Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What to Read Wednesday: Allegiant

What a great way to welcome myself back to blogging.  I am vowing to be a better blogger starting right now.  Of course I had to run out and purchase three new copies of Allegiant, the latest book in the Divergent series.  Students (and teachers) are pounding at the door to claim the first copies to arrive.  I must admit I'm pretty excited to devour this book myself.  It brings me right back to the ultimate question, which faction would I choose?  Take this survey to find out

I took the quiz and tied!

Happy reading!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I cannot tell you how excited I am about our visit today from Patrick Ness.  I wondered what I should say in this post and thought I would repost my original review of A Monsters Calls.  I wrote this in 2011!  I've been waiting so long for this moment.  I'll write again later and share all of the details.

Weeping cannot bring relief for some kinds of
Even friendship may
Not soothe the pain.

And now only a

Monster can show young Connor how to cope.
One story, two stories, three-- 
Now you must tell one back to me.
Strengthen your heart and
Take a deep breath
Each moment should be 

Capture this time in your heart
And know you will carry her
Love always. 
Letting go will
Set you both free.

This book was perfect.  Well done. Mr. Ness.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Welcome Back Jaguars!

It's hard to believe we are nearly to mid-term of first quarter.  I hope you are settling in nicely and finding lots of interesting books in the library.  My summer went quickly and was filled with reading.  I'm sure you're wondering which ones were best and I'll be sharing my favorites with you right here on this blog so keep checking back.  I can't wait to hear about your best summer reading adventures.  What was your favorite? Did you try to tackle any duds?  If you didn't read at all, why not?

Happy Reading!
Ms. Anderson

Friday, May 3, 2013

What an Inspiration!

I picked up this book a bit by accident (I was attracted to the segmented pages inside that reminded me of the fashion plates I played with as a kid) and could not put it down.  I was fascinated by Chuck Close's painting techniques and marveled at the largess of his work (I am tipping my hat to his huge paintings with a larger-than-normal icon on this post).  And to make his talents even more impressive he paints with genius in spite of facial blindness and partial paralysis.  I will also add that this book helped spark the idea of expanding Jefferson's Golden Jaguar list to include new separate list of just non-fiction.  The list is tentatively called Golden Jaguar: Non-Fiction.  I know, creative right?  Of course, Face Book is one of the first nominees.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I'm so excited!

The first thing I have to do is apologize for my mini-holiday.  I spent most of last week planning and meeting with teachers and we finally came to a decision on next year's list.  And I couldn't be more excited!  I really believe this list may be our best yet.  Tell me what you think!

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Pick-Up Game by Marc Aronson
How they Croaked by Georgia Bragg
Hidden by Helen Frost
Half World by Hiromi Goto
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Titanic: Voices from a Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Name of the Star by Marueen Johnson
Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci Jones
Legend by Marie Lu
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe McCall
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Ghetto Cowboy by Greg neri
A Monster Calls Patrick Ness
Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Cardboard by Doug TenNapel
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Great Graphics!

Ichiro by Ryan Inzana 
Inzana does a masterful job of weaving reality and Japanese myths into a tale of adventure and suspense. Check out this book trailer for a great sneak peak!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A World Full of Fairies

The Fairy Ring examines how two young girls fooled the world into thinking they had discovered real fairies in their back yard.  Their proof?  Photographs that were so convincing even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced. That's right, the author of Sherlock Holmes was duped by two young teenagers.  Wonder how it was done?  Check out this quick read by Mary Losure and I promise you will be delighted.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Secrets are in the Stars

Sometimes, if you are very, very  lucky, a story will create an impression on your heart that will linger long after the book's last word is read.  It will be a long time before I forget the quiet insecurities of Ari or the charming exuberance of Dante.  Their story, like the best tales of love and friendship, is one that resonates with the reader and will, I predict, easily stand the test of time.  This novel is CrossFit for the emotions: loneliness, joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, depression, desperation and peace.  I was put through the emotional wringer--in a good way.   The best part is that it's one in a growing list of 2013 award winners that I've read and thoroughly enjoyed.  I can not wait to read the next one (I'm thinking Splendors and Glooms) but who knows which one I'll settle upon.  Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Now that's Grimm!

