Walden Award 2014 Finalists: Reviews

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Today, we are excited to review the three Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalists, and tomorrow, we can’t wait to review the winner! Please join us in the celebration of these three extraordinary texts which are very deserving of this recognition. We’ll see you tomorrow for our review of the winner!

 

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published February 21st, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summary: Aristotle is an angry teen who doesn’t have friends until he meets Dante. Through Dante, he learns about friendship, life, and loyalty. These two boys develop an unbreakable bond that helps them discover themselves.

Kellee’s Review: So beautifully written. This is one of those books that you want to tell everyone to read because it is so literary and lyrical. While reading, I felt I had to keep stopping to take notes because I had so much I wanted to share with you all; Aristotle & Dante reminded me of John Green’s characters in that way. His characters are so intelligent, the voice so pure and mesmerizing, and the story so enthralling- all aspects of a literary young adult novel. I am not surprised at all of the awards that Aristotle & Dante took home from the ALA Awards as it deserved each and every one of them (Stonewall Book Award, Printz Honor, Pura Belpre Author Award). I know this seems mighty gushy, but I really fell in love with this novel.

There were so many passages throughout that could be used for exemplar pieces of writing (specifically while reading I picked up on the literary devices, characterization, and voice) and can be used to practice reading strategies.  The book might not automatically be popular because I could see students thinking it was pretty slow because it is more character-driven than plot-driven. It is about Aristotle & Dante growing up and finding themselves (once again, reminds me a bit of a John Green Novel). Though I can see students who give it a chance being as touched by the book as I am.

Ricki’s Review: This beautiful, quiet book is well-deserving of all of the awards it has received. The characters are very special and will stick with readers long after the last page. Adolescents will identify with the boys’ feelings of loneliness and longing, and will be carried away by the magic of their friendship. Saenz’s lyrical language is strong and powerful, delivering undeniable messages to the readers. Readers will grow with Aristotle and Dante and learn what it means to be accepted, to be loyal, and to be a good person.

When I read this book for the first time, I wondered if it would appeal to all types of readers as the beautiful language takes precedent over an action-filled plot. We chose it for our school’s book club before it won the awards, so I was unsure about the students’ reaction. They absolutely adored the characters, and it was one of the most well-received books we’ve done in book club. This text would make for a great choice for literature circles, book clubs, and close analysis, as the language is remarkable.

Discussion Questions: Aristotle and Dante love to make up stories about the people on the bus (see p. 21); go and sit outside where you can people watch and spontaneously write short stories about a handful of them.; What does it mean to be alone? Can another person cure loneliness, or is it something that must be healed from within?; What makes a good friend? What makes a good person?; How do your family dynamics influence who you are as a person?

We Flagged:  “I felt alone, but not in a bad way. I really liked being alone. Maybe I liked it too much. Maybe my father was like that too. I thought of Dante and wondered about him.  And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without darkness. Wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?” (p. 56)

Read This If You Loved: Personal Effects by EM Kokie, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Shine by Lauren Myracle, Ask the Passengers by A.S. King, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Endangered
Author: Eliot Schrefer
Published October 1st, 2013 by Scholastic Press

Summary: Sophie is a normal teenager who travels between her divorced parents who live in completely different cultural situations–her father has an office job in America and her mother runs a bonobo sanctuary in Congo. Though she was born in the Congo, the last few years have been spent in America with her father and return trips to her mother’s sanctuary. The book begins with Sophie waiting in a check point, where she spots a baby bonobo who is not being treated well and, against everyone’s wishes, she buys him.

Kellee’s Review: With Sophie’s purchase, Otto enters into her life and ours. He becomes the co-star of the book and begins to change Sophie’s feelings about being at the sanctuary. But then, right before she is about to leave, chaos at the hand of revolutionaries envelopes Congo and Sophie finds herself in a completely type of situation.

