Monday, June 30, 2014

Must Read in 2014: Summer Update

My #mustreadin2014 list has grown f o r e v e r long - much longer than when it started in January of 2014. 

As of July 2014, I have read 21/48 titles.  I started with 30 titles to read.  Yikes!  I will not be adding any other titles to my list!  (Ok, I might add 2 more to make it an even 50, but only because I am compulsive.)

As I look at my list, I'm noticing that I must be on a YA binge since almost all of my YA titles are read.  I just cannot help myself, though.  There are some really incredible YA options and they really need me to read them! 

Since April, I have read the following titles that I highly recommend:

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff (MG)
I could write an entire dissertation about this book. (Ok, maybe not entirely, but still.)  If you were impacted by the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, you will adore Absolutely Almost

Albie is a fifth grader in New York.  He has some learning difficulties that make life with his parents (and classmates) extremely challenging.  And yes, there are parts of this book that are emotionally painful to read.  But through it all, Albie survives, despite this book's realistic ending.  I also appreciated the short chapters and font choice of this text, which is not something I usually notice. This is a must-read for us all.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (YA)
Books with many twists and turns are some of my favorites!  We Were Liars is one of those books.  I was so captivated by this novel that I read it in one sitting on a Saturday morning in May.  Set mostly on Cape Cod, Cadence suffers a mysterious accident at age 15 while vacationing with her relatives.  She spends the next two years trying to figure out what happened to her.  

Oh, and the use of metaphor in this book will knock your socks off.  (I *may* have tweeted the author, E. Lockhart, about her use of metaphor.  And she *may* have responded about the use of metaphor.  And I *may* have gotten a little fangirly about it.  Maybe.)

Wonkenstein (The Creature From My Closet) by Obert Skye (MG)
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Obert Skye last spring in Oxford, MS, which is where I purchased this book.  It became a hit in my class this past May as students realized that the art is hilarious and the plot is awesome!  

In a graphic novel-like format, Robert Burnside is a 12 year old with a really creepy closet stuffed with junk.  He soon realizes that there is a creature in there...who is a cross between Willy Wonka and Frankenstein.  The adventures in this book will keep you laughing and I cannot wait to read the sequel!

You can even follow the main character, Robert, on Twitter at @Potterwookiee

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (MG)
Felicity Pickle moves back to her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch with her family.  She soon discovers that the town has a bit of magic floating around it, and that she might even have some magic inside of her, too.  This book is extraordinarily sweet and smart with a delicious message.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YA)
After I read this book, I thought to myself, Why have I not read more fiction from this point of view?  Why aren't reservations the settings in more novels?

The main character in this book, Junior, lives on an Indian reservation in Washington state.  He is dorky, goofy, and super intelligent.  He becomes the only teenager from "the rez" to attend an all-white school outside the rez.  Throughout the novel, which is interspersed with cartoons and drawings, Junior tries to come to terms with his own identity.  

This is a voice, a narrator, that needs to be heard.  The characters are sweet and sad and hilarious and heart-wrenching. I found myself in a strange state of mind...wanting to sometimes punch the characters, and then in the next breath, hug them and take care of them. Read this.  It's important.

I am currently reading Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner.  (Middle Grade)

Which titles are you reading?  I need to make my list for 2015!  

If you want to know more about #mustreadin2014, click here for information and links to other bloggers. 

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Books Make Me Smile 2

I recently stumbled across this book:

Oh my goodness.  
Not only did it make me smile, but it made my 3rd grade son smile, too.

It's interactive, it's colorful, it's complex, and it's hilarious! (And if you are a fan of Press Here, then you'll recognize this author!)

I appreciate books like this because on the surface, they seem simply cute, colorful, and funny.  But actually, there are multiple layers of meaning happening in books like this.  These kinds of books can challenge kids' understanding of what makes a book "easy" or "difficult" to comprehend.

Are there books making YOU smile?  Write about them and share on Twitter using the hashtag #booksmiles!

Monday, June 23, 2014

7 Reasons To Go 700 Miles With Two Kids

I recently completed a 700 mile (one way) road trip with my two children.  Although we make this trip multiple times per year, this most recent cruise in the Honda Partymobile was, as my son says, EPIC.

The Honda Partymobile.
Here are 7 reasons why everyone should drive 700 miles with two children.  (My children or yours.  It doesn't matter.)

