Friday, March 28, 2008

Virginia Readers' Choice Elementary List

Virginia Readers' Choice Elementary list is for Grades 3-5. That means third graders can either read off of the primary list or the elementary list.

Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop

The Ghost's Grave by Peg Kehret

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (my review here)

The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hartkoff

Phineas L. MacGuire...Erupts! by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Punished by David Lubar

Rules by Cynthia Lord (my review here)

The Winners Walk by Nancy Ruth Patterson

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Virginia Readers' Choice Primary List

My last few weeks have been crazy. I've been out of town more than I've been in town, so I've written next to nothing on my blog. One of the out of town trips I took was a few weeks ago to the Virginia State Reading Association's annual reading conference. I always get jazzed up about teaching again and really love meeting authors. I will be highlighting my notes from some of my sessions with various authors over the next few days.

One of the last sessions I attended was one on the Virginia Readers' Choice booklist for 2008-09. I always read the elementary books with my kids and vote on them. The committee releases four different lists: Primary, Elementary, Middle School, High School. I'll highlight each list seperately over the next few days. This list hasn't been updated on the VSRA website as of this posting, but I received this list at the conference.

Primary List Grades K-3

Bad Boys Get Cookie! by Margie Palatini

Duck at the Door by Jackie Urbanovic

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan S. Crummel

I Saw An Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince

Library Lion by Barbara Knudsen

Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle

Mammoths on the Move by Lisa Wheeler

Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia MacLachlan

Stars Beneath Your Bed by April Sayre

Wolves by Emily Gravett

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm back...

I've been away at a conference. I have a pile of things I want to share from my conference where I saw MANY authors. Perhaps next week, when I'm on spring break.

This appeared in my inbox this evening, from NCTE...a link to a Washington Post article about Lois Lowry on being a liar and a writer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Boy Who Dared

The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth
Scholastic Press, 2008

Remember back to reading Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow. Susan Campbell Bartoletti also wrote this book. It was a nonfiction book (or "informational book" according to the Sibert Award committee). Hitler Youth won a Newbery Honor and a Sibert Honor. It's a fascinating book that really delves into the lives of specific young adults who were part of the Hitler Youth--those who were in support of Hitler and were trained (or brainwashed) at an early age to serve and submit to Hitler. However, a few began to see Hitler for who he was. They secretly rebelled. Some of them even paid a high price.
One of those young men was Helmuth Hubener. This book is about his life. Unlike Bartoletti's Hitler Youth which was nonfiction, this book is historical fiction. Bartoletti tells Helmuth's story in flashback. It begins with Helmuth in jail on death row. The jail scenes are set apart in italics, but most of the story is set in the past as Helmuth remembers his life.
Helmuth was once a Hitler Youth. But then he began to listen to the BBC German broadcast. It was forbidden for Germans to listen to it, but he did anyway. He realized how different it was from the government sponsored broadcast and he began to take notes. He and two other friends began to write pamphlets telling the truth. Helmuth's Morman faith and his activities with the Hitler Youth seemed to be in conflict. When Helmuth was finally captured, tortured, and put on trial, and ultimately died, he died knowing he stood for what he believed in and spoke up for those who were dying without a reason.
Just like Bartoletti's nonfiction books, this one is impeccibly researched. There are photographs of Helmuth and a timeline of Third Reich events. She provides an extensive author's note where she delineates what is real/factual and where she has filled in the gaps as a novelist.
Her writing is so memorable, just like in all of her other historical fiction novels. Here is a brief description from the jail cell:
Footsteps. A rustling sound at the heavy blue door. Helmuth
takes a great gulp of air. His heart pounds in his ears. The small latched
window slides open. Please, God, no, not the executioner.

He sees an eye, a nose, half a mouth, half a face. The morning guard.
Helmuth breathes again. Part of a prisoner's punishment is not knowing his execution date.
This is a must read historical fiction novel for 2008 and would be a perfect pairing with the nonfiction Hitler Youth for students studying the Holocaust.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Authors, Authors, Everywhere

Are you an author looking to get school visits? Are you an educator looking for an author to do school visits? Check out Kim Norman's new site that lists authors by state. Our local reading council is always looking for authors to come for our events. This is like one stop-shopping. If you are an author and would like to be listed, check out the site and find out what you need to do to be listed.

