Must Read in 2014 – Update #2

With July upon us, we are now halfway through 2014 and it is the perfect opportunity to check in with where I am on my 2014 reading challenge, known fondly on Twitter as the #MustReadIn2014 Challenge. Carrie got us all organized to do this, so be sure to head over to her blog for the official link up. I’ve been on a pretty good pace with these books and am about half way through the list. Below is the list of books I initially posted about in January that I wanted to read during 2014. It is mix of older titles, 2013 titles, and new 2014 titles. I’ve crossed out the books I have read to date. I’m still reading plenty of other books too, but this is a sort of check list to books I really want to read. Books I’ve finished in the last three months are marked in red; previous titles are denoted in blue. Ones that I especially adored and recommend are marked with **. My Caldecott Challenge is still sorely lagging, but I’m hoping to remedy that a bit during July and August. 

If you’ve done an update for this challenge, please share the link in the comments. I’d love to come check out what you’ve enjoyed, too! Happy Reading and happy summer reading!

 

Must Read Books in 2014

Read to date 19/38

Books for Adults

adultbooks

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson Read April 2014
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg Read in June 2014**
 

Middle Grade Novels

mg2013_1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielsen (2013)
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett (2013) 
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand (2013)

mg2013_2

The Apprentices (The Apothecary #2) by Maile Meloy (2013)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton (2013)
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff (2013) | Read January 2014 **
Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (2013) Read January 2014

oldermg1

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012) Read in May 2014**
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011) Read in May 2014**
 
oldermg2
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (2011) Read January 2014
 
oldermg3
 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (2009)
Al Capone Does My Homework  by Gennifer Choldenko (2013)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (2012)
 

Young Adult Titles

ya2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (2013)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Living by Matt de la Pena (2013) Read January 2014 **
 
olderya1
 
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (2011)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007) Read in May 2014**
Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012)

olderya2

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Graphic Novels

GN

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012) Read in May 2014**
The Great American Dust Bowl by Dan Brown (2013) Read January 2014 **

2014 Titles I’m most looking forward to reading:

2014_1

2014_2

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger Read in May 2014**
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore Read in June 2014**
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Read in February 2014 **
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle Read in February 2014 **
The 26-Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths Read in April 2014 **
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets!by Kate Messner Read in March 2014 **
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
 

 

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Newbery Challenge Goal

Read to date: 5/12

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Newbery Medal 1949 Read in February 2014

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, Newbery Medal 1950 Read in March 2014

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates, Newbery Medal 1951 Read in May 2014

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes, Newbery Medal 1952 Read in May 2014

Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark, Newbery Medal 1953 Read in June 2014

I’m shooting for 12 books, or an average of one per month. I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Elisabeth, from The Dirigible Plum along for the ride as we slowly plug through the challenging middle years of the Newbery Challenge.

 

 

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Caldecott Challenge Goal

Progress to date : Meh

I’m aiming to get through all Caldecott Medal and Honor winners through 1979. I found I really got weighed down in the 1950s, but I’m hoping to get back some steam for the Caldecott Challenge.

 

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Cheers and may your 2014 be filled with many wonderful reading memories!

Look for the Rainbow

“How was Tall’s first year of middle school?”

“Horrible,” is often my standard reply.

Like many parents, I had hoped the move from elementary to middle school would be a smooth one. An infusion of new people. A new academic experience. She was so excited for middle school. This year was anything but great for a variety of complicated social and physical reasons, some out of her control. I have no professed expertise in the life of middle schoolers beyond surviving it myself, but below, I reflect on the year’s experiences. I realize I cannot take away the pain, but maybe my letter will give her some perspective on the year and give her some thoughts to consider, or even ignore (she is almost 13, after all).

Dear Tall,
Sixth grade is done. Not the year you were dreaming of back in early September but you made it. I am very proud of you. I know it hasn’t been easy. It seems a cloud hovers above you, but like all storms, these clouds will blow through.

While it may not be much comfort now, it will get better. Friendships, while never free of bumps, will get easier to navigate and many will require much less hand-wringing than they do now. Don’t get me wrong, even as a grown up, being left out from social events or feeling once solid friends slip away, often without explanation, is painful.

Try not to spend much time or energy on those who work to bring you down with their hurtful words or actions. Flock to the people who make you feel good about being you.

Take a chance and reach out to someone, even it is a repeated effort. It’s awkward sometimes. Wave at them again. Maybe they didn’t see you the first time. Ask again if they want to hang out. Maybe they really were busy. Some people may be feeling quiet and unsure of themselves and your friendly action may be just what they need.

Try to give people the benefit of the doubt when they behave in an unexpected way. Sometimes there is an explanation (a distraction, a bad day) for a behavior. Resist the temptation to go to a negative conclusion. Gather the facts. Talk to people involved directly. In person. So much is lost in texts and on social media like Instagram. And yes, sometimes, you just need to let it go. Everybody after all is working out the best way to navigate the social world that is middle school. Mistakes will be made. Words misspoken.

Try new things; this is the time to explore new interests which will open your world to new people and maybe new passions. It might mean pursuing different activities than your friends, but that might be just what you need.

I am a broken record on this one, but it’s not what you say, it is how you say it. Your voice is one that deserves to be heard. Share how you’re feeling. Ask those questions you have. Be confident, yet kind.

While it is tempting, and many have inquired, we will not be putting you in a protective bubble. Admittedly, you’ve been through a lot physically. Continue to pursue your loves of soccer and skiing as long as they bring you joy. Make your body strong to lessen the likelihood of injury but be not afraid. There is an impressive collection of braces, slings, corrective boots and crutches in our basement. And beyond that, we know some amazing doctors.

I wish I could say heartbreak is done. Emotional and physical challenges most certainly are again in your future. You will learn a lot from all of these experiences, especially as you rise back up. But remember that this year doesn’t define you. You are stronger than you realize. And most importantly know that you are loved by many. Some storms bring rainbows. Always look for that rainbow.

With much love,

Mom

Graphic Novel Favorites: Lunch Lady and Babymouse

Graphic Novel Favorites

Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle

by Jarrett Krosoczka

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014

 

In this latest, and reportedly final, book of the series, the Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty have been cut from the school budget. But back at Thompson Brook Elementary things are in a bad, bad way. All of the villains from past Lunch Lady stories are worming their way back into the school and the Breakfast Bunch must rally the Lunch Lady to return to her super hero ways. Will she be able to help the kids in time? You better read it to find out and enjoy lots of action and kitchen tool-gadgets along the way!

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Happy Birthday, Babymouse

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Published by Random House, 2014

It will be the birthday celebration of all celebrations, declares Babymouse as she plans her birthday party. It is going to be HUGE! Well, in typical Babymouse fashion that dream gets dumped upside down. Thanks, Felicity Furrypaws! How will Babymouse salvage it? Will any of her birthday party dreams come true? Check it out in this book, number 18 in the series. Lots of giggles await you!

 

Other Books to check out:

There are now three books in the awesome series, Zita Spacegirl series.

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The companion book, Sisters, will be coming out in late summer!

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Must Read in 2014 – Update #1

With April upon us, we are now 1/4 of the way through 2014 and it is the perfect opportunity to check in with where I am on my 2014 reading challenge, known fondly on Twitter as the #MustReadIn2014 Challenge. Below is the list of books I initially posted about in January that I wanted to read during 2014. It is mix of older titles, 2013 titles, and new 2014 titles. I’ve crossed out the books I have read to date. Ones that I especially adored are marked with **. Other than my Caldecott Challenge I feel like, due in part to a good reading month in January, I’m on track to get these titles read. If you’ve done an update for this challenge, please share the link in the comments. I’d love to come check out what you’ve enjoyed, too! Happy Reading and happy spring!

