Archive | December, 2017

Last book of 2017

31 Dec

You’d think I would end the year with a happy book. I didn’t, but The Marrow Thieves,  by Cherie Dimaline was really good.

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Publisher’s Summary: Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

That description doesn’t really indicate the power of the writing. Main characters’ back stories are told in “coming to” chapters. Storytelling is woven in. And Dimaline creates a Canadian wilderness impacted by global warming that seems terrifyingly probable.

The book is full of loss and sacrifice, but the beautifully lyrical language of the book makes it worth reading.

One week down, one week to go

29 Dec

One week of vacation is over. I have one week to go. The first was full of Christmas and ice that saw me stuck at home for a few days.

I am doing a massive reread and note-taking of the Sibert award nominees that we will discuss in Denver in February, when we will make our final decision. You can watch that live HERE, on February 12, 2018 – 8:00 AM MT.

Although I have been busy with Sibert reading, I have become obsessed with the Great British Baking Show and  managed a few other books. I was iced in for a few days, after all.

I finished Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

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Publisher’s Summary: August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

I had a good laugh at It’s Shoe Time by Bryan Collier.

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Publisher’s Summary: 

Today is the day.
It’s time choose.
Which shoes will be right?
Which shoes will be left?!
It’s Shoe Time!

This hilarious beginning-reader by multi award-winning artist Bryan Collier turns the closet on its heel and redefines what it means to be a pair.

 

 

 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James.

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Publisher’s Summary: The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut

makes boys fly.

And, for young adults, I highly recommend A Short History of the Girl Next Door  by Jared Reck.

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Publisher’s Summary: Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.

If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.

But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse.

After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

What have you been reading that you’d recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

Jólabókaflóð 2017

26 Dec

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I hope you had a lovely Jólabókaflóð.  I certainly did. Here is a list of the books I received:

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Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L. M. Montgomery by Melanie J. Fishbane

Publisher’s Summary: Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery — Maud to her friends — has a dream: to go to college and become a writer, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Her grandfather has strong opinions about a woman’s place in the world, and they do not include spending good money on college. Luckily, she has a teacher to believe in her, and good friends to support her, including Nate, the Baptist minister’s stepson and the smartest boy in the class. If only he weren’t a Baptist; her Presbyterian grandparents would never approve. Then again, Maud isn’t sure she wants to settle down with a boy — her dreams of being a writer are much more important.

But life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future — and her happiness forever.

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Romeo And/Or Juliet: A Chooseable Path Adventure by Ryan North

Publisher’s Summary: Romeo loves Juliet. Or Rosaline. And Juliet loves Romeo. Or Viola. Or Orlando. It’s Shakespeare as you’ve never played him before.

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

Yesterday, I laughed out loud listening to an NPR episode in which people tell scary stories they were told about kids who tried to catch a peek of Santa.

I laughed, too, reading The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

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Publisher’s Summary: Santa has a problem. This kid? Harold? Santa doesn’t think he’s real. He WANTS to believe in Harold–after all, Harold is one of the most magical parts of Christmas. Getting Harold’s letters, eating the cookies he leaves out, feeding his carrots to the reindeer… what would Christmas be without that? But Santa’s just not sure. Some of his friends are telling him they think Harold’s not real. And the Harold that sat on his knee last Christmas looked AWFULLY different. Santa comes up with a plan to find out once and for all if Harold really exists… with hilarious consequences.

This was a fun twist on that time in a child’s life when they start questioning Santa’s existence. Maybe it will help prolong childhood a little longer.

I think I’ll go watch Miracle on 34th Street.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

 

Hello, Dolly!

20 Dec

This week, I book talked books with dolls. This gave me a chance to talk about my favorite Christmas book on Monday.

Monday: The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff

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Tuesday: The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero

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Wednesday – our last day, so I mentioned three:

The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson

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Doll Bones by Holly Black

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Took by Mary Downing Hahn

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The calendar

19 Dec

I am, happily drinking my way through the 2017 David’s Tea Advent Calendar.

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Yesterday was a delicious Earl Grey. Today’s is a lovely herbal tea called The Spice is Right.

We have an odd school calendar this year. All the districts around us went on Winter Break on Friday. We are lingering on until Wednesday, which seems an odd day on which to end. I’ve already said good-bye to several students, whose parents found less expensive flights before we get out. I will say goodbye to a couple of others today.

The other odd bit of our calendar is that we go back on the Thursday after New Year’s.  teachers and students are grumbling, feeling as though we are being shortchanged. We are getting one weekend less than everyone else.  I am right there with them, though I’d prefer staying until this Friday and coming back the Monday after New Year’s.

