Contest and The Questory of Root Karbunkulus by Kamilla Reid

When I first began reading Kamilla Reid’s The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item One: Miist I was immediately taken by the voice of the story. I found myself laughing out loud for the first few pages! Lately I have been reading a lot of new fantasy novels (everyone wants to be the new Harry Potter) and it seems that so many are clunky, difficult to get through, and dark. I find myself reluctant to recommend them to some of my readers, because fantasy is always a tough sell, and if the story is difficult it can be painful for 6th graders. Not so with The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item One: Miist!

Root is different. According to her cruel aunts (who reminded me of the evil stepfamily in Cinderella), her parents died and left her to them. She is raised to be a maid in their crazy “halfhouse”. She begins to withdraw from the world and become a shell of her former self until the day she receives a life-changing phone call on a magic phone only she can hear. It turns out to be a summons to join a magical treasure hunt. Root enthusiastically agrees and begins preparations to leave her cruel aunts behind, she must first solve riddle in order to enter the world of the contest. When she does solve the riddle, she is transported to the world of Dre’Amm, located a mere 3 feet above our world. Soon she is trudging her way toward a castle along with a line of other boys and girls, all of whom are buzzing about the competition they have been invited to join. In Dre’Amm, where magic exists in everyone and everything, Root finds herself at a disadvantage. She is a Dearth – a non-magicial being. Or so she thinks…

Once at the castle, the children are randomly put into teams that can include children native to Dre’Amm. Root becomes part of a team called the Valadors, which consists of herself and two boys – Lian, the bullied son of a nobleman in Dre’Amm, and Dwyn, a hot guy (who knows it) from Root’s world. They begin the first of 6 quests to find treasures of the Dre’Amm world. It’s a dangerous game and only 6 teams will move on to the next part of the quest. Six teams out of the hundreds that begin. So the competition is fierce!

Root’s team heads to a secret library, hoping to gain information that will put them ahead of the other teams. To their shock, another group has arrived first and the competition will remain neck-and-neck from this point on, as the teams scour the land for clues to Kalliope’s Miist. Along the way, Root will learn about the strange world of Dre’Amm – her birthplace – with its strange animals that include two-headed snakes, albino gorillas, and talking cats, ghosts, Sea Wraiths, Bulks, Bredins, and other strange inhabitants magic dirt that forms an interactive map, living alarm clocks, friendly wisteria vines. She will also learn about herself, for the first time ever.

I loved this book. It’s full of action, humor, friendship, and adventure. Kamilla Reid has developed a gorgeous and magical world in Dre’Amm (pronounced Drayam, not dream!) that invites you in and wraps you in its magic. Root is a likable character who wants nothing more than to know who she is. There are wizards, magicians, and magic beings. I think it is difficult in this day and age not to compare fantasy books to Harry Potter, but I think Reid has done a great job with the first book in her series. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series! And I look forward to recommending the first volume to my students.

Kamilla Reid has been kind enough to swing by the blog today to answer questions in the comments, so fire away! She has also donated a signed copy of the novel, complete with Dre’Amm dogtags! Interested in winning? Just leave a comment about why you want to read The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item One: Miist!

ETA:  The contest will run from now til Saturday!  I will choose a winner at random on Saturday night!  So be sure to leave a comment!

Summer Reading Update

Today I went into NYC to see “Hairspray” on Broadway with my friend’s day camp. A lot of my students from this past year were campers and we got to catch up a bit. Of course, I asked what they have been reading. What awesome language arts teacher wouldn’t? But I got a few recommendations from them, which made me happy. And we laughed because they are starting to see some of the ARCs we read earlier this year finally coming out in the bookstore. They love that they read the books and recommended them to friends before they were published.

Of course, we eventually got around to the summer reading list. The kids I didn’t teach seem to be avoiding summer reading, with most of them saying they will start after camp. But my former students have all finished their summer reading! I was so impressed. And even better, they enjoyed their books! Interestingly, everyone I talked to today read Cynthia Voight’s Homecoming (The Tillerman Series #1). They not only enjoyed it- they even read the next Dicey book on their own!  How awesome is that?  I do find it interesting that the newest book on the list seems to be the most-read.  Yet it is also the longest book!  It just shows what a great book talk can do for a book.  Kids who would never choose a long book on their own chose it based on the summary I gave.  Summer reading lists need to be booktalked!

Oh, and I was so happy to hear that a good number of my students have started using the public library this summer.  In our town, the library is used to research projects and summer reading once the kids reach the middle grades.  To hear that they are going to the library, taking out books, and even getting on the waiting list for popular books absolutely made my heart sing.  (I know, I’m corny).  But it made me feel like I made a difference!

An award!

Stacey, over at TwoWritingTeachers (one of my favorite blogs) was kind enough to bestow an Arte y Pico Award on my blog!

Of course, I am honored!  And I want to bestow the same on some of my favorite blogs, too.

Essentially this award is like a Meme. There are rules for paying it forward after your blog gets recognized. They are as follows:

1) Select 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award, based on creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogger community. The blogs can be in any language.

2) Post a link to each blog so that others can visit.

3) Each award-winner has to show the award and link to the blogger that awarded it.

4) The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show a link to Arte y Pico.

(I would love to post the image/logo, but it seems to be unavailable right now!)

Here are the five blogs I have chosen:

Abby (the) Librarian: I love getting an inside look at life in a children’s room at the library.  Abby periodically posts an hour-by-hour description of her life at the library and I love it!  Also, she reads some great books and her reviews always make me want to go out and buy the book.

Literate Lives:  Karen and Bill share blogging duties and review a wide variety of books.  Again, I always want to run out and buy whatever they review.  I especially love that they review a lot of non-fiction, because I don’t always know what the newest non-fiction titles are.  Plus, they run a great feature about books they read and plan to read aloud in “the pit”, the story area of the library.  It’s so much fun to imagine a big group of kids oohing and aahing along with them.

Miss Erin:  I want to be Miss Erin, if only I was still a teenager.  (I swear, it wasn’t that long ago!  My kids still think I look 13!)  But Erin reviews books, posts wonderful original poetry sometimes, and always has great author interviews.  Plus, she is a readergirlz diva!

My Breakfast Platter: Amy is a fellow 6th grade  teacher in Salt Lake City.  We have shared ideas and had some great conversations via email.  It’s so nice to connect with another teacher, even if they are on the other side of the country!  Plus, she shares my philosophy about the power of independent reading.

Shelf Elf:  Ok, I am shallow- I love the blog name.  How cute is shelf elf?  But she also posts great reviews and I usually want to run out and grab the books she posts about.  She also posts a lot of news and interesting tidbits from the kidlitosphere and children’s publishing.

Don’t despair if I didn’t choose you.  I had the hardest time picking just 5 blogs!  But keep in mind I have a whole lot of blogs in my Google Reader feed (an ungodly amount, I tell ya).  I read so many blogs and I really love them all!

Living a writerly life

During Writer’s Workshop, I am always telling my students to live a writerly life.  I share my own writing with them (and this was especially successful during our poetry unit), and I even share my fear of sharing with them.  I think it models that adults aren’t always perfect and that we have fears, too.

However, I realized last year that if I really want my students to value writing then I have to show them how much I value writing.  I need to prove to them that writing isn’t something I do just to model examples for them.  So, this summer I set a goal to work on getting something published.  Thus, last week I began sending out query letters to various magazines to promote an article I am writing about my trip to Michoacan, Mexico.  When I applied for the travel fellowship, I promised to promote the Monarch Teacher Network, and one idea I contributed was to get an article published about my experiences.  Well, we are off and running!  Now it is just a matter of sitting back and waiting to hear from the editors.  Wish me luck!

It’s funny, but now I have a new experience to share- the waiting game!  What is it like to send out a manuscript and just wait for an editor to make a decision?  Hopefully, this will encourage more of my students to be brave and attempt to get their own writing published.

Almost there…

I can not believe that we are already nearing the end of July.  I will be back at school in a month!  That just seems unbelievable.  Needless to say, I have been planning and preparing already.  Today I spent a lot of time on my new class website.

For the past few years I have bounced around between different services.  Last year I used the new service provided by the district but I wasn’t thrilled with it.  It wasn’t user-friendly, it was a pain to update, and parents had a hard time keeping up with it.  When I sat down to figure out what I wanted to do next year, I kept coming back to this blog.  I love the ease of of blog and the interactive aspects of it.  WordPress’ software allows me to design separate pages, upload handouts, offer subscription by email, and so much more.  But of course, I want to keep this blog separate from school.  That is when I discovered Edublogs.  I love this site!  I set up a blog a few days ago and have been playing with it ever since.   I have been writing welcome posts, designing pages, and otherwise tweaking it to my preferences.  The best part is, I know I haven’t even begun to touch on the capabilities of the blog as offered by Edublogs.  So if you are looking for a great place to keep your class website or blog, definitely check out Edublogs.

The Rise of YA

Say what you will about the decline of pleasure reading among kids, but YA is alive and kicking. How do I know this? How about the fact that “Hundreds of teens camped overnight outside the San Diego Convention Center for a chance to see early footage of the film and get a glimpse at the cast of heartthrobs set to bring the teen-vampire tale to life.”.

What are they talking about? Apparently, Twilight has taken over Comic-Con this year. That’s right, teens who have read and loved a series are such huge fans that they are taking over one of the biggest conventions of the year. Insane! And I absolutely love it. :)

Even better? The article about Twilight fans at Comic-Con is on the front page of Yahoo. Hopefully, this will introduce more adults (and teens) to current YA books. Even if Meyers is not the world’s greatest writer, even if the Twilight saga is not exactly “literary”, even if the books are silly romances- they are getting teens to read! And they are getting adults into the YA section of the library or bookstore. Now we just need to keep both the teens and adults in there and reading!

A Fun Toy!

Thanks to Stacey over at TwoWritingTeachers for this great website! I am having way too much fun with it and I can already think of some fun ways to use it this school year.

S Alphabet Block a R A card letter h

 

Spell with Flickr!

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