Showing posts from January, 2012

Dark Frigate Sets Sail - Nerdbery Update

Yo! Ho! A Pirate's Life for Me.   What do drunken sailors, flirtatious wenches, thick Scottish brogues, slow plots, slashed necks, pirate battles, and hangings have in common with children's literature? Good question. I think I would be lynched if I tried to have my students read this book.  If the book were designed for adults, I think I'd give it 2 stars. There were some funny parts that I did enjoy, and I did find some of the chapters entertaining once I got into the "hang" of the archaic style of writing. But the plot moved so slowly that it took until almost the middle of the book for the main character to even reach the pirate ship! Seriously?  Funniest part? Two drunk sailors are wandering down the road. They have purchased a huge keg of alcohol with the thought that they could sell cups at a profit. Unfortunately, they keep paying each other for their drinks with the same penny (back and forth the penny goes - back and forth - the SAME blasted penny). W

I Have Altered the Deal - Nerdbery Update

  Working my way through the Newbery Award books from the 20s is proving to be quite a challenge. It’s amazing just how much our ideas about “quality literature” for kids have changed over the years. I’m taking a page from my favorite Sith Lord’s playbook and “altering the deal” for myself. Unlike his bargain with Lando, though, I think this deal change will work in my favor. I’m going to allow myself to do two things as I complete this challenge (It is supposed to be “no stress” after all). First, I intend to count all the Newbery books I read starting with January. That means that if I read them in the course of getting ready for reading groups, or because someone recommended one, that I will count it. Yes, even though it won’t be “in chronological order” anymore. Second , I am no longer committed to reading them in order. I just don’t think I’ll make it through unless I allow myself the joy of some of the more recent winners while reading the older books that are kicki

Four Down.. 86 To Go

Four down 86 to go I’m on a roll, powering through these early Newbery books like crazy! This week I’m reporting on another two books completed. At this rate, I could finish all 90 in one year - but I am taking the "stress free" portion of the challenge seriously.  The 1925 Tales from Silver Lands and the 1926 Shen of the Sea made for an interesting pair. Both books were devoted to short folktales. Silver Lands was filled with stories from South America, while the stories from Shen of the Sea were told with a Chinese flair. Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J. Finger This was my favorite of the two. While the stories were quite wordy, they were also filled with beautiful language. The tales were written as if they were being told around a fire, which took a little bit of getting used to. Once I was in the groove, though, I found the style endearing. It reminded me of the recent style of storytelling like Lemony Snickett. The stories were filled

Top Ten My Reading Life

Some of these books are on the list because they changed my reading life. Some of them are on the list because they changed the lives of those who mean the most to me. All of them deserve to be enshrined forever in my heart. If I were to sit down to write this post another day, I might have different choices. But I decided to just go with it and tell you about the top ten on my list as of this day in my life. 1) Snowy Day This is the very first book I distinctly remember. I don’t know what made it catch my eye. I do know that I lovingly read it over and over, and took it out of the library many times. I don’t even think I noticed that the character didn’t look like me. I think I just loved the simplicity of the pictures and the snow. 2) Chronicles of Narnia Is it cheating to include an entire series in my Top Ten? Pffft, I’m doing it anyway. This series began my journey as a fantasy addict. The messages about love, faith, and family touched me deeply, and I remember hiding

First Pair of Nerdberries Collected

(Not sure if this post will end up in the right spot - but I'm transferring over old posts from my original blog. This one originally posted January 7, 2012.) I’ve completed the first two Newbery award books on my list, so it’s time to sit down and document my thoughts before they are lost for all time. First, let me say that with the sheer number of books and comics that I want to read, it’s hard to devote a lot of time to sitting down and actually writing about them. I know I need to do it – that reflecting on what I read is a big part of what will make me a better reader and teacher of reading – but all I want to do is grab the next read off my shelf! When I began this challenge – a scant week ago – I had no real understanding of just how much children’s books have changed over the years. “Kids these days” have no idea how lucky they are to be able to walk through a bookstore and have so many wonderful choices. While I enjoyed both of these early Newbery winners, they a

Holiday Book a Day

(I'm moving posts over from my old blog host. This one originally posted Jan 2, 2012)  I was very proud of myself over my holiday break! My goal was to read at least one book a day – so how did I do? I’ll start with the book that helped me complete my 2011 Good Reads goal. My goal for the year started at 75 when I set it. I bumped it up twice as I started reading some shorter elementary literature for work and ended up with a goal of 125 books. My 125 th  was a gem by Jennifer Holm called  My Only May Amelia.  It was a sweet historical fiction tale with a very distinctive style. I chose it because my new “Nerdy Book Club” friends kept talking about her current May Amelia book but agreed that it’s better to start with the first one. They were right. I love this character and I love Jennifer Holm’s style for this story. Technically, though, this book didn’t count for my “book a day” goal because I finished it on December 21 st . My break started on the 23 rd  and I went back