Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I Read in 2011

For me:

1. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Rachel Cohn & David Levithan)
2. Too Much Happiness (Alice Munro)
3. Ethel and Ernest: A True Story (Raymond Briggs)
4. The River Wife (Jonis Agee)
5. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym)
6. His Dark Materials #2: The Subtle Knife (Philip Pullman)
7. His Dark Materials #3: The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman)
8. Detective Kubu #1: A Carrion Death (Michael Stanley)
9. Lyra's Oxford (Philip Pullman)
10. Keeper (Kathi Appelt)
11. A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
12. The Outlander (Gil Adamson)
13. Juliet (Anne Fortier)
14. Next (James Hynes)
15. Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)
16. The Dreamer (Pam Muñoz Ryan)
17. The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (Wendy McClure)
18. Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
19. Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
20. Aesop & Company: With Scenes From His Legendary Life (Barbara Bader& Arthur Geisert)
21. The Sojourn (Andrew Krivak)
22. The Tiger's Wife (Téa Obreht)
23. The Blue Castle (L.M. Montgomery)
24. Bad Marie (Marcy Dermansky)
25. Lamentations of the Father: Essays (Ian Frazier)
26. Empire State: A Love Story (or Not) (Jason Shiga)
27. Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)
28. Skinny Dip (Carl Hiaasen)
29. Warped (Maurissa Guibord)
30. The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
31. Wonderstruck (Brian Selznick)
32. The Keep (Jennifer Egan)
33. The Guy Not Taken: Stories (Jennifer Weiner)
34. Inside Out and Back Again (Thanhha Lai)
35. Through No Fault of My Own: A Girl's Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age (Coco Irvine)
36. Red Bird (Mary Oliver)
37. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
38. The Brontes Went to Woolworths: A Novel (Rachel Ferguson)
39. The Forgotten Affairs Of Youth: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel #8 (Alexander McCall Smith)
40. The Talisman Ring (Georgette Heyer)
41. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick)

For/with Skye (grades 6-7):

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5: The Ugly Truth (Jeff Kinney)
2. Flight Explorer, Volume 1 (ed. Kazu Kibuishi)
3. His Dark Materials #1: The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman)
4. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (Barry Deutsch)
5. Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1: Dealing with Dragons (Patricia C. Wrede)
6. Prime Baby (Gene Luen Yang)
7. Please Write in This Book (Mary Amato)
8. American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang)
9. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
10. The Eternal Smile: Three Stories (Gene Luen Yang)
11. The Saga of Rex (Michel Gagné)
12. The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)
13. Uglies #1: Uglies (Scott Westerfeld)
14. Foiled (Jane Yolen)
15. The Penderwicks #3: The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (Jeanne Birdsall)
16. Leviathan #1: Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld)
17. Uglies #2: Pretties (Scott Westerfeld)
18. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)
19. Epic (Conor Kostick)
20. A Tale Dark & Grimm (Adam Gidwitz)
21. Uglies #3: Specials (Scott Westerfeld)
22. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
23. Chasing Vermeer (Blue Balliett)
24. Moon Over Manifest (Clare Vanderpool)
25. Skellig (David Almond)
26. Toad of Toad Hall (A.A. Milne)
27. The Circuit (Francisco Jiménez)
28. Anya's Ghost (Vera Brosgol)
29. The Wild Girls (Pat Murphy)
30. Crows and Cards (Joseph Helgerson)
31. When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead)

With Skye (grades 6-7) & Felix (grades K-1):

1. Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Betty MacDonald)
2. The Doll People (Ann M. Martin, Laura Godwin, & Brian Selznick)
3. Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (Barbara Park)
4. The Boxcar Children (Gertrude Chandler Warner)
5. My Father's Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett)
6. Elmer And The Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett)
7. The Dragons Of Blueland (Ruth Stiles Gannett)
8. Mr. Popper's Penguins (Richard Atwater)
9. Beezus and Ramona (Beverly Cleary)
10. The Runaway Dolls (Ann M. Martin, Laura Godwin, & Brian Selznick)
11. Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne)
12. The Mouse And The Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)
13. Toys Go Out (Emily Jenkins)
14. Runaway Ralph (Beverly Cleary)
15. Toy Dance Party (Emily Jenkins)
16. Ralph S. Mouse (Beverly Cleary)
17. Toys Come Home (Emily Jenkins)
18. Clementine (Sara Pennypacker)
19. Betsy-Tacy and Tib (Maud Hart Lovelace)
20. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Tom Angleberger)
21. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson)
22. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame, abridged & illustrated by Inga Moore)

With Felix (grades K-1):

1. Magic Tree House #8: Midnight On The Moon (Mary Pope Osborne)
2. Magic Tree House #5: Night Of The Ninjas (Mary Pope Osborne)
3. Magic Tree House #12: Polar Bears Past Bedtime (Mary Pope Osborne)
4. Dinosaur Cove #9: Tracking The Diplodocus (Rex Stone)
5. Junie B. Jones Is Captain Field Day (Barbara Park)
6. Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy (Barbara Park)
7. My Weird School #5: Miss Small Is off the Wall! (Dan Gutman)
8. My Weird School #9: Miss Lazar Is Bizarre! (Dan Gutman)
9. Bailey School Kids #47: Frankenstein Doesn't Start Food Fights (Debbie Dadey& Marcia Thornton Jones)
10. Bailey School Kids #6: Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias (Debbie Dadey& Marcia Thornton Jones)
11. Bailey School Kids #24: Dragons Don't Cook Pizza (Debbie Dadey& Marcia Thornton Jones)
12. Bailey School Kids #5: Ghosts Don't Eat Potato Chips (Debbie Dadey& Marcia Thornton Jones)
13. Magic Tree House #9: Dolphins at Daybreak (Mary Pope Osborne)
14. My Weirder School #1: Miss Child Has Gone Wild! (Dan Gutman)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book #3: Darth Paper Strikes Back

My daughter Skye and I got to see Tom Angleberger last October at our local independent children’s bookstore. What a treat! He was funny and lively and great with the kids. He did some silly juggling tricks, drew pictures, folded a huge Origami Yoda, and made us all laugh a lot.

He asked us which character we thought he was most like in middle school. (Do you know?) He told us there would be a third book, and had all of us guess who would be on its cover. (He couldn’t tell us yet – publisher’s rule – but told us to keep an eye on his website for announcements. Who would you like to see?) He signed books, drawing a picture in each one and taking the time to chat with every kid.

Skye and I agreed that Felix would have had a blast at his talk, and that we should have brought him along. She got an Origami Yoda book signed for him, and told him all about our afternoon. I didn’t think a first grader would be interested in hearing a story about middle school students, but when they both requested Yoda for our next read aloud, we gave it a try.

Felix loved it! He laughed a lot at my terrible Yoda voice (but Dwight’s is terrible, too, right?) and he enjoyed the format of the story, how in each chapter, Dwight/Yoda helped someone. (Hey, sort of like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Just noticed that. Hmm. Kinda cool.)

We had just as much fun with Darth Paper Strikes Back. This time, I got to do a terrible Darth voice, too. Felix enjoyed correcting my breathing technique. They both made me repeat any scenes where someone disagrees with Origami Yoda, so that they could squeal with laughter. Example:

Dwight held up Origami Yoda and croaked, “Dress rehearsals you must start.”

“But the play is three weeks away!” I said.

“Dress rehearsals you must start!”





So we did.

Try reading that aloud in a terrible Yoda voice and see if it doesn’t make you squeal with laughter, too.

And I don’t want to give anything away, but I loved the ending, especially when Dwight’s mom finally gets it. We’ll definitely be checking out the next book.

Be sure to check out the other Read Aloud Thursday posts at Hope Is the Word.

P.S.  In reading Tom's bio, I learned that his wife, Cece Bell, is also a children's author/illustrator.  Check out this great interview with her on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  She won me over immediately when I saw that first photo of her reading Miss Piggy's Guide to Life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What's On My Nightstand: January 24

Via Hope Is the Word, I just discovered a fun meme:  What's on Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.  Every fourth Tuesday of the month, bloggers share what they are currently reading and/or what they are looking forward to.  Click here to read more about this meme, and click here to participate today.

