Best Book I Have Not Read

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

What I’ve Been Reading (and Listening to) December 11, 2011

I’m currently reading Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler and have recently finished Bystander by James Preller.

Having spent a great deal of time in the car over the past month, I’ve just finished Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I loved them all, for very different reasons. I’m one a YA kick right now on the heels of ALAN in November.

I do listen to audiobooks almost every time I’m in the car without someone with me. So even if it’s just a four minute drive between school buildings. I didn’t have much of Whale Talk left, so I thought I could probably finish it on the ride from the office to GIS. I didn’t anticipate that I would start bawling and be unable to go into the school for ten minutes while I pulled myself together. I LOVE Chris Crutcher and Whale Talk is amazing. I do think that any adult who likes to read, really should venture into YA or teen books. There are so many amazing titles that deal with so many different issues that if you don’t, you are really missing out. I love the main character T.J. Jones, his biker father, and the group that makes up the swim team. The issues of race, abuse, hunting, amidst the backdrop of varsity sports and athletic fervor will really make the reader think.

I don’t know how I hadn’t read any of the Larry books by Janet Tashjian. When I go to the library to get audiobooks, I just look for covers that I know have gotten a lot of blog talk over the past several years that I hadn’t gotten to when they first came out. The Gospel According to Larry is brilliant. I really enjoyed Josh’s wry tone as he tells the story of Larry/himself. Consumerism, celebrity, all great messages during the whole Occupy Wall Street Movement.



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.


Award Winner? I Think So! As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth May 17, 2010

Filed under: award winners,book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:47 pm

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

by Lynne Rae Perkins

2010, Green Willow books

368 pages





He’ll Get There.

Won’t He?

The inside flap doesn’t give much away about this gem of a book. I’m trying to retrace my steps that first led me to this book. I had read something, somewhere in the great internet world that made me first put the book in my Amazon cart, then look to see if it was in at my local library. Was it in the info about BEA? My favorite blogs? I’m stopping just short of searching my own internet history.

Library! Score! I was so pleased that a book released April 27, 2010 was there! I’m not saying my library is not current, but it’s not my normal experience to find a newly released book that I had to read at the library waiting for me! Usually if it’s new, it’s checked out by someone asap, with a wait list to boot!

Checked out at 2:00 on Saturday. Done by 2:00 on Sunday. Also not my normal experience. I am always on the look-out for the next best book (hence the blog title), but that leads me to flit from book to book, sometimes as many as eight, back and forth until I finish one. I am looking for the next one, almost at all times. I could not stop reading this book. I loved it!

“It’s just a hypothetical situation,” said Del. “It’s pretty unlikely that it would ever actually come up.”  (p. 98)

Main character Ry, is on, what turns out to be, a mis-adventure. The book is divided into four parts, with great chapter titles like, ” It seemed to Ry at this moment that having a cell phone in Montana was like having a canoe on Mars…” On his way to summer camp, he opens a letter. When he gets off the train to call his grandfather to ask advise about the letter, he misses getting back on the train before it goes away. And so the beginning of the mis-adventures begin…

Train, missing boot, black eye, new friends, car, airplane. How many things can go wrong for one person?

Somehow Ry has the good fortune to meet Del, who seems to major in damsels in distress and damsels are not limited to women in Ry’s case.

I loved the descriptive language of characters, of setting, of emotions. Below are a couple memorable quotes:

“And then they were going, backing out of the driveway, waving good-bye, rolling down the street. Houses, streets, minutes, and miles came and went, all ordinary enough. Ry could not identify the odd sensation he had as they rolled along. Maybe it was what a lobster feels when it finds itself in a pot of water that started out cold enough but it seems to be starting to boil.” p. 99

Love it! What a great description. I think I’ve had that odd sensation many a time-but never described it so wonderfully!

Here’s another quote that describes one of the people Del and Ry encounter on their journey…

“Their host was Carl. Wooly coils of silvery-white hair forested the back and sides of his head, thinning to a zone of barren scrub at the tree line of the shiny dome of his head.” p. 111

Right before Ry’s mis-adventure begins, his family had moved to a new hometown. When he and Del get there, no one is home.

“Then he opened them and looked around at the familiar furniture of his life that had moved into this house and taken up residence. He was glad to see it all–the lamps, the knickknacks, the throw pillows. The steadfast couch welcomed him like a childhood friend.” p. 153

So what would any teenager do when he comes home to an empty home? No house-sitting grandfather, no dogs, no parents. I think most would stay put. But Ry (and Del) decide they should go in search of the missing.

So next comes the plane. Then the boat(s).

“And so it went. Back and forth, side to side, tilt this way, tilt that way. The deep tilting was called ‘heeling.’ Having a name other than ‘tipping over’ made it seem less dangerous, more like a normal thing that happened all the time, that was okay if it happened.” p. 272

There is something magical that happens as you read this book. The simple line art that you find throughout the book, the language. This is going to win an award. I sense another Newbery for author Lynne Rae Perkins. I haven’t read Criss Cross, her first winner, but you’d better believe I’ll be adding to my TBR pile.

