Tag Archives: books

2013 Youth Media Awards

Earlier today, the American Library Association announced the winners of the 2013 Youth Media Awards, which is–as one person on Twitter put it–the Oscars for book nerds. Book lovers live-Tweeted the results, thank goodness, because some of us could not get the ALA web site to load or the live streaming to work. Ugh!

As the winners were announced an enthusiastic round of applause was deserved by “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz for winning two awards and being named an honor book in a third category.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Sáenz, who has written picture books, YA novels, adult novels, and poetry, is the author of “Last Night I Sang to the Monster,” and “Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood.” On Monday, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” was an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award and won both the Pura Belpré and Stonewall Book Awards.

 

Congratulations to all of the winners! Many of these titles will definitely be added to my “to be read” pile. Below are some of the award winners. For the complete list, click here.

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature: “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate. Honor Books were: “Splendors and Glooms” by Laura Amy Schlitz; “Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin; and “Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children“This Is Not My Hat,” illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. Honor Books were: “Creepy Carrots!” illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds; “Extra Yarn,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett; “Green,” illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; “One Cool Friend,” illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo; “Sleep Like a Tiger,” illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults“Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America” by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Honor Books were: “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis; “No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award: “I, Too, Am America,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Langston Hughes. Honor Books were: “H. O. R. S. E.,” illustrated and written by Christopher Myers; “Ellen’s Broom,” illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons; and “I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr.” illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults“In Darkness” by Nick Lake. Honor Books were: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein; “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett; “The White Bicycle” by Beverley Brenna.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience“Back to Front and Upside Down!” written and illustrated by Claire Alexander (younger children). “A Dog Called Homeless” by Sarah Lean (middle school). “Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am,” by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (teen).

Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States“The Fault in Our Stars,” written by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd. Honor Audiobooks were: “Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian,” written by Eoin Colfer, narrated by Nathaniel Parker; “Ghost Knight,” written by Cornelia Funke, narrated by Elliot Hill; and “Monstrous Beauty,” written by Elizabeth Fama, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience“Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert,” illustrated by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Honor Book: “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano” by Sonia Manzano.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children“Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin. Honor Books were: “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,” written and illustrated by Robert Byrd; “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95” by Phillip M. Hoose; and “Titanic: Voices from the Disaster” by Deborah Hopkinson.

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Honor Books were: “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier; “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Hannah Moskowitz; “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard” by Lesléa Newman; and “Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie” by S. J. Adams.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens: “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman. Finalists: “Wonder Show” by Hannah Barnaby; “Love and Other Perishable Items” by Laura Buzo; “After the Snow” by S. D. Crockett; and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by emily m. danforth.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: “Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon”  by Steve Sheinkin Finalists: “Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different” by Karen Blumenthal; “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95” by Phillip Hoose; “Titanic: Voices from the Disaster” by Deborah Hopkinson; and “We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March” by Cynthia Levinson.

HAPPY READING!!

A Thunderous Whisper Blog Tour and Q&A with author Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Today’s spotlight is on: Christina Diaz Gonzalez, author of THE RED UMBRELLA and the recently released A THUNDEROUS WHISPER. I’m excited to say that I’m part of the novel’s blog tour! Christina Diaz Gonzalez was also kind enough to answer a few questions below about her new book and her writing process, among other things. Enjoy!

AUTHOR: (information comes directly from the author’s website at www.christinagonzalez.com)

A daughter of Cuban parents, Christina Diaz Gonzalez studied accounting at the University of Miami and law at Florida State University College of Law. After practicing law for several years, she realized her passion was writing. She is the author of the award-winning and best-selling children’s novel, THE RED UMBRELLA. Ms. Gonzalez’s debut novel (the story of a 14-year-old Cuban girl who is sent to the U.S. in 1961 as part of Operation Pedro Pan) showcases the generosity of the American spirit and highlights the pain of losing one’s homeland. Reviewers from publications such as The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal have praised the book as being exceptional, compelling and inspirational. Her second novel, A THUNDEROUS WHISPER, was just released.

