Stitches

stitches

Title of Book: Stitches by David Small

GoodReads Rating: 4.03

Summary:

This graphic novel is autobiographical. It chronologically tells the story of the author’s traumatic childhood from age 5 to 16. His father treated his sinus issues as an infant with radiation, which caused the author to develop cancer in his throat. His parents then had cancer removed yet never told their teenage son that he had cancer. He discovered the truth later by accident. In addition, the surgery severely damaged his vocal cords, making him almost completely mute. The book also chronicles his mother’s emotional abuse.

APA Reference of Book:

Small, D. (2009). Stitches. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

My Impressions: 

Although heartbreaking, this graphic novel is both well-written and well-illustrated. It is a powerful and emotional story. It is a gripping tale. The author does an excellent job of using the illustrations to support the text. For example, all the illustrations are in black and white in order to emphasize the sadness of his childhood. In addition, the images representing his parents do not have eyes. I believe he did this in order to take away their humanity because he saw them as soulless. Thus, through the use of text and image, the author does a great job of developing the characterization of his parents.

Professional Review:

Gr 10 Up–Small is best known for his picture-book illustration. Here he tells the decidedly grim but far from unique story of his own childhood. Many teens will identify with the rigors of growing up in a household of angry silences, selfish parents, feelings of personal weakness, and secret lives. Small shows himself to be an excellent storyteller here, developing the cast of characters as they appeared to him during this period of his life, while ending with the reminder that his parents and brother probably had very different takes on these same events. The title derives from throat surgery Small underwent at 14, which left him, for several years, literally voiceless. Both the visual and rhetorical metaphors throughout will have high appeal to teen sensibilities. The shaded artwork, composed mostly of ink washes, is both evocative and beautifully detailed. A fine example of the growing genre of graphic-novel memoirs.

Goldsmith, F. (2009). Stitches: A Memoir. School Library Journal, 55(9), 193.

Library Uses:

This graphic would be a great one to recommend to teachers who still think graphic novels are the same as comics or even “trash.” Reading this graphic novel will show them how profoundly emotional graphic novels can be. In addition, they will see that the characters and plot are fully developed, just like a traditional novel. Thus, hopefully after reading this graphic novel, reluctant teachers will begin using graphic novels as teaching tools in the classroom.

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Temple Grandin

temple

Title of Book: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

GoodReads Rating: 3.98

Summary:

This biography is a brief, but fascinating, look into the life of an autistic woman, Temple Grandin, who revolutionized the American cattle and meat packing industries. The book is a chronological narrative which begins with Grandin’s childhood. Throughout the book, the author includes photographs and sketches of Grandin’s designs.

APA Reference of Book:

Montgomery, S. (2012). Temple Grandin. New York, NY: HMH Books for Young Readers.

My Impressions: 

This book could work for both pleasure reading and research. It is an interesting biography to read for pleasure. However, if one were researching autism or the meat industry in the United States, this book would be an excellent source. The author includes a long reference list on page 134-6 of the book, which contains several books, articles, websites, and films about both of these topics. The author’s purpose is to argue two items: autistic people are gifted, not handicapped, and all animals should be treated with respect. It is an emotionally inspiring book as the reader feels ashamed at the way people treated Grandin because of her autism. In addition, the reader feels horror when realizing how animals were butchered before Grandin put an end to it. Thus, readers are inspired to treat both people and animals in more respectfully and humanely.

Professional Review:

Gr 6-8 — Temple Grandin, who has autism, is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and an expert on cruelty-free cattle facilities. She sees her autism not as a disability, but rather as a different way of thinking and communicating that makes her especially able to understand animals and their needs. Grandin thinks visually, as do animals. Sy Montgomery’s book (Houghton Harcourt, 2012) shows how she overcame the odds and conquered the obstacles in her path. Of special interest is the advice she offers to children on the autism spectrum, found on the last track of the audiobook. In the print version, her life and experiences are highlighted with numerous sidebars, photographs, and diagrams that don’t translate well into audiobook format. However, when paired with the book, the audio version would be a wonderful addition to collections serving children on the autism spectrum as well as for libraries looking for excellent biographies of women. Narrator Meredith Mitchell recreates Grandin’s flat, gravelly tone in the liberally sprinkled quotes that make up much of the story. — Ann Brownson, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston

Brownson, A. (2012). Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. School Library Journal, 58(9), 70.

Library Uses:

This would be a fun book for a show and tell. Students in book club could come to school dressed as the person in their favorite biography, such as this one about Temple Grandin. They could then tell the other members about the book and her life.

Poop Happened

poop

Title of Book: Poop Happened by Sarah Albee

GoodReads Rating: 4.16

Summary:

This nonfiction book is a funny, yet information-packed, look at hygiene, toilets, sewage systems and more throughout history. The book is organized chronologically.

