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review 2018-09-09 22:39
Boy: Tales of Childhood
Boy: Tales of Childhood - Roald Dahl,Quentin Blake

Lexile Level: 1020L

In this book, the popular children's author Roald Dahl describes his own childhood in a whimsical, descriptive style. Teachers could introduce this book as an example of autobiography. Students could enjoy learning about the author of so many popular and imaginative stories. Students could read this book as a class, responding to different elements of the story while reading, before they begin writing their own narratives. They could use this text as an exceptional example of narrative to guide their writing. Students could also use their knowledge of the author gained from this reading this book to help them analyze and respond to Roald Dahl's other works. 

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review 2018-09-09 06:53
No, David!
No, David! - David Shannon

This story is about a mischievous young boy named David, who is always being told "No!" by his mother. David does all sorts of things that he isn't supposed to like wear muddy shoes in the house, play with his food, and run down the street naked (this part will undoubtedly make children giggle). Even though he is constantly being told no, David's mother makes sure to show him affection and tell him that she loves him before the story is over. In No, David, David Shannon keeps the text short and simple and the illustrations bold and eye-catching. The text does not explicitly say what David is doing wrong, but rather, the images depict his poor choices. No, David is a great book for children to learn to read and decode pictures. I also think it would be the perfect book to read at the beginning of the year as establish classroom rules. 

 

Recommended Age: 4-8

Grade Level: P-3

Lexile Level: 100L

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review 2018-09-08 22:00
SOME BOOK!
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White,Garth Williams,Rosemary Wells

It is one of the most beloved children's books of all time and even received the Newberry Honor Award. Charlotte's Web tells the remarkable story of an unlikely friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by a farmer, Charlotte writes messages praising Wilbur (such as "Some Pig") in her web in order to persuade the farmer to let him live. Charlotte's Web explores the innocence of childhood, friendship, the cycle of nature, imagination, and modern fantasy in a tender and heartwarming way. 

 

Charlotte's Web is a book that can introduce lessons and activities across the curriculum.

Thanks to the internet, the possibilities of using this book in the classroom are truly endless. Some of my favorite ideas include:

 

  • Explore the life cycle of spiders. Students can create a model using yarn, cotton, balls, plastic spiders, and construction paper to depict the various stages. 
  • Discuss the beautiful and intriguing words you come across as you read the story together and display them in a gauzy spiderweb word wall.  
  • Design a campaign poster to save Wilbur.
  • STEM challenge: Students team up to make a model of Wilbur’s pigpen or one of their own original design. Provide an assortment of materials such as popsicle sticks (small and large), cardboard, foil, tape, scissors, and straws and let your kids loose!

 

Lexile Level: 680L

Recommended Age Range: 7-9

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review 2018-08-15 19:57
The Silent Ships: "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke


“No one of intelligence resents the inevitable.”

In “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke



One of my favourite long novel is `Childhoods End`, but commenting on it without revealing the ending is difficult. That is the whole point after all, but still, think the early 80`s TV mini series/series of `V` - with Jane Badler as a seriously sexy, sociopathic alien - think they really were benevolent and took humanity to generations of peace and prosperity. Well, not exactly many `generations`!

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-07-21 14:36
Experimental, challenging, touching and funny at times but not a crowd-pleaser.
Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

I thank NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

First, in case you have not read the book or anything about it, and wonder what the bardo of the title refers to, it is a Buddhist concept (in Tibetan Buddhism, it seems, and I’ve read that Saunders is a Buddhist) referring to an intermediate state between death and rebirth (between two lives on Earth).

Now that we’ve cleared that out, if you follow my blog, you might remember that I reviewed some of the books that had made the long and the short-list of the Booker Prize. I enjoyed some of them more than others, but I had not read the book that actually won the Prize, and when I saw it come up on NetGalley, I could not resist. I had heard and read a great deal about it, and I felt I had to check it for myself.

This is not a standard novel. It is composed of fragments, divided into chapters, some that appear to contain extracts from a variety of written historical documents (diaries, newspapers, books, memoirs) which provide background to the events, Lincoln’s presidency and the tragic death of his son, Willie, victim to typhoid fever. Other chapters, also fragmented, contain first-person observations by a large variety of characters that ‘live’ at the cemetery where Willie is laid to rest. Call them ghosts, spirits, or whatever you prefer, they seem to have been there for a while, some longer than others, and they interact with each other, while at the same time talking about themselves and taking a keen interested on little Willie Lincoln and his father. We have the spirits of black and white characters, young and old, men and women, well-off citizens and paupers, people who had lead seemingly morally exemplary lives and others who had gone down the wrong path, some who had taken their own lives, others who had died by accident or in bed. There are some actively atoning for their sins while others only seek entertainment. They are a motley crew, and although we hear mostly from three of these characters (Hans Vollman, Roger Bevins, and the Reverend Everly Thomas) and from Willie, they all make important contributions and help create a whole that is more than its parts.

The structure of the novel is puzzling and intriguing, and although it made me think of postmodernism and pastiche, the methodology used to construct the novel is not an attempt at emptying it of meaning or making us reflect upon the artificiality and futility of seeking truth and understanding. The death of a child (even if we are not parents, most of us are close enough to the children of relatives and/or friends to be able to imagine what it must be like) is a terrible tragedy and although there are light moments in the novel, there are touching and moving ones as well. Some of the fragments emphasise the diverse opinions and judgements about Lincoln and his presidency (by the way, although some of these fragments are real documents from the period, others have been created by Saunders, and it is not evident while reading which ones are which), but everybody agrees on the devastating effect the death of his son had over the president. The hopeful ending might feel somewhat surprising but is open to interpretation, like the rest of the text.

There are fragments that will make readers wonder about religious beliefs, others that question the social order, racial ideas, and the Civil War. But I fully understand the puzzlement of many readers who leave negative reviews on this book (and the negative reviews are many) stating that they don’t understand anything, it goes over their heads, and it is not really a novel. Some readers, familiar with Saunders’s short-stories, prefer those to the novel, but as I have not read them, I cannot comment.

Here some examples of the style of writing in the book (in this case, I definitely recommend prospective readers to check inside or get a sample to see if it suits their reading taste).

…only imagine the pain of that, Andrew, to drop one’s precious son into that cold stone like some broken bird & be on your way.

Mr. Collier (shirt clay-stained at the chest from his fall, nose crushed nearly flat) was constantly compelled to float horizontally, like a human compass needle, the top of his head facing in the direction of whichever of his properties he found himself most worried about at the moment.

The money flows out, tens of thousands of men wait, are rearranged to no purpose, march pointlessly over expensive bridges thrown up for the occasion, march back across the same bridges, which are then torn down. And nothing whatsoever is accomplished.

Blame and Guilt are the furies that haunt houses where death takes children like Willie Lincoln; and in this case there was more than enough blame to go around.

The book collects a large number of endorsements and reviews at the end, and I’ve chosen this one by James Marriott, from The Times, for its briefness and accuracy: ‘The book is as weird as it sounds, but it’s also pretty darn good.’

In sum, this is a highly experimental book, for readers who enjoy a challenge and don’t mind a non-linear narrative, who enjoy literary fiction not focused on plot, and are intrigued by new writers and what makes critics tic. It is not an easy read, but it is a rewarding one and I, for one, hope to catch up on some of the author's previous books.

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