Well, it has been a few weeks since my last book review. Here are the books I've read since then and my thoughts on them. Enjoy!
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
And, boy, did this book deliver. I gobbled it up in 2 days. The story focuses on two women who come from vastly different upbringings and experiences. Tragedy and Nazi hatred unexpectedly bring them together to perform the flying trapeze in a circus act. They form a special bond as they share their hidden pasts and sacrifice to protect each other's secrets.
I LOVED the characters in this book, especially the two main characters: Nina and Astrid. The character development was so deep and included some insightful flashbacks, key interactions with other characters, and some heart-breaking choices. Nina and Astrid became my personal friends, and I held my breath every time they were thrust into unexpected danger. I also was intrigued to learn about new parts of the Holocaust, namely the Jewish circuses that were disbanded and the railcar full of Jewish infants pulled from their families and left to die alone. Some horrifying truths, but they were masterfully pieced together and brought to light in this book.
Cinnamon Moon by Tess Hilmo
In the story, Ailis and Quinn are the only survivors of their family. They leave their home in Preshtigo and are sent to live in a boarding house in Chicago. While there, one of their new friends goes missing, and they set out to find her and bring her home.
I did like this book, but I didn't love it. I think you need to go into this book knowing that it is written for young teenagers. The plot seemed a little simplistic and didn't really captivate me. That being said, I did read the entire book in one day and I never really felt bored.
The Year We Disappeared by Cylin and John Busby
That first year after the attack was definitely stress-filled and volatile. I was really able to feel the emotions: the internal anger boiling in the father when he realized that no one was really searching for his attacker, the confusion of the daughter when she had to be followed by police everywhere and her friends stopped talking to her, the fear of the mother as she watched her children suffer and her husband have to eat through a syringe. It was a very interesting story.
In the Middle by Nancie Atwell
This is an English teaching book, and wow it really opened my eyes to the power of workshopping.
Atwell is a teacher of over 40 years and shares some insighfuls on how to work with students during their drafts. I have to admit, a lot of my responses to student writing usually is scrawled on final drafts. These time-consuming comments accompany a final grade and often go unread and unresolved. Instead, Atwell stresses having students write a lot and write often. She has personal conferences with each student on a regular basis and focuses her teaching on minilessons that can be practiced and applied immediately.
Atwell also outlines ideas of how to hold reading workshops, where students choose books that are personally interesting rather than spending time reading whole-class novels. She shares her love of using poetry as a shared text to teach students to essential reading strategies, literary vocabulary, and elements of fiction.
The second half of the book covers specific genres that Atwell teaches and includes student examples and lesson ideas.
This is definitely a book I will refer back to as I strive to improve my teaching of reading and writing. I am excited (and nervous) to try out some of her ideas in my own classroom.
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