A Single Seed

Lockdown – Walter Dean Myers
January 7, 2011, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Jail

Reese is the best inmate at Progress juvenile detention facility.  He’s been on good behavior and has just begun a work program at a nearby retirement facility.  However, recently he’s found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In jail there is always a pecking order of strongest to weakest, and it’s survival of the fittest in there.  Reese can’t help but intervene when one of the more helpless guys gets targeted.

Unfortunately behind bars, doing what you think is right can ruin your chances at a future.  Now Reese doesn’t know if he’ll get out or not.  And even if he does, what’s he got to return to?  He’s still going back to the streets where he came from.  Is there any hope for a better life?

View a 1 minute clip here:

The book shows how there are many prisons to our lives that may not necessarily need to be made with steel bars.  Mr. Hooft, a resident at the nursing  home, explores his own feelings of loneliness and imprisonment within the facility and in a state of old age.  This book will appeal to young readers who can enjoy a strong emotional connection with boy in a tough situation.  It explores the harsh realities of society in our country and how even the right answers or right decisions do not always equal the American dream.  Lockdown explores the necessity to make up your own life story no matter in what situation you find yourself.

Teachers may want to look into Jay-Z’s book Decoded as a supplemental text as it provides annotations to his lyrics explaining the culture and history of rap music.

Also be mindful that there is some use of strong language throughout the book.  While by all means appropriate and necessary to the story, it may not be for all readers, especially those in the middle grades.

The Things a Brother Knows – Dana Reinhardt
January 7, 2011, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Military

Boaz, a suburban upper class high school senior was accepted to any Ivy League school of his choice, and changed the course of his family’s history by making the decision to enlist in the Marine Corps instead of pursuing the path set out before him.

The Things a Brother Knows, is the story of how his family’s lives have changed based on this one decision.  Told from the perspective of his younger brother, Levi, the story connects the threads of a family together through the times after war.

Boaz returns from serving in the war a changed man.  He locks himself in his room for days and can barely say three words to any member of his family.  And, he won’t set foot inside of a car.

His brother, Levi, cannot understand how this person who gave up his entire life and his entire family can be considered a hero, when he’s come back so damaged from fighting in a war which no one stands behind.  The story follows Levi, who continues to try to understand this new member of his family.  After a little bit of snooping, Levi discovers that Boaz lied about hiking the Appalachian Trail and has left behind a scribbled up map full of clues.  Levi follows his brother on a journey of discovery in which he not only reacquaints himself with his brother, but with his own identity as an individual.

Here is a 1 minute scene from the book!

Reinhardt has crafted a suspenseful narrative of what it truly means to be a hero.  She balances the emotions of the people left behind with the harsh realities of a soldier’s experience at war.  While giving just a perfect amount of details regarding Boaz’s time overseas, the reader is propelled through the story always wanting just one more clue as to what events created this strong young man who returned a damaged soldier.  Through the perspective of Levi, readers are able to put themselves within the context of the story, and what an everyday person must go through in forming their own identity and choosing their own destiny.  Levi is faced with battles of personal identity, love, friendships, and family ties.  In the end, the reader is forced to contemplate the question, what is a hero?

Readers may also enjoy Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick, Fallen Angels and Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers, and Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai.  All of which deal with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hello world!
January 7, 2011, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So this is my attempt at being tech-savvy.  Let’s see if it works!