Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney...

How I Heard About It:  This title came across my twitter feed at some point.  While at a book event at The Wild Rumpus (an awesome book store), I saw it on display.  I was in a book buying mood and added it to my stack.  

What It Is About:  Amira has just turned twelve and with that comes many changes she is excited about.  She lives in a Sudan village and life can be very difficult but she tries to focus on the positive and making a better life for herself.  After the Janjaweed attack her village, she must flee with the other villagers.  The journey is long and hard, but she doesn't give up.  Her goal is to survive and make it to safety.  While at a refuge camp, she receives the gift of a red pencil and her life is forever changed.  

What I Thought Of It:  The story was told in verse and this type of writing has always been difficult for me.  I prefer fiction writing that tells a continuous story.  I had heard such great things about the book that I wanted to give it a try.  The writing in this story is beautiful.  I found myself doing a better job of really taking in the language at the beginning of the story until about the middle.  From the middle toward the end, I was started to read faster and doing some skimming.  For me personally, writing in verse and/or prose can seem "chunky" and "disconnected".  Overall I thought the story was wonderful and powerful, but probably would have connected more had it been written in full sentence/paragraph form.  Just a personal preference.  

Who Should Read It:  If this book were in the hands of a middle-grade reader, I think they would have to be in grades five or six.  I also think they would need to be a strong reader to handle the format and the content.  Middle school readers would also enjoy the story.  It may appeal to girl readers more than boys just because it solely focuses on Amira.  Adult readers will also find enjoyment with the book.  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

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