Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taking Stock - April

Another month whizzes by!

Total posts: 18
Total books read this month: 30
Total books read this year: 124

Challenges:
Audio Books: 7/12
Debut Author: 1/2
Mount TBR: 0
Picture Books: 6/34

The Good: Good audio book month.

The Bad: Dropped down to 30 books for the month. Didn't review much. Read only 1 debut. Still haven't read anything off the TBR. 

The Books: * indicated favorites
95. Who Says Women Can't be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone (4/1)
96. Scowler by Daniel Kraus (4/1)
97. Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean (4/2)
98. Titanic by Sean Callery (4/2)
99. Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin (4/2)
100. A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell (4/2)
101. Digger Dozer Dumper by Hope Vestergaard (4/3)
102. The Crocodile and the Scorpion by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley (4/3)
103. Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins (4/4)  
104. Treasury of Egyptian Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli (4/4)
105. The Prank List by Anna Staniszewski (Reviewed for SLJ) (4/5)
106. The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern (4/6)*
107. How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson (4/7)
108. Fossil Fish Found Alive by Sally Walker (4/8)
109. The Chicken Squad: the first misadventure by Doreen Cronin (4/9)
110. Babar on Paradise Island by Laurent de Brunhoff (4/9)
111. Jasmine and Maddie by Christine Pakkala (4/10)
112. I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña (4/10)
113. Lulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay (4/11)
114. The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett (4/12)*
115. The Magic Trap by Jacqueline Davies (4/16)
116. Hunted (Spirit Animals #2) by Maggie Stiefvater (4/17)
117. The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda (4/18)*
118. Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brachmachari (4/19)*
119. Nerd Camp 2.0 by Elissa Brent Weissman (4/21)
120. Blood Ties (Spirit Animals #3) by Garth Nix and Sean Williams (4/28)
121. Starring Jules, Super-secret Spy-girl by Beth Ain (4/28)
122. The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of the Civil Rights Movement (4/29)*
123. Girl, Stolen by April Henry (4/29)
124. We Were Here by Matt de la Peña (4/30)*

Waiting on Wednesday - Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we are eagerly anticipating.

I learned about this through PW last Thursday. I'm so psyched because I love Westerfeld's books and so do many of my students.


Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld.  Simon Pulse/ Simon & Schuster, September 23, 2014. 9781481422345.

Publisher synopsis: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld comes a smart, thought-provoking novel-within-a-novel that you won’t be able to put down.
Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.
Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

What are you waiting on?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald helped change African American education


Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald helped change African American education by Norman H. Finkelstein. 80 p. Calkins Creek/ Boyds Mills Press, April, 2014. 9781590788417. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Julius Rosenwald was a wealthy man whose motto was, "give while you live," gave generously to a variety of both Jewish and Christian charities. When he met Booker T. Washington and learned of the deplorable conditions of schools for African Americans in the south, he was moved to fund the building of new ones. There was a prerequisite however. He would provide a third of the cost and the community needed to provide the rest. Over twenty years, Rosenwald funded 5300 schools. That means that 5300 communities throughout the south scrimped, saved, fundraised and built their own schools. These were often small two or three room multipurpose structures but they were better than the crumbling buildings that they replaced. Rosenwald's gift was extraordinary, but even more so was the dedication of the African American community in making a new school happen.

This account is highly readable and engaging. The design is attractive, with plenty of white space and chock full of  well-captioned and interesting photographs, architectural drawings and maps. Each chapter is documented with source notes and a bibliography and list of web sites to visit are provided at the end. No African American history collection is complete without this purchase. Highly recommended.



Saturday, April 26, 2014

What's New? Stacking the Shelves


StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got.

Purchased:



Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Unabridged audiobook on 14 CDs. 18 hours. Narrated by Christine Hvam. Hachette Audio, 2014. 9781478952633.

Publisher synopsis: In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she's ever known.
When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat--and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love.
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
I adored books 1 & 2, especially book 2 because Karou didn't wimp out as so many kick-ass heroines tend to do in YA series. I especially love the narrator's performances. She really brings the characters to life.



Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana. 309 p. Chronicle Books LLC., April 8, 2014. 9781452124568.

