Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book by Phil Bildner, Illustrated by Tim Probert

Image result for a whole new ball game

A Whole New Ballgame was written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by Tim Probert. This book was narrated by a fifth-grade boy named Mason Irving, also known as Rip. Him and his best friend Blake Daniels, also known as Red, love, live, and breathe basketball. They are adventure-seekers and athletic. They go to their first day of fifth grade with an idea set in mind of how it will go, but they are totally taken aback. The school is very different from what they have always known, and their teacher is not the same old fifth-grade teacher who worked at the school for 25 years. Mr. Acevedo, a young, tattooed, fun, and loud teacher is in their classroom. He does not like homework or tests or really anything “normally” in a classroom. He even has a classroom website where he posts assignments and important things to know. The story follows Rip as he explores this new teacher and a new basketball program at the school. Mr. A requires the class to do a project with someone he chooses, and Rip is alarmed when he is paired with Avery Goodman, a mean girl in a wheelchair. Rip and Avery think they know everything they need to know about each other until they start the project and learn a lot of new things about each other and their classmates. The book goes back and forth from classroom to court because Mr. A is also the basketball coach. Of course, Rip’s team are the underdogs, just like the class is unsure if they will pass their big test. But, the class and the team might just make it out on top. Read this book to feel young again, to feel inspired, and to feel like you can do anything you set your mind to!

This book is perfect for fifth graders! It is all about the fifth grade, but I could see how younger or older students would enjoy it as well! Rip’s experience with a new teacher, a new classroom setup, and a new basketball team can be related to anyone who has ever done something new. This book is great for people who are ready for something different.

This book is fiction, but could easily have been a true story. I wish it was true because the teacher, Mr. Acevedo, is amazing. He really has a passion of a real teacher, and the students in the book go through things that any kid goes through. I loved the storyline and I think that it was beautifully written.

A Whole New Ballgame brings out the past basketball player and the future teacher in me. Phil Bildner was trying to bring a new story to the world of books with this hidden gem. The book teaches about best friends, new beginnings, trust, hard work, teaching, and inspiration. It makes readers want to jump out of their seats, grab a basketball, jump on a desk, read in a bathtub, and make a difference in the world. Overall, this book makes readers go “Boo-yah!”

-JS

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Amalee by Dar Williams

Amalee by Dar Williams is about an eleven year old girl, Amalee who is being raised by her father and a group of his best friends. Her father falls ill one day and it seems like her life turns upside down. His best friends take shifts taking care of him so Amalee doesn’t have to stress out and worry about her father. Each friend uses their own unique way of helping him heal. In doing so, they all grow as people and accomplish a dream of one of the friends-building their own restaraunt. With all the bumps along the way, Amalee, David, Phyllis, Carolyn, Joyce and John show us that you can overcome anything and accomplish your dreams.

I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t put it down! This book is an easy read but I would keep a sticky note or notebook nearby if you get confused by multiple characters as there are many in this novel.

The cover depicts who we assume to be Amalee holding a paper lunch bag, as she often did after her father fell ill. I think it’s cute and can be related to the novel. However, the other cover, with Amalee and the group of adults better suits the novel.

I think this book could be used in middle and high school classrooms and read by them. The language and content is appropriate for both their age and their current states.

MH

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Truth about Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler


The Truth about Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler is about two students named Zebby and Amr who created thetruthabouttruman.com and talked about the "real" Truman school. Eventually, though people started rumors on the website about a popular girl named Lilly. After a big rumor started the school ended up with a lot of tension. 

After Lilly loses her friends and was then told that people wanted her off the cheerleading team because of a rumor of her being lesbian, she decided she wanted to run away and hides in a treehouse that she use to play in with Zebby and Amr. Those two find her and tells her to go home. They notice their mistake of making thetruthabouttruman.com and how it affected Lilly that they eventually take it down.

This book is a good book for middle or even high school students. It will teach them about bullying and how bad it can get. It kind of explains the daily life of middle and high school life. It can also teach them to not bully others no matter what people do to them. 

