This week’s Book talks 10/16-20

20 Oct

I had two days of training this week, co only did booktalks three days. I still managed to get in five books, though.

On the heels of listening to Jason Reynolds, I booktalked Ghost and Patina on Monday.

 

 

For no particular reason, except that I love it, I booktalked Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming on Wednesday.

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Finally, simply because I haven’t booktalked a graphic novel in a while, I shared Gene Luen Yang’s  Boxers & Saints.

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The Great Pumpkin

17 Oct

An after school meeting saw me pulling into the grocery store a little before 7 pm last night. I grumbled at myself for putting off this errand: buying thank you cards that my after school club needed to write at our meeting the next day. The skies were a picturesque blend of pink and black and there was a slight breeze that promised another crisp fall night.

I walked towards the entrance to the grocery store which was lined with pumpkins. I paid them little heed, distracted by the little boy hopping in front of me.

“Come on,” his mom called, a smirk on her face. “There are even more inside.”

His little eyes grew wider and I smiled.

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Another finale

16 Oct

The third and final book in the Court of Fives  series, Buried Heart, has come, and gone, for me. Kate Elliott wrapped everything up nicely.

Buried Heart cover (resized)

Publisher’s Summary:

Choose between your parents.
Choose between your friends.
Choose between your lovers.
Choose who you are.
 
On the run from the murderous King Nikonos, Jessamy must find a way for her beloved Kalliarkos to take his rightful place on the throne. Only then can he end the oppression of the Commoners by their long time Patron overlords. But Kal’s rise to power is fraught with manipulation and shocking decisions that make Jes question everything they promised each other. As their relationship frays and Jes’s family and friends beg her for help, will she cast Kal and her Patron heritage aside? Will she finally join–even lead–the rebellion that had been burning among the Commoners for years?
This explosive finale of World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s Court of Five series forces Jessamy to confront an inescapable truth: with or without her, the revolution has begun.
 I really liked about this series because Jessamy is a strong female character. She grew from a disobedient, rebellious girl in the first book. She is able to look beyond herself and care for the concerns of her family and her people. Kate Elliott invents a new world and a new sport.
If you have someone looking for something a little different, look no further than this series.

His tongue to paper

15 Oct

Oh man!

Last night I got to hear Jason Reynolds speak.

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He was the closing speaker at the Oregon Association of School Libraries conference.

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Once, I was a member of OASL and even served on the conference committee. This time, I just showed up for the culminating event.

Though he said he wasn’t feeling well and he clearly sounded congested, Jason Reynolds spoke powerfully. He made us laugh and cry.

He is a storyteller and he told us his story. What he did right and, perhaps more significantly, what he did wrong.

He told us how Queen Latifah inspired him and how he learned to write poetry. At times. he spoke directly to the kids in the audience about writing past the people tells them they aren’t (good enough, white enough) or that are wrong with them (their accent, their clothes) and just be them,tell their own stories.

Because it was an encounter with Christopher Myers, author, illustrator and son of Walter Dean Myers, that helped Jason Reynolds. Meyers told him he needed to tell his own stories to put his tongue to paper.

On October 24th, Jason Reynolds’ newest book Long Way Down,  a novel in verse,  comes out. I already have a hold on a library copy.

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Publisher’s Summary: An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

 

This week’s book talks 10/9-13

13 Oct

It is Newbery week!

Monday: The 2007 Newbery Winner The Higher Power of Lucy by Susan Patron

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Tuesday: The 2009 Newbery Winner The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Wednesday: The 1997 Newbery Winner The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

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Next, I began talking about Newbery Honor books. I’d never before noticed the difference between the winner’s  medal and the honor book medal. It turns out, the winner gets the front of the medal, in gold. The honor book get a silver medal showing the back of the medal. Who knew!

Thursday’s book was Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.

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Finally, Friday’s book was The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate  by Jacqueline Kelly. I noticed some similarities between the covers of these last two books.

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Just a little creepy

12 Oct

I make no apologies to my students. I tell them straight up that I don’t like scary stories because they give me nightmares. I am not such a weenie that I eschew all books that are potentially scary books. I can read a book until it crosses a creepy line that is complicated to explain in words. It is a gut feeling and a sense of where a book is going.

I read and added Thornhill by Pam Smy to my classroom library. It is potentially scary, but I got through it well enough. The book is half text, half illustrations. To be honest, the scariest bits are told through the black and white illustrations, so I could look quickly and move on. I haven’t book talked it, and yet the book has been checked out several times. There is a audience for scary books.

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Publisher’s Summary:  Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

 

Then & Now

10 Oct

We are getting ready for Fall conferences and I can’t help thinking how different this is at my “new” school, where I am now in my 3rd year.

At my old school we sent home paper forms and collected them as they came.

At my new school, I send out an email with a link to my Sign-up Genius event.

At my old school, we had a special sibling meeting, so we could give parents back-to-back appointments.

At my new school, parents organize their own schedule, by clicking on the times they want.

At my old school, when a parent had to reschedule their appointment, it was on me to make the arrangements and coordinate with the sibling’s teacher, and maybe their ESL teacher.

At my new school, the parent takes care of this.

At my old school, in which 75% of the students received ELL services, we had to schedule conferences around interpreter times. Fortunately, I could do my own conferences in Spanish.

At my new school, in which 5% of the students received ESL services, I have no ELL students. I miss doing some conferences in Spanish.

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