Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's A-Okay to Reread in April- Ginny Rorby

Every year, I read aloud one of my favorite books for my students, Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby. Before reading it aloud to them, I always like to reread it to acquaint myself with it again. This fits perfectly with Jen's April challenge of rereading books.  While at it, I decided I wanted to reread all of Ginny's books because I enjoyed them so much.  So, here are the 3 books I plan on rereading in April for Jen's Challenge. 

Hurt Go Happy by Ginny RorbyTitle: Hurt Go Happy
Author: Ginny Rorby
Publisher: Starscape
Publication Date: August, 2006
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis is used to being left out of conversations. Though she's been deaf since the age of six, Joey's mother has never allowed her to learn sign language. She strains to read the lips of those around her, but often fails. 

Everything changes when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his baby chimpanzee, Sukari. Her new friends use sign language to communicate, and Joey secretly begins to learn to sign. Spending time with Charlie and Sukari, Joey has never been happier. She even starts making friends at school for the first time. But as Joey's world blooms with possibilities, Charlie's and Sukari's choices begin to narrow--until Sukari's very survival is in doubt.  
What I Think: This book is so important to me it is even hard to write this review. I have never written one because the book has become so personal to me that I didn't know how to share my feelings. When I read Hurt Go Happy for the first time, I knew that it was the book that I wanted to share with every student I ever had.  Hurt Go Happy shows the importance of empathy for animals, for children and for people with disabilities. 

Hurt Go Happy has become the number one community builder in my classroom.  After our state test and our Earth day activity with The Lorax we begin our read aloud of  Hurt Go Happy. Throughout the book my class participates in conversations about deafness, sign language, chimpanzees, abuse, research facilities, animal abuse, wild animals as pets, survival, parents, school, death, fear, and their future. The conversations are so deep and wonderful.  But this is just the beginning.  Following the reading of the novel, my students are lucky enough to be able to take part in an interview with the author of  Hurt Go Happy, Ginny Rorby. The students generate the questions, vote on which ones to ask and even ask her the questions. Ginny even allows us to send her extra questions and answers them for my students.

The part that really makes students connect to the novel is the field trip that we go on.  At the end of the book, the setting changes to a rehab facility called The Center for Great Apes (@CFGA) which, while in the book was in Miami, has moved to Wauchula, FL which is 90 minutes from my school.  In the book, you even meet Noelle, a chimp who knows sign language, Kenya, another chimpanzee, and Christopher, an orangutan, who are actually at the center. It is an amazing experience to take the story and turn it into reality.

Hurt Go Happy is a book that I feel not only bring our class together but teaches my students some of the most important lessons for life: to care about every living thing. 
Read Together: Grades 6 to 10
Read Alone: Grades 6 and up
Read With: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell, Little Beauty by Anthony Browne, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Snatch of Text:  
Mentor Text for: Making Connections, Predicting, Asking Questions, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Do you think animal testing is necessary? Defend your answer.; How would being deaf affect your life? How does it affect Joey's?
Topics Covered:  Chimpanzees, Deafness, Abuse, Fitting In, Adversity, Empathy, Challenges, Research Facilities

The Outside of a Horse by Ginny RorbyTitle: The Outside of a Horse
Author: Ginny Rorby
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: May, 2010
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Hannah Gale starts volunteering at a horse stable because she needs a place to escape. Her father has returned from the Iraq war as an amputee with posttraumatic stress disorder, and his nightmares rock the household. At the stable, Hannah comes to love Jack, Super Dee, and Indy; helps bring a rescued mare back from the brink; and witnesses the birth of the filly who steals her heart. Hannah learns more than she ever imagined about horse training, abuse, and rescues, as well as her own capacity for hope. Physical therapy with horses could be the answer to her father's prayers, if only she can get him to try.
What I Think: Ginny Rorby writes books about animal-human relationships and the healing power of these animals. This is animal fiction that falls into a completely different realm than others. She breathlessly intertwines human problems with animals. Her previous book, Hurt Go Happy, dealt with Joey, a deaf young girl, her mother’s inability to deal with her disability, and how Sukari, a young chimpanzee, helps Joey and her mother accept their life. Her newest book, The Outside of a Horse, deals with Hannah. Hannah Gale feels so alone. Her mother passed away from cancer a few years ago, her father is fighting in Iraq, her stepmother doesn’t really connect with her, and her brother, Jeffy, is just too young to be there for her. The only comfort to Hannah is when her school bus drives by the stables and she gets to see the horses. It is through these horses that Hannah finds comfort during this difficult time in her life that just keeps getting worse and worse. 

It is through Ginny Rorby’s believable characters and realistic situations that the reader feels so connected to the animals and humans of her novels. Both The Outside of a Horse and Hurt Go Happy deal with not only a human issue, but an animal issue as well. The Outside of a Horse shows the reader the truth behind horse racing. What makes Rorby’s books different, though, is that she teaches about an animal issue, but does not preach. She lets you take in the truth and decide for yourself if it is an injustice or not.  
Read Together: Grades 6 to 9
Read Alone: Grades 7 and up
Read With: BADD by Tim Tharp, Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby, Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart
Snatch of Text: 
Mentor Text for: Characterization, Making Connections, Making Judgments 
Writing Prompts: The Outside of a Horse shares an injustice with us that many people do not realize and is ignored. What is something that you believe is wrong that others enjoy?
Topics Covered: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Horse Racing, Rehabilitation, Grief

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny RorbyTitle: Lost in the River of Grass
Author: Ginny Rorby
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: February, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction-Survival/Novel
Goodreads Summary: "I don't realize I'm crying until he glances at me. For a moment, I see the look of anguish in his eyes, then he blinks it away and slips off into the water. I immediately think of the gator. It's still down there somewhere..." 

A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah's new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren't exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive. 

Lost in the River of Grass takes on the classic survival genre using one of the country's most unique wild places as a backdrop. In this tense, character-driven thriller, Sarah must overcome prejudice and the unforgiving wilderness in a struggle to survive.
What I Think: This is Ginny's most human of a novel. It is about survival and finding the strength inside of yourself to stand up to anything- even something that has always terrified you. Throughout the novel, Sarah and Andy, who are lost in the Everglades, face things that are only in most of our nightmares. I learned, quite quickly, that I probably wouldn't survive if I was lost in the river of grass. But Sarah, who is scared of EVERYTHING, grows up right in front of our eyes. This book made me gasp, cry, laugh- go through the cycle of emotions, but that is what makes a book so wonderful. Ginny Rorby knows how to write characters that the reader can connect with and this is no exception- Sarah is just a normal girl and Andy is just a normal boy, but through their journey they found out how extraordinary they are.  
Read Together: Grades 6 to 9
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 10
Read With: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell
Snatch of Text:  
Mentor Text for: Plot Development, Suspense, Descriptive, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Sarah is afraid of snakes.  How does she overcome her fear?  What are you afraid of? How could you overcome your fear? 
Topics Covered: Integration: Science- Everglades, Survival, Fitting In, Hope

I *heart* them all

Also, check back on May 11th, during our BLOGIVERSARY CELEBRATION, for giveaways of these great books as well as a question and answer session with Ginny Rorby!

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