The book was a good speed. It had no pictures but still had a good plot. I would probably just suggest the book to students and have them read it on their own. It's a pretty good book. 

KM

Rules By: Cynthia Lord

The children’s literature book Rules was written by Cynthia Lord and was published in 2006. This is a fiction book for the recommended grades third through eighth. If this book were used in a classroom I think it would best be used to on lessons for teaching students about feeling different and learning acceptance of self and others. This novel helps bring up the point of what is “normal”. Not only is this a good novel for the young reader but it also helps cover some very pressing topics that many children face.

Rules is a novel that bases off the view of twelve-year-old Catherine whose little brother David has autism. David does not understand many things, like when others are making fun of him, he is just a happy guy who wants to have fun. Catherine, however, does not like the way others treat David, or how much of a handful he is the majority of the time. Because Catherine wants to help David be a “normal” person she comes up with rules that “normal” people follow. One day, while waiting in the occupational therapy office for her brother, a boy named Jason comes in. Jason is in a wheelchair and he cannot talk. He has Cerebral Palsy. Catherine becomes friends with Jason and starts writing words for his book so that he can "say" more things. Jason and Catherine build a strong relationship and Jason even asks Catherine if she will go to the dance with him. This puts Catherine in a tough place because she wants to be friends with Jason but she is worried what other people will think when they see the two of them together. After a lot of consideration, and hurting Jason's feelings, Catherine tells Jason that she will be at the dance and that she hopes he will come. While waiting alone at the dance Catherine starts to give up hope until she sees Jason come in. Her and Jason talk for a while and Catherine apologizes for the way she acted. Catherine realizes that she would rather be friends with Jason because he is fun to be around and not worry about what others are thinking.

This novel does not have any illustrations other than what is on the front cover. The cover is an image of a goldfish and a rubber ducky. This is image is a big rule in the book because David likes to put things in the fish tank for the fish. Therefore, Catherine made a rule to not put things in the fish tank.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I thought it was a very easy read. I thought that the book had a good story line and had a good message. If I had the chance to read this book again I definitely would because I think the message it shares is important and people need to hear it. So many people judge someone by what they look like, but if we take the time to find out what someone is really like there is a good chance that we might just end up liking what they have to offer. 

ER

Airball: My Life in







Airball: My Life in Briefs

In this story there is a kid named Kirby Nickel and he loves the game of basketball. He is obsessed over it so much that you cannot talk to him without basketball be brought up. Although he has enormous love for the game he is not what you would call a baller on the basketball court. Kirby's potential basketball team gets the chance to see a professional player's jersey get retired. That player is Brett McGrew and little did Kirby know but he is his father. 

This is a great story to read to 4th grade and up. This is a great story that allows basketball to be incorporated into the lesson that it teaches the audiences who read it. 

As Simple as it Seems by Sarah Weeks

What if life was pretty good for you, and then everything is turned upside down and you do not know who you are anymore? This is precisely what happens to Verbena when she discovers that she is adopted from an alcoholic mother and murderous father, and that she has fetal alcohol syndrome. Verbena is shaken and angry that these people would do this to her, leading to a great change in her life as she turns twelve.

What makes this book so memorable is the characters. Each has a unique appearance and personality. Verbena's mother is doughy, fat, with a round cherry face and a fun personality. Her father is old, with a chiseled chin and stubble. Verbena is tiny and pale, and has a hard time reading. Verbena's simple personality makes her easy to relate to, and many children can relate to her trials because many children go through similar discoveries and changes at Verbena;s age. This way of writing a character as a way of discovery of the world makes a simple idea, very genius.

Overall, I found this book to be an engaging and impressive read. Going into it, I thought that it would be another girly read for ten year olds with crushes on boy bands. However, it is simple and neat, and has many themes that girls and boys aged 10-13 would relate to.

AP 11/29/17

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin

Image result for the dollhouse people book   The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin was one of my favorites from when I was younger. I love the mystery of trying to find Auntie Sarah and all of the adventures that Annabell goes on to find her aunt and get around the house. Annabell is a doll, who has been passed down in the same family for generations. Fifty years ago, Auntie Sarah disappeared and Annabell's doll family has never found out where she disappeared to. When another doll family moves in, Annabell befriends the daughter and they decide that Annabell needs to solve the mystery of her aunt's disappearance. 

