Friday, May 29, 2009

Always finish...

I finished The Hunger Games last night(see previous two posts), closed the book and just smiled for awhile!! Great plot, real characters (how can Katniss not realize Peeta, "the bread boy" is it!!!). Now I have three second's I am waiting on: sequels to The Hunger Games, Chains and Gone. All previously blogged about here but I am too tired to chase down each link!! It is Friday and I did not get all my work done, even though I worked really hard all day long!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update on my progress

For those of you following along I am on page 222 of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins!! I have today to read the rest. It is so, so very good! Last night I couldn't put it down to get some much needed sleep so as to be prepared for my day job. My honey was shocked to find me still reading when he went to bed-he's the true night owl.

The whole dressing the "tribute's" up, interviewing them-fascinatingly creepy!! I never watched Survivor-didn't like the whole be mean and fake to win thing and this book is like one big game of Survivor, although the "tributes" did not choose this path for themselves. Reading it is much better than watching real people preen for the camera.
I'm on Part II, the Games and I'm loving the cat-and-mouse game Rue and Katniss have conceived! It is very well-written and I knew I was in trouble when the book made me cry by page 37! I liked Collin's Gregor series and The Hunger Games is truly better!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I finished Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis this morning and I liked it. I like historical fiction and this shows a different side of slavery. It seemed to be a lot of set-up for the final chapters of excitement but what it has to say about freedom is incredibly powerful. I loved the language of the book! This was selected by my multicultural book group of 5th graders at school and the language was difficult for them. I read a few paragraphs aloud to them so they could get a feel for it and that helped a lot! this will be the last book we read together as they go off to 6th grade. Hopefully, a few out of the 10 students will continue to discover new books after trying new choices through this club. We read The devils' arithmetic (Jane Yolen), The Breadwinner (Deborah Ellis), Heart of a chief (Joseph Bruchac), and Esperanza Rising (Pam Munoz Ryan) as well as Elijah. We've blogged and talked and each book is their "absolute favorite", hopefullly they will continue reading for pleasure through middle school. See the book trailer here!!

J and I read a great picture book last night, Mrs. Muddle's holidays by Laura F. Nielsen, a very fun read, demonstating how some folks just have joy of life!!! Mrs. Muddle moves to Katie's neighborhood and shows all the neighborhood children a host of new holidays. She just has a spectacular outlook on life and I might have to "borrow" the "leaf fairy" idea to motivate my little helpers! Check out Mrs. Muddle's Holidays to brighten your day!! Another great review here.

Now, on my extra special day off from school(double yeah!!) and in-between meditating on freedom while I plant basil and some flowers to honor my dear grandparents, I will be reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I have three days to read it before it is due back at the library. I can't even renew it because someone else is waiting for it-and I've already had to wait so long to get it from the library because of other holds so the time is now!!! Cue up music and time to get off the computer...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Al Capone shines my shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

What a lovely sequel to Al Capone does my shirts! I finished it this afternoon and when I knew it was coming to an end- I had only two chapters left- I stopped reading, on purpose to do some necessary household chores-just to make the book last a little longer and to contemplate the complexity of the story. After I finished some laundry and made a quick dinner I picked it back up and finished. Now I want to go back and read the first one again because I read it a few years ago. If you haven't read the first one do so now so you'll be ready for this second one coming in September!

I'm not going to give much away, but here is the story line: Moose lives on Alcatraz Island with his dad (a prison guard), his mom and his sister, Natalie. Natalie is autistic and Capone, while a prisoner, helps get her into a special school in San Fransisco. This story begins with Capone asking for repayment from Moose. Of course a mafia man like Al would want something in return! Moose is nervous about his note-passing relationship with Alcatraz's most famous convict. His character is well-developed as the nice guy, the good and helpful young man, among the other families. At one point, just to appease, he even pretends to like needlepoint! When problems arise, as they do in all stories, Moose comes through for his friends and his family. The wives were more memorable to me than they were in Al Capone does my laundry and I wondered if this was the author's intent.
Ms. Choldenko weaves together a fascinating historical fiction, teaching us about life on the island in 1935, with great characters and a very twisty and exciting plot! It's fascinating how authors' pick their topics and her idea of giving us a personalized tale of Alcatraz is her very special gift to readers.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Laura Resau's Red Glass

I finally finished this book (yeah!) and I say that with real happiness because I have been trying to finish it for the last three nights, excited for where the story was taking me. I'd get a few chapters read and be really ready for bed. Am I incapable of reading well-in-to-the-night as I have for the previous parts of my life!! Hmmmm.
Back to this wonderful book.

