Thursday, June 28, 2012

While I Was Away - ALA Edition 2012

Things have been pretty quiet on the blog in the last week because I was in California at ALA Anaheim last weekend - the American Library Association's Annual Conference & Exhibition. I was excited when I found out it was going to be in Southern California because I could combine it with a visit to my parents after the school year ended.
Being a teacher, one of the valuable benefits of being a member of a professional organization and being able to attend teacher/librarian professional association conferences/conventions, beyond attending sessions to learn more about aspects of my profession, is visiting the exhibit hall and talking to publishers about what books they have coming out that might work for my students to bring into my classroom. Sometimes I go in with specific genres/topics in mind where I'm trying to find titles to fit certain units we're planning. Sometimes there are some titles I'm just really looking forward to reading and want to be able to read and share with my students, other teachers and librarians, and on the blog. Sometimes I come across titles I hadn't heard of yet, but by seeing it/hearing about it from the publisher reps, I learn about books that could be great for others to know about too that I might not have found any other way. All times I feel very lucky if they're offered to me at no extra cost (usually the ARCs), but many times they're books for purchase (especially if it's an author signing) at a discounted cost from other ways of purchasing (I still easily spent a couple hundred dollars on books over the course of 2 1/2 days). This was an excellent chance to increase my knowledge of what the current titles for fall/winter are as well as a way to help enhance my teaching through getting books I can share with my students. There were also lots of authors there that I was able to get signed books from and talk to about what my students think of their books and how I use them in the classroom, which always seems to be something they enjoy hearing about. And, extra bonus, I bought books to get personally signed by the authors for my nieces and nephew for their Christmas presents, too (part of the reason my picture book list is so long).

In light of all of that, I like to do a post after attending a conference so others, who weren't able to attend, can see what books are new or upcoming that may be ones they'd want to know about also. At this conference, I got a bunch of young adult titles, lots of middle grades titles (fantasy seems to be the big genre trend right now!), and some awesome picture books that I can't wait to use with my students! I didn't pick up everything I saw (there was so much and it doesn't all fit what I'm looking for), but if it was a title I'd heard of that was already on my to-read list, or the summary sounded good or like it would interest my students, I would decide if I wanted to carry it. If you want to know any more about a particular title that sounds interesting to you, just let me know! :)
*I'm not doing pictures this time because many of the titles were already sent out on loan to my twitter teacher and librarian friends who weren't able to make it this year. The whole list is here on goodreads if you'd rather (you can also see which ones I've already read and rated).

Picture Books
I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen
BLACKOUT by John Rocco
ME...JANE by Patrick McDonnell
THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE by William Joyce, ilus. Joe Bluhm
WAG! by Patrick McDonnell
INTERRUPTING CHICKEN by David Ezra Stein
A HOME FOR BIRD by Philip C. Stead
BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL by Philip C. Stead, ilus. Erin Stead
BULLY by Patricia Polacco
TOO TALL HOUSES by Gianna Marino
THE INSOMNIACS by Karina Wolf, ilus. Brothers Hilts
TALLULAH'S TUTU by Marilyn Singer, ilus. Alexandra Boiger
TALLULAH'S SOLO by Marilyn Singer, ilus. Alexandra Boiger
THE LIBRARY by Sarah Stweart, ilus. David Small
THE QUIET PLACE by Sarah Stweart, ilus. David Small
A FLOWER IN THE SNOW by Tracey Corderoy, ilus. Sophie Allsopp
UNSPOKEN: A STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Henry Cole (a beautifully powerful wordless picture book)
EACH KINDNESS by Jacqueline Woodson, ilus. E.B. Lewis
HELEN'S BIG WORLD: THE LIFE OF HELEN KELLER by Doreen Rappaport, ilus. Matt Tavares
ANDREW DREW AND DREW by Barney Saltzberg
ISABELLA: GIRL ON THE GO by Jennifer Fosberry, ilus. Mike Litwin
THE BOY WHO CRIED ALIEN by Marilyn Singer, ilus. Brian Biggs

