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).



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.



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.


Pantoum Poem


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.


   Feed by M. T. Anderson

Ages 13 and up

Titus is a typical, teenage boy living in a future world that involves space travel and major media involvement.  Computers are no longer an external device that people carry around, but are internal devices, feeding directly into the brain.  The “feed” can be used to broadcast, chat, send messages, receive mass amounts of advertisements, and for shopping. Kind of like Facebook in your head! Titus and his friends go spend a weekend on the moon, seeking the ultimate party, and meet Violet.  While at a party, Titus, Violet, and several of their friends are hacked.  After a few days of hospitalization, and reprogramming, they are all up and running again- except for Violet.  Violet’s feed is malfunctioning.  As Titus continues to get to know Violet, he is forced to think about things form a perspective he had never considered.

My Rating:  5 Stars

Typical Teen Topics

Middle School:  The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Grades 4 through 9

Rafe begins sixth-grade and starts setting goals immediately.  His first goal is to avoid Miller, the school’s biggest bully.  His second goal is to get Jeanne Galletta’s attention, as she is pretty and cool.  His third goal, based on the other two, is to break every rule in the Hills Village Middle school Code of Conduct – yep, that’s right, break EVERY rule.

The book is filled with illustrations that add to the story, as Rafe deals with teachers, students, his family, and himself.

My Rating: 3 Stars



The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Ages 13 to 19

Virginia always played in the shadows of beautiful, successful, and thin siblings.  The brother she had always looked up to gets in trouble for something abominable, and Virginia has to start re-evaluating some things:  her family, her self-perceptions, her life rules, her social life.  After taking a few risks, things start to change…

My Rating: 4 Stars



All in the Family

Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman

Ages 12+

Vince is trying his hardest to be a regular high-school guy, and to live quietly and honestly.  In spite of his efforts, his family’s business keeps affecting his life.  Because his father is the big boss of the mob, Vince’s house is bugged and the F.B.I. is always keeping tabs on what they are doing.  Life gets even more complicated for Vince when he falls for a girl, and then later discovers that her dad works for the F.B.I.

This book deals with some challenging issues, as Vince confronts his own morals and makes sense out of his beliefs about what makes a “good guy” and a “bad guy.”  I loved this book because it dealt with these issues in a humorous way, and I could relate to Vince.  I really did laugh out loud a few times as I read this book.

My Rating:  5 Stars

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Grades 8 and up

Set in the future, along the Gulf Coast, Nailer struggles to survive.  His job is to scavenge copper wire from ships that sunk during “city killer” hurricanes.  While Nailer belongs to a crew, the work is every-man-to-himself, as it is about survival.  Living under poverty conditions, with a drunken, abusive father as his only “family”, Nailer has to make decisions about who to trust and who not to trust.   The considerations about what constitutes family, and how to determine if someone is trustworthy get even more complicated when Nailer rescues Nita from a ship filled with riches.

While I do enjoy a good, futuristic, dystopian novel, I struggled with this one.  Maybe because I went in unfamiliar with ship breaking, which I have since researched.  I also found some of the characters to be somewhat flat, so I was less concerned about what happened to them than I should have been.

My Rating:  3 Stars

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Grades 8 and up

Matt is isolated and abused for the first years of his life.  A clone to El Patrón, the drug lord of the land called Opium (between the U.S. and Mexico, now referred to as Aztlán), Matt realizes that he is different the other clones, as they are all “eejits.”  Matt learns about his purpose (why he was cloned), and confronts his beliefs about family, love, trust, government, power, and fear as he grows up under El Patrón’s “care.”

This book pulled me in, and kept me fascinated throughout its entirety.  Nancy Farmer knows how to develop characters that one is led to care about, while twisting science-fiction, reality and thriller into one amazing masterpiece!

My Rating:  5 Stars!!

A Few More

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian             by Sherman Alexie

Grades 7-12

Junior (Arnold) has an opportunity to leave his reservation to attend a better school.  While he does so, he faces the challenges of being a minority, anger from old friends who feel abandoned, and family issues.  With a mix of humor, and excellent artwork (by Ellen Fornay), Junior deals with issues common to any teen coming-of-age, and issues significant to Native Americans on a reservation.

My Rating:  5 Stars

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Grades 5 to 8

In this historical fiction piece, set in the 1930s, Bud moves through some foster homes, not asking for trouble, yet finding it.  Finally, he decides to “go on the lam” (run away) to find his dad.  Believing that his dad is Herman E. Calloway, Bud travels from Flint, MI to Grand Rapids to find Calloway and his band.  All Bud has are some “Rules and Things to Have  a Funner Life”,  a suitcase with some belongings, and his name, Bud, not Buddy.

My Rating:  4 Stars

Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

Grade 9-12+

Holly (14) and Giselle (22) take turns telling the story chapter by chapter.  Giselle is struggling with a co-dependent relationship with her boyfriend Sol, anorexia, and being a grown-up.  Holly is trying to be a teenager, while holding up her emotionally broken sister, and emotionally absent mother.  Both girls grieve the loss of their father, and cling to each other to get through life.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Grades 8 through 12+

Eric and Sarah have a friendship that goes back for years, and was originally based on being two misfits.  Eric was obese and Sarah’s face is scarred from a burn that happened when she was 3.  When Eric joins the swim team, he loses weight, and his social life changes.  At first, because he cares about Sarah, Eric tried to keep the weight on, to prove that he wouldn’t bail  on her.  Sarah’s circumstances become so severe that Eric goes out of his way to show Sarah that he cares for her regardless of his weight.  Eric would do anything to keep Sarah safe, even if it means risking his own life.

My Rating:  5 Stars

Hello world!

This blog will cover books that I have completed reading, and my rating of such.  My intention is to enable students to find books they may enjoy.  My other purpose is to remember some details about the books after I have read them, given that I am reading so many, so rapidly.  When I list ages or grade ranges for the books, these are not reading levels.  Reading levels do not account for interests and appropriateness for a given reader.  For example, a ten-year-old who can read at a 12th grade reading level, should not be reading about affairs and politics just because he/she can.  Likewise, and adult with a lower reading level is probably not interested in reading about a child’s kindergarten class.