Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson June 26, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,picture books — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:31 pm
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hairzoeThe Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School is a great new picture book by wonderful author, Laurie Halse Adnerson. Poor Zoe has wild, out-of-control hair that has a mind of it’s own. Not only does it have a mind of it’s own, but it can perform tasks  such as setting the table or cleaning. Now it wasn’t always poor zoe-her parents loved her hair. She loved her hair. Her kindergarten teacher loved her hair. But come first grade, Zoe became poor Zoe with a teacher that believes in RULES and order. The hair is attempted to be controlled, but it fights back. Hats-nope. Eventually scrunchies, barrettes, clips, headbands, rubber bands, bobby pins and duct tape-all at the same time are able to keep the hair under control.  

The story reminds me a little of Plantzilla by Jerdine Nolen and Brian Kielher and illustrated by one of favorite illustrators-David Catrow. In Plantzilla the plant, not the hair, has a life of its own and is able to perform some amazing feats. It would be fun to read the books back-to-back and look for similarities or differences.

I think kids (especially kindergartners and first graders) will find The Hair of Zoe very funny. It would be a good first week of school book when some students are apprehensive about their teacher. They, like Zoe, will find common ground with their new teacher and have a very good year.


Paper Towns by John Green June 20, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:43 pm
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papertownsThis is my first John Green book, even though it is his third published book. Like Franki at A Year of Reading, I didn’t have much time to read YA as I did the elementary and intermediate fiction. I have always enjoyed YA, but since it is for older kids, I wanted to be reading things I could recommend to students. Since I changed jobs last summer, I now have middle/high school students I can talk YA books with so I am making an effort to read quite a bunch this summer. I have a few middle school teaching colleagues that have raved about John Green books, I’d read some “reviews that made me want to read the book”, and he’s a graduate of close-by Kenyon College. 

I loved the book (although there were a few parts that I didn’t feel read as smoothly as the majority of the book, which surprised me some. I also could have done without some of the teenage boy commentary, but reminded myself that they are the target audience, not me. The characters of Quentin, Ben, Lacey, Radar and Margo Roth Spiegelman are greatly developed. Although I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to be friends with all of them, I could imagine them running around  my high school or a modern high school. For people in my age bracket, think 16 Candles or Breakfast Club kind of relationships and characters. I love that what I thought was going to be a strictly realistic fiction book has a great mystery flair throughout! I will be adding his other books to my pile for summer.  

John Green’s website with his brother can be found at I know I’m going to need more time to explore it than I’ve had!


Hunger in my garden! June 17, 2009

Filed under: authors,KidLit — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:05 am
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Not to give anything away, but if you are a fan of Gone by Michael Collins and have recently read Hunger: A Gone Novel (came out end of May) you will understand my fright when I went to pick strawberries from my patch, turned a gorgeous red berry over, pivoted it to pick, and dropped the berry in horror when I saw the holes and disgusting creature that made the holes! Hunger had come to my garden and even though it’s been many months since I’ve read the book the zekes




enough that for a nano-second I thought they were in my berries. Yikes!


Scat by Carl Hiassen April 14, 2009


I feel a little strange admitting this, but I have never read a Carl Hiaasen book before. Hoot did come out the year my son was born (the first of three years of getting up with him a minimum of three times a night), so that probably has something to do with it. It’s not that I didn’t think his books looked or sounded interesting, but there was always something else that kept coming up that would bump Hoot further down in the stack. That of course, was until Scat.  

I commited to reading Scat when it was the title my daughter selected for the first meeting of The Mother-Daughter Book Club.  This book has guaranteed I will read both of Hoot and Flush, and think I’ll try some of his adult fiction as well!

Scat is a book that pulled me on one level and then kept me thinking on different levels all the way through.  

The characters of Nick, Marta, Duane Jr. are well developed and feel like people you can relate to. Many of the other characters, are just as well-developed. Mrs. Starch, the mean, missing teacher; Mr. Wendall Waxmo the sub who wore tuxedos and always taught page 160 on Tuesday, no matter the day or subject; Twilly; the detective; Duane’s grandmother.

The environmental theme is woven throughout the story and arrives in surprising packages. Part mystery, part comedy, this book kept me thinking long after I closed the cover. The timely, yet unfortunate, issue of soldiers coming home wounded from Iraq is also handled in way that makes the issue very accessible to younger/middle aged readers. Nick’s determination to become a lefty like his dad really struck a nerve in my heart. 

Interestingly, when we went to get it from the library, it was in the YA section, which I found initially surprising. There are a couple “dumb ass” comments, and the danger/mystery might be too much for some intermediate readers. Nonetheless, it kept my daughter and her friends turning page after page through all 384 pages!

A must-read that would also make a terrific read-aloud. Maybe some science teachers might be brave enough to try it as a read-aloud in their content area!


What I’m Currently Reading April 7, 2009

Filed under: audiobook,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:46 am
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Just finished Scat by Carl Hiaasen. It’s one of the best books I’ve read! Now I need to read Hoot and Flush!

Bedtime reading Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor with my daughter.

Bedtime reading Roscoe Riley Rules #1 Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs by Katherine Applegate with my son.

Listening to The Calder Game CDs by Blue Balliet in the car when I’m by myself.

Listening to Beyond Spiderwick #1 The Nixie’s Song by Holly Black and Tony diTerlizzi and Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories by Richard Peck with my children in the car 

Currently and actively reading The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins, Graceling by Kristin Cashore (recommended to me by one of my former students-he even brought it to me at school-I love that!)

Started but yet to finish: Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson (they are both good, I just got distracted)

need to start, but haven’t Room With a View by E.M. Forester, Drood by Dan Simmons


New Books April 6, 2009

Filed under: audiobook,book reviews,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,picture books,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:36 am
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The goals: spend less than $75 on new books Saturday, find new release books I hadn’t read yet, try to include one each for my son and daughter to get excited about. Here’s how it ended up

Word Builder by Ann Whitford Paul (beautiful new picture book with a construction crew taking letters and eventually turning them into a book) 

The Pet Sitter: Tiger Taming by Julie Sykes (a series from England starring a young pet-loving boy. Will be good for my son as he is not ready for Magic Tree House, but insists on chapter books that look “grown-up”)

Smoke by Mavis Jukes (I’m not sure what gravitated me towards this book. The cover has a cat in profile, the title is the same as one the characters in the book Scat I just finished, I need a new read aloud for my son and thought this would be a nice change from Wimpy Kid, thought he would love the cowboy connection. I’ll let you know.)

Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green Edited by Dan Gutman (Good short stories are sometimes hard to come by and 100 by authors such as Ralph Fletcher and Gail Gibbons can’t be beat!)

Change Has Come with illustrations by Kadir Nelson (Kadir Nelson’s drawings, Barack Obama’s words-need I say more?)

The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths by Cynthia Rylant (Love Cynthia Rylant. Love that this myths are retold at a level that I can use to introduce them to my children and students)

Total Damage $71.96

I’m pretty excited about my haul!


Where the Wild Things Are Trailer April 1, 2009

Filed under: book turned into movie,KidLit — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:20 pm

Check out the new trailer over at Apple’s site for Where The Wild Things Are

It did give me goosebumps and I love the promo’s music!


Great YA book: Second book arriving in May March 5, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:36 pm
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Boy it feels good to be at home. The weather channel says it is 60 right not in Ohio, which as my son likes to point out, is a sign spring is coming! 


I started reading Gone by Michael Grant this past weekend to the exclusion of almost everything else (the exception was the laundry). I just got the normal weekend to-dos caught up today but I could NOT stop reading this book! I didn’t know it, but I guess I am a sucker for dystopian fiction. First Hunger Games, and now Gone.   

