My official start day for the school year is August 8th, but I only have seventeen work-free days until then due to professional development meetings and workshops. I still have eight Bluebonnet Award Nominees to read; yikes!
This past week, I picked up The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin (of Click, Clack, Moo fame). It was a very fast read, even for this slow reader. The premise is fun and silly--four chicks who like adventure and mystery, overseen by the family dog who attempts to keep them out of trouble. In this first book of a series, the chicks--Dirt, Sweetie, Poppy, and Sugar--are approached by a freaked-out squirrel to find out what the green floating saucer is doing in their yard. Because this book is so short, it would be a great intro to writing from another perspective as well as breaking the fourth wall, since JJ the dog addresses the reader directly. Lots of illustrations, larger type, and short chapters make this a great bridge book for beginning or reluctant readers.
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs had me in my first book coma of the summer! Each chapter of this science fiction novel left me wanting more. The story is told from the perspective of Dash, a twelve-year-old boy stationed with his scientist parents, little sister and several other scientist families and workers on the first-ever moon base. Moon living isn't all it's cracked up to be, and gets even more interesting when one of the scientists dies under mysterious circumstances. Dash is convinced it wasn't an accident, but the adults aren't so sure. An interesting cast of characters keeps readers guessing until the surprising conclusion, opening the door for the next book in the series.
Gibbs intersperses pages from a fictional NASA manual for moon living with corresponding events and details in the story; their juxtaposition makes for a ready lesson on persuasion and propaganda, as the hype doesn't always measure up to the reality. I got to meet Stuart Gibbs at our state library conference in April, and his friendship with a real-life astronaut has given him access to information that makes living on the moon a believable possibility.
I am reading a book JUST for me this week: The Inventor's Secret, a steampunk novel by Andrea Cremer. I don't think I've read steampunk since the required reading for my master's degree of Leviathan by Scott Westerfield; I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this genre. Cremer's series is set in an America which lost the Revolutionary War and is still under Britain's rule. Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her older brother Ashley are living in the Catacombs, a secret hideout for children of Resistance fighters battling Britain's Imperial Empire. The children support the Resistance by scavenging for metal parts to be used in weaponry and war machines; the older children, like Charlotte and Ash, take on riskier roles of espionage and rallying support for the cause. I'm enjoying this just-for-fun novel!
On deck for this week: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, and continuing with Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. I'm still making my way through Drapeau's Sparking Student Creativity--a work assignment--and Bell's Velvet Elvis, a personal choice.
It's Monday! What are you reading during these steamy days of summer?