Tag Archives: Andrew Smith

This week’s book talks 4/15-19

19 Apr

What a crazy week!

The lodge at the camp where we are supposed to attend Outdoor School next week burned down and I, along with my students and their families, have been stressed about what will happen. We are suppose to leave Tuesday, and we are still in limbo, wondering what will happen.

To relieve tension, I shared some new books. New books always make me feel better.

Monday

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

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Tuesday

Pay Attention, carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

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Wednesday

Disaster Strikes! by Jeffrey Kluger

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Thursday

Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles by Thomas Lennon

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Friday

The Girls of Firefly Cabin by Cynthia Ellingsen

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Welcome to Middle School, Andrew Smith

18 Apr

A few years ago, an Andrew Smith novel,  Stick, stirred up some news when it was banned in our district. Teachers, parents, students stood up and spoke up because, although the panel had decided to keep it, an assistant superintendent overruled the panel’s decision. The book got to stay. The assistant superintendent left shortly afterwards, following another controversy.

I have long loved Andrew Smith’s books, especially Winger and Stand-Off. In fact, I think Winger  might have been my first Andrew Smith book. Needless to say, I was delighted to discover that he was writing a book for middle schoolers, and I awaited it patiently. I picked up an ARC at ALA in January and I finally read it. It might be my next read aloud with my classes.

It is called The Size of the Truth and it tells the story of Sam Abernathy, a character from Stand-Off. You don’t need to have read Winger and Stand-Off  to read The Size of the Truth – in fact, you shouldn’t. They are written for Young adult audiences. I don’t have them in my classroom library, but I hope my kids read them someday, when they are in high school.   But The Size of the Truth  contains all the humor, quirks and honesty of Winger and Stand-Off,  and takes hold of your heart in the same way.

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Publisher’s Summary: When he was four years old, Sam Abernathy was trapped at the bottom of a well for three days, where he was teased by a smart-aleck armadillo named Bartleby. Since then, his parents plan every move he makes.

But Sam doesn’t like their plans. He doesn’t want to go to MIT. And he doesn’t want to skip two grades, being stuck in the eighth grade as an eleven-year-old with James Jenkins, the boy he’s sure pushed him into the well in the first place. He wants to be a chef. And he’s going to start by entering the first annual Blue Creek Days Colonel Jenkins Macaroni and Cheese Cook-Off.

That is, if he can survive eighth grade, and figure out the size of the truth that has slipped Sam’s memory for seven years.

The Haul

31 Jan

True confession: I didn’t read the whole time I was at ALA. Well, I read menus and schedules, but no books. I find it kind of funny.

I mailed two medium sized boxes of books home and the last one arrived last night. I made an effort to be selective about what I took – in part to be mindful of my consumption, in part because I took a small suitcase on the train. Aside from about five books I brought to school yesterday, this is my book haul:

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Here, in no particular order, are the ones I am most excited about.

Patron Saint of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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The Size of the Truth  by Andrew Smith

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Last of the Name  by Rosanne Parry

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Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

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Susan B. Anthony by Teri Kanefield

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#alaac18 – Day 2 in New Orleans

24 Jun

After a great night’s sleep. I started my day by listening to Doris Kearns Goodwin talk about her newest book and the leadership qualities of 4 presidents: Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and LBJ.

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Next up: the first of two stints volunteering at the “Stand for the Banned” booth where conference attendees are invited read aloud from a banned book and talk about how that banned book impacted their lives. It was fun watching people find their book, then get filmed talking and reading.

I took a little tour around the exhibit hall before sitting in on an author panel, then watching Man One, the illustrator of the 2018 Sibert Honor  Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix , demonstrate his talents. This was followed by another stint at the “Stand for the Banned” booth.

 

A tea with Boyd’s Mill in the late afternoon gave me the opportunity to talk with our Sibert winner, Larry Dane Brimmer (who recognized me from the video of our phone call to him in February. I also got to meet Gail Jarrow the author of a number of excellent nonfiction books, and tell her how I use Bubonic Panic  as a mentor text when teaching intros and conclusions for nonfiction writing.

I had a long break before my next event, so a friend and I decided to walk around the French Quarter for a few hours. This was my first real chance to experience the city.

My last event of the day was another dessert party, this one sponsored by Simon & Schuster. The highlight of this event was walking up to Andrew Smith and introducing myself as a teacher from Beaverton, Oregon. we had a great chat about the banning of Stick  by our erstwhile Assistant Superintendent.

Tomorrow is a less schedule day, but it will end with the Caldecott-Newbery Banquet. Stay tuned.

 

Snow day!

4 Jan

I should have gone back to work today, but Mother Nature intervened.  Snow yesterday turned to ice overnight. When I looked out my door yesterday, I had a Narnia moment. Here’s my Lucy at the lamp post. Not THE Lamp Post, clearly, but, could that be Mr. Tumnus coming into our courtyard?

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This snow day is giving me the opportunity to finish Stand-Off by Andrew Smith.

