Into the Wild

I picked up Sarah Beth Durst’s debut novel a few days ago at Barnes and Noble. I will be perfectly honest and admit that I am a covergirl- any book with an interesting cover usually ends up in my shopping bag. Durst’s cover is gorgeous! I love the pinks, purples, and silvers. I also love the silhouettes of the main characters on the front. Plus, if you slide the cover off, the actual book is purple! How cool is that?

On to the book. I loved it! I will admit that I was hesitant at first. I like fairy tale retellings but they can get redundant. I was afraid that “Into the Wild” would suffer this same fate. Boy, was I wrong! Julie is your average 12-year old girl. She is annoyed/embarassed by her mom, wants to be accepted at school, and more than anything she wants to be normal. Sounds like most of my 6th grade students. Julie’s problem is that her mother is Rapunzel. Yup, that Rapunzel. See, it turns out Julie’s mom helped the fairy tale characters we all know and love escape from the Wild, or fairy tale world. It turns out, “happily ever after” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Now, Julie has the Wild living under her bed. That is, until it manages to escape because someone makes a wish at the wishing well. Suddenly, the Wild has taken over and everyone is sucked into its tales.

What an interesting and novel way of looking at fairy tales! I actually put the book down and pondered the idea that we take “happily ever after” for granted. The fairy tale characters are doomed to repeat their stories over and over again. Happily ever after just means they go back to the beginning and start again. Stories never end. Ok, fine if you are a hero or heroine. Not so fine if you are a victim in the story!

I really enjoyed this book and I can see the girls in my class passing it around come September. It’s modern, it’s hip, and it’s nostalgic. Who hasn’t wanted to be the princess in a fairy tale? Who hasn’t wanted their own Prince Charming? Sarah Beth Durst shows us the other side of the fairy tale coin. I look forward to any more works from her!

First Light by Rebecca Stead


I picked up Rebecca Stead’s “First Light” a few days ago, after reading reviews on a few other blogs. One of my goals this year is to have read the Newbery winner (or an honor book) before it is chosen this year. It got rave reviews all over, so I grabbed it on one of my many trips to Barnes and Noble.

When I first read the flap description, I thought I might use this novel as a read-aloud during our survival unit this fall. However, after reading it I may move it to our ecology unit. Honestly, it would do well in either place.

“First Light” is actually two stories in one. This made me wary at first, because I wanted to skip ahead. However, I trusted that Rebecca Stead would not lead me astray and that the two stories would intersect. Thankfully, I was right!

Peter is a young boy living in NYC. His parents are both academics, which leads to his “vacation” of sorts in Greenland. his father studies glaciers and mom is writing a book about mitochondrial DNA. What a great concept! What kid would turn down a trip to Greenland during the school year? It sounds exciting, fun, and definitely not school-related. ;) Of course, Peter has a lot to learn- about Greenland, his parents, and the wider world.

Thea is the second protagonist in the book. She and her family live in another world of sorts, below the earth’s surface. Both stories intersect brilliantly by the middle of the book. By the end, I was cheering on all of the characters!

I enjoyed this book a lot and look forward to using it with my students this fall. It is exciting, full of action, and still packs a punch in regards to global warming (without preaching!). It will make a great conversation starter.

Off to the races!

Well, here goes nothing. I am a 6th grade Language Arts teacher who loves to read. I plan to use this blog to review literature that I read. Most of this will be middle grade novels, but there should also be some YA and a few professional books thrown in, too!

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