Sunday, October 30, 2011

Regular & High 8th Grade Book Talk Books

Books I took to book talks before everything went down, post 1: books in the presentation to normal-reading-level and high-reading-level 8th graders.

Alligator Bayou, by Donna Jo Napoli.  One of the very few historical fiction books I've read recently that I thought good enough to promote.  Historical fiction generally doesn't do well with my kids (well, used-to-be-my kids), but I sold this on the "based on a true historical episode," which I found very interesting, as well.

The Boy From the Basement, by Susan Shaw.  The kids ate this up.  I actually had 2 patrons around middle-school age come in as I was preparing these presentations and say they read and liked A Child Called It (they "liked" it?  that kind of weirded me out...), and they were excited about this title.  I book talked this in all 3 classes/presentations, and everyone seemed pretty interested.

The Dark Side of Nowhere, by Neal Shusterman.  Very quick, easy read, but a good one to include for gearing-up-for-Halloween; nice elements of suspense, although a little heavy-handed with the foreshadowing.

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, by Robin Brande.  This was the most amazing book.  It has some really great moments, and a must-have for all public and school libraries.  Like The Dead and the Gone, I appreciate how important religion is to the main character, and she is able to express her beliefs, but the book never feels preachy.  This isn't "Christian Fiction," the point of which is to convert readers; this is a problem novel in which the main character happens to take her Christianity seriously.

I am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore.  Like I said, appropriate for 7th and up.  Not as much apparent interest as I had anticipated, and I would have thought more kids would have seen the movie.

Izzy, Willy-Nilly, by Cynthia Voight.  I didn't finish this, but read enough to get a good sense of the book.  This is a great book to give to kids (girls, mostly) who adore those terrible Lurlene McDaniel teenage-death-and-love-story paperbacks. 

Life as We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer.  I didn't reread this, just remembered how fantastic it was.  I had been promoting this in past years to 6th grade, and the 6th grade teacher read it over the summer and loved it.  I also brought this one to 7th grade, and two of the students in the high-achieving reader class had this with them and were loving it.  I actually like it best when I can bring a book one or two people in the class have read, because they also like to share their opinion; the rest of the students see that it's not just me and my weirdness.

A Mango-Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass.  Synesthesia was a really popular plot device in adult-level fiction in the spring and early summer.  I looked at so many new mystery series where the detective had to retire early because of TBI, but developed synesthesia and became a P.I.  Unlike all those novels, this one is really well done, factually correct, and reads more like a regular problem novel than a weird disorder book.  Give to everyone.

Miles from Ordinary, by Carol Lynch Williams.  (also mentioned The Chosen One by the same author).  Not my favorite book of the bunch, but this author is really great at getting into the heads of girls whose life experiences are vastly different from normal suburban middle school, and making them seem like totally regular people.

Peeps, by Scott Westerfeld.  Interesting story, fast-paced, and I'm super surprised the author hasn't beat the idea to death through a too-long series yet.

Red Pyramid (and Lost Hero), by Rick Riordan.  Riordan is my concession to popularity.  Plus, talking about his work lets me promote three series and about 10 books in one go.

The Scary States of America, by Michael Teitelbaum.  This actually has no AR (come on, AR people!) so I just skimmed by with a quick overview.  My concession to Halloween, but the three stories I read weren't particularly scary or even very suspenseful.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz.  I thought this would be scarier, because the drawings between the stories are super creepy, but the stories themselves are pretty bland.

The Shadow Club, by Neal Shusterman.  Much better than The Dark Side of Nowhere, this had a more realistic plot, and as a result, the kids responded to it better.

Sidekicks, by Jack D. Ferraiolo. This is a super-awesome book, partly because I love what the author did, setting up the world, then throwing a chapter of curve balls, then expecting the reader to assimilate that information and go on.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I haven't read this since college, and I didn't remember how haunting and powerful it is.  I promoted it only the high-reading 8th graders, and a few had even read it already and had great things to say about it.

Stuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman.  This book is apparently like, my cause this year or something, because I've tried to make the entire middle school read it.  It is amazing.  There is also a really great book trailer I've been trying to use for ages and I was finally able to make it work for these visits.  But some of the kids laughed, which I totally didn't expect.  That was somehow worse than the kids who slept during my presentations.

Who, What, Wear, by Olivia Bennett.  This is actually a sequel, but it isn't one that requires the reader to remember minute details from book one, so I was able to jump in easily. 

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