Friday, April 28, 2017

Beach Pick or How To Move On With Your Life Pick: Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue
by Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray
2017
400 pages (page count taken from arc)
ISBN: 9780062418357

Ramona Blue is author  Julie Murphy's most memorable character yet. A strong female on the brink of discovery, Ramona is learning about life and love and how both can change and that change is okay.

Ramona Blue longs to escape her seedy beach town of Eulogy, Mississippi--Eulogy--even sounds desolate right?  Ramona's world is made up of her pregnant sister Hattie, her inept  father, her idiot mother and no where to go or to be except at one of her jobs. Ramona is the only one who seems to "get" that the family  is struggling for their existence. Since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home, they have been living in a FEMA trailer that is little better than sleeping outside.

Ramona is a larger than life figure--standing at over 6' tall, she has to duck and navigate her "home" and showering in the tiny shower is laughable. Ramona, far from a shrinking violet, sports electric blue hair...always. After saying good bye to her summer romance Grace, Ramona realizes that for her, it was more than just a summer fling. She is worried that Grace will go back to her "real" life and forget all about their summer together.

When old friend Freddie arrives back in town, Ramona is happy to spend time with him. It is easy being around Freddie and their friendship seems just right.

Ramona is on the edge of something great--her life is before her, her past behind her. This coming of age story will strike a chord in readers. It is real life. Fiction just says it better! Thank you, Julie Murphy, for making terrible things beautiful.

This book is for anyone who is at the crossroads whatever they may be. Ramona Blue will choose and it will be alright.

Heartfelt and deep, Ramona Blue will pull readers in, and Julie Murphy has another winner on her hands!

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature subject matter.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Hot Tech Tools

Here's a short list of some tools that you can use in the classroom and beyond

TASL Talks

Hot Tech Tools for Classroom and Beyond - Some for testing, some for studying, some just for fun!

List by Pamela Thompson, LMS, Col. John O. Ensor Middle School, El Paso USD;@PThompson_EMS ; http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/

I originally presented this list at a Tech Conference for a neighboring school district. TASL asked me for a contribution, so here you are!

Monday, April 10, 2017

TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU: National Poem in Your Pocket Day - April 27, 2017

This is a nice article and mention of our upcoming event for National Poem in Your Pocket Day:

TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU: National Poem in Your Pocket Day - April 27, 2017: by Pamela Thompson, LMS,  Col. John O. Ensor Middle School, Socorro ISD (El Paso) ;  @PThompson_EMS  ;  http://booksbypamelathompson.blogsp...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

YA Pick: Blood Family

Blood Family
by Anne Fine
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
291 pages
ISBN: 9781481477734


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.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grammar Pick: Word Play

Word Play
by Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrations by Jared Chapman 
Arthur A. Levine Books
2017
40 pages
ISBN: 9782545934282

On sale date: July 25, 2017

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! 

Grade 3-up and all grades English.