Final4 NCAA Book Bracket #Booketology

In case you forgot what books…errrrr……TEAMS are playing today, here is the FINAL FOUR of our NCAA Book Brackets for my class.

Kentucky

VS.

Louisville

AND

Ohio State

VS.

Kansas

Who will YOU be cheering for?

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THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater–Review

The Scorpio Races

By Maggie Stiefvater

This review has officially been seen by the author:

That’s cool.

 

                         
This 2012 Printz honor book was not what I expected.It was gripping and beautiful, but not what I expected.Forgive me, but when the title has the slight ring of The Hunger Games, and the flap tells me that…

Some riders live.

Others die.

And that Puck Connolly “never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a choice—so she enters the competition…” I immediately think of a book of action.

Though there is clearly action in this book—intense and well imagined—this is not a book of action. (The actual race doesn’t begin until page 380 out of 404.)

The Scorpio Races is a book of poetry, setting, and relationship. And it is beautiful.

Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick live on Thisby, an island of cliffs, clouds, and stiff winds. I imagine it as Ireland—so much so that I’m listening to the Celtic Radio station on Pandora as I write this.  Both Puck and Sean have lost their parents in Scorpio Races past and are struggling in their own way.

Sean is a “horse whisperer” and is the master horse caretaker at someone else’s stables. He is a four-time winner of the Races, each victory coming on the back of Corr—his water horse and closest friend. Corr belongs to the stable owner, Malvern, a cold, calculating, successful man.

Puck is younger than Sean, and in a quick twist of fate, realizes that the only way to keep her family home–and perhaps keep her brother from going to the mainland–is to enter and win the Race. She is the first girl ever to enter. On top of that, she chooses to race not on a water horse, but on her pony, Dove. (“It’s a horse! She’s fifteen hands,I can hear her say.)

“Hang on,” I can hear you say. “A water horse?” Oh, yes. Officially named capaill uisce (and pronounce COPple OOSHka), these horses swim out of the ocean each fall and climb onto Thisby. The men of the island try to capture and tame them for the Scorpio Races. Capaill uisce are bigger, stronger, faster, and more ferocious than common horses. They also live with the constant call of the ocean in their ears, and are often wooed by its song to plunge back into the ocean–rider be damned–land swim back to their home.  These water horses (based on myths of Ireland and Scotland, among others) are flesh-eaters. Racers (as well as locals and livestock minding their own business) are in constant danger. They never know when the capaill uisce will make a snack of their shoulder…or hand…or face.

Puck and Sean are on a collision course? Will they both get what they want and need…when they each need to win the race to get it?

Most of the book is spent developing the relationship between Puck and Sean and is told from both of their points of view. They are independent and prideful. But beneath their rough exterior they are searching for that other. Up until now that other for each of them has been a horse. Their courtship is slow and drawn out. Old fashioned. And beautifully believable.

I haven’t read a book of such exquisite language in quite some time. Stiefvater takes her time with the plot to help the reader live the life of Thisby. Thisby is the book–an island whose sandy breezes I could feel blowing across my face; whose waves lapped the beaches in my ears; whose saltwater burned in my nose and dried crusty on my skin. That is the Scorpio Races.

Some of my favorite lines I marked as I read:

She’s wearing a dress that looks like she stole it. It has lace sleeves and Dory Maud does not have lace sleeve arms. (p. 141)

*   *   *

I sigh and put my hands in my pockets. I don’t swear, but I consider the shape of the word in my mouth. (p. 156)

*   *   *

         “Hullo, Mr. Kendrick,” he greets me brightly. “You look in fine spirits.”

“Do I?”

“Well, your face looks like it remembers a smile.” (p. 158)

*   *   *

         “It’s easy to convince men to love you, Puck. All you have to do is be a mountain they have to climb or a poem they don’t understand. Something that makes them feel strong or clever. It’s why they love the ocean.” (p. 253)

*   *   *

         “What about you Kate Connolly? Puck Connolly?”

The way he says it, I feel certain he misremembers intentionally, because he liked the weight of the words when he said my name twice, ad that makes me feel warm and nervous and agreeable. (p. 293)

*   *   *

         “I’m sorry. My mother always said that I was born out of a bottle of vinegar instead of born from a womb and that she and my father bathed me in sugar for three days to wash it off. I try to behave, but I always go back to the vinegar.” (p. 294)

*   *   *

         “You leave nothing to assumption. You swallow her with your eyes. I’m surprised there’s any of her left for the rest of us to see.” (p. 347)

*   *   *

Don’t read this book if you need an action fix. The Scorpio Races is a book of poetry, of setting, and of relationship.

Linger and enjoy.

[For more words from the author–including her inspiration for the book–visit one her site: http://maggiestiefvater.com/the-scorpio-races/ ]

Ring-the-Bell Monday & It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

A new week, a new batch of books–both books finished and being read. Today is…

Ring-the-Bell Monday

{Wherein we share what books we have read in the past week.}

&

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

{Wherein we share the titles we are currently reading.}

Ring-the-Bell Monday

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This week I read:

This was a fascinating book. Though it did take me a long time to read, I’m glad I stuck with it. I plan on writing about The Scorpio Races in the near future.

