Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/17/14



I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee
for inspiring and hosting this meme.

For months I've been so smug about blogging every week, rain or shine.  And then along came February and I fell silent.  The main reason is that I am reading primarily Maine Student Book Award short list titles and the short list is super-secret, so I feel like I need to zip it for the moment.  I was also busy reading and discussing speculative fiction for my role as a Cybils judge (bravo to Jonathan Stroud for his winning The Screaming Staircase - this was one of my favorite reads of 2013).

The other reason is that I was in Texas for a week, at a fantastic conference called TCEA.  Along with learning a ton, getting to know some district-wide colleagues and hearing some live music in Austin, I also had a chance to read my first c2014 titles of the year.  When I travel, I only read ebooks and since I didn't have any of the shortlisted MSBA titles that I needed to read on ebook, I ventured into 2014 territory.  Based on these titles, 2014 is going to be an amazing year in children's literature!

I am a huge fan of Cynthia Lord because she is an extraordinary writer and she is an incredibly kind  person.  My school won a full day visit from her a few years ago and she was unbelievably gracious and generous in sharing her time and energy with my students.  They will never forget her and they will be so excited to get their hands on her new book, Half a Chance.  In this gently impactful book, Lucy has moved with her parents to a lakeside home in NH, where once again she must make new friends and build a new life. Her dad is a photographer, always leaving for long trips and never really seeing either Lucy or the photos that she takes.  Unbeknownst to her dad, Lucy decides to enter a photo competition that he is judging; together with a new friend, Lucy seeks out and captures meaningful images while at the same time navigating the loneliness of her transition.  This is a lovely exploration of seeing the world through a unique lens!


Rodman Philbrick's new title Zane and the Hurricane kept me on the edge of my airplane seat all the way from Austin to Portland.  It is a gut (and heart) wrenching account of one boy's experience during hurricane Katrina.  Zane is in New Orleans just by chance when Katrina hits, visiting his great grandmother.  Through a series of horrifying events, he and his dog, Bandit, end up alone and terrified in his great grandmother's house.  What happens next, although fiction, seems all too close to the reality that happened to so many people in New Orleans during this storm and Philbrick captures the terror and desperation perfectly.  I loved the action in this book, but it was the relationships that had me sniffling and wiping my eyes - between Zane and Bandit, between his two rescuers (a jazz musician and a girl whose mother is incarcerated), and between the people of New Orleans who both helped and hurt each other during the storm.  This book is unforgettable to me and I can't wait to share it with my students.



Natalie Llloyd's A Snicker of Magic was a fun read.  Felicity's mom has a wandering heart and it takes Felicity all over the country, never allowing Felicity and her sister to settle, until they land in Midnight Gulch, the town her mom grew up in.  There used to be magic in this town, until a feud between two brothers ended it.  Felicity, a collector of words, befriends a special boy and together they work to track down the source of magic.  This is a beautiful fantasy that celebrate both images and words.







Finally, I have been wanting to read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption since it first came out.  I was not disappointed - this biography of Louis Zamperini is unforgettable.  




I am so thrilled to have a week of vacation stretched out ahead of me to spend reading!  

8 comments:

  1. I'm hoping to read A Snicker of Magic at some point this month. The other two MG titles looks awesome as well! I'm a big fan of Cynthia's other books. Enjoy your upcoming books!

    What We Read

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    1. Thanks Kristen! I hope you enjoy A Snicker of Magic as much as I did.

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  2. New titles yes! - Half a Chance and Zane and the Hurricane. I am about half way through A Snicker of Magic and love it. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. New titles are indeed very exciting! :)

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  3. Gosh, you make all these books sound so, so good. I have Requested Snicker of Magic from my library, and keep seeing the other titles pop up on others reading lists. And Unbroken has been on my list for awhile I think. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Debra! I hope you get a chance to read Unbroken - it is really such a powerful story and I am still thinking about it a great deal.

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  4. Hi there Laura, so awesome to know that you have a week-long vacation, I feel I need one too! Stat! I really have to find Snicker of Magic - but looks like we still don't have it in our library. Haven't read any of Cynthia Lord's novels yet. Will be on the lookout for some of her titles after your very rich description of what she's like. Have a great reading week.

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    1. Hi Myra, I wish that everyone got a one-week vacation in February! Cynthia is so special - her book Rules is still a favorite in my elementary school library and Touch Blue very powerful as well. Happy reading… and I hope you get that vacation soon!

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