Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

I can’t decide whether or not I like The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser. I have such opposite reactions to different aspects of it. When it comes down to it, I would recommend it for its merits, but I spent the first third of the book wanting to put it down because…

Book Review: The House of Sixty Fathers

One of my favorite books in elementary school was The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. For my review of that book, see HERE. When my co-op, language arts class of middle schoolers arrived at The House of Sixty Fathers, I was excited to read something else by DeJong. And though it is from…

Book Review: Mañanaland

I would give this one a 3.5 to 4 stars. I’m going back and forth. The idea behind Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan piqued my interest and then when I started reading it, I was a bit like “yawn” and then by the end I liked it again. What happened? I think the main thing…

Book Review: New Kid

Well. It’s cute. It’s relevant. It might even be important. It didn’t shine like a beacon, for me. It has a few issues. It also has a few awards. The “new kid” of the graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft is Jordan, and he’s not new to his neighborhood or his house: he has…

Book Review: Number the Stars

The books we’ve been reading for middle school literature lately (I teach a co-op class) have been so short that the students have actually asked for more reading suggestions. Not all of the students, but still. After Animal Farm and then War Horse, we landed on another super-short novel (which we’re not going to call…

Book Review: War Horse

This book was not what I expected, though if I had seen the movie that came out several years ago, I wouldn’t have been surprised. To be frank, War Horse sounds like a book I would not enjoy, but it was on the required reading list for the middle schoolers I teach this year, so…

Book Review: Lyddie

Lyddie was another in a line of middle grades historical fiction that I have read as the Middle School Language Arts teacher at the homeschool co-op I am a part of. I’ve been more impressed by the selections for this year (part of a writing curriculum based on Modern History as opposed to last year’s…

A Book a Week Through the Year

Perhaps this is a crazy undertaking for me as a blogger, since it would be a little crazy for you as a reader to attempt what it will imply: reading a book a week for the year. I don’t know what’s wrong with me—or with other people, for that matter—that lists and attempts like this…

Book Review: Greenglass House

Another week, another middle grades book under the bridge. It is true: I seem to read almost nothing but middle grades book these days. You’re just going to have to take my word for it that I have much wider interests in literature than middle grades books. However, between curriculum-writing for seventh and eighth grade…

Book Review: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

A couple months in to school, and this is the third book I am assigning for my middle grades Language Arts class which is also studying Modern History. The first two books were a moderate win, so I thought it would be too much to hope for another success, and yet… This book was even…

Book Review: In the Reign of Terror

I have been really enjoying history, lately. Perhaps it’s my age showing. Perhaps it’s my way of dealing with the overwhelming amount of “history” that’s happening to us right now. It makes me feel like I have more perspective and I also feel like I relate to the people on the pages of history more…

Book Review: Amal Unbound

My twelve-year-old son joined a book club this year. Okay, that’s a bit of a laugh. I forced my son into a book club. Yes, I am the dentist with the kids with bad teeth, or more literally: the writer with a son who can’t stand the sight of the printed word. He is too…

Book Review: The Sign of the Beaver

If this were an adult fiction book, it would be considered a novella. At 132 pages formatted for a middle grades reader, this is a very slim novel. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons it is one of my son’s favorite books. Not that anything is missing in this novel. It’s all there:…

Book Review: Calico Captive

This is my second year teaching Literature/Language to a home school co-op class of middle schoolers. Of course, last year was rudely interrupted in March by a pandemic, and this year we are going to begin on Zoom. Anticipating that I will be teaching this for three years total, I have decided to step up…

Book Review: Dear Mr. Henshaw

I already like Beverly Cleary, but I wasn’t sure about this book because it seems so outside of what Cleary usually writes (Ramona, Henry Huggins, cute stories about animals). Published in and taking place about in 1983, it’s a more modern book than her typical fifties neighborhood kids. It features a more “modern” family and…

Book Review: Flora & Ulysses

I haven’t really jumped on the Kate DiCamillo train, though it seems everyone else has. I suppose that she has been on my radar, just out of sight, for several years. She just keeps going—getting movie deals, winning awards, and taking names. Her books boast the Newbery Medal (twice!, and also an honor and finalist),…

Series Review: Maze Runner

I am not going to review the whole series. Why? Because I read the first book and have decided that this series is really not meant for me. It is meant for someone, but it is not me, and I have so many other books that I am itching to read right now, but not…

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

It may seem like there are a whole lotta books that I have been enthusiastically looking forward to reading. It would seem that way because it is that way. I have always been an avid reader and a curious individual, and there are so many books that I haven’t quite got around to yet, including…