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A Creature of Moonlight. Rebecca Hahn. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 313 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Creature of Moonlight is an enjoyable fantasy novel for young adults. Marni, the heroine, is being raised by her grandfather (Gramps). The two live an isolated life, in a way. They don't mingle with the villagers as often as one might expect. Marni, for the most part, is too interested in her garden and the woods. And Gramps, well, he's a lot older than he used to be. Still people come. Some important people. Nobles and such. Some villagers. Now that Marni is nearly grown up, men of all classes are beginning to see her as more than a flower girl, more than "Tulip." Does this make Gramps happy or worried? And how does Marni feel about it herself?
A Creature of Moonlight is fantasy. In the world Hahn has created, the woods are magical and mysterious and more than a little dangerous. There are stories--new stories, old stories, long-handed-down stories--of young women who entered the woods and were never seen again. Marni herself knows one such case. One of her friends disappeared in the woods. But Marni knows the woods. I wouldn't say she feels absolutely at home in the woods. There is a part of her that loves the woods, loves the danger and mystery. There is a hesitant part of her as well, that part keeps her coming home again. As she says so well later in the novel, "You can want a whole slew of things. It's what you choose that ought to matter."
Choices. Marni has difficult choices to make. Does she belong in the woods? Does she belong at the palace? For you see, Marni is no ordinary village girl. Her grandfather was the king. Her uncle IS the king. She is the daughter of a princess--a murdered princess. Neither choice appeals completely to Marni. The novel introduces readers to both settings. Readers see Marni reclaim her place in the royal family. They see her being courted by one of the lords. Readers also see her come into her own in the woods. These chapters in the woods are fascinating in a dark way. Marni learns what happens to young women who WANT to be taken by the dragon of the woods. But is either place right for her?
I liked this one very much. I thought it was beautifully written. There are sentences that are just WOW. The storytelling was nicely done. I liked quite a few of the characters. The characters all seemed appropriately flawed. That being said, not all the characters were given equal depth and substance. Even more characterization might have made this one great. But as it is, it is an enjoyable read.
"But she always kept on until the end. She knew, as I knew, that you don't stop a story half done. You keep on going, through heartbreak and pain and fear, and times there is a happy ending, and times there isn't. Don't matter. You don't cut a flower half through and then wait and watch as it slowly shrivels to death. And you don't stop a story before you reach the end" (11).
"My breath catches. Not just because I thought we'd gone over this, but because as he says it, for one crazy instant I think about saying yes. I think about living with this man, who's always taken my side, who melts me right away with his kisses, who believes in me and my innocence even when he really shouldn't. He really shouldn't. Before I can stop myself, I throw my sewing back on the floor and push myself out of my chair. Edgar rises to his feet as well, wary. "How many times is this?" I say, my voice shriller than I mean it to be, but I push my anger on, fall gladly into it. "What is it with you, my Lord of Ontrei, that makes you think that when I'm telling you no, and no, and no again, what I really must be meaning is ask me again? Could be I'm crazy, but I've no wish to be the stone you step on to reach the throne..." (181)
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
We all know what it’s like to be excited for something special. Heidi Heckelbeck waits all year long for the Brewster Fall Festival. She’s especially excited this year to go through the haunted barn with her best friend Lucy.
We also all know what it’s like to get sick and have to miss out on something special. Poor Heidi starts sneezing and feeling achy all over. At first she tries hard to ignore her symptoms, but when she becomes feverish she has to admit that she feels overall terrible. She has a really bad cold that she can’t even cure with a special “potion” and she will have to miss going to the long awaited Brewster Fall Festival!
When Heidi finally feels like her old self again, her family and friends delight her with a great surprise. They have turned the garage into a special haunted house just for her. What fun and how scary!
The Heidi Heckelbeck series is always a hit with me. Every page has an illustration that helps the reader further enjoy the story. This easy reader is not only a great read-alone story, but would also be fun to read aloud – especially on a crisp fall day!
Posted by: Wendy
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Davis, Kathryn Gibbs. 2014. Mr. Ferris and his Wheel. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford.
Though written in a fully illustrated, engaging and narrative nonfiction style, Mr. Ferris and his Wheel is nevertheless, a well-sourced and researched picture book for older readers.
The story of the 1863, Chicago World's Fair debut of the world's first Ferris wheel (or Monster Wheel, as Mr. Ferris originally named it), is told in a flowing and entertaining style,
George arrived in Chicago and made his case to the construction chief of the fair.
The chief stared at George's drawings. No one had ever created a fair attraction that huge and complicated. The chief told George that his structure was "so flimsy it would collapse."
George had heard enough. He rolled up his drawings and said, "You are an architect, sir. I am an engineer."
George knew something the chief did not. His invention would be delicate-looking and strong. It would be both stronger and lighter than the Eiffel Tower because it would be built with an amazing new metal—steel.
it contains sidebars that impart more technical information that might otherwise interrupt the flow of the story,
George was a steel expert, and his structure would be made of a steel alloy. Alloys combine a super-strong mix of a hard metal with two or more chemical elements.
George Ferris' determination is a story in itself, but it is the engineering genius of his wheel that steals the show. A "must-have" for any school or public library.
Some facts about the original "Ferris" wheel:
- 834' in circumference
- 265' above the ground
- 3,000 electric lightbulbs (this itself was a marvel in 1893!)
- forty velvet seats per car
|Ferris wheel at the Chicago World's Fair c1893.|
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division[/caption]
It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
Copyright © 2014 L Taylor
All Rights Reserved.
Recommended for ages 5-8
British author/illustrator Alex T. Smith
returns with a winter-themed addition to his beginning reader series about the adventures of a genial dog named Claude
and his best friend Sir Bobblysock (yes, Sir Bobblysock is actually a sock, an unusual sidekick--or perhaps it makes sense since dogs love to chew socks?) This is the fourth book in the series.
In Claude on the Slopes
, we are introduced to Claude, a small, plump dog who wears shoes, a sweater and "a rather nifty beret," and resides with Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes and his best friend Sir Bobblysock at 112 Waggy Avenue. In each book, Claude and Sir Bobblysock take off on adventures. One day they go to the library, where they visit Miss Hush, the librarian, who has to remind Claude to use his "nice Indoor voice." Claude is in for a real adventure when he experiences snow for the first time, and winds up at a winter sports center, where he experiences snowball fights, sledding, and snow sculpture and skiing. When he forgets he's not supposed to use his loud outdoor voice out in the snow and accidentally triggers an avalanche, his magic beret, which seems to hold everything you can need, helps Claude save the day.
This beginning reader is perfect for fans of gentle humor such as Poppleton
by Cynthia Rylant or the Amanda pig series by Jean van Leeuwen. The cartoon-style artwork, done in black, white, grey and red, adds to the humor of the stories. As is typical with beginning readers, the author uses a format of brief chapters which can be read independently if a child is not yet ready to read the entire book at one sitting. The book would also make an amusing read-aloud, although the small size of the volume make it better suited for reading with a small group than a classroom.To win your own copy of Claude on the Slopes, leave your e-mail in a comment below. The winner will be selected on November 1.
For more on Claude on the Slopes
, check out these blog tour stops:
By: Becky Laney
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews
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The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
The Eye of the World is the first in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I first reviewed this one in October 2012
. I thought the book was promising, that it had great potential. As the first book in a long series, it also serves as an introduction. An introduction not just to the world or to the main characters, but an introduction to the writing style: the details, the descriptions, the narration, the foreshadowing. It also hints at the complexity. Hints. (If you think there are a lot of names--both people and place--to keep up with in the first book, then you should know it only becomes more challenging in later books. It isn't necessarily good or bad that this is so. It just is.)
To keep it very simple, The Eye of the World is a coming-of-age adventure-quest story. It is all about the journey, or, you could just as easily say it is all about the chase. Eye of the World is essentially setting the stage for a big battle between the forces of good and evil.
The Eye of the World introduces readers to a handful of characters. Three young men who could potentially change the world for better or worse: Rand, Perrin, and Mat. Two young women who follow them into danger: Egwene and Nynaeve. Both have significant roles to play in the books ahead. Neither really steal the show in this first book. We learn that both women are able to touch the True Source (One Power) though they've not received training. Both women intrigue Moiraine, the Aes Sedai who has promised to protect them all--to the best of her ability. She knows that the Dark One seeks to destroy these three men, and quite possibly all those that stand in his way. Moiraine and Lan, her warder, will do what they can but they know it will be a continual struggle, a challenge, to stay a step or two ahead of the evil that pursues them.
There are also other characters introduced in this book that I'd like to mention. I love, love, love Loial. He's introduced relatively late in this one. But I adore him! He's an Ogier. There is also Thom Merrilin. He's a gleeman--an entertainer, storyteller, musician, juggler, etc. He travels with this group at the very beginning. There's also a young girl, Min, who is able to a certain degree to see the future. Readers also briefly meet Elayne, Gawyn, and Galad. And Queen Morgase. And the queen's Aes Sedai, Elaida.
It had been two years since I'd read this one. It was interesting to see what I remembered, and what I'd completely forgotten. I liked this one very much upon rereading. I enjoyed so many things about it still.
Not more than twenty spans back down the road a cloaked figure on horseback followed them, horse and rider alike black, dull and ungleaming. It was more habit than anything else that kept him walking backward alongside the cart even while he looked. The rider’s cloak covered him to his boot tops, the cowl tugged well forward so no part of him showed. Vaguely Rand thought there was something odd about the horseman, but it was the shadowed opening of the hood that fascinated him. He could see only the vaguest outlines of a face, but he had the feeling he was looking right into the rider’s eyes. And he could not look away. Queasiness settled in his stomach. There was only shadow to see in the hood, but he felt hatred as sharply as if he could see a snarling face, hatred for everything that lived. Hatred for him most of all, for him above all things.
He was hoping his father had not noticed he was afraid when Tam said, “Remember the flame, lad, and the void.” It was an odd thing Tam had taught him. Concentrate on a single flame and feed all your passions into it—fear, hate, anger—until your mind became empty. Become one with the void, Tam said, and you could do anything.
Strangers and a gleeman, fireworks and a peddler. It was going to be the best Bel Tine ever.
Aes Sedai and wars and false Dragons: those were the stuff of stories told late at night in front of the fireplace, with one candle making strange shapes on the wall and the wind howling against the shutters. On the whole, he believed he would rather have blizzards and wolves. Still, it must be different out there, beyond the Two Rivers, like living in the middle of a gleeman’s tale. An adventure. One long adventure. A whole lifetime of it.
