Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Productive Day

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the Cybils.  Seriously I probably have 100 books in my TBR pile.  So I was thankful to have time to read today.  Of course there is much more that I am thankful for as well.  A wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, and life itself.

Now onto the books :)


This book was fascinating.  A 10 year old boy put in the Idaho penitentiary.  I really enjoyed the book.  That being said the language will probably keep it out of my library and historical fiction is a hard sell.


This book was cute...another girl alternative to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  My girls will love it.


This was a very interesting non-fiction book.  I appreciated the poetry but my concern is again that historical fiction is not a big draw.

These were all good...


Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice


This was one of those books that I have heard a lot about and I really wanted to read it even though it is on the longish side.  I am glad I did.  Emily is a great character and I loved her struggle between fate and choosing your own destiny.  I really enjoyed the ending and how everything came together for her and her mom.  My only issue was that I am not sure my students will even know who Danielle Steele is so that might be hard for them to relate to.  And...the length again.  Maybe it is because I am overwhelmed by my TBR pile but the book seemed to lag in the middle for me.  I finished it and I enjoyed it but not sure my students will stick with it.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday's Reads


Just a word to publishers before I start...please, consider your audience.  Cover design is important, font size is important, white space is important.  I have been receiving a lot of Cybils nominees and I am turned off by the appearance of the book before I even start it.  And if I am turned off, my kids will be too.  I will give them a good chance to change my mind but some already are starting with a negative impression.

Anyway, A Song for Bijou was one of the best I have read lately.  I enjoyed the alternating point of view although it might have been better to have made it more obvious at the beginning of a chapter.  I loved the teenage, first love awkwardness.  All in all this was a good read.  Because the characters are older than my students I am torn about putting it in my library or sending it over to the jr. high.


When I opened this and saw it was in verse I was pleased because I knew I could read it quicker.  I had this near the top of my pile because of the content.  Overall I enjoyed the story but I did feel it lacked some of the emotions one would expect from a book about the Holocaust.  While Odette had some scary moments in the book, overall I did not feel the danger.  Perhaps that is because of the intended audience.

I enjoyed both books and they are worth reading...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Losing It by Erin Fry


This book has been nominated for the Cybils.  I kind of resisted reading it because as a member of Maine Student Book Award I have to focus on 2013 titles and this is 2012.  I was encouraged by other committee members to read beyond the 50 page minimum so I did.

I did enjoy the book.  Bennett's father suffers a stroke which is due in part to an unhealthy lifestyle and being overweight.  Bennett goes to live with his aunt while his father recovers.  While there he decides to turn his own life around by losing weight and getting more active.  This includes joining the cross country team.

I did like the book and am surprised I hadn't heard about it before.  It had a good message and some good character development.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone

Wow, I have been off here for awhile.  I have been so busy at school and then went to the AASL conference in Hartford this weekend.  Plus this book was long.  I debated through the first 50 pages whether I would actually finish it.  I have not read The Romeo and Juliet Code although I have heard a lot about it and wish I had time to read it now.  I don't feel that it affected my reading of this book.  Enough background was given throughout the book to catch me up.  

I really enjoyed this book.  It is a coming of age tale as Fliss comes to terms with her daddy-uncle, her uncle-daddy and her mom's relationship.  She deals with loss, first love, and some mystery.  There almost seemed to be 2 stories.  The first part focused on the German spy and then when that was resolved it settled into the waiting that comes with war.  

The writing was done well.  I really felt connected with Fliss and could understand Winnie and The Gram's conflict and emotions.  For the first half of the book before Gideon went away I also connected with him.  Some of the other characters were not as developed - especially Derek but I suppose that was part of the mystery of Derek and least from Fliss' perspective.  All in all this was a good read.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jessica Darling's IT List by Megan McCafferty

This book was nominated for the Cybils in middle grade fiction.  Honestly, it is a really good picture of life in middle school - boys, drama, friendships, etc.  Girls in middle school or junior high will probably like it.  It is not great, award winning literature but it was a decent book.  Too old for the girls at my school but a good purchase for middle schools and junior high. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl

I really don't have much to say about this.  Again with the was way too long for me and I think for the intended audience.  The "blog drama" didn't seem all that dramatic.  The characters were cliche and the problems - especially best friend meets a new friend at camp - have been played out so many times.  Overall, I think my fourth graders and young fifth graders would be the intended audience but the length of the book would turn them off.


The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

So, I'm on the MSBA committee and the Cybils Middle Grade Fiction committee.  For the most part there is overlap.  If I read a book for Cybils I can review it for MSBA.  But what about the other MSBA possibilities.  This is where The Real Boy comes in.  There has been a lot of buzz about it and I had it in my school library.  I felt I owed it to the book and to MSBA to read it.  Sorry Cybils...I will read a bunch of those nominees this weekend too.

I loved the book.  I have to admit that at first, even though I liked it, it was slow going until page 200 and the first big reveal.  It is an issue I have had repeatedly this year...some books are just too long.  Will my readers hang in through page 200 or set it aside before it really gets good.  Not that it wasn't good until was just a slow, gentle uphill to that point.  Then it really started going.  I had heard the book compared to Pinocchio so I think I figured out things earlier than a reader might who had not heard that comparison.  Is that what kept me going.  

I loved the characterization.  Some say that Oscar is too stereotypical - Aspergers or Autistic but I felt his character was more well rounded than others I have read this year. Others question his relationship with Callie - why would she like and befriend him?  Why does anyone like or befriend someone - does the reason have to be spelled out?  

Sure there may be questions at the end...that's what keeps the reader thinking and pondering.  I hate when things are tied up neatly anyway.

Again this is perhaps the best book I have read all year....


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan

I wasn't overly fond of White Fur Flying but I like this Patricia MacLachlan one much more.  It is very simple and short - 114 pages - but to me the writing was better and the story itself was better.  Will kids read it though...time will tell.

Robbie and his dog Ellie are  spending the summer with Robbie's grandmother, Maddy while his parents tour with their string quartet.  Maddy is a bit eccentric but Robert feels she understands him better than his parents.  In a very short time Robert learns some important truths about his grandmother, his mother, and even himself.

I liked this...


The Waffler by Gail Donovan

I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  Monty has trouble making up his mind and when he gets pegged by his teacher, principal, and then fellow students as a waffler things get difficult.  Can he learn to make decisions - what to call his rat, whether he wants to flip flop living arrangements with his sister, and whether to stand up for what he believes is right?  This had more punch than I was expecting for an easier book.  And it is set in Maine?  Nice...


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Couldn't Be More Different


This book has been getting some buzz and is a Cybils nominee so I decided to give it a go.  To be up front...I have never read One Crazy Summer.  After reading this book I wish I had and maybe I will at some point.  I did enjoy the story of the three girls and the time period is one that doesn't get used much in children's lit.  Because I hadn't read the first book I felt that I didn't truly understand Cecile or even the youngest daughter.  I missed some of their experiences.  I felt that some things were missing.  Delphine got a Valentine card but the reader is left hanging about what it said.  There are other unresolved issues as well.  I wasn't sure why Big Ma left, what happens with their Uncle, and I felt their dad's new relationship was odd - unsettled.  I liked the book well enough but it wasn't a huge love for me.


I don't even know what to say about this.  It didn't do anything at all for me.  Sorry.