Friday, May 24, 2019

Book Photos and Votes!

I love my library so much. I stopped by to pick up two books they'd brought in from other branches: Red Clocks and Scooby Apocalypse, both of which were recommended by other bloggers recently. I also grabbed a copy of the graphic novel of Speak because I have a student who really wants to read it, and my copy is AWOL. I found season one of The Handmaid's Tale on DVD, since we don't get Hulu. I'm reading the series March, but book 2 is missing from my classroom library. so I got that too. Finally, I picked up a few board games for the family What a lovely haul.

As we enter the last two full weeks of the school year, I polled my students on their favorite books of the year. They had some GREAT answers! I then took the books that seemed to get the most votes and/or the most checkouts during the year and set them into brackets. The kids will be voting next week, but you can vote today! Just choose your favorites from each match-up. If you haven't read either book, skip it. If you've read one of the two, you can choose whether to vote for it, vote against it, or skip the match-up. If I did this right, it's set up so you can see results so far after you vote, and I'll come back later to let you know how the book people voted and how my students voted.  (Keep scrolling after you're done; it takes up a bunch of white space.)

I'm having fun prepping for my summer reading. Because of my teaching schedule, I do get a lot more reading done during the summer than the rest of the year. I wanted to prioritize specific books--books that are OBOB or ProjectLit titles, books on my Classics Club list, and ones I've just kept meaning to read. So I made myself this Bingo sheet. I'll try for a blackout, and even if I don't get there, it will still be good. I also made a Book A Day list. It's an average, not a literal thing, but it's still satisfying to jot down a title for each day. Mine runs June 1- August 31, even though I'll be at work the first couple of weeks and the last couple of weeks of that. 

I probably already told you, but Paula Stokes offered to send me a bunch of her books for my classroom, and of course I accepted. She sent multiple copies, so I could share with other teachers, and personalized each one. She's local, which might be why we started talking on Twitter? I really don't remember, but I am so, so grateful for her generosity.

Then today I came home to this ARC of Donna Gephart's new book. I am not a huge MG fan overall, but I've loved this author's work, and I was thrilled when she asked if I'd like my name on a list she was giving her publisher of teachers who might want an ARC. I guess I passed their test! 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Post #32/Sunday Salon #5

Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer hosts the weekly Sunday Post link-up, and Deb at ReaderBuzz is expanding Sunday Salon from a FB group to a link-up as well.

What I Read: 6 books
A lot more than last week, and some really great ones (and one not).

  • I really liked Just Jaime, the third middle grade graphic novel by Teri Libenson. It's a lot about toxic friendships, which is something my personal middle schooler is dealing with, so I'm going to leave it laying casually around the house this summer. 
  • Tana French's The Witch Elm is a stand-alone, which I didn't realize until I started reading. It has an unreliable and unlikable narrator, and got SUPER dark at the end. It's not my favorite of hers, but I wasn't disappointed. 
  • I re-read Every Day, David Levithan's book about "A," who wakes up in a different person's body each day, as part of my attempt to finish an entire series in May. It's been several years since I read it before, and I really enjoyed it. 
  • Then I moved on to book two, Another Day, and about died of boredom as it was the exact same damn story from another POV. Complete with vast chunks of dialogue repeated word for word. 
  • I prefer reading physical books, but I am occasionally tempted by the free ebooks on Simon Teen's Riveted, because it's so easy to fly through them in that format. 100 Sideways Miles has been in my classroom library since it was new, and I liked Winger, the only other Andrew Smith novel I've read, so I read it. It was good. Parts were quite witty, and all of it is spectacularly vulgar in a way that seemed very true to teenaged boys. 
  • I knew Lindsay Faye from Jane Steele, so when I saw her name on  The Paragon Hotel in the library, I picked it up solely based on that. I LOVED it. One of my friends DNFed it, so clearly it's not for everyone. I'm a sucker for historical fiction set in Portland, but I also loved Nobody/Alice's flapper voice, the stark look at racism in Oregon, the friendships, the danger and twists, and pretty much everything else about it. 

What I'm Reading/What's Next

I'm working on Someday, book 3 in the Every Day trilogy, and so far it's MUCH better than the middle book. It takes the story forward and includes a new and delightfully disturbing voice.

Two of my five classes voted to do one more read-aloud during our final 3 weeks, so I'm deciding between Nightjohn, The Crossover, and Witness. All are short (which is important at this point) and very good stories.

Three Things
  1. I won a giveaway for three upcoming books on Twitter! FatLikeMe Podcast is going to send me Julie Murphy's first MG novel, Dear Sweet Pea, AND Renee Watson's new book, Some Places More than Others, AND Chris Baron's book with a boy main character, All of Me. All support body diversity and feature fat protagonists who aren't defined by their weight. These are going to be great additions to my classroom library.
  2. We did state testing. Sigh. It's interesting how the vast majority of kids who are opted out are the children (or siblings) of educators. I opted both my kids out. If their teachers don't know their strengths and weaknesses by this point in the year, they're not paying attention.
  3. We started a family archery class this week. It was very fun. And NOT THAT IT'S A COMPETITION, but I totally got the best score of my family. I just have to gloat a little, as the least athletic family member. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Occasional Poetry

In college, I took a few creative nonfiction writing classes. At one point I attempted a poem based on a memory, and the professor basically told me, "This is...not actually a poem."

I'm no poet.

On the other hand, I also remember a student I had several years ago who throughout the year would come up to me with a book and say, "Mrs. Gassaway, I'm not a reader, but this book is fantastic!" or "You know I don't like to read, but this one is really good!" Eventually I pointed out to him that for someone who really didn't like to read, he sure loved almost every book he read.

Every year or so, I have a compulsion to write a poem. And I do. And I share it publicly on here. Are they art? Are they "real" poetry? Who cares?

Here's my latest, which references "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden.

My mom
probably didn't know the poem
about "love's austere and lonely offices"--

building the fire,
blacking the boots--

but she told me once
that my dad always got up first
so he could

start the furnace,
brew the coffee--

I like to remember them, fifty years married and more
Not so austere,
Never lonely.