“What kind of need would be great enough that we’d want the Dragon to save us from it?” Rand mused. “As well ask for help from the Dark One.”
“I still think you shouldn’t come,” he said. “I wasn’t making it up about the Trollocs. But I promise I will take care of you.” “Perhaps I’ll take care of you,” she replied lightly. At his exasperated look she smiled and bent down to smooth his hair. “I know you’ll look after me, Rand. We will look after each other. But now you had better look after getting on your horse.”
The Aes Sedai you will find in Tar Valon are human, no different from any other women except for the ability that sets us apart. They are brave and cowardly, strong and weak, kind and cruel, warm-hearted and cold. Becoming an Aes Sedai will not change you from what you are.
But hope is like a piece of string when you’re drowning; it just isn’t enough to get you out by itself.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Buried Sunlight: how
fossil fuels have changed our world
Written by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm; Illustrated by
Blue Sky Press. 2014
To review this book, I borrowed it from my local public
Author-illustrator Molly Bang has now written four books about the sun’s life-sustaining role in our world. She began with My Light that explained
I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have written- and rewritten- this blog post about 10 times. It’s not because I don’t know what to say, it’s because I have too much to say. When you spend as much time, energy and passion on Multicultural Children’s Literature as I have, it sometimes becomes hard to step back and see the forest- not just the trees.
When this happens, I literally play entire conversations out in my head, just so I can streamline my thoughts. This is the conversation going on in my head right now:
My Brain (MB): Okay Alyson, here’s your chance to explain to all these people the one thing you’re so passionate about. Try not to make it so wordy (too late), and think, if there was one sentence that you could use to sum up multicultural literature, what would it be?
Me: I guess, well who I am I kidding, I know that that one sentence would be: “It’s all about authenticity.”
MB: See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Multicultural literature can be a mirror, a window, and a sliding glass door 1: it can be a reflection of the reader, it can show them another world, and it can empower them to take action. It is written from an authentic perspective by a member of the subject’s culture or someone who has been privy to those experiences 2, and is respectful and free of stereotypical depictions both in words and images.
Multicultural literature is important, because all too often it allows us to hear the voices of those who have been silenced and whose stories have not been told.
Multicultural Children’s Literature is about more than just the Pura Belpré medal, and the Coretta Scott King award. It’s about making these stories, experiences, and lives- especially those that aren’t represented by awards- heard all the time. Multiculturalism is about more than just race and creed. It’s gender, sexuality, religion- it’s identity; and it’s about insuring they are shared in an authentic way.
Right now, there is a groundswell of support for diversity in the book world. I urge you to take that one step further, and push for multiculturalism. I’m not asking you to write a letter to a publisher or even use a hash tag- not everyone is comfortable with that. I’m asking that you start looking through your collections to make sure that you have books that reflect the author’s unique and authentic perspective. That the works be free of stereotypes and that they make you feel as though you are looking at yourself while learning about someone else.
Campbell, Shelley. “Windows and Mirrors: A Case for More Multicultural Children’s Books Illinois Children’s Choice Award Lists.” Illinois Reading Council Journal 38. (2010): 33. Web.
Johnson Higgins, Jennifer. “Multicultural Children’s Literature: Creating and Applying an Evaluation Tool in Response to the Needs of Urban
Educators.” New Horizons for Learning (2000): n. pag. Http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/multicultural-education/multicultural-childrens-literature/. Johns Hopkins University. Web.
Landt, Susan M. “Children’s Literature with Diverse Perspectives: Reflecting All Students.” The Dragon Lode 32.1 (2013): 21-31. Print.
Norton, Donna E. Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of Many Children. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.
Rochman, Hazel. Against Borders: Promoting Books for a Multicultural World. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993. Print.
Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.
Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb (1998): 34-38.
1 Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.
2 Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb (1998): 34-38.
Our guest blogger today is Alyson Feldman-Piltch. Alyson lives in Brookline, MA. She is almost done with her MLS/MIS program and will graduate from Indiana University at Bloomington in May 2015. She is the Chair for the Task Force for Establishing Guidelines for Selecting Multicultural Materials through EMIERT-ALA, as well as a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award Committee.
When she isn’t reading, doing homework, blogging, or sleeping, Alyson can usually be found at Fenway Park or a midnight movie showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. She can be reached at email@example.com and can be found on Twitter by following @aly_fp.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog: the pageturn
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We’re so excited to present to you the cover for Girl in the Torch.
At the dawn of the 20th Century, thousands of immigrants are arriving in the promised land of New York City. Sarah has always dreamed of America, a land of freedom and possibility. From her small village she stares at a postcard of the Statue of Liberty and imagines the Lady beckoning to her. When Sarah and her mother finally journey across the Atlantic, though, tragedy strikes—and Sarah finds herself being sent back before she even sets foot in the country.
Yet just as Sarah is ushered onto the boat that will send her away from the land of her dreams, she makes a life or death decision. She daringly jumps off the back of the boat, and swims as hard as she can toward Liberty Island, and a new life.
Her leap of faith leads her to an unbelievable hiding place: the Statue of Liberty itself. Now Sarah must find a way to the mainland, while avoiding the night watchman and scavenging enough food food to survive. When a surprising ally helps bring her to Manhattan, Sarah finds herself facing new dangers and a life on her own. Will she ever find a true home in America?
From acclaimed author Robert Sharenow comes this heartfelt novel of resilience, hope, and discovering a family where you least expect it.
