Archive | novel in verse RSS feed for this section

Clearing the bookshelves

25 Jan

I picked up more advanced readers copies of books than I’d planned. I thought I was being choosy, but I had to ship a lot home.  I actually shipped them to school and I will get to revisit them today. Because of this, I want to read all the library books I have checked out so I can start in on the ARCs.

Growing up where I did, The Oregon Trail and Westward expansion weren’t really part of my formal education. I knew about them tangentially, but only heard about the Donner Party when it was mentioned by Robin Williams in Patch Adams.

Skila Brown is back with a novel in verse about that tragic event.

unknown

Publisher’s Summary:The journey west by wagon train promises to be long and arduous for nineteen-year-old Mary Ann Graves and her parents and eight siblings. Yet she is hopeful about their new life in California: freedom from the demands of family, maybe some romance, better opportunities for all. But when winter comes early to the Sierra Nevada and their group gets a late start, the Graves family, traveling alongside the Donner and Reed parties, must endure one of the most harrowing and storied journeys in American history. Amid the pain of loss and the constant threat of death from starvation or cold, Mary Ann’s is a narrative, told beautifully in verse, of a girl learning what it means to be part of a family, to make sacrifices for those we love, and above all to persevere.

Told in riveting, keenly observed poetry, a moving first-person narrative as experienced by a young survivor of the tragic Donner Party of 1846.
Brown effectively imagines what the journey might have been like and captures the emotions Mary Ann and the others on the journey might have experienced.  Although there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers, the book would be more appropriate for middle and high school aged readers.
Advertisements

Little changes, day by day

30 Oct

“Little changes, day by day.”

That’s the last line on page 177 of Sharon Creech’s novel in verse,  Moo.

y648

Publisher’s Summary:Fans of Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog and Hate That Cat will love her newest tween novel, Moo. This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.

When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora.

This heartwarming story, told in a blend of poetry and prose, reveals the bonds that emerge when we let others into our lives.

Although the book narrated by Reena, Zora is the real star. She is a Belted Galloway, a real breed of cow I’d never heard of before.

b95820d496cc9fca15f596dd65ef2302

Reena and Luke are fish out of water when their family moves to Maine. Ornery Mrs Falala and Zora, two birds of a feather, help adapt to their new surroundings. Beat and Zep, two young people who live nearby and know cows, also help them learn to embrace their new home. “Little changes, day by day.” That’s how Reena and Luke become part of their new surroundings.

Reading Moo made me want to move to Maine and raise cows. It’s not going to happen since I am horribly allergic to most farm animals. But, check out the cool back cover.

ouaewdgwi4qnmfm3vtinifcbjcvdom1ej8ik8vsxfmf4cvlw1l3w4iq1joesjjt7qjbfnizs3bectsif3yqfshaikmsk8aodadqegkuskwc8uwbvg8cj8qrmmtlhj

This is a novel that touches on themes of loss, friendship, and belonging. The novel in verse format makes this a quick read. Creech plays with language and poetry in a way that will draw in many and transport them to a better place.

Autumn in the Air

3 Oct

October rolled in on Saturday with grey skies and some heavy rain. It felt tremendously autumnal.

There is a scent in the air that comes with fall and, part of it is mixed with the scent of apples in orchard which later find a home the fruit cellar in our basement.

In “The Part You Throw Away”, Tom waits sang that

Time is just memory

Mixed with desire

Helen Frost’s  Applesauce Weather has a bit of that scent about it, but in a manner appropriate for elementary age students.

unknown

Publisher’s Summary:In a touching poetic novel, a fall apple ritual—along with some inventive storytelling—brings a family together as they grieve the loss of a beloved family member.

When the first apple falls from the tree, Faith and Peter know that it’s applesauce weather, even though Peter is getting a little old for such things. It also means Uncle Arthur should be here to tell his stories, with a twinkle in his eye as he spins tales about how he came to have a missing finger. But this is the first year without Aunt Lucy, and when Uncle Arthur arrives, there’s no twinkle to be found and no stories waiting to be told. Faith is certain, though, that with a little love and patience, she and Peter might finally learn the truth about that missing finger. Paired with warm, expressive illustrations by Amy June Bates, this heartfelt tale by award-winning poet Helen Frost highlights the strength of family and the power of a good story.

This is a wonderful story about family tradition and lore, loss and love.

A Successful Booktalk

15 Sep

Since school started, I’ve given a daily book talk. I’m trying to showcase different genre and topics. Yesterday, I thought I was taking a bit of a wild chance: a historical fiction novel in verse.

unknown

Publisher’s Summary:In a haunting yet hopeful novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who became a champion of civil rights.

Asia, Africa, Europe—Antonio Chuffat’s ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. Yet for most Cubans in the nineteenth century, life is anything but beautiful. The country is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and nearly-enslaved Chinese indentured servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields.

So Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger, where his richly blended cultural background is an asset. Through his work he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. With injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that violence will not be the only way to gain liberty.

