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