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review 2018-12-05 01:13
Heavy material in a light package
Sunny Side Up - Matthew Holm,Jennifer L. Holm

Sunny is looking forward to her awesome summer vacation going to the beach with her best friend...and then she gets sent off to stay with her grandfather at his retirement community in Florida. What Sunny views as a punishment is actually her family trying to shield her from her brother's trip to rehab. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm looks at substance abuse from the viewpoint of a younger sibling which is rather refreshing and ultimately important when a child is trying to find books that relate to themselves. (I don't know anyone with a picture perfect childhood so it's a good idea if children's literature reflects that.) The references to substance abuse are rather oblique for the majority of the book so it's not heavy handed in the slightest. For the most part, we see Sunny acting pretty snotty as she comes to terms with the fact her summer is not going to be anything like she had planned but intermixed with that is a healthy dose of fear, anxiety, and shame. Remember she has no idea what has caused her family to send her away but she think she must have done something terribly wrong. (Also, her grandfather is the mack daddy of the retirement community and it's hilarious.) She does manage to make a friend of commensurate age though and the two of them develop a mutual interest in superheroes and comics. 

 

It's hard to say where the author lands in terms of keeping family secrets (they experienced something similar to Sunny in reality) but what the reader does see is Sunny learning about the difficulty of maintaining secret identities as she gets into reading comics. By the end, she is told what has happened with her brother and the reader (if they hadn't already figured it out) sees all the puzzle pieces fall into place. Because the reader is seeing everything through the eyes of Sunny the reading experience is quite different from some of the realistic fiction on this topic that I've read before. I think from that standpoint this is quite a unique and important book especially for children who have experienced this and are feeling quite alone and isolated. In fact, at the end they tacked on a bit about talking to someone if you know a family member is struggling with substance abuse. If you're creating a booklist for your students and you're looking for material that touches on substance abuse and/or family dynamics you could do a lot worse than picking Sunny Side Up. 8/10

 

The illustrations reminded me of Sunday newspaper comic strips. [Source: Scholastic]

 

What's Up Next: 5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Alexis & Mark Siegel and illustrations by Boya Sun & Matt Rockefeller

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-09-07 22:26
WONDER
Wonder - R.J. Palacio

BULLYING IS NEVER OKAY! This story is about a 5th grade boy with a facial deformity who is going to a new school. It is heart breaking and beautiful. It teaches children to think before they speak. In my observations last semester, ALLLLL the 5th grade students were obsessed with this book because they had read it the year before. According to Fountas & Pinnell's leveling system I believe it would fall under R because it does require background knowledge and the ability to decode figurative language. It includes mature themes such as bullying and family problems. 

As a classroom activity, I would use this to build community. I think each student would need to write a nice note to a classmate (draw names from a hat). Or each student could write a positive compliment for every other student in the class. Our classroom will be a family and we will build eachother up , never put eachother down.

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text 2018-07-26 07:46
Custom WordPress Themes- A Way to Stick Out a Mile in the Web World

They say a killer web design is the easiest way to win customer in the first place. Well, we believe, they’ve got a point, as a dull online presence is no different from having a zero online presence.

 

Your website’s look and feel convey the first impression of your business, so it is imperative to make it an impactful one.

 

Today, we are shouting to all those who own a WordPress-powered website that looks somewhat off-putting. If your website looks much like several others floating on the web due to a commonplace theme, we would recommend you to get custom WordPress theme design services and transform its face, all for better.

 

Why a Custom WordPress Theme? 

 

Just like a tailored-suit fits far better than an off-the-rack clothing, custom WordPress themes befits your brand’s image and offerings.

 

A stunning custom theme can help you stand out from the crowd, giving you an edge over your competitors. For instance, if you are a landscape architect, rather than choosing popular themes like Oshine, Revolution, or Kalium, you can get a fresh template developed to effectively target your customers.

 

You can get a theme tailored as per your preferences to show your love for perfection, alongside luring your segment by hiring experts from a leading WordPress company. These companies are backed up by a team of WordPress geniuses who know the art of crafting highly-compelling templates. No matter what’s your industry or how complex your business plan is, they can transform your ideas and bring them to life in a little time span. Moreover, do note that you can get a theme developed from scratch or choose to get a popular theme tweaked as per your requirements- both ideas are good in one way or other. Just consider what appeals you more and move ahead to own a stellar online identity!

 

If you are seeking ways to dominate the web world with a spiffy website, do consider theme development services offered by WP OPPO. WP OPPO is one of the fastest growing custom WordPress development company that offers a full-spectrum of high-performing WP solutions. From theme customization to WordPress plugin development, experts of WP OPPO can cater to each need of yours. They offer the best pricing plans and dependable support solutions to help you rise and shine in your domain. To get further details, check the website Wpoppo.com

 

 

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2LPfy6o

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review 2018-04-04 17:57
George by Alex Gino
George - Alex Gino

I picked this title to fill a Pop Sugar prompt. What a lovely story about a trans kid coming to terms with her identity and beginning to out herself. Due to the great writing by Alex Gino, I really connected to George/Melissa from the beginning and saw her as a girl from the first page. I loved Scott's reaction to Melissa's coming out to him; not only does it make sense for Melissa to identify as a girl, it also made sense to Scott, as it finally clicked into place how he sees Melissa and feels about her. And I loved Melissa's BFF Kelly, although at times she seemed aggressively positive at Melissa's coming out; it seemed the school principal had a much more subtle approach to Melissa's gender expression that conveyed support but not so loud as to draw unwanted attention to Melissa as she navigates this stage of her life.

