Showing posts with label Middle Grade Novel in Verse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle Grade Novel in Verse. Show all posts

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Student Saturday: Diamond Willow by Helen Frost


Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure, Novel in Verse

Student Reviewer:  Anna H.

 “Diamond Willow” by Helen Frost is a beautiful book with many different perspectives from a variety of characters. Diamond Willow (Willow) is a twelve-year-old girl from Alaska who lives in a cabin with her mother, Father, and Zanna, her little sister. Willow and her dad train dogs to pull them on the sled and teach them the way around the forest. Willow’s father was on a dog sled the day willow was born and found a diamond willow stick which is where she got her name from. Roxy is their best sled dog who leads in most of their rides and knows her way around the entire area. Willow feels as though her parents view her as a little kid and no one sees who she really is, but there is more to Willow than others see. Shes not much of a social butterfly and only has one friend, not including Roxy, named Kaylie. Kaylie is too focused on her crush, Richard, anyway which makes Willow seem like she really is alone. Willow's grandma and grandpa adore her and only live only about twelve miles down one of the sledding trails. Willow had been begging her parents to let her drive the dog sled by herself to her grandparents for forever, but they always thought she was too young. One day both of her parents agree that she may venture alone to her grandparents. Her and her father set up the sled with Roxy as the lead dog and she was on her way. Her ancestors watch over her in the form of animals to ensure that the trip goes smoothly. Sadly, on her way home, Willow and the dogs were going too fast to see a fallen tree and crashed. Willow got stabbed in the leg with a stick and poor Roxy had her gorgeous sparkling eyes jabbed with branches. Willow rushed over to Roxy and stopped the bleeding that gushed from her eyes and began her way home not sure what would happen. Willow told her parents, and they were furious, but they held themselves together well. Turns out that Roxy had been blinded and now their best sled dog could never see again. As willow eavesdropped on her parents, she heard that they were going to put down the dog. She couldn't let this happen so the next day she loaded the sled and took Kaylie with her to her grandparents' house. She put Roxy safely in the sled and left without her parents knowing. They happened to take a wrong turn and got lost in the woods where they decided to camp in a small shelter. They were found by Richard who brought Kaylie home, but Willow proceeded on to her grandparents' house. When she arrived, her entire family had a heart-to-heart conversation about Roxy and events from the past. They told Willow that she had a twin sister whos name was supposed to be Diamond but when she perished four days after being born Willow took both names. Where they had gotten lost on the trail is where Diamond's ashes had been laid. It would be crazy to think that is just a coincidence, wouldn't it?

   “Diamond Willow” is a book of many secrets and plot twists. You never know what will happen next, but in the end, it turns out to be a very heartwarming story. I loved the way Helen Frost incorporated a diamond shape when writing about Willows thoughts and feelings and adding messages that relate to the paragraph. This book reminds me of what it feels like to be getting older while your parents seem to think you are still five. I recommend this novel to anybody between the ages of 10-14 since they will be able to relate to the main character well. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac


Genre: Middle Grade, Novel-in-Verse
Source: I own a copy

Rez Dogs is one of those books that seem like a quick read for a lazy day, and it is. However, this book is so much more. We meet a young girl named Malian who is visiting her Penacook grandparents on the reservation when all travel is shut down due to Covid-19. Her parents are in Boston.  She continues her school lessons online, helps her grandparents use video chat all while learning more about her own heritage. She wakes one morning to find a dog sitting in the driveway, as if guarding her and her grandparents. She names him Malsum. 

Through the stories her grandparents tell her, she learns about her Native American heritage as well as life lessons. She learns of the atrocities from the past as well as the good that has come out of them. This is a simple, quick read, so full of simple, and in my opinion, great life lessons all children and adults should hear.  This is just another great book by an author I really admire.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Student Saturday: Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga

Student Reviewer Alicia M.
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Novel in Verse

Jude is a girl from Syria. She was very interested in American songs, actors, and movies. She has black hair and black eyes. She had a very close relationship with her friend Fatima. they have close birthdays and similar intersts. She also shares interests with her older brother Issa.

Violence starts to breakout in her city, Allepo. Her family begins to worry when Issa, Jude's older brother moves to a violent city. Jude finds out her mother is pregnant. Soon after, her mother tells Jude they are going to move to America. Jude struggles to adjust to the "American way" of living. She feels left out and weird when she goes to school. She tries to build a relationship with her cousin Sarah. Jude started her period so she had to wear a hijab. She feels prouder and she feels included in school. Her younger sister is born and that was a sign of hope to her.

If I was Jude I would have felt the same, but I would've handled things differently. If I was homesick I would have told someone so I could have comfort. I recommend this book to anyone who feels bad  about their culture, looks, and religion. Being different shouldn't be a bad thing. This book shows the struggle of a teenage girl trying to fit into a new environment. It encourages people to do things that intersets them no matter looks and culture.


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose


Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse
Source: I purchased a copy

This is such a powerful book. I love this author's work and the fact that she writes in verse. This is the story of the Roanoke Colony that disappeared. Alis and her family have just landed. She can't wait to meet up with her Uncle, who had sailed away to this strange place. When they arrive, they find the village empty except for some bones and a burned-out building. The natives seem friendly at first. Soon, tensions rise between the two parties.  

This is much more than just a history lesson. This is a story of resilience, of friendship and how sometimes doing the right thing means making hard choices. We meet Kimi, a Roanoak Native, and Alis, one of the settlers. She is the only girl in this group. When she meets Kimi for the first time, a bond is made, and now it will be tested.

I am glad I made this one of my first reads of the new year. It was worth it. 

Monday, November 21, 2022

A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Novel in Verse
Source: I purchased a copy

This is one of those books that grabs you in the beginning and won't let go. Will is outside his apartment with his best friend when a shooting occurs. From the time he was young, he has been taught what to do. If you hear shots, you "eat the pavement." After a few minutes, he stands up to see who the unlucky person is, only to discover it is his brother. Another thing he is taught is you never cry. He takes his mother back inside, where she numbs herself the way she always does. Finally, he goes to the room he shared with his brother. He looks through his brother's drawer until he finds the gun his brother has. He slides it under his pillow. The third rule of the code he has grown up with is you kill the person who killed your loved one. The next morning Will puts the gun in the back of his pants and gets on the elevator to take care of business. When the elevator stops on each floor, someone from his past gets on and talks with him, his uncle, his dad, and others. They each have advice for him. All of these are people who have died. The question we read to find an answer to is, on this long way down, would he listen to them?

My heart broke for the character losing his brother the way he did. It broke even more, knowing that so many young people live this very life. I had a student many years ago who told me he had not done his homework because they had several drive-by shootings that night. He said his biggest fear was getting struck by a bullet while sitting in his room. This is a quick read since it is written in verse. I am not sure how I feel about the ending. If you want to know what I am referring to you need to read the book.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Spinning Through the Universe by Helen Frost

Genre: Middle Grade, Poetry, Novel in Verse
Source: I own a copy

Once again another favorite author. Helen Frost writes novels in verse. This is a book of poems from "room 214". This is a book that kids will be able to identify with. Although the teacher and students in this book are fiction, they could be any teacher or any student anywhere. She touches on topics such as; bikes. Jon's bike has gone missing in one poem. He talks about how special it is, noise and all. Then on the next page we read a poem by Andrew who took the bike because he had seen it lying in the rain. He didn't steal it because he wanted it. He took it to fix it up and return to Jon in better condition. There are poems about abuse, families and babies.  These are all topics kids deal with today. Helen's books are a must for all school and classroom libraries. I think the thing I enjoy the most about her books is at the back of each one. She has a section on the forms of poems she used and how to write them. Since reading her books I write more poetry and I have my students write more poetry. This is a must read.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Alone by Megan E. Freeman

Genre: Novel in Verse, Realistic Fiction

Source: Purchased


Maddie is a typical teen living in Colorado. Maddie splits her time between her mom and step-dad’s house and her dad and step-mom’s house. She and two of her friends hatch a plan to spend a night at Maddie’s grandparents apartment alone. Maddie tells her mom she is staying with her dad and tells her dad she is staying with her mom to babysit. She goes to her grandma’s apartment and waits for her two friends to arrive. Unfortunately, their parents call her mom and are told she is at her dad’s so they can’t go anywhere. Then the unimaginable happens. Maddie hears sounds of panic outside of her grandma’s apartment. People are being rounded up. She hears the neighbor tell the person in charge that the owners are out of state.  Maddy wakes the next morning to learn that everyone in her town has been evacuated due to an “imminent threat”. This begins Maddie’s journey to survive. She doesn’t know what the threat is. As she goes about town she finds a barrel with cell phones in it. She dials her mom’s number and hears a phone ring in one of the barrels, she tries her dad’s phone and her friends’ phones only to realize every one of them were left behind. This is a story of survival. It starts with Maddie talking to one of her step-brothers about the book “Island of the Blue Dolphins”. There are definite similarities between the book and Maddie’s new reality. I loved that this was told in verse which made it a very quick read. The emotional aspect as you go day by day and year by year on this ride with Maddie makes you wonder what you would do if you were left behind.  Can’t wait to put this on my school shelves.