Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Books, Brownies, and Beyond - 2nd Summer Meeting, August 6th

I arrive fifteen minutes before start time.  I lug my bins of books and cookie bars into our small meeting room.  I push the table back and begin set-up.  I meet Avery, a first timer, who loves to read.  I rejoice when fellow book club sponsor and King County librarian, Carrie Bowman, arrives with book stacks in hand.  I thrill when three members - Disha, Elsa, and Katie - arrive bubbling over with book energy.  I meet Mia, friend to all three, and another voracious reader.  I point out the notepads and pens, perfect for adding to one's ever growing Want to Read list.  I struggle to be heard over the book babble.  I mention that we'll get started in three more minutes.  I hesitate to break the spell, so I savor a room filled with book love and wait fifteen more minutes before we settle into our seats to begin our formal book sharing time.
Everyone takes a turn to share a book they've read this summer.  In the middle of this frenzy of book sharing, two intrepid young men, Varuzhan and Austin join our small band of book enthusiasts.  We pose, books in hand, for a quick picture.  Students begin pleading to check out books from today's display.  We send them to the circulation desk, hoping for "no holds" on the title(s) so they can check the book(s) out right now.   Our August meeting ends with hopes for one more meeting before school starts, perhaps at Island Books, our beloved independent community bookstore.

I head to the car, book bin in hand, smiling with satisfaction as small groups spill into the library scanning shelves for the next perfect summer read.
                                                                                                       Featured Titles
Lost in the Sun
by Lisa Graff
by Pam Munoz Ryan
I Lived on Butterfly Hill
by Marjorie Agosin
Coaltown Jesus
by Ron Koertge
Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Beil
The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Bradley
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
Long Shot 
by Mike Lupica

Friday, August 7, 2015

August Book Reviews

Katie recently submitted the following book reviews for books she's read since our last book club meeting in July:

Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Beil
Summer at Forsaken Lake is one of the best books I've read this summer! Nicholas Mettleson lives in New York City and must go to Deming, Ohio for the summer with his two little twin sisters. There they stay with their Great Uncle Nick. Nicholas meets Charlie, a girl with a really good curveball, and they work together to solve a mystery from when Charlie's mom and Nicholas's dad were 14. With sailing, filming and the Seaweed Strangler involved it's bound to be one adventurous summer! I'm not sure if there is a sequel to it, but I wish there was. I looked forward to reading it every night. It's an awesome book that has lots of parts where it could finish, but then something happens. I would recommend this to almost every person I know. I hope whoever reads it loves it as much as I did!

Middle School: Ultimate Showdown
The 2 Katchadorian kids are going head to head in a battle of the book! Each child argues their point in a hilarious story of two middle-school aged kids. Topics such as schedules, bullying and holidays are covered.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Sophie Brown, age 12, writes letters to her deceased grandmother and great uncle, telling the story of her move from LA to her Great Uncle Jim's farm. She finds a mess of a farm, metal contraptions piled high and very sad little grapevines cover the property along with a few odd creatures. Her mom and dad are kept busy with writing and finding a job, so Sophie has lots of time to herself. That’s when she discovers something crazy.

Circus Mirandus
Micah Tuttle's parents had died when he was little, so now he lived with his grandfather. His grandfather was getting sick, and about to die, so Micah's great aunt Gertrudis came to stay. Aunt Gertrudis is a bitter old (but younger than Micah's grandpa) lady who hates her brother's Circus Mirandus stories. Micah however loves them. The stories his grandpa tells him, seem unreal and magical. Then one day Micah decides to go looking for the Circus. With help from his new friend Jenny, the Man Who Bends Light and an annoying parrot, Micah finds someone who might be able to help his grandfather.

I Kill the Mockingbird
They  never meant for it to get this big. They just wanted to make people excited about summer reading. Lucy, Alena and Michael get their summer reading lists and were thrilled to see the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird By: Harper Lee, on the list. Their classmates, not so much. So to get them excited about summer reading, they plan on how to make the entire town get excited about the already famous book.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Books, Brownies, and Beyond - 1st Summer Meeting!

Our meeting on Thursday, July 16 included Katie and Charlie, regular members of our book club; Sam, Charlie's friend; Steven, an incoming sixth grader; Ms. Bowman from the Mercer Island public library; and a Skype visit with me (Ms. Behnke) from Oklahoma where I was visiting friends and family.  The cookie bars made it to book club even though I didn't.  We missed some of the regular members, but hope you'll be able to join us for our next scheduled meeting on Thursday, August 6 from 4-5 p.m. at the public library in the small meeting room.  It was enjoyable to hear what people are currently reading and to share books.

I shared two titles with the group, Circus Mirandus, the book I'm currently reading and Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, the next book in my WTR (want to read) pile.

Last month I finished Love, Ruby Lavender, the first book in my summer chicken-themed books.  I brought this book home from my classroom library since I love Each Little Bird That Sings, also by Deborah Wiles.  Love, Ruby Lavender is an epistolary novel, told partially through letters written between Ruby and her grandmother, Miss Eula.  Read the book to discover how a new friend and pet chickens help Ruby accept her grandfather's death.

I also finished The Disappearance of Emily H in June, a book that I shared with Elsa during book club.  When Elsa returned the book, she insisted that I read it.  This mystery, that is also about middle school bullying, features Raine, a new girl in town. The main character's supernatural ability to see sparkles on objects that contain people's memories helps her to solve the mystery of Emily's disappearance.  Raine's ability to read people's memories reminded me of Lois Lowry's book, Gossamer.  The addition of Raine's supernatural power puts this book in the genre of magical realism.

Ms. Bowman's book shares included The Honest Truth, Book Scavenger, and Circus Mirandus.

The afternoon concluded with a lively discussion about the quality of movies made from books.  Charlie created a scale with Harry Potter at one end (high) and Eragon at the other end (low).  Charlie has been reading or perhaps rereading the Inheritance trilogy this summer.  I was excited to receive the first student book review of the summer yesterday.  Katie submitted a review of Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry.  You can read her review here.

July Book Reviews

This review is from Awesome Katie, member of Books, Brownies, and Beyond:

Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry
By: Lynne Jonell
This was a very good book. This is the 3rd book in the trilogy and to understand it, it would help if you'd read the 1st two books. Emmy, who her parents think, is irresponsible, is wrongly shipped off to her 2 great-aunts, one of which is on the edge of death. I don't want to spoil the 1st or 2nd books for anyone, but there are 2 rats, one desperate and one eager, an elementary school soccer star, an evil nanny and her sidekick (who loves her more than anything), a mysterious "Ratmom" and a special rodent power to be found out. With bats, cool train rides, late night adventures and a missing girl, Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry is an adventure packed book with lots of interesting characters and "why-did-you-do-that?" moments. I loved reading it and hope others who read will like it to.

For those of you who haven't read the first two:
(1st book): Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
(2nd book): Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls

I recommend both.

- Katie

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Newbery Possibilities: Summer Prediction Edition

Betsy Bird's Newbery/Caldecott 2016 Summer Prediction Edition is now available from School Library Journal.  Here's her list of Newbery possibilities followed by my commentary.  Click on the link above to read Betsy's blog post which also includes Caldecott possibilities.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
I just picked this up from the holds shelf at my library.  It was highly recommended by Donalyn Miller and Franki Sibberson in their session at All Write.  It's next in my stack to read.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan 
One of the members of my student book club showed up with an ARC of this book in the fall.  She loved it.  Linda of Teacher Dance reviewed it recently here.  Linda liked it so much that she gave a copy to Ruth Ayres which I spotted on Ruth's writing spot from The Choice Literacy writing retreat.

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
This is Williams-Garcia's newest title in the series that began with One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven.  Bird ran an experiment with some librarians to see if it can stand alone.  It won hands down!  We read One Crazy Summer several years ago in our Mock Newbery club. 
As soon as I read PS Be Eleven, I'm adding this title to my library request list.  

Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead
This title was also recommended by Donalyn Miller and Franki Sibberson.  You may remember that Stead won the Newbery award in 2010 for When You Reach Me.   

Tricky Vic:  The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli
This is the only title recommended by Bird that is unknown to me.  I'm always happy to see nonfiction on the Newbery possibility list.  I'll request it from the library.  

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This title has been in my want-to-read stack before.  Sometimes I have to return titles before I get them read.  Lori Carter, blogger friend from All Write, was listening to this as she traveled to and from All Write.  She reviewed it here.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Newbery Possibilities for 2016

Summer is a great time to explore titles that might win the 2016 Newbery.  I've included links to posts by Jonathan Hunt and Elizabeth Bird:

Jonathan Hunt's blog, Heavy Medal, tries to predict the Newbery (and Caldecott ) winners each year.  Here's his 2016 Newbery Watchlist published at the end of January 2015:

Blogger Elizabeth Bird's Spring Prediction Edition includes some of the same titles that were mentioned by Jonathan Hunt.  Scroll past the Caldecott predictions to get to the Newbery predictions. The Summer Prediction Edition should be available soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Books, Brownies and Beyond - Book Babble

Thursday, June 11, was our last meeting of the school year for Books, Brownies, and Beyond, our after school book club.  Far too quickly, it was 4 o'clock and time to say goodbye until our summer meetings in July and August.  All middle school students including incoming 6th graders are welcome to join us at the Mercer Island Public Library on July 16th and August 6th, 4-5 p.m.  Bring books to share, come learn about great reads for summer, and enjoy cookie bars with us.  You don't have to attend during the school year to join us for the summer meetings.  
         Check out the smiles and book love radiating from this group!

I chose the arun* form to celebrate our final gathering.
*arun -  fifteen-line poem in three sets of five lines. Each set of five lines follows the same syllable structure: starting with one syllable and increasing by one (1/2/3/4/5 — 3x).  Fellow blogger, Girl Griot, introduced the arun to me.  

time to talk
books and peruse
Ms. B's blue book bins.
cookies and
favorite books
with one another.
surrounds us.
Goodbye until
our July meeting!