Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First NON-DCF book of the summer

I finished Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell last weekend.  I really enjoyed it, and found it to be a quick and absorbing read.  The main character, Jamie Dexter, is an Army brat living at Fort Hood in 1969.  Her father has raised her and her older brother TJ to believe that "the Army way is the right way," and that serving in the US Army, especially during war time, is a great honor.  Things get a bit shaken up, though, when TJ takes Colonel Dexter (Dad) at his word, and forgoes college to enlist right out of high school.  Somehow his own son risking his life feels different to the Colonel.  Or is it this particular war that makes it different?  Or is it not really the Colonel, but his wife who doesn't want TJ to serve? These concerns linger for the reader right up until the very last few pages. While Jamie is trying to sort through all of these confusing thoughts, TJ complicates things by sending her rolls of film to develop in the rec center on base.  Over the course of the next several months, she absorbs the horror of war through her brother's powerful photographs, and begins to question everything she thought she knew about war.   I think this is a great read with a lot of possibilities for thought and discussion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First DCF book finished

I finished The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy tonight.  It was a good read, and a quick one.  I found the format particularly interesting, since the writer used photocopies of her mother's journal and "poesiealbum" to start each chapter.  As these were written in German, the writer translated them.  After each translation, there was an original poem that revealed some of what her mother was feeling at the time and gave a bit more explanation of what was happening as well.  Debbie Levy's mother was a young girl at the time the Nazis were in power in Germany.  Her mother escaped Germany and came to America just six hours before her home was raided by the Nazis.  Had her family not left, she would not have lived to tell this story.  This is an amazing story of luck, persistence, and incredible loss, and it is told in an intriguing way.  I would recommend this book to any of my students who like poetry and have an interest in World War Two or The Holocaust. A fantastic and poignant line from the early part of the novel is the following: "But then, many things are happening, / and many things are being spoken of, / that never have happened / and were never spoken of / before. "  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet Reads Summer Reading Challenge

Mrs. Wald's summer mission is to read the entire DCF nominee list.  The DCF books are chosen as exemplary books for middle grades students, and students in Vermont have the opportunity to engage in blog discussions with other readers as well as VOTE on their favorite book to receive the award.  The DCF contest and award honors Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  Lists of the DCF nominees can be found online or in any Vermont library.

Mrs. Wald's challenge to her incoming and outgoing students is the following:  READ MORE OF THE DCF BOOKS THAN SHE DOES, AND SHE WILL TREAT YOU TO AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE ONE DAY IN THE BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.  One eensie teensie requirement is that you must write a short (5 sentences or so) response/reaction to each book, including title and author, telling what you liked about it and why.  Please do not simply summarize the plot.  Your response is the key.  Keep all the responses in a small notebook, or staple separate pages together.  Hand in this reading journal on the first day of school, and Mrs. Wald will show you hers.  If you've read more than she has, you will be invited to the sundae celebration!