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Search tags: sunshine-state-17-18
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review 2017-08-12 19:39
It Ain't So Awful Falafel
It Ain't So Awful, Falafel - Firoozeh Dumas

 

To all the kids who don't belong, for whatever reason.

This one's for you.

- Dedication

 

My dad says that the dogs and cats in America are luckier than most people in the world.

- page 34

 

My dad always says that kindness is our religion and if we treat everybody the way we would like to be treated, the world would be a better place.

- page 40

 

... only bookworms get excited over other bookworms

- page 69

 

"Who would ever have thought that a person could be so powerful, then so completely powerless, all in the same lifetime?"

- page 219 (referring to the downfall of the shah)

 

... even though we belong to three different religions. We are alike in so many more ways than we are different.

- page 299

 

It was only when I stopped pretending to be someone else that I found my real friends.

- page 360

 

 

This was a good read. Zomorod (who changes her name to Cindy) is from Iran. Her father is an engineer who works with American companies building oil refineries in Iran, so they moved back and forth a couple of times.  Now she is starting junior high (which nowadays is called middle school) and doesn't know anyone. She wants to fit in, but she focuses on how different she is from all the other kids. The first friend she makes (in the summer before school) decides she doesn't want to be friends when school starts. Poor "Cindy" is lost and worried and tired of having to explain to everyone where Iran is and how to pronounce her last name.

 

Cindy finds friends and seems to be settling in and basically happy. Then Iran has a revolution, the shah is kicked out of the country, and Ayatollah Khomeini takes over. On November 4, 1979, Iranian students, angry that President Carter allowed the shah to come to the United States, take a group of Americans hostage. This changes Cindy's family's life and her father loses his job.

 

I was in junior high during the Iran Hostage Crisis. I remember feeling vaguely angry at the hostage takers and worried about the hostages. My mom wasn't huge on watching the news with us or anything, but I knew what was happening (at least generally).  

 

It was interesting reading this story told from the point of view of an Iranian girl in America at the time. It was so hard for Cindy's family, and many Americans were so hostile towards Iranians, even though those living in America weren't responsible for the situation and didn't necessarily approve of it. Cindy and her parents were so appalled that a religious leader could be responsible for such behavior. But that didn't save them from hate and discrimination.

 

This is a nominee for the Florida Sunshine State award grades 3-5. I really liked the book and will highly recommend it to our students when school starts. 

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review 2017-08-07 05:00
A Whole New Ballgame
A Whole New Ballgame - Phil Bildner

 

 

I bolted toward the chain-link fence.

- first sentence

 

 

This is a story about best friends Rip and Red, and their experience in 5th grade. They expect things to go a certain way but are greeted with unexpected change everywhere they look. The school district budget has been cut and with these cuts come staff changes and changes to the sports program. Rip and Red have been looking forward to playing basketball together and having a certain 5th-grade teacher. Red has some issues, but Rip has always been there to guide him through. But the changes this year challenge both of them.

 

This is a fun realistic fiction story that kids who love basketball (and others) will enjoy. The friendship between Red and Rip is special and meaningful. The new teacher, Mr. Acevedo embodies the naivete and hope of teachers fresh out of college. He really wants to make a difference in the lives of his students. The book is well written and fun to read.

 

This is another book nominated for the 2017-18 Sunshine State Young Readers Award, grades 3-5. I'm sure there will be more than a few fans of this book in our school. 

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review 2017-08-07 04:42
Dragon's Guide...
A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans - Joanne Ryder,Laurence Yep

 

 

It was a lovely funeral for Fluffy, the best pet I ever had.

- Opening sentence

 

Avoid spoiling your pet with too many treats; however, spoiling yourself is all well and good.

- Chapter 4

 

Be firm with your pet and make it clear what is acceptable behavior. Both you and your pet will be happier for it.

- Chapter 6

 

This is a cute book told from the point of view of the dragon (Miss Drake). Amelia was Miss Drake's pet (although she called Amelia Fluffy). Amelia left the dragon to her great neice, Winnie. But Miss Drake doesn't want a new pet and Winnie seems untrainable. The book tells how Winnie and Miss Drake get to know each other and become friends. Dragons and other magical creatures hide themselves from humans (unless they are trustworthy). Miss Drakes can transform into a female human when she needs to. There are plenty of other magical creatures who also hide themselves from humans in this story.  

