Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nine, Ten

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016. Print.

image from:www.simonandschuster.com

My Thoughts
With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 happening this year, I was searching for some possible book purchases for the library when I started hearing about this book. It's aimed at middle grade students, but the librarians in our school district decided to use this title as one of our district-wide books. We also picked a picture book for our younger readers. I'm going to use both at the high school.

The story follows four students a few days before the airplanes fly into the World Trade Center. In fact, the first plane crash doesn't happen until 135 pages into the book. Baskin creates an interesting narrative with these four kids, spread out across the country, and how they were forever affected by one day's events.

As I certainly remember vivid details of that day, the story provides that anticipation (or was it just me because I knew what to expect? I wondered if my daughter would get the same goosebumps when reading the story. She was born in 2003.) that it was an ordinary day until it wasn't.

At the end of the story, the author explains that she "chose the structure of this story to reflect a theme of interconnectivity in our society, in particular between children. I wanted to show how in the end this tragic, diverse event actually brought complete strangers together instead of tearing them apart" (Baskin 194).

Friday, August 26, 2016

Teach Like a Pirate

Burgess, Dave. Teach Like a Pirate. San Diego: Dave Burgess Consulting, 2012. Print.
image from: http://daveburgess.com/teach-like-a-pirate/

My Thoughts
I'M SO EXCITED TO HEAR DAVE IN PERSON! He's coming to our district to start off the year. I'd seen his book circulating on Twitter last summer and had it on my virtual TBR (to be read) pile. Then....I found out he was coming to Stephenville! I ordered his book on my Kindle and started reading!


I marked so many nuggets of wisdom/Ah Ha moments in this book. Even though I'm not in the traditional classroom anymore, I was thinking how I can apply what he writes to my life as librarian. I also thought about some of the things I did while in the classroom. Some lessons were "pirate" lessons.

In the introduction, Burgess explains why pirates ("Pirates are daring, adventurous, and willing to set forth into uncharted territories with no guarantee of success...They reject the status quo and refuse to conform to any society that stifles creativity and independence" Loc 98). He also explains that PIRATE is an acronym for his style--then he explains what he means. I'm not going to explain here because if you are a teacher or want to be a teacher, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

I like when he talks about creativity. I'm reframing the words I use to describe myself because of what he writes. Good point (and thinking about it, I am pretty creative. Sometimes I just have to let my brain go).

I really liked when he wrote "We always say we want [students] to be life-long learners, so we must show them what that looks like" (Loc 772).  Something else I marked in the book was "As adults, we don't like to feel that our time and efforts are being wasted; students are no different" (Loc 913). YES! As educators, we need to make the learning relevant--not just teach to a standardized test.

So, again, if you are a teacher or want to be a teacher, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

After Dave came: I'm STILL excited! He was exactly the same as he sounds in the book. There is definitely passion and enthusiasm!
  Oh, and he's much taller than I expected!
author fan girl moment (thanks to my friend Mindy who "made me" take this picture!)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

I'll Give You the Sun

Nelson, Jandy. Read by Julia Whelan and Jesse Bernstein. I'll Give You the Sun. Brilliance Audio, 2014. Audio book.
image from: www.titlewave.com

Summary (from Brilliance Audio)
A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell. Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways…until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.This radiant, fully alive novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

My Thoughts
I'd seen this book on several blogs I follow, so when I saw it was a SYNC Audio book selection this summer, I was excited to listen. The summary makes the story sound interesting. I like John Green (haven't read Levithan or Rowell yet). Sadly, I really had to force myself to listen. The story just dragged on and on for me. In fact, I didn't finish it. I just couldn't give up the time for something I wasn't enjoying. I had to quit it. This is hard for me to admit, as I usually can power through a book in spite of not liking it. I just couldn't with this one.

The story is told from two points of view (a very popular style right now): Noah and Jude. I almost didn't get to Jude's story. Noah begins the story when the twins are 13. I thought, "oh, my high school kids won't want to read about younger kids." When Jude's story started (picking up three years later--the chronology of the story, but also my feelings a little of listening), I perked up a bit thinking that my high school students might, indeed, listen.

Was it the reader's voice?
Was is the dragging of the story?
Was it that my mind wandered while listening so I'm wondering what the heck is going on?

I just didn't connect with the characters or the story. Maybe it just wasn't the right time for me to read this one.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


King, Stephen. Carrie. New York: Anchor Books, 1974. Print.
image from: http://stephenking.com/library/novel/carrie.html

Summary (from http://stephenking.com/library/novel/carrie.html)
The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom. 

My Thoughts
I did it! I read a Stephen King book, didn't have nightmares, and managed to enjoy the story. I was scared of this author and overcame the fear! I challenged myself to read a King book after reading his memoir On Writing. As he wrote about his writing experience, I decided I needed to give him a chance.

