Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Announcing the Cybils February 15, 2010

Filed under: award winners,books,Cybils — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:44 am
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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!?)


The Best Kids’ Books Ever… finding a new blog July 5, 2009

Filed under: blogs — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:30 pm
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It’s only fitting that today as I am in New York City at a friend’s home and I open up the New York Times, ‘The Week in Review’ has a column titled “The Best Kids’ Books Ever“! 

If you go to the columnist’s blog, On The Ground, you can see what he lists as the best Kid’s Books Ever which include, The Hardy Boys (my son and husband agree), Harry Potter, and the less known Freddy the Pig series (loved him so much I have bought the re-releases of some of them-can’t get my own kids interested). 

If you go to his blog, you can see the 900+ comments by readers sharing their opinion about the Best Kid’s Book Ever. 

The best often blurs with “my favorite” for me, especially when I think back to books from my childhood. Books I read over and over again as a child included:
The Little House of the Prarie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Besty and Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace (illustrated by favorite childhood illustrator Lois Lenski-which leads me to Strawberry Girl and all books by Lois Lenski-I can even picture where in the library they were located during my childhood and how I kept searching in case there was a title I missed-not very likely as she died when I was five years old, but maybe the library would buy a new-to-me book!). 

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis 

Baby Island by Carol Brink 

Shoeshine Girl by Clyde Bulla

The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope 

The Trixie Beldon series by Julie Campbell (I personally did not care for Nancy Drew)

Cherry Ames Nursing Student series by Helen Wells

Madeline L’Engle books including The Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light: The Austins Family Chronicles 

One of my all-time favorite childhood books has a title that alludes me to great frustration. I can tell you where it was in the library, the gist of the book, and how when I went to check it out for the 23rd time, I was devastated that the library had “weeded” it out of their collection. 
Maybe you know the title from your childhood. There was a family (I think of many boys) that took in an orphaned girl  during the Revolutionary or Civil War. One brother (I want to say his name was something like Lamont) loved her secretly, left for war and returned to find her engaged to his brother who had not been gone for the war.  I know that is not much of a gist, but still to this day I am bothered by not knowing the title of the book and my inability to read it one more time.  


What are your favorites? Please feel free to comment and leave titles-I’m hoping for a new Best Book I Have Not Read.


Can’t beat time in a bookstore with friends June 5, 2009

One of the last events I managed before becoming a house-selling fanatic, was a trip to my favorite book store Cover to Cover with two of my fourth grade colleagues.  Neither had been there before ( I love taking newbies!) and both had some end of the year money to spend on their classroom libraries (Can there be any better type of money to spend?). A combination that can’t be beat in my mind, especially when followed by lunch at Northstar Cafe.  

One of our goals was to find poetry books to boost their classroom library (there are two of the teachers I wrote about in the poetry unit). We picked up:

  • Georgia Heard’s vertical book Falling Down the Page
  • Oh Brother by Nikki Grimes
  • Been to Yesterdays– by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • Wonderful Words: Poems about Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking by Lee Bennett Hopkins Falling down the page
  • City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • A Kick in the Head-An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul Janeczko
  • The World’s Greatest Poems by J. Patrick Lewis 
  • Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian 

Another was to find picture books to supplement their science and social studies topics. I have to say we successfully did both after many fun hours looking through books and exclaiming over finds to each other.  

I also had the privilege of selecting books that will be given to teachers as part of our August Writing Institute.  I’ll include a list of titles I picked up within the next week. 

I’m sitting in my beautiful backyard writing this post, enjoying the things I love most about it back here-dogs sleeping on cool bricks at my feet, luscious red strawberries growing in raised beds, kids swinging high enough to touch the clouds, a breeze blows the leaves of the surrounding trees and woods, music from the televsision show Grey’s Anatomy plays in the background, and a cold beverage drips a ring on the table.   I realize that I have missed the reflective component of blogging over the last couple weeks. It forces me to slow down and think about how the day, week, book, etc. and I haven’t slowed down enough to read or blog since entering house mania. Now that the main preparation sprint is winding down, I hope to be back to blogging almost every day.

Next week holds a curriculum mapping week of planning using Primary Units of Study by Lucy Calkins, Talking, Drawing and Writing by Horn and Giacobbe, and Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller to plan out next year. Should be pretty fun stuff! Then a couple weeks off before heading to Teachers College (TCRWP) Reading Institute July 6th-10th.


New Books April 6, 2009

Filed under: audiobook,book reviews,books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,picture books,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:36 am
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The goals: spend less than $75 on new books Saturday, find new release books I hadn’t read yet, try to include one each for my son and daughter to get excited about. Here’s how it ended up

Word Builder by Ann Whitford Paul (beautiful new picture book with a construction crew taking letters and eventually turning them into a book) 

The Pet Sitter: Tiger Taming by Julie Sykes (a series from England starring a young pet-loving boy. Will be good for my son as he is not ready for Magic Tree House, but insists on chapter books that look “grown-up”)

Smoke by Mavis Jukes (I’m not sure what gravitated me towards this book. The cover has a cat in profile, the title is the same as one the characters in the book Scat I just finished, I need a new read aloud for my son and thought this would be a nice change from Wimpy Kid, thought he would love the cowboy connection. I’ll let you know.)

Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green Edited by Dan Gutman (Good short stories are sometimes hard to come by and 100 by authors such as Ralph Fletcher and Gail Gibbons can’t be beat!)

Change Has Come with illustrations by Kadir Nelson (Kadir Nelson’s drawings, Barack Obama’s words-need I say more?)

The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths by Cynthia Rylant (Love Cynthia Rylant. Love that this myths are retold at a level that I can use to introduce them to my children and students)

Total Damage $71.96

I’m pretty excited about my haul!


