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photo 1Earlier tonight, the Lost in a Book “team” went to another great author event at Quail Ridge Books and Music, our favorite bookstore. It’s a school night, so there isn’t much time to write in detail about the joy of listening to author Jackie Woodson read from her books and talk about her work. But since I write for a living, I know all too well that a few words are usually much better than a flood, so I think “joy” sums up the night just fine. Listening to Woodson read her books was a joy; often she was speaking them – performing them, almost – from memory.  It was music and poetry. It was a joy to see the overflow crowd, which included my girl’s language arts teacher and her friends from the Quail Ridge Books middle school book club, which met an hour before to discuss “Brown Girl Dreaming,” Woodson’s latest, which is nominated for a National Book Award. photo 2And it was a joy to share the experience with my 85-year-old mom and my 13-year-old daughter and co-blogger – three generations of book lovers, listening to book love.

~AKid@Heart

Learn more about Jackie Woodson and Brown Girl Dreaming. Read the News and Observer story about her visit to Quail Ridge Books. 

Postscript: LitKid and her grandmother have both finished Brown Girl Dreaming; I’m next. LitKid will post her review soon.  

If you regularly find yourself lamenting kids’ devotion to electronic devices, texting and their inscrutable, abbreviated secret language, you’ll probably find this story heartening.

And so it begins

LitKid turned 13 recently and was having three friends over for a slumber party. Since this was a big birthday, and she was on board with having a smaller party (I lost my mind and allowed a past slumber party to swell to 11 girls a few years back), I thought it would be nice to get her friends a party favor that was nice/lasting (ie, not made of  plastic or sugar).

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I asked her what ideas she had, and she couldn’t think of anything right away. We were up against the clock, so I told her I had had an idea on the way to work -– how about giving her a friends a book she had enjoyed? I tossed out Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me as a first suggestion.

(I admit to bias on this one. It is one of my favorite books from recent years, based on its merits – it won the Newbery – and on the fact that I am a child of the 70s, so I felt right at home.)

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Cool mom or hopelessly bookish mom? 

My girl obviously loves to read, but I was fully prepared for her to tell me that a 13th birthday party favor needed to be something cool or trendy – or that not all of her friends would be into getting a book.

But to my surprise and delight (after all, 13-year-olds don’t tend to think 49-year-olds’ ideas are cool), her immediate, enthusiastic response was that this was a “perfect idea!” and When You Reach Me was a perfect book to give her friends.

Quail Ridge Books, our favorite store,  had three copies (which gave the idea a “meant to be” feel, as girls 4 and 5 had had to cancel at the last minute) and gift-wrapped them for us, as always.

Suspense

The night of the party, I was very curious (and yes, a little nervous) to see how the girls would react to their bookish gifts.

Again, the tween/teen reaction was heart-warming.

All three girls were genuinely thrilled – not an overstatement, I promise – when they opened their gifts … even the one who had already read When You Reach Me. 

“It was my little sister’s book from the library,” she said, “so I love having my own copy: I’m going to read it again … and hide it from my sister.”

Just another bit of unscientific evidence that print is not dead, and it’s always cool to be a reader, even at 13.

~AKid@Heart

 

 

The Book Thief

By Marcus Zusak

As soon as I picked up The Book Thief, I was immediately transported into a whole other world. A world where love and friendship were the hopes that everyone in Nazi Germany clung to in that time of fear.

At the beginning of the book you are introduced to the ever-faithful narrator, Death, who transports us through the lives and stories of those in Molching, Germany. Then you are introduced to a young girl, Liesel Meminger, who’s the main focus in this hypnotizing tale.

As you are introduced to her, she commits her first act of book thievery The Grave Digger’s Handbook. This will be a first in a long career. She has been sent to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann, for her father left her family and her mother can no longer afford to take care of her.

Hans & Liesl develop a connection when Hans begins to teach Liesel to read after she wakes up from her recurring nightmare. Then comes Rudy Steiner, the next piece of Liesel’s puzzle. They grow closer through many a Himmel Street soccer game and then attend school together in the fall.

And next year on Hitler’s birthday, Liesel commits her second act of book thievery at the Hitler Youth Celebration of the Fuhrer’s birthday. She steals a book entitled The Shoulder Shrug. There is someone watching her the night she steals the second book.