   This book is great for grades 3-5. It has a lot of different elements to it, which is why I would recommend it to an older grade level. 

   The illustrations on the cover, inside the cover and inside the book are fun. The cover is the only colored illustration but it really captures the historic value of Annabell and her family as well as the modern doll family. Inside the cover, there are ads from the early 1900's of the dollhouse and family members of Annabell's doll family, in the back is the same for the modern family. This really adds value to the book as an introduction and something fun for the reader to have in addition to the story. 
NS                                                                                       

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Storm Runners by Roland Smith


My final review is about the book titled Storm Runners, written by Roland Smith.  This book is about a father and son team, whom along with their trusty friend and employee Tomas, they travel the nation following storms so they can drum up business and support themselves.  The trio had started with a joint business with family, but after the death of John’s wife and daughter, he uprooted his son and himself and basically lead a nomadic lifestyle.

This time around, the trio does not just find themselves cleaning up after the storm, they literally find themselves in the middle of the storm.  Because this book is a series, I do not know the ultimate end.  What I do know is that Chase and his friends find their way back to the farm only to realize that some of the “farm” animals have gotten loose and they pose an entire new danger to the clan in addition to Hurricane Emily.

I enjoyed this book.  It took a few chapters for me to get invested but once I realized that the animals on the farm were animals that you would typically find at a zoo, it caught my interest.  I was happy to discover that I did not even predict the animals being loose, due to the hurricane, once they returned to the farm.  That added an element of interest that hopefully, I will find the conclusion to if I ever get to read the next book in the series.

The genre of this book is adventure fiction, which I think seems very fitting.  My son saw me reading it and he commented that he read the book too and that he really enjoyed it.  He is currently in 7th grade so I feel that all middle school and likely all of high school would be a good fit as a reader of this book.  I can see advanced readers of upper elementary liking it too, assuming that it is not too scary for them.

My only problem with the book lies in the storyline surrounding the bus.  I have been a professional bus driver for almost 11 years.  There is no district that I have witnessed that would put children on a bus they did not belong on to get them home “faster”.  There is no way a driver who does not know those kids or where they live could get them home faster than their regular driver whose knows the ins and outs of the route as well as the roads and could keep them calm.  Besides that, the families waiting for those kids so they could evacuate were prolonged too and they had no way of knowing where the bus might be if they decided to try to find the bus out on the road so they could collect their kid.  I also disagree with Chase’s assessment for the need of seat belts on the bus.  Research has shown that the new seat design of buses are safer than having 60+ children belted in. Assume there is a crash and an ensuing fire.  Panicked kids struggle to undo seatbelts.  Crashes often render seatbelts stuck.  How is one driver going to cut the belts of 60+ kids when it takes about 3-5 minutes for an entire bus to be engulfed in flames inside and outside of the vehicle?   Let me point out that in this story, the only person on the bus who dies was the one person who was belted to their seat!  I realize that most people who read this book will never notice this distinction.  I chose this book solely because it has a school bus on the cover and I had to know how their bus disaster was handled.  I was disappointed by the attitude portrayed in this portion of the book.

Other than the cover art, which admittedly, attracted me to the book (plus, how can you go wrong with a hurricane story?), there are no other illustrations.  I was able to easily form pictures in my mind from some of the text though.  The chapter when Chase realizes what type of animals are on the farm was fun to picture.  I also got a clear mental picture of the bus accident scene as well as the scene where Rashawn tried to jump the washed out portion of the levee road and the rescue attempt that followed.

I think this book could easily be used in a science class that is studying weather or hurricanes specifically.  With all the news reporting scenes along with the surrounding characters, I think that you could easily make it into a readers theater piece too.

In all, I liked this book and I can clearly see why students like it too.  It is a fun and easy read yet, it is packed with action, adventure and suspense.  I would like to read the other books that are included in this series.

JR