April 29, 2019

Book Review: Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Title: Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Author: Jonathan Auxier
Copy Obtained: Purchased

About the Book from Goodreads
For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on "climbing boys"--orphans owned by chimney sweeps--to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived--and a girl. With her wits and will, she's managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. 

But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature--a golem--made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire. 
Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life together--saving one another in the process. 

One sentence review: A sweet story about a girl finding her way and finding a place to belong. 
Best for readers who: Like stories with a bit of magic.
Best Stick-with-You Image: Her climbing through the chimneys.  So claustrophobic!!! 
Library Thoughts: For sure. Perfect for middle school and upper elementary students.

I enjoyed this book, but I will say I didn't love it fully. The story was great. I loved the whole chimney sweeps - very interesting especially when you read the author notes at the end. I learned a lot about chimney sweeps. I loved how it was about a girl who was very independent but also clearly wanting a family of some sort. And I loved her monster or golem or whatever you want to call him. Loved him! He made me laugh, made me cry - he was wonderful. By far my favorite part of the book! So overall I loved all that. 

I think my issue was with her - Nan. She just rubbed me the wrong way some. I was supposed to feel for her and understand her. I understood she was the way she was because of how she grew up. I got that. But so many times she made such rash, non-thinking decisions that it frustrated me. I wanted to care about her so much more than I could because her actions and treatment of people got in the way of that. Not enough to dislike the book, because as you can see above I did like it. Her character just kept me from liking it 100%. 

Now I'll still fully and enthusiastically sell this book to my students because I know many won't feel the way I did. I think my being an adult affected much of how I felt! And that cover! That alone will help me sell it to kids! 

April 15, 2019

Maud Hart Lovelace Award Winners and New Nominees

On Saturday I attended the MN Youth Reading Awards event to announce the winners of the Maud Hart Lovelace Award.  I've gone now for three years in a row, and this year I really tried to encourage kids to read the Maud Hart Lovelace nominees so they could vote. I plan on doing even more this year.

So on to the winners!

I was actually surprised by the winner in Division 1. Not because I didn't like it! But I just didn't have as many kids read it. But when I thought about the fact that this division is for grades 3-5, and voted on by the kids, then it made perfect sense! 

I was not at all surprised by the winner for this category.  So many kids read, and loved, A Night Divided.  I was super happy to see Ghost as an honor title! 

Now the nominees for next year.

Division 1 Grades 3-5
I'm excited about Framed! and Towers Falling! Oh and Amina's Voice! (I won a drawing at the event and got to pick a book - that's the one I picked!)

Division 2 Grades 6-8
I've had so many kids read Refugee and love it. Plus many have read Terror at Bottle Creek! I'm excited for Piecing Me Together. 

Have you read any of these?  Any you're interested in?

April 10, 2019

Nonfiction Review: Owling by Mark Wilson

Title: Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night
Author: Mark Wilson
Copy Obtained: From publisher for an honest review

About the Book from Goodreads
From Hedwig, the Snowy Owl of Harry Potter fame, to Winnie-the-Pooh’s beloved friend Owl, this wide-eyed bird of the night has found its way into young hearts and imaginations everywhere. Owling invites young readers into the world of real-life owls, to learn about their fascinating behaviors and abilities.  

Wildlife photojournalist and nature educator Mark Wilson presents a one-of-a-kind look into the mysterious lives of these distinctive birds. Dramatic images of the 19 owl species of North America nesting, flying, hunting, and catching prey are accompanied by information about the birds’ silent flight, remarkable eyes and ears, haunting calls, and fascinating night life. Kids will learn how to spot owls; identify their calls, plumage, and pellets; and even carry on a hooting conversation with a nearby owl.

One sentence review: Um owls, pictures and facts about real owls - need I say more? Ok - beautifully done! 
Best for readers who: Like nonfiction and books about animals
Best Stick-with-You Image: I love snow owls so all the pictures of snow owls were the best. 
Library Thoughts: YES! I know I have several middle school students who still love the animal books, so they'll love this one especially since it's full color photographs. 

So I absolutely loved this book.  Of course since this is The OWL I was taken in right away, but the quality of the book really solidified the deal.  The book looks at several different species of owls including ones well known like the horned owl, to lesser knows ones like the short-eared owl. Plus there is a whole chapter on how to find owls! Serious need to read and follow that chapter because I can never find owls.  And it ends with a chapter on working with owls.  That was super fun because if you have a student who is interested in animals/wildlife this can give them some ideas for what they might explore or do in the future.

So glad I was introduced to this book! Love it! 

April 5, 2019

In the Library: Poetry for April

I am a middle school media specialist - grades 5-8.  

Here are some things happening in our media center! 

April is National Poetry month, so we are doing some things to celebrate and encourage the reading/writing of poetry.

Here are some that students made:

And book spine poetry. 

Several kids have make poetry from the magazine words. Still working on getting some to create spine poems. 

Plus we have a display of books in verse, biographies on poets and poetry books. Thank you Kwami Alexander for making boys read books in verse!!!