Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/25/13

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This was supposed to be my week of finishing books I have been reading for too long.  That didn't happen the way I envisioned but I'm making progress. 

The Diviners (The Diviners,

I did finish The Diviners on audio.  I rarely listen to audiobooks and, in fact, haven't listened to one in a couple of years, but I was really impressed by this reading.  The narrator, January Lavoy, had a great story to work with.  A serial killer, the supernatural, shocking individual tragedies and secrets . . .all in NYC in the 1920's.   And Lavoy really made it all come to life with her varied and authentic-sounding voices.  She even did a bit of singing.  I didn't want to stop listening.

So, The Diviners was the only thing that I had started but not really made progress with that I actually finished this week.  I read more of Flight Behavior, Switch and Ready Player One, but haven't finished them yet.
A book like See You at Harry'sI did read See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles.  All I knew about it was that several people said it was a tear-jerker.  I knew nothing else about it (didn't read the back nor any reviews), but I was just waiting for something tragic to happen and as I read I (incorrectly) predicted several possible tragedies that might cause tears to flow.  Then when I got to the traumatic event, I didn't cry at all.  I assumed it was because I had already anticipated several horrible possibilites.  It wasn't long after the event, though, that the tissue came out.  More than one.  Actually, enough to keep my eyes clear enough to read through the end of the book.  It's a wonderful story, but definitely heartbreaking.

As always, I also read my picture books.  These weren't my favorite of the picture books I've read since January, but still they were good and worth the time.  My two favorite this week were Owl Moon and Rocks in His Head
PronounsRocks for Kids  Owl Moon  Blue Chameleon is lonely.  The First Pup: The Real Story
Dream Something Big: The Story  spells emily gravett  And If the Moon Could Talk
So, this week I will read some YA book, try to finish Ready Player One, and read a picture book a day.
Thanks for reading!  Have a great week.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/18/13

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This was a really entertaining reading week.

The Book of Blood and Shadow
I think I can make this one short.  This reminded me of a YA version of The DaVinci Code.  There's translations of old letters and texts written in Latin.  A mysterious murder.  A trip to Prague to uncover secrets that are hundreds of years old (and it really made me want to plan a return trip to Prague!).  I found it very engaging.

A Splash of Red: The Life andI have enjoyed several of Jen Bryant's books written in verse, including Pieces of Georgia, The Trial, and Ringside, 1925, but I knew nothing of her picture books.  A Splash of Red tells the story of self-taught African-American artist Horace Pippin.  Pippin wrote and painted and both Bryant and Sweet integrated his words into the text and the illustrations.  Pippin fought in WWI, was injured by a gunshot,  and that injury stopped his art for a time.   This military aspect and how he overcame a war injury to pursue his passion provide an immediate connection in my community.  This is truly a beautiful book - both the writing and the illustrations.  I have already read it several times and shared it with others.  I "liked" Jen's FB page and she chose me as one of several to receive this book.  She sent me a signed copy (signed by her and Sweet!) and copies of a few of her other books, so I thank her and I recommend that you check out her FB page.  There is also a website for this book at  Now I can't wait to get A River of Words and enjoy that one!
The way Park and Eleanor's
I got this the first day at NCTE in November.  Read a few pages that night, but then it got buried in the stacks of books I collected over the next several days.  This week I saw that John Green reviewed Eleanor & Park for the NY Times so I thought I'd better get back to it.  (See John Green's review here.)  Once I pulled it back out, it didn't take long to get through it.  The story of Eleanor and Park is the intersection of the excitement of first love and the tragedies of poverty, abuse and prejudice.   The story is set in 1986 and told alternately from Eleanor's and Park's points of view.  Eleanor is returning home after having been kicked out for a year.  Park has loving, stable parents, but he is half Korean and he feels the stigma of being different from everyone else in his community.    I highly recommend this book, but due to the profanity, it may be most appropriate for high school. 

