Tag Archives: informational text

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/12/16

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:
You know, I have really enjoyed other works by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, but Terrible Typhoid Mary just didn’t do it for me. I liked her writing style–definitely literary fiction rather than a bland recitation of facts. I also appreciate that extensive research went into writing this book and that the source notes and bibliography are extensive. I guess when it comes down to it, I was expecting to get a lot of new information, especially from the point of view of Mary, herself, but there is so little known about her beliefs and the reasons she kept seeking employment as a cook. And because of that, the story revolves heavily around George Albert Soperand his quest to stop Mary from spreading disease by any means necessary–but the tale winds up being not quite as dramatic as it sounds. Perhaps students will have a different experience if they have little to no knowledge of Mary’s story. I’ll have to ask when someone checks the book out.
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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/21/16

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 Weeks Books:

Since I am reading such an epic fiction novel just for me (see below), I decided to supplement with a little bit of nonfiction this week.

fireflyReading What If My Cat?  by Claire Arrowsmith is a direct result of Firefly, the new kitten at our house. It has been about 10 years since we last had a kitten, and I feel I have become a little rusty at the let-us-introduce-her-to-the-old-cat-and-hope-there-is-no-bloodshed thing. So far, so good, and the book did give some good tips for introducing new cats to other pets and children. It also gives good basic information to first-time cat owners. I will definitely recommend it to students who are welcoming a new kitty into their lives.


First Flight Around the World by Tim Grove was written in conjunction with the Smithsonian and supplies readers with lots of information and photographs from its archives. It tells the story of the 1924 race to be the first to circumnavigate the earth in an airplane. America sent out four planes, and two of them were successful in completing the mission and ensuring that the United States was the winner. Grove made heavy use of the journal of First Lieutenant Leslie Arnold, the mechanic on the Chicago, one of the planes that made it, and the details of flight preparation, navigation, and the stops along the way are riveting. Readers will learn much about the world in the 1920s as well. What’s more, it is a beautifully designed book which will keep readers engaged and will compel them to examine the many photographs. Back matter is excellent, including all those elements that make an informational text stand out. It is no wonder that this book was a finalist for the YALSA-ALA Excellence in YA Nonfiction Award.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/7/16

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, this was a super-engaging science fiction story that I amazed I had not read before, given the author. Partly told in narrative and partly told in court hearings, Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar recounts what happens when some middle graders stumble up on a weird substance in the woods…and the biological material that might be responsible for their ensuing illness. This is another light science fiction like The Fourteenth Goldfish to ease MG readers into the genre. Great  full-cast audiobook presentation as well.

 Lincoln’s Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America’s First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple is the kind of well-researched informational text we love to share with our students. Filled with loads of accompanying photographs, the book introduces readers to Pinkerton’s development of not only detective work as we know it, but the Secret Service as well. I will say that some of the cases started to blend together for me a bit in the middle, but things picked up again when Seiple recounted the Pinkerton Agency’s run-ins with the James-Younger gang. In all, I am pleased to have this book in my collections as a choice for middle grade readers.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/11/16

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:

So almost every Goodreads review of The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus starts off by wondering how to begin to describe this book. I understand. Daniel Kraus’ epic tale is a difficult-to-adequately-describe genre-buster of a book. In May 1896, at 17 years old, Zebulon Finch is murdered, and 17 minutes later he finds himself “alive” again. Zebulon is not truly alive in that he cannot eat or breath or feel pain, but he is able to think, feel emotion, communicate, and move. Zebulon proceeds to describe his previous life as an unsavory extortionist for the crime syndicate the Black Hand who fell in love with a local prostitute, Wilma Sue, before his violent death. Zebulon also recounts his experiences moving through the world after his resurrection, including his time spent in a medicine show, as a subject of scientific study of a mad doctor obsessed with death, as a soldier in World War I, and as the paramour of a Hollywood starlet. Forever haunting him is the memory of Wilma Sue’s, especially after he finds he has a daughter, Merle, who will grow older than he will ever appear. Kraus’ storytelling and Zebulon’s voice are masterful. Kraus invites readers to think about life, death, morality, war, and what it means to be human. I expected the author of the macabre works Scowlers and Rotters to include some disturbing images and scenes, and they were deftly woven in, although I cannot quite call this a work of horror. I do know that I will be eager to read volume two when it is published. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016–a book of more than 500 pages.


I definitely needed something lighter as my next read, so I chose How to Survive Anything by Lonely Planet. It presents the reader with step-by-step instructions on how to get out of such jams as meeting ones in-laws, being bitten by a snake, a zombie attack, falling through ice, a parachute that won’t deploy, and getting locked out of one’s hotel room while naked. So it is not quite a book that I would add to my middle school collection, although it’s comic panel style and often amusing illustrations would interest young and old alike. And despite the book’s lightheartedness, its advice seems quite sound. This books was my Surprise Me Challenge book for March.


And then back to some heavier stuff. I was recently urged by two colleagues to read Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, and I was lucky enough to find a pristine copy of this quite recently published book in the public library’s used book sale for $3. It is the story of Jack, a sixth grader, whose family takes in a eighth grader Joseph as a foster child. It is the story of Joseph, a boy who was abused and incarcerated, and who is the father of the daughter, Jupiter, that he has not been allowed to meet. The two boys attend the same middle school where Joseph is feared, misunderstood, and even hated by many. Joseph’s father is complicating his adjustment to his new home by attempting to get back in his life, for selfish reasons. This book is a beautifully written heartprint book. Schmidt is able to say so much in simple, sparing text. He tells the story in a way that middle graders will understand, even though the topics are tough ones. I am not a book crier for the most part, but this one sent me over the edge not once, but three times, as I read it in nearly one sitting.  It is a book that I will not soon forget.

Currently Reading/Listening To: 

My borrowing period for Ghost Road Blues was up, and I was only about 1/3 of the way done. Since two people had placed hods in front of me, it might be a while before I can get back to it, so I started listening to Serafina and the Black Cloak while I wait.

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

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:

The Bitter Side of Sweet is Tara Sullivan’s second novel. It will be published on 2/23/16. I am planning on a review post for it later this week. But in short, it is another excellent realistic fiction work that will open young people’s eyes to how other children must live in a different part of our world.


The Nest by Kenneth Oppel–I knew it was a horror story for middle grade, but I didn’t expect it to creep me out as much as it did. Steve’s baby brother was born with a host of health concerns affecting his heart, brain, and eyes, and doctors are trying to find ways to help him survive. Steve, already an anxious child, starts having dreams about angels who talk to him about his brother, but he soon realizes they are not angels–they are the wasps building a nest outside his brother’s window. The wasps offer to “help” if Steve says “yes,” and after doing so he regrets his decision. The wasps are creating in their nest a new, perfect baby to replace his brother. . . . Steve’s conversations with the Queen wasp occur in his dreams, and the whole tone is unsettling. The best way I can describe it is that Oppel is channeling David Almond, in the darkest of ways. This book counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2016.


Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown is a compelling informational text in graphic “novel” form. I always wonder if I am using the term correctly if it is not, in fact, a fictional work, but “graphic book” doesn’t seem quite right either. Anyway, Brown’s spare text and even spare-er illustrations provide a chilling look at one of our country’s most recent disasters. Brown pulls no punches, telling in a straightforward manner not only about the devastation wrought by the hurricane but about the failing of people-in-charge who could have done more to help. I was particularly struck by a passage about police officers turning into looters, and thanks to Brown’s source notes, I was able to find the original article about it. Brown references a comprehensive list of works that informed is writing. I can definitely see why this book has garnered many honors. This book counts for my Panels Challenge 2016: a comic about a real-life historical event.

 

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