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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Trailer Tuesday

The Maze Runner books have been wildly popular at my school since the first one was published. We are all very excited for the Maze Runner movie to hit theaters in September, 2014.

If you are on any sort of social media, you can find/follow the author, James Dashner, the series, and/or the movie to keep updated. There is also a website for the here.

Here's the first of the movie's trailers. I'm sure there will be more all summer long.

Monday, May 19, 2014

We Remember

In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday, I was given the idea to make a list of my favorite "Fallen Heroes" titles. While compiling the list, I realized that I have many favorite "Soldier Stories" for teens (& tweens).

In fact, I have written on the topic a few times on this blog, including this Favorite 15 post from a few years ago.

But my "favorite" titles are ever-changing as new books are constantly crossing my desk. And I have many favorite soldier/war stories but thought that I would narrow it down to American War Heroes this time.

So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite American Soldier/War Hero books for teens & tweens:


1) Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the death of NFL star turned Army Ranger hero Pat Tillman. This book will always be included on my list of favorite books, regardless of the topic.

2) Flags of our Fathers by John Bradley. There is an adapted version for younger teens/tweens if you need something slightly shorter, but either version is a look at the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima and became a part of the iconic photograph.

3) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The WWII survival story of Louis Zamperini. The audiobook is phenomenal and would make a perfect listen for summer family road trips! Also, coming to a theater near you in December, 2014.  

4) Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone. A look at the men who made up the Triple Nickles...the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion.

5) Navajo Code Talkers by Nathan Aaseng. There are many books (and movies) about these brave men, but this is the standard that I always come back to. (If you're looking for a fiction story to pair with this, Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac is perfect).

6) Pure Grit by Mary Cronk Farrell. I reviewed this book recently on the blog here.


7) Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. I am a fan of this author and this is an important story about a little recognized group of women who were part of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

8) Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Yeah, this book had an American main character so it qualifies for the list! This title (and the author's Code Name Verity) are two books that I require all my friends to read. Amazing books: writing, characters, stories that drawn you in and don't let go. This book is about an American pilot captured and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp.

9) Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt. Always I come back to this book. And recommend it widely to teens and adults alike. I just love this story of two brothers, one a returning soldier, and how they are trying to heal.

10) Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. A new title this year. Nothing less than remarkable.

11) Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie. Another powerful brother story. And one that I never discovered until it made several "best" lists last year. Not sure how it slipped by my radar, but I am glad that I found it.

12 & 13) If you are looking for "series" titles, I have two great recommendations.

Walter Dean Myers writes several companion titles: Fallen Angels (Vietnam); Sunrise over Fallujah (Iraq/Afghanistan); Invasion (WWII).

Chris Lynch has a Vietnam series of four titles, each following one of a group of friends as they enter one branch of the military. You can read them in any order. He just started a WWII series (two titles so far) along the same lines.

Happy Reading!

And when you are celebrating having the day off work or school on Monday, don't forget to thank a soldier!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday

For today's Non-Fiction Friday, I thought that I would highlight a Non-Fiction/Fiction pairing that I love talking about.

Title: Nazi Hunters
Author: Neil Bascomb
Genre: Non-Fiction, WWII, World History, Holocaust
Pages: 245
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Grades: 7th and up

This book, the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Non-Fiction Award for Young Adults (and probably many other awards), is based on the author's 2010 adult title "Hunting Eichman."

An excellent example of narrative non-fiction for teens, and further proof of Mrs. Yusko's love of non-fiction because "you can't make this stuff up," Nazi Hunters tells the story of the hunt for and capture of Adolf Eichman. This thrilling chronicle of the manhunt reads like a spy novel...and is rumored to be in development for a movie.

A must-read for fans of history, war stories, crime dramas, spy novels, biographies...almost any reader will find something to love here.

Title: Rose Under Fire

Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII, Holocaust, Prisoners, Women Pilots/Spies
Pages: 360
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Grades: 8th and up

Okay, it seems a little ridiculous to give this book, the "companion" novel to the author's highly acclaimed "Code Name Verity," 4 1/2 stars instead of 5. But...I did like CNV slightly more and gave it 5 stars. Picky, picky, picky.

