Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-18-13

Visit our hosts Jen & Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their reviews as well as links to all the other blogs participating in the book sharing fun!

Books I Read this Week:

The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman
Disney-Hyperion, 2013
320 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

I was drawn to this book because of the lovely cover and my love of birds.  Right away readers are thrust into a magical mystery of how and why two sister witches transformed a young sparrow into a young boy.  
Fortuna finds herself asked by the strange and creepy Baldwin sisters to convince the young boy that he wants to be turned back into a bird.  The sisters think their spell won't reverse unless the boy wants to be turned back, and if they don't turn him back they are in loads of trouble with the witch counsel.
As layers are revealed we find out that an entire bird community is coming together to set things right too.  Turns out 3 birds were transformed by the sisters, and two are missing.  The spell will only be reversible if all three bird-humans are together at once, since they were together for the original spell.

I found the birds to be tiresome, finding myself not enjoying their portion of the storyline.  Fortuna begins her mission of helping "Martin," but once she finds out she can fly with him she isn't so keen on helping him become a bird again.  I wouldn't say it was captivating, and would assume that readers that need constant action will not make it to the end of this story.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013
432 pages
Recommended for grades 8+

Earlier this fall I shared a review for one of my favorite 2013 books thus far, Doll Bones.  With such a superbly done story for middle grade readers I was of course awaiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown with high, high hopes.

Coldtown is not for young readers, don't let the publisher name fool you!  Geared towards high school readers, this is a vampire story that fantasy fans should not miss.  

Tana lives in a world where vampires have become a threat to all civilization, and the fix is to create Coldtowns to contain all vampires and all infected individuals.  The opening scene of this book is hugely surprising, and it is immediately apparent that this story is not for the faint of heart or young readers.  

There is blood, blood, blood, love, betrayal, and loyalty, all found in this quickly moving story.  I know it's not for everyone, but I will say I was immediately captivated and drawn into this story.  Truly, I was sad to see it end.

I guess this is Holly Black's year, it will be a hard one for her to top!  
(And isn't that cover awesome?)

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
Dial, 2013
224 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

A sweet story about a funny little mouse who isn't quite sure who he is or where he belongs.  Peck does a nice job at introducing readers to the mouse world running parallel with our human world through the young nameless narrating mouse, without it feeling like forced explanations of the hows and whys.  
I think many young readers will enjoy this fun fantasy with wonderful illustrations, but readers with their wits about them might quickly predict the bloodlines of this orphaned mouse.
  I have given my heart to another small mouse, but have to admit that there was fun to be had within these pages.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013
Historical Fiction/Poetic Narrative
160 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

A few years back my students fell in love with a poetic narrative titled Hidden, also by Helen Frost.  Now she brings us a story with an entirely different feel and purpose.  
Two young boys in 1812, an American boy and a Native American boy, friends with a language barrier.  Told in alternating poems by each boy, readers are privy to the feelings and experiences of a child on either side of the battle lines which are beginning to form between American, British and Native forces.  

When it comes to Helen Frost's poetic narratives you can feel assured that though the text is sparse, each word and each poetic form is put to the page with intention.  I've already added this one to my classroom library!

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Have a wonderful week reading and discovering!
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Student Guest Reviewers!

Today I am happy to host two 4th grade students as they give their thoughts on two different poetic narratives.  They hope you enjoy reading their reviews, and more than that, they hope to inspire you to read the books yourself!  Enjoy!

Gone Fishing by Wissinger, Tamera
120 pages
Poetic Narrative
I give it a 6 out of 6!
I think this book would interest students in grades 3-4

I really liked this book because I like to go fishing with my dad.  I thought this book was funny because I would totally act the same way if my sister came along with me fishing.  This book made me realize that I really like to read poetic narratives.  I like how the author put different characters in their own fonts.

Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg
166 pages
Poetic Narrative
I give it a 6 out of 6!
I think students in grades 2-6 will like this book.

This book is about a girl named Eleanor who did not want to go to summer camp.  She tried to make the best out of it once she was there by doing swimming class, but she is not that great of a swimmer.  I love this book because I love sticking with a book, and this is a good book to stick with!  I really hope other people like it too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-4-13

Visit our hosts Jen & Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their reviews as well as links to all the other blogs participating in the book sharing fun!

Books I Read this Week:

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
Delacorte, 2013
464 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

I found myself longing for this story to reach a conclusion so that I could be done with it.  The majority of the characters annoyed me, especially heroine Jemma's parents and siblings.  Conflicts were resolved in the most eye rolling way possible, with Jemma so easily tricking and manipulating her way out of situations.  I listened to the audio and had to repeatedly turn the volume down since there was so much screeching and was painful at times.  Though the book isn't one of my favorites, young readers that enjoy epic fantasies might find this appealing. 

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
Wordsong, 2013
Poetic Narrative
84 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

A simply told story of a young daydreamer struggling with her parents' separation and her enrollment in a new school.  Students that treasure words and the art of daydreaming will relate to the main character.  I would happily add this to my classroom library.

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson with Marilyn J. Harran & Elisabeth B. Leyson
Atheneum, 2013
232 pages
Recommended for grades 5+

Leon Leyson recounts the six year period in which he and his family struggled to survive each and every day under Nazi oppression.  Leyson pays tribute to the risks taken by Oskar Schindler, knowing that without his name on the infamous Schindler's list, Leyson and his family would not have survived.
Unlike many Holocaust stories written for children/adolescents, this one is directly from the mouth of a survivor who was only a boy himself during the nightmare.  Leyson's boyhood youth resonates through his voice on each page, and it is this style of writing that will help to keep the story accessible to young readers.  Though there were multitudes of horrors endured during the Holocaust, nothing here is explicit or too raw for young readers.  I would feel safe letting this be an early introduction to the Holocaust to students as young as 5th grade, and it could serve as a wonderful new perspective for readers with more background on the Holocaust.
I love this book.

Scary Tales: Home Sweet Horror by James Preller
Feiwel & Friends, 2013
87 pages
Recommended for grades 3-4

I love scary tales, I never tire of the horror genre!  This short novel is perfect for grades 3-4, where some readers are wanting some of the edgier tales that are just out of their grasp skills wise.  In this scary tale the Finn family moves into a new house only to find that they are not the only inhabitants.  Liam and his sister invite the spirit of Bloody Mary into the home, and they live to regret it!

As a classroom teacher and literature lover, I have a hard time including titles in my classroom library simply because they are easier reads.  Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Bailey School Kids, etc. might be the reading level many students that pass through my door need, but my goal is to find better options to replace those tired series with.  We don't need to insult our developing readers, we need to always be on the look-out for titles titles our students can access and enjoy!

Currently Reading:

Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Have a fun reading week!
Thanks for stopping by.