Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi is on the edge, toes already over and the rest of her ready to fall forward. Two years ago, her little brother Truman was killed. In the ensuing years, her family split up, her mother has slowly lost her mind, and Andi has blamed herself for her brother’s death. When her father, a Nobel-Prize-winning geneticist, makes a surprise visit on account of Andi’s failing grades, he discovers just how deep her mother has retreated into herself. He immediately gets her into a treatment center and takes Andi with him on his business trip to France. He hopes that in Paris she will be able to concentrate on her thesis, a graduation requirement.

Andi is miserable in Paris, medicating herself with her pills in increasing dosages. The only thing that keeps her tethered to the earth (barely) is music. When her father’s friend shows her an antique guitar case, she is drawn to it. When she discovers a secret compartment in the case, a dusty diary falls out. It is here that we are introduced to Alexandrine Paradis, companion to Louis Charles, the young dauphin who was imprisoned as a child, walled up alive. Andi begins reading the diary and feels a strong connection with Alexandrine and the young prince, who reminds her of her brother. What ensues is a story of pain, of loss, of love, and finally hope.

This book is absolutely unbelievable. First of all, what a fantastic way to introduce teens to the French Revolution. I was hooked from the moment I read the first words in Alexandrine’s diary. And Andi…oh my gosh. It was like I was standing there next to her. That is how real she felt to me. And honestly, all of the characters are compelling. I fell in love with them all, even if I wanted to hate some of them, too.

I am not sure how I can convince you to go out and read Revolution right now. If you love historical fiction, this is for you. If you love teen characters who are actually real teens, then you will love Revolution. If you just want to immerse yourself in some of the best writing of the year, go get Revolution. If you want to shut out the world for a while and forget about everything else, pick up Revolution. Jennifer Donnelly is a genius.  My fingers are crossed that this book is on the list of Printz winners come January.  It sure as hell deserves it.

And hey, I already have a few students gushing over this. Really! Gushing over a book about the French Revolution. As one of them updated on Goodreads recently, “Still reading. I can not put this book down!”.

*ARC from BEA

#ARCsFloatOn Matching Program!

Wow!  The response to #ARCsFloatOn has been unbelievable!  If you are interested in being matched, please fill out the form at the link below.  Thanks!

 

ARCsFloatOn Registration

 

 

 

 

 

ARCs Float On

*Edited to add: Bloggers and teachers who are interested in being a part of the program, fill out the survey

ARCsFloatOn Matchmaker Survey

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Since starting at my new school, I have not been blogging as much.  I’ve been working on my curriculum, getting to know my students as readers, and grading a lot!  I have been trying to keep up with my reading, though, and I’ve been posting reviews here on the blog (with more to come).  My to-be-read pile of books continues to grow exponentially, adding titles from blogger reviews, student suggestions, and review books that I receive.

I get a lot of books for review.  At least twice each week I come home to find packages on the porch.  Right now, as a Cybils panelist, I am receiving review copies of the nominated  YA/middle grade nonfiction titles.  Some of the books I receive are finished copies and others are ARCs (advanced readers copies).  I read as many as I can, posting reviews here and on Goodreads. Publishers value the “buzz” that is generated by these early copies and my students love that they get a chance to read books before they are officially published.  I start the year by explaining what ARCs are and showing them some unfinished copies.  My sixth-graders and my high schoolers both understood that ARCs are not finished works and may differ from the final draft.  But ARCs work wonders with readers.  Even the most reluctant reader can be swayed when they realize they are first. They are holding a copy of the book before almost anyone else.

After I read, my ARCs and review copies are put in my classroom library.  Upcoming books are shelved separately, drawing in reluctant readers.  ARCs that have been published (and physically survived my classroom) are moved onto the general shelves  of my library.  Books that are not a good fit for my classroom are given to other teachers.  My sister teaches high school special ed and is just starting her classroom library.  I brought her boxes of high-interest but low-level books this summer.  I also give middle grade titles and elementary titles to other friends who teach those grade levels.  The teachers are always extremely grateful. Plus, my husband is happy because the books are out of our house!  (Honestly, it is only temporary because more books soon replace those that are gone).

Classroom libraries are a vital part of students’ lives.  According to Scholastic’s Classroom Libraries Work: Research & Results,

By providing access to a rich classroom library, teachers promote greater amounts of reading, increased reading frequency, and more diverse reading experiences among their students, thus helping them to attain greater levels of reading achievement.

Unfortunately, almost all teachers fund their classroom libraries on their own.  This means ordering from Scholastic, visiting warehouse sales, soliciting donations from students/parents, and looking longingly at those new titles in the bookstore but knowing it’s impossible to buy them all.  I am extremely lucky; as a reviewer, I have access to the newest titles.  But for most of my friends, this is not true.  The economy has hit schools and teachers hard.  Spending extra money on trade books for the classroom library is hard to justify when it means your own family might do without something else.  Schools are spending their money elsewhere, unable to fund classroom libraries.

While joining in the monthly Twitter chat for #titletalk, Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) and I started talking about this issue.  I brought up the fact that I know many bloggers who are inundated with titles and have nowhere to donate them.  ARCs can not be sold or cataloged by an actual library, so many are thrown out.  Most public libraries are unable to accept donations of review copies, or finished copies.  (I know mine can not, and I have tried, and tried!)

I suggested that we start a campaign to encourage book reviewers and bloggers to donate their review books and advanced reader copies to classrooms and charities in their communities. I know many of the reviewers already donate their books to local schools, libraries, and literacy charities.  However, I talked to many on Twitter who did not know what to do with their copies.

This is my plea- find a worthy charity or a local classroom teacher.  Give them your ARCs and review copies when you are done.  Tweens and teens NEED access to good books, new literature.  Reviewers are in a special position here and can really help out in these tough economic times.  If you receive free books from publishers (ARCs or review copies!), please consider donating your review books. By donating the books that you receive for free, you are promoting awareness of great books and authors, helping teachers and librarians, and encouraging more reading. Learn more about this initiative or connect to a classroom through the Twitter hashtag, #ARCsFloatOn.

If you are interested, and don’t know how to get matched with a local teacher, feel free to comment here or Tweet me.  I would be happy to do some matchmaking!

*Please remember, ARCs can not be cataloged by an actual library.  However, personal classroom libraries can accept ARCs!

Edited to add:

Want to be matched?  Fill out the survey!

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

I picked up an ARC of Jackie Morse Kessler’s Hunger back at BEA in May.  Somehow, it slipped off my radar until early in October, when I found the slim ARC on my shelf.  I was looking for a light read, something quick to get me back in the groove.  At only a hundred -and-some-odd pages, I figured it would be perfect.

Light read….haha!  I assumed this would be a quick adventure story about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with a little gender twist.  Instead, Hunger reminded me a lot of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.

Seventeen-year old Lisabeth is dealing with a lot of demons and has taken control of her life the only way she knows how- by not eating.  Her mother is cold and criticizing.  Her father is distant.  Her best friend just accused her of having an eating disorder.  And her boyfriend thinks her friend is right.  But the most important person in her life is the Thin Voice.  The Thin Voice demands that she not eat.  It reminds her how fat she is. It has convinced her to completely reject food.  One night, as she attempts to overdose on her mother’s pills, she summons the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Death assigns her to take her rightful place among the horsemen- as Famine.  She then rides across the world witnessing gluttony and starvation, seeing people at their best and their worst.

This is not only a book about an eating disorder.  Jackie Morse Kessler has woven an important story that deals with eating disorders, depression, family alienation, and friendship.  The eating disorder has torn Lisabeth’s life apart, in more ways than she can comprehend.  Seeing people across the world who are faced with starvation and gluttony Lisabeth begins to see what she is doing in her own life.

I really enjoyed Hunger.  It wasn’t the light and fluffy read that I expected, but it sucked me in.  Kessler paints an accurate picture of how an eating disorder affects the victim and their family and friends.  The global implications, seen when Lisabeth is traveling the globe, are thought-provoking and I think will serve as a great conversation-starter.  This would make a fantastic choice for literature circles.  I also think it will attract reluctant readers because it isn’t too thick.  It’s the perfect length.

Highly recommended.

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