Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-9-15

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers.
Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

I feel like this winter these post should be called: It's Monday! WHERE are you reading? Why? Because it's another snow day, and I will be reading at home! :)

Please pardon the super short reviews...time is of the essence!

Books I Read this Week:

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Candlewick Press, 2014
Fantasy
475 pages
Recommended for grades 5+

Loved it! Seriously, if you, or someone you know, is looking for a nice hefty book to get carried away in, this is it! Well, only if you have a great sense of humor and appreciate a good case of mistaken identity! Baba Yaga, that old crack up!


The Iron Trial (Magisterium, Book 1) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Scholastic, 2014
Fantasy
295 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

When has Holly Black ever let us down? Here she's working with friend Cassandra Case, which is so cool. I want to write books with my friends! The opening to this story might just leave your mouth hanging open, and your fingers fumbling to turn the page. The ending has the same effect, so stand by for book 2!

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora
Roaring Brook Press, 2014
Realistic Fiction
166 pages
Recommended for grades 6-9

A story about three literate 9th graders-more literate than any 9th grader I've ever met, spouting off lines from classic American literature-who want to encourage kids to read To Kill a Mockingbird in honor of their recently deceased teacher. To do so, they create a plan to hide all copies of the book in as many libraries and bookstores as they can get to in the state of Connecticut. I found it to be odd. Could this really happen? Would this really happen? I don't know.

Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis & Gary Kelley
Creative Editions, 2014
Poetry (illustrated)
Recommended for grades 5+

Though this book will look accessible to readers as young as third grade, the content is certainly not suitable for such young readers. In particular, the full page illustration of lynchings is haunting, and not one I would be willing to share with young students. The age the content is appropriate for might be turned away by the picture book format-unless they have teachers and librarians showing them that picture books are powerful things!
A piece of WWI history brought to life through poetry and gorgeous illustrations.

Chernobyl's Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone by Rebecca L. Johnson
Twenty First Century Books, 2015
Nonfiction
64 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

Awareness of the nuclear explosion, and devastation left behind, that happened in Chernobyl in 1996. Scientists have been, and are, studying the effects of radiation in plants and animals in the Exclusion Zone. Fascinating look at how animals are thriving and suffering. I would have enjoyed more photographs, and perhaps more of a focus on the animals, given the cover and title. There was a lot of scientific background on radiation-probably necessary- but also a side story on the nuclear explosion in Japan, which felt like an add on. 


Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick
Blue Sky Press, 2014
Adventure/Survival
184 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Loved it! Philbrick has that way with words to bring you right into the character's world, right smack dab into their here and now. I liked Zane right away, and rooted for him throughout the story. A New Hampshire boy plopped in New Orleans just before Katrina strikes will need some rooting for if he's going to make it to safety! Does the end feel too neat and tidy? Perhaps, but I loved the rest of the story enough to find it just possible enough.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-2-15

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers.
Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

This is the most unbelievable stretch of weather we have been experiencing here in the Northeast! Last week we had school Monday and Thursday snowed out the rest of the week, and here we are on Monday, preparing to get buried in more snow! Cozy up, Mainers!

Books I've Recently Read:

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
Scholastic edition, 2014
Realistic Fiction
220 pages
Recommended for grades 5+

A year in the life of Maggie, a girl that is brainy, up front, dedicated to school and FOOD, and totally unaware of the serious health issues her father is dealing with. Maggie, the youngest of three, is protected by her parents and older sisters, allowed to obliviously live her youth without the burden of worrying about her father's declining health. She's real, she's hilarious, she's addictive.

I loved this book so much that I immediately decided to mail it to one of my best friends. I called her and told her I was sending her a middle grade novel that I had just finished. Then I let her know that she would either LOVE it, or think I am a weirdo for mailing it to her... Over the course of the next few days I got texts letting me know how funny she found the book. Days later, she asked if the book could be mailed on to a friend of hers-a friend that was given Coca-Cola stock* for one of her birthdays. What's my point? My point is that this book might be written for middle grade readers, but that's its clever disguise. Meagan Jean Sovern, why was this book only 220 pages? I miss Maggie!

*If you would like to understand this reference to Coca-Cola stock, well, read the book.

The Secrets of East-Cliff-by-the-Sea by Eileen Beha
Beach Lane, 2014
Fantasy
280 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

Set in a mansion on the seacoast of Maine, three motherless children, a temperamental father, and sock monkeys secretly living alongside them... The sock monkeys are made for each descendent of the children's great grandmother, who is predicting her time on earth about to run out. One of the big events in the story is a gathering of this enormous family to present their sock monkeys to their maker, as a way to determine which family members would be included in the will of the matriarch. If you don't have your original sock monkey, tough luck! Do kids care about wills? I don't know yet. But, the thing that makes me want to crumple some pages is the absent, found-again, abandoning mother! She makes my blood boil.

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
Simon & Schuster, 2014
Steampunk
307 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

So cool, creepy, thoughtful and mysterious!
Jack has always been sent off to boarding schools, and feels little connection to his mother. When Jack is home from school, he is often sent to his room during his mother's social engagements. One day Jack follows a strange man, magician perhaps, through a secret door in the center of London. When Jack emerges on the other side he finds himself in a replica of the London he knows, though this new London, Londinium, is smoggy and so very, very different. Jack encounters people with machinery parts, and then happens upon a mechanical girl. Jack finds out that he has been chosen as a perfect boy specimen to be the son of the Lady. With no loving mother back home, Jack is enticed and blinded by the adoration of the Lady. Until Jack becomes damaged by a jealous former son. 

Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy F. Castaldo
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Nonfiction
154 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

Love the glimpses into all sorts of jobs dogs preform with their amazing snouts! Kids will enjoy meeting so many dogs, reading their personal stories, seeing their pictures, and learning contemporary and historical information.

The one bummer...no airedales! ;)

Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet by Jane Price, illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock
Kids Can Press, 2014
Nonfiction
96 pages
Recommended for grades 3-8

With such a span of information, this book will be found interesting to a wide range of readers! The layout and illustrations are engaging. While the pages might appear busy, with a closer look you will notice that there are helpful tips on how to read the information. I plan on using this book in class during my nonfiction unit to support readers as they navigate their own nonfiction texts.

What will you learn by reading this book? How about taking a trip to underground caves, crypts, cities, dens, bunkers, gardens, and on and on! Tons of fun!

And the boy enjoyed:

Peek-a-Who?!

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Enjoy the snow!