Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What I've read this summer!

I've been on a reading kick this summer. It's been great! So far I've read 8 books in the past three weeks. Of course, I still have a HUGE stack of books to read. But I'm making progress! I love reading, but never have the time during the school year. I've read a few professional development books, young adult novels, and some novels my 5th graders have been reading or I think they'd like to read. I think it is so important to be able to recommend books for my students to read and I can I do so, if I haven't read them myself. It also helps with gathering read aloud books.

I always find it helpful when I come across teacher's who review books they've read on their blogs. I really appreciate their insight and it helps me with choosing books for my students or myself. I've used the summaries from a few websites (of course sited where the info came from in case you want more info) and then wrote a quick response on what I thought of the book.

Prisoner B-3087, by Alan Gratz Synopsis

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story. (Good Reads)

My Thoughts on the Book
"If I had known what the next six years of my life was going to be like, I would have eaten more." Such a riveting phrase from the first few pages of the book. I put this book in my classroom library this year and noticed my boys could not put it down. It definitely got a lot of wear and tear this year. Of course, I needed to read it and just like my students, I couldn't put it down!
It is a tale of survival that defies odds. Yanek Gruener, a Jewish boy living in Krakow, Poland during WWII, had his life turned upside down when the Nazis took over Poland. The story takes you through his life right before the war starts, in the midst of the war, and when the war ended. It is such a harrowing story, that shows little by little how Polish Jews lost one freedom after another. It touches upon war, loss of family, persecution, and survival.
I've read a lot of books that deal with the topic of the Holocaust and this was one of the best I've ever read! It is well written and suitable for upper elementary (5th grade) or middle school students to high school students. 

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak Synopsis
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel’s father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word – Kommunist – and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother’s eyes. On the journey, Death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.
So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down. (Book Lover Book Reviews)
My Thoughts on the Novel
I really enjoyed reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak! Yet another book I couldn't put down! One of my all time favorites too. This book has been labeled as young adult literature. I've heard that young adult literature is appropriate for 7-12 grade. However, I think The Book Thief would be more suitable high school students. Of course, that's just my opinion and I'm sure there are 7th and 8th graders who would enjoy reading the book. I just feel that there are some intense and powerful themes in the novel. As well as, some inappropriate language. It is a beautifully written novel that takes a unique narrative style---death is the narrator. It is a tremendously powerful portrayal of life under Nazi rule, as experienced by German youth. Throughout the novel there is plenty of grief, sadness, violence, and cruelty. Although, it also gives examples of personal sacrifice, heroism, friendship, and courage. I saw the movie and while it was good, the book was a lot better. The movie left out some important situations or scenes.
The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies Synopsis
Fourth-grader Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister, Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart, but not especially good with people. So when the siblings’ lemonade stand war begins, there really is no telling who will win—or even if their fight will ever end. Brimming with savvy marketing tips for making money at any business, definitions of business terms, charts, diagrams, and even math problems, this fresh, funny, emotionally charged novel subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent. (Good Reads)

My Thoughts on the Book
The Lemonade War was a great read! It is probably more suited for 3rd and 4th grade students, but I think my 5th graders would enjoy and maybe even relate to the sibling rivalry in the book. It would  be a great read aloud too! The books is humorous, makes math fun, and gives some savvy marketing tips that the kids can relate to. It also captures the bond between siblings and explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone's intent. I think it would be fun to read this during a unit that deals with business or have the students work in groups to create their own business plans and so forth. I can think of so many ways to incorporate projects and class activities using this book.

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  1. I definitely need to read the first two. I read The Lemonade War, but it's been several years ago and when I was teaching 3rd grade at the time. Since you've been on the Holocaust kick...have you read Someone Named Eva? It's one of my all time favorites!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. I haven't read Someone Named Eva, I am going to add it to my list! Thank you for the recommendation! I've always had in interest in WWII and the Holocaust.

  2. I read The Lemonade War with my students each year! It's a cute book....I hear there is a sequel but I haven't read it yet!


    1. Yes! There are four more books in the series. I will be putting them on my list of books to read, especially the second book in the series. I want to know how Megan gets her money back!

  3. I will have to check out these books! The Book Thief was already on my 'to be read' list, but I am glad to now put the others you have listed on there as well! Thanks for the summaries! I enjoyed reading them!


    Drop By...
    Life As I Know It

    1. Your welcome! You will love The Book Thief!


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