Thursday, June 14, 2012

Level Up Book Club: Powerful Words.

Level Up Book Club: Powerful Words.: We've been together a week now and most of us are already off and reading by way of iPod, eReader, Playaway, or good ol' paperpack. Some are...

Heise Reads & Recommends: Are you joining us for #summerthrowdown?

Heise Reads & Recommends: Are you joining us for #summerthrowdown?: We're launching Summer Throwdown: Librarians vs. Teachers! Perhaps you've seen/heard the buzz on twitter (where, I've found, most aweso...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

For Starters let me say this...

Holy freakin' cow!!!! I've had so many kids read The Hunger Games trilogy, and come in asking what to read next. There are tons of great dystopian fiction books out there, unfortunately, most of them are geared more toward the high school crowd. Collins created a unique beast in this series that appealed to such a wide range of readers, so "what to read next" usually becomes a game of breaking down what it was they really liked most about the books and then finding a middle school appropriate compliment.   Do they want another dystopian futuristic setting? Is a book jammed packed with action and violence what they crave? Do dark and manipulative characters float their boat? Are moral dilemmas the piece they tuned in to? Or, perhaps was it the romance that captured their hearts? Depending on the answer they give, I might direct them towards any number of books- The Giver, The Compound, Uglies, Twilight, or even The White Mountains. My readers generally walk away happy, but I know that they are secretly craving something that will recreate that perfect cocktail of deliciousness that is The Hunger Games. Well folks...I think I might have just read it. Starters by Lissa Price offers a nice combination of so many of those elements that kids loved in The Hunger Games. The dystopian society is there. Adults with shady motives coated in a layer of distrust. Danger and romance. Friendship and family. Tough choices and a twisted plot. And of course, a female heroine you will route for with every turn of the page. Oh, and did I mention that the ending sets itself up very nicely for a series? Next time someone asks what to read next, I'll tell them to start with Starters.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review of The Night She Dissappeared by April Henry

I recently read a galley copy of The Night She Dissappeared by April Henry. The book will be released tomorrow. It is definitely a high school read (references to recreational drug use, under-age drinking, and heavy make-out scene), that will be a perfect fit for fans of crime fiction. 

So the story starts out with a typical night of teens working at a local pizza parlor. Drew, a high school boy, answers the phone when someone calls in to place an order for delivery. He doesn't think much of it, when the voice on the phone asks if the girl who drives the mini cooper is working that night. She's not... lucky for her. Kayla, who has traded nights with Gabie, is the one running the deliveries that night. Fast forward a few hours.... Kayla still hasn't come back from making the delivery. She's been kidnapped.

What follows are many emotionally charged and intense days, as the community searches for Kayla. I loved all the different perspectives that were presented. You get to see things from a lot of different angles- Kayla's, Gabie's, Drew's, and even the kidnapper's.  Discovered evidence, transcripts of the 911 call, etc.. all add to the mystery. The developing relationship between Gabie and Drew will also keep teen readers hooked.

Emotional, intense, fast paced, and fun!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I love it when a plan goes well. Today, I had my students come up with a top ten list of the best books they read in the past year. The only directions I gave each class were that the books had to have been read sometime between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, and that books nominated had to be ones they absolutely loved. They got opportunities to talk about why they liked each book (or series in many cases), what type of reader I should recommend it to, genres, etc... Not only was the lesson fun and the library full of lovely chatter about reading, but each class's list was really well rounded and represented the class's personality incredibly well. Of course, there were some books that ended up on almost every classes list-- Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the Percy Jackson series, but there were also quite a few pleasant surprises like classroom novels such as The Giver and Bridge to Terabithia and even a few more classic stories like Old Yeller. Bless my Black-eyed Susan loving heart, they even had several of this year's nominees on their lists! I was so impressed with how seriously and thoughtfully my 6th graders took on this challenge today that I couldn't stop smiling. One interesting thing to note is that  most of the books on their lists were not written in 2011. Noticing this gave me a  great opportunity to review where to find a book's copyright information (both in the catalog record and on the verso) and to start a discussion asking them to consider what a tough job the members of the ALA committees have when they select books for the big awards like the Newbery, Caldecott, etc.... It was a great way to kick off 2012, generate excitement for upcoming book award announcements,  and get kids energized about books. I left each class's list up while they looked for books to check out and surprise, surprise... kids checked out books that their classmates recommended. : ) Once I've done the activity with all three grades, I'll be sure to post a combined list of all their recommendations. I was just so pleased with how enthusiastically the students participated that I felt the need to blog about it right away.... just in case anyone else wants to try it out with their library patrons. May your 2012 be full of great beginnings, page-turning middles, and happy endings!