How many books did my students complete?

Class A

9

Class B

23

Class C:

18

[Check out the home of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading”: Teach Mentor Texts — and the spin-off: Sharpreads]

This week, I am reading:

    Suddenly, something big and white bumps up against the car and I jump. I think I must be dreamin’ ’cause I just saw a horse run by.

When Cole’s mom dumps him in mean streets of Philly to live with the dad he’s never met, the last thing Cole expects to see is a horse—let alone a stable full of them. He may not know much about cowboys, but what he knows for sure is that cowboys ain’t black and they don’t live in the inner city! But on Chester Avenue, horses are a way of life, and soon Cole’s days of goofing off and skipping school in Detroit have been replaced by shoveling muck and trying not to get stomped on.

Crazy as it may seem, the lifestyle grows on Cole, and he starts to think that maybe life as a ghetto cowboy isn’t so bad. But when the City threatens to shut down the stables—and take away the horse that Cole has come to think of as his own—he knows that he has to fight back.

Inspired by the real-life inner-city horsemen of Philadelphia and Brooklyn, Ghetto Cowboy is an timeless urban western about learning to stand up for what’s right—the Cowboy Way.

I have to confess that this trailer made me NOT want to read the book, but my Nerdy Book Club Tweeps insisted it was worthwhile, so I picked it up. I’m glad I did.

G. Neri’s “Ghetto Cowboy” book trailer from Greg Neri on Vimeo.

I’m hoping to get to:

Hiding is Roo Fanshaw’s special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment’s notice. When her parents are murdered, it’s her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn’t believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle’s assistants, Roo discovers the house’s hidden room–a garden with a tragic secret.

Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.

What are the REST of you reading?

Oh, for fun, and in honor of a record-breaking opening weekend of The Hunger Games, here is the Taylor Swift (featuring the Civil Wars) video:

Elite8 BOOK Brackets

In the spirit of the NCAA college basketball brackets, I’m doing a book bracket (a BOOKet?) in my class. (SEE BRACKET BELOW)

On Monday I had each student write down his or her two favorite books from this year. I tallied them up and fortunately came up with a clear 16 favorite books.

We are down to the Elite 8.

               

The rules are simple: When a team wins, the book wins.

The NCAA BOOK champ will be crowned on April 2.

May the best book win. (Or, May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor…)

Sweet 16 BOOK Brackets

In the spirit of the NCAA college basketball brackets, I’m doing a book bracket (a BOOKet?) in my class. (SEE BRACKET BELOW)

On Monday I had each student write down his or her two favorite books from this year. I tallied them up and fortunately came up with a clear 16 favorite books.

This is the Sweet 16.

The four highest vote-getters were The Hunger Games series, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, the Percy Jackson series, and the Amulet books. These are my #1 seeds.

               

The #2 seeds are Origami Yoda, Ultraviolet, Dork Diaries series, and A Monster Calls.

The rest of the books were randomly assigned to teams.

The rules are simple: When a team wins, the book wins.

The NCAA BOOK champ will be crowned on April 2.

May the best book win. (Or, May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor…)

I will update the bracket when games finish up this weekend.

It’s Spring–and We’re Growing Partnerships

I’m so proud of what my students have been doing in class.  Partners (and some trios) chose a book to read, set reading goals for the next meeting day, and then read. All the while, they use Post-it notes to keep track of their thoughts–both big and small. They need to hold up their end of the partnership so they are ready to talk each Tuesday and Friday.

Enjoy this video of the students working together.

Ring-the-Bell Monday & It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

A new week, a new batch of books–both books finished and being read. Today is…

Ring-the-Bell Monday

{Wherein we share what books we have read in the past week.}

&

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

{Wherein we share the titles we are currently reading.}

Ring-the-Bell Monday

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This week I read:

THESE books were recommended on a blog I follow and I’ve seen them before. I reserved them from the library, and when I got home and read them I wasn’t particularly impressed… UNTIL I played the song that goes along with it. In a matter of minutes my daughters and I were singing and bopping right along. Don’t believe me?…

—–>Have a listen.

How many books did my students complete?

Class A

17

Class B

17

Class C:

25


[Check out the home of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading”: Teach Mentor Texts — and the spin-off: Sharpreads]

This week, I am STILL reading:

The books my randomly-chosen students are reading:

A:  One and Only Ivan, Hardy Boys #15 GN, Maus GN, the Strange Night Writing of Jessamine Colter, City of Ember, Pictures of Hollis Woods, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, A Mango Shaped Space, No Talking 

B:   Running Loose, Brian’s Winter, Bone #2, Hot Hand, The Carnivorous Carnival, Paralyzed, Wimpy Kid–Last Straw, Skateboard Tough, Project Jackelop (ARC), Son of Neptune, Bio-Pirate, Darth Paper

C:   Hunger Games, MS–Worst Years of My Life, Fearless, Walk Two Moon, Heads or Tails, Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie, N.E.R.D.S., 13 Plus 1, Vampyrates #2, Pretty Little Liars #1, Powerless, Sea of Monsters

GOOD WORK, Y’ALL!

What are the REST of you reading?

STARTERS by Lissa Price–Review

Your body. Rented out. Used to murder.

Lissa Price

Imagine being old—and wealthy enough to mentally inhabit the body of a young, healthy, attractive teen.

Imagine being a teen—down and out, scouring the city for empty buildings where you can live for free. You have little food; you are on the run from the authorities; and your only option for earning money is to give up the use of your body to old people who have the money and want a second shot at being young.

This is the America in which debut author Lissa Price’s newly released Starters takes place.

Callie is a Starter, one of the young who survived the biological weapon attack of the Pac Rim sea battles. The young and the old were vaccinated against the airborne disease. The middle-aged were supposed to be strong enough to fight off the disease, but it proved too strong. As a result, the demographics of America quickly shifted. There were Starters–children and teens, many of whom were left parentless; and they were greatly outnumbered by Enders—the older generation who, through new science, could easily live to be 200.

Callie, whose parents are among the dead, realizes that in her dire circumstances she will not be able to care for the sick brother. Against her better judgment, she goes to Prime Destinations and agrees to rent her body to an Ender. She goes through an extreme beautification process (reminiscent of Katniss being prepared for the pre-Hunger Games showing) and soon finds herself in a nightclub. Of course, she isn’t supposed to be aware of any of this. The computer chip they implanted malfunctions: she is supposed to be mentally sleeping away back at Prime Destinations (AKA the Body Bank) while her body is being inhabited by an Ender’s brain.

While dealing with her new reality and identity, she becomes aware of multiple nefarious plots—ones that affect her kind in general, and one that affects her specifically.

In this thriller, Price leads us deftly through the twists and turns of this brave new world. While Hunger Games frightened me with its power hungry government that exerted total control, Starters is frightening on a more technological level. Biological weapons are out there; deadly diseases could result in disastrous casualties. And it is not too much of a stretch to believe that we are nearly capable of this kind of body swap. It was easy to put myself in Callie’s shoes.

Though it felt like there were some possible plot holes, the end of the book cleared up most of them. And with juicy, cringe-worthy plot twists at the end, Price has me anxious for the second and final installment, Enders, due out at the end of the year.

(As a side note, I also like that that this is a two-book series instead of a trilogy. Does that make it a bilogy?)

For a great interview with Lissa Price, check out Beth Revis’ post today on the blog League of Extraordinary Writers.

Ring-the-Bell Monday & It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

A new week, a new batch of books–both books finished and being read. Today is…

Ring-the-Bell Monday

{Wherein we share what books we have read in the past week.}

&

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

{Wherein we share the titles we are currently reading.}

Ring-the-Bell Monday

20120117-111701.jpg

This week I read:

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In a world ravaged by war and genocide, becoming someone else is now possible. Sixteen-year-old Callie discovers the Body Bank where teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. When her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.

Keep your eyes open for a little review post on this book Tuesday or Wednesday.

One day a seed drops from the sky and lands right on the border between two territories. The tribes on both sides of the border immediately claim it. “This means war!” their leaders declare. Both sides prepare for battle with great inventiveness, creating huge arsenals of deadly weapons, and drawing up complicated plans of attack. But ironically, in the midst of all these preparations, the seed itself is quietly providing the simple solution that the tribes, in their haste, have overlooked.

Really cool illustrations…which I enjoyed more than the story itself.

How many books did my students complete?

Class A

11

Class B

16

Class C:

18


[Check out the home of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading”: Teach Mentor Texts — and the spin-off: Sharpreads]

This week, I am reading:

Same book, but I’m always interested in the difference in the book covers. This Printz Award winner is fascinating. It took me a little while to get into it. The language is difficult. I have to read it slowly. But I’m enjoying that. I’m hooked now, and find that when I stop reading, it takes me a few minutes to wade out of the world of the Water Horses. This is not a sixth-grade read.

 Look for a review sometime next week.

The books my randomly-chosen students are reading:

A: Origami Yoda, Amulet #1, the D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom, the Watsons Go to Birmingham, the Night Writings of Jessamine Colter, the Clockwork Three, the Secret School, Catching Fire, the One and Only Ivan

B: Long-Armed Quarterback, Capt. Underpants #6, Flushed, Dog Days, Origami Yoda, Masters of Disaster, The Book of Time, Bone #4, Dead in the Water, Hardy Boys–The Ocean of Osyria GN

C: Between Shades of Gray, N.E.R.D.S., Nancy Drew-the Lost Lockett, Lock and Key, Vampyrates #1, the D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom, Flipped, Big Nate-On a Roll, Dork Diaries #1, the Scar, the Fourth Stall

If you are looking for some book talks for the March Arrow and Tab book orders, here are the links:

TAB book talks.

ARROW book talks.

Books can be ordered at www.scholastic.com/bookclubs.  Remember our classroom code is GML8J.

For some cool book trailers of some of the books available, click here.

GOOD WORK, Y’ALL!

What are the REST of you reading?