Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Post #35/Sunday Salon #8

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: 8 books
I'm still about a week behind in my summer book-a-day project, but I read a graphic novel and some middle grade novels this week, so I finished a good number of books. A lot of 4.5 star reads too, meaning they were really, really good, but not quite full-on favorites that I'll remember forever. 

  • Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World is a sweet story about a girl whose home is destroyed in a hurricane, but even worse, her book of drawings of girls holding hands also goes missing. I just wish I could see the lovingly described art she creates. 
  • Brave Face is author Shaun David Hutchinson's memoir about dealing with depression and with coming out, first to himself and then to the world. It's very good, and brutally honest. A lot of  teens today (but not all, I'm sure, especially outside of certain geographic bubbles) would scoff at the idea that one wouldn't realize one was gay until the age of 17, but homophobia was so deeply entrenched even 20 years ago, and I have more than one contemporary that couldn't figure out what was going on until college or even later. 
  • The Wendy Project is a peculiar little graphic novel I read at the library. It's a Peter Pan inspired story about a girl named Wendy who crashes the car with her little brothers in it and can't work out if Michael died or went to Neverland. 
  • Suddenly Sixty is a book of light verse by Judith Viorst of Alexander and the Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day fame. She's published a collection on the stages of life each decade since her thirties. (She's now up to nearly ninety.)
  • Our House is an adult mystery/thriller that I saw on someone's blog last Sunday, I'm pretty sure. It's not particularly scary and not at all gory, much more of a mental game thing. Really fun. 
  • After Zero I read entirely based on AJ of Read All the Things! recommendation, and I'm glad I did. It's another middle grade novel where I was rooting fiercely for the protagonist.
  • Shout is Laurie Halse Anderson's memoir in verse. I went in knowing it was about the experiences in her life that she pulled from to write Speak, but it's actually much more than that, including family trauma, a year in Denmark, and a section of opaque poetry I couldn't get into. Some sections were ***all the stars*** amazing, but some weren't.
  • Station Eleven was arguably the best of the bunch. Post apocalyptic pandemic, overlapping characters, literary story telling. I think I had this one on my TBR because of AJ too. I happened to pick up a large print version at the library, which worked out well when I had insomnia the other night and was reading it at 3 am with my weary eyes. 

What I'm Reading/What's Next

A friend just gave me the newest Liane Moriarty book, so I will probably read that soon. I also want to knock out another bingo square or two, possibly double-dipping with a classic or Printz winner.

Three Things
  • It's really all one giant thing. My husband and a group of friends secretly planned a weekend at Mt. Hood in honor of my upcoming 50th birthday. 
  • My daughter and I took a great little hike before we went to the cabin.
  • While there, we ate, talked, drank, went in the hot tub, read, played games, took a forest walk, loved on my friends' pony-sized English Mastiff puppy, played cornhole, did crafts, and laughed and laughed and laughed. 
It's looking like it's going to be a great summer, and I hope yours is as well. Stay tuned next week for blogiversary nonsense. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

TTT: My Summer 2019 TBR

 TTT is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: books on my summer TBR. I've already shared a picture of my book bingo sheet, but I'll dive into it a bit more for you here.

These books come from different mental categories that I will try to break down for you here.

  • Project LIT titles. Books chosen to combine excellent story telling with a more diverse range of #ownvoices experience. Middle grade and young adult books alike.
  • OBOB titles. Books that my Battle of the Books kids will be reading next year.
  • Classics for my classic challenge. Kind of self explanatory.
  • Books that have been recommended to me or that have a lot of buzz. Basically, these are just books out of the thousands of books I want to read that for whatever reason I added to this bingo card.
  • and one book I own and have been wanting to read forever. I won a giveaway (hi Sam!) and asked for this book, since I usually don't buy books for myself (as opposed to my classroom library), so a giveaway sounded like the right time to do that. If I had to pick one favorite author, this would be the one, though it's as much admiration for the person as for their books. I haven't even read all their books, and some of them are a bit dated. But this is the last book they published before their death, and I already know I love their essays, so...gotta read it.

They could also be divided thusly:
  • Books in my classroom library.
  • Books I've checked out from the library.
  • Books I need to track down somehow, most likely by buying for my classroom library.
  • and that one book I own and have been wanting to read forever.

 The first set of categories might be more interesting for you though.

Project LIT titles
Barely Missing Everything
Here to Stay
Dear Martin
Front Desk
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World
On the Come Up
The Astonishing Color of After
They Call Me Güero

OBOB Titles
The Girl Who Drank the Moon

A Moveable Feast
A Distant Mirror

Buzzy books and books I've been wanting to get to for awhile
Daughter of  the Pirate King
Juliet Takes a Breath
The Ghosts of Heaven
Hot Dog Girl
The Other Americans
The Boy Who Steals Houses
An Ember in the Ashes
One and Future
Keep this To Yourself 

The other book
No Time to Spare

I italicized the books I've already gotten to. Yay me! I'm not close to any bingos though. And then things happen like I read the first book in a series (Ember in the Ashes, Daughter of the Pirate King) and then have to go read the others. Or my daughter grabs a bunch of great looking thrillers from my classroom as I pack up for the summer and I decide to read those too. get it. I probably won't get blackout on this bingo sheet, even though I'll read more than 25 books this summer. (I'm five books behind on my Book A Day project, but have no doubt that graphic novels will help me catch up at some point.) I hate being told what to read next, even by myself, but I also feel this complete sense of accomplishment when I FINALLY read a book I've been meaning to read for a long time. Hopefully this will set the right balance of planning and spontaneity for my fragile psyche.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Decade of Picture Books

Fora recent top ten Tuesday, we chose our favorite book from each of the past ten years. I decided to not include picture books in my list, because it didn't seem reasonable to compare them with novels. Of course, then I couldn't stop thinking about it.  This is a highly compromised list--I would have rather chosen Each Kindness for my Jacqueline Woodson title and I Want My Hat Back for my Jon Klassen, but they were up against other books published those years that I couldn't resist. Last Stop on Market Street truly deserved its Newbery award, but I left it off my list so I could give a lesser known work some love.

What do I love in a picture book? Snarky humor and surprise twists. Gorgeous art. Heart warming messages. The same things everyone loves, I suspect.

2009 In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Pollaco
In the mere decade since this was published, the idea of a children's book featuring two moms has become less surprising, though I'm sure there are those who would still challenge it. I didn't use to like Pollaco's art, but I've always loved her story-telling, and long exposure to her style of illustrations accompanying her wonderful stories has won me over. All of her works celebrate the transformative power of love.


2010 Chalk by Bill Thompson
Chris Van Allsburg was THE illustrator of the 80s and 90s. Thompson's style reminds me of his in that it is both realistic and playful, magical and recognizable. I loved reading this story about chalk drawings come to life with my kids when they were younger.


2011 Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan
This one just makes me laugh. Especially brother Bill. And when her mom tells Betty she loves her and Betty replies, "Mom--I love chocolate cake!"


2012 This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
This little fish is so damn smug about his stolen hat that the ending (less surprising to those who've already read I Want My Hat Back) is quite satisfying. And the combination of the first two books means the third book, We Found a Hat, has that much greater of an impact. Really, you should read all three back to back.

2013 This Is The Rope by Jacqueline Woodson
Nope, I can't do it. This is a good book. Each Kindness is a great book. So we're going to go with two winners from 2012 and skip 2013.

Each Kindness walks a fine line between the "everybody learns to be nicer" message you'd get in your basic picture book about the topic and "what goes around comes around" of classic books about bullying such as Blubber and The One Hundred Dresses. Chloe learns a lesson, but she learns it too late. The hope comes from the way you can feel the impact that lesson will have on her entire life going forward. I've yet to read it to a middle school class that wasn't stunned to silence by it. 

There are many, many excellent Elephant and Piggie books. This one dives a bit into deeper water than usual, as Gerald develops feelings of jealousy around Piggie making a new friend. The absolute best way to read all of these books is with a new reader taking one part and you taking the other. 

2015 This is Sadie by Sara O'Leary
I have been trying to track this book down ever since I read it in a library a few summers ago. It is perfect. Illustrations are gorgeous, and Sadie is a delight. Imaginative, empathetic, creative, and fully involved in life. She's a role model for us all.

2016 Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
This is one of the most unexpected books I've ever read. Several bugs and insects star, and naturally they don't speak English. But by careful  attention to visual clues, the reader can translate the entire book, word by word (because at least the language used follows all rules of English grammar and syntax!). 

2017 Press Here by Hervé Tullet
Translated from the French, this picture book is, like my 2016 choice, wildly inventive. The reader is coaxed to interact with the book physically, and with each press, twist, and nudge, the colors on the page seem to respond, moving, mixing, and multiplying. Another one that is truly best read with a kid in your lap to share the wonder.

 2018 Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

This is an immigration story, and a mother's love story, and a celebration of books and libraries. It's artistic and liberating and personal. Read it.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Post #34/Sunday Salon #7

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: 9 books
It was a week (plus) of wrapping up books and reading books for challenges I've set myself. I'm going back a week and a day, because I haven't covered last weekend in any other format. 

I finished two collections: Unbroken: Thirteen Stories Starring Disabled Teens and Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America. Both were solid, with a few standouts and a few let-downs, as is true of nearly every themed collection. I'm thinking of pulling some stories from them for my class next year. I wish I were one of those cool people who provide a rating and review for each story, but as much as I love reading those, I'm too lazy to do it myself. These are also the two best covers of the week!

I had An Ember in the Ashes on my summer bingo card, so I finally read it. Loved it, got the next book and kept on going. Today I hope to pick up the third book, even though the whole will they/won't they aspect of book 2 was less compelling to me than the actual plot. 

I read the graphic novel modern adaptation of Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. It was cute, but I'm not sure I'd be into it if I didn't have such nostalgia for the original.

For a summer PD group I'm in I read The Red Pencil, which was good but not for me, and Reading with Patrick, which I'm partially responsible for generating discussion questions for. It was a hard read, but really good.

Finally, as part of my ongoing attempt to read all the Printz winners and honor books, I read Ghosts of Heaven and Where Things Come Back. I really enjoyed both, but both authors have other books I like better. (To be fair, my favorite Sedgewick ALSO won a Printz.) 

What I'm Reading/What's Next
I'm reading Juliet Takes a Breath (from my bingo card!) and I'm excited to get to Shout, which a student finally brought back the last week of school. I also want to get to my first official Classics Club read, which will either be Bell Jar, A Movable Feast, or a Le Guin collection. 

Three Things
  • I'm writing this at a different library branch than usual, and there seem to be more...characters here. I was distracted earlier by a mother-(adult) son conversation in which he learned that his ex has a new boyfriend, and now there is somebody who keeps saying, "Office?" loudly every few seconds. 
  • The Winemaker and I have been happily watching Imposters on Netflix. It's nothing ground-breaking, but it's good fun.
  • I was on jury duty four days last week. It's the fifth time I've been summoned and the fourth time I ended up on a jury. This time it was a civil case in federal court, so I got to take the light rail downtown each day instead of going in to work for the last crazy days of the year. As a result, I'm still getting my classroom cleaned out and packed up, but for all intents and purposes, I'M ON VACATION. Or unpaid involuntary leave, depending on how you look at it. But honestly, as much as I love my job, I really do like vacation best. And when that one sister-in-law grumps, "Must be nice..." and I think about all the things her family can afford that mine can't--I still have to admit I prefer my choice, so I just smile serenely and say, "Yes, it sure is."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

May in Review

My Reading

# of books read: 15
Best(s):(In which I tell you all my favorite reads and make up categories so they each win something)

  • Best adult book set in my hometown and addressing its racist past (and thus, present): The Paragon Hotel
  • Best nonfiction graphic novel series starter written by a Civil Rights icon and current member of Congress: March, Book 1
  • Best narrative nonfiction about libraries: The Library Book
  • Best MG graphic novel about toxic friendships: Just Jaime
  • Best trilogy finale that rescued the series from a weak middle book: Someday
  • Best book in which the strikingly odd cover was a literal interpretation of an event in the book: 100 Sideways Miles

Bookish Events and Happenings

I participated in a challenge to read an entire series in May, and was pleased with my results--I re-read the first book in two trilogies and then actually went on to finish them! David Levithan's Someday and John Lewis's March trilogies were obviously very different, but I liked them both. Well, I liked five of the six books--Another Day not so much. 

I also had a lot of luck with book giveaways and donations. Paula Stoke sent me a box of a dozen books of hers, I won Christina June's giveaway of all three of her books, and I got an ARC of Donna Gephart's new book after she'd reached out to ask if I wanted her to give my name to her publisher as someone who'd be interested. All of these are going directly into my classroom, which makes me even more grateful to these authors.

The box I'm bringing home from my classroom library to {possibly} read this summer.
My Battle of the Books kids made a poster for us to put out for the year-end after-school-programs fair. I brought a bunch of Project LIT books and next year's OBOB books, as well as a cart full of donated/weeded books to give away. All in all, the book swap I put together ended up in over one full library cart of books being donated to students and families. (Now I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining 2/3 of a cart that didn't get any love.) 

On the Blog

I did really well for most of the month, posting 13 times. It's helped that I'm now spending Sundays at the library with my kid, and when that pattern gets interrupted, my blog goes silent. It's been a few weeks since we were able to do that, so today I brought MYSELF to the library. It's just easier to focus here.


Family archery class. We brought our niece once night too.

Doodling is fun.

Last Donut Friday of the year. All the summer birthdays got to choose their fancy donut.

Students started voting on their favorite books of the year.

I put together a bingo card for my own summer reading. (Today I finished my first square! An Ember in the Ashes is WONDERFUL.)

Stole this idea from teacher twitter. I didn't think it was worth the effort. Then my neighbor, a language arts teacher, had her students put together summer reading lists, and she said her classes all crowded around this and got lots of titles from it. 

And now we're well into June. I have either two more days of teaching, or jury duty. I have to call tonight to find out. I hope your month has started well and continues even better!

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction, along with many other terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole usually puts together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!