Movie Review: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

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Directed by: John Schultz

MPAA Rating: PG

Interest Range: 8-10

Genre: Comedy

Plot: Judy Moody had the perfect plan for making the summer after third grade their best one yet- a competition for who could complete the most thrilling dares, the goal being 100 thrill points and proving their summer was full of exciting and memorable happenings. But then two of her closest friends are leaving for the summer, one for circus camp and the other to the rainforests of Borneo. And if that wasn’t enough, Judy’s parents have to leave town to help out their extended family so their yearly trip to Grandma’s house isn’t happening. Instead, Aunt Opal is coming to stay and Judy will be stuck at home with her annoying younger brother, Stink, and her most boring friend, Frank. Judy changes her plan and emails her friends to tell them the thrills are now a race, and the first to 100 points wins- but how will she ever compete with learning to saw people in half and hanging out with monkeys?

Review: This movie was cute, and certainly points to something kids this age are worried about. Summer is supposed to be full of fun and exciting things that you can then brag about to your friends when you head back to school. Often there is nothing more dismal than looking ahead to a summer full of nothing. But Judy shows us how just a normal summer at home, where you think nothing is happening at all, can actually be full of quite a few thrills. It’s just what you make of it. Judy seems to be portrayed as a pretty honest 8 or 9 year old, she wants adventure and is often frustrated with her family and disappointed by her friends. She has her own sense of style, and her best friend is a boy. She’s not annoying to watch, and doesn’t seem to be some kind of caricature of a tween, although she’s definitely not going through anything too personal in this story. Ultimately, this movie made me want to take a closer look at the Judy Moody series of books. I wonder how well they adapted the main character to the screen.

Themes: Changes at Home, Building New Relationships, Humor

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Judy Moody: The title character, Judy has just gotten out of the third grade. Her friends have abandoned her for more exciting summers and Judy is left at home wondering what to do. On a few separate occasions, she decides to give up and spend the rest of the summer in her bedroom because NOTHING exciting ever happens to her. But eventually, she realizes it’s all what you make of it and she decides to turn her summer around.

Stink Moody: Judy’s little brother, who is currently obsessed with Bigfoot. The rumor of Bigfoot in the area has gotten Stink all riled up and he is convinced that he will capture the beast this summer. He’s even joined a Bigfoot Believers club.

Aunt Opal: Judy’s aunt, who they haven’t seen in many years, is in town and charged with taking care of the kids while their parents  are gone. Aunt Opal describes herself as a guerrilla artist and teaches Judy the importance of enjoying the moment and making something out of what you have in front of you. She also seems to be followed by small disasters.

Frank: Judy’s one friend who has remained in town this summer. Unfortunately, Frank is probably the least brave of the 4-member Toad Pee club and not the best match for Judy’s thrill-seeking adventures.

Bibliographic Info:

Schultz, J.(Director), Luther, B. S. (Producer), Magness, G. (Producer), & Siegel-Magness, S. (Producer). (2011). Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer [Motion picture]. United States: Smokewood Entertainment.

Tagline:

“Be careful what you wish for.”

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Ramona Quimby, Age 8

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Author: Beverly Cleary

Age Range: 7-9

Interest Range: 7-9

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Ramona is starting the third grade, but that’s not the only new thing going on in her family. Her sister is now in Junior High, her dad is going back to school to become a teacher, and now her mother is working full-time to support them all. Things have definitely changed in the Quimby household. Ramona likes the third grade. She doesn’t let Yard Ape get the best of her, she gets to read great books during Sustained Silent Reading, and she really likes her teacher- or at least she did until she overheard Mrs. Whaley telling the secretary that Ramona was a show-off and a nuisance. What did Ramona do? Getting egg on her face at lunch wasn’t her fault, and neither was getting sick in class…but she did squeak her new shoes really loudly one day. Could that have been it? Things were already tense at home, and now Ramona’s feeling uncertain in school. Will she be able to play nice with her babysitter’s kids? Will her mother lose her job and her father have to drop out of school? And will she ever be able to make a book report interesting without being a show-off?

