Tag Archives: Maile Meloy

This week’s booktalks 11/19-20

21 Nov

I didn’t let a very short week hamper me. I decided to do a fiction-nonfiction pairing on each of the two days of school we had this week.

Monday

Blacklisted: Hollywood, the Cold War, and The First Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner  & The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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Tuesday

Bomb: The Race To Build – And Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin & Fallout by Todd Strasser

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This week’s book talks 11/30-12/1

1 Dec

Monday: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

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Tuesday: Unfriended  by Rachel Vail

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Wednesday:  The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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Thursday: The Great Greene Heist  by Varian Johnson

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Friday: Me and Marvin Gardens  by A. S. King

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This week’s book talks 5/30-6/2

2 Jun

Woo hoo! We’ve made it to June.

For someone who is not officially counting down yet, I have checked off a number of items on my “last one of the year” list this week: SBAC testing, annual evaluation meeting, staff meeting….

But the book talk party keeps happening in my room. In spite of a short week and two days of SBAC testing, I managed to talk about 5 books.

Wednesday, I made up for lost time and talked about Maile Meloy’s Apothecary  series.

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The series opens in 1952 with our heroine, Janie moving to London because her parents are under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. There, she meets Benjamin, whose father appears to be an ordinary apothecary. In fact, he possesses a book, The Pharmacopeia,  that both sides of the Cold war would like to have. The final book is set in 1955, in the United States, where they continue to keep the world safe from nuclear disaster.

Thursday was the first normal day since SBAC testing began.

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Knowing kids might be as fatigued as I was, I book talked a classic, Cynthia Rylant’s Every Living Thing, a slim volume of short stories.

Publisher’s Summary: Here are twelve deeply moving short stories from the perceptive pen of Cynthia Rylant. Each captures the moment when someone’s life changes — when an animal causes a human being to see things in a different way, and, perhaps, changes his life.

 

 

 

 

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And that bring us to today’s book, Brave  by Svetlana Chmakova.

Her previous graphic novel, Awkward, is always checked out, rarely making it back onto my shelf.

Author’s Summary: On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

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The kids will be thrilled to discover that Chamkova has a new graphic novel, Brave, also set in Berrybrook Middle School.

Author’s Summary: In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different–math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a huge problem when you always get picked last. And the pressure’s on even more once the school newspaper’s dynamic duo, Jenny and Akilah, draw Jensen into the whirlwind of school news, social-experiment projects, and behind-the-scenes club drama. Jensen has always played the middle school game one level at a time, but suddenly, someone’s cranked up the difficulty setting. Will those daring daydreams of his finally work in his favor, or will he have to find real solutions to his real-life problems?

We have only three weeks of school left and I keep encouraging my students (and myself) to finish strong.

 

 

The difficult second book

17 Oct

So often, the second book in a series disappoints. It fails to live up to the expectations of the first. Or, maybe it fails to cover new ground, while maintaining the energy and character of the first. Kevin Sands has managed to do all three in The Mark of the Plague,  sequel to The Blackthorn Key.

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Publisher’s Summary: Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this follow-up to the Indie Next pick The Blackthorn Key, which was called a “spectacular debut” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…

I really liked this first book and, though prepared to be disappointed, I was entranced by the second. There are several reasons why I liked them both.

First, they are set in Restoration London. That’s the period marked by the return of Charles II as king (1660–85) following the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth.This is a setting rarely explored in children’s & YA lit, so more power to Sands for choosing an interesting time and place.

Second, they both have mysteries involving codes and ciphers. I had a period growing up when I was obsessed with codes and ciphers and checked out the few books our small library had multiple times. I know that there are many middle grade readers out there who feel the same, decades after my youth.

Third, Christopher is an apothecary’s apprentice. The whole apothecary thing is interesting. In fact, several other book series for this age group are about apothecaries:

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Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park and the Apothecary  series by Maile Meloy.

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Finally, I love the fact that Christopher is an apprentice. Although we have lots of stories of cruel masters, Christopher found an excellent one in Benedict Blackthorn.

Like The Blackthorn Key,  the problem is wrapped up in  The Mark of the Plague. Both books could be read as stand alones. I don’t know if there is a third book in the works, but, based on these two, I would read whatever Kevin Sands publishes next.

Winding down and gearing up

5 May

With only six and half weeks remaining, the school year is gearing down.There is still a lot to do to finish this one well, but my thoughts are straying to summer and the next school year. This will be the first time in 5 years I don’t have to move rooms or buildings. It is almost

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Just this week, the final 2016-17 OBOB book lists were published for all three divisions. The first three quarters were published earlier, but the last four titles were just announced. I am ordering my  book set and starting to think about a new Oregon Battle of the Books bulletin board. I’ve read a few of the titles already, have heard of a few of the others, but there are also a couple I’ve never heard of, making reading them exciting. I like to read the books over the summer, if I can, so I have them all done by the time OBOB season rolls around. I never know them to the degree the kids do, but I like to get the gist of the book, so I can talk intelligently about them.

Here is the 6-8 Division list:

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The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen

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Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington

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Dark Life by Kat Falls

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Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

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The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

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The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

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The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

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Masterminds by Gordon Korman

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The Menagerie by Tui T. and Kari Sutherland

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A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

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Unfriended by Rachel Vail

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The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

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Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

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