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Books Between Podcast
39 minutes | Jul 28, 2019
#75-Benefits of Rereading & A Conversation w/ Deimosa Webber-Bey
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for educators, librarians, parents, and everyone who loves middle grade books! My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads because I believe that a book can change the trajectory of a child’s life. And I want to help you introduce kids to those amazing, life-shaping books and bring you inspiring (and fun!) conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two tweens, a 5th grade teacher, and just back from an awe-inspiring visit with my family to Niagara Falls. If you have ever have the opportunity to go, there is nothing quite like standing on a rocking boat within the mist of the roaring horseshoe falls and gazing up 170 feet at over 3,000 tons of water thundering over those cliffs every second. Do go you if you can - it’s impressive, we learned a TON, and it’s one of those things that should be experienced at least once in your life. A quick reminder to help out your future self and set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you can catch the #MGBookChat Twitter chat - we have scheduled some great topics and hosts later on this summer and fall. So I will see you there. This is episode #75 and today’s show starts with a discussion about the benefits of rereading and then I bring you a conversation with Scholastic librarian Deimosa Webber-Bey. Main Topic - The Benefits of Rereading Our main topic today is a discussion around rereading books. Over the years, my own thinking in this area has evolved a lot. As a young teacher who wanted to make the most out of absolutely every precious second of classroom time, I had a rather negative view of students reading a book for pleasure that they had already read before. If a kid was picking a novel for a book club or a book report, I wouldn’t let them select a book they had previously read. Thinking back, that really did seem to be the norm among my colleagues. Like them, I viewed it as cheating a little bit! As if they wouldn’t be as engaged in the text a second time around or they weren’t challenging themselves enough. Basically - I considered rereading a book in school as a waste of a learning opportunity. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that a friend had a conversation with me that changed my mind. We weren’t even debating the merits of allowing kids to reread books, we were just chatting. She asked me, “Corrina, what’s your favorite movie?” And I said, “Oh! The Princess Bride! I’ve watched it like 50 times…..” Oh. Ohhhhh……. And that’s when it hit me. It was that one friendly person inadvertently holding up a mirror to myself that made me reconsider the misconceptions I held and start to realize there are huge benefits to experiencing a text, a film, multiple times. I mean - if you think about it - watching a movie or tv series over and over again - is a commonly shared and even celebrated social phenomenon. I hear lots of people talking about how many times they’ve watched The Office or Black Panther or Star Wars. In my house, it’s a running joke how many times my husband’s Facebook status is “watching Casino Royale” So today, I’d like to explore with you some reasons why rereading is so satisfying, some academic benefits, and a few ways to enhance the rereading experience for the kids you work with. Why Rereading is so Satisfying Let’s start with why rereading is so satisfying. First - it’s fun! If you love a book, you get to spend more time with favorite characters and relive those climactic moments in the story. It’s like going on your favorite roller-coaster again. Yeah, you already know when the twists are turns are, but also - here come those twists and turns and I can’t wait for them! Another way that rereading can be satisfying is that there’s less pressure to finish the book. Maybe you just want to skim it or reread your favorite scenes. It’s a lower commitment situation than starting a new book. Having books around that you enjoy rereading or reading parts of, can enhance your overall reading life. Because dipping in to a favorite book when you are in between other reads or you don’t have have a big chunk of time to start something new is a good way to keep reading momentum going through those tricky times in your life. Or when kids are struggling to find that next book they really want to read. Often, my students will pull out those tried and true favorites like Sunny Side Up or Guiness Book of World Records or the Minecraft Handbooks when nothing else had really hooked them yet. Another excellent reason to reread a book is to prepare for the next book coming out in the series. A parallel to that is the binge-watching that happens when a new season of a favorite TV show starts. When season three of Stranger Things dropped on July 4th, my family spent a few weeks prior rewatching the previous seasons to catch us up to speed on the plot. And also because being familiar with the back stories of the characters made watching season three so much better. And finally, when I consider why a child may be rereading a book again - or maybe over and over again - I have to think that there may be something comforting in that text. It might be providing a sense of stability and order and a sense of knowing what’s coming next during a time in their life when they need that. Academic Benefits Aside from simply making you happy, rereading texts multiple times does have academic benefits that can boost reading skills. For example - Reading a text a second or third or fourth time can really increase one’s fluency. Even if that rereading is just in your head and not out loud, you’ll start to have a smoother experience without halting on tricky vocabulary or getting lost in complex sentence structures. You might start to mentally add more expression and read with tone in mind now that you aren’t spending mental energy figuring out who the characters are and what’s happening. Last year, I read Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always out loud to my class, which was about the fourth read for me - and it had taken me that long to start to pick apart the different speech patterns and personalities and emotions of the characters in order to even start to read that out loud well. Another huge benefit to children when they reread is that they will notice far more on the second or third time through the text. I’ve already mentioned picking up more vocabulary, but catching on to the author’s foreshadowing or their use of symbolism or how they are developing a theme across chapters is one of the joys of rereading. And it’s also fun to pick up those little clues along the way of character development. To use a common example, when you reread Harry Potter a second time, you realize - Oh! Harry could talk to and understand the snake in the zoo - that comes up later when they realize he’s a parseltongue. And knowing the motivations and backstory of Snape makes for such a rich reread of those earlier books. Aspects of the story that you are never going to appreciate or even understand unless you reread it. To throw in an adult example, I recently rewatched The Good Place with my husband and whoa - knowing what you know now and going back and watching the interactions between the characters and picking up on all the references and appreciating that Yogurt word play is just… perfection. The other noticing that can happen on a reread - is that you start to pick out problematic aspects of a book that might not have been in your realm of awareness the first time you read it. For example, when I reread Harry Potter with my class last year, I noticed those early chapters were full of offensive references to character’s weight. In a way where fatness was used to elicit disgust with certain characters. Lately, in order to get a better grasp on the society we live in and the challenges we’re facing, I’ve been reading some adult nonfiction books that have impacted the lens with which I view all stories and well, life! Just to name two - first, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny by Kate Manne, and I just finished Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (which is amazing and please, please go read that book next if you have not.) What I’m getting at is that your perspective and what you notice in rereading a text is influenced by the learning you’re doing in other areas of your life. Another way that rereading can have the power to improve a child’s reading is that those skills and observations they are honing during their 3rd read of New Kid or Front Desk transfer to other new books. Once they’ve started to notice what foreshadowing looks like or how the author uses language to set up a certain mood, or the way infographics in that shark book give you more information, they’ll catch on to those maneuvers as they work toward comprehending more unfamiliar or complicated books. And - of course - reread can boost their own writing. When they start to notice and identify more of those author’s techniques through multiple rereading of a text, students can try out those writerly maneuvers in their own writing. This reminds me of when Kate DiCamillo was on the show last year and she mentioned (as she has elsewhere) that she rereads Charlotte’s Web every year. Both as a fan and also to orient herself to how that story is constructed. How to Enhance Rereading for Children Clearly, there are some huge benefits when children reread, and I think with the right approach we can enhance that experience for them. One way to do that is to simply ask them about that book they are reading over and over again! Acknowledge it, let them know you get it, and let them talk about why they love it so much. Honestly, most of the time, people love to be asked about the TV sho
52 minutes | Jun 30, 2019
#74-Top 20 Student Favorites & A Conversation with Rajani LaRocca
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for educators, librarians, parents, and everyone who loves middle grade books! My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads because I believe that a book can change the trajectory of a child’s life. And I want to help you introduce kids to those amazing, life-shaping books and bring you inspiring (and fun!) conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two tween girls, a 5th grade teacher, and finally beginning my summer vacation!! Before we begin, I have a few quick announcements! First - a reminder that Monday nights are the #MGBookChat Twitter chats with some really amazing topics coming up this summer like STEM in Middle Grade, Inspiring Kids to Write, Grief in Middle Grade, and several Open Chats where you can bring your own topic to discuss. So if you are like me and have a tendency to forget those sort of things, set a reminder on your phone for Mondays at 9pm EST and check out #MGBookChat on Twitter. Second - I will be at NerdCampMI this July 8th & 9th - so if you are headed that way this summer, please please do say hi. And finally - I am really excited to tell you that I will be rejoining the All the Wonders team as their Podcast Network Developer to produce a new array of shows cultivating a wider variety of perspectives and stories in the world of children’s literature. First up is All the Wonders This Week - a brief, topical show released every Tuesday where a guest and I will chat about all things wondrous and new in the world of children’s literature. So stay tuned for that this summer! But - no worries - Books Between isn’t going anywhere! This is episode #74 and today’s show features the Top 20 books that my students loved this year, a reflection on what went right and what went wrong for me this last school year, and a conversation with Rajani LaRocca - author of Midsummer’s Mayhem. Top 20 Student Favorites Let’s start with the top 20 books that my 5th grade students loved and recommended this school year. Because it’s one thing for an adult to enjoy a book, but for it to really make an impact, it has to connect with its intended audience. There have been plenty of books that I loved, but for some reason didn’t seem to resonate with middle grade readers. Honestly, I think THIS list is way more valuable than ANY list that any adult puts out. I couple notes before we begin. My students have pretty much free choice to read what they want in class and for homework at night, but we did have two book clubs this year - one in the fall featuring immigrant and refugee experiences and then we just wrapped up our fantasy book clubs. So that context likely influenced what books they had most exposure to. Also - our four main read alouds this year were Home of the Brave, a non-fiction title called When Lunch Fights Back, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and The Thief of Always. Only two of those made it into this Top 20. And there are only six graphic novels on this list, which might surprise some adults who like to complain to me that “all kids read these days are those graphic novels”. (Can you hear my eyes rolling?) I also want to be transparent about how I calculated this “Top 20”. So, at the end of the year, we did various wrap-up and reflection activities. In mid-June, I send out a quick survey one morning asking them for their top reads of the year. They also worked on an end-of-the-year reflection celebration slideshow and one slide was devoted to sharing their favorite books. Also, each student worked on a “Top 10 List” (or” Top 5 List” or whatever - an idea I got from Colby Sharp) listing their most highly recommended books of the year - recommended for their current class and to be shared with the incoming 5th graders. So… I tallied up each time a title was mentioned in any of those places. And here are the top 20 titles my 5th graders loved and recommended. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi This graphic novel is still a strong favorite with my fifth graders. Maybe slightly less so this year, but I think that’s because a LOT of them already read it in 4th grade. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney Still going strong! Admittedly, not every mention was book one, but the series is a perennial favorite among my students and one that they love to reread in between other books. Ghost by Jason Reynolds The Track Series has gained a lot of momentum this year - and mainly through word of mouth. It was one of our school’s ProjectLIT selections so there was some buzz around that, but only one of my students was able to make it to those meetings so the popularity of this title is due strictly to kids recommending it to other kids. Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai This title was one of the immigrant /refugee themed book club selections from the fall and even though just four kids read it in that club, it was quickly passed around after that. If you know children who enjoyed books like Refugee or Amal Unbound, Escape from Aleppo is a great next book to introduce them to next. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes Every child that picked this book up and read it, ended up calling it a favorite. The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West This title was one of our Fantasy Book Club options and it really lends itself to fabulous discussions if you’re looking to round out that genre. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder I will admit - I was totally surprised this made the top 20. Not because I don’t like it - I LOVE this book, but I didn’t really witness it being read or talked about a lot past September or October. But clearly it made a lasting impact on those that did read it. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey In the same vein as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this series of books are the go-to rereads when a student isn’t sure what they want to read next. It’s one of those comfort reads that always winds up back in their book boxes. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol This graphic novel was passed from kid to kid this year with so many of them reading it multiple times. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin Which was a second shocker to me because this novel is a class read-aloud in 3rd grade. So all the love for this one came from students who remembered it fondly and reread it. Maybe because I happened to have a few copies in our room? Which reminds me to make sure to have those previous year’s titles available in our classroom library. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins Another one of our hot fantasy book club picks - this series is a winner. Year and after kids fall in love with the characters! And it will make you fall in love with a cockroach. That’s some powerful writing! Smile by Raina Telgemeier Still…. after all these years. This book has that special spark. Crush by Svetlana Chmakova When this graphic novel came out in this past October, I bought one copy and immediately the kids grabbed a pen and paper and started their own waiting list. The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix The credit for this book’s popularity falls squarely to a book trailer that our school librarian showed our class. It got us all sooo hooked that I splurged a bit and bought three copies for our classroom. And it just took off from there. In fact, I haven’t even read the darn thing yet because I could never get my hands on a copy. And actually, I think it’s the only title on this list that I haven’t read. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson Because…. of course! And actually, our classroom copy of this book didn’t even make it past March. The spine cracked and then the pages started falling apart, so I’ve got to get another copy for the fall. It was clearly well-loved. Blended by Sharon Draper Whoa did this novel take my class by storm! And it wasn’t part of a book club, it wasn’t a read aloud, it didn’t have a snazzy book trailer - it just really resonated with kids. And they just kept recommending it to each other. Front Desk by Kelly Yang This was THE hot title this fall! It was one of the choices for our immigrant/refugee book clubs but unlike some of the other titles, this one had a huge resurgence after the clubs ended with kids rereading and passing it along to their friends all through the year. It was constantly in someone’s book box. The Unicorn Rescue Society by Adam Gidwitz & Hatem Aly This was another fantasy book club option. And I think, the popularity of this book is really due to the fact that it had a phenomenal book trailer that hooked kids with it’s humor. It was also a shorter book with lots of great illustrations so kids quickly finished it, passed it along and were on to the next in the series. Okay - we are down to the top two. And not surprisingly, they are both class read alouds. It makes sense that the books every child read or listened to would be high on a list of class favorites. But as I said before, two of our read alouds didn’t make the cut so these two truly did connect with the class. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker Oh my word is this book amazing! And for many students - it’s their first foray into horror. The chapter illustrations are gruesome and disturbing and wonderful…. If you know kids that like scary books with that paranormal twist… who like something a little weird - this book is perfect! And it makes a really great read aloud. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling I added this one as a read aloud this year since it was the 20th anniversary, and I honestly wasn’t sure if the kids were going to like it. That first book does have a slow start, but it was by far their top rated read aloud and the title most frequently found on their favorites lists and their recommended lists. Harry’s st
52 minutes | May 26, 2019
#73 - Finishing Strong & A Conversation with Tina Athaide
Intro Hello and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - 5th grade teacher, a mom of two girls (10 and 12), and muddling through some allergies. So if you are wondering why I sound “off” - we can blame all those plants trying to have babies! A quick reminder before we get started that you can find transcripts and interview outlines of every episode - along with lots of other great middle great content over at MGBookVillage.org. This is episode #73 and today’s show starts off with a discussion about strong endings to the school year and then I share with you a conversation with Tina Athaide- author of Orange for the Sunsets. Main Topic - Finishing the Year Strong Our main topic today is ending the school year with your students with strength and purpose. And wrapping up those final weeks together in a way that allows for both reflection on their reading lives and a way to step forward into a summer that builds on the successes of the previous year. It’s like the school year is the runway and the summer is the solo flight after take-off! If you haven’t been building those reading habits all year long, then… well that lift off is going to fall flat. But - there are some things that we can do to plan for a strong transition from that supportive classroom reading community to a strong independent reading life. For me, my school year up here in New York doesn’t end for another five weeks but lots of my friends are already wrapping up their school year so I thought it would be a good time to discuss this topic. And whether you are a parent, or a librarian, or a teacher there will be something in today’s show that you will find useful. First, we’ll talk building in time for reflection and what that can look like. Then, I’ll discuss some ways for students to celebrate and share the reading they’ve enjoyed during the past school year. And finally, I’ll chat about how to usher them into summer with a solid reading plan and hopefully some books in their hands. Reflection One of the most effective ways to cap off your school year is with some time for reflection and feedback. And there are a few options for you to consider. A student survey for YOU to grow as a teacher. So this would involve asking your students questions to help get feedback to help you improve. These questions might be - What was your favorite read aloud this year? What strategies helped you grow the most as a reader? Did you prefer partner reading or book clubs and why? What types of reading responses helped you get the most of your reading? Should we read more nonfiction? What books should we get for our classroom library? Pernille Ripp uses these types of surveys exceptionally well, and I’ll link to her website to get some ideas for you to try and to tweak. It’s also really important that students get the opportunity to write about and discuss their own reading habits and growth - for their own self-reflection. In that case, since the purposes are very different, the questions you ask your students will be different. And if you’ve helped them build that habit of keeping good track of their reading, this will be a thousand times easier. These questions might be along the lines of - How many books did you read this year? How does that compare to last year? Of the books you’ve read, how many were non-fiction? How many were graphic novels? Written by a person of color? Written by a man? Were historical fiction? What was your favorite book you’ve read? How many books did you abandon and why? Those questions that dig a bit deeper are so powerful - especially when given the opportunity to share those thoughts with others. Another way that you can have your students doing some powerful thinking and reflection about the books they are offered is by guiding them through a diversity audit of your classroom collection or library. If you want details about this, I’ve discussed it in more depth in episode 28 (which I will link to in the show notes), but I highly recommend you try this at least one time with your class. And it doesn’t have to be an analysis of all the books in your library. Maybe it’s just a 15 minute check of the biographies together with two or three guiding questions. At the end of the year -it’s all about using the time you have flexibly and well. A great self-reflection method I just bumped into again recently was Pernille Ripp’s post (called “On Reading Rewards”) about having students create an award for themselves to celebrate their own achievement - whether that’s reading 35 books, or discovering a new genre, or just finding one book they really liked. I’ll link to her post with the full description and to the site where you can get those free Reading Certificate templates for students. Celebration & Sharing Along with opportunities for self-reflection and thinking about their own reading accomplishments during the previous year, I think it’s also so important to give students a chance to show off those accomplishments! One educator that I follow on Twitter (Cassie Thomas - @mrs_cmt1489), had her students gather a stack of every book they’ve read during the year and took a picture of them with that book stack! What powerful way to see how what a year’s worth of reading looks like! Another popular (and powerful) way to have students both reflect on their reading and share it, is to have them create a top ten (or so) list. I’ve absolutely modified that to a Top 5 or Top 3 list for those kiddos who were rather daunted by coming up with ten titles. It could be something as simple as the Top 10 Books I’ve Read This Year. Or maybe Top 5 Sports Books, 7 Books To Make You Laugh, Top 8 Books That Made Me Cry, Top 10 Books If You Like History - really the options are endless! And lend themselves well to having those quick finishers make a couple of them. In a recent video by Colby Sharp, he mentioned that he has his class share the lists with him in a Google doc where he complies them, prints out all the lists, and then sends the lists home with the kids for the summer! So if they are ever looking for a book suggestion, they have a ton of options from their classmates right on hand. I’m definitely doing that this year! (I’ll link to Colby’s video so you can check out his other ideas.) A third way to celebrate and share their reading? One-pagers! If you have not tried these yet - the end of the year is the perfect time! Essentially, students go into greater depth with one of their favorite books by creating a one-page presentation. Typically they are very colorful and include strong visual elements to illuminate aspects of the book like drawings of symbols, characters, or representations of the book cover. And the sections depend on your goals - often things like a character analysis, favorite quote, rating, or summary. My students really loved doing these and even had the idea of hanging some in our local public library. And I recently came across a great episode of The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast with guest Betsy Potash that offers some great tips and templates to use. I’ll also include a link directly to Betsy’s site if you want to see those great examples and snag those templates. One other idea to help students celebrate and share their reading is to harness the technology skills they’ve already practiced during the year for that purpose. For example, if your students are already using Flipgrid, have them use that tool to do a book talk for a favorite book, share their top ten list, or discuss patterns they noticed about their reading during the past year. If the kids are more comfortable with SeeSaw, they could do similar things with the video tool or do some annotating of their favorite books and make booksnaps about favorite books or characters. Powerpoint or Google Slides has some cool features - especially to make charts and graphs. One piece of advice here - use technology that they are already familiar with and can work independently on. That way, while they are working, you can take care of those important, time-consuming end-of-the-year tasks like conducting final running records on each student or wrapping up some final scoring on assignments. A Plan & Books in Their Hands The final - and maybe most important thing that you can do to better your odds at a successful launch from the supported reading life you’ve provided to your students to taking their reading life into their own hands is to actually have them leave you with something in their hands. Namely - a plan and at least one book. A summer reading plan: Let’s talk about the plan first. This could be a formal, written plan - but honestly, at the end of the year that might be just a little too structured for summer. Instead, I like to share various ideas and options for kids to boost their reading life over the summer. And then have us all share with each other how to overcome some common obstacles. So here’s what that will look like for our class over the next couple of weeks before school ends: Creating their summer TBR list. Maybe this is based on the Top 10 Lists your class presented or maybe they build a TBR list during a trip to the library, but having that piece of paper is really helpful. Invite our wonderful children’s librarian from our local public library to come in and share with our class the awesome summer programs they have planned. If the timing doesn’t work out for them to travel, a virtual Google Hangout visit or Skype could work, too. Our local library also used to allow for off-site library card sign-ups so check into that as well. Give the kids a list of any summer reading programs or activities you can find in your community. Does your local bookstore have any cool book signings or summer even
43 minutes | May 5, 2019
#72 - A Conversation with Mae Respicio
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - 5th grade teacher currently enjoying Spring Break, a mom of two tween daughters, and part of the MGBookVillage team. And MGBookVillage.org where you can find transcripts and interview outlines of all of our episodes and links to every book and topic we mention today. This is episode #72 and oday’s show features three novels that will get your students talking, and a conversation with Mae Respicio - author of The House That Lou Built. Book Talk In this segment, I share with you three books and discuss three things to love about each. All three books today have a couple things in common - questions of identity and an element of mystery. Two involve recovered memories, two of them have a bit of magic, and two of them include rather helpful birds. The three books featured this week are Restart by Gordan Korman, The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu, and The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha Clark. Restart Let’s start with Restart. This novel, by Gordon Korman, was one that people kept pushing me to read. Teachers, students, librarians - everyone kept saying, “But have you read Restart yet??” So how can you say no to that kind of pressure? And - they were right! First of all the premise is incredible - the school bully (Chase Ambrose) falls off his roof, gets amnesia, and forgets everything about his previous life. And doesn’t get why certain kids are terrified of him, why others treat him like some big hero, and others, well… do things like dump a cup of frozen yogurt over his head. Plus, it’s not just told from Chase’s point of view - we get to hear from lots of the other kids as Chase’s past (and present) are slowly revealed. Restart is incredibly crafted. Aside from how well this novel is paced and pieced together, here are three other things I really loved about Restart: Brendan Espinoza’s videos! Like lots of kids we know, he loves YouTube! Brendan is one of the first kids in the school to - if not accept the “new Chase” - at least offer him a little empathy. And that’s a powerful thing to do considering that Brendan was one of Chase’s biggest targets. He’s one of the video club kids and desperately wants one of his YouTube videos to go viral. So of course, he stages these increasingly over-the-top stunts to film. It’s hard to describe a funny video in a way that also makes you, the reader, laugh and cringe - but Gordon Korman pulls it off! And I’ll never go through a car-wash again without thinking of Brendan…. Mr. Solway! He’s this crotchety, hilarious, Medal-of-Honor-winning veteran living at the nursing home where Chase and his crew are serving out their community service. And somehow he is the spark, the center, the fulcrum of the story. That it works really powerfully as a read-aloud with tons of big ideas to discuss. Restart was our most recent bedtime book for my family, and whoa did we have a ton of deep conversations. Like…. When should you forgive someone? Is it possible to make amends for your past bad actions? And the whole situation with Joel and the video club and Shoshanna and Chase’s dad and football! If you are looking for a great book club novel, one that will offer a lot of fodder for discussion, then Restart is a fantastic option. It’s both hilarious and deep. Which to me, is that hard-to-achieve but perfect when it happens combination. The Lost Girl Next up is The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu. A story about inseparable twins Iris and Lark. Well, inseparable until 5th grade when they are each placed into different classes with teachers who might not be the best fit for their distinctive personalities. Iris is analytical, outspoken, conscientious - a girl who always knows when her library books are due. Lark is sensitive, brilliantly creative, dreamy - a girl who always knows what library books she wants to check out next. If Iris is Hermione then Lark is more Luna. But the winds of change are in the air - new school arrangements, new after-school clubs, and a new shop opening up that might not be what it seems. Here are three reasons to love The Lost Girl: The Treasure Hunters antique shop that suddenly opens up in their Minneapolis neighborhood with the slogan We Can Find Anything. Run by mysterious mashed-potato faced man, the shop is soon frequented by one of the twins. For what purpose and why I will leave you to discover. But the shop reminded me a bit of the Stephen King novel Needful Needs. I just couldn’t get enough of the fairy tale motif of this story - from the first pages when Lark is described as knowing all the consequences for stealing in various fairy tales, to the recurring comparisons of threats as monsters and ogres, to one of my favorite scenes. It’s when Iris is attending Camp Awesome - one those Girl Power-type camps and the counselor, Abigail, has asked them all which fairy-tale character they identify with. And it goes on, and other positive points are made about women in fairy tales, but I loved that conversation so so much. I love how for most of the book I thought I knew which girl the title was referring to. But now I am not so sure…. and I think that would make a really fabulous conversation. Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl is an incredible novel that is utterly deserving of all the hype that it’s received. If you have a kid who enjoys realistic fiction with a bit of magical adventure than slide this book their way. The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast And the third book on my mind this week is The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by debut author Samantha Clark. This novel starts with a mysterious boy washed up on a beach. Where he is, why he’s on this beach, and even who he is are all questions the boy can’t answer. And so he sets off to find to find answers and discover who he is. My husband, who is a book critic, like to say that every book is really a “journey of self-discovery” but this novel is exactly that. And brilliantly done. As the boy ventures beyond the beach, snippets of his memories return and slowly weave together a picture of what happened. It’s fantastic - and here are three reasons why: Breath-taking to read. Samantha Clark is the Picasso of personification. I got chills reading this novel! Let me read you a few lines: The leaves in the trees purred in the slight breeze. Greedy waves tugged at his ankles. The sun squatted in the sky. The second thing that this book does so well is to capture that inner, critical, self-bullying voice that well have to overcome. Throughout the the story, the boy is confronted by this voice that is less-than-encouraging. He can run away from some threats, but he can’t run away from this, so how he confronts it is a powerful moment in the book. The third aspect of this reading experience that made it so good was that your understanding of the three words in the title (boy, beast, boat) change over the course of the novel. And I won’t say more but…..ahhh!! This novel reminded me of Orphan Island, and one other book that I love. But - if I tell you what book that is - it’s going to give away a big plot twist. But if you’d read this book, message me! Mae Respicio - Interview Outline This week’s interview is featuring debut author Mae Respicio! Julie Artz and I hopped on Skype to chat with her about tiny houses, her writing life and of course - her debut novel The House That Lou Built. Take a listen. The House That Lou Built For our listeners who haven’t yet read The House That Lou Built, what is this story about? What inspired you to write about a tool-toting middle schooler? What sort of research did you do to write this book? Did you visit Tiny Houses? Your Writing Life What was Hedgebrook like? What are you working on now? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special teacher or librarian in your life who helped you grow into a reader? What are you reading now? **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: We discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 35:04 mark. Thank You! Links: Mae’s website - https://www.maerespicio.com Mae on Twitter - @maerespicio Mae on Instagram - @maerespiciobooks Hedgebrook Books & Authors We Chatted About: Harry Potter series Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O’Brien) Self-Help (Lorrie Moore) Closing Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you have an extra minute this week, reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are much appreciated. Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Talk with you soon! Bye!
48 minutes | Mar 31, 2019
#71 - A Conversation with Alyson Gerber (Focused)
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - an elementary school teacher in Central New York and mom of two daughters - a 9 year old and a just turned 12 year old. Yesteday we celebrated her birthday with the most amazing cake - white with whipped cream frosting and layers of cannoli filling and raspberry filling inside. And just in case you are wondering - no, I did not make it. But if you live near a Wegmans, you can order one! This is episode #71 and oday and I’m sharing with you a conversation with Alyson Gerber - author of Braced and the recently released Focused. Her latest novel is about a gutsy, chess-loving, 7th grader named Clea who is learning to cope with her ADHD. So....do you know that slightly disorienting feeling you have when you are looking out a window & suddenly the lights shifts, your perspective shifts, and you realize you are seeing your OWN reflection? That is the experience I had when reading Focused. Like so many other people, Dr. Rudine Bishop’s analogy of books as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors has always resonated with me. And I picked up Focused anticipating that I would get a window into the experiences of a young girl with ADHD - that it would help me become a better, more empathetic teacher. And while Focused absolutely did that - it also helped dispel a lot of the misconceptions I had about ADHD, particularly how it tends to manifest in girls and women. And launched me on a path to discovering that I have ADHD. I opened Focused thinking I was reading a window book - and it turned into a mirror book for me. I know that books can change minds and can change lives. But rarely has a novel changed my life for the better so completely and so soon. And by extension - the lives of my family and students. And when that happens - you just have to let the author know! And so, I emailed Alyson and thanked her and asked her to come on the show to talk about Focused, chess, her experiences with ADHD, her writing process, and so so much more. Take a listen. Alyson Gerber - Interview Outline Focused For our listeners who have not yet read the Focused, can you tell us a bit about it? In what ways is Clea’s situation and experiences similar to your own and in what ways did you angle her story so that it was different from your own? Another thing that I think you do masterfully in Focused is how you show Clea’s relationship with her therapist evolving over time from her denial and distrust to an eventual positive relationship. I think so many kids can benefit from that peek inside a therapist’s office... Is the testing you describe Clea doing things you’ve experienced or did you do some research to get those aspects of the story right? One of the other parts of the story that really rang true were the conversations around medication... One of the things that made me fall so hard for this book was the CHESS! My husband and daughters are all big chess players though not competitively. Do you play? So.... there is some romance in this story!! Your Writing Life What are you working on now? My students and kids are always eager to hear writing advice from authors. What’s a tip or trick that you’ve picked along the way that has helped your writing? Is there a piece of feedback that you got that changed Focused? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special person who helped launch your reading life as a child? And if so, what did they do that made such a difference? What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? What do you hope that readers take away from reading Focused? Thank You! Links: Alyson’s website - http://alysongerber.com Alyson on Twitter - @AlysonGerber Alyson on Instagram - @alysongerber Alyson on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AlysonGerberBooks Resources about ADHD: https://chadd.org https://www.understood.org/en Books & Authors We Chatted About: The Science of Breakable of Things (Tae Keller) Barbara Cooney Merci Suarez Changes Gears (Meg Medina) New Kid (Jerry Craft) The Serpent’s Secret (Sayantani DasGupta) Eventown (Corey Ann Haydu) Closing Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you have an extra minute this week, reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are much appreciated. Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Talk with you soon! Bye!
44 minutes | Mar 17, 2019
#70 - Three New Graphic Novels & A Conversation with Jerry Craft
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect the tweens in your life to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - 5th grade teacher, a mom of an 11 and 9 year old, and desperate to be DONE with winter, please!! Yesterday we saw robins all over the yard and today… it’s covered with snow again. I believe that the right book can change the trajectory of a child’s life and can help them recognize the world for what it is and what it can be. And I want to help you connect kids with those wonderful, life-shaping books and bring you inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. This is episode #70 and today I’m discussing three new graphic novels that would be great additions to your collection, and I’m also sharing with you a conversation I had with one of their creators. Book Talk - Three New Graphic Novels In this segment, I share with you a selection of books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. This week I am featuring three new graphic novels released in the last few months that should absolutely be on your radar - Click, New Kid, and Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy. Click Let’s start with Click by Kayla Miller. This full-color graphic novel is about 5th grader Olive who is feeling left out and left behind when all of her friends have matched up with each other for the school variety show. They’ve all formed acts together and Olive is feeling like she just doesn’t “click” with anyone or anything. Here are three things I really enjoyed about Click: Olive’s Aunt Molly! She’s the kind of aunt we all wish we could have - the one whose house you can stay at when things are tricky at home. The cool aunt with ripped jeans, green streaks in her hair, and a “Kiss the Librarian” coffee mug. (I mean - well, *I* think that’s cool!) It’s Aunt Molly that gets Olive these DVDs of old-timey variety shows that leads to her “a-ha” moment. The friendship dynamics in the book! I know a lot of kids can feel like they don’t belong. Don’t feel popular, don’t have a best friend. And as someone who always seemed to be friends with girls who were best friends with each other - I could really relate to Olive. The third thing that I ended up liking about this book is that it’s slower paced, has essentially one main conflict, and it can be read in one sitting. Click is a great option for kids in grades 3-6 who liked Sunny Side Up or Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel. And - Kayla Miller has a sequel coming out on April 23rd called Camp - so if they enjoy Click, they’ll have another one on the way. Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy Next up is Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo which is, as you might have guessed from the title - a modern retelling of Little Women. A full-color, 256 page graphic novel reboot of the March sisters’ story. In this retelling, the March family lives in a brownstone in New York City and their father is deployed overseas in the Middle East. So the setting is different, but the girls’ personalities are pretty much the same, but with a modern twist. Meg is the responsible one and works as a nanny. Jo is an ambitious writer, Beth is shy and loves writing music but plays a guitar and not the piano, and Amy is still her obnoxious self - just in a slightly different way. My eleven-year-old and I devoured this book - oh it’s so good! And here are three reasons why: That the March family is reimagined as a modern blended biracial family. Mr. March is black and was a widower with one daughter, Meg. And he marries Mrs. March, who is white and also had one daughter, Jo. And they go on to have Beth and Amy together. And that mix of closeness and conflict that can happen between sisters had my daughter nodding her head and laughing in recognition. We also loved that this modern retelling including gay characters and just an overall more diverse slice of society. Noticing what’s changed from the original. I’d read the Little Women many years ago but my daughter hadn’t and I doubt many middle grade readers will have. But we had both seen the movie recently and it’s cool to see how those classic characters are updated. Amy is into gaming - and boy is she competetive about it! And she wants to sell Aunt Catherine’s ring to either go to art school or launch a career as a video game reviewer on YouTube. The book includes most of the iconic Little Women scenes - Jo cutting her hair, Amy wrecking some of Jo’s writing, Jo not saving Amy from an accident that could have been tragic, Meg hanging out with a crowd of a different class, the whole Laurie situation. But each are shifted and told in a totally new way that makes sense for the now. The ending is the same yet totally different. I want to be careful with what I say so I don’t ruin anything if you haven’t read Little Women. First, the story ends when the girls are younger. Jo is still in high school and Meg is in college so there might be an opportunity for a sequel? Also - just like the original, you will need tissues but maybe not an entire box. Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth is a must-purchase graphic novel for I would say about grades 5 and up. And just like other graphic novels versions of classics like Anne of Green Gables and the Iliad, it’s a way for young readers to access those stories in a format they love. And adult fans of Little Women will love it, too. New Kid The third graphic novel that I want to recommend to you this week is New Kid by Jerry Craft. I’m fairly confident that you have already heard about this book since it seems like everyone is raving about it. But let me add my voice to those to say - yes, it’s THAT good. And I am really excited to have Jerry Craft on the show today to talk about how the book connects to his own experiences attending a private school, micro-aggressions, his favorite Chinese food, his inspirations, what’s he’s been reading - and so so much more. Take a listen: Jerry Craft - Interview Outline New Kid has been getting so much love and support from readers online - you have knocked it out of the park! For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? I’ve heard you say that Jordan’s story is somewhat based on your experiences. What are those those similiarites and also - where does the novel diverge from your experiences? In a previous interview you were asked what message you hoped people would take away from reading New Kid. And one of the things you mentioned was addressed to teachers and librarians “when you see kids of color, make sure you see them as kids first. Because they are! They like to laugh, and play, and use their imaginations, but to me they are constantly bombarded with so many things that force them to grow up at a much faster rate than other kids. Their books. Their movies. Their music. Everything is such a heavy reminder of how terrible their lives are going to be.” And that scene at the book fair is such an illustration of that…. So I have to talk to you about the audiobook of New Kid! What was the process like and what did you think of the final audiobook? So - what’s YOUR favorite Chinese food? A question from Jarrett Lerner.. “I'd love to hear about your favorite comics, comic book artists, graphic novelists. You do such inventive, clever things with your paneling and your visual language. Who are your influences and favorites? So, everyone wants to know - will there be a sequel?! What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? Thank You! Links: Jerry’s website - http://www.jerrycraft.net Jerry on Twitter - @JerryCraft Jerry on Instagram - @jerrycraft Jerry on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jerry.craft.162 New Kid audiobook Jerry’s influences: John Buscema Jim Steranko Gil Kane Jack Kirby Will Eisner Barbara Slate Books & Authors We Chatted About: Nimona audiobook Angel Love (Barbara Slate) Sweet Sixteen (Barbara Slate) You Can Do a Graphic Novel (Barbara Slate) Class Act (Jerry Craft) Piecing Me Together (Renée Watson) Queen Raina Telgemeier Nic Stone Ibi Zoboi Jason Reynolds Kwame Alexander American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang) Anika Denise Pura Belpré Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (Carole Boston Weatherford) Closing Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you have an extra minute this week, reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are much appreciated. Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Talk with you soon! Bye!
66 minutes | Feb 24, 2019
#69 - Novels About Loss and Hope & Special Guest Laura Shovan (Takedown)
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a teacher of 21, a mom of two, and enjoying the last few hours of our Winter Break here in Central New York. We’ve had ice storms then sun and lots of time to read. This is episode #69 and Today I’m discussing four excellent middle grade novels that deal with grief and loss. And I’m also sharing with you a conversation I had with Laura Shovan about her latest book Takedown. Book Talk - Four Novels About Loss and Hope In this segment, I share with you a selection of books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. I happened to read these four books back-to-back without realizing how profoundly connected they were. They have completely different plots and one is even sci/fi / speculative fiction - but each novel features a main character who is dealing with loss in one form or another. In two of the novels, that loss is the death of a parent. And in two of the novels, that loss includes a parent dealing with mental illness and trauma themselves. A loss of another - a loss of what was once considered normal life. The books this week are: The Science of Breakable Things, The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole, The Simple Art of Flying, and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. The Science of Breakable Things The first book I want to share with you and one that I hope makes its way into your collection is Tae Keller’s debut novel The Science of Breakable Things. The lead in this story is 7th grader Natalie who’s life has been turned upside down as she and her father are learning how to navigate her mother’s depression - the “situation” as her dad calls it that has her mom holed up in her bedroom and not able to cook, work, or keep up any of the routines and traditions that had kept their family together. At the beginning of the school year, Natalie’s science teacher has challenged them all to use the power of the scientific method to explore a question that intrigues you and study it with all your heart. Well - the question that tugs at Natalie’s heart? How can I inspire my mother to break out of her depression? And along the way Natalie teams up with Twig (her exuberant best friend) and Dari (their new serious lab partner) to enter an egg-drop contest hoping to use the prize money for a scheme to jumpstart her mother out of her depression. Here are three things to love about Tae Keller’s The Science of Breakable Things: How the story is laid out with the steps of the Scientific Method! Step One: Observe, Step Two: Question, Step Three: Investigative Research and so on. It’s a clever way to structure the story and have you predicting what those Results will be! The illustrations and footnotes! Oh am I such a sucker for a good footnote - especially funny ones and this novel has over fifty of these little gems! Natalie’s visits with her therapist, Dr. Doris - and Natalie’s resistance to falling for her “Therapist Tricks” and Natalie’s eventual shift to being more open with her. I think a lot of kids will be able relate to those begrudging trips to a counselor, and I hope some other children might see a glimpse into the help a therapist can offer. There is so much more to this book than just those things - like Natalie’s relationship with her Korean grandmother and her growning interest in their shared culture and the break-down of her relationship with her friend Mikayala. Here is one of my favorite quotes - one that captures the blend of science and hope in this book. This is from a section right after Natalie, Twig, and Dari have been experimenting with magnets. “It’s funny how the cold magnets actually worked best. It’s like how perennial plants seem to die in the winter but really, they’re just waiting till everything is all right again. Maybe it’s not such a surprise that there’s strength in the cold. Maybe sometimes the strongest thing of all is knowing that one day you’ll be alright again, and waiting and waiting until you can come out into the sun.” For kids who are waiting for those in their lives to come out into the sun, The Science of Breakable Things is a fabulous book to offer. The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole Our next book today is The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas - author of several picture books and the middle grade Confessions of an Imaginary Friend which I now must pick up immediately! The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is one of those books that I kept bumping into. I’d see it on display at the library, friends kept raving about it, it popped up on my “Related to Items You Viewed” on Amazon. It’s like it was stalking me. Like, in a nice, bookish way. The way where all the the forces of the universe seem to nudge you to read something. And well - the forces of the universe were right about this quirky, moving, wonderfully weird little book. It’s about eleven-year-old Stella Diaz whose father has recently died. Together they shared a love of science - and silly jokes. But remembering him after his death has become painful. In the first pages of the book, she decides to give NASA the only recording of her father’s laugh - to put on the Golden Record headed out on the Voyager spacecraft. Instead, a black hole follows her home and it becomes Stella’s pet - consuming everything it touches. And at first, Stella is happy to toss in those things that cause her annoyance (Brussel Sprouts) or cause her painful memories (like the recording of her father). And then the black hole devours her 5-year-old brother, Cosmo, and Stella has to venture inside that darkness to save him and confront all the other things she’d tossed inside. I loved this book - and here are three (of many!) reasons why: It’s hilarious! Like - Stella names the black hole “Larry” - short for “Singularity” and the scenes with the smelly classroom hamster Stinky Stu. And the Dog With No Name. And all the things that Larry gets up to when he gets loose in the neighborhood! Yes - this novel is about loss and grief and there are times when you’re probably going to cry. But to me, that edge between laughing and tears is a powerful place. And this book does it so well. The clever use of black and white pages - and Stella’s Captain Log documenting her journey in the black hole. Lines like this one: “It's like the stars in our constellations that we made," you said. "Even if one star dies far, far away, its light is still visible, and the constellation it helped to make remains. A thing can be gone and still be your guide." The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is charming, gorgeously written - and funnier than you’d ever think. If you have kids who like science, who like funny books, who are up for something unique - then this is a novel they’ll love. And if you have a child learning how to grapple with their black hole - this might be the book they need. The Simple Art of Flying Another fantastic book that was just released this past week is The Simple Art of Flying by debut author Cory Leonardo. It’s about a young cherry-loving African Grey parrot, Alastair, who was born in the back room of a pet shop - along with his sister, Aggie. Alastair is...grumpy, suspicious, stubborn, and intensly loyal to his sister - and set on finding a way for them both to escape together to a land of blue skies and palm trees. But that dream gets a lot harder to pull off when each of them are adopted by two different people. Alastair ends up with an elderly but very active widow named Albertina Plopky who organizes “Polka with Pets” events and writes letters to her deceased husband. And Aggie is bought by 12-year-old-Fritz, an attentive, sweet, and serious boy who is dealing with his own loses. So here are three things to love about Cory Leonardo’s The Simple Art of Flying: How this story is told from three different points of view and in three different formats which helps us triangulate what’s happening. Alastair’s sections are in prose and in poetry. He likes to chew on books with poetry being his favorite so has taken to creating his own versions of famous poems he’s read. Bertie’s sections are letters to her husband, Everett. And Fritz’s parts are a medical log. Alastair’s poetry!!! And… the chapter with the goldfish was unexpected and...brilliant! Bertie’s letter to Fritz at the end of the book - all about cherries and life and what to do on those days when it feels like everything is the pits. The Simple Art of Flying is a gorgeously sweet book that’s a little bit like The One and Only Ivan with a touch of Because of Winn-Dixie. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise Our final book this week is the latest from Dan Gemeinhart - who you may know from The Honest Truth, Good Dog, or Scar Island. His novels are perennial favorites in our class and guaranteed heart-tuggers - and The Remarkble Journey of Coyote Sunrise is, I think, my favorite of all. And that’s saying something - every one of his books are incredible! This story starts at a hot gas station where our main girl, called Coyote, walks in alone - and leaves with a watermelon slushie and a white and gray striped fluff of a kitten. A kitten she has to hide from her father - the man she only refers to as Rodeo. Five years ago Coyote’s mother and sisters were killed in an accident and since then she and her father have left behind their home, their memories (or any talk of them) and have been living in an old converted school bus traveling the country. And never ever looking back. But during Coyote’s weekly phone call to her grandmother back in Washington State, Coyote learns something that launches her on a secret mission to get t
38 minutes | Jan 14, 2019
#68 - MG Trends & the Most Anticipated Books of 2019
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a teacher, a mom, and battling a cold this afternoon! So if I sound a little...off - that is why! This is episode #68 and Today I’m answering some questions about trends in middle grade and sharing with you some fabulous 2019 titles to look forward to this year! Q&A - Trends in Middle Grade Fiction Last month, my husband asked me some questions about trends in middle grade fiction. He teaches a class at Seton Hall all about trends in genre fiction and wanted some input on middle grade. So I thought I would share my responses with you. And I would be very curious about what YOU would answer. What genres or subgenres do you believe are the hottest right now? Well, it’s a format and not a genre but graphic novel memoirs like Hey Kiddo, Real Friends, and Be Prepared are still really popular. And also graphic novel adaptations of classics (like Anne of Green Gables) and popular novels (like Wings of Fire or Percy Jackson). And again, not genre, but I see more books that are based on the core experiences of the writer. Those novels that draw on the real-life backgrounds of the authors like Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, Tami Charles’ Like Vanessa, and Supriya Kellar’s Ahimsa. They’re not memoirs but they are books rooted in a very personal experience. To authors, I’d say - take those things that make you unique, that make you a bit quirky, that set you apart from most other people - and write THAT story. Like Kelly Yang taking the experiences of her family coming from China and running motels to write Front Desk. Jarrett Krosoczka writing the critically acclaimed graphic novel memoir Hey Kiddo about his life living with his grandparents after his mom lost custody of him due to drug addiction. Crack that door open and invite us inside. What genres or subgenres do you believe are passé or overexposed? I don’t know…. I do wonder how long the unicorn and narwhal craze will last but that seems to live more in picture books than middle grade. Magical realism - or rather realistic fiction with a magical twist - doesn’t seem to be slowing down. You know - anything can be new and fresh with the right spin. And also, authors from marginalized backgrounds are still underrepresented in just about every genre so those are stories that will likely have new points of view. I thought I was totally over zombie stories but Dread Nation popped up and whoa!! I’ve never read a zombie story like THAT before! If you had to predict, what genre or subgenre do you think is primed to be the next Big Thing in the next year or so? I would say stories about immigrants, refugees, and the unique experiences of marginalized groups (especially by #ownvoices authors) will continue to be popular. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen an explosion of critically acclaimed middle grade stories like Alan Gratz’s Refugee, Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me, and Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai among many more. We also have more and more books coming out that tell stories of police violence in developmentally appropriate ways like Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Blended by Sharon Draper. I’m also really excited about a new crop of middle grade #MeToo stories on the horizon like So Done by Paula Chase and the upcoming Barbara Dee novel Maybe He Just Likes You. Any comments about where you see genre fiction heading? In middle grade, like everywhere else, #ownvoices books are still underrepresented - everyone has a unique story to tell or a unique POV to offer. EVERYONE. So my advice to authors, take the spark of your unique life experiences and let that burn throughout your story. My advice to educators - scour those shelves to find a wider variety of books. Also - if you write for a YA/MG audience, librarians and educators are more and more eager to the ditch the old canon and form partnerships with authors. Look for opportunities like #KidsNeedMentors or reach out to your local schools and libraries. Book Talk - Most Anticipated Middle Grade Books of 2019 The last couple of episodes were all about looking back on some of the best that middle grade had to offer in 2018. (If you missed those, go check out episodes #66 and #67.) But today is all about looking forward into the new year. Last year, when I did our Most Anticipated MG of 2018, I went chronologically by month. But this year I’m going about it a little differently and discussing the new releases by category. First, we’ll chat about the new graphic novels coming up in 2019. And then we’ll talk about new releases from authors who debuted in 2018 and 2017 and see what they’re up to now. After that, I’ll give you a peek at some of the 2019 debut middle grade authors. Then we’ll see what new books are coming out in favorite series and what sequels we have to look forward to. And finally, we’ll finish up with the 2019 releases from more established authors. So, buckle up and get ready to add to your wish list. And remember - no need to go hunting for a pen and paper. You can find every book mentioned AND a picture of the available covers AND a link to pre-order them right on the Books Between post for this episode, #69, at MGBookVillage.com. I’ve got your back, I know you’re busy, so it’s all right there for you. And as I’ve said before, I’ve come to really love pre-ordering - it helps out favorite authors and it’s like a little surprise to your future self. Before we jump in, just remember that this is just a sampling of all the incredible books coming out this year. I’ll add some links to some other great resources in the show notes and on the website where you can find more complete listings of titles to browse through and the MGBookVillage website has a great release calendar so that’s one to bookmark for sure. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111975.Middle_Grade_Novels_of_2019 http://novelnineteens.com/books/middle-grade-books https://mgbookvillage.org/2018releasedates/ http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2018/12/19-2019-middle-grade-books-to-have-on-your-radar/ https://www.readbrightly.com/middle-grade-books-2019/ https://www.bookish.com/articles/must-read-childrens-books-winter-2019/ http://www.popgoesthereader.com/target-audience-middle-grade/70-middle-grade-novels-i-cant-wait-to-read-in-2019/ Also - publication dates do occasionally change, so just be aware of that. Alright, get your Goodreads tab open, or your library website pulled up, or your Amazon/Indiebound shopping cart ready, or ….. print out the show notes and bring it to your favorite local bookstore! Alright - let’s get to it! The 2019 Graphic Novels This January, Lincoln Peirce, the author of Big Nate, has a new graphic/illustrated novel series set in the middle ages called Max and the Midknights that looks really, really cute. Also out on January 8th is Click by Kayla Miller - the story of 5th grader Olive who is having some trouble finding where she “clicks” in middle school. The sequel, called Camp, is being released this April so fans won’t have to wait long for the next one. A fantasy graphic novel that Mel Schuit recommended that I check out is The Chancellor and the Citadel by Maria Capelle Frantz so that’s on my radar now - and yours! Thank you, Mel! On January 29th another Hilo is coming our way! Hilo 5: Then Everything Went Wrong. And on that same day the 5th Bird & Squirrel is coming out called All Tangled Up. One graphic novel adaptation that has really piqued my interest is Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Tercerio and illustrator Bre Indigo. The classic is reimagined as a blended family living in modern-day New York City. I don’t think I’ve ever hit “pre-order” faster and will be eagerly stalking my delivery person on February 5th for that one! My mailbox is going to be brimming on February 5th because I also HAD to preorder New Kid by Jerry Craft! It’s about seventh grader Jordan Banks who loves drawing cartoons and dreams of going to art school. But his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school instead, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Looks amazing!! 90-Second Newbery was singing its praises on Twitter last night and said this about it: “The amazing graphic novel New Kid by @JerryCraft should definitely be on everyone's tbr list and it has a full-cast (and all-star cast) audiobook released at the same time….perfect for rich, nuanced convos abt race, class, identity, school systems, how we share books, code switching, starting new school, just so much!” So, yeah… I’ll just wait here for a bit while you hit pause and go order that! We also get the second Wings of Fire graphic novel, The Lost Heir, on February 26th AND the second Mr. Wolf’s Class book called Mystery Club. And a heads up that the graphic novel of The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire Book 3) is out in October 2019. For those Minecraft fans in your life, this March we get another Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior graphic novel - Forging Destiny. And for older middle grade kids - maybe 11 or 12 and up - look for the new graphic novel adaptations of The Iliad and The Odyssey this March as well. And fans of Terri Libenson’s Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzie will want to get their hands on Just Jaime - coming out May7th. There were lots of smiles among my students today when I told them that news! Bad Guys #9 - The Bad Guys in the Big Bad Wolf is out June 25th. Perfect launch for a fun summer read. This August brings us Best Friends, the sequel to Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends - out on August 27th. And have you seen the cover? It’s Shannon at the top of a
20 minutes | Jan 9, 2019
#67 - (Some of the) Best MG Graphic Novels of 2018
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a teacher in Central New York, a mom of two tween girls, and currently - all about the new Miles Morales Spiderman movie. It’s the lockscreen on my phone, my girls and I have the soundtrack set to shuffle in the car….and I already have plans to go see it a second time. Into the Spiderverse is the most innovative and fresh and exciting movie I’ve seen in years. It’s some next-level stuff. Just - go see it!! And see it on the BIG screen! This is episode #67 and today we are celebrating some of the best middle grade graphic novels published in 2018. On our last episode, I listed my top 25 middle grade novels of the year and I’ll include a link to that if you missed that episode. I think it’s important at the outset when making a list of this kind to explain what “best” means to you. What are your criteria? Is that popularity? The Goodreads best of lists tend to veer in that direction. Is it literary appeal? That is more along the lines of say, the Newbery Awards. For me, an outstanding book has to fit three criteria: I couldn’t put it down. Meaning - it was immersive, it has flow, it kept me turning the pages. I can’t forget it. Meaning - it had some extra special sparkle. An unforgettable character, an intriguing setting, a ground-breaking format, or a powerfully poignant message. I think kids would like it. There are books out there marketed to middle grade readers (sometimes those big award winners) that adults love but kids don’t seem to latch onto as much. So I also try to be mindful that kids books are for kids. Not for me. I am just the conduit to getting books into their hands and helping them discover what they like. Okay - let’s jump in! Main Topic - The Top 9 MG Graphic Novels of 2018 9. Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk This full-color graphic novel is about a 7th grade girl named Dany. She has just started middle school and is pretty lonely. Her friends are in different classes now and have new in-jokes and stories that she doesn’t get anymore. So she’s feeling socially vulnerable when her eccentric (and loaded) great-aunt passes away and she ends up with the woman’s sketchbook. A magical sketchbook that will turn your drawing into real-life. So when Dany draws the head of her favorite anime character (uh yeah… JUST the head) and a super popular girl to be her friend, there are (as you can imagine!) some unintended consequences. This book is FUNNY but you won’t catch half the stuff unless you read the background texts - like the store names: “Hot Topic” is “Cool Subject” and the indredients list on the food have some interesting things listed on them. This book is like a mix of Shannon Hale’s Real Friends with a touch of Suee and the Shadow with a little sprinkle of Amulet. If you have readers about ages 10 and up who like graphic novels about friendships and would be up for something with a supernatural twist, then this would be a great recommendation. And… I see Gudsnuk has a sequel in store as well! Mr. Wolf’s Class by Aron Nels Steinke This graphic novel started as a webcomic and is a great option if you are looking for something for younger middle grade readers who’d enjoy a sweet, gentle story. And it looks like lots of sequels are on their way! Mr. Wolf’s Class is about the first day of 4th grade - for brand new teacher Mr. Wolf and his students. By the way, Mr. Wolf is a wolf and the students are… rabbits and frogs and pigs and… well, just suspend your disbelief over the whole predator/prey thing! The book includes a cool preview of each student the night before school starts and then the day unfolds with short slice-of-life stories as we get to know each of the students and their teacher. A strength of this book is that the author clearly KNOWS what an actual classroom community is all about - the interactions of personalities. It feels really authentic in that way. And uh… I can definitely relate to being late to pick my kids because I was distracted by a donut in the break room! Sheets by Brenna Thummler You might be familiar with Thummler’s brilliant artwork from last year’s graphic novel adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. And if you haven’t yet gotten to that gem, bump it up on your TBR pile! This is her first solo graphic novel and I have a feeling we have a lot more in store from her! It’s the story of 13 year-old Marjorie who has been thrust into the responsibilities of running her family’s laundromat and taking care of her younger brother after her mother dies and her father has fallen into a deep depression. She is just barely hanging on and resisting the awful Mr. Saubertuck who wants to run them out of business and turn their building into a spa. But then… enter Wendell. He’s a young ghost - young meaning new and young meaning died when he was young who winds up being pulled out of the afterlife world and into Marjorie’s life. He’s looking for.. meaning. And after a rocky start with Marjorie, does end up finding it. For me, the strength and charm of this book is really about the outstanding illustrations - the gorgeous pastel palette and the nuances of the wordless panels. And based on how this book is flying through my classroom, it clearly also has that all-important kid-appeal. The Night Door (Edison Beaker Creature Seeker) by Frank Cammuso The author of The Knights of the Lunch Table series and the Misadventures of Salem Hyde has really taken things to the next level with this incredible and hilarious new world he’s created. This book is about a young boy named Edison who is afraid of the dark. When his mom has to go out of town, Edison and his little sister, Tesla, go to stay with their Uncle Earl. Uncle Earl is an exterminator and he reluctantly takes the kids (and their hamster!) on a late-night “emergency” job where the two kids (and the hamster!) wind up going through a portal into a shadowy other-worldly place where Edison has to confront his fears and lots of weird and cool creatures! This is one of those few books that has kids laughing out loud while they read it. It’s sort of like a mix between HiLo and Amulet. So if you have kids who love those two series, and want something similar, introduce them to Edison Beaker Creature Seeker. All Summer Long by Hope Larson I loved this graphic novel for a lot of reasons but one of them was that it features a friendship between a girl and boy that doesn’t ever fall into that trope of “well, maybe things are changing because you two really just have crush on each other!” Nope! It’s real, platonic - and has rocky parts - but it’s not a stepping stone to a love interest. And - thank you Hope Larson! What it IS about is that one defining summer is a young teen’s life when you start to realize that your childhood is something behind you that you’re looking back on and you are entering a new era with new interests. Where music - and finding people that like the same music as you do - takes on heightened importance in your life. At least, for me it was like that. Maybe for other kids it’s sports or art or theatre. But you start to find your people. And not just be freinds with the people who are in your class or happen to live next door. This graphic novel is about 13 year-old Bina whose best-friend and neighbor, Austin, is off to soccer camp this summer. So she ends up.. Binge-watching Netflix until her mom cuts her off. (Relateable!) Also - it’s a little thing but I like the pale orangey-peach tones of the book, which one reviewer described as orange creamsicle. Crush by Svetlana Chmakova I really, really loved her two earlier Berrybrook Middle School stories - Awkward and Brave, but this one just might be my favorite. This one takes a step away from the intrigues of the art club and the school newspaper and focused on Jorge Ruiz, a big kid, a pretty-popular jock who nobody really messes with, who seems to have it all together. Until he realizes that he’s got a massive crush on Jazmine and his world is suddenly tilted. This graphic novel really captures those quick relationship changes in middle school and that dynamic between texts and social media and how that influences and complicates face-to-face interactions. Sometimes novels totally leave out modern technology. I mean, half the time the problem in the book could be solved with a quick Google search or you know - maybe talking with the person that you’re having an issue with! But Chmakova knows that technology might solve some problems but ushers in a whole host of other ones. Crush is another one of those graphic novels that is getting passed from kid to kid to kid in my classroom with a big enough waiting list I ordered a second copy. And - a bonus - kids don’t have to read the three books in the series in order. They each definitely can stand alone. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol This graphic novel is loosely based on the author’s real-life experiences and her Russian-American background and that makes for a unique twist on a familiar setting for some kids - summer camp! 9-year old Vera is a Russian immigrant and we learn at the beginning of the novel, she doesn’t doesn’t exactly fit in with the popular crowd. Or really any crowd at all. Her family is poor and their traditions and food are just enough “culturally off” to make her feel awkward among the girls she invites to a birthday sleepover that goes bad…. And oh man… how I felt for poor Vera that night! That’s some real-life cringe-worthy stuff though. Vera desperately wants to fit in and finally convinces her mother to send her and her brother to a Russian summer camp sponsored by their Orthodox church where they will le
