Best Book I Have Not Read

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

I love books and book programs! February 25, 2009

Filed under: award winners,books — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:07 am
Tags: , ,

I love coming across exciting lists of books or programs involving books.

The National Book Foundation has one I just heard of called BookUpNYC. Here is the blurb from their website:




The National Book Foundation is committed to using innovative approaches to encourage young people to read for pleasure. Recent studies show that middle school age children are at great risk to stop reading on their own. Through BookUpNYC, we are addressing this issue and introducing young people to America’s rich literary culture. We believe that if young people aren’t readers, they haven’t yet found the right books. Working in weekly, after-school sessions with writer/instructors, BookUpNYC helps young people identify their interests and guides them toward finding quality books they will enjoy. BookUpNYC is an expansion of our settlement house program and builds on the successes of that program.

Here’s how BookUpNYC works:

  • Sessions are held once a week for a minimum of twelve weeks, allowing for a stronger relationship to form between resident authors and students.
  • The primary focus is on reading and creative, reading-related activities that enhance the appreciation of reading as an interactive, imaginative pursuit.
  • Children read from a selection of challenging material including short stories, books, and literary journals in addition to books recommended by the resident author.
  • Participants go on field trips to “reading hot spots” including libraries, bookstores, literary organizations, and cultural programs such as author readings.
  • Participants are supplied with gift cards to these bookstores, where they are able to buy their own books, supervised by the staff of the Foundation and writer/instructors.
  • Each student receives a printed map of “reading hot spots” in New York City, which lists all bookstores, libraries, and literary organizations in the five boroughs including their addresses, phone numbers, website, and opening hours.


How cool is that? They also have a book list that I hate to admit I have only read 4 from (** indicates). I’ll get reading on this list in my free time.

Here is their book list:



Books Read in BookUpNYC

As a key part of BookUpNYC, each student reads and receives his or her own copies of a group of books each semester. Students also select titles for purchase on field trips. The following are some of the books read in BookUpNYC group sessions:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  • Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks
  • Blubber by Judy Blume **
  • Tyrell by Coe Booth
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
  • Deep in the Mountains by Terrence Cheng
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier **
  • Behind the Mountains by Edwidge Danticat
  • The Fire Thief Series by Terry Deary
  • Drown by Junot Diaz
  • Double Dutch by Sharon Draper
  • The Sista Hood by E-Fierce
  • The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake **
  • Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams Garcia
  • Gemini by Nikki Giovanni
  • Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
  • Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
  • Madame President (How I Survived Middle School) by Nancy Krulik
  • The Gun by Paul Langan
  • Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
  • Angry Black White Boy by Adam Mansbach
  • El Bronx Remembered by Nicholasa Mohr
  • What They Found: Love on 145th St. by Walter Dean Myers
  • Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
  • Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • The Boy Without a Flag by Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.
  • Buddha Book by Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.
  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
  • Push by Sapphire
  • Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld **
  • Lena by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • A People’s Trilogy of the United States by Howard Zinn


SSCO’s Does This Book Have a Hook?

Filed under: book reviews,books,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:34 am
Tags: ,

It was a good, but long day yesterday. Working backwards from now I: slept (a little), met my newest niece Emma (all of two days old), and  attended ‘Does This Book Have a Hook?’ at SSCO. LOTS of adrenaline, which is probably why I’m not sleeping anymore. 

SSCO hosts two events that offer teachers, media specialists, curriculum coordinators, and intervention specialists the opportunity to 

review fiction and nonfiction literature for upper elementary through young adult readers. 

Participants keep each book they review to add to their school or classroom library collection.

So, what awesome books did I peruse and acquire?

Samuel Blink and the Runaway Troll by Matt Haig (not a great cover, but a sequel to the first Samuel Blink which was fabulous!)

Queste by Angie Sage (Book 4 of the Septimus Heap series)

Freefall by Anna Levine (had read a review at Abby the Librarian recently that sounded interesting) 

The Book of Jude by Kimberley Heuston (set in 1989 during Prague Spring, deals with mental illness)

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (disturbing subject, but had read some good reviews)

Gone by Michael Grant (first two pages sucked me in-apocalyptic story)

Tracking Daddy Down by Marybeth Kelsey (*)

Vet Volunteers: Storm Rescue by Laurie Halse Anderson (my daughter loves the series)

Vet Volunteers: Say Good-Bye by Laurie Halse Anderson (ditto)

Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst (loved the first book, had read great reviews of this one)

Call of the Wild by Jack London (my husband’s favorite classic)

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (had looked for this several years ago and hadn’t like the editions I found then)

Go Long! by  Tiki & Ronde Barber (fourth grade boys will eat this up even though I don’t love celebrity authors)

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (It won the Printz award for Pete’s Sake)

Tulep O’Toole What I Really Want to do is Direct by Trudi Trueit (is that really her name?)

