Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ms. Dorsey's Summer Reading

"Teachers are solar powered. They recharge during the summer." – Unknown

These are the books I'm reading this summer. 

1.  Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus  by Dusti Bowling   -- Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Life Problems
What would it be like to be born without arms?
What would it be like to be without arms and move to a new town and school in junior high? 

2.  How to Steal a Dog  by Barbara O'Conner   --  Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Life Problems
This story combines homelessness,  a very cute dog (who is not homeless) a spunky girl,  and figuring out how to steal a dog.  

3. The Hate U Give (Realistic Contemporary Fiction)  by Angie Thomas --  Warning:  a lot of language and some violence and sex.  It includes both positive and negative family relationships and role models.  If you're interested in reading this, I'd advise talking with a parent about it, and waiting until you're in high school.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

4. Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and Melissa Marr.  Because I teach the mythology class, I've been looking for more novels that are based on mythology. The main characters are descendants of the Norse Gods who must stop Ragnarok (while other descendants try to bring it on).  I hope to read the other two books in the series -- Odin's Ravens and Thor's Serpents.

5. The Silver Penny by Randall Wright
Twelve-year-old Jacob (whose nickname is Deb) lives on a farm in the early 1800s in Pennsylvania and has a bad case of wanderlust. No hex can keep him from yearning for far-off places, and neither can a broken leg. But it can keep him from moving around at all. Deb is so miserable that he even misses doing chores. Nothing cheers him up -- not his cousin Tam and especially not that strange boy Bray who's been hanging about.

The only glimmer of brightness in Deb's life comes from Grandpa's lucky silver penny, which keeps mysteriously showing up. Soon its strange powers lead him on a journey that might be just the cure he needs.  -- summary adapted from Amazon. 
This is a strange book -- a mix of historical fiction and magical realism -- but I enjoyed reading it.  Mr. Wright is a local author.

6. Red Queen -- (Dystopian Fiction) - by  Victoria Aveyard - There are suggestions that this is a world that developed after some great destruction of what could have been our world.   People have evolved into two types -- those with red blood who have become the servant/slave class, and those with silver blood who have special powers and rule absolutely and with cruelty.  Mare has red blood, but she and the silver royals discover that she too has a special, dangerous power.   The royals attempt to use her for their own purposes, and she soon learns that "anyone can betray anyone."   This is a four book series.  I very much enjoyed the first book.

7.  The Night Diary (Historical Fiction) -- by Veera Hiranandani  -- Nisha and her twin brother are twelve years old and live with their Hindu physician father, their grandmother, and their Muslim cook and gardener  Kazi in the part of India that in 1947 became Pakistan.  Their mother (who died when they were born) was Muslim, so there had been some disapproval when their father and mother had married, but in general Hindus, Muslims, and Sihks all got along fine in their community until Great Britain gave India its freedom and the leaders decided there should be one country for Muslims and another for Hindus.  For her twelfth birthday, Kazi has given Nisha a diary, and Nisha decides she will use it to write every night to her dead mother.  The diary becomes the record of her family's flight from what was their home and is now dangerous and often deadly for Hindus.  If you liked reading Refugee, you will probably also find this book very interesting.

Enrique's Journey (adapted for young people) (Nonfiction)  by Sonia Nazario
This nonfiction book tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who attempts (several times) to travel from his home country of Honduras to the United States to find his mother.   She had left him and his sister in the care of family members when he was five.  Her husband had left the family and she was desperate to support her children -- providing them with food, clothing,  and perhaps even education.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Seventh grader Aru should never have lit the ancient lamp. When she put the lighter to the wick, the world froze and she released the awful Sleeper. Aru is suddenly launched into the world of the gods and surrounded by mythical characters come to life. Aru discovers she is a Pandava, born with the soul of one of the five brothers featured in the Mahabharata. She also has a soul sister, Mini, to assist her in this quest—highly unusual for a Pandava. Aru and Mini must enter the Kingdom of Death to find out the secret that will destroy the Sleeper. Rick Riordan writes the introduction to this book that has a similar tone and pacing to his popular "Percy Jackson" series, but Chokshi brings her own sensibility and style. Using Hindu mythology as the foundation, Chokshi has created an exciting adventure around a coming-of-age tale. A glossary provides readers with a basic introduction to the various traditional stories that Chokshi drew from. Just as "Percy Jackson" led tweens to a deeper exploration and appreciation of classic Greek mythology, Chokshi's tale will likely inspire a similar demand for traditional Indian mythology. VERDICT An enthralling start to a series that Riordan fans and anyone in the mood for a high-octane adventure will love.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA -- from Amazon reviews.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer (graphic novel)
A powerfully moving graphic novel by New York Times bestselling author Eoin Colfer and the team behind the Artemis Fowl graphic novels that explores the current plight of undocumented immigrants.
Ebo is alone. His brother, Kwame, has disappeared, and Ebo knows it can only be to attempt the hazardous journey to Europe, and a better life―the same journey their sister set out on months ago.
But Ebo refuses to be left behind in Ghana. He sets out after Kwame and joins him on the quest to reach Europe. Ebo's epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his family.  -- from Amazon 
Sabriel by Garth Nix  --   I love Garth Nix!  I've read this whole series before -- a long time ago -- and now I'm listening to it on Libby (free text and audiobooks through the public library) as read by Tim Curry.    Sabriel lives in a world of charter magic and free magic, and of two kingdoms.  Since she was four years old, she has lived at a boarding school in a kingdom where there are phones and electric lights and modern weapons.  Across the wall is the Old Kingdom -- more medieval and a place of monsters and of dead who not stay dead.   Her father has come to visit her from the Old Kingdom, twice a year officially and more often unofficially (and seemingly unembodied).  Her father is a necromancer, but as he says,  Yes, . . . I am a necromancer, but not of the common kind. where others of the art raise the dead, I lay them back to rest. And those that will not rest, I bind-or try to. I am Abhorsen . . ."  Sabriel has been learning charter magic at school, and, unlike the other girls, necromancy, too.  The inciting incident is when her father Abhorsen goes missing in the land of the dead.  It's up to Sabriel to rescue him.  If she can, she will also save the rest of the world from the terror that will come if the magic protections he has created die with him.
Garth Nix is also the author of The Keys to the Kingdom and The Seventh Tower series.

