Review: Getting a Life with Asperger’s

“it may be a good idea to practice the art of disclosure which has allowed me to reduce fear in my community. ” page 61

Getting a Life with Asperger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood by Jesse A. Saperstein.
Perigee, Penguin Random House, New York, 2014.
YA/new adult self-help, 220 pages including resources.
Not leveled.

This is a self-help/life advice book specifically aimed at helping the autistic teen or young adult lead a productive and satisfying life.  The author uses examples from his own life and that of others he knows as well as general practical advice.

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This was a dollar store find from a while ago.  I have a general interest in autism, so I bought this although I’m quite far from the target audience.  While this is not a book I will keep, it could have a great deal of value to the intended audience.

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Review: Pink

“As we wandered through the back alleyways of the city, Chloe burbled happily about the film’s self-conscious rejection of classical cinematic form and its youthful iconoclasm and its radical break with the conscious and conservative paradigm […] even though I had no idea what she was talking about, her enthusiasm was contagious.” p. 130

Pink by Lili Wilkinson.
HarperTeen, New York, 2009.
YA realistic fiction, 310 pages.
Stonewall Honor Book, 2012
Lexile: HL630L (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  4.3 (worth 9.0 points)

Ava is sick of wearing all black, attending radical protests with her parents, and pretending to hate school with her girlfriend Chloe.  She’s transferring to preppy private school Billy Hughes, and she’s ready to try out a whole new image.  Which means wearing pink instead of black.  Which means pretending she doesn’t have a girlfriend.  Which means trying at school, and doing her best to be popular.

Her first ticket to popularity and a gorgeous boyfriend will be starring in the school musical.  But when her singing doesn’t make the cut, how will she balance the different areas of her life and sides of herself?

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Pink by Lili Wilkinson

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Review: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

“Black soldiers servied in artillery and infantry, and black women, who could not formally join the army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts.” ~p. 24

Black Soldiers in the Civil War by Rick Beard.  (America’s National Parks Press Series)
America’s National Parks Press, Eastern National, Fort Washington, PA, 2016.
High school informative non-fiction, 24 pages.
Not leveled.

This is a short little book, almost a pamphlet, giving an overview of black soldiers’ service in the Civil War from their eagerness to fight (met with a resistance to arm blacks) to the discrimination and marginalization of surviving veterans.

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Black Soldiers in the Civil War by Rick Beard.

Before we get into the review, let me explain how I came across this book.  Elementary school teachers will already be well aware of the wonders of Dollar Tree.  These days I have the amazing luxury to afford brand new books, but once upon a time I got new books by saving some cash and going to the thrift store, or maybe a library sale.  Dollar Tree was a revelation – I could buy brand new books for a dollar with no cigarette smell or disgusting surprises between the pages.

These days I occasionally do a quick run and grab less than $10 worth of books.  Sure, half of them may be horrible and quickly given away or resold, but I’ve also discovered some real gems there.

The selection changes as it is mainly remaindered books, but there are a few constants – National Geographic always has some books, and there are always at least a few of these National Parks Service titles.  They change but always have some patriotic theme – Washington, The Liberty Bell, etc.  I like them because they are a nice cheap way to fill out a patriotic classroom collection.  The short length and the contemporary portraits and photography make them resemble a picture book, but the reading level and content is aimed at more of a teen or adult audience.

For example, here is a sentence from this particular book:

“Within days of Douglass’ fiery speech, Secretary of War Simon Cameron tersely deflected an offer of “three hundred reliable colored citizens” to help defend Washington during the suspenseful first weeks of the war, when a Confederate assault on the nation’s capital city seemed imminent.” ~p. 5

The vocabulary and sentence complexity combined with the overall knowledge of the Civil War required bump this book’s level, but a talented or particularly motivated middle school student could read it.  I will warn that the word “negro” does appear in context of primary source quotations, and death, injustice, and discrimination are present.

This is a great little book.  The format makes it easy to digest, it uses a lot of primary source quotations, summarizes complex information quickly, and for the adult reader, gives a comprehensive overview in one sitting.

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Black Soldiers in the Civil War, pages 7 and 8.

Best of all is the price.  As of this writing, you can buy a used copy on Amazon for $9, or you can go to your local Dollar Tree and score one for $1.  That’s cheap enough that you might be able to get a couple copies for small group work.  I’ve used this series to study non-fiction text features with some success.

We got two copies of this book so N can follow along in her copy as I read it aloud to her.  If you are able to get this from your local Dollar Tree, then it is well worth the dollar.  I learned a lot from it.

Review: Summer on the Short Bus

Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell.
Running Press Teen, Running Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2014.
Teen realistic fiction, 252 pages.
Not leveled.
Note: This is fiction although I am not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

Cricket Montgomery was caught trying to smoke pot in the stables (we later find out it was actually oregano), so her usually lenient father has shipped her off to be a camp counselor.  She knows nothing about the camp, so she faints when she finds out she’s going to be working with disabled teens and pre-teens.  Her goal is to get out of camp as quickly as possible, but an attractive fellow counselor might change her mind.

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Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell.

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