Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Watsons go to Birmingham

The Watsons go to Birmingham by Chrsistopher Paul Curtis

Book Genre: Historical Fiction

Publishing Info: Yearling books 1995

Awards or honors received: Newberry Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Award

Summary: This novel begins with a family called the "weird Watsons" sitting around in their living room freezing cold in Flint, Michigan. The family consist of a mother that is originally from Alabama, a dad, an oldest brother Bryon, a middle brother Kenny, and their youngest sister Joletta. The story follows their life as they deal with Bryon always causing trouble and getting into some kind of messes. The mother and father finally decide that they have had enough when Bryon comes home with a new hairdo that he knows his parents will not approve of. They decide to take Bryon to Alabama to spend the summer with his grandmother. Once in Alabama the children realize what a different world they have entered. Living in Flint the children never experienced any racial issues or segregation. Kenny also decides to be the rebelous child for once and go to the "Whool Pool" that his parents forbid him to go to. He ends up almost drowning, but Bryon ends up saving him. Later on Joletta ends up being at the church when the bombing happens. Kenny feels very upset that he did not protect his younger sister. When the family returns to Flint Kenny has a really hard time adjusting. He becomes very depressed and it's finally Bryon that helps Kenny be able to put it all behind him and move on. Throughout the story you see the characters change, especially Bryon and Kenny. Bryon struggles with getting rid of his hard outer shell and really showing his more caring and sensitive side while Kenny struggles with finding his place within his family and being brave.

Personal rating and reason for rating: Good book for middle school aged (especially african american students and it really gains the interest of teenage boys)

Reading level: 5.0

Interest level: 5th-8th grade

Possible uses of the text in integrated units of study (reading and writing across the curriculum): It was funny that David presented on this book last night because it was my last book that I just finished reading yesterday. I agree with all his activities that he suggested, but I thought that you could incoroporate map skills and have the students trace their route from Flint to Alabama that the family takes. Also the students could pick a character and role play one of the scenes in the book, because their are so many that are funny that it would be a very fun and engaging activity for the students.

Potential Problems or Difficulties: the topic of segregation would need to be covered before reading, along with discussions about Civil Rights. There are also a few places throughout the novel where bad language is used.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hope Was Here

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

Book Genre: fiction
Publishing Info: Penguin Putnam Books, 186 pgs.
Awards or honors received: Newberry Honor Book

Summary: This book is about a girl who changed her name from Tulip to Hope, because her real mother did not want the responsibility of raising a child. She moves in with her Aunt Addie who lives in New York until one day she finds out that they have to move to Wisconsin because Addie had to get a new job. Throughout the book Hope and Addie have to learn to believe in themselves and to never give up. They face many struggles throughout their life but in the end they always had faith and overcame whatever obstacles they were faced with. When they get to Wisconsin they both get jobs working at the Welcome Stairways Diner. They meet a special man named GT Stoop that helps the girls out and becomes an important man in their lives. GT has lukemeia, which hurts his chances when he decides to run for major. Addie ends up falling in love with GT and Hope meets a young man named Braveman that she falls for and ends up going off to college with at the end of the book. I think the author shoud write a sequel that follows Hope's life to the next level.

Personal rating and reason for rating: Good book for middle school aged (especially girls)
Reading level: 5.3
Interest level: 5th-8th grade

Possible uses of the text in integrated units of study (reading and writing across the curriculum): It would be neat to read this book around election time and hold a mock election, since that is a topic that is covered in the book. Also incorporating a math lesson dealing with menus, since the majority of the story takes place in a resturant. The students could design their menu and name their entree's then describe them and add prices. The students could figure out how much the bill would be and then add tax and tip.

Potential Problems or Difficulties: Couple of curse words throughout that book, some slang words that may be difficult for the students to pronounce

The Man Who Loved Clowns

The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood

Book Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publishing Info: G.P. Putnam's Sons New York
Awards or honors received: None noted

Summary: This book is about a young man named Punky who has down syndrome. He has a teenage cousin named Delrita that learns so much from Punky. Throughout the book they go through the heartbreak of losing Delrita's parents, who took great care of Punky. They were killed in a car crash suddenly and D.J. (what Punky calls Delrita) and Punky have to go live with their Aunt Queenie and Uncle Bert. This is a big change for Punky and DJ but they learn to adapt and actually learn to enjoy life. DJ finally decides to let someone get close to her, a little girl, named Avenelle, and lets her meet Punky. DJ has always been embrassed of Punky because he was different. DJ finally learns that Punky is a very capable human being and finally in the end when Punky passes away she sees what an impact Punky had not only on her life but on everyone he met. This is a very touching heart-felt story that makes the reader laugh and cry throughout the story.

