The Horn Book http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:55:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 MarcoPolo Weather app review http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/marcopolo-weather-app-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/marcopolo-weather-app-review/#respond Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:01:24 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42147 Three little anthropomorphic creatures — bunny Willow, bear Scout, and “hippo” (although he looks more like a goofy monster) Gorbie — teach kids about weather in free-play app MarcoPolo Weather (MarcoPolo, September 2014). Icons at the top of the screen allow you to control weather, temperature, and day/night for the meadow where the critters play. […]

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marcopolo weather menu MarcoPolo Weather app reviewThree little anthropomorphic creatures — bunny Willow, bear Scout, and “hippo” (although he looks more like a goofy monster) Gorbie — teach kids about weather in free-play app MarcoPolo Weather (MarcoPolo, September 2014).

Icons at the top of the screen allow you to control weather, temperature, and day/night for the meadow where the critters play. By adjusting these factors, you create a wide range of conditions to which the animals and their environment respond. A toolbar of the three characters plus their clothing, accoutrement, and food appears at the bottom of the screen. This toolbar also adapts to the current conditions by offering warmer clothing options in colder temperatures, a flashlight at night, or an umbrella in the rain.

weather tent MarcoPolo Weather app review

Gorbie shelters from the rain

marcopolo weather rainbow MarcoPolo Weather app review

Scout appreciates a rainbow (and appropriate rain gear)

The animals’ reactions to the weather vary based on which character you are playing and whether or not they are appropriately dressed/accessorized: they shiver when underdressed for the cold or sweat when bundled up in the heat. I especially liked making it rain on poor Gorbie, who covered his head in dismay until I gave him an umbrella-fied hat and then hummed contentedly. The characters can also participate in seasonal activities like throwing snowballs or flying a kite.

Similarly, the environment and the objects you place into it show the effects of the weather. Place flowers into the meadow and rain on them to make them bloom; turn up the heat to make your winter-weather snowmen and igloo melt; watch a pinwheel spin faster when the wind blows harder. Small animals (owl, songbird, skunk, squirrel, etc.) in the habitat come and go according to the time of day and the season. A voiceover offers basic information on the meteorological conditions and how they are measured.

In a locked section you’ll find six language options — English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Russian — provided, along with toggle switches for the narration and sound effects. The characters’ cute sounds are fairly universal (and non-verbal) things like yawns, giggles, and gasps, so they remain the same across language options. Also in the locked section are recommended weather-themed reading (nonfiction, fiction, and poetry) and several suggestions for real-world activities.

An engaging (if somewhat slight) way to learn about weather and about cause and effect. Available for iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch. Basic temperature and weather package is free; extreme weather (lightning storm, tornado, blizzard, and hurricane) is $1.99. Recommended for preschool and primary users.

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Getting to know you http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/calling-caldecott/getting-know/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/calling-caldecott/getting-know/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:00:06 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42089 One of the perks of my job here at the Horn Book — and I suspect for any of you working in publishing — is meeting and sometimes really getting to know some of my favorite illustrators and authors. Often, committee members attend dinners and other events featuring some of what may be their favorite authors […]

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One of the perks of my job here at the Horn Book — and I suspect for any of you working in publishing — is meeting and sometimes really getting to know some of my favorite illustrators and authors. Often, committee members attend dinners and other events featuring some of what may be their favorite authors and illustrators. So, what does this do to our critical abilities when we need to evaluate books created by these same people?

mavor sutton 2011 550x411 Getting to know you

Salley Mavor visited the Horn Book office and joined us for lunch in 2011 when she delivered the art for her January 2012 cover.

One experienced and respected critic I know makes a point of never meeting book creators because she doesn’t want to fall into the potential trap of being soft on someone in order to not hurt their feelings. Or, I suspect, of seeming to be soft on someone because she knows them.

I don’t feel that way, but I admit it has made things tough sometimes. When I was younger and more concerned about what people thought of me, I would occasionally opt out of reviewing a book by someone I had met and admired, but whose current offering seemed to fall short. Now I just suck it up and do my job. I’m guessing a few people have “unfriended” me over this, but frankly I am not much of a Facebooker, so ignorance is bliss.

The flip side of this is something that all publishing marketing departments know well: getting to know an illustrator and learning more about their process pretty much always results in us appreciating their work even more. We have a better understanding of their medium and their process, as well as the seriousness and commitment they bring to each new book. What’s not to love?

