Beautiful Anticipation

There is a wonderful reason that I must wait three more days to read All American Boys: A Novel by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.  You see, back in July, I met Jason Reynolds at ILA.  He gave me an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of All American Boys, and I had it at the very top of my Read-Soon-Pile.  Shortly after my return from ILA, a former student visited.  This particular former student had been a non-reader merely a year ago.  Within the last year he discovered his favorite genre (YA-realistic fiction) and read every book that I put into his hands during the school year.  Over the summer, he continued to read, and would visit periodically to borrow more books.  Summer was coming to an end, and he had just dropped by to return a book that he had longer than he usually kept a book.  “Mrs. Hoffman, sorry I had this so long.  My dad read it too.” he said to me.  My mouth dropped open, touched that this former non-reader had become such the reader that he was bonding with his dad over a book.  In my moment of sappy thoughts of changing the world through family literacy, I became weak and placed my signed ARC of All America Boys into his open hand.  “Fred*,” I said to him “I am letting you read this before I read it.  This is a very important book.  Read it, and get it back to me so that I can read it.”

Weeks passed, and the school year started.  Fred is now in a different hallway at school, so I don’t see him too often, but when I do see him, I ask “Where’s my book?  Are you bringing it back?”  I get a nod, a mumble, a response that really isn’t a response, but I don’t get the book.  I start to worry.  It is a very important book that I need to read.
Two days ago, I was visited by three other boys (all three are friends with Fred, all three are struggling readers).  We talked for a few minutes.  I listened to their stories about summer break, and how the school year was going so far.  When they finally started to head out, one of them mentioned that they were headed to Fred’s house.  Right away I jumped in with “Hey, when you see him, would you tell him that I asked about getting my book back.  I really want to read it before it comes out.  It’s available in bookstores on September 29th, but I want to read it beforehand.  Can you ask him?”  All three boys exchanged glances, shuffled their feet, and shrugged their shoulders.  My heart sank, and I pleaded “C’mon, guys.  You know about the book?  Did something bad happen to it?  Am I not getting it back?  Tell me.”

“You can tell her,” one of the boys nodded to another.  “Go ahead.”

“You can’t have the book back yet, Mrs. Hoffman.  Fred is reading it to us.  He is taking it very seriously.  He said it is an important book, and we are only about halfway through.”

I am relieved, I am a little choked up, and I am willing to wait until I can get my hands on another copy.  I have a feeling I will be buying several copies.  It is an important book.
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*The student’s name has been changed.

Book Reviews – in verse

http://amzn.to/1iPcXea

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds (Double Tetractys)

Matt,

Grieving—

Missing mom,

Worried ’bout dad—

Finds employment and wisdom while working

For Mister Ray at his funeral home.

Mourning, truth, and

Friendship bring

Healing

Hope.

When Reason Breaks (A Book Review in Poetry Form – Dickinson Style)


When Reason BreaksWhen Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

A book of hope, within despair—

A suicide attempt—

Two girls — high school — the pain and angst

Neither one is exempt.

Their teacher — was a poet too—

A fan of Dickinson—

She knew a student was hurting

She thought she knew which one.

In English class they became friends.

It almost seemed like fate.

Can the girl who needs it, get some help

Before it is too late?

Poetry Month – Day 16

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Acrostic)

Wallowing in the pain of

Awkward adolescence,

Learning to

Love others and to become

Free enough to

Love yourself,

Outcast, and casting out the

Wailing of an

Earlier you –

Redeemable with truth.

Poetry Month – Day 8

This is a Kyrielle poem in response to Sharon Draper’s most recent book Panic (which I began and completed today).

 

DIAMOND

Though people tell of the danger,

Say “Never talk to a stranger”,

It was in public – light of day,

So She went with him anyway.

 

He was professionally dressed,

His intentions kept full at bay,

He portrayed a family-man (blessed)

So She went with him anyway.

 

She didn’t have nary a clue

Of the nasty things he would do,

Or the way the acts he’d display,

So She went with him anyway.

 

He claimed a daughter and a wife,

His evil plan not on display.

She wasn’t concerned for her life,

So She went with him anyway.

 

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Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip (Pantoum)

Curveball: The Year I lost my Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick is Pete’s story.  Pete is a freshman in high school, dealing with an injury to his arm that permanently impacts his ability to play his favorite sport – baseball.  While Pete deals with teachers, girls, parents, and how to tell his best buddy AJ about his baseball issue, he is also hiding a secret.  His grandfather is slowly losing his independence as Alzheimer’s takes over his memory and mind.  Of course, all of these painful, awkward threads through the story are written Sonnenblick-style, meaning that you feel like you have a best friend with you, keeping you safe and laughing through the painful moments.

Curveball

Pantoum Poem

Grandpa

Because memories matter,

Grandpa taught me to watch-

His love of photography,

His love of life.

 

Grandpa taught me to watch-

He gave me everything-

His love of life,

To see and to remember.

 

He gave me everything-

His love of photography-

To see and to remember,

Because memories matter.

Two Tough Topics

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Ages 15 and up

Logan, is a regular high school guy who is working on getting over a girl who he dated for three years.  One day, Sage, a new girl, shows up in biology class.  Logan is instantly taken by her, and it seems the she likes him back.  He gets mixed messages from Sage.  Sometimes she seems really attracted to Logan, and other times she says that she is not allowed to date.  She says that she was home-schooled for a few years.  Logan is respectful of all of that, but he wonders why Sage’s younger sister was not home-schooled and is allowed to date.  As he discovers Sage’s secret, Logan is forced to decide how much he cares about Sage, and how much he cares about what others think.

I was expecting a “girl book” because of the cover, but I found a rich, story with a dynamic male protagonist.  Once I got into the story, I could not put the book down.

My Rating:  5 Stars!

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Grades 7 and up

Reese is in a juvenile detention center, serving time for stealing prescription pads.  Regardless of his best efforts to keep his nose clean, Reese gets in several fights, and keeps losing privileges while he is locked up.  Fortunately, he participates in a work program, so he gets to work at a home for Senior Citizens.  Reese is assigned to work with the difficult, angry Mr. Hooft.  At first, Reese finds Mr. Reese as intolerable as everybody else does.  As he continues to work with him, however, they learn a bit from each other.

My Rating: 5 Stars