Archive | December, 2017

Approaching the finish line

10 Dec

I have almost accomplished my goal of reading the five books on the National Book Award’s list for Young People’s Literature.

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Looking at this list, I realize that I am unintentionally reading them in reverse alphabetical order by author’s last name.

This weekend, I read the winner, Far From the Tree by Robin Benway.

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Publisher’s Summary: Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

Don’t miss this moving novel that addresses such important topics as adoption, teen pregnancy, and foster care.

Such an excellent book!!! You should read it.

 

This Week’s Book talks 12/4-8

8 Dec

Monday: In anticipation of an author visit to our school library by April Henry, I booktalked her only book in my classroom library, The Body in the Woods.

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Tuesday, I chose Kenneth Oppel’s The Boundless,  just because.

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Thursday, I booktalked Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. A lot of kids had already read it, but they all loved it.

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Friday: I learned from a student that she’d seen the movie and TV versions of  The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, but never read the book. I had to remedy that!

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100 Years Ago Today

6 Dec

One hundred years ago today, Halifax was rocked by a terrible explosion of a munitions ship that was bound for the war in Europe.  You can read this article from the CBC for more details.

Here is a list of some of my favourite Canadian books on the event.

Juvenile Fiction

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No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn by Julie Lawson

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Penelope: Terror in the Harbour by Sharon E. MacKay
Juvenile/Teen Nonfiction
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Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M. Walker
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Barometer Rising  by Hugh MacLennan
Adult Nonfiction
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The Halifax Explosion: Canada’s Worst Disaster by Ken Cuthbertson

Hallway drama

5 Dec

“Miss Gillespie! Miss Gillespie!” the student called as she ran into my room late Thursday afternoon. “A teacher fell in the hall!”

I ran into the hall, suspecting it might be the elderly, retired substitute who had been  in the room next door to me. I was correct, and two other teachers were already there. I yelled that I’d call the office for help and ran to do so.

Kids were streaming into my room – the incident happened at passing time – so I had no idea what had happened after my call. I stopped by the office on my way out at the end of the day to find out if he was alright. The school was abuzz because the ambulance was still there, red lights flashing, while the teacher talked with paramedics in the library.

By the next morning, all sorts of rumors abounded amongst the staff and students

  • he tripped and hit his head
  • he had a seizure
  • his blood sugar was low
  • his blood sugar was high
  • he had a heart attack

He was supposed to be in my neighbor’s classroom again Friday, but someone else was there. I was glad I could tell the students that he was resting at home and was feeling much better, which is what the secretary had told me that morning.

The substitute is scheduled to be in our building again later this week. I hope he has recovered and feels well enough to do so.

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A book for animal lovers

4 Dec

One Amazing Elephant, by Linda Oatman High, is a quiet middle grade novel. It reminds me a little of The One and Only Ivan  because it alternates perspectives between Lily and Queenie Grace, providing readers with a deep understanding of and empathy for the elephant’s experience.

It seems to be flying under the radar and not getting a lot of attention, but there is definitely an audience for it. Any reader who loves animals will love it.

 

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Publisher’s Summary:  A poignant middle grade animal story from talented author Linda Oatman High that will appeal to fans of Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. In this heartwarming novel, a girl and an elephant face the same devastating loss—and slowly realize that they share the same powerful love.

Twelve-year-old Lily Pruitt loves her grandparents, but she doesn’t love the circus—and the circus is their life. She’s perfectly happy to stay with her father, away from her neglectful mother and her grandfather’s beloved elephant, Queenie Grace.

Then Grandpa Bill dies, and both Lily and Queenie Grace are devastated. When Lily travels to Florida for the funeral, she keeps her distance from the elephant. But the two are mourning the same man—and form a bond born of loss. And when Queenie Grace faces danger, Lily must come up with a plan to help save her friend.

Friendship & Forgiveness

3 Dec

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The Ethan I Was Before, by Ali Standish, is a book I chose to add to my Mock Newbery Club list before I’d actually read it. It was getting some buzz and was on the lists of a few other people.

Publisher’s Summary: Life can be transformed in one moment, but does that one moment define you for life?

Lost in the Sun meets The Thing About Jellyfish in Ali Standish’s breathtaking debut. A poignant middle grade novel of friendship and forgiveness, The Ethan I Was Before is a classic in the making.

Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.

Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. The Ethan I Was Before is a story of love and loss, wonder and adventure, and ultimately of hope.

My sense from the club members who have read Ethan is that they liked it well enough, but it isn’t top of their list. It reminded me a lot of Bridge to Terabithia. 

This week’s book talks 11/30-12/1

1 Dec

Monday: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

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Tuesday: Unfriended  by Rachel Vail

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Wednesday:  The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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Thursday: The Great Greene Heist  by Varian Johnson

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Friday: Me and Marvin Gardens  by A. S. King

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