Sunday, April 19, 2015

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

This is a book written in poem form--it has a rhythm and is set up in stanzas. It is also told by a seventh grade kid so it even kind of reads like a rap. This does two things, it makes you pause and, consequently, read more slowly (which drove me crazy). The pausing helps you to think, but also interrupts the flow making it feel choppy. As I kept reading I did get used to it and it became easier. Initially, however, it was hard for me to really get into it and flow and understand. I wonder how students will react to it?

As for the storyline, it's about a kid, Josh Bell, who plays basketball and is the son of a former NBA player who pushes him pretty hard. He has a big reputation to live up to and his father is constantly pushing him. He also has a twin brother who is also a baller. This is his story of growing up, playing ball and the tragedies in life that push people apart and bring them together. 

It's well told, once you adjust to the rhythm and it made me cry and reread certain areas that were particularly poignant. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Li

This is a story about Minli that is written in a fashion that echoes ancient Chinese tales. The general story is about Minli and her search for an icon that will provide her with the wealth she seeks so that she can finally see her mother happy. Minli’s mother is never happy and bitter that they are barely subsisting on the food and shelter they have. Minli sets off on her quest for wealth without her parents’ knowledge or consent, and they are heartbroken without her. Eventually Minli’s mother comes to the realization that she should not be miserable because they do not have material things and that all that really matters are those that she loves. Meanwhile, Minli, on her voyage, meets various characters who all help her to gain the wealth she seeks, but also help her to grow emotionally as well.

The story of Minli’s journey is interwoven with ancient Chinese tales that are told by various people which influence characters’ choices, particularly Minli and her parents. Minli’s tale is meant to show that wealth is not monetary, but should be measured in love and kindness, as that is all that really matters. It is an interesting book but not quite my genre or style. I found it a bit pedantic and predictable. However, it is a good book for people to read to get a flavor of Chinese folklore.

The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Inning by Alan Gratz

This book is a bit unique in its organization, as it has nine chapters about 9 different characters. Basically The Brooklyn Nine is 9 vignettes. Although the characters are different, the voices all seem genuine and each tale is interesting in it’s own right and the main characters are teenagers but at different times in American history. There are common threads through each chapter; characters are related biologically, items that are significant appear in subsequent chapters, and they all demonstrate a love of baseball and Brooklyn. It is an interesting book that appeals to both genders and shares the perspective of the time periods in a way that is interesting and shares some of the most relevant information of that time.

Grades 3-6