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Summer 1

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Middle School | Summer - (0 Comments)


If I Ever Get Out of Here 
by Eric Gansworth.  Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 2013

Age 11 and older

 

Lewis Blake is the only Tuscarora reservation kid tracked with the “braniacs” in junior high. Sixth grade was a social disaster—it turns out white kids don’t get Indian humor–so he starts seventh grade in 1975 determined to have a better year. He’s even cut off his braid in hopes of fitting in. George, a recent arrival to the nearby air force base in upstate New York where they live, becomes his first, and only, white friend. The two initially bond over a mutual love of music, especially the Beatles and Paul McCartney and Wings. Surprised that George’s military father and German mother genuinely welcome him into their home, Lewis knows he’ll never be able to reciprocate the invitation. Money has been tighter than ever since his grandfather died, and the house where he lives with his mother and Uncle Albert is literally falling down. So he lies about why George can’t come over, although in many ways Lewis has much more in common with George than with Carson, his closest friend on the reservation. In a narrative full of humor and rife with tender, honest, and unsettling truths, author Eric Gansworth explores identity, and what it means to find and be a friend. Gansworth’s first foray into young adult literature lovingly captures both time and place, and reveals characters whose complexities bring sadness, joy, and survival into full relief. In a novel that exposes racism both subtle and overt (seen most vividly in the subplot involving the school’s unwillingness to punish the son of a school donor who is bullying Lewis), Gansworth also portrays two very different but equally loving families.  ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 1

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 High School | Summer - (0 Comments)

book cover
Yellow Flag 
by Robert Lipsyte. HarperCollins, 2007

Age 14 and older

 

Teens who dream of NASCAR racing will feel as if they’re in the driver’s seat with Robert Lipsyte’s newest sports novel, brimming with the details and language of the race. Seventeen year old Kyle was born into a family of racers. Starting with his grandfather and continuing through his older brother Kris, the Hildebrands have been a vital dynasty in regional stock car racing. But after a crash injury ended Kyle’s father’s driving career, the family has struggled to maintain the support needed to keep them in contention. Potential sponsorship by a corporate backer could represent a turning point in the Hildebrand’s future as a force in the big leagues of racing. Although he enjoyed competing in the youth circuit, Kyle has turned away from racing and now finds pleasure and satisfaction in the music he makes on his trumpet. When a risky stunt puts Kris out of commission for the short term, Kyle bends to family pressure to step in and take up the driving slack. To his surprise, he rediscovers the joy he used to feel behind the wheel and realizes that he brings his own set of skills to the race. Conflicting expectations and demands from his family and his music teacher mingle with his own mixed emotions, and present a question that Kyle struggles to answer: what will he choose, racing or music? Glimpses of the celebrity culture of stock car racing, and the potential of two very different romantic relationships add layers of interest to Kyle’s compelling story. ©2007 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 2

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 High School | Summer - (0 Comments)

book cover
Good Enough 
by Paula Yoo. HarperCollins, 2008

Age 13 and older

 

Patti Yoon is a first-generation Korean American high school senior who has worked hard all her life to make her parents happy. Their happiness is directly tied to Patti’s academic success. It’s not enough that she’s destined to be her class valedictorian and is an accomplished violinist, she must also get at least 2300 on her SATs and be accepted by Harvard, Princeton, and Yale (HYP for short). The wheels start to come off of Patti’s success cart when she first lays eyes on Cute Trumpet Guy (a/k/a Ben Wheeler) during tryouts for All-State Orchestra. Patti’s been concertmaster for the past three years, and she’s a shoe-in again this year, but Cute Trumpet Guy distracts her so much during her tryout that she flubs a few notes and ends up as Assistant Concertmaster. Throughout the school year, Ben becomes a major distraction, and Patti struggles with wanting to please her parents and wanting to be master of her own fate. For one thing, she thinks she might actually want to go to Julliard to study music rather than HYP. With Ben’s help and encouragement, she secretly applies. There have been a number of good young adult novels over the past several years about first-generation Asian American teens facing this sort of conflict. What lifts this one above the rest is Yoo’s tongue-in-cheek humor about parents’ expectations. Chapters frequently begin with lists that have titles such as “How to Make Your Korean Parents happy, Part 4” and Yoo manages to share the humor in Patti’s situation without belittling Patti’s parents’ strong aspirations for their daughter’s future. ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 3

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 High School | Summer - (0 Comments)

Janis Joplin Rise Up Singing book cover
Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing 
by Ann Angel.  Amulet, 2010

Age 14 and older

 

Janis Joplin’s transformation from member of the high school Slide Rule Club to rock star fame is documented with insight into her personal choices and her public persona. From the opening chapter which shows a young Janis attempting and failing to fit the traditional expectations of her hometown of Port Arthur, Texas, readers are given a sense of the woman whose interests (African American singers, the Blues), and style (brash, outspoken, unrepentant) set her outside mainstream society, but who always sought attention and approval. Despite occasional enrollment at college and university, Janis couldn’t ignore the pull of her talent and inevitably drifted back to the music scene and the self-destructive behavior to which it was so closely linked. Janis’s risk-taking lifestyle is put within the context of the 1960s, acknowledging the open attitude toward sex and drug use prevalent among her peers and fans in the music world. Janis’s family was also important to her, and she maintained a regular correspondence with her parents and sister despite making choices they didn’t condone. Information about Janis’s bands and her evolving public image is covered both in the narrative and visually through numerous photographs, album and magazine covers, and promotional posters. Detailed source notes, a timeline, and a bibliography are included. ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 3

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Intermediate | Summer - (0 Comments)

Book CoverBird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Little, Brown, 2011

Ages 8-12

 

This novel set primarily in 1937 builds to the historic boxing match between Joe Louis and James Braddock when Louis became Heavyweight champion. But its focus is three African American kids in interconnecting stories. Hibernia is a talented singer who dreams of stardom; Otis was recently orphaned; and Willie fled his home to escape an abusive father. Otis and Willie meet at the Mercy Home for Orphaned Negroes. Hibernia meets them both when her church youth choir performs at the home. Hibernia’s mother abandoned her family to pursue her own dreams of stardom when Hibernia was a baby; now Hibernia’s strict preacher father is unsupportive of her desire to sing professionally but she’s determined to grab any chance she gets. Otis’s father gave him the radio he treasures after finally finding a job; not long after both of Otis’s parents were killed in a car accident. Willie’s mother sent him to Mercy after his father severely burned the boy’s hands; she knew she could no longer protect her son. The two boys draw strength from their friendship—a circle that expands to include Hibernia—and all three, like the larger Black community, draw strength from the hope and promise that Joe Louis represents. Pinkney’s engaging narrative is full of vivid details of the Depression era, graced by lively language, and buoyed by a sense of hope and promise represented in her three main characters and the vibrant community of which they are a part.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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