MG/YA NOVEL: A THUNDEROUS WHISPER

DESCRIPTION FROM THE BOOK JACKETAni is just an insignificant whisper of a girl in a loud world. At least that’s what her mother tells her. Her father made her feel important, but he’s off fighting in Spain’s Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading.

Then Ani meets Mathias. His family recently moved to Guernica, and he’s as far from a whisper as a boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is like lightning. And his father is part of a spy network. Soon Ani finds herself helping Mathias deliver messages to other family members of the underground resistance. For the first time, she’s actually making a difference in the world.

But then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is bombed by Nazi airplanes. In one afternoon, Ani loses everything. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

Q&A with the author:

Q:  In teacher training, I learned “you can’t cover everything” in a novel. I’d have to let the novel reveal the few most important things that should be explored in-depth in class. Pretend you are a teacher about to start A THUNDEROUS WHISPER with her class. What are the few important things you would be compelled to explore?

Gonzalez: As a teacher, I would love to have the class compare and contrast the characters of Ani and Mathias. See how each character evolves and discuss what experiences (prior to meeting each other) could have led them to be similar and/or different? Finally, at the end of the novel, I’d like students to think about themselves and whether they see themselves more like Ani (thunder) or Mathias (lightning).

Q: As a writer, I’m always interested to hear about how other writers attack a project. Can you talk about your process? Do you do the bulk of your research first, or do you draft and research at the same time? How long does a novel take you, usually, from start to finish? Favorite writing spots or rituals? Anything you would like to share.

Gonzalez: I do the bulk of my research at the beginning and then return to the research process only to add extra layers or to clear up questions that have been raised during the writing process.  I love to write at a local Starbucks with another author friend of mine  (it’s like having a gym partner because even when you feel like playing hookie, you still have to show up because someone is waiting for you — it’s great for keeping you on track). While at Starbucks, I have my favorite writing chair and I’m always ordering a hot chocolate– even in the middle of summer!

Q: You have written two historical novels. Do you think you will continue in this genre, or do you plan to try other areas, such as contemporary?

Gonzalez: I definitely plan on writing some contemporary and possibly some science fiction/fantasy.

Q: Along the same lines, you have written about historical moments in Cuba and Spain. There has been a lot of commentary about diversity in MG and YA literature (the lack of, the need for). Do you think you will continue to write about Latin issues? If so, why is this important to you?

Gonzalez: I write about stories/characters that capture my imagination … regardless of what race or ethnicity is involved.  However, I definitely see a need for diversity in MG/YA fiction and would love to continue to write about strong Latin characters. Children of all races/ethnicities should be able to see characters like themselves in the stories they read!

MY TWO CENTS: Often, I’ll read historical fiction with some knowledge of the era or event, but in this case, I didn’t know anything about the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War and what happened to the thousands of orphaned children after the attack. How wonderful to have learned some history while reading about Ani and Mathias, two easily likable characters who are loners for different reasons. Mathias’s family often moves, and Ani is teased for being the sardine seller’s daughter. They become fast friends who share joyous moments and unbelievable heartache. One criticism I have is about Ani’s response to her mother’s abuse. Her character wasn’t one to fight back, and the story wasn’t about abuse, but I felt her overall reaction was too tame and matter-of-fact. Overall, though, A THUNDEROUS WHISPER is an easy, interesting read that could easily fit into middle school history or language arts classrooms.

TEACHING TIPSGonzalez offers some teaching tips in the Q&A above. In addition, the novel is a good fit for a history-language arts interdisciplinary unit about Spain and the early days of World War II. Mathias plans to return to Germany, and he mentions the anti-Jewish laws already in place. If students were to study WWII after reading this novel, the teacher could always have them predict what would be happening to Mathias. The character development of both Ani and Mathias are worth pursuing, as well as the themes of the cost of war, starting over, and finding one’s purpose.

LEXILE: Not available

LINKS for more information:

Find A THUNDEROUS WHISPER on Amazon.comBarnes and Noble.comIndieBound.org,  and Goodreads.

Celebrating Hispanic Authors: The Big Book List

National Hispanic Heritage Month ended earlier this week, but it’s always a good time to read a novel by a Latino/a author!

Here’s a list of authors and titles. Most are YA, although there are some MG titles, too. I’m sure it’s not complete, so if I have missed anyone, please let me know. I will add them to the list and to my personal to-be-read list. Enjoy and Happy Reading!

Malín AlegríaEstrella’s Quinceñera, Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico

Isabel AllendeCity of Beasts series

Julia AlvarezBefore We Were Free, Return to Sender, Finding Miracles

Rudolfo Anaya: Bless Me, Ultima

Diane Gonzalez Bertrand: Trino’s Choice

Eduardo F. CalcinesLeaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro

Viola CanalesThe Tequila Worm

Jennifer CervantesTortilla Sun

Veronica ChambersMama’s Girl, Plus, Marisol and Magdalena, Quinceñera Means Sweet 15

Mayra Lazara DoleDown to the Bone

e.E. Charlton-TrujilloPrizefighter en Mi Casa, Feels Like Home

Sandra CisnerosThe House on Mango Street

Judith Ortiz CoferAn Island Like You, Stories of the Barrio, Call Me María, If I Could Fly

Zoraida Cordova: The Vicious Deep, The Savage Blue (coming 2013)

Maria Colleen CruzBorder Crossing

Lulu DelacreGolden Tales, Salsa Stories, Shake it Morena!

Matt de la PeñaI Will Save You, We Were Here, Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican Whiteboy

Margarita EngleThe Firefly Letters, Hurricane Dancers, The Poet Slave of Cuba, The Surrender Tree, Tropical Secrets, The Wild Book

Caridad FerrerWhen the Stars Go Blue, Adiós to My Old Life, It’s Not About the Accent

Kim FloresGamma Glamma

Enrique Flores-Galbis: 90 Miles to Havana

Jack GantosJoey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Joey Pigza Loses Control, Hole in My Life, Dead End in Norvelt

Cristina GarciaI Wanna Be Your Shoebox, Dreams of Significant Girls

Guadalupe Garcia-McCallUnder the Mesquite

Iris GomezTry to Remember

Christina Diaz Gonzalez: The Red Umbrella, A Thunderous Whisper

Stephanie Guerra: Torn

David HernandezSuckerpunch, No More Us for You

Juan Felipe HerreraCrashBoomLove, Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box, SkateFate

Oscar Hijuelos: Dark Dude

Francisco JimenezThe Circuit, Reaching Out, Breaking Through

Ofelia Dumas LachtmanThe Trouble with Tessa, Leticia’s Secret, The Truth About Las Mariposas

Diana LópezConfetti Girl, Choke

Lorraine LopezCall Me Henri

Torrey MaldonadoSecret Saturdays

Agnes MartinezPoe Park

Claudia Guadalupe MartinezThe Smell of Old Lady Perfume

Manuel Luis Martínez: Drift

Meg MedinaThe Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, Milagros

Nico MedinaStraight Road to Kylie, Fat Hoochie Prom Queen

Marisa MontesA Circle of Time

Yxta Maya MurrayWhat it Takes to Get to Vegas, The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Kidnapped

Nancy Osa: Cuba 15

Ashley Hope PerezWhat Can’t Wait, The Knife and the Butterfly

David Pérez: Wow!

Elena Perez: The Art of Disappearing

Sofia QuinteroEfrain’s Secret

Bettina RestrepoIllegal

Carmen RodriguesNot Anything

Pam Muñoz RyanEsperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi Leon, The Dreamer, Riding Freedom, Paint the Wind

Benjamin Alire SáenzLast Night I Sang to the Monster, Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

René Saldaña Jr.: The Jumping Tree, The Whole Sky Full of Stars, Finding Our Way, A Good Long Way

Alex SanchezBoyfriends with Girlfriends, The God Box, Bait, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road, Rainbow Boys, So Hard to Say, Getting It

Jenny Torres Sanchez: The Downside of Being Charlie, Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia

Michele SerrosHoney Blonde Chica, Scandalosa!

Gary SotoBuried Onions, The Afterlife, Accidental Love, Baseball in April etc.

Francisco X. Stork: Marcelo in the Real World, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, Irises, Behind the Eyes, The Way of the Jaguar

Gaby TrianaRiding the Universe, Backstage Pass, The Temptress Four, Cubanita

Alisa ValdesHaters, The Temptation: A Kindred Novel

Diana Rodriguez Wallach: Amor and Summer Secrets, Adios to All the Drama, Amigas and School Scandals

Lila Quintero WeaverDarkroom: A Memoir in Black and White

Celebrating Hispanic Authors: Spotlight on Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! I hope you’re spending some of your time from Sept. 15-Oct.15 curled up with a good YA book by a Latino/a author. If you need book suggestions, you may also want to check out Latina Book ClubVamos a Leer, and The Hispanic Reader.

Today’s YA author in the spotlight is: Benjamin Alire SáenzEnjoy!

AUTHOR: (information comes directly from Cinco Puntos Press and University of Texas at El Paso)

Benjamin Alire Sáenz was born in 1954 in Old Picacho, a small farming village outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, less than 50 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border. He was the fourth of seven children and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla Park in a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family. During his youth, he worked at various jobs–painting apartments, picking onions, and cleaning for a janitorial service. After graduating from high school in 1972, he entered the seminary. He was later ordained a Catholic priest, but left the priesthood three and a half years later. At the age of 30, he entered the University of Texas at El Paso. He later received a fellowship at the University of Iowa. In 1988, he received a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship in poetry from Stanford University. In 1993, he returned to the border to teach in the bilingual MFA program at UTEP.

Sáenz is an award-winning poet and author of books for children and young adults. His first YA novel, SAMMY & JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Americas Book Award, The Paterson Prize, and the JHunt Award. It was named one of the top ten Young Adult novels by the American Library Association and one of the top books of the year by the Center for Children’s Books, The New York Public Library, and the Miami Herald.

His other YA novels are: HE NEVER SAID GOODBYE, LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER, and ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE.

YA NOVEL: SAMMY & JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD

Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood

DESCRIPTION FROM THE BOOK JACKET: A young adult novel Latino-style–the year is 1969. America is at war, Hollywood is a dirt-poor Chicano barrio in small town America, and Sammy and Juliana, about to head into their senior year, are in love.

MY TWO CENTS: I listened to the audio version of this novel. I had mixed feelings while reading it, but the characters and story have stuck with me. Sáenz creates strong characters–main and supporting–that I cared about and could visualize. Sammy’s voice was spot-on as a teen boy who grapples with the personal issues all teens do–friends, love, fears and hopes for the future–while also dealing with poverty, racism, and the Vietnam War era. A pet peeve of mine is when authors describe in too much detail. Sáenz does this, but it didn’t stop me from reading. Also, while Sammy and Juliana are in love, as the book blurb states, this is not a traditional love story. Something tragic happens shortly into the novel that ends the love affair. I won’t spoil it, but the relationship was short-lived, and Sammy spends the rest of the novel dealing with this loss and many others. If you’re looking for something light-hearted with a happy ending, this one’s not for you. There was no uplifting, triumphant moment for the main character. I wanted something good to happen to Sammy.  Sáenz left me feeling what it’s like to get pounded by life, as Sammy was, which is also a point worth making. Some people take a beating every day and have to find the strength to keep marching forward. Sad but true.

TEACHING TIPS: This book has many issues worth pursuing in the classroom: immigration, poverty, grief, drug-use, discrimination based on race and sexual preference. One thing I thought about while reading was how parts of this novel could easily be used by teachers in different ways. I say parts because I don’t believe every novel used in class needs to be read cover-to-cover. Also, a history teacher, let’s say, may want to zero in on certain aspects of a novel, but may not want to handle elements typically taught by an English teacher, like character development or symbolism.

The thread about the Vietnam War could be pulled from the novel and used to complement non-fiction pieces in history classes. The character Pifas is drafted and students protest the war by wearing black arm bands and staging a sit-in in the school cafeteria. These were among the most memorable moments in the novel. The conversation between Sammy and Pifas about being drafted is emotionally gut-wrenching, and my heart sank when Gigi gets out of the car and falls to her knees in reaction to the news about Pifas’s death.

LEXILE: 390

LINKS for more information:

Find SAMMY & JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD on Amazon.comBarnes and Noble.comIndieBound.org,  and Goodreads.

Book Trailers & Reluctant Readers

At the start of each school year, I’m like a squirrel darting this way and that, chasing great ideas that will appeal to my students. Of course, teachers can’t do everything (although some think otherwise). After I settle in to my classroom routine, only some of the cool ideas stick. This year, I’m determined to show book trailers and do book talks on a regular basis.  I have done these in the past, of course, but they tend to fall off when other things become more pressing, like prepping for mandated tests instead of encouraging a love for reading…but I digress.

Book trailers and book talks tend to work with reluctant readers. Why? Because one of the reasons they hate to read is they don’t know what to look for when they go into the library. They don’t have a favorite author or genre. They don’t know what new and exciting books have been published. They wander around dazed like they’re on another planet and then they eventually leave empty-handed.

Enter the book trailer/talk. Each of my students has an index card. I show them three book trailers a week. I also read the inside flap and/or back and tell them anything I know about the novel. If a book sounds interesting, they write down the title. This way, when I drag them into that big room filled with books that’s conveniently attached to my classroom, they have something to look for–a book they have decided they want to read.

Of course, not all book trailers work, at least with my students. Some are too short, leaving them with WTF?  type questions instead of wanting more. My students tend to like the longer ones that are more like a movie preview. I’ll post the trailers that “worked” for my students. After viewing these, several students wrote down the title and some checked the book out immediately.

The first one is for FRACTURE by Megan Miranda. A student checked it out and read it all that night.

Next, many want to read HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown after seeing this:


Also, MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs was perfectly creepy.

Stay tuned for more book trailers. Up next IF I STAY, PRETTY AMY, and SKELETON CREEK.

Books My Reluctant Readers Love Part 2

In March, I posted the titles of books read independently by my students, most of whom are self-proclaimed non-readers and lag behind their peers in grades and standardized testing. I wanted to do a follow-up to give credit to my students, some in particular who became….readers!!, and to the authors who wrote books that engaged these teens.

During the school year, we read three novels together: 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher, THE WAVE by Todd Strasser, and THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. After reading THE HUNGER GAMES, we went to see the movie as a class. Some of my students had not yet been on a field trip in high school. In the lower grades, all students go on the outings. In high school, special trips are linked to certain classes, clubs, or sports. Some of my students are members of sports teams and clubs, but many of them are not. So, it was nice that they were able to have a field trip all for themselves. It was especially nice that it revolved around the most talked about young adult novel of the year. They were now able to take part in the literary conversation. (Pause as I shed a teacher tear of joy.)

On the independent reading front, some students took off. Using their “Lexile” scores, we were able to find books that matched their reading level. Not every student turned the reading corner. A couple of students still struggled to complete a novel, even with more appropriate choices and time to read. Others, though, were on fire in the best possible way! In general, students read more. Each time a student finished a book, I made a copy of the cover and pinned it to the wall.

Here is a picture of my wall when we first started:

Here is a picture of the wall in March:

And…drum roll please…here is the wall at the end of June.

Keep in mind that some of these books were read by several students. For example, many of my girls blazed through the PERFECT CHEMISTRY series by Simone Elkeles. Each book cover is on the wall one time, and I added the students’ names to the colored border. So, really, you can probably double the number that’s on the wall. (Pause as I shed another teacher tear of joy).

And now…

photo_364568552_53e9b922b0_t.jpg

Found through Creative Commons

…big applause for a certain student and certain authors.

I have one student who makes me want to shed buckets of teacher tears. She had NEVER read independently as a habit. By the end of this year, she often asked to come to my classroom during her study hall because she wanted to read and it was too loud in study hall. When she took a trip to New York City, she was upset that she had forgotten to bring her book to read on the bus. She normally carries a book in her bag all the time now. Once, she came to talk to me during a time she thought was free for me. I had a class. They were reading their independent books. She popped her head in and said, “Oh, sorry. I’ll come back later. I don’t want to interrupt your reading time.”

The two authors who turned her on to reading were Simone Elkelesand Ni-Ni Simone. To them, I say:

You Rock Baby

Found through Creative Commons

This student read the PERFECT CHEMISTRY series and the PARADISE books and then recommended them to her friends. She then searched for something similar and discovered Ni-Ni Simone. She read all of the titles we have in our school library before the end of the school year. In total, she read 14 books, not counting what she had to read for her classes. And, guess what, when I assessed her reading levels at the end of the year, her scores had improved on every test.

Thank you to all of the authors who wrote books that engaged my students. Parents or teachers who have children or students who are avid readers might take this for granted. When I see a student who doesn’t normally read actually finish a book or two or 14!, it’s nothing short of awesome. So, thank you! Here is the list of books read by my students this year:

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Wave by Todd Strasser

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones by Patrick Carman

Skeleton Creek: The Raven by Patrick Carman

Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Haters by Alisa Valdes

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer

Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Point Break by Anthony Horowitz

Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

Chasing Romeo by A.J. Byrd

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry

Rules of Attraction

Chain Reaction

Leaving Paradise

Return to Paradise

Ni-Ni Simone:

If I Was Your Girl

Upgrade U

Teenage Love Affair

Shortie Like Mine

A Girl Like Me

Celebrating Hispanic Authors: Spotlight on Cristina García

In an effort to celebrate Hispanic authors beyond National Hispanic Heritage month, I plan to read and post about YA novels written by Latino/as. You may also want to check out Latina Book Club, Vamos a Leer, and The Hispanic Reader.

And, today’s YA author in the spotlight is: Cristina García . Enjoy!

AUTHOR: (information comes mostly from the author’s website (http://www.cristinagarcianovelist.com/):  Born in Cuba, García’s family moved to New York when she was two years old. García worked as a journalist for Time Magazine before she became a full-time writer. Her first novel, DREAMING IN CUBAN, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Among other things (she has a long list of accomplishments), García has written five novels for adults and three books for younger readers: DREAMS OF SIGNIFICANT GIRLS, I WANNA BE YOUR SHOEBOX, and THE DOG WHO LOVED THE MOON. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Barnard College and a master’s degree in European and Latin American Studies from The Johns Hopkins University.

YA NOVEL: DREAMS OF SIGNIFICANT GIRLS

DESCRIPTION FROM THE BOOK JACKET: Three very different girls. Three very different summers. A powerful bond that stands the test of time. Vivien struggles with her identity. She doesn’t exactly fit in with the kids in her neighborhood. To top it off she worries about her expanding waistline and endlessly infuriating family.

Shirin is an Iranian princess and honestly believes she is better than everyone else. She has no time to suffer fools.

Ingrid has never followed the rules. It is easier for her to rely on herself and grow up way too fast. She is not in the business of showing how she feels, but that isn’t always easy when you never get what you want.

National Book Award Finalist Cristina García weaves a story of first loves and hates, the heartbreak of being disappointed by your parents, finding what you are good at, and the realization that family is more than sharing a last name.

Here is a review of the novel in the New York Times by Veronica Chambers.

MY TWO CENTS: This is a quiet novel. No explosions every few chapters, no governments being overturned or alien invasions averted. Yet, what happens to these girls is significant because the moments they experience are crucial to their personal development. The gentle pace of this novel won’t appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed getting to know these characters and taking a break from action-driven YA. I had some questions about character motivation along the way, but overall, I was attached to these girls as they experienced the pain and joy involved in friendships and first loves. I wanted to find out what would happen to them.

LINKS for more information:

Find DREAMS OF SIGNIFICANT GIRLS on Amazon.comBarnes and Noble.comIndieBound.org,  and Goodreads.

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