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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? October 26, 2014

What I Purchased
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page

What I Read
Chasing Before by Lenore Applehans
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
The Ghosts Go Haunting by Helen Ketteman
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
First Halloween
Teeny Tiny Ghost by Kay Winters
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - 25%
Endgame by James Frey - abandoned
Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch - abandoned
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page - 50%

Singsongy Picture Books - Big Pumpkin is one of my favorite books. It was a joy to share it with students again. The repetition and rhythm make it fun to read aloud.  The Ghosts Go Haunting is thisclose to the tune in the Ants Go Marching. The beauty here is you don't have to sing the whole book - I modified based on grade but we all heard the book this week. It was fun flapping, clomping, and WOEing through the library.

Halloween is coming - I read First Halloween with kindergartners and we discussed similarities and differences. We also read The Teeny Tiny Ghost and talked about how Halloween can be scary and fun.  We also watched the first minute or two of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and talked about pumpkin carving.

CYBILS - wowza - Seems like I'm pretty much reading my backside off. Because I'm sitting on it. Reading. Constantly.

I have to go read now.  If you want some reading ideas - check out TeachMentorTexts and don't forget to link your reads to her blog! Happy reading.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing Great Books for Young Adults - Excerpt and Giveaway

Just in time for NaNoWriMo! 
Are you looking for some inspiration to write your own novel? 

Check out the newly updated
Writing Great Books for Young Adults
Brooks, Regina. Sourcebooks. $14.99. 
ISBN: 9781402293528

from the publisher:

With an 87 percent increase in the number of young adult titles published in the last two years, the young adult market is one of the healthiest segments in the industry. Despite this fact, surprisingly little has been written to help authors hone their craft and truly connect with the young adult audience.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults gives writers all the advice they need to tap into this incredible and innovative market. Literary agent Regina L. Brooks shows writers how listening to young adults will help them create characters their audience can identify with.

Topics covered include meeting your protagonistengaging your readers,, trying on points of view, and many more.


Open to US Residents only. 13 years of age and older. 1 entry per person/email.
Closes October 24, 2014 , 11:59 pm. EST. Winner announced October 26th.
UPDATE: Congratulations, Stephanie.  Expect your book directly from the publisher.

About the Author 
Regina L. Brooks is the founder of Serendipity Literary Agency and has been developing award-winning authors and books for over a decade. She has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals, including Poets and WritersEssenceWriter’s Digest, and Sister2Sister,Forbes, Media Bistro, Ebony, and Jet. She lives in New York City.

Connect With the Author
Twitter: @serendipitylit

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? October 20, 2014

What I Purchased
Shadow of Night (All Souls, 2) by Deborah Harkness
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle, 2) by Maggie Stiefvater

What I Read
Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus, 5) by Rick Riordan
Infinite Sea (the 5th Wave, 2) by Rick Yancey
Warrior Heir (Heir Chronicles, 1) by Cinda Williams Chima
Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland
Ball by Mary Sullivan
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems
Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly
Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin
Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli
Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka
Cats by Seymour Simon
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Button by Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat and his White Shoes by Eric Litwin
The Story of Owen (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, 1) by EK Johnston
Dangerous by Shannon Hale
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
Little Elliot, Big City by
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, 4) by Rick Riordan

Picture Books - I've always read picture books but usually just for myself or to promote to teachers for writing mentors. Now I'm reading them as possible readalouds for my younger students. By far our favorite of this group was Creepy Carrots. Loved by all from K - 3. Great for leading up to Halloween and can be enjoyed on different level.  We enjoyed the Pete the Cat videos more than the books - basically because we love music. And you must read Ball. That was ingenious! But Fall Leaves, Number One Sam, nor Nuts at Bedtime ever made it to a classroom audience.

Re-Read - Finished my reread of The Heroes of Olympus series and devoured the final book, Blood of Olympus. I think Riordan left just enough open to re-visit in the future but answered enough questions to feel like a satisfying ending. I look forward to his Nordic Adventures.

Book Clubs - Next book club reads are Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which will be a re-read for me, and The Bully Pulpit which is so long and not one I'm looking forward to reading. I may not make that book club meeting!

CYBILS - The nominations are closed. We are furiously reading these titles and I will try to write a word or two about some of the ones I read as I go along. Lots of reading ahead!

Need more reading suggestions? Check out Teach.Mentor.Texts and don't forget to add your link while you are there!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon. Dangerous. Bloomsbury Publishing, 4/2014. 416p. $17.99. 9781599901688.

Affilitate Links Amazon
| Indiebound

Genre: Science Fiction (aliens taking over, superheroes created)
Cover Appeal: Nothing sets this apart from any other science fiction title out now. I do like the purple and gray though. I also like the font used for the title.

Maisie Danger Brown is tired of her boring life. She's homeschooled with her best friend, Luther and both her parents work from home.  They never go any where or do anything exciting.  She figures it's because they don't have enough money.  Along comes a sweepstakes to win a trip to astronaut camp. Now Maisie has a chance to live up to her middle name. She becomes part of an elite team who isn't sure what their purpose is but are sure they need to work together.

For the most part  the book is all about the science of space travel and gadget building with moments of romance and intrigue thrown in.  I was happy to see Maisie pull herself from the brink of losing her sense of self over a boy though she was aware that it could happen and she fought it. She was a strong character who thought carefully about how her actions affect others. I enjoyed seeing her thought process. The aliens were bit underwhelming and the rest of the characters, Jacques, Mi-sun, and Ruth, could have used a bit more depth. Luther, even though he was only in the book a short time, was one of my favorite characters.

I recommend this one for 7th Gr and above.


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