Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: One Last Shot by John David Anderson

Image: Walden Pond Press Facebook Page

One Last Shot by John David Anderson. 336 p. Walden Pond Press/ HarperCollins Publishers, May 5, 2020.  9780062643926.

Heads up fans of John David Anderson! The author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day and Posted has a new book arriving in May. Waiting on Wednesday features One Last Shot. It is about a boy named Malcolm who does not share his father's competitive nature and love of sports until he discovers miniature golf. Turns out, he's very good at it. Each hole is like a puzzle to solve. Not only that, he's making friends and can escape the tension of his parents' arguing. Can mini-golf become an obsession?
Publisher synopsis: For as long as he can remember, Malcolm has never felt like he was good enough. Not for his parents, who have always seemed at odds with each other, with Malcolm caught in between. And especially not for his dad, whose competitive drive and love for sports Malcolm has never shared.

That is, until Malcolm discovers miniature golf, the one sport he actually enjoys. Maybe it’s the way in which every hole is a puzzle to be solved. Or the whimsy of the windmills and waterfalls that decorate the course. Or maybe it’s the slushies at the snack bar. But whatever the reason, something about mini golf just clicks for Malcolm. And best of all, it’s a sport his dad can’t possibly obsess over.

Or so Malcolm thinks.

Soon he is signed up for lessons and entered in tournaments. And yet, even as he becomes a better golfer and finds unexpected friends at the local course, be wonders if he might not always be a disappointment. But as the final match of the year draws closer, the tension between Malcolm’s parents reaches a breaking point, and it’s up to him to put the puzzle of his family back together again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Teen Tuesday: Catwoman: soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas. DC Icons series #3. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~10 hours. Read by Julia Whelan. Random House/ Listening Library, August, 2018. 9780525595427. (Review of e-audio borrowed from public library. Own hc.)

Teen Tuesday features Catwoman: soul stealer by Sarah J. Maas. This is the third book of the DC Icons series in which popular YA authors imagine DC superheroes as teens. All is relatively quiet in Gotham City. Batman's away and his teen protege, Batwing, aka Luke Fox is keeping an eye on things. Enter one Holly Vanderhees, a rich socialite with a penchant for fundraisers. The only problem is that Holly is really Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, newly returned to Gotham City with a secret.

As someone who is not a superhero aficionado, I almost feel as though I should not weigh in on any of these books in the series. My experience with Batman was with the 1960s television show featuring Adam West as Batman. Robin was his sidekick. Catwoman was played by Julie Newmar. Who is this Batwing? Is this a new creation or have I missed something? Catwoman and Batman always seemed to have a thing. Why Batwing?

And, I have never read anything written by Sarah J. Maas! The worldbuilding was bleak, bleak, bleak as Gotham City is. The story flashes back to slowly inform readers of Selina's backstory. She's fierce. She's a survivor. She loves only her sick sister and will do anything to keep her safe. Redeemable qualities and yet...

I wrote on GR that I thought the book "curiously slow and bland." Thinking back now, that might've been partly the narrator's fault. Whelan's delivery had a measured, almost blasé coolness to it and there was a tremendous amount of detail. I'm glad I no longer give stars on GR; because I think I liked the book more than I thought. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Audio Review: The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

Image: LBYR

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. The Magic Misfits series #1. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~ 4 hours. Read by the author. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/ Hachette Audio, November, 2017. 9781478990796. (review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library. Own hc.) 

Middle Grade Monday features The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. The Magic Misfits is book one of The Magic Misfits series. If you're a fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society mysteries or love magic or humorous stories or fast-paced adventure, you need to check out The Magic Misfits.

Carter runs away from his only family - an uncle who took him in when his parents disappeared. His reason for running? His uncle uses Carter and his talent for magic to scam unsuspecting people and Carter has had enough; so he hops a freight train to start a new life. After a brief brush with a nefarious carnival owner, he falls in with five illusionists who have chosen their own family.

Neil Patrick Harris narrates with his usual understated aplomb. The story moves swiftly. The characters are a varied lot. Readers who like a fast-paced, humorous adventure will find much to like here. 

