Monday, November 15, 2010

The Misfits

The Misfits By: James Howe
                Immediately upon reading the first page of this book, I knew I was going to enjoy it. The author of The Misfits, James Howe, has a way with words that makes you feel like you’re within the pages of his book. You can so clearly visualize every aspect of his characters that the pages play out like scenes from a movie; you can see what the character looks like, what they’re wearing, how they’re acting, and what their facial expressions are like. Being able to visualize in such a clear way adds so much to the total experience of reading a book like this, and allows you to connect to characters on a much deeper level. I also loved the different variety of personalities and characters Howe has throughout his novel; you have the goodie- two shoes, the rebel, the popular kids, and the shy ones in between.
                James Howe, I think, chose a great setting and story line for this novel. Being in middle school and trying to fit in is a subject that every person who has gone through school can relate to. I, myself, actually ran for sixth grade student council in elementary school, and reading this book really brought back memories of me campaigning and giving speeches in hopes of becoming treasurer of the elementary school student council. Like the characters of this book, I also lost and came in a close second to my competition, just like the characters of the novel, so I was really able to connect to the events of the story and put myself in the characters’ shoes as they went through the events of the story. This quality of writing allows the reader to really feel what the characters are feeling, and as a result become much more interested and invested in the story.
                The other piece of James Howe’s writing that I love so much is the type of language he uses throughout the book. This type of language is particularly evident when you read the chapters that take place while everyone is in forum and are talking to each other. It sounds like the way I used to talk when I was that age; I still do talk that way, actually. The language is funny, entertaining and smart, and is one of the reasons I as a reader kept flipping through the pages and reading the story; it is one thing to have relatable characters, a good story, and a good setting. If your story does not have relatable language, then the reader is not going to be as enthusiastic about reading through the story. However, if the language is snappy, quick, and funny, like in this instance, then you are going to have a story that keeps a reader’s interest and makes them want to learn more about the characters and the events that they are going though.
                Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I definitely think I am going to go to the library and find the sequel. The story kept me entertained and curious to find out what was in store for all of the characters. I would defiantly use this book within my classroom if I was teaching upper elementary. I think it is a book that students would really get a kick out of reading. More importantly, it shows that being different and not fitting in perfectly with the norm is not always a bad thing, which I think is a great lesson to see.


Monday, November 8, 2010

My Woodson Experience


   For my Jacqueline Woodson experience, I read her book, Miracle’s Boys. I thought that it was a great book that really showed a tight family bond throughout the midst of death, gangs, and other problems. Talking about Woodson’s other novels, as well as looking though some of her picture books really showed me the common themes that hold throughout her works. Her books center on African American families and their experiences while living in New York. These families in her stories face many hardships but still maintain their sense of family and love.
                In Miracle’s Boys, Woodson depicts a family of brothers who lost both their father and their mother. One brother spent a long time in jail, and was in jail when his mother passed away and blames his younger brother for not being able to save her. I know that personally I have never experienced such powerful emotions, but while reading these sections of Woodson’s novel, I found myself tearing up a few times. Woodson’s descriptions and interactions between her characters are so real that as the reader you cannot help but feel exactly what these characters are feeling as you turn every page. Authors who write like this make it very easy for the readers of their books; they create situations and characters that the readers can identify with and connect to, so when these characters are placed in these heart wrenching situations, the reader almost has no choice but to become personally involved in the story’s events and feel for the characters they are reading about. I’ve read a number of books in my time, and there are some out there that are so boring to read because it’s hard to relate to the characters and get into the sequence of events; there are very few books that make me feel different emotions while reading them, and Woodson’s novel Miracle’s Boys was one of the few books that has.
                On Woodson’s website, she says that as a child she was disciplined for lying at home. When she went to school, however, she realized that the one place it was okay to lie was on paper in her stories. She says that it was through writing stories that she became a fantastic liar. I could not agree more; her lies create realistic events and characters that keep her readers interested and wanting more. After reading a couple of Jacqueline Woodson’s books I know that I am going to be reading more of them in the future.

