IMWAYR – December 28, 2015

ItsMondayGraphicThis week I finished up reading After Alice, by Gregory Maguire.  I have to say that I loved it!  Maguire does for Wonderland what he did for Oz.

After AliceAda is a smart girl, daughter of a preacher, who slips into a hole and finds herself in this strange land.  All Ada wants is to find her friend Alice, deliver some marmalade, and get back to evading her governess.  Everything seems upside down and backwards in this place called Wonderland.  Every person/animal/plant that Ada talks to tells her about the strange, blonde, clueless Alice who has just left.  Yet, no one can tell Ada where to find Alice.

Meanwhile, we get chapters focusing on Alice’s older sister Lydia and her attempts to defer looking for her sister, and later Ada too.  Lydia is stuck in a world of grief unspoken, womanhood not achieved, and childhood long forgotten.  She is expected to be both woman of the house after her mother’s death and child, seen and not heard.

Gregory Maguire really has created a masterpiece in this novel.  In After Alice, Maguire crafts a world where girls attain adulthood, navigate the strange worlds they live in (and the one they visit), and explores the confusion experienced when you feel different than others see you.  I cannot explain the way he crafts this world better than the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Maguire effortlessly leaps between the absurd illusions of Wonderland and the building suspense of the search for the children in antique Oxford.

I am also about half-way through my next epic adventure.  Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan, is the first in a series about the Norse gods.  This book is set in the “same universe” as my favorites Percy Jackson (Greek), The Heroes of Olympus (Roman), and Red Pyramid (Egyptian).

Magnus Chase is a 16 year old homeless orphan living in Boston.  He awakes to find his friends telling him that there are a man and a girl looking for him – bad news for someone who is homeless.  Magnus finds himself battling a crazy fire god on the bridge over the Charles River where he is killed.


That’s right, he dies at the beginning of the book.

It’s okay though, because Magnus is taken to Valhalla (an afterlife built for Viking warriors).  Things are not quite what they seem in Valhalla either.  Turns out that the Valkyrie who brought him to Valhalla, Sam, may have made a “mistake”, and that Magnus is not exactly welcomed with open arms.

We also learn that Magnus has a cousin whom we know.  Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena and main character in the Percy Jackson universe, knows something is different with her cousin.  Granted, she hasn’t seen him in 8 years, but she willingly believes his stories about fire gods and battles.  So far, they haven’t had too many moments together (she watched the whole bridge battle and they have met in the funeral home before his wake and service), but I am hoping that there will be more connections.

Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of this review!

What did you read this week?  Did you read all the books under your tree yet?  Let’s talk below…



It’s Monday! – December 21, 2015

ItsMondayGraphicThis past week was filled with end of the year parties, cleaning, grading, and a tiny bit of reading.  I didn’t read four hours, but I finished one amazing novella and began one of my Wishlist Wednesday books!

The One I Read

This week I finished another prequel novella in the Dorothy Must Die series.  The Straw King, by Danielle Paige, focuses on our friend the Scarecrow.  He is ousted from his throne ruling Oz by General Jinjur. 

Scare and his friend Lion head to the forest to regroup and attempt to reclaim the throne.  In pop Glinda, the hidden Princess Ozma, and a series of double crosses come together to create an amazing look into the characters of one of my favorite worlds.

Danielle Paige is an amazing author who paints another twist into the world of Oz.  Her characters are in-depth and complex.  If you have not read the many books and novellas in this series, you really need to read them.

The One I Am Still Reading

After AliceI’m about halfway through one of my Wishlist Wednesday selections.  After Alice, by Gregory Maguire, follows Ada as she heads to Wonderland and searches for Alice.  The chapters following Ada alternate with chapters following Lydia – Alice’s older sister.

There have been some great lines so far, but you’ll have to wait until later to get more details!

That is what I am working on reading this week.  How about you?  Let’s talk below….

What does your book collection say?

I just read this intriguing article over at Book Riot.  What Would Your Book Collection Say After You Die?  

The author’s question is an interesting one, and one I had never thought about before.  I’m thinking about my bookshelves, and coming to a couple of conclusions.

