January 31, 2014

I Am Grateful For: 39 Clues Series

The 39 Clues Series
Various Authors

I have so many reasons to be thankful for these books.
1.  My kids and I listened to several on CD in the car.  I was great family time.  We laughed a lot and talked a lot about what was happening and what would happen.
2.  All the kids at school that read them - it keeps them reading and reading.
3.  Because they are in a series and there are so many, I know it's a great book to suggest to reluctant readers because if they get hooked there are many more books to keep them reading.
4.  Because they are written by many authors it introduces kids to a variety of authors and the rest of the books they have written

Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her decendants an impossible decision: You have a choice - one million dollars or a clue.

Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world's most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 clues hidden around the world will reveal the family's secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what's important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents.

January 29, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney

I think you know the reason for this one.  How can I not be thankful for a book that has gotten more non-readers reading than any other book I know! And you know what - I know some people worry that kids are really not being challenged when reading these (I disagree btw!) but I've seen kid upon kid tire of them and move on to MORE READING! Now that is something to be thankful for!

Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary. 

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion. 

Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.” Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things.

January 27, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Blood and Chocolate

Blood and Chocolate
Annette Curtis Klause

I'll admit it - I've never read this book, but I had a copy of it in my classroom library several years ago. Around Christmas time I had talked about getting books for gifts. One student looked appalled at the idea and even voiced that thought. Later he read this book and said to me "If someone gave me this book for Christmas I'd be ok with that." It was a HUGE turn around in his attitude toward reading. For that I'm am ever thankful for this book.

Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would. 

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?

January 24, 2014

I Am Grateful For: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Mark Zusak

This is my daughter's favorite book. I'm thankful for it for that reason, but also because it's something her and I can share. There isn't always much a mom can really share with her 14 year old daughter, and the love of a book is a good one!

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing
raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

January 22, 2014

I Am Grateful For: Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson

Why?? Have you read them????  
Two reasons
One: I have wonderful memories of getting a new Calvin and Hobbes books each Christmas and sitting all day and reading them laughing the whole time. 
Two: They are THE book that got my son reading.  For that I am ever in Bill Watterson's debt.

January 20, 2014

I Am Grateful For: When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead

Now Twilight may have revived my reading life, but When You Reach Me reminded me how a great story can pull you in and totally consume you. This was the first book I've read that literally made me gasp out loud when I read a certain part. Absolutely amazing writing and construction of the plot. The Newbery was well deserved.

Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter. 

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

January 17, 2014

I'm Grateful For: Twilight

Stephenie Meyer

Ok Ok say what you will about this series BUT it was the first book I read in a really really long time that took me out of a long reading slump. And to be honest it's what brought my passion back to reading and eventually to blogging. So yes, I'm thankful for Twilight.

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. When she meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen--a vampire--her life takes a thrilling and terrifying romantic turn.

January 15, 2014

A New Direction - Books I'm Thankful For

Hey all.  I've been struggling for a while with what to do with The O.W.L. 
I know I'm done with blogging full time, and with my students running Hooked on Books I know I can review books there any time I want.  But with that said, I'm having a hard time just giving up this site! I wish I could just be like some bloggers and walk away from it, but I can't.  

My thought right now is to use this site not for reviews but just to share books I'm thankful for.  
I'm working hard to focus on the positive in my life, and books are always a positive.  
So I thought maybe I'd post a few times a week books that I'm thankful for.  No reviews.  Just the book and summary and a few sentences why.  
After 18 years of teaching I feel I've seen enough books and readers come past me that I have plenty of books to be thankful for - whether because they got a non-reader reading or because they gave my class some good material for discussion or just simple because they added joy to my life while reading them.  

I'll start today!

The Outsiders
S.E. Hinton

I'm thankful for this book because I have loved it since I was 13 (when I first memorized Nothing Gold Can Stay), and because it continues to appeal to generation after generation of students.  We never stop feeling like we don't fit in and SE Hinton helps us see that differently.

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.