Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan April 30, 2012

Filed under: book reviews,books,KidLit,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:22 pm
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Once again, turned off by the Disney-esque cover, I almost passed this one over the last time I was at Cover to Cover. Forutnately Franki was there to say, “It’s Patricia Maclachlan!”

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.

 

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu January 13, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

September 2011, 320 pages

Walden Pond Press

Library Copy

Anne Ursu has written an amazing book. I love the intersection of realistic fiction with a version of  The Snow Queen. The two friends Hazel and Jack each are suffering from their own family problems. Hazel doesn’t “fit” with her school and her father has recently left, doesn’t call, and is getting remarried. Jack gets teased by the boys in his class for being friends with a girl and has a mother suffering from a serious depression.

So that I can get on to other reading, instead of writing my own review, I’m going to give you a couple links to other blog reviews:

NPR December 2011 Kids’ Book Club Pick  (This is the first I’m learning of Backseat Book Club. Love it!)

Jen Robinson’s review 

Book Smugglers interview  with author in their Inspirations and Influences category.

The author’s use of language really grabbed me. I aspire to write as well as she. Here are my favorite lines:

“Everyone in the fifth grade had messenger bags, everyone but Hazel, who had not been cc’ed on that particular school-wide e-mail.” (p. 11)

“She spoke in bright, shiny words, as if that might distract Hazel from thoughts of Jack.” (p.98)

“Her heart plummeted, and her feathers fell away.” (p. 108)

“…their voices were rough and loud and had the sharp edges of crushed-up beer cans.” (p. 138)

“They were plastic flowers of words–but they looked nice on the surface.” (p. 142)

“She had stepped into the woods in the park and landed in an entirely different place. She knew this might happen. She’d been to Narnia, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Dictionopolis. She had tessered, fallen through the rabbit hole, crossed the ice bridge into the unknown world beyond. Hazel knew this world. And it should have made this easier. But it did not. (p. 160)

“There were so many Jacks she had known, and he had known so many Hazels. And maybe she wasn’t going to be able to know all the Jacks that there would be. But all the Hazels that ever would be would have Jack in them, somewhere.” (p. 247)

“The truth was he had been getting more and more scratchy and thick lately. Because sometimes when you are scratchy and thick you don’t want to be sitting in a shack with someone pretending it’s a palace, especially someone who can tell you are scratchy and thick, especially someone who tries to remind you who you really are.” (p. 248)

Brilliant don’t you think? 

I had heard about this book for a long time before it was released. I probably would have read it sooner if it wasn’t for the one thing that bothers me about it. I don’t think it’s very nice to point out a negative about such a great book, and of no fault of the author’s, but it REALLY bothers me that the girl on the cover looks so much like a Disney cartoon. In the shower this morning, I decided she looks like a cross between Lilo from Lilo and Stitch and Pocohantas. I don’t want a Newbery-worthy book to have a cartoon-like character on the cover. I know that’s probabaly dumb, but really???

That aside, teachers and parents definitely should introduce this book to your middle grade readers! 

 

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.

 

Beach reading is the best! June 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:53 pm
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Junonia by Kevin Henkes
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Inside out and Back Again by Thanann Lai

 

Central Ohio’s Got Talent! August 28, 2010

How exciting! A first successful week of school is under our belts and we have a get-together planned for  Central Ohio KidLit bloggers at our favorite indy children’s bookstore. Not only that, but the event ties in with a great author visit and a trip to a favorite eatery.

How could it get better? It’s hard, but today news came through the KidLit blog pipe that  Julie Johnson of Raising Readers and Writers won NCTE’s Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing! How does one find out they have won the award? With a phone call from none other than Katie Wood Ray!

Holy Cow!  I can’t even imagine answering the phone and hearing that southern drawl?

I first met Julie when I was fortuatnte enough to attend The Literacy Connection’s Carl Anderson visit 2 Aprils ago. Participants got to see Julie in action with Carl and her students in her Hilliard, Ohio classroom. A KidLit friend introduced us, it turned out she also had started a blog AND had taught with my former co-teacher in another life in another district. Small World!

Julie happens to be one of “them” that I refer to in my guest post over at Two Writing Teachers. If she happened to read that article, she probably didn’t know she was a “them” for me. Julie is one of “them” because she made the time for writing in her life both through the Central Ohio Writing Project AND her own classroom. She had a writing club! Ah…

One of her first posts on her blog was about the writing community her principal and fellow teachers were forming. Wow! The dedication…I still can dream of that day…

Congratulations Julie! What a deserving winner. May you continue to be an inspiration for people not just in your school, classroom, and community, but even further with the audience of your blog.

 

Reason to Click My Heels Together! April 29, 2010

What event could bring  Franki from A Year of ReadingKaren from Talkworthy, Karen from Literate LivesKatie from Creative Literacy , Stella from My World-Mi Mundo, myself and others under one room tomorrow?

Could it be a sale at Cover to Cover?

The announcement of the Newbery?

NCTE?

OCTELA?

Good Guesses but wrong.

We will all be in one room to hear and watch Samantha Bennett , author of That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write and Think, work in Katie’s second grade class and Karen’s fifth grade class. I am very exciting to have colleagues from three different grade levels that will be attending tomorrow, as well as a student teacher from the building. What a great professional development opportunity that would not be possible without the hard work of the volunteers for The Literacy Connection, including my friend and guru, Carol.

While we won’t all fit in Karen’s and Katie’s classrooms, the rest of us get to watch over close-circuit television, with debriefing sessions in-between.


 

Series books April 2, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:42 am
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I had to run right out yesterday to get Susan Beth Pfeffer’s newest book, This World We Live In, the third in what is now called The Last Survivors, Book 3. It is hard to put down!


