I've read 13 of 26 books now on my #MustReadIn2014 list, and added to Gathering Books CORL challenge. (See above and the button on the right)
It’s been a good week with time to read and catch up on writing, cleaning, just being home. I had a wonderful week of vacation at the beach with family before last week, and then spent time at school helping interview for a new staff member. I’ll be in and out planning for the beginning of the school year from now on. We start officially on the 20th-16 more days!
chapter books - both YA
The Dream Thieves – written by Maggie Stiefvater
I don’t know why I wait so long to read a book that I’ve had since it came out, but finally I took the time! And now I have to wait for what’s next. This time, book two, holds more mystery, new characters, and consistent tension that kept me reading quickly. I love Stiefvater’s writing. The fantastical creations woven in with real characters is exciting stuff, and I imagine older students love the complexity of the story. Here are those same characters, Gansey, Ronan and Adam, along with Blue and her family playing a larger role, plus a new sinister character, the Gray Man. The deepening of the characters enriched the story, and made me the reader care about the outcome even more. I hope Maggie Stiefvater writes the next one quickly!
This One Summer – written by Jillian Tamaki and illustrated by Mariko Tamaki
I haven't read many graphic novels, but have liked what I have read. This one surprised me in a variety of ways. The Jillian Tamaki, writer, and Mariko Tamaki, illustrator used just enough words with the pictures to tell a good story. There are pages of cells, whole pages with one illustration only, and pages that communicate the transitions well. The story of Rose and her parents who travel to a summer cabin each year is so realistic. I realize some may say the language is too strong for young girls, but I've taught middle-school-aged children for a long time, and this will not be language that is new. In fact, there are no new words, but perhaps the reading will help young adolescents learn what these 'taboo' words mean after 'hearing' them before.
Rose and Windy, a younger friend, have each other this summer; with parents who are having their own life problems, these young girls are free to explore. Frequent trips to a local store pulls them into a summer drama with older teens. They stay on the edge, but clearly have questions and concerns about the teens' behavior. It's complex, and if you think you are able to read it with a student, it will mean rich conversations. Be sure to read first before sharing.
These picture books are titles I found by reading all of your blog posts on Mondays. I have discovered incredible books through your recommendations, so thank you very much. These few books today are amazing!
The Last Resort – written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Roberto Innocenti
This is a book for older middle grade or middle-school-aged children. It is whimsical, mysterious, and delightful. The illustrations carry the tale, with a few hints in the wonderful words of J. Patrick Lewis. A man leaves on a journey. It seems he’s lost his imagination, in his words “apparently angry at being ignored, took a holiday—and never returned”. What a journey of imagination he takes, at an eccentric inn where there are rather familiar characters. It will be fun to see if students recognize any of them, or will this be something that will extend their literary knowledge as they explore? I loved the reading and exploring myself, examined the illustrations carefully, re-read words, and on. I hope you can find a copy to enjoy.
Nasreddine – written by Odile Weulersse and illustrated by Rebecca Dautermer
A beautiful story that is a telling of a Nasreddine tale, one that has offered wisdom and delight for a long time throughout the Middle East. An additional note says that some think the stories are based on a real man who lived in Turkey during the Middle Ages. This time the young boy Nasreddine helps his father take different goods to the market with a donkey. Each time they carry in a different way, like the first time, the father rides with the basket of dates while Nasreddine walks behind. Some in the village laugh and say that the father must be lazy to ride and make the son walk behind. The boy is embarrassed so next time a different way is chosen. Still, someone is not pleased and again Nasreddine is embarrassed. The story repeats, and hopefully children will begin to understand that trying to please others is not always the best choice. It was a fun story.
My Teacher Is A Monster – written and illustrated by Peter Brown
I was picking up some other books, and found this one at the library. Like others have said, the story shows great knowledge of what some kids think about their teachers, especially at the beginning of the school year. I remember my son saying something like, “Mrs. __________ is a lot nicer now than she was.” In this story, Bobby’s teacher roars at him when he throws paper airplanes in the classroom, but a surprise meeting in the park means a different experience with Ms. Kirby, and you’ll love seeing about that. Peter Brown is a subtle illustrator. In addition to the words, his pictures change with the story so subtly, you’ll have to turn back to see when those changes began. I think young students will enjoy a big conversation after reading this story together.
Lemonade Sun And Other Summer Poems – written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Some lovely person recommended these poems, and they are wonderful captures of summer excitement. I wonder if children are still outside as much as the poems show, jumping rope to rhymes, playing marbles and selling lemonade is something I don’t see anymore. The joy of summer plays out by Rebecca in numerous ways. The poems follow the time of a day, from the ‘liquid sweetness’ and ‘splashing sunshine’ of lemonade all the way through to nighttime excitement, ‘moon-skipping’ as ‘fireflies flicker’. I love that she included the treasures of insects, too, like in “Ladybug” where they’re “Smaller/than a button,/bigger than a spot” or the butterfly who sails on “a breath of sky”. Activities also include going barefoot with “dandelions between warm toes”. It’s a book to have to savor for oneself and the memories of past summers, or to share with children in the spring, looking forward to their own summer days.NEXT: I have a new group of picture books from the library and an advanced copy from Net Galley of Rain Reign by Ann Martin that I'm excited to read, and others in several piles... There's a little time left to get some good reading done. I'm also still reading Linda Rief's Read Write Teach and sharing thoughts with an online group, although we've slowed down a bit because of different people's vacations.
SOON: Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning are getting ready for August 10th, their annual sharing of #PB10for10, 10 "must have" picture books for the classroom. See all about it here!