Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reading Response the Seventh One

This week I have so many reviews! Again no book cover pictures, sorry!

YA Lit Books
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
A romance in which a young Jewish girl and a black boy fall in love after literally bumping into each other in their high school's hallway. I kept waiting for the story to start, only to reach the desperate end. A good read if you like thinking, "What? No! Really? No!" at the end of books.

Lena by Jacqueline Woodson
Though easily read, this is not what I would call an easy read. The story of two young girls running away from their abusive father is not lightly told. Woodson draws the attention of readers of varying ages by making the reader feel for the girls in the story. So that my heart would only break a little at a time, rather than all at once, I had to take breaks while reading. Every pain was worth it because I got to be a part of these girls lives and feel their pain, longing and appreciation for bubble baths.

Children's Lit Books
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (poetry)
Beautifully written, this enchanting book puts the reader in the shoes of a young girl of 10 leaving the country that she knows and loves for a new one with a new language. Everything happens over the course of one year; from being home in Vietnam and fleeing to the United States to the beginnings of building a life there. The reader doesn't only travel with Ha, they become one with her heart.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
There is so much going on around the preparation for the big musical. Meet Callie, a middle school girl with a love for theatre, and be a part of her life as she navigates set-building, friendships, and possible romances.

El Deafo by Cece Bell (graphic novel)
Feeling alone stinks, feeling alone and different is even worse. At her new school Cece is the only deaf student in her class and she has to wear her super giant Phonic Ear hearing aid strapped to her chest. She soon realizes that her Phonic Ear may actually be like super power and she could be El Deafo! Follow along through the ups and downs of Cece's life as herself and as El Deafo while she tries to find the perfect sidekick.
Old Bear and His Cub written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea (picture book) Join Old Bear and Little Cub on their day together and feel the love that they share. This story is best read-aloud to someone you love very much.

this Orq. (he cave boy.) written by David Elliott illustrated by Lori Nichols (picture book)
Orq loves Woma, but his mother... not so much. What can be done to make Mother see how amazing Woma can be? Find out in this fun and wildly entertaining read-aloud that will leave kids of different ages smiling.

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard written and illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann (picture book)
This book is on the short list of my favorite read-aloud's this year. Engaging from start to finish; this book shows that everyone has their talents, they just aren't all the same.

Show Way written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott (picture book)
In this masterfully told story, the reader is brought along on a journey through history by way a family tree beginning with a many times great-grandmother. Quilting is not a hobby in this book, it's a means of knowing one's history as well as comfort on the path that lies ahead.

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (picture book)
A thoughtful book that would be a great read-aloud addition to many lessons. Maya is different from the other kids, everything she has is obviously secondhand and everyone takes notice. The reader is made to watch as Chloe and her friends bully Maya. Maya's desperation for a friend is palpable as is Chloe's regret when Maya stops coming to school. Sometimes amends can not be made, but one can change for the sake of tomorrow. This book will touch anyone's heart and reminds the reader that "Each kindness.... makes the world a little bit better".

Monday, October 5, 2015

This Weeks Reading List (7)

Here's me crossing my fingers hoping I don't just give up and spend the week crying instead. Yay midterms!

YA Lit Books for the Week
If You Come Softly
by Jacqueline Woodson

by Jacqueline Woodson

Children's Lit Books for the Week
Inside Out & Back Again (poetry)
by Thanhha Lai

Drama (graphic novel)
by Raina Telgemeier

El Deafo (graphic novel)
by Cece Bell

Old Bear and His Cub (picture book)
written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

this Orq. (he cave boy.) (picture book)
written by David Elliott illustrated by Lori Nichols

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard (picture book)
written and illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann

Show Way (picture book)
written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott

Each Kindness (picture book)
written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Response

This response is being posted late because I just finished it yesterday. I had to ask for an extension on this piece because the source material was so close to my heart. A self-assessment of the writing follows the essay.

