Blogiversary Stats!

I have been blogging for four years now!!  Back in 2007 I never would have predicted that I would still be blogging four years later. It is certainly a labor of love, but well worth it.  I have become part of a fantastic blogging community here in the blogosphere.  I have been a Cybils panelist, helped start Share-a-Story, Shape-a-Future, and founded #ARCsFloatOn.  It’s been quite a ride and I can’t wait to blog some more!

Here are some fun facts about my blogging. :)

First post-:  July 1, 2007

First book reviewed: First Light by Rebecca Stead

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2008 Favorites

Well, the year is almost over.  That means it is time for wrap-up lists, one of my favorite parts of the year!  What are your favorite books of the year?  

Below are my favorite titles published this year:

 

  • Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume- I read this way back in the beginning of the year and it still stays with me. An amazing, haunting gothic tale of the fall of the south, through a young girl’s eyes. I loved it and so did my students.  In my review I said, “This is a novel that intelligent readers will love, because Blume does not condescend or speak down to her readers. In many ways, Tennyson reminded me of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting. “

 

  • Diamond Willow by Helen Frost- A more recent read, this verse novel is gorgeous. The theme of the diamond willow branch flows smoothly throughout the story and is accessible to readers of all ages. Helen Frost is a master storyteller and I can’t wait to share this with my students.

 

  •  Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass- I love Wendy Mass and I think this is one of her best.  It is a beautiful story with a ton of kid appeal.  Plus, it made me go out and look up more information on solar eclipses.  Plus, I haven’t seen it since I put it in my class library.  My kids absolutely love it, too!

 

  • Six Inningsby James Preller- I don’t even like baseball and I loved this book!  A great book to hand to boys and girls alike, it goes much deeper than just baseball and deals with life. The characters are realistic and easy to relate to. It’s just a great book all around!

 

  • The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) by Rick Riordan- Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of this series when the news first broke. Trading cards? Online games? It sounded like a lame ploy to get kids to read. But when I gave in and read the first book, at the insistence of my class, I was hooked! This is a great mystery series full of Rick Riordan’s trademark humor and realistic characters who have unrealistic lives. Needless to say, it is a huge hit in my classroom and we are all desperately awaiting the release of the third book in the series!

 

  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson- Our current read-aloud, my class and I love Chains! Isabelle is a complex, multi-faceted character and her conflict with the American Revolution has made us all stop and think of our fight for independence in new ways.  See my review here.

 

  • My Father’s Son by Terri Fields- I am a bonafide crime addict. Well, reading about crime, at least. And watching many, many episodes of “Law and Order”. So when I had the opportunity to read and review Terri Fields’ My Father’s Son, I was very excited. And the book did not disappoint! Terri has crafted a fascinating story about a boy whose father is arrested and accused of being a serial killer. I couldn’t put it down.

 

  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt- From my review: “The Underneath is all at once tragic, consuming, passionate, full of love, hopeful, and alternately beautiful and ugly. Appelt does the almost-impossible, by threading 3 separate stories into one amazing climax that will renew your faith in goodness and love. It is an adventure, full of magic, myth, and mysticism, of sorrow, of family – of life. Woven together like an elaborate tapestry, the result is gorgeous and awe-inspiring. Our first read-aloud of the year, both of my classes absolutely loved this story.”

 

 

  • the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer- Susan Beth Pfeffer is single-handedly responsible for many of the voracious readers in my class. I am telling you- hand any reluctant reader a copy of the dead and the gone and they will be begging for more. The companion novel to her Life As We Knew It, takes place in NYC after a meteor has knocked the moon out of orbit. It’s absolutely terrifying, in a fantastic way!

 

  • What I Saw And How I Lied by Judy Blundell- This sat on my TBR pile until it was nominated for the National Book Award (which it eventually won). The nomination moved it up on the pile, as I finally learned what it was about. (The ARC had no blurb or summary!). Judy Blundell has woven an intricate story, full of dark twists and turns down paths you can’t even imagine. There is murder, intrigue, a fascinating backdrop of World War II, racism, classism, and a classic (but dark) coming-of-age story. This is a gorgeous book and one I would love to see used in classrooms over the next few years!

 

I read about 150 books this year, as of December 26th.  These are just a few of my favorites.  Ask me again tomorrow, and you will probably get a different list!  But I would to know what your favorite novels were this year.

Cybils Short Lists

Happy 2008! What better way to ring in the first day of the new year than with the Cybils short lists? Half the short lists were posted this morning, with the rest of the categories being published on January 7th.

I am so, so, so very happy with the middle grade fiction short list! I have read 3 of the books listed (the first 3!), one more on my to be read pile, and 3 others on my wishlist. I need my bookstore/library to get their copies in! But again, I am thrilled with this list. I can’t wait to see who wins the award!

The fantasy category has been divided into a teen category and younger readers category. I am thrilled to see Sarah Beth Durst’s novel on the list. Nancy Farmer’s novel is sitting on my to be read pile, also. I have a lot of reading to get to!!

As I said the other day, the quality of books I am reading has really risen to new heights, and that is proven again when I compare my list of books in 2007 to the awards’ short lists. I have actually read many of the books and the ones I haven’t read were already on my wishlist!

Class of 2k8

Check out the new Class of 2k8 Blog! I started hanging out at the Class of 2k7 back around April and what a fun group! Now that those authors have “graduated”, it’s time for the new class to take over. The Class of…. idea is a great way to keep track of new releases in the children’s book world. So head on over!

Books I Want to Read

I find that I am constantly adding to my list of “must-read books”. It’s all the kidlitosphere’s fault, I tell you! Everyday I read new reviews of books that I suddenly have to read. On the one hand, I wonder how I ever found books before blogging. On the other hand, I now know why I am so poor. :) With the holidays coming up, I will continue to be poor, but I can still wish (and make wishlists)!

Here are the latest additions to my list of books I must, must, must read as soon as humanly possible. ;)

The Luxe: I admit it, I was a huge fan of the Gossip Girls series a few years ago. Now, I am utterly addicted to the TV show. Yes, it seems a little trashy, but we all need a break sometimes. The Luxe has been reviewed sporadically around the kidlitosphere (it is a YA title), and I am already in love with it! This is at the top of my list.

Letters from Rapunzel: I love reading stories that rework our favorite fairy tales. I also love authors who know that kids can read books about intense issues. Letters from Rapunzel takes two of my favorites and places them in one book. I need to get my hands on this one!

Sweethearts: Sara Zarr. Need I say more?

The Adoration of Jenna Fox: Mary Pearson is a fellow blogger, and I have been lurking on her blog lately. I love the blurb for this book and can’t wait to read it.

The Declaration I saw this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble last week, and the cover immediately caught my eye. Then, I read the inside cover to discover that it is a science-fiction/dystopian novel (one of my favorites). I definitely need this book!

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (Faeries of Dreamdark): Ok, ok! Every blog I read calls this one of the best books of the year. I need to read it so that I can make that judgement myself. :)

The Host: A Novel: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Meyer’s “Twilight” series. Love it. It is one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I am very interested in seeing what Meyer’s first adult novel is like. I heard that ARCs are finally making their way out into the world…..

I should probably stop there. I have too many books on my wishlist. And it only grows bigger everyday!

Male protagonists

We are about to finish our second read-aloud of the year, “Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree”. I want to begin a new read-aloud very soon, but a few of my students have pointed out that our last three novels have been about female protagonists. We read “The Talking Earth”, “Tuck Everlasting”, and “Emma-Jean Lazarus…”. We did begin the year with Ralph Fletcher’s “Flying Solo, but that jumps between a few protagonists.

I have been looking at my books and nothing is really striking my fancy. I try to keep my read-aloud between 150-200 pgs, for time’s sake. Very few of the books I have read recently fit into this category. So far I have be come up with “The Red Kayak” (a bit on the long side, but I do love it) and “The Schwa Was Here” (which I am in the middle of reading for the first time myself). Does anyone out there in the blogoshere or kidlitosphere have any suggestions for a great read aloud, with a male protagonist?

Blog Action Day

So I’m a little late…..

This is my contribution to Blog Action Day, an attempt to bring the global community of bloggers together to explore one issue: the environment. Today’s the day! If you have your own blog, why not join in?

Novels with an Environmental Theme:
-The Talking Earth (Jean Craighead George): Billie Wind is a Seminole Indian whose father works for NASA. She doesn’t believe in the legends and beliefs of the traditional Seminoles. Instead, she “wants answers”. Billie is punished by the elder council and sent to live in the Everglades until she believes in the little people and talking animals. Her journey takes her through the Great Swamp, meeting all sorts of creatures. Her perspective on life changes by the end of the book. A great book for dealing with over-development and endangered species.

-California Blue (David Klass): John Rodgers lives in a small logging town in California. While running in the forest one day, he stumbles upon a strange chrysalis. It turns out that an extremely rare butterfly makes its home in the redwoods. John is thrust into the middle of a vicious fight between environmentalists and loggers in his hometown- loggers that include his father.

-And Then There Was One: The Mysteries of Extinction (Sierra Club Books): While this is not a novel, I do love this book. A great non-fiction book, the author cites specific animals and explains how humans are impacting their lives. While it is a very serious topic, the information is presented in a fun and interesting manner.

-The Lorax (Dr. Seuss): This is my favorite book with an environmental theme. I read it aloud 5-6 times each year and also perform it as reader’s theater. The Lorax ties into my journeys theme, environmentalism, and so much more! Of course, I always use The Lorax with my monarch butterflies, and my students love it!

-Pond Scum (Alan Silderberg): Eleven-year-old Oliver enjoys tormenting insects, but his life takes a turn when his family moves into an old house which an assortment of animals do not want to vacate! A fun book, great for reluctant readers.

-First Light (Rebecca Stead): Peter’s father is a glaciologist and his mother is a geneticist. The family moves to Greenland temporarily so that his father can research the effects of global warming on glaciers. Thea lives in a secret world under the glacial ice. Their two worlds collide and Thea and Peter discover that their destinies are more intertwined than they ever could have imagined.

There are many more novels with an environmental theme out there. This is just a quick glance at some! Let me know if you want to add any more to the list!

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