Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wendy Mass

     I met Wendy Mass tonight.  She was here as our guest author for Cedar Valley's Youth Read, which brings in one author a year and fifth grade students in the area read one book from the author.  Our students all read 11 Birthdays.   She's been here all week talking with groups of fifth graders about her books, her writing process and her dreams.  I went today with a school group to hear her talk and then again tonight when she did a public talk.  She seemed so natural and at ease.  I enjoyed listening to her and even though I didn't get to interview her I learned some interesting tidbits.

     She had a great slideshow that accompanied her talk.  Here is what I learned about Wendy Mass tonight:

1.  Her first dream was to be an astronaut= cool because Every Soul a Star used her original love of space.
2. She adored some of the same authors I did growing up;  Judy Blume and E.L. Konigsburg.
3.In the beginning she wrote a lot and was frustrated.  Luckily she kept going.  I write just a little and am also frustrated.
4. She recieved a ton of rejection letters for her very first book,  A Mango-Shaped Space and has them all laminated together!! 
4.  Her first book published is a nonfiction book about Stonehenge.
5.   She recently finished Scott Westerfield's trilogy-I think she said she listened to it on audio.
6. She has three retold fairy tales-I want to read these!
7.  She talked about how writers get paid-I've never heard anyone be so frank on this topic.

8.  The topic of covers came up with several of her books.  This makes me think how awful it is to lose control of your "baby" and have awful choices made.  This would make me want to pull my hair out. When  Heaven Looks A Lot Like the Mall  came out in paperback they put a gumball machine on the front even though their isn't a gumball machine in the book.  Common Sense would say remove the gumball machine picture and add something from the d#@* book but no, they asked her to re-edit and add a gumball machine into the story!!!  How maddening.

9.  She said ideas come from three things: experience, observation, and imagination. 
10.  She kept her ideas in a notebook-which she learned from Harriet the Spy and she still keeps a notebook to jot down ideas. 

11.  She works really hard on character development by filling out an idea form showing character traits, friends, thoughts, etc. 

Thank you Wendy for visiting and making such a huge impression on students throughout the Cedar Valley.  After the fifth grade students from my school heard her-they came to library the next day, pumped and looking for all the Mass' books we had and many could quote her, telling me bits of advise from her talk; like you have to have a pet-its like a rule that if you write you have to have a pet.  They took this to heart!!  I'm happy to have their thinking influenced by such an at-ease and talented author!!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday to you

     My son turns 15 tomorrow at 7:11 in the evening.  I drove myself to the hospital-this is something to brag about.  He's turned out to be a smart, handsome, and very humorous young man.  He is also a wiseacre and quite often too smart for his own good.  I am glad he is still curious about the world and he has his own unique outlook.  I whipped him up a homemade angel food cake for dessert tomorrow night.  He asks for the same cake every year and sometimes I've purchased it (really, really short on time) and sometimes I've made it from a box (just a little short on time)-a few times though I've made it from scratch and this year peaceful girl helped me out.  She was a little miffed that I didn't let her crack any of the twelve eggs but I explained that I needed each and every one of the egg whites to be separated just right from the yolk.  She helped with lots of other parts though and it is now successfully in the oven.  I still have to wrap a few of his gifts and then I will be reclining to finish Look Again.

     I still have to write about She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  I had a post composed in my mind about my experiences at the Reading Conference I attended last Friday-and I promise to get all those done.  Today my thoughts are focused on this almost monumental birthday celebration.  It is only almost monumental because 16 is hanging in the air so close I can feel it in my bones-that, and he reminds me of it frequently.  This child is in a hurry to drive and we differ on many topics but mostly this one.  It terrifies me to have my baby alone in the car driving off, me waving!  I say-Hell, No!!!  So somehow after tomorrow I have 365 days to get adjusted to that or convince him the laws have simply changed.  It will help ease my worries that it will be required of him to keep his GPA up in order to get said licence but you can see my fear. 
So tomorrow say a little prayer for me as we wish this little boy a very
 happy 15th year of life and as we cut that delicious angel food cake (dipping it into chocolate sauce)
I'll be wishing this year to slowly creep by, like the year of the turtle!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Look Again-Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme,
 Anyone can play along!
 Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (don't give too much away- don’t ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teasers:

"El, here are my famous last words.  You're single, he's single, and life is short.  I say, go for it." p 19
Look Again( 2009) by Lisa Scottoline

***This is supposed to be my" fluff" book after the very gritty Little Bee by Chris Cleave, which I loved but needed something a llittle easier.  I'm totally enthralled by this tale of a mother who discovers reasons to question her adoption of her three-year-old son, Will. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My awesome nephew celebrating the day.

I hope everyone has had an amazing Earth Day!

Among other books and websites I read Chris Van Allsburg's Just a Dream this week to remind students
what a difference they can make.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


     I am a member of two book clubs, one that meets with food and wine and the other is three of us, meeting through letters and emails.  Both groups are reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  The in-person group met this past Monday  night and I wasn't able to go.  My wee girl had gymnastics and my teenager had an at-home soccer game.  I make it to every home game I can because, well, because I want to be there.  My husband had a theatre group performing at the exact same time these other events were going on so I didn't make it to book club or yoga for that matter.  Life is crazy busy and wonderful! 
     I digress as this post isn't about how busy my Monday was but my reading of Little Bee!  The only reason book club comes into the conversation is that I'm sad I was not there to be part of the conversation about this book.  I'm not ready to review it yet as I still have three chapters to go but last night I went to a very casual fund-raiser for our local food bank and ran into another book club member.  I asked her about Little Bee and what she thought.  She said she wasn't quite finished with it but she didn't like it.  I was a little shocked!  It is well-written and she is a retired English teacher but there was more to it.  She said from the very beginning she was hesitant because she knew it was going to have yucky stuff in it.  Yucky stuff being the real life trauma Little Bee and other immigrants experience-first in their own countries and then again trying to immigrate.  I'm not picking on my book club friend but it did start me to thinking; Are some books just to real???  Too gritty!!  Too filled with the reality of how harsh our world is?? 
     I love the story Chris Cleave tells-it is fiction yet the horrors of her experience are very real.  I also loved Ismael Beah's A Long Way Gone; memoirs of a boy soldier!  Do your prefences run towards gritty?  Or do you prefer milder fiction?  Not so much real life mixed into your fiction?  Just curious...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Little Bee-Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme,
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! ( You don't want to give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here is my teaser for today:
From Little Bee by Chrise Cleave

I will tell you what happened when the taxi driver came.  The four of us girls, we were waiting outside the Immigration Detention Centre.  We were keeping our backs to it, because that is what you do to a big gray monster who has kept you in his belly for two years, when he suddenly spits you out.  You keep your back to him and you talk in whispers, in case he remembers you and the clever idea comes into his mind to swallow you all up again. p. 50
There are beautifully poignant sentences on each page of this book so it was tough to choose. 
Happy Reading~

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brilliant Art Work

My 7-year-old daughter did a painting project last Friday.  Her inspiration for the project was based on a book we read together-The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen; a fantastic book about a girl and her grandfather who create an apartment garden with paints instead of seeds.  I brought the book home from school two weeks ago and we read it together.  I guess the book affected her more than I knew.  My husband has extra canvases at work and it was something she worked out with him.  She painted it for her room, above her bed where she recently asked for the old print of a Maxfield Parrish to be taken down.  I was a little crushed as I love Parrish's work but we took it down.  Apparently she had other plans-her very own plans-for that wall space! Before she unveiled it on Friday night 

We never know as educators and/or parents what book will touch a child in a certain is an amazing marvel when they have a positive reaction and send that love back out into the world.  I've commissioned her to paint another one for my room.  Isn't her painting lovely...her own imaginary garden!  Don't you just love it...

Kids Can Press synopsis of The Imaginary Garden-click here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Homeschool Liberation League


Interesting book: great title,deep characters, extremely interesting topic. 
What do you do if your kid is bored out of their mind at school?  What if
that child seems to be self-motivated at home
learning about plants and animals all on their own?  Homeschooling, unschooling, or regular schooling-which path do you choose? 
 This book eventually makes the case that there are many
different answers to that question.

     Kaity, after a summer trip to Wilderness Camp, turns herself into" Katya" and decides to take herself out of school- on her very first day back!  She leaves, walks out, on a day when many students are excited to see their friends, show off new school wardrobes and be a part of something but not Katya.  She heads back home where she hides out in her treehouse for most of the day.   Katya puts together a massive binder of researched information about schools and homeschooling as well as her reasons for wanting this so much and shares it with her parents-begging to be allowed to stay home and learn what she wants to learn.  After meeting with the principal, the parents become frustrated with the school system as well so they decide to give it a try.

 Along the way Katya meets Milo, a H.S. neighbor and young violin prodigy.  Milo doesn't want to be homeschooled any more because his dad is overbearing about the whole practicing, studying thing. 
Several middle school and high school students who homeschool hate it...
they fight to go to school while Katya fights for one year of freedom. 

There is very real conflicting feelings in the story.  It is tough to wonder, with one decision, am I going to ruin my child's life?  I liked the emotion the book brought out in me yet I didn't love the book.  Katya was screechy and drove me a little crazy but I also think that is how a middle school girl might be.  I think I was like that-everything very dramatic!!  I think I would like to read another Lucy Frank book to do a little compare and contrast.  I don't homeschoo lmy own children and I do teach in the public school system but I am a fan of homeschooling as a good friend taught me homeschooling fits a variety of purposes.  My previous idea was more along the lines of parents trying hard to shelter their children from the reality of the world-don't read "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" -you know. 

My favorite quote:
 "I thought you loved school," I lied.  "You're Francesca Halloran, star of everything.  Teachers love  you, kids love you.  Everyone wants to be you.  You always have that sparkly, sprightly, spunky, everything is so fun and easy and interesting, I-live-for-school...You always know what you're doing-"
Her look reminded me of Milo.  "Did you hear anything I said before?  That doesn't mean I like it.  I'm just good at it.  It's a game, Katya.  So I play to win, okay?  I'm so good at playing it, most of the time I don't even know it is a game." Her eyes shone with feeling.  "But you said no, I'm not playing.  I can't do it.  I really admire that." p. 187
     One of the themes I loved in the book was the idea of being true to yourself and both Katya, Milo and Francesca learn to stand up for what it is they really want. Just as it would be in real life, the hardest part was convincing parents that their children were mature enough to know themselves! 
  I discussed the book this afternoon with my friend (yes, the homeschooling mama) and she thinks it would make a great reading choice for the parents of her H.S. group!  It will be interesting to hear what they think!

Recommended-Middle Grade Fiction
3.5 /5 peaceful stars
Other Reviews:
and Jessica at Kiss the Book
***Library Book Project***

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays

     Tif Talks Books hosts Fairy Tale Fridays and since I love fairy tales and I'm doing a fairy tale unit with 2nd grade I like to particpate.  This week I found a fantastic book of fairy tales in my library-that I must have ordered last year and must not have had a chance to crack the cover.  There's a Wolf at the Door; Five Classic Tales retold by Zoe B. Alley, with pictures by R.W. Alley is the perfect combination of old school tale with a few funny twists to keep things lively.  The illustrations are comic book style with little arrows (every once in awhile) to help young ones find their way, their own bread crumbs, trailing through the book.  The five tales include The Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, and The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings.  I've explored the first few and plan to take it home as my peaceful girl loves anything Little Red Riding Hood.  I'll leave you with an excerpt:
Blake (the third little pig) threw an apple as hard as he could at the wolf, hit him smack on the head, and ran for home.  Surprised and hurt to the core, the wolf realized he's been tricked again. p. 4

It's funny and I will have a great time sharing one of these stories with 2nd grade students next week. Students will also love how tall the book is!   For now I'm heading home to blog hop without my school filter getting in the way!!  Happy Friday!
School Library Journal's thoughts on There's a Wolf at the Door.