But this doesn’t mean that their books are better than those by people we haven’t met, and whose process or medium we don’t know as well. I remember when the first Knuffle Bunny book came out. Hyperion wisely realized that people might mistakenly believe that Mo Willems’s photograph backgrounds indicated that he had taken a shortcut to save time. So they had him in their booth giving demonstrations of how he created the art: all the Photoshopping required to get rid of trash cans, logos, and other detritus of Brooklyn streets that he didn’t want upstaging the main action in the foreground. I was on the Caldecott committee that year, so I really can’t elaborate except to say that it worked.

When Linda posted that great video of Yuyi Morales explaining her process when creating Viva Frida, I felt that a similar kind of education was going on. Of course there were going to be questions about her process. Most of us understand watercolors, gouache, oils, even collage. But throw something like this at us — puppets, metalwork, carpentry, set design, photography by someone else — and our lack of experience may go either way. We could be overly awed or skeptical. What would happen if EVERY picture book had a YouTube video revealing the details of its creation? I think we would become even more enamored of each book, even the ones we think we already “get.” But at least it would level the field a bit.

What do you all think? Does meeting a book creator make you appreciate their work more? What does it do to your critical abilities? For critics and evaluators, does it ever limit what might have been a partly negative response?

 

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Mini-trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/recommended-books/mini-trend-grrrl-power-grrraphic-novels/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/recommended-books/mini-trend-grrrl-power-grrraphic-novels/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:29:28 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41698 We’ve noticed a welcome trend lately: excellent graphic novel memoirs (or fiction that feels an awful lot like) written by women about their adolescence. Here are a few to enjoy. (Thanks, Marjane Satrapi, for breaking ground with Persepolis, and to the Tamaki cousins for Skim and This One Summer! Also Katie’s girl-crush Lucy Knisley, who […]

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We’ve noticed a welcome trend lately: excellent graphic novel memoirs (or fiction that feels an awful lot like) written by women about their adolescence. Here are a few to enjoy. (Thanks, Marjane Satrapi, for breaking ground with Persepolis, and to the Tamaki cousins for Skim and This One Summer! Also Katie’s girl-crush Lucy Knisley, who has a new book out — An Age of License — described by the publisher as “an Eat, Pray, Love for the alternative comics fan.”

satrapi Persepolis Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels   tamaki Skim bookcover Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels   tamaki this one summer Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels   relish Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels
eldeafo Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novelsThe November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine includes three graphic novel memoirs by women. At the age of four, in 1975, author Cece Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her severely to profoundly deaf. The wonderful El Deafo is a characterful, vivid, often amusing graphic novel memoir that recaptures the experiences of her childhood — adapting to deafness, to others’ attitudes toward it, and to the technology of the Phonic Ear, a cumbersome assistive device. At the heart of her story is an experience relevant to most children: the finding of the “True Friend,” a falling out, and a reunion. Bell combines great humor and charm (her characters are all anthropomorphic bunnies) with emotional complexity and seriousness.

telgemeier sisters Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novelsFans of Raina Telgemeier’s 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book Smile will be smiling all the way through this companion book — Sisters — an often bittersweet but amusingly told story about Raina’s relationship with her younger sister, Amara. The summer before Raina starts high school, she and Amara, their younger brother, and their mom take a road trip from California to Colorado for a family reunion. As in Smile, sepia-toned pages mark the frequent flashbacks, which fill readers in on the evolution of this battle of the sisters. The story ends with a solidly believable truce between the warring siblings, who, one suspects, will continue to both annoy and support each other.

abirached Iremember Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novelsI Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached (companion to her 2012 book A Game for Swallows, is the author’s memories of the Lebanese civil war, in a loosely connected series of sobering vignettes and impressions, each beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Black-and-white geometric illustrations capture both the enormous scale of the war (with motifs of falling bombs, helicopters, and stranded cars) and its personal repercussions.

Two new ones that recently came into the office:

Tomboy by Liz Prince: “A memoir about friendship, gender, bullies, growth, punk rock, and the power of the perfect outfit” [from flap copy].

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (roller derby name “Winnie the Pow”), a graphic novel (fiction) about a teen derby grrl.

Prince Tomboy Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels   jamieson victoria Mini trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels
Have you noticed a trend? Do you have other books to recommend?

