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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spotlight Book of the Week

Today's Spotlight book for Evergreen was "Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown.

An incredible book for anyone that is a fan of sports, world history, Olympics, crew, even the University of Washington or Pacific NW stories. (Though if you are a Cougar or Duck or any other college alumni, please don't ignore this book because it is about a bunch of Huskies).

This is the true story of the 1936 8-oar crew team that represented the United States at the Berlin Olympics and their quest for gold. They also happened to be the UW crew team at the time and overcame so many odds to even get to the Olympics.

A terrific, true-life story that will make a good gift this holiday season for many readers. It has received comparisons to "Unbroken" and "Seabiscuit" (both by Laura Hillenbrand) and it deserves the comparisons.

On a side note: this is one example where I do NOT recommend the audiobook. Or at least, not to anyone that is from the Northwest. The narrator was not directed in the correct pronunciation of many NW cities and it can be quite annoying and distracting. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Non-Fiction and Fiction Pairings

I presented a webinar for the American Library Association (YALSA) yesterday for librarians around the country. The topic was near and dear to my heart: the best non-fiction for teens (published recently) and perfect fiction titles to pair with each one. 

SO MANY GOOD TITLES, not nearly enough time to present them all. I had a 60 minute maximum and started with 68 non-fiction titles that I "had" to discuss. Add in the matching fiction title and that is entirely too many books to cover in an hour. But cutting titles from the list reminded me of the Neil Gaiman quote about how picking favorite books equals picking body parts that I could live without. Nearly impossible, but I managed to do it.

Final presentation ended up having 49 slides...whew! It was a fast-moving presentation. For those of you that weren't able to attend the presentation, you can find out more about it here and there are options to purchase access to the webinar. If you are a YALSA member, you should have free access to it in two months.

I will take some time over the next few weeks to share some of my favorite selections/pairing. There are so many good non-fiction titles published for teens (and tweens) in the last year or so...it's my favorite genre and I love talking about them! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Trailer Tuesday: Middle School Misery

Anyone who knows me is not surprised to find out that I am a fan of John Green...and everything that he does. Okay, "fan" might not be the right word, because I have a not-so-small crush on him...and his books...and his nerdfighter vlogs...and anything John Green.

This latest one is PERFECT and speaks to everyone in middle school. Loved the message and thought I would share with all of you. And it works perfect for Trailer Tuesday in my opinion.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Spotlight Book of the Week

Today's Evergreen Staff Spotlight title was a two-for-one:

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, and many books, movies, documentaries, television specials will be upcoming. I thought I would highlight two titles that do an excellent job of discussing the assassination and all the details necessary to understand what happened.

Both books are adapted versions of the authors' titles published for adults (which I would also recommend). However, these "teen" editions provide plenty of detail and with terrific amounts of archival photographs and illustrative materials.

The President Has Been Shot by James L. Swanson

Kennedy's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly


Top 10 Books at Evergreen This Week

The library catalog system "tracks" top titles for our library, and it is something that I enjoy looking at quite frequently to see what's "hot." Of course, I use the term "track" loosely, because I haven't quite figured out the formula it uses. For example, I think that it should take number of holds on the book into account, but it doesn't.

Regardless, I thought that I would share the Top 10 books in our Evergreen Library this week. Now, if you are a student and click on the "Top 10" in the library catalog, this list is for the past 30 days. I can actually pull up reports to change the time frame that it uses when calculating titles. It's actually interesting to note that this changes the titles quite a bit, and takes into account suddenly popular titles vs. titles that sustain popularity.

So, for the last 7 days, the top books at Evergreen were:

1. Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. TOTALLY surprising, and completely due to the fact that I ordered two additional copies this week and I booktalked this to 6th grade classes a lot recently. It flew off the shelves.

2. Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. Love this book and while it is always popular, the reason it hit number 2 is that it's a top choice for our 8th grade Sci-Fi unit which just started this week. All 9 copies FLEW off the shelves yesterday.

3. & 4. Catching Fire and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not a shocker with the movie coming out next week.

5. House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Again, not a shocker. Riordan's books are always popular with my students, and the hold list continues to grow every day, even though we have multiple copies and students are reading it fast. If the system factored holds into the calculation, this book would be number one without any competition.

6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I actually can't figure out why this book is so much higher in the top ten than Divergent, because students are always asking me for Divergent and with all the movie buzz, I would have thought that all the recent recruits to the series would have pushed the first one into the lead.

7. Matched by Ally Condie. Again, not a surprise considering the Sci-Fi unit. This is always a popular series at Evergreen.

8. Wimpy Kid #8: Hard Luck. It's kind of fitting that this book is 8th on the list...but also surprising. The only reason that this is so low on the list in my opinion (I expected it to be 2 or 3) is that many of my kids must have purchased their own copies from their local bookstore.

9. Swim the Fly by Don Calame. Always popular at Evergreen, this is falling down the top 10 charts as the 8th grade Humor unit is ending.

10. Divergent by Veronica Roth. Barely made it into the top 10 this week. But long-term, this one is always in the top. And deservedly so!

