Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mock Newbery Results

 Saturday, January 26, 2013 I got together with 15 other adults to choose our Mock Newbery winner.  The "committee" consisted of a variety of book lovers who'd been following SJCPL Mock Newbery blog throughout the year.

We had many books on the table:

  1. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
  2. Crow by Barbara Wright
  3. Splendors & Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
  4. The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech
  5. Chickadee by Louise Erdich
  6. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
  7. Keeping the Castle by Patricia Kindl
  8. Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  9. Moonbird by Philip Hoose
  10. No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson
  11. Son by Lois Lowry
  12. Miles to Go For Freedom by Linda Osborne
  13. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  14. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  15. The Lions of Little Rock by Kristine Levine
  16. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
  17. Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery
  18. The Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
  19. The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds
  20. What Came from the Stars by Gary Schmidt
We ruled out several books right away then spent the rest of he day talking about the strenthgs and weakneses of the remaining books. Each person also had one or two books she wanted to go to bat for.  Mine was Splendors and Glooms and Temple Grandin.

We ended with
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz - Winner
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin - honor
No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Nelson - honor

The students met for two afternoons and awarded:
Wonder by RJ Palacio - Winner
Lions of Little Rock by Kristine Levine - honor
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz - honor
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker - honor
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead - honor

Only a few hours left to see what the real committee picks!! 
I can hardly wait!
The webcast starts at 8am in Seattle so that's 11 am my time.  Here's a link in case you want to watch it too!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Batty about Books - Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities by Mike Jung Part 1


Batty About Books
Geeks, Girls and
Secret Identities
by Mike Jung

(Arthur A Levine Books (Scholastic), 2012. 320p. $16.99. 9780545335485)

Genre: Science Fiction (superheroes, killer robots)

Maria (@mselke01) and I (@thebrainlair) are back with our first read of 2013!

And we have a surprise, we'll be joined by Sherry from The Library Fanatic blog! (@libraryfanatic)

Sherry and I have met a couple times in real life!! We are both Indiana school librarians and are on state awards committees. Sherry works on the Rosies which are the Eliot Rosewater Awards for high school students and I work on the Young Hoosiers which are the Young Hoosier Book Awards for elementary and middle schools.  Check out the Indiana Library Federation for more information!

We also added a new element - Cover Talk! We'll discuss the covers of the books before and after we read. How does a cover contribute to or distract from what's inside the book?

Don't forget to check out Maria's Melange (she's writing in purple) and The Library Fanatic (she's writing in green) for their initial thoughts on Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities! Now, on to part one! (And did I mention I'm writing in blue? I am!)

Cover Talk
I know students who loved Sidekicks (both the book by Ferrariolo and the gn by Santat) and The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy will be drawn to this cover. It also reminds me a little bit of The Mysterious Benedict Society books.  I like the looming robot, the way the words look like they are coming at you sideways, and the boys with their matching shirts.  This cover really pulls you in!  I also like the top part of the inside jacket cover “Can knowing the most superhero trivia... be a superpower? If so, Vincent Wu is invincible.” Can the story live up to the cover? I like that quote, too. That makes me think of so many people I know who are just filled up with that kind of trivia. I wish my memory were better - I would be a font of trivia, too! I really love the illustrator on this book. I talk about him in my discussion.

Part 1
I‘m excited to dive into Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities for a couple of reasons: It wasn’t on my Mock Newbery list and I loved the cover.  I hadn’t any clue what it was about but those two reason, plus it appeared on Charlotte’s Library blog post Looking for Kids of Color in MG Sci-Fi/Fantasy books. My goal this year is to read and review more multicultural literature. And not just the slavery/civil rights kind you see around award tables either! Yes! I’d be happy to choose more books from her list. I love her blog - don’t miss her weekly review roundups of MG fantasy and science fiction.

I’ve read some superhero books: Sidekicks by Jack Ferraiolo, Sidekicks by Dan Santat (both of which I’ve used in book clubs), The ExtraOrdinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy (bk 1), and The Quantum Prophecy (bk 1) and they can come in many genres and offer a variety of stories.  I’m hoping this will be something new and exciting to add to the library. I’ve read Santat’s Sidekicks, but haven’t heard of those others. I’ll have to check them out. Don’t miss Cloak Society - that one is fun! Sidekicks is one of my favorite graphics. We have the others in my library, but I haven't read them...yet!

The Opening Line
“There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City, but ours is the only that doesn't suck.”  Yes! It sounds like such a middle school thing to say... This immediately pulled me in! - I LOVED this opening line!

The Geeks
Vincent Wu - son of divorced parents, dad’s super smart in a sciency way, and Vincent is tiny and shy! Love his “voice”. He plays with a gyroscope to calm himself down (p20) and “mentally punched [himself] in the face”! He already has my heart. He is endearing! He has a great snarky voice. I like the fact that he isn’t geeky in the same way his dad is. While I love kids to pursue science, it’s nice to see that you can be a geek by just being really enthusiastic about your own passion areas. Yes! We can all be geeks!

George and Max - gotta say I’m a little concerned about these two. I do love that Max is not your typical big, football guy but I also confess I hoped his name was George. Max is such an uninspired name for a big person! I wonder about/am intrigued by the hints of their family life we are getting. Will these be expanded on later?? I wondered about this, too. George’s “fruity” mom and Max’s annoying grandmother and troubled father could bring something to the tale - or they could just be shorthand for making their families all look different from the “traditional” two parent home.  I think the more non-traditional families that are shown in children's literature, the better. I think we're all a lot further from normal than we care to admit!

The Girls
Polly Winnicott-Lee - Love the name, the way she dresses, and the “take no prisoners” attitude.  Strong girl character in the making? I mentioned that the thing I liked best so far is that Polly had already been taking karate for 6 years. Her experiences so far in the story aren't what make her strong - she already was strong. Girl power!

Carla Bing - Stupendite “airhead cheerleader” (35). Airhead and cheerleader do not always belong together. ::calmsdown:: Yep - I don’t bring up this character but I am annoyed by the fact that the boys can’t accept a “girl fan group” without thinking they only care about clothes and make-up. Grr..

The Secret Identities
“You have to do what’s right for everyone but only if it’s right for you.” (93) Discuss.
I like this quote so much. I like the fact that we aren't being told that the only way to be moral is to give up yourself completely. I’m eager to see where this leads.

Beginning Thoughts
So far, so good! I’m enjoying this one and can’t wait to dive into part 2!

Superhero books!
We had a huge discussion on spoilers while reading this first part! Under "The Secret Identities" I allude to what I thought would have been a spoiler to reveal. I hadn't read a ton about the book before reading because it might change my own thinking. It turns out that what I thought was a spoiler had been revealed on a few book buying sites. Each Batty decided how she would handle things and Maria has a great link from the BBC, Spoilers Don't Ruin Stories. I'm inclined to disagree. Though this could also lead to a discussion on the importance (and fun) of re-reading.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Goodreads Mock Printz 2013

The Youth Media Awards are almost here! On Monday morning I'll be holed up in my office watching the webcast. Alone this year because I didn't do a Mock Newbery club at school. Boo!  Anyway, my two favorite awards are Newbery and Printz.  I love the Printz so much, I moderate a Goodreads Mock Printz group!

We are in the midst of picking our top books.  I didn't do it like the real Printz, with weighted votes, because I didn't have time.  Next year though! This year, we did write-ins and then I used the top ten for the poll.  Have you read most of these books? Any of them? Which books do you think have a chance?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Batty About Books - The Return

Last year I teamed up with Maria's Melange for Batty About Books. Every month or so, we would read and explore a MG/YA science fiction or fantasy novel. The only plan we had before each book was how we would divide up the book. The rest of the discussion played out as we read the book and responded to each other's thoughts.   No real rules, we made them up as went to fit our schedules and our thoughts.  We use a google doc and try to post our own thoughts before reading and responding.  Once we feel the discussion is done, we cut and paste the doc into a post.

To read more about our process, check out our joint post over on Nerdy Book Club!

So What's Next for Batty About Books?

Kathy: There are many ways we can go from here! I know, and that is so exciting to me, too! The best part of having a book buddy is getting encouragement to stretch and grow in unexpected ways. Be sure to come by our blogs to see what we tackle next.
  • Classic Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • MG Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • More reading from the Andre Norton list (do they still do that award?)
  • Addressing our book gaps (I have so many!) I think we all do, Kathy. I know I tend to read science fiction and fantasy to the exclusion of many other types of novels, though I have tried to branch out more this year by following my own genre requirements for my students.
  • Talking more about using the books with students (at least in the last post)
  • Giving more specifics about readalikes
  • Covers (we talked about doing this in the beginning)
  • Diversity
  • Graphic Novels (love your pinterest board!)
  • Student Recommendations - maybe 1 or 2 a year?

What type of books do you want to see us tackle?

First Batty About Books...

Check out Mike Jung's blog.

Can't wait to dive into this one! Tune in next week for the start of our discussion and don't forget to check out our Nerdy Book Club post!
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Friday, January 11, 2013

What the Book Clubs are Reading - January 2013

*this is cross-posted on the Discovery Middle School Library blog

4 of 5 book clubs will meet this month to discuss books read over Winter Break. One will meet to discuss a previously read book, due to a missed meeting.

6th Grade - January 11 - The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I'll share the Official Book Trailer

Some information about Katherine Applegate (and her husband Michael Grant). I was lucky enough to hear Ms. Applegate speak back in August, shortly after The Real Ivan died. And if conversation lulls, I'll share the Harper Collins Children's Discussion Guide.

7th Grade Howard - January 11 - Boy21 by Matthew Quick

Here's the trailer

Here's a bio of Matthew Quick.  And some questions for Boy21.

7th Grade Roberts - January 18 - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The trailer

The blog of Tahereh Mafi and some information about Shatter Me movie rights which were sold even before the book came out!  Also, a recording of Ms. Mafi pronouncing her first name! On her official website you can see a trailer for book 1.5 Destroy Me.

7th Grade Randolph - January 25 - Partials by Dan Wells

The trailer

 Dan Wells' bio as well as a trailer for the next book, Fragments.

8th Grade - January 24 - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Laini Taylor's Blog. Those UK covers are so much better! Love their simplicity.  A few discussion questions from LitLovers.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Favorite Audiobook Series 2012

trustnooneIt’s hard to believe but I’ve listened to all ten books in the 39 Clues series, Vesper’s Rising (technically part of 39 Clues but I look at it more as a bridge between the two series), and all 5 of the presently released 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers series. (I also read all 7 ebook shorts by Clifford Riley that highlights a different cousin in each one!)

I was attracted to the 39 Clues when I first heard there would be 10 books each featuring a popular author including Gordon Korman, Rick Riordan, Patrick Carman, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Linda Sue Park.  I could immediately see, not only the tie-ins with these authors other books, but also the nonfiction piece since  orphan main chracters, Amy and Dan Cahill, travel around the world solving clues in a race against time and family!  I was less interested in the internet connection – you could play the 39 Clues online game using cards found in each book – but thought some students might like that addition. 

But, it wasn’t until I discovered the audiobooks, read by David Pittu, that I was totally and completely hooked on these books! Why, you say? Let me count the ways:
  • First, the audiobooks are short – averaging about 4 hours each. Students can check them out and finish a book in two weeks only listening to the book 4 nights a week for 30 minutes a night.  For some students who do not overly enjoy reading, this is a huge selling point.  Not only is the time commitment short but they can actually finish a book!
  • Pittu does great voices for Dan and Amy as well as all the cousins.  I love his snooty cousin Ian voice and his musclehead voice for cousin Hamilton.  I even like his “cool” voice for cousin Jonah, the African American rock star! Throw in a few sound effects and you’ve got a great CD going.
  • There are many ways to be smart! Amy and Dan are both smart but in different ways.  Dan has this photographic memory and always wants to be doing something or going somewhere. Amy likes to read and study. They, and the cousins, are all smart in different ways and so bring different skills to the table.  Each is valuable to the cause. This is even more evident in the spin-off series as Amy and Dan rely on the rest of the family to make sure they get the help they need to solve the mysteries.
  • The mysteries. About the only thing missing from the audiobooks are the pictures of some of the documents the characters are investigating.  Pittu does a fine job of describing them to you though.  We use these documents, text messaging, Skyping, and email to solve the clues and I’m always trying to figure out what’s what before Dan and Amy do!
I think the first series, The 39 Clues, is suitable for 3rd grade and up but I would suggest the second series, The 39 Clues: Cahills vs Vespers as more 6th grade and up.  In Cahills vs. Vespers, the themes become darker and there are more deaths and betrayals. These issues, combined with the constant traveling and the absence of guardians Fisk and Nellie, push Dan and Amy to their physical and mental limits.
I can hardly wait until March 2013 for the release of Day of Doom (Cahills vs Vespers, 6) by David Baldacci!

Book title links to Amazon Associates.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top Middle Grade Fiction 2012

When I think of MG fiction, I think of books intended for grades 4-6. But, really, that's just one way to classify these books. Like other age classifications (young adult, adult) they cover all genres. Just like Young Adult books are not simplified Adult books, Middle Grade books are not simplified Young Adult books.  What helps me define this level are the actions the characters engage in throughout the book.  And still, it’s not a science. But, that’s a post for another day! Without further adieu:
Top Middle Grade Fiction reads of 2012
from LibraryThing

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. (Putnam, 2012. 304p. $16.99. 9780399256448.) I didn't appreciate this book until I discussed it with students. Lions take place after the first attempt at integration in Arkansas schools. It focuses on two families: one white and one black. At times I thought Marlee voice was too mature but this didn't bother the students. And what I saw as a wrapped up ending they thought actually left room for growth since everything didn't work out for both girls.  My biggest beef now is the paperback edition. The new cover, featuring two girls holding hands and a cutesy twisty title font, will turn off a lot of middle school readers as too young or too girlish.

from Simon and Schuster

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (Aladdin, 2012. 496p. $16.99. 9781442445932.) This cover is deceiving. The cartoon-ish look to the characters make this looks like a fun-filled, rollicking adventure. And it is. But, it's also more.  Keeper of the Lost Cities is alternatively funny, sad, and dangerous.  Sophie finds out that the life she's been living is not her own. Sad. She belongs to an alternate world and the gift she has is actually very powerful. Cool. She goes back to her home and starts attending school with more people with her gifts but she is not used to being around people like this. Funny. But, Sophie was sent to Earth for a reason. Her gift is extremely valuable but her presence threatens some of the higher ups. And they are willing to go to any lengths to eliminate that threat.


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012. 320p. $16.99. 9780061992254.) I hadn’t expected to like this book. It’s a talking animal. But Applegate truly brings Ivan alive and you can believe that what she writes is exactly what he feels.  That was a constant refrain from students who read this: it seems like realistic fiction. Applegate does a great job both with characterization and setting. A contender for the Newbery, I believe.

 Title links are connected to my Amazon Associate account.
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - 2013

Happy New Year! We've been blessed with another year to love each other and ourselves.  

Neil Gaiman
Have you read Neil Gaiman's wish for 2012? If you haven't, please do.  I agree wholeheartedly that kindness and wisdom are needed. In this age of instant response and outlets for every thought, we desperately need to slow down and think things through, and temper with kindness before sending our words on.

Peter Bregman
Trolling on twitter a couple of days ago, something I haven't done in a while, I came across a tweet that I traced back to Peter Bregman's Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning. He talks about letting go of some of the information highway instead of trying so desperately to keep up. Taking the risk that you might miss something but knowing that you are taking care of yourself and those around you. 

THE CYBILS SHORT LISTS WERE ANNOUNCED TODAY!! Make sure you stop by all of them, but these are my special favorites:

Fantasy/Science Fiction MG - I've only read 2
Fantasy/Science Fiction YA - I've only read 1
MG Fiction - I've read 5
YA Fiction - I've read 3

I look forward to checking out the finalists in February!

I've very excitedly set my 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal to read 150 books.  This coupled with taking better care of the people in my life and, possibly, even keeping my house cleaner, should make for a busy but happy new year!


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