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine (already knew and loved this book)

Guys Write for Guys Read by Jon Scieszka (do I need to say anything? Jon Scieszka?)

Dragon Road by Laurence Yep (I like his historical fiction and this has a basketball twist)

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer (*)

Magical Kids by Sally Gardner (*)

The Knaveheart’s Curse by Adele Griffin (*)

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston (*)

I am strategic in how I approach the event. The books are laid out, this time by genre, and you are allowed three at a time to review using their provided form. You finish three, you get three more, etc. Since I obviously enjoy reading and also enjoy giving books away to teachers as “door prizes” for inservice events, I felt that using the strategy of starting with books that I was familiar with thanks to other people’s blogs or familar with the author’s previous work was my best bet. Quantity did play into my decisions. 

So of the 22 books I ‘reviewed’ I only have 5 (*) that were selected by cover and inside flap.  Only one of those five made me shudder once I started flipping through it (Sorry Robert Weston). Zorgamazoo has a catchy cover and title, interesting use of fonts and illustrations and then…

THE WHOLE THING IS WRITTEN IN RHYMING COUPLETS-UGH!!!!!!!!!! All 281 pages. What was the publisher (and author) thinking? If someone ends up loving this book, let me know, but two pages of rhyme was punishing enough! 

What am I going to start with? I’m Thinking Gone, but we’ll see…stay tuned.


How had I not heard of Pete Hautman?? February 24, 2009

After hearing a rather depressing lecture from Johanna Hurwitz about the state of children’s book publishing (disguised as the history of publishing), I guess it should be no surprise to me that I had not heard of Pete Hautman until this past month.  As I learned yesterday that a book publisher has to pay Barnes & Noble $10,000 to have their new picture book displayed with the cover facing out, I guess I need to believe that there are lots of Pete Hautmans out there I haven’t heard of. In that case, boy are we the reader missing out.

During dinner the other night Pete Hautman alluded to something similar when we were discussing his books and marketing for new releases. It didn’t quite sink in until I heard Hurwitz present information about publishers and profits. 

I take pride in knowing authors and books for children and young adults.

Imagine how horrified I was when a friend asked me about a book her middle school son was reading for an upcoming author visit and I had not heard of the book or the author. I think it was a first for me. Imagine how much more horrified I was when I went home to pull up his name on the internet to learn that this particular author has more than 20 books out and more important than that, has won the National Book Award. What the heck? 

Maybe I can blame it on the post child baby brain when you are in survival mode and incapable of taking in your normal amounts of information. Yet his books are also starred reviews in School Library Journal. Hmmm. It must just be me.

I decided to do a little poking around. I remember how much buzz The Adoration of Jenna Fox got both before and after it came out. I happen to LOVE that book and think it got the buzz it deserved. 

But Invisible is an AMAZING book and it was nowhere on my radar as a book to read or recommend.  Thankfully there are great middle school teachers and librarians that knew his work. 

In a day when many of us work with, live, or encounter more and more people with forms of Aspbergers or mental illness, Invisible is a Must-Read.


Daily Five’s “The Sisters” at Dublin Literacy Conference February 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:11 am
Tags: , ,

Have you ever wanted to or been asked to…


conduct small groups?

confer individually? 

Wondered what you do with the rest of the children?

What Sets Daily 5 Apart for Students and Teachers

What sets Daily Five apart for…


• Deliver 3-5 whole group lessons each day

• Teach 3-4 small groups of children each day

• Confer with 9-12 individual students each day

• Hold all students accountable for eyes-on-text

What sets Daily Five apart for…


• engaged in the act of reading and writing for extended amounts of time

• receive focused instruction on building and maintaining independence

receive tailored instruction through whole group, small group and/or

individual conferring, by their skilled classroom teacher, each day


Another great Dublin Literacy session-fast-paced, usable tomorrow in the classroom, and funny! Daily Five is one of the easiest books I’ve read in years and you really can start applying the strategies in your classroom at any time of the year. I used it with fourth graders quite successfully.  

