Written by K.A.Holt
Timothy stole a wallet. But even with a good reason, a broken law leads to arrest. In this case, house arrest for one year. He must meet with a probation officer once a week as well as a therapist. Timothy must also keep a journal. This novel in verse is his journal.
It starkly portrays the nightmare this boy is facing. His little brother is very ill with a trach that often needs to be cleaned or changed. Dad left, Mom has to work so part-time nurses come and go. The story is all about strong sibling loyalty and making difficult choices.
The best format for telling this story is the novel in verse as it allows for short, strong thoughts and feelings to be jotted down as a 14 year old is most likely to write. It shows the frustration, pain, and humor Timothy experiences every day.
Teachers, parents, and librarians should latch onto this book for their collections. It should definitely be on book club and/or reading lists. While it is enlightening for readers to see what other families are dealing with, it is also comforting for readers with like challenges to realize they are not alone in their struggles.
Core curriculum standards will be in the area of literature as it is an excellent example of a novel in verse.
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- Title: House Arrest
- Author: K.A.Holt
- Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2015
- Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
- Format: Hardcover. 304 pages
- ISBN: 978-1452134772
- Genre: Fiction
- Grade level: 4 to 9
Written by Cindy Blobaum
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Packed with kid-friendly information and complemented with hands-on, minds-on projects, Explore Gravity! With 25 Great Projects is sure to cause young readers on the fourth grade level to stop, think, and experiment with a concept that is so universal it is often ignored.
Play is one of the most powerful teachers, and Explore Gravity! encourages scientific play. The suggested activities are simple (dropping items from different heights) yet fun (creating a marshmallow launcher). The book will inspire children to fiddle with physics, all in the name of fun.
In addition to the emphasis on data collection, inquiry and scientific process skills, teachers will appreciate the wide array of concepts addressed including life science (the impacts of gravity on sprouting plants and the anatomy of the inner ear), space science (black holes and orbits), health (exercises and survival in an avalanche), and of course physical science (simple machines and centripetal force). Those who are working to add informational text to their reading lists may want to consider this book. Parents will like that the activities require only household items, and can be accomplished with minimal adult support. Kids will like the jokes, fun facts (like how many Gs a person experiences in a roller coaster, Formula One Race Car or space ship), and the knowledge which they can apply in everyday life.
Explore Gravity! is listed as appropriate for grades 1-4. While many of the activities in the book are most appropriate for students on the lower end of that range, the reading level is more appropriate for readers on the upper end and beyond that range. Explore Gravity! includes black and white illustrations which either clarify the instructions (for example a labeled diagram of the inner ear) or add humor. Many spreads include a “Words To Know” sidebar with bolded words and definitions. The back matter contains a glossary and index.
- TITLE: Explore Gravity! With 25 Great Projects
- AUTHOR: Cindy Blobaum
- ILLUSTRATOR: Bryan Stone
- PUBLISHER: Nomad Press
- REVIEWER: Heather L. Montgomery
- EDITION: Paperback: 96 p.
- ISBN: 978-1619302075
- GENRE: Nonfiction, Science
Written by Cynthia Lord
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Eleven-year-old Tess Brooks is looking forward to meeting her new foster brother, Aaron. Will she be able to handle all the baggage that he arrives with? Tess is a happy, well-adjusted girl who knows her own mind. She also knows the tiny Maine island on which she lives. The island is so small that the state is threatening to close the one-room school she and the other island children attend. Her mother is the teacher, which means her family would need to relocate if they lose her mother’s income. Partly as a response to the school situation, several families accept foster children to have more students. Tess’s family adds a thirteen-year-old boy whose mother struggles with drugs. The reader is invited aboard a lobster boat and also gets a big dose of life in a small town. Tess is a quirky mix of superstitious eleven-year-old and caring sister. Aaron has a chip on his shoulder, but he’s ultimately pragmatic, loving, and talented. Other wonderful characters include little sister Libby, irritating neighbor and nemesis Eben, and nosy neighbor Mrs. Coombs.
Lord deals with all the issues facing Tess with her usual compassion and tenderness, but these are large issues. Fourth grade readers will find a lot of information about how an uncertain future, a shaky past, and a sometimes-painful present can affect people. We can’t always control the situation, but we’re stronger than we think. Touch Blue has won numerous awards and appears on many reading lists, including Book Page Best Children’s Books of 2010. Learn about this and more titles from Lord’s website: www.cynthialord.com.
- Title: Touch Blue
- Author: Cynthia Lord
- Publisher: Scholastic, 2010
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Paperback, 186 pages
- Genre: Middle grade, Coming of age, Maine, Foster children
- ISBN: 978-0-545-03532-3