Book Blogger Hop

Jennifer at Crazy-for-books hosts a book blogger party. 
It's about socializing and finding new blogs out there.  Whenever I research a book I'm always amazed at the variety and amount of blogs out there in the massive outer world.  So hop around and see what you find.

 I love that it's on Friday-like FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) for bloggers, a way to meet and greet other book lovers. 
Maybe later I'll be able to blog hop on my patio with a margartia in hand! 
Hop, Hop, Hippity, Hop!! 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making connections

     I've had kind of a depressing day.  Sometimes the field of education can be so amazing and other days-total Debbie Downers!  Makes me want to open a bookstore where every day would be blissful.  I (helped:) clean my daughter's room tonight and she wanted to count our blessings while we cleaned.  I believe she was trying to cheer me up-love that empathy gene kicking in here and there. 
This minute I'm feeling blessed to have fresh daffodils on my table in a ruby red vase.  I'm also feeling blessed that tomorrow is Friday.  Woo-hoo! 

Story time this week for 1st graders involved two stories that I loved and that connected well together.  I love when I can find pairs of picture books that compliment each other.

     We read about pets in Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen's book, A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose( 2010)-it's just fun to say and the kids loved saying it with me as it becomes a refrain in the book.  Not every read-aloud fits my style as I 'm not good with a million different voices.  I can do a few but have a hard time switching back and forth but this one worked for me and made the kids giggle and smile...and isn't that what we are really going for anyway!  Amelia really, really wants a dog but her parents keep saying no!  She asks every day then turns around and changes the questions on them.  She stops asking for a dog and starts asking them questions related to dog care.  Oh, it has some fun twists and I greatly enjoyed watching some quick students with their a-ha faces.  A-ha faces really light up, another thing we are looking for as teachers as well.  This book was a win/win!  I had to stop in the middle and explain Amelia's imaginary dog-but it made for an interesting conversation.  Linzie Hunter's illustrations gave the students much to stare at as they are filled with more than just the story.
     I matched it with one of my favorite author's Margie Palatini's The Perfect Pet(2003)!  Also about a young girl (Elizabeth) who wants a pet, any pet-doesn't even have to be a dog!  She has a variety of techniques to get her parents to say yes to a pet.  There's the element of surprise, catching them off guard, or the full stomach...her parents continue to say no to each and every pet she suggests until she discovers an animal already in the house, ready to be a pet!  Hilarious.  The illustrations are wonderfully drawn by Bruce Whatley-at first I didn't like how the parents were drawn-very square looking parents considering their very unique-looking Elizabeth but of course, makes sense-they are anti-pet!!  Elizabeth is the true star in this picture book!

What connections did you make this week?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hugging Hour


     This great little book came in my recent order from Titlewave.  Great title, great front cover with the sweetest granny on the front!!  From the first few lines you are pulled into a little mystery: 
"To Drool, it seemed like her parents had been gone for an awfully long time."
with a perfect illustration of Drool (Drew) gazing down a long and winding road and throughout the rest of the book is Grandma appeasing Drool with fun activities while she misses her parents.
    By the end I discovered  the "mystery" of the missing parents is a weekend sleepover with Grandma.  Upon reflection this little book gives a great look at what it must feel like for a small child to spend an overnight with even a Grandma as lovely as this one; fun but still filled with longing for the missing parents.  This will be a perfect book to use for deep thinking...and yummy cooking.
     When I explored Aileen's website I noticed she illustrated another favorite of mine, Bella and Bean(click here for my review of  B & B) by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.  I also noticed she has an Etsy shop as well.  I'm going to explore that  a little more as well!
Highly Recommended-Elementary picture book
5/5 peaceful stars
Click here for Aileen Leijten's lovelywebsite!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

 Just do the following:
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. Do not include any spoilers-don't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's mine:

As soon as I got close to Alvin's field, I strained my ears for Mystery Boy's violin.  All I heard was a distant lawn mower.  Even so, I could feel my spirits lifting.  p. 71 The Homeschool Liberation League by Lucy Frank.

