Thursday, August 21, 2014

90 Second Reads at Nicola's Books

On Tuesday evening, I attended an awesome YA author event at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor. Gae Polisner, author of The Summer of Letting Go and The Pull of Gravity, was visiting Michigan for a sports event her son was participating in, and so she reached out to Nicola's to do a group author event that she calls 90 Second Reads.

The way 90 Second Reads came about stems from an experience when Gae was invited to attend an event with a group of authors and was asked to prepare a 4-minute reading. Her reading lasted the obligatory 4 minutes, but the other authors went way beyond the 4-minute mark, which got her thinking, "Do people really want to listen to an author read out of context for ten minutes?" Thus 90 Second Reads was born. The 90 seconds are timed by an audience participant and if the author goes over their allotted 90 seconds, they receive a ding with a bell until they stop.

The brave souls who participated along with Gae were Beth Neal, Carrie Harris, and Lara Zielin. It was a fun, interactive evening, and best of all, a group of Nerdy Book Club friends were lucky enough to hang out with Gae and Carrie afterwards.

90 second reads at Nicola's
The 90-Second Reads crew: Lara Zielin, Beth Neal, Gae Polisner, and Carrie Harris

Demon derby
Carrie Harris gives me the best signed book in my collection, an homage to my famous maple bacon ice cream

Nerdy and Gae
The Nerdy Book Club crew: Sarah Andersen, me, Jessica Crawford, Gae Polisner, and Brian Wyzlic - I find the pig mural in the background quite amusing (photo credit: Gae Polisner)

Carrie and Gae
Carrie Harris and Gae Polisner (Photo credit: Gae Polisner)

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 8-18-14

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.

Today is my first day back in the classroom -- with students! Wish me luck!


Last week I reviewed:

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin


I finished reading:

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn 
I'm looking forward to using this book as a mentor text to get students telling family stories that revolve around food. Flinn is also coming to Ann Arbor on Wednesday and I'm looking forward to hearing more about her life in the kitchen. 


I finished reading with my ears:

Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder
A book that all kids who are going through a parents' divorce will identify with. The main character's wishes manifest themselves through a magical bread box, which she soon realizes is just a crutch that causes more problems than it solves.


My favorite picture book last week was:

Tadpole's Promise by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross
Oh my gosh! The ending broke my heart. I so wasn't expecting that. Definitely a discussion-worthy book to share with students. 


Currently reading:
 
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Horror novel or IKEA catalog rip-off? You decide. I love the eclectic collection of books Quirk has in their arsenal.


Currently reading with my ears:

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman 


Last week on my teaching blog: 
New beginnings: A look into my past, present, and future 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blog Tour: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

Addison PreOrder Tile Option 2


Gone Too Soon

Your life was a noisy aberration.
You lived inside a cacophony
of your own burdens --
a genius stifled by demons.

Your art spoke for itself
and yet it also didn't
as you resorted to stunts
and attention-grabbing headlines
to give your work
meaning and purpose.

You were an open book,
affixing your heart directly to
your sleeve.
and yet no one ever got to know
the real you.

Now you are gone --
a sad reminder to us all
that genius
often comes at a price
and that perhaps this
tragic end
was just your final
artistic flourish.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin is a book I will be thinking about for a long time. I was lucky enough to get the chance to read an e-galley prior to its publication date, but this really is a book you will want to own a physical copy of. The documentary-style of the narrative, along with the photographs and artwork make Addison Stone a book you will want to pick up, hold, and thumb through.

What is so memorable about Adele Griffin's newest book is how, despite the fact that Addison Stone is dead by the time the reader gets to know her, we are able to really feel her presence in the story, via the accounts of the people who knew her. This novel is an attempt to make sense of Addison's untimely demise by interviewing all the people close to her. While the book is somewhat of a mystery, it feels more like a recounting of her life rather than an attempt to solve whether her death involved foul play.

I have been in somewhat of a reading funk for a while, but Griffin's fresh, innovative approach to a young adult novel woke me right up out of that funk. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone will undoubtedly be going on my list of favorite books of 2014. 


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
Published: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Soho Press
Pages: 256
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: E-galley 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, August 11, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 8-11-14

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.

OMG I start back to school next week. I am so not prepared.


Last week I finished reading:

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
So good! And so unusual. This docu-novel is about an up and coming artist who experiences a mysterious and untimely death. With that description it sounds like it will be a mystery, but it's really just exploring the life of a complicated character known as Addison Stone. 


I finished THREE audiobooks last week!

The One by Kiera Cass
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord


Still reading:

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn
Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom by Katie Wood Ray 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Culinary Achilles Heel

Runny yolkI am a sucker for a runny egg yolk. Not only do I love over-easy eggs for breakfast, but there aren't many savory main dishes that can't be improved by the inclusion of a runny egg. Salads, burgers, pizza... you name it. If a dish includes fried or poached egg on top, I'm most likely ordering it.

