Summer Vacation is for READING Postcard #2

Last week I posted about the first Summer Vacation is for READING postcard to arrive. That was a lot of fun.

And today I received Postcard number 2! Yeah for Elizabeth R. (By the way, that’s the same Elizabeth who last year fell in love with the Series of Unfortunate Events and read the WHOLE series. She is eagerly awaiting the the new series from Daniel Handler.

And so, I present to you:

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And three of the great books Elizabeth has read this summer:

(All book blurbs and cover images are courtesy of IndieBound–please support your local, independent bookstores when possible.)

Description

Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they’ve become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy. No amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, only his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day. As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary—and their sanity—Eli can’t help but wonder if he’d rather take his chances outside. Eli’s father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe—really? The Compound is a 2009 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Mr. E’s note: I read this and thought it was fascinating.

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Description

Beloved by generations, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little are two of the most cherished stories of all time. Now, for the first time ever, these treasured classics are available in lavish new collectors’ editions. In addition to a larger trim size, the original black-and-white art by Garth Williams has been lovingly colorized by renowned illustrator Rosemary Wells, adding another dimension to these two perfect books for young and old alike.

 Mr. E’s note: Classic. Possibly the best-loved multigenerational book. Ever. “Where’s papa going with that axe?”

*          *          *

 

Description

Aliens, ghosts, and monsters haunt the pages of this eerie trip around the Scary States of America. With Jason Specter—the nation’s unofficial collector of all things paranormalas your guide meet the girl in Illinois who can start fires with her mind, the Skunk Ape of Florida that knocks victims flat with its stench, the mischievous Shadow People of Arkansas, the Jersey Devil, the extraterrestrials who take human organs as a souvenir of their trip to Washington, and the wailing ghost of a teenage girl trapped forever in an Oregon lighthouse. Some of these visitors from other worlds don’t mean to hurt anyone . . . and some of them do.Warning: All of these stories are based on true events. Are you ready to face the terror in your state?

Mr. E’s note: What the….???? I think it’s great that Elizabeth has found some cool “non-fiction” (hey–it says they are all based on true events, right?) to read. I bet kids would dig this.

 

So… when am I going to get YOUR postcard and picture of you reading this summer? (Be creative.) Email your  picture by August 15th to: SummerReadingPic@gmail.com.

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7.23 It’s a Summer 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

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

&

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

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I received an Advanced copy of Shadow on the Mountain by Newbery Honor-winning author Margi Preus (pronounced MAR-gee Proyce) from Kim at Monkey See, Monkey Do… bookstore. {See special note about Monkey See… at end of post.} I’ve enjoyed historical fiction in the past. This book proved no different.

From IndieBound:

Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden.

Preus incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other images to tell this story based on the real-life adventures of Norwegian Erling Storrusten, whom Preus interviewed in Norway.

For a great site on the Norwegian resistance, visit http://www.wwiinorge.com/

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Making the world a better place totally rocks! Meet Zebrafish, a garage band with a lofty goal.

Zebrafish is not exactly your typical garage band—especially because only one member can play an instrument! But that doesn’t mean that Vita, Tanya, Walt, Plinko, and Jay aren’t dreaming big…or at least stumbling towards a modest success. With a little creativity and out-the-box thinking (and some high-level computer tinkering) this garage band is going virtual—and they’re learning that schoolyard fame is a great way to bring in awareness (and donations) for an important cause.

This fully illustrated, highly visual novel is a multimedia project complete with webisodes and online components like games and websites. It’s being supported and publicized by Children’s Hospital of Boston and shows kids that they can make a positive impact on their world by finding a cause they believe in and giving charity work their own personal spin.

Here is the interactive site that partners with the book: http://kids.generationcures.org/

A portion of the proceeds from this book goes to Children’s Hospital of Boston: http://www.childrenshospital.org/

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A graphic novel classic with a new introduction by Art Spiegelman

Quinn writes mysteries. The Washington Post has described him as a “post-existentialist private eye.” An unknown voice on the telephone is now begging for his help, drawing him into a world and a mystery far stranger than any he ever created in print.

Adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, with graphics by David Mazzucchelli, Paul Auster’s groundbreaking, Edgar Award-nominated masterwork has been astonishingly transformed into a new visual language.

This adult graphic novel in a novel in a novel was… strange. Yet entertaining.

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Description

When Derek Kirk Kim (The Eternal Smile) published his debut graphic novel back in 2003, it made an immediate stir. The story about a group of young people navigating adulthood and personal relationships is told with such sympathy and perception that the book was immediately hailed as an important new work.

Seven years later, it’s clear that Same Difference has won a place among the great literature of the last decade. It stands not only with Fun Home, Persepolis, and American Born Chinese as a lasting graphic novel, but with much of the best fiction of this young century. Derek’s distinctive voice as an author, coupled with his clear, crisp, expressive art has made this story a classic. And this classic is now back in print, in a deluxe edition from First Second.

Though not for sixth graders, I found this graphic novel very well-written with snarky dialogue and situations that lead to self-realization. Quite clever. Visit the author’s site.

IN OTHER EXCITING NEWS: “My” Indie bookstore, Monkey See, Monkey Do… was featured in the business section of our newspaper. I was excited to see Kim Krug and her business partner/mother get some good pub. Of course, I was also excited to see our upcoming Tom Angleberger/Secret of the Fortune Wookiee book release party and Skype session mentioned, as well. Please have a look at the article. Great story.

Bookstore owner finds business a page turner

The first SUMMER VACATION IS FOR READING postcard arrives

Keeping students reading over the summer is challenging. There is so much to do. So much outside time. But we know how important it is.

At the end of the year I gave each student a postcard like this:

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(There is also a camping version.) I made the postcards based on a Twitter conversation with other teachers about how to keep students reading, and how to stay in touch with our students over the summer so as not to lose the reading community that was built during the year.

Our summer break only started at the end of June, so we aren’t too far in. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to see if any would appear in my mailbox.

And yesterday, the first SUMMER VACATION IS FOR READING postcard arrived.

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In honor of Maddie, I am including the IndieBound description of the books she recommends.

While I won’t be able to do this for every card I receive, firsts are special.

Enjoy–and check back for future postcard reveals. (And the end-of-summer ReadingPic video. “What’s that?” you’re asking. Email me a picture of you reading in a fun location. I will make a video of the pictures I receive. Email address: SummerReadingPic@gmail.com.)

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Autumn 2009 Kids’ Indie Next List
“Heather Hepler takes a standard teen-issue theme — divorcing parents, moving somewhere new, mean girls — and turns it into a warm and wonderful novel. Penny’s adjustment to life in Hog’s Hollow — away from her father and her friends in Manhattan — is told with great understanding.”
— Karen Keyte, Books Etc., Falmouth, ME

Description
When Penny moves to Hog’s Hollow from New York City, her life changes drastically. Penny’s mom now runs a cupcake bakery, and Penny is stuck helping out. But that isn’t the worst of it. Not only did she leave her friends back home, but her dad stayed behind too. And then there’s Charity, resident mean girl who’s out to get Penny. With all this, Penny still finds some things to like: Tally and Blake, and Marcus the cute, quiet boy who runs on the beach every night. But just when Penny begins to accept her new life, she’s forced to make a choice that will change everything.

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Description
Magical realism and a modern Cinderella story makes for a fun and relatable read.

Sixth grade is not going well for Calliope Meadow Anderson. Callie’s hair is frizzy, her best friend, Ellen, is acting weird, and to top things off, she has to get glasses. And her new specs aren’t even cute, trendy glasses—more like hideously large and geeky. But Callie soon discovers that her glasses have a special, magical perk: When she wears them, she can read people’s thoughts. Crazy glasses aside, Callie has more drama to face when she’s cast as the lead in the school play—and instead opts to be an understudy, giving the role of Cinderella to Ellen. Can Callie’s magic glasses help her see her way to leading lady, or is she destined to stay in the background forever?

 

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Description

For anyone who’s ever felt that boys were a different species….

Wildly creative seventh grader Kara McAllister just had her best idea yet. She’s going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question: How can she get a boyfriend?

But Kara’s project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy’s bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara’s research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it. . . .

Full of charts and graphs, heart and humor, this hilarious debut will resonate with tweens everywhere.

This is definitely worth reblogging–both as a reminder to me as a teacher, and for a parent of a student from last year (Hi, Mrs. D!) who is reading ONE FOR THE MURPHYS. I need to move this book up my TBR list.

Nerdy Book Club

A published author writing about herself as a child reader? Well, here’s some honest irony.

