Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. Published 1971. Newbery Medal winner.

I may have read this when I was little, but I couldn't remember so I thought I would take a stab at it again. I find that I'm not into the animal books that much, so it took me a while to get into it, but around page 100 when Nicodemus starts to tell the story of the rats of NIMH I was hooked. While the beginning is full of details and great anthropomorphism of the animal characters, there is something about the tale of the rats that is so much more exciting.

After Mrs. Frisby's son gets pneumonia and can't be moved, she finds that winter is ending and they must move to their summer home before they are plowed under by the farmer. With the help of a crow and an owl, Mrs. Frisby is told to see the rats who will help her with her problem as long as she tells them her belated husband was Jonathon Frisby. She soon finds out the rats are more than you would expect and they tell her the tale of how they came to be hiding under the rosebush and how her husband was involved. Being much smarter than the average rats, they devise a plan to move her home so that she will not have to move her son and they won't be killed if they stay.

Once the rats are part of the picture there is a lot more action and it starts to feel almost like a spy book with them creeping about the laboratory and trying to find ways to escape and live. A Classic for a reason.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 5
Genre: They say Fantasy, but I would think its more Action/Sci-Fi. The animals aren't really talking to humans and there are no magical elements.
First in series.

Comparable titles: Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, Wind in the Willows

Book Connections: Lab Animals, The Seasons, medicinal herbs, building your own society, the habits of rats and mice

Monday, November 28, 2011

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Published 1990.

I had not read any of Avi's work before at least to my knowledge, so I was happy to finally read one of his selections. I'm always intrigued by prolific writers who seem to cover a different variety of topics and styles.

What I found interesting about this book is what could have just been a swashbuckling, sea adventure story turned more into a tale about class, race and gender, but without necessarily having to knock you over the head with this information. It had a great opening paragraph, but it was a bit slow for me to get into at first. Once I understood the time period and the characters more, I was able to enjoy the adventure. I especially liked the ending because I understood more about her class and expectations from her family and it surprised me what path she chose in the end. I wish there could have been more of a glimpse of this in the beginning, but I suppose it worked better to leave the comparisons between the captain and her father for the end.

So plot: Charlotte Doyle is set to sail to America to meet up with her parents and siblings in Rhode Island. When she embarks on the ship, she finds that the other families that were to be her guardians have not made it for different reasons and the shipmates keep warning her not to take the voyage. With no other choice, Charlotte continues on board and finds that there is a mutinous plot on hand to overthrow the captain. Unfortunately for Charlotte, she's not sure who to trust. Captain Jaggery who matches her in manners and civil standing or Zachariah who claims to be her one true friend on the ship. When new information comes to light, Charlotte takes a stand and soon finds that she is not the well-mannered Miss Doyle she once thought she was.

Interest level: Grade 5-8 Reading level: Grade 5
Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction

Comparable Titles: Dagger Quick, Treasure Island, Elijah of Buxton (not about sailing, but the voice and adventure seemed similar)

Book Connections: Learning about ships of the past, Laws of the Sea, Hurricanes, Court Trails, Gender Roles

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Goats

The Goats by Brock Cole. Published 1987.

I just read a post about this book still being a classic and full of suspense and surprises on another website, so I thought I would give it a try. Based on the super cheesy 80s cover that my copy has, I was surprised by this book, but not necessarily sure it it was a good surprise.

As a practical joke, a boy and a girl are left stranded on an island completely naked. Instead of waiting for their humiliation in the morning, they decide to swim to shore and disappear. This leads to their becoming closer through their trauma and causing worry both for the camp and the girl's mother. It's a survival tale of two kids on their own trying not to get discovered by the police or anyone else.

For the most part, that description matches with that on the book cover except for the survival bit. I was expecting more of them to haunt around the camp ground and watch as everyone worried over them. I thought it would be a more guilt-based book with them torturing these that tortured them with worry over their possible death by drowning. Instead it was an odd survival tale with extreme hints at sexualization and coming-of-age in strange ways. Also its a bit dated with the segregated camp for Black kids and how they hide out there with a little bit of fear and awe. I was surprised that the girl's period played such a large role in the story and that they kept hinting at the two kids being put together to possibly have sex. From the narration and the description of the kids, I expected them to be much younger and the sex stuff kinda threw me for a loop.

It was an intriguing read and I did wonder what was going to happen to them and I was satisfied with the ending, but it was also a very odd tale of survival.

Interest level: Grades 5-8 Reading level: Grade 4 (from content I would say Grade 6 or higher)
Genre: Coming-of-age, Survival, Realistic fiction

Comparable titles: Hatchet, Are you there God, It's me Margaret?

Book Connections: bullying, the reality of practical jokes, how to survive on your own, what to do in emergencies

Monday, November 21, 2011

Teashop Girls

Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer. Published 2008.

I am obsessed with Afternoon Tea. It's my favorite thing in the world and my goal is to one day own a Vegan Teashop as having given up dairy it's dramatically effected my ability to enjoy scones and clotted cream. With the old tea advertisements, recipes and specific tea preparations, this book had me absorbed at first. Unfortunately, as the story ran on, I was less and less a fan of the characters or plot but read on for my love of tea.

Annie Green wants to work at her grandmother's tea shop that her and her friends grew up enjoying. She gets her wish but soon finds out that her grandmother is being evicted and business has extremely slowed down since the death of her grandfather a few years back. With the help of her friends and using her love of list making, Annie will attempt to save the Steeping Leaf for future Teashop Girls.

As I mentioned, the plot sizzled out for me. The writer tried to get all the tween girl things in their. Romantic interest, trouble with friends, school work and extracurriculars of life becoming more demanding, but it was all too much. Annie seems way older than her 13 years suggest, especially when they take on adult responsibilities of saving the teashop. I didn't really believe it was a young girl telling the story, but rather an adult author pretending what life would be like had she done these things when she was 13. Also, as much as I love tea and love that the book encouraged correct steeping and care instructions, the mention of tea in the book almost got didactic, and how can you get didactic about tea. Anyway, for girls who really love friendship and innocent romance books, this one may be up their alley, but it wasn't my favorite.

Interest level: Grades 5-8 Reading level: Grade 5
Genre: Friendship, realistic fiction
First in series.

Comparable titles: Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes

Book Connections: Tea of course!

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Published 2003.

With the release of the official Hunger Games trailer and the excitement that is bubbling over that, I had wanted to reread Hunger Games, but I thought it would be better to tackle something I hadn't read yet, so I picked up her first novel, Gregor the Overlander. With the same suspense and sense of action as the Hunger Games book, this title did not disappoint.

This book is much more fantastical and doesn't have any of the dystopian elements, but with the entrance into the strange Underland and the creation of the caste system of creatures and the quest that ensues, readers would be happy to give this one a try after reading all of Collin's other books.

Gregor and his baby sister Boots, fall into a grate in their laundry room and thanks to a rare air current, they follow through an Alice like Wonderland hole and make it safely to the ground, only to be captured by giant talking cockroaches, or crawlers. They are taken to Regalia, the city of the Humans in the Underland and presented with a quest as had been predicted hundreds of years ago. Gregor agrees to the quest only to save his father who had disappeared more than two year before and has been discovered to be a prisoner of the dread rats, also giant and talking. With the help of giant bats and spiders, the quest sets off into the Underland.

Very Alice and Wonderland but much darker with hints of a Fellowship of the Ring style quest.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 6
Genre: Fantasy
First in a series.

Comparable titles: Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings trilogy

Book Connections: Animals that live in the deep dark, air currents, Creating your own imagined city

Book Trailer:


Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli. Published 2003.

I really enjoy Spinelli's work so I was not disappointed by this book at all. It was a very interesting read and a very interesting perspective on the Holocaust.

This is a story told by a young boy who has no idea who he is or where he comes from. He is a gypsy and we can assume he is about 6 years old at the beginning of the story to account for his view of the world, his lack of knowledge about his life and his narration style. Because of this we see the Holocaust through a child's innocent perspective which makes it in some ways less scary but also even more so because we worry for the narrator about the trouble he will get into because he doesn't take anything seriously and doesn't understand the implications of his actions or of the actions of those around him.

