Friday, September 22, 2017

I wish I was brave enough

This week I read They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera. I follow @adamsilvera on twitter and he posted this picture:

I thought it was amazing to see that an idea, started in a small pocket notebook, could become a published book.

From GoodReads:
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They're going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they're both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There's an app for that. It's called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

I loved this book and I think teens will really love this book! 

Despite the title, They Both Die At The End is much more about life than it is about death. Surprisingly, even though the novel sets both boys up to die at the end, the story is hopeful and its ideas will stay with you long after you are done reading.

Some of my favorite parts:

And one day she'll find herself on the terrible end of a Death-Cast call and it sucks how we're all being raised to die. Yes, we live, or we're given a chance to, at least, but sometimes living is hard and complicated because of fear.

I wish I was brave enough to have traveled. Now that I don't have time to gp anywhere, I want to go everywhere: I want to get lost in the deserts of Saudi Arabia; find myself running from the bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas; stay overnight on Hashima Island, this abandoned coal-mining facility in Japan sometimes known as Ghost Island; travel the Death Railway in Thailand, because even with a name like that, there's a chance I can survive the sheer cliffs and rickety wooden bridges; and everywhere else.

I loved the game called Traveler and have been unknowingly playing it since college. I loved the idea of Last Message and am now considering what my Last Message would be.

And, in the acknowledgments:
And, lastly, to every stranger who didn't call the cops on me when I asked them, "What would you do if you found out you were about to die?" None of your answers inspired anything in this book, but wasn't it absolutely fun having a stranger make you observe your mortality?

Get this book for the teens you know... especially those frustrated by life. There can't be life without death. There can't be love without loss. The book's message will stay with you long after the last page and you'll find yourself with a new appreciation for life and being brave enough to live every moment... because you never know when Death-Cast may call.

Friday, September 8, 2017


I just picked up Solo by Kwame Alexander and finished reading it in three days. You will probably read it faster. It is a poem packed, can't-put-it-down novel in verse, texts and lyrics.

It is the story of family, identity, addiction, redemption and love.

This book is pure poetry:

Ever been
at the peak
of a grand mountain
where you can touch
the clouds
feel them moving
through you
bending sprightly
the horizon
and you are overcome
and nearly
That is how I feel
When I see...

Some of the songs in Solo are:

I Was Young When I Left Home by Bob Dylan
Sunny by Bobby Hebb
Welcome To The Jungle by Guns N' Roses
Enter Sandman by Metallica
With Or Without You by U2
Right Now by Van Halen
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
A Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin 

Get this book for all Kwame Alexander fans (The Crossover and Booked). Get this book for any reluctant YA readers. Get this book for anyone who loves rock and roll.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

come with me

I have never related to a picture book more...

"All over the world,
the news told
and told
and retold
of anger and hatred -
People against people. 
And the little girl was frightened
by everything she heard
and saw
and felt."

A little girl asks what she can do to make the world a better place. And, as small as her part may seem, it matters to the world. 

Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee is a timely story of kindness, empathy, collaboration and bravery in the face of intolerance, bigotry and uncertainty.

Add this book to your classroom. Read it aloud to anyone who will listen.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Break Hearts not Promises

"Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills" - Arthur Schopenhauer

Ahhhh ... the illusory nature of free will. 

John Green reads the first chapter of Turtles All The Way Down on vlog brothers:

Preorder a probably signed copy of Turtles All the Way Down, which comes out October 10th: Or order a definitely unsigned copy wherever books are sold!

  • Break Hearts not Promises.
  • Human Microbiota
  • Imagine that candle... 
  • Stained shirts are huge in Paris right now.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

artistic and empathetic

The must read book of the upcoming school year is Refugee by Alan Gratz. Three refugee stories are woven together across time and through location in an artistic and empathetic tale: Nazi Germany in 1936, Castro's Cuba in 1994, and Assad's Syria in 2015. 

Refugee is an important book, and should be read as soon as possible. It is haunting and hopeful, grave and inspiring. After reading this book, you will see those displaced by war through the eyes of empathy. 

Give this book to every young adult reader you know. Gift it to a classroom or Little Free Library. Use it as your next read aloud.

"They had to keep moving forward. Always forward. Even if it killed them."

Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end. Alan Gratz does an excellent job of providing the historical footnotes to each story, and gives suggestions on "what you can do".

“I wanted to make individual refugees visible and turn statistics into names and faces that kids could relate to,” Mr. Gratz said.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


In getting ready for the film release on November 17th, I re-read WONDER by R.J. Palacio this weekend. Oh my goodness, I forgot how much I absolutely love this book.

I first heard about this book in 2012. Then I began putting this book on every reading list I made, and every book basket I created. Eventually I started leaving the book around different towns I would travel to: Sun ValleyWashington DCNew York, Boise, Portland and Munich to name a few. I absolutely love this book.

Reading WONDER again after 5 years, it moves me just as much if not more. It feels even more relevant than ever. I am so looking forward to my favorite characters coming to life on the big screen. I can't think of a more perfect Mr. Browne than Daveed Diggs!

My favorite quotes and scenes still make me cry:


“no, no, it's not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn't. it takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see. like with parents who adore you blindly. and a big sister who feels guilty for being human over you. and a little gravelly-voiced kid whose friends have left him over you. and even a pink-haired girl who carries your picture in her wallet. maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. the universe takes care of all its birds.” ― R.J. PalacioWonder 

“The best way to measure how much you've grown isn't by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average-- though those things are important, to be sure. It's what you've done with your time, how you've chosen to spend your days, and whom you've touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.” ― R.J. PalacioWonder 

“But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.” ― R.J. PalacioWonder 

If you haven't read this book yet, you need to read it ... then in November, go see the movie.
You'll be glad you did!

Monday, May 15, 2017

by any means necessary

If you are looking for a book that helps explain the times we live in, THE HATE YOU GIVE by Angie Thomas should be at the top of your list. If you're trying to explain "Black Lives Matter", the shootings of unarmed people of color, and racial bias in the criminal justice system - then THE HATE YOU GIVE is the perfect book for you.

The world that Starr Carter lives in is extremely complex. From her neighborhood to her relationships to her school life, Starr deftly bridges large divides without losing her identity.

My favorite pages:

pg 170-171, pg 320-321, and pg 442-444

"Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him thug."

Buy this book for all the teenagers you know this summer.