Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Upcoming Author Interviews December 30, 2008

Filed under: authors,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:12 am
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I have been fortunate enough to have been granted an upcoming author interview with a few of my new favorite authors. Instead of just telling you who they are, I’m going to see if they will participate in a version of Mystery Reader, or in this case, Mystery Author. If you haven’t read my earlier post about the classroom version of Mystery Reader from Beth Newingham, you can check it out here.


New Find: Literature Map

Filed under: artificial intelligence,authors — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:41 am
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While doing some on-line research I came across this tool, which is new to me. It is called Literature Map and allows you to put in the name of an author and it shows you what other readers of that certain author are reading. The closer an author is in the map to your author, the closer they are related. Try it out and see what you think. It’s kind of fun.


Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things December 28, 2008


“If there were no school, my troubles would blast away, just like that. I would dig holes all day. I would play catch with my gunggung. I would watch cooking shows. I would keep an eye on things. It would be fantastic!” 

                                                     back book cover Alvin Ho 

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a fantastic book. I picked it up this fall at Cover to Cover and it had been slid to the middle section of my TBR (To Be Read) stack before NCTE. A couple of recent blog posts reminded me I had the book and was once again drawn in by the cover illustrations and title. I went and dug it up right away. 

It is a fast and easy read. I loved it and could think of so many students that this would have been (and will be) the perfect book for. The illustration style and storyline will appeal to those who are stuck in a Wimpy Kid rut.  Boys finally have a voice. I love the main character of Alvin and how the book is narrated from his point of view.  I love that there is book for those transitional/reluctant MALE readers that has an engaging and sympathetic character similar to Clementine and Ivy and Bean.

My six year old son saw me reading this book and was also drawn in by the illustrations on the cover. He thought the title was very funny. He begged me to read it to him while we waited for my daughter’s basketball game to start. He liked it so much, he was pretty sure I could keep reading it to him even after the game had started.

Alvin’s “desk buddy” Sophie (aka. Flea) is also a very likable character. Her eye patch and longer leg are treated as badges of honor, not something to make fun of.  She sticks up for Alvin and through her loyalty, he is able to learn an important lesson about himself and about friendship. 

His Performance Anxiety Disorder which turns his voice completely silent as soon as he gets off the bus, his costume as Firecracker Man, his swearing in “Shakespearean” at his therapist, his loss of his father’s childhood toy, all these things and more make Alvin Ho one of the most likable characters for the second to fifth grade crowd I have seen in a long time. 

I can hardly wait to get my hands on the second installment, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters (due out June 23, 2009) will go back and read the Ruby Lu books that I am not familiar with yet.


Christmas Books from Our Collection December 27, 2008

Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou

Drummer Boy by Loren Long

Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray

An Orange for Franki by Patricia Polacco

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco


Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera 

I’ve Seen Santa! by David Bedford

The Reindeer Christmas by Atsuko Morozumi

Santa Calls by William Joyce

Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner? by Tomie dePaola 

Trouble With Trolls by Jan Brett

Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett 

Mrs. Claus Explains It All by Love

Santa Claus by Rod Green

Olivia Helps with Christmas by Falconer

Olive the Other Reinderr by Vivian Walsh

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner 

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Bregren

Christmas in the Manager Board Book by Nola Buck

The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry 

Who is Coming to Our House by Richard 

Santa’s Reindeer by Rod Green

Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury by Jan Brett

Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans

Unwrapping the Christmas Creche by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger

The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda

Waiting for Christmas: A Story about the Advent Calendar by Kathleen Bostrom

I Smell Christmas by Mercer Mayer

Country Angel Christmas by Tomie dePaola

Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda

Santa Kid by James Patterson

Hurry Santa! by Julie Sykes

Jingle Bugs by David A. Carter

Frosty’s New Friends by Richard Cowdrey

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano


100 Cupboards December 21, 2008

100-cupboardsimg_11862The funny guy in the photo is author  N.D. Wilson. I just finished listening to his 100 Cupboards in my car. It was one of those great audiobooks that make you want to hang out in your car or drive the long way home. The main character, Henry, has ended up living with his aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins in Henry, Kansas after his parents were kidnapped. You don’t learn much about those parents, except that they were wildly overprotective, and often not around to raise their only child (there was a nanny of course).  

In Henry’s new bedroom, he soon becomes aware that there is a hidden door behind the plaster of the wall. Through a great deal of nighttime working and some help from his cousin Henrietta, Henry comes upon not just one cupboard, but 100 cupboards. One door allows a peek into what appears to be a mailroom with a postmaster walking back and forth putting mail into the boxes. Another allows wind and rain to blow through. 

The cupboards in his room are also linked to a mysterious door that led to what was the family’s grandfather’s room. Since his death several years before, the family has been unable to open the door.  Henry and Henrietta find the secret to opening that door as well as traveling through to worlds on the other side of the cupboards. 

While there are some creepy parts, the storyline is intriguing and I can hardly wait for Dandelion Fire, the second installment of the trilogy.  

Random House has a clever little sneak peek of what might be found behind the doors.  


Winter Break Begins December 19, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:43 pm

No School (for Kids) for two weeks. A chance to breathe, catch up, slow down, and maybe even read, sleep, or blog.


Like to read author interviews? December 16, 2008

Filed under: blogs — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:09 pm
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I know that everyone is as busy getting ready for the holidays, but Mary Pope Osborne is doing a week of Blog Interviews. Today she was at The Reading Zone, and also has stops at Big A, The Well-Read Child, Fields of Gold, and The Page Flipper.  Since we all probably know a child or student who loves the Magic Tree House books, you should go check it out!


What I’m Reading

Filed under: books — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:45 pm
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If I could figure out how to make reading full-time job, it would be really tempting.  I am kind of a compulsive (or maybe neurotic) reader and must have a book(s) with me. I carry one with me at all times in my bag, have another in the car in case I get stuck in really bad traffic or have to wait for someone, listen to one on CD on my way to and from work, have one next to the couch where I will sit to relax if I have the chance in the evenings, one next to my bed, and probably a few others, not counting professional journals or magazines.  Currently I am somewhere in the middle of reading:

In car-The Uglies by Scot Westerfeld (gets least reading amount)

CD-100 Cupboards by  N. D. Wilson (depends of day/week how much gets listened to)

bag-Talking, Drawing, Writing by Horn & Giacobbe (gets most reading minutes)

couch-Synchronizing Success by Maren Koepf (making my way through steadily in 10 minute chunks)

bed-Mr. Pip by Lloyd James (keep falling asleep after a couple pages)

It doesn’t bother me to jump around from book to book and in terms of professional reading, it keeps me motivated to get through them, knowing that I don’t have a deadline and can read as I have time.  The stack of next reads from NCTE is almost a little too big and I keep looking through it, but not starting a new one. Maybe this weekend, but only if I decide not to bake any Christmas cookies this year.



Filed under: NCTE — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:03 pm

Here is one-third of the NCTE loot we brought back from Texas.  We all came home with well over a 100 books (and yes, we did spend some of our own money. When they were offering $$5 or 10 hardbacks and $3 or $5 paperbacks, we couldn’t resist). I was out of room in luggage and wallet by the last day, but someone sitting next to me on one of my flights got 40 new release hardbacks for $28.  Professional development, great company, and books galore. You know it’s on my calendar for next year in Philly already!  



A New Christmas book to add to our family collection December 11, 2008

Filed under: Art,holiday book,KidLit,kidlitosphere,picture books,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:24 pm
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christmas-farmChristmas Farm, by Mary Lyn Ray, is a charming new addition to our family Christmas book collection. I’ve added to the holiday collection each year since my children were born. We start reading our collection December 1st and continue through the holiday. 

Christmas Farm was given to me by my dear friend and literacy guru, Carol.

It is the story of Wilma and Parker, the young boy next door, and the Christmas trees that they nurse from seedlings through the years. Eventually they sold five-hundred and sixty-six Christmas trees.

The author’s choice of words are so poetic and beautiful. There is also references to counting by dozens (something many children have trouble with) so I could see using it to springboard a math lesson as well. 

“The young trees work with the spring, and again Wilma and Parker weeded around them, and Parker told them things. Now that he was six, he knew even more than when he was five.” 

“On summer nights, brown moths fluttered among the trees, fireflies flickered above them, and whip-poor-wills called across the darkness.”

The illustrations are as beautiful as the words! This is a must for a holiday book collection. A great gift for children, families, or lovers of books.