In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Thanks to: TeachMentorTexts for the inspiration! Thanks to Jen and Kellee for the meme! Well, for the past few weeks, I’ve been wondering what has made me such a sensitive basket case and I’ve come to a revelation: I’m reading really really good books that hit me in the gut. I’ve tried to put in a little bit of lighthearted reading selection, but obviously, not enough to keep me as a stable human being during normal operating hours.
Speaking of which, have I mentioned that I get my best reading done in the evening? Unfortunately, during the summer, this leads to insomnia and then my putting a clamp on things, and so goes the cycle over and over. Just can’t help it, I read, I love, I can’t put down, therefore, I sleep until 10:30am some days which my husband completely (and respectfully) gets, my kiddo– is neutral. Doesn’t happen too often but when I joked about getting up “early” for an 8am here, 8pm EST, #titletalk last week… I was not joking at all. I had been up the night before until 2am, reading. Now I admit, some of my down time has focused on tv. I just finished watching all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights within a week. Yes, a week. My husband has put his foot down with me saying “you know, I’d like to see what ___ show is about” for a long while because unfortunately, if I start watching something, he often joins in as well. In any case, it has been a fantastic, lovely, powerful, insightful reading week which I am thoroughly grateful for… My favorite is at the top…
Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock – Realistic Fiction, 4th grade and up – I just loved, no hated, no loved reading the perspective of an impoverished child living in an orphanage in China, getting adopted by an American family, and committing to her best friend that she would find her a family as well. The angst and the anxiety this brilliant author put me through during the book was so powerful. I felt guilt over not knowing about some of the organizations for supporting children. I additionally appreciated the wonderful, loving families who adopt children, even when the children are older. I highly recommend this book for students (and adults) who want to enjoy a beautiful story filled with empathy, caring, and powerful friendship. Especially if they enjoy reading books with commitment mingled through. Goodreads Summary: “Wen has spent the first eleven years of her life at an orphanage in rural China, and the only person she would call family is her best friend, Shu Ling. When Wen is adopted by an American couple, she struggles to adjust to every part of her new life: having access to all the food and clothes she could want, going to school, being someone’s daughter. But the hardest part of all is knowing that Shu Ling remains back at the orphanage, alone. Wen knows that her best friend deserves a family and a future, too. But finding a home for Shu Ling isn’t easy, and time is running out . . .”
Chook Chook Mei’s Secret Pets by Wai Chim – Realistic Fiction, Multicultural, 2nd grade and up – this was a quick beautiful story set in rural China about a family recovering from the loss of a father, an innovative girl, and the luck she has finding two little baby chicks in the bushes near her house. Just loved how Wai Chim was able to shift back and forth between upsetting scenes with a snake, barber, and then shift to lovely brother sister and mother/daughter scenes as well. Special little powerful book. Goodreads Summary: “They were the fuzziest, funniest and most finely feathered baby chooks I had ever seen. A heartfelt tale of love, loss and the power of kindness set against the backdrop of rural China.”
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson – Fantasy, 4th grade and up – how many of you have read a book and by the second chapter think to yourself, well, there’s the end of the story, how is the author going to continue it now? That’s how I was with reading The Abominables. I felt like every few chapters I finished another short story. They all tied together beautifully but it led me to think about how much I love Eva Ibbotson and how fun this book would be for a read-aloud… asking the question: “What will they go through next? Do you think it will go as planned? How do you want this book to conclude? Do you think this character will develop into a main character?” I’m excited to have my readers enjoy this book in the fall since it is a Hong Kong Battle of the Books selected title for the year. Quite a load of fun. I especially loved the zoo scenes and how quickly Eva Ibbotson can wrap up and move to the next part of the story keeping the momentum going and beautiful story touching…
Goodreads Summary: “A hundred years ago, in the Himalayan peaks of Nanvi Dar, the daughter of an English earl is kidnapped by a huge hairy monster. In a secret valley Agatha Farlingham is introduced to a family of motherless yetis and devotes her life to their upbringing. She teaches them to speak, tells them stories and insists on polite manners. But as the decades pass, tourists come to the mountains, a hotel is built and yeti-hunters arrive. Agatha knows that there is one place in the world where they would be protected – her ancestral home at Farley Towers. When a boy and his sister stumble upon her hidden valley, she knows she has found the courageous people who will carry out her plan The excited yetis are smuggled into the bridal suite at the hotel. A freezer lorry is waiting to put them into semi-hibernation on the long trip home. But the baby yak that has fallen in love with the youngest yeti foils the refrigeration plan and they set off on a hugely entertaining road trip half way across the world. In the Sultan of Aslerfan’s kingdom the yetis release all the animals from his zoo. In the Alps they rescue a lost child in a blizzard. In Spain, the yak creates chaos at a bullfight. But when they arrive in England, a terrible shock awaits them at Farley …”
The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt – Fantasy, 4th grade and up – What a fantasy classic! I really loved finally making time to read a book that I’ve been meaning to read for the last six years. I loved that the mystery of the story developed in a gorgeous way in addition to the connection between all the stories connecting. Interesting story with a King’s messenger who was sent to poll the kingdom on what people think the food should be to represent the word delicious. What an adventure he goes on! I just loved watching this classic develop. Can’t wait to share this with students next year as it is a Hong Kong Battle of the Books selected title for the coming year. Goodreads Summary: “The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylan, to poll the citizenry. Gaylan soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country.”
Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man by Donald J. Sobol – Mystery, 3rd grade and up – Just finished this 4th book in the series. Still love them. Still enjoy solving the mysteries with my kiddo. I was a bit thrown when I heard that there are talks about turning Encyclopedia Brown into a movie. I never watched the HBO adaptation of the series, not so sure I’m excited about a movie… but I bet my kiddo will be! http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2013/0701/Will-there-be-an-Encyclopedia-Brown-movie
Goodreads Summary: “Leroy Brown, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is Idaville neighborhood’s ten-year-old star detective. With an uncanny knack for trivia, he solves mysteries for the neighborhood kids through his own detective agency. But his dad also happens to be the chief of the Idaville police department, and every night around the dinner table, Encyclopedia helps him solve his most baffling crimes. And with ten confounding mysteries in each book, not only does Encyclopedia have a chance to solve them, but the reader is given all the clues as well. Interactive and chock full of interesting bits of information it’s classic Encyclopedia Brown!”
Vertical by Janet Eoff Berend – Realistic Fiction, High School and up- I became nervous quite soon after beginning this book. First off, the book was told through the perspective of a high school boy, Josh, obsessed with skateboarding, hating high school, and pretty negative about life in general. Josh had a best friend who didn’t see quite redeeming. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect and appreciate this character. Boy, I was wrong. I soon got past my apprehension, started picking up and understanding skateboarding terms a little better (found out there was a glossary in the back of the book AFTER completing the book), and grew to appreciate the character development of Josh. There were many poignant characters that helped this boy grow over time and learn to stand up for himself and think for himself. I would love to see this book in the young adult book partnership where books are identified and partnered with a classic counterpart. Vertical could be partnered with a few classics but the one the Josh’s class studied and I could see a smooth connection to was Antigone by Sophocles. I highly recommend this book to high school readers.
Goodreads Summary: “Skateboarder Josh Lowman witnesses one of the best skateboarders in town (the local bully) commit a crime. For days he agonizes over whether to tell anyone. Meanwhile, his friendships with a fellow skater (who is debating whether to drop out of school), a beautiful girl in his class (who loves to read, and seems to like Josh), and a cool math tutor (a college student who skates) slowly steer him toward a new kind of courage. Josh has a mesmerizing narrator’s voice; he rattles off a vacuous Valley-speak while slowly coming into his own, intellectually and morally. There is a hint of Holden Caufield about him. Vivid descriptions of skateboarding throughout the book will keep any skateboarder glued to the page. And a plot that rolls ahead constantly will maintain the reader’s attention, while intermittently sneaking in a few lessons from English and math class, which serve to advance the story. (References to math in skateboard ramp design; plus small epiphanies from Lord of the Flies,Antigone, and Of Mice and Men.) Josh starts out as a school-hating dude and slowly comes around to seeing that he can skate and be smart . . . and a decent person. Vertical will be loved by kids and by parents and teachers.”
