Thursday, May 25, 2017

Orphan Island blog tour + giveaway


Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
To be published by Walden Pond Press on  May 30, 2017
·         ISBN-13: 978-0062443410
 
On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.


Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

Please oh please let there be a sequel! I know that Laurel said in her Nerdy Book Club post yesterday that she didn't mean for this book to frustrate grownups, but I want so badly to know that origin story she speaks of in the unpublished prologue. At the same time, I understand and honor why she left it a mystery.

For people who scoff at adults who read and study children's literature because it isn't literary enough, this is one of the first books I will point them to. There are so many unanswered questions  and important themes that will lead to quality discussions with students. This would be a fantastic story for book clubs or literature circles because there isn't much that is certain in this story, and with so much uncertainty, that also means this isn't likely to be a book that will bode well for classroom busywork: crossword puzzles, word searches, comprehension quizzes, etc. Just good, old-fashioned authentic book discussion. Who'da thunk it?

I'm looking forward to seeing Laurel at nErDcamp this year because I have SO MANY QUESTIONS for her, but I have a feeling she will tell me to draw my own conclusions. 


About the author:
Laurel Snyder is a poet, essayist, and author of picture books and novels for children, including, Charlie and Mouse, Bigger than a Bread Box, and Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova. She is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a faculty member of Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Atlanta with her family and can be found online at www.laurelsnyder.com.






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The Explorers: The Door in the Alley blog tour

Thank you to Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of The Door in the Alley for this blog tour.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress
Published: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 320
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Middle Grade

From Goodreads:
Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.



Fantasy can sometimes be a hard sell to readers because there is so much that background knowledge can't help you with when you're entering a world you've never encountered before. So fantasy with a touch of humor can often make the difficulty of interpreting a new world much more digestible...   the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, if you will.

After I finished reading the ARC of The Door in the Alley, I offered it up to my 6th graders by raffling it off, and I had quite a few students clamoring to read it. The student that did win the copy informed me she enjoyed it greatly and passed it on to a friend. I think this will be the start of a fun and entertaining series for middle grade readers!

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-22-17


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

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 I reviewed:

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, et. al
My Kicks: A Sneaker Story! by Susan Verde, illustrated by Katie Kath
Cravings by Chrissy Teigen


Last week I finished reading with my ears:

Sing by Vivi Greene
An innocent, mindless, bubblegum read to curl up with on a warm summer day.  


Picture books that stood out in the pile last week:
 
Yawning Yoga by  Laurie Jordan, illustrated by Diana Mayo
A beautiful picture book that teaches children some yoga poses that can help them relax and unwind before bedtime. Pair this book with Good Night, Yoga and Good Morning, Yoga by Mariam Gates.


Windows by Julia Denos, illustrated by E.B. Goodale
Ever since I was a kid, I've always been fascinated with windows lit up in the night. Driving through familiar or unfamiliar neighborhoods, to catch a small glimpse into someone's house is to catch a fleeting moment of story waiting to be told. Windows honors those fleeting stories by making us ponder them for just a few seconds longer.  


Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu
A wonderful addition to any school or classroom library to encourage girls to enter STEM fields. 


Currently reading with my eyes and ears:

Saving Red by Sonya Sones  

The Blood Between Us by Zac Brewer
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cookbook Review: Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Supermodel, social media maven, and John Legend's better half, Chrissy Teigen has written a cookbook full of easy, practical, and mouth-watering recipes. I know what you're thinking. A supermodel writing a cookbook? What's in it? Salads and juice cleanses?

That is where you'd be wrong.

It takes a lot for me to perk up and take notice of a new cookbook. After a while, the genre of the cookbook gets rather tiresome because it feels like not only are the recipes regurgitated, but nothing new or innovative in terms of writing or format is being published.

Chrissy Teigen's cookbook, however is different. Even if you don't make a single dish from this book, it will have been money well spent because the writing in this book will have you belly laughing, as evidenced by Teigen's description of my favorite dish in the whole cookbook, Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal:

Watching us come up with this recipe was like watching a group of stoners, except I am not into pot or weed or ganja or whatever it is called these days. I mean, I dip pizza bagels into Cholula butter and second-course it with Top Ramen salad dead sober. Can you imagine what weed does to me? Actually, maybe I go full opposite and am like, "Duuuddddde let's go get a saladddddd.

And if you're wondering what Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal tastes more cake or oatmeal, that would be the former. It's one of the most delicious, ingenious things I have ever made for breakfast.

But this cookbook is more than just a one dish wonder. Every dish I have made so far has been more delicious than the next. I can't get enough of it. I'm waiting for Chrissy to get her own show on Food Network or Cooking Channel. I'd be setting a season pass all up in my DVR for that show.


Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen
Published: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Pages: 240
Genre: Cookery
Audience: Adults
Disclosure: Purchased 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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Kicks: A Sneaker Story! by Susan Verde, illustrated by Katie Kath

These sneakers have soul in their soles.
Joy in each hole. A certain stick-to-the-sidewalk
from gooey gum. 
They might be soggy and funky, the tongue flapping,
the laces dragging, but they are irreplaceable,
a perfect fit, molded to my feet! I can't let them go. 

A young boy's mother wants him to get new shoes since his current ones are dirty and falling apart, but he just can't bear to part with them... or can he? 

As you can see above, this book has wonderful writing,. I kind of love the somewhat contradictory nature of waxing poetic over a pair of old, worn-out sneakers. I'm not entirely sure a child as young as the main character would have that ability to reflect and wax poetic on all the memories he had with his favorite sneakers but it's still a fun read and worth reading aloud to students. 

My Kicks: A Sneaker Story! by Susan Verde, illustrated by Katie Kath
Published: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Abrams
Pages: 40
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade
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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark & Alexis Siegel

Goodreads Summary:

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there's more to themselves and more to their worlds than meets the eye. . . .
  • The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.
  • A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
  • Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends? 

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!


I have been on a quest to add more graphic novels to our school library. 5 Worlds is a new series that will appeal to lovers of the Amulet series. While this book didn't appeal to me personally as a reader, I have many students who I know I can hand this to and they will love it. So for that reason I'm looking forward to reading and purchasing the next book in the series for our school library. 


ABOUT THE AUTHORS
MARK SIEGEL has written and illustrated several award-winning picture books and graphic novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sailor Twain, or the Mermaid in the Hudson. He is also the founder and editorial director of First Second Books. He lives with his family in New York. Follow Mark on Tumblr at @marksiegel and the 5 Worlds team on Twitter at @5WorldsTeam.

ALEXIS SIEGEL is a writer and translator based in London, England. He has translated a number of bestselling graphic novels, including Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, Pénélope Bagleu’s Exquisite Corpse, and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (into French).

XANTHE BOUMA is an illustrator based in Southern California. When not working on picture books, fashion illustration, and comics, Xanthe enjoys soaking up the beachside sun. Follow Xanthe on Tumblr at @yumbles and on Twitter at @xoxobouma.

MATT ROCKEFELLER is an illustrator and comic book artist from Tucson, Arizona. His work has appeared in a variety of formats, including book covers, picture books, and animation. Matt lives in New York City. Follow him on Tumblr at @mrockefeller and on Twitter at @mcrockefeller.

BOYA SUN is an illustrator and co-author of the graphic novel Chasma Knights. Originally from China, Boya has traveled from Canada to the United States and now resides in the charming city of Baltimore. Follow Boya on Tumblr at @boyasun and on Twitter at @boyaboyasun.

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, et. al
Published: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Random House
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Graphic Novel
Audience: 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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-15-17


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

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 I reviewed:

The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori and the Invention of the Piano by Elizabeth Rusch illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
If you know me at all outside of this blog, the fact that I read and reviewed this book does not surprise you one bit.


I finished reading:

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

I have a blog tour coming up with this book so I'll save my longer thoughts for that post, but bottom line: this book just begs to be discussed with book clubs and literature circles. 


I finished reading with my ears:

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson  

This book is intense, page-turning, and wholly unsettling. An ending that will get young people endlessly talking and debating.    


Favorite picture book I read last week:

Almost Everybody Farts by Marty Kelley
You can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned fart book to get kids reading.  


Currently reading:

Saving Red by Sonya Sones