His friend Uri takes him under his wing and gives him the name Misha Pilsudski as the boy believes his name to be "Stopthief." Misha believes the stories Uri tells about him and makes his life into whatever name is given him. As he grows he becomes part of the Milgrom family and lives with them in the Jewish ghetto, turning from a gypsy street rat to a Jewish son. As he weaves in and out of Warsaw stealing food, he witnesses different things and begins to grow and see the world for what it is, but only too late.

Younger students would have no trouble reading the language of the book, but the content would be hard to grasp. Definitely more fit for grades 7 and 8.

Interest level: YA
Genre: Historical Fiction

Comparable titles: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Noah Barleywater Runs Away, Number the Stars, One and Then

Book Connections: Holocaust history, Hannukah, Warsaw, World War II, Merry-go-rounds, Milkweed, baking bread, pickled herring and pickled eggs

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. Published 2007.

Well...the Harry Potter series has ended both in print and in film, so what next? Why, Tales of Beetle the Bard of course. I was Hermione Granger for Halloween this year and I wanted a copy of this book to carry around as a prop but did not get it in time and instead created my own version. What I like about this book, isn't just the tales themselves, which are surprisingly good folk and fairy tales from a wizard perspective, but that they are framed with notes from Dumbledore and Rowling. I think this book would be a great addition to a classroom or library to be used to teach kids about informational text. It uses an introduction and footnotes and Dumbledore writes about the tales like a Professor would be writing a thesis about fairy tales. It would hold the kids interest because of the Harry Potter reference but would also teach them how to read footnotes and how to analyze a tale for historical and societal implications.

Basically, the book is a collection five tales from the wizarding world of Harry Potter including the Tale of the Three Brothers that was included in the last of the Potter books. After each tale is commentary by Dumbledore and within is commentary are footnotes by himself and Rowling (obviously all of it is Rowling but play along). The commentary dissects what each tale meant in the wizarding lore and how the tales may have changed over the years as they were supposedly written in the 15th century.

Very creative and intelligent addition to the Potter world. I can imagine reading these fairy tales along side our own Grimms and Anderson.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 6
Genre: Fantasy, Folktales

Comparable titles: Harry Potter series, Harry Potter schoolbook set, Brothers Grimm

Book Connections: informational text, fairytale/folktale unit

Ramona and Beezus

Ramona and Beezus. Produced by Fox 2000. Released 2010.

So apparently, I am a Selena Gomez fan because it seems to be the only tween movies I've watched over the course of the semester. But as I've said in an earlier post, she's likable. I thought this movie choice was appropriate as it was based on the books by Beverly Cleary, books which I actually haven't read and probably should.

This movie follows the Quimby family as they deal with the dad losing his job and trying to find what he wants to do with his life while not wanting to move the family. Ramona, of course, tries to help but tends to get in the way and cause more problems then she actually helps with. Its cute and creative and the subplot with the aunt and her high school boyfriend is fun for the adults to follow along with. We see the world through the eyes of Ramona which is a fun way to see the world especially when it makes the town look like a dollhouse.

Rated G.


Eleven by Lauren Myracle. Published 2004.

After hearing about the award drama surrounding Myracle and learning about the newest in this series release, I decided I should read one of her books. Having grown up with all males and being a girl who tended to have only one good female friend, I found this book to be really interesting because I realized I never read chick lit when I was younger nor do I tend to gravitate towards it now. It was a good learning experience for me because while I couldn't relate to everything, some things will always be the same in female friendships no matter how many girls you are friends with over the years. Maybe I should have been reading these all along because I would have understood female relationships better.

The book starts on Winnie's eleventh birthday (which coinky-dink, is the second book I've read this semester where the main character shares a birthday with me. Yay March 11th!). From the get-go we see that Winnie is struggling with the dynamics of her friendships. Her best friend Amanda seems to be maturing faster than she is and because of this they are moving apart. It only becomes worse when a new girl moves to town and takes all of Amanda's attention away. Winnie must conform and feel distant or find a new friend in Dinah Devine.

