Monday, September 24, 2012

Audiobook Review: Cinder (Don't miss this re-imagining of Cinderella: Version 3.0)

Meyer, M.  (2012).  Cinder.  New York:  Feiwel & Friends

10 Hours and 6 Minutes.

Months ago, I had a student rave about this book.  In my typical style, I just got to read  listen to the book now.

Appetizer:  Cinder is a mechanic.  She's the only source of income for her stop-mom and step-sisters, not that they show much appreciation.  Cinder's a syborg.  She'd been damaged in an accident when she was eleven (not that she remembers it or much before the accident).  Many humans believe that syborgs don't deserve a second chance at life, especially since a strange plague is ravishing the world.

After Prince Kai, the future ruler of the Eastern Commonwealth enters her shop hoping for her to repair an old and beloved android, Cinder's life gets more and more complicated.  One of the few humans that she cares about gets sick, her step mother betrays her (not so surprising) and Cinder learns that there may be more to her syborg nature than she could ever have guessed.

A fun sci-fi twist on Cinderella, I was really impressed by the start of this YA series, The Lunar Chronicles.  While based on the Cinderella fairy tale, it's far from a retelling with sci-fi elements.  Meyer has included a lot of fresh elements to keep the reader guessing:  There's a plague infecting and killing people by the thousands, a conflict between humans, a powerful species of people living on the moon, an evil queen.  Plus, instead of a rags-to-riches story, Cinder is more of a young woman struggling and working to find her rightful place (sans fairy godmother!).

There are some predictable and familiar elements as well, but I was still impressed and engaged, making excuses to listen to the audiobook.

I'm ready for Scarlet, book two in this series.

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Audiobook Review: Dear Mr. Henshaw

Cleary, B.  (2009).  Dear Mr. Henshaw.  New York:  Harper Collins Publishers.

1 hour 44 minutes.

While I was asking some previous students about their favorite childhood reads, Dear Mr. Henshaw by the great Beverly Cleary was mentioned a few times.  Based on the cover and title, I--ever so cleverly--deduced that it was somehow related to writing and just miiiiiiiight be worth checking-out.

My hypothesis proved true!  Dear Mr. Henshaw *is* about writing and shows a young boy's development into an author.  I'm left trying to figure out how I can incorporate it into my "teaching of writing" course.

Appetizer:  Following Leigh through several school years, his parents divorce, he moves, deals with a lunch thief, struggles to make friends and develops as a writer.  Dear Mr. Henshaw is an epistolary novel, beginning with his first letters to his favorite children's author who doesn't always respond.  Inspired to write, some of Leigh's unsent letters serve a diary entries).

I was struck by how realistic the book was.  The ending is not purely happy.  There are no improbable coincidences.  People don't magical change or improve.  Nobody wins the lottery.  It's *real* or true to life.  I could imagine this being some young readers' first novel that doesn't end with "happily ever after."

In terms of the audiobook narration, Pedro Pascal clearly had an adult voice (which can sometimes be off-putting), but he did such a good job of capturing Leigh's emotions that I found the audiobook narration flowed well and didn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the story.

Now, I must find a way to incorporate Dear Mr. Henshaw into my current "teaching of writing" course...I might focus on Leigh's growth as a writer.

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yay! I'm a Cybils 2012 Second Round YA Fiction Judge

Hello Internetz,

Sorry for the continued relative silence on my end.  I'm still adjusting to the new job, teaching courses I haven't taught previously.  So, there's a lot of prep work.  It hasn't left much time for reading outside of the courses' books, prep pieces, and my students' writing assignments.

But, I have returned to announce that I am once again a proud participant in the Cybils Awards!

I will be a second round young adult fiction judge.

I can't wait to start reading and discussing the books!  (Alas, my role doesn't really begin until December or January.  I will try to be patient....)  I vow to help choose a book that will engage, amuse, inspire, amaze, and entertain young adult readers! or die trying.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

REVIEW: 11 Experiments That Failed

Offill, J. & Carpenter, N.  (2011).  11 Experiments That Failed.  New York:  Schwartz & Wade Books.

Appetizer:  A curious troublemaker goes through the scientific process to answer wonderful questions; like if a kid can survive on snowballs and catsup, if dogs like to be covered in glitter, if a piece of bologna will fly like a frisbee or if seedlings will grow from perfume instead of water.  The results of her experiments, as you can probably gather from the picturebook's title, are not exactly ideal.  But the scientific process must continue!

The illustrations of 11 Experiments That Failed use the same mixed media of photographs and drawings that are featured in the author and illustrator's other book, 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore!

While I imagine that some would argue that this book could encourage troublemaking, I prefer to think that it encourages curiosity.  Adding awesomeness to that sense of fun and curiosity is the fact that all of the questions the young scientist explores are structured in the scientific method.  This structure makes this picturebook ideal to share with students just learning about the scientific process in an accessible way.

I'm actually teaching a literacy course right now and am bringing the book in to describe logical intelligence.

Tasty Rating:  !!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails