Showing posts with label November 2022. Show all posts
Showing posts with label November 2022. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Punching Bag by Rex Ogle

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Memoir
Source: I own a copy

If you thought the first book "Free Lunch" by Rex Ogle was hard to read, wait until you read this. We get a glimpse into Rex's life in his first book.We see the poverty, shame, bullying he goes through in middle school. We see the issues he has with his father and mother. Nothing prepares you for the second book. In this book we see what it was like to live in a home filled with violence. What it is like to be the older sibling who practically raises the younger one. What it is like to protect the younger one from the violence that is so often taken out on the author. We see a side of mental illness that so many kids today deal with. Why is it that it is taboo to talk about these things?

After reading Rex Ogle's first book I bought the second one to put on my shelves. I live in a district where this year a house bill is making it difficult to keep books on our shelves.  I fear each day some kid will read this book, a parent will pick it up, complain to the school board and it will be banned. Why do I fear this? This book is open, honest and raw. Ogle doesn't sugar  coat his experiences to make them less traumatizing. He wrote this in such an honest way you feel his pain. That he was able to overcome so much is amazing in itself. I know there are kids out there who live through abuse daily. This book with its darkness also shows a side of hope. It shows the reader that no matter where they are in life there is always hope.  For me it is important to get this into the hands of children everywhere. It is important that there is a resource for those we may never know are hurting. This is a must read.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle

Genre: Middle Grade, Memoir
Source:  Purchased a copy

Free Lunch – Rex Ogle

Genre: Middle Grade, Memoir

Source:  I purchased a copy

Middle school is tough. Most sixth graders feel like a fish out of water on the first day. There are class changes, often it is a new school and then, there is lunch. For Rex Ogle his first year in sixth grade is made tougher by the fact his mom has signed him up for free lunch at his school. He must tell the lunch lady each time he gets lunch that he is on the free program. This is such an embarrassment for him, especially since he has to shout it since the lunch lady can’t hear him. Rex has told his story so honestly it is raw. You feel for him when they are evicted and must live in government housing. It wasn’t bad enough everyone he was once friends with knows he gets free lunch. Their new housing sits close enough to the school that everyone will soon know how poor he is.  As a teacher I found myself very irritated at the teacher who decided Rex would be a trouble maker simply on first impressions. I am not na├»ve enough to think that all teachers are compassionate. I have worked with many teachers that made me wonder why they became a teacher. It wasn’t because they truly loved children. Their behavior told a different story. This story resonates with all kids at all levels. I understood how Rex felt. We went through a financial crisis when I was a teen. I chose not to eat lunch and tell others I just wasn’t hungry. It was less embarrassing. Poverty hits children of all colors and all ages. Thankfully today, students scan their ID card for lunch. No one needs to know if they get free lunch or not. This book has a long waiting list in my class. I recommend it to all teens.


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.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Nativity Story For Children


Genre:  Children's Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Growing up I remember my mother reading the story of Christ's birth straight from the Bible before we opened Christmas presents. As a teen I had the privilege of doing it. When my children came along my mother once again would read the story while the grandchildren sat on her lap. This beautiful picture book has two beautiful things in one. It is straight from the Bible, yet it has beautiful pictures to accompany it. As a younger child I didn't understand all of the words. Having this book would have helped me understand this. My grandchildren are much older, yet this is the book I will take to my daughter's house to read to them. They will get the benefit of both God's word and beautiful pictures to help them understand. This should be a must read in every house at Christmas time.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Lonely Dead by April Henry

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I purchased a copy

I love April Henry's books. I chose this book for my "First Chapter Friday" read. I want to entice my students to read more. I had this at home to read and loved the first chapter. Since we read the rest of the period after I read the first chapter, it was the perfect time for me to finish the book. 

Adele is a young girl who lives with her grandfather. Both of her parents are dead. When she was young her grandfather took her to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with schizophrenia. They determined it ran in the family. But what if it isn't schizophrenia? What if her ability to see and speak to the dead is real. She has taken medication for years to keep her from seeing and hearing the dead. All it took was for her to miss one dose and realize how much of life she has missed out on for her to make a conscious decision to not take any more.  

Adele is invited by her former best friend to a party at her house. After a few drinks that lead to a mistake she can't take back, she is ousted from her friend's house in front of everyone at the party. It isn't until she is walking home through the park that she comes across her friend. The problem is that her friend is dead.  Now Adele has become the prime suspect and possibly the target of the real killer.

The characters were spot on. You have Adele who has gone through a lot of hardships. Then you have her ex-best friend Tori who has issues of her own. All of the characters are believable. April Henry did such a wonderful job of creating her setting I could see it in my head. What I like most is the tension she creates in her novels. It steadily builds. It eases up just a bit then full steam ahead again. There are so many more of her books for me to read. I just have to get them away from my students. It seems that once you talk up any of her books the kids can't keep their hands off of them.  I highly recommend this and all of her books.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Nativity Book For Toddlers by Kidsup Publishing

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the perfect Christmas story to read to your young toddler. They have taken the Christmas story straight from the Bible and told it in a manner that your young toddler will understand. They have paired it will beautiful illustrations that your child will want to spend hours looking at. This would be a great story to read every year for young and old.