It’s Monday June 4, What Are You Reading?

This past week (or 2) I read:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an absolutely stunning book. I read this via NetGalley and was absolutely blown away by the writing – the characters are rich and multi-dimension and the story drew me in. There were a few twists that I didn’t anticipate that made me love it even more. Wein clearly did her research before writing this amazing work of historical fiction. I’m sure we’ll be seeing some medals on the cover come next year!

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett is a lovely and honest story about siblings. I picked up an ARC of this at ALA Midwinter and had forgotten it was sitting on my daughter’s shelf. This past week while researching Australian children’s authors and illustrators, I remembered that this was by Aussie Sonya Hartnett and was able to locate it after a bit of searching. I myself am and older sibling, and parent to two daughters so this book rang true from multiple perspectives. I love how Hannah names her hands and uses them to help her work through needing to grow-up just a big. The charcoal illustrations add to the story, particularly the personalities of Sadie & Ratz.

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. I’m not sure how I haven’t read this Clementine story before this, my 2nd grader’s teacher recommended it to me and as with Clementine’s other stories, I wasn’t disappointed. I love the voice of this character, it feels authentic without going over the top – particularly the way that she thinks through things. I also love that the adults in Clementine’s life seem to “get” her and go with her free-spirited, unusual way of thinking.

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner is an adventure mystery that has a number of twists and turns (both literal and figurative) that  will keep you guessing about the outcome.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea asks readers to think about things that do and don’t grow as well as what they will become. The rhyming, illustrations and interactive fold-out pages make this a picture book that will be popular with a variety of young readers.

Look! Look! Look! At Sculpture by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace is a picture book that invites readers to consider the different ways to look at sculpture along with some friendly mice. Not only does this book encourage us to rethink how to enjoy sculpture, but is also shows readers how to create some of their own.

Next week I’ll be Reading…

I’m still working on Graceling – I want to read it when I have time to just sit and devour it. I also broke down and bought Insurgent – am looking forward to talking with my oldest daughter who as already read it. Lastly, I’m preparing for my upcoming visit to Australia by researching and reading books by Australian Authors and Illustrators (picture books through YA). If you have any favorites or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

This past week I read:

Drama by Raina Telgemeier – I read this on NetGalley, it’s amazing. I’m going to write another blog post about it this week so I can go into depth.  For now, mark your calendar for September 1, 2012 so you can run to your local independent bookstore to pick it up!

Wideness & Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keefe by Susan Goldman Rubin – Georgia O’Keefe has been a favorite artist ever since I saw and exhibit of her work in London 20 years ago. This biography spans her entire life and includes photographs, O’Keefe’s own artwork, and artwork of others. A very readable and thorough example of the biography genre.

Hugs From Pearl by Paul Schmid – I read this at my local library when I took my girls this weekend. It is a lovely story with illustrations that made me want to hug Pearl, even though she is a porcupine.

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead – Another book I read at the library. The illustrations for this cumulative story really made me love it and want to reread it. I’ll be adding this one to my own library soon!

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald – I spent some time in my daughter’s 2nd grade classroom this week, her (amazing) teacher recommended this to me. I’d heard of Stink and new of the books (I live with 2 Judy Moody fans) but had never read them. Great story, am planning on reading the one about the stinky shoes soon.

Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner – I love Marty! She is a fabulous character with a voice all her own. I wanted to read this before the #martymcguire twitter book club this week with @MrSchuReads & @Colby Sharp on Wednesday, May 23 at 8pm EST.  Author Kate Messner (@katemessner) will also be there for the fun! (Full disclosure:  Marty reminds me very much of my youngest daughter who loves to dig for worms and is going into the third grade.)

Up Next:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – I’m 10 pages in and don’t want to stop reading. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this one sooner!

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner – For the first time, I recieved an envelope in the mail addressed me & my blog. I was doubly thrilled to find this book inside because I love Kate’s writing!

There will be more read, I’m just not sure what yet!

I’m Back – It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I took a few weeks off recently to wrap up Spring Semester 2012. I’m officially finished with coursework for my Ph.D. and now have a whole lot of writing to do (more on that in future posts). I’ve enjoyed taking time in the past week to connect with my reader self.

Last week I read:

After Eli by  Rebecca Rupp was recommended by Paul Hankins on either Twitter, GoodReads, or Facebook (likely all three)! This did not disappoint. Daniel is trying to make sense of his brother’s death and growing up. His voice is thoughtful and honest, and brought me to tears a few times. This is the first complete book I’ve read on my new iP*d through NetGalley. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about reading on an e-device, but the story was so fantastic I barely noticed. Release date: Aug. 14, 2012

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin – I’ve been on the waitlist at my local East Lansing Public Library for a while; and am glad that it finally came in! I remember distinctly sitting at dinner at ALA Midwinter reading Roger Sutton’s editorial mentioning this book, it was the first I’d heard of it. Less than 2 days later it was announced as a Newbery Medal Honor book. It’s one that I want to read a few more times and am thinking of pairing with the beautiful picturebook The Wall by Peter Sis. Lots to think about in the best possible ways.

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles – this one is getting it’s own review, check back tomorrow!

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle – This was on the “new books” shelf at my library and I thought I’d read something about it (can’t remember were). The dialogue is distinctly Irish, making me think of my father-in-law (born outside of Belfast), and my own Kelly & O’Malley relatives. Mary’s characters is multi-dimensional and the plot intriguing. Another book I want to reread.

This coming week I’m reading:

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinnaire by Mrs. Bunny translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath – My 2nd grade daughter and I are reading this adventure story together. She is quite enchanted with both Madeline (the main human character) and Mr. & Mrs. Bunny. We are looking forward to finishing it this week.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper – This is was recommended to me by a librarian friend who knows that I like historical fiction and am also looking for books to read by Australian authors in preparation for my first visit down under in a few months.

How to Write A Lot by Paul Silvia – A fabulous little book about academic writing. I’m rereading it for the third time as I return to the final leg of writing my practicum and begin to work on my dissertation proposal. This, along with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird are my two favorite books about writing.

There will be more… but I’m not sure exactly what yet! I’ve been trying to hold off reading Insurgent thinking it would be good for the airplane trip to Australia, but I honestly don’t think I can wait that long. I’ve also got the 6th and final book in the Nicholas Flamel series waiting for me on NetGalley and am hoping to get Rebecca Stead and Sharon Creech’s newest titles soon as well.

See You At Harry’s

This past saturday I read See you At Harry’s by Jo Knowles. I noticed some buzz about this book over on twitter and requested to review it on NetGalley. I was not disappointed. I started Saturday morning and finished it this evening. Before dinner.

12-year-old Fern narrates this coming-of-age, contemporary realistic fiction story. She tells readers of her adventures, misadventures, growing pains and life growing up in a family who owns a restaurant. For me, it’s her voice makes this story. Fern often feels as if she isn’t heard, that she doesn’t always have a voice (though she surprises herself a few times). What Knowles has done so masterfully is to write Fern’s voice in an honest, believable way. To me, this is a fine line (I’m sure this is due in part to the fact that I currently live with a middle school girl).

Fern’s tales of trying to navigate life with family and friends transcends age, family structure and even birth order. She is often a parent to her youngest brother Charlie, is the friend and confidant of older brother Holden, and sometimes feels like she has two mothers when her oldest sister Sara tries to “help”. Fern’s friends Ran and Cassie are the kinds of friends I long for my own children to have; loyal, supportive, and caring. When unexpected tragedy strikes, Fern and her family struggle together to make sense of life. Suddenly Ran’s mantra, “all will be well”, that has always calmed Fern is in jeopardy.