Here’s my favorite lines from the book: “I guess sometimes the hardest part about being a friend is that there’s not too much you can do really when you’re friends lost in the wilderness. I mean you can try to help him not get lost in the first place. You can reach out your hand and tell him come this way, don’t go over there — it’s steep and gnarly and treacherous. But there’s not a whole lot you can do if he won’t reach out his hand and grab back…”
Accidental Time Traveller by Janis MacKay – Science Fiction, 4th grade and up -I accidentally began reading this book when I thought it was one I’d committed to read recently. I couldn’t stop reading it though. I really enjoyed the idea of a time traveller dropping into our present day world. I’ve certainly watched many shows and movies with this premise. I also enjoyed the plot twists and turns during the story. Especially with a boy who is grounded and has to prove himself to his parents. The characters stay true to form and the plot is well paced. Janis MacKay did a fine job of maintaining a character’s dialect and word choice of the past. I think the main reason I appreciated this book is that when the time traveller is introduced, you aren’t thrown back and forth in time. Sure the time traveller talks about her past and life experience but it was refreshing to just stick with one time period. I also appreciated that with this book being set in Ireland, the setting was drawn to life for me through the text. Goodreads Summary: “Saul is on his way to the corner shop on a seemingly ordinary day, when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She does not understand traffic or the things she sees in shops, and she’s wearing a long dress with ruffled sleeves. Her name is Agatha Black. Agatha Black is from 1813, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back to her time. With help from his buddies Will and Robbie, he tries to figure out how to make time travel happen. This face-paced, time-traveling adventure from Janis Mackay (author of the Magnus Fin books) is full of funny misunderstandings and gripping action.”
I featured this book last Thursday and ALMOST forgot to include it in this post! I listed my favorite animal fiction rescue books when I posted last Thursday about Endangered:
How much I loved:
This book, Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, Realistic Fiction/Adventure/Survival/Multicultural, High School and Up, has been on my radar for quite a long time. Many of my favorite reading bloggers have highly recommended this book and since I am such a huge fan of books connecting with love, animal rescue, and survival, I know it would touch me… but I didn’t expect to be yelling at the book so quickly. The story that develops at the beginning of the book sets a perfect example for children to learn from in regards to how your actions can have unforeseen consequences. I couldn’t put this book down, read it in a day and so very appreciative to those who highly recommended it to me. There are important, powerful messages throughout the book and I wish it was a book for all ages. But it certainly is not. It is for high school and adult readers. The book is brilliant, well thought out, and quite a touching masterpiece. I highly recommend it!
Goodreads Summary: “The compelling tale of a girl who must save a group of bonobos–and herself–from a violent coup. The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good. When one girl has to follow her mother to her sanctuary for bonobos, she’s not thrilled to be there. It’s her mother’s passion, and she’d rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive. Eliot Schrefer asks readers what safety means, how one sacrifices to help others, and what it means to be human in this new compelling adventure.”
Here are a few videos: (see more on the other page I posted about this)
Audio Books Enjoyed:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Fantasy, High School – Absolutely absorbing story. Walked around for four hours lost in the story with a “must finish this, what will happen!” sense of urgency. Just enjoyed the fantasy world Maggie Stiefvater created with gorgeous, rich language that provided me with amazing imagery and a complicated yet fascinating story. Highly recommended! Goodreads Summary: “It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”
I am now reading:
Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman – Science Fiction/Realistic Fiction, 5th grade and up – This is a book my year 6 students read and I have been dying to read myself. Came with high recommendations from a lovely student reader in addition to my former library assistant who hasn’t steered me wrong yet! Goodreads Summary: “You’re thirteen. All you want is a normal life. But most normal kids don’t need heart transplants. So there’s this doctor. He says there’s a chance for you. But he also says it’s experimental, controversial and risky. And it’s never been done before.”
Rotters by Daniel Kraus – Realistic Fiction, High School and Up. NOT ANY LOWER. I got this book as part of the free audiobook giveaway going on presently through http://www.audiobooksync.com. When I found out how highly it ranked on the Odyssey Book Awards list, I put it to the top of my “to be listened to” book list. Goodreads Summary: “Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It’s true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey’s life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school. Everything changes when Joey’s mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey’s father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey’s life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating. Daniel Kraus’s masterful plotting and unforgettable characters makeRotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.”
Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader! Please visit me at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1941055-the-styling-librarian Also, please follow this blog through email updates – (do so to the right of this blog post), my Facebook page, comment, or meet up with me on Twitter. I appreciate all of the support, makes my day! Honored by all the wonderful followers.