Reviews

Heat by Mike Lupica

Lupica, Mike. Heat. Puffin Books, c2006/p2007. 220 pages. Hardcover $15.34, ISBN 978-0-399-24301-1; Tr. $5.19, ISBN 978-0-14-240757-8; PLB $13.01, ISBN 978-1-42872-024-4

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Sports novel

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

This book is a glimpse into the life of a boy who is hiding something … but not the secret that everyone expects. In all honesty, this is one that was better to read than listen to. While the narrator’s voice was great for Michael’s stream-of-consciousness moments, the speaker could not make conversations clear and smooth, so I had to switch to reading it myself. Michael is a typical kid dealing with things no twelve-year-old should have to. Fortunately, he has his love of baseball to help him get by.

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

Featuring a wise-talking best friend, a grandmotherly neighbor, and plenty of well-meaning adults, this novel explores what it means to be a kid with a secret…a dangerous secret, one that could ruin his life if it got out. Michael’s anxieties are very real, and while his best friend Manny injects humor into these serious situations, they are also handled sensitively by Lupica. Allowing for real stress and some sitcom-esque hijinks is a delicate blend, but Lupica pulls it off. While many of the baseball terms go over the head of a reader who doesn’t watch the game, it was still an immersive read.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

Book clubs could use this book and create vision boards (much like how Mrs. C plays a game with Michael where they envision his dreams coming true). They can either opt to discuss their vision boards or keep them secret, but they will spend “club” time making their boards. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 5-8

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2007

Booklist starred 4/1/06

 

Reviews referenced:

Berman, M. (n. d.). Heat (Review of the book Heat). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/heat

Kirkus Reviews. (2006, March 1). Heat (Review of the book Heat). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/mike-lupica/heat-5/

 

Reviews

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Mullaly Hunt, Lynda. Fish in a Tree. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015. 276 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-399-16259-6; Tr. $7.69, ISBN 978-0-14-242642-5; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-1-5811-637-7

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

This book is a deep dive into Ally Nickerson’s experience with her dyslexia. Unable to read and convinced that she is just stupid, Ally has worked very hard to prevent anyone from knowing just how much trouble she has with homework. She would rather get sent to the office for misbehavior than have her secret found out. Unfortunately, at her teacher’s baby shower, the principal pulls Ally into the hall to chastise her for the card she gave Mrs. Hall. Ally is perplexed — it had been a card with beautiful flowers on it. To her horror, she learns it was a sympathy card. Now everyone thinks she’s a monster for giving a sympathy card to her teacher who was leaving for maternity leave … hopefully, her substitute teacher won’t judge her too harshly for this mistake. Will Mr. Daniels catch on to her secret? Will anyone be able to help?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book is not only a gripping book about dyslexia, but it also explores middle school awkwardness, bullies, and friendships. Ally bonds with Keisha, a girl who is very outspoken, and Albert, a science-obsessed classmate who cuts the backs off of his shoes when they get too small for him because he cannot afford a new pair. The class bully zeroes in on the trio, but Ally’s friendships help her to keep her head high. Teachers are presented as human figures — capable of mistakes but trying to do their best.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This would be a fantastic book club book or read aloud. Perhaps this would be a good reading circle book. Students should lead this discussion, as it is the kids in the novel who band together to carve out a place for themselves in the school’s hierarchy. Having students lead discussion and take charge of the topics and activities for this unit would be interesting. (Idea from myself)

 

 

Grade Level: 5-8

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 12/15/14

Library Media Connection starred 9/1/15

School Library Journal starred 1/1/15

 

Reviews referenced:
Kirkus Reviews. (2014, Nov. 18). Fish in a tree (Review of the book Fish in a Tree). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/lynda-mullaly-hunt/fish-in-a-tree/

Moore, T. (n. d.). Fish in a tree (Review of the book Fish in a Tree). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/fish-in-a-tree

Publishers Weekly. (2014, Dec. 1). Fish in a tree (Review of the book Fish in a Tree). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-399-16259-6

 

Reviews

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Graff, Lisa. Lost in the Sun. Philomel Books, 2015. 304 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-399-16406-4; Tr. $7.69, ISBN 978-0-14-750858-4; PLB $13.81, ISBN 978-1-51810-658-7

 

TL;DR: Do I Recommend This? Yes

 

Genre: Realistic Contemporary Fiction

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

Trent Zimmerman has a lot on his mind. His dad has started a new family with his second wife Kari, and they are expecting a baby almost any day now. Meanwhile, it feels like Mr. Zimmerman is doing his best to tick Trent off. Trent’s fuse is shorter than usual, too, due to the fact that no one wants to talk to him anymore. After a tragic accident the school year before, Trent finds himself overwhelmed with guilt over the death of a peer, and it appears that the town agrees with him that he is at fault for the boy’s death. To make matters worse, Trent can’t try to play sports again to mend those friendships because any athletic activity makes him go clammy, remembering that February hockey game. Friendless and feeling attacked at home (first by his father’s attitude, then by his siblings’ insistence that Trent visit his dad anyway), Trent begins acting out. Fallon Little doesn’t seem to mind, but she’s weird. Could they become friends?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

 

This book is fantastic. Graff does a fabulous job describing Trent’s “fire” that erupts in his chest and forces him to blow up when he is angry. Trent does his best to control his impulses, but sometimes (often, early on, he cannot control them at all) they get the better of him, costing even more trust in the community.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This book would be a great book for a student dealing with anger management issues or who is interested in reading about this topic. It could also be a great book club book — there is a great deal of potential discussion that could be had when considering Trent, Fallon, and their classmates. A fun club activity would be to watch one of Fallon’s movies and look for the continuity errors. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 3/15/15

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred 9/1/15

Kirkus Reviews starred 3/1/15

Publishers Weekly starred 3/16/15

School Library Journal starred 4/1/15

 

Reviews Referenced:

Eisenhart, M. (n. d.). Lost in the sun (Review of the book Lost in the Sun). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/lost-in-the-sun

Publishers Weekly. (2015, March 16). Lost in the sun (Review of the book Lost in the Sun). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-399-16406-4