Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (2.23.15)

Every Monday bloggers all over the web participate in an effort to share books we have read and what we are excited about digging into. Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee & Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting us all!

What I Read this Week:

How to Fly with Broken Wings, by Jane Elson
(Hodder Childrens Books, March 5, 2015, ARC provided by NetGalley)
     Willem is a character living with his grandmother, Aspergers Syndrome, and the torment of bullies. After gang violence interrupts Willem and his grandmother's lives and those of everyone in their neighborhood, Willem finds himself an unexpected friend in Sasha and a sometimes-friend in Finn. Their mutual interest in flight joins them together with another unlikely individual in their building and their commonality brings each of them to a path to something better.
     I was grateful for the resolution in this book since there seemed to be so much struggle and pain. The emphasis on community rallying was refreshing, the interesting way family history was woven into the story, and the courage of the characters to become who they wanted to be led me to keep reading. However, the setting and conflicts of this book--with gang-violence and 18+ story apartment buildings will make this hard for my students to relate to.
The Imaginary, by A. F. Harrold , illustrated by Emily Gravett
(Bloomsbury USA Childrens, March 3, 2015)
     Rudger is an imaginary friend, brought to being by Amanda. When the friends encounter Mr. Bunting, an adult who seeks out imaginary friends and inhales them as a means of keeping his own imagination alive, Amanda is seriously hurt, and Rudger's existence threatened.
     This book is unlike most others. Readers will bend and flex their ideas of the conditions in which we keep imaginary friends. Creative, inventive...imaginary. Emily Gravett's art--the selective use of color in her otherwise black and white art--compliments the intrigue of the story. I expect the actual hardcover copy of this book will be beautiful.
The Center of Everything, by Linda Urban
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013)
     Ruby Pepperdine is grieving the loss of her grandmother, Gigi, and carries with her the weight of regret, wishing she could redo her last memories with Gigi. With the help of her community, traditions, and old and new friends, Ruby tests the power of wishes as she seeks for what is supposed to be.
     This was a reread for me, a book I picked up to climb inside something soft, gentle, and whole-ly true. Ruby resonates as a character with strong emotions and questions to sort through, a friend for pensive young people in our lives. While told over the course of one day's community celebration--parade to fireworks--the story covers several days' time with flashbacks and memory moments that reveal background information at just the right time. There are layers upon layers in this book, keeping it satisfying with each subsequent read.
The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer
(G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014)
     When Gracie suddenly loses her mom, she moves in with a grandmother she has never known. What she has known is that her grandmother sent her mother away. Now Gracie struggles to make peace with this relative, finding her place in a small town that has always claimed her while never having known her in person. Gracie discovers how this small town community can reveal more of her mom's story--and her own--to her.
     Gracie is built as a character who is determined to be strong-willed and independent, but is really longing for the backing and support of someone she can trust. Through her struggle to accept the cards she has been dealt, Gracie arrives at peace, recognizing that her challenging hand has made her story.
Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper
(Antheneum Books for Young Readers, January 6, 2015)
     Stella's family and her community are being terrorized by the threats of the Ku Klux Klan. Stella embodies bravery in her continued efforts to be a writer and the way she leaps into action at the first sign of friends or family who need help. 
     Sharon Draper's writing is lovely and entrapping. Stella will quickly become a hero, a role model readers hope to emulate, through her courage and plight to do what needs to be done. With glimpses of real emotions including fear, worry, and shame, Draper offers a hopeful, resilient picture of how African-American families would offer strength to one another in the face of segregation.
Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome, by Kate Messner, illustrated by Kelley McMorris
(Scholastic Press, June 30, 2015)
     Ranger is a time-traveling dog with search and rescue training. His magic first aid box travels Ranger to ancient Rome and the time of gladiator fights in the Colosseum. Ranger helps two boys, Marcus and Quintus, to battle in the Colosseum and earn their freedom before he can travel back home.
     Danger in Ancient Rome is the second book in the Ranger in Time series. Through Ranger's adventures, readers will learn about the people and cultural habits of ancient Rome. Armed with plenty of research notes (and an author's note to prove it), Kate Messner takes readers on a time-travel journey they otherwise wouldn't know. Ranger feels like everybody's dog!
Notebook Know-How, by Aimee Buckner
(Stenhouse, 2005)
     In Notebook Know-How, Aimee Buckner invites readers into the flexible and expandable world of using writers' notebooks in classroom writing workshops. Buckner emphasizes the importance of using a notebook as a habit or routine, providing concrete suggestions for lessons, activities, and language that can be incorporated into students' writing times. Buckner's models lend themselves well to fostering an environment of self-reflection, appreciation for progress, and student empowerment.

What I am Currently Reading:
Cody and the Fountain of Happiness, by Trisha Springstubb, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
(Candlewick, April 14, 2015)

What I am Reading Next:
Paperboy, by Vince Vawter
The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron
The Writing Thief, by Ruth Culham

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to read Stella by Starlight! And I loved Notebook Know-How. Just referred back to it for a strategy that I thought would be perfect for A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord. Here is the post if you are interested: