IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/23/15

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.

Reading Slump = OVER! In fact, it seems as if by naming my slump I made it crawl away and disappear. Funny how that works out sometimes.

Last Week’s Books:

I finished the audiobook of Max Brooks’ World War Z this week. I knew about its format, and I knew that it would be quite different from the movie because I saw Max Brooks speak a couple of years ago. I highly recommend listening to this book. It is a full-cast production performed by some big-name actors, and the individual voices really help to “sell” that it is a chronicle of many different peoples’ experiences before, during, and after the zombie apocalypse. In fact, I can see listening to it again in the future. Note: This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge (audiobook)


I picked up The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens at my friend’s Scholastic Book Fair preview. I was asked to read it by some ELA teachers in order to recommend it (or not) for use in literature circles. For more information, you can read my post about it.


I listened to another excellent audiobook on my way back and forth from jury duty. Angela Johnson’s The First Part Last won both the Printz and the Coretta Scott King Author Award in 2004. Told in a then-and-now format, teenager Bobby recounts the story of his girlfriend Nia’s pregnancy and the experience of becoming a teenage father. This story is raw and honest and at the same time sympathetic and poetic. The narrator Khalipa Oldjohn does a stellar job in helping to make Bobby’s character come to life. Note: This book counts for my Award-Winning Book Challenge.


Neil Gaiman’s newest work Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances was released earlier this month. Most of the works inside have been previously published, but quite a few were new to me. Although I love his longer works I definitely enjoy his shorter ones, too, as he is able to go in so many different directions and whisk the reader away with him. Among my favorites were  the Doctor Who story, “Nothing O’Clock,” which I could definitely see as an episode; “Black Dog,” which was written especially for this collection; and “Feminine Endings,” which has a number of connections to his wife Amanda Palmer. Note: This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge (book of short stories)


I also read Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle because it was included in the anthology, but I had the illustrated book which I had not yet read so I decided to go that route. The tale is a mash-up of the Snow White and Sleeping Beauty fairy tales, and Chris Riddell’s exquisite illustrations make it a beautiful and memorable book.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

I guess I’ve been in the mood for a few adult reads lately, but I’m going to get back in the swing of MG/YA soon because I just bought . . .

On Deck:

When I bought Gracefully Grayson at Barnes and Noble I ran into one of my students who was thrilled I was buying it. He wants “first dibs” when it is added to the library :-)

Day in the Life: Good Lit Circle Book?

warriorsheartOn Tuesday while I was helping a colleague set up for a Book Fair at her middle school, some ELA teachers were browsing and eyeing some titles thinking they might work as good literature circle books. While they were divvying up books to read over the next few days, I was asked if I would like to join in and read The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens. This is the young adult adaptation of Greiten’s adult memoir The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.

Below is a “transcript” of the email I sent to respond to the questions, “Would it make a good literature circle book?”, “Would it spark enough discussion points?”, and “What grade level(s) might it be best for?”

Hi, ladies :-)

Feel free to pass this along to anyone else making decisions about lit circle titles.

I read The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens.

  • It is a memoir, not only of his Navy Seal training, but also of humanitarian work he did around the world before making the choice to become a soldier.
  • I am not sure of the Lexile, but it would be a fairly easy read for our average students, I would say. I would recommend giving students some accompanying informational text (articles, etc.) that would give simple explanations of some of the conflicts of places he visited (Croatia, Rwanda, Bolivia) so that they would bring some background knowledge to the text.
  • This book is easily “chunked” by where he was in the world and what he was doing.
  • In addition, at the beginning of the book he sets out that he loved choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid, and several times between chapters in the book, he sets up a scenario where he addresses the reader as “you,” gives a real-world situation, and then asks “What would you do?” What an excellent writing prompt! And these scenarios are ones that he or another faced, so you find out what he did when you read further.
  • In the back matter, he challenges students to visit his website and download a Mission Planning Guide to help them figure out what they can do to make a difference in the world. There are also links to his organization and others.
  • I recommend this mostly for 8th grade because there is mention (although certainly not super-graphic description) of genocide, severe injury or death of people, including children, rape, starvation, etc. This is always to explain how people need help and what conditions they have to live in. Also, when the soldiers speak, there is very infrequently “f—k”(used like that, not spelled out completely). It is definitely appropriate for context and, again, very infrequent—maybe two or three times?  I didn’t count.

Over all, I think this book would not only give students A LOT to talk about, but would also inspire them.

Let me know of you have any more ?????

I am sending it back, but only because I already have one at CJ, and EJ’s Book Fair is in two weeks ;-)

Michelle

IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/16/15

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.

Reading Slump :-(

In January I read my way through 19 books, and halfway through February I have managed to finish only one, although I am close to finishing two more. I do have some great books I plan to get to very soon, but I am finding my life busy right now–although I am also choosing to spend my down-time mindlessly surfing the net or vegging in front of the TV. Looks like I need to put myself back on a reading schedule and electronics diet!

Also, I recently abandoned a book and read one that was unsatisfying (see below), so that hasn’t helped either.

Last Week’s Book:

68roomsWhen I first heard about Marianne Malone’s The Sixty-Eight Rooms, I was excited to read a book featuring the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. As a Chicago native I have had the pleasure of seeing them many times throughout my life. I mean, just imagine being a kid who shrinks and gets to explore the rooms AND have adventures during many different times in the past! However, I have to agree with the many reviewers who have found that the book just did not live up to expectations. The writing was clunky, particularly in the scenes in the children’s everyday life. Both parents and kids’ dialogue seemed unrealistic and/or forced. The adventures in the Thorne Rooms themselves, were mildly interesting but were not as exciting or perilous as they might have been. And the conflict in the real world (one parent’s financial troubles) was not at all resolved or influenced by what went on in the fantasy one. In all, it is not one I will recommend to my students.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

2016 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Master List!

rcyrbaToday is the big day!

To see the new list on the brand-new website go here! It is filled with wonderful authors with amazing stories to tell!

For those of you who enjoyed my 2015 Rebecca Caudill  Roundup, I will once again share one 2016 book each week. However, since we are still in reading and voting for 2015/nominating for 2017 mode until April 1st, it will be some time after that date.

To keep up on the latest and greatest news from RCYRBA and the authors on the list, be sure to check the website, follow @RCYRBA on Twitter and “Like” the Facebook page as well.

IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/9/15

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:

losthero

Well, I very seldom abandon books, but I let this one go this week after getting about 80 pages in. Even though it is the first book of Riordan’s The Heroes of Olympus series, it must rely very heavily on his first series. I found myself completely lost, having read only The Lightning Thief rather than the whole Percy Jackson series. There were lots of references to events I had no idea about, including that Percy Jackson is currently missing. I know that fans have loved this book and spin-off series, but it just didn’t work for me as a stand-alone.

So I didn’t make it completely through any books this week, but had a great weekend, as our committee met and chose the 2016 Master List for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award. It is one of my very favorite days of the year, as around 70 of us gather to speak passionately about books and to select a list that is sure to entice and engage young readers. As the Awards Chair, I had the privilege of contacting all 20 authors yesterday, and I have already received some joyous responses via email and Facebook messages. The list should be posted later today, and I will highlight it here on I Push Books.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck: