Monday, May 6, 2013

Touch of Death by Kelly Hashway

Jodi's having a really bad day.  She totalled her car on the way to school when she hit a deer.  She thought the deer was dead but when she got out to examine it, the deer got up and ran away.  Then, shortly after Jodi gets a check up from her, the school nurse is carried out in a body bag.  Finally, some new guy in class is stalking her, showing up on a date with her boyfriend and staking out her house.  All of those incidents - and a few others - are explained when Jodi learns that she is an Ophi, a descendent of Medusa, who has the power to raise the dead.  Unfortunately she has a lot of learning to do in order to bring the dead back without them becoming bloodthirsty zombies, something she finds out after a tragedy involving her boyfriend.  I was very into this book for the first third of so because of the unusual, mythological theme.  It was still fine after that point, but then it felt much more like any other book with someone who is the chosen one but is coming late to the party on how to use her powers. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

Ruby is preparing to deliver her winning speech about her town's founder at the yearly parade.  As the events of the parade swirl around her Ruby remembers the events that led up to her being in this position, including her beloved grandmother's death.  There is a statue of the town founder holding up a donut and everyone in town knows that if you make a wish on your birthday and manage to throw a quarter through the hole of the donut your wish will come true on Bunning day.  Now that Bunning day has arrived Ruby is waiting for her wish and thinks something might happen during her speech.  It is obvious early on that Ruby's wish has to do with her grandmother and something Ruby regrets about the end of her grandmother's life.  What she actually wished for and how it comes true was a surprise to me.  Something in the writing style was a little more contrived than I usually like but I adjusted quickly and didn't notice it much after that.  Instead, I was just moved by Ruby's story and loss while also laughing out loud at several points.  I really enjoyed this book!

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories

As the title says, this book is comprised of seventy short "stories" with famous authors writing about their experiences with bullying.  Some have written poems, some cartoons, some are framed as letters to their bullies, and some even describe how the author was a bully him or herself.  Not all of the stories moved me but many of them touched me or sounded similar to what I experienced and what I see happening with students at my school.  And although I'm a big fan of the "It gets better" campaign, I was happy to see that these stories didn't just rely on that slogan and instead presented lots of messages about bullying - stand up for others, it happens to everyone, it's not about you, and there are so many little ways to exclude others that we don't even think about - among others.  A really great book that can be absorbed by individual readers but is also very helpful for lessons by pulling out individual stories or even paragraphs.