Monday, July 10, 2017

Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Ok, confession. I loved this book. It is a story which is very violent at times (which I always struggle to introduce to my students) but is a great story, strong characters and still has such a strong message, revealing a nasty part of our world to people in an accessible way-no preaching. It is the story of Amadou and his little brother who end up at a cacao farm in the Ivory Coast in Africa. They are forced to work there under pretty brutal circumstances and have resigned themselves to work. Amadou is just worried about surviving day to day and keeping his little brother safe. And then the wildcat arrives. She is a girl who seems as though she had been wealthy (there are NO girls there at all) and is willing to fight anything and anyone even though she is constantly beaten and then restrained. She and Amadou eventually become uneasy friends and their lives and future are forever intertwined. Grades 6-8 (violence)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Beneath by Roland Smith

This is a story that mixes fantasy and realistic fiction, as most of it feels realistic fiction until the end where it is a bit too much to be real. Anyway, the protagonist Pat lives in a life where his parents are useless and his brother has disappeared. Eventually his brother reaches out and they communicate for a while until all of a sudden, he disappears again. Pat decides to go find his brother. He runs away to New York and retraces his brother's steps. His brother was living in underground New York and slowly Pat befriends the right people and his adventure really begins. It's an interesting tale, but one that makes it look all to easy to run away to NY and not have awful things happen to you...not very realistic there either. Grades 5-8

Restart by Gordon Korman

Have you ever actually met an awful bully? I've read about them and I have met kids that had potential, but never a really mean person who destroys other kids just for kicks...but we all read about them, right? And I know bullies exist and can be very destructive but it's just never as easy and clean as it is in books. This book is no exception. The twist to this one is that the bully, Chase Ambrose, falls and hits his head, losing all memories of his life. As he returns to school and life, we get to see inside his head as well as a few other characters heads. His realization that he was a jerk and how he is feared and then his subsequent wrestling with who he really is is interesting. As always, Gordon Korman creates strong characters, albeit too stereotypical at times. An easy, entertaining read.
Grades 5-8