This month, I'm just going to post photos of my nightstand and the kids' reading sidetable.  I thought it would be a fun exercise to see what these look like each month.  Some are books we read in January, some we're reading now, and some we are looking forward to.  Can't guarantee we'll get to them all this coming month, but we're optimists!  I also keep a list in my sidebar of past, current, and future reads, as well as yearly book lists.  (Still working on 2011, and hoping to post that soon.)

my nightstand -- DVDs, too!

kids' sidetable -- notice the origami yoda inspiration

bottom shelf of kids' sidetable -- picture books

Monday, January 23, 2012

ALA Book Awards!

I knew they'd be announced this morning, so I started by doing a Google search to find the winners.  Then I thought, "I should just check the blogs I'm following."  Annie Cardi's blog immediately popped up with this link to the announcement.  Hooray for book bloggers!

Like I posted on Annie's site, I’m happy that Inside Out & Back Again got an honor; I love that book. And hooray for Wonderstruck — I hadn’t thought of it for the Schneider, but that’s perfect. Yay for the amazing Kadir Nelson!

What are your thoughts on seeing the winners?

Lots of titles new to me to explore. I think that’s what I love the most about book awards.  Off to place some library requests...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Poetry Friday: I Like Winter

I woke up this morning to snow falling.  Hooray!  We've had so little of it here in Minnesota this winter, and it feels so strange, especially with the crazy warm temperatures.  But yesterday we braved sub-zero temperatures, and today we are supposed to get an inch or two of snow.  This is more like it.

My mom sang to us a lot when we were kids.  She also read to us a lot.  She'd make up songs for the poems she'd read in books.  Whenever it snows, I hear my mom singing her made up tune for Lois Lenski's I Like Winter:

I like winter, I like snow.
I like icy winds that blow.
I like snowflakes, oh so light,
Making all the ground so white.

Sometimes, I sing it to my kids.  And they don't complain too much, because they like snow, too.  They were so happy this morning!

You can take a peek inside the book here at Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves, a blog I just discovered when looking for info about this book and Lois Lenski.  Isn't it neat (the book and the blog)?  I remember studying all the details in Lenski's simple, colorful drawings.  Looking at the sheet music for the song, I think my mom must have started trying to follow it with her tune, but then went off with her own  improvisation.

To learn more about Lois Lenski, you can read about her here at the Ohioana Authors website.

It's Poetry Friday!  This week, Wild Rose Reader is the host.  Head on over to her blog to enjoy some more poetry today.  It's a great way to find some blogs that may be new to you.  I love the idea of celebrating poetry every week.  I've needed that reminder.  I just got out our copy of I Like Winter, along with a poetry book we got for Christmas, to share with the kids when they get home from school today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bring on the Book Battles!

I love this time of year.  'Tis the season of the book battles!  I like to follow these four:

The Cybils:  Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards

They announced the finalists on New Year's Day, and the winners will be announced on Valentine's Day.  I know some bloggers are doing a Cybils Challenge, trying to read all of the finalists before they announce the winners.  I think the kids & I will read all of the picture books, and maybe I'll get to the elementary/middle grade graphic novels, too, which Skye may also read.  (Hey, I just noticed I've read two of the five nominees already, and I'm in the middle of a third!)  Check out past finalists and winners in the sidebar on the Cybils website.  They've been doing this since 2006.

School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books

I've been peeking in here, hoping for some news, and guess what?  They posted a little update yesterday!  Hooray!  Can't wait to see the titles that will be facing off this year.  I'm not sure when they announced the contenders last year, but the battles started on March 15.  (While you're waiting along with me, check out the 2010 and 2009 battles.)

