Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

I just finished reading Emily M. Danforth's debut novel, and I think this book trailer, an official one by HarperTeen, does an excellent job of capturing the gist of the novel.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Outdoorsy Book

I have very little to do with the outdoors, unless it's finding a quiet, comfortable place to read. But I do know that I have many students who are passionate about the outdoors and struggle to find themselves in books that explore these issues. That's my one beef with realistic fiction--I haven't found many books within this genre that these adventurous students can connect with that isn't Hatchet.

That was until I found Ryan Gebhart's There Will Be Bears. Tyson, the main character, has his hopes set on elk hunting with his grandpa. Unfortunately, his grandfather's health is dwindling, and his parents' decision to move his grandfather to a nursing home makes it seem as if Tyson's dream will never come true.

Tyson is like so many students: He sees a disconnect in what he is expected to remember and regurgitate in school, is encountering changing friendships, and is trying to make his family happy while becoming an individual.

While the first half of the novel is leading up to a trip that Tyson begins to believe will never happen, the magic in Gebhart's storytelling really takes place in the second. When they are finally able to embark on their trip, Tyson learns that hunting and all that it entails is far more difficult--both emotionally and physically--and rewarding than he imagined.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What's Your Manifesto?

I just finished Francisco X. Stork's The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. I had previously read Marcelo in the Real World, and so I knew he was a trusted author.

This book is a story of an odd couple: Pancho is a strong, Mexican-American youth whose father and sister have recently died, and is bent on avenging his sister's untimely death. Daniel has a strong mind but weak body, as he is diagnosed with cancer and is not expected to live much longer.

They both meet at St. Anthony's, an orphanage for teenage boys. From the beginning, Daniel says that he was expecting Pancho's arrival so that he could also become a "Death Warrior." I know the idea of death warriors seems kind of childish, but I like where Daniel took the big idea. Death Warriors have a few priorities in life, and one of them is to live life to the fullest by cherishing every living moment that you have.

If you want a story that pairs two unlikely characters as friends or a story about two youth facing insurmountable odds, pick up this book. It reminded me a lot of George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men. You don't always get to control the cards you are dealt, but you can choose to make the best of the situation and to open your heart along the way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Meets #NerdCampMI

On Monday and Tuesday, I spent the day with educators at #nErDcampMI. It was a great opportunity to talk books, writing, and literacy with educators from around the country. There were teachers there from North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, and even Texas!

One of the sessions (led by Cindy Minnich, one of the co-creators of #NerdyBookClub) allowed teachers to share a range of young-adult titles that would reach all of their students. We talked about how diversity in classroom libraries is so important, and we all walked away having added hundreds (seriously!) of titles to our to-read lists.

Check out the list of titles and topics here.