I finally, finally got to this! The upside? I don't need to wait for the sequels! I bought all three when Harris appeared at a local Indie. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

AASL2019 - Part Four - Saturday Doings

Okay. I am officially running out of steam; but if I don't get this post written right now, I will never get back to it. My flight leaves tomorrow at 6AM, which means I need to be at the airport at 4, which means I'm rising between 3 and 3:30AM. 

I have bagged the closing session because I am on overload right now. AASL2019 was not the most memorable or successful one for me - partly my fault but also AASL's.

Three cancelled programs with no signage on the rooms to let folks know. Really? Was it that hard?

I ended with a totally incoherent session, which might color the tone of the rest of this post. I turned to a row-mate and asked, "Is it me or is this totally incoherent?" She agreed it was. Folks were leaving throughout. I was too darn tired to leave and, like the 26 disc disaster I am reading with my ears at present, I kept hoping that I could walk away with something to take back. Reader, I did not.

Exhibits seemed pretty small compared to other years. Perhaps the proximity in date to NCTE? I didn't grab as many arcs as in the past either. That's fine, my tbr pile is enormous. Just noticing. 

The morning kicked off beautifully with Jarrett Krosoczka's keynote. He's funny. He's humble and he writes and illustrates books that are damn good.

My first session was "Inclusive LGBTQIA+ Education: why it's important and how to be an advocate." Interesting. Lots of preaching to the choir. I took pictures of all her slides and will review them. I am happy that I have always tried to be inclusive in my collection. I am happy that I am now backed up by state law in NJ to have an inclusive collection and that LGBTQIA+ history and existence should be taught across the curriculum. Lots of notes, but one that pops out as a mantra: be prepared, not scared. 

I chose to attend "Best Websites for Teaching and Learning" even though I had the sneaking suspicion that I attended it at ALA Annual in DC. Once it got underway, I realized that I did. No matter. School was already out and I didn't review my conference notes once school started. My bad. Lots here to share with my colleagues. Good reminder.

The next session was another NO SHOW! 

So I jumped into another session, which I will not name because... see above. Incoherent. 

I suppose I should've done my due diligence and attended the closing session. I assume that's where feedback was requested, but I am conferenced-out and didn't want to finish in the dark for the third day in a row. 

All-in-all, glad I came. The next conference is in Salt Lake City in 2021. It's in October next time. Perhaps I will go once more. I do realize that an incredible amount of volunteer work goes into these conferences, but they are incredibly expensive. My district does not pay. I get the days as PD but use personal days if I have more than two conferences to attend in a school year. (And I always do!) I used to be able to deduct them, but no longer. So I guess I'm becoming a bit more demanding and less forgiving.

AASL2019 - Part Three

Yesterday (Friday) was the first full conference day. I woke early as usual, read in my room and lost track of the time. Scrambled to grab breakfast before the Morning Keynote. I went to the hotel restaurant and had so-o many delicious options, I had trouble choosing. Ended up with shrimp and grits and my, it was heavenly! And filling!

I had no idea what to expect from Dr. Adolph Brown but boy did he stir things up. After listening to a lengthy, adulatory introduction, a young man dressed in black received the mic. He barely said hello before music began blasting and he donned a sparkly jacket and danced his heart out.

Then another young man with dreads, an oversized hoodie and baggie pants and a backpack joined him. Turns out the man in black was Dr. Brown's godson. Dr. Brown turned up as his younger, needy self. 

He spoke about arriving at a superintendent's conference to speak dressed the way he was and the police were called within minutes. He commented that upon arrival at our conference, he received welcoming smiles. Yay librarians!

We all have implicit bias. We cannot deny this. Brown urged the audience to "Stop believing everything you think." This leads to confirmation bias, as the events at the super's conference confirm. Confirmation bias leads to micro-aggressions. 

He attended a Title I school, where he received a good education. "Title I describes how I eat, not how I learn." He had a school library with a librarian who helped him choose books. His favorite from childhood was John Henry.

