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Posts Tagged «sad stories»

Bluefish

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

bluefishby Pat Schmatz, 226 pages, Grades 7-9

Nominated for CYRM 2015!

Travis’ parents died, his dog went missing, and his Grandpa just made him move from the house in the country he loved. Now he is starting at a new school and it is hard to find where he belongs. When Velveeta befriends him he is not clear what he has done to deserve it, but she explains that she observed a small act of kindness his first morning in the hallway that convinced her to like him. She is a talker and he is a listener, so it is a good match. The trouble begins when they are assigned to work on a project together. It is not that Travis doesn’t want to do a good job, he just never learned to read, and feels like it is too late to get help or admit it; he always figures out a way to slip by, and no one at home is really keeping track. This Velveeta, though, is hard to shake, and though he wants to just push her away it does feel good to have a friend.

If you enjoy realistic fiction about kids with difficult family situations you might also enjoy Guitar Boy, by M.J. Auch, Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Scrawl, by Mark Shulman.

 

A Monster Calls

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

monstercallsby Patrick Ness, 204 pages.  Grades 7 and up.

Connor has been making his own dinner, and putting himself to bed for a while now.  His mom has been sick a long time. The treatments seem never-ending.  There is always something new to try; something that will surely work this time.  It is hard for him, but he has it under control, and he is managing just fine, until some bullies start bothering him at school, and a monster moves into his backyard and starts waking him up in the middle of the night trying to scare him.

The monster takes Connor on a journey of stories, each more unexpected than the next. On the way he learns that things are not always what they seem and he finds the strength to face his worst fear of all.  

The combination of the illustrations and the writing is so powerful that it brings the reader along on Connor’s emotional journey in a way that feels tangibly genuine and raw.

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

If you like sad stories you might also enjoy:  After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or The Poet Slave of Cuba, by Margarita Engle.

Now Is The Time For Running

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

nowisthetimeforrunning__spanby Michael Williams, 233 pages, Grades 7 and up

Deo is playing soccer when the soldiers arrive.  At first they hope that they will shout and shoot into the sky and then move on to the next village to show their power, but the soldiers are serious about violence this time.  Deo and Innocent narrowly escape the massacre and run from their home with only a few possessions. Deo is the younger brother, but Innocent is disabled and suffers from emotional fits when he isn’t able to calm himself with his radio, so it is Deo who has to make all the decisions to make sure they are safe.

The teens face immense difficulties as they make their way to the border, but it is when they get there that the real challenge begins. Deo and Innocent have to make their way across a raging river and through a wild animal preserve just to escape the war, but even away from the war safety is very hard to find.

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

If you enjoy reading stories about real places and situations that are very different from your own, you might also like:  No Ordinary Day, Breadwinner, or I Am A Taxi, by Deborah Ellis, or Crossing the Wire, by Will Hobbs.

No Ordinary Day

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

noordinarydayby Deborah Ellis, 155 pages, Grade 5-7

The day Valli leaves her miserable coal mining village and sets off on an adventure is no ordinary day; it is her happiest day so far.  Valli is a clever survivor; she ends up in Kolkata, India and lives alone on the streets borrowing and begging to fill her belly, and sleeping in the cemetery when she can sneak by the guards.  Life is hard, but she is stubbornly optimistic.  Valli approaches strangers to ask for food, dives to the bottom of the river to collect change; she has a gift for getting what she requires and when she is finished with something she makes sure to give it to someone else in need.   

One day she meets a lady doctor whom she is sure will give her a few rupees (Indian money), but while they are talking Valli steps on some burning coals.  The doctor is alarmed, but Valli doesn’t feel a thing; she tells the doctor that she has magic feet, nothing can hurt her.

Leprosy is one of the most feared and misunderstood diseases probably because of the way it disfigures its victims.  Even today people with the disease are considered outcasts of their societies.  In reality, leprosy is hard to get, and, in fact, can be cured if diagnosed and treated.  Unfortunately, often those who contract it are not in a position to get assistance.  

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

If you enjoy reading about social situations much different from our lucky circumstances here in Piedmont, then you might also enjoy The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis, Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan, or Now is the Time for Running, by Michael Williams.

Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

revolutionby Ying Chang Compestine, 249 pages, Grades 5-8

Ling is nine, her parents are both doctors and they live in China surrounded by neighbors who are their friends.  Little by little the China they know begins to change around them.  The young people call themselves revolutionaries and say they value equality for all, but soon their chants “Down with the bourgeois!” and actions turn against people like Ling’s parents who have been educated.  Ling faces challenges of school bullies, the disappearance of friends and family, the lack of food and necessities as well as the abuse of loved ones as the China she knew transforms into a different place entirely.

If you would like to read more about this time period you might also enjoy a biography called:  Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-ling Jiang, or Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, by Chun Yu

 

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

Grounded

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Groundedby Kate Klise 196 pages Grades 6-7Daralynn’s father, brother and baby sister died in a plane accident, and Daralynn is only alive because she was grounded that day and had been forced to remain behind.

After the tragedy, her mother becomes the hairdresser for the dead at the local mortuary to make ends meet, but it is not easy to recover from such a shattering loss.  Daralynn’s mother is not only over-protective of her, but also seems to be angry about everything, and kind to no one.

Even Daralynn’s Aunt Josie, her father’s sister, is often the victim of Mother’s attacks.  When Josie starts dating Daralynn’s mother’s competition, things really heat up.  But, there is something suspicious about “Uncle Clem,” Josie’s new beaux, and Daralynn’s investigation might just prove to be the thing her family needs to pull them back together.

If you enjoyed Regarding the Fountain by Klise, you won’t be disappointed by this sweet narration.  Another great book about family perseverance in the face of tragedy is Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

 

Mockingbird

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

mockingbird-by-kathyrn-erskine-book-cover-1By Kathryn Erskine, 235 pages, Grade 6-8

Caitlin and her father are feeling broken after tragedy strikes their family a second time.  Caitlin’s mother died of cancer three years before and now her brother, Devon, is dead after a violent incident at school.   On “the day their lives fell apart”, as Caitlin calls it, Devon’s door was slammed shut and Caitlin doesn’t feel like she can open it.  She misses her brother, and his  room and all it holds especially a special place next to his bed where she used go for comfort.  It was Devon who used to help her cope with the worlds of the town, the classroom and the playground.   He  always said Caitlin was brave; he even liked to call her Scout after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Now that Caitlin’s dad spends a lot of time crying  and Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has to be especially brave.  She would like to help her family put the pieces back together, but she is not sure how to do that.  After talking to the school counselor one day, she decides what they need is  “closure” and she is on a mission to get it.  But, first she has to find out what it is and how you get a hold of  it.

For other stories about how families find closure try Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

The Poet Slave of Cuba

Friday, September 24th, 2010

poet slaveBy Margarita Engle, Art by Sean Qualls    p. 183  – Grades 7-12 – biography

Trapped as a slave in a wealthy home in Cuba, Juan Francisco Manzano lived his life in fear of the cruel punishments of his masters.  This sad and harrowing story was uncovered because the young slave,  Manzano, wrote vivid poetry that describes his time as a slave.   In Cuba poetry is like television; many people perform poetry for others and stories are often carried across the country because people repeat the poems they have heard.  It is for this reason that the author, Margarita Engle, was inspired to write this biography in verse, paying tribute to Manzano’s work.  While enslaved Manzano could not stop creating poems in his head; sometimes his owners praised him for his creativity and other times he was severely punished.  The poems were part of Manzano and came to him as naturally as breathing; no punishment, no matter how harsh, could stop him from being himself.

Connections:  For other serious stories in verse try Aleutian Sparrow or Out of the Dust, both by Karen Hesse.  For stories about people escaping oppression try 5,000 Miles to Freedom: Ellen and William Craft’s Flight From Slavery, by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, or The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyul Choi.

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Drums1by Jordan Sonnenblick.    p. 273    Grades 6-8

Most younger brothers can be a pain, but 8th grader Steven Alper’s five-year-old brother Jeffrey really takes the cake or pie, that is.  He borrows Steven’s prized pair of drumsticks to stir his dangerous pie, a “zesty blend of coffee grounds, raw eggs and their smashed shells, Coke, uncooked bacon, and three Matchbox racing cars.”   When he’s not trying to keep his mischievous brother from being a pest, Steven is pretty much preoccupied by his two passions–drums and beautiful 8th grader Renee–that is, until his little brother is diagnosed with leukemia.  The diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization of Jeffrey turn Steven’s life upside down.  He’s trying to keep his family’s situation a secret from friends and adults at school but having a difficult time coping on his own–which he is because his mom’s staying at the hospital and his dad is lost in his own world.   Torn between resentment toward his parents for neglect and compassion for  his little brother, Steven loses himself in his music, taking refuge in the basement with his drum set.  He’s feeling pretty hopeless until he takes the school counselor’s suggestion and focuses on what he can change.

Although the story is sad in parts, Steven narrates it with sarcasm and humor and what comes through strongest are the love these brothers feel for each othe and their resilience.  This is a story that will pull at your heart strings.

Connections:  The sequel is After Ever After.   If you enjoy Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie, you would probably also like Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar.  The library also owns nonfiction on leukemia and coping with serious illnesses.

The Underneath

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The Underneath by Kathi Appeltby Kathi Appelt    p. 313    Grades 6-8

This amazing book has it all–chills, thrills, tears, fears; strangers and dangers; monsters and heroes; prehistoric and modern times; dogs and cats, love and hate; cruelty and compassion; animals and humans; magic and realism, shape-shifters and kittens; revenge and redemption; loneliness and friendship.  This strange and magical story begins in a Texas bayou  when a calico cat about to have kittens hears the lonely howls of a chained up dog.  She and her kittens take up residence with him underneath the shack where the hound’s cruel master, Gar Face, has chained him.  They are safe until one of the kittens ventures out from the underneath and is caught by Gar-Face.

Connections:  If you like sad animal stories, try these titles: Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Sounder by William Armstrong, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien, and Watership Down by Richard Adams are other wonderful fantasies where animals form communities to help each other.

Wintergirls

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Wintergirlsby Laurie Halse Anderson, p. 278 – Grades 8 & Up

This novel, for mature readers, tells the story of Lia who has just found out about the death of her once best friend, Cassie. While they were friends, both girls suffered from eating disorders: Lia- anorexia and Cassie- bulimia. On the night of Cassie’s death, Lia received 33 phone calls and messages from Cassie… all of which Lia had left unanswered. Lia’s family (too busy mother, distant father and clueless stepmother) are concerned that the news will send Lia over the edge again and back to New Seasons the rehabilitation center she has already visited twice.

Connection:  For another story that shows a teen dealing with the death of another teen read Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

Peace, Locomotion

Monday, April 27th, 2009

peace locomotionby Jacqueline Woodson, p. 136 – Grades 4-7

In this companion to Locomotion, Lonnie Collins Motion (aka Locomotion) helps his sister Lili remember life before their separate foster care placements by sending her letters filled with memories of the past triggered by his day to day experiences.  Both Locomotion and Lili are happy with their foster care families, but miss their parents and being together.  The letters start to focus on the importance of peace and the realities of war as Locomotion becomes more aware of his foster brother who is in the army.

Connection:  This quick read might appeal to those who like Shooting the Moon by O’Rourke.  –CRW

Highlight:  Watch this great interview (from Reading Rockets) with Jacqueline Woodson talking about her life and her books.