I missed posting last week but I have a VERY good excuse...I promise! New England states have this wonderful thing called February Break where schools close for a week! Many "snowbirds" head for warmer temperatures and this year I was one of the those fortunate "snowbirds"! But not to worry...there was plenty of reading going on! I have so many titles to share I'm not sure where to start...so I think I'll begin with my favorite YA read of the two weeks.
by John Green
Publisher: Dutton (January, 2012)
Ages 14 & up
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. (description from publisher)
The Fault of Our Stars was the first book I've read by John Green. I loved it! While I won't share this book in my classroom because of some mature content (it is a YA title), I have already recommended it to several of my friends and will definitely be including it in the library I organize and run during the summer. The story of Hazel and Augustus is one that can't help but change you. It's about love...of family, friends, and the power that stories have to bring us together. Even if you don't work with older readers...this is book you won't want to miss! It will be an emotional read, after all it is about a kid with cancer, but it's a story that well worth the emotional ride! Get it! Read it! Share it!
Other YA title I just have to give a little extra attention to here:
by Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (2011)
Ages 13 & up
Meet Jake who lives in a neighborhood controlled by street violence and fear. He meets a sculptor across the street, and his eyes are opened to another world. Or Jojo,who's closer to her three dogs than to her foster family. When Jojo tries to help another girl who needs a friend, the dogs know what to do. Or Jamie, Erik, and Grandpa, who make up an unusual family. (description from Goodreads.com)
This collection of three novellas had me from Paulsen's introduction:
"I was one of those kids who slipped through the cracks. I had what was euphemistically referred to as a troubled childhood. We were broke, my parents were drunk, my parents had -- another euphemism here -- an unhappy marriage. I was an outsider at school and pretty much raised myself at home. I had nothing and was going nowhere.
Then art and dogs saved me.
First reading, then writing. First friend-pets, then sled dogs. They gave me hope that I wouldn't always be stuck in the horror of my childhood, made me believe that there could be more to my life."
Paulsen then shares the stories of three different young people, writing from what he knows from his own abusive childhood. Each character is on their own with little or no support and resources to draw from. Yet each encounters "hope" through art or dogs or both. Their stories aren't tied up with pretty little "happy ending" bows but their strength and courage is inspiring and effective! I loved it and it's another book that will stick with me long after the last page. The video below is long (6 minutes) but well worth the time to watch when you have it:
Other YA and Middle Grade novels I read this week included Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles, Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson, The Dragon's Tooth by N. D. Wilson, and Into the Trap by Craig Moodie.
I also read two non-fiction titles that will be great additions to my classroom library:
by Rosalyn Schanzer
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (2011)
Ages 12 & up
The riveting, true story of the victims, accused witches, crooked officials, and mass hysteria that turned a mysterious illness affecting two children into a witch hunt that took over a dozen people’s lives and ruined hundreds more unfolds in chilling detail in this young adult book by award-winning author and illustrator Rosalyn Schanzer. With a powerful narrative, chilling primary source accounts, a design evoking the period, and stylized black-white-and-red scratch board illustrations of young girls having wild fits in the courtroom, witches flying overhead, and the Devil and his servants terrorizing the Puritans, this book will rivet young readers with novelistic power. (description for Goodreads.com)
by Stewart Ross (illus. Stephen Biesty)
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2011)
Ages 10 & up
Discover how the greatest explorers in history — from Marco Polo to Neil Armstrong — plunged into the unknown and boldly pieced together the picture of the world we have today. With the help of masterful cross sections, dramatic storytelling, and sidebars that highlight key concepts, places, and technology, immerse yourself in such expeditions as Leif Eriksson’s voyage to North America (eleventh century), Zheng He’s travels from China to East Africa (fifteenth century), Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe (sixteenth century), Tenzing Norgay’s and Edmund Hillary’s scaling of Mt. Everest (twentieth century) plus ten more exciting journeys! Goodreads.com)
My favorite picture book was:
by Kelly DiPucchio (illus. Heather Ross)
Publisher: Antheneum (February 2012)
When another girl has already purchased the most perfect birthday gift for Chloe’s friend Emma, Chloe decides she’ll make a present—something you can’t buy in a store. But crafting isn’t easy, and it’s beginning to look like she won’t have a great idea in time. Fortunately, with a good doodle session and a whole lot of glitter to inspire her, Chloe figures out just the thing to save the day—and with a little help from her trusty glue gun, she just might save a friendship, too! (description from Goodreads.com)
The appeal of this picture book is that it's adorable, but not overly sweet. Hurray for Kelly DiPucchio! The message is a great one for girls, as it encourages individuality and creativity. There is a corresponding website www.craftychloe.com where readers can learn how to make the cool crafts featured in the book. March is National Craft Month (who knew?) so it's the perfect time to check this title out!
I also read Petunia Goes Wild and Hugs From Pearl, both by Paul Schmid, Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems, Night Knight by Owen Davey, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Rinker, and then it's spring by Julie Fogliano, Randy Riley's Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen, Bedtime for Bear by Brett Helquist, and One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo.
I have two weeks left before our Maine Student Book Award Committee meets to make the final decisions on our 2012-2013 list. I still have about 16 titles to read from the short list and I really have no idea how we will ever narrow the list of 112 down to just about 40 titles! There are so many great stories on the list!
I'm currently reading:
Titles "on deck" for this week include:
And just so you know...I'm starting from the bottom of this pile! I can't wait to start Wonder by RJ Palacio!
So there you have it...and another week (two actually) of reading is in the books!
Have a great week among the pages!