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Worlds Awaiting Book Reviews: Student Reviews

In addition to her duties as our amazing host at Worlds Awaiting, Rachel Wadham also teaches a Children's Literacy class on campus at BYU. This past semester she invited her students into our studio to show what they have learned in the class by reviewing some children's books. Here are some of their favorites.


The Wish Tree by Kylo Maclear

Reviewed by Abbie Harper

[audio src="Abbie Harper; The Wish Tree BLOG.mp3"]

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Reviewed by Alana Buttars

[audio src="Alana Buttars; The Family Romanov BLOG.mp3"]

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

Reviewed by Bonnie Reid

[audio src="Bonnie Reid; Leviathan BLOG.mp3"]

The Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry

Reviewed by Brianne Brower

[audio src="Brianne Brower; The Yeti Files BLOG.mp3"]

The Color of Home by Mary Hoffman

Reviewed by Carlee Grow

[audio src="Carlee Grow; The Color of Home BLOG.mp3"]

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Reviewed by Chelsea Ferrin

[audio src="Chelsea Ferrin; The Blackthorn Key BLOG.mp3"]

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Reviewed by Diana Taylor

[audio src="Diana Taylor; Officer Buckle and Gloria BLOG.mp3"]

Rain Reign by Ann Martin

Reviewed by Echo Harris

[audio src="Echo Harris; Rain Reign BLOG.mp3"]

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Reviewed by Erika Adams

[audio src="Erika Adams; Flora and Ulysses BLOG.mp3"]

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Reviewed by Hayley Imbler

[audio src="Hayley Imbler; The Lightning Thief BLOG.mp3"]

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Judith St. George

Reviewed by Jacinda Allen

[audio src="Jacinda Allen; The Duel BLOG.mp3"]

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Reviewed by Jarrett Bell

[audio src="Jarrett Bell; Pax BLOG.mp3"]

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Reviewed by Jess Verzello

[audio src="Jess Verzello; Heartless BLOG.mp3"]

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Reviewed by Kaitlin Heaton

[audio src="Kaitlin Heaton; Smile BLOG.mp3"]

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by Katheryn Christensen

[audio src="Katheryn Christensen; Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians BLOG.mp3"]

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

Reviewed by Kelsey Sant

[audio src="Kelsey Sant; Sky Raiders BLOG.mp3"]

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Reviewed by Kendall Bosch

[audio src="Kendall Bosch; Mockingbird BLOG.mp3"]

Cyrano by Tai-Marc Le Thanh

Reviewed by Lauren Johnson & Sarai Clemente

[audio src="Lauren Johnson & Sarai Clemente; Cyrano BLOG.mp3"]

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Reviewed by Madison Strasburg

[audio src="Madison Strasburg; Wonder BLOG.mp3"]

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Reviewed by Nicole Jones

[audio src="Nicole Jones; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library BLOG.mp3"]

Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

Reviewed by Sarah Davis

[audio src="Sarah Davis; Things Not Seen BLOG.mp3"]

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

Reviewed by Willow Sommers

[audio src="Willow Sommers; Sky Raiders BLOG.mp3"]

Book Review: “Hunter” by Mercedes Lackey

From a young age Joyeaux trained in a remote monastery to destroy the infestation of fay that plagues the world. Now the walls built to keep the people safe no longer hold the Otherworlders back and Joy is called to the capital city to join their team of hunters. As cameras broadcast her every move to legions of adoring fans, Joy must learn to navigate her newfound stardom and the rocky political climate. Even though the powerful elite are trying to hide reality from the populous to keep them complacent, Joy realizes that it’s becoming impossible to cover up the truth. Playing a delicate game, Joy is happy just to do her job until her mentor is killed and she must confront the cities secrets in order to establish a safe place for herself and the people she has come to love.

Lackey’s innovative imagination shines through as she continues to surprise readers with fresh characters and worlds. Envisioning a dystopian society where magic and mystical creatures reign supreme provides the perfect backdrop for the frank and powerful character of Joy. Even though the supporting characters often fill standard character types (bully, romantic interest, and outcast) their interactions with Joy give them the needed depth. With some plot and setting elements only slowly revealed, the overall structure may feel laborious but in the end this device connects well with Joy’s own path of discovery. Fans of Lackey will find something delightfully new here while others with find this a great entry point.

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING 

Find this and other book reviews at: http://byucbmr.com/.