If I wasn’t already booked, I would definitely pay to go see their full day presentation offered through Choice Literacy! Check it out!


Coaching Institute February 22, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,literacy,Literacy coaching — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:27 pm
Tags: , ,

No, not coaching, as in a sport, but Literacy Coaching. I am so excited to be attending the Teacher College Reading and Writing Project’s Literacy Coaching Institute over my school’s spring break.  I am trying to get as much Calkins, Anderson, and other professional reading as I can before next month arrives.  So excited. Dublin’s Literacy Conference yesterday gave me a little taste of being surrounded by other educators who are also learning and now I can hardly wait!


Dublin Literacy Conference -Ruth Culham

Filed under: 6 traits,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:48 am
Tags: ,

Ruth Culham, “The Trait Lady”, was the kick-off keynote yesterday.  Her presentation was interesting and was based on her article that had first come to my attention this fall, “The Trait Lady Speaks Up: Dispelling Myths About the Traits of Writing”. Here is a summary of the 5 myths:

Myth #1 The Traits are a Writing Curriculum

Myth #2 The Writing Process and the Traits are Two Different Things

Myth #3 You Adopt the Traits

Myth #4 You Teach the Traits

Myth #5 The Traits Are Not Part of Writing Workshop

You can read the whole article here.  

I had shared the article with the staff in one of the buildings with which I work. One of the building’s goals for the year was to have instruction in writing thirty minutes a day. Some people were conflicted by thinking that the 6 Traits materials that were embedded in the reading series were a writing curriculum. 

It can’t be more powerful than to hear from the author herself that the 6 Traits are NOT a writing curriculum. Nor are they in competition with a writing process. 

I highly recommend reading the article and reflect on what the author has to say. It’s easy to read and helped clear up confusion that I had about the 6 Traits intentions.


Dublin Literacy Conference 2009 February 21, 2009


The “Sisters”

Johanna Hurwitzimg_1732

Barbara O’Connor

Blogger Friends

Even though the day started early (with great coffee) and is just ending (with more coffee), it was filled with good learning and good friends from work and Blogging!


P.S. for James Preller-See Bill was there!


February Mystery Author revealed February 20, 2009

Filed under: authors,books,Mystery Author — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 am
Tags: , ,

foundMargaret Peterson Haddixmhaddix


Q. What was your favorite book as a child?

I didn’t have a single favorite, and even if I had, it would have varied year to year. Some of the books I remember re-reading many times because I loved them so much were: The Little Princess, by Francis Hodgson Burnett; She the Adventuress, by Dorothy Crayder; From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg; The Long Journey, by Barbara Corcoran; and Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery.

Q. Were you always a writer? A reader?
I was always a reader, definitely. I can’t really say that I was always a writer. I had lots of ideas for stories when I was a kid, but I was a bit lazy about actually writing them down!

Q. What’s your earliest memory?

Being the flower girl in my mother’s cousin’s wedding. I was 2 ½ at the time, so the memory experts would probably say that I don’t really remember this—I just remember remembering it, and being told about it. But I think I can remember standing at the back of the church beside my older brother (who was the ring bearer) and seeing the huge pews, towering above my head—row after row of them—and being terrified out of my wits. I completely forgot what I was supposed to do, so I asked my brother, who was all of four and, in my eyes, an expert on everything. He said, “Dump the flowers.” So I turned over my whole basket of rose petals right there at the back of the church, and blithely strolled to the front, mission accomplished.

haddix-officeQ. Where do you write? Would you attach a picture of your office or work space?

I have an office in my house. For years, this was the whole family’s shared computer space, and I was always having to move my stuff out of the way when someone else needed to use the computer. Now it’s solely my work space. So, often when I’m in the thick of a book—especially one where I’ve needed to do research—I can get very slobbish with piles of books and paper all over the place, just because I can. It doesn’t look great, but that way I know where everything is. (I’ve sent you a slightly tidier picture.)

Q. What was the most surprising/thrilling thing about being a published author?

I have a two-part answer to that. The most surprising/thrilling thing about being an author is the writing itself, particularly the part where an idea that I fall in love with jumps into my head and the right words for expressing that idea also jump into my head, and I suddenly have a story—plot, characters, narrative, etc.– that thrill me, that didn’t exist, and then suddenly, just is.
When it’s going well (which of course, isn’t always the case) then the writing itself is also the most thrilling part of being a published author. But if you want to emphasize the published part of that, then there’s a second part to the thrill, which is when readers love my stories as much as I do. This is particularly amazing and thrilling when it’s someone who seems very different from me, who I would assume wouldn’t like the same things that I would like, but does.