Robert was kind enough to swing by The Pageturn and answer some questions for us!
What inspired you to write this story? Do you know the story of how your ancestors came to America?
One of my great-grandfathers came to this country with very little money or possessions. But he was a button-hole maker and owned his own tailoring scissors. It amazes me that he was able to forge a life for himself in a brand new country with such meager beginnings. I was also fascinated by the fact that the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island was an Irish teenager named Annie Moore who was traveling with her siblings to meet her parents who were already in the U.S. I couldn’t imagine sending my own children on such a daring journey. And, of course, there is the Statue of Liberty itself, which has always loomed large as a powerful symbol of the positive promise of America around the world. The exact moment of inspiration came when I re-read Emma Lazarus’ poem about the statue that described her as “Mother of Exiles.” The idea of a motherless immigrant girl and the Statue of Liberty becoming like mother and child set the whole thing in motion.
What kind of research did you do for this novel?
I always read history books and novels set in the time period I’m writing about. But for this one, I was also able to walk the streets of Chinatown and the Lower East Side of New York and see many of the places described in the book. Of course, I also visited landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, but there are also lots of ordinary 19th century factory buildings and apartments that have changed very little too.
Would you have wanted to live in New York at the time Sarah lived? Why or why not?
I would be fascinated to experience life at that time, to see, touch and feel what it was like. It was a time of great hope and progress, but also of great struggle. Times were harder then. Scores of children lived in poverty and on the streets. There were brutal living and work conditions for poor people and much more overt and institutionalized prejudice than there is today. So, I definitely prefer our modern New York. The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan gives you a wonderful sense of what every day life was like for new immigrants at that time. And it was not at all luxurious or easy.
Have you ever been to the Statue of Liberty? If so, do you remember the first time you visited?
Yes. I’ve been a couple of times. My parents took me when I was 7 years old and it is one of the fondest memories of my childhood. I remember being completely awed by her. I still get a feeling of wonder whenever I see the Statue of Liberty, even from afar. When I visited more recently during the writing of the book, I was amazed at the incredible variety of people from so many different countries, races and religions. The power and reach of the Statue’s symbolism has only grown since Sarah’s time.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood or place that Sarah visits in the novel?
I’ve always loved New York’s Chinatown. And it remains a very distinct and exciting neighborhood. You can walk the crowded sidewalks and not hear much English and feel like you are lost in a foreign country. The streets are alive with sights and smells of the food vendors and shops, and the signs are written in colorful Chinese characters. And, as described in the book, it’s very close to the Jewish Lower East Side and Little Italy, so you get a sense of just what a melting pot New York was and continues to be.
Girl in the Torch will be on shelves May 26, 2015!
Young kids love Halloween, but some find scary costumes and stories too frightening. So I'm always on the lookout for books that are a little bit creepy, but are still playful and fun. Two new favorites have lots of kid appeal and throw in practice with counting that's just right for preschoolers and kindergartners.
Ten Orange Pumpkins
A Counting Book
by Stephen Savage
Dial / Penguin, 2013
Your local library
Ten pumpkins start the night neatly stacked outside a farmer's house, but they disappear one by one as they night progresses. Savage combines bold illustrations with rhythmic rhyming text, giving young readers just enough clues so they can figure out what happens to each pumpkin. I especially love his striking use of silhouettes--they are creepy and dramatic, yet also simple and straightforward.
Look how effectively Savage uses the page turn to hook young readers (see the first two pages below). Children will love counting the pumpkins and figuring out where the missing one went. Here's a great example of a book that has so many details in the illustrations that kids can add many layers to the story beyond the text--use this to talk with kids as you read, with prompts like "So what do you notice?" and "Oh, so what happened here?"
|"Ten orange pumpkins,|
fresh off the vine.
Tonight will be a spooky night."
|"Yikes! There are 9."|
from Ten Orange Pumpkins, by Stephen Savage
Another new favorite with our kindergarten teachers is Not Very Scary. They love this cumulative story not only for its counting practice, but also for its message. While we all might get a little bit scared at Halloween, it's really just all our friends having fun.
Not Very Scary
by Carol Brendler
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan, 2014
Your local library
Melly, a cute litte monster, is excited to walk over to her cousin Malberta's house for a Halloween party. Sure it's a gloomy night, but Melly isn't scared--even when she sees "a coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail." She tells herself how brave she is, but readers can tell that she's actually getting scared. Turn the page, and Melly sees "two skittish skeletons" dancing along after the cat.
|from Not Very Scary, by Carol Brendler & Greg Pizzoli|
Young children know just how Melly feels, getting more and more frightened as each ghoulish creature turns up. This makes the final resolution all the more enjoyable, as Melly realizes that they are all just Malberta's friends coming along to the Halloween party.
Brendler uses wonderfully descriptive language, full of alliteration (grimy goblins, spindly spiders) that makes reading it aloud a joy. Pizzoli's illustrations strike just the right balance, emphasizing the silly fun each creature brings, but never making them too scary. I had a great time reading about his illustration process on his blog
and over at his interview at Seven Impossible Things
The review copy of Not Very Scary
was kindly sent by the publishers, Macmillan Books. The review copy of Ten Orange Pumpkins
came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
Up until Elliott was born, I always participated in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon
events with all my blogger friends. Once he arrived, my free time obviously took a drastic nosedive and I just couldn't give up even a few hours during the day to just read -- no laundry, no cooking, no cleaning, no playing, etc. It just didn't happen. Well, E will be 3 next month and I've decided it's time for me to once again join the masses who participate in this awesome event. Tomorrow, starting at 8am (EST), I'll be reading all.day.long. My awesome husband has graciously told me he'll have a "man day" with our little guy and I won't have any responsibilities other than finishing my pile of books. If you're participating, let me know!