Through the Labyrinth 
          For any kid on the reservation, life is hard. I was lucky. My parents didn’t drink or do drugs and they made sure that we always had food on the table, even if it was largely government commodities. My dad also went hunting and his friend Leroy always had some venison to share with us. I tend to think my siblings had it a little easier than I did. When they were young, Mom was working and Dad could move around more easily. By the time I finished 7th grade ¾ of my grandparents had passed, Mom had been forced into retirement and Dad was able to do less and less every year because of his disabilities. I got a job when I was 14 to pay for my school lunches and to have a little spending money. I, like Junior, was ashamed of being poor. I made $50 every two weeks and I thought that was amazing. With that money I was able to get the not-cafeteria lunches that I coveted and that was basically all that mattered to me. I had it good, if you’ll forgive the saying. While reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I found many themes that would be worth mentioning, but the one that meant the most to me was that of hope. It’s about how your life before shapes you into an adult, it’s about losing yourself to find yourself and learning not to be ashamed along the way.
          Hope can be found everywhere in Absolutely True Diary, but it is hidden. That’s how life is on the reservation. Hope is secreted away, locked up, because it is better not to have hope then to be constantly let down. Of course parents want better things for their children, but is it actually possible? Not without help and a push. Mr. P doesn’t exactly have the largest role in the book, if one went by lines mentioned but, he does have one of the most important roles in giving hope.
““Where is hope?” I asked. “Who has hope?” “Son,” Mr. P said. “You’re going to find more and more hope the farther and farther you walk away from this sad, sad, sad reservation.”” (pg.43)
Adults on the reservation hold more power over kids then some readers may realize. This goes beyond rule-making. The adult community on the reservation are Elders and to some extent they are the examples of what is and is not possible. Even with the good examples I had from my parents and my aunts and uncles, I still thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life on or around the reservation. Until I got my push, my Mr. P, my hope. Even then it takes more than a push to get someone going, to get someone out of the rut in which they believe themselves to be stuck. Junior got his help from another teacher, his coach, when he is told that he could play college basketball. “How often does a reservation Indian kid hear that? How often do you hear the words “Indian” and “college” in the same sentence? Especially in my family. Especially in my tribe.” (pg. 180) Here is found the biggest and most beautiful nugget of hope. Not many people who grow up on reservations get the chance to go to college. It’s a dream for some, but often seen as unrealistic. Before I had even finished high school I had decided that college was not for me. I would attend community college like many others and then maybe transfer to State. Transportation proved to be too difficult, so college got put off and a job at the Tribal Office was acquired. Basically unless one does really, really, really amazingly well in high school thus guaranteeing scholarships or a full ride somewhere, they aren’t going to college and I did exactly alright in high school. I did exactly enough work so that I could go on band trips and graduate. My sister was the success, she got the full ride, lived on campus, got her degree, got married and started a family! Junior is like my sister. He is getting support when he needs it and he is getting pushed when he needs it. That’s how hope shines through the fog. Wanting to do better on it’s own is not enough, one needs a hand or two or three to reach out and offer help and support.
          The Absolutely True Diary isn’t just about some kid who grew up on a reservation and is working his way to a better life. It’s about love, family, perseverance, loss, poverty and, above all things, hope. Like many kids growing up on a reservation, Junior doesn’t see much of a life ahead of him. But there is a light inside of him that catches the eye of his teacher, Mr. P, who helps push him towards the path to that something more. Junior’s teacher and coach help him see the possible paths ahead and hope guides Junior like a gold thread through the labyrinth.

Writing Assessment (Probably a lot longer than it should be, I’ll warrant you.)
          I’ve tried to write this paper a couple times (this is my third attempt) and it always came out ugly. I really could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I am pretty good at writing papers, especially if I actually care about the subject matter. Here, I believe it was an issue of being too close to the source material. If I hadn’t grown up on a reservation, maybe this would have come easier to me. While writing this paper I thought to myself how this book would be handled at a reservation high school, or a public high school near a reservation. After much thought, I believe that if this book were taught in a place like that (and it very well should be) that the teacher would not likely ask for a paper on theme, but a reader response paper. The themes would be gone over in class and given individual attention. Trying to detach one’s self enough to write about the themes coherently and not all gobbledygook is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a writer. Still, even though I put so much time and effort into this piece, I don’t think that it is very good. I certainly didn’t follow the assignment as I should have, but I also don’t believe that I am capable of doing anything different or better. This piece is me, for all that I did right and all that I did wrong. I am okay with that. I wrote an honest piece and stayed true to myself.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reading Response the Sixth One

Our assignment has been changed, so I won't be posting paragraph long responses to the picture books as often, unless I have the time or a book really speaks to me. Starting this week, I will be posting about 5 or 6 (this week it's 7!) books, but I will only be writing a couple sentences about each one. My short reviews and star ratings are posted on LibraryThing, where my handle is cabaty if anyone is interested to see everything I am reading for my YA and Children's Lit classes as well as for pleasure.

I don't have time to post the pictures of each book this week, but hopefully I'll get time to update this later.

Clara and Asha
Everything about this book is beautiful. Imagination is shown playing in every word and every picture. The fun and warmth a child finds in an imaginary friend is very real.

Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?
What would you do with a pet rhinoceros? This is a very important question and a wonderful one to bring up at a very boring dinner party. Remember, sometimes it's important to take time and just be silly.

Tikki Tikki Tembo I remembered being told this story when I was young. When I see a familiar story for my childhood, I like to pick it up and read it with grown-up eyes. I still giggled. Politeness isn't so important when your brother is drowning.

Knuffle Bunny
No one likes to misplace their best friend and it's even worse when you can't even talk yet! The importance of communication is big part of this lovely and engaging book.

Strega Nona's Gift
Oh, Big Anthony, at least you make amends. This magical book illustrates to children that even when you have done something wrong, you can and should make amends. This book also shows me that I need to read more Strega Nona books.

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport
Moving can be scary! Especially when you have a lot of wrong ideas about a place! For anyone who has or will move to a new place, you should read this book first. It's terribly easy to make assumptions, but you might end up being way off base. Fear can make anyone believe some pretty silly things.