Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Booktalks Happen

I showed up at my assigned Middle School on the morning of my booktalks to find... a 2-hour delay due to fog.  Once things actually got underway, though, my first solo booktalks were a roaring success!  Go, me! Here are the books I promoted to my 6th graders:

Little Blog on the Prairie, by Cathleen Davitt Bell.  Read several weeks ago.  Got a good response, mostly from the girls in the front few rows.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol 1, by Stephenie Meyer (art and adaptation by Young Kim).  I did not read this one, although I did skim through to look at some of the art.  I love the minimal use of color: dark jewel tones used sparingly in a primarily black-and-white book.  Twilight die-hard fans (which were made up of nearly 50% boys, surprisingly (to me, at least)) were thrilled.

What are You Afraid Of?: Stories about Phobias, edited by Donald R. Gallo.  Read one short story and skimmed the first paragraphs of 3 more; I do intend to finish someday, Kiff.  Moderate interest.

Wolf Brother, by Michelle Paver.  Grabbed this to be my historical fiction pick.  Did not read (but did read 5 reviews).  I was the least excited about this book, mostly because 1) it doesn't sound like something I would be interested in/enjoy, and 2) it doesn't seem like something that would become popular with young readers, but the cover seemed to attract interest; mild to moderate interest after my review.

Taken, by Edward Bloor.  Read a loooong time ago.  A surprising number of kids have seen the movie, which I once saw a preview for but have not actually seen.  The kids say that, based on my review, the movie and book are very different; none of them have both read the book and seen the movie.  My library has copies on DVD, so I will have to investigate.

First Daughter: White House Rules, by Mitali Perkins.  Turns out this is book 2 of a short series.  Read the first 10 pages and 2 reviews.  Only mild interest from the kiddies.

Zombies for Zombies, by David P. Murphy.  Read 15 random pages and 1 review.  Big hit with the tots.

Warriors: The Lost Warrior, by Erin Hunter.  I read this about a month ago, but find I forgot to post it.  "Bleh" pretty much sums it up.  The cell flow is pretty good, but I totally can't get in to these stories.  There were some kids in the class who do read the series and were thrilled to learn about these sub-series, though, so a must-have if you've got good circ on the previous 25 (thousand) books.

Technically, It's Not My Fault, by John Grandits.  Read last month.  Minimal positive response from the kiddos.  They have not done concrete poems in Language Arts/English and don't seem to excited by poetry in general, but maybe the half-dozen teachers who also saw it will remember to use it eventually.

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo, by Obert Skye.  Read the first 5 pages and 2 reviews.  I have had this on my list as one of the books I "ought to" read, because of its popularity and reviews, for a long time now, but have never gotten around to it.  I think I successfully sold this to HP fans.  I've always thought of this series as "the gateway drug" into other fantasy for people (and I know quite a few) who devour HP but won't touch other fiction.  (it reminds me of this.)

Dead is the New Black, by Marlene Perez.  Read half of and intend to finish.  Good so far, and got moderate interest from the classes. Rise of the Heroes, by Andy Briggs.  Read nearly 2 years ago.  I now realize it would have been more helpful for me to re-read my own review; instead, to prepare, I skimmed some random pages and read reviews, but had forgotten how positively I felt about it after my first reading.
This is a difficult premise to explain in a way that doesn't sound dorky.  The suspension of belief required... I don't think I sold this book well, but that was my fault, not the book's.

Gifted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, by Marilyn Kaye.  Read!  Loved!  Stayed up until 1:30 am the night before to finish!  I picked it because it's a small paperback, so not intimidating, and the main characters are in middle school (although in 8th grade, but I left that part out), and it's got paranormal written all over it; trying to sell books to reluctant readers, those are the things I think are most important-- short, similar main character, hot topic/genre.  Once I started reading it, I thought I would hate it.  The main character is beautiful, rich, popular, and absolutely horrid.  The second character is quiet, dorky, mousy, with unwashed hair, and total stereotype.  (This is pretty much exactly what I said to the kids, btw.)  But the more I read the book, the more I liked it.  When the author sets up the premise, I was thinking "oh great, this is going to be one of those books where everyone learns a lesson."  And it's true that there is a lesson in there, it isn't overpowering.  The reader is made to care more about the characters.  Definitely a winner for me, and I may have interested a few readers as well.  Circ on our copy has been good, and I intend to investigate the others in the series.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean, by Justin Somper.  Read last spring.  Didn't love then, but it's a good pick for t(w)een boys.  Moderate interest from the boys.

The White Darkness, by Geralding McCaughrean. Read nearly a year ago, but the depth of my love remains constant.  I think I did a good job selling this book, because my passion was obvious.  To be honest, I didn't expect the fact that I said "I absolutely adored this book" to mean anything to the kids; in fact, I anticipated it would have a slightly negative effect.  But I took a chance and said so, and the kids really responded (well, mostly the girls in the front few rows again). 

Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up, by Sarah Albee.  Go, nonfiction!  Poop, poop, poop; 6th graders and my 3-year-old, yeah.  Man, were there giggles when I held this one up.  I read about half of it (and intend to finish it); I'm not sure of the response from the kids-- if they were just giggling because an adult said "poop" about 20 times in 5 minutes, or if they are actually interested in the book.  I think my review was good, playing up the humor while conveying that it can be a serious topic that has impacted human history at every turn.

The Line, by Teri Hall.  I checked this out when it first came in, but never got around to it and eventually returned it.  I checked it out again for booktalk prep and did actually read it.  In fairness, I should say that I skimmed some sections that I found boring or unnecessary so that I could get on to other books.
This is a pretty good book, and a good future-dystopian-conspiracy intro for young readers.  The plot is interesting, but some parts of the book could have been better.  The big room-for-improvement area is setting up the history; it's apparent the author doesn't know how to quickly convey information about how the world is set up, so she has a mother-daughter homeschool history lesson at dinner in the early part of the book.  Yes, it gets the information for this-is-how-it-is-now to the reader, but it's really boring and the first big part that I skipped.
I gave a better book promo to the kids than I just gave to you, and it got a fair amount of interest.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett.    I read this for myself (first one on the holds list, baby, boo yeah!), but realized it would be appropriate to take along to my kiddos.  Again, my love for the author and series shined through; every time I promoted the book and mentioned the previous titles, I had at least 1 kid ask me to repeat the other series titles so he (it was always a boy!) could write them down.
I was actually a little tiny bit let down by this book.  I think Tiffany's character development is fantastic, but there was something about the story... it seemed like the plot hadn't received the same amount of time, attention, and care as previous books.  It's still good, no question, but I think, especially since I'm worried it will be the last in the series, that I expected more.
I really strongly dislike everyone knowing about the Nac Mac Feegle.  Part of their charm was being nefarious and unknown.

In about half the classes, kids asked me if I had read all the books I'd brought.  I told them that I had mostly read most of the books, but note to me for next time: actually read all of everything; I think they will be impressed.  I can also brag next time about how many books I do actually read every year; they will think I have amazing geek powers.

1 comment:

Librarian said...

People ask me too if I read all the books I buy. It's a process. Informative list.