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Review of Strike! http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-strike/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-strike/#respond Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:10:54 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42097 Strike!: The Farm Workers’ 
Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner Intermediate, Middle School    Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills    172 pp. 10/14    978-1-59078-997-1    $16.95 Brimner turns his attention from one part of the 1960s — the civil rights movement in the South (Black & White) — to another, a parallel movement among migrant farm workers in […]

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brimner strike Review of Strike!Strike!:
The Farm Workers’
Fight for Their Rights
by Larry Dane Brimner
Intermediate, Middle School    Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills    172 pp.
10/14    978-1-59078-997-1    $16.95

Brimner turns his attention from one part of the 1960s — the civil rights movement in the South (Black & White) — to another, a parallel movement among migrant farm workers in the Southwest for better wages and working conditions. This comprehensive history traces California’s burgeoning need for farm workers in the twentieth century, and the often-
forgotten early contribution of Filipino Americans to this particular labor movement, before transitioning to the more familiar story of César Chávez, the United Farm Workers of America, and the Delano grape workers strike. Finally, Brimner ponders Chávez’s last years, death, and legacy — and the diminished role of the UFW today. It can be challenging to track all of the players in this drama, let alone the acronyms for various unions and such, but Brimner’s compelling narrative, complete with both textual and visual primary sources, is up to the task. The layout is inviting with swatches of green and purple to complement the dominant black-and-white color scheme and well-placed maps and photos, while brief Spanish translations of selected quotes, titles, and epigraphs are incorporated. An author’s note, a timeline, bibliography, source notes, and an index are appended.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Here come the Yankees http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/here-come-yankees/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/here-come-yankees/#respond Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:44:07 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41294 It’s not easy being a Yankees fan in Boston. Just ask my husband. Or Ben Affleck. (It’s ok, son. Let it out. We won’t judge. #dothprotesttoomuch) Here are three new children’s books that will have Yankees fans cheering. And not the Bronx cheer, either. Derek Jeter hung up his cleats earlier this year, and now […]

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It’s not easy being a Yankees fan in Boston. Just ask my husband. Or Ben Affleck. (It’s ok, son. Let it out. We won’t judge. #dothprotesttoomuch)

Here are three new children’s books that will have Yankees fans cheering. And not the Bronx cheer, either.

jeter contract Here come the YankeesDerek Jeter hung up his cleats earlier this year, and now he’s starting his own imprint. The Contract (written with Paul Mantell) is about a boy, named Derek Jeter, who chases his dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. According to an author’s note, it’s “based on some of my experiences growing up and playing baseball,” and the “theme” of the book is: “Set Your Goals High.” Third-grade Derek (the character) is remarkably — and unrealistically — self-possessed and self-aware. No matter; Jeter fans will get a kick out of this kid-version of their hero.

rivera thecloser final Here come the YankeesThe Closer by Mariano Rivera (with Sue Corbett and Wayne Coffee) is an adaptation for young readers of Mo’s memoir about growing up in a fishing village in Panama. (The attention-grabbing first line: “You don’t mess around with machetes. I learn that as a little kid…”) He works hard, gains the attention of a baseball scout, and blossoms into a baseball superstar while remaining an all-around nice guy. Didactic “Notes from Mo” inspirational-message anecdotes are interspersed. With an eight-page color-photo insert.

appel pinstripe pride Here come the YankeesPinstripe Pride: The Inside Story of the New York Yankees is a young readers’ version of the adult book Pinstripe Empire written by Marty Appel, former Yankees PR director. It’s a history of the Yankees juggernaut — the team’s highs and lows — with a little social history thrown in as well. Those Bostonians who don’t root for the home team will be happy to have this resource (though maybe throw on a paper-bag book cover if you’re going outside).

The World Series starts tonight. Needless to say, the Yanks won’t win it (neither will the Sox; it’s the Giants v. Royals), but kids can relive the memories with these Bronx Bombers books.

Bonus: here are a couple more baseball booklists.