Publisher synopsis: Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she's older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

Promotional gift: Ooh, these won't last long when I put them out. I have at least two copies of each Wimpy Kid book and they're rarely on the shelf. I do believe that the cover reveal of the next installment is pretty soon.





What's new with you?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Memes: Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.



Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana. 313 p. Chronicle Books LLC., April 8, 2014. 9781452124568.

Publisher synopsis: Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she's older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

First Line: I was on my tippy-toes, bouncing up and down on the first step of the bus, stuck behind my second cousin, Danisha, and her melon-sized butt.

Page 56: Everything was headed in the right direction when Mama made me birthday biscuits for breakfast, and Sealy woke up singin', "It's your birthday, it's your birthday!" over and over again. But, just 'cause of some annoying storm, everyone wanted to go half-stupid and cancel my party. I hated Hurricane Katrina. I didn't care where the idiot storm went. People can't just go around canceling other people's birthdays.

I can't recall how I heard about this one, but it's a debut and about Hurricane Katrina. There aren't that many children's books about it. I thought Ninth Ward was brilliant and recently read Zane and the Hurricane

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we are eagerly anticipating.

Last week, I found an article about this on PW. I have enjoyed this series immensely and am sort of sad that it's ending. 


Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger. Abrams/ Amulet, August, 2014. 9781419709333.


What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Characters Who Stole My Heart

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is all about characters, our choice of theme. Since I am rereading one of my favorite books of all time, this time with my ears and am enjoying revisiting some of my favorite characters, I'm going to share some characters who stole my heart. Five YA and five MG. Five male protagonists, two pairs of boys and girls and three female protagonists.



We Were Here by Matt de la Peña. (Random House/ 2009) This one is on my top ten favorites of all books. I just wanted to adopt Miguel, Mong and Rondell. 



Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden (HMH/ 2013) Cricket is another character I wanted to adopt. His voice still rings in my head. Impressive debut.



Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (HMH, 2013) Another impressive debut, this Morris Award Finalist is narrated by James Whitman, a depressed sixteen-year-old Walt Whitman fanatic.



Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown/ 2009) Another all-time fave. Junior's story haunted me before it deservedly won the National Book Award. I have reread this one countless times with both my eyes and ears and sloppy sob every time.



Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Press/ 2013) I read this one with my ears and found I was constantly holding my breath, worried about Eleanor's safety. No surprise when this one garnered a Printz Honor.



Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington (Little, Brown/ 2013) What do you do when your mother murders your twin brother and attempts to murder you and when you parent your alcoholic father who is quick to pull up stakes and relocate? You write letters to Atticus Finch (a perfect father) and your best friend is a plant. 



The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor (FSG/ 2009) When I think of authors who waste no words, Barbara O'Connor's name tops the list. Popeye is one of my middle grade favorite characters.



Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur (Random House/ 2009) Aubrey bravely tries to live life alone when her mother abandons her one day. Her grandmother comes to the rescue, thank goodness, but it takes a while for Aubrey to open up and trust. 



Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell (Atheneum/ 2005) This one has stuck with me the longest. Heartbreaking and hopeful. I think it's time for a reread. The cover has been redesigned. I chose the original cover to post as it's my favorite.



Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin/ 2012) Mo and Dale, two best friends, two unique and lovable characters. They return in a sequel, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, which is just as good. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley


A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. unpgd. Scholastic Inc., February, 2014. 9780545350884. (Review copy courtesy of publisher.)     

Truth be told, Ralph Waldo Emerson does not spring immediately to mind when pondering subjects for a picture book biography. If anyone can make the world of this 19th century thinker accessible to a young audience, this duo, who brought us the amazing What to Do about Alice? and Those Rebels Tom and John, can.

Emerson settled in Concord, Mass with his second wife, Queenie. He loved his life there. He had his books, a vibrant community and quick and easy access to nature. He and his wife also entertained the many house-guests who made their way from all corners of the globe to the Emerson's doorstep. When his beloved house burned to the ground, Emerson decided to travel the world with his daughter while his house was being rebuilt. When he returned home, he was touched to discover that the community restored his house down to every detail.

