Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 02/25/13

Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
for more about the It's Monday! What Are You
Reading? Meme

I finally sat myself down and read Book Love.  It was easier to put this one off because I feel like a have a fairly good handle on getting students to read.  But even when you think you can do something fairly well, it's always good to collaborate with others and hear new ideas, and this book was full of new (to me) ideas for building independent reading throughout the school year.  I highly recommend this one.
For nonfiction this week, I read Charles and Emma.  I really liked it, although not as much as last week's The Bomb.  There are parts where it seemed a bit repetitious to me, and I don't think the writing will be as engaging to younger people, but it's a fascinating story - a very different view of Charles Darwin.  I must say I've never thought of him as a husband and father.  I didn't consider his struggle to share a theory he was convinced was correct, but that might hurt his relationships with people he loved.  The book is full of quotes from letters and journals so you really feel like you're getting an accurate picture of the Darwins' lives. 
Here's my classic for the month.  Considering the number of years I lived and taught in Orlando, it's a shame it took me so long to read Their Eyes Were Watching God.  I admit the vernacular really slowed me down, but I liked the story and the writing so much that I pushed through.  It's not a classic for nothin'.  It was really interesting to see the expectations of women and how one woman reacted differently throughout her life.  I can't say I was always thrilled with her choices, but I was interested to see how things would turn out for her. 
This is my "sidetrack" for the week.  I checked out YALSA's Hub challenge where you read or listen to 25 books from their list of 83 (  So, I'm only on #14 (also counting this week's graphic novel), but so many of the books on my TBR list are on this list, I hope to read far more than 25.  Boy21 was a very fast read for me.  Engaging story - basketball, competition, mental instability, romance, friendship, family, murder, the mob . . . something for everyone. 
This is another sidetrack.  It was on the Hub challenge list and in my library and a graphic novel, so I checked it out.  What can I say?  It's Spiderman.  No surprises, but the art is pretty great and the pages are shiny and colorful. 
I'm still doing well with my read a picture book a day (although I admit, sometimes it's just an average for the week).  I read 10 picture books this week including Beast Feast, Moonpower, Three Nasty Gnarlies, Extra Yarn (recommended by many of you), Out of this World (also an IMWAYR rec), Children Make Terrible Pets, The Green Mother Goose, and Sleep Like a Tiger (rec by Carrie at There Is a Book for That), and But Excuse Me That is My Book.  This was a good group of books and I found myself brainstorming lots of ideas for using them in the classroom.  Finally, I got Something to Prove from Netgalley.  It's the story of the meeting of Satchel Paige and Joe Dimaggio.  It's an interesting story that I hadn't heard before.  The illustrations are beautiful, as you can see from the cover.  And while the story is focused on baseball, there is also the frustration and disadvantages that came with segregation.  I can't wait to see this one in print.   

For this week, since I got sidetracked by two books last week, I still need to start The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I also have Hold Fast and/or Hide and Seek coming up in the near future.  Thanks for reading my blog.  Have a great reading week!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 02/18/13

Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
for more about the It's Monday! What Are You
Reading? Meme
I love how much reading I can do over a long weekend.  I am glad that I have this weekend to remind me of that since my district is talking furloughs.  I will just continue to think of it as the possibility of more reading time - a gift, really.  So here's what I read over the past week.
How They Croaked: The Awful

Many of you told me that I would really enjoy this book and you were right.  I was a little worried in the first chapter as I found it a bit graphic, but either the author toned it down or I got used to it.  Either way, I didn't want to stop reading and I immediately shared an excerpt with a group of teachers I worked with this week.  It's one of those books that you just want to share.  Btw, it also made me very grateful to live in a time when doctors use technology such as soap and gloves and rely less on leeches for their rememdies. 


The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon

This has been a pretty great reading week so I am happy to sound a bit repetitious when I say I really enjoyed this book also.  I like to dive into books without reading the flaps or other summaries.  I like the surprise, although I'm learning that I go into books with all kinds of preconceived ideas which are sometimes, as in the case of this book, completely off.  I thought this was a fantasy, which honestly made me less excited about it.  But it's not.  It's gothic and original.  I loved the story and the writing.  This is one of those books that I love, but I'm not sure how teens will respond to.  If you've had students read this one, I'd be interested to hear what they thought.
If I Lie

I live in a military community so it has been my goal to try to find more YA that incorporates some of the unique challenges these teens face.  I was excited that ALAN had a whole panel of authors who have written books that are exactly what I'm looking for.  This is the second that I've read and I have to say that I was hugely disappointed when I got to the part where the military kid is gay (this is not a huge spoiler for this book - you find out pretty early on).  The same thing happened in the last book.  Not that I mind that story line, but I don't want it to be in 100% of the books I'm suggesting.  Still, that disappointment happened pretty immediately and then I spent the remainder of my morning loving the book.  I think Jackson did a great job of writing characters and situations that the reader will really care about.  Nothing was easy and no decision clear-cut, as often happens in life.  Plus, there was this whole story-line where she befriended a vet, and my grandfather, a WWII vet, just passed away last weekend, so it made me think of him.  I'm excited to share this one.
Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin
What can I say?  Read it!  I felt like I was there, like I actually knew the players.  I live in Japan so I've visited the Peace Park in Hiroshima and talk to people who lost their families to the bomb so it was really fascinating to see what people were thinking and doing during that time.  It was also a little scary. 