Two Children's Books

Click, Clack, Quackity- Quack- Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Type: Children’s Picture Book-Watercolors
Intended for children ages 6-9
Rating: 4 Stars
                Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack is an alphabet story that follows around a duck on a farm while they discover all the different things going on. On every page there is a different letter of the alphabet that starts a sentence bout something that is happening on the farm.
                I thought this book was very cute and would work really well for early readers because of its format. Every sentence starts with a letter of the alphabet, and every proceeding sentence starts with the next corresponding letter of the alphabet. This structure ensures that the reader will have some idea of how to start the sentence, because they will know what letter the sentence is supposed to start with. The pictures in this book are also really helpful for the reader to look at, because they give direct clues as to what the sentence is saying. If the reader gets tripped up on a word like watermelon, for example, they would be able to use context clues within the pictures to determine just what that word is that starts with the W.
                For use within a classroom setting, I think that this book would be really useful. I am actually thinking about using it during a lesson with my current reading buddy, because she gets really tricked up right now with multi syllabic words, and I think this book would be really helpful for her because of all the little clues that she can look for within the pictures to help her out. This is a reading trick that she needs to begin to use when she is reading her picture books, and this would be the perfect gateway book for starting to get her to use that trick. This book I could see working well with either silent sustained reading, or as a read aloud book for the entire class to participate in together.  The repetition in it could be a fun thing for the class to participate in saying together as a group, and the repetition of language and use of picture context clues would make it a good book for a student to read on their own.

Click, Clack, Moo; Cows That Type – Doreen Cronin
Illustrations by  Betsy Lewin
Type: Children’s picture book- watercolor paintings
 intended for children ages 7-10
Rating: 4 Stars
                Click, Clack, Moo’ Cows That Type is a story about a group of cows on a farm who decide that they want better living conditions and amenities if they are going to be giving the farmer their milk. They leave the farmer little notes on the barn door to let him know that there will be no milk unless they get what they want.
                I thought this book was pretty cute. I enjoyed the water color pictures, as well as the connections that I could make between this book and Click, Clack, Quackity- Quack seeing as they were done by the same author and illustrator. This book, however, was not an alphabet story where each sentence starts with a specific letter of the alphabet. This book was a typical story book starring cows as the main characters. I thought that the story line was really cute and clever in the way that it gave human characteristics to the cows and showed the cows taking control of their living situation by asking the farmer for special amenities. It is a fun twist on the typical owner/pet structure that most kids are used to seeing at home where the owner is the one in control and the pet listens to the owner.
                Using this book in a classroom setting would work well, just like the other book by this author and illustrator. There is a certain amount of repetition within the book, which would help beginning readers out with word predictions; it also has different formats of writing within it, which I really liked. For example, you have the regular text of the story which can be found on either the top or the bottom of the pages, but then you also that the little notes that the cows keep leaving for the farmer which can be found in the middle of the page. These little notes look a lot like post it notes, and they are posted in the middle of the picture of the barn door. This would be really good for students to see, so that they see all the different types of things there are out there to read, aside from classically structured children’s books. Just as with the other book by this author, I can see it working well as a silent sustained read or as a group read on a circle rug. Students could participate in saying the repetition out together, and seeing the note form of writing is going to be good for them to see and discover together.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Multicultural Children's Books

 Celebrating Ramadan- Diane-Hoyt- Goldsmith
 Photographs by Lawrence Migdale
Type: Multicultural Children’s Book- photography- intended for children ages10-13
Rating: 4 Stars
                Celebrating Ramadan is a book that explains the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, and the traditions that are associated with it.
                I thought this book was actually very interesting to look it. It is more of an informational children’s book as opposed to a typical children’s story book, but it really gets into the details on what Ramadan and the Muslim faith is all about. It told more so from the genre of an informational book, and has an authoritative tone when discussing all the different elements of Ramadan. Instead of having hand illustrated works of art throughout the book, this book uses photographs to keep with the informational tone of the book. There are tons of pictures throughout this book showing lots of the different aspects of Ramadan, from and ordered set of pictures showing how prayer is done, to pictures showing how traditional foods are made.
                Because of the massive amounts of text per page and the tricky language that is used and shown phonetically, I think this book would be good for older elementary students; that are not to say that this book wouldn’t be useful for a read aloud in the classroom for younger aged students. This book would be really useful to read aloud in parts to show the different traditions and customs of the Muslim faith along with their corresponding pictures. For older students, this book could be used in a research project or a multicultural presentation. Either way, I can see this book serving many purposes in the classroom setting. Seeing as this book is giving an unbiased look at the Muslim faith and is used to inform, I would not foresee any problems arising from using it in the classroom; I can see myself using a book like this in the future as a window book for students to look through.

To Be a Kid- Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko
Type: Multicultural children’s book intended for ages 7-10
Rating: 5 Stars
                To Be a Kid shows the things that children from all over the glove have in common. It has images of children from all over the world doing the same activities, and shows that even though we may come from different parts of the world, we all have something in common.
                I read this book as a mirror book, because it showed activities that I think almost every child can relate to. Along with all of these different activities, the book shows photographs of different children from all over the world taking part in the activities. At the bottom of each picture, there is a label to denote just where every child is from. There is a really light and playful tone to this book, which I really liked because it helps get its point across that even though everyone is different does not mean that we do not have things in common. I also really enjoyed the photography used in the book and how it depicts children from different parts of the world and different cultures participating in the same activity. It was really interesting to be able to look at the different labels underneath the pictures and see just where all the different children were from.
                I really think this book would be useful to use in a classroom setting during a lesson about differences and similarities. I think in elementary school it is really important to teach your students that even though not everybody looks the same or has the same type of culture, it is still possible to have things in common with these people. The simplicity of this book would work well with students in lower grade levels, but the meaning of the book will stretch between children of older grade levels.

White Wash- Ntozake Shange
Ilustrations by Michael Sporn
Type:  Multicultural children’s picture book- pastel wash with a striking effect intended for children ages 7-10
Raing: 5 Stars
                White Wash is the story of two African American children, a brother and a sister, who are attacked by two white males on their way home from school. The brother gets pretty badly beaten, and his sister gets her face spray painted white. Afterwards, the little girl is afraid to leave her house but then realizes that she has a right to go outside just like everyone else in the world.
                I really enjoyed this story, even though it is slightly controversial. I thought that this story was really interesting, especially the part where the little sister believes that she is crying white all over her face, when in fact her face is being spray painted white by the two attackers.  Her crying white all over her face seemed pretty symbolic to me meaning that there is a lot of pressure in society to be a certain way; for her, this meant that she needed to be white to fit in. The theme of this book was also very good; in the end, after the little sister has hidden out in her house for a little while, she decides that she has the right to go outside, just like everyone else. In other words, no matter the color of your skin, you still have the right to go out there and do what you want to do or be what you want to be. The illustrations within the book added to the intensity of the book and were beautiful to look at. They looked as though the artist had taken pastel paint, mixed it all around, and then scratched likes into it using a fork before drawing the lines and the characters on the page. They are just so full of color and intensity that they become a beautiful element of the story.
                I would really like to use this book in a classroom someday; however because of the subject matter and the events that unfold throughout the story, I would have to be very careful about how I would approach this book. Just to be safe I would probably send home a permission slip for parents to sign allowing their child to be present during the lesson containing the book. I think that this book would work really well in a lesson about differences and rights; it shows that people tend to treat each other differently based on the type of power group they are in- the majority or the minority, but ends by saying that no matter what group you fall in, you still have the same rights as everyone else. This book would also be great to use for critical literacy. There are elements of it that can be interpreted differently, and elements that give way to conversations on deeper topics such as race and ethnicity, gangs, power struggles, etc.  So, even though this book appears to be slightly controversial, I personally think that there are a lot of elements to it that make it really good for using in a classroom as long as it is handled and taught in an appropriate manner.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Giver