33 minutes | Jan 6, 2019
#66 - (Some of the) Best Middle Grade Books of 2018
Intro Hi everyone! This is Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a 5th grade teacher, a mom of two girls, and enjoying my extra reading time over the holiday break and the chance to relax. This is episode #66 and today we are celebrating some of the best middle grade books published in 2018. Main Topic - The Top 20 Middle Grade Books of 2018 I’m a bit of a data nerd, and I have always been into tracking my reading - from my color-coded index card system in high school to my alphabatized Excel Spreadsheet in the early 2000s to now where I do a mix of Goodreads and a bullet journal. So looking back over the last couple of years since I started doing this show, in 2016 I read 60 middle grade books with 31 of those published in 2016. And my top three books of that year were Booked, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, and The Wild Robot. (You can find that list here.) Last year, I read 79 middle grade with 55 of those published in 2017. A jump I will totally attribute to the intensity of being on the CYBILS committee. And my top three books of 2017 were Posted, Refugee, and Orphan Island and my top three graphic novels last year were Real Friends, Pashmina, and All’s Faire in Middle School. (You can find the full list here.) This year, I read 59 middle grade books with 41 of those released in 2018. Before I start - a quick caveat. Selecting ONLY 25 titles was almost impossible. I enjoyed just about every book I read this year, and I know each one will find it’s reader. So how to choose the top twenty-five? I have two criteria - the writing is immersive (a book I couldn’t put down) and the story has that something special - unique character, an intriguing plot twist, or a thought-provoking theme (a book I can’t forget). And again this year, I decided to separate out the graphic novels so be on the lookout for another best of podcast soon featuring just the middle grade graphic novels. Okay, let’s get to it! Here are my Top 25 middle grade novels of 2018: Granted by John David Anderson From the author of the soon-to-be movie, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and last year’s amazing Posted is this story about Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets - one of the few remaining fairies entrusted with the job of Granter - a fairy who ventures into the dangerous human world to grant a wish. Ophelia’s increasingly difficult quest to grant a little girl her wish of a purple bike will keep you turning the pages. And her reluctant friendship with the slobbery dog Sam - along with some other hilarious touches like Ophelia’s special song - will make this novel one you won’t forget. Where the Watermelons Grow by debut author Cindy Baldwin This book - better than any I’ve read - captures the heat and the swelter of a scorching-hot drought-ridden summer. Our protagonist, Della, is feeling the weight of that and also the burdon of her mother’s re-emerging schizophrenia. But this novel is also laced with the sweetness of friendship and watermelon and hope and a touch of maybe magical honey. Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison This dual narrative novel is about Lauren and Sierra. The two girls end up living next to each other and becoming friends when Lauren’s neighbors become Sierra’s foster parents. As Lauren starts to become more aware of her priviledge, she comes up with a - shall we say “ill-advised” Robin Hood scheme that quickly starts to spiral out of control. Watching Lauren and Sierra get deeper and deeper and deeper into that pit and wondering how on earth they were going to dig themselves out is what kept me turning those pages. And what makes this book unique and fresh was the strength of the two perspectives - Lauren’s chapters in prose and Sierra’s in verse. The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill Believe. Give. Trust. With those three magical rules passed on to her from her grandmother, Kate tries to grapple with the changes in her life. Divorce, faltering friendship, and her grandmother’s worsening dementia. Along with the typical difficulties of a 12 year old! I loved this book for its blend of beautiful prose and realism. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya This middle grade coming of age novel tells the story of 8th grader Marcus Vega who ends up traveling to Puerto Rico with his mom and younger brother in search of the father who seemed to abandon them years ago. And yes, his journey is about discovering family, but it’s also about discovering his culture. This book is a beautiful homage to Puerto Rico and a story that captures the experiences of many kids with family connections that represent multiple languages and backgrounds. It reminds me a bit of the graphic novel Crush with a twist of Torrey Maldonado’s Tight. The Frame Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight This novel was not only unforgettable but it utterly changed the way I experience walking into a musuem forever. And to me - that is the mark of an excellent book. It makes you see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Frame-up is set in a real-life place - the Beaverbrook Gallery in New Brunswick, Canada. And the art director’s son soon discovers that the paintings are…. alive. And they can travel into other paintings - which is completely fascinating when you consider that this museum includes art from different eras. And multiple paintings of the same person. What the author does in this world is spell-binding. But things start to get dicey when suddenly the art director’s son and Mona, a young girl in one of the museum’s prized paintings, find themselves desperately trying to stop both an art heist and a plot to destroy their community forever. Everything I Know About You by Barbara Dee This book was a fun mix of humor and history intermixed with realistic depictions of issues that young people are coping with - like body shaming and eating disorders and figuring out that whole friendship thing while staying true to yourself and your values. What made this book stay with me long after that last page was read was the main character, Tally, whose self-confidence and style and body positivity are inspiring. So Done by Paula Chase This upper middle grade coming of age story centers around friends Mila and Tai. The girls have spent the summer apart and as fall starts, it has become more and more clear that their friendship is sputtering out. And yes, part of that is typical things like finding new interests and more focus on boys, but there is this one massive secret hanging over both girls’ heads that threatens to not only destroy that friendship, but could destroy families, too.The slow, shocking reveal of what that secret really IS kept me turning the pages and what made this book stick with me so long afterward are the voices of the characters that are so fresh and unique and real! During the first chapter, I had a huge smile on my face because I was so happy to be reading a book that sounds like some of my students when they are talking to each other - and don’t think any adult is within earshot. Chase has this incredible knack for voice, and I cannot wait to see what other middle grade books she has coming our way! The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson Johnson has expertly woven together multiple storylines across two different eras that are beautifully fused together in the final chapters. The main character, modern-day Candice, discovers a decades old mystery that takes her and the quiet bookworm boy across the street on a quest for a long-lost treasure. But to figure out the clues, they have to delve into some long buried town history that some folks would rather keep hidden. This book is rich with details and touches on topics that are not common in middle grade - like the end of segregation and its impact on black schools and the concept of passing. It’s beautifully written and if you have older middle grade kids who loved The Westing Game and who love mysteries, this is a great book to put in their hands. You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino Alex Gino’s second novel for middle grade readers is a sweet story about Jilly, White and hearing, who befriends a Deaf Black ASL user on a fandom website where they connect over their mutual love of a fantasy series. When Jilly’s new baby sister is born Deaf, she and her parents struggle with which expert advice to follow and everyone makes some missteps along the way. Based on reviews from those in the Deaf community, Gino does seem to get that representation right. To me this book is one to have in your classroom or library because it shows one character’s pathway through learning about incredibly important but tricky topics like white priviledge, racism, micro-agressions, and abelism. And done in a way with warmth and heart. Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez I’ll admit - this one almost got past me! I was at school and had forgotten my book at home. And so on a whim, I picked up this book from my classroom library and promptly forgot that any other book existed and promptly fell for Stella’s sweetness and charm. Stella is a third grader, born in Mexico, but now living in Chicago with her mom and older brother. She’s struggling with being in a different class than her best friend, Jenny, and dealing with the accompanying worries that Jenny might be forming a closer relationship with another girl. Stella is also figuring out where she fits in with her outgoing family since she is more quiet and is working through some speech difficulties. Three things stand out to me about this book - its utter realness, the excellent illustrations sprinkled throughout, and also the fact that this novel intersperses Spanish in the most organic and well-executed way
126 minutes | Dec 30, 2018
#65 - #HappyPottermas Part 3: HarryPotterPalooza
Intro Hi everyone! And welcome to Books Between - a podcast for educators, parents and everyone who loves middle grade books! I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two tween girls, a 5th grade teacher in Central New York, and currently enjoying those magical days between Christmas and New Years when you have no idea what day it is and you spend half your time in your pajamas reading…..ahhhh….. I believe in the power of books - especially fantasy books - to help you mull over the big moral issues in life and help you discover who you really want to be. And few books have accomplished that for so many better than the Harry Potter series. This is our final #HappyPottermas episode of December and it is full discussion centered around those topics. First, you’ll hear some clips from Harry Potter fans - editors, authors, teachers, and… my own family. And then I’ll share with you three conversations that will definitely get your wheels turning - and probably disagreeing. First, #HappyPottermas organizer Erin Varley and I will chat with Dr. Pat Geyer about how she has transformed her school into Hogwarts. Then librarian Angie Manfredi and I get into some Harry Potter controversies. And then I share some firewhisky with author and KidLitDrinkNight podcast host Amy Skelding who shares her surprising 10 Most Devasting Harry Potter Deaths. It probably goes without saying that this episode will discuss the ending of the books - but just in case that’s not clear - Spoiler Alert!! #HappyPottermas - Audio Submissions (2:00) Cary (@CarytheEditor), Blogger Freelance Editor at The Friendly Editor Adrianna Cuevas (@acuevaswrites) - MG author Cassie Thomas (@mrs_cmt1489) - 5th grade teacher, blogger at Teachers Who Read Victoria J. Coe (@victoriajcoe) - author, Fenway & Hattie series Kathy Burnett (@thebrainlair) - Independent Bookstore Owner - The Brain Lair Lena Allen - 4th grade student Angie Allen - 6th grade student Paul Goat Allen (@paulgoatallen) - genre fiction book reviewer Erin Varley & Dr. Pat Geyer - Interview Outline (17:20) Our first special guests this week are Erin Varley (teacher and #HappyPottermas organizer) and principal Pat Geyer - who, as you will hear, is doing some amazing Harry Potter themed activities at her school that has inspired me to do some similar things this year as well. Take a listen… Topics we chatted about Introductions Harry Potter Themed Activities at Pat’s School Harry Potter Themed Activities at Erin’s School Harry Pottter as a Read Aloud Kid’s Reactions to Harry Potter now vs. 20 Years Ago Rereading Harry Potter New Harry Potter Covers / Illustrated Versions Our Hogwart’s Houses More Hufflepuff and Slytherin love Links: Erin Verley on Twitter - @erinvarley Dr. Pat Geyer on Twitter - @patgeyer Pat’s school on Facebook The Harry Potter books Pottermore website Angie Manfredi - Interview Outline (32:40) Next up I am really excited to welcome special guest Angie Manfredi - librarian and editor of the upcoming anthology - The F Word. We chat about how our views of Harry Potter have changed over the years, our frustrations with Dumbledore and the new direction JK Rowling has taken with the spin-offs, and Angie’s incredible and very accurate one question quiz to sort you into the right Hogwarts House. Plus - she finally convinces me to read The Cursed Child. Which I will tell you - it is taking all of my willpower to do anything else around the house other than finish that book that right now. Take a listen… Topics we chatted about Introductions First memories of reading Harry Potter Rereading Harry Potter Problematic Details Dumbledore & Draco Fantastic Beasts Problematic Systems of Magic involving Native Americans The Cursed Child Scorpius Malfoy Angie’s one question Hogwart’s House sorting quiz Should we sort? The Harry Potter Movies The acting in the Harry Potter movies Fascist Ideology in Harry Potter & the Mitford Sisters Snape, James Potter, the Black Family Controversial Opinions! Fan Fiction Native American Fantasy Links: Angie Manfredi on Twitter - @misskubelik Mr. Turner movie Author Adam Silvera Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Rick Riordan Presents line Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha-Lee Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg Native American Representation in Harry Potter http://nativesinamerica.com/2016/07/dear-jk-rowling-were-still-here/ http://nativeappropriations.com/2016/03/magic-in-north-america-the-harry-potter-franchise-veers-too-close-to-home.html And some books by Native authors Angie recommends if you liked Harry Potter For MG readers: Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection How I Became a Ghost For YA readers Feral Nights Strangers And if you want to read more about the Mitford sisters, who were the very real inspirations for the Black sisters: https://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Saga-Mitford-Family/dp/0393324141?fbclid=IwAR1jhRuVY28a-t1uGDyZa0eOZr8C4byU3YRxEFt1yi09wncPXre4F8Fbs84 Rowling has said Jessica Mitford is a huge inspiration and her oldest daughter is named after her. And Angie quite recommend’s falling down a Wikipedia hole about them https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitford_family#Mitford_sisters Amy Skelding - Interview Outline (1:20:00) For our final #HappyPottermas segment, I am joined by middle grade author and Harry Potter mega fan Amy Skelding! She is also the host of the KidLitDrinkNight podcast. We share a bit of firewhisky and chat about Harry Potter inspiration in the work place, how Harry Potter inspired her family through a challenging time, and… her rather surprising list of the ten most devastating deaths in the Harry Potter series. Take a listen… Topics we chatted about Introductions Firewhisky The adult appeal of Harry Potter The movie adaptations The Half-Blood Prince Harry Potter as a Moral Compass House Sorting Favorite Character Amy’s Top Ten List of the Harry Potter Deaths in Order of Devastation to Me Personally Links: Amy Skelding on Twitter - @akskelding Kid Lit Drink Night Podcast Ogden’s Old Firewhisky Recipe: http://www.inliterature.net/by-author/jk-rowling/2017/06/13021.html Half Magic by Edward Eager Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
