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OBOB – bob – bobbing along

16 Aug

One of my annual summer goals is to read the OBOB books for the upcoming season. I like to have a general understanding of each book so I can be a better coach.

Here is the 2018-19 list. I have read the titles in bold.

6th to 8th Grade Division

  • Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
  • Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart
  • The Body in the Woods by April Henry
  • Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black
  • The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda
  • The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham
  • My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin
  • Restart by Gordon Korman
  • Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
  • Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  • The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
  • The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

It’s been a weird sort of summer – and short – so I have only reached 50%. Fortunately, I don’t start talking to kids about it until October and the battles don’t begin until January, so I still have ample time to read the other 50%.

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Bob & Mason

2 Aug

Sometimes, book covers are remarkably similar and I get confused. Take these two, for example.


Both have trees in the center. Both have names in the title. Both feature the main character and a diminutive companion. Both are done in shades of browns and reds, oranges and yellows. Both have mysteries that need solving, though neither is a mystery book. I picked one up thinking it was the other. I read both. Both were great – sad, poignant. Funny, too.

Bob, by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, is set in Australia during a drought.

Publisher’s Summary: It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.

It turns out she’s right.

Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who—or what—he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

The Truth According to Mason Buttle,  by Leslie Connor, is set in a family that has seen better days.

Publisher’s Summary: Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.

Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground club space for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin, and eventually, Benny.

But will anyone believe him?

Both were full of hope.

I hope you read them.

Reading my way home

16 Jul

I went to Canada with a list of new Canadian  books I thought might be hard to find at home, and that I could add to my classroom library. One of the beauties of flying is the time to sit and read without interruption. I read two of my new books as I waited at the gate, then flew home.

I started A World Below by Wesley King while I waited at the Gate.

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Publisher’s Summary: A class field trips turns into an underground quest for survival in the latest middle grade novel from the author of Edgar Award winner OCDaniel.

Mr. Baker’s eighth grade class thought they were in for a normal field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But when an earthquake hits, their field trip takes a terrifying turn. The students are plunged into an underground lake…and their teacher goes missing.

They have no choice but to try and make their way back above ground, even though no one can agree on the best course of action. The darkness brings out everyone’s true self. Supplies dwindle and tensions mount. Pretty and popular Silvia does everything she can to hide her panic attacks, even as she tries to step up and be a leader. But the longer she’s underground, the more frequent and debilitating they become. Meanwhile, Eric has always been a social no one, preferring to sit at the back of the class and spend evenings alone. Now, he finds himself separated from his class, totally by himself underground. That is, until he meets an unexpected stranger.

Told from three different points of view, this fast-paced adventure novel explores how group dynamics change under dire circumstances. Do the students of Mr. Baker’s class really know each other at all? Or do they just think they do? It turns out, it’s hard to hide in the dark.

This was an interesting book to read mere days after the rescue of the soccer team in Thailand. Each chapter ends with a bit of a cliff hanger and that certainly kept me reading. I had arrived at the airport early so I finished the book early in the flight and had time to read a second. The second book was My Deal With the Universe  by Deborah Kerbel.

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Publisher’s Summary: Daisy Fisher just wants to be normal, but growing up in a house known as the “Jungle” makes that impossible. It doesn’t help when the neighbours declare your family public enemy number one. Or when your best friend leaves for camp and forgets you exist. Or when your twin brother may be getting sick again….

Just when it feels like Daisy’s deal with the universe is unravelling, she finds out that love and strength can come from surprising places… and that maybe “normal” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Most people have made a deal of some sort with the universe, promising to do something if only the Universe will make something turn out the way we want it to. Daisy’s deal has to do with her brother’s illness. Many kids have been embarrassed by their parents and Daisy is trying to walk the line between her love and embarrassment for hers. There is a lot for middle grade readers to connect with here.

We are saved by saving others

27 Jun

I left New Orleans Tuesday before dawn. The friendly cab driver and I chatted amiably despite my exhaustion. I checked my very heavy book-laden bag, made it through security quickly and sat at my gate, often with my eyes closed.

