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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Okay for Now

My friend and I snatched up copies of Gary D. Schmidt’s most recent novel, Okay for Now, while attending the Texas Library Association’s annual conference. We both love his other books – Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Trouble, and The Wednesday Wars. She read it first and shared that it was the best book she had read this year. I whole-heartedly agree. Although this is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars, readers do not have to read The Wednesday Wars first. It is 1968. Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck and his family move to a new place when his father is fired from his job. Doug has two older brothers – one is fighting in the Vietnam War and the other is constantly getting into trouble. Although Doug has a caring mother, his father’s abusive nature has tore Doug apart. As a result of his fractured home life, Doug hates everything. His negative attitude and his older brother’s reputation make many of the staff at his new school and people in the town pass judgments about him before giving him a chance. Things change as Doug develops an interest in the artwork in John James Audubon’s book, Birds of America, at the public library. Through his newfound interest in art and growing friendship with a girl named Lil Spicer, Doug discovers that his actions can make things whole once again. Even though this book was written with young adults in mind, it is a must read for all educators – we have the power to build or shatter fragile souls on a daily basis. As Doug Swieteck would say, “There aren’t too many things around that are whole, you know…When you find something that’s whole, you do what you can to keep it that way. And when you find something that isn’t, then maybe it’s not a bad idea to try to make it whole again. Maybe.” Click on the video below to hear from Gary D. Schmidt.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival

Hope everyone has a great start to the new school year. I just received information on the Austin Teen Book Festival.

Date: Saturday, October 1, 2011
Time: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704

Check out the video below. How exciting and it is free!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Little Blog on the Prairie

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2011-12. Could you endure the same living conditions as people who lived in the 1890’s? Genevieve Welsh must find out the hard way when her mom’s love for Little House on the Prairie causes her to book a summer family vacation to Camp Frontier. Gen, her mother, her father, and younger brother, Gavin, along with three other families give up their modern day devices and create a daily routine with only the things that existed in the 1890’s. They have to dress like pioneers, make their own food, take care of the farm animals, wash their clothes by hand, and cook without electricity. If that wasn’t difficult enough, the daughter of the family who runs Camp Frontier is as mean as Nellie Olson from the Little House on the Prairie. Unbeknownst to the others, Gen copes with the hardships by texting her friends back home with her illegal cell phone. Things get even more difficult when Gen stumbles upon a secret place and finds out that the cute guy at camp may already have a girlfriend. Read Little Blog on the Prairie to see just how hard it would be to give up your modern day conveniences and how social networking takes our communication to a whole new level.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Red Pyramid

Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid, book one of the Kane Chronicles, is written in a style that is similar to his Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. The story is narrated by Carter and Sadie Kane, siblings who have spent years apart. When their mother died six years ago, their maternal grandparents fought to raise Sadie in London. Those six years Carter spent traveling all over the world with his father, an Egyptologist. At the beginning of the story, their father picks up Sadie for a visit and takes the two to the British Museum. Their father, Dr. Kane, destroys the Rosette Stone and in the process accidentally calls five dangerous Egyptian gods to life. As members of the House of Life, the kids and their Uncle Amos must find a way to stop the most evil god, Set, before he destroys the world. Egyptian gods took the form of various animals making the characters in this book extremely interesting. Will Carter and Sadie have the power to overcome the destructive gods and rescue their father? After reading this, I now know why my students kept recommending this book to me and others. Readers like thick books that take some time to read. All 516 pages of this book will keep your interest until the very end. I love the way Riordan draws the reader into the storyline from the very beginning of the book. Click on the trailer below to hear him describe The Kane Chronicles series.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spellbound: The Books of Elsewhere

Olive is back in Spellbound, Jacqueline West’s second novel in The Books of Elsewhere series. Although Olive narrowly escapes in The Shadows, book one of the series, the evil McMartins have not been completely destroyed. Courageous Olive is determined to rescue sweet, little Morton from his imprisonment inside the painting. Unfortunately, the magical spectacles which allowed Olive to go in and out of pictures are broken. Things start to look hopeful once again when the new neighbor boy named Rutherford tells Olive about a magical spellbook owned by the evil McMartins. Olive’s interest in the spellbook concerns the cats – Horatio, Leopold, and Harvey. Will they turn against her? Saving Morton will not be an easy task as the house holds more secrets. I listened to the audiobook…the narrator, Lexy Fridell, portrayed each character perfectly. This second book was not as action-packed or scary as the first book, but I still really enjoyed it. Click on the book trailer below to hear the author tell you about her series.