The oversized cartoonish illustrations practically leap from the pages, there's such energy in each. Notable Emerson quotes decorate the end pages and are woven through the illustrations. An author's note provides more information and source notes are included. Accessible and unique, this is not your run-of-the-mill picture book biography. 

Non-Fiction Monday: The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle


The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle. Illustrated by Joan Paley. unpged. Boyds Mills Press, April 1, 2014. 9781620910009. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

The author discusses the life of a banded woolly bear caterpillar named Bella in this narrative non-fiction picture book for younger readers. Using words like undulate and accurate scientific taxonomy that is explained in text as well as in a glossary, the author describes Bella's journey, which is fraught with danger from predators and cars in her search for food to eat and, eventually, the perfect place to spend the winter. 

The colorful, mixed-media collages depict the changing seasons and the variety of other animals she might encounter. Further information about the woolly bear caterpillar, including the myth about its ability to predict the severity of the coming winter is included at the end.



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got.

For review:



The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer. 312 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 1, 2014. 9780399163937. 

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.
After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

What's new with you?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Memes: The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer


Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.


The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer. 312 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 1, 2014. 9780399163937. 

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.
After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.
First line: All I had to do was walk up to the coffin.

Page 56: I stared forward for a few seconds, asking Mama for help to get through my day, even though I was pretty much an old pro at first days.
This debut was blurbed by the venerable Richard Peck, who called it, " a lyric novel about love and loss."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles whose release we are eagerly anticipating.


Mix It Up by Herve Tullet
Chronicle Books
Fall, 2014

I learned about this one earlier this month when Betsy Bird, over at Fuse #8, posted about the Chronicle Books Fall Preview. There is nothing about it in my usual online haunts or the Chronicle Books website so I swiped the image from the post. Pop on over there to read about it and all the other interesting upcoming Chronicle offerings.

I have both Tullet's Press Here and Presiona Aqui in my middle school collection and my students adore them proving once again, one is never too old for picture books. I have a feeling the art teacher will be all over this one.

What are you waiting on?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Discover More Titanic by Sean Callery


Discover More: Titanic by Sean Callery. 111p. Scholastic Discover More Series. Scholastic Inc., February, 2014. 9780545505123. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

I must admit to sighing when I saw this entry in the Discover More series. I have really enjoyed the entries so far and asked myself, "Do I really need another Titanic book?" Interest in this disaster certainly ebbs and flows over the years I've been a school librarian. Some years, it seems I can't have enough and other years, what I do have languishes. Interestingly, circulation did not spike back in 2012, the centennial of the sinking.

The Discover More series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine as each entry consistently interests and pleases. Titanic is no different. A boatload of information is packed between the covers. Everything from the rivalry between transatlantic ocean lines to the reasons why people immigrated to America to the nitty-gritty of the construction of the Titanic and more, all accompanied by fascinating drawings and photographs. Side bars provide additional resources, mini-glossaries and suggestions of places to visit and people to look up. Each chapter asks the reader to ponder questions and then provides evidence but allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. The bonus E-book contains five survival stories. 

This would be good for report writers and perfect for your fact hounds to devour for its many bits of trivia and wonder.





Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Memes: Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.



Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari. 284 p. Albert Whitman & Company, September, 2013. 9780807551493.

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic, and outspoken family in which it's not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. An incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance--and often injustice--of life and death. But at its heart, it's a celebration of friendship, culture--and life.

First line: I have an ache in the pit of my belly, and a metal taste in my mouth, the kind that comes up just before you puke.

Page 56: It's like he belonged. Watching Krish standing there did feel like a historic occasion in our family, even though they announced the winner to be someone else..."Chris Levenson."

It was then that I saw Graddad Bimal hoist himself out of the car and walk very slowly over to the trailer where the man was chattering away on a loudspeaker. The next thing I heard was Loudspeaker Man's voice.

"I have an apology to make..."

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Bunny in the Ballet by Robert Beck


A Bunny in the Ballet by Robert Beck. unpgd. Scholastic Inc., January, 2014. 9780545429306. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Robert Beck, former principal dancer, dance company founder and owner of a rabbit named Déserée, makes his children's book debut with this frothy confection about pursuing one's dreams.

Déserée the bunny wants nothing more than to join a ballet company and dance her heart out. She's all music and movement and splits too, in her room but when she sets out to join a company, Madame Molotov is not very welcoming. "There are no bunnies in the ballet." Mr. Cloud is more welcoming. Even though she's the only student in pink dance clothes, thanks to Madame, she's an able and enthusiastic pupil.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are splashes of color and line, little detail and more evocative of movement. Déserée is an adorable bundle of lines who morphs a bit curiously when she dons a tutu. I'm not sure if this one has the muscle to compete with the plethora of books out there for balletophiles, but if one has a reader who can't get enough of them, Déserée's story is sure to please.

Non-Fiction Monday: Mysterious Patterns: finding fractals in nature by Sarah C. Campbell


Mysterious Patterns: finding fractals in nature by Sarah C. Campbell. Photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell. 32 p. Boyds Mills Press, April 1, 2014. 9781620916278. (Finished copy provided by publisher for review.)

The concept of fractals is explained here in simple text accompanied by brilliant photographs of shapes in nature that are considered fractals and shapes that are not. Perfect for the visual learner and/ or math-phobe. Math teachers ought to consider using this to introduce the concept. The volume concludes with an invitation to create your own fractal and an Afterword by Michael Frame, a colleague of Benoit Mandelbrot, who posits that an invisibility cloak like Harry Potter's is theoretically possible thanks to fractals.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

What's New? Stacking the Shelves




StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

Won: Wow! I hardly ever win anything but I won this courtesy of Chronicle Books via Fuse#8. Thank you!



The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern. 220 p. Chronicle Books LLC, May 6, 2014. 

Publisher synopsis: As befits a future President of the United States of America, Maggie Mayfield has decided to write a memoir of the past year of her life. And what a banner year it's been! During this period she's Student of the Month on a regular basis, an official shareholder of Coca-Cola stock, and defending Science Fair champion. Most importantly, though, this is the year Maggie has to pull up her bootstraps (the family motto) and finally learn why her cool-dude dad is in a wheelchair, no matter how scary that is. Author Megan Jean Sovern, herself the daughter of a dad with multiple sclerosis, writes with the funny grace and assured prose of a new literary star. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Purchased:

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. 112 p. Dial, January, 2014. 9780803733046.

Publisher synopsis: A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights era memoir from one of America’s most celebrated poets.
 
Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.
 
A first-person account of African-American history, this is a book to study, discuss, and treasure.


Ms. Nelson's poetry almost always affects me deeply. I am a huge fan of her work. I'm also hoping that this will be a unique and compelling addition to our memoir collection for an eighth grade unit.



Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater. (Spirit Animals #2) Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs, 5 hours, 16 minutes. Read by Nicola Barber. Scholastic Inc., January, 2014. 9780545648745. 

Publisher synopsis: 
In the world of Erdas, only a rare few are able to summon a spirit animal in the way Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan have. The bond they share with their animals is a partnership that allows them to access more-than-human abilities.

But what if there was another way to create a spirit animal--to force the bond, giving the human partner total control? And what if someone with selfish intensions was offered this gift . . . with a catch?
The four young heroes have barely had time to come together as a team, and their own spirit animal bonds are still greatly untested. But now they face a brutal confrontation against an enemy who will break any rule to defeat them.
I recently received the third book in this series to review. I really don't like jumping into the middle of any series, so-o, I am playing catch-up. It's enjoyable though.


That's what's new with me. What's new with you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Pigs by Leslie Helakoski


Big Pigs by Leslie Helakoski. unpgd. Boyds Mills Press, April 1, 2014. 9781620910238. (Finished copy courtesy of the publisher for review.)

Playfully piggish and occasionally alliterative, this is a cute story about three little pigs who are out to prove they are the biggest pigs ever. They squeeze under the fence and make mayhem in the vegetable garden. Once the veggies are all gone, they discover lots of mud for flopping and plopping in the oozy mud. Upon returning home however, Mama pig demands to know who's responsible for all that piggish behavior. The pigs think that they're in trouble until Mama reveals how proud she is of her little pigs.

The illustrations are done in acrylics. The palette is a bit muted. The pigs are definitely of the cartoon variety and each sports a splatter of mud. Should make for some story time fun.