Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reading Tragedy

There is a lovely little used book store by the school I work at. I have tried to always check there when I am looking for treasures. The owner of the store has had health issues for years. He was In a wheelchair because of an accident. The past few years he has been in the hospital and the store has been run by volunteers. Unfortunately, despite having no paid staff, it has been losing money for years. 

I stopped by there the other day with two of my students. We were there to celebrate the fact that they had already read 40 books this year! We we're going to go shopping and buy a book for each of them. We were surprised, when we arrived, to hear that everything was free. The girls walked out with all sorts of books!!

Everything was free because the owner has recently died and they have to close down the store. The man there said it was inevitable.

Today they are cleaning out the store. What does one do with 30,000 or so used books? They tried many different things. In the end, they threw out about 20,000 books.

As we approached we could see books being tossed into the bin. My daughter shouted, "Oh no! Stop!! Mom!! Hurry!"

She climbed up and peeked into the roll away bin. She stod there for a long long time. 

 It. Was. Stunning.

And sad.

We saved all we could. But in the end, tragedy reigned.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Babymouse: Heartbreaker (Jennifer Holm)

Goodreads summary: AHHH, VALENTINE'S DAY! Babymouse loves Valentines Day! A day for pink hearts! Flowers! Candy! School dances and romance . . . sweetromance! WAIT! Romance? Ew! And what's this about a school dance? Does that mean Babymouse needs a date? Uh-oh! Looks like thisValentine's Day may turn into a Valentine's dud! Will Babymouse go to the school dance? Will she get any Valentines? Will she find true love? Find out in . . . Babymouse: Heartbreaker!

Cute....kinda sappy too. Brings out all those feelings I remember about being worried about how things would go at a school dance! In the end she dances with a giraffe....and isn't that how junior high goes? Although, often it is the girl that is the giraffe, er, tall one.

I was telling my 15 year old about this book. She said, "I love Babymouse!" .....and there she sat, soaking up another Babymouse. She confirmed, it totally does capture those Jr. High dance feelings! :)

Baby Mouse Queen of the World! (Jennifer Holm)

I liked this book. Lots of cute graphics and I loved babymouse's sassy-ness. It's definitely one to add to my classroom library. I'm a little concerned there is too much pink for the boys to swallow. How come girls can read boy's books, but boy's can't read girls books? The most popular graphic novels are directed at boys, so I liked that this one was different. I rarely see girls reading Amulet or Bone books.

 I picked is one up hoping it would be a good graphic novel for my gr. 3 book club, but I am concerned that a good reader in Gr 3 would read it in one sitting - one pretty short sitting, actually. It will be a great one for my struggling readers though!

There are lots if good lessons taught in this book: Not worrying about being popular, for one. I love that she realizes she doesn't like the sitting around and  talking about boy, looks, etc., like the girls do at the sleepover where she finally gets invited. She goes back to her old pal, eats cupcakes and watches horror movies.

Goodreads summary: 

It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The adventure? Nothing ever changes, until . . . Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse: Queen of the World, a graphic novel with attitude!

It's really quite a fun book. I even got Peirce reading it:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Little Red Writing (Joan Holub)

This is a cute new version of Little Red Riding Hood. 

I can see using this book in my classroom often to talk about the fun things words can do, the keys to being a good writer (juicy adjectives other fun words), grammar tips, and tips on avoiding run on sentences. It is all done in such a fun way! I can see this one being a classroom keeper to be read again and again.

Goodreads summary:

Acclaimed writer Joan Holub and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet team up in this hilarious and exuberant retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which a brave, little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000)... and saves the day.

The Stamp Collector (Jennifer Lanthier)

Beautiful and haunting. It doesn't really strike me as a children's book though. It is a wonderful way to tell the story if the need for story, or the tragedy if oppression, and how it can be overcome.

Goodreads summary:

A city boy finds a stamp that unlocks his imagination; a country boy is captivated by stories. When they grow up, the two boys take different paths – one becomes a prison guard, the other works in a factory – but their early childhood passions remain. When the country boy’s stories of hope land him in prison, the letters and stamps sent to him from faraway places intrigue the prison guard – and a unique friendship begins.

A House in the Sky (Amanda Lindhout)

A House in the Sky

I remember this story well when it was in the news. There were contradictory stories - that Amanda Lindhout was living happily and married to a Muslim in Samalia. I knew there was probably much more to the story. There was.

Goodreads summary:

The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace.
As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.
Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.
Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.

I listened to this book on CD. I found myself feeling a bit of the emotions Amanda must have felt. Then I would feel shameful thinking how could I ever think I even had an idea at all what she went through. I find the whole middle eastern world fascinating yet frightening. 

This story is compelling. It drug me through the emotions of being a hostage. It broke my heart and it frightened me. It's stunning what humans will do to each other, and it's stunning what we can overcome.

National post photo:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bink and Gollie (Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee)

Kate DiCamillo never disappoints! This will be a great book to add to my list of books to introduce my students to for our friendship unit. 

Bink and Gollie are friends. They are clever. They use great vocabulary. 

I don't always list illustrators in my blog posts, but the illustrations are so integral to the story, and so simply amazing and hilarious, Alison McGhee must be mentioned! The illustrations are hilarious and add perfectly to the laughter of the book. 

These two remind me very much of my own children. They're differently sizes (and ages?) but still have plenty of reckless fun together roller skating. Gollie, like me with my daughter, tries to tolerate Bink's love for the outrageous (it's socks in this book). They get into crazy messes which are creatively resolved. Yup. Sounds a lot like my house!

             “I have brought you half of my pancakes," said Gollie.

              "And I have removed one of my outrageous socks," said Bink. "It's a compromise bonanza!” 

Love love love this book! It is an easy read and also one I would enjoy reading to kids again and again.

Pinch and Dash Make Soup

This is a story about two characters, Pinch and Dash. Pinch is hungry, but not ambitious enough to make his own soup. To make it worse, Dash makes boring soup. They decide to make some soup, but can't quite agree on how it should be made. In the end, they sneak in secret ingredients, much to their own demise.

This is a cute book in many respects. The names are clever. It would be a great additional book if you were doing a Stone Soup activity. It is set up like an early chapter book, however, I can't imagine it would be a book that younger children would be very interested in reading in their own.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford)

This is a beautiful book, definitely one to re-read. It is also a book that would be great for a novel study at the end of grade 3.

Goodreads summary:

Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the doughty young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love. The Incredible Journey is one of the great children's stories of all time--and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.

The end almost had me crying. I can see that this would also be a fantastic movie. What kid doesn't love a story of animals  and reunions and the love humans share with them. There is no talking amongst the animals, but you can feel how they love each other and do look after each other.

Definitely one to re-read!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock (Bill Peet)


I feel for Prewit Peacock. Poor little guy is scared of so much. This is a great self-esteem story. It is also a fun twist on words: spooky tales versus spooky tails.