that his finger is on the trigger and his gun fires killing his uncle. This is a story of forgiveness, the hardest kind, learning to forgive yourself. Daniel starts the healing process and along the way finds that his father isn’t as bad as he thought.
I am always telling my students to look for connections to what they read. I remember my cousin coming to live with us to finish out high school after a similar accident. His father had found an old hand gun buried in his back yard. My cousin and his friends were looking at it. They had each taken a turn of pointing the gun at each other and going, “bang, bang”. When it was my cousin’s turn to handle the gun the bullet that had been lodged for years found the chamber and fired killing his best friend. The young teen died on his way to the hospital. His father was a police officer and tried to assure my cousin that it could be him that was dead. They held no hard feelings. It has been 40 years and it still haunts him. He has never married, he is an alcoholic and still makes the statement that he wishes he was the one that had died that day. I had one other connection to this story. Two seniors in my class one the president of our Girls Athletic Club was accidently shot the day her boyfriend had proposed to her. He and a friend had come in from hunting and set their guns against the couch. She ran to him knocking one of the guns against the coffee table where it discharged killing her instantly. He was unable to live with the accident and ended up in a mental institution. I don’t know if I would be able to deal with it. I am not sure if all of the counseling in the world would help or not. This was a great book. I know many of my students are familiar with guns as they deal with gangs and gang activity every day. Maybe by reading this just one of them will see how dangerous gun safety is.

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: I purchasedPopeye, so named because his uncle Dooley had accidently shot his eye out with a B.B gun when he was three, is bored. His life consists of staring at the heart shaped stain on his bedroom ceiling and listening to his grandma Velma recite the kings and queens of England to keep her mind sharp. He lives with her because his parents are absent from his life. Occasionally his mother pops in for a visit. Popeye sees his life as boring until the day the Holiday Rambler gets stuck in the mud near his house. That is the day that he meets Elvis and they set out to have a small adventure while they wait for the motor home to get unstuck from the mud. Setting off through the woods toward the creek they find a boat made out of a Yoo-Hoo carton. Their new adventure is to find out where they come from and why. This was a cute book. Growing up in the country I often found things to be boring on rainy days. Like Popeye's grandmother, my mother always wanted us withing hollerin' distance. It was funny how something as simple as finding out where the boats came from could be considered an adventure. I look forward to recommending this book.

Devon Delaney Should Totally Know Better
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Review Copy from publisher

Devon Delaney has a problem, she constantly feels the need to lie. Each lie must be covered by another until things eventually backfire. Devon has done it once again. She has a boyfriend named Luke. Luke's old girlfriend Bailey wants him back and will do whatever it takes to win. Devon is jealous and trying to keep up with Bailey so she creates a former ex-boyfriend. Now Bailey insists on meeting him. Devon's world of lies comes crashing down as you can expect. I loved this book. The lesson to be learned regarding the truth is for everyone. I read part of this aloud to my class and the students started telling of times they had done similar things. I will definitely recommend this book.

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