I'm about half way through this book and am hoping Katya calms down a little.  I'm anxious to see the relationship between Milo (Mystery Boy) and Katya. 

What words are teasing you this week?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Any Which Wall

by Laurel Snyder

This book is a real treasure.  I received it in my last order from Titlewave and the synopsis appealed to me so much I took it home to read it even before Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, which was the one I had been anxious to read.  I still look forward to reading the Newberry winner but Any Which Wall was so well-written I'm glad I took a chance on it!

If you had a magic wall
that could take you to any place
and any time, where would you go?

Would you want to visit castles
and desert islands?

Would you want to meet  famous wizards,
terrible pirates,  beautiful queens, and dastardly outlaws?

If so, then you  are just like Henry and Emma 
and Roy and Susan-and you will probably
 like this story a lot.
In fact, you might even wish
something similar would happen to you!
(inside front cover)

The adventure is fun, the characters are believable and the illustrations by Leuyen Pham are reminiscent of Ramona in their adorable simplicity.  It's Snyder's writing that really drew me in though. 
A sampling:
At first, when her mother announded that she'd be spending the summer watching Henry, Emma, and Roy, Susan complained loudly and bitterly, but when she realized that her new best friend, Alexandria, was going to be spending July and August in Chicago, Susan became instantly less miserable at the prospect of babysitting.  She didn't have much else to do, so she dug her bike out from under a pile of garden hose in the garage and dusted it off. (p. 9)

It's one long, interesting sentence!! The four neighborhood kids bike one night through a cornfield (in Iowa, naturally) and discover this wall right in the middle of the field.  Each time they visit the wall they learn new things about it's ability to transport them.  It's magical, really!  I enjoyed how Snyder, often very subtly, talks to the reader.  I enjoyed how smoothly her writing flows over me.  I loved reading this book and, after exploring her website, need to seek out other books by Snyder! 

Snyder's blog

Highly Recommended-Elementary Fiction
5/5 peaceful stars
Read this book!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Fair Fun

      How can you not find great books when you spend 4 days walking around your own book fair.  I stand and read even as I talk to parents and students and I stack more books on my desk to buy; some for school and some for home.  Luckily, most will stay at school because my daughter's book case is literally cracking.   My son has a huge pile of books in the middle of his room to get rid of because he encountered a mouse family living in his room (oh, this story should really be saved for another post but..) well, the mouse peeked out from his bookshelf two books over from The Tale of Desperaux!  So you see why the smallest pile is the one for home. 

     Back to my book fair finds.  First I picked up from the summer reading table, Mick Harte was here (1995) by Barbara Park.  A parent reminisced about reading this one in school and how it affected him, so I had to check it out.  My favorite lines came just three paragraphs in: 
So this isn't the kind of book where you meet the main character and you get to like him real well and then he dies at the end. I hate those kind of books.  And besides I can't think of anything worse than using my brother's accident as the tear-jerking climax to some tragic story. I don't want to make you cry. I just want to tell you about Mick.
  What a great opening! Such honesty from a main character I can respect! 

For a little while I allowed my inner seven-year-old to roam through The Hidden World of Fairies (Wendy's Journal) with its maps of Pixie Hollow and glittery stardust wings. So many delicate flaps to peek into as Wendy writes about her discoveries in the land of the fairies. 

Next I picked up Confetti Girl (2009)by Diana Lopez-I thought this was going to be all great fun cover with no substance inside but it with a title heading like this:  Los amigos mejores son libros-Books are your best friends, I decided to give it a try.  I'm on the third chapter already!!  Lina Flores' dad is a bibliophile/English teacher so lots of references to books but he's hiding behind his books as Lina's mom died last year.  Her best friend, Vanessa, lives right next door and they both seem  like very likable characters so I expect to keep reading this through the afternoon as the book fair winds down.

I also read a few chapters of The Princess Plot (2005)by Kirsten Boie and The Girl Who Could Fly(2010) by Victoria Forester.  Both of these are more middle school reads so not for my students-how am I going to finish them before I pack up the book fair Monday morning??  What a problem!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Operation Yes


     I picked this gem up from our fall Scholastic Book Fair and let it sit on a pile forever at home.  Spring Break rolled around and I thought to myself...perhaps I should read it before the next book fair is here.  Well, our book fair is here and I've finished the book.  I don't know why it takes me so long sometimes because this book was so much fun and easy to read.  It takes place at a military base school.  This isn't a topic I've given a lot of thought to but it makes you stop and ponder the stress level military kids must go through on a daily basis.  Parents missing for long stretches, moving frequently and constant activitity on the base and this book deals with all these issues in a very normal manner.  Planes fly overhead as kids plan activities around their parents hectic schedules-all part of daily life.

     Add in one incredible teacher though and life goes topsy-turvy. Ms. Loupe is an alumni of this particular base and has come back to teach instead of taking her place in the military as the rest of her entire family has done.  She's found her passion though as these kids love her and her magical lessons.  I started reading some of it to my sweet husband and his ears perked up "hey, she's teaching them the important points of improvisation!"  He was pretty excited.  Then later he gave it as a suggestion for teachers to use in teaching drama.  Ms. Loupe is all about the drama and she gets this otherwise bored kids to be exciting about school and learning again.  Suddenly kids don't want to be transferred out! 

     When Ms. Loupe's brother disappears in combat the students learn to work together, forming a createve and unique protest, with very positive results! 
Now that I have my book fair set up I've already found a few more gems like this one to add to my piles!

4/5 peaceful stars
Recommended for elementary fiction
and all drama teachers

Monday, April 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by
 Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (don't give too much away-you don't want to ruin the book for others). 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is my teasers:
A set of shrubs had been planted under the library window.  Someone else's bike tossed on the grass.  New planters in front of the door with happy little marigolds dancing in the breeze.  Not my house anymore.  Not my home.  p. 9
from She's So Dead to Us by Kieren Scott
what's your tease today?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Just Listen

by Sarah Dessen

I do love Sarah Dessen books-they are good for escape and wonderfully easy to read.  I would compare them to Jodi Picoult books for the young adults (and not-so-young-adults).  Sarah has an amazing grasp on teenagers; what they say and think as her characters come alive for me and I'm reminded of young people I know. 

Just Listen is the story of Annabel Green.  Annabel stars in a local department store's commercial as the girl who has everything; popular, cheerleader, prom queen surrounded by a gaggle of friends.  Happily her life is not really like this but she doesn't realize how happy this should make her.  She's struggling in the friend department as she ditched her first great best friend, Clarke to hang with bossy and mean Sophie.  Why do girls do this? It happens all the time.  I see it even at the fifth grade level, girls choosing to be friends with the trouble-making, snappy girl instead of the on-task, perfectly happy girl.  Why?!  If they could only look into the future.  In a good twist of fate Annabel meets Owen in a moment when she really needs someone real. She's been getting the cold shoulder from Sophie caused by a major summer rift-a rift caused by major denial on Sophie's part and Annabel's deep need to be silent on the matter.

 I like Annabel and her family, and I like Clarke but I love Owen.  Always in Sarah Dessen books I found one character that I wish I knew and Owen was it for me.  Owen isn't perfect by any means but he is true to himself and a deep and interesting character.  Owen's life is focused on music and Annabel, through Owen, learns to just listen.

There are several plot twists going on that I won't get into (you should discover them on your own) but one circles around Annabel's family, specifically the middle sister, Whitney.  She was a model as well and has gone to NYC to pursue a career in modeling but winds up battling anorexia instead.  I really enjoyed Annabel's sisters and this side plot about Whitney's journey is compelling.

If you haven't picked up Sarah Dessen I highly recommend her for good easy reading with very memorable characters!  This book could have a soundtrack as well!
4/5 peaceful stars
Highly Recommend for YA/adult reading 
Fulfills Reading from My Own Shelves Project hosted by Diane  at  Bibliophile by the Sea.
As per the terms of the project it needs to leave my shelves and be will be returned to my stepdaughter Kaylee now that I've finished it- read her recent review of That Summer by Sarah Dessen.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Recent Reads

Having a cold for the last few weeks has really taken away my ability to get things done, indluding blogging and we've been ITBS testing in our building, also throwing off my schedule!

Two weeks ago I got a new order in from Titlewave and I've had a great time reading and enjoying all the new books I ordered. I've also received three books in the mail this week and I still have two reviews to write from Spring Break!! I'm determined to catch up this weekend.
Here are my top five new books:

1. Redwoods by Jason Chin: This book deserves a page all its own but I already checked the book out to a teacher, who also love, love, loved it!  The opening pages of this book show a young boy engaged in reading a book about the Redwood Forest while he's on a train.  We see through the train windows amazing scenery, taking us through the redwoods history (dinosaurs in the background on one page).  He enters the forest as he steps off the train steps.  It's magical, really and every library should have a copy.  It is picture book format but is nonfiction-it doesn't matter where I hide this book, kids will find it!  It will be the catalyst for many great lesson plans as well!  The book sports its own home page as well-which I love and plan to show to students as soon as I can get the book back!  I found Jason Chin's journey of creating this book added to my love of this book.     I hope Jason will create more nonfiction books like this blurring the lines between fact/fiction!  Really-go  find this book.

2.  A Day without Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch; illustrated by Chad Cameron:  Liza is happily coloring away in her room when she runs out of places to color; her coloring books are filled and her blank paper is all full so (naturally) she begins a mural on the big open wall in her room!  Great idea until Mom comes in the room and tells her (aarrgh!)no more crayons for today.  This is crushing news until she discovers colors outside adding a new dimension to her artisitic nature.   Liza is beautifully impish in the drawings created by Cameron. 

3.  Twelve Terrible Things by Marty Kelley: This book reminds me of  a  classic favorite-The monster at the end of this book starring the very lovable Grover.  It begins like this:  "Please read this: I'm warning you.  If you turn the page, you are going to see some terrible thingsThis book is full of them.  Didn't you read the title?"  Once you turn the page...and you know you will, you will find big bright illustrations with 12 very funny things!!  I'm not even going to tell you what any of them are just so you can be fully amused all on your own!  Kids will love this and I plan to introduce it this week!  Marty Kelley's blog. 

4.  Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates by Carolyn Crimi; illustrated by John Manders: Continuing Henry's book adventures from Henry and the Buccanner Bunnies.  I loved the first one and the second is a pretty good follow-up.  Henry gets a threatening note in a bottle and his natural reaction is to get prepared for the impending attack!  Again, it is book-reading and lots of thinking and writing that keep Henry (and the rest of the crew) safe.

5.  Firefighter Ted by Andrea Beaty (of 3 Silly Chicks fame) and Pascal Lemaitre:  Remember Doctor Ted?  This time Ted wakes up and smells smoke, can't find a firefighter so he becomes one.  This book has some twisted fun humor in it and I love Ted's willingness to help everyone!  The science fair is a hilarious addition-you don't hear much about science fairs anymore.  Peaceful girl and I got a kick out of the Principal Bigham's last name-Big Ham-he's a large boar!  P.Girl's quote upon finishing the book "I just love all Ted's books!"  We're ready for Artist Ted (see last page for explanation).  "No need to thank me" replied Firefighter Ted.

I could probably list more but it's time to play some Scattergories with the teenagers.
What top five books did you read this week?