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2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend book coverYou know what I love? When you can recommend a series to students and they can read ALL of the books without having to wait! If your students have not yet discovered Legend by Marie Lu and its sequels, Prodigy and Champion, it’s a great time to introduce them to this dystopian trilogy.

It’s the future and the Republic has replaced what was once the western United States. The story is told by two narrators: June, a brilliant and gifted student at a military academy, and Day, the Republic’s most elusive and wanted criminal. The two cross paths when Day becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Metias, June’s older brother. Although when they first meet, neither knows who the other truly is, and they even share a kiss. Things get intense when June figures out who Day is, but Day eventually convinces her of his innocence and the two work together to uncover a conspiracy concerning the government and a deadly plague.

According to Lu’s website and an article from MTV a film is coming along. I know that would delight so many of my students who have read it.

Other 2015 Rebecca Caudill Reading Roundup Posts

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/27/14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

fairyringThe Fairy Ring, or How Elsie and Frances Fool the World is an informational text about the Cottingley Fairies photos from 1920. When Frances, nine, visited her older cousin, Elsie, 15, in her Yorkshire home, she saw little gnomes and fairies near the beck (stream) in back of the house. Although all of the grown-ups laughed at Frances when she told what she saw, Elsie did not and drew some beautiful cut-out paper fairies for her. Then, the two got the idea to use Elsie’s father’s new camera to take some pictures with the paper fairies. When Elsie’s mother attended a lecture of the Theosophical Society, she spoke of the fairy photos, and the leaders asked for a print of the photograph. This started a snowball of interest in the photos, garnering the attention of movie theaters, The Strand, and famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The girls grew tired of all the attention, but kept the secret of the faked photos until very old age. And Frances always maintained that she had seen real fairies, it was only the photos that were fakes.

This book is well-researched and annotated, and covers a fascinating subject, for sure, but it felt very drawn out and, honestly, a bit boring, for the age group for which it is intended. Still, I would recommend it to adults who are interested in the story of the Cottingley Fairies.

onmyhonorI had to drive an hour each way to jury duty on Tuesday morning, so I quickly grabbed a two-CD audiobook for the trip. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is a book that 6th grade teachers have been using as a whole-class novel since that grade entered our school building. It’s not that I never wanted to read it, I just never needed to promote it. This slim book tells the story of best friends Joel and Tony, who live near Starved Rock State Park in my home state of Illinois. One day, on the way to biking to the park, the two stop on the banks of the Vermillion River and the impulsive Tony wants to go for a swim. Despite Joel’s initial protests, the two enter the water and Joel challenges Tony to swim out to a sandbar. Tony drowns and Joel is unable to save him or find his body. Most of the rest of the book is about Joel’s internal struggle as he first hides the truth from everyone, tries to blame others while really feeling his own tremendous guilt, and finally tells what really happened. It is heart-wrenching to think of a young boy having to go through such an experience. I can definitely see why this novel is taught–it’s a great primer on man vs. self and gives students a lot to discuss in such a small, easily accessible package.

ththingaboutluck

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata is about Summer, a Japanese-American girl whose family are migrant farm workers. The story tells of one harvest season that Summer and her younger brother, Jaz, spend with their grandparents when their parents must tend to sick relatives in Japan. In addition to providing rich details about the daily life and duties of present-day migrant workers, Kadohata gives readers a quiet, gentle story in which Summer does a lot of thinking about her life, her brother, and her grandmother. Living with Jaz is a challenge because he is “different”–socially awkward and prone to banging his head against the wall when he is upset. Living with Obaachan (Grandmother) is a challenge because she is sometimes critical and sharp-tongued and other times praising and gentle. Summer really comes into her own when her family members fall sick, and she goes above and beyond to help with the harvest. This is a book which I can see offering to individual readers rather than booktalking to a large group–a book for those who enjoyed such titles as Counting by 7s and Moon Over Manifest.

thepresidenthasbeenshot“The President Has Been Shot”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson is a thorough and engaging look at the events surrounding the president’s murder. The level of detail about Kennedy’s and Lee Harvey Oswald’s movements in the few days prior to the assassination is the best in a book I have seen for readers this age. Swanson’s story fascinates the reader and builds a great amount of tension as the assassination approaches. He also does an excellent job of chronicling the hours and days after his death, up until Kennedy’s funeral. Swanson also does not shy away from the controversy surrounding the assassination, while maintaining that the accepted fact is that Oswald acted alone. As an adult, I learned a great deal from this book, and so I am sure young people will, too.

In addition, the book is an excellent example of an informational text, and includes very health source notes; diagrams and photos of the shots fired at Dealey Plaza, injuries sustained, and more; an extensive bibliography; and a detailed index. And rather than just list sources for further information, Swanson explains and recommends the ones he thinks would be a great starting place for young readers. This work is definitely a solid addition to all library collections serving children.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

This is my October Random Read. I am finally catching up!
This is my October Random Read. I am finally catching up!
scowler
I am listening to this in my car and Kirby Heyborne is narrating again and I am driving through cornfields in the dark mornings before Halloween. YIKES!

 

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/20/14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Book:

Warning: Contains spoiler for Feed

In the spirit of October, I have read Deadline by Mira Grant, book two in the Newsflesh series. The story picks up about a year after the Ryman presidential campaign, and Shaun Mason is learning how to live without his sister, Geroge, who was killed in a sinister plot by Ryman’s rival (at least that;s what we all think in book #1). And, actually, Shaun is learning how to live with George’s voice inside his head almost always–something that concerns his team of bloggers but also something that they have begun to get used to. When a young scientist from the CDC fakes her own death to get important information about the Kellis-Amberlee (zombie) virus to Shaun, the team makes some horrifying discoveries about not only George’s death but also about some important research about the virus that has been suppressed. As in Feed, Shaun puts himself and the team in great danger as he hunts down the truth.  Also as in Feed, although zombies play a role in the book, it is really about society’s response to the zombie apocalypse that is the true focus, rather than blood-and-guts horror. Note: Although I enjoyed this book thoroughly and my twelve-year-old son has read it, I am recommending it for high school and up. The concepts and language seem more appropriate to that level.