My blogging has definitely been put on the back burner lately, so my reviews have been nonexistent. We're reading, just not talking enough about the books! Below are a few we've been loving lately.
Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
Wilson is one of our favorite authors and this is probably my favorite from the Bear series. The illustrations are fabulous and the color theme is great for the stage of learning we're in. The rhymes are always spot-on in these books and this one is no exception.
Is There a Dog in this Book? by Viviane Schwartz
I have never witnessed my child laugh at a book quite as hard as he laughs at this one. He finds hilarity in the cats being afraid of the cute little dog in the first few pages and is always excited to help "find" the dog in the last few pages, despite how many times we've read it. We've yet to check out the first two in the series, but they'll be added to our library list, for sure.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
I read the entire Uglies series years ago and loved them, but this book was even better! It was suspenseful and had me totally sucked in from the first few pages. I loved the alternating chapters and the book-within-a-book concept.
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
I should have known by the 2 authors that I would love this one. Though the concept isn't necessarily new (boy finds out he has a magical background, not sure he wants it), the writing is great and the plot thrilling. The characters were realistic and the setting well-described. Younger Percy Jackson fans will love it!
The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski
The author takes a whole new look at what it means to be a Christian, refreshing himself and me, as his reader. It's one thing to talk about all the goodness God brings us, but a whole other to actually experience that goodness. I was fascinated by the journey Yankoski took and was left thinking about my own spiritual life in a whole new light.
Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer
I have a feeling this is going to my "it" book of the year. I loved every single minute of my experience with this story and cannot stop recommending it. It will completely wrench your heart, but it's so beautifully done, you can't help but love it. The characters could be anyone you know -- they could be YOU -- which makes the relationships feel all the more real. Definitely check this one out.
I do tend to talk a lot about our current reads via Twitter
, so if you're looking for more frequent book talk, start there.
Originally published in 1974, author Jill Murphy, who was fifteen when she began writing The Worst Witch. The Worst Witch series is beloved in the UK and has been made into a television film and a television series that spawned two spinoff shows. Long before there was Hogwarts, there was Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches where out hero, Mildred Hubble, is a stand out student - a stand out
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Just some odds and ends for a Wednesday ...
- Today is the final day to nominate books for the 2014 Cybils. These are the awards for us, the blog writers and blog readers. Please nominate your favorites. I'm a judge this year. I'd love to see what's tops on your list!
- Please be sure to enter my contest for a free copy of My Zombie Hamster by Havelock McCreely. The publisher was nice enough to offer me a free copy, so why not take advantage of the chance to win it for your child, school, or library? It's easy to enter - just a comment on the appropriate blog post will do. Details here.
- In many states, today is the last day to register to vote in the November election. If you want to earn the right to complain about the way things are, you should vote. You really should.
- Did you know that I'm a member of ALA's Great Websites for Kids Committee? We spend a lot of time curating and evaluating great websites for kids. If you haven't tried the site, please check it out - Great Websites for Kids. If you have any comments or suggestions for new additions to the site, I'd love to hear them.
That's it. Have a good day, all.
By: Terry Doherty,
Zebra Forest by @AdinaGewritz "The small cast makes the story very personal," says our Be The Star You Are! reviewer. #YAlit http://buff.ly/1DO6E00
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You know you’re an
old experienced children’s librarian when …
… you make public school outreach visits and you can recognize some of the kids from baby story time!
I spotted one child I remember from when I visited with his preschool class years ago. He was always the one with yogurt and Cheerios ® smashed on his head!
Photo: By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author: David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Have a great weekend, all, and remember – today’s babies are tomorrow’s library patrons.
A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.
Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between October 17 – October 23 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
So, what are the newest books out there? How can I find book-alikes? What about series books? As Mighty Mouse said, "Here I come to save the day!"Here are a few sites I'd like to share with you that were previously shared with me. I absolutely LOVE networking!! Another great network is #yalove, which is all about YA books from all publishers, genres, and librarian read-aholics from around the nation! http://www.yalovechat.wikispaces.com
With a simple interface, this is my go-to to find the newest releases for YA books. This is an independent site created and updated by a librarian, Keri Adams and web developer Stefan Hayden.
The site opens to upcoming books being released as well as the release dates, but has a list of published books by month, from newest to oldest. YALSA BOOKLISTS: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/booklistsbook
From the definitive machine on children's and young adult literature, go to this site not only to find out the most current lists, but also to look at the nominations lists to consider future titles you may want to purchase. I always try to pick at least 10 winners on the nominations list from a personal POV :) STATE BOOK LISTS: http://www.txla.org/groups/yart
Call me biased, but I absolutely love the Texas Library Association's booklists for young adults. Not only is the annotated current list available, but also the current nominations. The different lists include Lonestar: middle/junior high schools; Maverick: graphic novels for YA; TAYSHAS: high school readers; and the Spirit of Texas book awards, celebrating the best authors from the state. Texas also has booklists for children: the 2x2 for children aged two years old to second grade; and the Bluebonnet list: elementary school booklist. A BOOK AND A HUG: http://www.abookandahug.com/index.php
I wasn't really sure where to put this site because it does SO MUCH!! Created and updated by Barb Langridge, the site contains book reviews, What's New, searches by category, searching by reading levels and more - all for children's and young adult books.
WHAT TO READ NEXT
BOOK SEER: http://www.bookseer.com
This is a very simple fill in the blank question: I just finished ______________ by __________.What should I read next? That's it...once you type in your book, it gives recommendations based on amazon recommendations. Some of the recommendations may be skewed (Michael Northrop's newest book, Surrounded by Sharks and Diary of a Wimpy Kid?? Really?) but it's fun nonetheless and does come up with some solid recommendations.WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT: http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com
Similar to Book Seer, you type in the title of a book or name of an author and the site gives you similar recommendations. What is different about this one is that every book listed also has subjects as well, which could make searching the recommended list easier. The info button takes you to....you got it... Amazon. You can also join and create lists that you can add or delete from and also have the option to share your lists....hmmmmm....I like that!!YOUR NEXT READ: http://www.yournextread.com
Ohhhhh....this is my dream site! The front page takes you to featured booklists, but also has tabs, including children's books, a leaderboard of top readers, and a "My Map" tab that will simply blow your mind as they create an awesome map of recommendations and how they all tie in. This site is affiliated with goodreads.com. You can create your own sign in and get even more personalized (although this took awhile to get a confirmation email so be patient)
MID CONTINENT PUBLIC LIBRARY SERIES FINDER: http://www.mymcpl.org/books-movies-music/juvenile-series
Updated by real librarians, these is a VERY large collection of series titles and which books are in that particular series. You can view four different ways: series title, subject, book title, and author. I did a quick search of one of the newer series out there (Darren Shan's Zom-b series) and didn't find it on their database, but that doesn't mean I'm going to rule out this audacious series finder, which are few and far to come by!MANGA PANDA: http://www.mangapanda.com/alphabetical
I admit defeat...there is NO way I could possibly keep up with this genre and I freely admit it. So with that said, a student told me about this website and I'm so thankful!! I'll never have to worry I have the latest or which ones are out - this list makes it EASY PEASY!
OLD SCHOOL IT
There are also others out there and you can go old-school by asking a friend or librarian. In fact, that may be the best way yet because not only do you get great recommendations, but you also create relationships in a face-to-face environment, which we need more of.
All of these sites will satisfy any reader's thirst for more of the newest, brightest, best so stay thirsty, my friends :)
One of my goals for programming at my new library is to increase the frequency of pop-up programs in the youth area. We offer a great range of formal, specific-place/specific-time programs every quarter, but I’ve been thinking about whom these types of programs engage. I’m still learning the demographics of youth and families at my new job, but I do have the feeling that the Venn diagram circles of kids who come to the library and kids who come to programs are not wholly overlapping. Why not provide pop-up programs, then, that can take place in the open, without registration restrictions or time requirements, on days and at times when lots of kids are in the space? And why not structure these pop-ups around STEAM activities, which kids are hugely enjoying?
Here are five potential pop-up programs, one for each STEAM content area. These pop-ups would be facilitated and supervised by a staff member.
Science – Candy Chromatography, à la Steve Spangler
Stock up at post-holiday candy sales, grab some coffee filters and a cup of water, and you’re ready to see the true colors of kids’ favorite candies. Dunk a candy–preferably something that obviously has dye, like jelly beans, Skittles, and really dark candies–in the water for a few seconds, then set it on the coffee filter. Over the course of the next ten minutes, the dyes from the candy will separate and create something like colorful tree rings on the filter. Note: you can also do this with different types of ink pens to see the colors that actually make up black and blue ink.
Technology – MaKey MaKey!
Break out a fully-charged laptop and a MaKey MaKey kit so that kids can figure out how it works. Let them work collaboratively to figure out how to hook everything up (with plenty of options for conductive materials, like paper clips, dough, and even bananas), then play a game or two from the MaKey MaKey website with their homemade controller before letting another kid have a chance.
Engineering – The Perfect Paper Airplane
Offer all the supplies to make a wide range of paper airplanes: paper in different weights, paper clips, straws, tape, scissors, etc. Don’t forget to include books and/or print-out instructions for paper airplane designs to give kids a starting-off point. Mark out a flying course on the floor/ground (masking tape if inside, chalk if outside) so you can see how far planes fly. Encourage kids to modify their designs to produce longer flight distances.
Art – Friendship Bracelets
Set out different colors of embroidery floss, some masking tape and scissors, and a few books on bracelet designs and let kids spend some time making the designs of their choosing. This may seem like a pretty standard craft, not necessarily a STEAM arts activity; but in actuality, there’s a ton of math involved in figuring out how to weave and create patterns. Bonus of this activity: once kids have the basics of their design, they can socialize as they work, potentially building a camaraderie between kids who tend to be at the library at the same times but never really interact.
Math – Tangrams
Allow kids to engage in some visual problem-solving by setting out tangrams and designs for them to replicate using the shape pieces. You can offer plastic tangram pieces, or print out a tangram template so that kids can cut out and keep their pieces. For kids who get really into solving these puzzles, you can even have speed races to see how quickly kids can figure out different designs.