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Scientific Literacy

As our regular listeners know, at Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of literacies. These include traditional literacies like reading and writing. But we also expand our conception of literacy into a wide range of other disciplines. It’s easy to understand that to be literate in a specific discipline you need to understand the conventions and skills related to that area. For example, some of the more fundamental skills in science is the ability to ask and answer questions. So, in order to be scientifically literate, one needs to be able to develop the curiosity to be the kind of questioner a scientist is. But scientific literacy goes well beyond forming the skills in order to do good science. It is also about having the ability to consume science. A person who is literate in science is also one who is able to think critically about scientific issues. Being able to read about a scientific discovery in a newspaper and then judge and assess the validity of the conclusions the information offers, is one way a person shows he or she is scientifically literate.  This kind of application implies then, that a person is informed about scientific issues when they can evaluate the quality of information and the sources that generate it and those that report it, and can come to their own conclusions so as to make their own personal arguments. This kind of literacy engagement extends oneself beyond personal concerns to participate in the broader conversations of a community. Being able to critically look at the world around us and generate new knowledge from our experiences, is essentially what being literate means for all disciplines. Particularly when we consider disciplines like science which impact so much of what we do. Being able to be a critical consumer not only helps us engage in that particular discipline, but it also enables us to be socially responsible contributors to the significant conversations of our day. As you listen to our show and my thoughts here, we hope you’ll consider that literacy is more than what you thought it might be.  

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING 

Check out these links for more information about scientific literacy: 

http://www.literacynet.org/science/scientificliteracy.html

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar11/vol68/num06/Teaching-Science-Literacy.aspx

http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/09/14/440213603/scientific-literacy-it-s-not-just-about-the-facts

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Colonial Williamsburg

You don’t need a DeLorean to travel back in time! All it takes is a short carriage ride into Colonial Williamsburg to go back to the time of the American Revolution. Time period dress, dirt roads, and brick buildings all surround you while walking down main street.

This is where the founding fathers overthrew the British government and started the first assembly of elected representatives. Many of the laws that we have today were thought about and discussed in this city. How amazing is that?! To stand in a place like this, where such a significant piece of American history happened, is inspiring.

Take a moment to explore the historic buildings in Williamsburg; American patriotism is deep in every brick and every beam. At Colonial Williamsburg you can see the flags waving in the breeze, taste the period food, hear discussions about the Constitution, and march to authentic colonial snare drums. There is a sense of pride for our country felt throughout the city when you walk through the Governor’s Mansion and the House of Burgesses.

When you go, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the sights around you and feel the history that took place. Appreciate the great country we live in, and the sacrifice that took place before we became a nation.

From the desk of Maren Owen, a producer of Traveling with Eric Dowdle on BYU Radio.

Learn more about some of your favorite place with Eric, Wally and Autumn on Traveling with Eric Dowdle. Weekdays 11am-12pm ET except Tuesdays on BYU Radio (Sirius XM Channel 143).

Text Complexity

A lot of educators today, including myself, are talking about text complexity. The basic assumption here is that as readers grow they need to be able to read and comprehend increasingly complex texts. Without a doubt, becoming a better reader is an important step in the literacy development of all children. However, as an educator, I have a very strong concern that we are measuring text complexity in the wrong way. Since the 1920s we’ve been quantifying text complexity though readability formulas, the most familiar are the Fountas and Pinnel, the Lexile, and the Accelerated Reader. While leveling books in this way can be helpful for students as they begin to understand their own reading abilities, it is important to be clear that these levels are not the only way we should judge the complexity of texts.  Because these formulas rely on only a limited view of a text and they don’t take into account the reader themselves, these numbers should only be used as a starting place for book selection. Since no experimental studies have established standards that reveal the optimal level for learning, comprehension, interest, and efficient reading, we cannot rely on formulas to help us find the right books for the right readers. As an educator I’m against using any type of system that forces children to read books that fall into the narrow category of their perceived reading ability. Preventing students from checking out a library book because it was not on their level or not allowing them to receive credit for a reading a book above their level, only prevent children from exercising the same freedom that we have as adult readers to choose the books that are right for us. Let’s let kids find the books they enjoy, and put the use of readability formulas in their correct place. Because complexity, while important, is not something we should use to prevent kids from reading.

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

DISCLAIMER: 

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Tips for a Green Holiday

Is the tree up at your house? Wreath on the door? Poinsettias by the hearth? Let’s get some tips on how to keep your holidays green and your indoor plants thriving until spring, when you can head back out to the flower beds.

Thanksgiving Point’s expert gardener Michael Caron offers simple tips to keep your Christmas tree fresh through the holiday and your poinsettias blooming into the New Year. 

Did you know poinsettias will bloom for months if you water them right and keep them away from the doors or heating vents? This simple trick will get your poinsettias blooming bolder and longer. 

Water is the key to a bright and festive holiday: A fresh Christmas tree needs to be sitting in a gallon of water at all times and never dry out. But your poinsettias need to be doused in the sink and then allowed to dry out between watering. 

Did you know that your big indoor houseplants need an occasional shower? Put them in the tub and give them a good soaking, then let them dry out fully before watering again.

Need more tips to keep your trees and flowers blooming? Listen to the whole conversation on Top of Mind here!


Book Review – Suite for Human Nature

Based on a musical composition by lyricist Lampert and musician Wynton Marsalis, this folkloric allegory tells the tale of Mother Nature and her children. Mother Nature wants to have a child, so she creates a boy and names him Fear. Leaving him with the humans to tend to the earth, she returns to find all in turmoil. Determined to make things right, she creates Envy. But finds the outcome is not as expected. Again, she tries with Hate and Greed. Then again with a sister, Fickle. Nothing turns out. And born down by grief, she finally listens to the advice of the Winds and creates a set of twins named Love. Mother Nature finds that it is Love that finally tempers the others. And while they are not always completely successful, everything is as she hoped it would be.

Written to celebrate humanity in all its aspects, this story offers a poignant look at the weaknesses and strengths of humankind. Given its musical origins, the text has a very lyrical quality even though the majority is comprised of very brief sentences. The personification of the virtues is captured beautifully with the words but is even more powerful with the combination of the stunning illustrations. The illustrations have both a highly realistic style balanced by the stylized caricatures of the virtues that works perfectly to balance the lyrical quality of the text. While the story and illustrations are approachable for children, the deeply contemplative theme and message will likely resonate most clearly with adults.

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

BOOK REVIEW: Suite for Human Nature by Diane Charlotte Lampert, illustrated by Eric Puybaret.  Atheneum/Caitlyn Doluhy Books, 2016.

Find this and other book reviews at: http://byucbmr.com/

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Beauty and the Beast

As a children’s literature scholar, I’ve been very excited about the development of Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast that made me think about one of the main reasons I love fairy tales. For me, one of the most exciting things about fairy tales is that they exist in a kind of expansive,  collective existence that is for everyone. This means to me that fairy tales change and develop over time. They become something new in the hands of a new teller, or they transform when they are developed for a new medium. As a lover of stories, I find joy in each new invention. So to share my enjoyment of reinvention, here are some of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast. Along a more traditional route is the illustrated version by Marianna and Mercer Mayer. The Mayer’s embraces a fully romantic vision of the tale. The illustrations are lush and complex, capturing the emotional connection that Beauty makes with her Beast. Fans of young adult fantasy may be well acquainted with Robin McKinley’s 1978 retelling called Beauty. Still a classic today, McKinley’s Beauty is strong and makes her choices out of her own free will. The writing is rich and picturesque, making this one of the best loved novel versions of the tale. Another young adult version that takes a contemporary look of the story is Alex Flinn’s Beastly.  Set in New York, the Beast lives in a Brownstone and was cursed by a teenage witch. The Beast, who is spoiled rotten, must learn how to not be so much of a jerk, but it will take his own Beauty to do it. If you’re looking for other retellings that take the story out of the normal context, then also check out Donna Jo Napoli’s Beast, an elaborate and very harsh retelling of the story set in Persia.  It’s also interesting to note that both of these versions are told from the perspective of the Beast, a point of view twist that adds richness to both versions. So if you and the children in your life also like how fairy tales can change, why not take a moment to check out some of these amazing retellings.      

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna and Mercer Mayer. Four Winds, 1978. (For readers of all ages)

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley.  Harper Teen, 1978. (For mature teen and adult readers)

Beastly by Alex Flinn.  HarperTeen, 2007. (For mature teen and adult readers)

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli. Simon and Schuster, 1999.  (For mature teen and adult readers)

DISCLAIMER: 

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Multiracial Marriages

The new film Loving tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving. He was white, she was black. Their marriage was at the center of the landmark of US Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, some fifty years ago, challenging anti-miscegenation laws.

They won, and mixed-race romance has become widely accepted in America. Pew Research analysis of Census data finds, that about 1 in 8 people who get married chose someone of a different race. 

What was it like to live when it was illegal in certain states to marry out of your own race? Many woman were put into mental institutions and others had to move to states that had legalized such marriages. Countless couples were forced to move to states where interracial marriages were legal. 

Today, mixed-race marriages are culturally acceptable. Yet, there are still some barriers for these couples to face. Listen to BYUradio’s Top of Mind to listen in on the full conversation.

http://bit.ly/2g1wk5Z

Grade Skipping A Gifted Child

The American school system puts students in grades based on age. However, for a some students, being with same-age peers in the classroom might not be the best option. Dr. Susan Assouline discusses her work as an expert in ‘academic acceleration’:

“One effective way to help talented students remain intellectually challenged and engaged in school is to have them skip a grade. Research shows that about 1 percent of students grade-skip. Students can skip grades at any level, and they can even skip multiple grades. Grade-skipping has led to many concerns. In particular, concerns have been raised related to students’ social adjustment and emotional health.

We are scholars of gifted education. Our research – A Nation Empowered – shows many advantages to grade-skipping for talented students. However, students skipping grades need to be socially and emotionally ready for it.” 

 – Dr. Susan Assouline 

Listen to the rest of the podcast here

Matt talks with Dr Susan Assouline, director of the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Dr. Assouline earned her PhD in Education at the University of Iowa where she is currently a Professor of Psychology.

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