I'll Be There, Holly Goldberg Sloan

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
ISBN 978-0-316-13038-7

I was given a review copy of this book at a literacy conference. Finally had a chance to read the 393 page novel.
Sloan writes movie scripts, including Made in America and The Big Green. It shows. Her debut novel, I'll Be There, reads like a movie. I couldn't put the book down because it is so well written. From several different view points - boy, girl, young adults, adults. It's a wild ride of action, intrigue, emotions. A story of families and belonging.
A good story. Even though.. I kept thinking, in the back of my mind, this is TOO far fetched, this would never happen!
There are too many unbelievable, implausible, things that happen in this book. Two boys, abducted by their father, living on the road for ten years. They move at his whim, eat out of dumpsters. Then the oldest boy meets a girl from a warm, loving home and things change for him. But he still stays with his younger brother as the father takes them to Utah, tries to shoot them. They survive in the wilderness, loose each other, find each other and their surrogate family again. They live, love and learn.
It's an intriguing story. It pulls you in.
Toward the end, the author goes overboard by describing what happens to the rest of the lives of several, fleeting characters. Should have stuck to the main story.
But if you can buy into all the improbable events, it's great. Even if you don't buy it, it's still a good read.

Jeremiah Learns To Read by Jo Ellen Bogart

Jeremiah Learns To Read by Jo Ellen Bogart, Laura Fernandez (Illustrator), Rick Jacobson (Illustrator)

Jeremiah is has always worked hard his whole life. He knows how to build a split-rail fence and make buttermilk pancakes, but he doesn't know how to read. 
His wife says "what's keeping you?" and so, one day, Jeremiah joins the children on their way to school.
The teacher assigns him a seat in the one-room schoolhouse and her students help him. In return Jeremiah teaches the children "how to chirp like a chickadee and honk like a goose."
Jeremiah does learn how to read and, in fact, inspires his wife to do the same.
This is a touching story about the importance of literacy.

Hardcover, 32 pages, Scholastic Inc.
ISBN 0531301907 (ISBN13: 9780531301906)

Lesson Plan: sed.ycdsb.ca/library/Jeremiah_Prim.pdf

Interview with author Iain Lawrence

Recently I interviewed Canadian YA author Iain Lawrence.
His books include Winter Pony, The Wreckers and many others.

The interview appears in the current issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine, follow the link and click on the interview: 

Happy Reading!


Sticks by Joan Bauer

Sticks, Joan Bauer

While I have enjoyed most of Joan Bauer's books (Hope Was Here, Looking for Alaska, Almost Famous and more) I wasn't sure when someone recently gave me a copy of Sticks.
Cover? Not that great...
Short content? Said it was about pool and math.
I am not into pool.
And I don't like math.
But Newbery Award winning author Joan Bauer spins a great tale. Her words, her language drew me right in. I came to care for Mickey. And his motley crew of friends.
They became real. I wanted to know more. What would happen.
I couldn't put the book down.
One of those wonderful books where you "see the movie in your head" as you read. Where you do want to know how it ends, but you don't want the ending to come. Which it always does.
OK, maybe it was just a tiny bit predictable. I kept wondering if all would really end well. But the ride was wonderful.
This is a book that especially boys will like. A story about tough kids in a small town. 5th Graders. But there's just enough girl to make it a story for them, too. A good book for anyone, really. If she'd made it a 7th grader it would have worked too, and more kids would possibly read it.
What intrigued me most is how Joan Bauer weaves playing pool and math together effortlessly. Who knew that pool can be based on math? It sure sounds plausible. Throw in a science project, a bully, a truck, and you have great ingredients.  Let Joan Bauer tell the story and you have... a plain good book you should read.

Then follow up, if you are a teacher, with her teaching guide:
  • ISBN 13: 9780142404287 ISBN 10: 0142404284

Liebster Award

How fun to discover that teacher Kemble Flynn has nominated my Book Blog for the Liebster Award. Liebster means 'favorite' so I am flattered that Kemble likes my book reviews!

Check out her blog here:

And the rules are:
1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4. choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5. No tag backs, but please leave a comment on this post if you were nominated so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

Let's see if I am tech savvy enough to do all this...
1. 11 random things:
• I love reading
• I write books for children
• I love dark chocolate 
• I like to hike
• I don't like winters
• I like to knit
• I have moved 24 times
• I met the Queen of England
• I don't watch much TV
• I like dogs but am not crazy about cats
• I can count to 11!

2.  Questions to the nominees:
1.  What book would you recommend reading?
     Any books posted on my blog!
2.  What song makes you smile?
     Yesterday by the Beatles
3.  The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
     Beatles, of course!
4.  What is your favourite movie?
5.  Do you have any pets?
     Do 47 chickens count?
6.  What has been the most amazing thing you have seen?
     The birth of my children.
7.  What is your favourite season?  Why?
     Summer. I love sandals and sunshine.
8.  What is your favourite saying/quote?
     No worries!
9.  What is your favourite word in the english language?
     Love. Or 'chocolate'.
10.  What is your favourite TV show?
    That's an oxymoron as far as I am concerned.
11.  If I came to visit, what restaurant would your recommend in your city?
   The Tree House, it's an experience.

3. 11 questions for my nominees:
1. What's a favorite book now?
2. What was a favorite book as a child?
3. Who's one of your favorite authors? 
4. What's the most amazing country you have visited?
5. How many places have you lived?
6. What's your favorite food?
7. What advise do you have for new parents?
8. What's your favorite color?
9. Sunrise or sunset?
10. Sun or snow?
11. Favorite internet site?

My nominees:

Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan

Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan.

I just finished reading this book and very much enjoyed it. 
Right off the bat I had to get over two things: I thought it would be a southern tale since Ida B, the main character says "Yes ma'am" to her mother and her teacher. And since "Ida B" sounds so lovely southern... But it's not. It takes place in Wisconsin even though, to me, it did not feel like a Wisconsin story.

Secondly: I did not feel that the voice was authentic for a kid. Even for a well read, home schooled kid. I loved Ida B's voice, yet the writing felt like the voice of an adult who wanted to sound like a perky kid. The word choices and metaphors were just not truly a 4th grader. The writing reminds me of the Clementine books (by Sara Pennypacker), same wonderful spunky character except Clementine is a first or second grader and Ida B is a bit older.

HOWEVER - I loved Ida B's attitude. The voices in her head, her stubbornness, her talking to the trees - were all wonderful. I could just see myself at that age, when I knew I could fly and soared over the neighborhood. I can just see my grandson Nico talking to the brook and the trees when he is that age.

Lovely story about the inner struggles and growth of a young girl. Highly recommended. Especially to read aloud at bedtime together! 

Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye

Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye

This is my choice for the first day of a new year: a book filled with the hope for peace.

Fourteen-year-old Liyana Abboud loves to hear her father call her habibi - Arabic for "darling". But she's not prepared for her family's decision to move from St. Louis to Jerusalem. This provocative novel from the acclaimed poet builds a bridge to the Arab world, introduces a family readers won't soon forget, and offers a hope for peace.
I so enjoyed traveling with Liyana and seeing Palestine through her eyes. I especially loved the grandmother in the story - a character larger than life and so real.

Author website where you can listen to poems and interviews: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/174

Lesson Plans: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/young-adult-literature-about-1136.html