Monday, June 02, 2014

Three Bird Summer/ Another Day as Emily


First of all, congratulations to Dena at Batch of Books for winning Bart King's The Big Book of Superheroes! I have to admit that Armchair BEA was a great learning experience-- I learned WHY people are so enthralled with social media (Instant feedback! Comments! People liking me!), but also learned that I cannot focus on social media for more than four days. Just considering BEA wrapped up before moving on to the 48 Hour Book Challenge this weekend!!

Today's social media whirl should definitely include:

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog.

18339696St. Antoine, Sara. Three Bird Summer
May 13th 2014 by Candlewick Press

Adam loves to spend the summers at his grandmother's cottage in the Minnesota woods, especially now that his life in suburban Chicago is different now that his parents are divorced. Things are different at the cottage, too-- his father won't be coming, nor will his obnoxious cousins, and there is a new girl his age with whom he is expected to socialize. Adam would rather sit on the dock and read old books from the cottage, but Alice turns out to be decent, and he starts to step outside his comfort zone a little bit, canoeing on his own and being more adventurous. His grandmother's mental state seems precarious, and she keeps leaving him notes addressed to "G" that are somewhat romantic in nature. When he and Alice find out that "G" left a treasure hidden somewhere in the woods, they try to find it in the hopes that it will somehow help.
Strengths: The more I think about this one, the more I like it. It's a good book for both genders, and while it is fairly slow paced, has enough romance and intrigue in it to keep a student turning the pages. The twist at the end with the identity of "G" and the treasure is really quite brilliant, even if it's sad. This would be especially good for boys who like to read romances, or who can read more introspective books.
Weaknesses:  The mystery element is somewhat weak, and there could have been a little more action.

17270333Spinelli, Eileen. Another Day as Emily
May 13th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

In this novel in verse, Suzy is miffed because her younger brother gets all the glory for calling 911 when Suzy's friend and neighbor, the elderly Mrs. Harden, collapses. Suzy stayed and held her hand, but no one cares about that. Suzy isn't getting along all that well with her friend Allison, and after Suzy is assigned Emily Dickinson for a summer project, she takes her research one step further and starts to try to be a recluse like Dickinson, not seeing anyone and trying to wear all white dresses. This is harder than she thinks it will be, but in the end, she figures out what is important in life.
Strengths: This might be just the ticket for fourth grade girls who are obsessed with Emily Dickinson and who are fighting with their friends and hate their families. The emotions are all spot-on for the younger age group, and the illustrations are nice. I like Suzy's relationship with Mrs. Harden.
Weaknesses: The verse is more like chopped up prose (their are so few novels in verse that really are well done), and I think that Emily Dickinson stopped being so appealing to girls back in the late 1980s. My friends and I all had her Collected Poems, but the appeal seems to be gone now. I don't see this doing well in my middle school, but perhaps it would do well at the elementary level.


  1. Anonymous8:45 AM EDT

    I like the look and sound of both, although that is too bad on the chopped up prose feel. Thanks from a from a former middle grader into teen who was Emily Dickinson obsessed.

  2. Anonymous9:37 AM EDT

    Hmm, always appreciate your opinion on novels, too bad that Another Day as Emily was a bit choppy... I can't sell Emily Dickinson in my school... Hmm. I do enjoy Eileen Spinelli books... Three bird summer sounds a little like a Kevin Henkes novel. Happy reading week to you!

  3. I also reviewed Three Bird Summer for MMGM today!

  4. I took a peek at the first few pages of these on Amazon. I really like the voice in Three Bird Summer. With Another Day as Emily, verse is a tough one for me, but I have a few in mind I can recommend it to. Thanks for your thoughts and have a great week. I hope to participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge.

  5. Another Day As Emily sounds like an intriguing premise, but I know what you mean about verse novels. I tend to stay away from them for that reason. I've heard some good things about Three Bird Summer. Thanks for your honest review!

  6. Both sound interesting. There's more than one Emily Dickinson book out, & will look for this one. Students at my school, especially girls, do enjoy some of her poems, but they might enjoy Miss Emily more. Will have to try them out next year. Three Bird Summer sounds like a good middle grade story for certain students. Thanks, Karen!

  7. I had Emily checked out from the library, but my middle grade pile was getting so large, I ended up returning it. Maybe this fall I'll get to it! I love reading your comments every week on my blog. I appreciate how honest you are about each review. I love the fact that not everybody has to have the same opinion of a book, and you should be free to state it. No book judging!!

  8. I live in MN and will be on the lookout for Three Bird Summer.

  9. Anonymous7:00 PM EDT

    You had me at "novel in verse", even if it's not very well done, I have to see how the author pulled it off. My daughter was E. Dickenson last year for the third grade's "living wax museum", btw, so I think some girls might appreciate that angle

  10. Three Bird Summer looks like one I would enjoy. I read a lot of novels I verse and have always been a Dickinson fan so I will probably give that one a try too. Thanks!

  11. Oh wow, Another Day as Emily caught my eye. We did a reading theme once on novels-in-verse - I absolutely love that genre. Will definitely check these titles out.