Currently Reading:

fairyring

 

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2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

ClockworkThreeThe Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby was one of those adventurous-kids-solving-their-own-problems books, with a nod to steampunk and a dash of magic. The time and place was indefinite, but it felt like mid-nineteenth century, large East-coast city. Guiseppe, a street musician; Hannah, a maid; and Frederick, a clockmaker’s apprentice have great back-stories and their lives intertwine because of a green violin, a mysterious treasure hunt, and a clockwork man. Readers follow the story of all three children for quite a while before they meet up with one another, so each has a distinctly developed personality. Once all three of our characters assemble (on page 247) they work together beautifully to make everything turn out right in the end. It is definitely a book I am recommending to fans of fantastical adventures.

Here is a discussion guide from Scholastic.

And here is a book trailer:

Other 2015 Rebecca Caudill Reading Roundup Posts

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/13/14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

OK, so after a few weeks of not accomplishing much in the way of reading, I feel I’ve hit the groove again :-)

Last Week’s Books:

Under My Hat is a great short story book for "edge time" reading. So far my favorite tale has been "Payment Due" by Frances Hardinge.

Hurray! I finished my August Random Read book, Under My Hat, a short story anthology about witches edited by Jonathan Strahan. And it also counts towards my Check Off Your Reading List Challenge, created by Gathering Books.

Readers will find much to like in this anthology, and some very familiar names to boot–Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee. My favorite story comes near the very beginning: “Payment Due” by Frances Hardinge. It’s about getting revenge on a debt collector in a very unique way and features a young witch switching bodies with a cat for a time. Great book to read in October!

moonovermanifestI have just gotten back into audiobooks because I now commute by myself a few days a week. Newbery winner Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is the second one I have listened to and stands in extremely stark contrast to Daniel Kraus’ Rotters, even though Kirby Heyborne does narration work in both.

Moon Over Manifest is the story of Abilene Tucker, whose daddy sends her to live in the town of Manifest in 1936. But it is also the story of the town in 1917-18, when boys were going off to fight in the Great War and an unscrupulous mining company was due for a comeuppance.  Vanderpool weaves the stories together expertly, with beautiful language, and she very vividly paints a picture of the townsfolk and their complex relationships with each other.

Still, I did find my attention wandering at times, much like I did with Navigating Early. While I can definitely appreciate Vanderpool’s craft, I think that my tastes just run in a different direction.

witchofblackbirdpondTwo Newberys in one week for me! The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare is the October selection of the staff book club of one of my middle schools–the newest one to me. I know for sure that I read this as a child, but it was so long ago that I had the barest recollection of it. It was a pleasure to reread, and I am interested to see what others thought of it when we meet later in the month.

Kit Tyler, used to running free but under the watchful eye of her grandfather, travels from Barbados to Connecticut Colony in 1687 soon after his death. On board ship, she meets first mate and captain’s son Nathaniel Eaton, who warns her that her swimming and fancy dress might turn heads in the settlement of Wethersfield that her Puritan aunt and uncle call home. Truly, Kit does have a hard time fitting in, as she is not used to physical labor, like her cousins Judith and Mercy are;  spending all of Sunday at church meeting; trying to act properly so as not to offend or anger her very religious uncle; and being courted by the rich and stoic William Ashby. She also befriends a poor old widow woman who lives in the meadow near Blackbird Pond, whom townsfolk have suspected of witchcraft many a time. Eventually Kit is formerly accused as a witch, herself, and must suffer through a trial, only to be saved by the quick thinking of Nat Eaton.

Readers will sympathize with Kit and find her relatives’ customs as strange as she does. They will also share in the worry over whether all of the girls’ romances will work out and fear for Kit’s safety when she faces the death penalty at her trial. Superb historical fiction.

rapturepracticeI also finished two Random Reads this week! Rapture Practice, a memoir by Aaron Hartzler was my “pick” for September. Hartzler recounts his experiences growing up in a Christian household, one in which the Rapture–Jesus coming back in bodily form and taking the saved Christians with him up to heaven–is expected to occur at any moment.

Although Hartzler recounts a bit of his life as a young child and preteen, the bulk of his story is about his high school years. As a teenager, Aaron begins to question his parents’ beliefs and rules for the family, which are seen as conservative even by some members of their own church. Only Christian music is acceptable for listening–even crossover singer Amy Grant is forbidden. The family does not attend movies and watches very little television. All friends must be churchgoers. When Aaron starts sneaking around to listen to rock music, attend movies with friends, date girls, and even try drinking, he does so with a  conflicted heart, wondering if his parents’ rules are too strict or if he is condemning his soul. Even more heartbreaking is when the reader gradually begins to realize that Aaron is gay, even before the teenage Aaron of the book does, and fears not only for his emotional well-being but the thought of his family’s rejection should they discover the same truth. The book ends before Aaron comes out, but after he begins to feel at peace with himself and loves his father for who he is and all the good things about him rather than dwelling those things he wishes he could change. Highly recommended reading for teens.

Currently Reading:

My son has been dying for me to read Deadline by Mira Grant so we can talk about it. He is currently reading book #3 in the Newsflesh trilogy.
My son has been dying for me to read Deadline by Mira Grant so we can talk about it. He is currently reading book #3 in the Newsflesh trilogy. And I *did* watch the premiere of The Walking Dead, so I am in the mood for zombies.