Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fool For Books blog hop


For my portion of this blog hop, I will be giving away a copy of:

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White
Published: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 176
Format: Hardcover
Audience: Adults/Mystery Lovers

Read my review

Goodreads Summary:
Hard-boiled breakfasts, thrilling entrees, cozy desserts, and more--this illustrated cookbook features more than 100 recipes from legendary mystery authors. Whether you're planning a sinister dinner party or whipping up some comfort food perfect for a day of writing, you'll find plenty to savor in this cunning collection. Full-color photography is featured throughout, along with mischievous sidebars revealing the links between food and foul play. Contributors include Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille, Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton, Charlaine Harris, James Patterson, Louise Penny, Scott Turow, and many more.

Terms and conditions:
Must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
One winner will be selected
Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter



Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 3-30-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Last week ended on a high note. I was so thankful to be able to attend and present at the Michigan Reading Association conference in Grand Rapids. For a reflection of my experience, you can read my post on my teaching blog.

I have to be completely honest. I am currently in a reading rut and I don't know why. I have abandoned so many books in the past two weeks I can't even count them on one hand. I am being an extremely fickle reader later. At the moment, I don't even have an "I'm currently reading" book. I am, however, listening to an audiobook that I'm really enjoying, which is:

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
Wow! I'm not very far into this but I'm already hooked. McCormick does it again. I think she is going to be a go-to author for me from now on. I will definitely be booktalking this one to students. The premise of the story is that a young American soldier (only 18) encounters a rocket-propelled grenade and wakes up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Because of his head trauma, he can't remember everything that happened, but the image of a young Iraqi boy being shot continues to haunt him even though he can't put the pieces together as to if/how he was involved in the boy's death.


I finished reading with my ears: 

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 
Not an easy read but a beautiful one. So glad I stuck with it. 


Favorite picture books from last week: 


Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower  by Greg Pizzoli
I need to write a longer review of this book soon because it is SO. GOOD. But know this: Tricky Vic is not a picture book for little kids. This is an upper-elementary, middle school, and high school title.

Look! by  Jeff Mack
The entire book only uses two words, but what a story it tells. A gorilla tries to get the attention of a little boy who is hypnotized by his TV and suddenly must think of something else to occupy his time when the TV breaks due to the gorilla's clumsy attempt to engage the boy. A great pairing with Look! would be Lane Smith's It's a Book.  


Last week I reviewed:

John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Jamie Hogan

This is a small story in the life of John Muir, environmentalist, creator of the Sierra Club, and the man who was responsible for influencing Theodore Roosevelt to establish the National Park system. One day, Muir, who lived part of the year in a cabin in Yosemite Valley, climbed the trail up to Yosemite Falls and almost fell of the ledge when he got caught under the rushing water of the falls.

Though John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall tells of a very small moment in the environmentalist's life, it is a compelling story and wonderful piece of writing to share with students. There are lots of golden lines to notice and note such as:

He is so close to the waterfall that the mist brushes his face, the noise pounds in his chest, and the night feels alive with the energy of the twisting, misting, roaring water.

I'm looking forward to booktalking this book with my 8th graders as it is a great picture book to share with older readers either as a mentor text or just a book to sit down and enjoy on their own.



John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Published: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Pages: 32
Genre/Format: Picture Book Biography
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Finished copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 3-23-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Wow! Did I ever have a productive week of reading/reviewing (I must be procrastinating about something).

Last week I reviewed:
 
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan
Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson by Tricia Tunstall


Naptime with Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba
Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall

 
Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J.H. Shapiro, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White


I finished reading with my ears:

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I enjoyed this book but my heart didn't fall for it as much as most other people.


Favorite picture books from last week: 


Home by Carson Ellis
Simply beautiful. A must-read for anyone who loves children's literature. An instant classic.
 
The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo, illstrated by Courtenay Fletcher 
LeVar Burton, the longtime host of the popular kids series Reading Rainbow, tackles the difficulty of talking with kids about tragic events in The Rhino Who Swallowed the Storm. When tragedies happen in life, Burton believes that the way to help children through them is through story. This is Burton's first foray into authoring a children's book and in a way, you can tell. It does comes off a tad heavy-handed, but at the same time, it also feels like it's coming from a heartfelt and genuine place. Perhaps I would have given this book a harsher review had I not heard him read and talk about this story at ALA Midwinter in January, but knowing where his heart was in writing this book, I internalized that as I read it.  


Currently reading:

Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You: A Novel in Lists by Todd  Hasak-Lowy
I got the ARC of this YA novel at ALA Midwinter. It's really thick, coming in at a whopping 642 pages, but since it's a novel in lists, many pages don't take up that much text-space. There's quite a bit of white space on the pages, so it's comparable reading an Ellen Hopkins novel in verse. 

At this point the analogy I can make to a novel in lists is like when restaurants create dishes and call it "_______ deconstructed." That's what this novel in lists feels like right now. A novel deconstructed. Time will tell if it becomes too gimmicky or if there's some actual substance here. At this point the jury's still out.


Currently and still reading with my ears: 

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 
Mosquitoland by David Arnold


Current giveaway:

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J.H. Shapiro, illustrated by Vanessa Newton

In the heart of a decrepit neighborhood in Detroit, Tyree Guyton started what is now know as the Heidelberg Project out of frustration for the riff raff that had moved into his neighborhood. Painting a crack house with bright-colored polka dots kept the criminals at bay and started an art movement that would divide residents of the city and of Heidelberg Street. Some people saw it as trash, others art. Twenty-five years later, the Heidelberg Project is still going strong, and is its own visitor's destination in a city that rarely gets visitors.

Using collage art and rhythmical prose, J.H. Shapiro and Vanessa Newton have captured the spirit and the soul of the Heidelberg Project in this book's scant pages.

The Heidelberg Project has been riddled with arson as of late so getting the message out about the importance of what this art installation means to the community is of utmost importance 

For more information on the Heidelberg Project, visit heidelberg.org


Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J.H Shapiro, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Published: July 1, 2011
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Pages: 32
Genre: Biography Picture Book
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White

When Quirk Books offered me the chance to read and review The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, I was intrigued. I've always admired the slightly off-kilter books they put out, such as Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. 

I wondered just how exactly they were going to sell mystery writers as a logical choice for compiling a cookbook. But then, in the introduction, they won me over. The introductory paragraphs talk about "Lamb to the Slaughter," the brilliant short story by Roald Dahl where a woman kills her husband by bashing his head in with a frozen leg of lamb and then serving it to the policemen who come to investigate his murder. Now that they have my attention, it was time to bring the point home, which editor Kate White does beautifully:


But food isn't just used as a weapon. It defines character. As the nineteenth-century French lawyer and gastronomic essayist Jean Brillat-Savarin stated, "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are." That's especially true for the iconic sleuths in mystery series. We can't think of Miss Marple without her scones and tea (over the course of 12 novels and 20 short stories, she reportedly drank 143 cups of tea_, Kinsey Millhone without her peanut butter and pickle sandwich, Jack reacher without his pots of coffee, Alex "Coop" Cooper without her Dewars on the rocks, or Nero Wolfe without the outrages dishes his personal cook, Fritz, makes for him -- such as squabs marinated in cream and creole fritters with cheese sauce.

Considering how intertwined food and murder are in fiction, Mystery Writers of America (MWA) decided that it would be crime not to celebrate this idea, and thus we've created a cookbook especially for mystery fans.

The recipes in this book range from indulgent (Ellie Hatcher's Rum Soaked Nutella French Toast), to traditional (Beef Stroganoff), to practical -- and perhaps a tad mocking -- (Lee Child's Coffee, Pot of One). It is packaged in a beautiful hardbound edition with thick, unglossed pages and photographs peppered throughout. This would be a wonderful gift for any mystery lover in your life. Even if they don't like to cook, they'll still get a kick out of seeing their favorite writers and characters mentioned in these recipes.


The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White
Expected Publication: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 176
Genre: Cookery
Audience: Adults/Mystery Lovers
Disclosure: Finished copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” - Albert Einstein



A crayon lives his life labeled red but he colors everything blue. He is told to "try again" when he colors strawberries incorrectly, asked to put on a scarf to "warm up" when he can't combine with yellow to make orange. Others say he's being lazy, not applying himself, and that he'll catch on if given more time.

The truth of the matter is, red was mislabeled. He can't color a strawberry properly because that's not who he is. But he can color blue jeans, the ocean, and the sky!

The entire time I was reading Red I couldn't get the above Albert Einstein quote out of my head. We put so many kids in boxes, forcing them to be something they're not, when all this time we've been asking them to be the color red when they're really blue on the inside.

This picture book is one of the best journal prompts I have come across in the long time. In addition to the Albert Einstein quote, after reading Red to my 8th graders, I'm going to ask them to respond to this question: Have you ever been labeled red in your life when you were really blue?

In addition to the really powerful message Red drives home to readers, what is also endearing about this book is the whimsical, amusing touches Michael Hall adds to the illustrations. For example, the parent and grandparent crayons in the story are shorter rather than taller, presumably because for the life of a crayon, if you're older you've been used more and so you're shorter than a brand new, out-of-the-box crayon.

Red is a book that can spark discussions in classrooms of all ages, not just primary grades. I can picture really deep discussions happening in high school classrooms since that is a time fraught with labels.



Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall
Published: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 40
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade/Young Adult
Disclosure: Library Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound.