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Book Trailer of the Week: Pretty Crooked

Happy Friday everyone!

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for an audiobook copy of Cinder by Marissa Meyer!

Pretty Crooked by Elisa LudwigBy now you probably know I’m a fan of a good fairy tale retelling. I love seeing an author mix classic stories with newer or modern plot points and I’m pretty much always interested in a book that does this. So, when I heard about Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig I was definitely intrigued!

Here’s the summary:

Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones. Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

I think it looks like a really cute take on Robin Hood! Let’s go ahead and let the book trailer speak for itself!

Pretty Crooked has been in stores and libraries for about a month now, so go out and get it!

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Sometimes People Are Mean: The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler

Middle Schooler and aspiring journalist, Zebby, is sick and tired of her teacher squashing her ideas for the school newspaper.  Zebby wants to write hard-hitting articles about things that really matter, but Mrs. Jonstone would rather include stories about how great Truman School is.

Frustrated, Zebby and her computer guru friend Amr, come up with an idea to start their own online newspaper; they name the website TheTruthAboutTruman.com.  Site rules?  Everyone and anyone can post and no one gets censored. At first no one is interested in Zebby’s articles, like the one on the new math curriculum, so she and Amr try to figure out ways to get more visitors to the sight.  They post some “Who’s the worst teacher at Truman?” polls and soon the site is getting tons of hits.

Quickly though, Zebby and Amr begin to question their free speech policy as someone anonymously posts an embarrassing picture  of another girl at school, Libby.  Zebby and Amr, ignore it hiding behind their desire to provide a place for people to tell the truth, but things quickly get out of hand as the mysterious writer continues to post hurtful comments about Lilly.  Pretty soon, things spiral out of control before Zebby and Amr’s eyes and they have no idea what to do as something really scary happens.

I picked up The Truth About Truman School at our school Book Fair earlier this month, as the cover looked cute and lighthearted.  Lets just say the cover is slightly misleading; it makes you think this is going to be a middle school “chicklit” novel.  It’s not.  This book deals with some pretty serious stuff; cyberbullying. (And uses some pretty hurtful (and common to teens) language to be as real as possible)

The Truth About Truman School is pretty much a long PSA against cyberbulling.  Which is both good and annoying at the same time.  As a middle school educator, I think that Butler addresses an incredibly relevant topic; I know we’ve had trouble with it at my school before.  All people (not just teens) need to be aware of what it is and how the anonymity of the internet can be a breeding ground for cruelty.  That said, I also feel like Butler’s agenda is a little too transparent.  There were times where I thought, “okay this is reading straight out of one of those anti cyberbullying video created by the county that they force the kids to watch first period”.  Butler was just a little bit heavy-handed with the “cyberbullying is bad” theme.  But, that’s coming from an adult who works within the education system, so I do wonder if teens will have the same perspective; will they even pick up on this and feel the same way?  I don’t know. (But I’d be interested to hear some teens thoughts!)

Either way, this is a good story for people to read and discuss their thoughts because guess what?  People can be mean! Also, I was totally surprised at the end; definitely not who I thought it was (no spoilers here!) A very quick read  (I finished it in less than two days) as each character gets a chance to tell their side of things (Point of view switches always make the story read quicker to me.).

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Kids are Mean: Bystander by James Preller

As one who was once in middle school, you know it’s there.

As one who is a middle school educator, you know it’s there.

Bullying.

Yea, that is what Bystander by James Preller is all about. Well, not just about bullying, but also about learning how to be strong in the face of bullying.

Seventh grader, Eric is new in Bellport, Long Island.  Eric’s mother just moved him and his little brother from Ohio back to her hometown.
Eric has just met someone who actually wants to be his friend; Griffin.  Griffin is a little strange, but he seems popular, cool and confident.

Soon, Eric starts to notice that all is not well with Griffin.  He encourages Eric to lie to his mother and he always seems to be at the center of bad situations.  The more time Eric spends with Griffin and his friends, the more Eric starts see; Griffin lies, he’s a bully and he’s a thief.

As Eric starts to realize that Griffin isn’t who he wants to be associated with and attempts to break away from the relationship, things take a turn for the worse.  Being on Griffin’s bad side isn’t where Eric wants to be. And as the tagline asks, is Eric just “a bystander? Or the bully’s next target?”.

Things I liked about this novel:

So, I thought this book was a page turner.  I would get to the end of each chapter and think, “Okay, I can read one more!”  or “I need to get back to that book to see what happens next”.  You’re pushing forward through the book just knowing that something is about to happen just right around the corner.  This is totally what one feels like as a victim of bullying, you know its coming, you almost expect it with every turn.  I don’t know if Preller intended this effect on the reader, but it’s there.

Griffin’s character isn’t just some one-sided “mean kid” character.  Often in movies or books the mean kid is just mean, for no reason whatsoever, but Preller provides a little more insight.   As the book progresses, the reader gets a little glimpse into Griffin’s home life and it kind of all falls together; you suddenly understand his motives. I think my friend, Becky (shot out!) always said, “hurt people hurt people”.  I’m sure she got that from someone famous, and it makes so much sense with Griffin’s character.

Things I wasn’t so fond of (oh, and a bit of a spoiler alert):

Mainly, the conclusion.  There is no meaningful solution to the problem.  Griffin, in some strange way, respects Eric, so they kind of silently agree to live and let live and go their separate ways.  The problem I have with this, is that it’s not that easy for a bullying victim to just live life because the bullies do not give up that easily.  Not in my opinion, and not from what I’ve seen working with middle schoolers.   There usually has to be some sort of confrontation, whether with an adult or without.  The ending to me, wasn’t very realistic.

All in all, I enjoyed Bystander and I think it’s a great way to opening up a conversation with your friends, students, or children about bullying.