 

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Review of Into the Grey http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-grey/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-grey/#respond Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:30:13 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42073 Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan Middle School, High School    Candlewick    295 pp. 8/14    978-0-7636-7061-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7409-0    $16.99 When their home burns down, twin teens Patrick and Dominick move with their family to the shabby seaside cottage where they usually spend summer holidays. Almost at once, Pat sees that Dom is being haunted […]

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kiernan into the grey Review of Into the GreyInto the Grey
by Celine Kiernan
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    295 pp.
8/14    978-0-7636-7061-0    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7409-0    $16.99

When their home burns down, twin teens Patrick and Dominick move with their family to the shabby seaside cottage where they usually spend summer holidays. Almost at once, Pat sees that Dom is being haunted by the ghost of a young boy, while Pat himself is visited by nightmares of a soldier drowning in the muddy trenches of World War I. Eventually Dom is utterly possessed by Francis, the ghost of a boy who died of diphtheria decades ago, and Pat is desperate to do what he can to retrieve his brother. Family and local history come together as the twisting plot makes its way toward resolution: another pair of twin brothers, a senile grandmother, Irish lads turned British soldiers, and a series of surreal dreams and psychic landscapes all fall into place. Sometimes Kiernan’s storytelling is fraught and overdrawn; at its best it is confident, pungent, and poetic. Family love, loyalty, and protectiveness are palpable in a well-drawn cast of characters, and the pace is frequently galvanized with energetic drama and dialogue pierced with Irish dialect.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Firebird: A Guest Post by Sam Bloom http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/calling-caldecott/firebird-guest-post-sam-bloom/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/calling-caldecott/firebird-guest-post-sam-bloom/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:00:10 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42044 Is it possible for a guy who has won three BGHB Honors, four Coretta Scott King Honors, and one Caldecott Honor (in 1998, for Harlem) to be underrated? Why yes, yes it is. Christopher Myers continues to fly under the radar every year when it comes to Caldecott buzz, but I’m guessing the real committee will […]

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firebird 300x273 Firebird: A Guest Post by Sam BloomIs it possible for a guy who has won three BGHB Honors, four Coretta Scott King Honors, and one Caldecott Honor (in 1998, for Harlem) to be underrated? Why yes, yes it is. Christopher Myers continues to fly under the radar every year when it comes to Caldecott buzz, but I’m guessing the real committee will take a good look at this one.

Julie Danielson interviewed illustrator Myers and author/ballet dancer Misty Copeland at Kirkus a while back; it’s a great piece that is definitely worth a look. In it, Myers talks about how he decided on collage because it allowed him to “choreograph across the page,” using color and texture to reflect the juxtaposition of the “riotous energy” and “careful attention to detail” that constitutes the essence of dance. Keeping this in mind when reading Firebird, I would contend that Myers nailed the “appropriateness of style” criterion…but I would argue that he scores nearly as well with the other criteria, too.

Myers’s illustrations are like intricate puzzles for the reader to take apart and put back together, over and over again. For instance, look at the first full-page spread: the young, unnamed dancer gazes up from the bottom left corner as adult ballerina Misty leaps across a night skyline. In the background, buildings twinkle above a frothy-looking river spanned by a bridge. Misty’s white outfit makes a striking contrast against the lovely midnight blues and deep purples of the sky and river. But don’t stop there: look closer. Note first the texture of the collage, the overlapping pieces of cut paper used to make the night sky, the white-washed blues and blacks of the river below. Now zero in on that skyline. The building above Misty’s outstretched right calf…is that a picture of someone’s hand resting on a gray table, cut into a building shape? And the building above her right knee looks to be a shadowed photo of a brick wall… or is that a fence? All of this is barely noticeable when viewing the spread as a whole, but the bizarre (yet lovely) details become apparent when you lean in for a better look.

In Jules’s piece, Myers talks about how he focused mostly on color and texture to show emotion, and to my mind he succeeded completely. To give just one example, the endpapers are a fiery mix of reds, golds, and oranges, extending that Firebird motif from the front cover. This is some abstract stuff, but young readers will no doubt respond to the hot colors (forget that they are normally referred to as “warm”; these hues are habanero-smoking hot) and texture. To be sure, reading Firebird is an extremely tactile visual experience. Looking closer at the endpapers, I see feathers, the bumps of a diamond-studded (I think) strawberry, a fabric of some sort, and either a shag carpet close-up or a sea anemone. And here, as throughout the book, the reader can clearly see where each piece of cut paper ends and the next begins.

I hate to bring up the typography because I find the book to be practically perfect in every way, but the two fonts are not perfectly chosen. The text is a dialogue between the two characters, with the young girl’s words appearing in a bold italic font and Misty’s words appearing in a bold Roman font. I wish there was more differentiation between the two type styles, because I had to look twice on many occasions to see who was talking. It’s a lovely text, though, and Myers does a fabulous job with his interpretation.

