Life After Harry Potter – Part Two

posted by Gina

Let’s take a moment and talk about this woman:

julie-andrews-05

Julie Andrews. Actor. Singer. Movie Star. Broadway Star. Golden Globe, Academy Award, Emmy, and Grammy Winner. Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp. Also … author.  Did you know?

If you’re looking for fabulous fantasy, look no further than The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.

9780060218058

Continue reading “Life After Harry Potter – Part Two”

Life After Harry Potter – Part One

posted by Gina

I know you’ll be shocked to hear me say this, but we will not speak of the films here. I am not a fan of books made into movies. I will not tire you with my various rants (way to take away all of Ginny’s awesomeness, movie people) or go on a teacher tirade (nothing’s better than a series that inspires struggling readers). We will merely discuss the BOOKS.

Now that that’s out of my system, let’s chat.

Not all readers embrace this genre, but for those who found themselves captivated by all that is wonderful about Hogwarts, let me help you out with what to give your magical reader next. Continue reading “Life After Harry Potter – Part One”

Book Review: No Talking

From vvmsmedia.edublog.org
From vvmsmedia.edublog.org

posted by Beret

Age Range:  Grades 2 to 7-ish

Last year, Gina introduced me to Andrew Clements with her review of Frindle. I read it to my kids and we were hooked…but unfortunately, we found it hard to find the right follow up from Mr. Clements.

I found Room One and Extra Credit on the library shelves, but for some unknown reason, my girls refused to check them out. We tried Lunch Money, but gave up three or four chapters into it. It was too practical. In fact, it felt as if it were written specifically for teachers to use in math class.

Note: Gina completely disagrees!  Loves this book!  Thinks it’s delightful!

We tackled A Wrinkle in Time and a couple of Jerry Spinelli books instead.

It took months before we were ready to give another Clements book a go. Something about this one caught my eye, however. It has occasional entertaining illustrations. It is smart and funny. The type is generously-sized, and the chapters are short.

AND, IT IS FABULOUS.     Continue reading “Book Review: No Talking”

Resources for Young Writers

posted by Beret

Seeing as I can’t grow a mustache this month (c.f. Movember), I’d like to focus on writing instead. November’s actually the easiest month of the year to do so.

Writing is often a solitary activity, and left to my own devices, I am easily mesmerized by videos of adorable animals frolicking, or meatheads having staple gun fights. Any time outside of teaching, parenting, and editing would be easily devoured by YouTube and Iron Chef.

Consequently, I am a huge fan of writing groups, writing classes, National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), National Blog Posting Month, and all of those organized writing extravaganzas. I thrive with structure and community, deadlines and systems of accountability. I like having someone looking over my shoulder–not annoying people, mind you, but the delightful, word-loving types.

The year I did NaNoWriMo was crazy and fabulous, with pep talks from Jonathan Franzen rolling into my inbox, videos to entertain and encourage me, forums, essays, and write-ins at local coffee shops. It was all designed help build and maintain my momentum, and I loved it. I wrote more that month than ever before or since. Some of it’s a load of crap, but nestled in there are nuggets I never would have created watching Maru.

There’s a lot going on for adult writers. But let’s say you have a non-adult or two around who likes to write. What’s out there for them?   Continue reading “Resources for Young Writers”

Gina’s Favorite Halloween Reads

posted by Gina

It just doesn’t seem right to love books and to love Halloween and not post about Halloween books on Halloween. I realize nothing can top Beret’s Ghost Cake with Flaming Eyes, but as I spent much of today thinking lovingly of the picture books I proudly displayed in my classroom library each October, I thought, why not share? All contain little to no nightmare-inducing possibilities and are just as delightful for adults as for kiddos.   Continue reading “Gina’s Favorite Halloween Reads”

If You Liked A Wrinkle in Time …

Then I have something new for you.

posted by Gina

Remember A Wrinkle in Time?  I mean, what a great book.

Vintage cover, from my childhood.

Many elementary teachers still trot this out for book club or circle reading (I sure did), so your young person might be familiar already. How I loved (and still love) misfit Meg, with her temper and her glasses and her grim determination.

And, of course, the story – the mysterious strangers, the long-lost father, the journey to other worlds, the terror of IT, and the power of love.  What more could we want?  Continue reading “If You Liked A Wrinkle in Time …”

All hail Wendy Mass

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: 8 and up

A couple of years ago, I received an unusual text.

“GO GET THE CANDYMAKERS AND READ IT ALOUD TO YOUR KIDS,” it advised.

It seemed rather urgent, so though the book wasn’t yet out in paperback–and weighed in at a hefty 453 pages–I “Amazon-ed” that thing and got started immediately.

Now comes the hard part:  explaining why you should get the book, too.

Unlike my friend Gina, I’m not one of those people who regularly seeks out new youth literature. I’ve been burned too many times by inane codswallop like the Rainbow Magic Fairy books. If I could remember who introduced them to my kids, I might even unfriend them, since over the course of the following ten months, I was forced to read at least 42 of those.        Continue reading “All hail Wendy Mass”