Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thoreau at Walden

I love graphic novels, especially for what they can do for struggling readers. I read this wonderful version of Walden by John Porcellino last night. Almost the entire book is written using Thoreau's actual words, taken from various publications, mostly Walden. Thoreau's values of simplicity and living happily in nature come through loud and clear, making him accessible to students of all ages. The text isn't watered down, so the actual words can resonate with readers. Additionally, the pictures are simple and clear. For some reason, I just love the way Porcellino has depicted the cabin. In this case, the simplicity of the pictures echo Thoreau's values- nice touch.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Seasons of the EmmaLee by Michael Lindley

For my birthday, the family got me a book that was "local" at the time. The Seasons of the EmmaLee is an adult book but might appeal to YA audiences as well. There are several stories going on at once-the prologue tells of a grandfather and grandson out on a pier fishing when the boy comes upon a floating dead girl. However, the reader doesn't know who this person is or what era she fits into until 3/4 of the way through the novel. One story, set in the present, brings Alex and his 12 year-old daughter, Megan, to Charlevoix, Michigan for the Venetian Boat Festival. The unusual part is that Alex is riding through on his newly restored, 180 foot yacht, the EmmaLee. Waiting for him at the dock in Charlevoix are George Larsen and Sally Thomason. George was the best friend of the man who eventually owned the EmmaLee and Sally is the daughter of the owner, the only remaining person left living in her family. This story is interspersed with the boat's history and the story of how Sally's parents came to love and marry each other even though they were from very different classes of people. This novel has several love stories, a murder and much suspense throughout. I have to admit that I never thought I would like this book, but finished it in two days. The cover didn't do much for me, but the picture of this huge yacht on the front helped me visualize much of the "boat part." The scenery, well, we just got back from the area, so all of the places were fresh in my mind. This was a nice escape.

On another note, I am so happy to have become part of Simon and Schuster's egalley party. I just downloaded a copy of Laurie Halse Anderson's upcoming Forge, which is the second novel after Chains- I LOVED Chains and so did my students. I even added it to my historical fiction genre cart. More on that book when I'm done with it!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Awesome, quirky A2 Parade, Fun, friends, tennis, pool, sparklers, hamburgers and hot dogs, and- now that it's dark- fireworks! Happy Independence!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This is a smart book. It's LOOONNNGGG, but worth it. Ethan and Lena are destined to be together. Lena is a "Caster" (read- witch) and Ethan seems to be a regular guy from Gatlin, SC, but he can hear Lena's voice in his head and he dreams with her simultaneously. Lena is about to turn 16 which is when she will be "claimed" by either the dark side or the light side. We know this story, right? Not really...NO VAMPIRES! Yeah! In fact, Lena's Uncle Macon, with whom she resides, makes sure that Ethan knows he isn't a vampire. Lena is an outcast at school but that doesn't prevent Ethan from loving her. The two discover a long lost locket and a story dating back to the Civil War. In addition, Ethan's father has become a recluse since the death of his wife and Ethan is still trying to cope with his mother's absence. The local DAR chapter would like to see both Lena and her uncle burned at the stake like they did in Salem- As Lena's birthday approaches, the suspense builds wonderfully and never seems to drag. The complicated plot here really astounds me because it is a dually written novel. The reader would NEVER know. It has history, ghosts, witches, research, voodoo, teen conflict, good v. evil, and romance. What more could a teen want? The climax is one readers will never forget and will want to read twice! This novel will appeal to a variety of teens due to the variety of themes covered. I was impressed here. And....the next one is out in October, 2010! (Copy of book purchased by reviewer) Check out the cool website of the authors and see the cover of the next novel, Beautiful Darkness.

Elvis and Olive by Stephanie Watson

Daughter #1 and I just finished this one. I was worried at first but it turned out to be a great tween/middle grades novel. Natalie and Annie (aka Elvis and Olive) have decided to run a detective agency. They finally try to help an Alzheimer's ridden neighbor find her old friend "Zadie". The sub plots are very cute: Natalie is running for student council secretary and Annie is her campaign manager even though they don't attend the same school; a neighborhood boy (brother of Natalie's crush) thinks he's a police officer and keeps issuing "tickets" to Natalie and Annie for breaking rules; Annie is living with an older woman in the neighborhood because Annie's mother ran off...These quirky little stories and sub plots all mesh nicely together in the end. My daughter (10) and I really enjoyed it as a read aloud. Book will be published on July,

Advance copy provided by publisher

Audio: IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

I listened to this audio while driving up north on the 19th of June. I've already read the book, but that didn't stop me from crying- AGAIN! I read the book almost exactly a year ago, but I remembered most of it. The pacing and voice of the reader were wonderful and she did "voices" of the characters but it didn't sound affected at all. Such a powerful book both in print and in audio! Best of all, Forman has just finished the sequel called: WHERE SHE WENT. Yeah!