The book showcases strong characters, keen observations about growing up and friendship and a strong story arch that moves from one birthday to the next.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 4
Genre: friendship, coming-of-age
First in series (with a prequel)

Comparable titles: Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes

Book Connections: Birthday celebrations, snow days, Calendars, Chinese jump rope

Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams. Published 2005.

I will start with this. Do not allude to Alice in Wonderland if nothing slightly whimsical is going to happen. I get that going down the rabbit hole is a metaphor, but with a cover that has a mad hatter, cat, tea cup and queen of hearts card on it and that title, you're kinda hoping someone actually steps into Wonderland at some point. But, alas, they don't. This is purely a mystery that happens to have the play Alice in Wonderland highlighted throughout. The mystery, of course, is what the rabbit hole metaphor is used for, which makes sense, but sets you up for some disappointment.

Now that being said, it was not a bad mystery. I loved the little details about life that the author threw in and I had a sense of foreboding throughout the book. I was disappointed with the fact that the reader finds out who did the killings before the main character, but it was to increase tension in the final scene so it still worked.

In this story, Ingrid happens upon Crazy Katie the day before she is murdered. She feels guilty because she lied about her whereabouts, but she feels even more frightened when she realizes that she left her tell tale pair of soccer shoes at the scene of the crime. Worried that she will become a suspect, she goes to retrieve the shoes but soon falls into the rabbit hole and finds that she is determined to solve the crime, if for anything, to assuage her own guilt over her tampering with the crime scene. How will it all turn out? That I can't share or it would spoil the mystery.

Interest level: Grades 5-8 Reading level: Grade 6
Genre: mystery

Comparable titles: Nancy Drew mysteries and others of its ilk

Book Connections: Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, mapping your town

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Westing Game

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Published 1978.

An interesting tale of mystery and murder. I was told once that this makes an excellent read aloud for students. The beginning is a little hard to get into with all the switching between characters and not really being sure of what is going on yet, but once the game has begun, you can't help but be pulled into it. Sometimes the jump between perspectives can still be confusing but it works out in the end.

Specially selected families were picked to move into Sunset Towers shortly before the presumed death of the wealthy Mr. Westing. In his will, a game is instructed for these families to inherit his holdings and as long as they play and discover his murderer, they will each be awarded 10,000 dollars. They are handed a stack of clues and paired up and the game begins. At some point, each is under suspicion, not just for the murder but for bombings and theft as well. Over the course of the novel, the mystery is not only solved but people's lives are changed.

Fun book. Good mystery. Interesting characters. Good red herrings but nothing too predictable. Full of fireworks and intrigue.

Interest level: Grades 5-8 Reading level: Grade 5
Genre: mystery

Comparable titles: Well...I can't help but think of the game Clue.

Book connections: Playing along--giving students similar clues in pairs as the book moves along. Chess.

Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. Published 1994.

Another one on the classic list for good reason! Really loved it and balled my eyes out with this one as well. While I knew what happened with Sal's mother couldn't have been good, it kept me guessing up to the end about her fate which I really liked. Loved the different forms of storytelling, how we were following one story about Phoebe while being framed within the Grandparent road trip which itself was wrapped with the story of Salamanca and her parents. Another refreshing narrator who created really memorable characters who were fully realized and fun to follow along with.

Salamanca, or Sal, or Chickabiddy, has moved away from her beloved farm with her father after her mother takes off across country to Idaho. While on a road trip with her grandparents to trace her mother's trip, she tells the story of her friend Phoebe, or Peeby, who has also had her mother run off on her though for different reasons. By telling Phoebe's story, Sal is able to mourn and grown beyond her own tale. She also has the time to cherish her grandparents as they travel together across the country. There's much more to the story than this, but I don't want to ruin the mystery of it all.

Interest level: Grades 5-8 Reading level: Grade 6
Genre: realistic fiction

Comparable titles: Love, Aubrey, Freak the Mighty...also reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver and Animal Dreams

Book Connections: Road trips, Writing Journals, Old Faithful, Water Mocassins, Blackberries

Book Trailer:

Page by Paige

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. Published 2011.

