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review 2018-09-09 17:56
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book. Children's Edition - Neil Gaiman

This is a fiction horror novel about a boy who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. I would only read this to kids in 5th, or 6th grade because it is kind of scary and definitely has complex/mature themes including death and violence. If a 4th grader was mature enough and their parent allowed it, I would allow him or her to read it independently. I think Fountas & Pinnell would level it as a U or V which would be 5th grade. When I read it for the first time in 5th grade it scared me, but I read it again in my children's literature class and it still gave me the creeps! I would definitely have to send home a permission slip before I read this to a class.

An activity could be to have kids decorate their own headstones around Halloween. This sounds super creepy, but I would want them to describe themselves with strong adjectives or to write a short poem to be printed on their head stones. I would hang these on the door around Halloween.

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review 2018-09-07 18:46
Who is Nobody?
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Nobody (Bod) Owens, was raised by ghosts after his parents were killed by the man Jack. He was granted Freedom of the the Graveyard in order to blend in with his surroundings. As Bod gets older, he becomes interested in being educated outside of the graveyard which inevitably makes him noticeable. He battles ghouls, bullies, and naturally curious nature to eventually make peace with who he is and who he has for a family.  I would use this book during language arts. I feel that it would give students the opportunity to discuss their imagination that is typically suppressed as they grow. There are plenty of areas in the book for students to share their view on family and how would their lives be different if they grew up like Bod. The Lexile Measure is 820L.

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review 2018-09-02 17:53
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard - Lawrence M. Schoen
Far in the future, there are no remnants of human life left. In a distant solar system, the uplifted elephant-like species of Barsk, the Fant live out their daily lives excluded from the many other uplifted species.  However, Barsk is the only planet that can grow the plants for a variety of medicinal drugs.  One drug, called koph helps those with the talent of Speaking to interact with the dead.  Jorl is a Fant who is a Speaker and a historian who has specialized in the prophesies of the Matriarch.  Jorls often Speaks to his best friend, Arlo and helps to take care of his son, Pizlo.  While Speaking, Jorl notices that he cannot connect with several Fant's that have just passed, this knowledge combined with some interesting visions that Pizlo has begun to see, causes Jorl to believe that he is part of one of the prophesies.
 
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard is a unique fantasy that pulled me into a different world.  This is a story that you have to allow yourself to go with the flow and immerse yourself into the world of Barsk.  The inhabitants of Barsk and the other worlds are all mammals that have been somehow integrated with human thought process, language and emotions while still having traits of the animal they originated from.  This made for an interesting conflicts between beings as well as a mystery as to why everyone else disliked the Fant.  Since there was so much going on, I focused on Jorl and his insights as well as Pizlo.  Pizlo was the most intriguing character for me.  He is an outcast, since he was born to parents who were not fully bonded.  Fant- besides his mother and Jorl ignore Pizlo, however Pizlo seems to have the greatest sense about what is going on with Barsk and those who are after its resources.  Once Jorl and Pizlo begin to investigate the issues with the dead, things get complicated. The draw of koph has pulled in many other inhabitants from around the galaxy and they are not about to play nicely.  Tensions rise as Speakers try to draw out knowledge from deceased Fant as well as almost deceased Fant.  From here the story got very political and could easily relate to many trade situations happening on Earth.  Pizlo's character added the elements of innocence and fantasy to keep the story on track for me.  The ending also surprised me with what they were all hiding.  Overall, a distinctive fantasy that has a lot to offer. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2018-08-29 16:51
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book follows Nobody Owens, Bod for short, as he explores his home in a graveyard. Readers join Bod on many adventures throughout his life from escaping the Indigo Man and the ghoul-gate, as well as finding out the truth about his true identity. Bod is safe in the graveyard from the dangers of the outside world, as well as from the man named Jack who killed his family prior to Bod's arrival at the graveyard. The book includes many paranormal characters that encourage student engagement. 

 

I was skeptical when I saw the book on the required reading list for children's literature course but I ended up enjoying the reading. The book is mysterious and thrilling that students enjoy and keep them engaged. There are many different subjects that can be integrated into the reading such as science and social studies. At the end of chapter 3, Mrs. Lupescu identifies different constellations in the sky. After reading chapter 3 of the book, I would have my students, as a group, research the different constellations and do an oral report. 

 

AR Level: 5.1

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review 2018-08-06 21:38
Graveyard Shift by Michael Haspil
Graveyard Shift - Michael F. Haspil

Vampires are out in the open now and UMBRA, a top secret group of government-funded vampire hunters, has been dismantled. Now Alex, a former UMBRA agent, has to navigate a new world of bloody drinks at every corner store and a good chunk of the world that operates at night instead of the day. Instantly, I was captivated by this main character. Alex isn’t your typical vampire hunter. He’s got some supernatural secrets of his own. And a cat.

The former Pharaoh, Alex Menkaure, now lives in Miami working as Detective Alex Romero. A murder mystery needs to be solved fast before more civilians and Nocturnes (as vampires like to be called) die. When it became apparent that someone has been tampering with commercially available blood drinks (Hemo-Synth), I did flash to True Blood briefly. While this central plot point may not be original, the story still worked really well.

Marcus, Alex’s partner, is also a vampire, one who once was a Roman Imperator. So the two do most of their work at night. They eventually team up with some unlikely allies to solve this murder mystery and bring down the criminal mastermind going by the name Abraham. Marcus and Alex have great banter between them. I often enjoyed a dark chuckle.

Betrayal and dangerous enemies make life hard for Alex. I enjoyed all the action. There was never a dull moment. I really hope for a sequel. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Michael Kramer has long been a favorite voice to listen to. I was quite pleased to hear him give life to this story. He had distinct voices for all the characters, including a variety of accents. His female voices were believable. All around, it was a great performance. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

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