Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy New Reading Year!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Shelia at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers give the meme a kidlit spin.  Open your Amazon wish list or your "to be read" list in GoodReads as you visit participating blogs from the links above. You're sure to find great titles to keep you reading well into the New Year.

Second Impact hits hard. Think quarterback blogger meets journalist. The team pairs up to write through the season. When the journalist investigates concussions on the team, the principal suspends her. Trouble ensues.  My boys who like Deuker's  Gym Candy will love this book, but the story will appeal to girls too. Fairness issues will have many of my students siding with this books' heroes. I love these lines about writing: 
"...when I sit down at my laptop, I don't think there's any limit whatsoever. When I start writing--when I think of all of you out there reading my writing--I feel I could do anything. I could go and go, I could write and write (19)."
No limits. I love that about writing free. I have long been a David Klass fan. His book, You Don't Know Me, is one of my favorites.  I had the pleasure of introducing author, Selene Castrovilla, during an ALAN 2013 workshop and I was delighted to hear that she too is a Klass fan. We got to the book by talking about inspiration. She pulled her copy of You Don't Know Me out of her back pack and shared it with me. Her copy has story written in the margins and on the covers and front pages, the story spills around Klass' own. How amazing to see those notes swirl around Klass' own story. She let me take a picture as we talked about the book and what it meant to us. 

Her notes reminded me of my own scribblings in books. I knew immediately that we belong in the same tribe. She is one of my people. So, I can't think of Klass without now thinking about Selene Castrovilla (next week, I have to share her books that Collin and I read with you!). 

Anderson's The Vanishing Season was just the winter-y ghost story I wanted. It feels set in New England--in a rural place with a lake about to freeze over. I enjoyed how the narrative moved between characters, some of whom you discover at the end (so, no spoilers here!). Maggie's family has fallen on hard times and have moved into an ancestral home in Gil Creek. Maggie makes friends with the girl next door, the wealthy, Pauline Boden, and with Liam, the local son of a woodsman. The threesome learn the meaning of life, love and ever after as winter approaches and they navigate friendship, love and the wilds of the world.

 Kristen Simmons' Article 5 is set in a bleak, post-war future. Moral/marsall law is in effect and citizens are being arrested, some executed for not conforming. It is illegal to be a single parent. It is illegal to read popular fiction or romance novels. It is wrong to dance, but Emmie's mother does all of these things. While I like the premise, moral persecution set in post-war future, the story did not live up to my expectations.  Hilary Jordan's When She Woke has spoiled me for moralistic, dystopian tales. In Article 5, after Ember's mother is arrested for being a single parent, Ember is sent to a "rehabilitation center." What ensues is a break-out and road trip cross country with a neighbor and former boyfriend, turned soldier. For students, this book will be very satisfying. They will enjoy the predictable pattern of girl loves boy, girl loses boy, boy returns. There is definitely a place for this book in my classroom library. It's already checked out, so I know students are drawn to the story. Once it comes back I will use it as bridge recommendation for students who need the support of the pattern but are intimidated by the length of  more challenging dystopian novels (Divergent, The Hunger Games, House of the Scorpion) but aren't quite ready for the depth of Jordan or Atwood. 

 Season of the Witch by Mariah Fredericks reminded me of how children cope with powerlessness. Wouldn't it feel good to think that you had the power to make or break other teenagers?  Wouldn't it be great if we could rid ourselves of guilt and despair? The main characters in Season of the Witch turn to spell casting in order to gain control out of lives that are quickly spiraling away. I brought the book to school Monday and already two students have finished it and Valeria just checked it out --it has not been in  the room even an hour this week; that's a good sign. A student whispered today that she didn't think that the girls really saw themselves as witches. We had a good conversation--spontaneous, uninvited, honest-- about character motivation and girl-power and facing troubles. Lots of appeal in Fredericks Season of the Witch

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I used to play barroom pool, eight ball. I was never an excellent player, but I enjoyed the long shot, the stretch across the green-felt, the feel of the cue, the satisfying crash-clack, the sound of the sink and the relief of the set-up. o I played best when I planned ahead and set myself up for the next shot or sequence. So here's my set-up for next time.



  1. Article 5 didn't live up to my expectations either. The characters were a little too whiny in the book, and it drove me NUTS that they wouldn't just TALK and tell each other what was on their mind. However, I can't not finish a series, and the other two books in the series are much better.

    Looks like you're trying to get through your ALAN box reads! I have many of the same titles sitting on my shelves :)

  2. I had forgotten about You Don't Know Me, think it would fit with some of our mature readers, Lee Ann. Will look for the other one too. I have many books on lists that sound good, so thank you for the heads up about some of them!

  3. Second Impact sounds like a book my kiddos will love to dive into. Thanks for sharing today, Lee Ann - you've been reading a great deal!

  4. Second Impact sounds like a book my kiddos will love to dive into. Thanks for sharing today, Lee Ann - you've been reading a great deal!

  5. Hi Lee Ann, I haven't seen any of these titles yet, not on my radar as yet, so I'm glad to know them through you. The VAnishing Season in particular caught my eye. Thanks for sharing all these.

  6. It's good for a librarian to have several levels of a topic ready, so like you say you can offer books to kids not ready for difficult material as well as to kids who want the toughest stuff you can find. It's just usually more fun reading the books for the latter situation!