Now if you follow me here or on Twitter, you know that I am a sucker for ape books and I have been lucky that many people who care a lot about apes write some amazing ape books – this is a book to add to that list. It left me with even more of a passion for saving these animals who are our closest relative. I. Love. This. Book. It quickly moved into my favorites list even while I was only half way through with it. It is such a journey that you take with this young lady and the growth you see in her (and Otto) is incredible. On top of that, Eliot Schrefer is an author who not only can tell a good story, but he can help you become part of the story and visualize and feel everything that is happening. And I am not alone in this love. Endangered was a finalist for The National Book Award and Walden Award, Eliot Schrefer was a hit at the Scholastic Brunch at NCTE, and it is being gushed about on Twitter.

On top of all of this, I read it with my 8th graders this year and they adored it! Check out my End of (School) Year Reflection to see my reflections on teaching the novel as well as Skyping with Eliot.

Ricki’s Review: This is a beautifully crafted novel, one which will stick with me. I learned a lot about the horrors that exist within the war-torn country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place which I had limited knowledge about—but it also gave me a look into the life of bonobos. Each year, I give very few books a 5-star rating on GoodReads, but this one is well deserving. I wish I could give it more than five stars, to be frank. Eliot Schrefer does a brilliant job describing the powerful bond between humans and animals. There are so many elements of this text that teachers can use in the classroom that it feels like a gold mine. I’ve recommended it to adults and teens again and again—and with the confidence that I know they will appreciate the intricate beautiful of this novel. Endangered will always rank as one of the best books I have ever read. When my student returned this book, she handed it to me and paused. I waited in anticipation of her response, as she reads over a hundred books a year and is very critical. She chose her words slowly and carefully. “I don’t like animals, so I didn’t want to read this. You kept talking about it, so I finally decided to just go for it. This isn’t a book about animals, and really, it isn’t a book about war. It is a book that is about being human.”

Discussion Questions: Sophie makes many decisions throughout the book that many people, specifically her parents, would not have agreed with. Would you have made the same decisions as her? Were there any you would have done differently? Do you think her decisions were worth it? Use textual evidence to back your answers.; What does this book teach us about being human?; In what ways do the bonobos reflect humanity?; How does the war-torn setting add to this story?

We Flagged: “The man released the bonobo. The little ape sat down tiredly in the dirt and lowered his arms, wincing as his sore muscles relaxed. I kneeled and reached out to him. The bonobo glanced at his master before working up the energy to stand and toddle over to me. He leaned against my shin for a moment, then extended his arms to be picked up. I lift him easily and hugged himself to me, his fragile arms as light as a necklace. I could make out his individual ribs under my figures, could feel his heart flutter against my throat. He pressed his lips against my check , I guess to get as close as possible to my skin, and only then did I hear his faint cries; he’d been making them for so long that his voice was gone.” (p. 3-4)

Read This If You Loved: Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Chimpanzees I Love by Jane Goodall, Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya, Non-fiction books about bonobos or the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Ask the Passengers
Author: A.S. King
Published October 23rd, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: Astrid is very cerebral–she can get lost in philosophical theories and questions about the world. Her favorite pastime is laying on the bench in her backyard so she can send her love to the passengers on the airplanes that fly overhead. At her catering job, Astrid meets Dee, and she falls in love. She isn’t sure if this makes her a lesbian, as she has never loved another girl, and society wants to fit her in a box that she isn’t quite sure describes her.

Kellee’s Review: I am fascinated with the setting of this book. It seems like a perfect place to live, but really everyone is living a lie. It reminds me a bit of “Stepford Wives.” What a sad existence. Maybe I am (the opposite of) sheltered because my parents and my friends always supported me to be who I am. However, because of King’s perfect depiction of Astrid’s experiences, it transplants me right into Astrid’s shoes.

Besides the setting, the characters are what makes this book a star. Astrid is a character that every reader will connect with in one way or another: she doesn’t exactly fit in though she doesn’t stick out, she has a secret she feels like she can’t tell anyone, and as a teenager she doesn’t exactly get along with her family. While Astrid is strong, so are the secondary characters. You know that if you want to jump into a book and just go off on a character that the author has done their job (UGH! The mom will drive you crazy too!).  This book would not move without its secondary characters; although Astrid is our protagonist, it is the secondary characters that drive much of the story. It is amazing how all of the characters are so fleshed out.

