Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489 : ALA Winners!

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work; it may work the same or in different ways. In the end, they're all kids - they all need to be exposed to many lives, cultures, history, and experiences as possible. 

Song for a Whale
By: Lynne Kelly

For fans of: 
The Thing About Jellyfish, Out of My Mind, Rain Reign  
Authors: Elly Swartz, Gillian McDunn, Renee Watson

First Line(s): "Until last summer I thought the only thing I had in common with that whale on the beach was the name we shared." 

The author: 
About me taken from her website: http://lynnekellybooks.com/wordpress/about-me/
I live in the Houston, Texas area where I work as a sign language interpreter and write books for kids. I found both of those fields in a roundabout way.
In college I majored in psychology, but after taking some sign language courses, I decided that was a field I wanted to stick with. I’ve worked as a sign language interpreter ever since then. I still learn something new every day, and my work has taken me everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Alaskan cruises.
I grew up in Houston, after my family moved here from Galesburg, Illinois when I was a baby. After graduating from college in East Texas, I lived in windier and colder places, like Kansas and Minnesota. I’ve been much warmer since 1996, when I made it back to Texas.
For a few years I was also a special education teacher. My favorite thing to do was read great books with great kids. I loved the students, and teaching, but didn’t love the paperwork. Plus, it turns out teachers have to wake up really early.
I’ve always loved reading, but it was during those teaching years I fell in love with children’s literature all over again and became interested in writing, so there’s nothing about that I’d change.
I still fill out paperwork every day, but this time it’s to fill pages with stories.

The Book: 
Twelve-year-old Iris has never let her deafness slow her down. A whiz at fixing electronics, she’s always felt at home in the world of wires and vacuum tubes.
School, on the other hand, isn’t quite as simple. Between her frustrating teacher Ms. Conn and her overly helpful classmate Nina, Iris can’t seem to catch a break.
But during science class, Iris learns about Blue 55—the loneliest whale in the world. Saddened by the animal’s inability to speak to other whales, Iris uses her tech skills to come up with a plan communicate with Blue 55.
One small problem: the whale is swimming off the coast of Alaska, nearly 3,000 miles from her Texas home. But, nothing stops Iris, and with her Deaf grandmother by her side, she sets out on a road trip to meet the whale and make sure he’s finally heard.

“At its luminous heart, Song for a Whale is a tale about longing for connection and finding it in the most magical and unexpected of places. Fascinating, brave and tender, this is a story like no other about a song like no other. A triumph.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan
“At its luminous heart, Song for a Whale is a tale about longing for connection and finding it in the most magical and unexpected of places. Fascinating, brave and tender, this is a story like no other about a song like no other. A triumph.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan

“A quick-moving, suspenseful plot takes her from junkyards to a cruise ship as she [Iris] gains the confidence to stand up for herself and take control of her life. Written by a sign-language interpreter, this story incorporates important elements of Deaf culture and the expansiveness and richness of ASL…this remains a satisfying, energetic read. Iris’ adventures will engross readers.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The strength of the book is its strong portrayal of Iris as a deaf girl in a hearing world and an intelligent 12-year-old in headlong, single-minded pursuit of her goal.” —Booklist
“Subtly and poignantly drawing a parallel between the girl and whale, Kelly (Chained), who has worked as a sign language interpreter, relays Iris’s venture with credibility and urgency. This finely crafted novel affectingly illuminates issues of loneliness, belonging, and the power of communication.” —Publishers Weekly
“Iris’s depth of empathy, the joy she feels working with radios, and the skillful way she navigates two different worlds of communication create an authenticity that will resonate with Deaf and hearing readers alike… An uplifting tale that’s a solid addition to most collections; especially recommended for libraries needing stronger representation of Deaf protagonists.” —SLJ
Reviews from myself and friends: 

Read it for + Teaching Points: 
Themes include: inclusivity, communicating, feeling heard, courage. 

Curriculum Guide Available Here: https://images.randomhouse.com/promo_image/9781524770235_5506.pdf?fbclid=IwAR06kPUnqJGVdJlSflfdtPlo-hafkgzrRoHYyPZ06rby1Znqw0l15GGatow

New Kid
By:Jerry Craft

For fans of: Jason Reynolds. Raina Telgemeier. Kwame Alexander. Jeff Kinney.

A Look Inside: 

The book: 

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

A New York Times bestseller! Winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature!

Reviews by myself and friends: 

The author: 
JERRY CRAFT is an author and illustrator. New Kid is his middle grade graphic novel that has earned five starred reviews, including one from Booklist magazine, which called it “possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.” Kirkus Reviews called it “an engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.”

He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, a comic strip that was distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1995-2013, and won five African American Literary Awards. Jerry is a co-founder of the Schomburg’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts.

Read it for +Teaching Points: 
Empathy book clubs, understanding graphic novels, the impact moving has on kids, discussion of race. 


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