Tag Archives: bullying

Book Review: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade

5 Jul

33931230.jpgI’ve enjoyed a number of Jordan Sonnenblick’s books in the past and he even visited our library for an author visit program, so I had high hopes for The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade, but honestly, this wasn’t my favorite story.

Maverick is starting sixth grade and this year he promises to himself that he’ll stand up to those being bullied, he’ll make the school a better place for everyone and he’ll be a hero just like his dad. Unfortunately, things don’t start off on the right foot and Maverick ends up in the Assistant Principal’s office twice and the nurse’s office once – on the first day of school.  And things just sort of fall apart from there. Maverick’s mom can’t hold down a job and when she gets fired, she starts drinking and on top of that she has an extremely poor taste in boyfriends who end up verbally and sometimes physically abusing her.

Although, domestic abuse is definitely something that should be discussed with kids, this book had one glaring issue that I can’t seem to get around. The bully of sixth grade bothers Maverick over and over again and like most bullies there is a lack of control at home which leads him to causing trouble at school. Maverick sees the bully get picked up by his father after detention one day and sees the father hit the boy.  And this is where my issue with the book comes in, nothing is done about this situation. Maverick doesn’t go to tell someone at school or his mom and the story is resolved for Maverick, but nothing is done about the abuse happening in another child’s home.

I would expect that a book that is being handed to middle grade students should express in some way that kids need to tell adults about suspected child abuse – it’s not something that should be kept secret because you really have no idea how long it’s been going on and how severe it is. I really liked the concept of the story – a kid trying to become a hero and stand up against the bully you know is in every school, but I just couldn’t get past this detail.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): Maverick is going to be a hero in 6th grade – there’s just one problem, he’s already been to the principal’s office twice – on the first day

Title: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
Author: Jordan Sonnenblick
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Page Number: 193 pgs.

Community Connections – Interfaith Education

14 Jun

I spent a few hours last night at a Sharing Ramadan event hosted by our local Islamic Society. It was a wonderful event with a speaker who took the time to talk about the beliefs of the Islam faith as well as how Muslims are being viewed by the media. He even took time to answer questions from the audience – and there probably would have been even more questions, but it was time to break the fast before prayers. We also got to go into the prayer area of the mosque for prayers and then shared dinner together as a large group. It was so nice for a group of people to open up their house of worship for questions and understanding and when it comes down to it many of today’s religions (specifically in this case Islam, Judaism and Christianity) are far more similar than they are different.

I’m now thinking about ways to provide an interfaith program at the library from an educational standpoint to share how people are people and that a person’s beliefs are just one part of their identity. We’re also looking at partnering with the school district on a bullying prevention program and with the police department on the opioid epidemic. I believe that these topics all require community connection and dialogue because no one agency or organization can make a difference, but by working together we can start to make our communities stronger and safer for generations to come.

If your library is currently working on anything like this, I’d love to hear more!

Wonder Trailer – Get Ready to Ugly Cry

25 May

As a book lover and past children’s librarian, I adore LOVE children’s books and so I don’t say this lightly – Wonder by R.J. Palacio is one of my favorite books of all time. And so I was ecstatic to see the official trailer for the new movie was released.

Let me know what you think, I’m hoping they stick close to the book’s plot, but I will say that Auggie looks far more “typical” than I imagined in my head, but I wonder if they didn’t want to push the special effects and makeup too far and still try to make it look realistic. Either way, I think the film makes the point that Auggie looks different than his classmates.

I’m hoping to create a program in October for Bullying Prevention Month and I’m thinking about a family book discussion using Wonder because it is so accessible to a wide range of age groups.

Middle Grade Gets Real – 25 Titles About Tough Topics

3 Mar

Tough Topics.png

There are arguments that kids shouldn’t read about tough topics – topics that include death, adoption/foster care, childhood illness, substance abuse, disability and more. But, how do kids learn about these topics if they don’t see them in their daily life? Or, how to kids feel less alone if they are dealing with these issues at home? Middle grades authors, for the most part, are very careful when dealing with tough topics when writing for their audience. Not, that they sugar coat these issues, but they provide a close look at a tough topic at an age appropriate level.

I love these types of books because it allows kids to really open up, ask questions and discuss topics that are often seen as taboo. But, how are kids supposed to learn? We’ve used at least a few of these titles during our middle school book discussion and the kids are always very insightful and full of questions which they feel comfortable enough to ask. Many students share their own experiences or discuss what they might do if they were in a certain situation. This open communication fills my heart and makes me so happy to hear because I truly believe that books and discussion can truly help educate young people about tough topics and how to react or what they can do when something happens in their own life.

#MGGetsReal is a collaboration of authors reaching out to kids about tough topics. And although the blog doesn’t look like much is happening, Kerry O’Malley Cerra, middle grade author, has an absolutely amazing list of titles on her website about all different types of tough topics.

Take a look at some of these amazing titles below and search for more online or by asking your local librarian. There are many more titles that I could have included and the only reason I didn’t was to make a prettier graphic, so what other titles would you offer for this booklist?

  1. George by Alex Gino
  2. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
  3. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  4. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  5. Booked by Kwame Alexander
  6. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  7. Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
  8. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
  9. See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles
  10. Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley
  11. Ruby On the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  12. One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
  13. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
  14. The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
  15. Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  16. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer & Matthew Holm
  17. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  18. Lost In the Sun by Lisa Graff
  19. Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  20. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
  21. The Girl In the Well Is Me by Karen Rivers
  22. Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  23. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  24. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  25. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Book Review: Wolf Hollow

15 Jun

26026063“The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie. The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and did mattered.”  And with those words, you’ll meet Annabelle a 12-year old girl, living in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1940s.  Her life is fairly simple, helping her family on the farm, sharing a desk at school with her best friend and befriending a World War I veteran named Toby who struggles with day-to-day live after returning from the front.

It’s only when Betty Glengarry moves in with grandparents, does Annabelle’s world get shaken as Betty begins bullying Annabelle.  As the days past and Betty’s threats escalate, Toby becomes involved as a protector for Annabelle, until the unthinkable happens and Annabelle’s friend is injured and Betty disappears.  The community blames Toby and Annabelle must choose between what is right and what is easy.  She knows in her heart that Toby is innocent and stands by his side as the community turns against the strange recluse.

This story is beautifully written by debut author, Lauren Wolk and is not only a historical fiction story, but a story of bullying, standing up for yourself and others who can’t stand up for themselves.  It’s the story of veterans, PTSD, family and courage.  It’s heartbreaking and hopeful and is already garnering Newbery buzz.  And I think it definitely has the possibility of being a strong choice for the Newbery Award this year.  Some have compared it to To Kill a Mockingbird and I can see the comparisons.  Some have also been concerned with the middle grade reading level.  Although this book doesn’t shy away from a number of “issues,” it does it in a way that I believe middle grade readers will react to and create a perfect opportunity for discussion in school, at home or with friends.

Twitter Booktalk (14o characters or less): Wolf Hollow is a haunting & hopeful historical story of standing up for yourself & those who can’t stand up for themselves. @LaurenWolkBooks

Title: Wolf Hollow
Author: Lauren Wolk
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2016
Page Numbers: 304 pgs.

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