The Morning News' Tournament of Books

Currently, the link above sends you to the announcement about this year's contenders & judges in the tournament of books.  The website still shows the final battle from 2011, and if you haven't ever followed it, that's not where you should start, so instead I'll link you to the pre-game primer from last year.  From there, you can travel down the right sidebar (no peeking!) and relive the magic.  At the bottom of the sidebar you'll find links to all the tournaments; they go back to 2005.  Last year, the opening round started on March 8.

The Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award

This is a children's choice award.  There are two book lists of nominees, one for grades 3-5, and one for grades 6-8.  Kids need to read at least three of the titles, and then they can vote for their favorite through their library or school.  (We are doing this with the kids' book club I co-lead at our neighborhood library.)  The winners are announced every year on Maud's birthday, April 25. The list of past winners goes back to 1980.

Have you been inspired to read any books because of battles like these?  I'm sure I'll be writing more about these contests as we progress through the winter.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book #2: The Story of Beautiful Girl (Rachel Simon)

What a beautiful book!  The Story of Beautiful Girl was one of our fall group reads on the Reading Circle, and I'm so glad we chose it.  I plan to write more about it here later, when I have more time, but wanted to get this post up here before the 52 Books deadline for the week.

For now, you can head on over to Rachel Simon's website to learn more about the book and about Ms. Simon.  I'm looking forward to exploring over there, now that I've finished the book.  I highly recommend this novel.

Okay, I'm back to tell you more.  One of my first thoughts is that the author, Rachel Simon, clearly values and appreciates books and stories.  Here is a quote from The Story of Beautiful Girl:
"A book wasn’t something you could open anywhere and then flip to anywhere else. You opened it at the front and went forward, and the pages went from one to the next, each adding to the last, and the story grew more exciting with each page. It was like the way corn grew from the seed that got planted in spring to the tall rows you hid inside in the fall. A story grew."
At the beginning of this story, Martha, a 70-something retired teacher and widow who lives in a farmhouse, hears a knock at her door in the middle of a powerful storm. When she opens the door, she finds two people there – a young woman and a deaf man. Make that three people:  The woman is holding a newborn baby.  Martha is not sure what she should do – they can’t communicate with her very well, as neither of them speaks – but soon she gets the feeling that they are looking for a place of safety. She also observes that they love each other very much.

Soon, people from “the School” arrive at her house, and the young woman is caught. The man escapes, and the baby is still upstairs. Martha learns the woman’s name is Lynnie, and that she never speaks except to say the word "no." She lives at the School (an institution for people with developmental disabilities), and they’ve come to take her back. As they prepare to take her away, Lynnie has the opportunity to look into Martha’s eyes and whisper, “Hide her.”

From there, the story grows.

It follows four characters -- Lynnie, the deaf man, Martha, and Kate (a woman who works at the School) – alternating viewpoints. We see what life is like for each of these people with different situations and unique ways of interacting with others and the world. The novel spans over forty years, and at first, I was concerned that this would make it difficult to read, jumping around to different people and time periods, but the author switches stories and viewpoints without making it feel jarring or disconnected.

Here is the website for the book. I just learned that the book is coming out in paperback this February.

Rachel Simon was inspired to write this book for many reasons, some of which she explains in her afterword. She previously wrote and published Riding the Bus with My Sister, a memoir, and several other books as well, including one on writing.

I am really glad she wrote this novel, and I’d love to hear her speak someday. I found a couple of videos of her on YouTube:

~ Click here to watch an excerpt of a talk she gave in 2004.
Click here to hear an interview with her about the book.  (This one is about 30 minutes long.  I've only listened to the first five minutes, and hope to find time to watch the rest soon.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our Picture Book Reading

I mentioned in my readolutions post that I wanted to make a point of reading more picture books with my kids.  At ages 7 and 12, they both still really enjoy them, so of course I should be taking advantage of this!  I want to encourage them to read picture books all their lives.

