Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Memes - Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills

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

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills. 240 p. Farrar, STraus and Giroux, June 18, 2013. 9780374333126.

Publisher synopsis: Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be—and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.

First Line: Sierra Shepard sat in the office at Longwood Middle School during lunch recess 5A, waiting to see her principal, Mr. Besser.

Page 56: "The TV cameras drew closer as Sierra and her mother walked together down the front steps of the school. When they reached the sidewalk, a woman with perfectly coiffed blond hear, every strand welded into place by industrial-strength hair spray, was by Sierra's side, pointing a microphone toward her."

I'm participating in a blog tour for this book. Look for my review on September 5th.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Final Descent by Rick Yancey

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

The Final Descent by Rick Yancey. 320 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 10, 2013. 9781442451537. 

Publisher synopsis: Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have encountered many horrors together—but can Will endure a monstrumological terror without his mentor?
Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face. But through it all, Dr. Warthrop has been at his side.
When Dr. Warthrop fears that Will’s loyalties may be shifting, he turns on Will with a fury, determined to reclaim his young apprentice’s devotion. And so Will must face one of the most horrific creatures of his monstrumology career—and he must face it alone.
Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.

I don't ordinarily enjoy horror but these books are riveting. I've listened to the first three (The Monstrumologist; The Curse of the Wendigo and The Isle of Blood). But so far, I see no audiobook release of this title, so I'll be reading this final book with my eyes. 

What are you waiting on?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

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.

Slow week this week. Still making good on my austerity plan and working my way through the arcs I obtained at Annual (shines halo).

For review:

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills. 231 p. Margaret Fergoson Books/ Farrar Straus Giroux, June, 2013. 97880374333126. 

Publisher synopsis: Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be—and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.

I'm participating in a blog tour for this book so look for the review on September 5.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Memes - Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale

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

Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale. School for S.P.I.E.S. #1. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman. 306 p. Disney/ Hyperion, June, 2013. 9781423168508.

Publisher synopsis: Juvenile delinquent and budding pyromaniac Max Segredo belongs in juvie hall. At least, that's what his most recent foster family would tell you. Instead, Max ends up on the doorstep of Merry Sunshine Orphanage-their very heavily guarded doorstep. As he begins to acclimate to his new home, Max learns a few things straightaway: first, cracking a Caesar Cipher isn't as hard as it seems; second, never sass your instructor if she's also holding throwing knives; and third, he may not be an orphan after all. Soon, Max and the rest of the students are sent on a mission to keep a dangerous weapon out of the hands of LOTUS, an international group bent on world domination. Of course, all Max cares about is finding out more about his father, the man he's now sure is still alive. As the stakes get higher, Max must make some difficult choices, including who to trust, and finally learns the true meaning of family.

First Line: Max Segredo stood by the curb and watched his house burn.

Page 56: is an illustration in the arc. Here's a line from page 55.

"Hit the trigger (laser detection) and it snatches you right up in a steel claw" Stones shook his head admiringly, and his dreadlocks swayed like dancing snakes. " These blokes are thorough. They've got everything but lava and a shark pool."

The author's Chet Gecko series really cracked me up. When I worked in a K - 8 school, third and fourth graders loved them. Now that I'm in a 5 - 8 middle school, I have a harder time getting students to try one. This title should have appeal for my fifth and sixth graders. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

374 p. Disney/ Hyperion, September 17, 2013. 9781423164913. (Arc provided by publisher at ALA Annual.)

England has a Problem. For the past fifty years it has been inundated with ghosts. But not just ordinary ghosts, these are malevolent beings intent on doing harm. Since only certain psychic children below the age of 18 are even able to see these wraiths, the job of ghostbusting falls to them. Of course, they must be supervised by adults. Most of these supervisors were, at one time hunters. Some are losing their touch, such as Lucy's previous employer and the reason why she's in London seeking employment. The only outfit even remotely interested in Lucy's qualifications is Lockwood & Co., and that is because it is a two person operation run by one Anthony Lockwood and ably assisted by George Cubbins, the brains of the duo. There are no adults involved. This gives Lockwood certain freedom, but also draws the ire of the many companies in London as well as Scotland Yard.

I'm not going to say much more about the plot. It's best left to discover on one's own. The story is narrated by Lucy Carlyle, gifted but untrained, and prone to doubt. Anthony Lockwood, owner/ proprietor of Lockwood & Co. is charismatic and energetic and George Cubbins is never happier than when he is buried in research or tinkering with equipment. The worldbuilding is incredibly vivid. The humor dry. The horrors spine-tingling. My humble advice is to fasten your seat-belts and let Jonathan Stroud's rip-roaring yarn work its magic.

I loved the opening line so much that I featured it last week in a Friday Meme. I ripped right through the durn thing and was so entertained that I considered turning back to page one and starting all over again. But I think I will wait for the release of the audiobook and reread it with my ears.

This is a great book to give to those readers who want scary. Fans of the author's Bartimaeus books will not be disappointed. Really, a must purchase.

Author web site

Other blog reviews:
Fuse #8

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz

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

(The Alex Rider series # 10) 384 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, October 1, 2013. 9780399254413.

Publisher synopis: The final book in the #1 bestselling Alex Rider series!
Alex Rider’s life changed forever with the silent pull of a trigger.

When Ian Rider died at the hands of the assassin Yassen Gregorovich, Alex, ready or not, was thrust into the world of international espionage—the world’s only teenage spy. Alex vowed revenge against Yassen and the two have battled ever since. Yet, years ago, it was none other than Alex’s own father who trained and mentored Yassen, turning him into the killer he would eventually become.
What makes us choose evil? Why did one boy choose to kill while another chose to risk his life to save others? In some ways, Alex Rider and Yassen Gregorovich are mirror images of each other. Yet the paths they traveled turned them into mortal enemies.
This is Yassen’s story. A journey down a darkened path.
I learned about this one last week from Jennifer at YA Book Nerd. Like her, I thought #9 was the very last Alex Rider. It certainly did have a certain finality to it. This series is so, so popular at my school. Its readership is mostly boys, but both reluctant and strong readers enjoy it. I have more than one copy of most of the series.

I also happen to be a bit more than halfway through listening to Oblivion, the final (at last) book in the Gatekeepers series. 
What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

358 p. Tu Books/ Lee & Low Books, October 1, 2013.  9781620141434. (Review from arc provided by publisher at 
ALA Annual)

Sometime in the future, the world is ruled by the "haves" known as the Ones, people that could afford to genetically enhance themselves to the point where they are nearly immortal and not very human. Of course, they surrounded themselves with small armies of bodyguards to ensure their safety and they were served by the "have-nots," everyone else.

That was BC, before the Cloud that descended on Earth and destroyed all technology. The top tier of Ones were instantaneously fried, but the lower tiers, the Ones who weren't quite as genetically modified, managed to survive, form uneasily alliances with other Ones and set up compounds in which they are served by surviving have-nots behind prison walls in which the guards are on the look-out for monsters known as gemods (think eagle as big as an airbus) instead of preventing any escape by the have-nots.

Seventeen-year-old Lozen is a have-not, but thanks to her father and uncle's combat training, as well as familial and cultural traditions and a blood line that could be traced back to the original Lozen, who fought with Geronimo, Lozen is prized for her hunting skills and kept in line by the constant threat to her mother, sister and brother's lives by the four Ones who run their prison/ compound.

Killer of Enemies hits the ground running and allows the reader neither rest nor breath. I wanted to read it in one sitting. Indeed, it was difficult to put down but I had to for fear of having a heart attack.

Lozen is a truly kick-ass heroine, loyal and powerful, someone I wouldn't want to cross and one I'd definitely want watching my back. The desert setting is vivid - unforgiving and beautiful. The genetically modified monsters (gemods) were terrifying and wonderous; but perhaps not as terrifying as the four duplicitous Ones and their bodyguards.

This genre-blender is a true original. I have purposely left the synopsis vague and sketchy. Discover it for yourself. I can't wait to get back to school and get it in the hands of my dystopian fans, of which there are many at my school, as well as fans of the author. This book appears to be a stand alone, but I really wouldn't mind reading about Lozen again.

Author web page.
Publisher/ book web page

Saturday, August 17, 2013

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.

Another quiet week. Cue the halo. I'm going away for a family vacay and decided to use an iTunes gift certificate to buy this:

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Unabridged MP3 audiobook, 12 hours, 42 minutes. Read by Brandon Espinoza and Phoebe Strole. Penguin Audio, May, 2013. 9781191618966. (Purchased)

Publisher synopsis: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
I picked up an arc of this one at ALA, but haven't yet gotten to it. I adore Yancey's Alfred Kropp books as well as his Monstrumologist books. When I learned it was an audiobook, I used a gift card to purchase it. Can't wait.

That's it for me. What's new with you?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Memes - Lockwood & Company: the screaming staircase by Jonathan Stroud

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

Lockwood & Company: the screaming staircase by Jonathan Stroud. 374 p. Disney/ Hyperion, September 17, 2013. 9781423164913. (Arc provided by the publisher at ALA Annual)

Publisher synopsis: A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.
In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

First line: Of the first few hauntings I investigated with Lockwood & Co. I intend to say little, in part to protect the identity of the victims, in part because of the gruesome nature of the incidents, but mainly because, in a variety of ingenious ways, we succeeded in messing them all up.

Page 56: There's a chapter break on page 56, so here's a chunk from page 57:

Some people claim the Problem has always been with us. Ghosts are nothing new, they say, and have always behaved the same. There's a story the Roman writer Pliny told, for instance, almost two thousand years avon. I't s about a scholar who bought a house in Athens. The house was suspiciously cheap, and he soon discovered it was haunted.

I was privileged to attend a Disney/ Hyperion preview at ALA Annual this past July, and Dina Sherman read an excerpt from the book. I could not wait to get my hands on it as I absolutely adored Mr. Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy. (I somehow never got around to reading the fourth installment, but plan on doing so this week on my beach vacation.) 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blog Tour: Texting the Underworld by Ellen Booraem

319 p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Group (USA) Inc., August 15, 2013. 9780803737044. (Review from arc obtained courtesy of the author/ publisher)

Conor, aka Pixie, O'Neill is a worrier. Okay, he's a scaredy cat. He's scared about everything but especially scared of spiders. He's also a rule follower. He chews his food fifteen times before swallowing not to decrease male flatulance, which is why his mother made the rule, but because he's terrified of choking to death. He lives in a duplex in "Southie," the Irish neighborhood in south Boston with his parents and ten-year-old sister Glennie, who is fearless. Grump, his grandfather lives next door. 

Grump appreciates Conor, says he has the "O'Neill spark. He also loves Conor's hand-drawn maps, especially the Land of Shanaya.  Conor loves his grandfather and enjoys his knowledge of Irish folklore. Mostly. Even though after hearing Grump's story of the kelpie, a man-eating water horse, he stayed out of the water for an entire month.

Conor's dad has no patience with Conor's worries nor with his father's stories, especially regarding banshees. So when a car alarm goes off during dinner one night and Grump announces that it's a banshee, Conor's dad is dismissive. Conor? Not so much. Later that night, while stalking a particularly gruesome spider the size of a pencil eraser, Conor  hears a sudden wail, the likes of which he never heard before right outside his bedroom window. 

     "It was as if all the sorrows of the universe had erupted
     at once. It was a car alarm from just north of hell, a jet 
     screaming into Boston Harbor, all sould lost. Subway 
     wheels shrieking on a track known only to rats and 
     zombies." (p. 18)

Conor finds himself flat on his back from the shock of it all. He looks up to see the spider scurry across the ceiling unharmed. He looks toward his bedroom window and watches a red-blond head poke through his window. She apologizes as she floats through the window, makes herself at home in Conor's Celtics bean bag, solidifies, except for her right foot and introduces herself to Conor. 

Her name is Ashling and she's a brand new banshee. She has been dead for hundreds of years thanks to a well-placed ax to the head and the Lady has given her a chance to move on. She's not about to mess this death up. Someone in the O'Neill house is going to die. It's only a matter of time. But first Ashling is intensely curious about this modern world of electric appliances, video games, Trivial Pursuit cards and middle school.

Conor needs to protect his family. Conor needs to find a loophole. Even if it kills him.

Oh, I have never laughed so hard! This is one of the funniest books I have read in a while. But while I laughed so hard that I cried, I warn you, there will be real tears shed. Someone is going to die, but what an inventive, surprising and satisfying journey this was!

As usual, Ellen Booraem (The Unnameables and Small Persons with Wings) has constructed a unique, complex story featuring fully realized and flawed characters. I loved each and every one. Grump, Glennie, Javier, even the bickering denizens of the Underworld. Even now, weeks after first reading the story, I can open the book randomly, start reading and feel like I never left. 

Ms. Booraem also weaves the death mythology of a variety of cultures, as well as Irish myth/ folklore in such a way that I would not be surprised if I met up with a banshee. I would love to meet Ashling. Lord was she a hoot! 

This is middle grade fiction at its very best. I can't wait to get it into my student's hands come September. It's definitely one for the reread pile and I'm hoping there are plans for an audiobook, maybe read by Nathaniel Parker?

Other stops on the tour:
Ellen's web site

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Impossible Knife of Memory

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

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. 304 p. Viking, January 7, 2014. 97800670012092.

Goodreads synopsis: For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape from the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy's PTSD or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell and drugs push him over?

I am kicking myself for not joining the line to obtain the bound manuscript of this at ALA. I had another commitment. Oh well. I've read and absolutely adored and respected nearly everything she has written. (Okay, I haven't read the Vet series, but I've read everything else!)

I absolutely love the cover of this. Here's where I found out about the cover and enjoyed a nice interview.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

258 p. Arthur A. Levine Books/ Scholastic Inc., July 30, 2013. 9780545417303. (Finished copy provided by publisher for review.)

Author Eric Gansworth takes us back to 1976 in his YA debut. Lewis Blake isn't expecting much in seventh grade. He is bright so he was accelerated in sixth grade, which meant that none of his friends were in his classes and, as the only "Reservation Kid," none of the white kids were interested in being his friend. It didn't help that he, 

"didn't grasp that the way we talk to one another on the reservation was definitely not the way kids talked in this largely white junior high. On the rez, you start getting teased a little bit right after you learn to talk, and either you learn to tease back or you get eaten alive." (p. 6/7)

After realizing that the nicknames he chose for two likely candidates for friendship, Spacey and Blimp Head, weren't endearing himself to them, he resigned himself to being "Invisible Boy."

"They pretended I wasn't there as much as they possibly could. During lunch, we were required to sit with our class at tow long tables. In every other section, the Indians gravitated to one another like atoms in some science experiment, but I sank to the bottom of my particular beaker, alone." (p. 7/8)

Still, after having his friend Carson hack off his two-foot long braid he had to face his mother who said, "You look like a Welfare Indian."
     "I am a Welfare Indian," I said.
     "You don't need to look the part," she said. (p. 10)

So his mother buzzes the rest of the mess off his head with clippers, "that made more noise than it should have, grabbed your hair like it was mad at you, and sometimes gave off a burning odor," leaving his eyebrows as the longest hair on his head. 

On the first day of seventh grade, most of the students are the same, but there is one new boy, a rather large boy named George who seems interested in getting to know Lewis despite being warned that he was "More trouble."

George is a military brat. He grew up mostly in Germany where his dad was stationed and met his mother, then lived in Guam before moving to upstate New York. He is very interested in meeting "a real live Indian." So when Lewis sardonically replies, "As opposed to a dead one?" George soldiers on. The two discover that they share interests and George soon invites Lewis to his home. 

Lewis is reluctant since that would mean a reciprocal invitation to his home, which is never going to happen. Still, he does accept a dinner invitation and meets George's parents, learns that George and his dad is a major Beatles/ Paul McCartney and Wings fan. Lewis and his uncle, Albert (Really? Was this intentional? Great stuff!) are as well. When Christmas rolls around and Lewis brings home the new Wings album,  Venus and Mars, Uncle Albert warns,

"The red planet is like the rez here. That other planet, Venus, I guess, that's the planet your buddy comes from. Now he might lend you albums and you'll have pizza nicey-nice every now and then, but these planets are still different. And we ain't got no rez rocket that's ever gonna get you that other one, even though I know that's where you want to be." (p. 98)

If you haven't already guessed by the length of this post already and the quantity of direct quotes, I loved this book. I could quote on and on and on. It's one of my most favorite YA titles so far this year. Of course, it begs comparison to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, an all-time favorite book of mine. Yes, both books feature bright boys with promise who face the challenges of navigating a white world and the alienation that comes with it and both (writers and characters) use humor and sarcasm to cope. Both books reflect racism. Both made me laugh and broke my heart simultaneously. 

This book deserves to stand on its own merit. It is a very different book but I can't quite explain how. Or, I could try but would just blather. It's really a book about friendship. Male friendship. Boy friendship. And boy emotions. There are a few authors who explore that territory and do it well. I'm thinking Matt de la Pena and Chris Crutcher and James Preller for the MG crowd. 

George and Lewis are great characters. There isn't a lot of honesty or sharing between them, but they instinctively like each other. Their love of music is the glue that holds them together. Lewis' Indian best friend, Carson loves music as well and the two take guitar lessons from an older neighbor, but Carson lords his ability over Lewis. 

His friendship with Carson is complicated. Carson makes fun of Lewis being in the brainiac class and questions his friendship with George, yet Carson can pass for white and is pursuing a friendship with the school bully, who is well-connected in the community and has set his sights on Lewis.

The secondary characters are richly developed as well. George's parents, Lewis' mom and Uncle Albert, all encircle the boys, loving them and doing the best they can by them. I loved Albert. He was wacky but he was wise. I also loved his mom and her fierceness. Oh how I ached for this family.

I enjoy picking up this book and opening it to a random page to read. Each time I do, it isn't long before I find a perfectly written passage. There isn't a wasted word and not a moment rings false. If I Ever Get Out of Here is definitely one for my reread pile. If there are plans to produce an audiobook, I'm in for an audio reread. For school librarians who find The Absolutely True Diary a bit edgy for their population, this one is more middle school friendly.

I hope the committees are paying attention to this one. I can't wait to booktalk when school resumes. It's going to be my "book aunt" gifts to my nephews come the holiday season. Do check this one out for yourself.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: Disasters: a close-up look at nature's biggest disasters by David Burnie

I'm pleased to be hosting Non-Fiction Monday today. Please leave your link in the comment section below.

Discover More series. 112 p. Scholastic, Inc. March, 2013. 978054547938. (Review copy provided by the publisher)

Disasters is one of the newer additions to Scholastic's Discover More series. It delivers on its subtitle promise of "a close-up look at nature's biggest disasters." The photographs, many double-paged, are over-sized, full-color and riveting. Seriously, when your students discover this one, there will be some major rubbernecking in your library or classroom. 

The series takes the browse-ability of the Eyewitness series but pumps up the information and focus. Disasters is divided into five sections: Disastrous Weather; Unstable Earth, Troubled Waters: How People Cause Disasters and The Threat from Space. Each section opens with three questions that will be answered. In addition to the spectacular photographs, there are plenty of maps, cutaway illustrations, and artist's renderings, as well as text boxes containing data and "eyewitness" accounts. Each section also contains a color-coded strip entitled, "More here," which lists vocabulary words and books and websites for further reading. 

The book does contain an index and an additional glossary at the end as well as photo credits.

Another nice feature of this series is that each book is paired with a downloadable companion digital book. In this case, the book is called Storm Chasers. It's worth looking at as it focuses on the scientists who risk their lives to study these disasters. Sections include: Storm Chasers; Hurricane Hunters; Lifesavers & Heroes of Hurricane Sandy; Lightning Seekers, Avalanche Rescuers: Quake Questers; Eruption Experts; Wildfire Fighters and Sky Watchers. As in the print version, the photographs just pop. Readers can scroll through the book and read continuously or utilize the navigation buttons to skip to videos and interviews. As in the print version, there are plenty of vocabulary words defined in boxes. 

Our sixth grade science classes work on a disasters unit. It's a group project in which each member researches the disaster assigned to the group and the team collaborates on a PSA, which is then presented to the rest of the class. They work with a rubric in order to stay on track. This book will be a welcome addition to the resources I've collected so far. 

Thanks for stopping by. Please add your link in the comment section. Email me at kahnbrenda(at)yahoo(dot)com if you have any difficulty.

Natalie, from Biblio Links, features And the Winner Is... by Etta Kaner. It looks like just the thing to hand to your fact hounds. I also love how Natalie provides tons of ideas for teachers.

Read about The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr by Nicolas Debon, over at Perogies & Gyoza. I just love it when folks feature older titles. I missed this one.

Roberta, from Wrapped in Foil, highlights 10 Plants That Shook the World by Gillian Richardson. I appreciated Roberta's comment about her changing feelings for the book.

Jeff, of NC Teacher Stuff reviewed Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch. This looks like a must-purchase for my collection. 

Anastasia, from Booktalking#kidlit, booktalks the appealing, Planet Earth (The World in Infographics).

Lynn and Cindy, over at Bookends, feature two books in their Non-Fiction Monday entry. Imprisoned by Martin W. Sandler and Fish for Jimmy by Katie Yamasaki along with Common Core Connections. My SLJ came today and I just read the starred review for Imprisoned.

Sondra, of Sonder Books, submits The Boy Who Loved Math. This is one of my favorite picture book biographies this year.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

10 for 10 Picture Book Event - Favorite Picture Book Biographies

One of my mottoes is, "You are is never too old for picture books." When I worked on a fixed schedule in a K - 8 school library, I would routinely read picture books to older students. Sometimes it was related to curriculum, sometimes it was just because. They never seemed to mind being read to. Now that I'm in a middle school library and on a flexible schedule, those opportunities don't arise much, but I have shelf space dedicated to fiction picture books and have peppered my biography section with picture book biographies. I'd like to celebrate 10 for 10 by highlighting some unique picture book biographies.

I know, I know. In middle school, the biography assignment usually comes with the 100 page minimum. But so many students have no idea who they want to read about and a picture book biography might be just the ticket to encourage that student to try a longer biography. A teacher might use a picture book biography to introduce a unit of study. A struggling student might only be able to handle a picture book biography. If they are present and routinely used in my library, there will be less reluctance on the part of students to be seen carrying a picture book. 

The Boy Who Loved Math: the improbable life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heligman. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 44 p. Roaring Brook Press, June, 2013. 9781596433078. 

See my review here.

On a Beam of Light: a story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky. 56 p. Chronicle Books, April, 2013. 9780811872355. 

See my review here.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Balzer + Bray, January, 2013. 9780061804428.

I did not get around to reviewing this one for the blog but I can't wait for when school is back in session because I plan on displaying it next to Flesh and Blood So Cheap.

Queenie: one elephant's story by Corinne Felton. 24 p. Candlewick Press, June, 2013. 9780673553759. 

See my review here, sob!

Hoop Genius: how a desperate teacher and a rowdy gym class invented basketball by John Coy. Illustrated by Joe Morse. Lerner Publishing Group, March, 2013. 9780761366171. 

I have enjoyed John Coy's sports fiction and really enjoyed this humorous and readable account of John Naismith's serendipitous invention of basketball. I also admire Joe Morse's art and, while initially, didn't love the style for this story, came to feel they were perfect illustrations.

Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares. 40 p. Candlewick Press, February, 2013. 9780763656461.

Tavares is another favorite picture book biographer of mine. This one just tugs at the heartstrings. In 1902, seven-year-old George Herman Ruth is turned over to Saint Mary's School for Boys because his parents can't handle him. Brother Mathias takes him under his wing and nurtures his baseball talent. 

Look Up! The Story of the First Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh. Illustrated by Raul Colon. 32 p. Paul Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster, April, 2010. 9781442481102.

I happened upon this lovely biography shortly after reading Wendy Mass' Every Soul a Star. I had never heard of Henrietta Leavitt, but then, I don't know much about the science of astronomy. The illustrations are just gorgeous.

Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers: the life of Marc Chagall in verse by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. 40 p. Creative Editions, August, 2011. 9781568462115.

My husband happens to love the art of Marc Chagall. I happen to be a fan of Lewis and Yolen. The two used Chagall's paintings for biographical poems, which are augmented with text boxes of prose elaborating a bit, as well as black and white photographs of the artist at various ages. 

Fifty Cents and a Dream: young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 48 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, December, 2012. 9780316086578.  

See my review here.

Life in the Ocean: the story of oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Clair A. Nivola. 32 p. Frances Foster Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March, 2012. 9780374380687. 

See my review here.

That makes ten, but I need to add an Honorable Mention.

Monsieur Marceau: actor without words by Leda Schubert. 40 p. Flash Point, September, 2012. 9781596435291.

How can you not smile at that cover? A beautifully illustrated, straightforward and simply told story of a brave man who brought much joy to the world.

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

Quiet week for me. I would like to say that I'm sticking to my budget, being virtuous and reading what is stuffing my house to the rafters, but I've been dealing with some "stuff" and sticking close to home. 

For review:

The Winter of the Robots by Kurtis Scaletta. 272 p. Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House Children's Books, October 8, 2013. 9780307931863.

Publisher synopsis: Seven feet of snow, four science-fair nerds, one creepy junkyard.
Get ready for the ultimate robot battle.
Jim is tired of being the sidekick to his scientific genius, robot-obsessed, best friend Oliver. So this winter, when it comes time to choose partners for the science fair, Jim dumps Oliver and teams up with a girl instead. Rocky has spotted wild otters down by the river, and her idea is to study them. 
But what they discover is bigger—and much more menacing—than fuzzy otters: a hidden junkyard on abandoned Half Street. And as desolate as it may seem, there's something living in the junkyard. Something that won't be contained for long by the rusty fences and mounds of snow. Can Jim and Rocky—along with Oliver and his new science-fair partner—put aside their rivalry and unite their robot-building skills? Whatever is lurking on Half Street is about to meet its match.

That's it for me. What's new with you? Happy reading 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Memes - Jessica Darling's It List #1: the (totally not) guaranteed guide to popularity, prettiness & perfection

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

I've had a stressful and eventful couple of weeks which has impacted my "book-a-day" rate as well as any memory of whatever I've read. I needed something fun and fluffy to read and this is what I found on TOM, my tbr pile.

Jessica Darling's It List #1: the (totally not) guaranteed guide to popularity, prettiness & perfection by Megan Mccafferty. 224 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 3, 2013. 9780316244992. (arc provided by the publisher)

Publisher synopsis: 
I hadn't even gotten to homeroom yet and I'd already discovered five hard truths about junior high:
1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn't know it yet.
3. It wouldn't be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
It's the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom?

First Line:

What happens when EVERYTHING you know about ANYTHING is ALL WRONG?

Page 55:

"The what?" I asked, unsure if I had heard her correctly.

"The Unbreakable Laws of Cafeteria Line Cutting," Sara said. "Obey or die."

Page 56 consisted of the List so I flipped to page 55 and loved that line.

This series is a prequel to the series that started with Sloppy Firsts, which I have in my library but never got around to reading.