Anyone who studies history knows that violence is not a modern day problem.  And anyone that studies the history of stories knows that nothing thrills an audience quite like weaving some blood and gore into an otherwise dull little yarn.  Take the classic fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm.  Their stories are riddled with poisonings, beheadings and countless gruesome deaths.  I think that it's this alignment with tradition what makes A Tale Dark & Grimm so charming.  This is the classic story of Hansel and Gretel but retold with all of the nasty bits left in.  It is indeed perfectly Grimm.  The story is told in a conversational style that will have the reader grinning, chuckling and clamoring for more.  Thankfully there won't be a wait since the companion novel, In a Glass Grimmly, has already made its way to the shelves.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Cow Boy by Nate Cosby
I grabbed this book from a pile of new titles in part because I had one of those horse heads on a stick when I was a kid and seeing the cow boy with this toy modified into a gun made me chuckle.  I thought the story was quirky and cleaver, but I was very distracted by the interruptions.  I'm not exactly sure what the author was thinking when he decided to include the one or two page mini-comics throughout the story.  They didn't seem to add anything to the overall experience.  In fact, I found that they took away from the flow of the story and by the end I was skipping them entirely.   Overall...I was underwhelmed.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Newbery Honor is a Winner!

Three Times Lucky was delightful.  I was saturated in the warmth of the story from  "Trouble in Tupelo Landing" straight through to the last wonderful bits of "Dear Upstream Mother."  In fact, the main character, Mo LoBeau,  is now snuggled in my memory right alongside one of my other all-time favorite characters, Salamanca Tree Hiddle, from Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. The author created a idiosyncratic cast of characters that helps tell the story of Mo's mysterious life story while at the same time weaving a new mystery surrounding the death of one of the town's least loved residents.  The story is funny, suspenseful and unpredictable.  The perfect recipe for magic.  I can't say I'm surprised it won a Newbery Honor this year.  That's the second Newbery winner from 2013 that I've read and loved.  I cannot wait to read Bomb and Splendor and Gloom--my expectations for entertainment are very, very high.  Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Just Typical

So much for my lofty goal of posting every day, or even a few times each week.   Last week flew by as I tried to get every class through the library before ISAT testing started.  In that I was successful (and added 5Essentials survey to boot), but my blogging went straight to the back burner.   But now I'm back.  No excuses.  You will be hearing from me much more often from now until the end of the year.

So.  Anything but Typical.  This is a book that has been on my list for at least a year but that I just couldn't quite bare to pick up.  I really dislike the cover (left).  So much that it kept me from wanting to read it at all--in spite of recommendations.  And sadly, I don't feel like they made much of an improvement with the new one (right).  Here's my question:  Why not include something about the actual story?  Say, computers?  Or writing?  I will never understand the decision to use cover art that does not reflect what a book is actually about.  I would guess that the artist is expected to read the book, but if not, surely that's a requirement of the editor?

So, with all of that said I did ultimately read the book.  I should have trusted my instincts.  I was indeed underwhelmed by the story, the voice of the character, and the plot.  I thought it was just...alright.  If I want a story that was similar then I much preferred Mockingbird by Katheryn Erskin.  I feel like Erskin did a more believable job of "taking off the top of the head" of her character, Caitlin.  Not that Jason wasn't a believable character.  I just felt distracted by constant explanations of why he doesn't interact with people--especially his mom.  Instead of feeling enlightened about how Jason's mind words I  felt hit over the head with his autism.  The story just didn't work for me.  What did you think?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Which One is Your Favorite?

Book Covers.  Have I mentioned how much I love the art that graces books?  I know, I know.  Not again (insert groan).  But seriously.  What's not to love?  One of the things I find most interesting or curious is when publishers decide to change the art work.  Is it because it's terrible?  They need something batter suits the story?  Hoping the new package will interest people in buying yet another copy of a book they may already own?  Take the Harry Potter series for example.

