On my blog this week, I shared the online reading I most enjoyed (as well as a link to photos of the world’s cutest kitten!) (The world’s cutest kitten who isn’t Frances, that is.) I wrote about what my Methods students have been up to and the new blogging project I’m hoping to undertake. I wrote about why teachers need to develop a Personal Learning Network. And I posted a list of titles I’m considering assigning in Children’s Literature next semester.
I also read some books!
I really enjoyed Claudia Mills’s Zero Tolerance. The story line seemed plucked right out of the headlines. Sierra Shepherd is a stellar student who finds herself forced to grow in ways she couldn’t imagine all because of a simple lunch bag mix-up. She accidentally grabs her mom’s lunch bag one morning, which contains a paring knife. When she discovers that she brought a paring knife to school, she tries to do the right thing and turn in the knife at the office–only to find herself the target of the school’s zero tolerance policy. I found this to be a page-turner with solid and believable character development and many interesting ethical dilemmas to discuss.
I loved Primates, a graphic novel focusing on Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees, Dian Fossey’s work with gorillas, and Birute Galdikas’s work with orangutans. I had no idea that the three women knew each other–or that they had all gotten their start thanks to Louis Leakey. Leakey comes off as a bit of a creep, to me at least, and the innuendo about his serial philandering kept this graphic novel from being as kid-friendly as it otherwise was. I found the depictions of these women’s work and the contrasts among their different primates and locations very absorbing. And this book does exactly what great nonfiction ought to do: makes you want to know more. I’ll be looking for books written by Goodall and Galdikas this week at the library.
I wasn’t convinced of this book’s greatness until about halfway through. If you’d talked to me about The Thing About Luck any time from pages 1-130 or so, I would have said, “Well, I’m learning more than I ever wanted to know about combines and wheat harvesting, but that’s about it.” But something happened for me in the second half of this book, and somehow it all came together and became such a rich, interesting, complex story–absolutely deserving of the Newbery talk I’ve been reading. What made me stick with it for the first 130 pages or so (through some truly endless descriptions of harvesting machinery!) was the grandparents. I absolutely loved Obaachan and Jiichan! They’re funny and complicated and absolutely believable. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.
And then there were many wonderful picture books.
It’s hard to even decide on a favorite from all of this goodness.
We also read a dozen or so Caldecott winners or honor books, but I’ll be writing about those (eventually!) in a separate post.