Finally, like all King novels, the way it is written just adds that element that pushes this book to being an award winner. King’s ability to give her characters a voice is phenomenal. Each of her novels have such a unique personality and she is able to give them each a unique voice. She also adds humor and intelligence to each of her books.

Ricki’s Review: Astrid’s character felt very real to me. Despite the heartache and lack of love in her own life, she manages to send all of her love to people she doesn’t even know–strangers in the sky. I can’t help but peer up at airplanes now and send my love to the passengers. Astrid is not a typical high school student. She lives by her principles and stays true to herself amidst the pressures that teens face. She is an unbelievable role model for both adolescents and adults.

Astrid teaches us to give our love away when we aren’t feeling any ourselves. She connects herself with complete strangers when those who are closest to her are emotionally failing her. Teens will learn to reach out and grasp love in the most unconventional places. The warmth that emanates from this book makes it incredibly special.

Discussion Questions: How do the passengers’ stories add to the richness of this text?; How does the setting influence aspects of the book?; Does society expect us to fit into neat boxes with labels?; What complications exist in Astrid’s life? Which coping mechanisms does she use to relieve her pain? Which other coping mechanisms might she use?

We Flagged: “I mean to say: Everybody’s always looking for the person they’re better than.” (page 231)

Read This If You Loved: Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King, Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Luna by Julie Anne Peters, Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Recommended For: 

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Which of these finalists have you read? What did you think of them?
We’re so excited to review the winner tomorrow!

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The Truth About You & Me by Amanda Grace

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The Truth About You & Me
Author: Amanda Grace
Expected Publication: September 8th, 2013 by Flux

Summary: “I think that’s why my parents trusted me so much back then. It’s easy to trust a smart girl. Smart girls aren’t supposed to do stupid things.” Madelyn is a smart girl—so smart that she doesn’t take normal high school classes at age sixteen, and instead, she is enrolled in college courses with the Running Start program at a local community college. When she meets Bennett Cartwright, her biology professor, she falls head over heels for him. He is very professional, and it isn’t until she runs into him on a local hiking trail that they get to know each other better. Written as an apology letter to Bennett, this novel will keep readers glued to the pages. Because while we, the readers, know that Bennett and Madelyn have a ten-year age gap, Madelyn keeps Bennett in the dark.

Review: This is a very controversial, uncomfortable topic that is often perceived to be “hands off” by authors and publishers. Teachers and students should not have intimate relationships, and the idea that a person may justify a relationship of this kind is considered taboo by most. The way this story differs from the usual story about the topic is in the deceit that exists between Madelyn and Bennett. He has no idea that Madelyn is a minor.

From the very first few pages, I felt like I was tumbling downhill to an inevitable plunge. In her early letters, Madelyn is very clear that this story does not have a happy ending, yet I couldn’t help but wonder exactly how the story would play out. Many readers will be extremely frustrated with Madelyn because she is incredibly deceitful, and Bennett is very well-intentioned. The great part about this book was that, by the end, the reader can’t help but ponder the situation. My favorite books are those that make me think deeply about a subject I hadn’t considered, and this one is sure to promote critical, emotional discussion from students.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Madelyn’s voice is very strong throughout her letters to Bennett. I can’t help but wonder what Bennett would write back to her. It would be wonderful to hear his side of the story. Students would also enjoy rewriting the ending to the this book. There are a few key, decisive moments, particularly at the end, that could have gone much differently, which would completely alter the direction of the story. After reading this text, students might research more about statutory rape, and I envision this book leading to a great classroom debate. Also, students might examine Madelyn’s life to try to determine if this played a role in her deceit.

Discussion Questions: Can a relationship be successful if it is built on a lie?; Who is to blame in this story?; Can there be any justification for statutory rape?; Does Madelyn seem truly remorseful?; Are there flaws in Madelyn’s character (or life) that lead to her deceit?

We Flagged: “That’s how it was with us. One day we were two separate people and the next we collided, and neither of us stood a chance.”

“That’s the moment I decided, Bennett, that I wanted to be with you, and even though there was one very good reason we couldn’t be something, I could come up with one million reasons we could.”

