Author: Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2007
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse
Summary: Diana is devastated when she finds out her dad has lost his job and they must move away from her house and her best friend, Rose. Diana's family is there for her as she deals with her feelings about moving to a new place and making new friends.
What I Think: First of all, I love novels written in verse. They have fast become favorites for me and this one is another I will gladly recommend to my students and teacher friends. I think lots of kids will be able to relate to moving or to being in new situations where they might feel uncomfortable like Diana. I vividly remember being dropped off for camp and dreading having to say goodbye to my dad and leave the friendly coziness of his car. I would make him stay as long as possible so I wasn't the first person there. I was fairly shy as a kid and even though I made friends easily, that first time meeting people made me nervous.
The poems in this book are written well and I can see how kids could easily make connections with what Diana is feeling from start to finish. Diana is a writer, she writes poetry herself. I think this would be great for teachers to read with students to talk about writing. You could isolate the poems that discuss when Diana goes to a poetry writing workshop and use her ideas for writing in your own class.
Read Together: 1 - 6
Read Alone: 2 - 6
Read With: Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes; Charlotte's Web by E.B. White;
Snatch of Text:
Looking for Poems in
My New Neighborhood
I take my notebook outside
to the hot August day:
to Mr. Barr’s dog, Tucker,
who likes to lick my knees…
to Mrs. Martin’s gazebo,
painted pink as
strawberry ice cream…
to the tassled weeds
in the lot near the old church…
to the donut shop with the blue door…
to the copper beech tree that’s nearly
one hundred years old…
I take out my pencil.
I open my notebook
and my heart.
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Poetry, Descriptive, Setting
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you made a new friend. Write about a time in your life when you had to do something for the first time. Write a poem about your neighborhood. Think of your favorite place and describe it.
Topics Covered: moving, poetry, family, sisters, friendship, astonomy, novel in verse, writing
Translated to Spanish: No