Happy Book Birthday, SOLO!

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For this book birthday, I wrote a review of SOLO, by Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess. It comes to us from Blink YA Books and is in stores today! This is one of my rare, 5-Star reads.

Solo is Kwame Alexander’s latest release (from Blink YA Books) and features Mary Rand Hess. These amazing authors expertly weave the story of Blade, a teen who would rather not be associated with his famous father, Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star. Blade’s girlfriend, Chapel, is the light in his life of darkness, but her parents forbid her to see Blade amid continued family drama. Blade finds that his life is not as it seems – is it worse? The one connection that the family shares is music – much music. “But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities…”

The music that connects Blade, his father, and the other intriguing characters in the book are the web that Alexander and Hess create to lead the reader (and Blade) from Hollywood to West Africa in search of life’s answers. Tracks from Lenny Kravitz, Metallica, U2 ,Van Halen, Aretha Franklin, and more all bring memories to carry the reader (and Blade) into the future. The story is a true hero’s journey through music and time. (Suggestion: Get the audio version!)

What I loved most about Solo is that it is written in Kwame’s famous novel-in-verse style, and adding Mary’s poetic contributions made my heart sing. The book features nostalgic hits and original music by Randy Preston, Alexander’s talented musical friend. The twists, turns, and surprises throughout the book made this a quick read, yet I revisited pages again and again. I downloaded the music to listen to as I traveled with Blade through my third read! I highly recommend Solo for any teen trying to find him/herself in the world, anyone who loves music, or anyone who loves a fantastic story line. (That means “Go Get This Title Now!”) “When the heart gets lost, let the music find you.”

Slice of Life Tuesday: The 4th Quarter

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Kwame Alexander’s book, The Playbook, is divided into 4 parts — 4 quarters of lessons people should know to be successful in life. It is a fabulous guide for living, rich with quotes and good advice. Today we started the 4th quarter of our school year, and I’m thinking about the lessons I will teach until June.

Our 4th quarter is actually split up into even more parts: spring break, more state testing, and the end-of-year celebrations and field trips. It’s a long quarter — from March 21st until June 8th. It seems like the 4th quarter will take as long to complete as the rest of the year all together!

We have a lot to do in this 4th quarter of school! Time periods in history, such as the Renaissance, in social studies, reading projects with podcasts (hopefully), and writing about literature. We will review character development, plot lines, setting, and theme. We will talk, write, and create.

In the 4th quarter, we will succeed…just like Kwame said!

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Getting “Booked”

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Slice of Life Small LogoI read Kwame Alexander’s new book, Booked. When I told him via Facebook that I had a question about my reading and if I missed something and needed to read the book again, he replied, “Ha Ha!”

The class watched his poetry workshop from March 2015 on Meet the Author. I thought it was informative and entertaining. (Boring words! We broke out the dictionary and thesaurus.)

Compelling? Instructive? Revealing? (Yes, revealing. I learned about Kwame’s thoughts on writing poetry, his process for finding words to use in his writing, and his rubric for grading students on their “poetry’s behavior.”) The whole program was in spots/scenes from the studio, Kwame’s office (at home? Cool!), and the stage where the students read their poems.

Delightful? Gratifying? Welcoming? Amusing? (Yes, yes, yes, and yes.)

I am always ecstatic to share my video finds with my students. What a great way to Meet the Author! I’ll need to find more of this program. For this, I searched You Tube for “Kwame Alexander” videos. I found this program on the Fairfax Network/Fairfax County Public Schools channel, dated July 2, 2015.

https://youtu.be/V39o0u6Wjbg

 

 

 

 

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