60 minutes | Dec 25, 2018
#64 - #HappyPottermas Part 2: Bridging the Gap
Intro Hi everyone! And welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they will love for a lifetime. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of a 9 and 11 year old, a teacher, and recently - staying up way too late wrapping presents and watching cheesy Netflix holiday specials like The Princess Switch and The Holiday Calendar. And apparently losing my voice a bit - it seems a tad scratchy tonight. I believe in the power of the right story at the right time to transform you into a different kind of reader. And a different kind of person. And Harry Potter is that one series that seems to have accomplished that for so many. In today’s special #HappyPottermas episode you’ll hear some clips from a variety of kids, parents, educators, and authors about what Harry Potter has meant to them. And then I’ll share with you a conversation with one of the founders of #HappyPottermas and the MGBookVillage website, author Jarrett Lerner and - David Marsh - and educator and the creative force behind the LEGO Batman Book Talks on YouTube. #HappyPottermas - Audio Submissions Katelynn Giordano (@Mrs_Giordano), 6th Grade English Teacher Stephanie Lucianovic (@grubreport) - author of The End of Something Wonderful: A Practical Guide to a Backyard Funeral and Hello Star Rajani LaRocca (@rajanilarocca) - author of Midsummer’s Mayhem and 7 Golden Rings Jazz Anders (@snazzsinclair) - student, Kid YouTuber Snazzy Reads Amber Stivers Anders - library aid, Jazz’s mom Karen Chow (@KChowrites) - author, contributor at MG @ Heart Jarrett Lerner & David Marsh - Interview Outline Our special guests this week are author Jarrett Lerner and educator David Marsh. We talk about the influence of Harry Potter, our favorite books, the movie adaptations - among lots and lots of other things! Take a listen… Topics we chatted about Introductions How Harry Potter first came into our lives Growing up with Harry Potter Skipping the beginning chapters of The Sorcerer’s Stone Favorite characters Pottermore Favorite book Movies vs. Books Adult appeal of Harry Potter Harry Potter merch Harry Potter sorting Prizoner of Azkaban movie Links: Jarrett Lerner on Twitter - @Jarrett_Lerner David Marsh on Twitter - @Davidmarsh80 The Harry Potter books Pottermore website Tight (by Torrey Maldonado) The Bicycle Spy (Yona Zeldis McDonough) Skylark and Wallcreeper (Anne O’Brien Carelli) Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson) Stella Diaz Has Something to Say (Angela Dominguez) We’re Not From Here (Geoff Rodkey) Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
51 minutes | Dec 9, 2018
#63 - HappyPottermas Part 1: A Conversation Across the Pond
Intro Hi everyone! And welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they will love for a lifetime. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two tweens, a 5th grade teacher, a Ravenclaw, and celebrating all things Harry Potter this month! I believe in the power of stories to give us the language and situations to help us identify and make sense of what is wonderful in our world. And give us the words and the way to fight against the injustices we see. And few books do that better than Harry Potter. Across generations parents and educators who grew up inspired by Rowling’s stories are sharing the books with the children in their lives. In today’s episode you’ll hear some short clips from a variety of librarians, and parents, and educators, and authors about how much the series has meant to them. And the special moments in their lives that were made a little more magical by Harry Potter. And then I’ll share with you a lenghtier conversation from across the pond where I chat with two of the founders of #HappyPottermas - Annaliese Avery from Suffolk in the UK and Lorie Barber from Chicago in the U.S. Defintely check out #HappyPottermas on Twitter and all the Monday night #MGBookChat topics throughout December will be all about Harry Potter! And I really would love to hear YOUR thoughts about Harry Potter as well So, if you are interested in being featured on this podcast later in December, just check out the link posted in the show notes, which includes very quick and easy instructions on to submit an audio clip to me. And I can’t wait to hear from you! #HappyPottermas - Audio Submissions Jen Jowett (@JenJowett), educator of 7th and 8th Graders Daphne Benedis Grab (@JenJowett) - author of The Angel Tree and Clementine for Christmas Ann Braden (@DaphneBG) - author of The Benefits of Being an Octopus K.A. Reynolds (@KrisRey19) - author of The Land of Yesterday and The Spinner of Dreams Lindsay Currie (@lindsayncurrie) - author of The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street Allison Stout (@rtslitech) - librarian at K-8 school Josh Funk (@joshfunkbooks) - author of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and Lost in the Library Jill Diamond (@jillinboots) - author of Lou Lou & Pea and the Mural Mystery Annaliese Avery & Lorie Barber - Interview Outline Our special guests this week are Annaliese Avery and Lorie Barber - two of the founders of #HappyPottermas! We talk about Harry Potter inspired advocacy, the challenges of friendship trios, and the our thoughts about the new Fantastic Beast movies. Take a listen… Topics we chatted about Introductions How Harry Potter first came into our lives The origins of #HappyPottermas Harry Potter ushering in a golden age of children’s books Harry Potter fueled activism Flawed characters & friendship trios Teaching Harry Potter Complicated characters in Harry Potter The Crimes of Grindlewold / The Fantastic Beast movies The Harry Potter books vs. the movies The Cursed Child Sorting in Schools Harry Potter in the UK vs. Harry Potter in the U.S Looking at Harry Potter through a critical lens Links: Annaliese Avery on Twitter - @AnnalieseAvery Lorie Barber on Twitter - @BarberChicago Jess Lifshitz on Twitter - @Jess5th The Harry Potter Alliance A Monster Calls The Harry Potter books The Cursed Child Pottermore website Closing Okay, that wraps up our show this week! Remember to check out #HappyPottermas throughout December for some magical fun and remember to send in your own audio submission for a future episode. If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
50 minutes | Nov 25, 2018
#62 - Launching a Community Book Club & a Conversation with Harper & Maggie
Intro Hi everyone! And welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to incredible stories. I believe in the power of books to bring communities together. And my goal is to help you connect your children and your community with fantastic books and share inspiring conversations with the people who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of a 9 and 11 year old, a 5th grade teacher in Central New York, and glad to be back with you after a short hiatus to focus on school and supporting some local candidates in the mid-term elections! Before this year, I had NEVER done any phone banking or canvassing, but after being inspired by so many of YOU - I knew I had to get off my bum and get to work. This is episode #62 and Today’s show is all about promoting literacy in your community. First, I’ll share some advice about launching a community book club based on my experience starting a ProjectLIT Book Club at my school. And then I’ll share a conversation with Harper & Maggie, two young girls who’ve launched Books & a Blanket - an organization to promote literacy and well-being among young children in need. Before we get started, I have a BIG announcement that I am delighted to tell you about! For the whole month of December, Annaliese Avery and Jarrett Lerner and myself from MGBookVillage are teaming up with Lorie Barber and Erin Varley to bring you #HappyPottermas - a month-long celebration of all things Harry Potter! There will be daily Twitter prompts and all the 9pm EST Monday night #MGBookChat topics throughout December will be all about Harry Potter! And…. I’ve got some special guests lined up for the December episodes of the podcast to talk about the Wizarding World. And I would love to feature YOU on the show as well. So if you have THOUGHTS about Hogwarts, Snape, the books vs. the movies. If you have OPINIONS you want to share - I really, really want to hear what you have to say! So, if you are interested in being featured on this podcast, just check out the link posted in the show notes, and I can’t wait to hear from you! Main Topic - Launching a Community Book Club This week I’m sharing some things I’ve learned about launching a community book club based on my experiences starting a ProjectLIT Book Club at my school. But whatever type of book club you might already have going or are considering starting - whether that’s a ProjectLIT club or not - I think you’ll get some good ideas from today’s discussion. And - just know that every document I mention (flyers, surveys, discussion guides, etc…) are all available for you to download right in the show notes and on this episode’s post at MGBookVillage.org. And all of them are editable so you can download and adjust them however you need. Today I’ll be talking about the difference between ProjectLIT and other traditional community book clubs, including the pros and cons of each. Then I’ll share some ideas about how to prepare to launch your club, some ideas about how to decide what books to read and how to get copies of those books, how to get students and the wider community involved and excited, and then I’ll get into some specifics about planning meetings and hosting a community-wide book celebration. That’s a lot to cover! So let’s dig right in! What is the difference between a traditional book club with community involvement and a ProjectLIT Community Book Club - and what are the pros and cons of each? ProjectLIT is a grassroots literacy movement with community book club chapters all over the country. As of this week, there are now 592 chapters. Their goal is to increase access to culturally relevant books and promote a love of reading in our schools and communities. Each spring the ProjectLIT team consults with chapter leaders and announces a list of 20 books from middle grade to YA that include topics that will generate lots of discussion and bring awareness to issues in our society. Since this is the second year, there are now 40 books to choose from. The books feature characters from a wide variety of backgrounds and are usually #ownvoices - written by authors who share the marginalized identity of the main character. For example, some ProjectLIT books are Amina’s Voice by Hena Kahn and Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Some of the YA choices are Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. ProjectLIT is all about bringing together a community to discuss the big ideas put forth in these books and to encourage students to take a leadership role in planning community meetings and doing community service projects to promote literacy. It’s beyond just a book club that might meet to read and discuss books. If you want to know more about ProjectLIT, their founder, Jarred Amato was a guest on this podcast on episode 54. So, if you are considering whether or not to launch a more traditional book club in your school or to be a ProjectLIT chapter, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. Cons: The book choices are more limited. There are about 20 middle grade titles to choose from and about 20 YA, but I found that the middle grade titles weren’t all the best fit for my club which is geared toward 4th and 5th graders. For example, the March graphic novels are listed as middle grade but I decided to not offer that as one of our choices since it seemed more like a middle school fit. I’m really hoping that the book options next year will include some lower middle grade titles to expand the choices for elementary kids and to include a variety of reading levels for older students, too. Many of the titles are newer so they are only available as hardcover which makes it financially challenging. And students are less familiar with them so you might need to do some book talks and sampling to get them really pumped about reading them. If you advertise an event as ProjectLIT, it does need to be one of the approved titles. You can mix things up but it does make it more complicated. And if you are trying to make your book club ALSO connect with other things like Battle of the Books or March Book Madness, it is a little bit limiting in that way. PROS: The book choices ARE amazing! Long Way Down, Amal Unbound, The First Rule of Punk, Ghost, The Parker Inheritance - truly - these are fabulous reads!! Yes, they are new. But that also means that most kids haven’t already read them. I know when I’ve attempted book clubs with really popular books that have been out for awhile, some kids didn’t come because well - if they were interested in the book, they’d already read it. Newer books pull in those readers who will be literacy leaders. Those kids who want to be on the cutting edge and draw in the rest of their peers and community