Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Mailing May

Title: Mailing May
Author: Michael O. Tunnell
Illustrator: Ted Rand
Reading level: Ages 4-8

About the book: (from Amazon)
Based on an incident that occurred in Idaho in 1914, this story tells of little May, who longs to visit her grandmother. May's parents cannot afford a railway ticket for the 75-mile trip, but with the help of cousin Leonard, who mans the mail car on the train, May's father takes advantage of the new parcel post regulations: he presents his daughter at the station post office as a package he's mailing to Lewiston. Affixing 53 cents in stamps to the back of her coat, the good-natured postmaster checks May in as poultry ("biggest baby chick on record"), and Leonard delivers her to Grandma's house the next day.

My thoughts:
Yes, I realize that this picture book is not a tween book, but I got to visit the National Postal Museum in Washington DC, and ever the teacher, I went into the gift shop to buy pencils for my homeroom kids and read books.  I am constantly on the lookout for non-fiction picture books to help my struggling tween and teen readers and this gorgeous picture book was so precious. Living on an island, I've always wanted to put myself in a bag and send myself to some other place on the plane, so when I read about this true story of a family sending their five-year-old Charlotte May Pierstorff on the mail train from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho for 53 cents, this is just too precious to pass up. 

For my struggling readers, this book is perfect to give them a glimpse of the time period that they're studying in social studies, but also the format of the picture book gives them multiple entries into a non-fiction piece that isn't always possible from their textbook. The text is engaging, Rand's watercolor illustrations pop off the pages and the author's note at the end gives additional information and sources for further study. 

I would love to get more non-fiction picture books like this one to bring into our middle school library.  What are your suggestions? 
This meme was started by Green Bean Teen Queen 

National Writing Project

Jeannine Hirtle, director, Lehua Writing Project; Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii; me

Hawaii right now is a cool 68-75 degrees with highs of 80, so traveling for 13 hours to get to Washington DC was not only a privilege, but a challenge because I don't own any sweaters. Still, the weather was very mild this past week as we went around to our different senators and representatives to urge them to continue direct funding of the National Writing Project (my summer and weekend job).

The National Writing Project provides the infrastructure for over 200 local writing project sites in all 50 states. It is the only national writing "program," and the sites are run in partnership with local universities. I am the co-director of the Lehua Writing Project out of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, but we also have a Hawaii Writing Project that is celebrating its 30th year this year. It sounds so cliche, but writing project did change my life as a teacher and provide leadership opportunities throughout my career. I am thankful for the support of writing project.

If you are not familiar with writing project, go to nwp.org to find the site nearest you. This is not just for English teachers. This is about teachers teaching teachers, it's good writing instruction across the curriculum, and it's about the power of the reading-writing connection.

Ok, off my soap box now, but if you're a writing project fellow, I'd like to hear your thoughts. And if you're not a writing project fellow, check out your local site and join a summer institute.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Break

This week's question is:
Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)

I have been married for 22 years, so I am loyal in my relationships, but I am a promiscuous reader. ;-)

If I start getting bored or irritated by a character, I won't dump the book, but I may put it aside, start another book, maybe two or three other books, and let the first book rest. I had a running joke with one of my teacher friends. She and I would go to conferences together every couple of years and I always carried the same book for about six years. It was a slim book too, but I never unpacked it from my suitcase, so I only read it when we traveled. It had nothing to do with the quality of the book, just the fact that I didn't get out much. The name of the book?
The Things They Carried  by Tim O'Brien

I guess that makes me a book tramp. How about you? To play along, go to Booking Through Thursday.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls trailer

Warning: there WILL be blood and zombies.

Like the trailer? Check out the review

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

Author: Steve Hockensmith
Publisher: Quirk Classics

Pages: 320 pages
Publication date: March 2010
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the publishers:
With more than one million copies in print, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the surprise publishing phenomenon of 2009. A best seller on three continents, PPZ has been translated into 17 languages and optioned to become a film starring Natalie Portman.
In this terrifying and hilarious prequel, we witness the genesis of the zombie plague in early-nineteenth-century England. We watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a na├»ve young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. We laugh as she begins her first clumsy training with nunchucks and katana swords and cry when her first blush with romance goes tragically awry. Written by acclaimed novelist (and Edgar Award nominee) Steve Hockensmith, PPZII invites Austen fans to step back into Regency England, Land of the Undead!
STEVE HOCKENSMITH is an award-winning novelist and reporter. His mystery Holmes on the Range was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards. He lives in Alameda, California.
My thoughts:
 This is my first official zombie book, but not my first experience with Jane Austen. I always thought that Jane Austen was a little difficult and far fetched for the kinds of readers that I like to recommend books for, but this was a hilarious and gruesome romp through stuffy England.

The book starts quietly with the funeral of Mr. Ford, and quickly turns into chaos when Mr. Ford, new zombie, tries to haul himself out of the casket and wriggle towards all the yummy brains waiting for him in the chapel. Mr. Bennet and his two older daughters, Elizabeth and Jane, must try to destroy the zombie by cutting off its head. Mr. Bennet wants his daughters to cut off Mr. Ford's head, and although the two girls fail, this is the beginning of the creation of memorable heroines and samurai killing machines disguised as young ladies.

Who knew that the addition of zombies would make Austen so accessible? This book is a nice mixture of humor, gore, excitement, love, disappointment, horror and fun! The author takes the stuffy social mores of Austen's England and mixes it with the blood spurting scenes common in old samurai movies, the ones that are so cheesy that they are classics.

I especially enjoyed the illustrations that gave it a black and white horror picture vibe. The only drawback was in the horrendous disappointment of all the men. Couldn't there be just one honorable, strong, non-loser man? The closest is Mr. Bennet, but he has his faults too. I can't wait to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to see how the girls are doing.

In a sentence. . .
This mash up is prim little Austen with serious feminine rage!

* I was given this book by  FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blog Award #2: Sugar Doll Blogger


I'm honored to receive this award from dArLyN of dArLyN & bOoKs. It just inspires me to work harder.

The rules of receiving the award is to list down 10 things about myself. I'm a really boring person, but here goes:
1.  Addictions - I am addicted to recorded television (so I don't need to watch commercials), Facebook games (like Farmville, Petville and Happy Aquarium), getting tattoos, and drinking nonfat cafe misto from Starbucks.
2. Boards - My family and I love to go stand up paddleboarding and we each have our own boards. Mine is a yellow 11 foot Papa He'e Nalu board.
3. Cats v. dogs? Dogs, always. 
4. Dancing - I am a stereotypical Hawaiian so my dance of choice is hula, although I would love to learn to rumba.
5. Eats - I do have a food blog, mainly because my husband and I are foodies (but not of the snob variety). Favorite foods we quest for: sushi, green papaya salad, chile rellenos and cupcakes.
6. Folly - My worst fashion faux pas (so far) - cut sweatshirts - Flashdance style and permed hair - yikes!
7. Grateful - I am grateful for my family who is always willing to embark on our journeys and always let me steer.
8. Horror - I am afraid of toads on land and eels in the water. I am not afraid of centipedes and sharks.
9. Illegal - I have not done anything jail-worthy. I  have never gotten a speeding ticket. I have, however, bailed out people, including a couple of my sons.
10. Jetting off - places I'd love to see before I die: New Zealand, Tahiti, Thailand, West Virginia. 
I'm passing this blog award on to:
Jan @ Eating YA Books 
Miz B @ Should Be Reading 
Kristen @ Bookworming in the 21st Century 
Kristi @ The Story Siren 
Natalie @ Mindful Musings 
Darcy @ Library Lounge Lizard 
Jenn @ Books at Midnight 
Sue @ Great Books for Kids and Teens 

These bloggers have all been lauded many times over, but I learn so much from their blogs, so thank you!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Sensual

Today's Booking through Thursday question:

Which do you prefer? Lurid, fruity prose, awash in imagery and sensuous textures and colors? Or straight-forward, clean, simple prose?

I don't know if lurid and fruity is as appealing to me as much as writing that is awash in imagery. I love when I'm reading a passage and I just have to stop because the imagery is so strong that I have to pause and let it wash over me. When I read Sandra Cisneros' vignette from House on Mango Street, she says something like the house is so small that it feels as if it's holding its breath, and I feel the windows sucking in just as I'm sucking in my breath. 

If passages were not sensual, we would be doomed to read instruction manuals for the rest of time.

What's your preference?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break Reading Challenge #4 Blog Designs & Widgets

I'm slow in starting this, but if you want to play along, go to the Spring Break Reading Challenge.

Today's question:
  • Is there something you really want to create, but don't know how?
  • Would you like your blog design to be different?
  • What about organization?  Is there something about the arrangement you want to change?

I really want to know how to make  my own template, but html kind of scares me. Another thing I want to learn how to make are buttons. I read different blogs, and I've made buttons, but I'm not an artist and I don't want to buy art, so I'm stuck. As far as blog design, I want something a little more grunge, but still clean. Oxymoron?

It's Monday! What are you reading 3-15-10

This is the first day of spring break, so although I only finished one book last week, hope springs eternal for this week. Participate in this meme by going to One Person's Journey Through a World of Books. List down what you read this past week and what you're reading now.

 11th Grade Burns: Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #4 by Heather Brewer.

This is an OMG book!  If you haven't read any of the books in this series, now is the time to start with Eighth Grade Bites.
This week:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. This is supposed to be the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
How was your week?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Title: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy

Author: L.A. Meyer
Publisher: Harcourt Paperbacks
Paperback: 320 pages
Audiobook: narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads:
Reduced to begging and thievery in the streets of London, a thirteen-year-old orphan disguises herself as a boy and connives her way onto a British warship set for high sea adventure in search of pirates.
My thoughts:
Mary "Jacky" Faber, the young 18th-century narrator,  has two endearing qualities. First, she is a survivor. Resiliency in a main character is very important. After all, who wants to start rooting for a character in a series if they are prone to death or cause irritation to the reader? Jacky watches the horrid Mr. Muck take away her baby sister and parents, victims of the plague, and on his way out tells her he'll be back  to collect her body in a week. She survives the plague, survives on the streets with a gang of thieves, and not only survives as a ship boy in the Royal Navy, but fools all her mates by figuring out how to use the bathroom and bathe without a whole ship of men figuring out that she's a girl.

Her second endearing quality is that she's a cheeky monkey. She's innocent but naughty. She can't help it. She tries, but falls short. I know that whenever things start going good for her, she's going to mess up. That's what makes this series so fun!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Schooled by Gordon Korman

Title: Schooled
Author: Gordon Korman
Reading level: ages 9-12
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Scholastic (2007)

From Goodreads:
Homeschooled on an isolated "alternate farm commune" that has dwindled since the 1960s to 2 members, 13-year-old Cap has always lived with his grandmother, Rain. When she is hospitalized, Cap is taken in by a social worker and sent -— like a lamb to slaughter -— to middle school. Smart and capable, innocent and inexperienced (he learned to drive on the farm, but he has never watched television), long-haired Cap soon becomes the butt of pranks. He reacts in unexpected ways and, in the end, elevates those around him to higher ground.

My thoughts:
Gordon Korman has a knack for odd characters that buck the system of teen "normalcy." This is no exception. Cap, or Capricorn Anderson, has been living on a commune with his grandmother Rain. At this point, there are just two of them left, so when Rain gets hurt and breaks her hip, Cap must leave his sheltered life and go to middle school. He sticks out like a huge bullseye of weirdness, but Cap has a lot to teach the students of C average middle school. High interest, low readability, appealing voice.  

Greeen Bean Teen Queen is the hostess of this fun meme. Go to her site to get more tween recommendations. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My First Blog Award!

Mahalo a nui loa! Thank you to Kris from Intertextual Chronicles: A Glimpse into a Bibliophile's Soul
for my first lovely award. Wow - what a nice surprise. I am of course passing it along. I apologize if you already have this, but enjoy the day.

If you are in the list, please follow the rules:

1. Put this on your blog, whether as an entirely new post like I'm doing, or on your sidebar.

2. Choose 15 other newly discovered bloggers that you love, and award them with this.

3. Send them a message/comment to let them know.

1. Gwen @ Chew & Digest Books
3. Pono @ Overly Lit
4. Emily @ A Few Good Books
6. The1stdaughter@ There's A Book
7. Darlyn @ Darlyn&Books
8. Lydia @ The Lost Entwife
9. Jennifer @ The Introverted Reader
10. Chrissie @ Chrissie's Corner
11. Jan @ Eating YA Books
13. Laurel-Rain-Snow @ Rainy Days And Mondays
14. Cori @ Lets Eat Grandpa

Enjoy your award everyone!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tween Tuesday: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Title: The Higher Power of Lucky
Author: Susan Patron
Reading level: ages 9-12
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Turtleback Books (January 6, 2009)

Description from Amazon (School Library Journal) Ten-year-old Lucky is sure that if she finds her Higher Power she will gain special insight into her life, just like the people she eavesdrops on at the Anonymous meetings. Lucky knows about the uncertainty of life because she lost her mother in a sudden accident two years ago and her guardian, Brigitte, is homesick for France. Hard Pan, California, population 43, is a unique and sometimes harsh place, but Lucky loves life at the edge of the desert with people that she knows and loves. The youngster wants to be a scientist and has so many questions in the crevices of her brain. Her motto is to stay alert and to carry a survival kit at all times because things happen when you least expect them. When she thinks that Brigitte plans to leave, Lucky knows she has hit rock bottom and must run away, although things don't turn out the way she plans.
My thoughts:  
Lucky, the 10-year-old narrator is a spry character, older than her years, and full of bravado. She loves to gather insects, and scare away snakes, but she is fearful that her guardian will leave her to go back to France. She hopes to conjure out a "higher power" that will help her with her difficulties and fears, so she starts eavesdropping on the different 12-step meetings in Hard Pan. It was ironic that with a population of 43, the town had so many 12-step meetings. She's a child with flaws, but she is heroic in her desire to do better and be better.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading 3-01-10

This fabulous weekly meme is hosted by One Person's Journey Through a World of Books . Join in on the conversation.

Read this week: (or the past two weeks)
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Still reading: 
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Hourglass Door by Lisa Magnum


Up next:
I'll check your lists. Include your link so I can see what you're reading. ;-) 


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