And then comes Max Vanderburg, a Jew who shows up at the Hubermanns (because Hans was a good friend of his older brother Erik who died in the War that he and Hans served together) looking for a place to sleep, or rather hide, from the vicious and cruel Anti-Semitism rules of Hitler. He and Liesel soon form a bond over their love of reading, writing, and drawing as well as the loss of the families they loved.

Everybody needs to read this book. As I read on the back of the cover, this is a life-changing book in so many ways, and is probably one of the most beautifully written pieces of literature to ever grace my eyes. I got in trouble for reading it at school, and finished it in the wee hours of the morning on my way to school. For anybody who has not read this book, I urge you to as soon as you can.

~LitKid

Postscript: My mom read The Book Thief before I did, and it is one of her very favorite books now; we watched the movie after we had both read the book, and we thought it was great.

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 12.32.21 AMWacko Academy: Book 1

by Faith Wilkins ~ Arundel Press 

We’re proud to be part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and I loved being picked to review this book!

Wacko Academy tells the first installment of the adventures of Lilly Mason and Dustin Wackerson.

Dustin mysteriously shows up at Lily’s middle school in the beginning of her 8th grade year, instantly becoming a girl magnet with his good looks and sense of humor. They become really close to each other and go to the school’s harvest dance, which quickly turns from dance to disaster. It turns out that Dustin really came to her school to recruit her to his dad’s extremely fancy, high-tech boarding school.

Once Lily gets settled in, it starts to seem better, she and Dustin repair their friendship and he becomes her personal trainer. She advances quickly and is sent of to the school’s on-campus boot camp, where she meets True & Cattie, the two friends she will make there.

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Afterwards they make the disturbing discovery. A mysterious tall building. Dustin says he has seen unconscious kids wheeled in there before, often never to return. If they do return, they usually have some sort of injury or just can’t remember what happened.

When they relay the story, everybody is purely horrified and definitely on board with their plan to get those kids out of harm’s way. To do this, they will need some fancy technology and a cover.

You will have to read the book to find out all of the juicy details!

I liked this book because of the adventure and excitement was always there at every turn of the page and never failed to leave me in suspense. The plot is beautifully put into place. The personality of each character brings wit and humor to the book.

The pump of adrenaline is apparent page by page, and the writing could not be more humorous, adventurous, and overall really good quality. I liked the conflict the best because it added the most suspense and excitement. If I ever wrote a book, I’d want it to have an air of suspense, excitement, and adventure like this book.

Faith Wilkins (who is only 16 years old!)

Faith Wilkins, who is only 16 years old!
(photo ~ Arundel Press)

People like Faith make a big impact by encouraging more kids to share their ideas with the world; Faith is a role model to other kids who think they shouldn’t share their ideas with the world. This wonderful piece of literature gives those people hope. You should always share what you believe in, like your manuscripts, or short stories, or poems. You can be like the wonderful Faith Wilkins and make your impact.

  ~LitKid (12-year-old co-blogger at Lost in a Book)

Read more about Faith.

Read more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Some of the Literary HIGHLIGHTS!

Veronica Roth, DivergentIMG_1738

Veronica Roth was a very interesting lady to listen to and was very friendly. She seemed confident and accomplished in her trade. Veronica talked about Allegiant (without giving anything away), so I’m really excited about the release. Her autograph lines were triple that of many other authors, and people were practically sitting on top of each other under a tent in the pouring rain to see her. She even had security guards!

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KATHERINE APPLEGATE. THE ONE AND ONLY IVANphoto-3

The One and Only Ivan is a really cool, and true, story about a gorilla, which snagged the Newbery Award this year. Ivan’s not just any gorilla –he expresses his need for freedom and a home at the zoo through art. It was really cool to meet Katherine Applegate in person, because I had the privilege of doing a Skype interview with her when I was a Scholastic Kid Reporter.

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Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Skyphoto-2

I finally had the privilege of meeting Ms. Larson, who was one of the first authors to patronize our blog. She has a new book out – interesting historical fiction – and I can’t wait to read Hattie Big Sky, which I hope to get a copy of ASAP, though The Friendship Doll will forever have a place in my heart. It was one of the first ARCs (Advance Reader’s Copy) I ever got in my book reviewing career, and my review of The Friendship Doll was one of my very first. My mom and I were so honored to meet her and couldn’t believe she knew exactly what we were talking about when we told her we were from the Lost in a Book blog. Thanks for following our blog, Ms. Larson!