Review: This was a sweet little book. Ramona has a lot going on around her and definitely deals well with all of it. She has her uncertainties about what her parents are going through, and knows her responsibilities within the family even though she might not be happy about them. But overall she just wants to do well in school, not annoy her teacher, and be of help where she can at home. I was worried that the book might be a bit dated since it came out in the early 1980s, but the only thing that seemed out of place was the reference to a cigarette machine. That one small detail aside, this book could easily still be enjoyed by second and third graders today. I feel like it might even be more relevant today since many parents are going back to school and having to juggle that with family life. That idea could be confusing for a child, and reading a story about another family going through the same thing could alleviate some pressure.

Themes: Changes at Home, New School, Economic Hardship

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Ramona Quimby: Ramona is 8 and entering the 3rd grade. She is smart and loves to draw like her father, and she hates having to be nice to Willa Jean (the babysitter’s annoying granddaughter) but knows that that’s her job in the Quimby family. Ramona enjoys getting small presents from her dad and likes doing well in school.

Beezus (Beatrice) Quimby: Ramona’s older sister who is in the 8th grade and going to Junior High this year. Beezus and Ramona seem to have  a pretty good relationship, and we witness her 8th grade experiences through the bits and pieces that Ramona picks up: being invited to a party with girls and boys, going to sleepovers with friends.

Mr. Quimby: After tiring of his job as a supermarket checkout clerk, the Quimbys have saved enough money for Mr. Quimby to go back to school. He’s studying to become and art teacher.

Mrs. Quimby: The girls’ mother, who is now working full time to cover expenses while Mr. Quimby is taking classes and working a part-time job.

Bibliographic Info:

Cleary, B. (1981). Ramona Quimby, Age 8. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Tagline:

The third-grade is full of exciting things to learn: cursive and book reports and fruit flies are keeping Ramona busy. But why does Ramona’s teacher all of a sudden think she’s a show-off and a nuisance? She’s just trying to do a good job and fit in at a new school!

The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World

Author: Mary Losure

Age Range: 10-14 (Kirkus)

Interest Range: 10-14

Genre: Non-fiction, History/Biography

Plot: Frances and Elsie lived in England during World War I. The two young girls would often play in the beck behind Elsie’s house, a wooded area with a stream and waterfall, where they would both often see “little green men” wandering about while they were playing. In an outburst, Frances told her mother about the fairies and from then on was teased by her family. One day Elsie had the idea to prove them wrong, and take a picture of the fairies. But her fairies were actually painted drawings, and the girls pulled off a photo convincing enough to eventually make them the center of much attention. Even the famous writer of Sherlock Holmes detective stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, wanted to believe that the girls’ photos were real. This is the story of two young girls who managed to fool a lot of people, and held on to their secret until they were grandmothers themselves.

Review: I had heard about the photos before reading this book, and was glad to finally hear the entire story. Elsie and Frances were two pretty remarkable young girls in their ability to keep a secret, but pretty normal in every other way. It was definitely an interesting look at how far people will push an idea when they really want it to be  reality. The girls’ creativity and ability to manipulate a relatively new technology really captured the hearts and minds of many people, some very prominent and known for their powers of deduction. I think that when viewed from this angle, their story is very relevant in today’s world of constantly changing technological advancements. In the age of photoshop and the Internet, people are constantly manipulating images to try and prove a point or idea. This story might be a fun way to show how that can sometimes actually work, emphasizing the importance of further research and checking sources before believing in fantastic stories.

Themes: Changes at Home, Lies, Tough Issues (war-time life, dropping out of school)

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Elsie: A school dropout with artistic abilities. It was Elsie who drew and painted the fairies, devised the plan, and took the photos, all at the age of 15. Those who believed her photos the most were harsh critics of her other artwork and said that there was no way she could have fabricated the fairies because she had no artistic talent. This criticism hurt her deeply, and she could not refute it unless she told the truth and destroyed the story.

Frances: A young girl of 9 when the story begins, Frances has come with her mother and father to England from South Africa to stay with her Aunt and Uncle and cousin while her father goes off to fight in the war. Frances is the first to see the little green men, and poses for Elsie’s photos to go along with the story and provide proof to stop the teasing from family members.

Aunt Polly and Uncle Arthur: Elsie’s parents and the owner of the house and land where the family was living at the time (Cottingly, Yorkshire, England). It was Uncle Arthur’s camera that Elsie used to take the first photos.

