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Search tags: Multicultural
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review 2017-04-22 05:12
Two teenage boys figuring out their identity and their friendship...
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

 

 

This is an amazing book that seems to truly understand the minds of teenage boys trying to navigate life. It appeals to both boys and girls who are trying to figure out their identity and their lives. Dante seems to know who he is from the beginning, but Aristotle (Ari) is constantly worrying about the fact that he doesn't know who he is or what he wants.

 

Some of the students in my class found Ari's angst to be more than a bit annoying, but I really enjoyed this book. I felt for Ari, even though, at times, I didn't really understand why he was so angry. Dante didn't always understand it either. However, I am certain I was just as confused and confusing as a teenager (especially to my mom). And now, I have my own teenage daughter. Her moods are more than a bit unpredictable and confusing; so now I know what my mother felt like.

 

I think teens, especially those questioning their sexuality, will enjoy this book.

 

Recommended to:

Grades 9-12, both boys and girls. 

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review 2017-04-22 04:51
Sisters sent to Sweden to escape WWII...
A Faraway Island - Annika Thor,Linda Schenck

 

 

During World War II, many Jewish children were sent to other countries and placed with families to keep them safe. Stephie and Nellie were two of those children. They end up on a small island and with two different families. At first glance, Nellie is in the warm, loving family and Stephie ends up with a woman who doesn't seem to even like her. Stephie is holding on to the idea that their parents will join them and they will all go to America. 

 

This is a great story about two girls adjusting to their new life and dealing with bullying and prejudice. I felt so bad for Stephie. She is trying so hard, but she misses her old life and her parents so much. Her parents sent her and her sister away to save them from the Germans and their hatred. But, even in Sweden, they can't avoid it completely.

 

When Stephie finally reveals her pain to her foster mother (Aunt Marta), she finds that Aunt Marta is dealing with her own pain. They both realize they aren't alone and don't have to deal with everything on their own.

 

Recommended to:

Middle school ages, especially girls. Even though it's historical fiction, the problems the girls deal with are easily relatable. The book doesn't deal with the horrors of the concentration camps, but the way the war affects Stephie, Nellie, and their family.

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review 2017-04-21 04:50
Coach helps teen turn his life around...
Ghost (Track) - Jason Reynolds

 

 

Like, for me, the best way to describe it is, I got a lot of scream inside.

- Chapter 3

 

Castle Crenshaw is in the seventh grade and he is always in trouble, mostly fighting. He doesn't take any crap. But, he sees a team running track in the park, proves he can run faster, and the Coach asks him to join. Castle (nicknamed Ghost) runs fast because he needed to. One night his father chased his mother and him out of their apartment. His father had a gun and was shooting at them. So, Ghost doesn't have it easy, and he doesn't always make the right choices, but this team and more importantly, the Coach are his chance for a new direction.

 

This book is a quick read, written for middle-grade students. The character of Ghost seems real; he is angry, embarrassed by where he lives, and has no father figure. The Coach becomes an important part of his life, not just on the team, but in helping him to make better choices and do the right thing.

 

I read this book for my Multicultural lit class. 

 

Recommended to:

Readers in grades 6-8, especially boys.

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review 2017-04-19 05:03
Two boys face down one bully...
Save Me a Seat - Gita Varadarajan,Sarah Weeks

 

This is a great book. The story follows two boys during their first week of middle school (Ravi and Joe). One is a new boy from India and the other is dealing with social issues. This book depicts what feels like a real-life school experience. The boys think they have nothing in common until they are united by a common enemy - the school bully.

 

The chapters are written in alternating points of view between the two boys, and the book is sectioned by days of the week. We can see how much they have in common and root for them to finally realize it and become friends. There is a lot of Indian culture woven into the story, the food, the language, and in Ravi's home.

 

At the end of the book, there are two glossaries. One is Ravi's with Hindi words and their definitions. The second is Joe's with English slang words and their definitions. There are also two recipes, one from each boy's family.

 

The book is a well written multi-cultural book that accurately depicts the experience of a boy coming from India to the United States. I think children will relate to the characters and their situations. 

 

I used this book in a paper I wrote describing a program promoting kindness.

 

One of my favorite lines from the book:

These candies have four layers. Most people assume there are only three, but assumptions are often wrong. There is more to them than meets the eye.

- Joe explaining why he is like an M&M

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review 2017-04-09 04:50
Full Cicada Moon - review
Full Cicada Moon - Marilyn Hilton

 

"Girls learn how to cook and sew so they can be good homemakers. Why would you want to make a bookcase when you can make a cake?" But I want to ask her why wouldn't I.

- Flying to Vermont - January 1, 1969

 

It was like we were all in the Other check box, having in common speaking English, being American, and feeling that we didn't belong either in our parents' worlds or in this one.

- Flying to Vermont - January 1, 1969

 

Even now, that day reminds me that raindrops are stronger than hammers.

- Summer 1969

 

 

Half-black, half-Japanese Mimi just moved to a mostly white town in Vermont. It is 1969, and girls are expected to take Home Ec and grow up to be housewives or maybe teachers.  Mimi is different. She wants to take Shop class and she wants to be an astronaut. Her teachers and classmates may laugh, but Mimi is determined. When the people in town look at her, they see what is different about her and make comments about her race. Mimi wants to take shop and she won't let anything stand in her way, not even the rules or the principal.

 

I liked this book. Mimi is a strong female character. She doesn't let people tell her no. Even when people look at her and judge her by her looks or her sex, she doesn't let that stop her from trying to get what she wants. The novel is written in verse and takes place over the course of a year as she adjusts to her new town.

 

This is a good story to show kids what it means to be a friend and how one person standing up for what they believe in can make a difference.

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