Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are You My Newbery - Update - 12/17/09

Whew! I've been doing a lot of reading but not a lot of blogging, I know. We have a two week break coming up and I promise to blog more often then. I know many people are taking a break from blogging at this time so this is a good time for me to step up!!

Since my last Are You My Newbery post, I've read:
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
Forest Born by Shannon Hale
Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
Wild Things by Clay Carmichael
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff
Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor

Skype Interviews
Fran Cannon Slayton of When The Whistle Blows - very informative. I have some audio that I'm trying to include but will just post the interview if people are interested. This was with the teachers in my Mock Newbery club at the middle school.

Jacqueline Kelly of Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - intriguing. This was with the St. Joseph Public Library Mock Newbery club which has about 30 students from a variety of schools.

My Mock Newbery 2010 guesses
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
When The Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
SLOB by Ellen Potter
Neil Armstrong is My Uncle by Nan Marino
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
Wild Things by Clay Carmichael
Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor

If you want to see reviews of any of these, please leave me a comment! I will get it up as soon as possible!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review - Crossing Stones by Helen Frost

Crossing Stones
Helen Frost
Francis Foster Books/FSG
184 pgs. (author notes, library book)

Muriel, Ollie and Emma relay the events leading up to WWI when two of their number decide to join the army. We also get a glimpse into the women's civil rights movement as it relates to Muriel's family.

This verse novel alternates between the voices of Muriel, whose words are shaped like a river, and Emma/Ollie, whose words are shaped like crossing stones. The "stones" also have a special rhyme scheme that the author explains in her notes. Each chapter is made up of several poems and covers a month from April 1917 to January 1918.

My Thoughts
My first thoughts on picking up this book were "not another war novel". This year's Newbery hopefuls are replete with them. Helen Frost writes about WWI but I've read about WWII, 9/11, and the War in Kosovo.

Crossing Stones alternates voices but in a way that's not disruptive to the book's overall tone. I found myself understanding both Muriel and Ollie's viewpoint because their characters are well drawn. You understand why they make the choices they do. Muriel is "plucky" but not overbearing and she's also thoughtful.

Mother: I have no intention of becoming the Mrs. Norman of your imaginary future. Who I am remains to be seen - and I alone intend to see it. (p. 15)

Ollie's young but tenderhearted.

To tell the truth, I don't care as much about their lofty goals as I do about
seeing my family again- there's a man on a bike, pedaling into the morning, bringing bread home to his family, I bet. (p. 60)

Through their eyes we also get a sense of the other characters.

The plot had just enough history to make it interesting but not boring. Each poem was like it's own little story within a story. The writing was so vivid and the story moved quickly. Frost didn't just focus on the homefront, what happened to the people left behind, but also gave us a little taste of the warfront as well as the suffragist's movement.

I really enjoyed Crossing Stones and can't wait to find Diamond Willow. I give it 4 copies. Bonus: Helen Frost lives in Fort Wayne, IN! Maybe we can do an author visit - if only I could find a curriculum use for this one...

Other Newbery hopefuls on War
Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari - rvw
Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson
Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
Tropical Secrets by Margarita Engle - rvw

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Social Justice Challenge

2010 Social Justice Reading Challenge
"Reading and literacy can not only make us better individuals but it can also motivate us to effect greater changes around us."

The Social Justice Challenge leaders

Have you seen this? This is one challenge I think I can do. When I have more time, I can do more. Less time, do less. The challenge runs for a year and ties into so many things I want to do: Live Your Five, Diversity Challenge, Three Cups of Tea, etc. All the things I want to do but don't know where to start. They've taken that excuse away - just in time.

We've been looking for something to get our kids involved with at school too so I'm hoping this will prove to be the "thing" we are looking for. Again, not much trouble on our parts but the gain...

This is a challenge I must do. So I'm in.


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