Praise for Summer Brenner’s Works for Young People:
Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco
“Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco, is a compelling and riveting novel that reflects the alarming increase in the number of children who are homeless and living in poverty in America. Ivy is one of those children. Summer Brenner has masterfully crafted a book that is realistic, heartbreaking and funny.” — Patricia Tilton, Children's Books Heal
Reviews by Teachers:
“Often witty, occasionally heart-wrenching, this book offers insight into the lives of those who must endure living in shelters and on the streets.” — Children's Literary Classics
“Ivy is an engaging, educational experience, with emotional range, density of characters, a cinematic visual imagination, and a heroine wild at heart. We have a lot to learn about homelessness, and Summer Brenner’s saga of fractured family and redeeming friendship takes us deep inside the experience, while agitating our broader concern with social justice. All this in a lucid, poetic prose. She not only will get young people to read but make them want to write as well.” — John Broughton, associate professor of psychology & education, Teachers College, Columbia University
“Ivy is a story of homelessness. It is full of risk and tenderness, pain and insight all mixed with fear and hope. Author Summer Brenner engages readers by setting a course for a young girl and her father that requires connection and kindness in an uneasy world. Genuine characters tell the tale that is at once prickly and gentle. Readers will gain a picture of what over 1.5 million children in the US experienced this year. Ivy is a lovely book on a tough condition.” — Lyn Palme, library specialist, Contra Costa County, CA
“Summer Brenner’s Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco, wraps itself around enough realism to give young readers hope that there are good people in our world and that good things do happen, often when least expected. My sixth grade San Francisco Bay Area English students always enjoy the magic that envelops Ivy. Summer’s poetic language captures the essence of San Francisco.” — Janet Volkmann, teacher, Oakland Unified School District
Reviews by Children:
“The title made me feel this story would be an exiting and thrilling adventure. The book did not disappoint me. I know what a busy city San Francisco is, and being homeless there would not be the best. Although I would not want to be homeless, Ivy’s story showed me how to be loyal, independent and the importance of being resourceful. Ivy also taught me how much I am distracted by all kinds of electronics because she was a deep thinker. I think schools should teach from this book because of the great lessons.” — SunIm “Sunny” Chang, age 11, Oakland, CA
“Ivy was sad but exciting at the same time. I was wondering what would happen every night. It stinks when you have to be homeless. If I knew someone who was homeless at my school I would want to help them. I think it would be really hard for homeless people to live out there when there is no shelter. As Eugenia Orr says, “The weather simply could not be helped.“ To me this means people who have a home have the choice to go in when it's cold or hot, but homeless people have to live in the weather.” — Roan Linvill, age 8, Berkeley, CA
“Ivy is a great book. I especially like the way the storyline curves up and down with exciting and quiet moments. When I was reading it, I kept on saying to myself, 'No, just one more chapter, just one more chapter!' In other words, I could not put it down.” — Arianna Delsman, age 9, Berkeley, CA
“Homelessness is an issue that affects many different people in many societies. Ivy is an 11-year old homeless girl. She is just a year older than me and I count my blessings. In the book I learned about what some homeless families go through and how brave a young girl like Ivy can be in this type of situation.” — Eliza Leal, age 10, Weehawken, NJ
“Ivy was great, and I mean it! I hope that Ivy, Lost in New York will also be published.” — Isabel L., age 10, Oakland, CA
Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle
“...In Richmond Tales, which has become a staple in local elementary
schools, a diverse cast of youthful characters embark on a journey through
time and space in discovery of the “lost secrets” of the Iron Triangle.”— The
power of Richmond’s story by Robert Rogers, Richmond Confidential,
June 7, 2011
“...Summer Brenner’s Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle,
has sparked an outbreak of “reading-fever” in the Richmond community because the storyline gives readers a ticket to ride backward and forward in time...” — Tasion
Kwamilele, the Oakland Post online, December 8, 2010
“...I don't want to spoil the ending for you, suffice it to say that an incredibly exciting reveal awaits our courageous young people, who learn that once you get the big picture, your lives can never seem small again.” — Back to the Future with Color by Kevin Killian,
April 16, 2010
Read the news article online about Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle at the June 2011 Family Literacy Festival!
Reviews by Children:
“Ms. Layer, I'm not kidding, I'm gonna be reading this book like everyday- it's so good!” — Diamond Williams, 5th grade, King Elementary School, Richmond, CA
“So far, I think that it's pretty awesome,” said Raymond Kreger, 10, a fifth-grader at San Pablo's Dover Elementary School....“I give it the most stars you can give.”
“The books isn't just for kids, either. Raymond's mom, Adrianne Rosal, said she can't wait to tackle it after her son finishes. West Contra Costa Superintendent Bruce Harter said he can't put the book down. And Barb Johnson, Aide to U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who attended the Thursday book party, had a favor to ask. “I'm on chapter 29, so don't anyone tell me the end of it yet.” — Book Offers Journey through City History by Kimberly Wetzel, June 20, 2009, Contra Costa Times
Reviews by Teachers:
Richmond Tales, Lost Secrets of The Iron Triangle, by Summer Brenner, was
our book of study during the Summer Session of 2010 at Verde Elementary School
in North Richmond. Principal Lanre’ Ajayi chose this book to develop our theme:
heritage-pride and purpose.
Although Verde School is located in the heart of the Iron Triangle, students identified with the character, Maisha, who wanted to know what that term meant. In fact, in my seven years teaching there, I have not heard the students refer to their neighborhood in those words.
Students in my class studied the characters and their traits. They were able to list both figures of speech and parts of speech from the context. Also, they read excerpts from the book during the Heritage Celebration Assembly. Passages were chosen to bring out our theme.
One of the many strengths of Summer's book is that it relates to children; it is dedicated “to the youth of Richmond, California--and to youth everywhere....” Everyone could relate to the Cooper brothers and their friends, the bullies. Also Verde’s custodian, Mr. Leon, is like the Keeper in the story. He was born and raised here. Often, he is interviewed by students. He speaks about several theaters and other fun places located all over the city. The Richmond of his youth was safe. Adults in the neighborhood felt responsible for the failure and/or success of all of the kids.
As I reread this book, I was amazed by another strength of the author’s story and style. Richmond Tales is laced with bits of history, important facts are subtly woven throughout the book, e.g. Mt. Tam, Point Molate, Ferry Point, the Kaiser Foundation, and the importance of the Kaiser Shipyards on WWII, the influence of WWII on the growth of the area, and the lasting contributions of numerous cultures.
As the Writing Specialist of Verde School, I have observed the impact of this book on students and on adults. We still speak about Summer’s powerful book and her inspirational visits. Actually, studying her book was the beginning of an amazing 2010-2011 school year. Students wrote and spoke their essays about family history, the meaning of human rights, and celebrating America. Now their essays are also in book form.
Thank you, Summer, for being an important part of our success.
Richmond Tales is the book my 4th grade students at E.M. Downer Elementary
(San Pablo, CA) unanimously voted to read first. They immediately identified
and made connections with the story and its characters, as they learned the
history of where they live!
Engaged throughout the process, my students compared and contrasted themselves to the book’s main characters, Maisha and Mario. Together, they identified and discussed the author’s lessons to the reader. We also used the Cooper brothers for a detailed character analysis and discussion on bullying.
Richmond Tales made students at all reading levels excited about reading. I look forward to using Richmond Tales again this year to teach English-Language Arts Standards and to empower my students!
5th Grade Teacher
Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary
“[Brenner’s] novel has been given to every 4th and 5th grader in the school district for summer reading, and the crowd that gathered for her book signing on Thursday showed how they love it.
‘I think it gives them a bigger sense of who they are and a glimpse of the potential they have,’ says Marin Trujillo from the West Contra Costa Unified School District.” — Carolyn Tyler, June 2009, KGO Channel 7 news story
Ivy, Tale of a Homeless Girl in San Francisco
“...Lolitas, Oliver Twists and Huckleberry Finns live on, and now, Ivy’s tale of hope lives right alongside them.” — Robin Clewly, San Francisco Chronicle
“This book will teach your kids truth and forgiveness in the strangest yet most comforting of ways....unable to put [it] down whether you are a teenager or an adult.” — www.ivillage.com
“....a quirky, clever story about a young girl’s journey through the streets and homeless shelters of San Francisco. On any given night, there are from 11,000 to 14,000 homeless people there. Ivy is fictional, but her circumstances are honest reflections of life for the many homeless children.....” — San Jose Mercury News
Reviews by Children:
“Ivy was a story that really seemed as if I was there with the characters. All the parts fit in so well that I almost forgot I was reading a book. It was as if I was watching a movie and could hear their thoughts....I think this book is great for all ages. Ivy is both fun and moving.” — Anna Moss, age 12, Boston, MA
“Ivy was one of the best books I have ever read. I liked it because it taught an important lesson of faith and trust. My favorite character was Ivy because she was an inspiration...I really enjoyed reading this book.” — Rachel Hodge, age 13, Savannah, GA
“Because I live in the country a lot of Ivy’s city life was new to me. Being homeless in a city would be pretty tough. This was a good book. You had to think when you read this book. It would be good book to use to teach kids about how kids feel when they are homeless.” — Hannah Wasserman, age 11, Placerville, CA