Here are some of our recent favorites:

Press Here (Hervé Tullet)

I've seen this one talked about a lot, and I kept finding it in different places at our library, which suggests to me that kids are loving it, pulling it off the shelf and playing with it.  I finally checked it out.  Skye and Felix agreed that it's a lot of fun, and I love that everything that happens uses only the magic of the two-dimensional page.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? (Susan A. Shea, paintings by Tom Slaughter)

This one has been mentioned on a few "Best of 2011" book lists.  The rhyming text is catchy -- Felix and Skye had fun remembering the rhymes later that day, and making up some of their own.  The pictures are gorgeous, simple and bright, using gentle colors.  It's a neat concept to think about, too.

Color Zoo (Lois Ehlert)

This is an old favorite.  We had the board book, but recently gave it away, so I checked out the hardcover from the library.  For some reason, I felt this version helps you see the creativity even better.  My kids flipped the pages back and forth to see how Ehlert created the different animals using only shapes.  I was inspired to get this one again because of the following book...

My Heart Is Like a Zoo (Michael Hall)

My kids enjoyed this one, too!  They liked finding and counting all of the different hearts that made up each animal.  And the ending is sweet.  Michael Hall is from Minnesota!  The website is really cute, and the trailer there helps you to find some hearts you might have missed.

Perfect Square (Michael Hall)

So, of course we had to check out Hall's newest picture book, too.  I've also seen this one on some 2012 Bests lists.  I'd love to get this one again, so that we can do some artsy/craftsy stuff inspired by it.  Check out the trailer and you'll see what I mean.  And another nice ending.

Now, the layout of this post looks okay on my computer screen, but I'm assuming it's different for others.  As a new(ish) blogger, I'm not sure how to put together posts like this to be sure that pictures of book covers are next to the writing about them.  Any advice?

What picture books have you been reading?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I Read in 2010

Ah, this is very satisfying.  I'm organizing my lists of past reads.  Here's what I read in 2010; no links, but maybe I'll add them at some point...

For me:
  1. East (Edith Pattou)
  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)
  3. Little Heathens (Mildred Armstrong Kalish)
  4. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  5. Birds of a Feather (Jacqueline Winspear)
  6. Cracked Up to Be (Courtney Summers)
  7. The Girl Who Played with Fire (Stieg Larsson)
  8. A Noble Radiance (Donna Leon)
  9. The Out-of-Sync Child (Carol Stock Kranowitz)
  10. Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver)
  11. Gunnerkrigg Court, Volume 1: Orientation (Thomas Siddell)
  12. The Wild Party (Joseph Moncure March)
  13. Getting Air (Dan Gutman)
  14. Out Stealing Horses (Per Petterson)
  15. William – an Englishman (Cicely Hamilton)
  16. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Stieg Larsson)
  17. Life As We Knew It (Susan Beth Pfeffer)
  18. Keeping the Feast (Paula Butturini)
  19. The Dead and the Gone (Susan Beth Pfeffer)
  20. This World We Live In (Susan Beth Pfeffer)
  21. Very Valentine (Adriana Trigiani)
  22. Brain, Child magazine, Spring 2010
  23. The Postmistress (Sarah Blake)
  24. The Crimson Rooms (Katharine McMahon)
  25. Day for Night (Frederick Reiken)
  26. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
  27. Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)
  28. Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)
  29. Summertime (Raffaella Barker)
  30. Confessions of a Teen Sleuth (Chelsea Cain)
  31. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall (Carolyn Keene)
  32. Mansfield Park (Jane Austen)
  33. The Charming Quirks of Others (Alexander McCall Smith)
  34. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender)
  35. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley)
  36. Every Last One (Anna Quindlen)
  37. 77 Love Sonnets (Garrison Keillor)
  38. A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  39. A Study in Scarlet: A Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  40. Room (Emma Donoghue)
  41. The Grimm Legacy (Polly Shulman)
  42. The Heretic’s Daughter (Kathleen Kent)
  43. The Language of Trees (Ilie Ruby)
  44. The Line (Olga Grushin)

