Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mish mosh

I got two boxes of books this week from our book fair and it's safe to say, the kids were as excited about the books as I was.  They practically snatched the books out of my hands on Thursday and Friday, so I can't wait to see if they live up to the hype.  The big winners were "The Zodiac Legacy-Convergence" by Stan Lee (so how could that one miss?  Published by Disney, written by Stan Lee (of Spiderman fame) and it's about a group of kids who have super powers based on the Chinese Zodiac).  Awesome.  The other big winner was "Loot" by Jude Watson.  How can you lose with a plot that includes a world renowned thief, orphans, terrible foster care, evil and unreliable adults, long lost relatives and hunt for treasure?  Ummm, you can't and the kids were super excited.

I read a couple of new ones this week and they were wide ranging.  The first one is an adorable picture book called "Voices are not for yelling" by Elizabeth Verdick.  As a teacher, it's exactly what you would hope for in a book with this title... short pieces of text,  lovely, bright colored pictures, and a great lesson in manners.  Every school is going to want copies of this one for their shelves and I'm so glad I found it.

The second one I heard about in Mock Newbery group on Goodreads and I got an advanced readers copy from Netgalley.  It's called "Serafina and the Black Cloak" by Robert Beatty.  It has a very interesting premise... a girl named Serafina lives hidden in the Biltmore House (in Asheville, NC).  Her dad is a maintenance man there and they have been living in the basement (unnoticed) since Serafina was a baby.  At 12, Serafina has never been to school (but she knows how to read) and has no friends and spends her nights catching rats.  One night when she's out hunting, a scary man in a cape chases another little girl into her path.  The girl disappears screaming in terror.  Serafina doesn't exactly see what happens but the man in the cape starts to chase her too.  Other kids disappear and Serafina knows she has to find out what happens.  There's some nice history about the Biltmore House and their family but I found parts of the story really scary (I think I'm a wimp about kids being taken from their parents).  It's super compelling to read and it does have a happy ending but I think it might be too big for my elementary school students.  

I also read one called "Icebreaker" by Lian Tanner.  I also found this one very compelling, but I think I didn't like it as much as Serafina.  I tried explaining the plot to my most rabid reader at school and I must have done it badly because she kept saying 'That sounds confusing" and I guess it is, a little.  It starts off with a list of all the characters (which, personally, I hate, because I think it's kind of cheating.  Shouldn't you put all that into the story rather than have to go back to this list all the time to figure out who's who?  Although, maybe the story would have been less confusing if I had...)  Anyway, then the prologue tells about a professor who has built a mechanical child but there are a group of people called the Anti-Machinists who are determined to destroy the mechanical child so the professor puts the child into a box and then onto a boat.  And then 100 years pass.  The people onto the boat have sort of fallen into a society of sorts that is sorted into three groups.  The three groups try to have as little to do with each other as possible (but being on a boat, that's sort of difficult). They are sailing in apparently Arctic waters with no destination in mind.   There is a girl that doesn't appear to belong to any group and they call her the Nothing girl and she appears to have raised herself.  One day, she sees a boy on the ice and calls to rescue him.  They do although they are deeply suspicious of him and keep him locked up.  The Nothing Girl (who's name is Petrel) wants to find out more about him and as she's talking to him, one of the characters is murdered.  Everyone immediately assumes it must have been the new kid and Petrel and so they go on a bit of hunt to try to find out who really committed the murder.  It was very hard to put down, but you can see where it was a bit complicated.  


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