Friday, June 8, 2018

Ms. Dorsey's Summer Reading for 2018

These are the books I'm reading this summer. 

Books I'd Recommend for my Students

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 

Review from Amazon: Beautifully written and hauntingly illustrated, Ness’ novel tells the story of Conor, a young boy  [13 years old] who suffers from a recurring nightmare about his mother, who is ill with cancer. Practically friendless—save for a girl named Lily, whom Conor seems to shun—and bullied in school, Conor copes with his loneliness and fear by calling on a monster who appears to him in the form of a yew tree. The monster—whose real purpose grows apparent as the novel progresses—tells Conor three stories in preparation for hearing Conor tells his own story.   
-- James R. Gilligan
A movie has also been made based on the book.
I saw the movie a while ago and had read the book before, but this is a book that is worth the rereading.  Both book and movie could be helpful  -- or too much--  for a reader who is dealing with loss.  

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I love this book.   It is light read. (I read it in one afternoon.)  But there is also thought-provoking depth to it.  The story had humor and excitement and frightening villains and some frightening protagonists too.
From Amazon:  "Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.
"One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own."

Common Sense Media says, " Parents need to know that The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (The Witch's Boy) is an expertly crafted fantasy with spiritual undertones, and it won the 2017 Newbery Medal. It has a strong female protagonist, Luna, described as having curly black hair and amber skin. Luna's taken from her family and saved by a kindhearted witch who lovingly raises her but accidentally imbues her with magical powers. Other members of Luna's adopted family are a frisky young dragon and a wise, poetry-loving bog monster. Multiple storylines come together in a dramatic climax espousing the power of love and nonviolence. "  
I'm not sure that "spiritual undertones" is an accurate description.  I wouldn't have used those words.  

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt 
Ally is in sixth grade and can't read.  She is too embarrassed to tell anyone about the reason she doesn't do the work and is so frequently sent to the principal's office.  She thinks she's stupid, but with the help of a caring and observant teacher, and some great friends, she finds out how wrong she was!

Legend of the Cobbogothians by Hannah L. Clark
This is by an author who lives in American Fork. 
from Amazon: Adopted by a world-famous, myth-chasing archeologist, seventeen-year-old Norah Lukens has spent the last ten years basically raising herself. Why? Because her uncle, Dr. Jack A. Lukens has been off searching for and often proving that the world’s most famous myths are true. When Norah returns home from boarding school to find that her uncle’s myth-chasing days are over—over because he’s been murdered—she and her best friend James Riley set out on their own myth-chase to track down his killer. Submerged into a mythological world of deadly family feuds, magical stones, and giant fire-breathing bats, Norah soon discovers that the ancient Legend of the Cobbogothians found carved on Icelandic cave walls, is at the heart of everything. She also learns a thing or two about her own mysterious past.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
from Amazon:  "An award-winning, well-researched, historical novel about an orphaned girl who sets out with her adoptive father to learn about her past despite the many dangers they face. A poignant story of belonging and the meaning of family." - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor

The Misfits by James Howe 
from Goodreads:  Kids who get called the worst names oftentimes find each other. That's how it was with us. Skeezie Tookis and Addie Carle and Joe Bunch and me. We call ourselves the Gang of Five, but there are only four of us. We do it to keep people on their toes. Make 'em wonder. Or maybe we do it because we figure that there's one more kid out there who's going to need a gang to be a part of. A misfit, like us.

Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby -- they've been friends forever. They laugh together, have lunch together, and get together once a week at the Candy Kitchen to eat ice cream and talk about important issues. Life isn't always fair, but at least they have each other -- and all they really want to do is survive the seventh grade.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
From Amazon :  This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

Skeleton Creek, Book 1 by Patrick Carman
I just finished reading the first book in the Skeleton Creek series.  I really enjoyed it, and think you would, too, if you don't mind spooky!   The story is a combination of the book and short videos on the internet. 

If you go to the library to get this, get at least the first two books if you can.  The first one leaves the main characters in great peril at the end!  

From Amazon :  Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek . . . and Ryan and Sarah are trying to get to the heart of it. But after an eerie accident leaves Ryan housebound and forbidden to see Sarah, their investigation takes two tracks: Ryan records everything in his journal, while Sarah uses her videocam to search things out. . .and then email the clips for Ryan to see. In a new, groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts -- Ryan's text in the book, and Sarah's videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
I've finished reading The Sword of Summer and am now reading The Hammer of Thor.   
If you've enjoyed  Mr. Riordan's books about Greek and Roman mythology, you'll most likely enjoy these too.  

The Sword of Summer  (book description found on Amazon)
Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and truant officers.

One day, he's tracked down by an uncle he barely knows-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants, and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

I've also started reading the Mysteries of Cove series by J. Scott Savage
 (book description found on Amazon)
Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on—and quite possibly their very lives.

Refugee by Alan Gratz 
Everyone should read this book!  Two of my grandchildren (ages 11 and 14), their parents, an aunt, and I all read this and did a book club about it.  We all liked it a lot. 

"JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

"ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

"MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

"All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge."  -- Amazon 

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz 
I read this on the plane on the way to visit some of my grandchildren.  While I was there over a weekend, both my eleven-year-old grandson and my fourteen-year-old granddaughter read it.  We all recommend it. 

"Kamran Smith has it all. He's the star of the football team, dates the most popular girl in school, and can't wait to enlist in the Army like his big brother, Darius. Although Kamran's family hails from Iran, Kamran has always felt 100% American. Accepted. 

"And then everything implodes.

"Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Kamran refuses to believe it, but the evidence is there -- . . . " 
                                 -- Amazon

I'm reading Scythe by Neal Shusterman -- I'm reading it on Overdrive.  You could, too. 
"A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

"Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own." 

                         -- Amazon 

"The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is another extraordinary historical fiction about World War II and innocence in the face of evil.

"When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy Austrian household. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler."                     --- Amazon 

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
"Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” 

Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere." -- Amazon

I read this book within a few hours.  I was surprised that there was so much suspense, and that it just pulled me along!  The book was written for adults, I think, but interested seventh graders would enjoy it, and there's nothing objectionable in the book.  

I read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (the first book in a trilogy) a couple of years ago and very much enjoyed it.  Someone just described it as "an action movie in a book."
I just found this list of books for 7th and 8th graders:

Books I'd Recommend to Other Adults

The Snow Child by Eowyn  Ivey  
From Amazon:  Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey 
From Amazon:  In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn't return--once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there's no telling what awaits him. 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman 
Gaiman retells the gritty stories of Norse gods.   Many reviewers would recommend this for 14 or 15 and up, and I would agree.

I read Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, and liked it much better than I did The Fault in our Stars.    The author himself has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and writes about a teen girl navigating school, friendships, first love,  and other adventures with OCD.  You can see a helpful review here:   Common Sense rates it for 14 years and older, and I agree.  Many older readers may be offended by language included and some kissing/ "making-out" scenes.  As usual, I felt the profanity (including occasional multiple uses of the F-word)  could have been left out without weakening the story.