August 20, 2018

Book Review: Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O'Connor

Title: Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth
Author: Sheila O'Connor
Copy Obtained: From publisher for an honest review

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft--and gets help from an unlikely source--in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars 

When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly's mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents' Midwestern hometown isn't easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie's stumped by just one--the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn't answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships.

Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can't stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn't know Mr. Marsworth's dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs.

In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O'Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.

One sentence review: It took me a bit to get into it, but once I did I had to know what happened to Reenie, her family, and Mr. Marsworth. 
Best for readers who: Like historical fiction.  Also a good book for a child who has lost a parent or someone close to them. 
Best Stick-with-You Image: Any run-in Reenie has with Rat and Culter (two boys that bully her). 
Library Thoughts: I would get this for the library mainly because there are not that many books like it.  Yes, we have ones about that time period and the Vietnam War, but nothing like this.  Nothing from this viewpoint.  

I'm going to be honest.  Like I said above, it took me a bit to get into this book.  I'd read a bit and put it down for a while, and then pick it up again.  But slowly I wanted to know more and more.  I wanted to find out what was happening with Reenie and her family.  I really really wanted to know if Billy would end up going to college or not - or if he'd be drafted.  And I so wanted to learn more about Mr. Marsworth.  What was his full story?  How did he know Reenie's mom? Really I just started caring about them all.  I didn't want to them to be hated because of their view of the war, and I didn't want to see them bullied or picked on.  Although I got it - I got that during this time period what was shown was very realistic.  And I think that would be good for kids now to see and understand.  So much about our viewpoint of war and fighting since Vietnam, that I think it's important for kids to see how it once was.  

But that's not the only reason I think kids should read this book.  I love how it just shows a friendship between a kid and an adult.  You don't see that has often.  It's a positive example.  And what I like is that Reenie doesn't really change who or how she is with Mr. Marsworth.  I mean she does a little, but not too much.  She's just fully who she is and Mr. Marsworth, while trying to calm her down, does accept her for it.  And he supports her.  He listens and takes her seriously.  Love that! 

Do I think kids will like this book?  I do, but I fully admit it's not for every kid.  Some will really struggle with it fully told in letters.  Some will find it too slow.  But I know there is a chunk of kids I would recommend it to that will understand, learn from and enjoy it.  I will also be recommending it to the English teachers in my building for possible use as a class novel. 

August 17, 2018

I Now Know My Weekend Plans! Down a Dark Hall is out!!! #downadarkhall

I LOVE Lois Duncan's Books.  I have since I was in middle school!  

My favorite book of her's:

Down a Dark Hall! 


I did a search for all my posts mentioning Lois Duncan.  You can see them HERE.  
And more specifically HERE is my review of Down a Dark Hall.

So a few months ago I found out they had made a movie of this book.  I was soooooooo excited.  Yes, yes I know - they've changed it from the book, but I can handle that.  I go into every movie from a book knowing it will be different.  In my opinion, it looks like they did a good job though. 

So this weekend I will be getting it from Amazon Prime and settling in to enjoy! 

Here is the poster for the movie:

A clip from the movie:

And the trailer:

A bit about the movie

In Theaters, On Demand, and On iTunes Today!

Kit (AnnaSophia Robb), a difficult young girl, is sent to the mysterious Blackwood Boarding School when her heated temper becomes too much for her mother to handle. Once she arrives at Blackwood, Kit encounters eccentric headmistress Madame Duret (Uma Thurman) and meets the school's only other students, four young women also headed down a troubled path. While exploring the labyrinthine corridors of the school, Kit and her classmates discover that Blackwood Manor hides an age-old secret rooted in the paranormal.

Based on the classic gothic YA novel of the same name by Lois Duncan - author of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" - and produced by Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight, The Host), DOWN A DARK HALL is a supernatural thriller directed by Rodrigo Cortés (Buried), from a screenplay by Mike Goldbach and Chris Sparling, and stars AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer, The Carrie Diaries), Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan), Victoria Moroles (Teen Wolf), Noah Silver (The Tribes of Palos Verdes), Taylor Russell (TV's Falling Skies), Rosie Day (Outlander), and features a truly memorable turn by the iconic Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vols. I & II).

