Who’s Reading What Wednesday

It seems as though the weeks fly by and I haven’t posted my regular Wednesday post.  I decided in January to read all the 2010 Newbery contenders before the award was announced.  I was envious of the Ohio gathering to compare notes and celebrate the honors bestowed on January 18.  Am going to figure out a way to get a group in the Portland area next year to make predictions.

Soo…I have read the following books:

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne M. La Fleur.  Perhaps my favorite read thus far.  I love the idea of the letters that Aubrey is writing and am particularly interested in the handling of grief in this book.  La Fleur never is preachy and yet you feel the loss suffered by Aubrey.

The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor was a fun read.  It was a nice change of pace from Love, Aubrey.  O’Connor is one of my favorite new authors, having just read How to Steal a Dog for our regional readers’ choice awards.

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg was incredible.  I love the free verse format.  I know those Vietnam vets, how troubled some of them returned.  It really tugged at me.

Anything but Typical by Nora Raliegh Baskin. Wow.  I could not put this down either.  Glad that I wasn’t on a Newbery committee.  Tought choices.  I think it would make a terrific read aloud. So much to talk about.

I am in the midst of Wild Things and have Also Known as Harper, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (on CD to listen to and from work), and When You Reach Me as well as Captain Nobody.

What are you reading these days?

Happy Reading.  And thankfully, our levy passed yesterday WOOT!


Who’s Reading What Wednesday

I lost my voice yesterday reading a variety of gingerbread stories for Family Library Night.  It was on its way out and by 7 PM it left me.

I just finished reading All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg. It’s a CYBILS finalist for MG fiction.  A very moving story about a refugee Vietnamese boy, born a bui doi, the dust of life, the son of an American GI and Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam War.

The book written in free verse; a format that interests me.  It’s a powerful book. As I read it I was also thinking of the book, Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy which some of my fifth graders are reading for their book club.  A different war and circumstances but the possibilities for text connections are strong.

Which leads me to a new venture. I am working with the second round of books for fifth graders who are strong readers.  These are the ones that have passed the state test and need a challenged. 

We are currently reading some of the reader’s choice nominees.  And hopefully, I am going to get them blogging about books. We will start with comments today but I am hoping to have them be guest bloggers. 

Our district recently set up a site that should allow for commenting in the safety net of  a more closed network community. Not sure how it will work but their site is Fifth Grade Book Club.

I am trying to get a bunch of the CYBILS MG fiction finalists read, the book club books: Skullduggery Pleasant, The Candy Shop War, and The Thief Lord read.  It’s gonna be a busy weekend.

Happy Reading.


Who’s Reading What Wednesday

I give thanks today that I am home as part of our Thanksgiving break.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to share two more CYBILS Nonfiction Books with students.

I am thankful for all the new titles that have presented themselves in this category.  Yesterday was “art” day. 

 Book One was In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage by Alan Schroeder.  JaeMe Bereal is the illustrator.

What a quiet story about an important person of the Harlem Renaissance.  As a child, August sculpted things with the clay she found near her home.  Her preacher father was not to keen on it.  When I read about him smashing one of the creations, a child stated that his dad had done the same.  Augusta’s love of sculpting wins out and she eventually ends up going to art school in New York.  Bereal, a sculptor as well, captures the tone of the book with rich and realistic illustrations. 
Unfortunately, much of her work was lost or destroyed.  The book concludes with a detailed note about her life and work and two of her pieces, “Gamin” and “The Harp”.

Book Two was read to fifth graders and we worked on questioning strategies.  The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass and illustrated by E.B. Lewis is another quiet story of a lesser known artist.  Walter Anderson grew up in Louisiana and Mississippi.  He is most noted for his Horn Island watercolors and the book features that slice of life about him.  How he loved to go for weeks on end to paint on this remote island. 

The book is a fabulous read aloud.  The fifth graders were silent and I think a bit amazed that someone would leave for weeks at a time to paint. Some of their questions confirmed their thinking:
Why did he leave his family?
Why did he hide his paintings?
Is Walter normal?
Why does Walter want to travel alone?
Does Walter ever get lonely?

The watercolor illustrations of E. B. Lewis capture the mood.  Hess provided a larger view of Walter Anderson’s life at the end of the book with examples of his art.  The poetic nature of the text makes for one terrific read aloud.

Both of these books are quiet treasures on the nomination list this year.  They are both stories that demonstrated the spirit of never giving up what you love to do. 

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Reading.


Who’s Reading What Wednesday

There is good book news abounding on the Kidlit Front.  Just got work this morning that Bridget Zinn’s manuscript, Poison, sold at the book auction.  It is scheduled for a 2012 release and a sequel the following year.  Way to go Bridget!  BTW, a new auction to raise money for her and Barrett begins after Thanksgiving.  You can read about it here.

Meanwhile, Laini, Jim and sweet Clementine Pie are soaking up life in th Big Apple while they await tonight’s big event, the National Book Award dinner.  Their book, Lips Touch Three Times is one of the 5 nominees.  Such a delicious read! It would just cap off a really fabulous year for them and they so deserve it! So “mwah, mwah, mwah”  three kisses to them for luck!

I am up to my eyeballs in CYBILS Nonfiction Picture Book nominations.  Yesterday a fourth grade and a fifth grade class read several the nominations to provide feedback for me.  What was interesting was watching which books caused students to be totally engaged and which books not so much.   Of course Life-Size Zoo was a big hit and so was Where Else in the Wild.

I read the Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History! out loud to a third grade class. Happy to see the level of engagement with both boys and girls.  Third graders grasp the concept of fairness and wow, they could not believe that Annette Kellerman was arrested!  It was a very fun read aloud. 

My book club chose Oxygen by Carol Cassella.  It is a page turner about the medical field.  Cassella is a doctor in the field of anesthesia. Had to put the book down the other night as I would have stayed up all night long to read.

What are you reading?

Happy Reading.


It’s Teen Read Week, Oct 18-24, 2009

Even though I am a K5 library media specialist, I love reading YA and supporting YA authors.

On Sunday, I did exactly that!  LK Madigan, a Portland YA author read from her debut book, Flash Burnout. Powell’s in Beaverton was packed and the book sold out!


It’s always interesting  to hear about how a book is born.  LK did not disappoint.  FlashBurnout was the result of a conversation about another story she wrote and was getting no where with it.  A “have you considered this” question was asked and it led LK on a different path.

The protagonist,high school boy, loves photography (and each chapter begins with a photography quote, loved that!).  It is a fabulous blend of humor and serious issues; the inner conversations of a teenage boy with his first serious girlfriend while another friend struggle with family secrets.

I will be lending my copy out to my YA library friends to get the word out. (After all, I really cannot place it at elementary).  It ‘s a real hoot though to read YA (and be thankful in some ways that high schools was a long time ago).

Happy Reading.