Did you know that the original title for J.K. Rowling's first book in the Harry Potter series was Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone?  So not only was the cover art different when the book came to the states--so was the title.

I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling the first two covers.  I think the one on the left makes Harry look old and goofy and the overall impression skews a bit young.  The cover in the middle is just waaaaaay too boring (I'm thinking Newbery winner 1930s inspired?).  The cover on the right with the red stone is my favorite of the three and is my second favorite overall.

I think you would have to be under a rock not to recognize the cover to the left.  For me, this is the artwork that will always be connected with the series.  I remember when I first started hearing about the story and picked up a copy and couldn't figure out what all of the fuss was.  Remember that I am a girl that judges a book by it's cover and I wasn't smitten at first sight.  Of course that all changed once I finished the first chapter and finally got to meet dear Harry.  The Scholastic paperback edition covers are alright.  I guess.

But look at this!  This is the brand new artwork by Kazu Kibuishi is amazing.  I love in inclusion of Diagon Alley. I love the color palate.   I think the overall art work captures all that is magical and fantastic about the story itself.  So, if their goal is to have new cover art to make people want to purchase a new copy then Scholastic may have just succeeded.  It's my overall favorite.  I cannot wait to see the covers for the rest of the series.

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite? 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What am I Reading...Right Now?

Sometimes I think I have a problem with my reading focus.  I am often reading more than one book at a time.  On the surface I don't see how this is a problem since it's something I've done most of my life.  But as I get older and have started to think about my reading habits I wonder if this juggling impacts my overall impression of the book or how successfully I am interacting with the text.  Ultimately I don't think that these habits will change, but it is interesting to think about.  Here's what I'm reading now:

The Round House by Louise Erdrich
I am about half way through this amazing story.  I am in a bookclub with some wonderful women whom I simply adore.  I spend most of my reading time with YA books so it is always a bit refreshing to read an adult novel without feeling the least bit guilty.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
So this book has been on my list since I first saw the cover.  And then when I heard   Michael Cart booktalk it at ISLMA I knew it would be one that I read--though I had it on my summer list.  Well, after the title did a nice little sweep of the ALA awards for 2013 I confess that it flew to the top of my pile.  I'm happy to report that every time I pick it up I have a harder time putting it down.

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
I started this while monitoring students who were testing. I got about half-way through and haven't revisited yet (which I find mildly troubling).  I have fondness for fairy tale retellings and this doesn't disappoint.  It has plenty of gore for the traditionalists and a fresh new story for the adventurous.  I can't imagine this will end up being an all-time favorite but the story is fun.
Chi's Sweet Home by Kanata Konami
Just a delight.  I love books that make me smile and this cat is freaking adorable.

That's what's in my pile.  What are you reading now?  Got any new titles to recommend?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

I'm SOOOOO Excited!

Okay, so you may remember my reading goal from last 100 books?  I think I hit that goal at least in part because I participated in a public reading challenge.  So I figure I'm really going to have a great year this year because I'm participating in TWO!

YALSA is sponsoring the 2013 Reading Challenge.  The goal is to read at least 25 of the 83 award nominees for 2013.  The book list  makes it easy to keep track of which books are eligible and which books you've already read.  Check out the page for a list of rules.  The best part?  Anyone can participate!

Then My Overstuffed Bookshelf  is sponsoring their reading challenge again this year.  I have committed to being a MEGA reader again this year.  That's 50 books from the YA category.  I can hardly wait to add my lists to the blog.

The big question is whether I will count books for both challenges?  Ugh.  That's such a hard decision?  Is it cheating?  Is that double dipping?  Hmmmmm....I think I will try to keep the 25 of the books that I read from the YALSA award list separate from the 50 that I read for my MEGA list.  Yikes!  That means I may have to boost my reading beyond 100 books.  Wish me luck!  Now who's up for the challenge?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose
Thank you Mr. Hoose for introducing me to this delightful 4 ounce wonder of nature.  I could not stop marveling at this little bird as I learned fact after fact about the rufa red knot.  Discovering that B95 has earned his nickname, "Moonbird," because he has logged enough flight miles to literally fly to the moon was just the first of many fascinating bits of information contained inside this gem of a book.  I'm so glad your book is getting attention and thrilled that maybe, just maybe, it will help inspire people to save shore birds before it's too late.

Check out these scientists and volunteers as they gather information about birds like B95.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Boy Oh Boy

Boy21 by Matthew Quick
I first heard about this book from Ms. Gutzmer who read the novel over the summer. She kept pestering me to read it and I kept resisting.  And then I went to a conference and guess what book came up?  Yep.  Boy21.  What was it about this book that had everyone talking? Was it the basketball?  The alien?  Nah.  Plenty of books have been written about both.  Maybe it was the basketball player who claims to be an alien?  Yep. That's it.  And maybe that was what was holding me back.  I thought the idea of a basketball playing boy who claims to be from outer space seemed a touch silly.  I had trouble suspending my disbelief before I even started reading.  Well, eventually I got tired of having Ms. Gutzmer ask, "Did you read it yet?" "Did you read it yet?" "Did you read it yet?"  And so I read it.  Wow!  What a delightful surprise. It has something for everyone: sports, humor, drama, fantasy, crime and a dash of love.  I could hardly put it down.  I think you will love it too if you just give it a chance.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Two Tough Chicks

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
How far would you go to protect freedom?  In Code Name Verity, Wein tells a different kind of World War II story.  This is a tale of friendship and courage that shows just how important women were to the war effort.  One friend, Maddie, is a pilot and the other--an undercover spy. The first half of the story is told from the perspective of the captured spy as she is tortured by the Nazis.  The second half is the heart wrenching story told by Maddie, as she struggles against all odds to get her best friend to freedom.  It is no surprise that the lovely story walked away with a Printz Honor for 2013.   This is just great story telling.  And a wonderful example of what historical fiction should be.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Voices from a Disaster

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
What is it about the Titanic that continues to spark the imagination and curiosity of kids and adults alike 101 years after the fateful voyage?  I would maintain that the continued interest in this disaster is due in part to great writers like Deborah Hopkinson.  She has masterfully woven together the story of this grim night through the perspective of a variety of Titanic's passengers. The book also includes maps, photographs, charts and loads of documentation about the ship and its passengers.  It is certainly not a surprise the book received a 2013 Sibert Information Book Honor Medal and was finalist for YALSA's Excellence in Non-fiction for Young Adults 2013.  This book is not to be missed.

Monday, January 28, 2013

And the winner is...

As you may already know...there is very little that makes me geek out quite like award lists.  And today I got to learn about this year's winners in real time via Twitter.  Believe me.  It was a very exciting morning in the library.  Here's a list of 2013 ALA Award Winners but here are a few of my winning favorites:

Newbery Winner 2013
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Oh the tears I shed reading this book during last year's ISAT testing.  I am so happy about this winner!  Sometimes I feel like Newbery misses the mark on kid appeal, but not with this one.

Coretta Scott King Award 2013
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Well I have a confession.  As hard as I try.  No matter how many blogs and book reviews I pour over.  There are always some books that slip under my radar and then end up winning one of the awards.  The good news is, I have another book on my list!

Printz Award 2013
In Darkness by Nick Lake
It's on my list to read, but winning just moved it closer to the top.

Here's the Follett description:
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Shorty, a poor, fifteen-year-old gang member from the slums of Site Soleil, is trapped in the rubble of a hospital and as he grows weaker, he has visions and memories of his life of violence, his lost twin sister, and of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who liberated Haiti from French rule in 1804.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shhhh! Don't interrupt me, I'm reading.

Have you ever noticed some books seem to be easier to "get into" than others?  Recently I've been wondering why it seemed like I was slogging through two books that I ultimately really enjoyed: Seraphina and Code Name Verity.  I started both of these books in back in 2012, but just recently finished them.  I started to consider what these books had in common.  Length?  Topic?  Characterization?  Writing style?  After lots of pondering I finally decided that it may have to do with how much time I spend with a book at the beginning.  If I am constantly interrupted during the first, oh, 1/4 of the book, then it seems like I really struggle to become immersed in the story.  I'll have to reread, restart and remember until I get back into the story's groove.  Interesting to consider right?  Is it just me or does anyone else have these struggles?  I think I may start monitoring my reading habits a bit more closely to see if this proves to be true (well, at least for me).

