Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-27-14

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.


Last week I finished reading with my ears:
 
Monster by Walter Dean Myers 
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Both of these selections were assigned reading for my prizing children's literature class.


Picture books I loved: 

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
How Marla Frazee managed to make this book endearing rather than creepy is true talent because, let's face it, clowns are creepy. This book, however, will convert even the most persistent of clown-haters. 

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Maybe because I am a huge fan of figure skating, but I liked this one better than Flora and the Flamingo.


Currently Reading:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I'm not one to reread books unless I'm required to. There are just so many books out there in the world that I want to read that it's hard to justify rereading one. Needless to say, I'm grateful that my prizing children's literature class is requiring me to reread this because coming back to it has been like visiting with an old friend. It's definitely one of those blanket books Kurt Stroh was talking about.


Paused reading:

Winger by Andrew Smith
Since the amount of reading for both of my grad classes has increased, I had to put this one on hold for a while. I look forward to going back to it though in a few weeks.  


Currently reading with my ears:

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes


Last week I posted:
HUGE giveaway from Kimberly Griffiths Little, author of FORBIDDEN
Why I haven't talked about food in a while


On my teaching blog I posted:
Happiness is a baby grand piano

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why I haven't talked about food in a while

For a blog about food, books, and travel, I've certainly been neglecting everything but the books lately. The reason I don't always talk about travel is because I don't always get to travel as much as I'd like. But food is another story...

I have suffered from IBS a majority of my life. It started when I was in 7th grade and has manifested itself in different ways over the years. I haven't had it so severe though that it has impacted my day to day life... until recently. My lowest point was this past June when I was on vacation with my husband and some dear friends in Northern California, a culinary wonderland, and I barely ate the whole time because I felt so horrible. That was the moment I knew something had to change -- and I started with changing my doctors. I decided I was tired of going to doctors who would only prescribe some medication or, to appease me, test me for something, tell me the results were negative, and then never follow-up. I decided to go to a place where doctors are in-the-know because research is happening all the time: a university health system.

My new gastroenterologist put me in touch with a nutritionist and for the past 8 weeks I have been on a low FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are different types of sugars that are not absorbed well in the small intestine and for people with IBS, this is what causes so many of our unfortunate gastrointestinal symptoms. I have to admit that when I first heard about this diet I was dubious. I had been living with this disorder for so long and dealing with my fear of being in an inopportune place when an attack came that I just assumed that this was my lot in life. While no means a cure, I have discovered that I now am understanding my body better than I ever have. I am finally understanding which foods trigger my symptoms and how I can better manage what I eat so I don't have to worry about whether or not I can go somewhere after dinner for fear of having an attack.

I am so grateful to my doctor and nutritionist at the University of Michigan and I highly recommend giving this diet a try if you suffer from IBS -- though I wouldn't suggest going it alone. Being under the care and guidance of a nutritionist has helped educate me on how this process works. And the process is ever-evolving, which is why I am so happy that I now have a doctor who cares enough to follow up with me rather than just testing me for something, telling me nothing's wrong, and then never attempting to seek further answers. So for those of you out there who are suffering from any kind of health ailment and the doctors aren't giving you answers, I say to you: find a doctor who will keep fighting right along with you. It makes a world of difference.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

HUGE giveaway from Kimberley Griffiths Little, author of FORBIDDEN

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.
Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter. TO ENTER:
  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
PRIZES:
(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt) 2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson 3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White 4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt 5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf 6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured) 7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings 8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances) 9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured) 10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards 11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
(13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS:
1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
Good luck!











About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

Follow Kimberley:
About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.
Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-20-14

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.


Last week I reviewed:

Press Play by Eric Devine
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales


Finished reading with my ears:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman 

A solid, interesting read about the life of Charles Darwin and his wife Emma. I'm still scratching my head as to why it was marketed as YA though. Seemed more like an adult read to me.

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
I actually read this book last year, but it's required reading this week for my prizing children's literature class, so I thought I'd give the audio a go. Whether you choose to read it or listen to it, this is one fascinating read.


Still reading:

Winger by Andrew Smith
Still really enjoying this, but other reading obligations for my grad classes are making this slow-going. At least I've finally passed the page 100 mark. Baby steps, right?


Currently reading with my ears:
 
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
This is another selection for my prizing children's literature class. I decided to listen to the audio instead of read it because the screenplay format was not very engaging to me. I'm still finding the format a little vexing as I'm listening, but at least it's easier to picture events in my mind as I listen to the different character voices.


On my teaching blog I wrote:
5 things I loved about last week

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

A young woman searches.

She sees.

She explores.

And finally, she creates.