 

Overall, a great MG read with humor and heart.

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review 2018-03-06 11:26
Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan
Circus Galacticus - Deva Fagan

Trix can deal with being an orphan charity case at a snotty boarding school. She can hold her own when everyone else tells her not to dream big dreams. She can even fight back against the mysterious stranger in a silver mask who tries to steal the meteorite her parents trusted her to protect. But her life is about to change forever. The Circus Galacticus has come to town, bringing acts to amaze, delight, and terrify. And now the dazzling but enigmatic young Ringmaster has offered Trix the chance to be a part of it. Soon Trix discovers an entire universe full of deadly enemies and potential friends, not to mention space leeches, ancient alien artifacts, and exploding chocolate desserts. And she just might unravel the secrets of her own past if she can survive long enough.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Taiwanese-American teen Beatrix "Trix" Ling is an orphan who is sent to Bleeker Academy, a boarding school, as a charity case. Trix is struggling to find her place not only at Bleeker but just in the world at large. Conflicts with school bullies (as in, her trying to defend herself) lead her into a heap of disciplinary action scenarios with the school admin. 

 

When the Circus Galacticus comes to town and the ringmaster (conveniently known just as Ringmaster) offers her the chance to join the crew, it seems like a nice little escape from her social hell. That is, until she comes to find out that she's just signed onto an intergalactic circus. That's right, this roadshow hits up the whole galaxy and then some! 

 

"Please, let me go. I won't cause any trouble."

 

"I find that hard to believe," says the Ringmaster, casting aside his lighthearted humor with such absolute saddness it catches the breath in my chest. "You've been causing trouble all your life, haven't you? Asking questions that weren't in the textbooks. Saying things other people were afraid to say. There was always something off about you, something different, something that made other people stare and whisper and maybe even laugh.. Isn't that right?" His eyes pull on mine, demanding an answer.

 

Trix comes to find that her new gig surprisingly holds answers to the mysteries of her own origin story. What's the deal with the meteorite her parents left her, this hunk of rock that came with enigmatic instructions to guard it with her life?

 

I was six years old the first time I really saw the stars. They hung sharp as broken glass in the desert sky. I jumped, trying to reach them -- they looked so close. I begged my dad to hoist me up on his shoulders, but even he wasn't tall enough. God, I can still feel that ache. I'd never wanted anything that bad. 

 

Dad smiled and tried to make me laugh away my tears. But Mom understood. She held me so tight I can almost feel her arms, even now, nine years later. I think she was crying too. You'll reach them someday, Beatrix, she said. I promise. Then she spun me around until my head swam with stars. That's all I have left of my folks now. 

 

The stars... and the rock. 

 

 

 

Trix also gets caught up in intergalactic politics --  the battle between the MANDATE and the TINKERS, the Mandate being those in power who determines rules and regulations for the whole universe. They want to keep status quo through strict order and conformity. Meanwhile, Tinkers are those on the outskirts, the social outcasts who advocate for diversity, culture full of color and variety of all kinds, artistic expression, all that is beautiful and wild in life. Nyl, one of the main characters from Team Mandate, likes to argue his stance that there are dire consequences that come with allowing people to have differences within society: wars, religious persecution, crime, etc. 

 

The battle between these two groups began generations ago. In what is now a post-war era, though the intensity of the battle has lessened some, the descendants from both sides of the original war still quietly fume. The reign of the Mandate has been replaced with the Core Governance. Different name, same desire for conformity. But Core Governance maintains that they don't support either faction (Mandate or Tinkers), their main goal is just to establish and maintain laws for the betterment of society in general. Very PC of them! 

 

A note for teachers or homeschooling parents: the whole plot conflict regarding the divisive beliefs of the Mandate vs. the Tinkers serves as nice social commentary for today's world problems. The way author Deva Fagan handles these hot button ideas is admirable, not overly in the reader's face or preachy, just simply entertaining examples to get discussions going among middle-grade readers. Something else for educators to note, there are a few instances of very mild cursing within this story. 

"Another fabulous word: BRUNCH. Not quite one thing or the other, but sometimes it's exactly what you need..."

 

I watch in alarm and fascination as he piles a mountain of avocado and beans onto a chip, all while balancing the book atop his baton, defying both gravity and common sense. Maybe that's his superpower. That and the ability to wear a bazillion sequins without looking like an ass.

 

Attentive readers may also notice the subtle ways Fagan recreates Trix's Earth problems throughout various points of her space travels. Just one example: the school bully Della and the prickly Headmistress Primwell vs the ship bully Sirra and the prickly ship instructor Miss 3. This gives readers some food for thought -- not only can you not escape your problems by running away, but also, think on the importance of learning to adapt to life's obstacles. You have to work on your own personal growth, not wait for others to change.

 

This is a perfect read for lovers of middle grade fiction, Star Trek adventures, Dr. Who humor, and Firefly, as there are elements of all of that in here! In fact, Nola, the mechanic on the Big Top ship very much reminded me of Kaylee, the mechanic from Firefly.

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