IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/15

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 Books:

UnSouled¬†by Neal Shusterman was an excellent¬†foray into the world he created in¬†Unwind.¬†The reader gets to see favorite characters split up, in new situations, and then united again (or at least some of them). In addition, Shusterman further extrapolations what the biotechnology of unwinding would bring to our world: putting prisoner’s parts to good use, an endless array of vanity surgeries, and attempts at living forever. It also makes quite a statement about politics and the manipulation of the public by government and corporations. Furthermore, Shusterman provides insight into the creators of unwind technology and their horror at the use of what was created in good faith. I certainly will be picking up¬†UnDivided,¬†the series-ending book, soon.


I was surprised to receive an ARC (book to be published in August) in my most recent purchase from Scholastic’s book club flyers. A note accompanied¬†George by Alex Gino, soliciting feedback as the character “faces head-on a complex subject that is very much in the public discourse.” A website is provided so that educators can answer the following question, “What do you think of¬†George and do you see a place for it in your classroom?” The “complex subject” is that George is a transgender child.

Geroge is a fourth grader who is in a boy’s body yet¬†identifies as female. George lives in a loving home with her mother and older brother and has a best friend, Kelly, but she has not yet gathered up enough courage to share with them that she is a girl. When her teacher, Mrs. Udell reads¬†Charlotte’s Web with the class, George is touched by the story and longs to capture the part of Charlotte in the upcoming play. Only girls may audition for Chalotte’s part, and George is crushed–not only because she has no chance of getting the role, but also because she feels that if her family and friends can see her as a girl spider onstage they will be more likely to see her as a girl in real life. Kelly is very instrumental in supporting George throughout the story and helping her be herself.

Very recently I read¬†Gracefully Grayson¬†by Ami Polonsky,¬†and though I think that book was well-done, I think¬†George¬†is the stronger title. First, Polonsky includes an author note that explains her use of “he/his/him” when referring to Grayson because that is how others see him. Gino uses female pronouns immediately, with no explanation, and I think that helps the reader to see George as a girl from the very beginning, just as George does. Both Grayson and George hide belongings that would reveal their secrets–Grayson purchases girl’s clothing at a local thrift shop and begins to wear it under other clothing; George has had¬†her collection of “girl” magazines for years and definitely seems more fearful of being found-out if they are discovered. In fact, while both young people are suffering from having to outwardly live as boys, George exhibits a more visceral reaction, hating the smells, sounds, and sights in the boys’ bathroom and not wanting to look at or think about “the thing between her legs.” George has also informed herself more about transgender people, even researching hormone and surgery options, deleting her search history afterward, of course. Altogether, although both books work towards not only George and Grayson’s self-acceptance and acceptance by others, the inclusion of more details in¬†George makes it the better book.

I will be interested to see whether Scholastic shares the feedback it receives and whether it will be included in its upcoming fall book fairs. The ARC identifies this the grade level as 3-7, so it has the possibility of being included in both elementary and middle school fairs. I, for one, will not only purchase the book for my school libraries, but I hope to see it on those fairs as well. We need diverse books.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

Oh, there are so many…my summer vacation starts on 5/29 :-)
Almost done!!!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/18/15

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 Books:

Last week’s Books and Bites’ theme was “Read to the Rhythm,” as that is the theme for our public libraries’ summer reading programs. We always like to have a graphic novel or two to booktalk, and my awesome (and, sadly, now gone) student teacher found¬†Zebrafish¬†by Sharon Emerson on the shelves. It’s about a girl named, Vita, a singer/songwriter/guitar player who puts up flyers at school looking for band members. The few kids who show up are motivated, yet lack any instrument playing abilities. Still, they work together to create a back-up video and choose a charity (saving pandas) for the benefit concert Vita will perform solo. The “zebrafish” of the title refers to the¬†creatures used for the cancer¬†research¬†Vita’s older brother and guardian is working on. Readers also learn that Vita’s mother died from the disease, and Vita’s panda-loving friend Tanya has leukemia. In the end, Vita surprises everyone, announcing that the concert’s proceeds will go towards a machine for her brother’s lab. Although this middle-grade graphic novel was well intended, it had an awkward lack of flow and seemed a little forced. I am going to give it to a few seasoned graphic novel readers at my schools to get their opinions.


Seraphina¬†by Rachel Hartman was the third 400+ page YA fantasy novel I have read in as many weeks. And it was without a doubt the best one. Seraphina is a gifted musician who has recently¬†come to court as an assistant to the court composer. As she arrives, the kingdom of Goredd is in somewhat of a tizzy preparing for the upcoming anniversary of a peace treaty between humans and dragons. Hartman’s dragons are some of the most unique I have encountered–they have the ability to assume human form, and some do on a regular basis. Not very far into the book the reader learns that Seraphina is half-dragon–her dragon mother married Seraphina’s father while in human form and never divulged her secret, but her silver blood gave her away when she died in childbirth. Seraphina encounters a host of problems attempting to hide her bands of scales that appeared at puberty, but what’s even worse is that there are numerous parties, both human and dragon who seem to be working to destroy the peace. Throw in Seraphina’s “mind-garden” of creatures that she begins to meet in real life and a budding romance with Kiggs, prince and captain of the guard, and it’s one great, epic tale that I am not doing justice by this short description. Hartman’s language is beautiful, and her world building is superb. It’s no wonder that I can count this book for my 2015 Award-Winning Book Challenge (ALA’s Morris Award for a debut YA author).¬†I will definitely read the sequel,¬†Shadow Scale,¬†this summer.