Q. Are the characters you wrote about based on any real-life people? Did anyone in your life influence the personalities of the characters?

I’ve never put someone I know in real life into one of my books exactly as they are, but I have certainly pulled characteristics from real people I know to give to my characters. I liken it to making a Lego creature using pieces from several different sets—what I come up with is different from the people who inspire me, but sometimes you can recognize the source.

Q. What are you working on now, and what new release(s) can we expect to see from you down the road?
Right now I am working on revising the third book in The Missing series. The second book is all done and is due out in August. I also have another book coming out this year: a young adult novel called Claim to Fame, which is due out in November.

Q. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only charge was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Wow, I think the last time I had one of those was about sixteen years ago! (Pre-parenthood). I would try for a balance of all of my favorite activities: reading, writing, maybe seeing a movie, hanging out with family and friends, and doing some sort of physical activity, like hiking or biking or swimming. Of course, that’s probably too much to try to do in one day, which is indicative of how my life usually goes… I’m always running out of time for the things I want to do!

Q. What are you currently reading or planning to read?

Right now I am reading The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, for a book club that I am in—very much a mind-blowing book. So far, it’s fascinating, but also emotionally difficult to read at times. I recently finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which I greatly enjoyed. I had thought I would read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains next, because I’ve heard wonderful things about it. But I think I may need something lighter in between the slavery books.

Q. Do you have a favorite author?
Not a single favorite. Some of the authors writing for adults whose work I generally enjoy include Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver. In the area of YA and kids books, it would be John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson, E.L. Konigsburg, Edward Bloor, and Cynthia Voigt. And lots of others that I’m not thinking of at the moment.

Q. What do you do when you aren’t writing?

A lot of Mom stuff, although now that my kids are teenagers, I’m not doing nearly as much chauffeuring, etc. as I used to. I do volunteer work through my church, including tutoring and occasionally helping out at a homeless shelter. I read a lot—it’s nice that I have a job where I can justify this as “work.” I do a fair amount of travel, both on trips with family and/or friends, and on work-related trips. This fall I am going to Germany for ten days to promote my books there—I’m really looking forward to that.

Q. What was your first job?
What counts as a first job? The first work I ever got paid for was for helping out on my dad’s farm. (Not the easiest way to make money.) The first regular paycheck I ever got was for working as an assistant cook at a 4-H camp, the summer after my freshman year in college. And the first “full-time” job I had after graduating from college was as a copy editor at a newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Q. You desperately wish you knew how to…
I think if there were anything I desperately wanted to know how to do, I would desperately be trying to learn it. I can’t think of anything I’m that desperate about at the moment, but there are certainly things I would like to be able to do, or do better. One is that I wish I were a better skier, because this is something that my kids love (particularly my son), and it’s not something that I’ve mastered well enough to whole-heartedly enjoy with them. I have improved over the past few years, though.


 The other thing, which is actually a larger, longer-term goal, is that I wish I were better at speaking foreign languages. I have met people who know 10 to 15 languages, and can switch back and forth with seemingly no effort. They’ll say, “I’m sorry—English is not one of my better languages,” and then speak it with almost complete fluency.  I really envy that skill. I used to be fairly good with French, but have forgotten a lot over the years, and I can make an attempt, at least, at Spanish. But with both languages (and, I suspect, any others I would try to study) I am far, far better at reading and writing it than actually conversing. Maybe someday when my kids are grown and I have more time I will be able to make more of an effort at this.




Filed under: authors — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:00 am

petehautmanDinner at The Granville Inn with Pam and Dana (Super Eighth Grade Teachers), Pete Hautman, and Jana, Librarian Extraordinaire!

Favorite quote of the evening (or maybe I should say butchered paraphrasing)…

“A book is never really finished being written even after it’s been published.

It’s meaning keeps being written by everyone who reads it.”  

-Pete Hautman


Going to have dinner with Pete Hautman- February 19, 2009

Filed under: authors,award winners — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:14 pm
Tags: , ,

awardGMS is hosting Pete Hautman for an author visit and they were nice enough to invite me along to have dinner with the author and the host committee. Pete has won the National Book Award for Godless. I would describe him as a YA author, but who knows after dinner how I’ll describe him. More later!