Category Archives: Book Reviews

Hello World! Good News & a Great-Read!

I have been MIA for quite a while. To be perfectly honest, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by life.  Not sure if any of you have felt like you need a hiatus from life.  I saw an eCard recently that said, “I drink coffee because grown-upping is hard!”  My version of that is Diet Coke, but I can relate to that because sometimes I wake up and want to say, “world, I don’t feel like being responsible today.”

I have some exciting news that hasn’t been shared on our blog, and one of the reasons I have been silent on here.

We're having a baby girl! And we can wait to hold her in January! (Baby, please let me get my second semester classes set up before you come; but come safely either way. Thank you!)
We’re having a baby girl! And we can wait to hold her in January! (Baby Elsie, please let me get my second semester classes set up before you come; but come safely either way. Thank you! Love, your mama.)

I couldn’t tell my principal for a while because it was summer break, and I’m a firm believer in your employer knows before you tell Facebook or a blog.  Professionalism in education dictates this maxim.  Of course that’s all I was thinking about though so how could I sit down to write when I couldn’t write about the truth? (That is a rhetorical question my friends and my students can actually identify it this year because they are awesome! They are the best students a pregnant teacher could ask for. God knew what he was doing when guidance was scheduling their classes last year.)

Well, now that that’s out there! Let me tell you what got me wanting to write again.  A book! Go figure.  An English teacher feeling so strongly about a book that she had to share it.  Well, that’s me.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime is a book that I had heard about for a while, nothing but good things mind you.  Recently, a student was reading it in class and she reminded me that the protagonist is a 15 year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Right now, I happen to be teaching a 16 year old boy with Autism and Parker and I recently finished watching our favorite TV show to date, Parenthood, which features a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome (Parker just informed me that it may not be his favorite show…) Reading a book with that point of view caught my eye so I added it to my never-ending “to-read” list and put it on hold at the library, not realizing it would be delivered so quickly.

When I picked it up, I took a peek inside.  Well, that peek turned into a 45 page peek by the following morning and a finished book by today.

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The following paragraph is what did it.  The hook:

It was 7 minutes after midnight.  The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mr. Shears’s house.  Its eyes were closed.  It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream.  But the dog was not running or asleep.  The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog.  The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork  had not fallen over.  I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident.  But I could not be certain about this.

What??? The dog is dead? With a garden fork?  Call me what you will, but that opening made me want to keep reading and I’m so glad I did.  It was so enlightening to read from Christopher’s perspective and see how his brain operated and viewed the world.  While I won’t go as far as saying he should be the prototype for all Asperger brains, it was a fabulous look into at least one, even if only a fictionalized character.  Mark Hadden did an excellent job in developing his character.

(One warning I will give to other readers is that it uses some strong language in parts of the book, when other characters, not Christopher, are angry or frustrated.  They use the F-word in those circumstances, which bugs me personally, but I suppose since the author is British it makes sense because I have heard it’s a word more accepted in England; I’ve never really looked into that to find out how accurate that saying is.  I know in the U.S. my students and many people love that particular word, but for me it’s still a jarring unnecessary thing. So just a word to the wise, it is in there for other sensitive readers.)

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Other great reads I read recently. They were clean comedy, which is very hard to find. Thank you Jim Gaffigan!
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My next book to crack open, thanks to our school librarians who support my Film Studies class. 🙂 I’m very excited for this nugget!

Also… below are my recent art projects.  No English teacher mama can pass up an opportunity to put paintings of children’s books covers on the nursery’s walls.  I painted these canvasses a few weeks ago.  I’ll get better quality pictures tomorrow and swap them out, but these give you the idea.

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“If you look closely, you can see the glitter paint for my shiny scale!”

We are very excited to welcome our little girl in January if you can’t tell.  And hopefully, if I read to her enough, she’ll share my love of reading.

Until next time!

Sarah (& Parker)

The Giver

The man on the cover is apparently a painter in Maine who talked with Lowry about color and how much more an artist sees than the everyday man or woman.
The man on the cover is apparently a painter in Maine who talked with Lowry about color and how much more an artist sees than the everyday man or woman.

Most people love The Giver, and I like it philosophically. For an adult it is a quick read and it is profound; it’s just simply not my favorite, which is why it only gets a three.

A few thoughts about it though:
-It’s a great young adult Dystopian novel, which preceded the craze.
-It must have been challenging to imagine an world void of the things that make life meaningful; I said to my book club that reading this book or writing it in Lowry’s case would be like the age old object lesson of trying to describe “color” to the blind. How do you imagine not knowing it?

-It made me think about opposition in all things a lot.  You can’t know joy without pain and so on.

It kinda reminded my of reading The Alchemist, both had me thinking a lot.