There's just something so sensual about taking a perfectly cooked egg, poking it with your fork or knife, and watching that golden liquid ooze out onto your plate.

It's the same kind of pleasure one gets from taking that first crack at the sugared crust of creme brulee.

What kinds of things are you a sucker for on a restaurant menu?

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 8-4-14

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.

Holy cow! How is it August already? I start teaching again in two weeks! :O Guess I've gotta get busy reading these last two weeks of freedom, huh?


Last week I reviewed:

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ty Templeton


I finished reading:

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Beautiful art and somewhat intriguing storyline, but it felt like the story was missing a thread to tie it all together. I just didn't quite connect with it the way I was hoping to. Nevertheless, it was a quick read and worth the short time it took to finish it. And of course, I'm looking forward to the #yalit101 Twitter chat about this book on August 26th at 8 PM ET. 


Picture books I really enjoyed:


Gravity by Jason Chin
Sparse but wonderful nonfiction text with stunning illustrations. Could see this one being a Geisel or even Caldecott contender. 

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
If the picture book illustrator is Steve Jenkins I will read it. His paper collage art is always so detailed and visually intriguing, as you wonder how he could possibly do such miraculous things with paper and some scissors. This nonfiction title by Jennifer Ward includes a pleasant and informational rhyming quatrain about a different bird and the type of nest it builds on a two-page spread, along with some added information about each bird on the facing page. 


I finished reading with my ears:

 

After the End by Amy Plum  
Strange premise, but an engaging read. I still get really irritated with the trend in YA lit today that series books can't stand on their own and there has to be a "to be continued..." Cliffhanger endings are one thing, and I don't mind them as long as most of the conflict that has been building in said novel has been somewhat resolved, but to leave something completely unresolved just to pick it back up in the next book really annoys me. 

The Elite by Kiera Cass  
Speaking of picking it back up in the next novel... While I can't call myself a fan of this series, I also can't stop listening to it either so I guess there's something to be said for that.  


Currently and still reading:


Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn 
I hope to have this book finished this week. Flinn will be visiting a local bookstore on August 20th so I want to make sure I have it at least finished before then. 

Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom by Katie Wood Ray 
Don't let the subtitle of this book fool you. No matter what grade level you teach, if you are a teacher of writing, this book is worthwhile.


Currently reading with my ears:

The One by Kiera Cass


Posts last week from my teaching blog:
Storify archives curation: July #nctechat and #titletalk 
My beef with "Word Crimes" 
Advocating for students should not mean silencing teachers


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ty Templeton

Everyone associates the creation of Batman to a man named Bob Kane. He is the person whose name is on every facet of the Batman enterprise, from the original comics to the highly lucrative movie franchise. This book, however, is the story of Bill Finger, the uncelebrated man behind the creation of the Batman comics and who was never given credit or proper compensation for his work. Even though the idea of Batman originated with Bob Kane, the vision of who Batman became, as well as the subsequent writing, was done by Bill Finger.

Marc Nobleman has written an important story in Bill the Boy Wonder, not just for fans comics, but also as a lesson in giving credit where credit is due. I'm so grateful Katherine Sokolowski alerted me to this book in her presentation on building relationships at nErDcampMI, otherwise I'm sure I never would have read it. As someone who is not a fan of comics, why would I? But this book is so much more than a biography about a comic book creator. Bill the Boy Wonder is a perfect catalyst for talking with students about being gracious and fair, and a great question Katherine asks her students when conflict arises is, "Are you being a Bill or are you being a Bob?" It doesn't get more simple and impactful for students than that.

Not only does this book speak to lessons in doing the right thing, but it is also peppered with writing inspiration as well. I particularly love that Bill "recorded stray facts -- the boiling point of mercury, the Chinese character for virtue, what happens when a dog's nose gets cold -- in what he called his 'gimmick book.' He routinely skimmed it for a spark that might ignite a story." Given the importance of building community and using a writer's notebook in my classroom, Bill the Boy Wonder is a book I will be sharing with my students at the start of the school year and one that I have a feeling we will reference often, just like Katherine does. 

Ty Templeton's illustrations in this picture book are very true to a comic book style and will draw in readers who are lovers of all those original vintage DC comic books, which makes Bill the Boy Wonder a perfect picture book for middle grade and young adult rather than primary readers.

I will definitely be purchasing my own copy for my classroom and I encourage any teacher looking to work on building community and better classroom dynamic to also give this book a try.



Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ty Templeton
Published: July 1, 2012
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Pages: 48
Genre: Picture Book Biography
Audience: 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.