October MorningWow!  Beautiful!  Haunting!  October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard is a sort of retelling of the events surrounding the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.  In 1998, Matthew Shepard was picked up by two young men, and then brutally beaten and left to die because he was gay.   Newman retells the facts and her feelings about this event through different poetic forms.  I starting crying in the first paragraph of the introduction and didn't stop until the end.  (Actually, unfortunately, I chose to read Oliver Jeffers The Heart and the Bottle immediately following October Mourning, not having any idea that the father dies in that picture book. So, the crying didn't exactly stop at the end of October Mourning.)  I will share this book with as many people as I can.  If you haven't read it, it is a very fast read and well worth your time.  
The Rules for Disappearing

I got this from NetGalley.  It's fast-paced and romantic.  I imagine the short chapters, action and mystery will make it quite popular with teens.  I felt a similar excitement as I did when reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, but this is a simpler story without the historical backstory. 
These are the other lovely picture books I read this week:
The Fantastic Flying Books  In the author's notes, Smith The Heart and the Bottle
Its author, Michelle Markel,  The Curious Garden  This Moose Belongs to Me by
This week I am going continue my picture book a day and try to finish some of the books that I started, but left hanging.
Ready Player One cover.jpg  Switch by The Heath BrothersFlight Behavior

Thanks for reading my blog.  Have a great reading week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/11/13

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Moment of silence to remember Great East Japan EarthquakeToday is the 2 year anniversary of The Great East Japan Earthquake.   It seemed like a normal, beautiful Friday on March 11, 2011.  At 2:46 pm that all changed. It was an unbelievably tragic and devastating day for the people of Japan.  I hope you will take a moment to think of these wonderful people today - all they have lost, and all they continue to work to restore and rebuild. 

Well, I didn't blog last week and I don't have much for this week.  Here's what I finished:

Title: The Girl of Fire and
I really enjoyed this one.  As usual, I wasn't totally excited about it because it's fantasy, but I had no trouble getting through it.  Most of it really seemed like historical fiction.  The fantasy was not too fantastical through most of the book.  The main character, a strong young female, is quite likeable and heroic.  She is forced to marry a Prince from another town, and although it is an arranged marriage, she still holds out hope for a storybook romance.  Once in her new home, she gets caught up in the politics of war and sets out to save lives.  There's a lot of action and a little romance, and I found myself wanting to finish in one sitting.  (Ok, I always want to finish books in one sitting, but I had the time and engagement to do so with this book.)


I recommend Notice & Note if you're working with your students on close reading (and who isn't?).  Beers and Probst present 7 "Signposts" for students to look for as they're reading.  This really takes the read aloud the extra step so that students can understand, not only what they might be thinking as they read one particular text, but what they could think about when they're reading any piece of literature.  As I was reading, I could imagine how these strategies might work well in elementary, middle or high school.  In fact, I starting using the strategies in the next book I picked up.

I have continued reading a picture book a day, and again this week, I read some I really loved.  I would say my favorites were The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Mrs. Harkness and the Panda, and These Hands.  In The Incredible Book Eating Boy, as the title suggests, Henry literally devours books.  But, as you might expect, eating books makes him sick.  Don't worry...there is a happy ending.  Henry learns to love reading the books.  (Should I have done a spoiler alert?)  Anyway, it's a cute story, but also I just really love the illustrations done on old book pages as the background.  I just like to revisit the beautiful artwork.    Since I don't have kids and have never taught elementary, I am grateful to all of the IMWAYR blogs that recommend these fantastic picture books each week.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  I almost forgot about this one, which would have been a shame because I laughed out loud through much of it, and we know how important laughter is to our health.  The narrator promises from the beginning that, although one of the main characters in the book does have cancer, this is not going to be one of those books that requires a box of tissue.  He keeps that promise.  Through the narrator, Greg, we learn not only about his life, but also that of his only friend Earl and his ex-girlfriend Rachel.  All three deal with serious problems, but Greg's narration of the events of his senior year in high school is hilarious.  

This week is off to a great start.   I almost decided not to blog another week so that I could finish this book instead.  I look forward to telling you about it next week. 
The Book of Blood and Shadow

Thanks for reading!  Have a great week!