Graphic Novels are Books, Too! by Stacey DeCotis

I just completed an order for our school library — mostly graphic novels and picture books! If you’d like some help in how (and why) to use these books (yes, they are good books), please contact me.

Nerdy Book Club

Oh if I could count the times I’ve heard adults say that graphic novels are “too easy” or “not challenging enough” or “they don’t count as books”…

My 5th grade students this year are devouring graphic novels! Until I started reading them last year, I never understood why (I mean, yeah I got that there are colorful and interesting pictures, but what about the text?)

I fell in love with graphic novels! I started off with Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, Sisters, and Drama. Then I moved on to Ghost, then, El Deafo by Cece Bell.

Then the fantasy Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi came out. I. Was. In. Love. Just yesterday I had a student ask if I could place the rest of the series on hold at the library (I had purchased 2 and 3 over winter break). I immediately went on my library network website and…

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IMWAYR: “I’m Taking the Day Off”

You know that scene in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere’s character, Edward, calls into work and says, “I’m taking the day off?” That’s how I feel today. After reading for a week straight for different purposes, I took this evening to complete other tasks: phone calls, emails, dishes, laundry…

I do have a plan for this week’s reading, though. I have Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (2016) on my desk, and I want On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (2019) next.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, at Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

#NF10for10: Annual February Nonfiction Picture Books List

It’s February 10th, and that means the annual #nf10for10 (Nonfiction 10 for 10) book lists are posted today. Thanks to our hosts: Cathy Mere (Reflect and Refine) and Mandy Robeck (Enjoy and Embrace Learning).  I enjoy challenging myself to come up with meaningful lists to share with other readers.

 

As we prepare for standardized testing season in our schools, I resist “test prep” practices more than ever. I look on social media and look to my friends to drag me out of the muck of worksheets and “read-and-answer-questions” crud that is the traditional way of school life during testing. I LOVE to read, and what better way to spread love than honoring time to read and learning with books that inspire? Based on a personal need to see more creativity and thinking in our classrooms, I chose “Inventors/Inventions/Thinkers” for my “Nonfiction 10 for 10” theme. Here are ten books that inspire:
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton (2016)
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta (2013)
Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Cars by Mark Weston (2014)
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy (2010)
The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller (2016)
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant (2016)
The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeannette Winter (2017)
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) by Jeanne Walker Harvey (2017)
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark (2017)
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating (2017)
Thank you for reading. I hope I’ve inspired you to invent, create, and think. What ten picture books would you share with the world?
(All pictures from http://www.goodreads.com)

Book Review: How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson

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I think it would be cool, but I’ve never had the spirit or the smarts to be a spy, so when I read the advanced reader copy of Deborah Hopkinson’s newest book, How I Became I Spy: A Mystery of WWII London (coming February 12th, 2019), I felt that I had reached a new goal while following the story of Bertie Bradshaw, a young boy living in WWII London.

Summary: Penguin Random House states, “Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces.” This middle grade novel practically sells itself –“historical fiction by Deborah Hopkinson,” “WWII,” “mystery,” and “solving ciphers” are the book talk keywords here. Students are going to love this one!

What I Loved: I love that Deborah Hopkinson, once again, gives us a real-life peek into history. This time it’s explanations of ciphers and codes, the appearance of actual figures, such as Leo Marks and Dwight D. Eisenhower from WWII reality, and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) that make the story engaging and believable. The SOE organization, with headquarters at 64 Baker Street, trained men and women to become secret agents. In the story, Bertie, his dog Little Roo (LR), his Jewish-refugee-friend, David, and a mysterious American girl are all caught up in the action. There’s a young girl missing — an agent — and Bertie must hide her secret notebook, translate it, and inform the right people before a double agent ruins the Allies’ plans.

Why You Should Read This: How I Became a Spy is an action-packed spy thriller for middle schoolers, or anyone who likes puzzles, Sherlock Holmes, London’s crowded streets, war stories, or doggie heroes. And…

if you ever wanted to be a spy…this book might just help get you started.

IMWAYR: I-Love-To-Read February!

I’m still finishing my 2018 reading, as promised. On Saturday, I started Marshfield Memories: More Stories About Growing Up, by Ralph Fletcher. I love Ralph’s writing, and I’m happy to visit Marshfield again through his words.

February at school is Black History Month, and I spent the day preparing a display for my students. There are so many wonderful books to read!

When I got home, I tore open the package I received in the mail — my friend, Josh Funk has another book out in the world! It’s NOT Hansel and Gretel is almost as funny as when we all sat around and read it aloud at #NerdCampMI last year. It’s so beautiful, with glitter on the cover (provided by talented artist Edwardian Taylor)! Thanks for the continued fun, gentlemen.

 

 

 

I must go and read now. It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, at Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Book Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram

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Darius Kellner is a teen who does not fit in at school, or really much at home. He describes himself as a Fractional Persian, with Mom born in Iran and Dad in America. Darius and his father share two things in common: a love of Star Trek, and depression. They both take their medicines every day and try to do the best they can, but sometimes life gets in the way.

When Mamou calls and tells Mom that Babou’s brain tumor is making life worse, the Kellner family packs up and travels to Iran to help. What will Darius do now? How will he cope? He’s never really been around his grandparents — only talked to them through the computer monitor. And he doesn’t speak Farsi, although his little sister, Laleh, does. He doesn’t have many friends (just the teasing bullies from school), so leaving isn’t that much of an issue for Darius, but that only makes things more uncomfortable for him. Will there be friends in Iran? Will his family treat him differently once they are in another country?

Darius narrates his own story in this wonderful tale of family and friendships, travel, and learning to appreciate family customs and origins. I loved the voice — the dialogue among characters, and also the way Darius talks directly to the reader along the way.

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a fabulous book you’ll want to think about and savor. You will fall in love with Darius and his entire family, and you’ll find that even with hardships, home is the best place to be.

Note: This title just won the 2019 William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (YA category). Darius the Great Is Not Okay, written by Adib Khorram. The book is published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, Random House.

My Newbery and Caldecott Predictions – 2019

Only a weekend away now — THE book awards season is upon us, and I’m eagerly waiting for the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 28th (live from Seattle, 8:00 am PT, during the ALA Midwinter Conference). I’m so sorry I will miss the live event, but I’m so happy that I will get to follow along and watch from my school library.

Here are my predictions for the two most popular awards, Newbery Medal and Honors, and Caldecott Medal and Honors, 2019:

Newbery Medal: The Journey of Little Charlie, by Christopher Paul Curtis 

Newbery Honors:

Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson 

Louisiana’s Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo 

The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani 

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

 

Caldecott Medal: Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales 

Caldecott Honors:

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat 

Blue, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger 

What If…, by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Mike Curato 

 

If nothing else, I hope I have given you a worthy reading list here. Good luck to all the authors and illustrators — best wishes to all the readers!