Module 5: Looking For Alaska

Book Summary:

Looking for Alaska by John Green is a story that revolves around a boy named Miles Halter. He is a junior in high school and attends a bording school in Alabama for his junior year where he meets his group of friends namely Chip Martin (a.k.a.the Colonel), Takumi, and Alaska Young. Throughout the course of the year the four of them get into all kinds of shenanigans and Miles ends up falling in love with Alaska (who has a boyfriend and is not interested in dating Miles). However, in the second part of the book (called After, the first part being called before) we find out that Alaska has died in a car crash which devestates her friends (and the reader. Thanks a lot for that mental and emotional scar John Green!) and prompts them to find out why she died the way she did. After several weeks, or months, the Colonel and Takumi give up the search, but Miles wont and he figures out the reason behind Alaska’s death and gains closure from it.

APA Reference:

Green, John (2005). Looking for Alaska. New York: Dutton Books

Impressions:

I loved this book, but I will likely never read it again because of the emotional trauma that I suffered at the hands of this extremely well written and wonderful paper-back novel. John Green makes you fall in love with his characters and makes you want to join them on their adventures and then he just rips your heart out and stomps on it with spiked shoes. I would recommend that everyone read it at least once because it is a story that is truly worth reading.

Professional Review:

“Looking For Alaska cannot be merely written off as a typical boy-meets-girl love story, because it isn’t. It’s more of a tale of how love isn’t as translucent as it seems.” – Pinkbookworm, The Guardian (2013, Nov. 13). Looking for Alaska Review [a review of Looking for Alaska].

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/13/review-looking-for-alaska-john-green

Library Uses: 

This book is designed for older audiences, mainly teenagers, and as such that limits how the library can use it. I would suggest putting it on a display with other novels writen by John Green as part of a monthly suggested reading piece that would change each month with a different author each month.

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Module 4: The Tale of Despeareaux

Book Summary:

The Tale of Despeareaux is the story of a mouse named Despereaux Tilling. While most of the mice in this story are cowerdly Despereaux is not, instead he is brave and loves to read. Despeareaux is not the only player in this story as it is also about a princess named Pea whos mother died and whos father is depressed. Then there is the rat Roscuro who lives in darkness deep underground with the rest of the rats, but he wishes for nothing more than to live in the light as he is a gentle soul. Finally it is also the story of Miggery Sow, a serving girl who is rather slow-witted, but who also has a simple wish that seems impossible (and it actually is) and a very kind heart.

APA Reference:

DiCamillo, Kate (2004). The Tale of Despereaux. Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press.

Impressions:

I absolutly love this book! I would recommend it for anyone that wants a good story about courage and adventure. The characters while not overly complex do grow as they experience new things and the story is not overly elaborate. It shows that just because we aren’t like everyone else it doesn’t mean we don’t belong or that there is something wrong with us, no matter what others might say or think. There is also plenty of symbolism if you enjoy that in your books (I know I do). As a side note the movie adaptation is also good and if you don’t have time to read the book you should give the movie a look since it really is well done and captures the story very nicely.

Professional Review:

“[This] book is a bouillabaisse of familiar ingredients. DiCamillo pulls it off with her wit, with her humor, but mostly with her voice. The narrator who speaks dirictly to the reader, is wildly authorotative, over the top, funny and confiding. While that voice is like the loudest, most amusing voice at a cocktail party, its strength overwhelms the tentative sketches…making them seem as superfoulous as the proverbial wall flower at the very same party.” – Jerry Griswold (2003, Nov. 16). The New York Times. Children’s Books; A World Without Soup [A review of the book The Tale of Despereaux].  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/children-s-books-a-world-without-soup.html

Library Uses: 

This book is a bit too long for a story time, but would probably make for an excelent book talk. Since there is a movie adaptation of the book the library could show the film along with a display of a book to help get kids excited to read it.

Module 3: The Polar Express

Book Summary:

The story of The Polar Express is that of a young boy who believes in Santa Claus, even though his friends do not. On Christmas Eve the boy lies in bed listening for the sound of Santa’s sleigh, but instead he is greated by the sound of The Polar Express, a giant steam engine filled with children headed to the North Pole to see Santa. Once they arive at the North Pole Santa chooses the young boy to recieve the first gift of the year and the boy requests a bell from Santa’s sleigh. He ends up losing the bell on the way home, but it is returned to him on Christmas morning by santa in a small gift box and when he rings the bell only his sister and himself can hear it and even as an adult many years later he is still able to hear the bell’s sweet chime as he never stopped believing in Santa Claus.

APA Reference:

Van Allsburg, Chris (1985). The Polar Express. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Impressions:

This is a wonderful story about faith (not the religious kind)  and staying steadfast in your own beliefs. It is light hearted while also having some serious and solemn moments that add to the overall story. The Illustrations are breathtaking as well and any art lover is sure to fall in love with the illustrations.  It is easily one of the best Christmas stories ever written and is considered to be a classic for a reason. As a side note I would like to mention that the movie is excellent as well and I watch it every year at Christmas time at least once.

