by Anne Fine
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Blood Family is the gripping tale of a boy who had no chance. Edward's mother is a ghost of a woman who has lost her humanity. Beaten and abused for years, she has lost her will to survive let alone raise a seven year old child. If not for a nosy neighbor, Edward would probably be dead.
Rescued from the home along with his mother, Edward is taken to "safety." The conditions of his childhood home are documented by social workers and police officers. There is nothing to eat and deplorable conditions. Edward has never set foot from the house, never been outside, never talked to anyone before. Everything he knows he has learned from thirty year old VCR tapes of episodes of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."
Edward is grateful to be saved but worried about his mother. She will never be capable of taking care of herself again. Edward is shuttled off to foster homes and never fits in. He realizes his mother's abusive "boyfriend" is really his "blood" father and terrified that if they share the same DNA, maybe Edward will be evil also. He does not want to become a beast.
After a series of relationships, homes, demons, drugs and failures, he realizes he will be okay.
The chapters are told in first person by a series of narrators: the neighbor who calls the police, the police who respond, social workers, foster parents, teachers and Eddie himself. Readers will get the big picture and not just Eddie's possibly skewed view of things. The book was first released by Doubleday in Great Britain. Blood Family is a tough book about a deplorable subject. It is not a "feel good" book.
Recommended for realistic fiction collections and high schools.
Word Play is a lively and colorful picture book that takes place on the playground where all the types of words come out to play. Verb comes out to "do," Noun comes out to "be," Adjective comes out to "describe." This picture book will come in handy in all English and reading classrooms and will benefit all learners of grammar--which is a concept so dismally missing from curriculum that students don't have any idea what a noun or verb is let alone an adjective or adverb. An interjection? Never heard of it!
As a former high school English teacher I can attest to the fact that high school students did not know what a sentence fragment was at the beginning of the year. They had to be "reminded" that a noun and a verb must be present to make a sentence.
Adam Lehrhaupt makes learning grammar fun and accessible. Colorful illustrations will delight younger learners. Jared Chapman captures characters' personalities and facial expressions in each two page spread.
Highly recommended for all English language collections and grammar classrooms. Oh, the possibilities of teaching with this book!