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Azalea, Unschooled

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In Liza Kleinman's debut middle-reader novel, the author deftly explores the growing unschooling movement as well as the challenges of moving to a new home, making friends, and finding room for differences within a family. In Liza Kleinman's debut middle-reader novel, the author deftly explores the growing unschooling movement as well as the challenges of moving to a new home, making friends, and finding room for differences within a family.


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In Liza Kleinman's debut middle-reader novel, the author deftly explores the growing unschooling movement as well as the challenges of moving to a new home, making friends, and finding room for differences within a family. In Liza Kleinman's debut middle-reader novel, the author deftly explores the growing unschooling movement as well as the challenges of moving to a new home, making friends, and finding room for differences within a family.

57 review for Azalea, Unschooled

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hanah

    First, the good things. I'm very glad to see a book about homeschooled kids that portrays them as normal kids with varying interests. Homeschoolers are NOT unsocialized weirdos, but they often do have families that are somewhat outside the mainstream in the way they think about somethings, and this book got that exactly right. The kids in this book behave pretty much the way my homeschooled son and his homeschooled friends behave, and that's something that I've found extremely rare in fiction. I First, the good things. I'm very glad to see a book about homeschooled kids that portrays them as normal kids with varying interests. Homeschoolers are NOT unsocialized weirdos, but they often do have families that are somewhat outside the mainstream in the way they think about somethings, and this book got that exactly right. The kids in this book behave pretty much the way my homeschooled son and his homeschooled friends behave, and that's something that I've found extremely rare in fiction. I'm glad to find a book that my kids can relate to on this account. I do have some criticisms, though. - The book treats homeschooling and unschooling as if they are completely different things. Characters keep on saying, "We're not _homeschoolers_, we're _unschoolers_." That's nonsense. Everyone who is educated outside of a school is a homeschooler. Unschooling is one of the many available types of homeschooling. If you're an unschooler, you're still a homeschooler. - At times, the book sounded like an infomercial about unschooling. This was particularly jarring when it came from dialog among the kids, because kids don't talk that way in real life. - The focus of the kids' education seemed to remain too traditional for unschoolers. They were still thinking in terms like "I have learned a bunch of history facts" and "math is cool." In my experience, unschoolers and their parents would be focused on things like, "We made friends with this guy who works at the diner and we learned all about operating a restaurant" or "My kid can research effectively on her own in the library to learn about whatever she wants." - Azalea's sunshiny attitude was pretty unrealistic for a girl in her situation. If her family has moved every few months for as long as she can remember, she should have caught on to the probability of leaving Portland as quickly as her older sister did. It's also kind of ridiculous that she never made friends in any of the places she's lived before, especially since the first chapter made such a big deal about how her mom was always seeking out the homeschool clubs in whatever place they were living. The experience of making a fast friend like Gabby and then leaving a short while later should have been familiar to Azalea, not new. She should have had past experiences with friends to remember, and maybe penpals from her former cities that she kept in touch with. - The ending was a bit treacly. It's hard to believe that after however many years, this is the first time the parents had noticed that moving so often is hard on their kids. The solution they came up with seemed too pat, and it's hard for me as an adult to think it will last. The father doesn't seem like the settle-down-in-one-place type at all, and I'm not convinced he'll take to it now that he's magically realized it would be better for his kids. Long story short, I'm glad that people are starting to write books that treat homeschooling as a normal thing. This is a fun story for kids, and I'm glad my kids can read a story about a homeschooling family. But this still isn't perfect.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Adams

