IMWAYR: Thrilling & Blooming with Beauty

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The weather hasn’t been nice lately – rain most of the time – which gives me lots of inside time to read. This week I share an upcoming YA thriller and a new picture book.
Every Stolen Breath, by Kimberly Gabriel
Set in modern-day Chicago, Every Stolen Breath is a fast-paced, YA thriller that readers are going to love. Lia, a teenager with asthma, PTSD, and anxiety, has been desperately trying to expose her father’s killers for two years. Her father was attacked and murdered by the Swarm, an organized mob of crazy teens, famous for their brutal killings in high-profile areas, such as Navy Pier.

Lia cannot uncover the truth about her father’s death by herself. While trying to overcome her own disabilities, she must trust in the skills and stories of others: a former Swarm member, a reporter who loves drama and TV cameras, and two loyal school friends with social media smarts who will help her – even if it means more danger. Lia is convinced that she knows how her father died, but there are secrets to be revealed, and many people who attempt to halt her efforts — even if it means silencing her forever. No one is safe from the secrets.
This novel by Kimberly Gabriel, a Chicago native, will be sold in November, 2019. (Blink YA Books) Add it to your reading list today.
Bloom Boom! by April Pulley Sayre
I love celebrating the seasons with April Pulley Sayre!
Another beautiful, colorful tribute — flowers!
This makes me think of all the wondrous days yet to come (once it stops raining).
(Beach Lane Books, 2019)

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Book Review: How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson

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I think it would be cool, but I’ve never had the spirit or the smarts to be a spy, so when I read the advanced reader copy of Deborah Hopkinson’s newest book, How I Became I Spy: A Mystery of WWII London (coming February 12th, 2019), I felt that I had reached a new goal while following the story of Bertie Bradshaw, a young boy living in WWII London.

Summary: Penguin Random House states, “Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces.” This middle grade novel practically sells itself –“historical fiction by Deborah Hopkinson,” “WWII,” “mystery,” and “solving ciphers” are the book talk keywords here. Students are going to love this one!

What I Loved: I love that Deborah Hopkinson, once again, gives us a real-life peek into history. This time it’s explanations of ciphers and codes, the appearance of actual figures, such as Leo Marks and Dwight D. Eisenhower from WWII reality, and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) that make the story engaging and believable. The SOE organization, with headquarters at 64 Baker Street, trained men and women to become secret agents. In the story, Bertie, his dog Little Roo (LR), his Jewish-refugee-friend, David, and a mysterious American girl are all caught up in the action. There’s a young girl missing — an agent — and Bertie must hide her secret notebook, translate it, and inform the right people before a double agent ruins the Allies’ plans.

Why You Should Read This: How I Became a Spy is an action-packed spy thriller for middle schoolers, or anyone who likes puzzles, Sherlock Holmes, London’s crowded streets, war stories, or doggie heroes. And…

if you ever wanted to be a spy…this book might just help get you started.

Happy reading!

Book Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

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Darius Kellner is a teen who does not fit in at school, or really much at home. He describes himself as a Fractional Persian, with Mom born in Iran and Dad in America. Darius and his father share two things in common: a love of Star Trek, and depression. They both take their medicines every day and try to do the best they can, but sometimes life gets in the way.

When Mamou calls and tells Mom that Babou’s brain tumor is making life worse, the Kellner family packs up and travels to Iran to help. What will Darius do now? How will he cope? He’s never really been around his grandparents — only talked to them through the computer monitor. And he doesn’t speak Farsi, although his little sister, Laleh, does. He doesn’t have many friends (just the teasing bullies from school), so leaving isn’t that much of an issue for Darius, but that only makes things more uncomfortable for him. Will there be friends in Iran? Will his family treat him differently once they are in another country?

Darius narrates his own story in this wonderful tale of family and friendships, travel, and learning to appreciate family customs and origins. I loved the voice — the dialogue among characters, and also the way Darius talks directly to the reader along the way.

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a fabulous book you’ll want to think about and savor. You will fall in love with Darius and his entire family, and you’ll find that even with hardships, home is the best place to be.

Note: This title just won the 2019 William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (YA category). Darius the Great Is Not Okay, written by Adib Khorram. The book is published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, Random House.

IMWAYR: Snowy Cold = Reading Time

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The snow, cold, and long weekend helped me to settle down and read these last several days. I thoroughly enjoyed mixing it up with several reading genres that all proved excellent choices. It’s Monday! What are you reading?

The Art of Comprehension, by Trevor A. Bryan I have been waiting for The Art of Comprehension for two years! Written by Trevor Bryan, and illustrated by the fabulous Peter H. Reynolds (author of The Dot and others), this book is a needed teacher-tool in the classroom — art class or any other class.

Teachers learn to explore with what Mr. Bryan calls “Access Lenses,” a framework for understanding visual texts, and applying that knowledge to making meaning in general. Readers use the Access Lenses to decode (by listing everything you see), study mood structures, identify connections, etc. so that a reader comes away from a text with greater comprehension and more successful school experiences.
In the author’s words (p. 122): “The Art of Comprehension has completely changed my life. Whether it’s a book, a painting, a film, or some other form of artwork, AoC has given me a way to share the joy that I find in the arts with my students and colleagues as well as a way to talk about how all of the arts can be used to improve students’ academic lives.” I completely agree!
Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram 
I’m about half way through this fabulous debut, and I’ve laughed, gasped, and thought deeply about friendship and family life. I love the language of the text, and the way the story moves me (literally and figuratively) from one setting to another, from one experience to another. I’m already recommending it, so pick it up and read with me!
Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner 
I had to re-read a book about snow while I was snowed inside. I love Kate Messner’s exploration of winter wildlife, and this 2011 book is still a must-read today.

Book Review: The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

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Caleb Franklin narrates the story of how he and his brother, Bobby Gene, met Styx Malone and got into the “biggest trouble we’ve ever gotten into in our lives.” The first page is one of those excellent leads we talk about in English class. You know when you read the first page, the story isn’t going to let you go until you finish. I love the line, “It all started the moment I broke the cardinal rule of the Franklin household: Leave well enough alone.” (p. 1)

Styx Malone lived in the woods near the Franklin house in Sutton, Indiana. He was a 16, a loner, and quite extraordinary. Caleb was drawn to Styx the moment he laid eyes on him. Caleb didn’t want to be ordinary. He spent his time dreaming of what was out there in the world, while Styx lived it. In the back woods of Indiana, one could get stuck in the ordinary of each day (like Mr. Franklin), but Caleb and Bobby Gene decided that hanging out with Styx Malone could get them places — maybe even Indianapolis, or beyond.

Styx Malone showed the brothers what it was like to live: how to talk so that you get what you want, how to act cool, how to pull off the impossible. The boys spent the summer learning about the Great Escalator Trade — a way to trade small things for bigger ones, all the way up to items that could make dreams come true. Caleb liked the stories Styx told, and being with Styx made him feel extraordinary, but it also got him grounded, and eventually changed his life — and his family’s lives — forever.

Kekla Magoon tells amazing stories, and The Season of Styx Malone is no different. The adventures, the fun, the trouble — many twists and turns in this tale of teen friendships and family issues kept me reading and wondering what would happen next. Since Ms. Magoon grew up in Indiana, I felt a connection to her and the story of small town life vs. big city dreams. I, too, once dreamed of living in a big city like Indianapolis, or Chicago, or New York City. One quote that stuck out for me, especially as a writer, was, “A happy ending depends on where you stop the story.” (p. 117) Kekla Magoon stopped this story at the perfect point — making The Season of Styx Malone an extraordinary must-read.

Published in 2018 by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

 

 

Book Review: The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

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The Thing With Feathers, By McCall Hoyle 

Emilie is a teenager with issues. She struggles with returning to school after homeschooling, with making high school friends, and with navigating her first crush, a handsome athlete named Chatham. She also has two other problems: grieving her father’s death from cancer and living with epilepsy.

Emilie’s mom and Dr. Wellesley, her therapist, desperately want her to succeed in public school, and try to help her gain confidence, but she doesn’t want anything to do with school. She wants to stay at home, where she’s comfortable and unafraid, and where her service dog, Hitch, is by her side. With all the love and care she has around her, from her mom to her teachers to the school nurse, what does Emilie think could possibly go wrong at school? Well…everything.

The Thing With Feathers is for every person trying to survive the ups and downs of daily life: the teen with medical issues, the popular jock, the peers in English class, the cheerleaders, the parents, the teachers, the animal lovers, the poets, and the community volunteers. The setting — a small community in the Outer Banks — is perfect for this twisting, turning plot of changing tides, smooth and rough waters.

This is a story of a teen wrapped up in a life of high school drama, and more. It’s a story of hope in the midst of chaos. Best of all, it’s a story of love against all odds.

IMWAYR: PD Week

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This could be a long post, but I am thinking you would be upset, so I won’t list every picture book from my PD session today at #RSAC2018. If you want the list of books we used in the session, please feel free to ask in the comments (or email me) and I’ll help. In the meantime, the books I’m reading this week are:

GAME CHANGER! BOOK ACCESS FOR ALL KIDS by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp

This book IS a Game Changer for teachers and anyone else who wants to get books in the hands of kids! This text is full of the “WHY” and “HOW”, with researched best practices, personal interviews, and stories about helping students have access to books. ALL students!

 

THE THING WITH FEATHERS by McCall Hoyle

I just started, but I already love the storytelling — McCall Hoyle is one of my new favorite authors.

 

 

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, at Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

 

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