Tag Archives: book review

Friday Night Reads- Book Lovers Unite

Friday nights in our house are reserved for listening to In Tune with Sara Willis on MPBN radio and reading. In Tune is a fabulous local music program on our public radio station that airs week nights at 10, Friday nights at 8 for three hours, and Sunday mornings at 10 for two hours. Sara plays some fabulous music and often will feature local artists. Friday nights we put the radio on and settle in with a good book. Some weeks I’m so tired I don’t make it the whole three hours and I fall asleep reading. Other weeks I finish an entire book. Both last week and this week were the latter.

Last week I read I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora. This is a book that I have been hearing about from many people, and it did not disappoint. It is a fun book. It takes place over the summer between 8th & 9th grade for three friends. The new English teacher has assigned among other wonderful books, To Kill a Mockingbird. Not everyone is excited about the list, and Lucy, Elena, and Michael come up with a plan to get everyone talking about the book. But the plan gets away from them. Acampora creates a beautiful blend of friendship, growing up, love for books, and teenage decision making (which, as anyone who has teens or works with teens knows, isn’t always well thought out!) I kill the Mockingbird is a slim novel, but one that I’m looking forward to reading again because it has so much depth.

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This week I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. Again, another book that I have had recommended to me by numerous people. It’s been sitting on my shelf for close to a year. I’ve wanted to read it, but hadn’t gotten to it yet. Last night I picked it up, and I am glad I did! Anyone who loves books, games, puzzles, and libraries will enjoy this story of a group of 12 years who get to spend the night in a brand new library playing games and reading books. In the morning they discover they have the opportunity to participate in an ultimate game: find their way out of the library by finding and solving clues and in the process, learn the value of libraries and reading.

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Student Book Share: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Allison highly recommends The 5th Wave and is currently reading the second book, The Infinite Sea. Sure alien invasion has been done, but Yancey writes it in a way that doesn’t feel cliche.

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Student Book Shares

This year I finally figured out how to successfully implement student book talks. It’s not a complicated thing. I’ve always understood the importance of it, but somehow I never figured out how to make it a habitual part of our English classes. This year I saw some photos on Facebook of some of Jason Stephenson’s (@teacherman82) students doing a weekly book share and suddenly it all clicked for me. Two of my classes meet on a modified block schedule so we have a 40 minute class every Monday and longer classes two days later in the week. My seniors have two really long classes. It’s hard to do much in a 40 minute period, so that is our day to work on grammar and vocabulary and to book talk! We have a set schedule and each Monday a different student shares a book they are reading or have read.

These are the shares from so far this year.

IMG_0739Brandon shared Eoin Colfer’s Half Moon Investigations.

IMG_0740Katie talked about The Maze Runner by James Dashner, giving us great insight into the differences between the book and the movie.

IMG_0774Jordyn shared War of the Worlds by HG Wells and led a great discussion on some of Wells’ writing choices.

IMG_0798  CJ shared The Enemy by Charlie Higson.IMG_0807  Alex shared Andy Andrews’ The Final Summit.IMG_0826  Lucy shared Songs of a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson.IMG_0827  Katrina talked about Gone by Michael Grant.IMG_0829  Seyya shared Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go.IMG_0845  Amanda shared The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks.

IMG_0847 Daniel shared Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

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Book Review: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I debated whether to post this review here or on my general blog because the book isn’t actually published yet. I received a copy from the publisher to read and pass on to other readers (the list is growing). Since this blog cross-posts to Ars Longa, Vita Brevis, I decided to go for it here.

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ARC provided by publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin

From the back cover:

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, sees the bright, creative kid underneath the troublemaker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her–and to everyone–than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

My review:

I love Ally! By the end of the first page, I was in love with her narrative voice. As I was pulled deeper into the story I fell more in love with this spunky protagonist. The teacher in me ached for her and her struggles with reading and writing…by page 13 I was tearing up and wanted to hug her and tell her she was not stupid! It didn’t take long for the little girl in me who struggled with math (and still does) to completely relate to Ally.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt does such a beautiful job capturing the struggle of having learning differences and believing the wrong voices. All her characters have a wonderful balance to them. I can see kids of a span of ages reading the book and relating comfortably to the characters. I believe this should be read by all educators. It will touch you and challenge you to be more mindful of what your students are dealing with. Kids are going to enjoy this too. They’ll see that it’s okay when your brain works different from others. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and for others. That most mean kids have another side to them, but it doesn’t excuse their actions. That you have a choice about how you respond and how you treat others, but sometimes you make the wrong choice. 

This book goes next to books like Cynthia Lord’s Rules as a book that will be impacting lives for years to come. A beautiful example of why we read…to know we are not alone.

Thank you, Lynda Mullaly Hunt for releasing Ally into the world and telling her story. Thank you also, Lynda, and Nancy Paulsen Books for giving me the chance to meet Ally early!

 

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