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This week’s book talks 4/17-4/21

21 Apr

Monday: The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1)  by Adrienne Kress

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Publisher’s Summary:Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.

 

Tuesday: My Name is Not Friday by Jon Walters

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Publisher’s Summary: ‘This boy has bought me. This white boy who don’t even look as old as I am. He owns me body and soul and my worth has been set at six hundred dollars.’

Samuel’s an educated boy. Been taught by a priest. He was never supposed to be a slave.
He’s a good boy too, thoughtful and kind. The type of boy who’d take the blame for something he didn’t do if it meant he saved his brother. So now they don’t call him Samuel. Not anymore. And the sound of guns is getting ever closer…

An extraordinary tale of endurance and hope, Jon Walter’s second novel is a beautiful and moving story about the power of belief and the strength of the human spirit, set against the terrifying backdrop of the American Civil War.

Wednesday: Overturned by Lamar Giles

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Goodreads Summary: Nikki Tate is infamous, even by Las Vegas standards. Her dad is sitting on death row, convicted of killing his best friend in a gambling dispute turned ugly. And for five years, he’s maintained his innocence. But Nikki wants no part of that. She’s been working on Operation Escape Vegas: playing in illegal card games so she can save up enough money to get out come graduation day.

Then her dad’s murder conviction is overturned. The new evidence seems to come out of nowhere and Nikki’s life becomes a mess when he’s released from prison. Because the dad who comes home is not the dad she remembers. And he’s desperately obsessed with finding out who framed him—and why.

As her dad digs into the seedy underbelly of Vegas, the past threatens everything and Nikki is drawn into his deadly hunt for the truth. But in the city of sin, some sinners will do anything to keep their secrets, and Nikki soon finds herself playing for the biggest gamble ever—her life.

 

Thursday: One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman

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Goodreads Summary: It’s hard to start at a new school . . . especially if you’re in a new country. Back home, Anais was the best English student in her class. Here in Crazy America she feels like she doesn’t know English at all. Nothing makes sense (chicken FINGERS?), and the kids at school have some very strange ideas about Africa. Anais misses her family–Papa and grandmother Oma and big brother Olivier–because here in Crazy America there’s only little Jean-Claude and Mama. So she writes letters to Oma–lots of them. She tells her she misses her and hopes the war is over soon. She tells her about Halloween, snow, mac ‘n’ cheese dinners and princess sleepovers. She tells her about the weird things Crazy Americans do, and how she just might be turning into a Crazy American herself.

Friday: Genevieve’s War by Patricia Reilly Giff

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Publisher’s Summary: Thirteen-year-old American girl Genevieve has spent the summer of 1939 at her grandmother’s farm in Alsace, France. Then she makes an impulsive choice: to stay in France. It proves to be a dangerous decision. World War II erupts. The Nazis conquer Alsace and deport the Jews and others. A frightening German officer commandeers a room in Meme’s farmhouse. And when Gen’s friend Remi commits an act of sabotage, Gen is forced to hide him in the attic–right above the Nazi officer’s head. Genevieve’s War is a gripping story that brings the war in occupied France vividly to life. It is a companion work to Lily’s Crossing, a Newbery Honor Book

This week’s booktalks 4/10-14

14 Apr

MONDAY

I picked up an ARC of Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan at the ALA Midwinter. I was thrilled to finally share it with my class.

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Publisher’s Summary:  A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

TUESDAY

Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky is a nice bit of historical fiction with a strong female lead.

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Publisher’s Summary:16-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly.

She’s a pilot who’s always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya’s been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches-a regiment of young female pilots. Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches’ hidden base … and that’s when the real danger starts. The pilots have been assigned a critical mission, one with the· power to inflict serious damage on the Nazis. Valya will give anything to fight for her country, but when the person she loves most goes missing, she must make a choice between duty and the deepest desires of her heart.

With her signature blend of lyrical writing and heart-racing action, historical fiction master Kathryn Lasky sheds light on the war’s unsung heroes – daredevil girls who took to the skies to take on the Nazis … and won.

WEDNESDAY

My students were excited to know that they could read Jason Reynolds’ Miles Morales before it gets published in August.

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Publisher’s Summary: Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

THURSDAY

I have a few readers who LOVE funny books, so, even though I don;t, I keep an eye out for laugh aloud books they might enjoy. I had a lot of kids laughing out  loud when I read a bit from  Pottymouth and Stoopid by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein.

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Publisher’s Summary: David and his best friend Michael were tagged with awful nicknames way back in preschool when everyone did silly things. Fast-forward to seventh grade: “Pottymouth” and “Stoopid” are still stuck with the names–and everyone in school, including the teachers and their principal, believe the labels are true.

So how do they go about changing everyone’s minds? By turning their misery into megastardom on TV, of course! And this important story delivers more than just laughs–it shows that the worst bullying doesn’t have to be physical…and that things will get better.

FINALLY, FRIDAY

It has felt like a really long week. Fortunately, I’ve been reading the book I shared today:  The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue. It made me laugh and think deeply about what it means to be a family.

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Publisher’s Summary:Meet the Lotterys: a unique and diverse family featuring four parents, seven kids and five pets – all living happily together in their big old house, Camelottery. Nine-year-old Sumac is the organizer of the family and is looking forward to a long summer of fun.

But when their grumpy and intolerant grandad comes to stay, everything is turned upside down. How will Sumac and her family manage with another person to add to their hectic lives?