                I can remember being assigned to read The Giver when I was in the sixth grade. However, that year I had a teacher that was not all that motivational when it came to getting her students excited to read. I don’t really remember anything about this book from reading it for the first time all those years ago. What I do know is that I appreciated it so much more the second time through than I ever thought I would have
                For me, the pages of this book just kept on turning and turning- I literally read it in only a few hours one night before class. Lowis Lowry does a really good job of keeping her audience in the dark throughout the entire book, much like the main character Jonas is. It is because of this ambiguity within the story that makes you want to read on and see if you can predict what will happen. I also liked the way that she slowly divulges information to the reader; like the fact that no one within the town can see color, and that being released is just a fancy word for dying. The whole concept that an entire town lives in their own utopian society, and has no real free will and choice for themselves is fascinating. Everyone who reads this book is going to be a human with their own experiences that shape who they are, so I think that is why people are so fascinated by this book; we all have experience s that have shaped us, and the characters throughout this book, except Jonas, really do not know what that is like. Their lives are carefully calculated by the elders of the community.
                The descriptions that the author uses in the narrative are also wonderful. Once the audience learns that no one in the village can see color, and that the flashes Jonas has been seeing are flashes of color within his world, the images that pop into the reader’s head are reminiscent of works of art. I, myself, was imagining his friend’s red hair in a sea of black white and grey. These kinds of mental pictures are a great thing to have in a picture-less children’s novel; it really does give pictures to the book from which the reader can pull from. I, personally, sometimes think that these mental pictures are even better than illustrated picture books because it allows the reader to own their representation of the story. I’m sure that the pictures in my head of the story differ greatly from others who have read The Giver.
                One other great thing about the content of this book is the basis it provides for a critical literacy discussion surrounding utopian societies and whether or not they are good. I feel that there would be great room for debate surrounding this topic as well as the issues of everyone in the society being exactly the same. One question that comes to my mind is how does every one perceive these people to look? Are they white? Are they black? Why do you envision this? Questions like these can spark a really good critical literacy discussion between students.
                Overall I thought this was a fantastic book, and even though it is on many controversial book lists, I would most defiantly like to use this book in my classroom in the future as long as the school will allow it.  This book can be studied and so many different meaningful discussions can come from it that I think a school would be crazy to ban this book from their curriculum. It keeps its audience interested, and sparks meaningful conversation between its readers; how is that a bad thing?

Author's Official Website:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Five Picture Books and a Children's Novel

The Lorax-Dr. Seuss
Type: Children’s book- cartoon drawings with bold color fills
Intended for children ages 6-10
Rating: 5 Stars
                The Lorax is a story about a man named the Once-ler, who came upon a whole forest of beautiful Truffula trees. He learned about all the fun things he could make and sell from chopping down the Truffula trees and proceeded to chop down all of the Truffula trees he could find, thereby destroying the entire forest.
                I really liked the story of The Lorax; I thought that it had a lot of good messages within it concerning consumerism and the production of goods. It really is a perfect story about consumerism and how humans are destroying many of their own natural resources in order to produce building materials, and pretty things to wear. It also put an image with the idea that consumerism does take away natural resources in the way the Truffula forest is shown in the beginning of the book, after all of the Truffula tress have been chopped down; and in the middle of the book when the Once-ler is telling the story of when he himself stumbled upon the Truffula forest.
                This story could be really useful in a classroom setting. Although it is found on some controversial book lists, I do not really think that this would be a controversial book to use in a classroom. The destruction of resources, such as rainforests, has been a really big issue now for a long time. I think this book could fit in perfectly with a lesson having to do with the destruction on natural resources. It is a Dr. Seuss book, which I think will lure kids into reading it willingly, but the content of the book, will give teachers a chance to dive into some critical literacy ideas concerning the topic and overall theme of the story. Unlike some other children’s books, this story does have a clear setting, theme or moral, and clear characters.

Black and White- David Macaulay
Type: Picture book, watercolor illustrations
Intended for children ages 6-10
Rating: 5 Stars
                Black and White is a picture book that has four different concurrent stories going on at the same time. There are four boxes within the two pages, and each story has something to do with all the other ones as you read along.
                This book had a really interesting concept throughout it- on each page there were two different boxes with a picture and narration, so there were four boxes found throughout each set of two pages. Each of these boxes appeared to have a different story going on at first, but as you go along through the story, you realize that the four stories begin to become more and more interconnected. I thought that this was a really good twist to traditional storytelling. Each story cell had a specific setting pertaining to its story. They were all different settings, but then as the stories begin to reveal their relevance to each other, you realize just how these settings that appear to be random actually connect to each other in logical ways. I also thought it was interesting how there was really no indication as to what story box you should be reading first, second, third, or fourth. If you go by normal book reading technique, you should be reading left to right, top to bottom. But since there were only two cells on each page should you read them top to bottom and then move on to the next page and read top to bottom?
                I think this would be a very good book to use in the classroom. There are many elements of this book that challenge our conventions of reading, even more so for young children who are just beginning to read or becoming more confident readers. I think it would be a really good exercise to let each child read the story in the way that they see fit- left to right, top to bottom, etc, and then later see just how each of the students read the book and hear what their resulting conclusions were. This is a book that lets you decide how you want to read it. You can view it as four individual stories going on at once, or you can see it as four individual stories that eventually become interconnected in their events and characters. Either way, each student is going to have their own thoughts and experience from reading the book, and I think a really interesting classroom experience can be taken from it.