So much more I want to say about this book, but I must run off to the school board meeting…Fortunately it’s just a short walk away.


It’s Children’s Book Week! May 13, 2010

Filed under: award winners — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:06 am

The Children’s Choice Book has just announced their 2010 winners during this year’s Children’s Book Week. Here are the winners:

Author of the Year

James Patterson for Max (A Maximum Ride Novel) (Little, Brown)

Illustrator of the Year

Peter Brown for The Curious Garden (Little, Brown)

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year

Lulu the Big Little Chick written and illustrated by Paulette Bogan (Bloomsbury USA)

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf/Random House)

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-so-fabulous Life written and illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

Teen Choice Book of the Year

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)

The Children’s Choice Book Awards program, launched in 2008 by The Children’s Book Council (CBC) in association with Every Child a Reader, Inc. (the CBC Foundation), was created to provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them and to help develop a reading list that will motivate children to read more and cultivate a love of reading.


Announcing the Cybils February 15, 2010

Filed under: award winners,books,Cybils — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:44 am
Tags: , ,

There are lots of great KidLit posts today about the Cybil winners. Cybils are similar to the Newbery but are awarded by KidLit bloggers, rather than librarians. Here is the Cybil official purpose:

Our purpose is two-fold:

  • Reward the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators, let’s not forget them) whose books combine the highest literary merit and “kid appeal.” What’s that mean? If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.
  • Foster a sense of community among bloggers who write about children’s and YA literature, highlight our best reviewers (and shamelessly promote their blogs) and provide a forum for the similarly obsessed.

Click here to see all the category winners, including Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains, Kirsten Cashore’s Fire, and The Day Glo Brothers (how can you resist this title!?)


48 hour challenge has become 4 hours, 8 minutes Challenge June 7, 2009

Filed under: adult learners,award winners,book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:15 pm
Tags: , ,

Disappointing finish to the 48 hour challenge-didn’t have time to visit Columbus blog friends, didn’t have time to read. I have to remind myself that the things I did get done are going to really help sell this house. It’s nice that the kids are finally old enough that my husband and I can work on a project together without having to divide and conquer project/childcare. 

Thread of Grace

I did mange to finish Thread of Grade by Mary Doria Russell (yeah fellow Ohio resident!) and hope to be done with What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Bludnell by the end of the evening.  Interesting that they are both set in the 1940’s-I didn’t set out to pick them for that reason.  The first book was last month’s book club selection and is set during the last years of World War II in Italy and paints a gripping picture of the Italian Resistance in the countryside. When talking to a friend about the book at the pool I described myself as at typical late 1980s product of social studies education-no class every got all the way through world history (high school or college)-the teacher usually ran out of time around the late 1890s. So anything I know about World War I or II has been self-taught through the reading of historical fiction and nonfiction. I’m not sure that it is a very good way to know about such an important piece of world history, but it’s what I have. A Thread of Grace added more information about ad additional part of World War II of which I was previously unaware. 

At the beginning of the book there is a map and a list of characters. I did refer back to the both frequently and wish I had started keeping my own notes, as the names were unfamiliar to me and I would get the characters and locations confused. This book would make a great book for teachers to read and discuss together to help become aware of their own metacognitive processes.  The last line is memorable- “One last awful thought: all the harm he (Hitler) ever did was done for him by other people.” 

What I Saw and How I Lied is the National Book Award Finalist and has been on my TBR pile since pre-Cybils. More about it after I finishWhat I saw


SLJ’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books starts next Monday April 9, 2009

Filed under: award winners,blogs,book reviews,books — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:09 am
Tags: ,

From School Library Journal’s blog:


About the Battle
School Library Journal’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books is a competition between 16 of the very best books for young people published in 2008, judged by some of the biggest names in children’s books.

Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book, will be judging the very first match. Print out the brackets here.

A longtime player and judge in this sport, Roger was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and a children’s and young adult librarian. 

Match 1: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves vs Ways to Live Forever

Match 2: The Graveyard Book vs The Trouble Begins at 8

Match 3: Chains vs Washington at Valley Forge

Match 4: Here Lies Arthur vs Tender Morsels

Match 5: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks vs We Are the Ship

Match 6: The Hunger Games vs The Porcupine Year

Match 7: Graceling vs The Underneath

Match 8: The Lincolns vs Nation

What’s the baddest book of them all? Our all-star panel of judges is about to decide! 

Follow the action as 16 of last year’s best books compete in a winner-takes-all tournament to determine the nation’s top title.


Unlike the Newbery short-lists, I am not going to read frenetically to try to be able to have an opinion on different rounds, but will be following along as an interested bystander. I also see a couple titles I am unfamiliar with that I’ll need to find out more about.


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


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.


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!