Thursday, June 30, 2011
Why would a girl hate recess? Why would she need one-on-one lessons from a teacher on how to be a friend? Why would she hide in an unfinished wooden chest? Let’s start with the first two questions. Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome. She’s a smart girl and a gifted artist, but she needs more work than most of us on her people skills. She has to learn them and study them almost like you’d study a school subject. Caitlin has to work on which facial expressions on people match up with their corresponding emotions. Because she really doesn’t like making eye contact with people, she has to work hard on that, too. She doesn’t like loud noises, chaos, and people running around and shouting, and that’s recess in a nutshell. Recess freaks her out: she’d rather be alone, drawing.
But it’s so important that Caitlin learn how to make friends and how to be a friend. This connects us to the question of why she was hiding in an unfinished wooden chest. The chest reminds her of the closest friend she has ever had, the person who understood her the most and loved her dearly. Caitlin’s not done with that chest, and luckily, she’s not done with making friends or learning how to be a friend. Get inside the mind of a truly cool and unique girl. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. 2010: Philomel Books. 235 p. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Booktalk to middle school.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff. 145 p. 2009: Wendy Lamb Books. Booktalk to intermediate grades and to middle school. Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard. 135 p. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2006. Booktalk to intermediate grades and possibly to middle school.
Monday, June 13, 2011
There are five facts you should know about Oliver Olson’s parents:
1). They worry about him constantly.
2). They hover over him when he does his homework.
3). They would never let him walk on the moon.
4). They only let him eat super healthy snacks. No junk food.
5). They will not let him go to a class sleepover that he really wants to go to.
There are many facts you should know about Oliver himself, but I’m only to give you 3.
1). Oliver was very sick when he was a little kid.
2). Oliver is a really nice and very smart third grader.
3). Oliver has to make a diaroma of the solar system at home, and his parents are doing it for him, against his will.
The last fact I’m going to tell you is the title of this book: How Oliver Olson Changed the World. Wait a minute? He changed the world? With parents micro-managing him? Yep, you’re just going to have to read it.
How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills; pictures by Heather Maione. 104 p. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Booktalk to elementary, intermediate grades. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
If you’re a 13-year-old boy with a love of playing pranks on people, and you are visiting your grandmother’s old house for the summer, it’s fairly normal to think about freaking other people out by imitating ghostly noises in the night. Travis and his sister Corey love pranks: they’re natural pranksters. Their grandmother’s old house is actually an inn which takes guests, including some guests who are ghost-hunters. So obviously, we have a no-brainer here. Travis and Corey strategize: Corey will wear a white nightgown, ghostly makeup and walk around a grove of trees; the ghostly noises they make will spook the inn’s guests. It works beautifully. To keep up the illusion, Corey and Travis need to keep doing their nightly ghost pranks. But when Travis returns to the grove, he sees a dark shape near him, ducking out of sight. It’s not his sister. Turns out it’s a real ghost, and there are more than one. One of them, Miss Ada, is seriously evil and would love to bring Corey and Travis down with her. Sadly, Corey and Travis woke these ghosts from their slumber. Now who's been pranked? All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn.
All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. 182 p. 2008: Clarion. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012. Because this has some frightening/tragic content, I personally would booktalk it starting at 6th and 7th grade and not younger.