Graphic Novels
SMILE by Raina Telgemeier
DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier
ICHIRO by Ryan Inzana
CARDBOARD by Doug TenNapel

Middle Grades
IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE (poetry book) by J. Patrick Lewis, ilus. Matthew Cordell
KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME by Karen Rivers
THE SPINDLERS by Lauren Oliver
STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY by Grace Lin
ALMOST HOME by Joan Bauer
THE FIRE CHRONICLE (sequel to THE EMERALD ATLAS) by John Stephen
PRAIRIE EVERS by Ellen Airgood
THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS by Claire Legrand
THE VOYAGE OF LUCY P. SIMMONS by Barbara Mariconda
FREAKLING by Lana Krumwiede
BECAUSE OF SHOE AND OTHER DOG STORIES ed. Ann M. Martin
THREE TIMES LUCKY by Shelia Turnage
MIRA'S DIARY: LOST IN PARIS by Marissa Moss
IRON HEARTED VIOLET by Kelly Barnhill
GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES by Mike Jung
JUMP INTO THE SKY by Shelley Pearsall
THE CLOAK SOCIETY by Jeramey Kraatz
THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA by Ellis Weiner
THE VENGEKEEP PROPHECIES by Brian Farrey
IN A GLASS GRIMMLY (A TALE DARK & GRIMM #2) by Adam Gidwitz
KEEPING SAFE THE STARS by Shelia O'Connor
ZEUS AND THE THUNDERBOLT OF DOOM by Joan Holub
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate

Young Adult
THE LETTER Q: Queer Writers' Notes to their Younger Selves
PRODIGY (sequel to LEGEND) by Marie Lu
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
ENDANGERED by Eliot Schrefer
THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie
EVERY DAY by David Levithan
THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
HOLLYWEIRD by Terri Clark
SAFEKEEPING by Karen Hesse
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch
WHO I KISSED by Janet Gurtler
THE LOST GIRL by Sangu Mandanna (came highly recommended as an overlooked midlist)
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan
SKINNY by Donna Cooner
THE FORSAKEN by Lisa M. Stasse
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhan
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT by Colleen Clayton
STEALING PARKER by Miranda Kenneally
SWEET SHADOWS (sequel to SWEET VENOM) by Tera Lynn Childs
THE DARK UNWINDING by Sharon Cameron
QUARANTINE: THE LONERS by Lex Thomas
STARLING by Lesley Livingston
MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama
HEAVEN (HALO #3) by Alexandra Adornetto
THE RUNNING DREAM by Wendelin van Draanen
CHOKE by Diana Lopez
THE PREGNANCY PROJECT by Gaby Rodriguez
CALL THE SHOTS (SWIM THE FLY #3) by Don Calame
BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD (sequel to ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE) by Gabrielle Zevin
SCARLET (sequel to CINDER) by Marissa Meyer
THE CROWN OF EMBERS (sequel to THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS) by Rae Carson
THE LOST CODE (The Atlanteans #1) by Kevin Emerson
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin
UNRAVEL ME (sequel to SHATTER ME) by Tahereh Mafi [Since I knew this was a much-coveted title, I put it out on twitter to see if anyone was interested in a mini-tour. So, it's going on a 13 city "Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC" mini-tour to teachers and librarians I talk with on twitter who weren't able to attend. Each will read it, jot their thoughts inside, and then send it on. I'll be posting a follow-up on the whole thing in a few months when I get it back.]

Many, many, many thanks to the awesomeness that is the reps at HarperCollins (&Walden Pond Press), Little Brown & Co, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks, Disney Hyperion, Scholastic, Random House, Candlewick, and Macmillan!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth

Title: STRUCK
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (a Macmillan imprint)
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Number of Pages: 373
Source of Book: ARC from publisher at IRA Convention & NetGalley
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.
STRUCK is one of Macmillan's Fierce Reads for this summer and I can see why as it is a fast-paced, suspenseful novel full of action, heart, a little bit of mystical magic, and heat. It takes place over a four day period of time in a Los Angeles that has been destroyed by an earthquake. Mia is a tortured character dealing with trying to keep her little family together and the aftereffects of the multiple lightning strikes she has suffered. She is the key cog in a wheel of good vs. bad and the people who are trying to save/destroy the world, and both sides are trying to recruit/control her. So that all sounds really big, but at its heart, this is the story of a girl just trying to figure out how to keep herself together and to choose/make her own destiny.