To end the week, I read¬†Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate. It is the picture book companion to her Newbery Award winner¬†The One and Only Ivan.¬†Through sparse but moving text and gentle, beautiful illustrations, young readers learn about the real Ivan’s life, before, during, and after his time spent caged inside a mall exhibit. Students who read the novel will love it.¬†This book is my Random Read for May.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/11/15

It‚Äôs 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‚Äôs/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week‚Äôs reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas came to me highly recommended by a few people lately, including my awesome student teacher, Gretchen. She even made sure my hardcover book’s boring cover was replaced with the new fiercer paperback one! Celaena Sardothien is a notorious assassin who has been removed from the harshest of all prisons to compete in a no-holds barred competition with other dangerous criminals to be the King’s Champion. If she wins, she will serve the King for four years and then be granted her freedom; if she loses, she returns to the prison. Celaena’s identity is hidden from almost everyone; however, Prince Dorian knows who she is and begins to fall in love with her anyway. In addition to Dorian’s affections, Celaena must contend with an odd relationship with Captain Westfall, her trainer–and oh, yeah, there is something evil picking off competitors and devouring them in gory ways. I am not one who always wants romance with my fantasy, so in some cases I needed “a little less conversation, a little more action.” (Thank you, thank you very much.) However, this is a strong start to a series which is becoming more and more popular in my school daily.

Also, there’s this :-)

tweet_maas


I also finally read This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. It is the story of pre-teens Rose and Windy and the things they do, but mostly the things they witness while at their summer vacation houses at Awago Beach. Through their eyes, we see Rose’s mom and dad’s strained relationship caused, in part, by her mother’s miscarriage a few years later after long attempts to have another child. We also see local teenagers’ parties and problems, including one girl’s suspected pregnancy. The illustrations, done all in blue, are breathtaking and detailed and emotionally powerful, and it is no wonder that the book received a Caldecott Honor. I feel that I might be in the minority here when I wonder at it being a Printz Honor book as well. Although the book is designated as YA, I felt it would be more likely to be enjoyed by adults who are looking back at their younger years and thinking about what it was like to be on the verge of high school and looking in both at that world and the world of one’s parents. This Book counts for my Award Winning Book Challenge 2015 (x2 :-))


This week, I also read Charmed Deception by Eilis O’Neal in order to review it for Library Media Connection. Thus, my review is reserved for them. However, I will say that this 448-page fantasy has such a heavy romance component (but light romance–kissing only) that I feel compelled to count it for my Read Harder Challenge 2015 (a romance novel).

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/4/15

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 Books:

Well, I must say that listening to¬†A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was a treat after all these years. She narrated the audiobook herself, and, to be honest, she had a unique voice that I might not have liked had she not been the author. It was cool, though, to hear all the places and words where she put an emphasis. I am assuming most readers of this blog are familiar with the book, so I won’t summarize it. However, there were a few things that struck me when considering the book for today’s young readers. It was a bit jarring to hear the word “moron” tossed about at the beginning. I know that much harsher language is in books today, but it still stood out. Also, I had forgotten how much religions sentiment is in it. There are quite a few biblical quotations as well as characters considering the role of God in their lives. Not a bad thing, but mostly absent from today’s science fiction books, unless religion is part of a dystopian society. These are not necessarily criticisms–just points of interest that illuminate the age of the novel. Finally, I can certainly see how much influence this work has had in the science fiction novels¬†of today, making it a must-read for fans of the genre.¬†This book counts for my 2015 Award-Winning Book Challenge (Newbery).


Geek Love¬†by Katherine Dunn is an adult novel. I just want to get that out there right now because it has been a while since I have read something so disturbing. Oly Binewski tells the story of her dysfunctional (to the nth degree) family¬†and family business, a circus specializing in human oddities (freaks). On page¬†seven it is revealed that in an effort to save the dying circus, Olivia’s father made¬†sure he would have enough freaks by giving his (willing) wife a variety of drugs, dangerous chemicals, and radioactive substances in order for their children to be born with profitable birth defects. And if that is not horrifying enough, the story of this family’s relationships will make you cringe. Just as I was finishing this book, I saw it on Book Riot’s list of the 10 Best Horror Books You’ve Never Read. It advises readers¬†to “take a deep breath” for this one. I agree. Although the writing is masterful and the story is compelling (it was named a National Book Award Honor), it is definitely not a book for everyone. <<shudder>>¬†This book counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2015. (in spades)


I also read two excellent series books,¬†Key Discoveries in Engineering and Design by Katie Marsico¬†and¬†Key Discoveries in Physical Science¬†by Christine Zuchora-Walske.¬†I can’t say much since my review will appear in¬†Library Media Connection,¬†but I am very glad to be able to add them to my collection.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

ivan_remarkable_true