Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday Salon - Children's Lit

The Sunday

A day late and a dollar short....but since I started this on Sunday, we are just going to go with that!  Wow!  Two Posts in ONE WEEK!   The world must be coming to an end!   I just wanted to thank you for all your comments this week.   It means alot to know that as busy as I am, you are all still here to fall back on whenever I need something!   Truly awesome!

This last semester I took a Children's Lit class.   In the span of the class we had to choose 40 books to read and essentially write "Book Reports" about each one.  I know it sounds like a lot, and it was.  We were supposed to choose books that fit the age level of the children we would eventually be teaching.   Since I am looking to secondary education (probably Jr. High or freshman level), my books were a bit longer than someone wanting to teach Kindergarten.  I spent a lot of time on this class, but found some amazing books! 

We had Categories of Books to read, and had to choose accordingly.    Newbery Awards, Caldecott Awards, Picture Books, Modern Fantasy, Traditional Literature, Poety, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Informational, Biographies, and Multi-cultural Literature.   The books below are the best of the ones that I read.  

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was kind of a cheat for me.   I read it before.  BUT I loved it so much I wanted to read it again!!   The adventures of Nobody Owens is one of the best books I've ever read.    It fit both Newbery and Modern Fantasy.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by  Jacqueline Kelly was a Newbery Honor book in 2010 and it was wonderful.   The year is 1899, and Callie was the lone girl in a large family of boys.   She was smart and eager to learn, especially sciences.   Unfortunately, the only Science she was able to learn was the Science of Housewifery.   Her grandfather, a "fellow scientist" takes her under his wing and opens up new worlds for her. 

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron won the Newbery Award in 2007 and totally deserved it.   Lucky was a little girl that lived in Hard Pan, California (Pop. 47)  Her mother died, her father left, and she was living with her guardian, Bridgette.   She learned about "Higher Powers" by eavesdropping on the twelve-step Anonomous groups.   This book is her journey to find her higher power. 

Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples is a wonderful book.  It is the story of two women alone in wartorn Afghanistan.   When the Taliban come to take Najmah's father and brother she steps up to help her mother.   But when a bomb drops on her family's hut, she finds herself all alone.   Nusrat is an American woman living in Afghanistan.   She is patiently waiting for her husband, a doctor, to return from the war zone.  She spends her days teaching refugee children in her little school, under her Persimmon Tree.

The Lion and the Mouse is a Caldecott Winner in 2010.   It is an adaption of Aesop's fable about the lion and the mouse.  But the beautiful artwork by Jerry Pinkney makes this a perfect book for young children.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick won the Caldecott in 2008.    I haven't seen the movie yet, but I would love to take the girls.  The story of Hugo, a little boy that lives within the walls of a Paris train station is beautiful.   To survive alone, Hugo has to steal.   When he meets Isabelle, a rather odd, bookish girl, he finally finds a friend.   But when he sees the key on a chain around her neck, he just knows it will fit the automaton that his father was working on before he died in a fire.   This story is amazing and if you haven't read it, I highly suggest you do!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite reads of last year.   Told in a first person narrative by 13-year-old Arnold "Junior" Spirit, the story is about a young indian on the Spokane Indian Reservation.    Living here, Junior sees poverty, alcoholism and violence every day.   His parents are alcohlics, and his best friend spends most of his time beating up other people.   After an incident with a teacher at the rez school, Junior feels the only way to ever come out on top is to go to the rich all-white school 20 miles away.  Strong and courageous, Junior is an amazing character.   If transferring to a school where he is the only Native American is hard, coming home to the reservation and having people think you are a trader to your heritage is even harder.   READ THIS BOOK!

The Tale of Desperieux by Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery in 2003.  It's an excellent little fairy tale about a mouse with big ears that falls in love with a Princess.    It's also about a rat named Roscuro that lives in the darkness but secretly covets the light.   It truly is a beautiful story about acceptance.

Where the Sidewalk Ends is a collection of poems by Shel Silverstein.   I've never been a big fan of poetry, but Sliverstein is just the master.  He's funny and profound all at the same time.    I loved this book and read most of the poems with the girls.   "One Sister For Sale" was a huge hit with both of them!