Jennifer Bosworth has written an engaging story that takes on issues of religion, beliefs, family loyalty, and finding one's own path...and looks at what choices one would make to keep oneself together. She has written STRUCK in a way that keeps the action moving and the pacing made me want to keep reading and turning pages to find out what would happen next. The characters were drawn in a way that made me want to help them, and I wanted things to work out for them. She has also built a world that looks at what people would do and which direction they would turn to comfort themselves after a devastating natural disaster. In the midst of all of this, Mia meets Jeremy who she's not quite sure about in the beginning, and who is a positive male character even if he is tortured himself. Although I did predict a few of the reveals toward the end, I still really enjoyed reading my way to them. I look forward to seeing what Jennifer Bosworth will come out with next!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Trailer Thursday: THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Steifvater

My fabulous teacher friend, Sarah, at Y.A. Love Blog does a Book Trailer Thursday feature every week to help introduce her students to new books coming out. Now, I'm not doing it every week with her, but this week I'm so excited about the beautiful trailer for THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater (one of my favorite authors-I would read anything she writes), from her new (four book!) series coming out this fall, that I had to join in the Book Trailer Thursday fun.
Enjoy! I can't wait for this one to hit the shelves!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Are you joining us for #summerthrowdown?

We're launching Summer Throwdown:
Librarians vs. Teachers!
Perhaps you've seen/heard the buzz on twitter (where, I've found, most awesome ideas begin with a 140 character spark). Perhaps a friend encouraged you to visit. Perhaps you're just coming across this and think it sounds fun. No matter how you found us, we'd love for you to join in! (No twitter account or blog required-just an enthusiasm for reading with students!)

The event: #summerthrowdown Librarians vs. Teachers

The purpose: To support, encourage, and celebrate reading and librarians and teachers. To network with other teachers and librarians on twitter to grow our PLNs. To enjoy a friendly challenge to keep us motivated to read as much as possible this summer. To hold ourselves accountable because we'll have to tell someone how much we're reading.

The timeframe: June 18 - July 17 ~ Majority of the book finished within these dates.
This means that if you start a book before the competition begins, that book still counts so long as you had less than half of the book finished before June 18th. If you start a book during the timeframe but don't finish it before July 17th, it doesn't count, no matter how much you have finished. So, no waiting to finish the last pages of a book until the 18th (nice try, though!), but go ahead and get started on one, it'll still count. We don't want to interrupt anyone's reading flow/pace here. (Hey, we're middle school teachers, we're trained to think in ways students would to get around rules.)

The guidelines: Every book you read counts as a book read!
We all have different specialties and are reading books to prepare us to teach/work with different levels of students. All of this reading is valuable. If you're reading picture books to prepare to teach Pre-K (or for use with any level students for that matter), that's as important as someone reading 400+ page tomes to prepare to teach AP English. Or if you just like that sort of thing. ALL READING IS VALUABLE. But because we ought to find some way to keep this on a level playing field, there are some handicaps in place for the scoring
          ~Any format of books read counts for this (novel, picture book, graphic novel, etc.)
          ~Any way you read counts (by yourself, audiobook, reading to a child, etc.)
          ~Books under 50 pages count as 1/4
          ~Books between 50-150 pages count as 1/2
          ~Books over 150 pages count as 1

The main rule-KIPP: Keep It Positive, Please! This is all in the mode of encouraging reading and we want to be positive role models for our students. All-in-fun trash-talking is fine (and, essentially encouraged if Brian & I are any example), but please keep it in the spirit of the purpose of this reading event! Thanks so much! :)

The winner(s): EVERYONE because we're all going to be reading more (we hope) and growing our community/network of teachers and librarians on twitter and beyond. But the group (Librarians or Teachers) that reads more, determined by a collective total figured into books/person, does get the bragging rights.

