Have you been having a really fun summer? I know I have. I started back to school today and it was super fun to see all my teacher friends, although it was a little quiet with no kids! I can’t wait to see all of them next week. So it’s not too late to read some awesome books this summer! I’ve been reading like crazy and man, have I read some awesome books! It really isn’t about the number of books I read (although if you want to hear the number, it was 72), it’s about how much fun I had reading them! By reading them, I got to go to places I couldn’t go (like the old West or a London in a long future time where kids fight ghosts or a perfectly ordinary neighborhood with kids I would want to play with), I got to hang out with people I thought were interesting (like a chef who lives in London but grew up in Israel or a lady who had a dog who needed something to do so she taught him to be a therapy dog and took him to a nursing home) or surprising (like a librarian in Iraq who was afraid her books would be stolen or damaged during the war so she took them home). Even though I got to do some really amazing traveling this summer, the books took me places I couldn’t go on my own (or in some cases, places I didn’t WANT to go). And it’s not too late for you to to be reading and having adventures like mine! Keep reading and make sure you have some way to show me the reading you did this summer (a calendar, a note from your mom, the address of your blog page, a video, it doesn’t matter to me). I’ll be looking for people to celebrate with me about all the awesome reading we did this summer!
Really. Oh boy do I love fairy tales and you know what? It turns out I’m not the only one. I was talking to a completely amazing teacher today (she teaches grown ups how to use computers and I was the student!) and she reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein, which is “If you want your kids to be smart, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be really smart, read them more fairy tales”. So, if you hate fairy tales, I’m really sorry but these were REALLY good.
One of the books that’s getting big buzz right now is called “The Night Gardener” by Jonathan Auxier. It’s the story of two Irish orphans who are trying to make their way in England probably in the mid 1800s. They find work in a house way out in the countryside, although no one they meet seems to think it’s a good idea that they go there. They go anyway and find a family that appear to be ill. They are all thin and pale and unhappy. The two kids, Molly and Kip, stay to work, even though the place has a bad feeling about it. The story is scary and creepy and so exciting to read. I LOVED this one.
The first book Jonathan Auxier wrote is called ‘Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes”. It’s also a fairy tale but it has a pretty horrible beginning, so be careful! Some of the descriptions are very vivid and really icky, so if you don’t like icky stuff, you might want to skip over this one. But if you can stand it (or read fast past it like I do), you’ll be rewarded with the best kind of fairy tale… interesting characters (like a knight who has been turned into a beast that is part cat and part horse AND can talk), sparrows that are captives and spies, apes who are guards, ravens who are soldiers, a blind boy who is a thief and captive princess… wow, and then the characters seem to catapult from one exciting thing to the next! I’m not even finished but I’m thinking of slowing down so that I don’t finish it too quickly! Here’s a book trailer about it which is not icky at all.
And one more I read that was terrific (and NOT a fairy tale) was called the Adventures of BeanBoy by Lisa Harkrader. It’s the story of a boy named Tucker who LOVES comic books. His favorite super hero is called H2O man and he’s really surprised when he gets the latest issue and finds out it’s the LAST issue, but that there is challenge-create a sidekick for H20 man and win a college scholarship. Tucker would really like to win a college scholarship, not so much for himself, but for his mom who is working full time plus going to college since his dad left. Tucker is often left to care for his little brother Beecher who has trouble talking. Tucker is also just trying to survive middle school, which is filled with it’s own perils. Anyway, this is a great story because it tells how he gets all the ideas for his totally amazing character, Bean Boy. It’s really funny and has some cool graphic art panels. This one is also going to be one of the contenders for the Sunshine State Young Readers award this year. I’m going to look for this one for the media center for sure. Here’s a book trailer about it.
How’s your summer reading going? I have been having SUCH a great time reading! I hope you are too! How is it going with reading a book a day? I’m doing pretty well with it… as of today, I’ve read 55 books since school got out. Not all of them are chapter books but some of them are and some of them are picture books. Some of them were terrible and some of them were awesome! I have been talking to some of my friends about what they’ve been reading. I wondered how important the number of books I read was compared to how much I enjoyed reading the books. After thinking about it, I think the enjoying part is SO much more important than the number of books. The last book I REALLY enjoyed was a new one called “A Crooked Kind of Perfect” by Linda Urban. It’s about 10 year old Zoe who wants to learn how to play the piano but her dad buys an electric organ instead. She’s also just been dumped by her best friend and is trying to figure out how to either get her old best friend back or how to get some new friends. She is invited to an organ playing extravaganza and she really wants to win. Zoe has a really great organ teacher who has the funniest exclamations, like “Mozart’s Postman!” when she is surprised or amazed. I hope you find a book you like as much as I liked this one!
And if you are a person who likes competition, see if you can beat my number… as of today, 55 books!
How’s your summer reading going? Mine is going great! I’ve had a chance to read some really great books! It was really awesome getting some recommendations from my niece and nephew, who are 11 and 13. They go to an American school in Vienna and so they are reading books from all over the world! My nephew had recommended the Maze Runner series by James Dashner. I had read the first one but he had the rest of series so I got to read that. If you like dystopian future (like the Hunger Games), you’ll like this one. Here’s the book trailer for it.
My niece was required to read a book called Bystander by James Preller for her 6th grade class next year. It’s about a kid who moves to a new town and he meets a boy who appears to be a bully. As the story goes on, Eric (the main character) figures out that Griffin IS a bully and then he has to decide what to do… does he just watch so he doesn’t get bullied or does he stand up for a kid who’s really getting picked on? It talks about the differences between the way girls bully and the way boys bully each other. It also showed how some of the adults tried to help out. I thought it was a pretty good story. Here’s a book trailer for that one.
My niece was also reading a book called “The Total Tragedy of a girl named Hamlet” by Erin Dionne. It’s about a girl named Hamlet (her parents are Shakespeare scholars) who is very afraid of being embarrassed. She has a little sister (Desdemona or Dezzie) who is a genius, some good friends who are trying to figure out how they like each other (like friends or like boyfriend-girlfriend?) and how to stay out of the way of the mean girls. I thought it was sort of exasperating because I never really worried about what people thought of me (maybe I should have thought about it bit more!) but I know some girls that really worry about stuff like that, so I think it would work for girls in 4th-9th grade. Here’s a book trailer about that one.
The books I’ve been reading this week seem to all have a theme of strong girls! My FAVORITE new one is called “Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy” by Karen Foxlee. It’s is a wonderful fairy tale that is a very amazing mix of both fairy tale and realistic fiction. Ophelia is a girl who’s mom died recently. Her dad is a museum curator and he’s currently working on an exhibit of swords. Ophelia’s sister is older and beautiful and kind of mad since their mom died. Ophelia is left to her own devices and ends up wandering around the museum. She takes a funny turn and finds a boy who is locked in a room. The boy explains to her that he has been there for 300 years, a prisoner of the Snow Queen and that she should help him and save the world. Ophelia is a person who believes in science and reality so she really doesn’t think this is really possible, but she keeps going back to see him and the risks get bigger and bigger. It’s very exciting, has very interesting characters (but realistic and magical) and some great twists to the plot.
I also read one called #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler. It’s about a girl named Morgan who has a summer job at the local amusement park. She doesn’t like her boss (he’s stuck up), she doesn’t want to make friends with her co-workers (they are all laughing at her because her supposed best friend posted an embarrassing video of her on the internet which went completely viral) and so she’s trying to get 5000 Twitter followers before the end of the summer. And then things start to change. Her mom gets sick and suddenly everything is upside down. It’s a really nice transition that Morgan makes but wow, does this book cover a LOT of ground with personal relationships. I think there are some kids who will really identify with Morgan and some of the other characters. Here’s a book trailer about it.
The last one was a recommendation from my niece who lives in Vienna and attends an international school there. She is going into 6th grade and is loving this book. It might be hard to find in America, but it might be worth a look. It’s called Best Friends and other Enemies by Catherine Wilkins. It’s about a girl named Jessica who is best friends with Natalie. A new girl named Amelia moves in and Natalie wants to be friends with her too. However, Amelia is completely horrible to Jessica so Jessica doesn’t want to have anything to do with her, but Natalie wants to be friends with both of them. Jessica also has a fairly complicated family life, but she has a super power, she’s a cartoonist and she uses her drawing skills for good. I didn’t really understand why Natalie was such a spineless wimp and let this new girl, Amelia be mean to her best friend, but my niece explained to me that sometimes girls do that to try to make everyone happy. I so glad she’s so smart, and I hope she only has to read about girls as mean as Amelia and not have to try to figure out how to deal with them!
Here’s Pete on my sister’s patio! I’m not sure if you knew, but my sister has a home on the border of France and Switzerland so we usually go to spend some time with them in the summer. I have a niece and a nephew that I don’t get to see too much because they live on a different continent! Anyway, it’s really fun to get to come and spend time here. Pete’s really digging the view here! My sister lives on the side of a mountain and the big mountain in the background is called the Saleve. On nice days, people jump off it with sails and fly to the ground. In the background you can also the see the city of Geneva. You can see one of the big landmarks of Geneva, which is called the Jet d’ Eau (the way you say it in French is je-do). It’s a jet of water that shoots up 460 feet in the air and was built in 1951 and is used as a safety valve for the hydraulic power network. It looks like a white triangle in the middle of the picture.
I did a little reading on my way over. When we fly, we fly from Fort Lauderdale to Newark, NJ. That’s about a 2 1/2 hour flight. Then we flight from Newark to Geneva. That’s about 8 hours. The flight from Newark to Geneva is mostly in the dark so some people try to sleep. I know I tried, but I have trouble sleeping on the plane, so I read! I read two great books. One is a new one called “Rump” by Leisl Shurtliff. It’s a fairy tale adaptation of the story of Rumplestiltskin. It’s a chapter book and gives you all the background on how this little guy can spin straw into gold and why he wants a baby (it’s not as creepy as you might think). I really liked the characters and the writing. Here’s a book trailer about it.
The other one I read is a really old one. It’s called Call of the Wild by Jack London. It’s the story of a dog, Buck, who is big and strong and kind of lazy because he leads a sheltered life with a nice owner until one day, one of the gardeners, who needs some extra money steals the dog and sells him to a person who is putting together sled dog teams. The dogs are beaten to get them to do what they want them to do and Buck learns pretty fast how to be a sled dog. It’s not really easy but it turns out Buck likes it better than he thought he would. It’s a classic book about living in the north land and what it’s like there, but it also makes you think about what IS really the best thing, living wild or living in civilization. I liked it but it’s not really an easy book to read. If you like dogs, you might like it too.
Today I went to the Delray Beach Public library and was it rocking today! They had several groups of kids from camps coming in (and I got to say hi to several Spady kids!) and it looks like they are doing a project where they are giving books away, just like we did earlier in the year. Awesome! Books to read and books to take home!
And look who I saw!
I couldn’t find any of the books that I was looking for (MAN!!) but I did find several really great ones that I hadn’t read before. I read two by Mo Willems, who you know is a big favorite of mine. I got to read “Listen to my trumpet” which is hilarious. Piggie has a new trumpet and she wants Gerald the Elephant to listen to her. She is making loud noises and Gerald tries hard to be positive. It has a really great ending. I also read “Time to say please” which we don’t have at our media center, but I think we really need to get it. It’s all about using good manners and even if it’s kind of like a lesson, Mo Willems makes it funny.
I also read some non fiction. I have been looking at a lot of biographies and I found a great one for Mrs. Kunesh, our art teacher. It’s called “The Boy who drew birds” and it’s about John James Audubon and it’s by Jacqueline Davies and Melissa Sweet. I liked all the details about his life and I LOVED the art work. Melissa Sweet is an amazing artist! If you are interested at all in birds or Audubon’s work, you’ll really like this one.
The other biography I read was about Clara Barton, who I’ve read a lot about. This one, “Clara and Davie” by Patricia Polacco, is a lot about her early life and that was a part I hadn’t really heard about. I learned that her mom was tired a lot when she was a little girl and so her older brother helped take care of her. Clara struggled with speaking clearly and so she was home schooled and Davie really tried to protect and take care of her. Clara loved animals and was really good at taking care of animals and when Davie was badly hurt, she took care of him, which lead to her career as a nurse. I was really surprised as I read the very end of the book that Patricia Polacco is distantly related to Clara Barton and I love how she uses her own family history to tell a very interesting story.
Yesterday, I looked at one of my favorite websites for finding kids books, The Non-Fiction Detectives. Louise and Cathy work really hard at reviewing great non fiction books for kids and they do an AWESOME job. Click here if you want to check out their blog. So I was looking for some of the books they suggested. Of course, it’s never that easy to just go to the bookstore and find the exact 12 books you were looking for (they only had a few of the ones I wanted) and there were several that caught my eye that I didn’t even know I should be looking for so here are the best ones I saw today.
The first one was “Eye to Eye”, by Steve Jenkins. Steve Jenkins is a great author. He wrote another book that I really liked called “What do you do with a tail like this?” “Eye to eye” is a similar kind of book that focuses just on animals eyes. You can find out a lot about different kinds of eyes and how eyes have evolved. The pictures are really beautiful too. The only thing that might slow you down is the vocabulary. There is a lot of specific vocabulary, but I think it’s worth having to look up a few words get to experience this book.
The second one was called “Scraps” by Lois Ehlert. You’re probably familiar with Lois’s beautiful,graphic style of art work that she created with cut out paper and water color. This book is a memoir as well as a celebration. It tells about how she started off creating beautiful works of art and then wanting to take the art work and tell a story. That’s how she became a writer as well as an artist. This is going to be a great book for inspiring writers AND artists.
Here’s a book trailer that can show you more.
The third one is called “Gravity” by Jason Chin. It is (unsurprisingly) about gravity. It doesn’t have a ton of information but the pictures are very fun and super detailed. If you need to do research on gravity, this book probably won’t be helpful but if you want a fun book with a science concept and lots of funny pictures, this might just be the book for you.
The last one would be near and dear to Montessorians’ hearts. It’s called “Grandfather Ghandi” by Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus. It tells Arun’s story about how he went to live at the compound where his grandfather was living as a small child. He struggled with feeling that he was not accepted (he didn’t speak the local language), some of the kids teased him, he didn’t always do well in school but he really wanted to be close to his grandfather. However, his grandfather was very busy and there always seemed to be lots of other people around. Arun does get some good lessons, the most important being that you can choose how you solve a problem. You can either be angry and strike out, or you can turn your anger and look for other solutions. The pictures are nice too… lots of energy and bright colors. I think this would be a great book to start the year with or to use during community meetings to help the conversation about problem solving.
Today I went to the new Boca Raton library. It is a beautiful facility and they have a great selection of books. It was a pleasure to go and do some reading there. I got to read some biographies today and they had some I hadn’t read before. My favorite one was called “Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable life of Bass Reeves” by Vaunda Michaux Nelson. It’s about a law man named Bass Reeves who started his life as a slave but ended up a famous sheriff. It was a great story with lots of interesting details about Bass (who could shoot straight with both hands and was pretty tricky about arresting bad guys). Here’s a book trailer about it.
The second one I read was “To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt” by Doreen Rappaport. I love the way Doreen Rappaport writes biographies. She weaves together a story of the person’s life, along with quotes from their own writing or spoken words in that is visually pleasing as well as compelling to read. The illustrator, C. F. Payne, also does an amazing job of capturing the energy and curiosity of Theodore Roosevelt. It was a lovely book. Here’s a book trailer that I thought was great.
I also read “Daniel Boone’s Great Escape” which was very exciting. It tells about a time when Daniel Boone was scouting and was then captured by the Indians. He proved his bravery through a variety of experiences but eventually escaped and made it back to the fort and his family. It seemed like kind of an isolated incident (he did some pretty great things during his life) and I wondered why the author would choose this one event. The pictures were compelling but it wasn’t my favorite book.
There was also a really great graphic novel about a librarian (!!) It’s called Alia’s Mission by Mark Nan Stamaty. It tells the story of a librarian (Alia) who works at a library in Iraq. When it becomes apparent that war is coming, she starts taking books from the library and putting them in her house to keep them safe. She has to be pretty sneaky about it because people have told her she shouldn’t take the books away, but her worst fears are realized when the army comes through and people start looting. They take all kinds of things, but leave the books, so she and her friends and neighbors come and help to save the books. It’s pretty exciting and the graphic nature of the book really helps you understand the story. It would be a great match up with “The Librarian of Basra” by Jeanette Winters.
The last one was “John Brown: His Fight for Freedom” by John Hendrix. This was probably my least favorite one today. Although the pictures were interesting, the text really wasn’t. I really wanted to like this one because I just finished reading some historical fiction based on John Brown and I wanted to get some of the REAL background story. The best part was it was short.
Tonight I’m reading a murder mystery by one of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton. I’ve read her whole series of books which started with A is for Alibi and we are now on W is for Wasted. I love reading a series of books because you really start to feel like you know the characters. Happy reading!
So Pete and I are starting off the summer right. I’ve been to the beach twice in 12 hours so I think that’s a good beginning. Before I left school yesterday, I took a look around at the shelves and I was thinking hard about why some of the books are just sitting there. So I brought a few home and that’s the start of my summer reading list. They are either going to go back to school with glowing reviews or to Goodwill! There’s too much good stuff to read to have our shelves cluttered up with mediocre things.
I started with a book called The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman. I know Patrick Carman is a popular author. He wrote one of the 39 clues books and I read a dystopian future series he wrote called The Chaos Trilogy, which was great, but I can’t remember anyone in the three years I’ve been in the media center, checking this series out. So far, it’s not bad, but a little slow getting started. It’s about a girl who lives in a community that is walled off from the rest of the world for security purposes. The founder and designer of the walls dies right at the beginning of the book and it seems like he sort of leaves her with a quest to find out what’s beyond the walls as well as better understand the design of the walls. There are of course heroes and villains, although I’m only about half way through, so it’s hard to tell if the guys who appear villainous are really evil or just bullies.
I hope you’ve had a chance to stretch out some place comfy with a good book!