1. My children are 8 and 10 years old.  We are in the stage of listening to music ad nauseam.  It's not horrible at first, until you listen to a Maroon 5 song about eleventy-hundred times across four states.  

2. The above song not only was played eleventy-hundred times, but my son didn't sing the words correctly.  In fact, even when he was corrected, he continued to sing the incorrect words on purpose.  

The correct lyrics, "...caught you in the morning..." 
became my son's version, "...punched you in the nugget..." 
This continued for hundreds of miles.

Me: "What is a nugget and why is he being punched in it?"
My son: "I have no idea." <punches air with his fist repeatedly while screaming incorrect lyrics>

I don't even know.  Although I know he is frustrated with me over the "punching the nugget" issue.

3. My daughter spent a good entire state trying to convince me that Christopher Columbus was killed by bears and dinosaurs.  According to Beary, her stuffed bear, people are actually evolved from a combination of bears and shape-shifting iguanas. 

You can read more about Beary's opinions here:

Christopher Columbus apparently had an untimely death.

4. This same daughter also insists that the first person on earth was actually named "Hugh-Man" instead of Adam or Eve or even "human."  

5. My daughter's bear, the one who is the ancestor to all humans, also put on a dance show in the car.  'Lil Jon was rapping about turning down for what, and Beary was amazing.  (All parents listen to 'Lil Jon with their kids, right?  Crunk ain't dead, you know.)

Beary says that Crunk ain't dead.

6. After a day of taking multiple trips to the restroom in various truck stops, my son drops his Watermelon Push Pop onto the floor of the car, right where the bottom of his restroom-truck-stop-walking shoes have been all day.  Of course, he picks it up and puts the Push Pop back in his mouth.  Awesome.

I explain to him why this made me gag.  He looks at his Push Pop sadly and says, "I'm going to throw this away.  I feel sick."

Ten minutes later, I look over and the Push Pop is in his mouth again.  I give up.

The 5-Second Rule Doesn't Apply to Push Pops
Image from

7. Soon after the bear was done dancing to 'Lil Jon, I hear Veggie Tales turn up and a cucumber is singing about a belly button.  What?  Where did they find this CD after like five years of heaven without it?!  And how do they still know the words?

And so, this completes yet another epic summer road trip, with no speeding ticket or vomiting to show for it.  Success.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Books Make Me Smile

How in the world will I choose just one book that makes me smile?

Oh, the pressure!  The happy books around me are desperately squeaking, "Pick me!  No, pick me!"

There is one book lately that has been making me smile and laugh:

Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier

Why do I love it?
1. It's a little bit gross.
2. It's a little bit twisty at the end.
3. It's a lot hilarious!

Read it!  

Which books make you smile?  Join us for #BookSmiles!  Write a blog post about a book that makes you smile, post it on Twitter, and use the hashtag #BookSmiles.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beary's #Bookaday Books 2014

Hello.  My name is Beary.  I am seven bear years old.  My favorite foods are gazelle and zebra.  I don't like people that much, except my friend Rachel and her 3rd grade teacher (Mr. Stroud).  I do like to read, especially books about animals.  Here are the books I am reading for #bookaday 2014.

Ladies, look at my muscles.  This pic is for you.

1. I Funny: A Middle School Story by James Patterson

I fake read this book because it's not about animals.  My best friend Rachel liked it though.  She said it was funny.  The character Jamie wants to be a comedian.  He lives with his aunt and uncle whose last name is "Smiley" but they actually never smile or laugh.  Jamie had funny jokes that were not really funny, but that's what made it funny.  According to Rachel.

2. Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

I did read this book and I liked it because the cat bit the dog.  I also liked it because nobody turned into a vampire.  This book did not make me hungry for animals.  It made me gag because there were a bunch of vegetables in it.

3. Blubber by Judy Blume

I couldn't read this book because there were no animals in it.  But Rachel said that it was a good book but she didn't care for the ending much because the book didn't really end.  It just stopped.  The main character kind of worked out her problem, but since it wasn't from Blubber's point of view, it was hard to know what Blubber was thinking.  I don't understand what this means because I am a bear.

4. Big Nate Out Loud by Lincoln Peirce

I also didn't read this one.  No animals.  And the main character wasn't even an animal.  Rachel says that it's about this boy named Nate and his life.  She says it's funny because the characters say and do really silly things.  It's a graphic novel so it was pretty easy for her to read.

Thank you for reading my blog.  I will be back to add more to #bookaday after this commercial break.  I'm off to get some coffee and a gazelle burger.