It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Visit Unleashing Readerswith Ricki and Kelle, and Teach Mentor Texts, with Jen to read about the books on everyone's lists!
I didn't get to read as much as I thought I could last week at the beach (too much fun in the water and shelling), but it's been 2 weeks since I posted, and I managed to finish several longer books, all I enjoyed, some I loved.
Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle – written by George Hagen
Coming at the end of October, you won’t want to miss reading this fantasy adventure, with a thoughtful main character, 12 year old Gabriel, who carries on his family legacy in the quest to find his father who disappeared when he was nine. The book holds ravens and riddles, which Gabriel and ravens love, good friends who leave, unexpected friends who appear just as the action begins. George Hagen craftily adds hints of what’s coming, although one doesn’t always realize it for a while. The opening about ravens is important, and I found myself needing to return to re-read it, to begin to understand the rules of the magic in this book. There are some characters and descriptions who appear that makes one want to shout to Gabriel, “watch out, this does not sound good!” And there are the wonderful raven characters, both loving and terrifying. It’s an adventure that takes Gabriel down numerous paths, and they all provide a clear vision of the good and evil in the world. I enjoyed the book very much.
The Boy on the Wooden Box – a memoir by Leon Leyson, with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson
Every time I read a book about the Holocaust, I am both appalled and angry, yet glad to be enlightened and inspired. How could this have happened? How did they survive? Leon Leyson’s story is one of many, but so poignant in the loss of his childhood and of many family members through the cruelties of the Nazis, and so inspiring that he did not allow that awful time to define his life. I wonder if this would be a good read aloud? Could it, for older students, be something that enriches their lives, to see how others have survived in the worst of circumstances? The surprise to me was the connection to Oskar Schlindler and the fact that being on Schlindler’s list meant life for Leon and his immediate family. To read and learn about one story from the “list” is wonderful. The story seems to speak directly to young adolescents, chronicles the years Leon was 12 to 15. He is a straightforward storyteller and I wish I could have seen him speak in person. Here is another story from that time worth knowing.
The Second Life of Abigail Walker – written by Frances O’Roark Dowell
A friend at the All-Write conference recommended this to me, and wow, I'm happy she did. Eleven year old Abigail discovers herself in this story of the bullies she must defend against, the kids who really are her friends, and a young boy met in her wandering in nearby woods whose father is struggling with PTSD and who needs her help. A fox enters the story too, adding a bit of magical realism, and Dowell puts it all together beautifully. What a strong main character Dowell gives us in this story, one to offer those middle graders who are struggling to find a place in their worlds that feels right. I couldn’t put it down.
Legend – written by Marie Lu
I’m late to this series’ party, but enjoyed reading this adventure of two young teens living in a future that pairs two warring groups, the elite Republic and the rebels of the Colonies. June, born into a wealthy and accomplished family, and Day, a legend among the rebel group, cross paths in a fast-paced story of their quest to discover truth. There’s adventure and a bit of romance, a good dystopian book for middle school.
The Fourteenth Goldfish – written by Jennifer Holm
I was interested in this book because of Jennifer Holm’s Squish books, helping kids to see how science can be fun. But, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about eleven year old Ellie, whose scientist grandfather has discovered a secret to becoming young again, thus becoming Ellie’s teenager/distant cousin who is now living with her and her mother. Sounds a little farfetched? Yes, but it is a wonderful family story that includes words to ponder from wise scientists, words that will lead to all kinds of discussions in class. Jennifer Holm offers some wise words herself in this story, one I know will make a great read aloud. Thanks to Net Galley, I was able to read it a little ahead. It’s out Aug. 26th.
Inside My Imagination – written by Marta Arteaga and illustrated by Zuzanna Celej
I don’t remember who recommended this book, but I’m happy they did! How could one pass up a description of how imagination works in writing, “like a sea of thoughts that float and glide over each other”? My own favorite is the line “The letters all fit perfectly into place.” And I imagine using this with a variety of students who are writing with me, from their own imaginations!
Doodle Soup – written by John Ciardi and illustrated by Merle Nacht
Want an older book filled with poetry that will make you laugh along with your children? This is it. There is something for everyone, fun outside and in, turning words into different words, discovering animals are not always what they seem. I enjoyed the kinship with more recent humorous writers like Shel Silverstein. Find a copy if you can and get ready to laugh!
Next: Still working to read my #MustReadIn2014 list (see above & to the right), and for Gathering Books CORL challenge (see the button on the right), so starting The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I've had it since it came out, but now with the next one coming, I need to catch up on the story. And I have some picture books from the library. Summer leisure times are going away, aren't they? I'll be in school this week doing some work!