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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

So excited to finally read Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan which has gotten so much positive buzz. This quick read fictional story narrated by a gorilla named Ivan was inspired by a real silverback named Ivan. Ivan describes vague memories of being captured as a baby with his sister who didn't make it alive to the United States. He was raised like a child by a man named Mick and his wife until he became too big to take care of. When Mick's wife leaves him, he creates an animal display at a mall to show Ivan and other circus type animals for profit. Applegate creatively gives voices to the animals in the story. Ivan in the story, like the real Ivan, has spent twenty-seven-years in a cage on display. He knows he was meant for more than this and ultimately steps up to be the protector that silverbacks are known to be when a baby elephant named Ruby is added to Mick's animal show. Ivan uses his artwork to find a way to become "The One and Only Ivan". Other great reads by Applegate include Home of the Brave (a novel in verse)and the popular Animorphs series.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is the first in a supernatural trilogy complete with paranormals, danger, and romance. Imagine a world where faeries, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, and shapeshifters exist. Teenager Evie doesn't remember anything about her childhood or where she might have come from. All she knows is that she has the gift of seeing through paranormals' disguises - she can see what really lies beneath their magic and it usually isn't pretty. Her gift makes her one of the top paranormal taggers for the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA). The most difficult issue that Evie ever had to deal with was her fallen relationship with a faerie named Reth. That was until a handsome shapeshifter named Lend is captured while trying to get information from the IPCA. Someone is trying to kill all the paranormals. That somebody wants Evie to join her. Lend, who leads a normal life disguised as a teenager, brings Evie home when she helps him escape and has her blend in his community as a normal teenager. Will Evie be able to be a normal teen for once in her life? Read what happens when powerful dark magic and the desire to belong consume Evie. A real page turner! The second book in the series is called Supernaturally. The third book, Endlessly, comes out on July 24th.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Aliens on Vacation

Clete Barrett Smith's debut novel and the first in a series, Aliens on Vacation, is on the Texas Bluebonnet 2012 reading list. This entertaining story is narrated by almost seventh grader, Scrub, who is having to spend the summer with his odd grandmother at her home which is also her business called Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast. Scrub notices right away that the tourists staying at his grandmother's home are not normal. Scrub isn't the only one who has noticed that things are not what they seem at the Bed and Breakfast...Sherriff Tate is asking a lot of questions. Things get difficult for Scrub when his grandmother asks him to help out with business. If having to disguise these extra-terrestrial beings who come to the house via a transporter from their home planet isn't hard enough, Scrub has to take three rambunctious children aliens on a campout for an entire night by himself. What happens when they run into Sherriff Tate and local boys on a scouting trip in the woods? Read this humorous story to find out. Can't wait to read Book #2, Alien on a Rampage.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt by talented Jack Gantos is the 2012 Newbery Medal Winner. Gantos takes his readers on a journey to his childhood in a small town called Norvelt. Boys will especially love the wacky things that Jack does in the story beginning with accidentally shooting his father's souvenir Japanese sniper rifle from WWII. The year is 1962, families are preparing for the possibility of an attack by the Russians in the midst of the Cold War. Jack gets horrible nose bleeds from any little disturbance he experiences. His parents' disagreements don't help the situation. When he is asked by old Miss Volker who has crippled hands from arthritis to help write the obituaries for the town newspaper, he learns the history of Norvelt and her desire to preserve the historic neighborhood. When the oldest members of Norvelt start dying off within days of each other, this humorous book becomes a mystery. Could Miss Volker be involved? Other suspects include the funeral home owner, Mr. Spizz (the man who controls a lot of Norvelt), and even Jack himself. Read this award winning book to find out how a curious young boy learns a lot about himself and his unusual little town while doing nice things for his elderly neighbors. Other great books by Gantos include his Joey Pigza series, Rotten Ralph series, Hole in my Life (autobiography), Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of Fifth Grade, and Heads or Tails: Stories from the Sixth Grade.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Every now and then a book comes along that captures your heart, teaches you lessons about being a better person, and makes an imprint in your brain that will stay with you for life - Wonder by R.J. Palacio is that kind of book. Meet Auggie short for August - a sheltered boy who has been homeschooled by his mother because of the many medical procedures he has had to have due to a rare genetic condition that caused Auggie to be born with a severely misshapened face. Even after all these surgeries to help Auggie lead a a normal life; his mouth doesn't completely close when he eats causing food to fall out, his eyes droop down upon his cheeks as if he has been in a fire, and his ears are fused down close to his head so that he has difficulty hearing. Auggie's parents make the tough decision to have him start fifth grade at a small prepatory school. Auggie is filled with anxiety and dreads the reactions he will get from the other students. When his mother has the Principal arrange a tour of the school led by other students who will be Auggie's classmates, he actually starts looking forward to the experience. When school starts, Auggie goes through what many children who look different from others go through - the blatant stares, the teasing and taunting, and the isolation. He must find the strength to be better than the friends who let him down and learn to lean on the ones who know how to make things right. The story is told from different points of view which I absolutely loved. The author stated the following in an interview with Random House's Random Acts of Reading Blog: "I hope that readers will come away with the idea that they are noticed: their actions are noted. Maybe not immediately or directly or even in a way that seems obvious, but if they’re mean, someone suffers. If they’re kind, someone benefits. And the choice is theirs: whether to be noticed for being kind or for being mean. They get to choose who they want to be in this world. And it’s not their friends and not their parents who make those choices: it’s them." This is a must read for every educator - the author's webpage has discussion questions as well as ideas for precepts which are presented by Auggie's English teacher as a way for the students to reflect on life and their own contributions.