Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper

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Author & Illustrator: Kazu Kibuishi

Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publisher: Graphix Wilkinsburg, PA.

Awards: ALA Best Book for Young Adults and has been a finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Awards, as well as a Will Eisner Award nominee.

Themes: Adventure, Family, Risk taking, Trust

Summary: In an interesting turn of events, Emily Hayes, must rescue her mother with her younger brother Navin. They are tested beyond their limits and put in scenarios that they have to overcome in order to rescue their mother. This adventurous graphic novel is captivating for many readers.

Response: How did the book make you feel? How does it relate to your own experiences? Did you make any connections to other books you have read?

This book made me feel connected to the characters even though I have not experienced the same life events in terms of family. The images depict the characters’ emotions that touches your heart. I like graphic novels; however, do not read many of them myself because I skim over the images too quickly and read too fast to truly enjoy them. This story did draw me in and through its words and images created a story that keeps the readers attention. I felt connected to the story like I would a long novel because of how quickly the characters development is portrayed.

The Crossover

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Author: Kwame Alexander

Genre: Children’s Book, Poetry

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, Anderson Press

Awards: John Newberry Medal 2015, Coretta Scott King Honor Award 2015

Themes: Sports, family, relationships, growing up

Summary: Twin brothers have always been together. Following in the footstep of their father, they are star basketball players. They go into middle school and their close knit relationship starts to change. They face many challenges that they have to overcome.

Response: What elements of the author’s style and language drew you into the book? Explain and give examples.

I love the poetic form of poetry in this story. The beginning is my favorite part as it captures your attention and then suddenly I was three-fourths of the way through the book. The font, the stress marks, the form, along with the imagery really draws in the reader. The poems are a collection of many short stories that come together as a full multi-faceted book. A reader could open up the book and read one or two at random or read the book as its entirety.

Don’t Throw it to Mo!

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Author: David A. Adler

Illustrator: Sam Ricks

Genre: Children’s Books

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers; 2015

Awards: 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Themes: persistence, hard work, practice, team work

Summary: Mo is the tiniest player on the football team. He is often teased because of his size and called ‘butterfingers’. The coach purposefully tells the team not to throw it to Mo and even makes the ball harder for Mo to catch. It sounds mean, but the coach has a plan all along having more faith in Mo than he did in himself.

Response: What values were conveyed through this book? How were these values or social views conveyed to the reader?

The value of hard work and determination despite your physical appearance in the face of adversity is portrayed in this children’s book. Mo may have been small, but his coach believed in him to make the play of the season. The coach’s faith in even his smallest players made the difference for the entire team. The value of team work and faith in one another was portrayed by Mo continuing to play on the football team and the coach to work on Mo’s skills when no one else was watching. Everyone can add to a playing field no matter there outward ability.

Gary Soto

Multicultural Author

Gary Soto Animoto video.

References:

Soto, G. (2008-2011). Home. Retrieved from http://www.garysoto.com/index.html

(2007) In-depth written review. Teaching Books. Retrieved from https://0-www.teachingbooks.net.wncln.wncln.org/interview.cgi?id=47

(2017) e-Notes. Retrieved from https://www.enotes.com/topics/gary-soto/critical-essays/soto-gary-78863

 

The Year of Billy Miller

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Author & Illustrator: : Kevin Henkes

Genre: Children’s Lit, Fiction

Publisher: Greenwillow Books, Harper Collins Publisher: New York, NY 2013

Awards: John Newbery Honor Book Award 2014

Themes: School projects, family, public speaking, sleepovers, family, friends

Summary: Billy Miller is anxious about second grade. He feels like he needs to grow up or be older in second grade. His mother is a high school teacher, he has an annoying little sister, and a stay at home artist of a Papa. Through his daily routines of school projects, homework, playing with friends, and helping around the house, Billy Miller starts to take control of his own actions and becomes more responsible. One way he does this is by starting to call his ‘Papa’ , ‘Dad’. See what other ways Billy Miller matures in this heartwarming real life adventure of second grade.

Response: Describe one of the main characters. How did the author make this character unique and believable?

One of the main characters, besides Billy Miller, is his sister, Sal. She is a believable character because Billy talks about how annoying she is. She is carefree and has a wild imagination. Her age and her creativity are shown throughout the story. Her relationship with her dad is also believable because she is a papa’s little girl. She likes to have fun and be silly which contrasts with her older brothers desire to be more mature.

Freedom Summer

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Author: Deborah Wiles

Illustrator: Jerome Lagarrigue

Genre: Children’s Lit, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Aladdin Paperbacks: New York, NY 2001

Awards: Coretta Scott King Award, Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

Themes: Friendship, Segregation, Freedom, Perspective

Summary: Two boys have the summer of their lives! They race each other, swim in a creek, dream about the future, and enjoy summer to it’s fullest. It gets even better than that. They find out that the town pool is now open for everyone because segregation laws change. Eager to be able to swim together they head to the pool, come to find out it’s closed. How could that be? How did the laws changing affect the community?

