Friday, November 7, 2014

Previous Books of the Week

Well, I have to say that I need to work on my organization skills for certain items that I offer.
Here is a list of the books of the week that I have sent out since May.  Yes, I know...I missed some weeks, but I hope to do a better job of keeping up with this.

11/3  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
10/27  Scorched
9/29  Phineas Gage
9/22  Chasing Lincoln's Killer
9/15  Summer of the Mariposas
9/8  A Matter of Days
9/1  The Warrior's Heart
8/18  Poison
8/11  Joshua Dread
8/4    The Big Dip
7/28  The Testing
7/21  School Spirits
7/14  The Boy on the Wooden Box
7/7    Ungifted
6/30  The Giver
6/23  Sasquatch in the Paint
6/16  Colin Fischer
6/9  The Cook Camp, The Quilt and Alida's Song
6/2  Midwinter Blood
5/26  The Great Greene Heist
5/19  The Fault in Our Stars
5/12  The Selection
5/5    A Tale Dark and Grimm
4/28  Counting by 7s
4/21  The Rithmatist
4/14  Here in Harlem

Hopefully, this will help me stay on top of knowing which books I have already recommended.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

From the Publisher:  Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.

I was given this book at a conference, but I just had not taken the time to read it until about a month ago.  It just did not grab me at first.  I know...some might read that and be shocked because it has gained such critical acclaim.  My daughter devoured it and would not give up until I read it.  So...I did.

Boy, was my first impression wrong.  This book was really awesome from so many different standpoints.  Kyle is the youngest in his family, and he gets in trouble.  He finds a way to skirt his punishment.  Boy, I feel like if I had a nickel for how many times kids try to do that in the library...but that is a post for another day.

I loved the obvious nod to librarians in general from Mr. Lemoncello's childhood librarian to the awesomely odd librarian of this new and different library space.  He weaves in technology and gaming with knowledge of books.  Thank you, Mr. Grabenstein.

Here is a video that a student made at a different school.  
(Please ignore the typos in the video.  I liked how it was made and wanted to share that.) 

Scorched by Mari Mancusi

From the Publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Trinity Foxx is used to her grandfather's crazy stories, so she never believed the latest treasure he brought home was a real dragon's egg. Not until their home is invaded by soldiers trying to steal it and a strange boy who tells her the world as she knows it will be wiped out in a fiery dragon war--unless they work together to stop it. Meantime, there's a different voice whispering to Trinity, calling to her, telling her what to do...the dragon inside her egg is not ready to give up without a fight.

This was a great book that had some surprising twists.  The boy mentioned in the description above is actually a twin. And, the twins have 2 different tales of what is going to happen in the future based on Trinity's actions at that point.  These boys are actually from the future that is very bleak.  Why it is bleak is the difference in their 2 tales.  Not knowing who to believe gives this book the twists and turns that will keep you interested until the end.  But, it is not really the end.  Shattered, the second book in the series, just came out.

I recommend you read this one.  Here is a quick video to help entice you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sasquatch in the Paint by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Yes, you read the name of the author correctly.  Kareem has entered the young adult literature arena.  At first, I thought, "Oh, boy...", but I was pleasantly surprised. 
Theo had an amazing growth spurt over the summer before his 8th grade year, and everyone expects him to be a basketball prodigy.  Truth is...he is more talented in academics than in sports, but he does not want to let anyone down.  Through the book, he is met with tough choices that affect all of the people he cares about including Rain--the new girl in school who has nicknamed him, Sasquatch. 
As I stated before, this book is a good sports book, but it is so much more than that.  I loved reading about Theo, and I could see so many of my students in him as he had to make those tough choices. 
I highly recommend this one.  If you like sports books, you will like this one.  If you like books with strong characters who you cannot help but root for, then you will like this one.
Pick up this quick read.  You will not be sorry.

Check out this Inteview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar He even shows you how to do his famous shot.

Book 19

Friday, July 25, 2014

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller

A gun goes off in the cafeteria, and Wayne, the school bully, is blamed for it.  But, Colin Fischer is not convinced.  His mission becomes figuring out who brought the gun to school and exonerating Wayne.

Now, this in and of itself would make an interesting book. Colin Fischer has Asperger's Syndrome which makes him extremely aware of details, but he is awkward when it comes to social skills.  Sherlock Holmes is one of Colin's heroes, and he approaches the gun at school in the same way.

This book was very well written and you cannot help but root for Colin Fischer.  I highly recommend this one.  This book trailer actually does a fairly good job of explaining the plot of the book.