For/with Skye (grades 5-6):
  1. The Sea of Monsters (Rick Riordan)
  2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
  3. Meet Felicity: An American Girl (Valerie Tripp)
  4. Calamity Jack (Shannon Hale et al)
  5. The Arrival (Shaun Tan)
  6. The Titan’s Curse (Rick Riordan)
  7. The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook (Eleanor Davis)
  8. Smile (Raina Telgemeier)
  9. When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead)
  10. A Family Secret (Eric Heuvel)
  11. The Search (Eric Heuvel)
  12. Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Jon Sciezcka)
  13. The Mozart Season (Virginia Euwer Wolff)
  14. The Magic Thief (Sarah Prineas)
  15. The Magic Thief: Lost (Sarah Prineas)
  16. The Magic Thief: Found (Sarah Prineas)
  17. Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
  18. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Rick Riordan)
  19. The Gollywhopper Games (Jody Feldman)
  20. The Popularity Papers (Amy Ignatow)
  21. The Last Olympian (Rick Riordan)
  22. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
  23. Julie: An American Girl – Story Collection (Megan McDonald)
  24. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Jeff Kinney)
  25. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Jacqueline Kelly)

With Skye (grades 5-6) & Felix (grades PreK-K):
  1. Down Girl and Sit: Smarter than Squirrels (Lucy Nolan)
  2. Down Girl and Sit: On the Road (Lucy Nolan)
  3. Down Girl and Sit: Bad to the Bone (Lucy Nolan)
  4. Funny Frank (Dick King-Smith)
  5. The Twin Giants (Dick King-Smith)
  6. Dragons Don’t Cook Pizza (Debbie Dadey & Marcia Thornton Jones)
  7. The School for Cats (Esther Averill)
  8. Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure (Esther Averill)
  9. The Big Big Big Book of Tashi
  10. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Roald Dahl)
  11. Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel (Ruth McNally Barshaw)
  12. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Betty MacDonald)
  13. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic (Betty MacDonald)
  14. Dinosaur Cove #1: Attack of the Tyrannosaurus (Rex Stone)
  15. Miss Daisy Is Crazy! (Dan Gutman)
  16. Jack Stalwart #1: Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur (Elizabeth Singer Hunt)
  17. Mr. Klutz Is Nuts! (Dan Gutman)
  18. Jack Stalwart #2: The Search for the Sunken Treasure (Elizabeth Singer Hunt)
  19. Mrs. Roopy Is Loopy! (Dan Gutman)
  20. Ms. Hannah Is Bananas! (Dan Gutman)
  21. Dinosaur Cove #2: Charge of the Triceratops (Rex Stone)
  22. The Giants and the Joneses (Julia Donaldson)
  23. Dinosaur Cove #3: March of the Ankylosaurus (Rex Stone)
  24. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm (Betty MacDonald)
  25. The Doll People (Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin)
  26. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Barbara Park)
  27. How to Save Your Tail (Mary Hanson)
  28. Runny Babbit (Shel Silverstein)
  29. Betsy-Tacy (Maud Hart Lovelace)
  30. The Meanest Doll in the World (Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin)

With lit circles (grade 5):
  1. Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) (Lisa Yee)
  2. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor (Donald J. Sobol)
  3. Skellig (David Almond)
  4. The Lemonade War (Jacqueline Davies)
  5. Chasing Vermeer (Blue Balliett)
  6. Hatchet (Gary Paulsen)
  7. The 39 Clues, Book 1: The Maze of Bones (Rick Riordan)
  8. The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau)
  9. Holes (Louis Sachar)
  10. Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom (Eric Wight)
  11. Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
  12. Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins)
  13. Lunch Lady #2 (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
  14. Lunch Lady #3 (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
  15. Once Upon a Marigold (Jean Ferris)
  16. Star Jumper (Frank Asch)
  17. The Headless Cupid (Zilpha Keatley Snyder)

Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award nominees (for Kids Book Clubs at the library):
  1. Eleven (Patricia Reilly Giff)
  2. The Missing: Book 1 – Found (Margaret Peterson Haddix)
  3. Deep and Dark and Dangerous (Mary Downing Hahn)
  4. How to Steal a Dog (Barbara O’Connor)
  5. All of the Above (Shelley Pearsall)
  6. If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (Gennifer Choldenko)
  7. The Sloppy Copy Slipup (DyAnne DiSalvo)
  8. No Talking (Andrew Clements)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Two More Challenges