    My daughters and I enjoyed this book. It was ironic how the two sisters in the book reminded me of my two girls. My daughters loved reading this book for our homeschool reading time. It was interesting to see how the author presented unschooling as totally different from homeschooling in the eyes of the book characters. Somehow though, I don't feel the two are all that different. We enjoyed reading this story and the mystery two friends had to solve. My youngest daughter actually predicted who t My daughters and I enjoyed this book. It was ironic how the two sisters in the book reminded me of my two girls. My daughters loved reading this book for our homeschool reading time. It was interesting to see how the author presented unschooling as totally different from homeschooling in the eyes of the book characters. Somehow though, I don't feel the two are all that different. We enjoyed reading this story and the mystery two friends had to solve. My youngest daughter actually predicted who the culprit was, but I thought she was wrong. Turns out she was right. The only thing I was thinking about the culprit was there should have been a stronger punishment or more information on the punishment of the culprit of her misdeeds in the book. I was shocked at who the culprit was, but the family didn't make much of a deal of it in the book. It was a good mystery though, and we enjoyed reading the book together as a family. We would recommend this book for kids around ages 9-14. It makes a good discussion for kids who homeschool about what they think unschooling would be like and if it would be any different.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Azalea and her family just moved to town and almost immediately she makes an enemy, who she later believes vandalised her Dad's tour bus as a message for Azalea and her family to get out of town. As if trying to make new friends and dealing with a threat wasn't challenging enough, Azalea's parents suggest that her and her sister try unschooling - "a natural, child-driven exploation off the world". As Azalea goes about finding the culprit who's been terrorising her family, she learns that not all Azalea and her family just moved to town and almost immediately she makes an enemy, who she later believes vandalised her Dad's tour bus as a message for Azalea and her family to get out of town. As if trying to make new friends and dealing with a threat wasn't challenging enough, Azalea's parents suggest that her and her sister try unschooling - "a natural, child-driven exploation off the world". As Azalea goes about finding the culprit who's been terrorising her family, she learns that not all is as it seems and that the problem is a lot closer to home than she first realised. This was a good read. It took me a while to get into it and really enjoy the story. Honestly, I found the first half of the book a little boring, but it picked up in the second half, and the story won me over in the end. Azalea is an engaging and vibrant character who is easy to relate to. I don't think I'll be continuing the series, but I am glad I got the chance to read this book. There ae some good lessons to be learned here, some good themes explored. Read more reviews on CBY. Follow CBY: Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Tumblr ¦ Pinterest ¦ Instagram ¦ Google+ ¦ Bloglovin

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carlton King

    This was a good, interesting book for middle-graders. I think that readers who are "unschooled" will recognize themselves in the story, while those who are "schooled" will be interested in Azalea and her unusual (to them) situation. The plot regarding the family is well done and age-appropriate -- a dark undercurrent that is not sordid or dangerous -- and there is even a mystery to solve! The question of whether unschooling is a good or bad path to follow is left ambiguous in the book, with some This was a good, interesting book for middle-graders. I think that readers who are "unschooled" will recognize themselves in the story, while those who are "schooled" will be interested in Azalea and her unusual (to them) situation. The plot regarding the family is well done and age-appropriate -- a dark undercurrent that is not sordid or dangerous -- and there is even a mystery to solve! The question of whether unschooling is a good or bad path to follow is left ambiguous in the book, with some of the kids responding to it very well. The merits of unschooling vs homeschooling vs actual school are certainly debated, but the reader can make up her own mind about it. If we continue to follow Azalea, perhaps we'll find out how it turns out for her!

  5. 5 out of 5

    ❄Elsa Frost❄

    I've never read a book about unschoolers. Homeschoolers barely get good rep in books as is, much less unschoolers. So this was a refreshing and pretty relatable read. And can I say I am so glad this didn't adhere to stereotypes?? That made this book even better, honestly!! I don't know if this is #ownvoices for homeschooler/unschoolers rep, but it would definitely be nice to see more work by homeschoolers/unschoolers (current, prior, and grads) about ourselves, too. I've never read a book about unschoolers. Homeschoolers barely get good rep in books as is, much less unschoolers. So this was a refreshing and pretty relatable read. And can I say I am so glad this didn't adhere to stereotypes?? That made this book even better, honestly!! I don't know if this is #ownvoices for homeschooler/unschoolers rep, but it would definitely be nice to see more work by homeschoolers/unschoolers (current, prior, and grads) about ourselves, too.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Echo Bristol

    This is a good book because I love this book because I felt she was me. I felt she was me or my sister because I love this for a reasons because I felt she was me

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nora Tate

    A Quick Read This book is a quick read. It tells the story of a family learning what it means to understand school, while learning to make new friends in New town.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Once again Azalea and her sister Zenith are trying to fit in after the family has relocated to Portland, Maine. Each time, their father follows some illusive dreams of financial security, leaving one place for another when things don't work out as he had imagined. As he settles into his job as a tour bus driver, the family also settles in with Azalea making friends wit Gabby, a local girl whose mother doesn't support school or even home schooling, preferring the unschooling approach in which you Once again Azalea and her sister Zenith are trying to fit in after the family has relocated to Portland, Maine. Each time, their father follows some illusive dreams of financial security, leaving one place for another when things don't work out as he had imagined. As he settles into his job as a tour bus driver, the family also settles in with Azalea making friends wit Gabby, a local girl whose mother doesn't support school or even home schooling, preferring the unschooling approach in which youngsters decide for themselves what they want to study. But Zenith, a math prodigy, craves structure, and signs up for a summer math course. Meanwhile, Azalea is trying to solve the mystery behind the graffiti that had been written on her father's bus when they first arrived. From experience, both girls know it will be only a matter of time before their father decides that they must move along to somewhere else. Although Azalea is quick to blame someone for the unfriendly messages, the real culprit may be a surprise, and the revelation may force her father to think about what's right for the family and stop wandering from one thing to the next. Azalea's longing for a friend and some stability are palpable, and her desire to stay one place for long enough to plant some roots will resonate with many late elementary and early middle grade readers. Sometimes even the youngest member of a family is wiser than the oldest member. I liked Azalea and her attempts to help her father with his job, even writing out scripts and lists of famous landmarks and stories he can tell as he drives through the neighborhoods.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I read this after Jamie Martin mentioned reading it on her blog Simple Homeschool. We've been easing into Unschooling this year and this book came at a great time for my kids 6 and 8 to enjoy as a read aloud. We live just outside of Portland, ME where the book is based. Few authors write about living in this area, so it was a treat to read. The book is very quick moving and has a little mystery to solve. It covers topics of moving a lot, making new friends, sisters, building own business, Unscho I read this after Jamie Martin mentioned reading it on her blog Simple Homeschool. We've been easing into Unschooling this year and this book came at a great time for my kids 6 and 8 to enjoy as a read aloud. We live just outside of Portland, ME where the book is based. Few authors write about living in this area, so it was a treat to read. The book is very quick moving and has a little mystery to solve. It covers topics of moving a lot, making new friends, sisters, building own business, Unschooling and homeschooling. We've enjoyed it so much, we would love to read more adventures with Gabby and Azalea.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Azalea, Unschooled is a witty, engaging book about two sisters who try unschooling, a new best friend, and a mystery. Eleven-year-old Azalea brings to mind Harriet the Spy and Claudia Kincaid as she investigates the vandalism of her father’s tour bus and navigates new friendships in a new town. While the potential advantages and disadvantages of unschooling are discussed, the book is in no way a polemic on either side (and since most of the book’s action takes place in the summer, the major poin Azalea, Unschooled is a witty, engaging book about two sisters who try unschooling, a new best friend, and a mystery. Eleven-year-old Azalea brings to mind Harriet the Spy and Claudia Kincaid as she investigates the vandalism of her father’s tour bus and navigates new friendships in a new town. While the potential advantages and disadvantages of unschooling are discussed, the book is in no way a polemic on either side (and since most of the book’s action takes place in the summer, the major point that comes across is that unschoolers learn all year long!) I recommend this book for inquisitive, introspective kids who love to read and who dream of solving mysteries.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John H. Ritchie

    Very interesting story. It was a fun read, like going on adventure with these kids on their in schooling journey with parents doing their own unschooling. It has a wonderful ending and an exciting mystery along with it; who and why would someone sabotage their father's tour bus? To find out you will have to read this book. Review by Mrs. Ritchie and our 7 years old daughter Very interesting story. It was a fun read, like going on adventure with these kids on their in schooling journey with parents doing their own unschooling. It has a wonderful ending and an exciting mystery along with it; who and why would someone sabotage their father's tour bus? To find out you will have to read this book. Review by Mrs. Ritchie and our 7 years old daughter

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I thought this was a good book about unschooled kids and presenting them well. The girls aren't home schooled but I like that it introduces them to kids/people that are different than them, but still cool. *I received this book for free through the Good Reads First Reads program. I thought this was a good book about unschooled kids and presenting them well. The girls aren't home schooled but I like that it introduces them to kids/people that are different than them, but still cool. *I received this book for free through the Good Reads First Reads program.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    http://pussreboots.pair.com/blog/2017... http://pussreboots.pair.com/blog/2017...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Meh, just ok.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynda

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shantaye Svensson

  17. 5 out of 5

    J.

  18. 5 out of 5

    javae Marie spears

  19. 5 out of 5

    Taryn Incognita

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Juriaan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rema Nasaredden

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Harless

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kyla

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martha Wild

  26. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Tanner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Grace Hill

  28. 4 out of 5

    bhavesh

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marcella

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  31. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  32. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

  33. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis Krall

  34. 5 out of 5

    Coleen

  35. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Obrien

  36. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  37. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  38. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  39. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

  40. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Hoffman

  41. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  42. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  43. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  44. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Beck

  45. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  46. 5 out of 5

    Brit Thorton

  47. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  48. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

  49. 4 out of 5

    Ann Cary

  50. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  51. 4 out of 5

    david

  52. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Wood

  53. 4 out of 5

    Tina

  54. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

  55. 4 out of 5

    Anna Franks

  56. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  57. 5 out of 5

    Nicki

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