For parents:
The Lost Girls of Paris  (Historical Fiction)  by Pam Jenoff  -- I enjoyed reading it, but it fell short of what it could have been.  This is one of those books where it feels like the author tried to wrap up the ending too quickly.
“Fraught with danger, filled with mystery, and meticulously researched, The Lost Girls of Paris is a fascinating tale of the hidden women who helped to win the war.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours -- comment found on Amazon.

Becoming  (Autobiography) by Michelle Obama
This is Michelle Obama's autobiography.  Regardless of the reader's political views, it is both interesting and inspirational.

Educated: A Memoir (Autobiography)  by Tara Westover  -- Tara grew up in Southern Idaho with survivalist parents.  She was not sent to either elementary or secondary school but eventually taught herself enough to be accepted to a university at age seventeen, then goes on to Cambridge and Harvard.

Abandoned books: (both of these are books for adults)
Lincoln in the Bardo -- too strange and too crass for my taste
I, Eliza Hamilton --  Good, but I had other books I'd rather read at the time. 

Other books you might be interested in:
Here is a group of books recommended for those who have enjoyed the Harry Potter books:

I highly recommend The Alchemist series.  Scroll down here for more on that.
I've also enjoyed Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children.
I also especially recommend the Ranger's Apprentice Series, The Redwall Series, and The Lost Years of Merlin.
I'm interested in The Worst Witch series because the shows available on Netflix are so fun.

Concerning the His Dark Materials Series, I recommend the first book, but not the rest for everyone -- depending on your religious feelings. Pullman is a skilled author, but for me his efforts to promote atheism are too blatant.


I haven't read all of these books, but other teachers are recommending them.   You could check CommonSenseMedia for more information on at least some of them.

Suggestions for Summer Reading --
From Book 1: Nicholas Flamel appeared in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter—but did you know he really lived? And his secrets aren't safe! Discover the truth in book one of the New York Timesbestselling series the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. 
The truth: Nicholas Flamel's tomb is empty. 
The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives.

   Nicholas Flamel is the greatest Alchemyst to ever live. The records show that he died in 1418, but what if he's actually been making the elixir of life for centuries?
    The secrets to eternal life are hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed, and in the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. 
    There is one hope. If the prophecy is true, Sophie and Josh Newman have the power to save everyone. Now they just have to learn to use it.  

“The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has everything you loved about Harry Potter, including magic, mystery, and a constant battle of good versus evil.”—Bustle
If you haven't read
 the Harry Potter series,
 or Percy Jackson,
or Magnus Chase,
or the Legend Series,
or Hunger Games,
or Divergent,
or Uglies,
Maze Runner,
Matched (a community a lot like that of The Giver, but with very interesting differences),
the other books related to The Giver:  Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son,
or Arc of a Scythe,
I Am Number Four,
Among the Hidden,
Diary of  a Wimpy Kid,
Everlost Trilogy,
Sammy Keyes series,  (girl detective extraordinaire -- and very funny), 
this could be the time.

Individual Books (some have other related books):
Or how about
Little Women,
or any of Alan Gratz's books (he wrote Refugee),
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander,
The Secret Life of Bees, 
Fever 1793, 
Out of My Mind, 
Al Capone Does My Shirts, 
The Fourth Stall, 
The Hobbit (and The Lord of the Rings series), 
Savvy (three books), 
Walk Two Moons, 
Stand Tall, 
Maniac Magee, 
When You Reach Me.

I want to read: 
"Making Bombs for Hitler" by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. At first, Lida believes that she and her family are safe from the Nazis since they aren't Jewish. However, the Ukrainian girl can't escape the horrors of World War II. Lida is rounded up with other youth, separated from her younger sister, Larissa, and sent to a brutal labor camp where she and other children will be forced to make German bombs until they drop. There, Lida comes up with a daring plan: sabotage the bombs. Her friends are eager to join her secret resistance, but if their deception is discovered, they'll surely be executed. Nevertheless, the chance to do their own, small part to end the war is too important to waste.

Based on the real-life experience of countless Ukrainian and other Central and Eastern European children who were among the estimated 3 to 5 million Ostarbeiters (or "Eastern workers") used as slave labor in Nazi work camps, this historical fiction novel is not too graphic for younger readers, but still captures both the horrors of the camps and the courage of people like Lida who found ways to fight. Lida is an inspiring but realistic character, and young readers will feel for her as she struggles with fear and loss -- and as she bonds with her fellow work camp prisoners. This captivating, suspenseful novel about a little known part of WWII history is highly recommended for ages 10 and up.   -- Recommended by A Mighty Girl.