Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted. 

The Past Week: 




I had so many wonderful reading experiences over the past week! How Far Do You Love Me? was probably my favorite picture book, but there were so many that were good. Flashlight employed very clever illustrations. The Farmer and the Clown was beautiful as was The Iridescence of Birds

As for the chapter books, Greenglass House was a page turner for me. I dropped right into that house and didn't want to leave. It helped that it happens the week of Christmas and I read it next to our tree. The No. 1 Car Spotter had me in stitches. It is so fun. I will have to be purchasing that one. Here's a bit from the book: 


Finally, I also finished Dreaming in Indian. 


I'll be reviewing it over at Rich in Color in early January, but let me just say that it is amazing. Here is the trailer and then another video with the editors talking about the book. 



The Coming Week: 
I'm still listening to The Joy Luck Club & Blue Shoe, but I will be reading many others this week. I have one more day of teaching and then I will be starting winter break #bookaday. Donalayn Miller explained it last year on her blog. I have a whole pile of books waiting to be read. Here are a few of them:


Have a wonderful week of reading!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Celebrate!

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

Here are things that I celebrated this week:

* I was interviewed for the blog Latin@s in Kid Lit. It was fun to share.

* The other blog I am regularly part of is Rich in Color. This week it was featured as one of the "12 Blogs of 2014" on one of the School Library Journal blogs. It was fun to start the day off seeing this tweet:
* A student gave me a holiday card that said, "Thank you for doing writing club. I really enjoyed having a place to write in. It was the funniest, best club ever!" We no longer have a space for writing club, but I hope the students continue to find space and time to write for fun.

* My son is home from college for break!

* The groomer had time for my dog and so he is now poofy and adorable.

* My husband made dinner Friday night when I didn't even want to think - let alone cook.

The week flew by, but fortunately, my list of things to do before the holidays is shrinking rapidly. I hope you have many things to celebrate. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted. 

The Past Week: 




I didn't finish many books this week, but the ones I did finish were excellent. The Family Romanov was a fascinating look at the Romanovs. Candace Fleming did a nice job of presenting the information in a way that showed the complexities of their lives and the influences that led to their downfall. The Night Gardener gave me chills, but also gave me a lot to think about. I like that in a book. There's a bit of philosophical pondering over several topics including the difference between stories and lies. The Turtle of Oman was a beautiful story of the love between a boy and his grandfather. There are other things happening in the book, but that relationship warmed my heart. Sylvia's Spinach will be a welcome addition to our library because it supports our garden project so well. Many of our students are like Sylvia and are leery of spinach. The publisher, Readers to Eaters, sent me the book for review along with some of their other titles. I will review it more thoroughly later, but our garden coordinator was excited when I shared the great titles about food literacy.

The Coming Week: 

I am having to slow myself down reading Stephen King's book On Writing. It's not like a typical nonfiction book since it is made up of so many stories. It reads like fiction so I am loving it aside from learning about writing. I'm listening to Blue Shoe in the car when I am not listening to holiday music. I have only read Anne Lamott's nonfiction in the past. I started The Joy Luck Club ages ago and abandoned it, but this time it's on a Playaway so I'm listening while folding clothes and knitting. Maybe I will finish this time. Dreaming in Indian is amazing. It's full of vibrant illustrations and powerful poetry and text. I'm still taking my time with it, but will be reviewing it later this week.

Aside from those that I'm currently reading, I have a huge pile of books waiting for break that I may sneak into again. I already snagged several of them as you might have noticed. If you have a pile waiting for break, be sure to share it on Twitter with the hashtag #WinterTBR or email them to nerdybookclubblog@gmail.com. The Nerdybookclub is collecting pictures of TBR stacks. I just have a hard time waiting. I think I'll be snagging The Madman of Piney Woods before next week.


What will you be reading?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Celebrate!

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

Here are things that I celebrated this week:

video

* We started to relocate and downsize our library the day before Thanksgiving break and we finished early this week. The job was huge, but we're very happy with the results.


* Experiencing The Hour of Code with my students is a treat. It's exciting to see them figure things out and then help each other.

* We got a box of lebkuchen and other treats from Germany and they are so yummy.

* I enjoyed participating in the Nerdy Book Award nominations. It's so fun to look back on favorite titles from 2014.

* Watching and hearing my daughter sing The Messiah with the local university choir was a fantastic experience. The orchestra and choir sounded fabulous and put us in the holiday mood.

* My daughter and I also went to see the Nutcracker. It was special because we know the young woman that danced the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy. We had a lovely evening together.

I hope that you had some wonderful celebrations in your week!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Savage Fortress Book Tour



Title: The Savage Fortress
Author: Sarwat Chadda
ISBN: 978-0545385176
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 304
Genre: YA, MG, Fantasy, Adventure

Plot Summary: The gods and monsters of India roar to life in this thrilling fantasy!

After three weeks of vacation, Ash Mistry is ready to leave the heat and dust of India behind him. Then he discovers a gleaming gold arrowhead hidden in the sands---a weapon used to defeat evil King Ravana in legend.

At least, Ash is pretty sure it's only a legend . . .

But when Lord Alexander Savage comes after Ash, the legends are suddenly way too real. Savage commands an army of monstrous shapechangers called rakshasas, who want only to seize the arrowhead and restore Ravana to power. As they hunt Ash through magnificent fortresses and brutal deserts, he must learn to work with a powerful rakshasa girl named Parvati, and find the strength within himself to fight on no matter what. Because this isn't just a battle to stop the end of the world. It's a battle to stop the end of reality as we know it.

No pressure.

My thoughts: The Savage Fortress caught my attention soon after its release. Evil kings, shape changers, and young people trying to save the world seemed like an excellent combination. I wasn't disappointed either. Ash and his adventures kept me reading at a furious clip. I'm happy to recommend The Savage Fortress to my fantasy fans.

"His heroes are Prince Rama and the demon-slaying Kali. Isn’t it about time you met them too?" This quote is found in the bio on Sarwat Chadda's blog - and is so true for me. Here in the US, many children (like myself) grow up with the Greek, Roman and even Norse myths and legends, but miss out on those from India. The Ash Mistry series is an excellent opportunity to explore some of that culture and meet new heroes and monsters. For those readers already at home with these personalities, the book is likely even more interesting.

If you haven't started the Ash Mistry series, get on it. You'll be glad you joined the adventure.


Book Tour Info: This mini-review is part of a book tour arranged by Diverse Book Tours. Be sure to stop by some of the other blogs for more information and reviews.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday


Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction. I am thankful that she has this challenge because I know I have read more nonfiction texts as a result.

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold
by Joyce Sidman & illustrated by Rick Allen


As I am typing this, I hear the clink of sleet on the window. It is so interesting to learn about how animals survive the bitter winter cold. I'm not sure I needed a mental image of thousands of snakes curled up together though. Eek!

There are twelve poems in the collection - each about an animal or part of nature in winter. She used a variety of poetic forms and provides a glossary that includes the nature terminology, but also explains a couple of the poetry terms. 

As always, Sidman weaves together words in a beautiful way. In "Vole in Winter," a vole describes the snow above him as "a blanket made of sky-feathers!"

And I have to say, the illustrations are gorgeous. Also, watch for the fox. He is on the cover in the middle of a leap. If you want to know what that looks like in real life, watch this video. The fox is also on many of the pages of the book. I know that children will enjoy hunting for the fox on the pages.

I had never been to Joyce Sidman's website, but it is a fantastic poetry resource. If you teach poetry or want to experiment with your own poetry, she has pep talks and suggestions. I will be visiting her site again soon.

Aside from Winter Bees, if you wish to teach about winter, there are a few other picture books I would recommend. 


Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal


Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Mary Azarian


Illustrations by Robert C. Kray


by Francisco X. Alarcón
Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez


It's not precisely nonfiction, but it could be argued so I'm including it anyway.
Besides, my students adore it!
Rabbit's Snow Dance by James & Joseph Bruchac
Illustrated by Jeff Newman

Here's a video with the author explaining the story:


Do you have any favorite nonfiction picture book titles focused on winter? Please share them if you do. Happy winter!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Bramble and Maggie

Title: Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl
Author: Jessie Haas
Illustrator: Alison Friend
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 52
Availability: On shelves now
Review Copy: Final copy via publisher

Summary:Maggie wants a pony to ride and take care of, and to prepare she's been reading a big book on horse care. Meanwhile, Bramble is bored with giving riding lessons and walking in circles. She's looking for just the right person to take her away from her routine. Is it a perfect match? Maggie loves Bramble as soon as she sees her, but there are some things Bramble has to be sure of. Will Maggie let Bramble venture into new places? Will she protect Bramble from strange objects in the yard? Will she, most importantly, know when Bramble needs her undivided attention? This charming and funny early reader is an ideal match for young animal lovers and anyone who has ever longed for a friend who truly understands.

My Thoughts: Bramble and Maggie begins with a chapter from Bramble's perspective. I'm glad that we got to know the horse first. She is a bit of a pill. She's been giving lessons for so long that she's become bored with the whole process and is finding ways to liven up the day. She has a lot of spunk and personality.

In the second chapter, readers learn about Maggie. She's a girl who is completely horse crazy. She's been studying up and is ready to take on the challenge.

This is a sweet and funny early chapter book that will inspire giggles and smiles. It reminded me of Cowboy Kate and Cocoa. Horse fans will love it especially since it makes owning a horse seem like something anyone can do. Maggie doesn't live on a farm or have a barn. Maggie just makes a stall out of a garden shed. This may be quite inspirational for those children who have been begging for a horse.

If you are looking for more early/transitional chapter books, this one with short and interesting chapters will be just the thing.