Thursday, December 11, 2014

Books of Influence by Dorothy Hearst - Guest Post - December 2014

Hearst, Dorothy. Promise of the Wolves. Simon and Shuster, 2009. 363p. $16.00. 978-1416569992.

What is the promise of the wolf? Never consort with humans. Never kill a human unprovoked. Never allow a mixed-blood wolf to live. At least that's what the wolves of the Wide Valley believe. Until a young wolf dares to break the rules--and forever alters the relationship between wolves and the humans who share their world.

Read below to find out what book inspired a young  Dorothy Hearst and how that influenced her series.

There were so many books that influenced The Wolf Chronicles that I could never list them all. 

Here are some of the books I read as a pup—between the ages of eleven and thirteen—that I know led me to the wolves.

The magic of what if:
Madeleine L’ Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time and Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy

I remember finishing A Wrinkle in Time, setting it down and thinking “I didn’t know you could do that.” I didn’t know that people were allowed to write about what was known, then—when arriving at what wasn’t known—make stuff up. I knew I wanted to do that. Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy is the story of England thrown back into the Middle Ages. I don’t want to give away the ending, but there’s a huge “what if” that drives the story. I had the same reaction at the end of it that I had to A Wrinkle in Time. You can do that? 

“What ifs” ended up at the center of The Wolf Chronicles. What if wolves domesticated us as much as we domesticated them? What if this story was told through the eyes of a young wolf who saves the life of a human child? And then there were all these wonderful gaps in our knowledge about wolf and human evolution that I could fill in with the story.

The animal’s perspective:
Richard Adams’ Watership Down 

When I set out to write about how the wolf became the dog from the wolf’s point of view, I wanted my wolves to be fully-drawn characters, and also realistic wolves. The first book I thought of was Watership Down, which a cousin had given me when I was eleven. I’d gobbled it up. When I started writing about Kaala’s adventures, I remembered how Adams had written his rabbits so that their needs and goals were as important as any human’s, and I modeled the wolves on that. I’d also been miffed that Adams’ female rabbits were so passive, so I got to set that right with Kaala.

Interspecies devotion
Anne McCaffrey’s dragons

I read the first four Pern books the summer I was thirteen. I was entranced by the relationship between the riders and their dragons and, even more so, fifteen-year-old Menolly’s love for her fire lizards. To this day I can feel how much I wanted a fire lizard. The dragons and fire lizards had very clear personalities, but they were definitely not human. The connection between human and nonhuman stayed with me.

A young female character in the center of a complex world 
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The cousin who gave me Watership Down gave also gave me A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I loved how Francie moved through a complex world with clear vision and a solid sense of herself. There was no breathlessness or silliness about Francie like there was in so many girl characters I’d read. I skipped through much of the adult perspectives and kept coming back to Francie and how she quietly, but steadily and firmly, found her way in the world.

About the Author
Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was a senior editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She currently lives, writes, and plays with dogs in Berkeley, California. Spirit of the Wolves, the third and final title in the Wolf Chronicles, will be released December 2. For more information, and to download free CCSS-aligned discussion questions for all three novels, visit her website:

Check out all the stops on the Wolf Chronicles blog tour!
Mon, Dec 1             Novel Novice                
Tues, Dec 2            The Book Monsters       
Wed, Dec 3             SLJ Teen                       
Thurs, Dec 4           I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Fri, Dec 5                I Read Banned Books   
Mon, Dec 8             Library Fanatic             
Tues, Dec 9             YA Book Nerd             
Wed, Dec 10           Read Now, Sleep Later
Thurs, Dec 11         The Brain Lair              
Fri, Dec 12              Unleashing Readers     
Sat, Dec 13             The Children's Book Review

Tune in tomorrow for a review and a chance to receive all 3 books in the series!

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? November 3, 2014

What I Purchased
The Rookie (Galactic Football League, 1) by Scott Sigler

What I Read
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Jackaby by William Ritter
Princess in Black by Hale and Hale
Rain by Amanda Sun
Accidental Highway by Ben Tripp
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Shouldn't You Be in School? (All the Wrong Questions, 3) by Lemony Snicket
And Two Boys Booed by Judith Viorst
All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
Promise of Shadows by Justine Ireland
The Hit by Melvin Burgess

Public Library - I must say my local library is super fantastic when it comes to finding #Cybils nominated titles. Of course, these holds come faster than I can read! I have over 50 items checked out at the moment!

Lemony Snicket, redux - For some reason I'm loving this prequel series. It's less punny than the Series of Unfortunate Events and the story seems to progress faster also. The students don't seem as enthralled as I am sadly.

CYBILS - have come across some titles that I may have missed if it wasn't for the #cybils. Can't wait to purchase some of these titles for the school library. We are still furiously reading and assembling our own personal shortlists.

Off for more reading with my eyes and ears! Hop on over to TeachMentorTexts for more reading ideas!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WTF Did I Read? AKA Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle. Dutton (Penguin Group), Feb 2014. 388p. $18.99.

Affiliate Links: Amazon | Indiebound

Genre: Science Fiction (mutant grasshopper soldiers)
Cover Appeal: Plain green with yellow pages (if you are lucky) will appeal to all with its brightness. Very eye-catching in its simplicity.

Weird. From beginning to end. And yet, I couldn't stop reading. This is my second Andrew Smith book and both were different. Grasshopper takes you through an incident of bullying, a breaking and entering, an attempt to get drunk, an underground lair, and some mutant grasshoppers who hatch from inside some randos throughout the story. The grasshoppers are key since they are pretty much impossible to stop. Or Unstoppable.  Throughout this crazy story, Austin Szerba is constantly questioning his sexuality since he's attracted to both his girlfriend, Shannon, and his best friend, Robby. I had pretty much been dystopiad/post-apocalypticed out until I read this book. I'm hoping that more authors step out the box because I am tired of the same-o, same-o. Maybe not as crazy as this one.

I recommend this for 9th and above.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dragon Slaying 101 AKAThe Story of Owen by EK Johnston

I always carry my sword in my backpack.
Johnston, E.K. Story of Owen, The (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, 1), Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. 302p. $17.95. 9781467710664.

Affiliate Links: Amazon | IndieBound

Genre: Fantasy (dragons and dragon slayers)
Cover Appeal: I think the front works better without the dragon on the cover. It's a cover students will look over because it's not bright and eye-catching.

This is actually the story of Siobhan McQuaid, bard to Owen Thorskard, high school student and dragon slayer-in-training. Siobhan is the first person to befriend Owen when his family moves to Trondheim. Owen's family is special, his aunt Lottie is the most famous Dragon Slayer of this time and his dad, Aodhan, is no slouch either. They also bring with them Hannah, the best swordsmaker. They have raised Owen in a loving and kind household. Siobhan's family are no slouches either.

As Owen and Siobhan's friendship grows, the family asks her to be Owen's bard. They want to shape the story of dragon slayers. There's a lot of talk about who controls the message and how. It's like you are reading two stories at once. And therein lies it's excellence.

"This is pretty much entirely not exactly what happened." 199

I recommend this for 7th grade and up.


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