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The e-book (a galley) did not provide page or chapter numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: The Infinite Moment of Us  by Lauren Myracle, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian

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**Thank you to NetGalley and Flux books for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy!**

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Published January 22nd, 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Summary: Clara and her family immigrated to New York. They were searching for the American dream. When her father could not find a job, Clara quit school and became a garment worker to support her family. The conditions at her factory were appalling: low wages, unfair rules, and locks on the door. After discussions between the workers, Clara helps urge the girls to fight for their rights.

Review: I am sucker for this biographical picture book for two reasons: 1) I had not known about the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 before and I love learning about new historical moments. I know that it interested me (as I know it would for kids), because after I read the additional information about the garment industry I was on the internet searching for more information. 2) Clara is such a great example of girl power! AND she is a historical figure that shows girls (and boys) that girls can stand up for themselves when they are not being treated well (in real life). I love that she overcame so much to not only stand up for her rights, but also to get an education and take care of her family. What an amazing person to learn about.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The main way that I would use this book is as a read aloud. It will definitely cause a great discussion and may push students to do further research. It would also be a perfect read aloud for a unit on women’s rights, immigration, overcoming obstacles, girl power, labor laws, or the early 1900s to help make connections to history. 

Discussion Questions: Do you think that Clara continuing her education helped her in being able to fight for her labor rights?; Clara made a tough decision between continuing school during the day or working. Do you agree or disagree with her decision? Why or why not? How did her decision affect her life?; What caused the garment workers to strike?

We Flagged: “But Clara is uncrushable. She wants to read, she wants to learn! At the end of her shift, though her eyes hurt from straining in the gaslight and her back hurts from hunching over the sewing machine, she walks to the library. She fills her empty stomach with a single glass of milk and goes to school at night. When she gets home in the late evening, she sleeps only a few hours before rising again.” (p. 12-13)

To see a preview of the illustrations, visit Amazon’s “Look Inside” for Brave Girl.

Read This If You Loved: Here Comes the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey, The Price of Freedom by Dennis Brindell Fradin, Boycott Blues by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson

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Who is a female historical figure who shows as much girl power as Clara that you believe should be talked about more?

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Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

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Tommysaurus Rex
Author and Illustrator: Doug TenNapel
Published May 28th, 2013 by GRAPHIX

Summary: After Ely’s dog Tommy dies from being hit by a car, Ely’s father allows him to take a trip to visit his grandfather’s farm. His father hopes this trip will help him overcome his grief as well as give him some sense of responsibility. However, everything goes awry when Ely accidentally comes across a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ely all of a sudden finds him self with a new goal- cleaning up the T-Rex’s mess and proving he is harmless.

My Review: Doug TenNapel is one of the most popular authors in my classroom. All of his graphic novels fly off my shelves and never spend much time back there once they are returned. The biggest draw of his graphic novels are they are so unique, action-packed, funny, smart, colorful, and very well done. Tommysaurus Rex is no different. This story is one that will make so many students want to read it and I know that each reader will be telling a friend about it. Just like his other graphic novels, this one is so much fun!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I think the best use for this graphic novel is getting it into students’ hands and letting them read it. It will find its home on middle school shelves and will be eaten up by readers. Although, another option would be to use it with book clubs as it would be quite popular, I see it more as a classroom library purchase.

Discussion Questions: Have you ever lost a pet? How can you connect with how Ely was feeling?; Ely had trouble with bullies when he got to his grandfather’s farm. How could he have dealt with them differently? Have you ever been bullied? How did you deal with the situation?

We Flagged: “Come out and play with me. You must be scared… knowing that you’re probably the only one like you in the whole world…Well, Rex, you’re in luck, I’m right here with you.” (p. 41-42)

To see a preview of the graphic novel, visit Amazon to Click to Look Inside.