As a kid, I was a non-reader.

Having had no exposure to books prior to kindergarten, I started behind. I was placed in the lowest reading group and remained there until the middle of sixth grade.

Now, let me say that I may have been a bit of a conundrum to my teachers. When my turn came during reading group to answer a question, I rarely had an reply. (Because I’d have been playing “letter games” like putting words in alphabetical order rather than…you know…actually reading the sentences.) They’d smile as if to pat me on the head. My silence coupled with the fact that I was often a reserved, messy kid? Well, I suppose I seemed like a child whom they shouldn’t expect much from. I knew they thought I was dumb and, for…

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7.16 It’s a Summer 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.}

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&

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

This week I finished:

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Has anyone else seen these books? Short and irreverently silly (and a bit adult), these had my wife and me laughing aloud in the book store. Go find them.

Speaking of the book store, this is the Indie store we found while on vaca at Honeoye Lake:

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It was small and quaint, but had tons of good books and good deals. I was tempted by this shirt:

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I also read…

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When I was finished, my sister read it… then my dad read it. Isn’t it great when books get passed around like that? Just like my classroom.

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HERE is the description from IndieBound:
When Daniel’s brother Eli is killed at war, Daniel considers the history of unusual fatalities to determine what makes a death — or a life — matter.

Some people die heroically, others accidentally. When Daniel Anderson’s older brother dies, he wonders which category Eli’s death falls into. In an attempt to understand, Danny creates a Book of the Dead — an old binder that he fills with details about dead people, how they died, and, most important, for what purpose. Time passes, and eventually Daniel is prompted to look up from his notebook of death and questions to make new friends and be swept into their imaginings. With gentle humor and genuine emotion, Rebecca Rupp examines the questions that arise following a profound loss and the moments that start life rolling again.

This is what I wrote about it on Goodreads:
After EliAfter Eli by Rebecca Rupp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very touching. Don’t know how a kid makes sense of losing his brother in war. It was an insightful journey watching Danny and his family wade through the grieving process. I highlighted a bunch of lines to remember. There are some very cool messages lurking in the pages of this book.

The book is told from Danny’s POV and his voice is authentic and endearing.

One issue: the cover makes this book look like it’s….younger–5th grade-ish?– and less serious than it is. Don’t be misled. There is some psychology, philosophy and religion, language (nothing major), and references to more “mature” behavior. Just FYI.

View all my reviews

After Eli will be born next month.
I’m currently reading

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Description
Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden.

Preus incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other images to tell this story based on the real-life adventures of Norwegian Erling Storrusten, whom Preus interviewed in Norway.

I received the ARC from Monkey See, Monkey Do bookstore. This book will be born in September.

And since I’m sure you’re dying to know what’s going on with my dad reading the Chaos Walking trilogy:

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I only brought the first two books with me on vacation–and he read those and the short story prequel from my Kindle in three days. Yup, three days.. I got a text from him yesterday saying he downloaded book three from the library onto his Kindle Fire, so I shouldn’t worry about getting book three to him. Isn’t that what readers do? As I tell my students: When there’s a book you want to read, you find a way to get it.

After some great discussion about Chaos, Dad asked if there were any other series I thought he might like. I told him about Michael Grant’s Gone series, and he was very interested.

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Finally, I came across this trailer while zooming around book blogs and other Nerdy places I go. Maybe a bit old for 6th grade—but intriguing, yeah? (I can think of a few of last year’s students who might be into this, right Maddie?)

Soooo….what are YOU reading?

7.9 It’s a Summer 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.}

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&

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

This week I finished:

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And

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My girls loved me reading this aloud to them. Perhaps we will watch the movie at our driveway drive-in. I was impressed when Maya connected Voldemort/Quirrel not being able to tolerate love to A WRINKLE IN TIME, where IT couldn’t defeat love. Awesome.

When I was combing the shelves of the Clarence Library for new and recent picture books, I was drawn to a number of non-fiction and historical fiction texts. I liked them all. A lot.

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His daughter’s black cat, Bambino, helps Samuel overcome his sadness over his wife’s passing.

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A spare tale of the Underground railroad. Beautiful and moving illustrations and afterword, but the video moved me to tear. Find it here: http://shaneevans.com/underground/index.html

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I love the way this is written as a grandfather telling his grandson–from the words of the radio broadcast–and includes speech bubbles of the characters as well. Fun story–and yes, a great message about not getting bogged down in mistakes.

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I don’t want to like Ted Williams because he’s a Red Sox hero… But it’s difficult not to like a guy who achieved his dream, gave it up TWICE to serve his country in WWII and Korea, and still broke records almost every year. (Yes, this book made my eyes “moist” too. Noticing a trend here? Good thing you didn’t watch DOLPHIN TALE with me and my daughters the other day. Sheesh! I’m getting sappy!)

There were a couple good fiction books in thepile, too:

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A visiting “dream seller” sows seeds of discontent in the lives of the previously happy housemates dog, cat, and mouse.

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A native folk tale about a polar bear who is stolen by a raven, and given as a son to a barren human couple. Beautiful illustrations.

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A story about an over-scheduled kid–tuba, knitting, yodeling, water ballet, karate, yoga, and sculpting–who just needs some time to be. Hear that Donna S.?

This week I’ll be on vacation. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be reading, but my Kindle is loaded up with ARCs from NetGalley and I’ll be dumping some of my TBR bin into my backpack. Luckily my wife agrees: When packing for vacation, priority goes to the books.

Here is what my Kindle App looks like right now:

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I’m excited to start reading aloud…

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…to my daughters.

I’m also thrilled that my dad (71 years old) is going to start reading Patrick Ness’s CHAOS WALKING trilogy.

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In a time when role models are difficult to find, here is a compilation of young ladies of lit for middle schoolers to emulate. Enjoy, and thanks for this contribution, Kellee.

Nerdy Book Club

May Amelia and Marty McGuire are the girls who started it all. While discussing them on Twitter, our wheels began turning. What strong girls in children’s literature have we loved through the years? That discussion led to our Top Ten Girl Power lists. Our first post featured picture books and early readers, including Kate Messner’s Marty McGuire. This one focuses on middle grade books and had to start off with the other unique young woman we love for her undeniable girl power: Jennifer Holm’s May Amelia.


May Amelia from Our Only May Amelia and The Trouble with May Amelia

by Jennifer L. Holm


May Amelia is a spunky, fun, young woman who is the only girl in her family and settlement. How can you help but love a girl who declares, “I’m like the grain of sand in an oyster.”? While she may be surrounded by brothers and male neighbors…

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INDEPENDENCE–in making summer book lists

Happy July 4th. In this post, I celebrate students’ INDEPENDENCE… in making their summer reading lists.

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For years we have compiled a summer book list for students. Who better to suggest books for summer reading than their experienced, well-read, knowledgeable teachers?

Or maybe not.

A list is simply that: a list. When handed to a student or a family, it has no personality, no connections, no excitement. And while the books that we took the time to put on that list were good and worthwhile, they were just words on a page.

After this year of great reading and book discovery, I was determined to give the students some INDEPENDENCE in making their summer book lists.

At the upper right of this blog you can find a page link: Find your next best book (TBR pile). This is the resource I put together so students could make their own summer reading list that had some personal and emotional investment.

I won’t go back.

7.2 It’s a Summer 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.}

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&

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

As I told my students, Summer Vacation is for READING. The books are stacking up around here:

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To my girls I’m reading aloud a “classic” to get summer rolling:

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And after a trip to the library, they are each engrossed in their current books:

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These past two weeks I’ve read:

I’ve joined the #TeachersVsLibrariansThrowdown hosted by @heisereads and @brianwyzlic, so I’m trying to zoom through books. I’ve gotta’ represent!

The cool thing about reading is: The more you DO it, the more you DIG it! I’ve had many books on the top of the TBR pile as the school year ended and I was bogged down with grading and report cards. I was ready.

[click the book to visit the Templeton Twins site]
Drama

Grant’s GONE series captivates me like few others. Five books in—and anxious to see how the series wraps up with Light.

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I was finally able to get a copy of Marie “Xiwei” Lu’s Legend . It did not disappoint.

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The Japanese cover of the book is captivating:

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The cover to book 2 has been revealed, and I have joined the line of readers anxious to read it…

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…and to start looking foward to the movie, which is in the planning stage.

I snagged some good-looking picture books at the library as well.

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Are you already thinking of great Father’s Day gift from your little someone to his or her father figure? Try this one:

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[Check out the home of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading”: Teach Mentor Texts ]

This week, I am reading:

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What are the REST of you reading?