Flotsam- David Weisner
Type: Wordless picture book- watercolors
Intended for children ages 4-10
Rating: 5 Stars
                Flotsam is the story of a young boy who is sitting on the beach one day and comes upon an underwater camera that has washed ashore. Inside it he finds film and gets it developed.
                I really thought that this was a very clever children’s book. Even though it is a wordless picture book, there is still a story that you can follow along with, as well as a theme, setting, and characters. The illustrations of this book are amazing to look at. Because there are no words in the book, the illustrations have to be extra detailed and precise to assure that the audience is going to be able to follow along with what is happening in the story. Every page has a picture that I could spend ten minutes looking at; and within that time, I really do not think that I would have even begun to see all of the different details that David Weisner has included. It is this attention to detail that makes this book truly great and deserving of the Caldecott Medal.
                I would be very enthusiastic about using this book in my classroom. There are so many different types of activities that you could come up with using this type of book. Because there are no words throughout the entirety of the book, students will be able to interpret it in a variety of ways. It could spark a very good class discussion about what students think is going on within each different page. I also think that it would be interesting to use this book in a writing activity and have each student write out what they think is going on throughout the entire book, and then go back and look through all of the different ideas that students can interpret from the pictures. Even though there is a very strong plot like throughout the story, because it is a wordless book there is going to be some room for interpretation, which is what I think makes this book so great.

Snowflake Bentley- Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Illustrated by Mary Azarian
Picture book- etchings
Intended for children 7-11
Rating: 5 Stars
                Snowflake Bentley is the story of Wilson Bentley and how he came to love the beauty of snowflakes. His parents bought him a microscope camera when he was young and he spent the rest of his life photographing snowflakes and nature and writing about them.
                This book was really interesting in the way that it is part biographical fiction and part biographical nonfiction. I liked how there were really two parts to the story- the primary narration that tells the story of Snowflake Bentley and how he came to love studying snowflakes , but then there are also side panels that appear every few pages that tell the historical biographical information on Wilson Bentley, the story’s main character. I really liked that feature because it gives the reader more information on the main character of the story; it lets you get to know his life on a deeper level. I also particularly liked how the illustrator of the story used sort of the same method that Snowflake Bentley used when he would hike his snowflake pictures- etching. It gives the book itself a deeper connection to its main character through its exhibition of the same technique.
                This would be a really good book to use in the classroom if you were doing a lesson on snowflakes or a lesson on biographies. I think using this book as a model would work really well to show students that biographies can take shape in many different forms. I remember when I was in elementary school, I had to do a biography on a famous person that I liked, and I remember it being incredibly boring to write a paper retelling the facts that I had learned out of another book. Giving kids the opportunity to turn a biography into something creative like this would be a really good project. I, personally would have been much more enthusiastic about writing a biography if I would have been able to put my own little fictitious twist to it.

Jumanji- Chris Van Allsburg
Picture book- realism black and white
Intended for children ages 7-11
Rating: 5 Stars
                Jumanji is the story of siblings who come across a mysterious board game one day and decide to play. When they start playing, the game creates jungle situations that come to life- a stampede, quicksand, bats flying around etc. Soon, the children realize that they have to finish the game or deal with the new reality they have created.
                Beginning Jumanji, I remembered that I had already read Chris Van Allsburg’s other adventure game book, Zathura.  I really enjoyed reading Zathura, and the same held for Jumanji. The fantastical situations presented, I feel, are fun for any age. The illustrations of the book really put you in the moment and help you imagine what it must have been like for the kids to, say, outrun a stampede of Elephants. I enjoyed the fantastical nature of the story as well; it’s just fun to imagine what you would do being put in that kind of situations. I still don’t know what I would do.
                I think this book could be used in a classroom really well for a group reading book or an SSR book. I feel it is the type of book that a teacher could read out loud and keep her class interested the whole time because of its adventure aspect and action sequences. This book would also be really good to use in a fiction unit; if you were working towards having students crate their own fiction pieces for publishing, this would be a really good book to use for those students who are more inclined towards an adventure type story. This book is so incredibly over the top that I think it’s a good one to show students and let them know that they sky is the limit when it comes to what you can write about.

Ella Enchanted- Gail Carson Levine
Type: Children’s novel
Intended for children ages 9-13
                Ella Enchanted is the story of a girl named Ella who has had a terrible cure put on her since she was a baby- the curse to obey whatever she is told. This curse has dominated her life for as long as she can remember; but when the prince and Ella fall in love, she has to try to break the curse, before it’s too late.
                I remember reading this novel as part of a circle read in the fourth grade. However, in the fourth grade I did not enjoy it whatsoever because of the lack of enthusiasm my teacher had in regards to reading it to the class. After re- reading it, if you will, I realized just how wonderful this book really is. There is a level of humor in the tone of the narrative that keeps the reader interested and wanting more. There is action, adventure, and a love story to keep the readers entertained; there really is something for everyone in this novel. The author is able to describe the settings in such detail that you feel as though you are with these characters and they embark on their adventures; there is also a very nice moral or theme to the story, which I believe is to think for yourself and not be influenced by the words of others. Because throughout the whole story, poor Ella has to obey the commands of what anyone tells her, but by the end she breaks the curse by sticking up for what she believes in and creating her own path.
                I think this book would work really well within the classroom as a silent sustained read or as a round circle read. This is a novel that I think students would have motivation to read on their own, for a book report, etc.  There is the element of magic within this book, but I do not think it is on any level that parents would have a problem with the class being exposed to the book. Mainly there are just mythical fairy tale creatures within the novel and it is not on an y controversial book list that I am aware of. So, overall I think it is a really good boo to use with reluctant readers because it has all different kinds of story elements in it- adventure, romance, magic, as well as a good moral and theme that the students can take from reading it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Higher Power of Lucky


                 Before starting The Higher Power of Lucky, I was not sure how much I was actually going to like the book considering it has been found controversial by many people. However, upon finishing this book, my mind was forever changed on the matter of controversial books.
                Lucky is a book that is considered to be controversial simply because of the presence of one word; scrotum. The book in its whole is about so much more than this one word. Unfortunately to some, this one word overshadowed the entire book.
                Personally, I thought this book was great. It touched on many topics that I think students can benefit from reading about. Lucky worries about being abandoned by her dad’s ex-wife and only real family member, Brigitte. She is also dealing with the feelings of being annoyed by her friends all while plotting to run away from Brigitte and attempts to find her higher power. These are all issues that any child, and adult for that matter, can relate to. I think that is one reason why Lucky is such a powerful read.
                I loved how each character in this book was such a definite individual and had their own characteristics and identities that were specific to them. Miles is a little bit immature, and always wants Lucky to read Are You My Mother  to him, Lincoln loves to tie knots and always drops the telephone because he is busy fidgeting to finish his latest knot creation, Brigitte misses France a lot and cries sometimes, but sticks around and cares for Lucky with a smile on her face. Lucky is in incredibly curious young girl who wants to explore the world and find as many different bug specimens as is humanly possible. Lucky also wants to feel secure in her home and not have to worry about Brigitte running away back to France someday. All of the characters have such depth and complexities about them that it is impossible to describe them fully in this blog. It’s these complexities that make the story so relatable and interesting to read. You can have a good story, but if the characters aren’t there to back it up and make it relatable, then it is a waste of a story.
                The use of symbols within this story is also very interesting to look at. So many physical things in this story represent something besides themselves. Brigitte’s Parsley grinder, in a way, represents everything about home that she misses and wants back. Brigitte’s red dress is both a symbol of the day that she arrived in Hard Pan, but for Lucky it represents maturity and being a grown up. Lincoln’s knot that he gives Lucky before she runs away can be seen as a token of his love and friendship for her. Miles’ Dr. Seuss book is a symbol of his youth and immaturity, and HMS Beagle can be looked at as a symbol of loyalty and friendship in the way that he is always at the bus stop waiting for Lucky when she gets home from school, even if school gets out early for the day.
                The setting of this story, Hard Pan, is masterfully described by the author so much so that the reader can actually picture and imagine themselves there with clarity. I know that I could imagine myself in that sandy desert far away from city life with nothing around but sand. This description of the setting really helps the reader to understand and feel the different events that happen later in the story.
                Overall, I thought this was a great story about trust, friendship, and finding out that you don’t have to share blood to be family. It is a great story with so many fantastic elements in it that it would be a shame for teachers to be fearful about teaching this book in their class simply because of the use of one single little word.