New Books to blast me out of the blahs February 16, 2009

Filed under: books,picture books — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:36 am
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Ron’s Big Mission by Rosa Blue and Corinne J. Naden

Illustrated by Dan Tate 











The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers










Bye-Bye Crib by Alison McGhee, Illlustrated by Ross MacDonald



January’s Books-On the Way to the Year’s Goal February 4, 2009

Filed under: books — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:02 am
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Books I read in January 

Picture Books: 

Put It on the List! by  Kristen Darbyshire My review 

I Want to Be Free by Joseph Slate My review

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris My review

Posy by Linda Newbery and Catherine Rayner My review

Snow Show by Carolyn Fisher My Review 

The Snow Globe Family by Jane O’Connor

Fourteen Bears Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott

Princess Peepers by Pam Calvert

A is for Art : An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson

The Big Elephant in the Room by Lane Smith My Review 


Middle Grade and YA Fiction:

42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer 

Along Came Spider by James Preller My review

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron My review

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman My review

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester My review

Shoot the Moon by Francis O’Roark Dowell 

Ida B. and  Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disasters, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan 


Professional Books: 

Inside the Writer’s-Reader’s Notebook by Linda Reif

Assessing Writers by Carl Anderson


Adult Fiction: 

Nada-it WAS Newbery month! Ooh wait-I think I finished Mr. Pip by Lloyd James in January-very good book!


Greg Mortenson’s new picture book collaboration November 22, 2008

Filed under: books,KidLit,kidlitosphere,NCTE,picture books — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:52 pm
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listen-to-the-windGreg Mortenson of Three Cups of Tea, has a new picture book coming out based on his experiences in Pakistan. He is one of many authors that NCTE has had in their line up.

Listen to the Windis a beautiful picture book that is done in collage by Susan L. Roth. The book starts with the children of Korphe, Pakistan and is told from their point of view. They describe the stranger’s, who becomes know as Dr. Greg, arrival and time in the village. After being told by the village’s wisest man to “Listen to the Wind”, and realized that the village needed a school and that he needed to help them have one.

I love how the story is told from the point of view of the children and how the village all works together to help build the school. In the end of the book, his new project that he talked about at NCTE, Pennies for Peace, is mentioned.

I think that this book is a must-have for schools to include in their libraries and would fit in very well to a multicultural study or character education focus.  

Nicely done!


Ellie McDoodle New Kid in School The never ending quest to find the perfect book for every student August 24, 2008

Ellie McDoodle New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw is a fun new cross breed of books that has been gaining popularity. I would describe it as a cross between a journal (think Amelia’s Notebook) graphic novel (Babymouse).

Ellie has just had to move to a new town and is facing the tough “new kid to school” blues. Fortunately she has her journal, where she chronicles her downs (and some ups).

The author does a great job of capturing common struggles for new students: people messing up your name, mean kids teasing, the job over meeting a new friend.

I also like how the author captures some common issues of pre-teen students-relationships to teachers, trying to communicate/protest a school issue that seems unfair, and even touches on how to act with people with special needs.

This the second Ellie McDoodle book. I bought the first one for my daughter (just started fourth grade) in my quest to find a new favorite book for her (her current is The Magic Half by Annie Barrows). I’ve always prided myself on being able to match books with students, turning reluctant readers into book lovers, and being able to help make connections for children between different books that the already read and ones that might be the “best book they haven’t read”.

Unfortunately, but probably predictably, my daughter is my toughest sell. It drives her crazy when we go the library and parents and other kids will come up and ask me about books (it is a small town where almost everyone recognizes each other).

I really like Interview with the Author at the end, told in the same style as the novel.

A great addition for a classroom library!


Madam President by Lane Smith August 16, 2008

Filed under: books,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:56 pm
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As the school year approaches for my district and we start thinking past the first weeks of school, the upcoming presidential election will not be forgotten. Madam President by Lane Smith was the first new book that I happened to see out this summer that fell into the theme of the upcoming election. On my shopping spree (see yesterday’s post) I did find several others, all of which are guaranteed to help teachers navigate the political world. I really enjoy Lane Smith’s work and have found that my students are captivated by his illustrations. I had purchased Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith earlier this summer and have had fun figuring out when it would be the perfect time to start uttering “Big Plans!” to my colleagues.

The school-aged female main character goes about her day dealing with presidential matters in a way that will both educate and entertain readers. A nice blend of tongue-in-cheek humor (vetoing the tuna casserole) and facts (state funerals to attend) about the president’s job, a teacher could really have a lot of fun using this witty picture book in their classroom to talk about the job of the president. I love how every person (and animal) the president encounters is left with a little American flag!

A great read aloud with lots in the illustrations to entertain and educate.

Check out Lane Smith’s website for more fun where Ye Old Ben’s quote of the day is

 “There are no FOOLS as troublesome as those that have WIT.”


Beginning of the Year Read Alouds

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:53 am
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I was asked by some new teachers what books I like to start the year for read-alouds so I thought that would make a good post. I tend to have some old favorites, as well as trying to add new ones to the rotation each year.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is a book you can’t go wrong with (unless you are in a school where the whole mom being pregnant-where do babies come from question might do you in). I love the latest version of new covers and like to use it to introduce a favorite character and as a springboard to getting children into reading the other books about Fudge.

One of my favorites the past several years is the The Field Guideby Holly Black and Tony DeTerlizzi, the first Spiderwick Chronicles book. It is a great series for fourth graders (as well as younger and older) and really has pulled some of my reluctant readers off the fence and into “readerdom”!

I also like to read Wayside School is Falling Down or Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar.  Last year I read aloud The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candace Fleming first and noticed many similarities (more on that in a different post) between that new title and the Wayside Stories, that I wanted them to hear both books so that we could discuss them as a class.