Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10/29

Every week I participate in this meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at Teach Mentor Texts.  Jen and Kellee had the brilliant idea to adapt this meme to talk about the great young adult and children's literature that we are reading.  Head over to their blog for more great reads and a plethora of recommendations of great kidlit.

I had an excellent reading week filled with some amazing books and authors!!!!

Books I Finished this week:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is a FABULOUS book.  I was haunted by Mara's story and cannot wait to read the sequel.  Luckily, I won't have to wait long for this one.  Michelle Hodkin is coming to the West Allis Public Library tomorrow night and I will be purchasing these two books to be signed.  I am soooo excited for this!

I seem to have impeccable timing reading this book.  I got it at the Scholastic book fair last week and was super excited to read it.  The Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner is a book that explores a future in which huge storms have made vast areas of the United States zones in which nobody can live.  The main character is going to visit her dad who is a scientist studying these massive storms and trying to find a way to manipulate weather.  He has figured out a way to create "Stormsafe" zones and she is living in one for the summer.  The "Frankenstorm" out East is eerily similar to the massive storms described in this book...

If I Stay by Gayle Forman was a tough book to read, but was a beautiful story.  Mia has a perfect life with great prospects on the horizon.  She loves her family, has a great boyfriend, and is fairly certain she will be accepted into Julliard in the fall.  In one split second everything changes for her and it is up to her to decide if she will hang on and survive or if she will give up and die.  The book explores the idea of what might happen for people who are in comas or barely holding on to life.  It is chilling and uplifting and heartbreaking all at once.  I highly recommend this book to teens and adults.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler is a printz award finalist book and part of my reading for the nerdprintz challenge.  As you might imagine from the title, it is about a girl who is overweight and very self-conscious about it.  Her problems are further compounded by the fact that her entire family is skinny and gorgeous and that her mother pressures her to lose weight.  I really could identify with the young woman in this novel, as I am sure many other women coud also.  I enjoyed the story and felt uplifted by the way the protagonist really learns to be a strong person by the end of the book.

I have read and enjoyed Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko multiple times.  Last year it was one of my students' favorite read alouds.  This is the sequel to that book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  I love the characters and I enjoyed finding out about how Moose and the others on Alcatraz continue on with their lives after Natalie goes to the Esther P. Marinoff school.

What My Mother Doesn't Know By Sonya Sones is a novel in verse.  I was really happy when I saw this one at the public library sale because I had seen other teachers write about how this is one of their students' favorites.  I really enjoyed reading it and I know that my girls will love the story and enjoy the novel in verse format.

Books I am Currently Reading:

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan is the most current installment of the Heroes of Olympus series.  I am interested to see how the books come together in this one.  I also am listening to the audiobook of Blood Red Road.  I am really enjoying this audiobook.  I love the narrator's voice!  It is a great motivation trick to get me working out.

Up Next:

I will probably read The Evolution of Mara Dyer right after I buy it tomorrow.  I also will finally get to The Diviners this week hopefully.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10/22

Every week I participate in this meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at Teach Mentor Texts.  Jen and Kellee had the brilliant idea to adapt this meme to talk about the great young adult and children's literature that we are reading.  Head over to their blog for more great reads and a plethora of recommendations of great kidlit.

Books I Finished This Week:

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Steven Chbosky is the favorite book of one of my students, so I had to bring it up to the top of the pile.  I liked the book, but I am not really a fan of this type of realistic fiction which really just examines the inner workings of a teenager's mind.  I am utterly perplexed about how they made this into a movie.  The impression I got was that the protagonist had some sort of autism or a developmental disorder.  The way other characters talked to him and the way that he spoke about some issues really had me thinking that he did not have the same way of viewing the world as many other people would have.  I understand why some people really like the book, but it really didn't do much for me.

I LOVED this one.  I have a bit of a crush on Perry and I loved how Aria learned how to be a strong woman by the end.  This is one of my favorite Dystopian books this season.  I will be anxiously awaiting the next one which is set to come out in January.  Meanwhile, I will enjoy reading the novella that the author released which tells Roar and Liv's story.  I highly recommend this one to everyone.

I had the good luck of being able to use some Scholastic Dollars at our book fair to add to my class library.  I spent a lot of that money on some great new graphic novels.

This is a great story.  I enjoyed reading it and I know my students will love it also.  I love the full color graphics and the way the character is developed in this story.

I love all of Rick Riordan's books.  The Red Pyramid is an excellent and fun book.  I enjoyed reading this story for a second time through this format.  There was a lot of text in this graphic novel and it might be too much for some students, but it would be a great way to get them thinking about the books.