Speaking of interpretation, my own interpretive skills aren’t terribly great, so I’m always curious to hear what others think. What do you all think is going on in some of those spreads? Especially intriguing to me is the final spread, where Misty and the young girl dance together wearing matching white tutus. Silhouetted dancers leap and twirl in front of multi-colored backgrounds, including what I believe is a male dancer to the extreme right. The spread itself is a stunner — it’s absolutely gorgeous — but I don’t completely understand it. Thoughts? And in more general terms, what does everyone think? Are you all high on Firebird, too?

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I don’t THINK anyone is trying to hunt me down http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/read-roger/dont-think-anyone-trying-hunt/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/read-roger/dont-think-anyone-trying-hunt/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:27:42 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42057 Last weekend my friend Lori was in town and we took the dogs for a walk in the schoolyard across the street. Three tween girls were hanging out on the jungle gym and as we passed they started whispering ostentatiously in our direction and laughing meanly. ‘Girls that age” said Lori, a middle-school math teacher […]

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heathers01 I dont THINK anyone is trying to hunt me downLast weekend my friend Lori was in town and we took the dogs for a walk in the schoolyard across the street. Three tween girls were hanging out on the jungle gym and as we passed they started whispering ostentatiously in our direction and laughing meanly. ‘Girls that age” said Lori, a middle-school math teacher in the Bronx, “are the worst.”

That encounter stayed with me as I started exploring the saga of YA author Kathleen Hale and the Goodreads troll, which Hale described at great, great length in the Guardian. What did the editors think to let her go on for 5000 words? Perhaps they are part of the great catfishing* conspiracy erected to oppress Ms. Hale, because while you begin the essay thinking “poor her,” as Hale unravels you start to smile nervously and look for an exit. It’s far away.

Then I went to a blog that Hale cited as an ally in her fight against the Dark, Stop the GR [Goodreads] Bullies, which I thought would be, I don’t know, some kind of manifesto about maintaining decency in book discussion. Instead I soon felt like Jennifer Connelly discovering Russell Crowe’s crazypants chalkboard diagrams as pages of scans and proofs and links and trolls and catfish whirled about each other with manic glee. Here, as in Hale’s confessional, I saw no victims, just bullies on all sides.

I know it’s unlikely — or NOT, he adds, as the madness infects him — that any of the participants in this circus are twelve-year-old girls, but watching the accusations fly and the drama being whipped up reminded me of those kids at the school, a big helping of attention-seeking with a side of hostility. I’ve avoided Goodreads only because it was too much like work, but it always seemed like such a nice place. Now it looks to me like those spy novels I love, where the apparent placidity of daily life and ordinary citizens is completely at the mercy of the puppet masters. If you want me, I’m in hiding.

*as Liz Burns points out, that word does not mean what Hale thinks it does.

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Windows and mirrors book discussion http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/lollys-classroom/windows-mirrors-book-discussion/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/lollys-classroom/windows-mirrors-book-discussion/#respond Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:48:42 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=42058 Lauren had her first adolescent lit class last night at HGSE (Harvard Graduate School of Education). For last night’s class we talked about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I love this part of a course when the students go from names and faces on a roster to real people with opinions about books. […]

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Lauren had her first adolescent lit class last night at HGSE (Harvard Graduate School of Education). For last night’s class we talked about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I love this part of a course when the students go from names and faces on a roster to real people with opinions about books. Lauren gave an excellent overview of literature for adolescents: the history, the jargon, the genres.

oct27readings Windows and mirrors book discussion

For next Monday’s class the theme is Windows & Mirrors and they will all read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. For their second book, they have a choice between Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park and Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck. Tough choice!

Please join us as we discuss these books before Monday evening’s class. Things tend to pick up steam later in the week, but we like to put up the posts early for those who are reading ahead.

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Eleanor and Park http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/lollys-classroom/eleanor-park-2/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/lollys-classroom/eleanor-park-2/#respond Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:12:58 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41930 Rainbow Rowell’s nontraditional romance novel Eleanor and Park portrays a young love that is genuine in its intimacy and awkwardness, as well as the painful realities of life that are well beyond the control of the young protagonists. What are the entry points in the story for readers whose lives are very different from those […]

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rowell eleanor park Eleanor and ParkRainbow Rowell’s nontraditional romance novel Eleanor and Park portrays a young love that is genuine in its intimacy and awkwardness, as well as the painful realities of life that are well beyond the control of the young protagonists. What are the entry points in the story for readers whose lives are very different from those of the two main characters, set in the 1980s? Why, do you think, has this book resonated so powerfully with young readers and critics alike?

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