The man  who sat down across from me had a piece of tissue stuck to his bloody chin. An early morning shaving accident, I surmised. A little later, an airport attendant wheeled an elderly black lady to our area and settled her in a seat just down from the man with the bloody chin. The little old lady’s husband joined her and the attendant was trying to talk to them. I listened, my tired eyes often closed, and I realized the attendant was concerned because the elderly couple did not speak English, but Louisiana Creole.

I watched as the attendant went to speak with a gate attendant. I could see they were discussing the need for a French speaker, so I stood and went over to offer my help. I explained my French was rusty, but they were grateful nonetheless. It turned out my French was up for the task. They just wanted the couple to know the time and gate for their flight. Later, the woman caught my eye and I went over. She asked me something and I wasn’t completely clear on what it was. She asked again and I discerned she wanted to know where the nearest restroom was.

“Ah, le salle de bain?” I said, hopefully.

Her eyes lit up and she nodded. Then she added what sounded like, “Oui, dudu.”

I didn’t actually know where the nearest restroom was, but I explained where one was likely to be ( we were near the food court) and the signs to look for. She smiled and set off. My row was called so I didn’t see her come back.

I slept through the take-off for the flight to Dallas . I woke up for the snack and beverage and then promptly fell asleep again. When we landed, I had to take the Skylink train. As I awaited the train that would take me from Terminal C to terminal D, A woman approached me and asked, “Do you speak Spanish?”

She just needed an explanation about which train she should take. But I couldn’t help marvel that I helped out in two languages within a few hours.

On the flight to Portland, I read Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier.

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It is a beautiful story and I marked an idea that spoke to my heart: We are saved by saving others.

Publisher’s Summary: For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys”—orphans owned by chimney sweeps—to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived—and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life together—saving one another in the process. By one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

 

#alaac18 – Day 3 in New Orleans

25 Jun

I came to New Orleans with a list of arcs I wanted. I also came intending to take only as many books as would fit in my suitcase.

I shipped two boxes yesterday.

I was at the post offcie by 9 a.m. because I wanted to avoid the lines that would be inevitable Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. The process was quick, efficient and pleasant. I walked the exhibit hall floor, looking for a few more books – really, just specific titles I had on a list but hadn’t yet found – on my way to the Pop Top Stage to listen to the Pura Belpre winners speak.

From there, I was off to lunch hosted by Abram books, at Calcasieu, private dining rooms above Cochon. We were given some meal choices and, even thought my vegetable consumption this week has been limited, I opted for the Gumbo starter and Shrimp with Grits for my entree. Both were divine.

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Four middle grade authors were present and two spoke between each course. Nathan Hale and Rebecca Petruck went first. Nathan spoke about Raid of No Return and Rebecca spoke about Boy Bites Bug.

As we finished our entrees, Laura Geringer Bass spoke about The Girl With More Than One Heart and Jonathan Auxier spoke about Sweep.

All of these books will be perfect for my classroom library and I look forward to book talking them in the new school year.

After the meal, I walked back to the hotel, intending to rest before dressing for the Newbery Caldecott Banquet. I was so sleepy I decided to have a nap, but didn’t set the alarm, not really expecting to sleep long. I awoke with a start at almost 5 pm. YIKES!

I slicked down my bedhead and dressed quickly. I was out the door in 5 minutes to walk to the shuttle bus at the convention center that wold take me to the Hilton where I would meet up with my Sibert committee colleagues. We got a table together for the banquet.

As the banquet is wont to be, the food was okay, the conversation excellent, and the speeches brought us all to tears. Matthew Cordell, Caldecott winner for Wolf in the Snow,  went first. That’s when the waterworks started flowing. He was followed by Erin Entrada Kelly, author of  the Newbery winning Hello, Universe. She had us laughing at examples of her first, self published works from elementary school and crying as she spoke about her family experiences and what the award meant. Final, Jacqueline Woodson, winner fo the newly renamed Lifetime Legacy Award who called us to action.

I had another great sleep and I am out early this morning for the presentation of the 2018 Robert F Sibert Medal. I  can hardly wait to share that experience with yout tomorrow!

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

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.

 

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