Friday, May 26, 2017

*Shattered Warrior* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Welcome to the final stop on the Shattered Warrior blog tour!

First Second is giving away a copy of Shattered Warrior to one reader of this blog! 
Please enter below for your chance.

(Recommended for middle school and up)

I have been reading and reviewing children's lit for so many years with a focus on books for readers in grades 3-8. Shattered Warrior is on the higher end of my typical range, so for regular readers, know that I wouldn't put this one in my fourth grade classroom.

I would, however, recommend you read it.

The oppression, sadness, fear, anger and strength that the characters feel in this story come through loud and clear. The expressions, colors, clothing and body language, all send the same strong message: this is a story of people that will not crumble. The fierceness in the eyes of Colleen in the cover image should make that clear.

And amidst the anguish, there is a gentleness and love. Will there be more to this story? I hope so!


About the book (from the publisher):

It is eight years after Colleen Cavanaugh's home world was invaded by the Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet's mineral resources.

Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of a violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Together, Colleen, Jann, and Lucy create their own tenuous family.

But Colleen must decide if it's worth risking all of their survival to join a growing underground revolution against the Sharon Shinn and Molly Knox Ostertag's Shattered Warrior.

Blog Tour:
May 15th -- The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
May 16th -- Writing My Own Fairytale
May 17th -- The Novel Hermit
May 18th -- Ageless Pages Review
May 19th --  Here's To Happy Endings
May 22nd -- The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia
May 23rd -- School Library Journal
May 24th -- The Hollow Cupboards
May 26th -- Bluestocking Thinking
Giveaway closes 6/2/17

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-22-17

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 and recommendations!

Books I've Recently Read:

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Walden Pond Press, 2017
288 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

I can't love this book enough. And yet I feel frustration that I haven't been able to discuss with another reader yet. Please visit the link below for my full post on the book, as well as a chance to win a copy from Walden Pond Press!!

*Orphan Island* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
First Second, 2017 (First US edition)
Graphic Novel
187 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

A hilarious story about a fox that wants desperately to be feared by local farm animals, and also wants to be accepted as a tough predator by the area wolf.
When the fox can't scare the hens enough to catch one, the wolf convinces the fox to steal some eggs, and to then wait until the chicks grow a bit before gobbling them up...this is a failed plan that Mother Bruce can relate to!

This Friday I will be posting in the Shattered Warrior Blog Tour, so stay tuned for more on this title!

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

*Orphan Island* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Orphan Island  by Laurel Snyder
Walden Pond Press, 2017
288 pages
Recommended for grades 4 -7

Description of the book from the publisher:

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?


This book. This book, this book, this book.
I'm struggling between saying enough, and not saying too much.
Here goes:

Reading this book transported me right back to my own childhood love of reading books about self-reliant children. I first loved exploring the woods with the Boxcar Children. I can still remember the items they found and brought back to their old boxcar.  Later, I lost myself in Homecoming. I still vividly remember the children scrimping to buy a loaf of bread and peanut butter to survive on. And somewhere in between those stories there were some children on a beach, there was seaweed collected, and there might have been a seal...but the title of that story has alluded my memory for years.

The connection between the stories is, like I said, self-reliant children. There is something fascinating and scary and amazing about children imagining how they would go about their lives without adults in control.

The pull to a book like this is strong. When I book-talked this to my fourth graders yesterday there were wide eyes and pleads to borrow it. I told them, soon. I needed to physically carry it around with me until I wrote this post. It's sitting next to me, a larger presence than its size would suggest. I keep glancing at it, but it won't give up its secrets. Even now, after I've loved it so truly. It's like that.

It's magical, it's mysterious, it's frustrating, it's painful. What. Is. Going. On?

Nine on the island, orphans all, 

Any more and the sky might fall.

The rhyme each child can recite hasn't had much tangible meaning, until Jinny defies expectation, and refuses to leave the island on someone else's terms. The changes begin in a subtle way, escalating to the height of near tragedy.


