Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer's winding down--cramming in the reading!

Today is basically my last "day off" for the summer; I have workshops both real and virtual taking over most of the last two-and-a-half weeks before the official first day of my teaching calendar.  So what have I done the last two weeks?  Reading!  Still haven't finished my self-help nonfiction selections, but I'll get there.  They were put aside for some fun kid/teen books:

The Hunchback AssignmentsThe Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade was originally picked out by my middle-school-aged son, who then said he wouldn't have time to read it, so offered it to me.  It's a steampunk story (though light on the steampunk) that incorporates British history, fantasy (a morphing main character), a bit of Jekyll/Hyde, a bit of "Hunchback of Notre Dame", and some good old-fashioned undercover work.  While making connections with the stories of Jekyll & Hyde and the Hunchback were great, it's not necessary to know them to enjoy the plot...and may entice readers to explore the classics.

Black Hole SunI do tend to favor sci-fi novels, and Black Hole Sun by David MacInnis Gill was a fun read.  Set on Mars in the very distant future, it's about an outcast teen soldier-for-hire who adheres to the ethics by which he was trained, which results in his agreement to defend a ragtag band of miners from a cannibalistic horde.  Twists and turns along the way as well as a lot of action keep the story moving, with some surprise details thrown in towards the end.  Corporation corruption, some wacky characters, and the bleak Mars landscape reminded me of a mix of Dune, Star Wars (without the interplanetary travel), and the Wild West.

Extra Yarn


Picture books!  At a friend's recommendation, I had to get my own copy of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (remember I Want My Hat Back?), and Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers.  Extra Yarn reads like a good folklore story, and would be great to discuss character traits like generosity and greed with students.  Stuck is just outright fun silliness; it will be interesting to read to my classes and see how quickly the students figure out that they are smarter than the main character, discussing his inept problem-solving strategies.

I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a WordTo add to my collection of books about libraries and librarians, I purchased a copy of I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word, by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton and illustrated by Herb Leonhard.  Instead of the fly and other items swallowed by the old lady in the classic rhyme, the librarian swallows a word, then a book, then the book cart....It keeps you guessing what the word is, until the very end.

Today's library day, but I think I'll return my books and focus on my home to-read pile rather than check any more out.  Back to school soon!

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