Book-A-Day Challenge Week 12

Though the Book-A-Day Challenge started by Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, officially ended for me last week, I a continuing with the weekly post to share what I am reading.

Picture Books:

Zen Ghost by John J. Muth - This beautifully illustrated story can be adapted for all ages.  Check out my review here.

Middle Grade:

Graphic Novel:
The Cloud Searchers (Amulet #3) by Kazu Kibuishi - This was recently released and my niece and I have been waiting to read it.  We nearly wrestled for it. Fourth and Fifth graders will love this series.

Early Chapter Book:
Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy book 1) by Maud Lovelace Hart - Not sure how I missed this series as a child but fans of Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie will love this series about two friends named Betsy and Tacy. 

Novel In Verse:
All The Broken Pieces by Ann E. Berg - I am learning to appreciate novels written in verse.  This is one that I would highly recommend.  It tells the story of Matt, who was airlifted out of Vietnam during the war. 

Unnamed Manuscript - Well it actually has a name but I can't reveal it yet but it will be out in 2 years.

So what are you reading?  Love to learn about new books.

Book-A-Day Challenge Week 11

The Book-A-Day Challenge was started by Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) at the beginning of the summer. Most of the teachers and librarians who have been participating in Book-A-Day have wrapped up their Book-A-Day posts since they have already returned to school.  This is my last "official" book a day post, but I will continue to post weekly "what I am reading".

Here are some things that I learned from Book-A-Day...

* I read a lot of books that start with the letter "S" and followed by "B", "R", and "C".

* Graphic novels I have learned to enjoy.  Manga still confuses me.

* Most books for 2nd & 3rd graders seem to contain a lot of humor.

* Picture books are a great fall back when you aren't going to reach your weekly goal. :-)

* Yes, it is possible to read this many books and still have a life in the summer.  (You won't watch much TV but that wasn't an issue for me anyway.)

* There are some inspirational teachers and librarians doing amazing things to get kids to read.  I have come to really appreciate all of my fellow #bookaday tweeps.

Here is the breakdown of books by general categories:

Picture books: 51 (fiction, non-fiction)
Middle Grade: 20 (mostly fiction, early chapter books, graphic novels included)
YA: 19 (includes graphic novels, and manga)
Other: 5 (includes adult books, and 3 full length unpublished manuscripts which I read in order to provide feedback)

Total number of pages: It is unclear but from a general count well over 9000 and that doesn't even consider the pages in picture books. 

To look back on last week's reading:

Picture Books

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts - A wonderfully touching story about friendship and giving.

My Best Friend is As Sharp As A Pencil by Hanoch Piven - A young girl uses unusual descriptions to tell her grandmother about her friends.  Illustrations are multi-media and very interesting.

Our Children Can Soar by Michelle Cook - Simple text, beautiful illustrations, powerful book with a universal theme.  Excellent for Black History Month.

How To Heal A Broken Wing by Bob Graham - Feel good story about a child who helps a pigeon heal from an injury.

Redwoods by Jason Chin - As a non-fiction book author friend of mine said "This is creative non-fiction."  Lots of great facts about Redwoods told in story fashion with very complimentary illustrations that make the text come alive.

Middle Grade:
Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo - A favorite find of the summer.  A graphic novel for MG that is fun and touching.  Can't wait to share this one.

A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith - A recommendation from a 7 year old friend.  The story is about a Mouse named after Mozart and who may have more in common with his namesake than you would imagine.  A nice early chapter book.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (debut author 2010) - A good debut offering from Lauren Oliver.  This twist on GROUNDHOGS DAY (the movie) portrays high school in a very realistic manner.  The main character re-lives her last day of life 7 times.  Can she make just the right changes in the day to influence the final outcome?

Where will I go from here?  Well I won't stop reading books but as I mentioned earlier with the school year returning my reading will likely turn into 1 or 2 books realistically per week.  I will keep you posted with reviews and features.  And I encourage everyone to set a goal of reading at least 1 book a week.  If you were to do that you would read 52 books in the year.

Book-A-Day Challenge Weeks 9 and 10

The Book-A-Day Challenge was started by Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisper. Many of the participants have been doing their end of the summer wrap-ups as they have returned to school. It has been one of my favorite challenges and I have really enjoyed getting to know so many wonderful teachers, and school librarians. As a result, we will continue to use the #bookaday hashtag on twitter during the school year, even if we only read 1 or 2 books per week.

Though students have not returned to school yet, in my district, my reading has slowed down as I prepare for the new school year. I have read some great books over the past two weeks. Let me tell you about them.

Picture Books

A Long Piece of String by Willian Wondriska - Check out my review here.

Chicken Big by Keith Graves - Check out my review here.

Day and Night by Teddy Newton - If you saw Toy Story 3, this is part of the short shown prior to the movie. One time when I would say that the animated version is stronger than the book. I will be posting a review on this.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg - This is a great book about fear of the first day of school at a new school. A fun little twist. A definite read for teachers and students.

Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins - A fun picture book for toddlers and preschoolers. See my review here.

Swim! Swim! by Lerch - Check out my review at MundieKids

Middle Grade Books

Friends Forever? (Mackenzie Blue #3) by Tina Wells - Since I am posting a review on Monday, I will hold off on saying anything about this book for now.

YA Books

Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King - This story mixes pirates from the 17th Century, Caribbean curses, dog facts, and the present day life of a teen girl. Definitely for older teens. I had mixed feelings about this one.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - What do I even say? I am still processing the third and final book in The Hunger Games series. An emotional rollercoaster worth riding.

Professional Books

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller - If you look at my copy of this book, it has sticky notes in different colors marking pages, and stars and underlines on lots of others. Upon finishing it, I promptly emailed my teachers that we are going to be reading this book as part of staff development. Inspirational, practical, wonderful.

Feel free to leave a comment about what you are reading.
- Aly

Book-A-Day Challenge Week 8

The Book-A-Day Challenge hosted by Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisper) has been one of my favorite challenges.  Not only did it really help me focus on my reading goal for this summer, but using the #bookaday hashtag on twitter introduced me to some great teachers and school librarians and added a whole community feel to the challenge.  I just want to give a shout out to some of my favorite  Book-A-Day folks: Kathy (@thebrainlair), John (@mrschu81), Jamie (@fiteach), David (@tkslibrarian), Elisha (@elishakarr), Denise (@ddigiova), Paul (@paulwhankins), and Donalyn (@donalynbooks).  If you are on twitter, go follow them.

Now onto my update, I will preface this and say it was a big picture book week.  A bookseller friend of mine gave me free reign to go through her galleys for new releases coming out in late fall/early winter. The only thing that kept me from reading more is that I actually had to get to a meeting and ran out of time.

You will also notice a lot of books by Melanie Watt included below.  When I had admitted that I hadn't read her stuff before, my friend pulled everything off her shelves for me to read.  Just for references purposes, I have indicated below the release dates for the ones not yet out.

Picture Books

The Monster Princess by D.J. MacHale, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger - This is a debut picture book by MacHale.  Written in typical fairy tale style, MacHale tells the story of a little monster who really wants to be a beautiful princess.

Will It Be A Baby Brother? by Eve Bunting, Illustrated by Beth Spiegel - A mom and her preschooler discuss the pending birth of the new baby in the family.  This big brother wants a "James" (brother).  Mother assures him that whatever he gets will be just right.

Grandma's Gloves by Cecil Castellucci, Illustrated by Julia Denos - A debut picture book by YA author Castellucci and a very wonderful one at that.  Get out your box of tissues.  There will be tears.  Castellucci does a beautiful job with telling one child's story of losing her grandmother and how she deals with her grief.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt - Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of just about everything.  One day things don't go exactly as planned and Scaredy learns something new about himself and takes a risk.  Funny and wonderful.

Scaredy Squirrel At Night by Melanie Watt - In a similar vein as the first book in this series, Scaredy is afraid of his dreams.  What will happen to him if he falls asleep?  As with the first one, Scaredy learns a lesson and conquers a fear.

Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach by Melanie Watt  - This may have been my favorite out of the three.  Scaredy tries creating the beach at home but he is missing something that he can only get by going to the actual beach.  Once there, things don't go as planned but then readers have learned that this is the best thing for Scaredy.

Chester by Melanie Watt - I love Scaredy Squirrel but I might even love Chester more.  Chester is a very fat, orange tabby who is snarky and difficult and loves to challenge Watt.  Chester, along with his red pen, is very funny but Watt usually has a surprise and Chester gets his comeuppance at the end.

Chester's Masterpiece by Melanie Watt - As if Chester couldn't get any funnier, this time he has hidden Watt's writing and drawing materials and is writing his own story.  But never fear, Watt has the last laugh or does she?

Have I Got A Book For You! by Melanie Watt - Though this book really is having a little fun with our "hard-sell" advertising world, I couldn't help thinking about all the teachers and librarians out there who spend hours trying to find just the right book for the right kid.

You're Finally Here! by Melanie Watt  Release Date: March 1, 2011 - Bunny (a new character) is so excited that the person he has been waiting for is finally here.  To make his point, he goes through all the agonizing moments leading up to the arrival.  But there is a twist.  Read it to find out.  As with her other books, readers will delight in her humor.

Cuddle Up, Goodnight! by Katie Cleminson Release Date: February 1, 2011 - A toddler picture book for bedtime.

Pirate vs. Pirate by Mary Quattlebaum, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger  Release Date:  March 22, 2011 - This one I want.  Two pirates compete to see who is better.  A fun book, great illustrations, and a nice lesson about what really make someone better. Boiger also  illustrated MacHale's The Monster Princess - equally well done but also very different.

What's Special About Me, Mama? by Kristina Evans, Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe Release Date: January 18, 2011 - Another one that I would like to have.  A nice addition to the category of books for preschoolers about "what is special about me?"

Before You Came by Patricia MacLachlan, Illustrations by David Diaz  Release Date:  February 8, 2011 - Fans of David Diaz will recognize the artwork in this book.  Unfortunately, there are many books for preschoolers that deal with the theme of waiting for a baby's arrival and this one does not really add anything new.

Baby Says Moo! by Joann Early Macken, Illustrated by David Walker Release Date: March 1, 2011 - This one was a nice twist on the typical toddler/preschool animal sounds.  A young toddler learning to talk refers to all animal sounds as "moo" much to the parent's frustration.

Ten Little Puppies/Diez Perritos by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, Illustrated by Ulises Wensell  Release Date: March 1, 2011  - On each two page spread is a poem first in Spanish and then in English. This is a nice twist on the traditional "Five little ducks" where each verse subtracts one. Illustrations are lovely. A nice addition to a bilingual Spanish classroom.

A Lot of Beans by Barry Varela, Illustrated by Sebastia Serra Release Date: March 1, 2011  - I really loved this one.  Aside from the multi-cultural aspect of the story (representing the Latino culture), the theme is very well presented.  The main character places a white bean in a jar if it is a good day, and a black bean if it is a bad day. After a series of really bad days, the boy decides to count all of the beans to see if his life is mostly good or bad. Don't want to give away the ending. But wonderful resolution and ending.

Mama and Me by Arthur Dorros, Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez Release Date: March 1, 2011 - There was something about the illustrations in this book that made it stand out.  The story about the little girl and her mother - though not especially unique - is well constructed and offers a twist on others in this category. One that I will definitely find once it is published to see if I still feel the same way.

Non-fiction Picture Books

Miss Dorothy's Book Mobile by Gloria M. Houston, Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb  U.S. Release Date: January 25, 2011 -   This is a biographical picture book about  Dorothy Thomas who drove books to people all over the Appalachian during the 1940's.

The Great Migration by Eloise Greenfield, Illustrated by Jan Gilchrist  Release Date: December 21, 2010 - Some picture books do an amazing job of mixing text and illustrations to tell a story. I loved the combination in this book. The Great Migration tells of one African American family's migration from the south to the north. One that I will definitely look for upon it's release.

Early Chapter Books

Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds - I'm not sure how I have avoided reading Judy Moody but I thought it was time to catch up.  Judy is not in a good mood.  It is the first day of school and things don't look like they are going to get any better any time soon.  Teachers will recognize the characters in the book.  The Judy Moody series is a great one for 2nd and 3rd graders and for fans of Ramona.

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee - I am behind in my 2nd & 3rd grade chapter books.  Probably because many of them annoy me.  However, I loved Clementine.  I think I might love Clementine as much as or maybe even more than Ramona.

Felix Takes the Stage (The Deadlies) by Kathryn Lasky - I think all I know about brown recluse spiders I learned from reading this book.  A family of brown recluses live in a music hall.  Felix wants to conduct an orchestra but gets a little too close to the conductor in an after hours practice and the conductor gets a surprise.  What's a spider family to do when they are forced out of their home by exterminators?  A fun early chapter book which includes a reference about spiders at the end.

Two more Book-A-Day Postings for the summer and then I will be switching over to Book-A-Week during the school year.  So how's your summer reading going?

- Aly

Book-A-Day Challenge Weeks 6 & 7 Update

It is already August and I know in some places people will be returning to school soon.  My school; however, did not get out until June 23rd so I still have about another month to reach my Book-A-Day goal of 80 books.  if you don't know about the Book-A-Day Challenge you can check out Donalyn Miller's (The Book Whisperer)  blog post about the Book-A-Day Challenge . Several educators and librarians have been sharing our reading on Twitter, GoodReads, and through our individual blogs.  Currently, I have read 54 books towards my total goal of 80.

During week 6, my sister came out to California to visit me.  With all the running around, I was left with little time for reading.  Hence a combined two week post.

Book-A-Day Weeks 6 & 7 reads:

Picture Books:

Big Wolf & Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme, Illustrated by Olivier Tallec and translated by Claudia Bedrick - This is a beautiful story of friendship between a big wolf who is use to being on his own and worrying about no one and a smaller wolf who manages to make a big impression.  Children will enjoy this tale.   Bedrick's translation work earned the book a Batchelder's Honor Award.

Fancy Nancy: Hooray For Beauty Day! by Jane O'Connor, Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser - Fancy Nancy books are always fun.  I enjoy the way it introduces children to a variety of vocabulary.  My only minor concern with this book is that the pages seemed very "full" almost distracting.  In addition to the wonderful illustrations and regular text, there were "tips" for how to perform certain things (i.e., applying nail polish, or doing a facial).

Animal House by Candace Ryan, Illustrated by Nathan Hale  - This is a fun story about a boy who lives in a Gorvilla and where everything is not what you would expect.  The classroom teacher thinks Jeremy just has an overactive imagination until she does a homevisit. This will make you laugh out loud.  Click here to read my review.

The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily, Ordinary First Day of School by Albert Lorenz  - This book was different.  There appears to be an attempt to deal with a child's fears with the first day in a new school but instead it turns out to be an overly busy book.  Every page is filled with elaborately detailed illustrations, speech bubbles, text, and vocabulary definitions.  Click here to read my review.

Graphic Novels, Middle Grades

Over My Dead Body (43 Old Cemetery Road) by Kate Klise, Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise - This is the second book in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series by the Klise sisters.  I need to start a writing petition for more books.  Nine & ten year olds will love the story of a boy, a ghost, and a grumpy old writer who all share a home.  Click here to read my review.

Copper by Kazu Kibuishi  - Readers are introduced to Copper & his dog Fred in Kibuishi's Flight Explorer Series.  In this book, it is all about Copper and Fred.  The book is composed of a series of short stories (similar to a weekly comic strip series).  Copper & Fred are a bit of an odd pairing but compliment each other nicely.  I have become a huge Kibuishi fan this summer.

Middle Grades:

Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes - I can't say enough wonderful things about this book.  A beautiful debut novel that features a young Latina girl who learns to deal with loss and grief through family, stories, friendship, and love.  Grab a tissue when reading. This Click here to read my review.

Young Adult

Sprout by Dale Peck - Sprout Bradford moves from NY to Kansas.  This is a story about loss and discovering one's self.  The book deals with the theme of homosexuality and does include sexual content which may make some parents uncomfortable.  Though there were some things that I really appreciated about this book, I was disappointed that many of the characters seemed flat and not well developed.

White Cat by Holly Black - Think of this book as a bit of the Sopranos, a bit of Leverage all done with an element of the magical.  Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers (people who with a touch can either make you forget something, or change your feelings, or even kill you).  But more than that Cassel's family are really a bunch of Grifters and Cons.  Book one of this trilogy sets the stage and explores the world of Curse Workers.  Cassel must come to learn his own role in his family.  I loved this book and want book 2 now not in 9 more months.

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez - There is a little piece of Cuban and American history that is not well known.  In 1960 to 1962, families in Cuba sent 14,000 children under Operation Pedro Pan to the United States to avoid Castro's Revolution.  Gonzalez combines her family's history with the history of others to create a beautiful story which give voice to the experience that many older Cuban Americans lived through.  This book is not just for teens.  A wonderful read.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore  - High fantasy done well.  I have had this on my TBR list since forever and finally got to it.  It certainly reminded me of why I love fantasy.  Strong female protagonist, a well-matched ally in the form of a swoon-worthy male paired with action, adversity, and challenge.

Maybe not 14 books in the past two weeks but there were some really long YA novels.  :-)  Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  Would love to hear what fun books people are reading.