We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
Prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction, Walter Dean Myers has won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. His novel ‘Monster’ that won the Michael L. Printz Award is a draw card for readers who want a variation in format.
Steve’s trial for murder is so surreal it feels as if he has walked into a movie. His passion is movie making. Steve records his ordeal that he calls ‘Monster!’ with the dramatic precision of a cameraman capturing every significant scene, dialogue and emotion.
The story however begins with a journal entry on Steve’s thoughts about the situation he is in. These journal entries form an integral part of the book by providing insights into Steve’s mind, his life before the crime and his fear of being in jail.
This riveting story is another credit to the author’s powerful and realistic style of writing. The character of Steve is believable and multidimensional and readers will be waiting to see if Steve is acquitted.
There are a few extras at the end of the book that supplement to make this book a valuable resource for secondary classrooms.
review by Janice
Image by inside my shell
The fact that I read this book cover to cover in a very short time was testament to the fact that not only is the subject matter gripping, but the style the author has chosen is key to it’s success. I loved the way the book begins with a graphic novel style story board of Gandhi’s early life and prepares and informs the reader of what is to come.
I really think that an intermediate student would appreciate the good mix of colour, photography as a primary source and clear straightforward text in this book that easily presents Gandhi’s life’s work. The back pages are filled with colourfully presented quotes from Gandhi and words of kindness said about him by other people like Martin Luther King who, throughout history, we have all come to revere.
An informative, excellently presented non fiction text covering basic Indian history. Recommended for intermediate up.
review by Melissa
image by Luiz Fernando / Sonia Maria
A lot of information is packed into this book. The first explanation is how and why the earth spins, and how it is tilted on its axis. We also find out how day and night occurs, and the reasons for the seasons. While the language is simple it still manages to introduce terms like orbit, axis, and terminator, the imaginary line that divides day from night. The depth of information is welcome as these topics are often covered superficially in books at this reading level.
There is a glossary, index, website list and a short quiz. A minor point - I felt that junior primary school children would not be able to use the five recommended websites independently.
This title is one of 60 in Rourkes series My science library and is in the Grade 2-3 level section.
review by Heather
image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
No Excuses! How What You Say Can Get In Your Way by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer follows the story of a young boy who dreams of being a marine biologist so he can help save the lives of endangered sea turtles. However, he soon begins to think that this goal is unobtainable to him coming from a family of farmers, and science is not his best subject. There are also other excuses that adults around him produce. But soon he discovers there are ways to identify and do away with excuses and learn that with a world free of excuses we can realize our potential.
Set in a picture book format with colourful illustrations and a ‘Excuse/Not an Excuse’ quiz, young readers will enjoy the story and become aware that excuses can become a barrier to realizing their own dreams and possibilities.
review by Natasha
This is a story about Dewey’s eventful twelfth year. Set in a small Florida mining town in the 60s, there is a lot that’s confusing and potentially dangerous going on; racial tensions, class bullies, and girl friends.
Dewey befriends the class misfit and solves the mystery of the abandoned building but uncovers some adult secrets in the process. Luckily his family is close knit and the dramas are coped with - the brother nearly kills the bully and the girlfriend dies tragically. The 60s aspect is carefully integrated (Vietnam, race issues) and all the characters are well drawn. The sex scene (Dewey succumbs to the older girl) might restrict this story to secondary readers only, but hooray, at least there’s no bad language.
review by Phil
image by SportSurburban
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