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This week’s book talks 6/5-9

11 Jun

For a number of reasons, I have no 5 day weeks left, even though this week and next are 5 day weeks. Darn for me! It will be 4 books next week, and probably 3 the last week, The last day of school schedule is out and it will be a whirlwind.

Monday

This classic hasn’t been checked out all year, even though I know a number of students would love it. Best reason for a book talk!

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Publisher’s Summary: “I can’t speak for all dogs.
Not all dogs are alike.
And most certainly, not all dogs
have the same experiences. . . .”

Squirrel is not like most dogs. Born a stray, she must make her own way in the world, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal. Her life story, in her own words, is marked by loss, but also by an inspiring instinct to survive. And when it seems she will roam the woods and country roads alone forever, Squirrel makes two friends who, in very different ways, define her fate.
At once heartrending and hopeful, Ann Martin’s exquisite story of a dog’s life is told with her trademark grace and insight.

Tuesday

I got a round of applause from Core 1 for my Scottish brogue inflected read aloud from Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville.

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Publisher’s Summary: In the first hilarious Enchanted Files, Angus is a brownie. No, not the kind you eat! He’s a tiny magical creature that loves to do chores. Angus has just “inherited” a new human girl, Alex. To say that Alex is messy would be an understatement. She’s a total hurricane-like disaster—and she likes it that way, thank you very much! Living with each other isn’t easy but Angus and Alex soon learn there is a curse that binds them. What’s worse, it threatens Alex’s family! Working together, Angus and Alex will set out to break the curse . . . without killing each other first . . . hopefully.

 

 

Wednesday

Driving home from work on Tuesday, I heard an interview with Alex Honnold, who was talking about his solo rope-free ascent of El Capitan. I told the kids about this event as I began talking about Peak by Roland Smith.

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Goodreads Summary: After fourteen-year-old Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he’s left with two choices: wither away in Juvenile Detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But Peak quickly learns that his father’s renewed interest in him has strings attached. Big strings. As owner of Peak Expeditions, he wants his son to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit–and his motives are selfish at best. Even so, for a climbing addict like Peak, tackling Everest is the challenge of a lifetime. But it’s also one that could cost him his life.

Roland Smith has created an action-packed adventure about friendship, sacrifice, family, and the drive to take on Everest, despite the incredible risk. The story of Peak’s dangerous ascent—told in his own words—is suspenseful, immediate, and impossible to put down.

 

Friday

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st, so it seemed appropriate to read about the consequences of an earthquake. When I talked about this book, one of my students shared her cousin’s experience in Hurricane Katrina.

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From the Authors website: Thirteen year-old Cort Delacroix lives on a houseboat at the edge of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in lower Alabama. His father, Tom, is a renowned river guide and local expert on hunting and swamp lore. He’s been teaching Cort everything he knows since the boy was a child.

Cort used to have a hard time imagining a future more ideal than being a river guide, but since his mother walked out on them he’s having second thoughts. His father isn’t his normal attentive, good-natured self.  Tom’s constantly preoccupied with trying to get his wife to come home, while Cort knows she never will. Now lonely and frustrated, Cort see’s just how empty the swamp is without his father around. He wonders if it’s all worth missing out on the life of a normal teenager.

All of Cort’s fears are realized when Tom abandons him in the midst of a category three hurricane. For the first time in his life he is truly alone against the swamp. A series of catastrophic events soon lead to Cort and two young girls stranded in miles of storm-thrashed wetlands. After struggling to high ground on an ancient Indian mound, they cling for their lives in a tree. The hurricane rages as a crazed wild hog stalks them from below and they stave off snakes and numerous other swamp creatures climbing to safety. Throughout this nightmarish ordeal they form an unlikely bond with a black bear hugging the tree next to them. But in the end it’s every animal for itself. And they’ll all do whatever it takes to survive.

It’s up to Cort to use everything he’s ever learned to keep himself and the two girls alive. And they may just have to rely on a bear to help save them.

Bottle Creek is the story of a young boy who must come from beneath his father’s shadow and take charge of his life if he is to survive a horrifying battle against nature. And even, perhaps, in order to become a man.

Look Alikes

5 Jun

Frequently, I notice books that look alike.

I am reading two right now and I will be honest, before I checked them out, I mixed them up because even the titles echo each other.

I am listening to New York 2140 in the car. It has multiple narrators and is a complex, futuristic tale for adults.

Publisher’s Summary:As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear — along with the lawyers, of course.
There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home– and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.
Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all– and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.
At school, I am reading Laura Ruby’s York: The Shadow Cipher, an engaging read for middle grade and YA readers.

Publisher’s Summary: From National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner Laura Ruby comes an epic alternate history series about three kids who try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

Even though these both of these books involve mysteries in New York City,  the stories are really very different, so I am able to keep the two stories straight in my head.

Strange the Dreamer

1 Jun

The title sounds Shakespearean, but it is simply the name of the main character. Strange is a dreamer. And so, in Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer,  that is what he is called.

