48-Hour Book Challenge Update

Time Reading: 8.25ish hours?

Books completed: 6

Time Blogging/Social Media: 3 hours

Pages Read: 1097

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami YodaThe Jaguar Stones, Book One: MiddleworldThis Is Me From Now On Shakespeare Bats CleanupThe Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (Scientists in the Field Series), The Kite Fighters

48-Hour Book Challenge Update

Time Reading: 7.5ish hours?

Books completed: 5

Time Blogging/Social Media: 2.5 hours

Pages Read: 961

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami YodaThe Jaguar Stones, Book One: MiddleworldThis Is Me From Now On , Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (Scientists in the Field Series)

48-Hour Book Challenge Update

Time Reading: 7ish hours?

Books completed: 4

Time Blogging/Social Media: 2.5 hours

Pages Read: 961

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami YodaThe Jaguar Stones, Book One: MiddleworldThis Is Me From Now On, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup

48-Hour Book Challenge Update

Time Reading: 6ish hours?

Books completed: 3

Time Blogging/Social Media: 2 hours

Pages Read: 845

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami YodaThe Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld, This Is Me From Now On

48-Hour Book Challenge Update

I just finished The Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld.  LOVED it!  I have an obsession with MesoAmerica and this book is perfect for feeding that obsession. :)

Time Reading: 4ish hours?

Books completed: 1

Time Blogging/Social Media: 2 hours

Pages Read: 586

Currently Reading: This Is Me From Now On

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami Yoda, The Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld

48-Hour Book Challenge Update

Time Read: 1 hour and 55 minutes

Books completed: 1

Time Blogging/Social Media: 1 hour

Pages Read: 346

Currently Reading: The Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami Yoda

MotherReader’s 48-Hour Book Challenge

It is officially time for MotherReader’s 48-hour Book Challenge!  I know I won’t get nearly as much reading done as I did last year (busy weekend!), but I am using this as an excuse to read whenever I can grab a minute.  I won’t be reading for more than a few hours and I am sure I will only finish a few books.  But here goes nothing!

My goal is to read 10 books over the course of this weekend.

Time Read: 45 minutes

Books completed: 1

Time Blogging: 10 minutes

Pages Read: 141

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Check Out My Guest Post

Be sure to check out the TwoWritingTeachers blog on Friday.  I have written a guest post with some practical advice for writing poetry in the middle school classroom.

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

I will be up-front with you all- Kathi and I had coffee when she was last in NJ and I consider her a friend (albeit a friend who lives in Texas.  :) ) However, that did not affect my view of her latest book. (Kathi and I met after I reviewed The Underneath and I fell in love with her writing.)

I admit I was reluctant to pick up her newest novel, Keeper. I loved, loved, loved her Newbery Honor winning book, The Underneath; I was its biggest champion. When I received my review copy (courtesy of Ms. Appelt and the publisher), I put it on my shelf and kept moving it down in my pile. I was so afraid that nothing could live up to the beauty that was The Underneath.

Well there was no reason for me to worry- Keeper is a stunning book.  STUNNING.  It is poetry, prose, magic, fairy tale, and real life wrapped into one.  I think it will appeal to readers across the board.  The entire story takes place over the course of one short day, but with flashbacks to different points in the characters’s lives.  I love how Appelt doesn’t hesitate to toss perspective around like a beach ball.  Most of the book is told from Keeper’s viewpoint, but at times Signe tells the story, Dogie steps in, and even the animals get their chance to share.  The chapters are short, which kept me reading.  However, Kathi’s signature cadence is here, which may frustrate some readers.  The plot is not action-filled but rather ebbs and flows like the waves on the shore.  However, the story does take place over the course of one day, so it never slows to a stop.

This is a beach book.  As I was reading I could practically feel the sand beneath my toes and smell the saltwater in the air.  Appelt has drawn a world that readers immediately fall into, head over heels, like  Alice into the rabbit hole.  Reading this homage to the Gulf and Gulf coast I couldn’t help but feel sadness for what it is going through right now.  This book is especially apropos given the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico right now.  I already ached for the people and nature affected, but Kathi Appelt made me fall in love with a place I have never even been and now my heart breaks even more.

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, too.  They complement Appelt’s text perfectly and I found myself drawn to them. (And I am not an illustrations person at all.)  Hall’s illustrations matched my own visions of the characters perfectly.  Which leads me to the characters- you will fall in love with them all.  I do think there will be some shocked parents out there, though.  Old Mr. Beauchamp has spent his entire life missing his love.  He frequently sits back and remembers the 15 year old boy named Jack that he met briefly in France, before setting sail on the seas.  I admit I was a caught off-guard but only because the relationships I see are almost always heterosexual in mainstream children’s literature.  Mr. Beauchamp’s love is pure and beautiful and he brought a tear to my eye more than once…I am thrilled that a tale like this is being told in a middle grade novel and that it is presented without fanfare or shock and awe.

This is a book about nontraditional families and the importance of family.  It is about the Gulf and the nature that is a part of it.  It is about friendship and heartbreak.  It is about mermaids and legends of the sea, dolphins and stingrays.  But most importantly, it is a simple store about the complicatedness of love.  And it’s on my shortlist for the Newbery.

*There are portions of this book that I would pull out and share on their own, like the chapters devoted to the stingrays.  They are just that gorgeous.

*review copy courtesy of the publisher

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

I’ve been hearing rumblings about Deborah Wiles’ Countdown for a few months now. I was intrigued so I ended up ordering myself a copy before my review copy arrived. It was well-worth it!

This is the story of Franny and her family during the brief, but terrifying, Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960’s. While I did not experience this firsthand, I could feel the fear and terror radiating from the pages as I read.  The world has been turned upside down by air-raid drills, bomb shelters, Russians, spies, and the Civil Rights Movement.  With all of this going on outside of her home, within her own four walls Fanny has to face her older sister’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, her uncle’s post-traumatic stress disorder, her “perfect” little brother, her best-friend-turned-enemy, and the cute new-old boy down the street.

Deborah Wiles has created a masterpiece.  The story is straight-up historical fiction based on her own memories of the time and I think tweens and teens alike will enjoy it.  Despite the setting of 1962, I think today’s tweens and teens will identify with the feelings of fear and terror that permeate the story.  But what really sets this book apart is the multi-genre approach Wiles uses.  She is calling it a documentary novel and there is no better description.

Interspersed between the chapters are primary sources, essays, song lyrics, posters, and much more from the time period. The references to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bob Dylan, Kennedy’s speeches, popular advertisements of the time, etc. appeal to an older audience.  I found myself turning the pages very slowly, inhaling the primary sources deeply and connecting them to the story of Franny and her family.  Every single item is chosen carefully and enhances the story while also presenting more information about the time period.  I’ve never seen a novel like this and can’t wait to read more like it from Deborah Wiles.  I’ve been a fan of hers for a while but this book has taken her to another stratosphere.

My only qualm so far has been the age range that I would use this with.  Franny is in elementary or middle school, depending on your view of the grade levels, which usually means students similar in age will be the most likely audience.  But the story appeals to a wider audience.  The primary sources take the story to a much higher level of thinking, and I could see this book being used in high school US History classes.  It’s a genius way of presenting information in a nonthreatening way.  The primary sources never take away from the story and only enhance the book.  In many ways, Wiles’ book reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird in the sense that the protagonist is an elementary/middle school student but the audience will be much broader.

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Official Website, http://scholastic.com/COUNTDOWN

Author Website, http://deborahwiles.com

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