This is a graphic novel that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. I think it deserves it. The metaphors in the  artwork are great and the detail in them is amazing. The story is one that adolescents easily identify with, with concerns of identity, moving, friendships, first love and your purpose in life.

Paige Turner moves to Brooklyn with her parents in the middle of her high school years. She meets a new group of friends that has her pushing her artistic boundaries, but she is constantly questioning herself and wondering if she is good enough. Not only does she discover that she is good enough, but her artistic endeavors actually out-pace that of her friends causing some disturbance in the group. Along the way, she discovers who she is and what she loves and even falls in love with one of the members of her group.

Definitely to be suggested to kids who are struggling with their own identity and purpose, but I would reserve it for older readers as there is talk about relationships in a more candid mature manner.

Interest level: YA Reading level: YA
Genre: Graphic Novel, friendship, realistic fiction

Comparable titles: Friends with Boys, Anya's Ghost, Persepolis, Smile

Book Connections: Art journals, Drawing Telephone, Agents of Whimsy art assignments

Friday, November 11, 2011

Freak the Mighty

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. Published 1993.

This one is in the classics list and for good measure. Max is well over 6 feet tall and has the bulk to match but not the brains. His father is in prison for killing his mother and his grandparents, along with everyone else in town, can't help but notice how much he looks like his old man and wonder if he has anything else in common with Killer Kane. Max is pretty lonely and miserable until Kevin moves next door. A boy from his preschool class who hasn't grown any bigger since due to a rare genetic deformity that has his insides growing at a regular rate but his outsides don't match. Together, they pair up to become Freak the Mighty when Max plunks Kevin on his shoulders and finds Kevin lending him some of his well-developed smarts.

Quest after Quest, Max and Kevin, otherwise Freak the Mighty, become closer and closer friends and with the parole of Max's father, their courage and friendship is put to the test, but their true test in life is how they deal with Kevin's disorder.

Great book. Narration and pacing kept me moving along, but the characters really drew me in and the end was emotional and had me blubbering, but for all the right reasons. Great character story. Loved it.

Interest level: Grades 5-8 Reading level: Grade 5
Genre: realistic fiction, friendship

Comparable titles: Walk Two Moons, Maniac Magee, Stargirl

Book Connections: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Bionics, Personal Dictionaries, Computers, Study of Genetic Disorders

Book Trailer:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Leon and the Spitting Image

Leon and the Spitting Image by Allen Kurzwell. Published 2003.

This book caught my eye because we had two copies of it and one was destroyed so I had assumed it may have been read a lot at one point. I thought it would be about a witch from the cover design, but that wasn't necessarily the case.

In this book, Leon lives in a quirky hotel with his mother who is the manager. They live in Manhattan and he takes a taxi to school every day collecting countries that the taxi drivers are from. At the start of Fourth Grade, Leon and his friends meet Mrs. Hagmeyer, a strange teacher with a penchant for wearing all black, a cape with glass eyes that change every day and a sour look on her face. She teaches them all about the virtues of Medieval living including how to stitch and sew Animiles that seem to disappear from the classroom. When Leon's spitting image doll of Mrs. Hagmeyer gets covered in gooey teacher spit, he suddenly finds that he has the power to control his teacher's actions. You can only image the antics that will ensue.

This was an interesting book to me. The characters were well-rounded and quirky and the plot pacing wasn't boring or slow, but the actual inciting incident didn't really get started until more than half way through the book when Leon actually makes the doll. With the misleading nature of the cover, having some voodoo like magical element seemed to fit with a theme I was expecting but because it happened so late in the story I was beginning to let go of any magical elements for this story. From an adult perspective, I didn't see what was so horrible about the teacher's teaching style beyond her looks and her sour face. I could see that either this was leading to an end that explained why she did what she did, which was predictable to me, or an ending that chalked her up to being horrible, which would have been disappointing to me. Because it had the predicted ending, I was satisfied and would hope that students would find her antics more unbearable as they would be looking from their perspective and not the teacher's. Overall an okay read but I wouldn't rave about it.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 5
Genre: Fantasy, Friendship

Comparable Titles: Reminded me of Harriet the Spy for some reason. Probably the setting and the school yard going-ons.