No one loses when everyone reads!

The people behind the curtain: Brian (@brianwyzlic) and I (@heisereads) [teachers] first started the friendly #teacherthrowdown and Kathy (@thebrainlair) and Sherry (@LibraryFanatic) [librarians] ran with a summer version teachers vs. librarians idea. If you have any questions, feel free to ask any of us (you can easily find us all on twitter)!
The history: aka: So what is this #throwdown thing anyway? Brian and I started this as an offshoot from a reading motivator #throwdown we did with our Sister Classroom Project this year. If you want to know more about it, I explained it here and Brian talked about it here.

The links:
Get started here...Join the #summerthrowdown challenge!

Record your progress...on this spreadsheet.
To log the books you've read, open up the Google Spreadsheet, and make sure you're on the correct sheet (you can toggle between teachers and librarians at the bottom of the page). Add your name and Twitter handle (if you have one -- definitely not a requirement), and then every day you finish a book, update the appropriate column in your row with the number of books you have finished (or every few days if you're like Jillian and tend to forget-just keep a record for yourself!). Your total will automatically update at the end of your row. Please total everything you read that day. So if you finished a 150+ page book and 2 32-page picture books on the same day, that would be 1 + 1/4 + 1/4 = 1.5. So you'd type 1.5 into the cell for that day, and your total will automatically update. 
It should go without saying, but please BE HONEST, and NO UPDATING ANYONE ELSE'S BOOKS (unless they have asked you to do so).

The buttons: Copy a button to your blog/twitter/electronic method of choice to show your affiliation and declare it on twitter:
Are you #teamteacher or #teamlibrarian for #summerthrowdown?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

FROM WHAT I REMEMBER... by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas

Title: FROM WHAT I REMEMBER...
Author: Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 462
Source of Book: Bought the hardcover on the recommendation of Jen (@mentortexts)
KYLIE: Tijuana WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.

MAX: It all started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border -- but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can't completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It's even clearer now. And I'm not giving him up without a fight.
FROM WHAT I REMEMBER... is a mash-up of a John Hughes movie and The Hangover. I really enjoyed it, and I'm sure pretty much everyone of my generation that grew up with these types of high school drama movies will too; I'm just not sure how it will connect with this generation of teen readers.

I liked so much about this book, and really enjoyed reading the story told from multiple perspectives, but there one quirk that made it a little tough for me to get into right away was all the pop culture references which could date it too quickly, but after about 100 pages, that changed and then I was so hooked that I didn't want to stop reading. The characters I was supposed to dislike, I did. The characters I was supposed to like, I did. The characters I was supposed to change my mind about, I did. The characters I was supposed to cheer on, I did. The characters who were supposed to surprise me...well, that's where things didn't go quite that way for me with all of them. I did feel that it was a little predictable in some ways, but in other ways was unpredictable. However, it could just be that I'm getting really good at reading those foreshadowing clues, or they were pretty obvious because of the idea and style of the story, but either way, it was still fun to read. Basically, FROM WHAT I REMEMBER... is pretty much a takeoff on teen movies, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. I mean, any book that begins each chapter with a quote from a movie, which proceeds to be the lesson for that chapter, is pretty open about telling you that it's going to follow a pretty standard movie-like story arc.

The multiple voices telling the story made it that much more interesting and entertaining, and for the most part, each voice was pretty distinct in its tone. Max and Kylie are the big stars of this book, though, and I felt for them and enjoyed their discoveries. Their one night in Mexico was so sweet with all of their conversations and opening up that it made me root for them to figure it all out and be there for each other. That being said, there were a few secondary storylines that I've not seen so often and were a pleasant surprise to me. Namely, Will as the out gay best friend, who is still working through some issues and actually trying to find himself (which may not be as he appears to show it in the beginning), and Jake, the little brother with Asperger's. I actually felt that Jake's few chapters, when we saw into his mind and thinking, were some of the strongest of the whole book.

