Wednesday, November 24, 2010

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Let me just start by saying I absolutely love Jordan Sonnenblick's work.  I can always count on it to be honest and insightful without being preachy, and he always manages to somehow deal with life's ups and downs with a perfect dose of humor.

In this companion novel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (also a Lone Star in a previous year) Jeffrey has grown up a bit and is now in 8th grade.
*side note--if you have never read D G & D P it is a MUST READ.  An all-time fave. You don't have to read it to understand After Ever After, but it is an excellent read in and of itself.*

After Ever After features two middle school boys who have been friends since the 4th grade.  They have a lot in common, including the fact that both have had cancer. 

Middle school can be tough stuff.  I remember it like it was yesterday, perhaps because I still work with that age group.  Waking up feeling awkward in your own skin and worrying endlessly about what others thought--is my hair styled okay? do my jeans look stupid?  does he think I'm cute, too?  will people laugh at me?  Sonnenblick handles this age with such an honest voice.  I feel like I'm listening in on conversations taking place at my own school. 

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book and fell in love with it immediately.  I've passed it (and my new copies) of it on to both boys and girls in every grade level at my school.  It simply resonates with them all.  While the main characters have both experienced cancer, this isn't a "cancer" book.  It is a book about friends...real, true friends.  It is a book about the perils of middle school.  About feeling puppy love and about growing up. 

I cannot recommend this book enough.  I feel so privileged that this book will be the very last booktalk I ever give at TLA as a member of the Lone Star list.  We got to choose one book to booktalk this year, and I chose After Ever After immediately. 

Get it. Read it. Love it.

Read on, gentle readers, read on...
Mrs. S.

p.s. on the eve of Thanksgiving I'd like to mention how very thankful I am for friends, family, and fabulous books.  I am also thankful for each and every one of you that takes a moment to read my little blog.  I appreciate you more than you know.  I'll leave you with a  photo of my two biggest reasons to be thankful this season.

Monday, November 15, 2010

*drum roll, please*

 Since it has now offically been announced I can post these....SO exciting!  I will post my personal reviews of each of these starting this week.  Keep in mind, these are my reviews--they do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and/or feelings of the committee as a group!

2011 Texas Lone Star Reading List

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown, 2010.

Bell, Cathleen Davitt. Little Blog on the Prairie. Bloomsbury, 2010.

Brande, Robin. Fat Cat. Knopf, 2009.

Carter, Ally. Heist Society. Disney Hyperion, 2010.

Childs, Tera Lynn. Forgive My Fins. Katherine Tegen Books, 2010.

Condie, Ally. Matched. Dutton, 2010.

Deuker, Carl. Payback Time. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.

Dionne, Erin. The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet. Dial Books, 2010.

Falkner, Brian. Brain Jack. Random House, 2009.

Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Dial Books, 2010.

Gephart, Donna. How to Survive Middle School. Delacorte, 2010.

Golding, Julia. Dragonfly. Marshall Cavendish, 2009.

Henderson, Jason. Vampire Rising. HarperTeen, 2010.

Klass, David. Stuck on Earth. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2010.

Shulman, Polly. The Grimm Legacy. Putnam, 2010.

Shusterman, Neal. Bruiser. HarperTeen, 2010.

Sonnenblick, Jordan. After Ever After. Scholastic Press, 2010.

Stork, Francisco X. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010.

Wiles, Deborah. Countdown. Scholastic Press, 2010.

Yancy, Richard. The Monstrumologist. Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

it's the of the world as we know it

...and I feel fine.

For the past three years I've been blessed beyond measure to be a part of the fantastic Lone Star committee. 

It is a little (okay, maybe a LOT) weird to realize that my time on the committee is, as all good things eventually must, coming to an end. 

I will meet for my final vote/battle for the 20 new Lone Stars next weekend in the fair city of Austin. 

I have spent the past 3 years on a thrill ride of finding boxes of books piled up in front of my door, reading the heck out of them, and getting the opportunity to meet and talk with some truly amazing people---authors, publishers, and other amazing librarians. 

And to have had a voice in making one of the most incredible lists for middle school readers anywhere.
How lucky can a girl get?

Yeah, it has been one crazy-great ride.  The leaving is a bit bittersweet. 

I will certainly miss the Christmas-like boxes of books on my front porch and working so closely with some of the most amazing people I've met, but I am very ready to have the chance to read for pure pleasure again. To pick up a book that looks amazing to me, even if I'm quite sure it will never be a Lone Star, and to open it up and read it at a non-frenetic pace is a treat I've found myself missing more and more lately.  

And I have many tasks (some more fun than others) that I am ready to pick up again.  Like finishing that novel now that some of my time excuses will be gone.  Like cleaning the house.  ;), playing with photography  and scrapbooking.

After a bit of a break I do plan to volunteer for YART in some capacity again.  I want to help in whatever way I will be most useful to TLA, and someday I'd LOVE to apply for Tall Texans.

So I plan to enjoy the heck out of this next frantic-reading-packed week as it is my last hurrah.  This time next week I plan to be sipping some delicious hot tea and settling down with something along the lines of Janet Evonovich.

Yep, I feel fine.

Read on, gentle readers, read on.

Mrs. S

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Focus Walk

I learn so much from all the fine folks on my various list-serves.  One of them, the fabulous Alice Yucht, posted a link that will be WAY too familiar to those of us who work in the public school system. She apparently ran across it on another blog.

I didn't leave the regular classroom to leave teaching--in fact, I do it every day, but MAN does this video make me cringe with the memories of working at one of my previous schools, in particular.  Rarely is it the actual  teaching part of being a teacher that drives people out of the business in droves. Eerie, really, how close this comes to the reality tons of us work in on a daily basis.  It's this kind of mess that makes me beyond thrilled to be in my happy little home away from home---my wonderful school library.  Not a perfect world, but surely a bit closer to perfect than this.

 Make sure you watch it all the way to the end. 

Focus Walk

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to listen to Jimi Hendrix, and then possibly make your own movie. 

How do we make a meaningful shift occur in our world of education?  Any thoughts?

Awaiting your answers...

Read on, gentle readers, Read on.

Mrs. S.

p.s.Alice has a mean turkey recipe she posts every Thanksgiving for those of us on the list-serve.  That woman is surely a wonder!

p.p.s.  that super-funky-cool shot of Jimi is from, a most intoxicating site to experience.