Authors By State

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cicada Summer

Cicada Summer
By Andrea Beaty
Amulet Books, 2008

Lily won’t speak. She has said a word since the death of her brother because she feels like it was her fault that he died. She doesn’t have a mother, but her dad, who is very caring, is still very involved in her life. The cicadas have come out for the summer and drown out the town with their loud song, but Lily’s summer is filled with mystery and secrets when a new girl comes to town. Lily spends time everyday in Fern’s store where she listens to the men of the town gossip about what’s going on. She spies and puts clues together like Nancy Drew would do. But when Tinny comes to town, she creates trouble for Lily. She accuses Lily of stealing and gets her Aunt Fern to kick Lily out of the store. As the summer toils on, we learn more about the death of Lily’s brother, and about what’s really going on in Tinny’s life that makes her the way she is.

Even though Lily doesn’t talk, we still get to hear the story through Lily’s viewpoint. Readers will be drawn into to loving Lily, her dad, and all of the old ladies in town who want to take care of her family. Cicada Summer draws you back into small-town life where the hub of town is the old country store and where people still have time to sit on the porch.

This is a heart-warming middle grade read. It will be available June 1, 2008.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Doctor Ted

Doctor Ted
By Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by Pascal Lamaitre
McElderry Books, 2008

Publication date: April 8, 2008

You may know Andrea Beaty’s other picture books. Her very own Iggy Peck Architect was nominated in the Cybils fiction picture book category. It was also voted one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Children’s Books of 2007. Wowzers!

Doctor Ted is another funny picture book by Beaty. All of the characters in the book are different characters. Ted is a cute looking little bear. He begins one morning with an injury to his knee and he realizes he needs a doctor. So, like a typical youngster, he looks for one himself. When none can be found, he becomes a doctor. Ted proceeds to “doctor up” everyone he can find at school. The adults in his school-life are not too thrilled about Ted’s new-found occupation. My favorite adult figure in the book is Mr. Bigham, fully and brilliantly illustrated as a big pig. Ha! Ted continues to aggravate everyone with his practice of medicine until one day his teacher really hurts herself. “Doctor Ted” remains calm, unlike Principal Bigham. The next day, Ted’s calling is to another profession—a firefighter.

What I love about this book is that it appeals to the young child. My toddler loves pretending to be various characters, just like Ted. In fact, I received this book several weeks ago, but I had to sneak it out of my three year old’s room so I could write a review of it. She has wanted to read it every night. A fun read that will capture that pre-reader’s imagination.

According to Andrea Beaty's website, there are more Ted books to come.

Andrea Beaty blogs at Three Silly Chicks.

Tomorrow look for a review of Andrea's upcoming middle grade novel, Cicada Summer.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What I've Been Reading: February 2008

Picture Books
Walt Disney’s Cinderella retold by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mary Blair (my review here)
The Tale of Pale Male: A True Story by Jeanette Winter
Emily by Michael Bedard, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Sootface: An Ojibawa Cinderella Story retold by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Daniel San Souci
Bear Hunt by Anthony Browne
Pumpkinhead by Eric Rohmann
Edna by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Joanna Yardley
How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsman by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake
The Little Worm by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II by Lita Judge
Eleanor by Barbara Cooney
Would You Rather by John Burningham
Black and White by David Macauley
Shortcut by David Macauley
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff
Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne
Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Early Chapter Books
Summer Reading is Killing Me by Jon Scieszcka
Piper Reed, Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt (my review here)

Middle Grade
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (my review here)
The Quikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger (my review here)
The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, translated by Tiina Nunnally, illustrated by Lauren Child
Seeing Sky-Blue Pink by Candice Ransom
Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty (review forthcoming)
Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes

Young Adult
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi (graphic novel)

We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson (my review here)
Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick (my review here)
Living Color by Steve Jenkins (my review here)
Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson Against the Odds by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer
The Laugh Stand: Adventures in Humor by Brian Cleary (my review here)
Lazily, Crazily, Just a Bit Nasily: More About Adverbs by Brian Cleary (my review here)
Stop and Go, Yes and No: What is an Antonym by Brian Cleary (my review here)
The Wall: Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis
Tibet through the Red Box by Peter Sis
Black Whiteness by Robert Burleigh

Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford (review forthcoming)
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait by Stephanie Hemphill (my review here)
Here’s a Little Poem edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

The Annotated Secret Garden edited by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina

The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszcka
Haunting in Williamsburg by Lou Kassem