 
I’ll write more about our trip soon (if I ever get free time from all my homework!).  You should go to the Festival and see for yourself  next year!
~LitKid
 

Hello Bloggers and Blog Readers of the universe….

I am heading out – well, after getting coffee for my mom first – to the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, DC, to check it out and meet all of this amazing talent!

Yesterday I got to see all the tents being set up, and it looked really cool.photo-2

Today I hope to meet and score autographs from the lovely Misses Roth, Applegate, and Naylor. I can’t believe I’m actually here!

National Book Festival, here we come!

~LitKid

PS: here’s more info on the festival on the Library of Congress website.

IvanThe One and Only Ivan

By Katherine Applegate

Newbery Award Winner

The One and Only Ivan tells us the story of a lonely gorilla living at the run-down  Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. His only companions are Julia, the janitor’s daughter and Stella, the elephant who has many cool stories about her past.

He spends his long days being admired and “oohed” and “aahed” over by humans. Their lives get more interesting when Ruby, a baby elephant joins them there. She’s witty and nervous, at first, but has spirit.

When Stella dies, and leaves Ivan with a promise to take care of Stella, he’s determined to get both of them to the zoo.

This story was really inspiring to me because it was based on a true story, and it shows you should never underestimate the power of determination. Especially when it comes in a four-legged package. Katherine Applegate does a splendid job of depicting a fictional version of Ivan.

It was really cool because I had the opportunity to do an interview with Ms. Applegate over Skype last spring, and I hope I will get to meet her in person at the National Book Festival in Washington this weekend!

~LitKid

summerbooksHere are some recommendations for 2013 summer reading that were handpicked from my own collection.

I hope you enjoy your summer and keep checking back for more reviews to be posted as soon as possible!

  • School of Fear, Gitty Daneshvari
  • Wonder, R.J. Palacio
  • The Apothecary, Maile Meloy
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, by Wendy Mass
  • The Mother Daughter Book Club: Pies & Prejudice, Heather Vogel Frederick
  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, James Patterson
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley(for 11+)
  • Autumn Winifred Oliver does things different, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
  • The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall
  • Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys
  • Probability of Miracles, Wendy Wunder (for 11+)
  • Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper
  • The Secret of the Old Clock, Carolyn Keene
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth (for 11+)
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg
  • Bliss, Kathryn Littlewood
  • Prairie Evers, Ellen Airgood
  • The One & Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate
  • Septimus Heap Series, Angie Sage

~LitKid (12-year-old reviewer and book lover)

The Girl From Felony Bayfelonybay

By J.E. Thompson

Walden Pond Press

This story tells of a piece of land entitled “Felony Bay,” supposedly home to a long-lost pirate’s treasure.

Those rumors aren’t true, and Abbey Forde knows it. But when she finds out her uncle bought the Bay illegally and is in over his head, she is determined to stop him. Along the way, she meets Bee Force, a shy girl who finds her bravery in Abbey.

They must take every risk under the sun, and encounter alligators, poisonous snakes, and the criminals themselves.

This book is wonderful for people who love suspense and mystery at every turn of the page. In his debut middle grade novel, J.E. Thompson does a wonderful job of capturing South Carolina at its greatest.

I felt my anger loosen and drift away on the wind. “Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m Bee.”

I waited for her to say her last name and when she didn’t, I asked, “Bee who?”

“Bee Force.”

~ LitKid

Want to read more about The Girl from Felony Bay? Check out this interview with J.E. Thompson.

My co-blogger is enjoying her stint as a Scholastic Kids’ Press reporter this year. She was excited when her editor gave her the go-ahead when she “pitched” the idea of interviewing this year’s Newbery Award winner, Katherine Applegate, who was honored for her novel The One and Only Ivan.

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Through the wonders of technology, LitKid was able to interview the author at her home on the West Coast from our home on the East Coast on a rainy Sunday afternoon. (At one point, a certain canine friend of Ms. Applegate’s joined the interview, too – sorry, but that cameo didn’t make the final edit!)

We hope you’ll enjoy the interview; Ms. Applegate is the perfect person for a young reporter to do her inaugural “on-camera” interview with – she is kind, warm and funny.

You can take a look at the story and listen to the interview on the Scholastic Kids Press Corps website.

~AKid@Heart

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