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This week’s book talks 4/2-6

6 Apr

Back to book talks with a full five-day week. Here are the five books I recommended to my students.

MONDAY

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Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire  by John August
TUESDAY

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The Journey of Little Charlie  by Christopher Paul Curtis

WEDNESDAY

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

THURSDAY

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Ice Wolves  by Amie Kaufman

 

FRIDAY

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How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

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Armchair travelling

26 Nov

One of the upsides of a five-day weekend is the opportunity to dive deeply into a good book and this very long weekend I took an armchair journey to Oxford.

Not the Oxford of the BBC’s Inspector Morse,  but Lyra’s Oxford, the once created by Philip Pullman. Did you know he has a new series, set in the Oxford before the His Dark Materials series. I went on my journey with an infant Lyra and learned something of her backstory in La Belle Sauvage the first book in his new series, The Book of Dust.

Here is the US cover

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And here is the UK cover.

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Publisher’s Summary: Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy….

Malcolm’s parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.

He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him.

When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

I loved Malcolm and wished he was a student in my class. I was drawn into the story immediately and I am now thinking, while I wait for the next book, I might reread the His Dark Materials series.

 

An unlimited tale

20 Nov

I wanted to read Jane, Unlimited before I knew there was a basset hound in it.

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When I realized the basset hound was a very important character, I was ecstatic. I looked at Lucy, and wondered.

Let me also say that this one works way better in print than audio. There are a lot of details at the beginning that become important. If, like me, you sometimes listen to audiobooks while doing other things, you might miss something important. The audiobook is excellent, I am simply saying that you need to pay attention if you listen.

Publisher’s Summary: An instant New York Times bestseller—from the award-winning author of the Graceling Realm series—a kaleidoscopic novel about grief, adventure, storytelling, and finding yourself in a world of seemingly infinite choices.

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

 

A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt

29 Oct

Yesterday afternoon, the lobby of the Newmark Theater was buzzing with treasure hunters. Scurvy Sam’s 4-Story Treasure Hunt was the pre-show activity for the Oregon Children’s Theatre‘s production of

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I went because one of my students plays Tall Boy in the production, which is excellent.

I’d read the book years ago to second graders and wondered exactly how they would pull off the multiple scene locations. Brilliantly, as it turns out. The set design was simple and versatile as the ship unfolded and got turned into a variety of locales where Judy and Stink were looking for clues.

The play ran an hour which was perfect. I loved seeing my student on stage, but the entire cast was great. All the kids were extremely talented and Scurvy Sam kept the adults laughing.

 

The little boy siting next two me was almost as much fun as the play itself. He really got into it, laughing and squealing at all the right parts.

If you have a young person, I highly recommend taking them to see this production. Heck, subscribe to the whole season. If this production is any indication, they will all be excellent.

This week’s book talks 10/23-10/25

25 Oct

It is parent teacher conference time. Only three days of school means only three booktalks. They all cam from the “Mystery and Adventure” section of my classroom library.

Monday…..I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest.

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Tuesday… Mission Mumbai by Mahtab Narsimhan

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Wednesday…Raising Rufus  by David Fulk

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This week’s booktalks 10/2-6

6 Oct

It was series week in my classroom. All my booktalks were about the first book in a series I thought my students might enjoy.

MONDAY I talked about Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. In addition to talking about that series, I also shared some of his other series.

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TUESDAY, I went a little more serious with Silverwing  by Kenneth Oppel.

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WEDNESDAY, I went for spooky with Jonathan Stroud’s first Lockwood & Co. book – The Screaming Staircase.

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THURSDAY,  I veered into the history of World War I and talked about Steampunk by talking about Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

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And, finally, on FRIDAY, I booktalked L. A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack,  the first book in a series I hold very dear.

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Steampunk fairy tale

7 Sep

Yesterday, I taught my kids how to speed-date books.

I set tubs from my classroom library on each table and gave them 4 minutes to find title to add to their “To read” lists. The best comment I overheard was ” These books are way better than in elementary school!”

One table had tubs of “Dystopian” and “Steampunk” books. For most sixth graders, these are new genres. One book in the “Steampunk” tub was Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell.  I picked up at Powells this summer, on a SALE table.

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Author’s Summary:Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. The timing may be perfect: there’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

I recently discovered that Betsy Cornwell has written a sequel, Venturess, that came out in August. I have it on hold at the library.

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Author’s Summary: Nicolette’s Cinderella story is over, and she’s finally living her own fairy tale happy ending. She’s a successful inventor now, free of her horrible stepfamily, and content in her loving friendship with Caro, a palace servant, and Fin, the prince of Esting.

Then she receives a message from her long-lost housekeeper, now a revolutionary, begging her to bring the prince to Faerie for a diplomatic meeting. Nicolette fears a trap, but decides that the chance to end the bloody war waged by their kingdom is worth the risk.

Together with Fin and Caro, she ventures across the monster-filled ocean to the lush continent she’s always dreamed of visiting. There, mechanical armies and dark magic await as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries – and for themselves.

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