Professional Review:

“The Polar Express is definitely a book that should be read by not only children but also adults. The author does a great job with the theme of the book and really makes you want to believe. This is a great Christmas book and is read by many families around the winter holidays. We see a young boy wanting so badly to believe that Santa is real. We as readers see the adventure that he goes through and really understand that every child does go through a stage in their life where they don’t know whether or not they should believe; especially when it comes to Santa. I think it is important that children read this book to understand that it is okay to still believe. Even if they don’t believe it is still a great book to read because as the author puts it some people believe and some don’t it is up to you to decide if you do or don’t.” – Krista Kildea (2001). The Polar Express. Children’s Literature Book Reviews.

http://reviews-of-childrens-literature.pbworks.com/w/page/10581730/The%20Polar%20Express

Library Uses: 

Since this is a Christmas book it could be used for a Christmas themed story time event that the library could host. In addition the movie could be shown after the reading and arts and crafts could also be done (such as coloring pages) for children in conjunction with the book.

Module 2: Where The Wild Things Are

Book Summary:

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is about a boy named Max that acts like a wild animal (he even dresses up in a wolf suit!). His mother gets tired of him causing trouble around the house and calls him a wild thing before sending him off to bed without supper. Once in his room Max “travels to the land of the wild things” (likely dreaming it all up with his imagination) and becomes the ruler or king of the wild things. He plays with them, but quickly becomes board and then he smells his dinner that his mother brought him and leaves the wild things (much to their dismay) to return to his room where he finds his supper waiting for him and still hot.

APA Reference: 

Sendak, Maurice (1963). Where The Wild Things Are. New York: Harper & Row Publishers

Impressions:

My overall impression of the book is that it is a fun story and showcases how stong imaginations can be used to intertain yourself (especially when you are a child). I really enjoy the art style even though it is done in a much older and outdated style (the book was published in the 60’s so this is not surprising). The story its self is good for children because it is simple and short and the pictures do a good job of showing the story. There is a surprising amount of detail in the pictures which adds even more appeal to the book.

Professional Review:

“This Caldecott Medal winner is a whimsical fantasy about a young boy whose imagination transports him far away from problems at home to a land where almost anything can happen.

Max is looking for a little fun, so he dresses up in a comical wolf suit. Unfortunately, his mother is tired of his antics, and sends him to bed without any supper. But unexpectedly a forest grows in his bedroom and Max is taken away to a land of Wild Things. Fortunately, the Wild Things do not eat Max; instead they make him their king. And lucky Max is allowed to continue his romp. Will Max return to his mother and finally eat his dinner?

Celebrated author Sendak writes in free-flowing, dream-like text, which seems to mirror the organic flow of the child’s mind. Children of all ages will be enraptured by this wonderful fantasy story.” – Scholastic Book Reviews.  http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/where-wild-things-are#cart/cleanup

Library Uses:

This book would make for an excelent story time reading for younger children. It should easily get them excited about reading and keep them intertained if done correctly. The story is easy to follow and the pictures are big and interesting which will help to keep the children’s attention.

Module 1: The Giving Tree

Book Summary: 

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is about a boy and a tree (apparently a female tree) and they are good friends when the boy is a child. However, as the boy grows older he asks a great deal of the tree and the tree only wants to see him be happy so she willingly gives him what he asks for until she is nothing more than a stump. In the end the boy returns as an old man to visit the tree (or rather the stump at this point) and the tree has nothing left to give him except a place to sit and rest which is exactly what the boy needs and in the end they are both happy.

APA Reference of Book: 

Silverstein, Shel (1964). The Giving Tree.New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Impressions: 

I enjoyed the book overall. It is well written and teaches a lesson or two to young children. I found it rather sad though as the boy just takes and takes from the tree without giving anything in return and I truly felt sorry for the tree as she only wants to see the boy happy, but he only ever visits when he wants something. It isn’t a healthy relationship the two of them share, but in the end they are both happy so I suppose it all works out for the best in the end.

Professional Review: 

“‘The Giving Tree,’ I was surprised to discover is a great book. I didn’t remember it that way because too many people had told me about it since I’d last read it…’The Giving Tree’ is in part a disturbing tale of unconditional love, in part a tender tale of the monsters that we are.” – Galchen, Rivka (2014, Sep. 30). The Giving Tree’: Tender Story of Unconditional Love or Disturbing Tale of Selfishness? [Review of the book The Giving Tree]. The New York Times. Retrieved from  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/books/review/the-giving-tree-tender-story-of-unconditional-love-or-disturbing-tale-of-selfishness.html

Library Use:

The only thing I can see this book being used for in a library (other than casual reading) is to teach children life lessons about selfishness and being too giving or overly considerate of someone’s feelings without takeing your own into consideration. It could also be used to show a negative give and take relationship and teach children how to properly interact with others.