Best Book I Have Not Read

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

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban June 23, 2013

Filed under: ALA,authors,book reviews,books,YA,Young Adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:53 am
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Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve read through a book non-stop and then felt compelled to write immediately about it. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban is the book that has done that for me. I LOVE this book. I love it so much, that I want to start reading it again tpfrom the beginning right now. I love it enough that I have already ordered the book that the author references in the “A Conversation with Elizabeth Laban” section at the end of the novel. I love it enough that I think high school English teachers should strongly consider making it required reading along with their student of Shakespeare. It would help their students understand tragedy at a level that classics can not bring to life for them.

I love it as a reader and I love it as a writer.

I wish I could have written it.

It has a map of the setting. I love when there is a map in a book, yet I didn’t even really look at the map. I just love that it is there.

It’s set in a school. I love books set in schools, especially for teens, since everything in their lives revolves around their friends and social contacts.

I love that one of the main character’s, Tim’s, parents are referenced so slightly, almost as if they were an annoyance to him. Yet you can tell he loves them, but just can’t be bothered by them. So dead-on with young people of that age.

I love the details about the locally-grown food throughout the book. Subtle references to the farms and locations the food came from-unnecessary details to the plot of the book, yet so detailed, it allows the reader to be there with the students of Irving School.

I love that I had to just keep reading it from the first page until the last. That it made me stay up late and wake up early, just so I could finish it.

I love the characters. I love that the tension you experience in the first couple chapters is still there, driving the characters on, driving the reading on, through the last page. Never is there a dull point, where you find yourself skimming, to get back to the main plot. I love that it’s set in a boarding school. I have a fascination with boarding schools.

It’s just that good.

Is the author going to be at ALA? I need to meet her and tell her how amazing her book is.




Don’t Forget About the Printz Award January 19, 2012

Filed under: ALA,Caldecott,Newbery,Newbery potential,Printz — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:54 pm

It seems like every year there is quite a bit of buzz about potential Newbery and Caldecott award winners. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I’ve always loved trying to “pick” what book I think is going to be the winner– before the announcements. Some years I have been even willing to place a bet with a friend-I was that certain.

This got me thinking about the Printz award. There isn’t nearly the buzz about it as the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Why is that, I found myself wondering?

The Printz Award has only been around since 2000 as compared to 1937 for the Caldecott Award, which is awarded to the “artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year”. The Newbery Award is the oldest and began in 1922 and was the first children’s book award in history! .  It is awarded “for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year”.

The Printz “honors excellence in literature written for young adults” and the “book may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or an anthology and can be a work of joint authorship or editorship. Nominated books may have been previously published in another country , but must have been in the U.S. during the preceding year. The books must be designated by their publishers as either a young adult book or one published for ages 12 through 18”.

Hmmm…. Are there other “awards” out there that are similar? What about the Cybils or the National Book Awards?

The National Book Award seems to have some overlap between those finalists and the Printz, or sometimes the Newbery. The National Book Award is given “by writers to writers” and was started in 1950.

The Cybils, on the other hand, came about in 2006 and “rewards the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators) whose books combine the highest literary merit and “kid appeal”. Created by bloggers for bloggers, it certainly has caught on. Despite the existence of the Cybils, which is more open to participation by the non-librarian, mock Newbery and Caldecott “clubs” continue to go strong.

Here’s a short round-up of Printz predictions/contenders from the web:

Bookhenge2011 blog, which is tied to Young Adult Literature course and a library (appears to have just shy of 30 members) gave their mock awards to:

2012 Printz Winner – Paper Covers Rock, by Jenny Hubbard

2012 Honors

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
Every You, Every Me, by David Levithan
Chime, by Frannie Billingsley
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente

Someday My Printz will Come  is from the School Library Journal and had votes tallied from 116 votes and gave their mock winner and honors to:

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Chime by Frannie Billingsley

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Steph Su Reads blog has a longer list of possibilities.

Here’s what I am thinking are possibilities based on what I have read–

Everybody Sess the Ants by A.S. King (my money is on this one-I’ll post my review this weekend)

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Here’s my to-read pile that:

I’d like to try to complete before the award is announced, but I won’t get to AND–

I think has a shot at winning–

Paper Covers Rock

Scorpio Races

The Girl Who Circumnavigated the Earth

The Returning

Chime (started, but couldn’t get into)


Summer is always a little crazy… July 13, 2010

Filed under: ALA,book clubs,KidLit,reading workshop,summer reading,TCRWP,units of study — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:42 am

I enter summer, knowing full-well it’s going to be crazy. It’s always too fast, and make me wonder how I manage to work full-time during the school year. This summer has proven to be crazier than normal. In case you are interested, here is a week-by-week breakdown of the craziness.

first week June-last week of school for kids; swim team starts

second week of June-hubby and kids go on vacation with my family to NC. I have an extended contract so I stay to finish up the 2009-2010 school year. Breathe a sigh of relief that all the administrative team seems to be staying in place for next school year.

Realize that I miss having multiple dogs in the house and add another puppy.

third week of June-

Monday evening-our superintendent announces he is leaving for another district.

Tuesday mid-day-my direct supervisor (Director of Educational Operations) announces he has accepted a job in another district (ARGH!)

Wednesday and Thursday-lots of extra meetings

Friday-leave for D.C for my first ALA

Sunday-return from D.C. with van full of books!

Board member steps down…

last week of Junemidweek: first set of house guests arrive. So happy to see my college roommate and her family! It’s always too long between visits.

last week of June-end of week: one set of house guests leaves, another arrives two hours later-So happy to have Guy’s cousin, wife and baby visiting us! They have the happiest baby on earth! It’s also beginning of arrival in town for husband’s family reunion AND 25th high school reunion.

Fourth of July weekend-house guests, street fair, family reunion AND pack to leave for Teachers College

Our beloved Director of Technology dies unexpectedly of a heart attack.

First week of July– 17th annual Reading Institute at TCRWP. (Great learning opportunity-if you ever have the opportunity to attend one of TC’s institutes, you WON’T be sorry! )Hot beyond belief in NYC (103 degrees at 6 p.m. near the former World Trade Center site (see photo).

get home Friday night very late after multiple delays with flight

Our Director of Student Services accepts another job.  We are a small, relatively stable district. We go years without anyone leaving.

Saturday-all day class at Muskingum University. Approximately 18 hours after leaving Columbia University’s campus in NYC.

Sunday-drive to Michigan and back to deliver son to summer camp. Wish I was staying for a week of Lake Michigan!

Second week of July-let the meetings continue….new board member and interim superintendent named-whew.

What I was looking forward to was a month of reading on my screen porch, with a lap full of puppies. In the plans were-the new Units of Study for Reading books by Lucy Calkins, The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen for my upcoming book club, and as many ARCs from ALA that I could manage. Progress is slow, but I have started the first book in the reading series (such a great resource), finished Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Fantastic!), and at least checked out the book club book from the library. I’ve also learned to type with the lap full of puppies. Unconditional love and affection is worth a few little potty-training accidents.

Instead, I’m reminding myself daily that with each new challenge there lies opportunity. Here are a few of my favorite change quotes:

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”

“Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.” Brian Andreas, Story People artist