He spoke for a long, long time. Yes, he was inspiring and provocative as well as entertaining as hell, but he did go overtime. Were it not for the spicy breakfast dish working on my insides, I probably wouldn't have minded. And, yes, he also had potty jokes in his presentation.

Exclusive Exhibit Hall time was next and I hopped on the line to receive Cassie Beasley's newest, Bootstrap Magician, a sequel to her beautiful debut, Circus Mirandus. 

Then, it was session time! My first session time started out with a bit of a dud. There were three sessions that I was interested in. The room was empty for one. No signage saying that it was cancelled or moved. I lost a bit of time finding the second room and missed the beginning of the session. It was interesting, not fascinating. But I did find a few new ideas to take away. 

There were seven sessions that I checked off for the second session. The one I ended up choosing was interesting but not something I would be able to implement at my library. 

Lunch was included but not a drink. Luckily, I only drink water and carry my own refillable water bottle, so I was fine, but there were quite a few grumbling about $4 sodas. Yikes! I strolled the exhibit aisles and sat and blogged. 

I had three things checked off for the post-lunch session but lost track of time and ended up arriving in the area late. ALL THE ROOMS WERE FULL TO CAPACITY! Gah! So I headed back to the exhibit hall. 

I checked off four possible sessions for the second afternoon slot and ended up choosing one called "Using Literature as a Spark for Social Justice." It was an author panel. I didn't notice the little red book logo next to the entry. The authors were all interesting. I had one of the books in my library already and noted the other titles to look up later. But, I was expecting a nitty-gritty, how-to session with ideas. Instead, it was a thoughtful conversation, which I appreciated and I took plenty of notes, but not what I was shopping for.

The afternoon session ended just in time to return to my hotel and attend SLJ's Evening of Dialog. That consisted of three panels: Graphically Speaking with Meg Cabot and Ridley Pearson: 

Tween Time: Must-Have Middle Grade Reads with Cassie Beasley, Rob Harrell and Jasmine Warga: 

Informed & Empowered: Notable Nonfiction with Chris Barton Holly Brochmann, Rafael Lopez and Jennifer Swanson:

Of course there was a signing afterward. I was glad I got Beasley's book at a morning signing because her line was long. I really wanted Chris Barton's newest picture book, All of a Sudden and Forever: help and healing after the Oklahoma City bombing. So I got on that line first. Then, I picked up Ridley Pearson's Super Sons: the Foxglove Mission and Meg Cabot's Black Canary: ignite. I was glad that I asked for Rob Harrell's book Wink at the booth because he ran out of books. 

All in all a fine day. Just as I was ready to curl up with the arc I'm reading to review in SLJ, I heard fireworks. I was only on the fourth floor, but I was able to catch the higher reaching fire works and the waning gibbous moon. I have no idea what the occasion was. Those girders are on the roof of the convention center. 

AASL2019 Continued

Well. my last post didn't include anything about the actual conference now, did it? Of course there were pre-conference workshops to attend for extra $$, but the conference itself began unofficially at 1PM with an idea lab in one of the ballrooms. Twenty or thirty tables were arrayed around the perimeter with a variety of displays. It was a lot to take in, but I was most taken with a portable, iPad-based studio. Our tricaster is a monster, difficult to learn and getting buggy, so it's good to know there are some more portable, user-friendly options out there for broadcasting.

The opening keynote was delivered by Ellen Oh, author, and one of the founders of WNDB - We Need Diverse Books. I have heard her speak before and never tire of listening to her patiently explain why everyone needs to see themselves in literature. She encouraged librarians to use their role as gatekeepers not to keep books out but to let them flow in. I have always been bothered by the term gatekeeper. It seemed negative to me. I like the idea of letting books flow in.

The exhibit hall opened at 5 and vendors were swarmed by school librarians eager for arcs, totes, food and other swag. I picked up a few arcs and said hi to a few reps I know. Then returned to my hotel to put my feet up and read. 