APA Reference of Book:

Albee, S. (2010). Poop Happened. New York, NY: Walker Childrens.

My Impressions: 

Although at first glance it seems ridiculous, this book is actually very informative. The author’s thesis, which runs throughout the book, is that the longest-lasting and most advanced civilizations were the ones with sophisticated sewage systems. This is primarily because they had less disease. Thus, they were able to live longer, rule longer, and accomplish more. I enjoyed this book while learning a great deal of history.

Professional Review:

Gr 4-8–This self-proclaimed “number one book on number two” takes readers inside the fascinating world of excrement, ranging across the historical spectrum from “Hellenic Hygiene” to “How Do Astronauts Use the Toilet in Space?” Albee’s focus is not only on bodily functions, but also on the larger public-health challenges created by mass urbanization in the ancient and modern world as well as the ability of societies to deal with these problems, which provides readers with an excellent introduction to social history. With a focus on the Western world in general and England in particular, the author touches on an array of topics from diseases such as cholera and plague to the development of increased sanitation in large urban areas such as London. The exciting format is comprised of a two-color (pastel green and blue) layout with numerous illustrations and photos. Interesting sidebars describe occupations and “hygiene heroes” such as Edwin Chadwick and bathroom fashion. The fluid writing style that ensnares and holds readers’ attention from beginning to end. By bringing history alive, this captivating work is without a doubt an essential purchase.

Odom, B. (2010). Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up. School Library Journal, 56(5), 126.

Library Uses:

This book would be great to add to a list of books for reluctant readers, especially upper elementary and middle school boys. This group of readers usually prefer nonfiction books or humorous books. This book is perfect for them because it is humorous nonfiction.

Glory Be

glory be

Title of Book: Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

GoodReads Rating: 3.9

Summary:

This middle-grade novel is about desegregation in Mississipi. Specifically, it is about how some racist politicians in a small town would rather close the white-only swimming pool during the heat of the summer than allow colored people to swim in it with them. It is told from the perspective of Glory, a sassy 11-year-old girl. Glory is unaware of the racism in her town until people in her life begin explaining the situation to her. The novel also details her relationship with her older sister, which has changed since Jesslyn has become interested in boys.

APA Reference of Book:

Scattergood, A. (2012). Glory Be. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

My Impressions: 

This novel is a lighthearted and fun way to teach children about a very violent, turbulent time in history. As adults, we know just how violent the Civil Rights Movement was. However, it might not always be appropriate to share these details with young children. Some of them are not mature enough to handle it, and others may suffer nightmares if it causes them to relive their own traumatic experiences. Furthermore, they may not be interested in a “serious” book. Thus, this book is an effective teaching tool because it can expose children to the injustices of racism and segregation, while also telling an enjoyable story about a sassy young girl and her friends and family. The author was able to accomplish this balance by using Glory as the narrator of the novel. If an adult had been the narrator, it would not of had the same whimsical tone.

Professional Review:

Gr 5–8–Spunky, engaging Gloriana Hemphill, 11, describes the “freedom summer” of 1964 in Hanging Moss, MS, where winds of social change are beginning to upset the status quo. In a series of eye-opening adventures, Glory learns that her sheltered life as a preacher’s kid has overshadowed her awareness of injustice and intolerance in her town. When the segregated community pool is closed indefinitely, her predictable world is upended. A new girl arrives from Ohio with her mother, a nurse who will be running a Freedom Clinic for poor black people. Big sister Jesslyn’s new boyfriend reveals that he was once jailed in North Carolina for sitting with a “colored friend” at a white lunch counter. Meanwhile, best friend Frankie spouts dislike of Yankees and Negroes but is clearly manipulated by a racist father and an abusive older brother. Although Glory’s ingenuous, impulsive behavior often gets her in trouble at home and in the community, she learns the importance of compassion, discretion, and self-awareness. A cast of supportive adults helps her mature: her patient, widowed father; her beloved African American housekeeper; and the open-minded local librarian. This coming-of-age story offers a fresh, youthful perspective on a pivotal civil rights period. Historical references to Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s visit, the influx of civil rights workers, and Elvis vs. The Beatles popularity are included. But the richness of this story lies in the Mississippi milieu, the feisty naïveté of the protagonist, and the unveiling of the complexities of human nature. Glory is an appealing, authentic character whose unflinching convictions, missteps, and reflections will captivate readers.

Larson, G. (2012). Glory Be. School Library Journal, 58(2), 134.

Library Uses:

This book would be a fun way to begin a serious discussion with students about racism and segregation. How would they feel if they could not use the swimming pool during the heat of the Mississipi summer? How would they feel if they could not eat at certain restaurants, or had to watch a concert from the back of the balcony only?