Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Teachers College Mary Ehrenworth’s Closing Talk Notes Magnificent Books That Can Create the World of Difference as We Launch the School Year August 10, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,KidLit,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:24 pm
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Magnificent Books That Can Create the World of Difference as We Launch the School Year by Mary Ehrenworth

Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks

dark and allegorical

good read-aloud

a rare picture book because bad things happen in the book and there is a character that is genuinely evil

KidLit/YA-so many books start out sad, but everything almost always works out in the end (cautionary tales)

High School reading diet of tragic disasters-readers lose interest because they haven’t learned how to deal with beautiful language with tragedy

text form and pictures match-good example of how to turn their writing into a published picture book versus the sterile typed final draft

Icarus at the Edge of Time by Brian Greene (Black Hole Scientist)

she shared with 3rd, 5th, and 9th graders last year

a fiction book that can lead into intense study of nonfiction

a ship encounters a black hole-Icarus wants to explore it, but the captain says that they must keep going

generations of his family have been on this spaceship for over 100 years

retelling of a classic tale

words and names are metaphorical

She loves books that lead to other texts

read different versions of Icarus

Greek myths are cautionary tales-shat learned?

Can transcend your current conditions

A third of your library should be NEW every year!

Brothers in Hope by Mary Williams

survival tale

witness tale told in first person

tie to MS/HS Long Way Gone

Child Soldiers of Sudan

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

a retelling of Lord of the Flies, the short story The Lottery, and The Most Dangerous Game

dystopian future where things have gone terribly wrong

The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones, City of, City of Glass-book 3 is the best

great for sixth grade and up

good for post Twilight reading

adult pics

Fall On Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald

post modern novel where language fails to reveal truth

5 girls-different perspectives, 3 generations

great for book club-best read in the company of discussing with others

a challenging book where adults all had to keep post-its and compare retelling

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

success-commonality-someone gave them the opportunity to work hard-conditions of working hard

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery


Recent Reads August 8, 2009

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:47 am
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Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Lealalsoknown as harper is a brilliant book by a new-to-me author Ann Leal (Talk about small world, the family I used to babysit before they moved to Connecticut are friends with the author!). Homelessness, poetry, friendship and family. This book has it all and is a book I couldn’t stop reading! Check out other, more detailed reviews at SLJ, Literate Lives, or a Year of Reading.

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti is a great YA read.

indigo skyeEighteen-year old Indigo Skye is happy with her job as a waitress and enjoys the quirky customers known as “The Irregulars”.  The characters are well developed and interesting. Things take a twist when a new customer leaves an envelope for Indigo. That envelope happens to include a check for two and a half million dollars (reminds me of that Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda movie-but only the waitress/money part).  It doesn’t seem like having all that money would be hard, but it brings with it a new set of problems. A little predictable, but overall a great read with great characters that make you wanting to read on.


Great Reading in July July 26, 2009

Filed under: authors,book reviews,book turned into movie,KidLit,kidlitosphere — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:31 pm
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I haven’t been blogging much lately between getting my daughter to camp and having my son think her being gone means he is now an only-child whose whims I have nothing better to do than fulfill! On the other hand, I have been getting some great reading done.

Recently read:

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen-short, quirky, not quite sure what I think of it. I wouldn’t rush out to buy it in hardback. mudshark

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan-see 100 Scope Notes or A Year of Reading review. Wow! An amazing book.edwardseyes

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (See PBS Parents Booklink’s article about the author Rick Riordan) Loved it! Surprised I hadn’t read it before. Even more surprised that my public library does not have ANY of the series. (I’ve been told they are there in the YA section-I will verify, but sure that I must be wrong) If I was an intermediate or middle school teacher, I would definitely want to read this aloud before the movie is released February 12, 2010.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (see Jen Robinson or semicolon‘s review) or check out the series’ website, The Curiosity Chronicle. Hate to say that I really had to make myself finish this book, although the last fourth flew by.

Beautiful Stories of LifeThe Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold by Cynthia Rylant (I had bought it because I love Cynthia Rylant and worry that kids don’t know some the “older” myths, fables, and fairy tales. Thought it would be good to read-aloud to my own children. It was a great coincidence that I started reading The Lightning Thief- right after this book. I love that The Lightning Thief will get kids familiar with many of the Greek myths that otherwise might not be that interesting to some readers.)

Recently won from a Twitter contest: The new released Slugger series=4 books so far= (formerly known as Barnstormers) by Loren Long and Phil Biloner-I do love the new covers! Thanks Children’s Book Review!

Recently viewed: While at the movies with my son this weekend (G-Force in 3-D, what else?) previews for both book related movies Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were being featured. Obviously they are taking the picture book at a starting point for the movies, but hmmm….are movie writers out of original ideas? Is it cheaper for studios to option books and adaptations? I wonder… Also recently viewed on DVD, Coraline. Creepy, but not as scary as I bet it was on the big screen!

Currently Reading and upcoming reads:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (recommended by Lucy Calkins)

A Quick Guide to Making Your Teaching Stick by Shanna Schwartz (re-reading in preparation for an upcoming workshop class I’m teaching)

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff (re-reading for Mother-Daughter Book Club)

20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (had to stop reading it because it made me keep crying)

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino (How can you resist a title like that?)

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti (YA-picked up in NYC)

What I REALLY want though is a new BestBookIHaveNotRead to jump all those and take me to a new world. I’m on the look-out. It must be time for a trip to Cover to Cover!


How Cool is it that there is a Betsy-Tacy Society July 23, 2009

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I find it remarkably cool that there is a society (The Betsy-Tacy Society) that has restored the Maud Hart Lovelace homes ofbetsytacy book characters Betsy and Tacy. I loved those books growing up. Even though they were betsyhousewritten in 1940’s, those girls could have easily been my best friends.  I loved reading about the things they did and my best neighborhood friend, Lori, and I would frequently have their adventures.  Every time they have been re-released, I’ve pounced on them in the bookstore to add to my collection.

The Betsy-Tacy Convention just wrapped up in Mankato, Minnesota. It sounds like fun was had by all and that author Meg Cabot was a huge hit with the audience. You can read the convention highlights over at Book Club Girl’s blog.

Wow-now I can dream of going to Patricia Polacco’s farm in Michigan AND Betsy’s home in Minnesota. Don’t tell my husband I dream of book-themed vacationing!

You can get a sneak peak at the upcoming re-releases here-they look great and very true to the original illustrations. forgetmenots


Quick Reviews July 14, 2009

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:55 am
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Peter Rabbit Munch! Peter Rabbit Naturally Better board book-a beautiful new board book that I picked for a friend’s new baby-love that each page looks “munched”.peterrabbit

The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer (intermediate aged readers) Love the illustrations which will help support those transitional intermediate readers. A great story about a family whose parents agree on nothing! Through an adventure together trying to find their lost dogs, they find there really aren’t so many things worth disagreeing about.

problem puddles

Lucky by Rachel Vail (YA)-A very fun YA read-very timely with the economy going south daily. The main character, Phoebe’s, mother has lost her well-paid job, leaving the family in a big financial pinch. Going from privileged child who wants for nothing, to having to tell her friends she can’t afford her part of their lavish, middle school graduation party, Lucky is a fun read. Gorgeous, the “sequel” (and part of a planned trilogy) focusing on Phoebe’s sister, just was published in the end of May. Sure to be a hit with YA readers looking for some light, realistic fiction.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (“grown-up”)-a great mystery read in a non-traditional mystery format. Margaret Lea, a young woman who rarely leaves her father’s rare and collectible book store, lives most of her life through the characters she reads. Selected by a famous, reclusive author to write her biography, Margaret partakes on the quest to find truth in Vida Winter’s story-telling. The story of dysfunctional twins, and the people who attempt to raise them, including a governess, pulls the reader into this book that allows the author’s knowledge of literature to shine through in a way that is pleasing for any reader. For the lover of literature, shades of Jane Eyre will be evident. thirteenth tale



Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters July 3, 2009

Filed under: books,KidLit — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:49 am
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The newest Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters is another hit written by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 

This book starts with Alvin AlvinHoup to his normal scaredy-cat antics and funny family adventures with a Houdini kit from his uncle. 

The above-mentioned uncle also gives him wilderness survival lessons and a Batman ring for good luck,  both of which are supposed to protect him from the disaster of having to camp with his father.

His brother helps him order survival gear with his dad’s emergency credit card, because what else would you order with an emergency credit card besides emergency survival gear? Right?

The relationship and his sister is highlighted in this book, and just like with his older brother, there are plenty of laughs and mishaps along the way.

This Alvin Ho is also great book to hook readers or get reluctant readers going! You can’t help but be drawn in by the illustrations, different fonts, and Alvin’s lists. 

I also love Alvin’s Very Scary Glossary at the end. What a fun way to introduce or reinforce glossaries to intermediate aged readers.

My second and fifth graders both loved having this book read to them, so if you are an elementary teacher or parent looking for a new read-aloud, look no further than Alvin Ho!


What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell July 2, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:18 am
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What I sawWhen I put this book down at the end of the 48 hour Challenge, I wasn’t sure I was going to pick it back up to finish.  After hearing and reading so many things about it, the book was not quite what I had expected and the first third didn’t quite hold my attention like I wanted it to.  Evie’s desire to grow up, her step-father’s (Joe) and mother’s relationship, the mystery of Peter Coleridge and how or what he knew about Joe , were interesting, but not riveting to me.

I loved the cover with the girl’s red lipstick standing out so brightly from the rest of the cover. I loved the title. I loved that it had won a National Book Award. I didn’t like that I didn’t immediately love it as much as I thought I would.

With that said, I wasn’t prepared for it to be historical fiction. I really wasn’t prepared for it to be a mystery. I had read reviews at The Reading Zone that made me want the book, but a lot of time had passed between when I read the reviews and when I purchased the book. The cover and the title had stuck in my head, but not the gist of the book. I think if I had approached it like reading a mystery or a detective novel, the desire to find “clues” throughout the back story would have kept me very engrossed.
I picked it up yesterday again on a whim. I didn’t want to start the next book on my list, The Thirteenth Tale, because I want to save it for my travel to New York City next week. I didn’t want to start a new book because I am still trying to do some prep reading/reviewing before attending the Reading Institute next week. So, there it was, not even half finished and sitting on my shelf. Unfinished books get under my skin like a splinter. It really bothers me to not finish a book so I decided I was going to “get through it” this week. 

From the second I opened What I Saw and How I Lied up to where I had left off (and no, I didn’t back up a few pages and reread like I would have encouraged a student to do) and started reading, I could NOT put it down! The drama, the intrigue, the “who was guilty of what?”, “who (or who didn’t) lie” kept me up late finishing the book.

As the book unfolds, Evie not only begins to grow up, but finds out about hard issue such as racism and realizes that the eyes with which she has always viewed her mother and step-father might have not revealed all there is to know. Deception, redemption, it’s all in there! 

A great young adult read that I think “grown-ups” will like just as much, if not more. Check out What I Saw and How I Lied.