Have you ever read a book that it seemed like you were never going to finish, but that you really liked?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Ms. A

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Life in New Mexico

Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson
Let's be honest.  Not all stories are created equal.  There are some novels that are insufferably dull and leave the reader wondering how they ever got published in the first place. And then there are the others.  The books filled with characters that are so richly created they feel like someone you know and the dialog reads so true you can practically hear the conversations in the next room.  Muchacho is one of the those kind of books.  The story is a peek into the life of Eddie Corazon who is struggling to determine the direction of his life.  Lucky for him he doesn't have to make all these decisions alone.  With the support of a former teacher, his girlfriend and his parents, Eddie will finally figure out what is most important in his life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lucha Libre!

Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller by Xavier Garza
The first thing I love about this series is that it is bilingual--one page is in English and the facing page is Spanish.  Telling the story in both languages is great for students who are learning English for students who are trying to learn Spanish.  The second thing I love about this story is Garza creates a fun, playful mystery about something kids love.  Wrestling.  Or more specifically, the Lucha Libre.  I literally didn't put this down until I read it cover to cover.  The storyline might be a bit predictable, but it makes up for it by being well written and delightful.  And now I have a reason to do a booktalk in my Lucha Libre mask!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Kind of Dragon Story

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I've read my share of girl-meets-dragon stories.  I'm not, by any means, an aficionado, but I have a few personal favorites including Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede, Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey and Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George.   All of these stories have great characters, both human and dragon, and are fast paced and entertaining.  What makes Seraphina unique is that the author brings something new to the dragon/human tale.  Shapeshifting.  In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live side-by-side because dragons can shapeshift into human form.  The main character, Seraphina, has a foot in both the human and dragon worlds and a secret she struggles to hide.  She knows that if anyone learns what she really is her very life will be at stake.  This story has something for everyone:  great language, vivid description, mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.  This books should not be missed whether you're looking for your next favorite read or you have never read a book about dragons. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Room

Okay, so I have a confession.  I like video games but I'm not very good at them.  Because I'm not super good at them I get frustrated and usually quit.  I know, I know.  That's not a very good attitude to have and I'm working on it.  In the mean time sometime wonderful happened a few weeks ago.  I discovered this fantastic app for the iPad called "The Room."

I was soooo fun!  Yep.  WAS fun.  That's right...I finished the whole game.   I have never, ever done this before.  And I figure if I loved it it then I bet there are some of my students that would enjoy it as well.  It's basically a giant puzzle that has to be solved.  Open doors, fit pieces together, find hidden compartments.  This game has it all for the amateur sleuth.   It is $1.99, but it is so worth every penny.  The best part?  There are more rooms to come.  I cannot wait!

Happy gaming!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

End of the Year Book Survey 2012

When I was reading though my blogs at the end of 2012 I came across this reader's survey and couldn't wait to answer the questions myself.  Thanks to the writers over at Pure Imagination for the idea.

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?
This is so hard!  Right now I would say my favorite read from last year was Endangered by Eliot Schrefer.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Emily the Strange: Dark Times by Rob Reger.  I just knew I would love this book and ended up abandoning it.  I might go back and try again another time, but I doubt it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri.  I was certain I wouldn't like this book because I don't like the cover art, but I was so happy to be wrong.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's a New Year!

Okay, so my 2013 resolution to blog--at least a paragraph--every school day experienced its first hiccup, but I'm not easily discouraged.  So here I am on Day 2.  I'm refreshed from break and excited about what the new year holds.

My first completed book of the year was Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James.  I really like this cover and thought the title captured the essence of the story nicely.  The antagonist, Alice, is gorgeous but only on the outside.  Her mean streak becomes increasingly more apparent and threatening as the story reaches its climax.

Right now I'm reading two books:  Serephina by Rachel Hartman and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I'll let you know what I think!

Ms. A