Book 18

The Julian Chapter by R J Palacio

If you know me at all, you know that I fell in love with the book Wonder and passed it to so many people who passed it to other people, etc. In this book, Palacio told the story from different viewpoints, but she did not give the bully's story.  This is his story.  I have to give it to her.  I felt empathy for Julian, the mean kid, even in the original book.  But, I always wondered what was behind his actions.  I found out in this slim book.  I loved the relationship between Julian and his grandmother.

I have read several books about grandmothers this summer.  I had two wonderful women as grandmothers, but I only got to know one of them.  She played a huge part in shaping me to be the person I am today.  She read the newspaper every day.  She loved to read and tell stories.  It is no surprise that I love both as well.  But, back to my thoughts on this book...

When I was a kid, I listened to Paul Harvey.  He was a great orator who told wonderful stories over the radio.  Now, we always had a television--I am not that old.  But, I loved listening to him.  He would tell a part of a story--then he had a segment that I really loved.  He would say, "Now, for the rest of the story".  This is a phenomenal concept because so many times we make assumptions and judgments based on the little that we know and even on what we think we know.  I love point of view books because I feel as though they give more of the story.  Because we only see portions of a story, and when we can look at a different viewpoint, it tells more about life in general.  If more people took the time to do that, we could not help to choose kind.  Which, is the theme of the book Wonder.  Well played, Palacio, well played.

Book 17

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Reading Challenge--a confession

Well, if you have been following my progress on instagram and/or twitter, you will see that it does not seem as though I can count.  Now, I don't even really know who to blame except the person I see in the mirror every day.  I just lost count.  I think I have figured it out.  I went on vacation, and while I was visiting college campuses with my son--I had books in hand.  I read quite a bit that week, but I did not log it on instagram and/or twitter.  If you have been following this blog, you know that I have been very lax with keeping this up to date.  Yikes!
The great thing is--you see that I am human.  I understand the fact that it is hard to remember when I read something if I don't write it down.  I mention this because I know that some of you will have problems in turning in documentation for the summer reading challenge. Please, I beg you--write it down, take a picture that you number correctly, keep them all on a shelf in order, OR--use the documents I provided.  I know...that may take some time.  I get it, but I promise you--it will be worth it.
Now, I was getting down on myself for not meeting my goal of reading 60 books, and I am not sure that I will meet it.  But, once I took the time and did the math--I am much closer than I thought.  I am actually reading books 33 and 34 right now.  One is non-fiction and one is fiction.
That is exciting.  I usually read a lot over the summer, but now I have a record of exactly what and approximately the time at which I finished them.
So...your librarian is not infallible, but I am reading for myself and for you.  I cannot wait to see all of you and share what I have read.  And, hear about what you have read.

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinken

Grave robbers.  I'd heard of them before, but I had no idea that they actually attempted to steal the bodies of dignitaries. this book, you get to learn the real-life story behind the attempt to snatch Lincoln's body and holding it for ransom for the country's best counterfeiter.  That is right--not only do you get to learn about body snatchers, but you get to learn about counterfeiting and the beginning of The Secret Service.  And, oh by the way, it was about my favorite president as well.  No offense to the others--but I love Abe Lincoln.  My dad dressed like him for a parade during the BiCentennial--in 1976.  I've loved Lincoln ever since.  But, enough about is a trailer for this one.

Really interesting read..

Book 16 in Summer Reading Challenge.

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Banks finishes this trilogy with Emma and Galen going to Neptune at the request of Emma's grandfather.  Emma is thrilled to be there because there are many Half Breeds.  Galen is still concerned with the law, so he does not relax.  He cannot relax.  They fight and Galen storms off, but he is kidnapped.  Emma does not immediately look for him because she thinks he is mad.  And...there is a Half Breed named Reed who is rather interesting to her.  Emma is torn between her love for Galen and her ease in this society.
I enjoyed this very much.  I could not put it down.  I was really excited about how much action was in this one.  Many times authors spend their time tying up loose ends and don't tell a good story.  But, that is not the case here.  I highly recommend the entire series beginning with Of Triton then moving onto Of Poseidon and ending with Of Neptune.

Here is a book trailer done by a fan.

Book 15 of Summer Reading Challenge.

Alida's Song by Gary Paulsen

Gary is now 14 and life is tough for him.  He has a newspaper route and picks up the odd job at the bar down the street.  He has decided to sleep in the basement so that he can avoid his parents.  Until...he gets a letter from his grandmother.  She tells him that she has a job for him, and he needs to take it.  He boards a train and spends the summer with her on a farm.
I read this in one sitting.  It was absolutely a beautiful story, and it made me miss my grandmother.  She died 20 years ago, but the time we spent together has shaped me into the person I am today.  The same goes for Paulsen.  I highly recommend this wonderful slim book.  If you are a teen, you will like it.  If you are an adult--get the tissues.  It speaks to all of us--just in different ways.

Book 14 in Summer Reading Challenge.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

The place is the island of Blessed and the characters do not change, but there is time difference in the stories.  Huh?  Yes, that is how I felt at first when I was reading the book.  However, once I realized how intertwined the stories were--it made perfect sense.  And, I really did enjoy it.  The main characters keep finding themselves at this island.  What is the midwinter blood?  How does it affect the lives of everyone on the island?  Very interesting take on this book that takes place over different time periods.  No, they don't travel through time exactly--they are living different lives.
I really liked the book, but in my opinion--just know that you need to stick with it.  It will all come together very interestingly--but it will take a bit.

Book 13

The Quilt by Gary Paulsen

In this companion to The Cookcamp, 6 year old Gary is with his grandmother.  A cousin goes into labor with her first baby, and every female relative in the area comes to help out.  They also work on a quilt that has everyone in the family in it.  As they work on this quilt, they tell stories about the people.
It. Was. Wonderful. I loved the stories, and it made me remember my precious grandmama.  She used to tell me such great stories of her family.  My mother has a great memory and is full of those super stories as well. This multi-generational story really spoke to me, and I highly recommend it.  It was a short book and took a short time to read it.
LOVED IT.  Book 12

Num8ers by Rachel Ward

Jem has a special gift--though it is not something she would wish for anyone else.  When she looks at a person, she sees the date of his/her death on the forehead.  She first realized it when she saw her mother's date on her forehead.  Jem did not realize what it was until the day that her mother died.  The odd thing is--this happened when Jem was very young.  She then goes to different foster homes and does not want to get close to anyone because she knows exactly when she will lose them.
One day--her defenses were down, and when a boy befriends her, she decides that she will spend time with him.  She goes to his house and immediately his mother knows that she has a gift.  The problem is--Jem has seen his number and it is in a couple of weeks.  Jem thinks that maybe she can help to change the number, so they start spending a lot of time together.  They decide to go to the London Eye, and Jem notices that several people have the same number on their foreheads.  And, it is that day.  Something is going down, but she does not know exactly when; she only knows that they need to get out of there.  So, they run.  Not the best idea when it goes down later.  Everyone is looking for them.  The police want to know if they are part of the terrorist plot.  What did Jem get herself into?

This was a fast-paced story that kept me wondering what was going to happen.  I have to tell you though--it is definitely for a mature reader.  I don't want to take too much away from the story, but there are some situations that I just want to let you know are in the book.  Just so you are prepared as a reader.  One last warning about this the last part of the book, it completely left you hanging.  It will make you totally want to read the next book in the series.  Of course, I won't tell you what that cliff hanger was--just know there was a good one.

Definitely a good read.  Book 11

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Cook Camp by Gary Paulsen

It is war time--WW2 to be exact.  Paulsen's father has been sent off to war.  Paulsen's mother is restless and a certain man starts hanging around a lot more.  Paulsen's mother decides that she needs some time, so she sends him to his grandmother.  So, he goes by himself on a train to see his grandmother who is a cook at a camp where men are building a road as part of the war effort.  Paulsen gets the opportunity to spend time with his grandmother, and he is very grateful.  But, he misses his mother.  
This story is heartfelt and beautiful even through his pain.  I loved this book because it was this great story about a boy and his grandmother, but I learned so much about the war effort in the U.S. This is the first in a trilogy, and I had to read all three.  The other two posts are forthcoming.

Book 10 in summer reading challenge.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Rich Wallace

Babe was a fascinating athlete who was fabulously talented.  She loved sports; I mean she really loved sports.  She would see a sport that she wanted to play, and she worked at it until she was the best.  I mean, for real, the best in the field.  Her goal was to be the best athlete that ever lived.  It was amazing to read about her many athletic feats.  She even got a job in a company so that she could play on the team.

If you like reading sports stories, this is a cool story about how her drive and uncanny ability helped her rise to the top of the field.  The history of Texas was interesting to me.  Even though I am a native Texan, I do not know that much about that part.

