Saturday, June 30, 2012

total epicness

The Classroom: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid
A documentary crew descends upon Westside Middle School to reveal what middle-school students’ lives are really like.

Trevor Jones is just starting middle school. He's a worrier and a "pre-thinker". Despite his claim that he's not worried about seventh grade, he has his first day all planned out... only nothing goes as planned.

This is a funny, very appealing story for anyone approaching the middle-school years. The book's documentary style, complete with "interviews", is very clever. The illustrations are a mix of notes, cartoons, and other "found materials" that keep the book's sense of humor alive. There are also plenty of misunderstandings, anxiety, and romantic entanglements to keep you laughing.

In the end, being "epic" is actually easier than you think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

accidents are really stories finding their own beginnings

First sentences of Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby:
Wayward can mean a lot of things. It can mean lost, misled, unfortunate, left behind. That is how the girls at The Home thought of themselves, despite their best efforts to live some other way.

goodreads synopsis of Wonder Show:
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and neighbors, allow me to change your lives! Step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show! You’ve read about them in magazines, these so-called human curiosities, this tribe of misfits—now come and see for yourselves. We’ve got a gent as tall as a tree, a lady with a beard, and don’t miss your chance to see the Wild Albinos of Bora Bora! Ask Madame Doula to peer into your future (only two dollars more if you want to know how you’re going to die).
And between these covers behold the greatest act of our display—Portia Remini, the strangest of the menagerie because she’s a ‘normal’ among the freaks, searching for a new beginning on the bally, far away from McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, said she could never leave... 
Oh, it’s not for the faint of heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve got a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show you will never be the same.

 If you tend to judge a book by its cover, you will love the look of Wonder Show. And, thankfully, the story inside this beautiful cover is just as enchanting. Portia becomes 'wayward' and runs off to join the circus... more specifically the sideshow of curiosities. 

The book is written in multiple points of view: Portia's, the narrator's, as well as several supporting characters. I liked this 'collage' style of writing. It was a fun way to see the story... which was very dark at times.

Portia is a wonderful story teller. She is full of imagination and adventure, even during the darkest times. Wonder Show is a delightful look into circus life and the humanity of "human oddities". You will be left wondering about the definition of 'normal'.
"Lives begin only once. Stories are much more complicated. They can pick up, leave off, pick up again a thousand times. There is no beginning or end that way. And don't even get me talking about middles."  ~ Portia, Wonder Show

Maybe May B. can

I have been on vacation... where I thought I would read a lot... but didn't.

However, one book I read was May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. 
It was a wonderful adventure that will stay with you long after finishing the book!

Mavis Elizabeth Betterly
May Betts
May B.

It's a beautiful novel written in verse (which I love). It's the late 1870's and May Betterly lives on the Kansas prairie, an endless ocean of grassland. She is hired out to help on a neighbor's homestead...

I won't go.

"It's for the best," Ma says,
yanking to braid my hair,
trying to make something of what's left.

Ma and Pa want me to leave 
and live with strangers.

I won't go.

May is resourceful and intelligent and creative, but she struggles with reading. She is determined and committed to read... despite what her teacher has said and done.

 I have a soft spot for books about reading. I loved May's perseverance and her message.

What does it matter,
those things
hold me back?

What does it matter 
when I make mistakes?
They don't
make me

The amazing thing I found about this book was not only did I love May, but I also found a new author to love. Caroline Starr Rose appears to be a superhero and I think she and I should be friends.

In the book's Dedication she writes:

For my students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana: There are a few of you whose needs I didn't fully understand and others I could have done better by.
This story is for you.

And in the book's Acknowledgments she ends with...

And finally, my deepest gratitude to the One who binds up the brokenhearted and who extends dignity and compassion to the forgotten.

If you want to fall in love with Caroline too, you can find her at

Friday, June 15, 2012

be someone's hero

wait, wait, wait... no, no, no...
It can't end like this!

If you could change the end of a book, which ending would you change and how would you change it?

I just finished reading One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. It was a great book, so great. But the ending... I don't want to give anything away because you should read this book. You should definitely read this book. I just wanted the ending to be different.

Or... maybe I wanted to be told more. I wanted to know more. "Please don't stop here!" I wanted to shout to the author. What else... How did... And then...

Lynda Mullaly Hunt left it to me (and to you) to think up "the rest of the story".

Carley Connors future is left to your imagination. 

I loved so much about this book. I loved Carley and Mrs. Murphy and Toni and Michael Eric. The awesomeness of Mrs. Murphy is something to aspire to.

The writing was simple and clever and quick-paced. The story was so engaging that I read it faster than I could make highlights on my kindle. I'm planning to read it again... slower this time. I want to catch "what a clip" it was written in... 

Did you know there is the word 'lie' in the middle of 'believe'? Did you know that pals spelled backward is slap? And... the word 'friend' always has an 'end'. You will after reading One For The Murphys.

After you read this book, please let me know what you thought. Would you have wanted to know more at the end? Or... after finishing the book, has your imagination created possible futures for Carley and the Murphys and Toni?

I'd love to know.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I have a growing number of books on my "pre-order" list on Amazon. I love getting a new book or a kindle download on release day.

Here's a list of books to keep an eye out for...

Coming Soon:

Capture The Flag by Kate Messner

Every Day by David Levithan

On The Road To Mr. Mineo's by Barbara O'Connor

Amulet Book #5 by Kazu Kibuishi

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

The Second Spy (The Books of Elsewhere) 
by Jacqueline West

Be sure to put your requests in early at the public library.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

a story you'll long remember

Our latest summer read is 
One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

"The last thing Carley expected 
was to be living with a foster family..."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

courage for a day

Finish this sentence: 
If I could be any book character for a day, 
it would be ________because________.

If I could be any book character...

I guess my initial thoughts go to Katniss Everdeen or Beatris Prior. What would it feel like to be so brave, and yet have so many hardships thrust upon you?

Then I think, no... I would be Scout (Jean Louise Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird). What would it be like to be an objective observer in an unjust situation? What would it be like to have a hero for a father and an idealistically brave brother?

But in the end...

I think I would be Summer Dawson from the book Wonder. She's a great person. Someone I aspire to be like every day, not just for one day. She  has courage. She is kind and compassionate and empathetic. She's extraordinary.
I guess, I choose courage over heroism and bravery.

Who would you be... for a day. Why?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

book/movie combos

Have you read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkin? It could be a great summer read for the whole family. It would be fun to read The Hobbit and then go see the movie this December.

I love the opening lines from the Hobbit; 
they always suck me in ...

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” 
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)

What Book/Movie combinations would you like to experience this summer?

How about: 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selzneck
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Any other good combo ideas?

If you read Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and see the movie this month, please let me know if I should do the same!