Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fried Brain

I can't believe how long it has been since I posted! I have read quite a few things, but the beginning of the school year has been so busy, that I haven't had time to post. I did think about it a few times while at school, but ironically, my own blog is blocked at school. (I didn't really think my principal would feel it vitally important to the curriculum to unblock =) )

I read lots of things in the past several weeks though. I read a The Treasures of Weatherby by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It was an o.k. book. Not much too it. I felt the focus should have been more on the climax and the amazing treasure, but all of that lasted about four pages. It will still keep the attention of some younger readers who don't expect much out of a book. I read the first book in the Gilda Joyce series: Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator. That book had surprisingly more bite to it than I expected. It certainly had a depth to it that I wouldn't have pegged from the covers. I might read the others in the series, but I have so many other books to read!!! I started the new Sisters Grimm book and an interesting book called Framed. I think this book has real promise. Quirky characters, mystery, and crime, I'll have to see where it goes. Luckily, I have silent reading "duty" for three pretty good classrooms, so I can actually get a few pages read during the day. That's a bonus! I also read the second Penderwicks book. It was still good. Fans of the first will certainly like the second. But it has a Disney sort of Parent Trap feel to it that I wasn't totally keen on. Lawn Boy was a very easy read that I think reluctant boy readers will really enjoy. Regarding the Bees is another great visual mystery from Kate and Sarah Klise. If you liked the first several by these authors, you'll like this one.

Of course, I looked at a few picture books too. And the Train Goes... has great rhythm and pace to it. I thought my 2 1/2 year old would enjoy it.
Casey Back at Bat was awfully cute and funny.

My boys at school jumped all over the newest Young Bond books and of course, the new Alex Rider book, Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz. Interestingly, The Invention of Hugo Cabret has still been a hot choice and I ended up using Scholastic points to get a second copy.

Speaking of, I got a great little tech tool from the Scholastic Instructional Resource Catalog with my points left over from Book Fair. It's an .mp3 player/recorder that has two sets of headphones and jacks and is super easy to use! It's even supported by Overdrive, which a lot of libraries use for the audiobooks. I wish I had more of them. The potential for using it for fluency and podcasting is so great! I wouldn't recommend buying it from Scholastic though. It's about $100 more from them than it is online other places. The representative tried to tell me that the others online only have one pair of headphones and this one has two, that's part of the difference. But I looked at ones with two sets and they weren't much more than $140. And you can't tell me that a second set of headphone (regular, plain headphones) is $100. That's ridiculous!

I'll try to keep up better on my blogging. I'm sure I'll be back soon with more books I've read!! Happy Labor Day!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Christmas in August

I headed to school today to try and get ready for school. It was like Christmas for me! Eleven whole boxes of books from two different companies for me...uhhhh...I mean the students to read. Two of the boxes were nonfiction books, mainly about sports teams and other sports. We were in dire need of updating our sports section. The other nine books were from Follett and were a variety of fiction and nonfiction.

I used a couple of sources for ordering this year. A huge source was the BER Best New Books for Children workshop I attended. Judy Freeman put on the session I attended and it was awesome. We received a huge book with annotations and activities for over 100 books. And she was very dynamic. I also collected newsletters on children's books from Borders and a local bookstore. I also attend sessions at our Educational Media conference every year that focus on the summer reading club and best new children's books. The best part is that Follett will take those lists that I receive and put them into TitleWave for me to add to my orders. And the BER guide gets put on TitleWave every year. Ordering was a snap. And this year I even sprung for the covering and barcoding. So my books were almost shelf-ready when they came.

If my library circ station hard drive hadn't crashed, I'd be sitting pretty! Oh well, at least I have an excuse for bringing more books home with me!

Here's a sample of what I brought home. (Remember, I love mysteries and fantasy...) Enola Holmes, Gilda Joyce, Evil Genius, Roddick Rules, Framed, Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, Nixie's Song (Spiderwick), and Magyk. is coming too fast!

Seer of Shadows by Avi

In taking a break from grading, I decided to pick up this book. Perhaps it was because it was around midnight; perhaps it's because I'm a weenie when it comes to ghost stories, but I was slightly spooked. Slasher movies, monster movies...those don't seem to scare me. But put in a ghost, especially a fairly understated ghost, and I'm freaked.

Avi's storyline, for the most part, contains that understated ghost idea. Where the ghost is hovering in the shadows. An angry ghost and a boy with a unique talent make for a great tale...until Avi gets sort of "Stephen King" toward the end. The end felt a little too rushed and perhaps that's why it came off as a typical horror flick climax. The last part of the book that is more like an epilogue brought back some of the spooky flavor, but I wasn't as thrilled with it in the long run because of the climax scene.

Not a bad read, but next time I'll try to save the ghost stories for the daytime!