When I first saw the title of Babe Conquers the World--I thought it was talking about Babe Ruth.  Then I read the rest of the title and I realized it was about a female athlete.  I learned so much from this book.  I really had no idea about Babe Didrikson.  Honestly, at first, I was not too thrilled with the book because Babe seemed so self-absorbed.  I know...I am probably the only one who felt that way.  But, the way she was described reminded me of reading about Steve Jobs. Just my opinion, but I am entitled to it.

Book 9

Searching for Silverheels by Jennie Mobley

Pearl is a precocious teenager who works in her mother's cafe.  She also makes a few extra bucks by giving tours and entertaining tourists with her stories about the legendary Silverheels.  However, a local suffragette, Josie challenges her story which leads Pearl on a journey to find the truth about what happened during the 1861 smallpox epidemic in Colorado.  Pearl is convinced that Silverheels was a heroine, but Josie tries to convince her that Silverheels was a con artist who was so good that she was still conning people years later. Fantastic read as you hope that Pearl will find the truth--but will she like the truth she finds?  There is the issue.

The book is set during World War 1, and there is much talk of not trusting the Germans because of what is going on in Germany.  Interesting story of a girl who sets off to discover the truth about a legendary figure and she must face the truth about herself.

Highly recommend this book.  It will be on sale in September, and we will have it in the library as soon as I can purchase a copy.

Book 8 in Summer Reading Challenge.

cover_image  Don't judge a book by its cover.  It may not look that interesting, but it is great.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Salt by Helen Frost

James and Anikwa were fast friends who played together, hunted together and shared together.  The time is 1812, and the American and British armies are getting ready to square off, and the Native Americans--members of the Miami tribe--are coming in to offer support to the side that would benefit their people.  The boys are caught in the middle of prejudice and ignorance, and their friendship is tested.  They are told by some that they should have nothing to do with the other, but they must make the decision for themselves.

This was a cool story told in the two different perspectives.  It is a quick read, and it fills a hole in literature for this time period.  I was so glad to learn more about this time in history.

Book 7 in Summer Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

So...Cia is in the middle of her independent study when she uncovers a plot.  It is different from what she thought.  Something happens to her mentor and friend in the president's office, and she is a witness to it.  What she sees changes everything.  The rebellion and its leader are not what she thought.  In fact, nothing is as it seems.  Her father's warning about not trusting anyone is still sounding in her head, but she has to put a team together to accomplish the task set forth by the president.  Cia works out who she wants on the team and devises a series of tests to see if they can be trusted.  The problem is she is unsure about what the right answer is for her and the country.  What she believed is not as clear as she originally thought.  This is a fast-paced end to the series that should not be missed.

Okay, this is a definite issue.  Book 2--not my favorite, but this one is quite good.  There arge twists throughout the entire book all of the way to the end.  I have to say--it was worth reading book 2, Independent Study, to get to this book--book 3 of this series.

I loved this book.  Don't miss out.  Read the whole series--The Testing, Independent Study, and Graduation Day.  BTW--The Testing takes on a double meaning--no, I am not going to reveal that here.

Book 6 in SRC14.

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Cia has passed the testing, but she cannot remember what happened during this phase of her education.  She feels uneasy about it, and she cannot quiet the voice from her father that reminds her to "not trust anyone".  However, Cia has been given what appears to be a great opportunity by being assigned to the president for her independent study project.  But, she cannot accomplish everything without help from others.  Who can she trust?  Is it true--she really cannot trust anyone?  Even the president?  

This sequel reads like a book 2 in a series generally reads for me.  It is my least favorite.  It is a good story, but it was a bit slow to start.  However, I loved The Testing (the first book in the series), so I had to read this one.  A good read, but not a great one IMHO.

Book 5 in SRC14.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Jackson Greene is the type of kid that gets into trouble but is impossible to stay mad at.  He is fiercely loyal to his friends, and he is extremely clever.  But, Jackson got caught, and he is not allowed to have a cell phone.  This is extreme punishment for a kid who likes to stay connected.  He has vowed to be good, and he has given up scheming.  Or, at least he had given it up until he unfolds a plot where his ex-girlfriend is being cheated out of the election for class president.  This brings Jackson out of retirement.  Now, he is going to have to put together a crew to bring down not only the student running against Gabriela but the greedy principal as well.  Will Jackson be able to do it without getting caught or having people know that he was behind it?  Read this fast-paced story to find out.

Okay, so it is really unfair for me to tell you about this book because it does not go on sale until the end of this month.  But, well...sorry.  It was great.  I love a good con story, and this was a fun one to read.  In the vein of The Sting and Ocean's 11, 12, and 13, this story will have you wanting to move the pages quickly to get to the next part.

Book 4 in SRC14.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The One by Kiera Cass

I am not sure why it has taken me so long to write about this book.  I read it in one night.  It is book 3 in a fantastic trilogy that I literally devoured.  I could not wait for this book to come out even though I knew what was going to happen--or at least it better have happened the way that I wanted.  But, maybe you are wondering what the cause of my fascination is.

Here is the set up for the entire series.  Of course, it would be impossible to just talk about this book without giving too much away.  Trust me when I say--you want to read the entire series.  It was awesome!

America is a lower class citizen, but she is "randomly" chosen as one of 35 girls who are vying to be a princess.  But, America is not really interested in being a princess because she is in love with someone else.  So, she goes to the prince and convinces him that he should keep her in the competition as long as possible so that she can tell him the truth about what goes on behind the scenes.  He is intrigued and agrees.  Do you think you know where this is going?  Well, you are right, but it is impossible to put down because you want to make sure that you are right.

MUST READ--The Selection, The Elite, and The One!
Just in case I haven't convinced you yet--watch the video.  Then read these books.
Book 3 in SRC 14

Monday, May 5, 2014

Skinny by Donna Cooner


Ever Davies lost her mom when she was ten, and she turned to food as her comfort.  Now, she is an overweight fifteen year old girl who broke a chair on the stage at school.  This incident made her decide to have weight loss surgery.  She wants to lose weight so that the negative voices she hears will be quiet.  However, her inner voice--which she has named Skinny--does not go away.  Skinny keeps feeding her with negative thoughts that keep her from moving on.  Now, Ever must decide whether she will listen to Skinny or the people around her who care about her.

Wow! This book was amazingly moving.  It gave me a sense of the emotional turmoil Ever went through as she started losing weight and the fear of gaining it back.  But, what I really found fascinating was the facts that the author shared about the science of how the surgery worked.  Anyone who thinks this is the easy way out for losing weight is so wrong.  It is a brave choice, and I take my hat off to those folks.

I heard the author speak, and she shared with us that she had the surgery.  I think that is why it seemed so authentic.  Give this one a try.  I could not put it down.

Book 2 in SRC14

The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson

It is 1854 in London, and people are getting sick.  They have cholera also known as the blue death.  Eel is helping the best he can but all of the people around him are dying.  He and his best friend must find a way to help all of the people in the London neighborhood around Broad Street.  Eel has 3 jobs to help pay someone to keep his secret.  His first job pays for his room and food; his second gives him half the money he needs to pay for his secret; his third is for a doctor that explores scientific and medical research.  When his second employer's family is sick, Eel goes to the doctor to get help.  The doctor listens but explains that the family will die, but he wants to explore the reason that they were getting cholera.  The doctor has a new theory, but people won't believe him without proof.  Eel and his best friend, Florrie, must find the proof needed to prevent more deaths.  Will they find it in time for the meeting with the board?  Will anyone believe Eel since he is just a mudlark?  Will Eel be able to protect his secret?

cover_imageFind out in The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson.  Book 1--in SRC14

This is historical fiction and based on the 1854 London cholera epidemic.  LOVED this book.  It reminded me of Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Also, it made me think of Code Orange by Caroline Cooney.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Now that I have declared the challenge...

Well, I put the challenge out for the first set of 5th grade students who I met today that will be coming to Ridgeview next school year.
The challenge is to read more books this summer than me.  Now, I am challenging myself as well.  I hope that they will follow this blog along with twitter and instagram.  This will help us stay connected over the summer.

I hope to keep everyone reading this summer.  I have to finish the book that I have been working on for quite a while.  I am getting bogged down.  It is pretty good, but I just can't stay focused.  See, it happens to all of us as readers.  It is not the book--it is me.  Now, it sounds like I am breaking up with the book.  But, I digress...

I will keep this blog up to date with what I am reading so that others can get suggestions.  Also, I hope that others will want to share what they are reading as well.

A student shared this video with me a while back.  I love it though it is definitely odd.  The sentiment fits me...I'm reading a book.  Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014 is time

It is time to resurrect the blog once again so that I can tell others what I am reading over the summer.

I have a challenge for the students at Ridgeview--students who will be attending Ridgeview in 2014-15.

Here is a quick video about the challenge.

Summer Reading Challenge Video

The question is...will you accept the challenge?