Posted on January 1, 2010 by thereadingzone
Posted on December 30, 2009 by thereadingzone
Phew! I took off a few days to get my head together, celebrate the holidays, and just relax. I’ve been reading and writing, and you can expect reviews and posts starting tonight! It felt good to step away from the blog for a bit and just read for fun. I’ve spent the last few months frantically reading for the Cybils middle grade panel, and I love it, but that meant pushing lots of other books to the side. This winter vacation has been a welcome respite from school and reading responsibilities. And now that our panel has come up with our shortlist, I can read any book I want- guilt free!
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Posted on December 21, 2009 by thereadingzone
I’m here, I promise! I’ve just been frantically reading and taking notes for the Cybils. My panel is narrowing down our working shortlists and next week we will choose our final shortlist. I have a lot more reading to do!
Right now we have a delayed opening tomorrow, but I am crossing my fingers for a snow day so that I can do some more reading!
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Posted on December 10, 2009 by thereadingzone
Emerson Price, more commonly known as Emmy, isn’t a typical kid. Nothing about her life is normal. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t take numerous prescriptions, when she didn’t stand out from the crowd as the odd one out. When she was four years old she and her mother were diagnosed as HIV-positive. When she was eight, her parents divorced. She and her mom are best friends and their greatest support systems. But when Emmy is thirteen her mother succumbs to AIDs. Emmy must go live with her father and pregnant stepmother. She feels like no one understands her the she way her mother did- no one else needs to take awful medicine everyday, no one else knows what it is like to be the girl with HIV. Her life is already in upheaval and she starts acting out. When her father signs her up for a summer camp for HIV-positive girls, she refuses to go. She already knows she will hate it. But it turns out to be just what she needed.
When I was in 8th grade I was a member of my school’s forensic team. (Yes, I was that dorky). We each chose an oral piece to memorize and perform at the regional competition. That year, I memorized and performed Elizabeth Glaser’s speech from the 1992 Democratic Convention (read it here). I had not thought of that speech in years but this book immediately brought it to mind. It was an extremely inspiring speech and I am grateful that Courtney Sheinmel has memorialized her own experiences with Glaser through the writing of this book.
Positively is an extremely powerful book and one I am glad I read. It’s so strange for me to look back and think that a girl like Emmy would have had a completely different life if she was my age. We have come such a long way in the last two decades. But Scheinmel will make you laugh and cry in Positively. I felt like I knew Emmy and I wanted to stay with her way after the story ended. I think my students are going to love this one. It deals with a tough issue that most tweens and teens aren’t even aware of. Sheinmel deals with it realistically but also appropriately for the age level she is writing for….be prepared with some tissues when you read this one!
*Review copy courtesy of the publisher. This is a Cybils nominated title and all opinions are my own.
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Posted on November 2, 2009 by thereadingzone
Finn Garret is slowly becoming invisible. Ever since his dad died on a flight home, Finn’s been turning whiter and whiter. He figures that soon he will disappear all together.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up The Last Invisible Boy. An initial flip through the book gives the appearance of a Wimpy Kid read-alike. However, within a few pages the reader knows they are dealing with a very different book here. This is not a humorous, light-hearted book like many of the illustrated novels out there today. And that’s a good thing. Finn is telling his story, with his own illustrations, and his voice is spot-on for a twelve year old boy. It’s bittersweet, angry at times, and will even bring tears to your eyes.
I loved the voice in this story. Finn writes like most of my 6th graders. He goes off on tangents at times, at others writes very dryly, and then WHAM! Out of nowhere he hits you with an amazing and powerful few pages.
I really enjoyed this book and look forward to passing it on to some of my 6th graders. I think it will appeal to boys and girls alike.
*Review copy courtesy of publisher
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Posted on October 12, 2009 by thereadingzone
You only have a few more days to nominate books for the Cybil Awards! If you haven’t done so yet, make your way over to the nominating form and get going.
Not sure what the Cybils are? Check this out from the Cybils website:
Our purpose is two-fold:
- Reward the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators, let’s not forget them) whose books combine the highest literary merit and “kid appeal.” What’s that mean? If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.
- Foster a sense of community among bloggers who write about children’s and YA literature, highlight our best reviewers (and shamelessly promote their blogs) and provide a forum for the similarly obsessed.
We wouldn’t be a real awards if we didn’t have a whole bunch of complicated rules in tortured lawyerese. So maybe we’re not a real awards, because there aren’t any lawyers and only two rules:
- You (and you can be anybody, even you) may nominate any book published in the contest year in English;
- Only one book per category. We have ways of checking this, so play nice. Nominations open Oct. 1 and close Oct. 15.
After that, here’s what happens:
- We place all the authors names into a hat and pass our magic wand over it. After the rabbit pops out, we eat him and announce the winner, whom we have selected at random;
- Not really! Just testing you. We have panelists in each category who eat the rabbit. No, er, they read the books. They have until January 1 for that, which we hope and pray will be enough time. On Jan. 1 we’ll post the finalists;
- From Jan. 1 to mid-February, a second group of judges will read all the finalists and pick the winners, which we’ll announce on Valentine’s Day.
See? Easy. And no actual rabbits will be harmed in the process.
To contact us:
Anne Levy, Contest Administrator:
cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com
Kelly Herold, Director (on hiatus for 2009-10 season):
kidslitinfo (at) gmail (dot) com
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Posted on October 2, 2009 by thereadingzone
I can finally share my exciting news! It’s been killing me to stay quiet. ;)
I am thrilled to be a part of the Cybils for a second year in a row. I will be a Round 1 Judge with some amazing other bloggers!
Panel Organizer: Kerry Millar, Shelf Elf
Panelists (Round I Judges):
Sherry Early, Semicolon
Melissa Fox, Book Nut
Abby Johnson, Abby the Librarian
Kyle Kimmal, The Boy Reader
Becky Laney, Becky’s Book Reviews
Sandra Stiles, Musings of a Book Addict
We will be reading and reviewing all of your nominations- have you made yours yet?
Then the Round 2 Judges will decide on the winner from our shortlist. And we have some awesome and talented bloggers judging the final round!
Round II Judges:
Kimberly Baker, Wagging Tales
Kerry Millar, Shelf Elf
Stacy Dillon, Welcome to my Tweendom
Monica Edinger, Educating Alice
David Elzey, Excelsior File
I am so excited be a part of the Cybils again. And my students can’t wait to read the books I review and help me with the kid appeal!
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