I’m not going to say a whole lot more about the plot because it is impossible to do so without spoilers. However, there are phrases that will make you laugh, others times you will hold your breath, and plot turns that will surprise you – tears will be involved, so be sure to have kleenex.

My two favorite parts of this book:

  1. All of the children in Fern’s family are named for characters from books.
  2. The opening line of the book, “The very best day of my life, I threw up four times and had a fever of 103 degrees.”

Check out the following links for more information:

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

This week I read:

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu – I won this in a twitter giveaway by @WaldenPondPress, my eldest daughter (6th grade) had just finished it and said, “Mom you HAVE to read this, next, don’t wait!” She was right, I loved it; particularly all of the intertextual references to Narnia, Wrinkle in Time, When You Reach Me, and various fairy tales.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – This picture book is absolutely stunning. I will definitely be using it as one of the examples of this genre in future children’s literature courses. The use of colors to contrast the various greens and cutouts draw the reader in visually. The varied use of language to describe the color is beyond brilliant. (can you tell how much I love this by my overused adjectives – it really is THAT amazing, go get it NOW if you can!)

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee – Another stunning example of a picture book. The illustrations and the text work beautifully together. The are lovely and lyrical on their own, but together they are amazing. Frazee uses sequencing to enhance the story and the text is an excellent example of how brevity adds to a story. I will be purchasing this one for my shelf soon!

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia – This was a reread for me because the students in my children’s literature course were reading, writing and discussing it this week. It’s the first time I’ve used it in class and wanted to refresh my memory. The writing – particularly of the characters – were just as wonderful the second time through.

This week I’ll be reading:

Also recommended by daughter #1, I’m going to start Divergent by Veronica Roth. I don’t anticipate being able to finish it because of my other reading which includes papers about One Crazy Summer and 27 Language Arts Lesson Plans. Even at the end of the semester, I still read every word of what my students submit and give them some sort of feedback. If I want them to give me thoughtful consideration, than they deserve it back.

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27 Language Arts Lesson Plans to be read and given comments - I figured they deserved a photo too!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Last week I read: 

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. On thursday, I had the opportunity to hear Ms. Perkins talk about her writing journey and meet her.

Kali’s Song by Jeanette Winter – I love the story and the illustrations. Check out Travis Jonker’s great review over at 100 Scope Notes

This week I’m reading:

Dead End in Norvelt – This year’s Newbery Winner by Jack Gantos

Hunger Games – this is a reread in preparation for the discussion in our children’s lit class on Thursday and the movie.

Once upon a time, there was a book about Ivan

I am in awe of Katherine Applegate as a storyteller and writer.

Yesterday after I started reading it, I tweeted this comment:

On page 10 of Ivan – I love the way he talks about the ways humans waste words and yet Katherine Applegate is using such perfect language.

In the evening I tweeted this,

Thinking that I’m going to be staying up to finish Ivan, his character is so beautifully written, he had his own voice & tone after 2 pages

I did stay up an finish it. I cried – yes, really. I talked to the characters. And I sat with my eyes closed when I finished trying to process the exquisite writing and storytelling.

Just a few things I love about this book:

  • the connection between Julia and Ivan. I love that she really gets him, that she “listens” with all of her artist self in a very authentic and believable way.
  • I love the character of Bob. I love how he got his name and that he acts like he doesn’t have a home, but really does. I love that what a subtle, yet huge cheerleader he is for Ivan.
  • I love the illustrations that are sprinkled throughout. They are stunning on their own and really reminded me of the importance of art throughout the story. They helped to capture the artist identities of both Ivan and Julia.
  • I love how Ivan remembers… it doesn’t happen instantly, but slowly and because of his desire to help and support Ruby. I love that the remembering doesn’t happen all at once and that he doesn’t fight it. I love that it is all foreshadowed by Stella who says, “Memories are precious, they help tell us who we are.”

There are many more. I know that this book is going to stay with me for a long time. Thank you Katherine Applegate for sharing Ivan’s story with us and for being a human who doesn’t waste words.