The Lotterys Plus One, internationally bestselling author Emma Donoghue’s first novel for children, features black-and-white illustrations throughout, and is funny, charming and full of heart.

This one felt a little young for some of my students but I liked it a lot, so added it to my classroom library.

The hottest book in my classroom library

13 Apr

A few weeks ago, after I’d finished reading it, I booktalked Fonda Lee’s Exo  and added it to my classroom library.

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It hasn’t been back on the shelf since. Kids are passing it, hand to hand and urging the person reading it to read faster.

Author Summary: It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son.  Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another galactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .

I don’t read every book before I add it to my library. I do like to read books that lean more YA than middle grade, though. Sixth grade advanced readers are funny creatures. They have the cognitive abilities to tackle complex text, but lack the life experience to understand mature content. Exo is the perfect sort of book for my students: action-packed sci-fi to challenge their reading and an age-appropriate moral dilemma.

If you like science fiction, or know someone who does, pick up a copy of Exo.

This Week’s Booktalks 4/3 – 4/7

7 Apr

I’ve been moving ARCs out of my work area and into my classroom library. The kids always like to know when new books are added so I book talked a bunch of them this week.

Monday:

I started the week with a book I read over Spring Break: Frogkisser  by Garth Nix.

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Goodreads Summary:Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

Tuesday:

I liked the Sci-fi feel to the introduction to Revenge of the Star Survivors  by Michael Merschel and read the opening paragraphs to begin my booktalk.

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Publisher’s Summary:

Middle school meets the Dark Side in this painfully funny survival story of social misfit Clark Sherman.

When Clark crash-lands on the inhospitable planet of Festus Middle School, he soon learns the natives don’t take kindly to newcomers . . . particularly ones who practice Jedi mind tricks and follow nerdy TV shows like Star Survivors. As he faces a conspiring group of violent bullies, browbeaten teachers and a fiendish principal, Clark knows he’ll be lucky just to survive eighth grade.

Then, hope appears on the horizon: there is Les, the enigmatic boy who seems to disappear at will; Ricki, a fellow Star Survivors fan; and the independent-minded librarian, Ms. Beacon. When Clark and his newfound allies are imperiled, he gathers his courage and the consequences of his actions ripple through the galaxy in life-altering ways.

 

Wednesday:

Keeping the sci-fi /fantasy theme going by talking about Lemons  by Melissa Savage.

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Publisher’s Summary: What do you do when you lose everything that means anything?

Nine-year old Lemonade Liberty Witt doesn’t know the answer to that question, except what her mom taught her. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what if those lemons are so big that you forget how?

How do you make lemonade out of having to leave everything you know in San Francisco to move to the small town of Willow Creek, California and live with a grandfather you’ve never even met? In a town that smells like grass and mud and bugs. With tall pines instead of skyscrapers and dirt instead of sidewalks. Not to mention one woolly beast lurking in the woods.

That’s right, Bigfoot.

A ginormous wooden statue of the ugly thing stands right at the center of town like he’s someone real important, like the mayor or something. And the people here actually believe he’s real and hiding somewhere out in the pine filled forests.

How can anyone possibly be expected to make lemonade out those rotten lemons?

Everything is different and Lem just wants to go back home. And then she meets Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. He invites her to be his Assistant for the summer and she reluctantly agrees. At least until she can figure out her escape plan.

Together, Lem and Tobin try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film and end up finding more than they ever could have even imagined.

 

Thursday:

I departed from my plan because I was so excited after meeting Javaka Steptoe, I wanted to share his book and I talked to my classes, not so much about the book, but about Steptoe’s process.

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Friday:

The last book of the week is The Gauntlet  by Karuna Riazi.

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Publisher’s Summary: A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

This Week’s Book Talks- 2/13-17

17 Feb

Another full five-day week. That makes two in a row! President’s Day on Monday will break this streak, but I’m willing to suffer through another day off.

I bookended this week with nofiction, too. Monday’s book was Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman.

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Friday’s book was Blizzard by Jim Murphy.

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In between, there was poetry  and fiction.

Red Butterfly  by A. L.  Sonnichsen is novel in verse about a Chinese  girl with a deformed hand raised in secret by an American woman must navigate China’s strict adoption system.

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The idea of starting a mini-revolution got them excited about I kile the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora.

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I explianed how advanced readers copies work on Thursday. Now, many students want to read Gordon Korman’s Restart before their peers.

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This Week’s Book Talks 1/30-2/3

3 Feb

I intended to bookend the week with nonfiction.

Monday I talked about this classic:

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I saved this one for today, but the weather prevented me from book talking it. Yes, we have another day off due to freezing rain. The streets are covered in ice. I guess I will start next week with We’ve Got a Job.

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In between, I talked up these three gems:51hhnx3g3jl-_sx334_bo1204203200_

I will read anything Stuart Gibbs writes!

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This Week’s Book Talks 1/23-1/17

29 Jan

I was only at school for three days, but managed to squeeze in eight books. I am crafty that way.

First, I shared the DC Comics I got last Friday night.

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I spent much of Friday getting these ready to add to my classroom library (while the kids worked on their Ancient Sumer test) because several students were chomping at the bit to read them.

Thursday, I talked about a book I’d hoped would be on the Newbery list.

 

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Friday, I book talked a 2017 Sibert Honor Book.

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Next week, I get to teach my first full five-day week since November!

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