Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review~The Pocket and the Pendant (Max Quick #1)

Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant
by Mark Jeffery
Publisher: HarperCollins (2011)
Ages 10 & up

(description from Quick is a pickpocket, a vagabond, an orphan, and a thief. Even so, nothing about him seems particularly special . . . until one day when time mysteriously stops. Suddenly, nearly everyone in the world is frozen in time—except for Max.

Now Max must journey across America to find the source of the Time-stop. Along the way, he meets others who aren't suspended in time, like Casey, a girl who's never been on her own until now. Together, as they search for the cause of this disaster, Max and his companions encounter ancient mysteries, magic books, and clues to the riddle of stopped time. But relentless and mysterious villains are hot on Max's heels and will do everything in their power to prevent Max from ending the Time-stop. And the closer Max gets to the answers, the more it seems that his own true identity is not what he once believed. Racing against a clock that no longer ticks, Max must embrace his past to save his future—and the world—from being altered forever.

This book was first brought to my attention by my friend, Linda, who serves on the Maine Student Book Award committee with me.  She had a fifth grade boy who brought this book to her claiming it was "the best book I've ever read!" He asked her to read it. She did. Then she brought it to our committee, shared her story and asked if others would please read it.  She and I are both committed to listening carefully to what kids are saying about books so I promised her I would read it, even though I felt like all I was reading was fantasy/sci-fi stuff...not my genre of choice. But a promise is a promise...and so I opened the book....and did not put it down until I had finished the last page!

This book has everything a middle grade reader is looking for! Tons of adventure, twists and turns that keep you guessing, a main character with a mysterious past, new friendships, betrayal, ALIENS...yep...the "perfect storm" for hooking even the most dormant middle grade reader. I liked the idea of "time traveling" by running...really fast! Not because I necessarily like running, I don't, but I thought it was a clever way to make that happen. I also loved that the characters traveled by way of books! Don't "we" always tell students that books can take them places? Well, in this fantastic story they certainly do that!  While many questions are answered by the end of book, there are some unresolved questions that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next book in this series!

Don't forget how important it is to listen to and talk with students about what they are reading.  After all, had it not been for that 5th grade boy bringing this book to Linda's attention, and her commitment to modeling the power for recommending books, we might have both missed out on this fun adventure!  You won't want to miss it...and share it with your readers!

Enjoy the book trailer for Max Quick~The Pocket and the Pendant!

Meet the author of the Max Quick series, Mark Jeffery!

Friday, February 10, 2012

World Read Aloud Day~March 7, 2012

Children's author Katherine Paterson once said "The best way to cultivate [children's] tastes is to read to them, starting at birth and keeping on and on. 'Let me hear you read' is a test, 'Let me read to you' is a gift."

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012 people all around the world will be celebrating the gift of reading aloud. World Read Aloud Day , sponsored by LitWorld, is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to every person, regardless of race, age, or economic situation. It is intended to motivate children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another. 
Reading aloud happens everyday in my classroom. It's not a special event but rather a daily routine that strengthens the bond of our community of readers. It's magic...and my class will be sharing that magic on March 7th by reaching beyond the four walls of our classroom. We will be connecting via Skype with classrooms and libraries not only here in Maine but across the country. We might even have a couple of special guest Skype visit as well!

Resources for World Read Aloud Day:
World Read Aloud Day Official Site
World Read Aloud Day Resource Kit 
WRAD Skype with a Author 
Change the World Story by Story Wiki (hosted by John Schumacher & Shannon Miller)

"Like" World Read Aloud on Facebook
You can also follow on Twitter: @litworldsays or the hashtag #WRAD

I would love to hear about your plans for World Read Aloud Day!  How do you plan to share the "gift" of reading aloud with the readers in your life?