One of the great things about these types of pop-up programs is that they can translate to lots of different settings. Since they involve limited designated space and few materials, these activities can be “packed up,” so to speak, to accompany a library staffer on outreach, or to bookmobile stops frequented by families with children. When it comes down to it, STEAM pop-ups allow us to provide access to engaging activities and interesting ideas in a context that may be much more viable for many of the families who use our libraries, but never step through the program room door.
Do you offer pop-up programming at your library?
Last week we looked at a couple of students who were working on the visual plan and the use of drawing lessons. Let's peek in and see how that work is coming along in the shared and independent practice of writing workshop.
Eerie Elementary by Jack Chabert is yet another fantastic series that's part of Scholastic's much needed Branches line. These books are "specifically designed for newly independent readers who are ready to make the exciting leap from leveled readers, but not quite prepared for a traditional chapter book." In the school where I am a librarian and the majority of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders
Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson whose book, Brown Girl Dreaming, was just named a finalist for the National Book Award.
You know how much I love this book and already featured Jacqueline in a Poet to Poet interview with Carole Boston Weatherford.
But did I mention that I also find it so intriguing that a memoir-in-verse is getting all this recognition? I think that’s wonderful! And I loved how Jacqueline said, “This is how memory comes to me -- In small moments with all of this white space around them.”
That seems to be true for many poets and I thought it might be interesting to gather a list of other memoirs told in poem or verse form.
For example, have you seen Marilyn Nelson’s latest book, How I Discovered Poetry?
It’s a memoir in 50 sonnets! And it’s a perfect partner
to Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming
in its exploration of family, identity, racism, and writing. Don’t miss it! Plus, I hear that Margarita Engle will be publishing her own memoir in verse next year (2015).
It’s also interesting to explore how memoir is adapted for other poetic perspectives. Naomi Shihab Nye wove autobiographical poems and passages alongside science-themed entries in her evocative, Honeybee (Greenwillow, 2008). Carole Boston Weatherford created a fictional verse memoir to tell the first-person life story of the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in Becoming Billie Holiday (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2008).
And for a comic twist, look for Bobbi Katz’s engaging, mock memoir with the most beautiful retro cover and scrapbook-like interior perfect for Halloween sharing, The Monsterologist; A Memoir in Rhyme (Sterling, 2009). Or for younger readers, another mock memoir presented as if written in a student notebook by Gary Crew, Troy Thompson’s Excellent Peotry [sic] (Kane/Miller, 2003). Hilarious!
And any look at memoir merits a discussion of biography, autobiography, and history captured through poetry. For example, J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen create a vivid biography in poems for artist Marc Chagall in Self Portrait with Seven Fingers: A Life of Marc Chagall in Verse (Creative Editions, 2011). Gorgeous Chagall art included!
Writers Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Thanhha Lai wrote award-winning novels in verse that were largely autobiographical
and truly compelling:
Guadalupe Garcia McCall's Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low, 2011).
Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again (HarperCollins, 2011).
And let’s not neglect novels in verse that are grounded in true stories and historical events like:
Allan Wolf's The Watch That Ends the Night; Voices from the Titanic (Candlewick, 2011)
Maryann MacDonald's Odette’s Secrets (Bloomsbury, 2013)
to name just a few...
What a great opportunity to talk with students about memory and poetry!
Poetry Memoirs for Young People
Poetry is one place where writers look back on their lives and share memories of significant moments and experiences. Here is a selection of poetry memoirs written specifically for young people.
- Abeel, Samantha.1993. Reach for the Moon. Duluth, MN: Pfeifer-Hamilton.
- Appelt, Kathi. 2004. My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoirs. New York: Henry Holt.
- Begay, Shonto. 1995. Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa. New York: Scholastic.
- Brown, Dale S. 1995. I Know I Can Climb the Mountain. Columbus, OH: Mountain Books & Music.
- Corrigan, Eireann. 2002. You Remind Me of You; A Poetry Memoir. New York: Push/Scholastic.
- Graves, Donald. 1996. Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
- Greenfield, Eloise. 1993. Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir. New York: HarperCollins.
- Grimes, Nikki. 2004. Tai Chi morning: Snapshots of China. Chicago: Cricket Books.
- Harrison, David L. 2004. Connecting Dots: Poems of My Journey. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
- Herrera, Juan Felipe. 2001. Calling The Doves/El Canto De Las Palomas. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
- Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1995. Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong, Boyds Mills Press.
- Levy, Debbie. 2010. The Year of Goodbyes; A True Story of Friendship, Family and Farewells.
- Little, Lessie Jones. 1988. Children of Long Ago: Poems. New York: Lee & Low. Reprinted, 2000.
- Lyon, George Ella. 1999. Where I’m From, Where Poems Come From. Spring, TX: Absey & Co.
- Mak, Kam. 2001. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems. New York: HarperCollins.
- Rylant, Cynthia. 1991. Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
- Spain, Sahara Sunday. 2001. If There Would Be No Light; Poems from My Heart. San Francisco: HarperCollins.
- Stepanek, Mattie. 2002. Heartsongs. New York: Hyperion.
- Stevenson, James. 1995. Sweet Corn: Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
- Stevenson, James. 1998. Popcorn: Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
- Stevenson, James. 2002. Corn-Fed: Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
- Stevenson, James. 2003. Corn Chowder: Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
- Thoms, Annie. Ed. 2002. With Their Eyes. New York: HarperTempest.
