Thursday, January 13, 2011

Better Late Than Never: My Holiday #Bookaday Roundup

Bill and I have been busy these past few weeks looking at books that might win the Newbery with our Looking for Newbery posts.

However, during that same time frame, I had a lot of fun joining @donalynmiller and @paulwhankins and many others on twitter for holiday #bookaday fun! The goal was to read a book a day and then tweet what you had read. The compiled list has been fun to follow - I've been fascinated to learn what type of books others enjoy. I have picked up quite a few titles to put on my TBR pile as well.

But since we were doing the Looking for Newbery thing, I hadn't had an opportunity to reflect on my reading for my holiday #bookaday challenge. Today, I'm going to take a deep breath, and look back at what I've read over the holiday break (a short one for my school district; yes, that is a whine you hear :) ).

1st #bookaday - The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor. I'm such a fan of Barbara's. Readers who were fans of The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis will definitely enjoy this one as well. One event can change the humdrum life of a child in huge ways! What fun! Since Popeye and Elvis was our first read aloud of the year, and my students loved it, I can almost guarantee that Owen Jester will have a line of people waiting their turn to read it.

#bookaday #2 - Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio. This was a book nominated for the Cybils nonfiction picture book category, and I fell in love with it! The words are beautiful, it tells of Jimi's life before the bad times, and the illustrations are amazing. A wonderful mentor text in so many ways - a great literary nonfiction, similes, amazing word choice, and layout of story. So excited it won an award on Monday - loved it!

#bookaday #3 - True (sort of...) by Katherine Hannigan. This is an ARC I was given at NCTE and I just got around to reading. Unfortunately, it doesn't come out until May. I liked it better than Ida B. and that's saying a lot. For more info on this book, check back; I plan to review it later this week.

#bookaday #4 - Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins. How prolific is this guy?! He had 3 different books nominated for the Cybils nonfiction picture books this year - wow! I plan to use this book with a few of his others to start a nonfiction study this month.

#bookaday #5 - A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. The narrator's voice alone in this story makes it worth the read. Add to that, how well Gidwitz ties together all the story pieces and you have a very clever book. I actually reviewed this as one of the books for Looking for Newbery.

#bookaday #6 - A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. This was recommended to me by my friend, Bill, as a wonderful mentor text for teaching the art of persuasive writing. Once I got past my giggles, I couldn't agree with him more!

#bookaday #7 - A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. This title caught my eye when I was reading what Nina and Jonathan's mock Newbery group had to say over at Heavy Medal. As many people already know, Turner already has written one Newbery Honor Book (The Thief) that is a companion book to two others (The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia) as well as this one. I would probably have been better served if I had the background knowledge these books would have provided. That being said, this book was an intricate tale, full of twists and turns. Definitely not a book to be read without the utmost concentration. As someone who is a very quick reader, I had to force myself to slow down and really concentrate.

#bookaday #8 - Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman. Another title that caught my eye after all the love it received at the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery. I'm not sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn't the actuality. The layout of this book is amazing. A gorgeous poem on every left side of the page about a "creature of the night". Beautiful language; literally took my breath away in places. But, add to those poems, some great nonfiction writing on the right hand side. The possibilities for this as a mentor text are amazing. Can't wait to share Dark Emperor with my students!!

#bookaday #9 - Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder. This was actually a recommendation from a friend, but I also starting hearing marvelous things about it via Twitter. It is a delightful story about a girl (very similar to me when I was growing up) who thinks life occurs in the same way a book plot does. It was delightful to see what happens when Penny opens herself up to the notion that sometimes life is not as orderly as the sequence of a book, and every moment in life is not always happily ever after.

#bookaday #10 - Justin Fisher Declares War by James Preller. Bill and I got to meet and spend some quality time with James Preller a couple of years ago when he came to our school. We enjoyed him very much and were delighted that, at the time, he shared with us the concept of his upcoming book, Bystander. We had some deep conversations over drinks about what bullies (the topic of Bystander) look like.
Well, Justin Fisher is nothing like Bystander, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. Teachers will be nodding their heads as Justin's character is developed and we realize what a class clown he is. Most of us have had a Justin in our rooms. I also liked that Preller brought back Trey and Spider from Along Came Spider as supporting characters.

#bookaday #11 - The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Middle school angst combined with advice from a Yoda finger puppet = lots of chuckles. I already had some boys reading this before our holiday break, but I'm sure when I add my copy to our classroom library, there will be many more takers. :)

#bookaday #12 - Smile by Raina Telgemeier. I think this is a book that will have more girl appeal than boy appeal. Another book full of middle school to high school angst, complete with losing two front permanent teeth, braces, beginning to like boys, trying to find the group of friends that best suits you, even if that means leaving the group with whom you've always been friends. The decision to do this as a graphic novel is perfect - seeing the pictures adds to the angst.

Twelve books over break and that doesn't count the newest David Baldacci book I read, either. I thoroughly loved holiday #bookaday!!


  1. And yet a couple more that I have missed! Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I love reading everyone's lists. I hadn't even heard of the Jimi picture book-gotta read that! I also want to read A Tale Dark and Grim.

  3. Karen,
    Congratulations on accomplishing so much reading over your vacation! I am so glad you liked Dark Emperor (thrilled it got some Newbery love!) and Penny Dreadful. I can't keep Origami Yoda on the shelf, and I have 4 copies! Owen Jester is receiving lots of love in my classroom as well!

  4. I agree with what you said about Steve Jenkins! He does such amazing work that it's baffling that he can crank out so much so fast. Lucky for us, eh?

    I just found your blog. Great stuff. I've bookmarked your site to check back often.

    Betsy Parkes

  5. Hi Betsy,
    So glad you found us and thrilled to hear you'll be checking in with us from time to time. That just might be the motivation I need to start blogging again.

    Loving what our kids are doing! Once I shared your first comment with them, it helped to raise the bar for what they were doing. I really need to start taking pictures!!

  6. Karen, So many more books that I want to check out. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!