I'm joining two more challenges this winter, and then I think I've got to call a halt to this challenge thing for a bit.  The first one is The Comment Challenge hosted by MotherReader and Lee Wind, and its goal is to encourage commenting on others' blogs.  MotherReader says:
Since it is said that it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit, we’re going to run the Comment Challenge for the next three weeks — starting Thursday, January 5, and running through Wednesday, January 25, 2012. The goal is to comment on at least five book blogs a day. Keep track of your numbers, and report in on Wednesdays with Lee.
I'm posting about this after the starting date, but if you're interested in joining, it's not too late!  You can either up your average comments a day, or set your own goal.  Come & join the fun!

The second challenge is on the Reading Circle, which is an online book group that I co-moderate.  (You'll find the link in my sidebar.)  We are doing a Classics Challenge this winter; each of us participating will recommend 2-5 classic novels, and then all of our lists will go into a hat.  We'll pull them out and match readers to lists.  The only requirement is to read one book from the list received and then share your thoughts with the group.  This is open to others, too!  Recommendations need to be posted by this Friday, January 13.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The first book I completed this year...

So, I thought the first book I’d post about this year would be The Story of Beautiful Girl, but I’m not quite done with that one. Today was a double-book-club-meeting day, so I had to pause in my reading of it to finish up two books that were both re-reads for me. One of them, for the teen book club I co-lead at our neighborhood library, I decided to skim and read about online, since I’d just re-read it this spring with Skye. (A Wrinkle in Time: What a fun book to share with her! She really identified with Meg, and enjoyed the tesseract concept.) The other one was for our mother-daughter book club, which was supposed to meet this evening, but was postponed due to illness of the hosts, much to Skye’s chagrin.

This was my third reading of The Hunger Games. I read it when it first came out, requesting a library copy and plowing through it when I got it, sending it on to the next person in line after just a few days. (I love it when I can do that!) I’d read about its premise and was skeptical; I expected to be horribly offended and repelled. How could anyone enjoy such brutal speculative fiction? But, on a friend’s reassuring recommendation (“Trust me. It’s really amazing.”), I gave it a try. As I watched the whole spectacle unfold with bated breath, I marveled at how Suzanne Collins had me gaping at the whole thing just like the citizens of the Capitol. I *was* offended and repelled, but I was also hooked and dazzled. Very impressive storytelling.

My second reading came when, preparing for the release of Mockingjay, I decided to refresh my memory by re-reading books 1 & 2. As I reviewed, I noticed more details about the characters, as well as the foreshadowing techniques Collins uses.

This third reading came sooner than I thought it would. Skye is a sensitive soul. Being twelve years old, she’d heard plenty about The Hunger Games trilogy, but had no real interest in it. She told me her friends were raving about how great it was, but that she thought she’d wait awhile before giving it a try. When one of the moms in our mother-daughter book group asked if it would be okay to read this one for our next book, I checked with Skye, and she decided she was open to reading it.

We made it through, and she didn’t hate it! That was my goal. After the first scene in the arena, she did have some bad dreams, so the next day we decided to try a different strategy. I’d describe to her the sensitive, intense scenes, and she’d read all of the other stuff. And I was surprised at how much she could read without a problem. Collins does such a nice job telling the story of the monstrous Hunger Games. Katniss is a wonderful main character, and Skye could relate to her anger, confusion, and sadness. She cheered her on and shook her fist at the Capitol.

Today at Teen Book Club, Skye shared her thoughts about the book, and it was interesting to hear what others thought, too. One teen said she’d read the trilogy because she’d enjoyed Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series so much. She liked Hunger Games, but thought Gregor was better. Another teen gave it a try when her friends were all telling her she’d love it. She quit after 50 pages; the writing wasn’t as strong as she’d expected, it reminded her of a friend’s writing, and she found herself wanting to read her friend’s stories instead. The other co-leader read it but wasn’t as impressed as she expected to be after hearing all the hype. The librarian and I were the two who liked it best, and we both read it when it first came out, before it became THE HUNGER GAMES. We really loved it. Interesting how our expectations can color our experience with a book.

Skye hasn’t asked about the next book in the trilogy, and I’m fine with that. I hope that someday, when the hype has calmed down and she’s older, she will pick these books up again and experience them the way I did the first time. If she wants, I’ll read them along with her, and we can both cheer for Katniss and rage with her.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

52 Books in 52 Weeks

In my readolutions post, I mentioned that I am signing up for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge this year.  I learned of it from my friend Michelle at Fond of Books, and I can't wait to see what she reads.  (Check out this crazy molasses book that she chose to ring in 2012.  How does she find these books?  I love it.)

One of the rules is that you can't include children's books in this challenge.  But luckily I read the fine print, which says, "If an adult is doing read aloud with kids, the book should be geared for the 9 - 12 age group and above and over 100 pages. If adult reading for own enjoyment, then a good rule of thumb to go by 'is there some complexity to the story or is it too simple?'  If it's too simple, then doesn't count."  Got it.  No problem!

I hope this challenge helps inspire me to post here at least weekly, and I look forward to getting to know some other book bloggers along the way.

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012 Readolutions

I love readolutions.  This year, instead of making a list, I will write a bit about the kind of a reading year I hope to have in 2012.

I look forward to reading with my kids (ages 12 & 7). I read to them from a chapter book just about every night, and I read books with Skye for our mother-daughter book group and our teen book club at the library. I'd like to find more time to read one-on-one with Felix, and I'd like to remember to make time for picture books, which they both still love.

I plan to continue to track my reading on Goodreads. This has been a great resource for me. I joined in July 2011, and since I had already been keeping a book list, I added all of the books I’d read from the start of the year on. I'm really enjoying taking a look at everything I read in 2011! I love how you can put the books into different groupings (called "shelves").

I will participate in my reading communities! I am a co-moderator of StorkNet's Reading Circle, so that’s a priority; I will do my best to post a reading update there each week, and to read the group reads and post about them on our discussion threads. I will participate in the challenges there. I’ve been enjoying FridayReads on Facebook. I love the Chicklit forums and hope to post more there. Maybe I’ll even jump into some discussions at the Republic of Pemberley. My biggest leap will be to enter the bookish blogosphere more fully.

As for my blog, do I even have to say? Of course I want to post more. Maybe this pretty new format will keep me motivated for awhile. I’m also signing up for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, so that should help, too.

I just posted a goal on Goodreads of reading 100 books in 2012. That will include the chapter books I read with my kids, too. I have been reading lots of middle grade & YA fiction, which I love, but I'd like to find a bit more time for "grown-up" books this year.

I also want to:

~ Read more books from my shelves. I’d like to especially focus on my lovely collection of Persephone books, as well as books that have been given or loaned to me.

~ Organize our bookshelves. We got some new shelves this year, but the organization is maybe only half-way complete. I love doing this, but I think I put it off because it seems more like a treat than a must-do.

~ Rein in my bookstore shopping – at least make it more purposeful. I will focus on book club books, the kids’ Christmas book stacks, and keepsake books (ones I love and want on my shelves.) I will try to avoid those impulse buys.

~ Participate in Buy a Friend a Book week at least once this year. I’d forgotten about this cool tradition!

Ah.  I love envisioning my great reading year ahead.  Do any of you make reading goals, or have any special reading plans for 2012?

Look what I made!

I've finally changed the template of my blog, and as I was playing around with it this morning, I learned I could use my own photo in the background.  So, to the left you see a picture of the current stack of TBR books on my nightstand.  No guarantees I'll get to them all!  I think it nicely conveys the "Leaning Tower of Books" vibe.

I need to work on my sidebar stuff next.  For some reason, Blogger changed my most recent additions and plugged in some old stuff instead, so now I have to think about what I'd like to see here.  Your patience is appreciated.

But first, I'm going to finish up my list of Readolutions for 2012, and post those.  Back soon!