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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Us That We MUST Read

Ricki

1. Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

life in outer space

Kellee highly recommends this book, but I haven’t gotten to it yet!

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me before you

Several people have recommended this book to me. It is an adult book, but even my past students are emailing me about it!

3. House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle

house of purple cedar

It is no secret that I love to read every Native American book. I am looking forward to this one, as it has been recommended to me.

4. Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott

 jumped

I can’t wait to read this book, and it is a Walden Award finalist, too!

5. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

orphan train

A friend recommended this book. I don’t know anything about orphan trains, so it seemed really interesting to me.

Kellee

And I cannot wait to read all of these!

1. I Will Save You and Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Pena

save mexican

I know that these are some of Ricki’s favorite books, so I need to get to them. Also, I really enjoy Matt de la Pena as a person, and have enjoyed what I have read.

2. Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

absolutely

This is on everyone’s favorite in 2014 lists, and it was recommended to me on Goodreads by a friend. I need to get it, so I can read it.

3. Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

snicker

I have wanted to read Snicker since I saw Natalie at NCTE 2013, and everyone keeps on telling me I need to read it–I must get to it soon!

4. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting

One of my friends recommended this book so much to me that she sent me a copy–now I just have to read it!

5. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

touching

This is a book that all my teacher friends are shocked I haven’t read yet, and always insist I need to.

Which books are continually recommended to you?

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IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Last Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday winger Yaqui Delgado milkofbirds

Tuesday: Top Ten Books We’re Not Sure We Want to Read

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

 Last Week’s Journeys

Kellee: This week, I was lucky enough to read a manuscript of one of my friend’s novel. It is a wonderful middle grade book that I know will be published, and I cannot wait to share it with you!

Trent and I read some amazing picture books this week. We continued our Oliver Jeffers readathon with The Hueyrs in…It Wasn’t Me, Stuck, and The Incredible Book Eating BoyStuck and The Incredible Book Eating Boy, along with Lost and Found are probably my favorites of his.

We also read two amazing, but different, nonfiction books. First was Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli was a beautiful story (with amazing illustrations!) of an inspirational woman who I truly want to learn more about. We also read Best Foot Forward by Ingo Arndt which is a fun Q&A nonfiction books with such realistic photographs.

Ricki: This week, I enjoyed Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan. This was an excellent sequel to I’ll Be There, and I enjoyed it very much. Sloan plays with literary elements in ways that are both innovative and brave. It is a very suspenseful book, and I had difficulty putting it down! Henry and I enjoyed some great picture books this week. We laughed as we read Naked by Michael Ian Black, admired the artwork in Oh No, George by Chris Haughton, enjoyed the adventurous boy in The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, lived through history with Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, and loved the retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky. This isn’t my favorite fairy tale (but Zelinsky does it very well), and my husband and I spent a long time trying to figure out the moral of the tale. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

This Week’s Expeditions

Kellee: I started In Real Life by Cory Doctorow yesterday, and so far I am truly enjoying it. I especially love how real the protagonist is. After IRL I am going to read El Deafo by Cece Bell and reread Jellaby by Kean Soo. Trent and I still have the huge pile of picture books from the library to read that includes many picture books I learned about on your IMWAYR posts.

Ricki: My second Ph.D. year at UConn starts next week, so I am reading twice as many PD texts as usual. Once teaching and classes start, I lose a lot of time, so I am trying to devote most of my free time to reading. I started Teaching Young Adult Literature Today: Insights, Considerations, and Perspectives for the Classroom Teacher, which is edited by Judith A. Hayn and Jeffrey S. Kaplan. I really like the way the book is organized and find myself nodding my head quite frequently. I will share more when I am a bit further in the book. I also started The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. To be honest, I don’t love it yet, but I am very curious to see where it goes.

 Upcoming Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday frank boys of blur 3-6monthbooks

Tuesday: Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Us We Must Read

 So, what are you reading?

Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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milkofbirds

The Milk of Birds
Author: Sylvia Whitman
Published April 16th, 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: This timely, heartrending novel tells the moving story of a friendship between two girls: one an American teen, one a victim of the crisis in Darfur.

Know that there are many words behind the few on this paper…

Fifteen-year-old Nawra lives in Darfur, Sudan, in a camp for refugees displaced by the Janjaweed’s trail of murder and destruction. Nawra cannot read or write, but when a nonprofit organization called Save the Girls pairs her with an American donor, Nawra dictates her thank-you letters. Putting her experiences into words begins to free her from her devastating past—and to brighten the path to her future.

K. C. is an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, who hates reading and writing—or anything that smacks of school. But as Nawra pours grief and joy into her letters, she inspires K. C. to see beyond her own struggles. And as K. C. opens her heart in her responses to Nawra, she becomes both a dedicated friend and a passionate activist for Darfur.

In this poetic tale of unlikely sisterhood, debut author Sylvia Whitman captures the friendship between two girls who teach each other compassion and share a remarkable bond that bridges two continents.

My Review: This is a special book. First, because of the characters who tell the story. K.C. is a young girl with learning disabilities which have caused her to hate reading, writing, and school. Nawra is a refugee in Darfur who continues to have an optimistic view of the world even after she has been surrounded by horrors that I can’t even imagine. Both of these girls are not represented very often in books, and they are both so important to know.  Through this book, the reader gets to see the intensity of the situation in Sudan and refugees’ power in overcoming however they can. They also get to see the brilliance of students with learning disabilities. There are so many students in our school just like K.C., and too many of their peers would judge them by their struggles instead of by their heart and soul.

Second, this book is special because of the way the author is able to intertwine these two stories in a flawless way, and a way that keeps the reader engaged in both stories simultaneously. Third, the lyrical writing of Whitman makes this story not only interesting and important, but also beautiful to read. Last, the power of this book lies in the book, and how the book will change those who read it.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book has some incredibly lyrical aspects which would be perfect for mentor texts for imagery and other descriptive language. I also love the idea of written pen pals, and I would love to see this book being used to start pen pals in a classroom. Finally, K.C.’s friendship with Nawra helps her become an advocate for refugees in Darfur. This would be a great way to talk about ways to make a difference in the world. I would pair it with A Long Walk to Water which shows the same thing. Powerful.

Discussion Questions: What does K.C. teach us about students with learning disabilities?; What does Nawra teach us about Sudanese refugees?; What is your favorite Nawra saying? Why?; How does life here compare to life in the Sudan?; What is a way you could help the refugees in Sudan?; What is another cause in the world that you could help?

We Flagged: “My mother is sitting on the mat where I left her. She shows no surprise that Adeeba and I return so soon with nothing but more words from the khawaja. She does not protest when I lift her.

I carry my mother as I used to carry wounded animals from pasture, arms on one side, legs on the other, her body draped behind my neck and across my shoulders. She is not much heavier than a goat.” (Nawra, p. 3)

“When she explains things, they make sense, for a while. Who cares about the area of a trapezoid, though? That question stumped my teacher for a minute, and then he launched into this spiel about geometry in everyday life, and if I were someone with a trapezoidal yard, I might need to figure out how much fertilizer to spread. As if. Hook up your hose to a bottle of Miracle-Gro, point, and shoot.” (K.C., p. 12)

Read This If You Love: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan, Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian

Recommended For: 

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Yaqui Delgado

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Published: March 26, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Summary: In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school — and must discover resources she never knew she had.

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

Ricki’s Review: There are many books about bullying, but it is rare to read a text that makes you truly feel frighted for the character being bullied. This text felt very real to me, and it will surely resonate with teenagers. There are many lessons about bullying, but there are also some phenomenal examples of family and friendship. Piddy’s mother isn’t perfect and like all parents, she makes mistakes, but she is a single mother who tries her best. The ups and downs of this mother-daughter relationship offer much to ponder and discuss. As adolescents go through high school, they form new bonds and often, they also grow apart from childhood friends. Piddy’s circumstances of a new school with new friendships will absolutely connect with teens.

Kellee’s Review: Like Ricki stated above, this book makes you feel. As Yaqui fills Piddy’s world with fear, Piddy begins to lose herself and get caught up in the terror. As a reader, you find yourself afraid with Piddy whenever she leaves her house, goes to school, or even thinks about doing either. A book that can do this is brilliant. Meg Medina has a way of sucking you into the world, and I think it is her use of imagery throughout. You can see the characters, hear the music Piddy listens to, feel the fear, etc. And Piddy’s voice is so crystal clear, that is something she never loses. When you finish reading, you can still hear Piddy’s voice in your head.  I also feel that this is a wonderful diverse book in a time when the YA community is calling for diverse books. This one should be in high school classrooms, and should be discussed as it has such important themes and beautiful writing (no matter what anyone thinks about it!).

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would be a great read aloud at the beginning of the school year. Bullying is a problem that is all too real in our school systems, and it must be addressed immediately, in my opinion. This book would provide rich discussions for classrooms, and it is a must-read for teens. It would be great to do several book groups (or lit circles) that are centered on bullying texts in order to compare the characters’ experiences.

Discussion Questions: Does Piddy make the right decisions? Would you make different choices than her? Why or why not?; Why does the author incorporate Spanish into the text? What does it add, stylistically?; How does Piddy’s absent father affect her?; Which individuals have a positive impact on Piddy? How do these relationships build her character?; Is Joey a good influence on Piddy? What does she learn from him?; Do you agree with the choice that Piddy makes in the end? Would you have made the same choice? Does it show weakness or strength?

We Flagged: “’Son unas cualquieras,’ [my mother] mutters. Nobodies. No culture, no family life, illiterates, she means. The kind of people who make her cross to the other side of the street if she meets them in the dark on payday. They’re her worst nightmare of what a Latin girl can become in the United States. Their big hoop earrings and plucked eyebrows, their dark lips painted like those stars in the old black-and-white movies, their tight T-shirts that show too much curve and invite boys’ touches” (p. 55). 

Read This If You Loved:  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña, The Secret Life of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Sitomer, Burn by Suzanne Phillips, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian, Shine by Lauren Myracle, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Recommended For:

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winger

Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
Published May 14th, 2013 by Simon & Schuster

Goodreads Summary: Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

My Review: Andrew Smith sure knows how to write a teenage boy’s voice. He gets inside of adolescent male’s mind, and puts it all on paper for us. (It probably has something to do with teaching high school.) Ryan Dean’s voice and his story are so authentic. This book will make you cringe, laugh out loud, shake your head, and cry.  I am also so impressed with all of the themes that are dealt with in this book without ever feeling over done. These themes include bullying, absent parents, peer pressure, identity, sexuality, prejudice, and friendship.  In addition, Smith builds his characters, setting, and plot seamlessly. You fall in love with all of the characters, main and secondary. Even the antagonist. The setting itself is a character. And finally the plot arc was perfectly done, and was so unpredictable all the way to the end.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: First and foremost, this book needs to read by teens. However that happens, it is the right thing. The easiest way would be to get it into libraries and classrooms. There are also parts of the book that could definitely be pulled out to be used in the classroom in may different ways. On that junps to mind right away is using Ryan Dean’s comics as mentor texts for writing comics to write narratives of everyday events. Ricki also has some great ideas for Winger in the classroom in her review.

Discussion Questions: What kind of social challenges does Ryan Dean have to overcome since he is 14 but a junior?; Were you able to predict the end of the book?; What are some traits about Ryan Dean that made him easy to connect to?; How does Opportunity Hall and the rest of the school become a character in Winger?

We Flagged: 

winger2(p. 21)

Read This If You Loved: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Recommended For: 

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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Top Ten Books We’re Not Sure We Want to Read 

Books we may have bought, but aren’t sure if we want to read… “TO READ OR NOT TO READ?”

Ricki

1. Jodi Picoult novels

I can’t stop myself from buying her books. I must own twelve of them, yet I’ve only read three. When it comes down to it, I always pick a YA book over her books. Am I the only one who does this with adult bestsellers?

2. Harry Potter series

At this point, I’ve started giving away my Harry Potter books. I don’t think I’ll ever read them. I fell asleep during the first movie, and I have little desire to read the books. I’d only be reading them because it feels like I should read them. I keep the first book on my shelf in case I change my mind, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Don’t hate me!

3. Stephen King’s On Writing

I hears that this book is a great inspiration for writers. I always mentally “save it” for when I plan to start a new novel. Needless to say, life gets in the way, and I never pick it up.

4. The Best American Short Stories

I can’t tell you how many classic short story collections I own. For some reason, reading them always feels like I am doing homework, so I never get to them. Why is that?

5. Hitler’s Mein Kampf

This was free at a book sale several years ago. I took it because I thought it might help me better understand Hitler’s horrible mind. I don’t think I will ever read it. It would make me very angry, and I don’t think I will find any of the answers I am looking for.

Kellee

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was in middle school, but just didn’t like it. I wanted to but didn’t. Since then, I’ve bought the whole series. I even have the huge compilation book, but I just don’t know if I’ll ever read them.

2. Jodi Picoult novels

I’m right there with Ricki. I own 6 of her books, I think, but I haven’t read any of them. They all sound so good, so I buy them, but they just never get read. (In general, I don’t find myself looking at my bookshelves at home, with adult books on them, to find something to read. I tend to go straight to my classroom library. I’m using Jodi Picoult to represent many adult authors’s books who I own multiple copies of, but I haven’t read.)

3. All of those vampire books I bought a couple of years ago that sounded so good

Oh, how I loved my vampire books. In 2012. My students and I were both reading vampires, so I bought a ton. I meant to read them all, but instead, they have never come home with me. Now I am so over vampires.

4. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

When I started teaching, these books were hot, so I bought them all. They were loved and checked out all the time, so I never got around to reading them. And now there are so many other books I want to read. Maybe I’ll pick them up one day.

5. The sequels to SO many books I’ve read

I try to be proactive when it comes to reading new YA/MG series when they are released, but that means I have to wait a year or so for the sequel. Then the sequel comes out, and I just never get to it. There are SO many series that I have started and never finished. At this point, I’d have to go back and reread the first book….

Which titles make your list?

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IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Last Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday tango brown girl jumped

 Tuesday: Top Ten Books We’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read Historical Fiction

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

 Last Week’s Journeys

Kellee: This week I read brown girl dreaming, and I loved it. See our review last Thursday. I then completely switched gears and read the newest Captain Underpants–Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 which, although it has a HORRIBLE cliffhanger, was just as funny as the others. I then read Bird and Squirrel on Ice by James Burks, and I just think they are such a funny duo–reminds me of Abbott and Costello. I also was able to read The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young (hilarious!!!) and Bug on a Bike by Chris Monroe (reminds me of Richard Scarry). Finally, when waiting for a doctor’s appointment on Friday, I read A Timeline History of the Thirteen Colonies which was a nice concise view of the start of America with very informative timelines.

With Trent, we read 11 picture books this week filled with farm animals, zoo animals, and Sesame Street. Oliver Jeffers’s Up and Down was probably my favorite, but it was not as good as Lost and Found. Elmo is Red, Cookie is Blue!, a Sesame Street beginner reader, had a nice rhythm and opposites lesson.

Ricki: I had a very productive week! I finished brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and enjoyed joining forces with Kellee to review this beautiful book in verse. I also finished Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. This is a book that is written for readers. I loved the cerebral bookstore setting and the depth of characters. It is marketed as an adult book, but I think teens would enjoy it, too. Lastly, I finished The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. This is a phenomenal memoir that depicts Leon’s experiences as one of Schindler’s Children. While I could most see it in a middle school classroom, readers of all ages will love it.

This Week’s Expeditions

Kellee: This week I am reading a manuscript for one of my friends. I am very excited and honored to be reading it! Trent and I have some more Oliver Jeffers books we may read. I also got a HUGE delivery of books from the library that I’ve been requesting during IMWAYR, so we may delve into those as well.

Ricki: This week, I plan to complete Just Call my Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I am liking it even more than the first book, I’ll Be There. I am also hoping to finish the textbook, Young Adult Literature in the 21st Century by Pam B. Cole. I enjoy all of the background it has provided about the field of YAL. Henry and I are headed to the library tomorrow, so we are excited to find some new treasures.

 

Upcoming Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday winger Yaqui Delgado milkofbirds

Tuesday: Top Ten Books We’re Not Sure We Want to Read

 So, what are you reading?

Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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