Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Recommended Summer Reading

Recently, I was looking through my credit card statement and was surprised (and a little bit concerned) to see how many books I had downloaded to my Kindle this summer.  I used to live close to the central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, so I often popped in there to stock up on… Read more »

Two Novels to Savor: I’LL BE THERE and PARCHED

When I was in high school, I first read a novel by the writer Alice McDermott and was blown away.  I shared it with a friend and was surprised when she still hadn’t finished it a few weeks later.  Did she not like it?  She assured me that she did.  “I have to read it… Read more »

Book Binges

I love it when I discover an author a little late in the game, after he or she already has multiple novels out, so that I can finish one and pick up another without having to wait too long.  A couple of years ago, I fell in love with Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury High novels, and… Read more »

Three Great New(ish) Books I Recommend

I’ve been reading some wonderful books lately, so this week I thought I’d tell you about a few of them. First up: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.  I’d heard great things about this book, and it didn’t disappoint.  It took me a little while to get into it, but by the end—whew!  This complex,… Read more »

Reading Levels Don’t Tell You Everything: A Great Book Is a Great Book

This year, the theme for fifth and sixth grade English and social studies at my school is China.  Last winter and spring, I read several China-related novels as I tried to figure out my book list for sixth grade English.  I wanted a range of books that would engage sixth graders, expose them to aspects… Read more »

My Book of Life by Angel: A Review

Not so long ago, Angel was an ordinary girl.  But after her mother’s death shattered her family, Angel began shoplifting, and a manipulative, sweet-talking man named Call gave her “candy” (a.k.a. crack) for the first time and took her in when her dad kicked her out.   Now, Call is Angel’s pimp, and Angel has to… Read more »

CHAINS and FORGE: Historical Novels that Pass the Student-Interest Test

The English and social studies curricula at my school are integrated, so I end up teaching a lot of historical fiction.  It isn’t always easy to find a book that’s firmly grounded in a historical time and place and well-written and engaging for middle school readers.  But Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains and Forge are all… Read more »

DRAMARAMA: A Review

I’ve decided to write a review of E. Lockhart’s Dramarama for a couple of reasons.  One, because I love it.  I read it last spring, and the story is still churning about in my brain. And two, because I’ve seen a lot of tired, sweaty high school students roaming the halls after preseason practices the… Read more »

LIAR AND SPY: An Excellent Read-Aloud Novel

I love to include read alouds in my middle school English classroom.  That usually means choosing an effective read-aloud novel, reading somewhere between five and fifteen minutes per class, and giving students some time to discuss their reactions and predictions as we go.  I find that read alouds increase students’ enthusiasm about books and lead… Read more »