Read This If You Loved: Bad Island, Ghostopolis, or Cardboard by Doug TenNapel, Mal and Chad (series) by Stephen McCranie, Jellaby (series) by Kean Soo, Sidekicks by Dan Santat

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North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

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North of Nowhere
Author: Liz Kessler
Publication: August 6th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Summary: After a frantic call from her grandmother about her grandad vanishing, Mia and her mother go to the seaside village home of her grandparents to help.  Disconnected from everyone and without any clues in the vanishing, Mia finds herself walking on the beach often where she stumbles upon a diary on an abandoned fishing boat. Through the diary, she begins exchanging notes with a girl named Dee, a young girl who lives on a nearby island, who she instantly connects with. It is through these exchanges that Mia begins to notice some weird things and a new mystery opens up right in front of her.

My Review: I really like Mia’s voice. Her voice is so authentic teenager that it was like listening to an 8th grader telling me the story. I think this is key because I think it’ll help readers draw into the story since it is a mystery that slowly unravels. Hearing Mia tell it will mean that it is almost like hearing the story from a friend.  I also thought that the whole idea behind the mystery was quite clever, but I can’t really talk about it because it would give away the ending! So, read and we’ll discuss.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I would love to listen to students discuss this book! Although I figured out the mystery earlier than revealed, but I know that middle school students would be predicting and trying to figure out the mystery the whole book until the reveal. It would keep them on the edge of their seats!

Discussion Questions: Why do you think that Dee’s diary entries and Mia’s observations are not matching up?; What do you think happened to Mia’s grandad?

We Flagged: “I need to write it all down. That’s the only way I’ll believe it’s true. Spring break, eighth grade. All those incredible, impossible things. Did they really happen? I’ve tried a hundred times to tell myself that they couldn’t have. That none of it is possible. And I’m right; none of it is possible. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is true. Everything did happen, exactly as I’m going to tell it now.” (p. 1)

Read This If You Loved: Red Kayak by Patricia Cummings, The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher, Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, Undercurrents by Willo Davis Roberts

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**Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing a copy for review**

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

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The Infinite Moment of Us
Author: Lauren Myracle
Expected Publication: August 20th, 2013 by Amulet Books (an imprint of ABRAMS books)

Summary: Wren Gray has always been perfect. As high school graduation approaches, she realizes that she doesn’t want to go to Emory, the college she was accepted into (early decision, of course), and she wants to do charity work in Guatemala through a program called Project Unity. Wren hasn’t told her parents this plan, and she knows they will be heart-broken. She has never dated a boy, but when Wren meets Charlie Parker, she wants to know more about him. Charlie is a hard-working student who spends most of his time helping his foster father in their family-owned cabinet shop. With a troubled past, Charlie is battling demons that constantly tell him he isn’t good enough. It isn’t until Wren waves back to him in the parking lot that he has the guts to pursue the girl of his dreams. This is a beautiful story of what happens when two souls collide—it explores love, a powerful force that is much deeper than just two physical bodies interacting with one another.

Review: Told from alternating perspectives, this novel seamlessly transitions between Wren’s and Charlie’s thoughts. As always, Myracle’s work embodies the culture of the environment she writes about. The language and details of the setting took me straight to Atlanta. As I am a Northerner and have never lived outside of Connecticut, I always love getting lost in Myracle’s settings. The characters are wonderfully complex. They have quirks and elements of their personalities that make them feel quite real. As an aside, I also found the names to be interesting. I don’t suspect it is intentional, but Wren Gray is best friends with Tessa. Tessa Gray is the main character in the Clockwork Angel Series. It made me think of many other characters in literature with the last name Gray. Overall, I loved this book. I am still madly in love with Myracle’s Shine, but I like how she can step inside the perceived boxes of many genres, as her focus here was a more romantic novel. The philosophical conversations between Wren and Charlie were my favorite part of The Infinite Moment of Us.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: A warning of sorts—Lauren Myracle begins the novel with a note to readers. She says, “This book has sex in it. It’s not about sex, not exclusively, and I’m more interested in the mingling of Charlie’s and Wren’s souls than in the ways their bodies come together.” The sexual detail is certainly graphic, so I recommend this for mature readers. I have a special signature form for certain books in my classroom, and I find that this often inspires more kids to sign them out. I completely agree with Lauren Myracle after reading this book. It is about the way these two souls come together, and the sex is not a focal point.

