Tag Archives: family life

A Winter Break Fave

4 Jan

I have to go back to work today. It is a good thing I love my job,

Fortunately, I will have the lingering memory of one of my favorite Winter Break reads to soothe my heart.

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The main character in Jared Reck’s debut, Matt, is just an all around nice guy. He has nice friends, and a nice family. He is nice to his little brother. He isn’t the star player on his basketball team, but he aspires to it, and we know he will be in a few years.

As in many YA novels, something bad happens and he tries to deal with it on his own. What sets this one apart is how his family rallies to help him. It is a lot quieter than other debut novels, but it is wonderful.  Just a lovely, lovely book!

Publisher’s Summary: Seriously, how can you see a person nearly every day of your life and never think a thing of it, then all of a sudden, one day, it’s different? You see that goofy grin a thousand times and just laugh. But goofy grin #1,001 nearly stops your heart? 
 
Right. That sounds like a bad movie already.
 
Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.

If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.

But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse.

After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

 

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Throwback Thursday

6 Oct

I’ve spent the last week teaching the Notice and Note strategies by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. In teaching the “Aha Moment”, we used excerpts fro Jerry Spinelli’s Crash and I ended up doing an impromptu book talk because I remembered how much I loved this book.

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My school library’s catalogue summarizes the book this way

Crash Coogan, rising football sensation, and his friend, Mike make a regular practice of tormenting the school nerd, Penn Webb, but when Mike takes a prank too far, Crash finds himself locked in a moral dilemma.

It doesn’t do the book justice. There is a lot about friendship and families. Crash’s grandfather plays an important role, as does Penn Webb’s great-grandfather. The kids in the book are realistic and the way Crash treats Webb, and how it escalates, is as well. I think it is because both boys are so ordinary.  It is the sort of book that you pick up and read until it is finished because you can’t put it down.

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.

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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.

Jone Rush MacCulloch

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