Monday, April 23, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Crossing Stones by Helen Frost


Crossing Stones by Helen Frost. 183 p. Frances Foster Books/ Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009. 9780374316532. (Own)

Middle Grade Monday features Crossing Stones by Helen Frost. This verse novel is set during World War I. Two families farm on either side of Crabapple Creek. The Jorgensen and the Norman families are great friends and they use the crossing stones in the creek to visit each other often. Muriel is discovering that her feelings for Frank Norman might be more than just friendship. Then he enlists to fight in the war and his brother, Ollie, lies about his age to join him. Muriel opposes the war and is also intrigued by her aunt's work for women's suffrage. 

The poems in this beautiful work of historical fiction are "cupped hand" sonnets and their shape also symbolize the crossing stones that connect the two families and their farms. This remarkable verse novel brings the events of America's entrance into the first World War as well as other issues of the day, to vivid life.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

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:

A Long Line of Cakes An Aurora County Novel by Deborah Wiles. 288 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., August 28, 2018. 9781338150506.

Publisher synopsis: Emma Lane Cake has five brothers, four dogs, and a family that can't stay put. The Cake family travels from place to place, setting up bakeries in communities that need them. Then, just when Emma feels settled in with new friends . . . they move again.

Now the Cakes have come to Aurora County, and Emma has vowed that this time she is NOT going to get attached to ANYONE or ANYTHING. Why bother, if her father's only going to uproot her again?

But fate has different plans. And so does Ruby Lavender, who is going to show Emma Lane Cake a thing or two about making friendship last.


Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson. 220 p. Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publisher, May 1, 2018. 9780062484970.

Publisher synopsis: Award-winning comics creator and author of the bestselling Invisible Emmie Terri Libenson returns with a companion graphic novel that captures the drama, angst, and humor of middle-school life. Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer Holm, and Victoria Jamieson.

Middle school is all about labels.

Izzy is the dreamer. There’s nothing Izzy loves more than acting in skits and making up funny stories. The downside? She can never quite focus enough to get her schoolwork done.

Bri is the brain. But she wants people to see there’s more to her than just a report card full of As. At the same time, she wishes her mom would accept her the way she is and stop bugging her to “break out of her shell” and join drama club.

The girls’ lives converge in unexpected ways on the day of a school talent show, which turns out to be even more dramatic than either Bri or Izzy could have imagined.

Purchased: Nothing! Polishes halo.

That's what's new with me. Leave a comment so I can visit your Stacking post. Happy reading!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fact Friday: Twelve Rounds to Glory: the story of Muhammed Ali by Charles R. Smith Jr.


12 Rounds to Glory: the story of Muhammed Ali by Charles R. Smith Jr. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 80 p. Candlewick Press, November, 2007. 9780763616922. (Own)

Fact Friday features 12 Rounds to Glory: the story of Muhammad Ali written by Christopher R. Smith and brilliantly illustrated by Bryan Collier. Muhammad Ali never backed down from a fight. He fought just as hard against prejudice out of the boxing ring as he boxed opponents in it. He won Olympic gold in 1960 as an eighteen-year-old named Cassius Clay. By age twenty-two, he was the heavyweight champ, an outspoken Civil Rights activist and a convert to Islam. From then on, he was Muhammad Ali. It is apt that this biography is written in poems as Ali was also a poet. He would trash talk his opponent in poems but he would also write serious spoken word poems, which, it could be argued, were the precursors to rap. 



Thursday, April 19, 2018

#tbt: The Underneath by Kathy Appelt


The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. Illustrated by David Small. 320 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, May, 2008. 9781416950585. (Own)

#tbt features The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. Happy tenth anniversary to Kathi Appelt and her impressive debut! She adeptly weaves three narrative strands together in this atmospheric, suspenseful story that takes place in a bayou in east Texas. A pregnant stray cat follows the sound of a baying hound to the place underneath the porch of a rickety shack. The hound is concerned for the cat's well-being since his owner is abusive. His attempts to warn her away fail and the two and her eventual kittens bond. It is a story of loyalty and love. It is also the story of a mythical beast and a human one. Have tissues at hand. The language is lovely and lyrical. The illustrations add interest. The Underneath is a memorable and satisfying read.





Press release: Kathi Appelt is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her first novel, The Underneath, was a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor Book. It also received the PEN USA Award. Her other novels include The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, a National Book Award finalist, and Maybe a Fox, one of the Bank Street Books Best Children’s Books of the Year. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, and to find curriculum materials and activity pages, visit her website at kathiappelt.com.

Check out the trailer for The Underneath!

Giveaway!

Fifteen lucky winners will receive an autographed paperback copy of The Underneath. In addition, one Grand Prize winner will win a classroom set of 20 copies of the book PLUS a 30-40 minute Skype visit for her/his school, classroom, or library with award-winning author Kathi Appelt. Enter here!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald


Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald. 304 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, September 11, 2018. 9781419731433. 

Publisher synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Teddy Youngblood is in a coma fighting for his life after an unspecified football injury at training camp. His family and friends flock to his bedside to support his recovery—and to discuss the events leading up to the tragic accident. Was this an inevitable result of playing a violent sport, or was something more sinister happening on the field that day? Told in an innovative, multimedia format combining dialogue, texts, newspaper articles, transcripts, an online forum, and Teddy’s inner thoughts, Game Changer explores the joyous thrills and terrifying risks of America’s most popular sport.

I am a huge fan of the author's Charlie Joe Jackson books as well as his Crimebiter's  books. He shared news of this in February on his FB page. I really love the cover.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo



The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Unabridged audiobook on 3 compact discs. 3.5 hours. Read by the author. HarperAudio, March, 2018. 9781538500231. (Review from audiobook borrowed from public library.)

(This went on our broadcast this morning)Teen Tuesday features The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Sixteen-year-old Xiomara Batista tries to follow her mother’s strict rules; but at six-feet tall, it’s hard to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. She has learned to fight with her fists and pours her heart out in a leather notebook her twin brother gave her for their birthday. Sophomore year brings X a language arts teacher who sees the poet in her and Aman, her biology lab partner with whom she shares her love of music and whom her mother must never know about. This debut is gritty and raw. Readers will root for X as she struggles to find her voice.

Review: The Poet X is one impressive debut! I loved X's voice from the first line. I also loved the author's performance. My heart ached for Xiomara, who is up against a lot - the catcalls and leers her curves elicit in her Harlem neighborhood and at school and her religious mother's assumption that she will succumb to those catcalls, all the while yearning for an education that will get her out of Harlem. She loves her twin fiercely but is upset that he doesn't stand up for himself against the bullying his gentle, nerdy self attracts. She's also a tad jealous that he's smart enough for a fancy magnet school that puts him that much closer to escape. X is fierce but caves to the discipline of her mother. She's a nuanced and complicated teen whom readers will relate to as she comes of age.

Not to be missed for teen collections.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: House Arrest by K.A. Holt


House Arrest by K.A. Holt. 304 p. Chronicle Books LLC, October, 2015. 9781452134772. (Own).

House Arrest is twelve-year-old Timothy's court-ordered journal. He has to spend one year under house arrest as the terms of his probation for stealing money to buy his ailing baby brother medicine. The only other places he can go to are his weekly visits to a therapist and his probation officer. That gives him a lot of time to reflect. He's angry at his dad for leaving his family. He's scared for his brother who is often in danger of losing his life. He is supposed to be showing signs of remorse, but if he's honest, he would steal again if his brother needed medicine his mom can't afford. This blank verse novel is unputdownable.