Monday, April 4, 2016

Class Review - Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Title: Tuck Everlasting
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Age Range: 9-12
Class Average Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Doomed to—or blessed with—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

I taught this book for my homeschool co-op 5th/6th grade writing course (along with Island of the Blue Dolphins) and I thought it would be fun to include some excerpts from their reviews. So, take a look and see what my students thought of the book! 

[The brackets throughout the review give the initials of the student that made that particular observation.]

Tuck Everlasting is a wonderful novel about a family that lives forever. Winnie Foster, a young girl, learns of the Tucks' family secret to immortality. She is torn between believing their story and thinking they are crazy. [MH] The Tucks help her to help make a decision whether or not to drink from the spring (which gave them immortality). Her choice could drastically change the rest of her life. They want her to make an informed decision. What will she decide to do? To make things interesting, a villain is also out to get the water and its secrets. [LH] The big question is, is living forever a blessing or a misfortune? [ES]

What my students loved:
  • Magical realism.  Lots of my students said they loved the fact that the book is magical realism. [HA said] I ... like how there was some magic in the book and it was not all realistic. [ES said] All the characters in Tuck Everlasting make mistakes and do a few things that mess the situation up when they are trying to help. They are not perfect, just as we aren't, which makes them normal people, because we are all sinners ... The magic of the spring and the reality of the people in the book is a unique mixture that stirs up excitement along the way.
  • The writing.  [JT said] The author was creative when she developed the characters. She made them different, but they really came together to make a great story, like pieces of a puzzle. [JJP said] I really liked the wording in it, as the author used a lot of very descriptive phrases and words. (I agree with this!)
  • Relatability. A few students related well to Winnie's character. [HA said] I ... love that Winnie was my age, so I feel maybe I could have been in the situation too. [SL said] Like me, she didn't like being bossed around.
  • Excitement and surprises.  Most of my students felt that the story was exciting. [My daughter Danielle said] I liked this book so much that I wanted to read it all in one day. I really love the adventure to the book because you really have no idea what is going to happen. [JP said] I liked ... how it was so exciting and unexpected. [AJ said] The ending was so surprising, yet at times sad. I had mixed emotions with the exciting but also sad plot.
  • The Tucks. [SL said] I like that they are laid back, relaxed and have no rules.
  • The toad. I was surprised how many of my students mentioned that they loved the toad, who played a seemingly small part in the plot but made a big impact! [JT said] I live Winnie's toad because he gave comfort in her times of need. He helped her become a better person than she was before.
The negatives that my students mentioned:
  • Mismatched love? Lots of my female students thought the story was romantic, but one had a bit more down-to-earth perspective on Jesse and Winnie. [AH said] The thought of him being over 100 years old and falling in love with a 10-year-old was creepy. (Gotta kind of agree with her there!) Oh, and my daughter Danielle spotted instalove (an all-too familiar trope we adults love to hate). [Danielle said] One thing that I thought was funny about Winnie was that when she had only just met Jesse, she asked if he was married, which shows Winnie had fallen in love with Jesse the moment she saw him.
  • The pacing.  Some students thought the book moved too slowly. [LH said] I prefer books with a little more action; the story moved a little bit slow for my liking. [MH said] In general, I found it to be rather boring and dull.
  • Connection. [AJ said] At times the author would describe Winnie as crying, but there was not much detail. I wish the author had written more of Winnie's feelings. ... I would have been more attached if Winnie was described with such emotion that makes you able to picture it.
  • They want a series. Several of my students mentioned that they thought the book was too short and they wished it was a series!
Overall, my class seemed to love this book and it provided us with many lively discussions!  The average class rating was 4.5/5 stars.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

D's Review - Warriors series by Erin Hunter

Series: Warriors
Author: Erin Hunter
Age Range: 10+
D's Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:  For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying-- and some deaths are more mysterious than others. In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary house cat named Rusty . . . who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

The Warriors series by Erin Hunter is a fantastic animal adventure series, perfect for middle grade readers. The overall series is made up of several smaller series of six books each (plus some standalone "super editions"), and there are over thirty books that have been written so far. My daughter has read almost all of these books, many of them more than once (some of them she's read three or four times).

Read on to see her thoughts on the series ...

I love these cat books because there is so much going on and these are not your ordinary cats. They are warriors. They are split into four clans: Riverclan, Thunderclan, Windclan and Shadowclan. These books are filled with excitement! Sometimes the cats battle over territory. Sometimes a cat will lose almost his or her whole family because of things like sickness, such as white cough, or infection from a battle. Sometimes twolegs make it harder for the cats to survive because they try to catch them or destroy their territory. The books also tell about the cats' everyday lives and how hard it is for them to survive - they have to catch prey every day, do battle training, get herbs for the medicine cat, do border patrols to make sure no enemy clans steal prey, plus much more. I loved the fact that the books used interesting words to describe things - like "twolegs" for humans or "kittypet" for a house cat. 

I've read over twenty of these books, and I still can't wait to read the next! I've even read some of the books twice! I think that kids who like adventure books would think these books are exciting.

add to goodreads new

Some of the Warriors Books on Amazon:
There are many more!