Tag Archives: Kenneth Oppel

The Top 10 Novels in my Library

16 Jun

The classroom library inventory is complete. Books are still missing, but they continue to trickle in. With no more checking out going on, I’ve taken some time to look over what was checked out. Graphic novels led the way, and my next post will be about the top 10 graphic novels. Today I will announce the top 10 novels in ascending order.

 

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#10 Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin

 

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#9 Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

 

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#8  Half Brother  by Kenneth Oppel

 

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#7  The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

 

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#6 Wonder by R. J. Palacio

 

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#5 Restart by Gordon Korman

 

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#4 I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

 

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#3 The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

 

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#2  Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills

 

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#1 Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s book talks

21 Oct

At the beginning of the year, I committed to giving my students a book talk every day. I had a good personal library. As part of a district-wide language arts initiative, we were given large classroom libraries this year as well as a way to catalogue and check the books out.Book talking has let me tell about many of the books in both libraries.

This week, I book talked:

 

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A sinister problem has arisen in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see — and eradicate — these supernatural foes. Many different psychic detection agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co., a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague George are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

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Josh and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood. He’s got mad beats too, beats that tell his family’s story in verse. But both brothers must come to grips with growing up, on and off the court, as they realize breaking the rules can come at a terrible price, resulting in a game-changer for their entire family.

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My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.

Well, some of her does.
A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe.

To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose’s surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose’s ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.

Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family’s struggle to make sense of the loss that’s torn them apart… and their discovery of what it means to stay together.

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When 12-year-old Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is assigned to write five pages on the true meaning of Smekday for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. How about when her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on Earth and the Boov abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it Smekland (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

In any case, Tip’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Tip’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar; and an outrageous plan to save Earth from yet another alien invasion.

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For thirteen years, Ben Tomlin was an only child. But all that changes when his mother brings home Zan — an eight-day-old chimpanzee.

Ben’s father, a renowned behavioral scientist, has uprooted the family to pursue his latest research project: a high-profile experiment to determine whether chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills. Ben’s parents tell him to treat Zan like a little brother. Ben reluctantly agrees. At least now he’s not the only one his father’s going to scrutinize.

It isn’t long before Ben is Zan’s favorite, and Ben starts to see Zan as more than just an experiment. His father disagrees. To him, Zan is only a specimen, no more, no less. And this is going to have consequences. Soon Ben is forced to make a critical choice between what he is told to believe and what he knows to be true — between obeying his father or protecting his brother from an unimaginable fate.

Half Brother isn’t just a story about a boy and a chimp. It’s about the way families are made, the way humanity is judged, the way easy choices become hard ones, and how you can’t always do right by the people and animals you love. In the hands of master storyteller Kenneth Oppel, it’s a novel you won’t soon forget.

 

 

An eerie tale

21 Oct

Like many teachers, I dislike Halloween. It makes teaching difficult for the days leading up to the holiday and, for days following, there is the candy issue. I also dislike the scariness factor.I have never liked scary stories, or too much graphic nastiness, and Halloween brings out the worst aspect of this.

So I approached The Nest,  written by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen, with great caution.

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It is a short chapter book that is more eerie than scary, and that is Ok with me, though I still only read such books early in the day, or listen to them in the car. I did a bit of both with The Nest in part because I wanted to enjoy Klassen’s illustrations along with the text.

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Publisher’s summary:Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? This is a haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, from acclaimed author Kenneth Oppel (SilverwingThe Boundless) with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

This book is terrifying, but not scary in the way I hate. If you are loping for a short read to set the mood for Halloween, I highly recommend The Nest.

Riding the Boundless

22 Sep

Donald Smith drove in the ceremonial last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) on November 7, 1885, at Craigellachie, British Columbia.

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The Boundless  by Kenneth Oppel begins at this event, memorialized forever in the picture above, and turns history on its head.

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The young boy behind Donald Smith (the man holding the sledgehammer) is the main character of this new version of the story of a trip across Canada that includes sasquatches, muskeg hags, a circus troupe and murder!

The eponymous Boundless is an 11-kilometer long train on its maiden voyage across Canada. Oppel pulls from all kinds of Canadian mythology making this an especially enjoyable read for me, but it shouldn’t be off-putting to non-Canadians. Oppel did extensive research about the history of trains and you can read some of it and see pictures that inspired his descriptions on Oppel’s blog.

The main character, Will Everett is the son of a railroad laborer. When his father saves the life of Cornelius Van Horne, president of the CPR, their lives change forever. Van Horne promotes Mr. Everett and when we meet them again, his dad is in charge of the Boundless’ maiden voyage and they are on their way to British Columbia where Mr. Everett will head Van Horne’s shipping venture to the Orient.

The Boundless gives us real insight to the different classes on the train and the lives of the train laborers.  At first, i found his lack of confidence irritating, but eventually, I realized that Willis uncomfortable at the rapid change of his circumstances and doesn’t really know where he fits in. He longs for adventure and finds it, and his place, on the Boundless.

This isn’t Oppel’s best story ever, but it is a good, faced-paced, action-filled read.

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