Tuesday, September 20, 2011

first book talks of the school year!

6th grade, done!  Also fantastic news-- the reading teachers (for this grade) would like me to come every other month!  That's four more times this year.  Considering how many books I promote each time, I'll need at least 80 more titles.  So, if you know of any fiction books (or readable nonfiction with AR) appropriate for 6th graders that I haven't read in the last couple years, please (pleasepleasepleaseplease) leave it in the comments.  I book talked 21 books* yesterday alone, and most of them were new ones read just for this presentation.

I think the most fantastic thing about yesterday's book talks was that I had something to love about each and every book I brought.

Cheat, by Kristin Butcher (AR: 2).  Quasi-mystery, went super fast: I read it in about an hour and a half, and that was while I was at the Reference Desk.

Cinderella, Ninja Warrior, by Maureen McGowan (not yet).  Definitely an interesting spin on the fairy tale.  I liked it, and even though it's a princess book, I bet I did/you could sell it to guys: includes some good action scenes.

Demon Chick, by Marilyn Kaye (9).  Seemed like pretty high AR for the length of the book, which was a pretty easy read.  A plot that hasn't been overdone recently by every other author, but it does fit in with the paranormal set that's still popular.  It is a bad, bad cover, though.

Fakie, by Tony Varrato (4).  I've talked about this one before; it's fantastic.  I think this will be one of my staples that I give to the new 6th graders every year.

False Princess, by Eilis O'Neal (15).  This book was perfect!  So well written!  It was so the book I was trying to write ages ago when I thought I could actually be a novelist.  It's kind of a girl book, but this is one that got a lot of reaction from the kids.

Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry (7).  I've also used this one before.  I think dystopian lit is going to have a resurgence soon, so this is a good one to include.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett (17).  Lovelovelove!

Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (6).  (It is so not my fault there was a glut of princess books published this year).  With my ongoing fascination with fairy tales and related stories, I liked this one.  It's well written and definitely moves along, although actual action is limited.  We really get to know the character.

Lawn Boy, by Gary Paulsen (2).  What a perfect book for middle school!  It's really short and moves really quickly.  Even though everything that happens is good, it's still possible to feel like life is out of control.

A Mother to Embarrass Me, by Carol Lynch Williams (4).  Another perfect middle grade book!  The author completely captured that feeling of melting through the floor with embarrassment.  My mom never set the house on fire, but I still felt like Laura does, all the time.  After reading this book, I had to decompress for a while; I spent the rest of the day seriously feeling like my depressed teenage self, this was so accurate.

The Recruit, by Robert Muchamore (11).  We all know how much I love this series; I keep book talking it hoping others will start to read it, too.  Circulation is slowly building, and I totally saw some boys writing it down while I was talking!  (or, at least, I hope they were writing.  I guess they could have been doodling.)  Maybe soon I'll be able to order series vol. 9!

Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan (18).  I decided not to actually read the second book in the series for myself, because I didn't think volume was that well-written, but Percy Jackson did really well in this town, and I'm sure the kids will love this, too.  Our copies have ongoing, good circulation numbers, but only about 5 of the kids out of the 250 I saw yesterday had already read this one.

Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon Hale et al. (1).  I love this book because of the art.  And it's even a good story.

Stuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman (4).  If there was one book I could force everyone to read, it would be this book.  It is heartrendingly beautiful and so authentic.  I(t) had kids gasping in their seats.

Withering Tights, by Louise Rennison (not yet).  The author has perfected her art!  I enjoy Georgia, but she got so crazy and silly, but Tallulah is Georgia purified, the writing distilled.  There's still a heavy leaning toward silly, but it's appropriate.  This was the "beach read" for the day.

*(I will have to post the nonfiction I presented in a separate post-- come on blogger!  Let me put all my tags in!)

Finally, some notes on book presentations: last year, I stopped dragging the physical books to the classes with me because there were so many of them and they got so dang heavy.  Instead, I created a PowerPoint presentation with the cover, title, author, AR and book level, and genre.  Since I started doing this, I haven't had even one request to repeat the title, repeat the author, spell the author, etc., and all the kids, even in the back, can see the graphics.  This has been very successful for me.

Yesterday, one of the teachers suggested I check out Prezi, which is online-only presentation tool.  So far, I'm in love!  There are a few drawbacks, like it seems like there is no italics (or bold, underlined, etc.), but I'm working around that.  The teacher said that the kids are more drawn in by the Prezi because, since it's not just slides, they can't predict where the presentation will go next.  Every time the focus moves, they get little glimpses of other things coming up, and it keeps them more engaged.  I've been playing around for a while and think I'll use it for my next book talks.  The thing I'm super excited about is that you can include a YouTube clip and, because it's within the Prezi presentation, the school's filters let it through.  I've been trying for about 7 months to try to include a book trailer in my presentation, and I can't get YouTube in the school, TeacherTube won't accept my uploaded clip or it won't load in a reasonable amount of time in the school, clips I've embedded in my PowerPoint can't play because it's the wrong file extension on the school's computers...  I'll be happy if this works.

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