Monday, June 11, 2018

Can Reading Prevent Violence? YES!!!

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Did you know that 85% of youth in trouble with the law have reading difficulties?  This statistic is from The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment.  The Literacy Alliance believes strongly in providing literacy programs and books to all children, including those in distress.  Our programs at Boys Town, the Homeless Shelter, and the Juvenile Detention Center are examples of our dedication to getting books into the hands of children and engaging them in positive literacy activities.  

I recently became aware of The Melissa Institute that promotes literacy as a tool to prevent violence.  

The following is from their website:

The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of violence and the promotion of safer communities through education and the application of research-based knowledge.  

Evidence shows that students who do not learn to read on level by 3rd grade are much more likely to develop low self-esteem, drop out of school, and engage in antisocial, and aggressive behavior. To help prevent this spiral of failure The Melissa Institute has introduced The Balanced Literacy Diet website to support educators in developing effective and engaging literacy programs across the elementary grades.

This website was developed by university-based literacy experts and school-based practitioners – literacy specialists, classroom teachers as well as district and school administrators. The Balanced Literacy Diet framework is designed to provide a comprehensive multifaceted internet resource to support the development of research-informed reading and writing instruction in schools. 

The Balanced Literacy Diet website is free for educators and parents everywhere!

Balanced Literacy Diet

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Review: Grains of Sand

Grains of Sand Grains of Sand by Sibylle Delacroix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine coming home from a beach vacation as a young child, filled with longing for sun-packed days and endless sandcastles. Away from the water, our wistful protagonists—an adorable brother and sister—are clearly disappointed that the trip has ended and are craving more of their sandy playtime. With minds still reeling with gold and blue beach hues, our little duo decides to plant their leftover sand. Watering these unique sand seeds with their imagination, the children watch and skip along as umbrellas, pinwheels, and ice cream grow. Eventually calm and sated, they head to bed.

Although ideas like waves of laughter painted with ocean surf might be more abstract to younger children, Grains of Sand is a beautifully written and illustrated book that evokes nostalgia in all ages—including myself. The sweet, simple concept of bringing home the beach and overcoming forlornness is perfect for pre-k to second graders. The color-penciled illustrations, using a base of three colors, tightly wraps the picturebook in the serenity of memories meant to console our protagonists and spark new inspiration. I can relate when I come from home the beach. Like these children, I should take my ocean-induced inner peace and despondency and create.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Owlkids Books for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. Grains of Sand will be published on April 15, 2018.
Review by Christine F./The Uncorked Librarian

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Review: Every Shiny Thing

Every Shiny Thing Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sierra’s mom is once again struggling with her addiction to drugs, alcohol, and poorly chosen men while her father is serving jail time for similar vices. Placed in the foster care system, Sierra moves in with a kind, mysteriously heartbroken interracial couple next door to Lauren, a tween fraught with compassion and her rapidly changing family dynamics. Lauren’s autistic brother has just moved to NC in hopes that a specialized school will better meet his needs. No longer a shadow or crutch, Lauren must determine who she is as well as how to function in an unfair world full of homelessness and privilege. As these two characters navigate their friendship through typical school drama, Lauren begins to lose control and fall into emotional instability, seeking solace in shoplifting and stealing her wealthier friends’ and families’ extravagances. Even with somewhat innately good intentions—hoping to sell these items to donate money for autistic children who cannot afford better therapy—Lauren frustratingly self-destructs in her own desire to escape the pain of her brother growing up without her.

Written by two impressive authors, Every Shiny Thing is a middle grade novel carefully constructed with alternating viewpoints. Sierra’s story is told in verse, emphasizing her kaleidoscope-like, emotional world while Lauren’s chaotic emotions and thought stream are portrayed in longer sentenced prose. A modern narrative with nontraditional families, coming of age questions, and how to find a place in a less than fair society, Jensen and Morrison create a strong realistic fiction story that tweens can relate with and look to for inspiration in a less than perfect world.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Amulet Books/ABRAMS kids for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. Every Shiny Thing will hit bookshelves April 17, 2018.

