Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Weekday Thoughts

I don't feel like writing one of those formal-looking review/reflection/reaction things that I do after reading a book, but I do feel like writing, so here I am. Consider it an asynchronous conversation. What about, I'm not sure yet. I suppose I could tell you about what I've been reading lately. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have noticed that I was reading Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly last week. I posted a few quotes that I enjoyed that I'll share with you again:
"Beautiful people don't need coats. They've got their auras to keep them warm." (p. 34) 
"What is it that mends broken people? Jesus? Chocolate? New shoes?" (p. 136)
"I don't like hope very much. In fact, I hate it. It's the crystal meth of emotions. It hooks you fast and kills you hard. It's bad news. The worst. It's sharp sticks and cherry bombs. When hope shows up, it's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt." 
For some, it's a depressing sort of book. The main character, Andi, is miserable, forced to spend three weeks in France with her father (yes, I said forced), when all she'd rather do is wallow at home. She feels responsible for the death of her younger brother, so she's understandably pretty torn up about it. But it's not just about Andi - it becomes almost a dual story, with Alex, an 18th century girl who is intimately linked to the royal family in the midst of the French Revolution, coming to life through her journal that Andi finds. Truthfully, I could have parted with the history lessons in this one and maybe skimped on Alex's story a little, but I'm not a historical fiction fan. I loved Andi's characterization, her depression, her hopelessness, her pain, the emotion in this book. What a mood I've been in.

I've felt a slight reading slump lately - not that I've been reading a lot less (well, maybe a little), but rather that what I'm reading isn't exactly hitting the spot. Good books, to be sure, but not that "right book at the right time" kind of books. Maybe it's just my lack of time available to devote to books. Hmm.

I started reading What I Was by Meg Rosoff over the weekend. Have I ever expressed how much I love Meg Rosoff? No, I do not think I have. I've only read How I Live Now and The Bride's Farewell, but with some authors, you just know you're going to love everything they write. She has this particular style, this something, about her writing that I can't describe but love oh so very much. It's deceptively simple but packed with emotion and meaning. But I have to be in a certain mood for it, and here I am. Listening to "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe and needing another Mountain Dew. Thinking that Spring Break is only three days out of my reach. I leave you with a quote from What I Was:
"The featureless trundle of my existence began to change. At the time, I didn't have the insight to wonder at the transient nature of despair, but now that I'm older I've seen how little it takes to turn a person's life around for better or worse. An event will do, or an idea. Another person. An idea of a person." 


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Reading Recap

Books Read in February
Black History Month Books
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney
Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia C. McKissack

Books Read While Browsing our Scholastic Book Fair
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Ready for Anything! by Keiko Kasza
Aliens Love Underpants! by Claire Freedman

Fractured Fairy Tales for First Grade
Chicken Big by Keith Graves
Chicken Little by Rebecca Emberley
Henny-Penny by Jane Wattenberg
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth
Chicken Little by Steven Kellogg

Rosemary Wells Author Study for Kindergarten

Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration for Second Grade

New Picture Books & Graphic Novel
The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon
Copper by Kazu Kibuishi
What If? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Other Goose by J.otto Seibold
Dear Primo by Duncan Tonatiuh
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

Young Adult Novels
Matched by Ally Condie
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (review)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (review)

Challenge Progress

Notable Mentions
While selecting books for our guest readers to read during our African-American Read-In this week, I happily stumbled upon Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia C. McKissack. From the first page, I was swept away in this delightfully whimsical tale. I only wish I got to read it aloud myself!

Do you want to giggle? Do you? Yeah? Then read Aliens Love Underpants! by Claire Freedman. Aliens visit Earth for one reason alone - to steal your underpants! Silly pictures and rhymes make this one a super-fun readaloud for spring fever days.

It's a little embarrassing to be an elementary school librarian who doesn't know her folk and fairy tales, but I have inexperience on my side here. I never read them as a kid and don't remember having them read to me, so here I am trying to play catch-up. And I love it! I read The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone, an oldie but a goodie, last week to first grade, and they loved it too (followed by The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst, a story about the boy's younger, smarter sister).

I'm having a blast going through my new books, though it's been a slow process. These two - What If? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger & The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood - are both short and mostly illustrated with very little text, but oh the impact! What If? shows two friends playing with a ball in the ocean and has several alternate scenarios of what would happen next when the ball rolls onto the beach. So much teaching potential here! Perspective, making choices, interpreting illustrations, writing text to accompany pictures, etc. And I recommended The Quiet Book to a teacher who absolutely loved using it with her students - it describes all the different ways one can be quiet. Lovely and thoughtful, both of these books are.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter is the true story of a barge full of garbage with nowhere to go. From the Jersey shore down to New Orleans and almost up the Mississippi, this barge has no place to unload and a long journey it's taken. The illustrations remind me of clay-mation (remember when that was popular?) and are decidedly creepy at parts, but the story is fascinating and rather shocking.

To Read in March 
Well, I knew I would read a lot of picture books in February, and that I did. March may be my month for early readers and middle grade chapter books. I've neglected those lately. And then there's Spring Break, when I hope I'll be able to read an adult novel, gasp! Water for Elephants is my choice, but it's still a few weeks away. I've had enough YA, I think. Or maybe it's just that I really don't like the one I'm reading now. Oh, and all those books turning into movies this month! Oof, another busy month. 
How'd you do in February?
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