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.