To liven the mood, I made a proposal to the staff. In addition to being the last day, Wednesday is also an early release day. So, I invited the staff to come to my room for a scoring party. The time must be used for collaboration, so we cannot work alone in our own rooms. I offered to host a party where people can grade the papers they will carry home in a bag and not touch all break. We can see what people in other grades and content areas are working on. The response was very positive and someone has already offered to bring cookies.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

 

The magic of moonlight

17 Dec

I love this time of year – so dark, but lights everywhere and glittering trees in many windows. It all seemed so magical as a kid. As an adult, it warms my heart and makes me nostalgic.

Here is a lovely book that evoked the same feeling.

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Publisher’s Summary:  In this atmospheric story, a group of kids play hockey on a frozen lake by moonlight. At once nostalgic and timely, this is a gorgeous book that will speak to readers young and old.

This week’s book talks 12/11-15

15 Dec

Everyone is feeling tired at school – kids and teachers – so I looked for books with some sort of visual eye candy.

MondayOdd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist

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Tuesday – The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley – I liked the banners on each chapter.

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Wednesday – I, Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

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Thursday – Ninja Timmy  written and illustrated by Henrik Tamm

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Friday – The Loser List: Revenge of the Loser by H. N. Kowitt

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I see London, I see France

14 Dec

In the third installment of his Blackthorn Key series, The Assassin’s Curse, author Kevin Sands moves the actions from England to the court of Louis XIV, in Paris.

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Publisher’s Summary: Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this third novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.

Wherever Christopher Rowe goes, adventure—and murder—follows. Even a chance to meet King Charles ends in a brush with an assassin.

All that’s recovered from the killer is a coded message with an ominous sign-off: more attempts are coming. So when Christopher’s code-breaking discovers the attack’s true target, he and his friends are ordered to Paris to investigate a centuries-old curse on the French throne. And when they learn an ancient treasure is promised to any assassin who succeeds, they realize the entire royal family is at stake—as well as their own lives.

In the third heart-pounding installment of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series, Christopher, Tom, and Sally face new codes, puzzles, and traps as they race to find the hidden treasure before someone else is murdered.

Of the three, this is my least favorite, but I still enjoyed it. I think one of the problems was that I listened to the audio version, and the recitation of some of the code-breaking was tedious. I would rather have looked at it than listened to it. That said, there was all the action and mystery of the first two books. I like that we learned a little more about Sally, the Hermione to Christopher and Thomas’ Harry & Ron. The change of venue was interesting, too. The book was, once again, left open enough for a fourth book, If there is one, I hope they return to England, where I think they fit best.

Tracking

12 Dec

I ordered an iPad.

I ordered the iPad and set up delivery for Wednesday – a day I would be home because I was taking a personal day.

I tracked the packages from the moment they were sent Monday. Yes there were two. Apparently, when you order an iPad and a cover, they ship separately.

All day Tuesday, I tracked. My packages were getting closer. All day Wednesday, as I puttered around the house, I tracked my packages. I took Lucy on short walks, lest we be on another street when the UPS driver arrived.The sun started to set and I was still tracking my packages, my anxiety level high. What was taking so long.

At late afternoon, as the sun was setting, the knock finally came. I opened the door to one box. The cover. I tracked the other package, the iPad. Still “out for delivery”.

Six o’clock came and went. Still no package. Then, the iPad’s status changed to “destination scan” and the delivery date reset to Thursday. I deflated.

I wasn’t going to be home Thursday, so I set a plan in motion. I contacted neighbors who I knew worked from home. I printed directions for the UPS driver, taped them to the bottom of the glass baking dish I would set on my stoop. I went to work Thursday, feeling anxious.

I tracked that package all day Thursday.

It was still “out for delivery” when I got home, so I left the UPS website up and took Lucy for a short walk. Still “out for delivery” Just after we got home, the status changed to “delivered”. I hadn’t heard the UPS knock, but opened the door and checked. Nothing. Could someone already have stolen it? I wondered.

I occasionally receive things for the same address one street over, so I decided to go see if it had been misdelivered. I got Lucy’s collar and leash back on and set off.

A UPS truck sat at the end of my street. I walked up to the driver and explained my problem, giving my name and address. Interestingly, she was holding my box in her hands as I did so.

The second UPS person arrived back at the truck while this was happening. “I scanned it and was going to deliver it next,” he said calmly, unaware of the anxiety I had endured for two days.

They handed me my package and Lucy and I walked home with lighter hearts.

* * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * **

Over the weekend, I knit a cozy for my new iPad.

 

 

 

 

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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