Summit Entertainment presents, a Temple Hill / Fickle Fish / Nostromo Pictures production.

Cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Isabelle Fuhrman, Victoria Moroles, Noah Silver, Taylor Russell, Rosie Day, and Uma Thurman
Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés
Produced by: Stephenie Meyer, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Meghan Hibbett, Adrián Guerra
Written by: Mike Goldbach and Chris Sparling
Genre: Horror

August 16, 2018

Book Review: The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Title: The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Copy Obtained: From publisher

About the Book from Goodreads
A family moves into an old, abandoned house. Jules's parents love the house, but Jules is frightened and feels a sense of foreboding. When she sees a pale face in an upstairs window, though, she can't stop wondering about the eerie presence on the top floor—in a room with a locked door. Could it be someone who lived in the house a century earlier?

Her fear replaced by fascination, Jules is determined to make contact with the mysterious figure and help unlock the door. Past and present intersect as she and her ghostly friend discover—and change—the fate of the family who lived in the house all those many years ago.

Two sentence review: Great new addition to Downing Hahn's collection of scary stories for the tween set.  It has a bit of a twist on the traditional ghost story, so that was cool. 
Best for readers who: Like a bit of a scare and have read all her other books. 
Best Stick-with-You Image: The ghosts pounding on the door while Jules and her friend are in the room! 
Library Thoughts: Of course.  It's really hard to find scary books aren't Goosebumps and are a good fit for middle school students. 

Whenever I come across a scary book written for middle schoolers I have to look at it.  I have plenty of kids that ask for scary books, but I know that they need age-appropriate scary books.  Mary Downing Hahn always fits that bill.  So when I received a copy of this book for review, I was super excited.  As usual, the story didn't disappoint.  I like how it starts with some events of the past, so it sets a better understanding for when Jules moves into the house.  And can we talk about the house??? The classic creepy story has to have a creepy house, and this one does.  And I love that Jules is living connected to it! Can you imagine being 12 and living attached to an old abandoned creepy looking house?? Yikes! And right away the odd things begin to happen.  Jules thinks she's seeing people that no one else sees including something in the window of the house.  But what I really like is that as Jules is having these experiences we also get the perspective of Lily the ghost.  The story switches back and forth between the two characters.  No worries about this being confusing to the reader.  It's pretty easy to keep them clear.  I love how Jules makes a friend, Maisie, and together they try to help Lily instead of just fearing her.  That's awesome.  

The ending of the story was different from what I expected, but that was ok.  I felt a little confused, but so did Jules so it was a way to relate to her. Beyond the ghost story ending, I like the ending of Jules' story.  She got a happy ending, and that was nice to see as well.

I will admit I didn't find the story scary, but I'm not 11, so I'm not really the target audience.  I know that my students we be just enough spooked to enjoy it.  The story takes a twist on the traditional ghost story but questioning the idea of alternate realities and switching between them.  This keeps the scary down and the interest high.  That's what matters! 

August 15, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Collectors by Jacqueline West

There are some books I just can't wait for.  

Here's where I share! 

Due Out: October 9th
Van has always been an outsider. Most people don’t notice him. But he notices them. And he notices the small trinkets they drop, or lose, or throw away—that’s why his collection is full of treasures. Then one day, Van notices a girl stealing pennies from a fountain, and everything changes. He follows the girl, Pebble, and uncovers an underground world full of wishes and the people who collect them. Apparently not all wishes are good and even good wishes often have unintended consequences—and the Collectors have made it their duty to protect us. But they aren't the only ones who have their eyes on the world’s wishes—and they may not be the good guys, after all.  

Why I'm waiting:
I just love the concept of this! Haven't you always wondered about those coin wishes you make???

August 14, 2018

Nonfiction Review: Absolute Expert Series by National Geographic Kids

As a media specialist in a middle school, I'm always looking for new high-interest nonfiction.  
My mission is to get and keep middle school student reading, and one way is to hook them into nonfiction.  
So when I was offered this series for review I jumped at the chance! 

Series Title: Absolute Expert
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Copies Obtained: From the publisher

Short Version: LOVED them.  

Why I'd recommend it: 
As usual with National Geographic Kids books, these books are jammed packed with awesome full-color pictures.  I know that I can use that to get a kid to at least look at the book.  And once I have it in their hands that's half the battle! I'd also recommend any of the books in this series because they are NOT just pictures.  There are large sections of text, so they get kids readings as well.  And the text is about interesting things.  I was very interested in the section in the volcano book about Mt. St. Helen's.  It looked at the changes that have happened in the 30 years since the explosion.  I was fascinated! 

I also really enjoyed the soccer book.  I'm super excited to recommend that one because it's harder to find good books about soccer, and I know I have a lot of soccer players at my school (my son among them).  How great to show them a book about their sport.  The first page I'd show them is one that shows the evolution of the soccer ball.  I found that very interesting, and I think they would too! 

Overall- this is a great series.  Wonderfully detailed pictures with interesting information.  They are a great size as well.  Not oversized or super thick, so that wouldn't scare anyone away! Can't wait to share them! 

Best for readers who: Like nonfiction and graphics with their reading. 

Library Thoughts: Yes!!! If you're looking for high-interest nonfiction get them! 

August 8, 2018

Women on Wed - Book Review: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

A few Wednesdays a month I like to feature books that show the strength and diversity of women.  These may be works of fiction or nonfiction.
Today I have a book review.

Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Copy Obtained: Bought

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Short Version: A wonderful story that teaches the reader not only about the Pakistani culture but also about the power of hope, dreams, and inner strength. 

Long Version: I had been hearing a lot about this book, so I knew I needed to read it.  I knew that it would teach me things about a culture and country I didn't know a lot about.  And I knew that was very important.  But I also knew it would demonstrate the commonality of fighting for what is right.  Right away I felt connected with Amal because she wanted to be a teacher. I'm a teacher, so I understand her desire to want to teach others.  Then I felt for her when she felt that dream slipping away.  It was upsetting to know she might lose that dream because of what was expected of her since she was the oldest.  You could feel her conflict.  She knew she needed to help her family, but she wanted to continue her education.  I loved how dedicated she was that she even kept trying to keep up with her studies even when she couldn't go to school AND how her friends/sister helped her.   My stomach fell through when her frustrations boil over and she angers the wrong person.  It was through this series of events that I really gained an understanding of how her culture and country were different from what I grew up in.  The idea that one man had that much control in her town was something I didn't know.  I felt for her because now she was stuck all because she angered one person.  

Once she starts living at the Khan estate I learned even more about how things worked for her.  I felt the deep sadness she felt.  But as the story goes along I loved watching her grow strength in ways she didn't know she had.  And when she fully uses that strength I felt so proud of her! It was so great to see her stand up like that. 

The story wraps up nicely.  I felt satisfied and confident that Amal would find success in whatever she did. 

Best stick-with-you image: All the description of the food! I looked up most of it, and it all sounded so good! 

Best for readers who: Want to see a young girl learn the strength that lies within her.  And who want to learn about something they may not know.  

Library Thoughts: 100% yes I will put this in the library.  It's a universal story - learning to stand up for yourself! 

August 7, 2018

Cover Crush: A Flicker of Clarity by Amy McNamara

I love book covers! I love walking around Barnes and Noble just looking at all the different covers.  A good cover will make me pull the book off the shelf!  
It's almost like I have a crush on them :)

Today I'm crushin' on:

About the Book:
For as long as Evie can remember, she and Emma have been best friends. They’ve gone through everything together—only Evie understood what it was like for Emma to lose her older brother in a car accident. And though they couldn’t be more different—Emma is the life of the party while Evie is shy—the dynamic has always worked for them.

But then Evie makes a careless mistake that ends up having serious consequences for Emma. They’ve had their squabbles before, but this is different. When Evie tries to apologize, Emma ignores her texts, gets a new best friend, and completely freezes her out. Evie didn’t mean to betray Emma in the way that she did, and she’s desperate to get back in Emma’s good graces. Who is Evie without Emma?

Then Evie meets Theo, a kindred spirit unlike any boy she’s ever encountered. With him, she can at least pretend like her life is normal. But just as she’s about to let go and fully fall into whatever is happening with him, Emma resurfaces, miraculously letting Evie back in—though it’s not without consequence. Erratic behavior, drunken incidents, and panicked late-night calls are only some of the hoops Emma makes Evie jump through. All Evie has wanted is to get her best friend back—but Emma seems hell-bent on self-destruction. Evie is used to swooping in to pull Emma out of her troubles, but how do you help someone who doesn’t want to be saved? 

Why I'm crushin':
The colors of this cover are what pulled me to it at first.  I love the way the colors light up the title.  I also loved that as you look at it more you see more of the stars! 

August 6, 2018

MMGM: Spoglight on Bone Hollow by Kim Ventrella

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday is hosted by Greg 

at Always in the Middle.

As a middle school media specialist, middle-grade books have a very special place in my heart.  I don't always feel they get the recognition they deserve, so I know want to do my part to promote them!For MMGM, on Monday bloggers promote middle-grade books.  For me, that might mean a review or a spotlight.  

To see other middle-grade books, check out Always in the Middle for links! 

Today I'm spotlighting:

Gabe knows it was foolish to save that chicken. On the roof. In the middle of a storm. Yet Gabe also knows that his guardian, Ms. Cleo, loves the chicken more than him. After falling off the roof, Gabe wakes up to find his neighbors staring at him tearfully. To his confusion, none of them seem to hear Gabe speak. It's almost as if they think he's dead. But Gabe's NOT dead. He feels fine! So why does everyone scream in terror when he shows up to his own funeral? 

Gabe flees with his dog, Ollie, the only creature who doesn't tremble at the sight of him. So when a mysterious girl named Wynne offers to let Gabe stay at her cozy house in a misty clearing, he gratefully accepts. Yet Wynne disappears from Bone Hollow for long stretches of time, and when a suspicious Gabe follows her, he makes a mind-blowing discovery. Wynne is Death and has been for thousands of years. Even more shocking . . . she's convinced that Gabe is destined to replace her.

This book just sounds really good.  Such an interesting concept - especially with Wynne as Death.  I know this book wouldn't be for every middle school student, but I know some would be super interested in it.  I'd recommend this to my students that enjoy spooky books and are ready to move into something more.  I think this sounds like it would have some spookiness, but yet more. 

Sidenote: I LOVE this cover!!!  Just love it!  

August 3, 2018

Book Review: Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Title: Ghost
Author: Jason Reynolds
Copy Obtained: Bought

About the Book From Goodreads

Running. That's all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race -- and wins -- the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Short Version: A quick read that had a lot going on! I want to know more and want to read the rest of the books! 

Long Version: First of all I'm so happy to have a series that includes track! I know a lot of kids that are runners, and it's not easy to find books that including track! But the best part - if they read it because it has track/running in it - they'll also get a great story.  About that story - I really liked Ghost (the character).  Did I want to shake him?  Yes.  Did he frustrate me? Several times! Was I proud of him? 100%!!! I so felt for Ghost and all that he's been through.  I can't even begin to say I know what he's going through because I've never been through anything even remotely close.  I do know that his life was shaken to the core and that I can relate to.  As a teacher, I completely bought into him.  I've had kids hurting that much and acting out that much.  They worried me because I didn't know how they would turn out - if they'd find some way to turn around.  I felt that a lot for Ghost.  And honestly - I don't know 100% if he will yet! I want to see more of him in the rest of the series.  I know they focus on the other runners, but I'm sure I'll see a little more about how he's doing. 

I need to comment on Ghost's family.  They were fantastic.  I loved how strong and loving his mom was.  And I loved how he had other family members there supporting him as well.  You don't always see that in books.  So many times we see absentee parents.  That wasn't the case here.  

I truly can't wait to read the next books.  Reynolds does a wonderful job of creating characters that make me care about them.  

Best stick-with-you image: When he runs out of school after the students start laughing at him.  So painfully realistic.  
Best for readers who: Like running and for readers who feel lost, angry or frustrated.  This can help them see there is a place for them.  

Library Thoughts: For sure! So many kids can relate to Ghost! 

August 1, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The House in Poplar Woods by K.E. Ormsbee

There are some books I just can't wait for.  

Here's where I share! 

Taken from Goodreads

Due Out: August 28th
For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, they’ve only ever been able to leave the house together once a year, on Halloween. The rest of the year, Lee and his mother serve Memory, while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement.

But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she’ll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something’s gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie’s might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood.

Why I'm waiting:
There is just something about this description.  It sounds very unique.  The idea of these twins never being together in intriguing.  Plus the Agreement sounds interesting too! Love the sound of the story as a whole! 

July 30, 2018

Book Blast: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker +GIVEAWAY

Very excited today to be a part of the Nerd Blast for Emma in the Night!  

This book sounds fantastic!!!!

To see more spots on the blast and learn more check out the post at JeanBookNerd.

About the Book

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Find at:
Barnes and Noble
The Book Depository


"Twisty...a thriller that keeps readers guessing." —The New York Times

"In this searing psychological thriller...Walker's portrayal of the ways in which a narcissistic, self-involved mother can affect her children deepens the plot as it builds to a shocking finale." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A tense thriller explores the bond between sisters and family dynamics that give new meaning to the term 'dysfunctional'...This thriller aims right for the heart and never lets go." —Kirkus, Starred Review

"Both twisted and twisty, this smart psychological thriller sets a new standard for unreliable narrators." —Booklist, Starred Review



Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten. Her second thriller, Emma In The Night, will be released August 8, 2017.

Wendy earned her J. D., magna cum laude, at the Georgetown University Law Center where she was awarded the American Jurisprudence award for her performance in Contracts and Advanced Criminal Procedure. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University and attended The London School of Economics and Political Science as part of her undergraduate studies.

Prior to her legal career, Wendy was a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., in the mergers and acquisitions group. She has also volunteered at the ACLU, Connecticut Legal Services and Figure Skating in Harlem where she served on the Board of Directors for over twelve years.

Wendy is currently writing her third thriller while managing a busy household.

TWITTER: @Wendy_Walker

2 Winners will receive a Signed Copy of EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker.

July 27, 2018

Book Review: Hello Universe by Erin Kelly Entrada

Title: Hello Universe
Author: Erin Kelly Entrada
Copy Obtained: Bought

Book summary from Goodreads
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends -- at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

Short Version: I have mixed feelings.  In the end, I liked it better than I thought I would as I was reading it.  

Long Version: So as I was reading this book I was really up in the air about how much I liked it or not.  The characters, for me, were a bit hard to buy into.  I'm around middle school students all day long, so I feel I have a pretty good idea what typical middle schoolers are like.  The characters in this book didn't always strike me as kids I would see walking the halls of my school.  The biggest would be Kaori.  I know some students don't fit the stereotype, but they actually almost fall into a different stereotype.  She really went outside this, so I had a hard time buying into her being the age she was supposed to be.  

That aside! - I did really like Valencia.  She was great!  She was confident, kind and pretty typical.  I also felt that Virgil was pretty typical, and liked him too.  I felt for him when Chet bullying him.  That felt real to me, so my heart hurt for Virgil.  I also liked how the relationship because Chet and Virgil ended.  It was realistic.  I didn't become the everyone-loves-each-other event, and I liked that! About Chet - I wanted to shake his dad! Wow! It helped us understand Chet more.  

Now, in the end, I liked the book because I liked how much Virgil and Valencia grew! How they changed was good.  It was interesting because Virgil's growth comes out in the smallest way once he gets home, but I think that was realistic.  That's what a kid that age would do! It made sense to me! So, like I said, I wasn't sure as I was reading if I'd end up being able to say I really liked this book BUT I can say that I did. 

Best stick-with-you image: Chet with the snake! You'll have to read it for yourself. 

Best for readers who: Feel picked up and alone.  

Library Thoughts: Yes I will have it.  I'm hoping word-of-mouth will help it gain traction. And of course, since it's a Newbery I want to include it.  

July 25, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Swing by Kwame Alexander

There are some books I just can't wait for.  

Here's where I share! 

Due Out: October 2nd

Things usually do not go as planned for seventeen-year-old Noah. He and his best friend Walt (aka Swing) have been cut from the high school baseball team for the third year in a row, and it looks like Noah’s love interest since fifth grade, Sam, will never take it past the “best friend” zone. Noah would love to retire his bat and accept the status quo, but Walt has got big plans for them both, which include making the best baseball comeback ever, getting the girl, and finally finding cool.

To go from lovelorn to ladies’ men, Walt introduces Noah to a relationship guru—his Dairy Queen-employed cousin, Floyd—and the always informative Woohoo Woman Podcast. Noah is reluctant, but decides fate may be intervening when he discovers more than just his mom’s birthday gift at the Thrift Shop. Inside the vintage Keepall is a gold mine of love letters from the 1950s. Walt is sure these letters and the podcasts are just what Noah needs to communicate his true feelings to Sam. To Noah, the letters are more: an initiation to the curious rhythms of love and jazz, as well as a way for him and Walt to embrace their own kind of cool. While Walt is hitting balls out of the park and catching the eye of the baseball coach, Noah composes anonymous love letters to Sam in an attempt to write his way into her heart. But as things are looking up, way up, for Noah and Walt, the letters set off a chain of events that change everything Noah knows to be true about love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.

Why I'm waiting:
Basically - It's Kwami Alexander! Of course I want to read it! 

July 23, 2018

Nonfiction Review: The Ultimate Book of Sharks by Brian Skerry

Title: The Ultimate Book of Sharks
Author: Brian Skerry
Copy Obtained: From publisher in exchange for an honest review

About the Book From Goodreads

Dive into the wild world of sharks! Get up close to learn the truth behind these fantastic, ferocious fish with famed National Geographic photographer and explorer Brian Skerry.

Join this amazing underwater adventure to track the sharks of the world, from the teeniest dogfish to the everfeared great white. This ultimate book features every species of shark on the planet, with awesome photos, fascinating facts, the latest science, and firsthand stories of real-life encounters with these incredible creatures. Learn how sharks live, how they eat, the challenges they face, and whether or not you are actually on the menu!

Short Version: Sharks! Big pictures and lots of facts about sharks! Love it! 

Why I'd recommend it: I'm looking for more high-interest nonfiction for my media center, so I was super interested in this one.  I would easily recommend this one to my nonfiction readers because the pictures would grab them right away! Full color, close up and detailed.  That would get them interested right away.  But I'd also recommend it because the facts with each shark are great.  Sometimes nonfiction books are pretty dry with their facts.  This one isn't like that, so I know that kids would actually read and not just look at the pictures.  I'd also recommend it because it has all kinds of sharts - not JUST the well-known ones.  I also like books that introduce students to something new.  

I have to say the shark that fascinated me the most was the Frilled Shark.  It's the one I'd show kids to get them interested.  Super weird looking! Here's a picture on one:

Side-note:  With Shark Week this week I wish I was in school because I'd love to do a display with this book included! 

Best for readers who: Love nonfiction and need a visual push to read. And of course for any future marine biologist.  

Library Thoughts: YES! This would be one I would get because I know that my non-readers would at least pick it up to look at because sharks are high interest.  

And look at this - a trailer for the book! Even better!!!

July 19, 2018

Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Copy Obtained: Purchased

Book Summary from Goodreads
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? 

As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually used his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?

Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth-floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator. 

Short Version: Who knew so much could happen in one elevator ride down??

Long Version: I honestly need to reread this because I loved it but I know I missed a ton! The language is so rich that it deserved a 2nd and even 3rd reading.  Again I'm impressed by a novel in verse's ability to capture so much in a limited amount of words.  The hurt Will fills is so palatable.  I want to just hug him and tell him it will be ok, but the honest truth is - I don't know if it will be for him.  He has faced so much death in his life as you learn in that elevator.  There is nothing to say he won't face more and more.  

What this book showed me the most though was a world I know nothing about.  Will's world is not a world I live in.  The thoughts and reactions he has are not ones I would have.  I needed to see and experience his world.  I needed to see a reality beyond my own.  Without seeing it, I can't truly understand boys like Will.  I feel now like I have a better understanding of why he felt like he did and why he reacted like he did.  I don't claim to know how he feels, but I do get it better.  That alone was good to take away from reading this book. 

Best stick-with-you image: The playground when he was eight.  Wow. 

Best for readers who: Feel like the world doesn't always understand them.  

Library Thoughts: Yes!  10000 times yes.  It's an important book as both a mirror and window for my students.  For most of my students it will be a window - a window they need to look through.