Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Advance Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

When Will's brother Shawn is killed, Will knows that he must avenge his brother's death. So he grabs the gun out of Shawn's dresser drawer, gets on the elevator to leave his apartment building, and over the course of the next six floors and 60 seconds, Will is stunned by who gets on the elevator with him at each floor.

The fact that this novel takes place over a single minute AND is a novel in verse is both innovative and gusty. Major props to you, Mr. Reynolds. However, I'm sure there will no doubt be people who read this book and spend their time overanalyzing the time frame,  saying, "This couldn't possibly have happened over a single minute." I was certainly temped to do that very thing. And who knows? Maybe those overanalyzers are right. But here's why I chose not to overthink Reynolds's stylistic choice: If I did, I'd be missing the point. The point is that Will has only six floors convince himself that he's doing the right thing by following "The Rules" of his family and neighborhood. In a single minute, he is on his way to enacting vigilante justice for his brother and possibly ruining his own future. This complex moral crisis is not the time to nitpick on timelines. It's a literary convention. As readers, let's just appreciate how it helps move the story forward.

I was elated that a friend of mine who works for Simon & Schuster and knows what a huge Jason Reynolds fan I am sent me the bound manuscript of his newest YA novel. I can't go too long without getting my Jason Reynolds fix, you see. But here is the downside of getting to read such an early copy of the book: I HAVE NO ONE TO TALK TO ABOUT IT! And I need to talk to someone. What the heck happened at the end?! I guess I'll just have to wait until someone else reads it before a consensus can be reached (or perhaps a spirited disagreement. Who knows?)


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Expected Publication: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Atheneum
Pages: 240
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Bound manuscript 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, February 6, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-6-17


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.


Currently reading:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
A friend of mine at Simon & Schuster who knows how much I love Jason Reynolds sent me the bound manuscript of his newest YA novel. It's in verse  The premise is that it takes place in only a few seconds as the main character is going down an elevator on his way to shoot the guy who killed his brother. Did I mention it's in verse? It is amazing, y'all. Getting boxes of books for the Walden Award committee makes for some pretty awesome book mail, but I gotta say, this is the best book mail I've ever gotten. :)


Still reading with my ears:

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
This has been a great book to listen to on my commute to and from work every day. I'm really enjoying the 2017 Odyssey winner.
  

Picture books I enjoyed last week:

Boo Who? by Ben Clanton 
Sprinkles, Gizmo, Wild, and Rex are back. This time, Rex is behaving himself and the foursome lets a new friend join their group. But Boo doesn't seem to fit in-- because, well, he's hard to see. If you loved Rex Wrecks It (and if you didn't, we can't be friends) then don't miss Boo Who? It hits bookstores in August.   


XO, Ox by Adam Rex illustrated by Scott Campbell 
Clever, funny, and adorable. Adam Rex is a longtime favorite author of mine and his recent picture books have been home runs.  


We March by Shane W. Evans  
This book is stunning. Spare in text but full of meaning and emotion.  
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Monday, January 30, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-30-17


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.

I missed posting last week because two weekends ago I attended the Women's March on Washington and didn't get back until late on Sunday. In honor of that historic event, I am giving away a Women's March-inspired prize pack.


I recently read and enjoyed:

P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis
Beautiful, highly stylized, yet whimsical illustrations. Really enjoyed this book.  


Duncan, the Story Dragon by Amanda Driscoll
Poor Duncan. He loves books so very much, but when he gets excited, he can't help but breathe fire. And well, his books result in a pile of ash. Will Duncan ever be able to finish a book? 


Radiant Child:  The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
I read the newly minted 2017 Caldecott medalist to my 1st-3rd grade students last week and even though many of them didn't completely understand it, the overall tone of their reaction seemed to be one of enjoyment. They were disappointed that the books they chose for our school's mock Caldecott didn't win, but they appreciated the opportunity to have a picture book read to them that they hadn't seen before. 




