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The Word Gang

The Word Gang

4.5 11
by Mark Mckenna

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This title now has a free Readers' and Teachers' Supplement based on the Common Core. Download it here: www.PrecipitationPress.com/download-the-supplement

The Word Gang is the story of three kids in school who start using big words to be disruptive.

Kalisha Jackson is a girl with a stomach-churning secret — she cut school for a year

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The Word Gang 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
ChiKittie More than 1 year ago
First Impressions: Honestly I was not sure how I would like this book simply because I don't really read a lot of novels that are strictly Young Adult. I most often read YA novels that have a sub-genre present (PRN, Urban Fantasy, Horror, ect) so going into a book like this had me feeling a bit hesitant. I really loved the book synopis and the cover itself did not make any sense to me but after you read The Word Gang it all will fall in place and help the reader to understand why the cover of the book looks the way it does. Review: Well I am not sure where to begin with this review but I guess I will first tell you that I really learned a lot while reading. A single word now has more meaning that I thought and can make a huge impact in life, especially when that word(s) happens to change a persons life for the better. At the start of the book you are introduced to the main character Kalisha Jackson who have been hiding a big secret from everyone - She has cut school for the whole year and but never told anyone. After deciding to tell her Mom and to risk the consequences. Kalisha goes back into High School and it determined to stay this time. On the first day of school she finds out that she is being put into a special class or program called Protect Restart. This program is new to her school and is for students who need a fresh start. The Vice Principal is teaching the class and is a total jerk. Jack Ralston only thinks of this as a job and treats the students horribly as they are worthless in his eyes. After being given a Compact Oxford Dictionary from a sweet old man who lives upstairs Kalisha learns a lot of unique and new words. These words are rare and unused in this day and age. Kalisha and her new friends in the class begin to use these words during Protect Restart class. No hard done, right? You would think but because Vice Principal, Jack does not understand or know these words this angers him and thus will begin the start of the "The Word Gang". How can a single word get someone if trouble? Well the answer lies with the pages. I will not tell you anymore of the story because it would spoil the novel but the whole concept of the book is unique and very realistic. I really enjoyed the book being narrated from the POV of Kalisha. She and her friends are fun and relatable character's. Many times during the book I felt sorry for the way they were all being treated. I really love when I can form a bond with one or more of the character's in the book and can get a sense of what they were dealing with on a emotional level. On a different note, there was a few things in the novel that I did not care for. One being that I felt the overall flow of the novel was kind of slow and the side stories within the novel did not really draw me in. I found Jack Ralston to be very crude and hurtful. While I understand that his character was written this way to make a impact within the book. I could not help but feel that his overall attitude brought down my mood while reading. I keep thinking that I don't understand why he was treating these kids so meanly; never even giving them the benefit of the doubt to do better. The story itself for me was pretty good and I really loved that "The Word Gang" worked together to stop this harsh treatment and make a difference. The impact from this felt was very sincere and inspirational. Final Thoughts: After reading the book I found that I did come like it more that I through I would have and while I realize this type of book is not something I would usually pick up myself and read I was happy I did decide to give it a go. The Author, Mark McKenna I feel wrote a book that has and will impact teens and and even Adults. The Word Gang is such a feel good story that in the end will leave the reader having a better understanding of what a simple "action" can do to impact and change a life.
BooksNBeans More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I love the concept behind the book, I love both the obvious and implied lessons to be learned, I love the characters, I love the story! I will immediately being handing this title to my kids to read. <i>The Word Gang</i> is the story of three kids in an alternative program called Project Restart. All of the kids in this classroom are here because they don't fit into the mainstream of students due to behavior and academic issues. Kalisha knocks heads with the head administrator of the program from day one, setting into motion a conflict that will have a large impact on everyone around her. After befriending an elderly gentleman in her apartment building, Kalisha receives an old dictionary from him as a gift. When she starts to use her new, big, and mostly obsolete words Kalisha finds out just how much power words can have. Kalisha and her new friends decide to use these new words to destroy Project Restart. &quot;That is, if they don't get trammeled, proscribed, or incarcerated, first.&quot;-quoted from book's synopsis. Mark McKenna, the author, says that (and I'm paraphrasing here) he wanted to examine the education system, both the good and the bad, and he wanted to provide a book that could be educational and fun. McKenna has masterfully managed to do both, while providing the reader with an entertaining story full of lessons to be learned. There are the obvious lessons that not all teachers are bad, but neither are they all good. They are people, they are flawed, they are limited in their power to make change, they do care, they do try. Another obvious lesson is the plethora of words you are going to read, and hopefully learn, in this book. Keep a dictionary handy! Less obvious lessons are not to judge a person by what you see on the outside, and to keep yourself open to new people and things. Until you've truly taken the time to get to know a person intimately you can't know what goes on in their lives or why they're motivated to make the decisions they make. Through a cast of characters, both simple and complex, the reader finds out just how powerful words can be. They can be wielded for so much good, but they can also be wielded in ways that do irreparable harm. They should be used with the same care and caution as any other physical object. Will you use it to build something or will you use it to destroy? *Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for a review*
MizBanks More than 1 year ago
It's about life. And, it's full of vocabulary and the history of words. It's phenomenal. I'm in love with this book. It even has its own distinct smell that's sweet and romantic. I highly recommend The Word Gang by Mark McKenna. For anyone who loves words, loves to read, loves to learn, loves to imagine, values teaching children and allowing them to discover who they are and parents of middle and high schoolers. I have a signed copy and I'm going to treasure it forever! It's an amazing book.
Ziff130 More than 1 year ago
Kalisha's parents were just divorced and she cut class the entire school year as she dealt with the home issues. Her parents didn't know. Now it's a new year and she has recommitted to school. On her first day she is distracted by an old man, Mr. Spinoza, in her apartment building and decides to help him get the groceries into his apartment causing her to miss her bus. She's late for school and learns she has been placed in a program called "Project Restart" run by Mr. Ralston. Unfortunately for the students in Project Restart, Mr. Ralston cares more about the program than the kids in the program and makes school miserable for the students. Mr. Spinoza offers to tutor her in exchange for her cleaning his apartment. They quickly become good friends as Kalisha discovers a love of language and accepts a gift of a dictionary from Mr. Spinoza. She begins using large words in her class and discovers her teacher doesn't know the definitions. She has a defense and convinces her friends, BD and Sahmbaht to learn the large words with her as they try to destroy Project Restart. This was such a great coming of age story as Kalisha learns from Mr. Spinoza what words she should truly value in life and which ones are really just superfluous. The author also wrote a Teachers' Supplement to the book. It has guides for discussions and writing assignments. The author does jump around a bit on whose perspective the reader is getting which is sometimes confusing. It is written in third person but occasionally there are paragraphs of first person in there. These parts did confuse me a bit but I finally got the hang of it and the story was so awesome that I didn't worry about it too much. There is mild language.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
This was it. This was the day that Kalisha Jackson had lived in fear of for the past year. Today was the day that she was going back to Jefferson High School after completely ¿skipping¿ the previous year and not telling her mother. Last year had been hard. Her father had left the family and went to live with his editor on the West Coast, leaving her, her younger brother and sister, and Mom in a state of confusion, which is why Mom never even realized that Kalisha was staying out of school and spending the days at her best friend, Becca¿s house. Becca is a high school drop-out with a brand new baby, an abusive boyfriend, and a penchant for drugs that is getting worse. Kalisha wants to move away from Becca and get her life back on track, so she gets the news that she is being placed into Project Restart - a program that the school has begun for the ¿problem kids¿ as a sort of ¿last chance¿ before they will have to face Juvenile Hall. What no one knows, including the principal, is that the vice-principal, Mr. Ralston, has been chosen to run Project Restart by the millionaire who invented the idea. This money-man has worked with the mayor to ¿slipstream¿ these delinquents out of the school system. To them, they are the bad seeds, and if Ralston can get these kids out, the program will open nationwide and he will be able to write his own ticket for the rest of his life. What Ralston doesn¿t expect, is the fact that these delinquents are a heck of a lot smarter than he is. Kalisha becomes friends with BD - a handsome boy who pretty much has to live with a drunken father who likes to fight; and, Sahmbaht Kuhn, a Cambodian student who is seriously funny and wants to fit in with the Americans. With these three in the lead, and the power of the Oxford English Dictionary behind them, they begin to drive Ralston crazy with their grandiose words that he definitely does not understand. Of course, how can you get mad at students for using big words? Hilarity ensues when these kids stand up for themselves. But the true beauty of the novel is the relationship that Kalisha forms with an elderly man in her building who is the ¿smartest of the smart,¿ and offers her pure wisdom that allows Kalisha to cure her relationship with her mother, help her family and best friend, and develop friendships with other students from various backgrounds. The story is kind and extremely heartwarming, as people from different cultures come together to fight for their rights! Quill Says: A breath of fresh air for the YA market. A solid, fun, memorable story with not one werewolf in sight!
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was completely devouring and an awesome read. It reminded me of the movie Stand and Deliver. I really loved how the characters came into something they never thought they be. No one believe in these kids but to learn words and use them wisely really made a stand. I loved how the characters each were unique. They all had different back rounds, problems, etc, but one thing remained the same. They wanted a different life. The plot line of this book left me happy! I loved that Mr. McKenna drew in the reader with the fialing of education, but how the kids come to learn anyway is amazing. It takes simple faith in the kids and determination that made these kids want to turn their life around. One teacher in this book made me angry. Instead of praising the kids for their education, he demeaned them, tearing them down. I had a few teachers like that in my life time and let me tell you that it's not right. Teachers are there to teach, help, educate. I like that their families took interest in what they were doing and help them. If you want to read a great book that is life changing, read this. I can tell you that I love how characters grew before your eyes. Mr. McKenna did a great job in creating a story that is not only true, but happening in our world today. It is an excellent read!
adm912 More than 1 year ago
There's not much I can really say about The Word Gang. It was an adorable read. You know the type...the ones you read to feel good? This definitely fits in that category. The story is interesting and somewhat educational! I found myself having to look up new words to learn the definition of them. Overall it was a great breath of fresh air to read something that wasn't a totally heavy read, but also wasn't incredibly immature like light reads usually are. Kally was deemed a problem child and sentenced to "Project Restart", when in reality she was just overwhelmed and rebelled a bit. She was a fun character you just have to love. I absolutely love Mr. Spinoza, he's a quirky old gentleman who I'd love to live next door to for chats. I mean, his apartment is like a giant library? What book lover wouldn't love him! Kally's friends and classmates illicit a few giggles with their crazy uses of the new words they've learned. McKenna has weaved an interesting story that I definitely picture myself reading again in the future. Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy of his book for review!
MariaSavva_Author More than 1 year ago
Mark McKenna has created a wonderful story based on every author's and reader's first love: the written word. All of the characters in the novel are well developed; we learn about their backgrounds and can sympathise with their flaws. Even the detestable teacher, Mr. Ralston, seems to have a side to him that we can all relate to. After taking a year off school, without telling her mother, Kalisha Jackson begins to feel guilty and decides to go back to school when the new year begins. She finds herself in Project Restart, a new type of teaching system for students who are deemed to be failing in some way. On her first day, she gets off to a bad start when she turns up late, and her moody teacher, Mr. Ralston, immediately marks her out as a bad seed. Kalisha quickly makes friends with two fellow students in Project Restart; BD, who lives with his alcoholic father; and Sahmbaht, whose family fled from Cambodia for a better life in America, but have brought their painful memories with them. After helping out an elderly neighbour, Kalisha is given a gift; a dictionary. She begins to read it and starts learning new words. When she uses one of these unknown words in class one day, her teacher thinks she is trying to be disruptive. Kalisha and her new friends formulate a plan. They have had enough of being treated as troublemakers through no fault of their own, so they decide to learn as many new and obscure words as possible with the intention of making a mockery of Project Restart and hopefully destroying it. The ensuing adventure is a fun and engaging read; and also educational as there are many rarely used words contained in the novel. This is the type of book that could encourage teens and young adults to look at language in a different way, and perhaps inspire them to learn more words or even more languages. The story held my interest all the way through. The elderly neighbour, Mr. Spinoza, is a wonderfully eccentric character, and I liked the interaction between him and Kalisha. There seems to be is a deeper meaning to this story; all about how anyone can be misunderstood. For example, Kalisha is affected by her parents' divorce. Her teacher, Jack Ralston does not try to find out about reasons why the children in Project Restart might be failing, but labels them as disruptive and undisciplined; he has little patience with them. Meanwhile, Kalisha at such a young age has been helping to keep her family together, bringing up her two young siblings while her mother works the night shift at a hospital to make ends meet. Kalisha also shows her caring side when she first meets old Mr. Spinoza. The Word Gang is all about how misunderstandings can make problems worse, and that it is best to try a bit harder to see the reasons behind the way people behave before you judge them. Mark McKenna has somehow managed to get inside the minds of his characters and create realistic, believable people. A very enjoyable read, highly recommended. Reviewed by Maria Savva as a reviewer for Bookpleasures.
Dannye_Williamsen More than 1 year ago
A young adult novel, "The Word Gang" by Mark McKenna offers not only an interesting story, but also acts as a teaching tool. Who would think to take a teen's interest in big words and turn it around into what the vice-principal calls a "mocking and disruptive use of the English language?" McKenna adroitly manages to weave a compelling tale around the characters' love for words and to touch on important life lessons like the value of friendship, compassion, and learning. Kalisha Jackson, distressed over her parents' divorce, skips an entire year of school; however, she is determined to return this year and do well. Placed in a new program called Project Restart being administered by the vice-principal, Jack Ralston, Kalisha gets off on the wrong foot the first day by being late for class. Kalisha's serendipitous encounter with Albrecht Spinoza, a lovable old man who lives in her apartment building, gradually shifts her view of the world around her. A philosopher who speaks eight languages, Spinoza has turned his apartment into a library during the fifty years he's lived there, and Kalisha is fascinated by him. His gift to her of the Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary is the catalyst for the formation of The Word Gang. When Ralston's attitude toward her use of big words earns Kalisha the title of head troublemaker, fellow classmates BD and Sahmbaht quickly become Kalisha's accomplices in the effort to derail Project Restart. Along the way, we enjoy the journey as these three learn to deal with their life challenges in ways that perhaps they would never have attempted in the past. While reading, I found myself jotting down the words Kalisha and her friends were using. Some were new, but many had just been lying idly in the dusty corners of my brain. Even though it's been a long time since I was a teen, I found "The Word Gang" to be both entertaining and educational, and oh yes, definitely not otiose (superfluous or useless)! Reviewer: Dannye Williamsen
AgentSD More than 1 year ago
The Word Gang is, without a doubt, the best YA novel I have ever read. Mark McKenna has an amazing talent of making you feel like you are there, and creating a visceral experience. From the beginning, you feel attached and sympathetic to the challenges the characters face. This is exactly the way I wish all book characters were written. Instantly, you feel an intense emotional connection with them. I liked how the perspective changes throughout the book. I haven't read too many books like this, and the ones I have read were not able to master the technique nearly as well as Mark McKenna does. It was interesting without being confusing, a perfect balance! The Word Gang is incredibly engrossing. I wanted to read it every second I could, and when I wasn't reading it I wished I was! McKenna's diligent working telling this story is very evident. It certainly paid off! The attention to detail is astonishing. Overall, The Word Gang is a fantastic book. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes expanding their vocabulary, great characters, a brilliant story, or a writing style that keeps you reading past two in the morning. I absolutely loved The Word Gang, and I enjoyed every second I spent reading it.