Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Challenge Continues...

My personal summer reading challenge is proving to be one of the best endeavors I have ever undertaken. About a month ago, I decided to read as many children's novels / chapter books as I could in an attempt to familiarize myself with literature that my students and my children might find interesting. As of today, I have finished my 13th book, and I still have a month remaining in my summer vacation. This journey has allowed me to meet some wonderful new characters and experience daring adventures in a world that only books can create. Here are some that I have recently completed...

1. Fish by Gregory Mone (ISBN# 9780545116329)Yo-ho, Yo-ho, a pirate's life for me!! This was a tale of daring, courage, and true adventure. It follows the life of a young boy named Fish who unwittingly becomes part of the crew of a pirate ship. Along the way, he discovers that friendship and loyalty are important qualities, even among a bunch of scallywags.

2. Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage by Kate Umansky (ISBN# 9780312660932, published by Square Fish). This book was recommended to me by my daughter, who chose it as part of her summer reading. It was truly a magical journey with some unexpected characters. I enjoyed reading this story immensely, and my daughter loved it, too. She is currently reading the sequel and gives us nightly recaps of Clover's adventures. I also love the resourcefulness and quick thinking of the title character. It is great that my girls can read about strong characters who are easy to relate to, like Clover!! We all loved it!!

3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo (ISBN#9780763643676, published by Candlewick Press) This is that rare book that surprised me from the beginning. The journey I expected was completely different from the journey described in the story because I expected to love Edward from the get go. That was not the case at all. It wasn't until Edward's journey progressed that I began to feel compassion for him. At first, I was disappointed by this, but after reflection I realize that it was part of the genius of DiCamillo's story. Fair warning.. The story is sad in spots and involves the death of a beloved character. It was an emotionally wrought read, but well worth the tears.

4. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass (ISBN #9780316058490, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) I am in love with Jeremy Fink and his quirky personality, and his search for the meaning of life is a quest you will love taking with him. The surprise twists at the end of the story were so clever, and illustrated the lengths parents will go through to help their children. The writing was vivid and the characters were truly remarkable. This might not be my first choice for a 4th grade read, especially because the subject of discovering life's meaning and origin may require a more mature perspective to fully appreciate. However, middle school students will love it. Fair warning.. The untimely death of Jeremy's father is central to the story, so be aware of this in case your young reader is extra sensitive to this content.

5. The Magic Half by Annie Barrows (ISBN #9781599903583, Published by Bloomsbury USA)
A great story about two girls who share a bedroom but live many years apart. With the help of some magical glasses, they travel through time and forge an unbreakable friendship and sisterhood. It is a story of courage and determination that is a great example for girls everywhere.

You might also want to check out these titles, too. Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff (fair warning-- this book dealt with a family coming to grips with the loss of a child/sibling--very sad in places). The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies is a story of sibling rivalry (and misunderstandings) in a war of lemonade stands.

I hope that my challenge inspires you to find a good book and read this summer! There is something out there for every reader!! Happy Reading!!


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