Review by Christine F. (

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison [Amulet Books 2018]

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sixteen-year-old Aza has suffered the sudden loss of her father and is battling inner demons of mental illness—unkind thoughts and words that threaten to consume and possibly kill her. Trapped in the darkness of her own mind, Aza must navigate the unforgiving halls of high school with her fan fiction writing best friend, Daisy. When the town billionaire disappears days before being arrested for corruption, Aza and Daisy decide to investigate. The case is important to Aza as she has a crush on and connection with the fugitive’s son, Davis Pickett—a link of souls dating back from a summer camp fling. Gaining momentum on the details of Mr. Pickett’s disappearance, Aza begins to see fault lines within her mental health. Overly concerned with her micro-biome, even kissing becomes a death-defying hazard, causing Aza to dig her nail deeper into her never-ending fingerprint callous. From a car accident and a breakdown to a best friend who carries multiple burdens as well as a potential boyfriend whose dirty wealth is destroying a family and town, Aza must pull herself forward or drown in her head and a pool of hand sanitizer. It’s turtles all the way down anyway; who is to say what we are, what narrative we are living, and how we control the story of our lives.

Once again, Green mindfully taps into the inner workings of the teenage psyche just as Lamb had successfully done in She’s Come Undone. Designed for YA with a faithful adult following, Turtles All The Way Down is reminiscent of Rowell’s Fangirl with characters and friends who struggle with love and emotions, the world’s almost no-win nonchalance, and of course, a fan fictional element. The narrative possesses a melancholy trance of everyday life that lures readers in through a connection to sincere and darkly real characters. The conclusion for Turtles All The Way Down invokes tears over Aza’s acceptance of her inner confinement and willingness to move backward and forward for the rest of her life.  It is a vicious cycle.  Rest assured Aza will be OK but OK in an Aza-kind-of-way. Genuine and heart wrenching, the title explores family relationships, excessive wealth, and mental illness with the backdrop of questioning how humans exist, sometimes by choice and sometimes at the pen of another.

 Turtles All The Way Down by John Green [Dutton Penguin 2017]

Review by Christine F.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Review - No Good Deed

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Book Review: No GookDeed
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Reviewer: Caterina Recine, 12th grade, Oviedo, FL

No Good Deed is a book filled with satire, interesting plot twists, and eccentric characters. Goldy Moldavsky creates a great story that highlights how today's youth will unwaveringly fight for any cause they deem important, no matter how ridiculous it is. An example from the novel is one character's "Eat Dirt" campaign because dirt is "nutritious." I found humor in the fact that she found a way to dramatize how some people will do anything in order to prove that they are right. I liked the relationship between the characters, the main characters Gregor and Ashley being sweet and awkward, like any teen relationship. This wasn't my most favorite book to read, but I feel that it would be better suited for a different age group than young adults. 

The Knowing Book Review

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Book Review: The Knowing
Student Reviewer: Beeta 11th  grade student
Oviedo, FL
Author:  Sharon Cameron
Publisher:  Scholastic Press               

The Knowing are a select group who do not forget. From the first time they open their eyes they will always remember and never forget and that’s exactly what Samara lives with. All is well until Samara finds out something so terrible that she can't live with it.   She runs away in search of an ancient city where her ancestors lived. She tries to go to the ancient city to be both healed  and to forget the terrible memory. Then along comes Beckett who is also looking for the ancient city of Canaan. They find each other looking for the ancient city but they uncover more than they want to. Can Samara and Beckett find the ancient city? Can Samara forget? Can Beckett overcome his obstacles?

A Tradition of Giving Books!

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Read Like Iceland!!  

The article, Iceland Celebrates Christmas Unlike Any Other Country in the World by Glen Leibowitz, is about Iceland's tradition of giving books at Christmas.  I want to wrap all Icelanders in a huge hug.  Their tradition, that began as the result of import shortages during WWII, is still practiced today.  In fact, Iceland resident, Christopher Norris, wants to spread their tradition to the world, "We believe that reading books is a life-enhancing activity, made even more special by the memories associated with receiving gifts of books from loved ones. We further believe that well-read communities are closer-knit groups, so the buying and reading of books helps to improve social cohesion and celebrate cultural diversity through the sharing of stories and information...Essentially, we want to inspire people to discover--and rediscover--a love of reading for pleasure."

I love it!  As someone who also believes and practices the giving of books, I applaud their efforts and traditions!  And, although the article is about Christmas, I suggest this book giving idea can be a year round gift giving idea.  
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Check out the entire article here:

Iceland Celebrates Christmas Unlike Any Other Country