Currently reading with my ears:

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
I was hooked on this 2017 Odyssey Award winner from chapter 1.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Giveaway: Women's March Prize Pack

This past weekend I attended the Women's March in Washington, D.C. It was an amazing day and one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I've never marched or protested before. This was my first time. Given my anxiety in crowds and my introverted nature, driving 8 hours through the night on Friday after work and spending my Saturday on my feet, trapped in a sea of humanity didn't sound all that appealing to me.

But if I wanted to live up to my One Little Word this year, I felt like I needed to be a part of this. I want to be on the right side of history. Imagine if I had been given the opportunity to attend the March on Washington back in 1963 and I declined because I don't like crowds. I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.

Words can't express what a powerful day it was, so I guess I'll just try to use pictures instead.







Inspired by the Women's March, I present to you, a Girl Power prize pack:




Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
I Dissent! Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth
2 I Dissent! Tote Bags
1 I Dissent! poster
1 pink knitted hat purchased at the Women's March

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


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Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-16-17


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:

Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel


Picture book that stood out in the pile last week:

I Won a What? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
For anyone who read and loved Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, then you'll enjoy and appreciate this book.


I finished reading with my ears:

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm 
I can't think of anything that has made my reading heart happier in recent months than revisiting Key West with Beans, the Curry family, and the Diaper Gang one more time in this delightful book that brings a level of fun and mischievousness that you don't often find in historical fiction. I love how, despite this book taking place during the Great Depression, it's not a depressing book. And even though it tackles some tough topics, it does so with a lightheartedness and humor that shows how, despite hard times life not only goes on, but can be lived with great gusto. 


Currently Reading:

The Bombs that Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel

There is nothing Jameson loves more than green pants. He has a whole closet full of them. Every time he is offered the opportunity to try out a different color of pants, he manages to find creative ways to get rid of them.

When Jameson's cousin Armando and his fiancee Jo ask him to be the ring bearer in their wedding, Jameson must make a difficult choice: wear a tuxedo with BLACK PANTS or don't be in the wedding at all. Whatever will Jameson do?

Green Pants is an absolutely delightful picture book about the ways in which young children attach themselves to beloved objects like a blanket or stuffed animal. In this case, Jameson's love for green pants is not only his source of affection and attachment, but these pants are what give him the chutzpah to be the unique and fun kid that he is. Wearing black pants to a wedding feels like a betrayal of his identity. Jameson's decision is not just about being in a wedding to him. It is an existential crisis for the kindergarten set.

And as an added bonus, you'll never be able to read this book again or look at the cover without singing this song in your head, with an obvious word substitution. This earworm has burrowed itself into my brain ever since I opened the box from Candlewick with the advance copy of this book inside. And now I've burrowed it into yours. You're welcome.

If you want to read the most entertaining review ever to be written about Green Pants, head on over to 100 Scope Notes and read Travis Jonker's review. I mean Travis's Green Pants's review.


Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel
Expected Publication: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 40
Format/Genre: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Advance 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, January 9, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-9-17


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 read:

The Story Diva and Flea by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
A sweet story of an anxious, sheltered dog who befriends a vagabond cat. Flea helps Diva see more of the world than just her small apartment courtyard and Diva helps Flea to understand what it's like to have a loving, stable home. By itself this story is already lovely and endearing, but set against the elegant backdrop of Paris, it becomes quietly and unexpectedly enchanting. 


Picture books that stood out in the pile last week:

Nanette's Baguette by Mo Willems
Who knew so many things rhyme with baguette? A great book to read aloud, with a baguette to share of course. 
  

Triangle by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Another mischievous and thought-provoking yarn from dream team Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.This one hits bookshelves in March. 


Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel 
Another Candlewick title to hit bookshelves in March. I have a full review of this one going live tomorrow. 


Currently reading with my ears:

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm 
It feels so wonderful to be back in Key West with Beans and the Curry family. It feels like I'm putting on a favorite old pair of jeans. Just happiness, love, and comfort.