So, what does this tell us? 
I'm sad that there's not a non-fiction title among the top 10. Something I will continue to work on.
Series are HOT at Evergreen. I often joke that if I call it a series, they will read it.
Dystopian is not dead yet, at least in my neck of the woods.

What are your top titles?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Poll Results

During October and the first part of November, I was running some polls for my students to participate in. These were hosted on my school district internal website, and since they all revolved around The Hunger Games, I thought that I would post the results for those of you that don't have access to that website.

Poll #1:
How excited are you for the Catching Fire movie?

Response options ranged from "I'm counting down the days and will be there opening night for sure...I already have my tickets" to "What's Catching Fire?" Okay, I'm scared that there were 19 students that replied that they didn't know what Catching Fire was, because even if you didn't like the books or hadn't read the series, I think that you'd have to actually know about it with all the marketing that goes on. I'm hoping that these kids chose this answer as a joke to mess with me. Surprisingly, there were not many students that indicated they'd be there opening night either (seriously??? I'm going opening night and I don't even like to see movies on opening night). Somewhere around 40% of kids indicated that they wanted to go, and would, but they weren't in a big hurry to see it. This totally nonchalant attitude kind of surprised me.

Poll #2: Who is your favorite Hunger Games character?

This was a fun one to see how students answered, and even more entertaining to listen to students openly debate the "correct" answer. Katniss was the clear winner with 31% of the votes. Rue came in second with 19%, and Peeta and Haymitch tied for 3rd with 14% each.

Poll #3: Which movie are you most excited to see in theaters?

The three choices: Catching Fire, Book Thief, and Ender's Game.
Not surprisingly, Catching Fire garnered 73% of the votes. (Ender's Game received 15%, and Book Thief received 10%...and someday I'm going to figure out how the system did it's math...)

Just some interesting insight into what my students think. 

They love doing these polls by the way. I try and post a couple different ones each month. Ideas for poll questions? Comment here and let me know!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Soldier Stories

In honor of Veteran's Day, I thought that I would highlight my favorite books about soldiers that was published this year. To find some of my all-time favorite soldier stories, you can see the post that I wrote last year...click here.



In no particular order, here are some terrific books published this year:



Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Okay, in fairness, CNV should have been on last year's list, but I didn't finish it until after I wrote the post. Both of these books are INCREDIBLE and should be read by EVERYONE, especially anyone that is a fan of World War II, history, spies, women in war, survival stories...the list goes on. The audiobooks are also FIRST RATE. Seriously, both get 5 out of 5 stars from me. And when you finish these and are looking for something else, Code Name Pauline is the memoir of a real-life British Special Agent during WWII. (Grades 8 & up).



Invasion by Walter Dean Myers. Myers is back with a "prequel" of sorts to Fallen Angels and Sunrise over Fallujah. This is the story of the invasion of Normandy during WWII. Terrific sense of action, and nothing less than what you would expect from the author. (Grades 7-10).



Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone. This is the true account of the 555th airborne division, or the Triple Nickles as they were known. Excellent narrative non-fiction! (Grades 5-10).




Torn by David Massey. It is not often that stories of soldiers are the stories of women soldiers (who aren't spies). This is a book about a young woman, serving as a medic in present-day Afghanistan. This has all the details of fighting that you might want, action, mystery, and a hint of romance if you're looking for it. (Grades 8 & up).




Personal Effects by E M Kokie. What happens when a soldier doesn't come home? What becomes of his family? This book will put you right in the middle of a family torn apart by the death of their brother and son. Powerful. (Grades 9 & up).





Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. Okay, technically this book won't be published until January of 2014, but I just finished reading it and it was one of the best books that I have read this year so I had to include it. Though this is the story of 17 year old Hayley, it is also about how she has learned to survive in her family of two. A family that is just her and her father, himself a veteran of the Gulf War and Iraq, having done a total of four tours overseas. WOW! This is such an amazing book about family, surviving, war, PTSD, forgetting vs. remembering, love...you must read this when it comes out. (Grades 9 & up).





Friday, November 8, 2013

Spotlight Book of the Week

I started a new feature to all the teachers and staff at school. Every Friday, I will be highlighting a book that I think they would enjoy...whether or not it is a "teen" book.

Today's Spotlight title, just in time to coincide with the release of the movie, was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

One of the most incredible books that I have ever read, this is a book that must be read by people of all ages...middle school, high school, college, adult. You must read this book at some point in your life, preferably as soon as possible.


On a side note, the audiobook is OUTSTANDING!

I have not yet decided whether I will be seeing the movie. It looks wonderful, but I just loved the book SO much, that I fear I might be disappointed for how the movie might differ from the book. But don't let that stop you from going. I'd love to hear how it was.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trailer Tuesday

Coming Friday to a theater near you...The Book Thief.

Based on one of the most incredible books that I've ever read, I am very excited to see that it was made into a movie. But I am also slightly hesitant to go see it. There are so many ways that it could go wrong.

I hope that it lives up to the book...I will let you know what I decide to do.

Until then, here is the movie trailer. It does look good!


 

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