Bibliographic Info:

Losure, M. (2012). The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

Tagline:

How do you tell when to stop telling a lie?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Author: e. l. konigsburg

Age Range: 9-12

Interest Range: 9-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Claudia Kincaid has decided to run away. In the weeks that she spends planning her departure she almost forgets why she wanted to run away in the first place, but she is a very determined almost-12-year-old girl and knows that it must have been something important. She decides to take her younger brother Jamie, because he is richer than any of her siblings and also the one she can stand the most, and that they will travel to New York City and stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Think that sounds crazy? Well, they manage to do it- and they make a few big discoveries along the way. Will Claudia and Jamie ever be able to get along? Can they manage to outwit the security guards and not get caught? And just who carved that mysterious new Angel statue, anyway? Hear the story as it was told to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and learn why she’s now writing these two children into her will.

Review: This book was hilarious and also quite deep. I never imagined it to be a discussion on the kinds of feelings and needs a young girl sometimes has to feel different or changed in some way. Yes, it is far fetched in that two children running away from home and living in a museum successfully for a week could not happen today, and at times the text is rather dated (there’s an interesting discussion on drugs and drug pushers and mysterious candy that made me laugh out loud), but it is so well done that you hardly realize that you’re learning something along the way. The value of secrets, or the value of feeling different or changed on the inside even if others can’t tell on the outside. Claudia left home searching for something and was determined to stay away until she knew she could come home as a different person. And she found out she couldn’t force it- her decision to wear a sari and attempt at practicing the appropriate walk after visiting the UN proved that quite clearly. She had to figure things out on her own. And she managed to, in the course of a week. A tall order for the real world, but a valuable lesson to be given to the reader. Sometimes we as humans want to experience a change in ourselves. I’ve had that craving many times, and moved around the country because of it. It’s a desire for adventure and experience. Claudia gained both.

Themes: Adventure, The Importance of Secrets, Changes Within, Coming of Age

Additional Info:

Awards: Newbery winner in 1968

Adaptations: done as an audio book in 1969 (cassette tape), a movie in 1973 (released as The Hideaways, featuring Ingrid Bergman), and a made-for-tv film released in 1995.

Main Characters:

Claudia Kincaid: A very determined 11 year old girl (almost 12) who loved to plan, but is not very good with money. Claudia decides to run away, spends weeks planning it, and manages it rather successfully. They manage to live in a museum, keep themselves well-fed, and even do laundry and travel around New York City without having many problems at all. In the course of the story, Claudia realizes that she is looking for experience and a way to come home changed on the inside.

James Kincaid: Claudia’s 9-year-old brother, who is terrible at planning but very good with his money. He’s been saving every penny he ever earned, and manages the team’s finances while they are adventuring. He is a perfect fit for his sister’s strengths and weaknesses, and the two of them form quite the team while out on their own.

Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Mrs. Basil is a rich old woman (82 years old) who lives in Connecticut and owns a very vast collection of art. Her statue of the Angel was recently bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art at an auction, and she holds the secret behind it very dear to her heart. She is the narrator of this story, since she has collected it as evidence and is presenting it to her lawyer to explain why she wants to include Claudia and James in her will.

Saxonberg: Frankweiler’s lawyer, to whom she is writing this story.

Bibliographic Info:

Konigsburg, E. L. (2002). From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Tagline:

Sometimes it’s not enough to come home safe and sound. Sometimes you need to come home different.

Discussion: Alternative Formats

I feel my brain stretch more when reading in alternative formats. To me, it’s like exercising multiple parts of my mind all at once. I’m seeing and interpreting the text, but also images at the same time. It’s much more like my everyday interactions with media (news channels that have talking heads and tickers and multiple on-screen graphics at once) and human beings than traditional reading. And while I will always love traditional reading and the escape that it offers, I will praise and promote quality graphic novels with passion until the day that I die.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret achieves something that I never really thought possible: there are times while reading where I actually feel like I’m watching a movie instead. It achieves this through the beautifully sketched drawings that take up entire two-page spreads and involve no words at all. The complete separation of word and text makes it exist somewhere in Limbo between a traditional book and a commonly defined graphic novel, and is what helps it achieve those moments of film-like experience. Although by definition it probably fits in the graphic novel category, since it involves extensive images and text, it will be found in bookstores and libraries alike in with all of the traditional middle grade fiction books. I agree with this fact and find the physical location more fitting because those visual and textual parts of your brain are not exercised in tandem. Also, because of that physical location on shelves in bookstores and libraries alike it will probably make it into the hands of more children than if it were segregated with the graphic novels. The parents who are loathe to accept this non-traditional book format will more likely be willing to let Hugo slide because of its physical association.

Smile is a full-blown middle grade graphic novel, but it is also autobiographical. This fact is rarely played up and I actually did not realize the truth behind the story until my second or third pass through the book. When reading graphic novels I tend to react more to characters like I do in the people I meet in real life: I have trouble remembering their names. I’m so much more of a visual person in reality that I frequently forget names, but will easily remember what new acquaintances look like or specific physical attributes. It’s something I need to work on, and I acknowledge that fact about myself. But in comparison, when reading text-only books each character is often only a name in my mind and my mental pictures are blurry and non-specific with the details. I often have no idea the color of a character’s hair or eyes or skin because even if I read the detail once, their eyes are not how I recognize them. Instead I know them with text by their name. To me, graphic novels work better with my way of viewing the world. I can follow a set of interesting eyes or a specific haircut through their world and know that I’m seeing it the way that the author/artist intended the story to be seen. There is less room for interpretation when the details cannot be read and forgotten immediately.

Forays Into Modern Technology: The Animated Book Trailer

An animated book trailer, by Yours Truly. Wow, do these take some time to put together!

Follow the link to enjoy! (Apparently WordPress doesn’t support Flash…)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio by xstarbattx on GoAnimate

Animated Presentations – Powered by GoAnimate.

Drama

Author: Raina Telgemeier

Age Range: 10-14 (Kirkus Review)

Interest Range: 10-14

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Format: Graphic Novel

Plot: Callie is obsessed with theater. She’s been involved in drama for all of middle school so far, and this year she is convinced will be better than anything she’s ever done before. But putting on a production doesn’t come easy- they don’t call it Drama for nothing. Once the actors have been picked, no one seems to be able to work together! Plus, the boy that Callie’s been pining over doesn’t even know she exists. But then come the twins, Justin and Jesse, smart and talented and ready to be Callie’s new best friends. As the show’s final night begins, will the show go on even when one of the stars has a complete melt-down? Will Callie get up the courage to ask her crush to the 8th grade dance? And just who will be promoted to Stage Crew Manager for next year’s performance?

Review: This book is brave. It is the most honest story about coming out and being comfortable in your own skin that I’ve read for the tween age group yet, and it was wonderful. And that wasn’t even the main storyline! With surprises at every turn, Callie’s story is definitely the focal point as she continues to fall for the wrong boy again and again, but in the end she learns to feel comfortable in her own skin and not depend on being liked by others to feel good about herself. And the story of the twins was a great counterpart, showing an example of a boy who knows himself and was able to tell his parents who he really is alongside a boy who is still struggling to let his true self be known- by himself or anyone else. We all come to know ourselves eventually, but sometimes it takes us a little while to get there. Drama really is the perfect title for this story, and not just because they’re all in drama club.

Themes: Coming of Age, Coming Out, Building New Relationships, Crushes, Middle School

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Callie: A seventh-grader who cannot get enough of theater. She found herself in the drama club and is the stage crew’s number one ambassador. This season she is in charge of set design and convinced that she will build a working cannon.

Justin: The outgoing twin of the family, Justin wants to try out for the musical. He manages to snag a part, not the lead like he wanted but the comedic relief instead. It suits him perfectly. As a side note, Justin is gay and has come out to his brother and Callie, but not his parents.

Jessie: The more quiet of the twins, Jessie joins Callie on stage crew. He is just as talented as his brother, but less ready to show it to the world. As he and Callie grow closer, she cannot help but think he likes her, but things start to change on the night of the final performance and soon Callie learns the truth.

Greg: An eighth grader that Callie has had a crush on for some time. When she learns that his girlfriend has broken up with him, Callie goes for it and kisses him- but Greg had no idea she liked him and is still hung up on Bonnie.

Bonnie: A very popular girl in school, Bonnie seems to be taking all of the good boys. But Callie soon learns her secret- Jessie’s been tutoring her. And when Bonnie tries to get Jessie to agree to help her cheat, all heck breaks loose.

Matt: Brother of Greg, fellow stage crew member of Callie, Matt is inexplicably broody and mean this year. Callie can’t figure out why they don’t get along all of a sudden.

Bibliographic Info:

Telgemeier, R. (2012). Drama. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

Tagline:

Callie was made for the theater- stage crew, that is. But even behind the scenes, there’s more than enough drama to go around.

Smile

Author: Raina Telgemeier

Age Range: 12-18 (Kirkus Review)

Interest Range: 10-14

Genre: Autobiography

Format: Graphic Novel

Plot: Raina is 11 when she knocks out her two front teeth. The dentist is able to save them, but this starts a 4-year battle with braces and various procedures to get her teeth back to looking normal. As if being a metal mouth wasn’t enough, there are boys, and friends, and general growing-up things to worry about. From sixth grade into high school, we get to watch Raina’s journey of self-discovery. How she finally ditches the friends that have been so mean to her for so long and finds herself in artistic expression is an inspiration to readers from every walk of life.

Review: I love this book. Not only is it a very accessible graphic novel for middle grade students, but it’s a true story. A true story about the most volatile and eventful years of everyone’s life, but amplified and chronicled by the repairing of Raina’s smile. No 11-year-old wants braces. They have enough to deal with concerning zits and crushes and constantly shifting friendships and relationships in every facet of their lives. But this book shows how an actual girl made it through all of that and was able to end up better than where she started even though there were some very painful moments (both physical and emotional) along the way.

Themes: Coming of Age, Changing Relationships, Making New Friends, Middle School, Bullying

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Raina: An 11-year-old girl who is about to get braces, but has an accident and knocks out her front two teeth, further complicating the process. Raina is smart, but struggles to find herself among her group of friends. They criticize her for the boys she likes, the way she dresses, and pretty much everything about herself. Eventually Raina stands up for herself and finds her real calling in a high school art class.

The Girl-Scout Troop: Kelli, Jenny, Emily, Kaylah, Nicole, Karin, and Melissa. While some of the girls are closer to her than others, these are the girls who Raina has grown up being friends with. Eventually, she grows apart from most of them.

Sammy: Raina’s first crush. He is one year below her in school and they meet in band class. Raina gets embarrassed when her friends make fun of her for liking someone younger and stands him up at the Valentine’s Day dance.

Sean: Raina’s longer-lasting big crush that goes on through middle school. Raina even tries out for the basketball team to try and get his attention, but she never pursues him further instead deciding to like him from afar.

Theresa: The first new friend Raina makes in high school.

Bibliographic Info:

Telgemeier, R. (2010). Smile. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

Tagline:

You thought middle school was bad enough? Try it with braces.

Zebra Forest

 

Author: Adina Rishe Gewirtz

Age Range: 9-12 (publisher’s info)

Interest Range: 9-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: On the last day of sixth grade, Annie has to write an essay about her three wishes for the summer. She writes the essay, but doesn’t tell the truth about her wishes, which are all for things that she thinks are impossible: 1. Get tall, 2. Have an adventure, and 3. Meet her father. Annie doubts she’ll ever be tall since her Gran is so incredibly short, and Sunshine isn’t exactly a town with lots of adventures to be had. Her third wish is definitely impossible, since the only thing she knows about her father is that he died when she was young. But her summer is surprising, and adventure certainly comes to Sunshine with a prison break from the town next door and the arrival of a visitor who is here to stay. Annie, much to her surprise, is about to be a part of something intense that threatens to rip her family apart at the seams.

Review: I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. The story is well written, but the subject matter isn’t anything that I find particularly interesting. Annie’s father ends up not being dead, but instead a convicted felon who happens to run into the family by mistake. It just seems too staged. But Annie is a kid dealing with some very serious problems. Her Gran has good days and bad, and probably isn’t fit to raise two young children, but the social worker assigned to her family has promised to look the other way as long as Annie promises to tell her if anything very serious happens. Her younger brother, Rew, has anger management issues of a pretty serious variety. Although Annie has figured out how to handle him over the years, the reappearance of their father stretches his limits and eventually causes some serious division between brother and sister. And then there’s Annie, a very smart girl whose world is suddenly flipped upside down and who has to suddenly deal with being a hostage in her own house and figuring out if she can trust this man who was once her father but is now a convicted murderer. A very serious book that would only appeal to certain readers, but is definitely worth a read.

Themes: Coming of Age, Building New Relationships, Tough Issues, Illness

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Annie: A 6th grader who has been groomed to lie like a pro. She has been raised by her Gran, who homeschooled her until the social worker figured out what was really going on in the house. Annie is smart, but lacks much motivation for anything. What she wants more than anything is to know her family’s history, most importantly more about her dad.

Rew: Annie’s little brother who loves the book Treasure Island. The copy they have read repeatedly starts at Chapter 8, and Rew refuses any attempt to read the beginning of the story because he loves making up his own ideas for all of the characters’ beginnings. Rew is incredibly smart and always beats his sister at chess, unless she teases him enough to make him angry. Rew cannot think when he’s angry.

Gran: Annie and Rew’s grandmother. She moved them to the town of Sunshine after her husband died. She has been caring for and raising the children alone for the past 8 years, and is slowly slipping into depression. Gran is not always fit to be the caretaker for two young children, but she will never admit that to anyone. She is a world-class liar.

Andrew Snow: An escaped convict from the local prison who breaks into Gran’s house and takes the family hostage.

Bibliographic Info:

Gewirtz, A. R. (2013) Zebra Forest. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

Tagline:

When Annie wished for an adventure, she had no idea what she was getting herself into.

The Year of the Book

 

Author: Andrea Cheng

Age Range: 7-10 (Kirkus Reviews)

Interest Range: 7-10

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Anna is having a rough time in 4th grade. Laura used to be her best friend, but is now hanging out with Allison- even though Allison is not the nicest of girls. Plus, Anna now has to attend Chinese school on Saturdays. Her mother, who is from China, feels it is important that she learn more about her heritage. On top of that, what would the other girls say if they knew that her mother cleans other people’s houses for a living? Or is currently going to school, and doesn’t even know how to drive? Being Chinese in Ohio is strange, so Anna finds comfort in her books. An avid reader, Anna almost doesn’t even notice the year going by around her as she makes friends with another girl from Chinese school, helps Laura through her parents’ separation, and manages to begin to learn Chinese and embrace what makes her so different and so special.

Review: Anna is struggling with being a minority in a not-very-diverse place. She is different from everyone not just because of her looks, but her mother is actually from another country. Chinese school, along with many other pressures and expectations from her parents that are not necessarily the same as her classmates’ experiences make her feel especially excluded. Also, her closest friend is searching to find meaning and support in a structure that is falling down around her- trying to become friends with girls that she perceives as important while her parents are experiencing a very messy split. Even though Laura’s actions hurt her feelings, Anna eventually comes around to appreciate the painful place her friend is living in and the two are able to somewhat repair their relationship. Even more inspiring, throughout her year Anna learns to embrace what it is that makes her different. She makes new friends and ends her school year really looking forward to the 5th grade.

Themes: Coming of Age, Building New Relationships, Trying to Fit In, Divorce, Race

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Anna: A 4th grader who loves to read. Anna always has her nose in a book, even though the teacher told her that read-walking can be quite dangerous. Anna is struggling to figure out friendships and how to feel about what makes her different, her heritage.

Laura: Another 4th grader who used to be close friends with Anna, Laura is also trying to figure out what it means to be friends with someone. In her struggle to fit in with the more popular girl in their grade, Laura begins to shun Anna- often leaving her alone at school and calling her as a last resort when the other girls decide they don’t want her around. Laura’s parents are going through a very rough time and eventually end up separating. Anna’s family ends up being a refuge for Laura when things get too rough at home.

Allison: The popular girl in the 4th grade, who is not very nice. She often completely shuns Anna, shoots her down in front of others at school, and steals her ideas.

Bibliographic Info:

Cheng, A. (2012). The Year of the Book. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Tagline:

Being different can be hard, especially in the 4th grade. But lots of other hard things can happen in the 4th grade too, like making friends.