Red Glass is the story of Sophie and one summer of bravery and adventure and more bravery. She lives in Tuscon with her mom, step-dad, Juan and her mom's crazy Bosnian great-aunt, Dika(an amazing character). Juan is in the import/export business and has also given refuge to Hispanic immigrants from time-to-time. When a young boy (Pablo) is brought in by border patrol they find Juan's business card in Pablo's pocket and telephone Juan. Pablo's parents died trying to make it across the border and until decisions are made as to what to do with Pablo, Sophie's family brings him home with them.

Sophie loves having a new little brother and showers him with attention, even sleeps outdoors next to the chicken coop with him. Sadness encompasses Pablo even thought Sophie and Dika try to bring joy to his life. Contact is made at some point with Pablo's family in Mexico and the family plans a trip to return him home. The original plans fall through and Dika, her boyfriend Mr. Lorenzo, Mr. Lorenzo's son, Angel and Sophie drive in an old VW bus (what else would you drive through Mexico in but a beloved bus) to take Pablo home to visit his Abuelita and his village. Pablo will be able to choose staying in Mexico or returning home to Sophie's family.
Choosing to go with is a major accomplishment for Sophie because she is a girl with many concerns; she is a worrier and this trip will force her to go beyond her normal boundaries. She is worried about the bus going off the road, bandits, and germs. Everyone involved in this trip has experienced deep loss as refugees and Sophie has her own self-esteem hurdles to climb. It is this amazing journey Sophie takes that causes such life-changing moments for her. The relationships she builds with Angel, Dika and even Mr. Lorenzo create a stronger more confidant Sophie. The book is interspersed with Spanish language and thanks to the author's time in "the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico" it has a deep truthfulness to it.
This is a lovely story; one in which I fell in love with the characters, admire the courage of Sophie and want to know does Sophie's journey affect her next year in school, what happens between Sophie and Angel?? Could there be a sequal? The author's blog and website are wonderful-take a look! I highly recommend this book for middle/high school and adult readers! Check out these otherblog reviews about this magical book: Sarah's Random Musings, Readergirlz, and Melissa Walker.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just Read

After dance class tonight J. and I went around the corner to the public library and found the children's librarian putting out brand-new books!! We were so excited we picked a tonight we read:
They left both of us smiling...
Sally is a duck and she mail orders a pair of incredible purple socks-the socks, which grow, are really quite versatile! The illustrations are simple allowing the socks to really shine.
Loudmouth George is a typical Carlson character, who's been given chores for the summer (great way to understand helping out around the house-might have to read it to my 14-year-old). George, of course, is busy enjoying the beginning of his summer with games, swimming, and building. His wise mother won't let him go to the movies with Harriet until the chores are finished and he earns his allowance. The lesson is in how the chores are accomplished and we thought poor George learned his lesson for the summer!
Benny and his baby brother, cute pigs, head outdoors to play as the mom reminds them to not go to the mudhole. I asked J. for a little prediction here and naturally she answered uh, oh...they are heading to the mudhole. Oink, Oink (yes, yes) and while the pigs play with a few other cuddly creatures, they get muddy. Uh, oh! Luckily, Mother Nature saves them on the way home. I really liked the illustrations in this one, especially the little brother dressed in his diaper, Tibetan ski hat, pacifier as round as his nose and his what-looks-like an ugly monster doll with 3 large buttons. I also spied the three little pigs by the mudhole-naturally they would be where the mud is! Check out these other blog words on these titles!
Maya Reads
Now for myself I have to finish Red Glass by Laura Resau tonight so I can begin The Hunger Games and my brand-new ARC of Al Capone shines my shoes sent to me by Gennifer Choldenko!!! Thank you Gennifer!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New trick-slide show of Indianapolis trip

Slide show

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bedtime and stories just go together...

like popcorn and a good movie. J. and I have been doing a fair amount of bedtime reading even though I was consumed with reading The Help and left the weekend read-alouds to my dear mother-in-law!!! This week though we have finished two chapter books, Emmaline and the bunny by Katherine Hannigan (IA writer!-with NO website) and Milo and Jazz Mysteries; the case of the stinky socks by Lewis B. Montgomery. I loved Hannigan's Ida B. so I was excited when she had a new book out. When I saw it at my one and only indie bookstore USB my first thought was this is a perfect chapter book to read with J.-it looked like a Velveteen Rabbit-looking chapter book, so, of course, I purchased it. It is a delightful read with all kinds of fun words like "scoot-skedaddle."
The simple story begins with Emmaline wanting a bunny of her own and told no
because they are not neat-She lives in "Neatasapin" and the mayor has the great name of Orson Oliphant. Old Orson likes things neat and tidy and the grown-ups have just let him run the place but Emmaline is determined and finds a way to invite a bunny into her life! The language in the book is fun to say out-loud-lots of thump, thump, thumping and stomp,
stomp, stomping-and the plot is carefully constructed to give us a good message without weighing down the pure enjoyment. I loved Emmaline's determination as well as the Earth Mother/Old One we meet in the middle of the story. Ms. Hannigan was asked to do
the drawings for this book herself and I am glad she tried because the illustrations match the feeling of the story perfectly.

The second chapter book we finished together this week was an ARC sent to me by The Kane Press , written by Lewis B. Montgomery and, well you really can't go wrong with a book that has stinky socks in the title! J. loved both the boy and girl character and the easy drawings that accompanied the story.
J. likes things to be fair and real and it was cool for her to see Milo and Jazz work so well together to solve the case of the missing pair of lucky socks worn by the star baseball pitcher, Dylan. I know from reading their website that another Milo and Jazz mystery is out (The case of the Poisoned pig) and two more are coming soon. J. and I will be happy to put our Dash Marlowe detective hats back on and help Milo and Jazz solve more mysteries!!

We also read two fabulous pictures books last night and as tired as I was J. wanted both books to be reread again and again!! The first one w
as Belinda begins ballet by Amy Young (great author website!) and oh, what a great lesson Belinda
teaches, without being weird. Belinda, from birth, has had rather large feet!
How sad when the elementary teacher in charge of the talent show asks her to be a clown
because of her large size feet. I had a great time making a very grumpy teacher voice for her!
Belinda, sadly, unwillingly complies and learns the clown routine. Just by chance, though she puts herself in the right place, right time and happily, dreamily watches another student, Camille, practice her ballet for the show. Belinda shows us that her large feet can be just perfect for ballet as well!! Beautifully illustrated and very well-written, I know I will end up wearing the pages out on this one.

Our last book, Not a stick by Antoinette Portis (Not a box) was so well received by J
that we really did read it over several can you resist those blinking sweet brown eyes and it helps that the book is a fast read!! While fast though the impression both of her books leave me with is so refreshing I think Ms. Portis probably never lets her kids watch television. The premise of both of these books is a simple object, used with imagination can be Anything You Want It To Be! The little pig character is so cute, so well-drawn and you feel his (my feeling is that it is a little boy pig)
progressive frustration "It is NOT NOT NOT a stick!" to the elaborate imagining of what the stick can be, remind me of the forest growing in Where the wild things are. These are classics in our midst, definetely.
And after several readings we were both ready for dreamland. Post note; I reread it again to my husband last night! He wanted to dramatize it, of course!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Happy May! Come on Spring!

My friend Tina nudged me several times to read this book and I happened to find it in the library's 7-day loan right before we were leaving for Indianapolis! Road-trip and a highly-recommended book-I was set! I read it there, I read it back and many times in between during our trip.
Thank heavens for husbands who are willing to drive the whole way! Tina was right-this book is so good! I rarely pick up adult books because kid lit satisfies my need for really good fiction but I am so glad I did not pass this one by.
This story, set in Jackson, MS in 1962 is about three brave women, and all women at the same time. Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter trade sections of the book back and forth so we hear their stories of tension, trouble and joy between black and white during this extremely turbulent time in our history. Ms Stockett weaves the brutal news stories of the time (James Meridith, Medgar Evers) into her story so eloquently I had a difficult time remembering that Minny and Aibileen were not real.
The story is so interwoven and complicated in a good way that I'm not going to begin to retell it. I'm just not that kinda reviewer but I will say the power of the women's stories was so uplifting and heart-wrenching at the same time. Many of the characters made me grit my teeth with anger at their outlook on their world (Miss Hilly, Miss Elizabeth) and cheer for others (Miss Skeeter and all of the maids). The truth of the story is it is hard to
follow your own path, lose your friends for a higher good, against the rest of the world and they did it in the midst of real tragedies. I want all my friends to read this!!

The Help
Kathryn Stockett
Amy Einhorn Books/
Hardcover, 464 pages
ISBN 978-0399155345