Friday, September 3, 2010

Book of the week: Mockingjay

Like most elementary/YA librarians, I was eagerly waiting for the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy to be published.  While I was a manageable #49 on the waiting list at my public library, my good friend and former co-worker at BPL, Gordon, kindly loaned me his copy before he even read it himself.  I wasn't too sure what to expect, because I liked the first book in the series more than the second book, but I was completely satisfied with Mockingjay.  There was just the right blend of suspense, romance, and action.

If you haven't read this series yet, you should give it a try.  I resisted reading Hunger Games for years (literally) because I do not generally read sci-fi and I am not a fan of dystopias.  But I do like to read what the students are reading, and one of my best readers at Yates told me that I had to read it and promised that I would love it, and he was right. I wasn't hooked at first (it seemed to be a rip off of The Long Walk, an early Stephen King story), but I did like the strong female main character, Katniss.  Katniss volunteers to fight to the death in her country's televised survival competition.  Katniss is tough, but so are the other teens in the competition.  She forms a bond with another competitor (or tribute, as they are called), Peeta, but can't stop thinking about her hunky best friend, Gale.  So between the action and romance, there is something for just about everyone.

While I opted not to buy this series for the library (the main characters are 16 years old and there is plenty of gory violence), I would recommend this book to teachers who are looking for some good YA reading and have met their vampire quota.   And yes, there is a movie in the works (Dakota Fanning is rumored to be playing Katniss), but hopefully the movie will be true to Suzanne Collins's story.  But if you request it at the public library, be prepared to wait!  But it will be worth it...I promise.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Best YA books for 2010

Is there something about librarians and lists, or is it just me?  I LOVE lists.  I love songs with lists (Short Skirt/Long Jacket, I've Been Everywhere), lists of the best places to see Jack Kerouac (a family friend owns the bookshop that usually tops that list) etc etc.  So I was very happy to find a refreshing list of the 100 best YA books for 2010--this list has a wonderful mix of old and new and wasn't dominated by the Twilight series.

Perhaps I should make a list of things to get done before school starts....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book of the week: Say Hello!

OK, I have been on a long hiatus, but I am back!  Back and motivated for the new school year.  I did a lot of reading over the summer (but mostly adult books, I have to admit) but I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the Hunger Games series, which came out yesterday.  I am probably # 192 on the waiting list at the public library, so it may be a while before you see that review posted here.

What I do have for you today is a great picture book to start off the school year: Rachel Isadora's Say Hello!  Carmelita lives in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood and loves to say hello to all of her neighbors.   The illustrations are adorable (reminiscent of Eric Carle) and the young ones will love repeating "hello" in different languages.  There is a pronunciation guide in the back that tells the languages, so you can have students guess and then check their answers in the back.

So to any new readers out there: Konichiwa!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chapter book of the Week; Boys Without Names

I love all things Indian....movies, music, and food.  Especially food.  We typically go to our favotite Indian restaurant every other weekend.  So when I saw that a new chapter book about the horrors of child labor in India, I had to read it.  When I read the review, I thought it was a non-fiction adult book, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is actually a juvenile chapter book.  Kashmira Sheth's Boys Without Names will have students sitting on the edge of their seats, and would be a great read-aloud when discussing India or child labor.

Gopal's family is forced to leave their village and is lured to the big city of Mumbai, where jobs are supposedly plentiful.  While wandering in the slums, Gopal is offered a job at a factory, which turns out to be a sweatshop.  Gopal is locked in a shanty with five other boys and is unable to tell his family where he went.  The boys must try to band together to escape Scar, the boss who has them gluing beads on picture frames for twelve hours a day.  Will they escape and find their families, or will they be sent to the fireworks factory and never see their families again?  This book will keep students guessing right until the very end.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book of the Week: Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato

St. Patty's day is almost upon us, and that means looking for a good read-aloud for my students.  Tomie DePaola's Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato is an excellent choice for first through third graders.   You really can't go wrong with anything by Tomie DePaola, but this book has some great tie-ins that would be easy to do with very little prep.

This book is an excellent choice not only for St. Patrick's Day or folktales, but also for cause and effect.  Every action causes as reaction, so I have been charting causes and effects on the whiteboard.  And there are some good vocabulary words in there, too.  Practice your Irish brouge and check this out!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chapter book of the week: Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

I am excited about this book for many reasons.  Not only did it get starred reviews from Booklist AND School Library Journal, the rat mentioned in the title is from Schenectady!  I was intrigued by Lynn Jonell's choice, and I assumed that she must be from the northeast, so I did a little research.  She is not from the northeast, however, so I because even more intrigued and I wanted to find out how Rat came to be from our city.  I emailed her, figuring that I would never hear back from her, but she wrote me back that very same day and said that she loved the way Schenectady sounds when you say it.  She liked it so much, she decided to come and visit, and the third book in the series actually takes place in Schenectady, mostly in the Stockade area.  In my opinion, this book has it all: humor, mysterious characters, and a local tie.  And if that isn't good enough, Mrs. Jonell offered to email any of our students who would like to chat with her.  This would be an excellent choice for a classroom read-aloud, the possibilities for extensions are endless!

Book of the week: A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women

March is Women's History Month, so I will be highlighting some books that would be great to share this month.  A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynne Cheney (yes, that Cheney) is my first suggestion.  Done in alphabet format, one woman per letter (or sometimes more than one), this is a great choice because you could highlight a different woman (or group of women) every day and read the book for the entire month.  The illustrations are whimsical, and while this book highlights some of the standard women that we all know, it also mentions some women that students probably have not heard of, such as the first woman chief of the CherokeeNation and the first woman governor.  If you're looking for some new women to highlight, check this book out!