This book is the story of Rose Justice, American ATA pilot, who is captured by the Nazis while flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. It is the story of Rose and the friendships she forges with fellow prisoners that makes this an incredible story. I actually recommend reading this title first because you will be so outraged by the atrocities suffered by these women at the hands of the Nazis, including Eichman, that you will appreciate the justice served in Nazi Hunters.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers in YA Books

I wanted to do a post in honor of Mother's Day.

I decided I'd pick my favorite tween/teen books about dear old mom.

Because I never remember book titles without my handy dandy Goodreads app or access to a library catalog, I decided to sit at my desk and type the word "mother" into a keyword search of titles in my school's library.

Ha! That was funny. I should have known better. And I tell my students never to do something like that, so not sure what I was thinking.

Browsing through the 3 million results (okay, not really...but close), I realized that most books for this age group have mothers that fall into one of the following categories:

1) Dead
2) Dying
3) Abusive/Evil
4) Mentally ill
5) Mad-scientist crazy and/or made a deal with the devil
6) Neglectful/absent/abandoned the family to pursue her dreams

...and so on. Because, quite honestly, it makes for a good story to have to overcome bad parenting. I could give you a list of my favorite books for each of the aforementioned categories, but it would be kind of depressing.

So, instead, I thought that I'd list just a few titles with "good" moms that have stuck in my memory. Feel free to add titles that I have surely missed!

In no particular order: (and you will have to determine if these books are appropriate for you or not)

1) The Fault in our Stars by John Green. You're right, the book is not about the mom. And while I've been in Hazel's shoes and not the mom's, I applaud the mom for letting Hazel travel to Amsterdam (spoiler alert), far away from her doctors. What a tough decision to make, but such an important one. I was so glad that I had people in my life who understood when I made these "You Only Live Once" decisions.

2) Divergent by Veronica Roth. Tris' mom may be Abnegation, but she's one tough cookie when it comes to defending her kids!

3) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. A quietly strong mom in a difficult circumstance. FYI: BEAUTIFUL book. BEAUTIFUL!

4) If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Okay, the mom is dead for most of the book (spoiler alert). But through flashbacks I think that we discover she was a pretty cool mom.

5) The Indigo Notebook series by Laura Resau. You might not actually think the mom is responsible, and the teen daughter surely doesn't for much of the book. But I applaud the free-spirit attitude and am jealous of the lifestyle. And it's possible this mom really isn't so bad after all. 

6) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Not my favorite book of the author's (that would be The Scorpio Races), but at the heart of this, the mom is a pretty interesting character.

7) Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer. LOVE everything about it!

8) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. We all deal with life in our own way. But it takes a pretty strong mom to admit that she's made mistakes. Haven't we all.

9) Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz. Best mom (well, parents) ever. LOVE this family.

10) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Seriously, how could you not love Maggie Weasley?! Maybe she's the best mom ever.

11) A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson. This is actually a collection of poems about the murder of Emmett Till, but two of them are about his mother, who became a tireless advocate for civil rights after his death.

12) Migrant Mother by Don Nardo is actually about the photograph taken by Dorothea Lange during the Depression. But there really isn't a more iconic image of motherhood in this country, so you should probably know the full story.

Happy reading! And Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Trailer Tuesday

Unless you've been living under a rock, you have probably heard of "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green.

And the movie.

If you've been anywhere within my vicinity the past few years, I've probably thrown the book at you and said, "you cannot be my friend until you've read it." I even talked my book club into reading it this month.

Since the movie is (finally) coming out on June 6th, I thought today was a good day for TFIOS to be this week's "Trailer Tuesday."

Here you go...and you still have 30 days to read the book...GO!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Spine Poetry Fun!

We have been having fun with Book Spine Poetry in the library throughout April. So much fun, in fact, that I'm going to continue to make it available for the first couple of weeks in May.

I have always wanted to do this in the library, but was honestly worried about how successful it would be with middle school students. Well, I need not have worried. It was well-received with students (and teachers) and became quite a popular activity to flex creative muscles.

I will continue to post some of my favorite students book spine poems over the next few weeks, but thought that I would start you with some of the ones that I posted to the library Instagram account.

FYI: The top poem, "Seriously, Norman! Suck it up. This is what happy looks like. So. B. It" is mine, but the rest are students.


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