Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Post #26

Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer hosts the weekly (duh) Sunday Post link-up.  I haven't participated in nearly a year, but I'm still in that post-New Years "I'm going to do better in all things" glow, so here I am.  *waves* I've made myself a quick template to help me stay more concise. Part of why I drifted away from the Sunday Post was because a) I wrote too much and then b) my month-end summaries felt redundant.

What I Read
I am deep into the Cybils judging process. My category is "Jr. and Sr. High Nonfiction" and I'm enjoying diving into various topics. I can't say much about the books yet, other than they all deserved to make it to this round of judging. This week I made it through:
Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man by Tonya Bolden
The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, written and illustrated by John Hendrix
The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century by Neal Bascomb

If you have any interest in learning more about Douglass than "escaped slave turned powerful orator," or if you enjoy nonfiction graphic novels about great moral struggles, or if you are a fan of daring POW escapes, I recommend each of these books, respectively.

The nonfiction I'm reading is all for a younger audience, but it still challenges my attention more than my usual steady diet of fiction, so I'm balancing these with some middle grade books I can fly through and then add to my Book Talk repertoire at school.  I shared three of them with you last week, but the one I read this week was one I've heard so much buzz about, especially on Twitter from other educators. It is:

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden. Hoo boy. I really don't want to spoil anything, but this portrayal of a tween girl living in poverty, trying to keep everything together, is powerful, thought-provoking, and just all around wonderful. I find that middle grade novels either fall into the "This is a great book for kids, but kind of boring for me," or "HOLY MACKINOLY; THAT WAS AMAZING." Octopus is the latter.

What I'm Reading/What's Next
I just started (for Cybils) We Are Not Yet Equal, which is the YA edition of White Rage. The book posits that on a societal level, the white power structure is determined to stamp out any sign of black (or other iPOC) signs of success. I'm just a few chapters in, and already very fired up. I think it's going to be really good, if really depressing and painful.

I have a few other Cybils books I hope to get to this week--probably Spooked and/or Just Mercy (young readers' edition). A couple of recent additions to my classroom library that I'd love to read IF THE DANG KIDS HADN'T ALREADY CHECKED THEM OUT are Slave Day and To Catch a Killer, or I might read one my two dozen library books, like The Rosie Project, Olive Kitteridge, or Tyler Johnson Was Here.

Three Terrific Things
1. A definite highlight of my week was Skyping with author Sarah Cannon in each of my reading classes. We met through a Twitter project, #KidsNeedMentors, which is all about matching published authors with classrooms, so kids can learn more about real world writing. I teach reading specifically, not language arts, so we don't do a lot of writing, but I still wanted to participate. Sarah was lovely, and funny, and had really interesting information about writing and publishing. For example, the first book she published (the bizarre and hilarious Oddity) is actually the fifth book she wrote. Which is so encouraging, right? Like, you can write a book and have it be crappy, and it's okay because you are JUST LEARNING. So then you can take what you learned and write another book and hopefully it's less crappy, or at least crappy in different ways. Do I want to write a book? I don't even know, but I sure am thinking about the idea a lot now. 

2. My husband made me some dangerously delicious granola from scratch. Like, just for me, just because I said I wanted some. 

3. Saturday was unusually (for me) social because my oldest sister and her husband were visiting from out of town, so we all got together, something that hasn't happened in a few years, and THEN we went to the wedding reception of one of my co-workers. Good people + good food = worth losing a day of reading (every once in awhile).

Keeping it Real
Because the whole business of curating your life so it looks perfect is highly overrated, I figure I'll share something less than impressive each week. Last weekend I took down Christmas, except I forgot a) the door wreath, b) the festive tins in the downstairs bathroom and c) the large ornaments on a tree in the front yard. 

And they are all still there. And probably will be at least another week. My neighbors love me.

Have a great week!


  1. Benefits of Being an Octopus was heartbreaking, but I thought there was a lot of hope infused in the story as well. Granola from scratch = a keeper! How sweet of him. Looks like you had fun with your sister.

  2. Looks like interesting books all! And the Skyping sessions sound wonderful! I'll bet the kids learned a lot.

    Love the Keeping It Real. :)

  3. Two of my neighbors still have their Christmas lights up. Good luck with the Cybils judging. I don’t read enough nonfiction for young people. I always go right for the adult stuff. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. I really want to read the Benefits of Being an Octopus. I hear it so so so good. Good luck with the Cybil judging. That must be fun and time consuming all at once. Glad you had a good time with friends and family that is always so great. Have a wonderful week!


  5. Good luck with Cybils. I'm always a bit jealous of those who get to do a lot of Cybils reading. :) I need to look into The Benefits of Being an Octopus.

  6. I really want to read The Benefits of Being an Octopus. It sounds truly amazing. And I can totally relate to taking down the Christmas stuff and forgetting things. It seems like every year there's always at least one thing that you realize you forgot.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  7. Good luck with all your reads. They aren't in my normal types. We were so lazy we didn't put up our holiday decorations this year. We were saving our energy for the new semester and getting into our current routine in January.

    Enjoy your new books! Anne - Books of My Heart


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