Thursday, March 21, 2013
Sarah Strohmeyer’s Smart Girls Get What They Want is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2013-14. This novel is about three friends (Bea, Gigi, and Neerja) who are at the top of their sophomore class. They have always looked up to Neerja’s older sister who attends Princeton. They have an eye-opening experience when they realize that Neerja’s sister’s academic success came with huge repercussions – no one in her high school knew anything about her, except that she was the smartest girl at school. The trio decides they must turn things around before it is too late – start eating in the cafeteria, join extracurricular groups that interest them, and ultimately become more social. When Gigi is accused of cheating along with a jock named Mike, she faces being rejected by the college of her dreams. She is given a chance to turn things around, but must face her deeply rooted fear of public speaking first. This novel has just the right amount of humor, romance, and drama – finally a book that recognizes the angst felt by many overachievers.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Lauren Oliver’s middle grade novel, The Spindlers, is a spooky fantasy that will leave readers on the edge of their seat from start to finish. Liza knows that her little brother’s soul has been taken by The Spindlers. She learned about these evil spider-like creatures from her babysitter and knows that she must stop them before it is too late. She must go Below to a new land full of secret forests and mosses. Her only assistant is a female rat who dresses up with makeup. The two encounter many frightening obstacles. I love that Oliver had so many fantastical creatures in her story – it made it read like a movie – a movie I would love to see. She also adds a touch of humor to a frightening story line. This is a great recommendation for Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans. Listen to Oliver in the video below explain her inspiration for writing The Spindlers. This is going on my 6th grade Reading List next year.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
I must say that True Legend has become my new favorite Mike Lupica book…and I am a huge fan of all of his books. This story is about a high school basketball player named Drew that everyone calls, “True”, because he is the real deal. He is so talented that an agent moved him and his mother from the East coast to the West coast to play in his own facility. Drew knows that he gets by in life because others look out for him. Everyone knows he is on his way to stardom. His best friend, Lee, a teammate that isn’t as talented as Drew even helps with all of his school assignments. Things begin to change when Drew notices an old guy playing ball amazingly on an outdoor court really late at night. The guy takes off once Drew lets him know he has been watching him. At an extremely important game, with seconds left on the clock, Drew makes the arrogant decision to take the game winning shot when Lee was wide open and would’ve made it without a doubt. Drew misses – the old guy is at the game and shows Drew his disappointment. Drew is determined to find out who this guy is – why did this guy not make it in the big league? Will Drew learn what it really takes to become a legend before it is too late? The video clip below is an interview of Mike Lupica on the Today Show.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers is written just as the title suggests – in encyclopedia format. The main character, 8th grader Isadora (nicknamed Tink), tells the reader about all her life by writing an encyclopedia with personal terms from A to Z. She describes the challenges she has faced in being biracial and by having a brother who is autistic. She also describes the hurts feelings she encounters when her best friend begins to exclude her after years of friendship. Things become more complicated when she begins a relationship with her new neighbor, a skater boy named Kai. Readers will totally relate to Tink (especially the girls) – family drama, first kiss, and mean girls. This book is both touching and funny – a must read for middle school! Check out the 60 Sec Recap video...
Monday, March 4, 2013
Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon is receiving many accolades including Newbery Honor Book and The Robert F. Sibert Informational Medal 2013. I gained so much new knowledge about World War II and espionage after reading this very informative book. Wow! I had no idea how close other countries were in developing the atomic bomb during that time period. Readers will learn the vital roles intelligent physicists played in the outcome of World War II. This nonfiction text at times read like a spy novel as the different methods of transferring private messages between secret agents were revealed. This is a must read – definitely going on my 8th grade reading list in the fall.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
This amazing true story will touch your heart. It is about one person making a difference in the lives around her. It is about our nation which is made up of many diverse cultures. It is a story about how the sport of soccer brought boys from different war-torn countries together as a team and their Jordanian female coach who led them to victory. Outcasts United by Warren St. John takes readers to Clarkston, Georgia - a place for many refugees to relocate in the United States after suffering many horrible situations in their own country. Luma, a young woman from Jordan who loves soccer, decided to create a soccer team for youth in an at-risk area. Little did she know that these kids would need much more than just a soccer coach - they needed support for their families who spoke very little English, they needed extra academic help to catch up to their American classmates, and they needed discipline to become better athletes and better men. I appreciate that St. John told the players' stories - we need to be reminded of others' circumstances. This inspiring story will make you ask yourself - What can I do to make a difference for others?