Welcome to the 6th grade blog for book recommendations! Here you will find book titles and reviews by genre from Ms. Logan, Mrs. Haugevik, and Mrs. Robison :) You can use this to add books to your "books to read" list, or to just start a conversation with us about BOOKS!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

GUEST BLOGGER! We are all Made of Molecules


We are all Made of Molecules by Susin Nielson

The first song I picked was for one of my all-time favorite characters, Stewart! He is 13 years old and academically gifted, but doesn’t have the best luck in his social life. He is sweet, funny, and brave. I picked “Stronger,” by Kelly Clarkson, because that’s what Stewart is more than anything: strong. The lesson in the song is all about gaining strength through experience, and standing tall even when it feels impossible. After the death of this mother, Stewart is understandably devastated and heartbroken. At times, he feels like he can’t go forward. With the help of his father, and his beloved cat, he finds the strength. A year later, his father moves in with his girlfriend who also has a teenage daughter. Everything changes, and that’s when we meet Ashley.
The song I picked for Ashley is “Smiling Faces, Sometimes.” Ashley is an interesting character, for sure! She is all about shopping, friendships, gossip, and boys. Ashley feels angry at her mother for allowing Stewart and his father to move into their house. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, she is somewhat clueless, and laugh-out-loud funny at times! I picked this song because “Smiling Faces, Sometimes” really describes what she deals with at school. Her friends are often fake. They will be sweet and bubbly in the hallways, then talk about each other behind closed doors. Ashley is guilty of this, too! Throughout the book, she is forced to handle some new and intense situations head on with her friendships, a new crush, and her family. She and Stewart have a very tense relationship at first, but learn to live together and rely on each other in surprising ways.
The final song for this book is “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers. I picked this song because it represents the message in We Are All Made Of Molecules. Sometimes, change can be hard, and life throws us curveballs. When the people in our lives are not strong, or cannot hold themselves up, we need to let them lean on us. With family, that message is even more important. After experiencing a number of heartbreaking, hilarious, life-changing, and powerful moments, the amazing characters in this book learn how to lean on people, and how to allow others to lean on them. As the song says, “We all need somebody to lean on!”

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

If I could be a superhero, I would choose Storm from X-Men because I would love to be able to influence the weather. Adam, the protagonist in Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, faces this superhero choice in his young adult OCD support group. Ultimately deciding on Batman in an attempt to connect with the girl who chose Robin, Adam decides that he will do whatever it takes to save this girl he is so drawn to. He makes plans to be her superhero, but throughout this touching book about trying to be normal when everything around you isn’t, Adam discovers that Robyn Plummer might not be the one in need of saving. As I read this book, I found myself laughing out loud on one page to then getting choked up on the next. Teresa Toten really takes her readers on a rollercoaster of emotions as Adam navigates his OCD, new relationships, friendships, living with divorced parents, and finding the strength to ask for help. I found that as I read, there were several songs that kept popping into my head and connected with characters or actions.

The theme song from Rocky is the perfect track for every time the characters climb the stairs to support group. Not only are they making their way up numerous flights which I would argue is as physically exerting as Rocky’s efforts to climb the steps leading to the art museum in Philly, but the climb also symbolizes their struggle with their OCD manifestations. Each time the characters are able to make it up those stairs, Adam feels like they are taking steps (literal and figurative!) toward managing their OCD. Next, each time Robyn and Adam walk through the graveyard and stop at her mother’s grave, I heard The Fray’s “How to Save a Life.” Robyn is working through her mother’s death, as well as the decisions and lies she made/told. Adam is desperately trying to be everything to Robyn and “save” her so this song is really fitting for those interactions.  I especially think the lines about “smiling politely” are fitting because both characters start out as really apprehensive toward one another and striving to seem “normal” to each other. Another song that fits in with Adam’s story is “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. I picture this song anytime Adam is in his mother’s house. First, I think all the “come away with me” lines fit in with how Adam’s stepmother feels about Adam being in his mother’s house. She wants him to move in with them because she thinks it will be better for him. Second, as the reader, I want Adam out of there! His mother is trying, and clearly loves Adam, but the environment in that home is not good for him as he works to manage his OCD.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lost In The Sun

Trent makes me so frustrated throughout this book!  Trent likes to play sports, including hockey.  Unfortunately he was involved in an accident where he hit a friend in the chest with a hockey puck when they were playing for fun.  The friend, Jared, had an unknown heart condition, and the hit killed him.  Trent thinks that he is responsible for killing Jared and has a lot of anger.  This anger is taking over his life and makes Trent very unlikeable.  His teachers are understandably frustrated, but they continue to try and support him even though Trent is extremely rude.  He is supposed to visit his father weekly, but that relationship is strained and Trent makes excuses why he can't or won't go.  He has a wonderful relationship with his mother, but even she is at her wits end with Trent.  He also makes an unlikely friendship with a girl, Fallon Little, who accepts Trent for who he is and is incredibly patient with him even when he is unkind.  Trent is obviously angry with himself, but he takes that anger out on everybody around him including his teachers, his dad, and even Fallon.

This book made me frustrated with Trent and understand why he was doing what he was doing, all at the same time.  Lisa Graff creates wonderfully real, complicated characters in Trent and in Fallon.

If you like realistic fiction that deals with friendship, family issues, and loss, this might be a book for you!

Lost In The Sun