  1. My love of Roman history and Latin would be apparent in my collection of textbooks, Latin texts, books for the scholar and books for the lay person.  You’d also find some fun, translated-into-Latin books including a version of Green Eggs and Ham.
  2. Our collection of comic books, graphic novels, and collections  of strips shows just how much we like comics.
  3. I read a LOT of children’s lit and young adult lit.  You would find a giant pile of books that I bought at book fair and just haven’t read yet next to a different pile of old favorites that I have read again and again.
  4. You’d discover that I like all things Oz:  the L. Frank Baum books in many different editions, the Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire, graphic novel representations, bookmarks, posters, and a bunch of really random Oz things.

What do your bookshelves say about you?  Let’s talk below….

It’s Monday! What are you reading? – Dec. 14, 2015

ItsMondayGraphicHere are some of the things I read that weren’t for Children’s Lit this past week.

I officially turned in all my assignments for the semester this morning.  In the last week I have not gotten a lot of reading in, but I thought I would share with you some of the awesome books and resources I found/used this semester.

Intro to Teaching

Those Who Can, Teach, by Kevin Ryan and James M. Cooper

This is a very interactive textbook.  I actually enjoyed reading it and answered the questions aloud or in my head every time I came across one.  If you are looking for an overview of teaching…check this one out.

The Middle School

Teaching in the Middle School, by M. Lee Manning and Katherine T. Bucher

Did you ever wonder what we can do to help ease middle grades students into adolescence?  Read this book!  It gives you the whys of what is happening with students and explores many of the hows of strategies to create successful learners.  If you watched Inside Out and thought “this makes so much sense”, read this book!

Differentiated Intruction

Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design, by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe

Creating an Inclusive School, edited by Richard A. Villa & Jacqueline S. Thousand

Have you ever wondered about how effective your inclusion practices are?  What tools and strategies can you use to create authentic, challenging work for all students?  If you want to know the practical and emotional impacts of inclusion, read these books!

Well folks, there you have it.  Some amazing textbooks and resources I used this semester.  Now I am free to read anything of my choosing.  I just don’t know what that is yet.  Got an idea?  Let’s talk below….

Six Things You Should Know About Children’s Lit

Hello Kid Lit Lovers,

We are now at the tail end of the semester and this is my final, final official post for ENG 235:  Children’s Literature.  Don’t worry, this blog won’t end!

In the meantime, I wanted to wrap up things with a look back that the top ideas and concepts I have learned about Children’s Literature.  This is a collection of the most important, interesting, and exciting things that I have learned this semester.

1.  Public libraries, and their amazing children’s librarians, are an invaluable resource.

I learned this in week two or so.  I needed 50 Caldecott books to read and I had no idea how to gather all 50.  I went through the Caldecott list and reserved a number of the winners.  Yet, I still needed help finding more.

Enter my new favorite friend – our children’s librarian.  I showed up to the library and said I needed help.  She was so quick to start looking and really wanted me to read all the “good” Caldecott books.  We crawled around the floor in the picture book stacks and found all 50 books that I read.  It was amazing for her to spend an hour (or more…) looking for and checking out Caldecotts.

Our relationship didn’t end there.  She was always ready to find a book to meet my theme for the week and to suggest others that might fit.  She also asked how the books that I read were and if I would suggest them to others.

2.  Children’s Lit awards really do point you to amazing books.

We spent quite a bit of time exploring the various book awards (most of them sponsored by the ALA).  The committees who read and analyze the various contenders have a big job to do when it comes to selecting the winners.  However, they do an amazing job.  I learned that any book that is an award winner or honor is going to be a quality work.  I may not have liked all of them, but they are all quality books.

3.  There are a lot of nonfiction picture  books – and they are great!

This is something that I did not know before this class.  Reading the various picture books and finding a collection of nonfiction books was a surprise.  These books are a combination of illustrated picture books and books that have photos covering a wide array of topics.  They are also very well written and very informative.  If you want to read a nonfiction book on a specific topic, look up the children’s literature book!

4.  There is an amazing world of Kid Lit bloggers, authors, and websites.

This has been one of the coolest, most surprising aspects of Children’s Literature.  I have enjoyed discovering the social media accounts of my new favorite authors (I’m talking J.K. Rowling here).  There are also amazing bloggers who review books and share the fun things they have found.

Finally, my classmates have had wonderful blogs too.  The process of reading their blogs and commenting have made this distance, online learning course feel a little more connected.  Looking back on my list of comments, I found that there are 4 or 5 people I regularly commented with.  In my imaginary Kid Lit world, we are a collection of friends who read and share books together.

5.  Everyone loves to talk about Kid Lit books.

As I read throughout this course, there were times that I needed to find a book that wasn’t available in my library.  So, what did I do?  I put out a plea and asked my friends, neighbors, and colleagues requesting  help finding the books.  People came out in droves – offering books, reviews, suggestions, and always wanting to talk.

I also asked friends, family, and colleagues for suggestions for my independent learning project (Kid Lit Readers – check it out!).  Again, people came out in droves.  They offered book ideas, their favorite books from childhood, and their children’s (or grandchildren’s) favorites.  Essentially, everyone is is a Kid Lit lover.

6.  Children’s Literature is not just for children!

This is one of the most exciting pieces of knowledge I have gained.  I have really loved reading all of these books written for children.  They are not only informative (nonfiction) or fun, but they are well written, quality works of literature.  I have no qualms about reading picture books and short chapter books and books from my childhood.  There is no need to defend myself when reading these books.  Rather, I have learned to share them, tell others, and enjoy reading these books.

What six things did you learn this semester?  Which of the things on my list did you also learn?  Let’s talk below…

Top Ten Book Covers and Illustrations

Once again I’m chiming in with another Top Ten list on a day that isn’t Tuesday!  Today is…..


Top Ten Book Covers and Illustrations

Since I read so many amazing picture books (and novels with pictures), I thought I would highlight my favorite picture books.  Most of these are chosen solely because of their covers, but a few are sprinkled in with just amazing illustrations in general.

Press Here, by Herve Tullet

This is a fun book with lots of primary colors, dots, and a fun an interactive text.  Seriously, press there and have fun with the colors!

Dave the Potter:  Artist, Poet, Slave, by Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

This cover is eye catching and drew me to this book.  I can see Dave’s artistry, his dedication to his craft, and his focus on beauty.


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, by Simms Taback

I really enjoyed the art style in this book.  It is fun to explore the various cut-outs as the old lady swallows more things!

Corduroy, by Don Freeman

This book’s cover drew me in – the warm red background and the fuzzy bear just signaled childhood to me.  Great illustrations throughout this book as well.

How to Be a Superhero:  A Colorful and Fun Children’s Picture Book; Entertaining Bedtime Story, by Rachel Yu

This is a fun, entertaining book that is illustrated in a comic-book style.  I loved all the colors!


Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems

This hilarious pigeon makes the story, but the illustrations are simple and interesting!  I love his style.


Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney

This cute little llama who gets so scared at night is all of us when we are home alone.  I love the mix of the colorful pajamas and the dark background.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by Wiliam Joyce

This wonderful story has beautiful illustrations of books that walk, fly, and draw in new readers.  Also, a book about books couldn’t be passed up for this list.

This is a Moose, by Richard T. Morris and Tom Lichtenheld

I loved the cheesy moose in this story.  The illustrations, and commentary from the “director” really make this a humorous book for children and adults.

The Day My Butt Went Psycho,  by Andy Griffiths

What list of amazing covers and illustrations would be complete without a book title with the word BUTT in it?  This humorous novel comes complete with a neon, sparkled, swirly pattern and the words BUTT and PSYCHO! in giant letters.  This is a cover that made me want to read the book.

So, what are your favorite picture books?  Which book’s cover made you have to read the book?  Should I have added something different to this list?  Let’s talk below….

Harry Potter Thursday #15


Harry Potter Moment of the Week hosted by Uncorked Thoughts!  Check out the blog-hop and other cool stuff over there!

The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object, quote etc. from the books/ films/ J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

It is the final Potter question of the semester!  Let’s see what is in store for us today.

Today’s Potter Question:  Would you rather care for a blast ended skrewt or get hit with the slug eating curse?

This is easy.  I’d care for the blast ended skrewt.  It wouldn’t be easy, but Hagrid could teach me how to take care of them (he raised them, you know).  I would never, never want the slug eating curse.  EVER.

Isn’t he cute?

So, hands down, blast ended skrewt care.

Which would you pick?  Let’s talk below…