Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-30-13

Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for links to all blogs participating in "It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?"  You'll be glad you did!

Books I Read this Week:

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur
Wendy Lamb Books, 2013
Realistic Fiction/Supernatural combination
240 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Ever since I laid my hands on Love, Aubrey I've been a huge Suzanne LaFleur fan.  She writes in such a fashion that you feel the characters are authentic and true to their age.  Siena is a middle school age girl wrestling with guilt and hope.  Siena's four year old brother Lucca doesn't talk, which is a constant stressor in his family.  After moving to a seaside home in Maine Lucca's family has hopes that their new home will be the key to Lucca speaking again.  Unbeknownst to her parents, Siena is communicating with spirits or memories of the past, and discovering that the past and the present are not that very separate.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Atheneum, 2013
336 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

I listened to this story, and I'm glad and I'm not that I did.  I'm glad I listened to the audio version because Lyle Lovett does a masterful job reading this story, bringing each scene to life.  I'm not glad that I went the audio route because I missed out on highlighting, underlining, dog-earring and page flagging this amazing writing.  With balances of sugar sweet and heart aching and belly laughing lines, you really can't miss out on the text version.  See, right now I am wishing that I could share one of my favorite lines with you, but I can't, because I don't have the book!  Let's just say it involves "poof and poof respectively."  Needless to say, I will be buying this book.  

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Have a wonderful reading week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-16-13

Books I Read this Week:

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, Illustrated by Joe Morse
Caroirhoda Books, 2013
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

A simple yet engaging account of how James Naismith took over a rowdy gym class that had already driven away two teachers that year.  Naismith wanted to come up with something that the boys would enjoy playing, that wasn't too dangerous.  The end result is of course, basketball!  
The illustrations are an interesting choice for a book for younger audiences.  The boys look a bit like 30 year old men, in part due to the time period.  I am interested to see how students react when I read it aloud today.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech
Joanna Cotler Books, 2013
Realistic Fiction
160 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

A simple country couple wake one morning to find a young boy curled up fast asleep in a chair on their porch.  Getting to know the boy and figuring out where he has come from prove difficult since the boy won't speak.  Through patience and a willingness to love, the couple find the boy has strengths with art.  The problem remains though that the boy is not theirs and will ultimately need to leave them.  While I loved the story, I am hesitant to say kids will enjoy its tenderness as much as an adult will.  I'd love to hear if you have spoken with a student reader about this story!

The Eagles are Back by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Wendell Minor
Dial Books, 2013
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

Story of how a young boy played a role in preserving the fragile existence of the bald eagle.  The book has background information on the history of the eagle in our country on a very basic level.  Would make a nice read aloud.  Beautiful paintings illustrate the story.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fairy Tale Comics Blog Tour!


I have taken a short break from the blogging world while getting MARRIED!  Yay!  But I'm back (there's nothing like a deadline to get you back on track!).

I am so excited to be the first stop on Macmillan's Fairy Tale Comics Blog Tour!  To kick off the fun I've had the honor of interviewing Brett Helquist, who has put pen to paper for his own adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin.

 Interview with Brett Helquist:

Good Day Mr. Helquist!

Nicole: It is beyond exciting for me to have the opportunity to interview one of  my absolute favorite illustrators in children’s literature, in celebration of the release of Fairy Tale Comics. You are without a doubt one of the most recognizable artists in children’s literature.  Hold up a cover with your artwork on it and BAM, we know who’s behind it.   I must admit, when it comes to judging a book by its cover, I do if you’re the artist.  A book is immediately appealing to me if you’ve done the cover art (and/or interior art).  But it makes me wonder…with such a broad range of genres you’ve illustrated, are some types of stories more appealing to you than others when it comes to accepting a job?

Brett: Not really, I enjoy reading many different kinds of stories. I think I’m drawn mostly to the characters. If a book has strong and interesting characters I find it easy to illustrate.

Nicole: And speaking of a broad range of genres, I’m still not sure how I feel about you illustrating the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series.  Here are my two battling emotions:

#1: The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series was one of my all time favorite series as a kid.  So when I see Brett Helquist has illustrated the series I initially get very excited (seeing as I think you’re awesome).  And even though I own the whole series for my classroom library, I of course want to buy a new set to get your illustrated versions.  So, I guess I feel great about you illustrating the series.


#2: The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series are some of the all time scariest books I have ever read, because of the original illustrations.  Those pictures still give me the heebie jeebies.  I used to read those scary stories with one hand covering the illustrations of some of those stories, they creeped me out that bad.  Your style is not as gruesome and UGH as some of those illustrations.  So, I guess I feel like you robbed some kids of being totally and utterly grossed out!

So, what were your reactions to being asked to re-illustrate the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series?

Brett: This is a difficult question for me. I enjoyed this job and I was happy with what I did, but I know I upset some people.  I’m not sure what to think.

Is there a series or a classic story that you find intriguing and wish to get your hands on to illustrate?  (I love what you did to A Christmas Carol)

Brett: would love to do all of Robert Louis Stevenson’s books.

Nicole: You do a lot of cover art and interior art for novels, which involves a lot of reading and rereading (thank you for taking the time to get it right, the details do matter).  Do you see yourself continuing on balancing this type of work with your own picture books, or are you going to steer in one direction or the other?  (I suggest you continue doing both!)

Brett: I love doing both.

Nicole: When you were approached to contribute to Fairy Tale Comics were you able to pick your own fairy tale, and if so, what drew you to Rumpelstiltskin?  

Brett: The publisher gave me a list of tales to choose from. Rumpelstiltskin seemed like a caharacter that I could have fun with. I seem to have a knack for grumpy old man characters, like Olaf, Scrooge, and Rumpelstiltskin. This was really my first chance at doing a comic. I’ve used comic elements in some of my books, like “Bedtime for Bear”, but never a full comic. I was very nervous about doing it. That might be why I chose Rumpelstiltskin. He’s a type of character I’m very comfortable with.

Nicole: Why are fairy tales so enduring, and why do you think they should continue to be told and retold to our youth?

Brett: That’s hard to say. Maybe they’re like great songs, they just stick in your head. Who knows why?

Nicole: When will you be stopping by Maine to sign our copies of Fairy Tale Comics?

Brett: I’m just waiting for an invitation.

This book is amazing fun, and I highly recommend it for classroom library collections!
Thanks for visiting!

Praise for Fairy Tale Comics

"A quirky and vibrant mix of visually reinterpreted fairy tales compiled by the editor of the Eisner-nominated Nursery Rhyme Comics (2011)." -- Kirkus Reviews
 "Nineteen cartoonists re-envision the world of “once upon a time” in this collection of 17 fairy tales . . .These adaptations are sure to enchant devotees of comics and those who like a fresh and distinctive approach to fairy tales." --School Library Journal       ***Taken from