I chose this book for several reasons: an interesting topic, a novel in verse (which my readers know I love), and a non-white main character.

My classes are majority minority, so I thought I might get some takers. But I didn’t know how they’d take to a novel in verse.

I shouldn’t have worried. As soon as I mentioned that Margarita Engle was the author, eyes lit up. Many of them had read another of her novels in verse, Mountain Dog.  And so, I was pleasantly surprised to see more students than I expected, add Lion Island to the “Next” list.

Crazy first week of vacation

23 Jun

Teachers had one more day of work on Monday to enter grades, pack up and check out. I took two (very short) naps on Tuesday. That’s usually my m.o. for the first few days of vacation, but this is a funny week. We had interviews yesterday for a new Math teacher on our team. It was good to be sitting on the other side of the table for a change. Today, I have part 2 of some Reading work we did earlier in May. So, really I’ve only had one vacation day this week.

And yet, I have managed to get in some good summer reading. I finished Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, a story of a girl caught between two countries.

Unknown

Publisher’s Summary: A beautiful and haunting debut novel in verse about an American-Japanese girl struggling with the loneliness of being caught between two worlds when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes an ocean away.

Eleven-year-old Ema has always been of two worlds—her father’s Japanese heritage and her mother’s life in America. She’s spent summers in California for as long as she can remember, but this year she and her mother are staying with her grandparents in Japan as they await the arrival of Ema’s baby sibling. Her mother’s pregnancy has been tricky, putting everyone on edge, but Ema’s heart is singing—finally, there will be someone else who will understand what it’s like to belong and not belong at the same time.

But Ema’s good spirits are muffled by her grandmother who is cold, tight-fisted, and quick to reprimand her for the slightest infraction. Then, when their stay is extended and Ema must go to a new school, her worries of not belonging grow. And when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes, Ema, her parents, and the world watch as the twin towers fall…

As Ema watches her mother grieve for her country across the ocean—threatening the safety of her pregnancy—and her beloved grandfather falls ill, she feels more helpless and hopeless than ever. And yet, surrounded by tragedy, Ema sees for the first time the tender side of her grandmother, and the reason for the penny-pinching and sternness make sense—her grandmother has been preparing so they could all survive the worst.

Dipping and soaring, Somewhere Among is the story of one girl’s search for identity, inner peace, and how she discovers that hope can indeed rise from the ashes of disaster.

This is a lovely novel in verse that bicultural kids would understand on a personal level, and kids who aren’t bicultural will find eye-opening. Although the format makes this a quick read, it is not an easy read. Some one sentence chapters pack a huge emotional punch.

This was a wonderful way to start my vacation.

The Last Week

13 Jun

It’s the last week of school. We have five days left with students, most of which will be filled with my students’ poetry presentations.  I’ve come across several novels recently that deal with last things. This week will be all about books with the word ‘last’ in the title.

Today’s book is The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan.

Unknown

Publisher’s Summary:Laura Shovan’s engaging, big-hearted debut is a time capsule of one class’s poems during a transformative school year. Families change and new friendships form as these terrific kids grow up and move on in this whimsical novel-in-verse about finding your voice and making sure others hear it.

Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
crouched outside,
ready to eat the building
in one greedy gulp.

But look out, bulldozers.
Ms. Hill’s fifth-grade class
has plans for you.
They’re going to speak up
and work together
to save their school.

The poetry reflects the cultural and economic diversity of the class. Not all the poems in this collection are fantastic, but they do ring true to fifth grade voices. The book also include a glossary explaining the variety of poetical forms, providing a way to share different kinds of poems with students.

Race, family and identity

21 Apr

I had only a vague idea about American Ace when I picked it up.

Unknown

I knew Marilyn Nelson’s book was a novel in verse about a boy, Connor Bianchi, whose paternal grandfather was a Tuskegee Airman. What I learned as I read was that it was a complex story about an Italian-American boy who discovers that his grandfather was not the Italian immigrant everyone believed, but a Tuskegee Airman, stationed in Italy at the end of WWII.

Reading each poem, we see how various family members react as they find out that their family isn’t quite what they all believed it to be. Some, like Connor, embrace the revelation. Others react negatively believing that “bad news should be told privately”. Their reactions reflect attitudes about race in America.

Nelson includes an afterword in which she explains that she wanted to write about the Airmen from the perspective of someone new to their story. Since most African-Americans knew the story of the Airmen, she created Connor.

Goodreads Summary: Connor’s grandmother leaves his dad a letter when she dies, and the letter’s confession shakes their tight-knit Italian-American family: The man who raised Dad is not his birth father.

But the only clues to this birth father’s identity are a class ring and a pair of pilot’s wings. And so Connor takes it upon himself to investigate—a pursuit that becomes even more pressing when Dad is hospitalized after a stroke. What Connor discovers will lead him and his father to a new, richer understanding of race, identity, and each other.

 

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

The Book Smugglers

Smuggling Since 2007 | Reviewing SF & YA since 2008

Chez Lizzie

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Yarn Harlot

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Diversity in YA

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

%d bloggers like this: