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review 2019-04-18 20:52
Vega puts a modern spin on the classic haunted house tale in teen horror novel 'The Haunted'
The Haunted - Danielle Vega

Hendricks is undoubtedly living in the house of many a person’s nightmares, and at least one little girl’s death, and as the new girl in town, she seems to be finding this out gradually through her friends at school. Steele House doesn't seem to be an ordinary house by any measure, and not only is it hiding a dark secret, so is Hendricks, one that sent her family packing from Philadelphia and to this tiny town of Drearford.

 

Once her family moves into Steele House, which is being renovated, she finds a new group of friends right away (to her surprise). Hendricks begins to craft a new social life out for herself, involving both the popular guy at school, but also the boy next door, who is also the brother of the little girl who died. She soon finds there are new and far more powerful ghosts than the ones in her past that she has to deal with.

 

This is a pretty basic horror novel, a classic haunting tale that author Danielle Vega has written for teens, and it's perfect for those who might be somewhat cautious about stepping into the genre.

The main character Hendricks embodies all those insecurities and anxieties felt when starting at a new high school and she has a lot of baggage from her past, the very reason the family has had to move. I appreciated these parts about the story, as well as the very real conflict she has with whether she should fall in with cliques at school, but because they couldn't be dealt with very deeply that conversely also frustrated me a bit. The parents also happen to be totally absent from Hendricks' world most of the time, which is pretty convenient (and actually pretty irresponsible).

 

As far as the very descriptive scenes that involve the haunted Steele House, these are vivid and full of horrible paranormal evil that will conjure up images that will stick with you. There's also a very deep-seated reason for the evil that resides in the house and it's actually very sad. I appreciate that Vega tied the narrative together at the end, even though it was quite an abrupt ending.

As an author, I think she has great instincts for what works well to both scare and satisfy, understanding that real life is a bit messy and not perfect. It's kind of why the ending left me with a punch to the gut.

I read a lot of horror fiction and love a great scare, so I love finding creepy books that suck me in; this is a quick YA 'haunted house' read, perfect for a spooky weekend.

 

*I also would have fallen victim to Steele house myself thanks to the cat at the beginning that draws little Meredith into the basement (even though everyone should know the first rule in horror is ‘don’t go into the basement’). But…kitty!!!!

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40818627-the-haunted
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review 2019-03-11 17:51
Beautiful graphic novel captures the drama of middle school and explores the trials of bullying, friendship, and first crushes through music
Operatic - Kyo Maclear,Byron Eggenschwiler

‘Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.’

 

This stunningly beautiful graphic novel is a treasure to hold in your hands. It’s a story with so many subtle layers, everything from bullying, to individuality, first crushes, and music history, all reflected within finely illustrated pages.

Charlie is nearing the end of middle school and while discovering the ‘soundtrack’ for her life for a school music assignment, she discovers opera and new friendships. While exploring the way we all identify differently with the music we hear, author Maclear tells Charlie’s tale of discovering the opera singer and diva Maria Callas, and those of her new friends Emile and Luka, boys who are alienated for liking bugs (weird) and singing (girly). Charlie recognizes how her classmates feel, their struggle to fit in and find their place along the cliques at school. The push of their class assignment encourages her to reach out to others as well as reach within and let her true self out.

 

The illustrations in this hardbound graphic novel (complete with a purple cloth spine and ribbon) tell so much of the story; they should be pored over and digested slowly. While the themes held within aren’t overt and initially obvious, ‘Operatic’ presents itself as a coming-of-age story that should be discussed and pondered to be absorbed, and it’s truly special.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40646241-operatic
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review 2019-02-02 03:18
The Hundred Dresses
The Hundred Dresses - Eleanor Estes,Louis Slobodkin

Young Wanda is teased by her classmates for being different than the rest. When Wanda doesn't show up at school students start to wonder why. This is a great story that allows students to understand what bullying is. Leveling system is The Lexile, reading level 870L. Students can participate in "I like you because". The students will put their name in the middle of a piece of construction paper and have it passed around the classroom for students to leave nice comments on.

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review 2019-01-28 03:42
A Bad Case of Stripes
A Bad Case of Stripes - David Shannon

     This colorful book teaches children to be themselves, no matter what others opinions are. Camilla Cream, the main character, loves lima beans. However, she keeps this a secret because her friends at school think lima beans are gross. When tragedy strikes and Camilla is bed ridden with sickness, she must make a tough decision to tell the truth.  

     This book's reading level is ages 4-8. A great way to use this book in your classroom is to introduce it during the first week. This book opens discussion about why we worry about what others think, bullying, and learning to respect and accept differences in others.

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review 2019-01-23 21:46
A Bad case of the Stripes
A Bad Case of Stripes - David Shannon

Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them because the other kids in her school don't like them. Camilla is very worried about what other people thank about her, but at the very moment she most wants to fit in, she becomes completely covered in strips and stands out. She searches for anyone who can help her remember what it means to be herself. A great first week of school activity to go along with this book is to have students draw lines across a cut out of Camilla's head to be filled in with stripes with things that make them unique written on them. Be sure to encourage students to share things that others would not know or they might be shy to share. 

 

 Lexile: AD 610L

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