Other books in a series that I look forward to:
Mockingjay-by Suzanne Collins-The last book in the Hunger Games trilogy-release date August 24, 2010

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix-The Missing series-release date also August 24, 2010

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan-new series-The Kane Chronicles-release date May 4, 2010

The Necromancer by Michael Scott-book 4 in the Nicholas Flamel series-release date May 25, 2010

 

Teachers College Mary Ehrenworth’s Closing Talk Notes Magnificent Books That Can Create the World of Difference as We Launch the School Year August 10, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,KidLit,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:24 pm
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Magnificent Books That Can Create the World of Difference as We Launch the School Year by Mary Ehrenworth

Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks

dark and allegorical

good read-aloud

a rare picture book because bad things happen in the book and there is a character that is genuinely evil

KidLit/YA-so many books start out sad, but everything almost always works out in the end (cautionary tales)

High School reading diet of tragic disasters-readers lose interest because they haven’t learned how to deal with beautiful language with tragedy

text form and pictures match-good example of how to turn their writing into a published picture book versus the sterile typed final draft

Icarus at the Edge of Time by Brian Greene (Black Hole Scientist)

she shared with 3rd, 5th, and 9th graders last year

a fiction book that can lead into intense study of nonfiction

a ship encounters a black hole-Icarus wants to explore it, but the captain says that they must keep going

generations of his family have been on this spaceship for over 100 years

retelling of a classic tale

words and names are metaphorical

She loves books that lead to other texts

read different versions of Icarus

Greek myths are cautionary tales-shat learned?

Can transcend your current conditions

A third of your library should be NEW every year!

Brothers in Hope by Mary Williams

survival tale

witness tale told in first person

tie to MS/HS Long Way Gone

Child Soldiers of Sudan

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

a retelling of Lord of the Flies, the short story The Lottery, and The Most Dangerous Game

dystopian future where things have gone terribly wrong

The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones, City of, City of Glass-book 3 is the best

great for sixth grade and up

good for post Twilight reading

adult pics

Fall On Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald

post modern novel where language fails to reveal truth

5 girls-different perspectives, 3 generations

great for book club-best read in the company of discussing with others

a challenging book where adults all had to keep post-its and compare retelling

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

success-commonality-someone gave them the opportunity to work hard-conditions of working hard

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

 

Recent Reads August 8, 2009

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:47 am
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Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Lealalsoknown as harper is a brilliant book by a new-to-me author Ann Leal (Talk about small world, the family I used to babysit before they moved to Connecticut are friends with the author!). Homelessness, poetry, friendship and family. This book has it all and is a book I couldn’t stop reading! Check out other, more detailed reviews at SLJ, Literate Lives, or a Year of Reading.

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti is a great YA read.

indigo skyeEighteen-year old Indigo Skye is happy with her job as a waitress and enjoys the quirky customers known as “The Irregulars”.  The characters are well developed and interesting. Things take a twist when a new customer leaves an envelope for Indigo. That envelope happens to include a check for two and a half million dollars (reminds me of that Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda movie-but only the waitress/money part).  It doesn’t seem like having all that money would be hard, but it brings with it a new set of problems. A little predictable, but overall a great read with great characters that make you wanting to read on.

 

Great Reading in July July 26, 2009

Filed under: authors,book reviews,book turned into movie,KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:31 pm
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I haven’t been blogging much lately between getting my daughter to camp and having my son think her being gone means he is now an only-child whose whims I have nothing better to do than fulfill! On the other hand, I have been getting some great reading done.

Recently read:

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen-short, quirky, not quite sure what I think of it. I wouldn’t rush out to buy it in hardback. mudshark

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan-see 100 Scope Notes or A Year of Reading review. Wow! An amazing book.edwardseyes

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (See PBS Parents Booklink’s article about the author Rick Riordan) Loved it! Surprised I hadn’t read it before. Even more surprised that my public library does not have ANY of the series. (I’ve been told they are there in the YA section-I will verify, but sure that I must be wrong) If I was an intermediate or middle school teacher, I would definitely want to read this aloud before the movie is released February 12, 2010.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (see Jen Robinson or semicolon‘s review) or check out the series’ website, The Curiosity Chronicle. Hate to say that I really had to make myself finish this book, although the last fourth flew by.

Beautiful Stories of LifeThe Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold by Cynthia Rylant (I had bought it because I love Cynthia Rylant and worry that kids don’t know some the “older” myths, fables, and fairy tales. Thought it would be good to read-aloud to my own children. It was a great coincidence that I started reading The Lightning Thief- right after this book. I love that The Lightning Thief will get kids familiar with many of the Greek myths that otherwise might not be that interesting to some readers.)

Recently won from a Twitter contest: The new released Slugger series=4 books so far= (formerly known as Barnstormers) by Loren Long and Phil Biloner-I do love the new covers! Thanks Children’s Book Review!

Recently viewed: While at the movies with my son this weekend (G-Force in 3-D, what else?) previews for both book related movies Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were being featured. Obviously they are taking the picture book at a starting point for the movies, but hmmm….are movie writers out of original ideas? Is it cheaper for studios to option books and adaptations? I wonder… Also recently viewed on DVD, Coraline. Creepy, but not as scary as I bet it was on the big screen!

Currently Reading and upcoming reads:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (recommended by Lucy Calkins)

A Quick Guide to Making Your Teaching Stick by Shanna Schwartz (re-reading in preparation for an upcoming workshop class I’m teaching)

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff (re-reading for Mother-Daughter Book Club)

20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (had to stop reading it because it made me keep crying)

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino (How can you resist a title like that?)

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti (YA-picked up in NYC)

What I REALLY want though is a new BestBookIHaveNotRead to jump all those and take me to a new world. I’m on the look-out. It must be time for a trip to Cover to Cover!

 

 
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