Book Review: Booked by Kwame Alexander
Nick is great at soccer, but not so thrilled about reading. On top of teachers making him read novels in class, his father is making him read the dictionary, and his crazy librarian keeps trying to get him to join book club! Good thing there is soccer, his best friend Coby, and his crush April.
Told in verse, this is a beautifully written story. So much happened in the plot, but it didn’t feel forced. There are moments of poetic brilliance in this book. I also love the books Alexander chose to highlight at the end. Other great examples of novels in verse. I’m excited to read other books by this author.
Quotes…since I can’t quote as much as I’d like, here is a great discussion on parents between Nick and Mr. Mac (the librarian)
Why do parents suck?
Try a different word.
My bad, Mr. Mac. Why do GUARDIANS SUCK?
Ha! Ha! Who your parents are now is not who they were or who they will be. You may not like them now, but you will.
Recommended Grades: 7-12
Genre: Novel in Verse
Overall Opinion: Recommend
Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Ivan lives in a mall.
Ivan is a gorilla who loves to paint.
Ivan has friends (a dog, an elephant, the janitor’s daughter) but he feels alone.
Many of you will have read this book already because it is a Newberry winner, but I just hadn’t had the chance to get to it yet. Sometimes the Newberry books disappoint me, but this one is great! This novel is verse is based on a true story of a gorilla that lived in captivity until finally being taken over by a local zoo. Touching and hauntingly true, this book did a great job of making me reflect on what it really means to be human.
“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” ~Ivan on words
“I’ve never asked for a promise before, because promises are forever, and forever is an unusually long time. Especially when you’re in a cage.” ~Stella when asking Ivan to grant her a special promise
Recommended Grade: 5-10th
Genre: Novels in Verse
Overall Opinion: Recommend
Book Review: Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald
This novel in verse is based on the life of Odette Meyer. When her father goes to a work camp and her mother joins the resistance, Odette is shipped to the country for safety.
The poetry in this book varies and as a writer of poetry I can relate. Sometimes it is hard to be true to poetic forms and tell the story you need to tell. There are poems that are heart-stoppingly beautiful and some that I found myself skimming. The beauty of poetry is that not everyone will agree with the poems I liked, so that is where the real magic lies.
Part of a poem I loved:
Poetry is stronger than the Nazis,
stronger than the war.
These words are so beautiful
they make me want to speak again.
The next day I don’t go to the forest.
I spend it reading poetry at home.
Sometimes I read aloud.
Day by day, I dare to say more.
Recommended Ages: 5-8
Genre: Historical Fiction and Novels in Verse
Overall Opinion: Average
Book Review: Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
This is a follow up book to Shark Girl because the author had so many people wanting to know more about Jane. This novel is set a year after she had to have her arm amputated because of a shark attack. Now in her senior year, Jane is torn between nursing and art.
Novels in verse are always fun to read. This book is quick and has some real moments of brilliance. Art teachers could even use the grid discussion when teaching in class.
On things unspoken:
I say nothing as he puts on his coat
and nods good-bye to us both.
But, oh. The words we have spoken.
They hang in the air, so ripe I could pick them,
could take a bite and savor them.
Decisions are hard, yes.
But oh, how grateful I am
to have decisions
He moves off to help other students
with their projects. I keep working,
my heart sinking as time runs out
and my painting is worse than before.
Thank goodness for the ability
to paint over your mistakes.
Recommended Ages: 7-12
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Overall Opinion: Recommended