Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grown Up Books...

I noticed a few traffic reports in my email. Apparently, some of you have been checking to see if I've blogged lately or maybe just kicked the bucket. :-) I've gotten quite a bit read lately. I've been proctoring our new computerized state reading test, and there is only so much wandering around the room you can do when there are two of you. So perched on the counter in the back where I could see all the kids and their computers, I would read off and on.

I picked up one of the books that I've been wanting to read for a long time, the sequel to The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book. This is a series for grown-ups *gasp* and I have been enjoying it, but I am a little glad to come to the end. After the second, I read the third, and now I'm on the fourth. I'm a little neurotic when it comes to series books. This Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel is fun for us bookavores. Lots of good literary references, the literary worlds we know and love interacting, drama,'s just good fun. I'm considering if I want to read Fforde's newer series, Nursery Crime (inspired a bit by one of the books in the FIRST series). But I might just put them on my wish list and save them for a rainy day.

I have read some children's books though. I read two more of our state awards for next year. The first was Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan. I really enjoyed it and I can see the horse lovers latching on to this book big time. It's got a bit of emotional drama in it, along with a little adventure. The contrast in scenery from the fist part of the book to the end is wonderful. Our heroine finds a family that she loves, grows up a bit, and discovers her true strength in a dire situation. I don't really see why we need a graphic description of the birthing of a horse right at the beginning, but maybe that's because I'm not a horse person. All in all though, I think my students will enjoy it.

I also read Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty. The voice in this book reminded me a bit of Each Little Bird that Sings, but not nearly as quirky. The subject matter is heavy enough to draw you in, but the "voice" of the main character really interests you. I put that in quotation marks because we learn right away that the main character pretends have some physical/mental challenges after a tragedy. While I do think that it takes far too long to reveal the tragedy and the climatic event is a little too unbelievable to really get you into it, the story was a good read and I found myself tearing up a bit.

What I've really spent quite a bit of time on is something I'm doing with my students. It started with the book The Daring Nellie Bly: America's Star Reporter by Bonnie Christensen. I've sort of fallen in love with Nellie and this project has really taken off. I, of course, had to read the classic Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne since it is what inspired Nellie to embark on her own journey 'round the world. I found many books on Nellie and her life, as well as graphic novels of Verne's book. I checked out a children's book called Nellie Bly's Monkey and, while neither the most factual, nor the most age appropriate vocabulary, the kids just think it's funny that someone tried to write a book from the monkey's perspective. I found a book with amazing photographs called Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly. And numerous others. We've read about Nellie, watched a short video about her, researched the locations she went to (using a reliable, school-provided database), found pictures of the locations she went to (using Wikimedia Commons and learning about copyright), wrote paragraphs about them (not plagiarizing), typed the paragraphs (practicing keyboarding and word processing) and it will all be compiled into one big Google Lit Trip. I'm very excited with how this is turning out.

Next week sometime I plan on picking up the copies of next year's state awards for the library. I'm sure I will need to dive into the few that I haven't read yet!

And be on the lookout for a column at Mental_Floss's blog by a children's librarian. Miss Kathleen wrote a fun article that I contacted her about when I found out that she would be writing a regular column. After corresponding back and forth, she's decided to write a column on little known literary our state's children's choice one! So that could be very exciting! (Ok, maybe I need to get out a little more and redefine my sense of exciting...but that's what Fridays are for right?!) Enjoy weekend everyone!

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