I also read some great picture books this week including Do Not Open This Book!, Henry's Freedom Box, When Marian Sang,  Flotsam, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed all of which I recommend.  I read some others that I liked less, but that weren't horrible.
So what's in line this week?
I've started Their Eyes Were Watching God for my classic for this month.  I also have Charles and Emma and The Girl of Fire and Thorns waiting to be read.  I have The Diviners on audio but it's really long, so we'll see how that goes.
Their Eyes Were Watching God      reading Charles and Emma:    The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Thanks for reading my blog.  Have a great week!

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 02/11/13

Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
for more about the It's Monday! What Are You
Reading? Meme
I find that I'm not exactly reading what I plan to.  At first, my weekly goals were a bit lofty.  Now I just find that I get sidetracked by library books or e-books or tasks at work that require me to read different professional books.  But, even though I'm not always reading the books I had planned, I do think I'm more productive in my reading so making a plan is working out. 
My Life as a CartoonistThe first book I finished this week was one of the books I had planned to finish last week.  Honestly, if I hadn't put in writing that I was going to read this, I probably would have quit early on.  It's not that I thought the book was bad, it just wasn't immediately captivating.  I'm glad I pushed through though.  The bullying story-line played out pretty well, there was humor, I liked the vocabulary with sketches in the margins, and the dog didn't die.  
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Cinder was not on my list for this week, but it was at the library and the ARC of Scarlett stares at me every day, so I had to go off-plan.  I'll tell you, I was not happy in the first page and a half.  (I'm a bit harsh at the beginning of books.)  I knew it was going to be one of those weird robot-cyborg, mechanical, technical sci-fi stories; not at all what I wanted.  And then the prince walked into Cinder's shop and I was in.  In one paragraph I reverted to a sixteen-year-old girl, and I stayed there throughout the story.  I really enjoyed this futuristic version of Cinderella and look forward to diving into Scarlet.
Description: Giant Steps To

I am reading a picture book every day (which is why I visit the library even though I have a million YA books here to read), so as usual, I'll just highlight one.  I really appreciate all of the recommendations on the other IMWAYR blogs as that is how I am able to choose my picture books each week.    I liked Giant Steps to Change the World even before the first page.  The inside cover has inspirational quotes such as "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new" from Albert Einstein.  I also love the artwork.  Each page describes a way to change the world with a specific example.  The examples describe famous people and the artwork also hints at who each person is, but the people are not specifically named.  I think it does a nice job of showing the potential of an individual.  My only criticism would be that I wish there was sort of a cheat sheet or answer key in the back to identify each person.  I think it would benefit kids to know that real people did the things suggested in the book.
Energize Research Reading and 
Finally, I finished one of the professional books I've mentioned in the last few weeks.  What I love about Energize Research Reading and Writing is that it really highlights individual strategies for carrying out research so that research does not always have to be a long, drawn-out unit of study.  There are specific examples and ways to differentiate each strategy.  The title indicates the book is appropriate for teachers of grades 4-8, but I think this is certainly good for high school teachers as well. 

So what's for this week?  Well, I suppose I should try to get last week's books done.  And maybe Scarlet. 
The Dark Unwinding     How They Croaked: The Awful  As Scarlet and Wolf work to   Book Love by Penny Kittle
Thanks for reading my blog!  Please let me know what you're reading or leave me your website address so that I can read your blog. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 02/04/13

Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
for more about the It's Monday! What Are You
Reading? Meme

I will eventually learn how to use blogger better to make this look nicer.  :) 

My first book this week was the sequel to Legend.  This is a continued look at what our country might be like after the floods and riots.  I really liked Legend, and I think I liked Prodigy even a bit more - unusual for a sequel.   We got to know the characters fairly well in the first book; this one gives us more information about what has happened to our county.  I think I found it slightly more realistic than the first book. 

This wasn't on my TBR list for this week, but since it won the Newbery and all, I decided to squeeze it in.  What a wonderful story.  Heartbreaking, but also hopeful - it really reminded me of Water for Elephants, I suppose obviously because of the elephants and the questionable treatment of animals.   I'm very happy I moved it to the top of my TBR list.  And I was surprised to discover that this is the same author who wrote Home of the Brave - a book I read several years ago and really liked, although it didn't seem to get a lot of attention.

My library didn't have the Caldecott winner so I picked up Creepy Carrots! one of the honor books.  It tells the story of my summer about 10 years ago when I decided to "research" UFOs and aliens.  (Basically, I read books until I couldn't sleep anymore.)  And, ok, the author of Creepy Carrots doesn't really know me and didn't write this about me, but I sure could relate to the story.  The illustrations are amazing, especially the way the small amount of color stands out on the black and white.  Definitely worthy of an award.  I highly recommend this one.


I've been unintentionally neglecting graphic novels so I picked this one up based on a recommendation from another IMWAYR blog from last week.   I really like the graphics and it's certainly a different story.  You don't run into that many graphic novels where the protagonist is an 11-yr old Jewish girl.  It was a quick read, but I can't say it's my favorite.  It's one of those books I can take or leave.

Just happened to pick this one up while I was in the library.  It was on top of the bookcase calling out to me.  Apparently, it didn't know that I was supposed to be having a light-hearted reading week to make up for last week.  The main character is searching for her brother who left home after getting addicted to drugs and being released from rehab.  It was quite good and probably fairly realistic, but a heavy topic and not the storybook ending I might have been looking for this week. 

What's next?

I did start My Life as a Cartoonist, so I will finish that one.  The next two in line are How They Croaked and The Dark Unwinding. 
How They Croaked--The AwfulMy Life as a CartoonistThe Dark Unwinding, by Sharon