Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda Baie at Teacher Dance.
I am reading poetry for Round One of Cybils. To see the nominations for 2021, click here.

This week I read the verse novel Starfish by Lisa Fipps. I’m amazed that this is her debut novel. She uses verse effectively; It’s not a prose story told with line breaks. I was drawn in by the story and by the character of Ellie, but I also enjoyed each verse as its own poem.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

I sent this poem to my friend- Inkling writer Linda Mitchell. She is a librarian in a middle school in Virginia and I know she is the type of librarian who would create a safe place for kids like Ellie.

Below is my review on Goodreads:

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have never been a fat person until I read Starfish by Lisa Fipps. I became Ellie and felt every pain of the torture her family and classmates put her through. Reading this book, I was reminded of the bullying I endured as a skinny teenage girl with a flat chest. No bullying is pretty and it happens to lots of different people for lots of different reasons.

The way that Lisa Fipps can magically place you into the body and mind of Ellie through sparse, yet powerful verse is transformative. It made me as an adult examine the language that I use to talk to others. Like Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I want to place this book into the hands of all my students in middle grades. There is an important message here: “I deserve to be seen./ To be noticed./ To be heard./ To be treated like a human./ I starfish./ There’s plenty of room/ for/ each/ and/ every/ one of us/ in the world.” You matter. Ellie matters. I matter.

View all my reviews

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Slice of Life Day 18.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 18. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


I follow middle grade authors on Facebook, Twitter, and on their blogs. Recently, Caroline Starr Rose, author of May B, posted a book give-away on her blog for Crystal Chan’s book Bird. And I won! The book arrived with a sweet note from Crystal Chan. Her note said, “Please tell about it–that’s the best way to give Bird a strong tail wind for its first flight.” Already I knew I would love this book. Then I read the first line, “My grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother.”

I have not written book reviews, ever. I hate to admit this. I’m supposed to be a writer. For some reason, this kind of writing has intimidated me. But when I got this book and Crystal’s note, I knew I had to give it a try. I talked to my student Vannisa about this review. She read Bird. I told her we would write the review together. There is a sense of safety in collaborative writing, and Vannisa had some good insights about the theme that I hadn’t even thought of.

Vannisa googled writing book reviews and made a list of steps for us to follow. She checked them off as we completed each one. I love how we had a role reversal here. Now she wants to read A Snicker of Magic with me. So maybe we will write more reviews together.

I posted this review on Goodreads, my first! I want to publicly thank Crystal Chan for this wonderful gift, her words, her character Jewel, and her touching story.

Crystal Chan has successfully written the saddest first page ever. She draws us in to the life of 12 year old Jewel who was born on the day her brother died. So her birthday is always a day of grief for her parents and grandpa. Jewel has never heard her grandpa speak because he stopped talking on that fateful day.

Jewel’s life changes the day she meets a boy in a tree. His name is John just like her late brother. Coincidence or not?

Crystal Chan leads us on a journey of action and emotion. I felt like I had been betrayed as Jewel overhears her parents arguing.

“I was never wanted. Not even the moment I was coming into the world.”

Jewel’s friendship with John may be a coincidence or a sign. Her grandfather believes it is a curse on her family, but Jewel believes it is good luck. Jewel sees a bit of herself in John. They both dream about their future; Jewel wants to be a geologist and John wants to be an astronaut. Mixed in this enchanting story are facts about the Jamaican culture and the universe.

You just want to read Bird again, to climb trees again, and to dream of a better life.

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