- Turner, Ann. 2000. Learning to Swim; A Memoir. New York: Scholastic.
- Yolen, Jane. 2012. Ekaterinoslav: One Family's Passage to America, a Memoir in Verse. Duluth, MN: HolyCow! Press.
- Yu, Chin. 2005. Little Green; Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.
The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World by Nancy Jo Sales. It Books. 2013. Library copy. Inspired film by the same name.It's About
The Bling Ring.
: The true story of how, in 2008 - 2009, a bunch of teens broke into the homes of their favorite celebrities and stole clothes and jewelry. The Bling Ring
explores who those teens were, how they planned the crimes, and how they were caught.The Good:
Both the film and the movie view this series of home robberies as an opportunity to examine entitlement celebrity fan culture. The teens targeted those people they liked, not those they didn't. They wanted to be in those homes, go through their closets, wear their clothes. It was part celebrity worship, but it was also part entitlement. Why shouldn't they do this?
The reader is as much a voyeur as those teens, reading about the robberies and the celebrities, laughing at those rich people with poor security. The movie ups that aspect by filming in the actual locations, including some of the homes.
I found it helpful to read the book before the film: the film changes some things to the make the story more linear, less messy, so consolidates and shifts some events. In simplifying the story, some of the nuance and depth is lost. That the "ring" was messy is part of the point of the underlining story.
A book like this is dependent on who talks to the writer, and not all of the teens spoke with Sales. While understandable, it also means that the reader is left with not enough understanding of just exactly what happened, who was involved, how involved they were, etc. Still, it's a pretty valuable examination of a certain type of teenager as well as a look at what happens when they get caught.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Inspired by a story about a brave high school student, I left a positive post-it note for each teacher I worked with earlier this week.
Kids get so excited about Halloween -- and I love tapping into that excitement in the library, especially if I can hook more kids into reading. Writing for beginning readers must be one of the most difficult tasks. Here are two books that are goofy-scary, funny but with enough creepiness to keep young kids reading.
illustrated by Michael Emberly
Little, Brown, 2007
These stories, part of a favorite series with 1st and 2nd graders, are ideal for reading aloud. Each poem is meant to be read by two voices, alternating back and forth. Hoberman uses the spooky settings creating delightful fun and celebrating joy in reading.
Here's the beginning of "The Mummy" as two kids go exploring and discover a mummy. "Let's explore inside this tomb, / I'm afraid we'll meet our doom." I love the rhythm and rhyme of Hoberman's text, and Emberly's pictures reach just the right balance between goofy and creepy.
Hoberman's poems focus on thirteen different Halloween mainstays, ranging from "The Skeleton" to "The Witch and the Broomstick." Seek out all the titles in this terrific series.
The Spooky Sleepover
I Can Read! #2
by Dave Keane
Harper Collins, 2014
Your local library
Norm is a nervous about his first sleepover--it's going to be at school, and it's his first time sleeping away from home. "I miss my bed already," worried Norm. Kids will relate to Norm's worries, but they'll laugh at all the word play in this story.
Norm's friends at school are all monsters, from Gary the ghost to Harry the werewolf who turns hairy. Keane does a great job creating funny interplay between the words and pictures. Below, you can see that Isaac, the purple monster in the blue PJs, is literally crying his eyes out -- and they're bouncing all around him. 2nd graders love this play on words, plus the silly gross-out factor.
Keane's Monster School
series works well for kids who can read longer sentences on their own, but still want short, high-interest stories to keep them engaged.
Are there other monster or ghost stories that work well for your developing readers? Our superhero beginning readers are also in high demand right now, especially with kindergartners and first graders.
The review copy of Monster School
was kindly sent by the publishers, HarperCollins Publishers. The review copy of You Read to Me, I'll Read to You
came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
By: Terry Doherty,
RT Walden Pond Press: A HUGE thank you to everyone involved with cybils and for ALL FIVE nominations for Walden Pond Press titles! What an honor! #cybils #kidlit
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The Magic Half. Annie Barrows. 2007. Bloomsbury. 212 pages. [Source: Library]
Miri is the middle child in a large family. She has twin older brothers--Ray and Robbie--and twin younger sisters--Nell and Nora. The family has just moved into a new house, a not-so-new house. Miri's room used to be part of the attic, it is a bit unusual, and not just because of the super-ugly wallpaper. But Miri only comes to realize this a week or two after the move. One afternoon after a horrible fight that ends in punishment for Miri, she discovers something that will change everything. The discovery? A single lens from a pair of glasses taped to the wall near the floor. She looks through the lens. She's curious like that. And that's when it happens. She finds herself in 1935. She meets Molly. Molly's mom is dead, her dad is out of the picture--has been out of the picture for six years. Molly is "being raised" by her aunt alongside her cousins. Think Jane Eyre. That's really all I have to say about Molly's situation! Molly is convinced that Miri is her savior, could Molly be right? Has Miri traveled to the past to save Molly? And what does it mean to save Molly? Does that mean taking her back to the future? How would that even work? So many questions Miri has! She'll need to brainstorm if she's going to succeed.
I liked The Magic Half. I like fantasy novels. I like time travel stories. Is it the best book ever? Is it the best time travel story ever? Probably not. But it doesn't have to be the best for me to like it, to enjoy it. This one might pair well with Laurel Snyder's Seven Stories Up
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews