Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's Jabba!

Have you met Tom Angleberger's new character Jabba the Puppett?

I just folded a couple Jabbas to take to school. If you want to fold one, you may want to watch this video. It was terrifically helpful and made my night so much easier.

Here is what it looked like when I made my Jabbas.

If you haven't read it yet, run out and get The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett. 
It is filled with awesomeness!

It is so cool that the Origami Yoda series keeps coming around the beginning of school so I have some cool origami on the bulletin board for school. I hope Origami Yoda Guy keeps 'em coming.

Here are the ones I have made in the past:

Origami Yoda & Darth Paper

Fortune Wookiee

If you want to know how to fold any of his characters, you can check out his books, but you can also visit Origamiyoda.com for instructions, links to videos and tons of cool information. 
Have a great time reading and folding!

Monday, August 26, 2013

#BookBootCamp Mysteries and Thrillers

Cover image from Goodreads
Truth is always precious. But mysteries are part of life--a wonderful part. 
 -- from The Sixty-Eight Rooms

I love that #bookbootcamp is getting me to read books that I would normally skip. I tore through mysteries in middle school, but then have been sort of over them. I read the occasional mystery, but I purchase the mystery package from Junior Library Guild on purpose - since otherwise, I may overlook this genre.

Here are some of the Mysteries & Thrillers that were suggested 
for this month that I have read recently for this* or in the past:

Young Adult
The Raven Boys
Code Name Verity
Grave Mercy
1st Gallagher Girl bk
Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Paper Towns
Down the Rabbit Hole

Middle Grade
Fake Mustache
Three Times Lucky
Liar & Spy
*The Sixty-Eight Rooms
When You Reach Me
*Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer
Hold Fast
Gilda Joyce Psychic Investigator
*The Great Cake Mystery
1st 39 Clues book
Alex Rider
Silent to the Bone
Zora and Me
Chasing Vermeer
Riding the Flume
Trouble at Fort La Pointe
The House of Dies Drear
Humming Room
The Great Unexpected

Others I Would Recommend

Young Adult

Cat Girls Day Off
The Eyre Affair
A Certain Slant of Light
Jellicoe Road
The Diviners
The Monstrumologist

Middle Grade

Capture the Flag
Hide and Seek
The Underneath
Doll Bones
The False Prince
A Tangle of Knots
Splendors & Glooms
Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Water Castle
Horton Halfpott
Skeleton Man - Bruchac
Skeleton Creek
The Graveyard Book
Kepler's Dream
Eye of the Storm

Sunday, August 25, 2013

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.

The Past Week: 

Young Adult

Whew! Sold was a tough book to read. Child sex trafficking is not the easiest topic to deal with, but McCormick did a stellar job. Strangely enough, The Fire Horse Girl touched on trafficking too. Sold felt like it should be happening way in the past and sometimes I would forget that it was more recent. They would refer to the television and I would realize that this sort of thing is still happening. It's overwhelming to think about it. To think that there are other girls like Lakshmi out there right now crushes my heart.

The Fire Horse Girl had more action than I had anticipated, but that was a good thing. I enjoyed Jade Moon's ability to remain true to herself in spite of the expectations of everyone around her. I loved that she fought for herself and others.

Peanut was a title that came up several times during last month's #bookbootcamp so when I saw it available at the library I grabbed it. I have to say I cringed through a good chunk of it because the main character is pretending to have a peanut allergy to get attention and be "special" at her new school. Ack! I just kept waiting for it to all fall apart. It kept me interested, but frustrated too.

Picture Book

I loved  that I found this picture book folktale, Tougi the Toad Finds His Smile, at the Hmong ABC store in St. Paul. I have bought many books there, but this one was new. It's a fun folktale about a toad who wants to be the most powerful being around. The illustrations are fantastic. I am always excited to find more literature with Hmong culture. In the story there are a few people and they are wearing traditional clothing too. 

Middle Grade Non-fiction

I knew of many of the people that are profiled in Peace Warriors, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, and Dalai Lama. What I appreciate though is that there are two women included that I had not really known about before. I had heard the name Dorothy Day when I volunteered at a shelter, but did not know why a homeless shelter would have that name. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was a name that I had never heard at all. This is quite an inspirational book and really shows how one person really can make a huge difference in the world.

Middle Grade Fiction

I will write a more thorough review later, but I really enjoyed The Garden of My Imaan. Very quickly I realized that there was a glossary and I found out that imaan means belief.  I began reading and just didn't stop. Earlier this year I read Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam, and this book helped remind me of the things I learned then. It would likely be helpful if a non-Muslim is reading this book to have the non-fiction book nearby as a resource if there are questions.

The Coming Week:
Since my digital copy will expire next week, I think I will finally get to The Boy on the Porch. I knew that I still had time, so I was always reading something else first. It is coming down to the wire. I was also supposed to read Spy School for #bookbootcamp since we are doing mysteries, but I don't think I will get it finished by tomorrow evening since I haven't even started. Ack! But wait, I just looked and it is available at the library that is in walking distance. Yay!

Have a wonderful week filled with reading! What are you reading?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reviews: Raven Boys and Dream Thieves

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 409
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Review Copy: Netgalley ARC & Free audio download at SYNC
Release Date: September 18, 2012

Summary:  It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

My Thoughts: I read this book when it first came out and I ripped through it so quickly that some of the details were hazy almost immediately after I finished. So to get ready for Dream Thieves, I listened to the audio version to refresh my memory. I knew that Blue caught my attention. I love her very unique personality. Her family is spectacular too with their ability to see beyond the surface of life. Gansey and his crew are so distinct and interesting that I wanted to know more and more about them.

When I first started reading, it seemed this might be a creepy and possibly even scary book. Death is certainly lurking around the corners. There are some frightening characters, but always there is the light of family and friends shining through.

There are several stories threaded through the book. Blue is "destined to kill her true love with a kiss." Added to that, Gansey and his particular group of Raven Boys are also caught up in a secret quest. Each of the boys have their individual stories too.

Filled with romance, mystery, magic, ghosts, death, adventure, and much more, Raven Boys captivated me even as my mind was bending trying to understand all that occurred. Stiefvater pulls me in with her writing, "The ruin was cupped in the densely wooded hills outside of Henrietta...what hadn't rotted away was hidden under hungry vines and rancid smelling saplings." I always feel like I am right there. The book and the audio were marvelous.

Raven Boys
 Chapter Teaser

Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 409
Genre: Fantasy
Review Copy: Netgalley ARC
Release Date: September 17, 2013

Summary: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

My Thoughts: Once again Stiefvater weaves a brilliant tapestry with her tale. She starts out with several poems at the beginning. They set the stage, but are even more meaningful once you have finished the book. Be sure to read them again after. There are so many layers to this series that I marvel more on a second or third look. Stiefvater has made her own brand of magic as she sweeps aside a few more layers revealing the rather complicated depths of these characters.

In Dream Thieves, we meet a few new characters, but learn much more about Blue and her Raven Boys -- especially Ronan. As the resident bad boy, he was intriguing in Raven Boys, but Stiefvater allows readers to get to know him much more intimately in this installment.

Oh, and when the summary says sinister people are looking for the same thing Gansey is after, sinister turns out to be an understatement. The book is filled with danger, more creepiness, death, magic, and once again romance, but this second book again contains humorous elements. I appreciate the sly humor that Stiefvater employs - particularly with Blue's mom and her new friend.

There is so much I cannot mention in a review without giving things away. That makes the review quite tricky. I am eagerly awaiting the third book because like the first, this one ends with plenty of loose ends and quite a cliff hanger.

If you have not read either one, you may want to wait until just before the third one is released, because it is hard to wait. If you have already read Raven Boys, you will want to pick this one up as soon as it is available next month, but know that many of your questions won't be answered just yet.
There is an excerpt of the prologue below and a rather cool video. That Maggie has many talents.


In the video below Maggie Stiefvater shows how to make a car look like the one in Dream Thieves. Pretty cool.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting Ready for School

Books for #bookbootcamp
Earlier this week I helped my son move into his new apartment near his college. Today I took a houseguest to the airport (after a two week stay) and then headed to my school to finally start working on my library.

It has been a fantastic and very full summer, but that meant minimal time in my library. There were stacks of mail to go through and piles of things to sort out and store. I had been dragging books and other supplies to my office all summer long, but hadn't been dealing with them.

While I looked at my office and the library, I felt a little overwhelmed with all that I need to accomplish in the next week, but I also felt energized and excited. I am happy to have learned with others at #nErDCampBC, #bookbootcamp, twitter, and at the American Indian Studies Summer Institute. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with my colleagues and my students.

I am itching to get to the decorating. I can't wait to make my ginormous Jabba the Puppett for the bulletin board.

I also can't wait to put up my giant TARDIS that my daughter created and is kindly allowing me to borrow.

This should be a great year!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

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.

The Past Week: 
Picture Books

My favorite of the three was Crankee Doodle. Very amusing and cute. Crankee reminded me of the Pigeon throwing his little fits. Students will likely love it. Dream Friends was sweet. I found the Thumbelina Story a little difficult to follow, but the illustrations were beautiful.

Middle Grade

I was pleasantly surprised with this mystery. I have read several Grisham books for adults, but wasn't sure how he would do with books for children. That transition doesn't always work out. I read this for #bookbootcamp since the focus for August is mysteries and found Theodore, or Teddy as his mother calls him, to be talented, but not obnoxiously so. The case was interesting enough and I appreciated that it was realistic.

Young Adult

I enjoyed Looking for Alaska a lot more on this second time through. This time I used audio. I still wasn't super convinced by the ending, but that may be more about me than the book. 

** If you haven't read the book, may be best to skip the next paragraph **

I have felt survivor's guilt (suicide of close family member) and it seemed to be wrapped up so much more quickly here than in my experience. Maybe that is more of my issue. Anyway, it seemed Miles was way more emotionally mature at the end than in the beginning - almost unbelievably so. Perhaps that is expected because he does have an awesome teacher and he has his circle of friends. John Green does a wonderful job of taking us on this journey though. It's hard to get through his books without some introspection and/or general deep thinking.

If You Could Be Mine was quite unique. It takes place in Iran and two girls are in love with each other which is a dangerous thing there. Sahar, the main character, thinks up a unique solution to their situation. I will review it over on Rich in Color on August 28th. In the meantime, you may watch a video of the author if you want to know more.   


I was lucky enough to sit in on a session with Thomas Peacock earlier this spring. He taught using stories and interactions with us. I loved learning that way. This book is also sprinkled with stories. I look forward to using some of the activities in school this year as a part of our efforts towards culturally responsive teaching.

For the Coming Week:
I still have a pile of ARCs waiting for me. I am not really sure which ones will come next. I think I may finally get to The Boy on the Porch. This will be the last full week before work begins again so I will try to pack in as many books as possible.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Poetry for a Friday Afternoon

I am so thankful to Holly Thompson and her post about multi-media poetry. Earlier this year that post led me to some wonderful online videos of poetry including Project VOICE
Sarah and Phil are pretty amazing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Top Ten Books in Boarding Schools

The Broke and the Bookish have a weekly feature called Top Ten Tuesday and they invite anyone to participate. This week we are posting ten titles that take place in a specific setting. I chose boarding schools at the prompting of our exchange student.

Residential Schools - Our History

I start off with a specific kind of boarding school. Indian boarding schools were in place to assimilate Indians to white culture. They are often called residential schools by Native people to distinguish them from a posh prep school type of place as that was far from the reality.

Shin-chi's Canoe is a sequel to an equally wonderful book called Shi-shi-etko. Shin-chi's Canoe tells of a sister and brother who have been sent to an Indian boarding school. This is a piece of fiction, but is a moving story because it is based on the very real history of Canada and the U.S. Families were broken apart and students were not allowed to use their language. Many lost vital parts of their culture during that time. 

When I Was Eight is slightly different in that it is a memoir and also the young Inuit girl, Olemaun, is looking forward to going to the Indian boarding school. She is so eager to read that she begs her parents to allow her to go even though she has heard how difficult it will be. Olemaun faces many challenges, but she is resilient and passionate about learning.

Finally, My Name is Not Easy, presents Luke as he navigates Sacred Heart School - a place where they can't pronounce his name, but also where he is not supposed to speak it either. His language is forbidden. There are students from several ethnic backgrounds at the school and they don't always interact in positive ways. There isn't a lot about this experience that is easy. This is about survival.

Boarding Schools in Fantasy

No boarding school list would be complete without the Harry Potter books. I don't even think I need explain.

Fortunately, Princess Academy is the best kind of princess book. Not a ton of pink and lace, but a lot of  strength and a girl who doesn't wait around to be saved.

Realistic or Somewhat Realistic Boarding Schools

Jellicoe Road is completely confusing for about 100 pages, but if you can get past that, you are in for a treat. Taylor had my heart. She has lived through tragedy and the story goes back and forth between her present struggles and events from the past. This a beautiful book.

In The Tequila Worm, Sofia gets a scholarship to attend an elite boarding school. There she has to learn a whole new culture and interact with people who have no understanding of her barrio. This leads to a better appreciation of her family and community. I loved the stories Sofia told.

I laughed so hard reading Openly Straight. I also cried a little. I loved Rafe. He figures that since nobody knows him at this new school, he can be Rafe not "the gay guy." He wants to be rid of the label for just a bit. Obviously that leads to difficulties, but it is so fun to watch him work through it all. He was making dubious choices all over the place, but he was learning along the way.

Though Anna's complaining annoyed me for quite awhile, she did improve over time. I ended up liking this cute and often funny story of love in France.

I'd Tell You I'd Love You is another very funny and rather lighthearted read. I love that she knows fourteen languages and seven ways to kill a man. 

Have a great week of reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

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.

The Past Week: 

If you are curious about how to use comics and graphic novels in your classroom or library, Adventures in Graphica is the perfect book to get you started.

Young Adult

I really enjoyed The Raven Boys, but I think I may have liked Dream Thieves even better. I will do a full review later this week. I am not sure what it is about The Raven Cycle that keeps me entranced, so hopefully I will figure that out before I write the review. I do know that I am eagerly waiting for the next one.

Picture Book

I would probably have loved this more if I didn't already adore Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems. It has the same type of plot line. Monstergarten was just okay for me. It might be interesting to read both and compare them with students.


This or That is fun and could be used for debate. Where on Earth? is a great book to dip into once in awhile. I loved the fantastic infographics that they provide. People who like geography will love this one.

The Coming Week:
I am still listening to Looking for Alaska in the car, but lately people have been in the car with me so it is slow going. I just started To Be Free: Understanding and Eliminating Racism by Thomas Peacock. He came to town in the spring and spoke at a local elementary school. I finally got the book during my American Indian Studies class. I am also going to be reading If You Could Be Mine for a review on Rich in Color. I may get to The Boy on the Porch and/or If I Ever Get Out of Here. What will you be reading this week?

Cover images from Goodreads.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Picture Book 10 for 10 is Here Again

Picture Book 10 for 10 is a picture book event hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine and Mandy Robeck at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. They encourage everyone to share 10 picture books that are special to them. They may be from a certain theme or just favorites. I have participated in the past with their events and it is a ton of fun to see all of the books people highlight. 

My previous lists are here:

Here are some of the picture books that touch my heart and/or make me think. They are in no particular order.

When I was in school, I never knew about the Indian boarding schools or that children were taken from their families sometimes forcibly. I was not taught about that time in our history. I believe that if we hide or ignore the negative times in our past though, we are likely to repeat them so I appreciate the books that help open discussion with students about it. Shin-chi's Canoe is a beautifully written book that shares about the boarding school experience through a young child's eyes.

This memoir shows a modern Choctaw family and tells stories of difficulties that the family faced over a span of 50 years. The story includes the grandmother's experience at an Indian boarding school and other hardships. Tingle presents the family as survivors rather than victims - he shows their resilience and the love they share for each other. 

Each Kindness shows how we have opportunities to be kind. Every time I read it, I realize that sometimes I let those opportunities slip by. There is a lot in this book that leads to reflection and possibly tears, but mostly a desire to be kind.

In Boy + Bot, friendship is the focus. Friendship and laughter. It makes me smile as does Ame Dyckman the fabulous author.

The Snowy Day is a book from my childhood. We moved from rural Ohio to Dallas, TX in the 70s when I was five. We thought we wouldn't see snow again for a long time, but one morning my father woke me up and told me to go to the window. It was a winter wonderland. This book was one that always reminded me of that fantastic morning. Also, before moving to Dallas, I had never met a black person and a majority of my kindergarten and first grade classmates were black. I thought it was cool to have a book that in some way reflected my new world.

Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match is a fun story that explores what it is like to be bi-racial. Marisol is a Peruvian-Scottish American and she revels in putting things together that other people may not expect or applaud. The illustrations are bright and full of movement matching Marisol's enthusiasm for life.  

I am partial to poetry and this story-in-verse really grabbed my heart. Never Forgotten is the story of a boy and his father in West Africa who are separated when the son is kidnapped, sold as a slave, and taken to America. This is a powerful book and one that may also require tissues.

When I first read I'm Here, I could not help but picture several students I have taught over the years. This is another wonderful story of friendship. It shows readers that there are different ways of interacting with each other and of experiencing the world.

Lane Smith is one of my favorite picture book authors. He usually makes me belly laugh, but this time he makes me think and remember. Grandpa Green is a book about aging, family history, and love. This one also got some tears out of me.

I am not sure how to create a picture book list without including Mo Willems.  We are in a Book is one of my all time favorites because it celebrates books. Elephant and Piggie make my heart smile and I want to share the joy. 

Keeping a list at 10 is almost impossible. There are so many picture books that speak to me and ask me to share them with others. I have to cheat and add a bonus book:

I love One World, One Day. The photos are beautiful and it is cool to see how children live all around the world and see that there are differences, but there are also many more similarities.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you check out some of these fantastic picture books!

*Cover images via Goodreads