Thursday, July 18, 2013

Zebra Forest

I'm reviewing Zebra Forest today! Thanks to Candlewick for sending me a copy to review. Kellee also reviewed this book at Unleashing Readers. Make sure to check out her review, too!
Title: Zebra Forest 
Author: Adina Rishe Gewirtz   
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: April 2013 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves.

When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. "If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence," Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room — like she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie tells stories, too, as she and Rew laze under the birches and oaks of Zebra Forest — stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same. Driven by suspense and psychological intrigue, Zebra Forest deftly portrays an unfolding standoff of truth against family secrets — and offers an affecting look at two resourceful, imaginative kids as they react and adapt to the hand they’ve been dealt. 
What I Think: I'm still so sad for Annie and Rew. I've been thinking about their story ever since I finished it. Stories where kids seem to have to grow up too soon always make me sad. At the same time, they always remind me that there are kids out there in the world in similar situations and having to deal with tough situations. Part of me is still wondering about their grandmother and the other part has been thinking about the escapee from the prison. Adina does a wonderful job with her description. There are definitely several high-stress situations in this book and I remember feeling my heart start to race just reading about what was happening to the characters. She definitely brings Annie's story to life. I know this is something I think about in my own writing a lot, although most of my writing is about funny, awkward situations instead of the stressful situations in Zebra Forest, I still think about building the momentum. There was one part that seemed just a little bit too convenient for me and I'm still wondering a little bit about their grandmother but I think kids might really enjoy this one.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7 
Read With: Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder, Hold Fast by Blue Balliett, Paperboy by Vince Vawter, This is Not a Drill by Beck McDowell, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Snatch of Text: "A buzzing started in my ears just then. Gran once quoted some writer who said, 'The blood will out.' I'd never really understood what she meant. But now I think it must mean that your blood knows things before your head does. Because even as I struggled to make sense of Gran's words, and the man's, the blood came rushing into my head, making me dizzy." (p. 37)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive  
Writing Prompts: Write about a stressful situation you have experience before. Describe using your five sense to build the tension into your writing.
Topics Covered: Family, Self-Confidence, Trust, Loyalty, Honesty, Courage  
I *heart* It:

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