Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday Post #44/Sunday Salon #18

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

What I Read: 8 books finished!
Last week I had nothing to put here; this week I have a bunch, because I either finished reading aloud to my classes, or I ALMOST finished, so I went home and read the end to myself Friday night. Plus, I did the same thing with the audiobook I'd been listening to in the car. 

Period one: The Zebra Forest
We liked it. Solid read-aloud. I read this for the first time alongside the kids, and we were all taken aback at a few of the turns it took. It is a weird feeling to read about a kid who is 11 in 1978-79, when I too was 11, and know it's historical fiction at this point. We were about two chapters from the end, and I just couldn't get us there.  I'll wrap it up with them in January, but read the end to myself real quick before I left. 
Zebra Forest

Period two: Ruby on the Outside
We liked this one too, although there was a GREAT twist that was then just--written off as a mistake and coincidence, which really annoyed me. I had not realized I was doing a "my parent is in jail for murder" theme either. But that's one thing about reading aloud in a classroom--you don't always know who might need to hear a particular story. We actually finished this one on Friday!
Ruby on the Outside

Period three: The Other Boy
Reading this to a class was an experience for sure. The day we found out that Shane is transgender, a student asked a question about that using "it" to describe the character, and another student about came out of her chair at him, so I had to start a "if someone says something out of ignorance, the teacher gets a chance to handle it first" rule. It was so cool to see kids settle into the story and start getting what Shane's experience might be like. I find that girls are much more likely to pick up books with LGBQTIA+ characters than boys are, whether or not the identify with any of those terms, so by me reading it to them, a lot of the boys were hearing that POV for the first time, and once we got going, were just as interested and respectful as the girls. Again, we didn't quite get to the end--one girl borrowed it so she wouldn't have to wait until January. I asked the class if they wanted me to summarize the ending that day, or put it aside and keep reading the end our first day or two back, and they asked for the "real thing."
The Other Boy

Period four: Nightjohn
This is the only one we finished early. It's such a horrifying little book, and Sarny's dialect makes it hard for kids to access on their own, so I really think it's best read aloud. I full on "taught" it many times early in my career, and it was a little less impactful to just read it without adding much. But that toe scene will haunt all of us forever. 
Night John

Period six: Tight
To the best of my knowledge, this was the only #OwnVoices book I was reading, and I wanted to like it more than I did. The kids did okay with it, but weren't nearly as invested as most of the other classes. Then again, sixth period meets right after lunch, has the fewest number of kids who actually signed up to be there of all my classes, and we live in rural Oregon, so "the projects" of NYC require a decent amount of background building.

Period seven: Orbiting Jupiter
I'm pretty sure I could spend the rest of my career reading this book to classes and be happy with that. I don't, because "it's what I've always done" is crappy teaching, but I was happy one group selected this one from the options I had. (The options were basically "books I have in my classroom that are under 250 pages so we can hopefully finish them before winter break.") It was amazing, as always. I didn't get to be there for their period on the final day, so the lucky sub got to read them the scene where PEOPLE DIE, INCLUDING PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT. I'm sure I'll get yelled at about that when we return. 
Orbiting Jupiter

My commute buddy: Nyxia
This is a Project Lit book, and very few of those are Spec Fic, so I wanted to check it out. I NEVER would have picked it up based on the cover or description, and I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been listening to it, I would have DNFed it pretty quickly. But there it was in my car's CD player, and the narrator did a great job, and by the end of the book, I was fully invested. (Although talking about  PEOPLE DIE, INCLUDING PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT! Did NOT see that coming.) I'm actually trying to track down the CD audiobook for my post-break commute.
Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)

The one book I read in one sitting instead of over three weeks: White Bird
This one really got me. Again with the good people dying, but in a Holocaust book you can't really claim to be surprised. I am not the Wonder enthusiast that many of my colleagues are, but despite the book's framing as a lesson for one of Auggie's tormentors, you don't need to know that story to understand this one.
White Bird

What I'm Reading/What's Next
In a classic Wendy move, I brought home two boxes of books to add to the shelf full of library books, not to mention the OBOB books I need to finish reading so I'm ready to start Cybils reading in a week. I was just really struck by how much I enjoyed reading those MG books to my class, and know I could get through a bunch quickly, thus adding to my arsenal of suggestions for students.

Three Things

  • My 13 year old has never seen the LOTR movies and recently asked, 'What's a hobbit?" so last night I announced we were doing a family movie night and showed The Fellowship of the Rings. We don't watch a lot of movies together, and I haven't seen this one since it first came out on DVD, so it really was a lot of fun. I have the other two also checked out and ready to go, so this is my goal for my family for winter break. It's fun seeing the original of the memes...
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  • The budget is tight this year, so I crowdsourced cheap x-mas trees on Facebook. A colleague offered a blue spruce in his backyard that they are planning on removing this spring anyway. It is gigantic, not trimmed to triangle form, and has viciously prickly needles that my husband got a rash from, BUT it is also gorgeous and free and has super stiff branches you can hang ornaments from really well. Here it is before the ornaments went up:

  • It's been pouring the past few days, but earlier in the week I drove to work during a technicolor sunrise. #NoFilter #OregonWokeUpLikeThis


  1. Have you ever thought about becoming a school librarian? (Are there school librarians in Oregon? I imagine they may be on the decline in some places.) Reading aloud and talking to kids about books and helping kids find books they want to's what I did every day. I was read aloud to (wish there was one word for that) through sixth grade, but after that, sadly, no, and it was that being read aloud to (again, one word) that fueled my love for reading and stretched me beyond the books on my shelf at home. You've just shared so many books that I want to seek out and read for myself. What a glorious experience it must be to be in your class. Were I in charge of the world I'd switch out your yearly pay with Michael Jordan's (in his heyday; I know nothing of contemporary rich celebrities, sorry); your work is worthy, and how sad it makes me feel to think you have to seek out sources of free Christmas trees....

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    1. Deb, I would LOVE to be a school librarian, but I haven't worked at a school with a certified librarian since about 2001. There aren't even any endorsement programs left in the state, so if I want to add the endorsement to my teaching license, I'll have to find an online program. Oregon did just pass a significant school funding bill, so I have some hope there will be school librarian positions again. Last night I dreamt that actually happened and I got a job at the library in my old elementary school!

  2. I love the free Christmas tree. I’ve never had a real tree because I’ve heard horror stories about them. I’m glad your classes enjoyed their books! I still need to read Nightjohn and Orbiting Jupiter.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. What kind of horror stories??? Oregon is apparently the Christmas tree capital of the world, so it's pretty rare for people to not have real trees.

  3. The first thing I thought, when I saw your tree was - SO FAT! I love a good, fat tree. I could never read a book aloud, where a character dies. I am truly a hot mess, when that happens.

  4. Fascinating book selections. Your student's response to "it"!

  5. Sigh it’s a little depressing to realise that something set during my childhood now counts as historical fiction.

    Wishing you a great reading week and a joyful holiday season.

  6. 8 books is awesome! Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

    Beautiful tree!!!

  7. We have a living tree. It was expensive last year but free to reuse this year. My weekly update

  8. As someone who does read alouds as well (although my students are a tad younger), I always love to hear about your read aloud selections and the resulting experiences. I have never read The Other Boy or Nightjohn so I just added them to my list! Have a great winter break!!

  9. I think it's awesome that you used a friend's tree from the backyard for Christmas! Even if it wasn't ideal, it's a memory!! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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