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:
Do YOU have any books that everyone has assumed you have read because, well, pretty much every literature teacher in your school has read them? I do. In fact, Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman and Crash by Jerry Spinelli are two books I really never HAD to read because everyone else knew them. Well, over the past couple of weeks, I have been working with a couple of 6th grade Lit teachers on their upcoming lit circle groups. We selected the books, including these titles, and then I was asked to book talk them. Uh-oh! Now, could I have looked up the summaries and done a great job of faking it? Yes, I think I could have, but since they are so short and I am a first-born 😉 I took the time to actually read them. As realistic fiction books go, they were both easy to follow and engaging enough. Students will be interested in the bullying issue in Crash and the natural disaster in Twisters, and they will easily be able to follow both plot and character growth. I am glad I know these books better because they will help when making recommendations–and I can check two more “everyone has read these” books off my list. Now, here’s to hoping no one figures out I have never read Number the Stars–SHHHHHH!
I was in the middle of reading The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart when I heard it featured at one of the sessions I attended at the Illinois Reading Council annual conference. It was the great Donalyn Miller, and she dubbed it one of her “Can’t Miss” books. So I was feeling sort of smug, AND THEN she said that the dog in the book would go down in history as one of the best dogs ever, like Old Yeller. The audience collectively gasped, and she said that it didn’t necessarily mean that the dog wouldn’t make it and she wasn’t saying either way and that we needed tissues anyway because the main character has cancer. And of course the book was at home so I couldn’t skip the next session to finish it 😦
Well, finish it, I did, and I must say that this is definitely a heartprint book. Mark has had cancer for a long time, and been in remission for quite a while, and then it comes back. During one of his healthier times, he promised his dying grandfather that he would climb Mt. Ranier like they had always intended to do together. And this time, Mark is not sure he will get better or if he has enough strength to or wants to fight hard enough to. So he runs away from home with his little, fierce, wonderful dog, Beau, so he can fulfill his promise before he dies, and he truly thinks he will most likely die on the mountain. A beautiful and heart-breaking debut novel from teacher, librarian, and father of three Dan Gemeinhart.
I am not a huge lover of historical fiction, I admit. It needs to be a great book to hold my interest, and The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson is just such a book. It is set in 1854, when a real cholera outbreak was afflicting one of the poorest of the poor neighborhoods in London. An orphan named Eel can’t just watch his friends and their families catch the illness and (mostly) die. He springs into action, fetching the great Dr. John Snow, whose work with anesthesia has made him well known in the area. Together, they work to prove that cholera is linked to the water supply and not to bad air or “miasma” as is the prevailing theory. Eel is quite the industrious and clever hero, and he must escape kidnapping and the clutches of his evil stepfather along the way. Hopkinson blends fictional and real characters so well in this historical mystery. Now I want to check out her other fictional works.
It took me a looooong time to listen to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and to be honest the reason I finally tackled the book at all is not becasue “everyone has read it” (see above) but because I so love Kirby Heybourne’s narration of Daniel Krause’s Scowler and Rotters. There was also an excellent female narrator for Amy’s parts, and so the book worked really well for me. And freaked me out, of course, because I knew there was a twist but purposefully did not read too much about the book, which I don;t really think I need to summarize since it’s so well known. Anyway, I like dark things and this was certainly very dark and disturbing and I did find myself driving around the block or sitting in my car a few extra minutes so I could keep listening. A friend tells me that Flynn’s other books are even darker–YIKES! This book counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2015 because I would certainly call it psychological horror and it certainly horrified me.
Currently Listening To:
A graphic novel and TWO Hurricane Katrina books.