Sunday, August 27, 2017

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Author: Marta McDowell
Illustrations: Helen Sewell, Garth Williams
Publisher: Timber Press
Publication Date: September 20, 2017

I don't know if any elementary students still read Little House on the Praire by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but even if the books were already about 40 years old when I first read them, I was so enamored with life on the plains of America in the early 1900s. Laura Ingalls Wilder, born in 1867 wrote her first book in this series in 1932. It is about their early life as well as her husband's life in Farmer Boy. I guess I just liked that her life was so different from mine as a young girl growing up in a large urban city in Hawaii. Wilder's life was just so different from mine. Her praire and fields were as large as my ocean.

This book brings me back to that reading by giving a lot of the backstory to those books and including similar types of illustrations.

What I really find interesting about this well researched book is that it brings the series alive again by weaving in tips on how to grow the plants and vegetables featured in the Praire series as well as how to actually visit the places even 150 years after Laura Ingalls' birth. The historical and contemporary photographs just make this so appealing to me as an adult. Thank you to the authors and illustrators for the journey of nostalgia.

An advanced copy made available by Net Galley and the publisher for an honest review

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Nightschool: The Weirn Books


This manga 4-book series starts off in a day school that becomes a night school at 6pm for other worldly teens (weirns, werewolves, vampires oh my). I only have two of the four books but the books follow Alex, a homeschooled weirn who enrolls in the nightschool when her sister, who worked at the nightschool disappears.

If you like manga, but hate that the Japanese manga make you read backwards, this one is for you. If you cannot afford the manga series that seem to come out weekly for years, this one ends at 4.If you love the character styling of manga where everyone looks androgynous and European, this is for you. 

I liked the story enough. It fit the category of manga, cliff hangers and all. I think it taps into the fascination with non-human teen characters. Is it a keeper? No, but it's a reader. Find a public library or a well-stocked English classroom and just borrow it. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All Things New: A YA Must Read

Publication Date: 
August 01, 2017

My thoughts:
The power of Miller's prose is her ability to create characters that we care about. 17-year-old Jessa Gray should have everything, and to those on the outside, she looks like she has everything, but she is just very good at hiding what is is broken inside of her. It takes an accident to force her to literally reveal what is broken inside of her as she now has to carry her scars on the outside. The accident also allows her to see the scars that others around her carry as a way to seek answers for herself and be able to reach out to others who need her help and empathy. It doesn't hurt that she falls for indefatigable Marshall who uses his own brokenness as a rally cry to embrace life and love fully. 

Miller takes these realistic issues and infuses it with very tangible chemistry between characters as well as humor and even some divine intervention. This is a devour-worthy read and puts Miller on the radar for YA authors that write movie worthy hits.

An advanced copy provided in return for an honest review by Net Galley.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What are YA reading?

I moved from teaching language arts to teaching general education courses, from introduction to teaching as a career to student teaching so I am out of the language arts daily game. However, this fall I finally get to teach my middle/secondary language arts methods course so I need to get back into reading YA.

What are the new must read YA books?
Who are the authors to follow?

I am starting with the Summer 2017 YA Book Club offerings by Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy. I read two of them already but I would like to hear what other educators are saying.

Also, if you don't already read her blog, check it out. For the most part, being in this business for 26 years, I agree with pretty much everything she has offered and I have used them in my own classrooms so I share her blog and podcast as a resource for my students because it is something I would love to have time to do but I don't so I'm thankful for this resource.

Other suggestions?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Manga Perspective: Beauty Vol. 1 + Beast Vol. 2

Everyone knows this "tale as old as time," and if you have not seen the Disney live version of their animated version, get to the theatre! However, what Tokyo Pop does with this manga is different in that we finally get to see the separate points of view of the two characters. By moving beyond the known tale through the use of manga, the Mallory Reaves offers up a new tale for a new time and a new generation. 

For the most part, the movie focuses on Belle's point of view so the manga version does not share any kind of new insight, but volume 2 from the Beast uses the genre of manga to fully exemplify Beast's fear, depression, anger and self-doubt through its darker drawing style and uneven shaped panels.

Another plus for the manga version is that I was not disappointed by the transformation of the Beast back to human form. He is a typical manga stylized hero. This type of hero does not usually translate well on screen, either animated or live. 

Finally, the "artist" notes at the end of the books are always a nice breaking of the third wall that appeals to me as a teacher who is interested in process as well as reflection on process. 

An advanced copy provided by Net and the publishers for an honest review. 


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