Monday, September 20, 2010
Jocelyn, Marthe. A Home for Foundlings.
After reading this author's Folly, I had to read this nonfiction companion! It is an extremely well-researched account of Thomas Coram and his foundling home in London. Accompanied by vintage illustrations and news clippings, it follows the home from its inception in the 1700s to its closing in 1953. The author's grandfather had been a resident, so the whole account has a touching personal note to it. Interviews with residents and quotes from books written in the 1800s by residents add to the whole picture. While this would be a tough sell in middle school, it is essential for any library where students are studying Dickens and a great read for nonfiction junkies like me!
Cummings, Priscilla. Blindsided.
Even though I've never been much for problem novels, I loved Beverly Butler's Light a Single Candle and A Gift of Gold, which chronicled the author's struggle with blindness. Blindsided reminded me very much of these books. Natalie, who was born without irises, has glaucoma, which is slowly robbing her of her sight. Her parents decide to send her to a school for the blind to learn coping skills "in case" she loses her sight, something which she is unwilling to accept. She doesn't want to learn Braille, or to use a cane, thinking that she will retain her sight, but she eventually comes to terms with her situations. A well-researched book, this is worth purchasing even though the end is slightly preachy-- a friend at the school dies after the girls are attacked, and it turns out she had an aneurysm caused by playing the fainting game to get high. Even though that's a timely warning, it did throw off the rhythm of the book for me.
Black, Holly and Castellucci, Cecil. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd.
Having been a geek of the Latin-Club-Orchestra-Speech-Team variety, I had to pick up this hefty volume of short stories (interspersed by some great Hope Larson comics) by a variety of YA authors. It's clear that many YA authors either were geeks or are very good at imagining their lives, because the stories rang true, especially the first story by Black and Castellucci involving a cheerleader who wants to become well-versed in all things geek so she can converse with her boyfriend. Sadly, I don't think that this will be popular at the middle school level, and even Surly Teen Boy didn't get into it.
Pearce, Jackson. Sisters Red.
Rosie and Scarlett live in the woods where they struggle to make ends meet. After the death of their grandmother at the hands of the Fenris (werewolves), their mission is to hunt and kill as many of them as they can, luring them with their red capes. They are helped by Silas, a neighbor for whom both the girls care deeply. While this was a fun tale of werewolves (which have not had as many books as vampires), it was definitely more of a high school book due to the violent attacks and descriptions of one of the girls taking a life drawing class, as well as general introspection. Great cover, though.
Holm, Jennifer L. Turtle in Paradise.
While my students love Boston Jane and Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf, and even Babymouse on occasion, this title seemed too young. 11-year-old Turtle is sent to live with relatives in Key West Florida in the 1930s and experiences the "conch" life there. This might be good to go with a unit on the Great Depression, but it's an odd historical period that we don't cover in the middle school.