Book Connections: Medieval Times, sewing, 7 Deadly Sins, Dodgeball, Jump Rope, voodoo

Big Nate Strikes Again

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce. Published 2010.

Nate reminded me of a mixture of Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. I think it was the style of drawing in the comic strip like sections of the book that really had the comparison for Calvin but he also has that "I'm the Best and Am Going to Take on the World" characteristic about him.

In this book, Nate has decided its finally his year to win the Spoffy Award for Fleeceball as he is finally the Team Captain, if only Gina weren't perpetually in his way. His most loathed classmate is also picked as his partner for the research project in class. Little do Gina and Nate know that both of their hidden skills will help each other fulfill their goals in the end. But it doesn't mean they will have to start liking each other.

Very cute and creative book. No big plot problems and the cartoons are actually creative and funny. Another good win for reluctant readers who like their comics.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 3
Genre: Diary-style, Humor
Second in series.

Comparable titles: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Calvin and Hobbes

Book Connections: Fleeceball, Benjamin Franklin, Comic creation

The Popularity Papers

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow. Published 2010.

This book should be added to the list of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate fan favorites. It's interesting because it takes the journal/drawing genre to a new level because the whole thing is one photo-copied layout of the author's actual work. It gives it the feel that real children actually created the thing. For one thing, this makes it feel slightly less real or as if a student actually created it, which takes away its credibility from an actual book stand point, but on the other hand it also makes it feel much more genuine. The one issue I had with this frame was that to differentiate the two girls creating it, the author uses cursive writing for Lydia's character and I think this will hinder some readers from being able to access the book if they can't read cursive yet. For the case of advanced reading 2nd graders who often go towards the diary style books because of their use of pictures, it makes it so they can't read it.

Now for the story...Lydia and Julie are best friends and have decided to observe and note all the of popular girl's doings so that they may become popular themselves. There are a number of mishaps on their journey, but what really gives the book its literary credibility is where their friendship fails in their striving to become popular. It cleverly addresses real issues with Middle School girls and shows that popularity isn't the number one goal when you have real friendship.

Interest level: Grades 3-6 Reading level: Grade 4
Genre: Friendship, Coming-of-age, Diary style
First in series

Comparable Titles: Big Nate, Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Book Connections: Musicals, Knitting, Observation Journals, Poster Making/Drawing, Norway

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Published 2006. Michael L. Printz Award winner.

This is a popular book in our school and the author will be at the public library this weekend, so I thought I should check it out. I really enjoyed it, which didn't surprise me as I'm a fan of graphic novels, but I wasn't expecting the way the author formed it so it went up a few notches in my assessment.

The story is told in three different formats, or as I thought of them, episodes, that interweave as if I were flipping through channels with my remote. First, there is the story of Jin Wang, a Chinese-American living in the suburbs of San Francisco and coming to terms with his identity in a mostly white neighborhood. Next, the story of the Monkey King who is dishonored at a party of the gods and through meditative kung-fu training tries to transform himself into The Great Sage Equal of Heaven, who must take the long way to learn his lesson and his identity. And then there is the "sitcom" story of Chin-kee, a Chinese cousin who comes to stay with a white family, played out in overt stereotypes and leading to the continued embarrassment of Cousin Danny. It seems these tales have nothing, potentially, to do with one another, but they are all connected by the search for acceptance, identity and the power to transform and what comes with that power, good or bad.

I was surprised by how all the stories connected in the end and they all became powerful, layered metaphors for one another. Awesome read.

Interest level: YA Reading level: Grade 5 (this is marketed as YA, but the content wasn't anything that Grades 5-8 couldn't handle)
Genre: Graphic novel, Coming-of-age

Comparable titles: Smile, Page by Paige

Book Connections: Chinatown in San Francisco, a study on stereotypes, Transformers, Kung-fu, Chinese mythology/deities