Response: What did you learn about the time in which the book was set? Do you think the time period was described accurately? How do you know?

In this text you learn more about the time period because two boys of a different class are playing together and best friends, which is not a common sight. When the laws about segregation start to change on a national level, it would seem that things would change immediately and be a smooth and perfect process. The actual adjustment was a difficult transition as portrayed in this story because communities did not accept the change and made other arrangements instead, like in this book filling in the public pool.

El Deafo

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Author & Illustrator: Cece Bell

Genre: Autobiography (Graphic Novel)

Publisher: Amulet Books, Abram Books: New York, NY 2014

Awards: Newberry Award

Themes: Sickness, Hearing Loss/Deafness, Friendship, Hardship, Superpower

Summary: Not all people who are Deaf, were born Deaf. Many, like Cece, became sick at a young age and began to loose her hearing. Doctors were involved to assist and made her hearing aids. This helped her, but now she has wires coming out of her ears and other parts strapped to her chest. She can hear what the teacher is saying in the classroom or anywhere in the school. She has a superpower now and discovers how to adapt to this new part of her life while maintaining and having new friends.

Response: What values were conveyed through this book? How were these values or social views conveyed to the reader?

Cece conveys a lot of her early experiences in life through this graphic novel. One of the themes she touches on is friendship. For a portion of the story she has a bossy friend. The girl is pushy and tell Cece what to do and what to wear. Then when another friend come along she treats Cece differently because of her hearing aids and talks louder and slower. By reading this graphic novel, it shows the various perspectives of how typically people respond to those who are Deaf or hard of hearing. It is often not meant to be rude, but a misconception. The author’s story shows the value of friendship and acceptance. True friendship allows a person to become who they really are and do what they are capable of no matter the circumstances.

Smile

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Author & Illustrator: Raina Telgemeier

Genre: Autobiography (Graphic Novel)

Publisher: Scholastic: New York, NY 2010

Awards: Eisner Award 2011

Themes: Puberty, Change, Friendship, Teasing, Maturity, Talents

Summary: Raina has to get braces which is embarrassing enough, but then she trips and her teeth become a more complicating story. Raina has a lot of physical and emotional changes happen to her throughout middle school and high school. She comes to find out that she is not the only one going through them and it may just turn out to be alright.

Response: Describe one of the main characters. How did the author make this character unique and believable?

This is an autobiographical story which tells me that the stories are true accounts; therefore, the character is real! I love how the author illustrates and shows through the graphic images the process of her teeth changing, getting acne, her body developing, and even her interests shifting. The author does well to depict her own life, but also in a way that most girls can relate to once having gone through middle and high school. The character is your average school girl and how she discovers herself and makes a way into the young adult world.

Flora and the Flamingo

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Author & Illustrator: Molly Idle

Genre: Fiction (Wordless)

Publisher: Chronicle Books: CA 2013

Awards: Caldecott 2014

Themes: Dancing, Friendship, Teaching, Believing

Summary: Both pink and both dancers, a little girl mimics the movements of a flamingo. She hits a rough spot and tumbles over, but read to see how the flamingo responds to his new unlikely dance partner.

Response: Respond to the design and layout of the book. What do you think of the cover design, size of the book, font, spacing, and visual elements? 

The book cover is bright and appealing. The pink immediately draws your eyes to the mirror image of a little girl and a flamingo. The title is bold and clear who and what the children’s story will be about. It being a wordless picture book, makes the visual elements extremely important because they are what tell the story. The pages are interactive s you flip flaps and uncover the interactions between the characters. This is a lovely book and can be used in many settings. A favorite for sure!

Freedom Over Me

Freedom Over Me

Author: Ashley Bryan

Jacket Illustrator: Ann Bobco

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Simon & Schuster: New York, NY

Awards: Newbery Honor Book 2017
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book 2017
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book 2017

Themes: Slavery, Freedom, Dreams, Identity

Summary: The author, Ashley Bryan, tells the stories and dreams of eleven slaves. They have fascinating stories to share. She gives people a voice who have never had one before. The stories are poetic and inspiring giving new life to any open soul.

Response: How might you use this book in the social studies, science, or mathematics curriculum? Write about a specific activity you might do that relates to the content of this book.

This book could easily be implemented in a social studies lesson. The stories of slaves told during the civil war and civil rights movement. The stories make the people become real and students could connect with them. A lesson that could be done would be having the students write about their own lives (the good and bad) and contrasting that with their dreams. Another lesson that could be done would be to research other slave stories and writing about them in a similar format. This is a powerful story that could be used in part or in full.