I cheered for Kylie's graduation speech at the end (and wanted to snag some takeaway quotes for my classroom walls), and rooted for everything to turn out as it did. FROM WHAT I REMEMBER... is an enjoyable ride of a story. It has some mature scenes that make it not so much a younger middle school book, but I'd be interested to hear what some older teen readers think of it. I would pair it with DITCHED: A LOVE STORY by Robin Mellom, which it, in fact, reminded me of quite a bit, and at the end found a sneak peek for in this book, so I'm not the only one thinking they'd be a good fit!

FROM WHAT I REMEMBER... would make a great beach/summer read. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you read/have read this one!

Friday, June 8, 2012

My Summer #bookaday Plans & TBR Piles

Donalyn Miller (aka The Book Whisperer and All-Around Awesome Person) started the #bookaday hashtag on twitter and it's now in its fourth year (the "rules" are there). It was a way for teachers to challenge themselves to read as much as possible during the summer to increase their knowledge for the following school year, and to network about what they're reading. Although I've casually tried to read as many books as possible for my students during the summers, I have yet to formally participate in the #bookaday challenge.

That all changes now (well, actually, Tuesday, but I'm posting early). This will be my first year officially participating in Summer Book-a-Day; however, since I've found that I tend to be better about meeting goals if I write them down and share them, I'm publicly proclaiming my summer #bookaday goals right here, right now.

My summer #bookaday to-be-read piles (more than I need, but I need choices, and I'm a mood reader, so these could change at any time, especially after I go to ALA, but it's a good place to start!) that I hope to get through:
Professional Books
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller!
So What Do They Really Know? Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning by Cris Tovani
Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston
Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher
Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
Sustaining Strategic Readers by Valerie Ellery
Comprehension Strategies for Middle Grade Learners by Charlotte Rose Sadler

Graphic Novels (lots of these because I want more variety to recommend to my students and they're quick reads to up my count!)
SIDEKICKS by Dan Santat
TEEN BOAT by Dave Roman
ASTRONAUT ACADEMY: ZERO GRAVITY by Dave Roman
ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke
LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke
BAD ISLAND by Doug TenNapel
BAKE SALE by Sara Varon
RESISTANCE by Carla Jablonski
SMILE by Raina Telgemeier
BRAIN CAMP by Susan Kim
FRANKIE PICKLE AND THE CLOSET OF DOOM by Eric Wight
BABYMOUSE (as many more in the series as I can) by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Anthologies
DEAR BULLY: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories
GUYS READ: The Sports Pages by Jon Scieszka
GUYS READ: Funny Business by Jon Scieszka
GIRL MEETS BOY: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story
AFTER: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia

Middle Grades Books
CHAINED by Lynne Kelly
OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon M. Draper
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
GODS AND WARRIORS by Michelle Paver
THE SERPENT'S SHADOW by Rick Riordan
UNGIFTED by Gordon Korman
HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban
THE STORM MAKERS by Jennifer E. Smith
THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM by Christopher Healy
SCARY SCHOOL by Derek the Ghost
ORDINARY MAGIC by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
ISLAND OF SILENCE (THE UNWANTEDS 2) by Lisa McMann
AUDITION & SUBTRACTION by Amy Fellner Dominy
RUSH FOR THE GOLD: Mystery at the Olympics by John Feinstein
SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS by Sara Pennypacker
FAKE MUSTACHE by Tom Angelberger
REMARKABLE by Lizzie K. Foley
THE TIME-TRAVELING FASHIONISTA by Bianca Turetsky
GOLD MEDAL SUMMER by Donna Freitas
WARP SPEED by Lisa Yee
REBEL MCKENZIE by Candice Ransom
THE CLASSROOM by Robin Mellom

