Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Madness Round Two

Round One winners brought with them a couple of surprises.  It looks like we still have everyone's favorite historical fiction novel, Between Shades of Gray, in our contest.  Three graphic novels, Smile, Drama, and the Maximum Ride Manga books, progressed to the next level.  And, of course, we have plenty of dystopian fiction moving on as well.  Here is a list of all the winners and who they are up against for round two.

Between Shades of Gray vs. Smile
Red Queen vs. Wonder
Maximum Ride Manga vs. Legend
Lightning Thief vs. Pulse
Maze Runner vs. If I Stay
Girl Stolen vs. I, Funny
Drama vs. Underdogs
Divergent vs. Hunger Games

You can vote for round two by going to

Monday, March 20, 2017

March (Library) Madness 2017

It's back!  Those silly basketball players don't even know how much I look forward to their tournament because it means that it's also time for our book tournament!  So here's how the books stacked up.  The top 32 most checked out books in the library are listed above in the order in which they will enter our tournament.  If you want to go straight to the page and start voting, then click here!  You can see their book covers on the voting pages.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning is a fascinating story about the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. This was a precarious time in our past when the KKK was starting to rear its ugly head.  It is paired with a modern day story of what racism looks like in our world today.  We learn of Will, in 1921, who is the son of an Osage Indian woman and a white man who likely married her because of her wealth from the oil discovered in Indian lands in which she had part ownership.  We also get to know Rowan, who lives today, who is the daughter of a black woman and a white man.  Both characters have to make tough decisions about how to do the right thing in the face of a world that doesn't always agree with who they are.

I loved the mystery in this book.  As the details of the skeleton found under the floor in part of Rowan's house are discovered, we are constantly flipped back into 1921 to try and piece out all of the details.  The clues that we are given in Rowan's time are just enough for us to think we know what is going to happen to Will in 1921.  But Latham does a fanstastic job of keeping us guessing until the very end when we discover exactly who that skeleton belongs to and how that person really died.    

I love learning about American history.  I especially love learning about parts of our country's history that are not commonly known or understood.  For instance, when I ask students what they know about Japanese internment camps during WWII, most of them just stare right through me.  It always floors me that in 5th and 8th grade, when students are supposed to learn American history, the parts of WWII that are taught the most are Pearl Harbor and all of the atrocities that took place in Europe.  American racism isn't something that textbooks and teachers like to talk about.  But there is a quote in this book that really made me think.  

"I understand now that history only moves forward in a straight line when we learn from it.  Otherwise it loops past the same mistakes over and over again." -- Rowan, Dreamland Burning

I feel like we have been looping past the same mistakes for some time now.  And it only seems to be getting worse.  That's the reason I work to find fiction that I can put in the hands of my students.  Reading a textbook and listening to a lecture isn't going to teach teenagers about some of these buried parts of our past.  But, hopefully, getting to know characters who have lived through it will somehow make a dent in the amount of history that is not being taught.  Maybe then we can straighten out that line and move forward.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

North Texas Teen Book Festival 2017

I love going to this book festival each year!  It seems to really have grown a lot since it began three years ago.  This year, I heard they expected about 10,000 teenagers in attendance!  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend on the day of the event since my son was in the regional meet for his awesome power-lifting ability!  But, they had a wonderful day just for educators on the day before the big day.  I got to see plenty of authors and talk to some that also attended YAK Fest, so it was a great day.  Here are my thoughts and observations from the day.

Ally Carter
Ally Carter
Ally Carter had some really great things to say.  She was on a panel with Elizabeth Eulberg, YAK Fest 2017), and they are obviously good friends.  Ally told the crowd that she does all of her writing at a Panera Bread by her home.  She just plugs in her earbuds and goes!! They even sent her a gift card when she tweeted about it one day.  Memorable story:  Ally saw a little girl in Panera one day who obviously had cancer.  She was wearing an Elsa dress and seemed so happy.  She thought to herself that sometimes you just need to wear an Elsa dress for the day to make yourself happy.  Her goal is to have her books be someone's Elsa dress.  She wants to make people happy with her books.

Angie Thomas
This is a new author.  Her name is Angie Thomas.  Remember that name, people.  She is going to be around for a while.  My favorite part of listening to her, besides listening to her read from her book (!!), was what she said about her favorite books from her childhood.  She loved Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry because she grew up in Mississippi and it really hit home with her.  She also loved the Harry Potter series and said she was always waiting for her letter to arrive so that she could attend Hogwarts.  In her words, "One book gave me a mirror, and the other book gave me a window."  Is that beautiful or what?? 

Here is a video of Angie Thomas reading from her debut book, The Hate U Give.

Ibi Zoboi27ef868543abf9c4e16439c1aeb8f0bd.jpg
Ibi Zoboi and Renee Watson have written two beautiful books that everyone should read.  These books discuss cultural issues that I know nothing about, but I can't wait to read them so I can learn.  After listening to them read from their books, I know that I will be looking for these to order for you very soon.  

Jason Reynolds
I can't say enough about this guy.  He has the most wonderful speaking voice and is so passionate about the topics he writes about - probably because many of them are reflective of what he has experienced in his past.  For instance, in the book The Boy in the Black Suit, he writes about a boy who keeps finding himself going to the funerals of his friends.  Jason told the audience that he had his first experience as a pall bearer at the age of 14.  He writes what he knows.  This includes using "his language" which was something he never saw in the books he was told to read growing up.  This is why he didn't read a whole novel until he was 17 years old!  I'm going to try and get him to come to YAK Fest in 2018.

Image result for laurie halse anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson
Who doesn't love Laurie Halse Anderson??  She is so down to earth and loves to talk about her books.  She told us that she wrote Speak because of a personal experience similar to what Melinda goes through in the book.  She wrote it for herself and never intended for it to published.  Laurie told us that it's a topic that isn't discussed enough and that she encourages teenagers to have the courage to talk about tough topics.  Her favorite series as a kid was the Nancy Drew books.