Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A great read - Caudill Nominee Joan Bauer's Almost Home

Joan Bauer continues to be an enormously popular author in our LTC. She does it again in the modern realism genre with Almost Home, a 2015 Caudill Nominee.  6th grader Sugar Mae Cole finds herself homeless and the adult in charge when circumstances beyond her control land her mom, Reba, in the psychiatric wing of a hospital and she in foster care. Set in Missouri and then Chicago, Sugar braves many hardships and scary situations. Her talent for poetry and her determination help her to connect with the right people that come into her life. Ultimately, those connections are what save her and her mom. Secondary characters are richly drawn adding to the depth and detail of this outstanding story. Readers will leave this story with a better understanding of homelessness but also what strength of character can look like.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Caudill 2015 non-fiction nominee - Dogs On Duty Rocks!!

Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, one of the great non-fiction writers for young people, brings us the world of dogs in the military. Readers will be instantly engaged by the opening shot of a soldier and his Belgian Malinois (one of the preferred breeds in such dangerous work) partner jumping fearlessly out of a helicopter! The book covers the history of dogs used in war and battle. The progression from dog as weapon to dog as crucial partner is well developed. The careful explanation of breeding, choosing, training, testing and partnering are fascinating. Ms Patent does not shy away from the rigors and dangers of work as soldiers both human and canine. If you ever thought dogs were amazing as friends you will be blown away by dogs as soldiers. Don't miss this non-fiction Caudill nominee for 2015.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Two super additions for our dystopia fans!

Cinder is Part 1 of the 4 part Lunar Chronicles series. Author Marissa Meyer takes the Cinderella story to a whole new place twisting and tweaking all the familiar elements. Set in a post apocalyptic world, Cinder, part cyborg and gifted mechanic, tries to survive life with her evil step-mother and shallow step-sisters. Enter Prince Kai, heir to the throne of what was once China, a deadly plague, and the cruel and ruthless Lunar inhabitants. Cinder, whose mysterious past is about to catch up with her, finds herself the unlikely hero of the Earth's fate. The sequel is "Scarlet", a twist on Little Red Riding Hood that continues the story while introducing new characters. For all the Hunger Game/Divergent fans this series is for you!!

Elsie Chapman comes through with a terrific sequel to her dystopia novel Dualed. In Divided, West Grayer, now is a complete but still plagued by her Striker past. Boyfriend, Chord, also complete is trying to live a normal life knowing full well that West will find trouble somewhere. It comes this time as an offer by the Board (sinister, secretive leadership of city-state Kersh) that West cannot refuse. It will involve resuming being a striker but this time to eliminate the alts of children of the Board. Struggling with her conscience and her love for Chord, West tries to meet the challenge by herself armed with a secret new weapon. In this installment you will learn more about the history of Kersh, the hierarchy of the Board and the some teasers about the Surround. Action packed the story begs for one more entry in the series to answer the burning questions about West, Chord, the Board and the future.

Two Great Graphic Novels

Jimmy Gownley, author of the popular Amelia Rules series, writes his autobiography in graphic novel form. Covering junior high through early high school, Jimmy explains how "the dumbest idea ever" completely re-wrote his life. The story follows Jimmy as a series of illnesses side line his athletic goals but jump start his love of cartooning. The story explores friendship, coping with stress and fame and figuring out what is important to you. You will laugh and worry right along with Jimmy, his best friend and parents in this true story.
Geeks, jocks, high school elections and robotics all merge in this laugh out loud slice of modern life. Charlie, all around great guy, is caught between his cheerleader ex-girlfriend and his nerdy oldest friend. Each one represents a group vying for Student Council money. The cheer squad wants new uniforms and the techies want to go to the Robotics Competition. So they both mount campaigns to win student council but the two candidates are best friends. What could go wrong? Plenty and plenty of laughs. Where is the sequel authors Prudence Shen and Faith Hicks??!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stephan Pastis Wows are Students!

 Stephan Pastis visited with our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders on March 27th. Equiped with a great group of slides, he told the students about how he started out being an attorney for his career path. After ten years, he realized he really wanted to be creative and took the plunge to become a comic strip artist. He was rejected many times until he added a second character to his beloved rat, a very clever pig. (Pearls Before Swine comic strip author/illustrator)

Mr. Pastis explained his creative process. He made our group laugh as he explained his need for loud music, lots of coffee and a room with walls that he draws on to get his ideas down on paper.

He was approached several years ago to write a book for middle school children. At first, he felt he was too busy but eventually an idea came to him based on the type of stories he loved when he was that age: Detective stories. And so Timmy Failure was born!

Mistakes were Made was the first Timmy story. It was on the NY Times Best Seller list for many weeks. Soon, part two came along Now Look What You Did which is how we got to have Mr. Pastis come visit us.  Since he was doing a huge tour, The Book Stall in Winnetka asked if we would like to have him visit us here at Sears School! Well, we certainly did.

After talking to the students, Mr. P. fielded questions from the audience. He brought t-shirts, three Timmy Failure watches and temporary tattoos. We were able to have a drawing right there with him picking the names of the lucky winners.

He then signed books before heading off to his next appointment.

PS Mr. Pastis even gave our students a sneak peek at the third Timmy Failure story We Meet Again, due out in October! We will be looking forward to that!