 

Must Read Books in 2014

Read to date 10/38

Books for Adults

adultbooks

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson Currently reading
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
 

Middle Grade Novels

mg2013_1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielsen (2013)
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett (2013) 
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand (2013)

mg2013_2

The Apprentices (The Apothecary #2) by Maile Meloy (2013)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton (2013)
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff (2013) | Read January 2014 **
Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (2013) Read January 2014

oldermg1

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012)
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)
 
oldermg2
 
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (2011) Read January 2014
oldermg3
 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (2009)
Al Capone Does My Homework  by Gennifer Choldenko (2013)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (2012)
 

Young Adult Titles

ya2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (2013)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Living by Matt de la Pena (2013) Read January 2014 **
 
olderya1
 
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (2011)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012)

olderya2

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Graphic Novels

GN

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012)
The Great American Dust Bowl by Dan Brown (2013) Read January 2014 **

2014 Titles I’m most looking forward to reading:

2014_1

2014_2

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Read in February 2014 **
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle Read in February 2014 **
The 26-Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner Read in March 2014 **
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
 

 

_____________________

Newbery Challenge Goal

Read to date: 2/12

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Newbery Medal 1949 Read in February 2014

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, Newbery Medal 1950 Read in March 2014

I’m shooting for 12 books, or an average of one per month. I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Elisabeth, from The Dirigible Plum along for the ride as we slowly plug through the challenging middle years of the Newbery Challenge.

 

 

_____________________

Caldecott Challenge Goal

Progress to date : Meh

I’m aiming to get through all Caldecott Medal and Honor winners through 1979. I found I really got weighed down in the 1950s, but I’m hoping to get back some steam for the Caldecott Challenge.

 

_____________________

Cheers and may your 2014 be filled with many wonderful reading memories!

01.27.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

My favorite picture book . . .

I read a bunch of picture books, many of them “meh”, but this was clear and away my favorite.

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Finished Middle Grade Novels . . .

I absolutely adored this. Even my 12-year old daughter, who rarely reads my recommendations, grabbed it and loved it. For the dreamers, theater lovers, and fans of big cities alike. There are mentions of his emerging sexuality (he’s “undecided”, which is just perfect), but aside from some homophobic insults, it is all broached in a non-outlandish and gentle manner. I’m so happy to have this title celebrated at the ALA Youth Media awards with honor nods for The Stonewall Award and The Odyessey (audiobook). Bravo!

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I know many who loved this, but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for its bizareness?

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Finished this as a fun read aloud with my 12-year old daughter, Tall.

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Continuing

 

Last week I started these as read alouds with my kids. Penny is with the nine year old and The Running Dream is with the twelve year old.

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Wish I could drop everything to finish this. So different than Eleanor & Park, but so terrific.

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Next up . . .

1949 Newbery Medal Winner for my Newbery Challenge.

Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

01.20.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

Last week’s picture books . . .

A nice message about taking risks. Would be great paired with Deborah Freeman’s Fish and Snail. Some young kids might become anxious in some of George’s precarious situations. (2011/Candlewick Press)

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Part multigenerational story telling, part civil rights mini lesson. All lovingly told and illustrated. Great for grades 1 and up. (2011/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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This cute book has a great message about being true to yourself and following your passions. I love Hector’s style and his animals are especially expressive. It would be great to pair with Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Great for Kindergarten and up. (2008/Hyperion)

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A good intro to Goodall and her work in Africa and her conservation efforts. I liked the artistic style and little hidden details Winters included in her illustrations. (2011/Schwartz and Wade)

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A Little Red Writing Hood fractured fairy tale with some writing tips creatively thrown in. I’m not sure I’d read this again after using it in a writing lesson, as the story didn’t wow me. As always, Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are terrific. Good for grades 2 and up. (2013/Chronicle Books)

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I adored Yoon’s other penguin books, but this one felt too forced to me. On a few page turns I even felt confused about the story line. But the penguins are so cute! (2013/Walker Children’s)

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I adored the art for this more than the story about team work. I want to frame some of these pages for my “someday” cabin! (2013/Kids Can Press)

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Finished Graphic Novels . . .

This is a well-researched telling of China’s Boxer Rebellion with amazing illustrations. I learned a lot about the time period in China and would certainly recommend it to those interested in the time or culture, but I just wasn’t in love with this one. The uprising was extremely violent and is portrayed as such in the books, so I’d recommend this for grades 7 and up. (2013/First Second)

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Finished Middle Grade Novels . . .

I finished this as a read aloud with Small, my fourth grader. She LOVED it. I enjoyed this interesting story about Dewey and her friend Suze who are both children of scientists working on the secretive Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM during World War II. I loved the portrayal of smart and creative girls and the challenges they needed to overcome to build and maintain their friendship. The only real complaint I had was on the amount of time it took for the girls’ paths to really cross in the story. Readers should have some background knowledge in the atomic bomb project before diving into this one. I’d recommend as a read aloud in grades 4 and up, or alone for fifth grade and up. (2006/Viking Juvenile)

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I am to blame for a not giving this more stars. I listened to it as an audiobook over many months rather than in concentrated blocks of time. As a result I had a hard time connecting with the story and it’s humor about life on Earth after it has been invaded by aliens. I must say, though, Bonnie Turpin is a fantastic audiobook narrator. (2007/Disney Hyperion)

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A fractured fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin filled with lots of magic and a likable main character. Fantasy fans will enjoy this story and the doses of middle grade humor laced throughout. While I read it alone, I’ve heard from many that it makes a great read aloud, and I can see why. Recommend for grades 3 – 7. (2013/Knopf Books for Young Readers)

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This week’s reading . . .

 

Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

01.13.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

My Favorites from the last week . . .

Charming story about one young boy during the Depression as he struggles to reconcile how his father hides losing his job. Told against the backdrop of a baseball loving era. I loved the illustrations, which on some pages had a Hopper-esque feel to them. (1999/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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I thought this graphic novel was so well done and would make for a great addition to upper elementary and middle school libraries and classrooms.  I loved the “just right” background knowledge on all the key elements that set up the environmental catastrophe that became known as the Dust Bowl. The graphic novel is a great format to convey the imagery and intensity of this era. It’d be great to pair with other books and media on the event like Phelan’s Storm in the Barn and Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, The Dust Bowl. My youngest (grade 4) preferred Phelan’s story, I’m guessing because of its narrative elements versus the informational text format in this book. Recommend for ages 10 and up, including the adult history buffs in the room. (2013/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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I find myself avoiding poetry as I just find I get too restless reading it. I’m sure there’s more too it than that, but overall, poetry is not a category of literature that I enjoy. On that note, this was a collection of poems that I did enjoy far more than I suspected I would. This is recasting of any earlier poetry collection by Rylant. God is placed into a number of everyday, seemingly ordinary situations, but with his/her own distinct wisdom.  I suspect the messages might be lost on young kids, but middle school and up (adults, too!) will connect with the situations. Frazee’s illustrations are lovely. (2013/Beach Lane Books)

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This was fantastic narrative nonfiction about scientists’ efforts to predict the timing and direction of volcanic blast material in the Asian Pacific volcanic zone. Having been a Mt. St. Helens kid (ash fell in our town and school was let out three weeks early in 1980), it just fascinated me. Great use of interviews for the narrative commentary and enlightening photos. Best for upper grade and middle school. (2013/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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After the first 1/3 of this, clear your schedule because you won’t be able to put this down. Teens will enjoy this suspenseful thriller. (2013/Delacourte Press)

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Currently reading . . .

I will be delivering this to my daughter’s fourth grade classroom later as The Book Fairy. I suspect they will adore this spin on the story of Rumpelstiltskin!

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Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!