Archive | June, 2018

A book to die for

13 Jun

I am currently lost in Tudor England, deep in the depths of Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VII Tell All by M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson

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Publisher’s Summary: He was King Henry VIII, a charismatic and extravagant ruler obsessed with both his power as king and with siring a male heir.

They were his queens–six ill-fated women, each bound for divorce, or beheading, or death.

Watch spellbound as each of Henry’s wives attempts to survive their unpredictable king and his power-hungry court. See the sword flash as fiery Anne Boleyn is beheaded for adultery. Follow Jane Seymour as she rises from bullied court maiden to beloved queen, only to die after giving birth. Feel Catherine Howard’s terror as old lovers resurface and whisper vicious rumors to Henry’s influential advisors. Experience the heartache of mothers as they lose son after son, heir after heir.

Told in stirring first-person accounts, Fatal Throne is at once provocative and heartbreaking, an epic tale that is also an intimate look at the royalty of the most perilous times in English history.

Who’s Who: 

M. T. Anderson – Henry VIII
Candace Fleming – Katharine of Aragon
Stephanie Hemphill – Anne Boleyn
Lisa Ann Sandell – Jane Seymour
Jennifer Donnelly – Anna of Cleves
Linda Sue Park – Catherine Howard
Deborah Hopkinson – Kateryn Parr

First, what a collection of fabulous authors!

What I really want to tell you is why I am so smitten (obsessed) with this book. Each author writes about their character in chronological order, with a few scenes that overlap. They write so well, you can’t help feeling sympathy for the character. Then, when the character changes, you see things from another perspective and fall under the influence of the new character. It really shows you the power that the person you listen to can have over your opinions. A good lesson for our time taught through history.

Because each character has a different author, their voices are truly unique.

Even though I am pretty familiar with these stories, this format gave me an opportunity to re-engage with them in a whole new way.

Bringing Back the Books

12 Jun

Last week, I slowly inventoried my classroom libraries. I keep track of two libraries: one bought & paid for by the school district, the other by me. In total there are about 750 books. As of Friday, 58 books were “missing”. A few were checked out, more were not. Monday morning I charted the missing titles. By Monday afternoon, only 41 were still outstanding.

Before

We still have a week of school to go. I am confident that, come next Tuesday, most, if not all of the books will be back.

11 Jun

In 2002, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began Canada Reads, Canada Reads, a literary program in which celebrities champion books that are  voted “off the bookshelf,” one each day, until one book is chosen as the title the whole country should read this year.

This year’s crop was, as always, amazing and I am working my way through the titles.

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This weekend I finished American War by Egyptian born Canadian author Omar El Akkad, who, like me, lives in Portland, OR.

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Publisher’s Summary: An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

This one isn’t for kids, but I was so riveted I couldn’t stop. The story builds in such a way that, before you realize it, you are so wrapped up in Sarat’s life that you feel as though you have always known her. The world El Akkad creates seems terrifyingly possible. That also kept me riveted as I ponder how we might get from here to there.

And it has a map. My students know I LOVE books with maps!

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American War wasn’t the Canada Reads winner, but it is definitely one adults should add to their summer reading list.

 

This week’s book talks 6/4-6/8

8 Jun

Monday

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Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Tuesday

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Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith

Wednesday

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Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Thursday

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Okay for Now  byGary D. Schmidt

Friday

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Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

After the Book Club

5 Jun

I belong to an adult book club, made up of mostly librarians. I missed last night’s June meeting and the flurry that happens at the end. That’s where we decide which books we  will read for next month. Yes, I said books because we only read children’s and YA books. It is the best book club ever!

We usually choose about 10-12 books a month, a mix of picture books, longer fiction, non fiction and graphic novels. As we make each decision, phones are out and holds are placed at libraries.

Because I missed last night’s meeting, I didn’t see the list until I checked my email this morning. Before I began writing this post, my holds had been placed. All is well with the world.

Here is our July reading list(with links to my local library system):

Shorter Fiction:

Longer Fiction:

Nonfiction

Graphic Novel

Upcoming

 

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Check out Checked

4 Jun

My classroom library is organized by genre. There’s only one fiction tub for sport books- and they don’t get a lot of action. Part of that is my fault. I don’t really enjoy books about sports and often tune out during descriptions of games or competitions.

I didn’t tune out of the sports parts of Cynthia Kadohata’s Checked.checked-9781481446617_hr

I think that was because they were as meditative and reflective as any middle grade literary work of fiction I have ever read.

Publisher’s Summary: Hockey is Conor’s life. His whole life. He’ll say it himself, he’s a hockey beast. It’s his dad’s whole life too—and Conor is sure that’s why his stepmom, Jenny, left. There are very few things Conor and his dad love more than the game, and one of those things is their Doberman, Sinbad. When Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, Conor chooses to put his hockey lessons and practices on hold so they can pay for Sinbad’s chemotherapy.

But without hockey to distract him, Conor begins to notice more. Like his dad’s crying bouts, and his friend’s difficult family life. And then Conor notices one more thing: Without hockey, the one thing that makes him feel special, is he really special at all?

I think this one works for me because of Connor’s voice. It is so authentic. He’s not a great student. He is an excellent hockey player. He loves his Dad and his dog, Sinbad. He just comes across as a very real kid, with very real kid worries.

I’m not going to lie, I teared up a few times (not during the hockey parts) and when I finished, I just had to sit, holding the book for a few minutes before I could move. Such a lovely, lovely book.

 

This week’s book talks 5/29-6/1

1 Jun

It was a four day week because of the Memorial day holiday, which I enjoyed immensely. I was definitely ready for a little break before the final push to the end.

Tuesday

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed – This book has such a beautiful cover – and it tells a compelling story.

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Wednesday

Exo by Fonda Lee

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Thursday

Dark Life  by Kat Falls

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Friday

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

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