Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs March 20, 2012

I’d looked at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children many, many times, always ending up putting it back on the shelf at the bookstore or library. The photos honestly creeped me out a little. (If you are familiar with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, there’s a picture in the book that also can creep me out-girl with knife and glowing pumpkin). I didn’t try reading any of it. I just got hung up on the photos and had decided it was probably a ghost story. And scary–which I don’t do very well.

It wasn’t until I found it on sale for the Kindle sometime in the past couple weeks that I decided to download it, thinking it would be something to read when I was in Africa. (Not having enough to read while in Senegal is one of my nagging worries, but probably a silly worry). Once I read the first page though, I was hooked!

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.”

I love looking at first lines of books and trying to determine what is it that creates the magic that an author can just hook you with a line.

 At first, Jacob and his relationship with his grandfather is what got me. Then I just had to know what was going to happen. Possible mental illness. Time travel. Father/son relationships. Good vs. Evil. I just kept wondering and reading.

I would describe the book as a fantasy/mystery and can’t really imagine anyone who would not enjoy this story. It would be a great book to curl up in the evenings and read with my nine and twelve-year-old (if they could be that close to each other and not start wrestling or sniping at each other). It does have the creepy factor if you are looking for a that in a read-aloud. Overall, it’s just a great story. It got me thinking about what old photos I might find around from my grandparents and what I might think when looking at them. I’m sure there are no floating girls, but it would be interesting nonetheless.

See what you think!

 

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! 

 

New Graphic Novel August 15, 2010

If you teach second through fourth grade, add The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung Fu Cavemen From the Future (what a crazy title/premise) by George Beard and Harold Hutchins (The Creators of Captain Underpants) (aka Dav Pilkey) to your list of new books to pick up for your classroom library. It just came out August 10th and runs $9.99 in a sturdy hardcover and no annoying dust jacket for your students to take off and lose.

My son (rising third grade) is so excited he can hardly stand for me to stop typing so he can get his hands on it. A great graphic novel to help some of the kids make it until Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4 comes out this fall!

The boys are from Cleveland, Ohio and are part of a four book series. You can also hop on over to his website Dav Pilkey’s Extra Crunchy Website of Fun and learn how to draw the characters and other such fun!

 

Little Blog on the Prairie May 23, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,Middle Grade Fiction — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:34 am

Little Blog on the Prairie

by Cathleen Bell, 2010

288 pages

Middle Grade Fiction

Little Blog on the Prairie is as funny of a read as the title implies. Being a Little House fan myself, I had to have this book when I saw it in Cover to Cover’s book store this week. There have been many a-time when I’m doing something “hard” or that I don’t want to do, when I remind myself of how hard Ma and Pa had it “back in the day”! How about a whole book based on that idea?

It’s summer vacation for Gen’s family, which, unfortunately for her, means the 1890′s, frontier living at Camp Frontier. Not the normal hanging out with friends, swimming pool, soccer camp that she has come to expect.

Having to share a bed with her ten-year old brother, Gavin, in the same room as her parents, in a “house” that her neighbor-at-home’s shed puts to shame, eating beans for countless meals, doing laundry and dishes in water that is heated on the stove, after the water is hauled in! None of these things were on Gen’s list of to-do’s for the summer.

After her normal teenager fit throwing, Gen’s parents had offered a cell phone at the end of the summer for cooperating with the idea of family Frontier Camp. Desperately wanting to have a phone, Gen agrees. And then sneaks the phone into camp inside her Clearasil products (the one item another episode of fit throwing had gained her). Through text messages she sends to her friends, Gen tries to make the best of the situation. Little does she know that her friend has turned her texts into a blog for her tech class that has hundred’s of comments rolling in!

In a great turn, the modern world and television show up at Frontier Camp, based on people’s interest in the blog. I’d say it’s a great read-aloud, despite a little kissing in the last chapter. Guaranteed to be a hit with readers, whether they are Little House on the Prairie fans or readers who enjoy making fun of the series.

 

More Middle Grade Fiction -SLOB February 20, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,Middle Grade Fiction — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:43 am
Tags: ,

SLOB by Ellen Potter

Philomel, 2009

199 pages

I must be on an “out of the ordinary” reading bend. It seems every book I read has a main character with non-mainstream kind of issues.

Colin-An Abundance of Katherines-worried about whether he is a prodigy who won’t become a genius. Trying to find a mathematical formula to explain the dumpee-dumper relationship between himself and all the Katherines.

Cameron-Going Bovine-stricken with mad-cow disease, Cameron is on a quest to save himself and the world.

Jason-Anything but Typical-living a life of autism from the autistic’s point of view.

The next main character is Owen. While he is not on the “spectrum” he certainly is not your typical character. Owen is an overweight, genius-type middle schooler who drops clues throughout the book to as why he is the way he is. Tormented in middle school by someone who is stealing Oreos from his lunch, he is also dealing with a P. E. teacher who takes personal pleasure out of torturing him, the building of a time machine to try to catch a criminal from the past and his sister, “Jeremey”, who is a member of GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys).

There are some great well-developed secondary characters in this book as well. I loved the neighbor who Owen would confide in. The suspected “oreo thief”-both of them add great depth of realism to the middle school experience.

Don’t ask me why, but I was really bothered by the title. SLOB-captial letters. I liked the half eaten Oreo for the O- but it created a tension for me as I was reading. I was relieved that you do find out where the SLOB comes from, but it rubbed at me the entire book! It was probably supposed to when I look back at all the mysteries that are revealed throughout the book.

Thanks to the review at Literate Lives that made me want to read this book.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,298 other followers