Archive for the ‘School Stories’ Category

“I sit in my tree
I sing like the birds
My beak is my pen
My songs are my poems.”

“Words should wander and meander. They should fly like owls and flicker like bats and slip like cats. They should murmur and scream and dance and sing.”

“We stand dead still and we listen to the night. The city drones. An owl hoots and a cat howls and a dog barks and a siren wails.
We let the stars shine into us.”

You know, everyone with good sense has to love David Almond’s gift of laying magic on hundreds of pages.  My Name is Mina is no exception as it introduces the reader to an exceptional, precocious little girl who loves birds is given the permission and the gift to be herself by a sad and wise mother.  School is a horror for Mina.  Alternative schools are  tolerable but not the right fit for her.  As her mother told the principal, Mina would have her as a teacher, a wonderful yard and her own tree.  In that tree are the black birds to inspire, scold and teach Mina.  Almond shows he is a writer’s writer with this beautiful story that will be wasted on many.

David’s Website

 

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Noelle tries to keep herself invisible, from the bullies at school who make fun of her clothes, bump her in the hall and hoot over her lettuce and mayo half sandwiches made from the slim pickings at home.  Her mother only allows Noelle a room, otherwise, she is totally neglected.  She settles for whatever she can get, even boyfriends, meeting Matt clandestinely, instead of study hall, for make-out sessions.  Being blocked from walking down the aisle in Spanish by gorgeous Julian Porter, Noelle fantasizes about the perfections of his eyes, hair and build.  She can feel his smile as she sidles past him  to get to her desk.  Things could be worse, she could live the tormented life of Ali Walsh, the only one in the school bullied more than her.  Ali has invited Noelle to her home, but Noelle is afraid of increased torment if their relationship grows.  After a particularly horrible lunch scene, Noelle is invited to work on the school literary magazine that meets during lunchtime, and it really beats hiding in the restroom crouched on top of a toilet seat.  Simon, the student editor,  brings loads of food each day “for the staff.”  Another guardian angel, Sherae,  manages to help with mall runs at times of desperation.  I like the wisps of hope in the novel, and how Noelle lifts herself up on the shoulders of friends whose acts of kindness far outweigh the daily taunts.

Dealing with bullying is never easy, and Susane shares her own high school endurance race with it.  She has started a program for schools called “Your Ideal Life” which helps young adults plan for their better lives.

Susane’s Website

Kelsey Finkelstein knows that entering high school will be magical, especially since her nemesis has moved away.  Little does she know that her soccer captain has chosen her as the team scapegoat, that the nemesis’ gorgeous cousin is moving to town and that her FBB has stolen the guy she has worshiped from afar.  Kelsey is the high school version of Naylor’s Alice and just as entertaining.  Even though many girls will read this as pure escape literature, Kelsey and her buds face some important issues of high school life.  Kelsey’s war with the school newspaper provides a snort..  In a fit of revenge Kelsey tries out and wins an unusual role in Fidler on the Roof, and spars with Mom who suggests funny adult-out-of-touch advice like using Edward Albee for a modern reading for the play tryouts.  Mom hands out some pretty impressive threats and dotes on Kelsey’s little sister, a perpetual problem for older sisters.  Kelsey learns about drinking at parties and problems girls face when they are sexual prey.   She faces other big issues of major conflicts with friends and having courage to try something new, even wearing a fat suit.  We can hope to be reading about Kelsey as a sophomore.  What a year that will be!

Brooklyn seems destined to make bad choices. Not only did chasing a lizard into a hole garner nationwide coverage of her rescue, a great party and bad cooking torched her mother’s model home that used to be for sale. Grounded until she is “forty,” she decides to turn over her decision making to anyone following her new blog called “MyLifeDecided.com.” One decision she does not have to make is fulfilling the 200 hours of community service with ancient, grouchy Mrs. Moody who is obsessed about “Choose Your Own Adventure” style of stories. Brooklyn likes the new southern guy, but when she blogs and asks for a vote of YES for a date with him, the blog followers tell her NO. Then her math teacher insists that she advance to a more difficult math class. The followers vote yes on that crazy idea also. Brooklyn’s parents are ecstatic about her sensible choice. Brooklyn, not so much!

ENDERS’ Rating: ******

Jessica Brody’s Website