I'd seen the movie (or at least I remember pieces of the movie), so as I read, I would remember scenes.

The writing was a bit chaotic. There were parenthesis and asides and news reports and the White Commission reports and at first, I actually searched in the back for "Appendix B" (and the like) then I finally caught on that this story is told from the point if view of an information collector, a "researcher" (King75). The narrator is collecting stories to explain the phenomenal energy (telekinesis) that Carrie White has. Almost the entire story revolves around the Spring Ball--the night her humiliation will be complete (King 105). As a reader and teacher, I felt so sorry for Carrie. She was an odd ball. Her school mates were hateful and her mother was nuts! "We know that Carrie was a victim of her mother's religious mania" (King 145). Yep!

One thing that I flagged in the book was the mention of some theatre props that included "a bust of Pallas, used in some ancient dramatic version of Poe's 'The Raven'" (King 166). Now, I marked this because for YEARS, I've told my students that without Poe, there would be no Stephen King. I found it humorous to find Poe embedded in King's first published work.

I also marked the idea that the White Commission "worked so hard to convince the public that the nightmare in Chamberlain was a complete fluke" (King 267). Hmm...is King a conspiracy theorist? Is he commenting on a larger issue?

Another thing I marked was this sentence (for obvious reasons): "Her mind and nervous system had become a library" (King 274). The description continues as Carrie is "reading" her classmate Sue.

So, I did it, and I will do it again. I think the next King book I'm interested in reading (again, based on his writing the memoir) will be Salem's Lot. Then I'll have to watch the movies-both versions.

The Boy Born Dead

Ring, David, David Wideman and John Driver. Read by Paul Michael. The Boy Born Dead: A Story of Friendship, Courage, and Triumph. Christianaudio, 2015. Audiobook.

image from Christianaudio.com

Summary (from Christianaudio.com)
In 1953, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a baby boy was born--dead. The attending physician set his little body aside and tended to his mother for eighteen minutes. Now, more than sixty years later, that boy leads an internationally known ministry that encourages hundreds of thousands every year. The Boy Born Dead tells his incredible story from the perspective of his best friend, David Wideman.

As a teenager in the small town of Liberty, Missouri, in the late 1960s, David Ring grew up with the challenges that come with cerebral palsy, a result of his eighteen minutes of newborn silence. Along with his physical limitations, Ring was orphaned and shuffled from home to home, finally landing in an abusive situation that made him feel unworthy of love and, eventually, unworthy of life. But God had a purpose for Ring's life, and sent an agent to help him achieve it. Through the friendship of David Wideman, a boy he met in the halls of Liberty High School, Ring found strength he didn't know he had and went on to face his demons, marry the love of his life, and start an international speaking ministry.

Full of hope, this moving story illustrates how friendship and love triumph over adversity. Anyone who faces tough times will treasure this story of hope and courage.

My Thoughts
David Wideman relates the story of his friend, David Ring. He explains that the "nuts and bolts of the story are true."

Chapter 1 sets up Liberty, Missouri and the connection to Jesse James. I wasn't sure how this was going to relate to the two David's story.

Chapter 2 is when David meets David. There was a fight at the bus stop. I was proud of Wideman for standing up for Ring, even though they hadn't officially met yet.

The story alternates between Ring's childhood in Jonesboro, Arkansas and the 1970s Missouri. If I wasn't paying attention while listening, sometimes this was confusing.

Ring is angry and hurt and lashes out at Wideman (and other school mates) who are really trying to be his friend. Finally, one day at a church event, Ring prays at the altar and the "angry fight was out of his eyes" and he became "a part of the Wideman's forever"--his had a conversion and his "words and his steps were not the same." Finally, Ring had hope! When his attitude changed, he was able to be friendly and become a friend. He helped others and became quite popular at school, even running for class officer. Ms. Myers, a teacher at school, was quite progressive for the time, helping Ring with his classes and truly listening to who he was.

It was hard to listen to some of the things Ring endured (death, bullying, cancer, suicide, molestation, death and physical limitations). It was uplifting to hear how he didn't let these events define him...well, maybe the events DID define him! God often uses horrible things to create something beautiful.

Ring's mother was an inspiration, too. She was positive and realistic and would fight for him. She named him David because she knew he's "face a lot of giants" in his lifetime.

I'm glad the book included the quick "fast forward" of what happened to these two men later in life. Ring became a professional speaker and even got an engagement at the school that denied him entrance for seminary (quite ironic!). I tried to remember if I'd heard him speak when I was younger, so after listening to the book, I did a Google search on David Ring. I don't think I did hear him, but I enjoyed listening to his story this summer.