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

I am actually at the AASL19 Conference in Louisville right now. This is my third AASL conference and I love the energy and camaraderie. Of course, there is an Exhibit Hall and I will try and show some restraint as I'm flying home. I packed my carry-on inside a bag I will check; but the last conference had me scrambling at check-in to take off some weight! I will highlight those next Saturday. Stay tuned.

A box arrived recently from Penguin.

For review:

Image: Penguin Random House

Dancing at the Pity Party: a dead mom graphic memoir by Tyler Feder. 202 p. Dial Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, April, 2020. 978-52555302.

Publisher synopsis: Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.

From before her mother’s first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing–but also often funny–details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom’s closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the “I’ve got to tell Mom about this” instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.

I actually read this Wednesday evening while waiting for my plane and blubbered. I will be reviewing it later in December but, it is a 2020 favorite!

Image: Penguin Random House

A Flicker of Courage by Deb Caletti. 246 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, January 7, 2020. 9781984813053.  

Publisher synopsis:Printz Award Honoree and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti debuts in middle grade with a tongue-in-cheek hero's journey set in a town full of magic, mayhem, lighthouses... and evil.

The story takes place in a world much like ours, but at the same time not at all like ours, in which Vlad Luxor—a capricious, vain, infantile tyrant—rules over a town with an iron fist. He's an emperor with no clothes, but woe is the person who points that out—they could wind up turned into a squirrel or lizard or who knows what! For in this world, the evil leader also has magic, which he uses to punish anyone who speaks out against him.

But in every classic tale with a despicable villain, there must also be a truly noble hero—in this case, four of them! Henry, Apollo, Pirate Girl, and JoJo must be their most brave and clever to break the spell Vlad Luxor has cast on Apollo's brother, Rocco. For we can't have Rocco remain a naked lizard for the rest of his life, now can we?

I've been reading a bit online about this middle grade novel from a favorite YA author of mine. Kind of excited about this.

Image: Penguin Random House

Raise Your Voice: 12 protests that shaped America by Jeffrey Kluger. 216 p. Philomel Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March 10, 2020. 978052551830.

Publisher synopsis: Rise up! Speak out! March! 

Protests and demonstrations have spread throughout the United States in recent years. They have pushed for change on women’s rights, racial equality, climate change, gun control, LGBTQI+ rights, and more. And while these marches may seem like a new phenomenon, they are really the continuation of a long line of Americans taking to their feet and raising their voices to cry out for justice.

From the Boston Tea Party to the suffragists, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Stonewall, peaceful (and not-so-peaceful) protest has been a means of speaking up and enacting change from the very founding of America. This new collection recounts twelve of the major protests throughout the country’s history, detailing the people behind them, the causes they marched for, and the impact they had.

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Apollo 13 comes a book perfect for today’s new generation of activists.

Image: Penguin Random House
Wink by Rob Harrell. 316. p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March 31, 2020. 9781984815149.

Publisher synopsis: A hilarious and heartwrenching story about surviving middle school–and an unthinkable diagnosis–while embracing life’s weirdness.

Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader. He doesn’t want to lose his hair, or wear a weird hat, or deal with the disappearing friends who don’t know what to say to “the cancer kid.” But with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is off the table.

Based on Rob Harrell’s real life experience, and packed with comic panels and spot art, this incredibly personal and poignant novel is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life’s weirdness.

Image: Penguin Random House

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor. 483 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, January 7, 2020. 9780399257308.

Publisher synopsis: The saga of the Logan family—made famous in the Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry—concludes in a long-awaited and deeply fulfilling story.

In her tenth book, Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan, first met in Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, is a young woman now, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 60s, home to Mississippi to participate in voter registration. She is witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, the rise of the civil rights movement, preceded and precipitated by the racist society of America, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. Rich, compelling storytelling is Ms. Taylor's hallmark, and she fulfills expectations as she brings to a close the stirring family story that has absorbed her for over forty years. It is a story she was born to tell.

I read many, not all of the Logan family books and look forward to this personally; but I have an eighth grader who plowed through most of the series since fifth grade. When I told him there was a new one, his face just lit up.

Purchased: Nothing!

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or Wordpress or FB or anything that makes commenting difficult and gives my data to miners. But, I will definitely check your stack!

Friday, November 15, 2019

AASL2019 - Louisville, Kentucky

I only started attending AASL conferences in 2015. I would've in 2013, when it was in Connecticut, but I was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. Though I managed to work full-time and only miss a half day for my treatments, my energy level was definitely low and wouldn't have been able to support going to a conference. So 2015 in Columbus was my first. It happened to coincide with NJ's Teacher Convention weekend, which made going easier. It is VERY hard to get PD time in November in NJ! I went to 2017 in Phoenix as well thanks to the timing. When the dates came out last May with early bird registration, I didn't look at the calendar carefully enough. It didn't coincide with Teacher's Convention. That was last week. Oops. I thankfully got the days to attend and, here I am!

I flew in on Wednesday evening. I kind of white-knuckled it because I chose to book a 6PM flight as opposed to an 8PM flight. I thought I would leave school early as the last period is my prep; only I forgot the kids had a half day for parent-teacher conferences! Yikes!

The 8PM flight would've gotten me in a bit after ten if there were no delays. By the time I got a ride to the hotel and checked in, who knows what time it would be? So I opted for the earlier flight. As it was, I got to the airport with time to spare and then, my flight was delayed - in fifteen minute increments until we left over an hour late. Sigh. It was also a small plane with very little room for carry-on bags. I didn't bring any for this leg because I packed it inside of my checked bag. I have taken to doing that for these larger conferences to save on shipping boxes home. The cost of checking a bag is the same or less than shipping books home and I don't have to wait for the book mail. I just have to lug the bag. 

Thank goodness for rolling luggage!

I may not be able to stow my carry-on bag even though I paid extra to bring it on. The gate agent explained that I will be able to check it at the gate and pick it up at the gate in Newark.

Oh! I nearly forgot. I chose to drive myself and parked in the Economy Lot. I had a bit of anxiety about this since it wasn't on the monorail and I had to take a shuttle bus. I just missed one as I found a space. Luckily, there was another in ten minutes. While I waited, I noticed this:

That red is my coat reflecting off the metal. I picked up the receiver but there was no dial tone. So, there's that. Funnily enough, I spied another pay phone, this one a booth at the restaurant where I ate breakfast on Thursday.



Flying in Wednesday saved me from waking extra early for a flight out on Thursday and allowed me to take in a few Louisville sights before the conference began in the afternoon. 

I visited the Muhammad Ali Center, the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum and then took the Evan Williams Bourbon Tour, which was very interesting and informative. Louisville has a fascinating history!

Fact Friday and Audio Review: Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson

Image: Penguin Random House

Just Mercy: a true story of the fight for justice (Adapted for Young Adults) by Bryan Stephenson. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~ 7 hours. Read by the author. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, September, 2018. 9780525635932.

Fact Friday features Just Mercy: a true story of the fight for justice by Bryan Stephenson. Stephenson adapted his best-selling memoir for a young adult audience. He was a Harvard Law student who signed on for an internship helping to defend a capital punishment case in Georgia. It was then that he realized that the criminal justice system in the United States was not a fair one - that people of color, the poor, uneducated and the most vulnerable members of society received unjust prison sentences and were often wrongly accused. Upon graduation from Harvard, Stephenson founded The Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama rather than pursue a lucrative law practice. 

He highlights several notable cases in detail and the reading is compelling, even heartbreaking. This book cogently explains the concept of mass incarceration to a young reader interested in the criminal justice system. 

I read this with my ears, which was a good thing since I was frequently moved to tears by the narrative. Stephenson narrates in a measured, thoughtful performance. There's no flash here. He's a humble man with a mission to right as many wrongs as he can. 

I was reminded of another book I read with my ears awhile back, The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. In this book, the criminal received a harsh sentence. He did commit an unspeakable act; but his prosecution was strident despite the fact that the victim's family asked for just mercy.

The average middle school student might not gravitate toward a book such as Just Mercy, but I am going to hand-sell it like crazy. It's important. It's eye-opening. We need more people like Bryan Stephenson in the world. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

#tbt: Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

Reissue Image: Disney
Original Image

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman. 240 Disney Press/ Disney Book Group, April, 2006. 9780786809202. (Own.)

Eighteen-year-old Leo Caraway has it all figured out. He's a member of the Young Republicans Club and Harvard-bound on a full ride. Then he finds out that the man he thought was his father, is not- he is the result of a one-night stand his mom had with a punk rocker. Then his scholarship is revoked after his helping a friend is deemed "cheating." Leo signs on as a roadie with his bio-dad's band for the summer. He's hoping that bio-dad will foot his Harvard bill. What he doesn't expect is to enjoy much of the summer on the road. Fast-paced and often laugh-out-loud funny. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Notorious by Gordon Norman

Image: HarperCollins Publishers
Notorious by Gordon Korman. 320 p. Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers, January 7, 2020. 9780062798862.

Publisher synopsis: Keenan has lived all over the world but nowhere quite as strange as Centerlight Island, which is split between the United States and Canada. The only thing weirder than Centerlight itself is his neighbor Zarabeth, aka ZeeBee.

ZeeBee is obsessed with the island’s history as a Prohibition-era smuggling route. She’s also convinced that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered—something Keenan finds pretty hard to believe.

Just about everyone on Centerlight is a suspect, because everyone hated Barney, a huge dog—part mastiff, part rottweiler—notorious for terrorizing the community. Accompanied by a mild-mannered new dog who is practically Barney’s opposite, ZeeBee enlists Keenan’s help to solve the mystery.

As Keenan and ZeeBee start to unravel the clues, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that dates back to Centerlight’s gangster past. The good news is that Keenan may have found the best friend he’s ever had. The bad news is that the stakes are sky-high.

And now someone is after them. . . .

Korman is a school favorite. Anything new by him is basically an auto-purchase. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Teen Tuesday: Pop by Gordon Korman

Pop by Gordon Korman. 272 p. Balzar + Bray/ HarperCollins Publisher, August, 2009. 9780061742286. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Teen Tuesday features Pop by Gordon Korman. Marcus moves to a new town in the middle of the summer. He's a quarterback who intends to try out for his school's team come fall so he practices solo in the park each day to stay sharp. One day, this older guy named Charlie asks to toss the football around with Marcus. Turns out the guy is not only good, but legendary. He's also the father of the current QB of the team, a kid with no interest in having Marcus on the team. Pranks, secrets, football and humor are served up in typical Korman style. This one has a side of sad, though.

Korman occasionally leaves his middle grade wheelhouse to write YA. Pop was published in 2009 as the cumulative effects of traumatic brain injury among football players was becoming recognized. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

Image: HarperCollins Publishers

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~6 hours. Narrated by a full cast. Balzar + Bray/ HarperAudio, January, 2019. 9780062885289. (Review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library. Own the hc.)

Middle Grade Monday features The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. What happens when a burnt out teacher, who is basically phoning it in until early retirement is assigned to Room 117 by a superintendent who wants the guy gone? Room 117 houses "the unteachables." All are academic failures for one reason or another. Gordon Korman takes the improbable and makes it both humorous and (somewhat) believable. His fans will not be disappointed.

I was a bit though. Admittedly, I am not the intended audience. I felt the premise was a bit shaky and the adults tended toward cardboard stereotypes. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

November is Picture Book Month! Review of Not My Idea: a book about whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

Image: Dottir Press
Not My Idea: a book about whiteness written and illustrated by Anastasia Higginbotham. 64p. Ordinary Terrible Things series. Dottir Press, September, 2018. 9781948340007. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

I have been struggling with how to be an ally for most of my life. I have good intentions but often fail. Attending SLJ's Diversity Bootcamp a couple of summers ago helped. It was just the tip of the iceberg and would've registered for the bootcamp again this past summer were it not my husband's 70th birthday and all the celebration I needed to plan. 

I do believe that whites need to confront their own white privilege and acknowledge their implicit bias. It also needs to be discussed openly in schools. This book would go a long way in helping parents and teachers grapple first with their own biases and then help them help students understand white privilege. 

I will be honest. I needed to read this a few times before truly understanding its message. The collages are quite arresting. The dialogue requires a bit of attention. Get comfortable with this before sharing it with your children. It is an important conversation starter and one that will most likely trigger a bit of resistance and denial. 

If you are looking for a resource to open conversations about race, look no further than this extraordinary book.

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

For review: I received a box of goodies from Penguin but aside from pulling out the picture book fngs, haven't had time to really examine the spring titles. 

Purchased: Well, I spent the last of my Amazon gift cards last week and my purchases arrived:

Image: Abrams

Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #14. 218 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, November, 2019. 9781419739033.

Publisher synopsis: As if it needs one! An unexpected inheritance gives Greg Heffley’s family a chance to make big changes to their house. But they soon find that home improvement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Once the walls come down, all sorts of problems start to crop up. Rotten wood, toxic mold, unwelcome critters, and something even more sinister all make Greg and his family wonder if the renovations are worth the trouble. When the dust finally settles, will the Heffleys be able to stay . . . or will they need to get out of town?

Image: Yen Press
Crush by Svetlana Chmakova. 230 p. Berrybrook Middle School series #3. JY/ Yen Press, October, 2018. 9780316363235.

Publisher synopsis: Jorge seems to have it all together. He's big enough that nobody really messes with him, but he's also a genuinely sweet guy with a solid, reliable group of friends. The only time he ever really feels off his game is when he crosses paths with a certain girl... But when the group dynamic among the boys starts to shift, will Jorge be able to balance what his friends expect of him versus what he actually wants?

Image: Penguin Random House

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Unabridged full-cast audiobook narrated by Meryl Streep. 240 minutes. Listening Library, October, 2019. 9781984843258.

Publisher synopsis: Brought to life by Meryl Streep and a full cast, this beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is “just about perfect.”*

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spider web tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Includes an appreciation written and read by Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, the cover artist of this edition and author/illustrator of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White.

Readers of this blog know that I don't usually love full-cast audiobooks. They might also know that I hold dear E. B. White's narration. So I approach listening to this cautiously optimistic as some of my favorite narrators are involved in the project...

What's new with you?

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or Wordpress or FB or anything that makes commenting difficult and gives my data to miners. But, I will definitely check your stack!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Friday Memes: Anthem by Deborah Wiles

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

Image: Scholastic

Anthem by Deborah Wiles. Sixties Trilogy #3. 480 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., October, 2019. 9781338497458. 

Publisher synopsis: It's 1969.

Molly is a girl who's not sure she can feel anything anymore, because life sometimes hurts way too much. Her brother Barry ran away after having a fight with their father over the war in Vietnam. Now Barry's been drafted into that war — and Molly's mother tells her she has to travel across the country in an old schoolbus to find Barry and bring him home.

Norman is Molly's slightly older cousin, who drives the old schoolbus. He's a drummer who wants to find his own music out in the world — because then he might not be the "normal Norman" that he fears he's become. He's not sure about this trip across the country . . . but his own mother makes it clear he doesn't have a choice.

Molly and Norman get on the bus — and end up seeing a lot more of America that they'd ever imagined. From protests and parades to roaring races and rock n' roll, the cousins make their way to Barry in San Francisco, not really knowing what they'll find when they get there.

As she did in her other epic novels Countdown and Revolution, two-time National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles takes the pulse of an era . . . and finds the multitude of heartbeats that lie beneath it.

First Line: As she did in the first two books of these "documentary" novels, the first "line" is an image. Indeed, the first fifty-five pages are images that capture the essence of the sixties.

Page 56: The first line of the book actually appears on page 55:

It's been so long since I felt something.

I highly recommend this trilogy. I am halfway through this one and don't want it to end. Here's a link to my review of Countdown. I didn't get to write a review of Revolution.