Laurel Snyder, thank you for writing this story. This story that I want to, need to, share with many, many people. However, if you vacation up to Maine this summer and we cross paths at the beach, the clam shack, or a starbucks, I will corner you and demand answers. Fair warning.

Don't believe me? See what they have to say!
May 15th Laura Given
May 16th Pernille Ripp & Writers Rumpus
May 17th Teach Mentor Texts
May 18th Novel Novice & Bluestocking Thinking
May 19th The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
May 20th Book Monsters
May 21st Maria's Melange
May 22nd Read, Write Reflect & Walden Media Tumblr
May 23rd Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
May 24th Nerdy Book Club
May 25th A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
May 26th Kirby Larson

Praise for Orphan Island:
“Laurel Snyder has written a story that curls around the heart and pulls in tight—a meditation on the power and wisdom and closeness and sorrow of childhood. A wondrous book, wise and wild and deeply true. I loved every second of it.”
                  Kelly Barnhill, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

“An elegant and thoughtful meditation on the joys and sorrows of growing up, with lyrical prose, characters that feel as alive as your dearest friends, and a vivid setting sure to enchant young readers. A work of extraordinary heart.”
                                                                       Claire Legrand, author of Some Kind of Happiness

“A visionary, poignant, astonishingly lovely fable of childhood and change. This is a book to lose yourself in, and to never forget.”
                                                                                                  Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy

“ORPHAN ISLAND is a masterpiece—both timeless and immediate. Snyder’s book, like the island within it, contains all of the joys, wonders, and terrors of childhood. Every young reader needs this book; every grown reader needs it even more.”
                             Jonathan Auxier, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Gardener
Contest closes 5/30/17, Orphan Island's "Book Birthday!"
Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 1, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-1-17

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 and recommendations!

Whoa, it's May.

This week I'm sharing two books that are entirely and hilariously different!

Books I Read this Week:

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, 
illustrated by Alex Puvilland, colors by Hilary Sycamore
First Second, 2017
Science Fiction/Graphic Novel
215 pages
Recommended for grades 8+

What I want to say is that I read this book in 5 minutes. But that would #1: be ridiculously unfair to only spend 5 minutes with the work of these talented three creators, and #2: be a total lie. It only felt like I spent 5 minutes with this book. What happens is this: you look at the edgy cover, read the back of the book and the jacket flap, you get a feel for this story, and then dive right in. And then a few pages in you see your first meat puppet, you read that right, and then your eyes get wide and you can't. stop. reading.
You may or may not talk in your sleep that night after reading this book in bed. (I did, but I cannot guarantee this side-effect.)

Here's the low-down: There has been a spill someplace in upstate New York which has left an area dubbed the Spill Zone. Addison is a teen that rides her dirt bike into the Spill Zone to snap pictures of what it looks like inside the zone. It is illegal and incredibly dangerous. It's also personal. Addison's parents were in the zone when the spill happened. Her sister barely escaped, but the how is shrouded in mystery, and it left her speechless and withdrawn. The money Addison makes selling her photographs to collectors is used to keep her and her sister cared for. 
Also, her sister has a possessed rag doll, so there's that as well.

Certainly for the upper-end of middle school and beyond, mainly due to language. There's something about seeing swears in print that is so much harsher than hearing them in a movie or a song. They don't disappear, they are there in black, to read as many times as you want. Or don't want. Just my thoughts.

The book leaves off telling you there is more to come, thank goodness.

Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest by Tracey Corderoy, 
illustrated by Joe Berger
Nosy Crow, 2017 (first US edition)
128 pages
Recommended for grades 2-4

There are three short stories within this book. Each story follows a young witch named Pandora, as she takes on a small challenge. By Pandora's side is her unruly and excitable granny, who often uses a bit too much magic to solve her problems....thus creating more problems!

Young readers will enjoy this light story. These books were previously published in England (I believe) and there are more to come!

Interior shot:

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Reading Aloud in 4th grade:

Before reading we discussed the different covers. My hardcover is the top shown, paperbacks are the bottom image. Which do you think 4th graders were more drawn to?
My thoughts, the two covers combined give a better feel for the story than either one alone does.

Thanks for stopping by!