This beautiful picture book about Frida Kahlo is not so much a biography as it is a living, breathing poem that celebrates her artistry and creativity. The colorful photographs of puppets that evolve into dreamlike paintings later in the story, add to the poetry of images and language. The delightful Niño Wrestles the World was my first foray into Yuyi Morales's work, and now that I've witnessed Viva Frida's as well as Niño's artistic genius, I am convinced that someone needs to give Morales a Caldecott already. It's likely not to be for Viva Frida since the question of whether to include the photographer, Tim O'Meara, as a contributing artist complicates the question of whether he would be included as one of the winners, but I've decided that eventually this woman needs to win the most prestigious award for children's book illustration.

Viva Frida gave me chills and a lump in my throat when I read it. I know others have criticized it for not giving enough insight into Frida Kahlo's life in the story itself, but to me, this book is so much bigger than just a biography of a famous artist. As I mentioned above, it felt like I was witnessing a living, breathing poem and I was utterly enchanted. I think the open-endedness of the text also intrigues readers enough to want to go out and learn more about Kahlo's life. I know it did for me.  

I discussed the book with my 8th graders to get their opinions, and many of them felt that, despite the fact that younger kids might not understand everything that is happening in the text and illustrations, it still has facets that are appealing to kids (minimal text, bright illustrations that call them to use their imaginations). And yet, despite the text's spare simplicity, it is still a very complex book, which is an observation one of my astute 8th graders made and it was right on the money. To quote another one of my 8th graders, it is a book "you have to read with your heart, not your eyes."

With the plea for more diversity in children's literature this year, the multicultural and multilingual aspects of Viva Frida - with text in both English and Spanish - also make this an important book to have on our classroom and library shelves. 

Watch this video to witness the beautiful and complicated process behind the making of Viva Frida:


Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
Published: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 40
Genre: 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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ARC review: Press Play by Eric Devine

Goodreads Summary:
Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.


Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.



The publisher blurb above compares Press Play to Friday Night Lights and books by Walter Dean Myers, but I'd also like to draw comparisons to the raw honesty of Chris Crutcher and Andrew Smith books as well. For a student who loves all those books and authors, I wouldn't hesitate to hand a him (or her) a copy of Devine's latest book. 

The edginess of the narrative isn't Press Play's only appeal though. There are a few different entry points for which it could entice students to read: there's the sports narrative -- specifically lacrosse, which isn't often found in sports narratives -- and there's the film-making aspect for students who might not be into sports. In addition, it's a story about bullying, hazing, and a teen who is struggling with his weight, so there is a lot going on in its 368 pages.

While this book might be a tad mature to recommend to my current 8th grade students, I am likely to recommend this book to high school teachers who work with juniors or seniors. Devine is proving himself an excellent edition to the landscape of YA novels that appeal specifically, though not exclusively, to male readers. 

Press Play by Eric Devine
Expected Publication: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pages: 368
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: ARC 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, October 13, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-13-14

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.


 Current giveaway:

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley


Last week I reviewed:

Rex Wrecks It by Ben Clanton
Maple and Willow Together by Lori Nichols


Last week I finished reading:

Celebrating Writers: From Possibilities to Publication by Ruth Ayers with Christi Overman
Writing is a celebration no matter what stage of the writing process we're in. Ruth Ayers illustrates this concept beautifully in this short (less than 100 pages) professional text.


Picture books that stood out in the pile:

This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
A delightfully interactive book about a girl who encounters a frustrating curiosity: her dog disappears into the gutter of the book. I love the idea of calling awareness to the gutter, making it a point of discussion rather than something to ignore -- like the gutter is its own character in the story. So fun and different.  


A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
A laugh-out-loud funny story about a picture book protagonist who is having a tantrum over the fact that the owner of this particular book doesn't appear to take very good care of his belongings. It's sort of the meta-picture-book version of "And this is why we can't have nice things!" :) 

 
The Flat Rabbit by Bardur Oskarsson
This one stood out for perhaps not the best of reasons. I definitely see the dark humor here but I'm not entirely sure I get it. I'm wondering if some of the problem is that the humor was lost in translation or if it's a cultural difference that maybe Americans don't quite understand. 


Still reading:

Winger by Andrew Smith
I'm really enjoying this book but all of my grad school readings and assignments are preventing me from spending a lot of time pleasure reading, and if I do have time, I tend to gravitate towards short and sweet picture books. 


Still reading with my ears:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman 

I'm both enjoying this and not enjoying it at the same time. It's a book that no doubt has some interesting pieces to it, but I'm still scratching my head at why this was marketed as YA lit -- and won a Printz honor.  Maybe it will become clearer to me by the end.


Last weeks' posts from my teaching blog:
5 things I loved about last week
Celebrating a little subversion -- okay maybe a lot of subversion
Pairing the old with the new

Also, check out my contribution to Kurt Stroh's blog post about blanket books.