I was so excited to read this one.  My students LOVE Ghostopolis and Bad Island so I was sure this one would be excellent too.  I love the creative creepy that the cardboard took over.  It was reminiscent of Gremlins...I wonder if that was done on purpose. Doug TenNapel does not disappoint with this one.  I can't wait to share it with my students!

Books I am Currently Reading:

Blood Red Road by Moira Young is the audiobook I am currently listening to.  I have found myself much more motivated to get my workouts in now that I have a great book to listen to.  I love the narrator on this audiobook!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer By Michelle Hodkin is so intriguing so far.  I get why I have heard so many great things about this one.  I can't wait to meet this author in a couple of weeks in Milwaukee and to purchase the sequel which comes out this week.

Books up Next:

I will probably pick up If I Stay by Gayle Forman.  I also have The Mark of Athena and The Eye of the Storm to read from the book fair.  I also want to get to The Diviners soon.  I guess I will see how I feel this week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading? 10/15

Every week I participate in this meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at Teach Mentor Texts.  Jen and Kellee had the brilliant idea to adapt this meme to talk about the great young adult and children's literature that we are reading.  Head over to their blog for more great reads and a plethora of recommendations of great kidlit.

This week I had a better reading week.  I think I might be actually figuring out the balance to my reading and schoolwork.  Now, I just have to find writing time and time to workout!

Books I finished this week:

On a recent splurge at Barnes and Noble, I ended up with this gem.  I had heard a lot of good things about The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielson and I was not disappointed!  I love the way this book twists and turns.  Sage is an orphan who has just been purchased away from the orphanage.  He finds out that Connor, the man who has him, is planning a great deception and will be relying on one of the three orphan boys he has to pull it off.  It is an adventure story about survival and doing the right thing.  I will look forward to the other books in the trilogy.  I would recommend this book for middle grades and up.

On the same trip to Barnes and Noble, I purchased The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.  I was especially curious about this one, because The Scorpio Races turned out to be one of my favorite books ever.  I did not feel the same about the Shiver trilogy, and was curious to see how this series would be.  There has been quite a bit of good buzz about The Raven Boys and I have to say I agree that this is a great book.  The book was different from what I thought it would be, but I really enjoyed the characters and the interesting plot twists.  The existence of psychic energy is a fascinating subject, whether or not you believe it is real.  What I loved about the book was the depth of the characters, and the mystery that surrounds them.  What I hate about reading a first book in a series when it first comes out is that now I have to wait soooo long to find out what happens next!  I know that my 8th graders will love this book, and I can't wait to share it with them.

I borrowed One for the Murphys from the public library and then proceeded to avoid it. I have this issue with reading stories that I think will be sad...but I had to see what all the buzz was about.  I did need quite a few tissues while reading this one, but it wasn't exactly from sadness.  This book is so touching and so full of raw emotions.  Every person who works with children should read it to learn about what might be happening in the mind of a child when they test you.  I loved that the Murphys provided Carley with a safe place that gave her hope for the kind of place she would like to have in the future.  I need to go buy a copy of this book for my class library, because I think a lot of kids will really connect to Carley and that will help them learn empathy.  I can see why this book is ending up on many mock Newbery lists.  It is a beautiful book and everyone should read it.

I FINALLY finished this book.  The book is jam-packed with excellent ideas for helping writers to understand what makes good writing and to revise to accomplish their goals.  It took me a while to finish the book because it is so full of ideas I got a little overwhelmed.  I will have to go back to it often to find the ideas that work for the stage we are in with writer's workshop.  I really want to find Jeff Anderson's other books now because I know they will be full of excellent ideas of how to teach grammar in a writing class.

Books I am Currently Reading:

I moved The Perks of Being a Wallflower to the top of my pile because one of my students LOVES this book.  She is a voracious reader and has read this one 5 times.  I had to find out what was so wonderful about this book.  So far, I really enjoy the voice of the narrator.

I also started Under the Never Sky on my Kindle.  I love those daily deals (my wallet does not love them)!

I started listening to Wake by Lisa McMann, but I think I will stop and look for the book.  The person reading the book sounds really young to me and the voice is annoying.

Books on the Horizon:

I have Mal and Chad: Food Fight from the library.  I will also read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer in anticipation of a visit to a local library from Michelle Hodkin on Oct. 30th.  This week is parent conference week so that may be it for me, but if I do have time I will also read If I Stay by Gayle Forman or The Diviners by Libba Bray.

I borrowed the Blood Red Road audiobook from the library so I am excited to start listening to that during my workouts this week.  Maybe it will be the motivation I need to get the workouts in!

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading? 10/8

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind.  I am still working on balancing home and school and finding time for reading and writing.  During the last two weeks I read quite a few graphic novels.  I have been feeling overwhelmed with too many books to read and to little time in which to read them.

One highlight of the last week was going to see Libba Bray speak at the library.  It was so much fun--the book store provided live jazz musicians and there was a costume contest as well.  Of course, I also bought a few books which added to the to read pile...

Books I Finished in the last two weeks:

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa was a fun book.  I really enjoyed the character Grimalkin.  The adventure through the fairy realm was full of surprises and I am very interested to read the rest of the series.  I love those Amazon Kindle deals!  I would recommend this book to students in middle school and up.

Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes by Jackie Mims Hopkins is a great book for reviewing genres with students.  I love fractured fairy tales!


Lunch Lady is so amazing!  I really enjoyed the fun secret spy stories of these comics. 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys is an amazing historical fiction book.  I was enthralled throughout the story and learned a lot about this horrific event in history.  Everybody should read this powerful and beautiful story.  I highly recommend this book.   

I had to find out what all the buzz was about.  I can't wait to read The Dot with my students and talk about the ways we talk to ourselves about abilities.  Next year I will definitely have to put dot day on the calendar!

This picture book The Best Story is a fun story about a girl who is trying to figure out how to write the best story.  She figures out that the best stories come from the writer's heart.  I think this would be an excellent read aloud to lead into having students do heart maps.  

I am slowly but surely making my way through the Amulet series.  The second one was just as good as the first.  I love the adventure in this series.  

Last, but certainly not least, was Going Bovine by Libba Bray.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fantastical adventure.  I loved the references to Don Quixote.  This book definitely deserved the Printz award!

Books I am Currently Reading:

The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen

Books up Next:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Raven Boys, The Diviners

Saturday, October 6, 2012

WONDERschools Blog Tour

Today's post is a part of the Wonder Schools blog tour.  I am so honored to be a part of this wonderful group of educators who have chosen to read the amazing book Wonder by RJ Palacio with their students.  

This summer I began following many teachers and fellow book bloggers.  I was so intrigued by all the talk about the book Wonder that I had to go out and find it to read.  Reading this book was an amazing experience: I laughed, I cried, and I spent time thinking about how to best use this amazing resource with my students.

You see, I connected with the story of August in a very personal way.  When I was sixteen, my mother, who was a widow at the time, married my step-father and we moved in with his family.  My step-father has two sons and at the time they were seventeen and nineteen.  My oldest step-brother, Jeff, has severe Cerebral Palsy and is unable to care for himself.  He was able to say "yes" and "no" but lately he has been deteriorating in health and is unable to do even this. Jeff is a sweet person with an incredible sense of humor.  He has so much personality and we all love spending time with him.  

My wedding with all the siblings.
Enjoying a Brewers game together.  

When we moved in with him, it was very difficult at first.  My mother, my sister, and I were not used to being stared at everywhere we went.  We had to learn how to be the people that were the center of attention in every public place.  We had to learn to ignore the stares and the whispers.  At first, I was angry all the time, just like Via is in the book Wonder. Then, I learned to ignore the stares and I just enjoyed being around such a great guy.  

The book Wonder treats this issue in a wonderful and real way.  I connected in such a powerful way with the family, and I knew that I needed to share this book with my class.  I loved how Auggie was so matter-of-fact about how his life has been.  It is so important to me to help my students learn empathy for people who are different so that they can go out in the world and advocate for kindness.  Auggie's voice is so honest that a reader can't help imagining what it would be like to be in his shoes.  

Jeff and my stepdad at Christmas

This school year I am reading Wonder aloud to my 8th grade class.  We started at the beginning of the school year and have just begun Part II.  I was reminded today of how much I connect with Via's character as we started the section that is written from her point of view.  My students have shown incredible depth in their responses so far and I heard an audible, collective gasp when I read about Halloween.  (If you haven't read the book, you need to read it and then you will know what I mean)

I will have my students take the pledge to choose kind during the month of October for National Bullying Prevention Month.  This is such an important issue and I love that I have a good piece of literature to help bring up some important but difficult topics.  I am using ideas from the teacher resource guide provided as response ideas. I am asking my students to connect to the book in their own personal ways and I will share my connections to the characters and my experiences of being in a family that got stared at everywhere we went.

If you are interested in taking the pledge to Choose Kind or to find out more about this WONDERful book, visit the tumblr page by clicking on the logo.  

Enjoying some live music.  Jeff loves when we sing and when my husband plays guitar.