Deadline by Chris Crutcher is a truly inspiring, yet heart-breaking story of a boy named Ben.  He is getting ready to start his senior year in high school, when he finds out at his pre-cross-country physical he has a terminal illness and probably won't live thru the year.   Without telling ANYONE, including his parents or younger brother, he sets out to make his Senior year unforgettable.   Honestly, I'm having a hard time not tearing up just writing this paragraph.   It really is an exception book.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson won the Newbery in 1977.   It's a story we all know.  I can't believe I put it next to Deadline, because now I really am crying.  This story is just beautiful about friendship, family and absolutely aching loss.   If you haven't read it, you really should.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett is book 2 in the Tiffany Aching Series (of Discworld).  I needed another book for Fantasy and really wanted to finish out this series.   Terry Pratchett is a master-storyteller!    Eleven-year-old Tiffany is about to start her apprenticeship as a witch.  To do so she has to leave the Chalk and her friends, the Nac Mac Feegle (or Wee Free Men) to study with an experienced witch.   On the way, she runs into trouble....and the Nac Mac Feegle are to the rescue!!    Such a funny book!!   I'm thinking of getting the trilogy for Bella to read.   She loved the Hunger Games so much, I think she will really like this one.  She is like me....loves a strong female protagonist! 

Lon Po Po is a Red Riding Hood Story from China.   Ana actually brought this one home from school and we read it together.   The pictures are gorgeous and it is a great way to learn about fairy tales from other countries!  Definitely recommended for kids.

Finally, I'm adding The Spider and The Fly.  The poem is from Mary Howett's 1829 poem.   The reason I loved the book so much though is the absolutely GORGEOUS pictures by Tony Di Terlizzi for which he received a Caldecott medal.  It is all done is black and white.   It really is amazing.  

Well....these are just a few of the books I read for my class.   Almost every book I picked I liked.  These just happened to be my favorites.  So if you are looking for books to read with your kids....or if you just like YA and children's books, you really should check some of these out!! 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another Post? My Pledge to do Better.

Good Morning!!  The sun is shining and the snow is melting.   Makes for a beautiful day!   I've been so out-of-the-loop for so long now, I'm not even sure I can make it back.  But I figured, "What the hell.  Gotta Try, right?" I am with the 1st post of 2012. 

Lately I've been trying to decide what to do with this blog.   Since I haven't regularly posted in over a year, I have been contemplating just shutting it down.   But that seems so sad.  I started this blog oh, so many years ago and it would be too hard to shut it off completely.   Do I just post once every blue moon?   I don't like that idea either.   In a perfect world, I would get my baby back up and running just like the "old" days.   However, I'm not sure that is reasonable.  My life went from busy to just plain out-of-control when I started back to school.    I very rarely have any time for just me.   Unfortunately, me-time IS blogging time.   When I'm not at school, I'm doing homework.  Or helping a kid with homework.   Or trying to keep my house from being marked for demolition.   Or playing chauffeur.    Or grocery shopping.   Or working.   And this list goes on......

But if I am honest, I MISS my blog.   I miss interacting with all of you...if there is anyone out there that actually checks this blog anymore.  I miss talking about books.   I miss reading other blogs.   I miss signing up for reading challenges I never even come close to finishing.   I miss finding out about new books from people that I trust and respect.   I miss....THIS. 

So, I hereby pledge to do a better job at managing my time.   With that pledge, I also plan on keeping this blog going.   Even without posting more than a handful of posts last year, I STILL get bombarded with review requests.   I will probably take it easy on the ARC's for a bit.   I just need to read more for pleasure.   This will be hard, but I really plan on doing it.  I get cranky when I don't get a chance to read!  

With a wonderful Christmas and birthday already behind me, I have some new toys to play around with.   Thanks to a wonderful family (and this includes my in-laws), I now have a great new laptop to take with me to school....and let me stay connected almost anywhere!  AND I also got a Nook!  I swore up and down I would never have one.  But the girls picked it out for my birthday, and the family got it for me.   So, I HAD to give it a try.  Truth be told, I really like it.  The amazing B&N gift card from my brother came in handy and I have already downloaded some great  books to my library.   Since it's a Nook Color, I'm able to connect to the Net and maybe keep up better that way too.   Hopefully. 

I'm hopeful I will do better this year.  I don't make resolutions on New Year's cause I never follow thru with them.   But this pledge is different.   It's something I need to do to keep my sanity, so follow thru is a must for me.   I'm even looking into self-hosting...finally.   A blog redesign is definitely in the works, though I may not get to it till summer break.  This semester is already going to be tough enough.   One week of classes down, and I am already struggling.   Had to have a Lab Science class, so I'm taking Chemistry. Yuk.   Exceptional Learners (Intro to Special Ed).  Modern Humanities.  Modern Western Civ (for my History Minor) and Masterpieces of Classic Lit.    The Lit class is an honors class and is going to be tough.  Had a writing assignment on the first day (though I did get an A) and the reading list is HUGE and TOUGH.   Starting with Homer's Odyssey.    And I'm trying to get in about 5 shifts a week, so my time is going to be limited.  BUT I WILL DO IT THIS TIME.   

Looking forward to hearing from you, if anyone is still out there!!   I gotta go now.  The books are calling.   Textbooks, that is!!    I'm leaving you with a quick pic of me and my Nook!!   Later all!