I was a “Goner” with the first paragraph,

“One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone.



In the blink of an eye, everyone fifteen and over disappear. Left behind (good thing he didn’t try to use that title) are the young: teens, preschoolers, and not a single adult. The reader is quickly pulled into the story as the hero Sam calms friends and strangers alike as the reality of the situation begins to sink in. Good  versus Evil, autism, supernatural powers. Somehow the book has it all in an action-packed book.   

A little of the television show Heroes, a little Lost,  a 558 page read that was over way too fast!

If you go to Amazon, DON’T watch the horrible book trailer. Go to your nearest Indy book seller and buy it there!

The book is the first of a six book series. Hunger is due out in May and the third is titled Lies (unknown publication date).  The author, Michael Grant, is married to Katherine Applegate (who some feel lost out on Newbery with her 2007 book Home of the Brave) and together they were the co-creators of Animorphs.


Skeleton Creek from a Sixth Grade Point of View February 10, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:21 pm
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The book Skeleton Creek is written in journal format, as though the main character, Ryan, is writing down the events as they happen. The story begins with Bryan having a crushed leg after falling in a gold mine called the Dredge. With a realistic style, he begins to record events that bring suspense and even scares into the reader. With twists and turns, Ryan and his friend Sarah begin to uncover the secrets of the gold mine, from ghosts to secret clubs. To add to the spine tingling chills, the book adds videos on with codes that make an extremely suspenseful book entwine with pure horror videos. Although the book is a great read for all ages, the videos can be slightly terrifying, with demons (see the front cover) and massive buildups. 
This book is certainly something any suspense novel fan, ghost story lover, or horror flick admirer should read and watch. The book is truly phenomenal for many reasons. First of all, the detail is incredible. After a rather rocky beginning, the story begins to unfold into a true piece of literary art, where it feels as though you are right there with the main character. It also has massive amounts of suspense, along with bits of shear horror, that make it a page turner that is virtually impossible to put down until the very last page. The videos on the site add to the suspense, giving readers the ability to watch for themselves the events that make the story so great. If the videos are to creepy, the book itself explains most of what is in the videos. Watch out though, the end of the book has some serious surprises and will leave the reader begging for more. A definite read for anybody who likes anything eerie. Note though: this book along with the videos may be to scary for some viewers under 13 years of age and the parents may want to watch the clips with their child(ren).
Also- while watching the videos, watch the image of the Dredge behind the clip, if parts of it begin to glow, click on them, you may be surprised by what you see.  

This is Not a Press Release February 2, 2009

Filed under: KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:40 pm

Over at Mother Reader, you will see the “not a press release” that announces


The opening banner lets us know: 

                     “KidLitosphere Central strives to provide a passage to the wonderful variety of resources available from the society of                                         bloggers in children’s and young adult literature”.

It’s true-they do have a great wealth of resources for KidLit bloggers. What you used to have to “google” or come across through a link on someone’s site, is now there for everyone to benefit from. 

It’s also true that 

            “What started as individuals blogging independently about children’s and young adult books became a collective of like-                     minded people. While maintaining our own sites and unique perspectives, shared activities made us a thriving                                       community.”

Years of reading other people’s reviews gave me the confidence to realize that I too can write my opinion about books-children’s, young adult, and professional resources. Before, my audience was people in my building who knew that I loved books, and tried hard to remain current with new releases. Now, I still write with that same audience of teachers and parents in mind, but my voice has more distance.  I can comment, chat, and talk with those people whose reviews I have been reading to make my own book choices. We can share information as well as rejoice over a great new book we just found.  

I look forward to reading the blogs by the Central Ohio KidLit Bloggers that I have been fortunate to meet. I look forward to finding some new blogs to add to my reader from KidLitosphere Central. Thanks to Mother Reader, Elizabeth BurnsKelly HeroldJen Robinson, and Anne Levy for being wise enough to put all the resources in one place! Here’s to great new reading!



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