What I’ve read the last week…

IMWAYR Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers host an opportunity for people to share what they’ve been reading over the past week. I thought I’d join up this week and give it go.

It’s been a surprising slow week for me, in terms of reading. School vacations do that to me. It should be the perfect time to read tons, but as is typical with me when I get off my regular schedule, I read less. Oh well, so be it.

I did finish a few things last week.

gronkcover I read this one through NetGalley the other day. I’m always looking to find fun, quality comics/graphic novels to the library and this one will fit the bill for many students. I wrote a more in-depth post here.

 

shadowscale Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman was brilliant and complex and had me completely drawn in for weeks. Took me a while to get through it because I wanted to savor it. Her writing is beautiful. More of my thoughts in a later, more detailed post.

churchill cover The Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose has been fairly intriguing so far. I do love me some grippy nonfiction, and WWII is always a big hit around my library. Looking forward to finishing it.

 

Well, in the grand scheme of things, that looks rather lame. This post will have to be incentive for next week to be a better reading week. All my train commuting time should give me more reading time. Especially since the MBTA has decided it can’t function in cold and snow and has often added hours to my day. See you next week.

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Gronk: A Monster’s Story vol. 1

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Gronk: A Monster’s Story vol. 1
by Katie Cook
Published by Action Lab Entertainment
due out March 3, 2015
for all ages

Gronk started life as a character that Katie Cook started drawing for a college class, grew into a weekly webcomic found at www.gronkcomic.com and is soon coming out as a book. Gronk is young monster, green and cuddly with a mop of blonde hair, that never quite felt part of her monster community, so she sets off on her own, seeking new friends? a new family? adventure? It’s never quite clear, but that’s okay because she stumbles upon Dale, her kitty and her dog, Harli, who all happily incorporate Gronk into their lives. There’s no real storyline here, it mostly just shows the foursome growing into a family, teaching Gronk about life among humans and Dale’s love of all things nerdy as she introduces Gronk to Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc…

The Ins: This comic is completely accessible for many ages, Gronk is a lovable, slightly mischievous monster with a big heart. The fairly simple storyline makes it easier for younger kids to read and enjoy, with a framework of familiar holidays to show the passage of time. Short sentences and a fairly easy vocabulary level with a few difficult words and phrases thrown in periodically make it challenging for emerging readers, and engaging for older readers, including adults.  Very relatable on many levels.

The Outs: Not many, but some older readers may be put off by the seeming simplicity.

The All-Around: I’ll definitely be buying this for my library, and checking to see how the students in my school respond to it. Hopefully there will be more.

E-galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley

 

The Queen’s Shadow by Cybèle Young

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The Queen’s Shadow
by Cybèle Young
for ages 6-10

Kids Can Read Press
Pub date March 1, 2015
 
In an intriguing departure from her usual fare, author/illustrator Cybèle Young tries her hand at a nonfiction picture book, weaving the fictional story of a queen who seems to have lost her shadow at a dinner party with factual information about how different animals see the world, literally. One by one the various animal party guests are accused of thievery, but each can find a way to deny the crime with explanations and incriminations of another poor soul. Every two-page spread features yet another animal describing how their unique vision capabilities allowed them to see someone else who was more likely to commit the crime of shadow stealing, and then includes an informational paragraph about the specifics of each animals’ eyes and sight.
 
The Ins: This title offers a great way to engage young readers, by fortifying a funny and sly story with some intriguing science content. The digitally colored pen and ink artwork is beautiful and very different from typical picture books, making this an interesting choice for libraries.
 
The Outs: The story gets a bit repetitive, and thus predictable after awhile. Some readers/listeners may find themselves a bit distracted.

The All-Around: I’d recommend this one for many elementary libraries. Pair it with Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye for a great themed read aloud time.

E-galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Celebrating…

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Each Saturday Ruth Ayres hosts a link-up party for bloggers to share their weekly celebrations, both large and small. This week I add my first. The link is here.

I’ll start small. I’m simply celebrating the fact that I’m finally putting together a blog that I’ve been thinking about for years. I’ve been a school librarian for nearly 15 years, and an educator even longer. It is so easy to get stuck inside the small bubble of school that we live in, and for the past several years I’ve been an avid lurker in the blogosphere, on Twitter and various other places where librarians gather virtually. Time to step out of lurkdom and participate, even if that means that no one is looking. So I celebrate the effort to reach out to the wider community of readers, librarians, educators, writers, and whoever else may be interested and say hi.

Hi. If you’re reading this, you’ve taken the time to follow a link and see what’s what. At this point, not much is here, but I’m hoping to change that over the next weeks and months. I hope you come back and see.

I can be found on Twitter and GoodReads, feel free to find me. Links are to the right.

Cheers, Jody

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

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Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: August 2015

E-galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley

The Sum: 5th grader Tamaya is struggling to navigate the confusing world of middle school politics. 7th grader Marshall is her reluctant chaperone on the walks to and from school everyday, and he is dealing with his own school-related problems. Looking to avoid a promised beating from a classmate, Marshall leads Tamaya on a different route home, through the woods adjacent to the school and completely forbidden. The confrontation happens anyway and in defending herself Tamaya tosses some mud on their attacker. Unbeknownst to any of them, its no ordinary mud. Deemed “fuzzy mud” by Tamaya the stuff ends up having a rather toxic and frightening affect on anyone it touches, spreads rapidly and poses a severe danger that goes far beyond the confines of the woods.

That’s one side of this tale. Alternating chapters reveal the origins of the fuzzy mud through Congressional hearings, emails, confidential documents, etc… The fuzzy mud is a giant science project gone horribly wrong. In an attempt to create a renewable man-made energy source in the form of microorganisms, scientists fail to account for mutations that thrive outside their intended environment and wreak havoc.

The Ins: This is Louis Sachar we’re talking about here. The writing is fairly crisp, the story is short, with humor laced throughout, though I wouldn’t identify this as a funny story. The storyline is intriguing, and certainly timely, as the world searches for more and more energy sources, and struggles to preserve the environment. The message here is pretty clear: Don’t mess with Mother Nature. There’s enough suspense and gross-out descriptions to keep many readers engaged.

The Outs: It is less than 200 pages, while often this is a plus in my book, its hard to fit so much content without sacrificing something, and I’d say here the character development is what’s lacking. Tamaya and Marshall’s lives and situations are told, not shown, and thus, in the end, it all felt a bit flat.

The All-Around: Flawed, but not fatally. I can think of a chunk of readers in my library that might respond to the story, the tone, and the quick pacing. I’ll buy it and share it, mostly with 4th and 5th graders, and a few older students who struggle to finish books.