Personal rating and reason for rating: Great book...probably one of the best I have ever read..I loved it and recommend it to anyone to read!!
Reading level: 5.1
Interest level: 5th grade through Adult

Possible uses of the text in integrated units of study (reading and writing across the curriculum): Our science classes at CMS read this book this year while studying genetics and genetic disorders. I also plan on reading it in my special education classes to help my students understand that even people with disabilities have a purpose in life and can have such an impact on others around them. I hope this book will help my students understand that everyone is different but everyone is human, who can care and love.

Potential Problems or Difficulties: The topic would need to be explained so that the students would understand some things about down syndrome and it's characteristics.

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn

Book Genre: Fiction

Publisher Information: Scholastic Inc., 26 pages

Award: None

Summary: Chester is a Raccoon who is afraid to go to school. He doesn't wan to leave his his mom and his home.. His mom convinces him to go by giving him a kissing hand. She kisses the palm of his hand, and tells him he can hold her kiss in his hand all night at school. This made Chester feel better and safer while he was at school

Book Level: 2.7

Interest Level: k-2

Personal Rating: **** Great. This is a really good book. The pictures are fun and it shows awesome emotion, children can relate to feelings that Chester feels towards his mother.

Possible uses of text in integrated units of study: Great for the first day of school in early grades. Students can write a story about a time they were scared, or a time they were sad.

Possible problems or difficulties: None

A Bad case of Stripes by David Shannon

Book Genre: Fiction

Publishing Info: Scholastic Inc. 32 pages

Awards or honors received: none

Summary: This story is about Camilla, who loves lima beans, but does not ever eat them because she doesn't want her friends to make fun of her. Camilla wakes up one morning covered in stripes! Her stripes change colors with just the suggestion from friends. After many attempts to cure her, a lady finally tells her that the cure is just lima beans! Camilla learns an important lesson that she needs to be herself, no matter what other people think.

Personal rating and reason for rating: ***** Great. A great story, children love it! I love the illustrations and the lesson that camilla learns in the end. So many children need to learn to be themselves, no matter what other people say or how other people act.

Reading level: 3.5

Interest level: K-2

Possible uses of the text in integrated units of study (reading and writing across the curriculum): Can teach a science lesson about seeds using lima beans. Put the lima beans in plastic bags, and discuss what kind of things plans need to grow. In a math unit it can be used to teach patterns, as student color the girls face with different types of patterns.

Potential Problems or Difficulties: None

The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola

Genre: General fiction

Publishing Info: Scholastic, INC, 30 pages

Summary: This was a story about a quilt that comforted a little girl had. She played with the quilt and it got dirty and had holes in it. Her mother had to stitch it up. The little girl eventually packed the quilt away it was found by mice, a raccoon and a cat. One day it was found by a new little girl who had her mother fix the quilt up like new and she played with it.

Personal rating: ***Good This story does a great job at following the quilt through its past and present.

Reading level: 2.5

Interest level: K-2

Integration: This story could be used in a history lesson to talk about how items are used in the past and present. Many items like quilts have not changed much through out the years. The children could discuss items that have changed over time. The teacher could bring in pictures from the internet or from books to show how things have changed. This could even be followed up by taking the class to the museum to see how things in person.
This book could also be used in a unit about quilts and talk about what they are used for. The teacher could bring in samples of what quilts look like around the world. Then have the students design their own quilt square.
This book could also be used to talk about how children feel about moving. Both little girls in the book have to move with their families and use the quilt to comfort themselves.

Potential problems: The only problem that I see is that this story is written with the sentences short and choppy. Children who are having trouble reading fluently may have some trouble with this book.

A Birthday Basket for Tia by Pat Mora

Genre: general fiction

Publishing info: Simon & Schuster Books, 30 pages

Summary: This is a story about a little hispanic girl who is trying to find the best present for her great aunt. She decides to make a basket full of things that the two of them find special. She puts in their favorite book, a mixing bowl, a flowerpot and lots of other things. Throughout the story the author mixes english and spanish as the characters speak.

Personal rating: *** Good This story has pretty pictures and does a great job of showing the mexican culture.

Reading level: 2.4

Interest level: K-2

Integration: The teacher could use this book to read and talk about hispanic culture. The teacher could talk about how different cultures celebrate birthdays. Then the class could focus on the hispanic culture and study how they celebrate. The class could finish up by having a fiesta of their own by creating a pinata and having chips and salsa. The teacher could also invite any hispanic parents in who might want to share about their culture to the class.
In math this book counts by tens as the little girl counts up to how old her aunt is so the class could practice counting up by tens to ninety.

Potential problems: This book has some words that are native to the spanish language and may confuse children who are not familiar with spanish.