Teachers could have students closely analyze the passages of dialogue between Wren and Charlie, where they philosophically debate life (see the sections I flagged below for a start). Additionally, the setting adds richness to this novel, and it would be great for students to analyze how these details add to the story. Many of the characters in this book act and respond in different ways (Wren, Charlie, Starrla, Tessa), and I think students would enjoy investigating the ways Myracle develops each of her characters.

Discussion Questions: What happens when two souls collide?; Is there a such thing as true love?; How does family influence a person’s actions?; Should our significant other be placed in a higher position than our friends and family?; What is home to us? Is it just a place?

We Flagged: “Sometimes the things we hide—aren’t they the parts of us that matter most?” (Chapter 1).

“‘I guess I think the world is more connected than people realize,” […] ‘I think…sometimes…that scientists…some scientists…want to package things up into neat little boxes. Explain, explain, explain, until there aren’t any mysteries left'” (Chapter 7).

“‘I’m just not sure a person’s home is determined by where he or she lives. I think home is more than that'” (Chapter 10).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. Chapter numbers are included instead of page numbers because the e-reader did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Sarah Dessen’s books, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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I would use a parent signature form for this one due to strong sexual content, but this is a definite must-have in the classroom library.

How much do we love Lauren Myracle? Have you read this one or pre-ordered it?

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**Thank you to NetGalley and ABRAMS books for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy for review!**

 

Real Justice: Convicted for Being Mi’kmaq: The Story of Donald Marshall Jr. by Bill Swan

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book). Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

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Real Justice: Convicted for being Mi’kmaq: The Story of Donald Marshall Jr.
Author: Bill Swan
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2013 by James Lorimer & Company

Summary: This book is part of the Real Justice series by James Lorimer & Company that shed light on young people who are wrongfully convicted of crimes. Donald Marshall Jr. spent eleven years in prison for a crime he never committed. He was the eldest son of the Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaw Nation, and racism certainly played a role in his conviction. It was a late night in Wentworth Park when Sandy Seale, a black teen, and Donald Marshall Jr. are waved over by two drunk men wanting cigarettes. One of the men stabs Sandy Seale in the side, and Donald Marshall Jr. runs for help. What he doesn’t know is that the police won’t believe his story, and they will do anything they can to convict him of the Seale’s death.

Review: I enjoyed the journalistic format of this book. Swan does an excellent job researching and depicting the facts of the case. He goes into depth when in his description of each witness’s story, and the reader gets a comprehensive background of the crime scene, investigation, and trial. As a Micmac Indian (the American version of this tribe), I was very interested in this story. Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed that aside from the comments about racism and a brief note toward the end of the book, there wasn’t much information about the Mi’kmaq Indians. I completely understand this, as the author chose to focus more on the investigation and trial, but I was secretly craving more information about Donald Marshall Jr.’s life background and customs. This text would make for a great nonfiction text to use in the classroom.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I love teaching nonfiction units because there is so much variety. Teachers can offer myriad choices of memoirs and informational nonfiction for students to do research. After reading this story, students might research more about the case (if any other information is available) or they could compare and contrast this case with another example of injustice, particularly one that was impacted by racism. I have a feeling that students, like me, will want to research more about Marshall’s culture or the racial imbalance that existed at the time of the crime. I could also see this being paired with Black and White by Paul Volponi, an example of realistic fiction that also deals with injustice due to racism.

Discussion Questions: Does racism still exist today? In what ways did it impact the crime, investigation, and trial? What injustices did you see?; Do you think Marshall should have been compensated more for his eleven years in jail?; How does Marshall show incredible strength throughout his ordeal?

We Flagged: “‘Know what I think?’ MacIntyre added, as though on cue. ‘I think Marshall’s description of some old guy is a crock. The whole thing likely happened when that Indian, fueled up with fire water, got in an argument with the black kid'” (Chapter 5).

“When the reality hit [Donald Marshall Jr.], he cried the tears of childhood” (Chapter 15).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. Chapter numbers are included instead of page numbers because the e-reader did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Hole in my Life by Jack Gantos, Black and White by Paul Volponi, other books in the Real Justice series, other books about Law and Order

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