 

I really enjoyed this book. Miss Drake is sarcastic and controlling and Winnie holds her own in the friendship. Winnie finds a journal that ends up wreaking havoc, but together, Miss Drake and Winnie find a way to fix things.

 

This book is nominated for a 2017-18 Sunshine State Young Readers Award, grades 3-5. I think it will be a popular one this year. I am a bit interested in the sequels, but my classes start again soon, and I don't think I'll have time to read them.

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review 2017-08-02 05:18
Pugs of the Frozen North
Pugs of the Frozen North (A Not-So-Impossible Tale) - Sarah McIntyre,Philip Reeve

 

Winter came in the night, like a white sheet laid over the world.

- first sentence

 

 

Shen is on a ship called the Lucky Star when all of the sudden winter comes, but not just any winter... it's a magical winter (True Winter). The ocean freezes and then Shen saves the cargo... 66 pugs. While Shen is trying to save the pugs, he gets left behind by his captain. He is alone, walking with the pugs across the frozen ocean. Then he gets to a Post Office (whose letters only say "Po Of ice". There he meets Sika, who ends up bringing him and the pugs, on an exciting adventure.  Together, they enter the Great Nothern Race, and whoever wins gets a wish from the Snowfather.

 

This is a cute story. I read it in one sitting and liked it. There is a great deal of adventure and danger that Shen, Sika, and the pugs have to face. But, they do it together and help each other, and their competitors along the way.

 

The ending is pretty predictable, but the journey is still fun. 

 

This book was nominated for a 2017-18 Sunshine State Young Readers Award in the 3-5 grade category. It's a quick read and fun. I think it will appeal to reluctant readers, and pug lovers of course! :)

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review 2017-08-02 04:53
The Girl in the Well is Me
The Girl in the Well Is Me - Karen Rivers

 

The whole thing feels like a prank at first, like something they planned -- a joke with a punch line.

- first line

 

 

Lying turns your soul into something small and dry and hard, like an old raisin you find in your book bag squashed under a book you on-purpose-forgot to return to your old school library because you loved it too much to leave it behind.

page 5

 

But, obviously, popular and mean are tied together so tight they're like those knots that just tighten and tighten no matter how hard you try to untangle them. Mean is where they get their power.

- page 29

 

 

Ahh, poor Kammie. She's 11 years old, in sixth grade, just moved to a new school, and all she wants is to fit in. She decides she wants to be friends with the mean girls, she will be mean girl #4. Oh, and the mean girls are Mandy, Kandy, & Sandy. Seriously?? Kammie says they are like one person, interchangeable and three times meaner when they are together. They move through the school like sharks, and the other kids move aside for them.

 

Kammie moved because her dad embezzled money and they lost their house. She thinks everyone in her family is a liar, but she resolves not to be one. Then she goes and changes who she is to fit in with the mean girls, so go figure.

 

The girls convince Kammie to let them cut her hair off, and then ask her to stand in a deserted field and sing a song. Well, that's a bad idea. Turns out Kammie is standing on a cover of an old well.

 

She falls in, and then... guess what? The three ...andys have no idea what to do. And act like Kammie should just stop playing games and get out.

 

We see the whole situation through Kammie's eyes (and through her distorted view of the world). 

 

This is a great book. It is suspenseful and moving and darkly humorous. Truthfully? I read almost the entire book in one sitting. I read a little bit the first night, and then picked it up again the following night and couldn't put it down. I felt sorry for Kammie and was mad at her at the same time. How could she be so stupid... to let the girls cut her hair? And then stand in a field and sing for the bratty, nasty girls, just to be part of their club? What was she thinking?    

 

Then again, I'm looking at this through the eyes of a 48 year old woman, who isn't afraid to be who she is and who doesn't care if people don't like her the way she is (mostly anyway). It's hard to remember what it is like to be eleven. But... I feel like the author captured that feeling in this book. Kammie is eleven, and she just wants to be accepted. She doesn't want to be the outcast. She wants to be part of a group... to belong. And boy does it get her into trouble...

 

This book is nominated for a Sunshine State Young Readers Award for 2017-18 in the 6-8 grade category. I'm hoping I can find some girls who want to read it this year...

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