Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Hermione is at the top her game, on the field and off. She is co-captain of the cheerleading squad, dating one of the head male cheerleaders, and she is on her way to the last cheer camp of her high school career. What could go wrong? But during a dance at a camp, someone slips something into her drink. Her world goes black, and she wakes up in the lake with no memory of what happened.

My Thoughts
I'm not a cheerleader-type person, so I started this book with a hefty dose of skepticism. And in all honesty, I didn't really get the hype of cheer camp or the talk about makeup and ribbons in hair. But if you can get past the cheerleading stuff, the story is a powerful one. Hermione is an overcomer, and her attack at camp is just one piece of her life story. I really like that the focus of this book is not sensationalizing rape, but rather on the process of healing and overcoming. It deals pretty honestly with small-town thinking and the reality that some people will blame the victim.

My Recommendation
4/5 stars
Grades 9+ (language, adult themes)

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Does love at first sight exist? Is there something in the universe...call it fate...that draws people together or forces them apart? Natasha and Daniel find themselves unexplainably thrown together and then inextricably connected after a "chance" meeting on a street corner in New York City. But with her deportation to Jamaica just 12 hours away, it seems an impossible romance. Will they find a way to stay together?

My Thoughts
Yikes. This felt REALLY contrived. There was so much going on here with the back and forth narratives (his perspective, her perspective, minor characters' perspectives, etc) it just felt overwhelmingly messy. Weirdly, my favorite part had to do with the side character Irene and her struggle with suicide. She's the one I wanted to cheer for and love. The rest of them, I just didn't care about.

My Recommendation
3/5 stars
Grades 9+ (F word used liberally, mature themes)

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: The Case of the Missing Marquess

The Case of the Missing Marquess The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Sherlock Holmes...world famous detective. We've all heard of him. But have you heard of his lesser known little sister, Enola? In "The Case of the Missing Marquess", Enola is faced with the disappearance of her mother. She goes on a great adventure to find her mother, and finds herself in the middle of ANOTHER disappearance. Will Enola find the Missing Marquess? Will she find her mother?

My Thoughts
This is a cute and quick read. I can see middle school students who like mysteries enjoying this series. Reminds me of the Benedict Society series.

My Recommendation
4/5 stars
Grades 5+

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: All the Truth That's in Me

All the Truth That's in Me All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Judith and her best friend Lottie disappear from their homes in Roswell Station. Four years later, Lottie is dead and Judith returns under mysterious circumstances...without her tongue. She is forced to remain silent in spite of the accusing glances until her town is attacked and past secrets come to light. What really happened to Judith and Lottie? Will the truth that is in Judith be revealed?

My Thoughts
I really liked this book. It is a little bit of mystery, a little romance, and a lot historical fiction. There is enough edge here to keep you reading, but nothing that is over the top or inappropriate. A great addition to my middle school library (with a YA sticker because of thematic content).

My Recommendation
4.5/5 stars
Grades 7+ (thematic content)


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Rules Book Review

RulesRules by Cynthia Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Catherine is a 12 year old girl who just wants a normal life. But her little brother David has autism, making life anything but normal. Still, by maintaining a list of RULES she can usually keep things under control. Until she meets Jason, who turns her world upside down

My Thoughts
I love this book. It's a quick read, but powerful. It challenged me to think about my own snap judgments and how I see people with disabilities.

My Recommendation
4/5 stars
Grades 5 and up

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Review: Scar Island

Scar Island Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Talk
Jonathan has been in trouble before, but this time his actions land him in a stint at Slabhenge, a reform school for boys with behavior issues. But what happens when the boys are left to fend for themselves on an island of rock with a hurricane on the horizon?

My Review
Scar Island is a fast-paced, fun mystery that will be enjoyed by middle school students who enjoy adventure and intrigue.

My Recommendation
4 stars, Grades 6 and up. Brief mild language and thrilling situations.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Musings: What is the Role of a School Librarian?

What do Librarians DO?

I had an uncomfortable conversation with a colleague last week. It made me really stop and think about my role as a librarian.

The teacher asked me why I am regularly out of the library during study hall. My aide covers for me so that I can co-facilitate clubs and groups.

The comment was made, "Aren't you the librarian? Shouldn't you be IN the library?"

I was truly taken aback, and it bothered me for several days. I questioned my role in the school and my priorities as a teacher.

What is my role as a school librarian, and why? Is it more important for me to be sitting in the library, or should I be out and about in the school? I did some research and found a great article by Bubble Up Classroom.

My Philosophy of Librarianship

My philosophy of librarianship and teaching is:

1) Relationships first
2) Everything else second

That's it. There really isn't much else to it. Yes, literacy is important. 21st century skills are important. But I can't get to those things and make them sink in unless kids trust me and are ready to learn.

This is where my participation in groups/clubs comes in. Currently, I co-facilitate the following groups:

1) Loss (death, divorce, deployment, etc)
2) Organization
3) Boys Group (social skills)
4) Girl Power (self confidence)
5) Book Clubs
6) New Kids' Lunch
7) Stress Management

Kids come to the library with their lunches once per cycle week and we hang out and talk, and also do activities. The kids get to know me, they are comfortable with me, and they associate positive things with the library. It's a win-win.

So no, it isn't necessarily LIBRARY, but it's important. And I'm sticking with it.