Young Adult Books
UNWHOLLY by Neal Shusterman
EVERY DAY by David Levithan
DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
THE PULL OF GRAVITY by Gae Polisner
THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson
THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME by Jess Rothenberg (a student loved this book and told me I must read it.)
THE LOST CODE (The Atlanteans #1) by Kevin Emerson
ENDLESSLY by Kiersten White
A BAD DAY FOR VOODOO by Jeff Strand
PERCEPTION by Kim Harrington
THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab
POSSESSION by Elana Johnson
SHIFT by Kim Curran
TAKING OFF by Jenny Moss
A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE by Kody Keplinger
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas
BURN FOR BURN by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
MEANT TO BE by Lauren Morrill
EXPOSED by Kimberly Marcus
COLD FURY by T.M. Goeglein
52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER by Jessica Brody
NO SAFETY IN NUMBERS by Dayna Lorentz
MONUMENT 14 by Emmy Laybourne
STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth
SHADOW & BONE by Leigh Bardugo
BORN WICKED by Jennifer Spotswood
EVE & ADAM by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant
THE DROWNED CITIES by Paolo Bacigalupi
THE BOY RECESSION by Flynn Meaney
CURVEBALL: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
BOY21 by Matthew Quick
NOW IS THE TIME FOR RUNNING by Michael Williams
LOVE AND LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay
ROCK ON by Denise Vega
SECRET SATURDAYS by Torrey Maldonado
AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK by Joe Schreiber
BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young
BETA by Rachel Cohn
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury
RED GLOVE by Holly Black
BEAUTIFUL CHAOS by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
DARK EDEN by Patrick Carman

My personal #bookaday challenge will run from June 12th-August 26th, so my goal will be 76 books this summer. I don't know if I'll make it, but it sure will be fun trying! Will you be joining us this summer?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

KEEP HOLDING ON by Susane Colasanti

Title: KEEP HOLDING ON
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (a Penguin imprint)
Release Date: May 31, 2012
Number of Pages: 224
Source of Book: NetGalley electronic ARC

A romantic and empowering book about bullying

Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

Susane Colasanti consistently writes contemporary romance novels that are engaging for teens while still dealing with the ins and outs of high school drama and difficulties. With KEEP HOLDING ON, she's gone one step further. This book introduces us to Noelle who does not have a good home life and does not have a good school life. Noelle is bullied and it makes her day-to-day life in high school a hope-to-get-through-it experience. She seriously lacks self-esteem because of the neglect of her mother and the bullying of her classmates, so even if one is reaching out to her, she can't see it. She lets herself get into toxic relationships because she doesn't think enough of herself, and she avoids other relationships and situations that could be good for her because of her fear that it will increase what she has to deal with on a daily basis.

As a teacher, it is heart-breaking to read the things she has to put up with. As a former teen, it seems all too familiar. Things may be different now with the extent of what kids will do to each other and the age at which it starts, but it still resonates with me having been there myself. My own (or any reader's) situations may not be exactly like Noelle's, but too much of it seems hauntingly familiar. Susane Colasanti has written the story of what too many girls have to go through on a daily basis in high school in a real and honest voice. What they have to be afraid of, what they hope to avoid, how they deal with it. But Noelle's discovery of her own voice and value leaves the reader with a sense of hope.

I appreciated how this book was written as a countdown. Each chapter starts with the date and how many days are left in the school year. It gives it a sense of urgency and nervousness as to whether we will get to the end or not. Also, the way in which it sometimes jumps from one scene to the next makes it feel almost as if we're watching snapshots of the life that Noelle is having to live. It's a short-ish book and written in an easily accessible way, which is what it needs to be for this topic. One of the strongest parts of this book are the cast of supporting characters who actually do help make things better for Noelle. There are individuals out there who are looking out for these kids: teachers, social workers, friends, guys, and girls who want to help them through it. We need to start celebrating these people more in the lives of those who are subjected to the bullying that happens to them in school.

The book ends with a message from Noelle to all of those who have felt like they are outsiders or have no hope. It leaves with a message of hope. Then, Susane tells her story and provides the reader with names and information on many organizations that are out there to help them through. A powerful note to include in a book such as this that may open a teen's eyes to something they didn't realize before - that they can reach out and ask for help, and that they should.

Although it does contain a few mature scenes, I would share it with older middle schoolers, and I definitely think it should be in every high school classroom for teens to read.

 
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