If you haven’t had a chance to read Donalyn Miller’s column at Education Week, it is well worth a look! She’s gathered up several recommendations for ‘Books that Build Community’, something educators the world over are working on this first month of school.
Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan April 30, 2012
I loved this story but it took me a long time to get through it. Not because it was a hard or long read, but I just kept thinking that there was no way there way going to be a happy ending, and I just kept not being in the mood to read anything that might make me cry.
Hence, this slight 120 page book took me over four months to finish. Patricia MacLachland knocked it out of the park again with this one. I loved the relationship between boy and grandfather, as well as grandfather and dog. What a great story.
Everyone who has a daughter or is friends or family members with someone who has a daughter should read this book. Brave Girl Eating has been on my shelf since 2010, but as I packed up books for the move, it grabbed my attention. I read the whole book late into the night. I considered myself pretty educated on eating disorders but this memoir gave me a whole new insight into one family’s struggle. How the simple pleasure of having a meal together as a family can be forever altered into the worst part of your day. The author (mother) is a research reporter and does an excellent job of incorporating her research about this disorder into the book.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs March 20, 2012
I’d looked at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children many, many times, always ending up putting it back on the shelf at the bookstore or library. The photos honestly creeped me out a little. (If you are familiar with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, there’s a picture in the book that also can creep me out-girl with knife and glowing pumpkin). I didn’t try reading any of it. I just got hung up on the photos and had decided it was probably a ghost story. And scary–which I don’t do very well.
It wasn’t until I found it on sale for the Kindle sometime in the past couple weeks that I decided to download it, thinking it would be something to read when I was in Africa. (Not having enough to read while in Senegal is one of my nagging worries, but probably a silly worry). Once I read the first page though, I was hooked!
“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.”
I love looking at first lines of books and trying to determine what is it that creates the magic that an author can just hook you with a line.
At first, Jacob and his relationship with his grandfather is what got me. Then I just had to know what was going to happen. Possible mental illness. Time travel. Father/son relationships. Good vs. Evil. I just kept wondering and reading.
I would describe the book as a fantasy/mystery and can’t really imagine anyone who would not enjoy this story. It would be a great book to curl up in the evenings and read with my nine and twelve-year-old (if they could be that close to each other and not start wrestling or sniping at each other). It does have the creepy factor if you are looking for a that in a read-aloud. Overall, it’s just a great story. It got me thinking about what old photos I might find around from my grandparents and what I might think when looking at them. I’m sure there are no floating girls, but it would be interesting nonetheless.
See what you think!
Wonder by R.J. Palacio March 17, 2012
The strength of the characters and the important message about kindness will have children hanging on every word as a teacher or parent reads it aloud.
Auggie (short for August) Pullman is a regular ten year old boy. He loves his dog, his X-box and Star Wars. You would think he is very typical. That is until you see his face. Auggie was born with severe facial abnormalities that are shocking to most people. Until this year, Auggie has always been home-schooled. He is finally well enough to attend public school and it’s with excitement and trepidation that Auggie goes to see his school for the first time.
Wonder is the story of how Auggie navigates his life in school for the first time. It’s also his sister’s story, as well as other people’s stories who are lucky enough to get to know Auggie.
Don’t wait for it to come out in paperback. Go buy it today and start sharing it with students and children. I love the cover and the illustration at the beginning of each person’s part of the story.
Wonder was named Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids February 2012, as well as receiving starred reviews from: School Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly.
Couldn’t Put it Down! January 6, 2012
It was unfortunate that both my children were sick today. It was not unfortunate for my reading life though. I finished Jefferson’s Sons, which despite my initial hesitation, completely grabbed me today. I’ve never been to Monticello and have added to the places I would love to go some time. The author did an amazing job with her research with this historical fiction. When part two (of three) of the book started and it became clear to me that each section was going to be narrated by a different character, I was a little annoyed. I can’t really put my finger on why, but I think it’s because the change from Beverly to Maddy was more abrupt than I would have cared for. The change from character two to three occurred without me hardly noticing.
I can see why it is on potential Newbery lists. A story about an American icon, slavery, family and a part of history not known to many all make a great story.
I then picked up The Apothecary, which I read in two long sittings today! LOVE THAT BOOK! The characters are so well developed and felt like real people you’d like to know. A great blend of historical fiction/adventure/fantasy that I can’t really compare to anything else. The preface had me wanting to know about Benjamin. The first chapter had me ready to read a whole book set during the 1950′s when Hollywood movie writers were suspect and often accused of Communism. I then could have read a whole book about an American girl transplanted to a British prep school. If this makes the book sound choppy, it is not at all! It moves seamlessly, weaving in murder, magic, mean girls, espionage, all in a way that I could not put down! I’m having to reevaluate my list after this one.
Search for the Next Best Book January 4, 2012
Cuddled up with three dogs and a stack of books has a lot of appeal to me, especially when it’s cold outside! I wish I had my camera so I could upload a picture of them right now. Love my public library where I was able to go online yesterday and mark all the books I consider possible Newbery winners I am hoping to read that I didn’t have and then have start arriving today, with a convenient pick-up reminder e-mail.
So I’ve started Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Bradley, which I am liking well-enough but I am not in love with. I then moved on to surfing KidLit blogs and find an old Mother Reader post that completely grabbed my attention.
“This is a new one for me. I read the first chapter of this book online, switched to Amazon, and ordered it immediately.”
I love the Kindle/Amazon feature that allows you to read the first chapter free! I currently have 43 free first chapters on the Kindle app on my iphone. I’ve read 17 of those first chapters, sometimes several in one sitting until I find something that grabs me. I keep the sample chapter if I think I might read later, kind of like a visual list, delete those that don’t grab me. It allows me try out books that I wouldn’t normally come across such as nonfiction books, business psychology books, as well as new Children’s and Young Adult books that other bloggers mention.
Mother Reader provides a link to the first chapter of The Only Ones by Aaron Stramer that is currently online and I will tell you that it grabbed me in a way that I want all Newbery contenders to be able to do. I think I’m wrapping this up to head to the library to check out their copy!
It’s That Time of Year January 3, 2012
It’s the time of year when I try to read every book that is getting serious Newbery buzz and/or Cybil finalists that I haven’t read already. So far, I’ve read The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. I LOVED, LOVED Wonderstruck and REALLY LIKED The Mostly True Story of Jack. I’ve been following some of the blog conversations about whether Wonderstruck can be considered for a Newbery or not. I’m not going to get too worked up about it one or the other, but if the decision is made that Wonderstruck can be a contender, it is pretty darn brilliant. Once again, Selznick knocks it out of the park. I even loved reading the Afterword where he discusses his research process!
The Mostly True Story of Jack is also a really great story. I can imagine it as a great read-aloud or having students who have been really into all the “new” fairy tale shows be enthralled.
I’ve read Okay for Now (loved it-screamed Newbery at me as soon as I started reading it), Small Persons with Wings (disappointed), Inside Out and Back Again (loved it),
Up next: Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Bradley (this one just hit my radar this weekend) , The Trouble with May Amelia, A Monster Calls, Breadcrumbs, and Lunch-Box Dream, not necessarily in this order.