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Publisher’s Summary: Twelve years ago, there was a war between gods and mortals…and the mortals won. The gods are gone–driven away–but they left something precious behind.

They left their children.

In the savagery of the war and its aftermath, the humans rounded up the half-caste bastard children of the gods, and put them to death.

But they missed a few.

Teenagers now, Sarai, Minya, Feral, Sparrow, and Ruby live in the gods’ citadel–full of power and with nothing to do, but survive.

Until one day…their life in hiding is threatened.

I loved Taylor’s  Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight,and Dreams of Gods and Monsters) so, when I heard she had something new in the works, I was very excited. I waited patiently and the wait was worth it.

She creates a new world, but one that feels familiar. Not like the worlds she created in her other books. Like them though, there is enough that is familiar to our world to make the story feel mythic. This is the first book in a duology, so I will have to wait to find out what ultimately happens.

The story unfolds slowly and it does drag in a few places, but the 544 pages were a pleasure to read. The book is shelved in YA and is one that I probably won’t put in my classroom library. Some themes are mature. My school library has the  Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, so, I suspect they will eventually have this one and I hope to talk about it with some of my mature readers next year. Or previous students I see carrying it in the hallway.

Princesses and the Rule of Three

1 May

One of my favorite memories of working in the William Walker library was reading Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess to a first grade class, as part of a Robert Munsch author study.

downloadOne of the girls in that class, was obsessed with Disney princess books. When I read the end, where Princess Elizabeth tell Prince Ronald he is  a bum, the look on the girl’s face was priceless.

During our author study, we observed that Robert Munsch had each of his protagonists face their problem three times.

 

In her newest book, Princess Cora and the Crocodile, written by Laura Amy Schlitz and 61Y26+r7DzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_illustrated by Brian Floca, the protagonist has three people who stand in her way of having an enjoyable life: her nanny, he mother and her father.  Like Robert Munsch, there is a repetitive, familiar rhythm to each of these encounters that helps young readers predict and anticipate what is about to come.

Princess Cora’s problems are very much, first world problems, but many children with resonate with the lack of control in their own lives.

Publisher’s Summary: A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces to give an overscheduled princess a day off — and a deliciously wicked crocodile a day on.

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.

 

 

AS goes MG

10 Feb

I have made no secret of the fact that I love A. S. King. I will read (and probably buy) anything she writes. Unfortunately, I cannot put her books in my 6th grade classroom library. Until now.

Yes, Amy Sarig King has written a novel for middle grade readers!!!!

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Like her books for older readers, there is a fantasy element. yes,let’s call it that. The eponymous Marvin Gardens is a plastic eating creature that resembles a cross between a dog and a pig…with amphibian-like skin.

I book talked it yesterday, reading aloud the part about Marvin’s first poop – sixth graders still love that sort of thing – and I had them hooked. I told them about Obe’s problems with his friends, with Marvin, and with his neighborhood; problems they can all relate to. I’m hoping this one won’t spend much time on my shelves.

Publisher’s Summary: Obe Devlin has problems. His family’s farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy abandoned him for the development kids. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn’t like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the creek by his house, in the last wild patch left, picking up litter and looking for animal tracks.

One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog, or maybe a small boar. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags… No one has ever seen a creature like this before, because there’s never been a creature like this before. The animal — Marvin Gardens — soon becomes Obe’s best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.

In her most personal novel yet, Printz Honor Award winner Amy Sarig King tells the story of a friendship that could actually save the world.

Dark Days Make Me Happy

29 Dec

I love the gloom of a Pacific Northwest Winter. Grey skies just fill my soul with happiness. Don;t get me wrong. I enjoy some Winter sunshine, too, but I love the atmosphere of a grey sky: brooding and thoughtful. Perfect for staying at home.

While staying at home the last few days, I read The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

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Publisher’s Summary:London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

This wonderful  blend of Regency romance and dark fantasy was the  perfect read after Christmas. I lost myself in the familiar historical setting and enjoyed the fantastic twists Goodman included. She has created a complex fantasy world without being onerous.

I’m not sure how I missed this one. It was published in January and I have only just heard about it. My timing, however, seems to have served me well. The sequel, The Dark Days Pact,  is due for publication on January 31, 2017, so I don’t have to wait long to find out what happens to Lady Helen following the climactic events at the end of the first book.

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Looking ahead and taking a stand

19 Dec

I’ve been seeing lists of books people are looking forward to arriving in 2017. I have put some on hold. Most notable is Perfect,

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the sequel to Flawed,  by Cecelia Ahern.

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Flawed is a YA dystopian novel. The main character, Celestine, accepts society’s rules. Until she doesn’t. When she speaks up and takes a stand, her whole life spins out of control.

Publisher’s Summary: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Perfect follows Celestine as she lives the life of a Flawed.

Publisher’s Summary:Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured–all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick–the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret–one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

Perfect isn’t coming out until April, so you have lots of time to read Flawed before it does.

 

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