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Publisher’s Summary: Ryan Dean West is back to his boarding school antics in this bitingly funny sequel to Winger, which Publishers Weekly called “alternately hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

From the author of the National Book Award–nominated 100 Sideways Miles, which Kirkus Reviews called “a wickedly witty and offbeat novel,” Stand-Off is filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and delivers the same spot-on teen voice and relatable narrative that legions of readers connected with in Winger.

I was nervous to start this, having loved Winger so much, but Andrew Smith does not disappoint.

TGIF

20 Nov

At last, it is Friday. It has felt like it should have been Friday since Tuesday. I can hardly wait to do nothing tomorrow.

By nothing, of course I mean read and knit. I can’t talk about the knitting projects because they are top secret holiday gift items. Let’s just say I discovered a new yarn company, Biscotte Yarns, that I love.

This is the Morris Committees last weekend to discuss nominees and we will make our final pitches for books on Sunday. Next week, we vote to select our five finalists. They will be announced officially on December 1st, I believe. Then, the rereading begins. I need to know those five books inside out so I can articulately debate their merits when we meet in January to choose the winner.

In the meantime, I have a ton of good books on my to read pile, none of which are Morris related. This weekend, I hope to tap into a few of them.

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Have a great weekend. You’ve earned it.

 

I heart A. S. King!

23 Jul

One of my big scores at the ALA conference was an arc of A. S. King’s new novel  I Crawl Through It.

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This is what I will be up to today. Crawling through its pages and loving every minute of it. It’s received a number of starred reviews already, from VOYA, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.

Here’s what all the buzz is about:

Publisher’s Summary: Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.

Andrew Smith said “I Crawl Through It proves that A.S. King is one of the most innovative and talented novelists of our time. This is King’s masterpiece–a brilliant, paranoid, poetic, funny, and at times overwhelmingly sad literary cocktail of absinthe and Adderall. What a trip!”

Today is going to be an excellent day.

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The Alex Crow and my 10 minutes with Andrew Smith

9 Jul

The YA coffee Klatch at ALA was exciting and disappointing. There were lots of cool authors I didn’t get to see. Scott Westerfeld started at the table next to mine, but never sat at mine.

Fortunately, we had several very cool people stop by, like Andrew Smith. He was promoting The Alex Crow. 

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Until that moment, when he sat down and started talking, I did not know that Smith was a high school teacher. Not an ex-high school teacher, like Sting used to teach high school before he became famous.. He still teaches high school in California and he is a famous author. How cool is that.

A lot of what he told us, in his 10 minutes at our table, was about teaching and the story of one boy, a Somali refugee, who was in one of his class, and how that boy’s story became the inspiration for The Alex Crow. 

Smith’s last few books are not for everyone.  In fact, he is part of a  national “Keep YA Weird” campaign that celebrates literary experimentalism and extreme imagination in YA literature.

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Publisher’s Summary: Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow.

It is hard to explain the book, but, Smith brings all the weird story strands together at the end in a way you weren’t expecting. It is a dark journey, but not without hope at the end.

#alaac15 – Day 4 – quiet, but amazing

29 Jun

Yesterday started off with the YALSA Coffee Klatch with YA Authors. I met up with some Beaverton colleagues and we sat at table 10 of about 50. This was another speed dating event, with authors rotating about every 10 minutes. We only got about 10 authors, but WOW, we got some good ones:

Mariko & Jillian Tamaki of This One Summer

Andrew Smith who was promoting The Alex Crow

Leigh Bardugo talking about  Six of Crows

Marissa Meyer talking about Winter

When it was over, I dashed out to get to Andrew Smith’s book signing & got a copy of his sequel to Winger,  entitled  Stand-off. The I went to watch the parade. I didn’t stay for the whole thing because I was too short to see much and then the crowd was starting to get to me. I don’t really enjoy crowds.

The real highlight of the day were the speeches at the Newbery Caldecott banquet. TEARS!!!!

Dan Santat, who won the Caldecott for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimagnary Friend.

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That man moved the crowd with his soul-baring honesty. If you have a chance to read or listen to his speech, please do so. I am teary-eyed now. I bet you will see yourself in what he has to say.

He was followed by Kwame Alexander,who won the Newbery for The Crossover.

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He essentially gave a spoken word performance that was breathtakingly beautiful.

Today will be mundane after all that. My first stop is the on site post office where I will ship books home. I hope the line isn’t too long.

On my bookshelf

11 Apr

I currently have two stacks of books.

There’s the Morris Award pile of books I’m reading, or have received and meet the basic Morris criteria. That stack is getting bigger and I don’t have to read all of them. We divvy those out, but we all have to read any we decide to nominate. This one sits on a table on the east side of my living room.

On the west side, I have the stack of library materials I want to get to. This is mostly books, but also Audiobook CDs and a DVD or two. Here is a picture of that shelf.

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It is a snapshot that captures this moment today. It s a shifting shelf and might look different tomorrow. Currently, there are no picture books.

The four I am most excited about are

Prairie Fire by E. K. Johnston, a sequel to The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim

Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place  by Julie Berry (audiobooks CD narrated by Jayne Entwhistle)

 

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