with their excitement. You have an amazing supportive community who are all working toward the same goals and really eager to help make your life easier by sharing ideas and resources. If you need discussion questions for Towers Falling - they are already done! There’s a wonderful Facebook group, a Sunday Twitter chat, and a weekly newsletter emailed to you. So, you are not in it alone. And because of that, there are great opportunities for clubs to collaborate and maybe Skype with other groups reading the same book to discuss beyond their community and to get ideas from each other. How can I prepare my launch to make the book club successful? Doing some work ahead of time can really help get your book club started off on the right foot and get some community behind you from the very beginning. One of the first things I did was to decide who I might strong-arm into, I mean…. invite to partner with me. In most schools there are at least a couple book lovers who would be down with helping out. At my school - that would be the amazing Kelly. So I emailed Kelly - who was totally excited about launching a club at our school! Sometimes you just have to ask people. Then I emailed our local public librarian, the PTO, our principal, and let them know about the awesome new club for kids that was coming soon. Then, I needed to decide how often we would meet, when, and where. And that really depends on two main factors - time available at your school or library. And YOU! Because honestly - you are the one who needs to be the main force in making this work. So just...decide and promote the heck out of it! Since our school day starts early, a before school time was not going to work. So I decided to offer the club to 4th and 5th graders after school from 2:10 to 3:15. The reason I went with 3:15? Because that’s the time that Drama Club and the Book Cooks let out so I decided to be consistent with them so parents wouldn’t be confused about pick-up times. I also decided to go with Thursdays to avoid those other club days as well. Now, I will say - I’ve had to do some push back against getting sucked into meetings on Thursdays. But I am holding firm. I don’t want the job to get in the way of my actual work - expanding literacy and love of reading in my school. So if there is a meeting on a Thursday? I’m not going. I’m with the kids doing THAT important work. The next thing to decide is how many books you want to read throughout the year and when you want to hold a community-wide celebration of those books. Again - this all depends on YOUR availability and how many books you think you can get. Maybe you start small with just 4 books and 4 events. Maybe every other month works for you. Since I have no chill whatsoever, I decided to go for once a month but to use our first month of school to let everyone get settled and start promoting it, and then officially launch in October. Kudos to ANYONE who can jump start something the first month of school - I just can’t quite manage the logistics of that. So - cut yourself some slack
69 minutes | Oct 14, 2018
#61 - Three New Paranormal Releases & a Conversation with Pablo Cartaya (Marcus Vega)
Intro Hello everyone! Welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! I believe in the power of stories to change our mood - make us laugh, cry, or… creep us out in the best possible way! My goal is to help you connect kids with those fabulous books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I am your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of a 9 and 11 year old, a 5th grade teacher in Central New York, and spending a few hours each week phone banking! This is episode #61 and Today I’m booktalking three recent paranormal reads that will get you and your kids in the perfect fall mood, and sharing a conversation with Pablo Cartaya about his latest novel, Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish! Before we jump into things, a few updates: The Middle Grade at Heart Book Club pick for October is The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is the November pick. And - I just got sneak peek at the first four MG at Heart picks for 2019 and they’re fantastic. In fact, one of the authors, was recently featured on the show. Also remember to check out #MGBooktober to check out all the great discussions around middle grade and connect with other educators, librarians, authors, and fans. And remember that Monday nights at 9pm EST is the #MGBookChat Twitter chat! This month some of the topics are: Building Vocabulary with Middle Grade Books, and Taboo Roll Call: Does anything go in Middle Grade now? We always have a great time a leave with tons of suggestions for the kids in our lives. And...of course, ourselves! Book Talk - Three New Paranormal Reads This week I am sharing with you three new paranormal releases that are perfect for the fall - or anytime, really! They are Edison Beaker Creature Seeker by Frank Cammuso, Sheets by Brenna Thummler, and Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Edison Beaker Creature Seeker Let’s start with Edison Beaker Creature Seeker. This full-color graphic novel is the first in a new series by Frank Cammuso - author of The Knights of the Lunch Table series and the Misadventures of Salem Hyde series. This book is about a young boy named Edison who has always been afraid of the dark. When his mom has to go out of town, Edison and his little sister, Tesla, go to stay with their Uncle Earl. Uncle Earl is an exterminator and he reluctantly takes the kids on a late-night “emergency” job where they end up going through a door to a shadowy other-worldly place where Edison has to confront his fears and lots of bizarre creatures! Here are three things to love about Edison Beaker Creature Seeker: Tesla’s hamster, Scuttlebutt! He is so stinking cute!! And gets into so much trouble - or rather, gets everyone else into trouble when he rolls away in his ball into the darkest, most dangerous corners. How FUNNY this book is! I was at the park with my daughters when I finished it last week, and I just could NOT help laughing out loud - even though I knew I was getting weird looks. The word play, especially, is so much fun. Already the names Edison and Tesla are awesome - but another example, the portal to the other realm is through the Night Door which is found in an old building called the Wherehouse. And so the creatures call their underworld - the UnderWhere. And as you can imagine - the conversations around that are THE BEST. This intriguing little creature called Knox who is this fierce, cute little purple scavenger with a blue mohawk. I. LOVE. HER. She’s complicated and tough and vulnerable - and clearly has a much bigger part to play in future books. Edison Beaker Creature Seeker is a fantastic graphic novel that you will definitely want to add to your collection. It’s sort of like a mix between HiLo and Amulet. So if you have kids who loved those two series, this is one to introduce them to next. Sheets Next up this week is another graphic novel - Sheets by Brenna Thummler. This story is about 13 year-old Marjorie who is responsible for running her family’s laundromat. She has a lot going on - dealing with her father’s depression, taking care of her little brother, middle school drama - and the horrid Mr. Saubertuck who is trying to close down the family business. And then, in floats Wendell - a ghost (sheet and all) who accidentally ends up in Marjorie’s laundromat and creates his own complications. Here are three things to love about Sheets: The ghosts! Even though they all wear a sheet, they each have their own personalities - some wearing hats, or glasses. The parts about the laundromat business. I love stories that get you behind the scenes of how things run. Brenna Thummler’s illustrations! Such a gorgeous color palette in shades of blue, pink, and green. I love her backgrounds - the buildings, all the little details of the interiors, and especially her trees! I noticed this in her illustrations for Anne of Green Gables, too - Brenna’s trees and leaves are stunning. Sheets is a great suggestion for kids who might be looking for a realistic fiction graphic novel with a twist of paranormal that it’s too scary. Small Spaces And finally - a new middle grade novel you NEED to get your hands on - Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. It’s about a young girl named Ollie whose mother died under tragic circumstances last year, and understandably - Ollie is withdrawn and raw. She ends up with this creepy book that tells the legend of two local brothers who come under the influence of The Smiling Man - with horrific results. When Ollie takes a field trip to a nearby farm, she and her friends Coco and Brian end up in an other-wordly fight to survive the lure of those mysterious forces. I love what Betsy Bird said about this book: “Are you afraid of scarecrows? No? Well, bad news bucko. You’re about to be.” And oh is she right!! Here are three things to love about Small Spaces: It’s so immersive and atmospheric! I loved Arden’s lush descriptions of a gorgeous sunny autumn in Vermont that slowly turns dark and foreboding - scarlet sugar maples, the silvery gleam of the distant creek, and then fog descending over a broken-down bus. It is straight up terrifying! And the pacing is perfect - taking the tension up a notch bit by bit. Small things, then bigger and bigger. A thrown rock. A frightened woman at the watering hole. A mysterious book from 1895. The weird, bad story about the schoolhouse fire. And that’s only the first quarter of the book!! That twist at the END!!! Ahhh! It is SUCH a pleasure when a book truly surprises you! If you have kids who like scary - kids who liked Stranger Things. Kids who liked The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street. This is the book to hand them next. Pablo Cartaya - Interview Outline Our special guest this week is Pablo Cartaya - author of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora and his most recent middle grade novel - Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish. We talk about the people of Puerto Rico and their strength, we discuss why he included a character with Down’s Syndrome and the efforts he made to get that portrayal right, and we also chat about the proper storage of peanut butter - among lots of other things. And don’t forget that when you are done reading the book and you want to hear Pablo and I discuss the ending of Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, just wait until the end of the show after the credits and that bonus section will be waiting for you. Take a listen… Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish is your second middle grade and has been getting all kinds of great buzz online! For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? Would you mind reading a favorite passage? One of the reasons I loved this book so much was that I felt like I was traveling through Puerto Rico right along with Marcus! Can you talk a little bit about your research? There is a fair amount of the novel that is in Spanish (a language I don’t speak) and yet somehow I never felt lost in the story. What was your process like for deciding how much Spanish to include and where it would go? In the novel, Marcus’ younger brother, Charlie, has Down Syndrome. What made you decide to include a character with Down Syndrome and how did you make sure to get that representation as authentic as possible? In your acknowledgments, you thank your father for teaching you how to cook. What are some of your favorite things to make? Where do YOU store your peanut butter? **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Pablo and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 59:50 mark. Your Writing Life I noticed that your first book was a picture book! What lead you down the path of writing middle grade? Do you think you’d ever write another picture book? What are you working on now? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special person who helped launch your reading life as a child? And if so, what did they do that made such a difference? What were some of your most influential reads as a child? What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? Links: Pablo’s website - http://www.pablocartaya.com Pablo on Twitter and Instagram Information about Kokila Imprint Books & Authors We Chatted About: Journey to the Center of the Earth (Jules Verne) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne) Roald Dahl Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe) The Color Purple (Alice Walker) Sounder (William H. Armstrong) The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo) Stella Diaz Has Some
46 minutes | Sep 30, 2018
#60 - Kate DiCamillo (Louisiana's Way Home)
Intro Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! I believe in the power of stories to lift us up and help us discover who we really are. My goal is to help you connect kids with those incredible books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I am your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two preteen girls, a 5th grade teacher in Central New York, and really, really glad that September is over. I always feel like, for educators, September is a little bit like childbirth and having a newborn. Somehow you forget the utter exhaustion and work and lack of sleep every time. And instead you focus on the fresh start! Getting the room set up! Getting to know new personalities and a chance to get right THIS time what you you struggled with last time. And you forget that it took you MONTHS to get them into a decent schedule. And that the first weeks are just…. triage. So… in solidarity with all the exhausted and overworked teachers and parents out there - I see you. I feel you. I AM you. And after 15+ years of teaching, I did two things this September that helped my stress level a bit. I went to bed. And if you know me at ALL - you know how hard this is for me. I am a night owl. I am most inspired between 9pm and 1am. But when I have to get up for work at 5:15 - it was killing me. Probably literally. I cut myself some slack. I DID NOT have my classroom “picture ready” on the first day of school. For the last few years, I have decorated my door with all the books I’ve read over the summer with favorite quotes. Nope - not this year. I just couldn’t pull it off. And that was…. honestly disappointing, but I think we need to give ourselves some grace with that stuff. I think we internalize all those Pinterest/Instagram ideas of what an “ideal” teacher and classroom should be and we give ourselves crap when we fall short of that imagined perfection. When in reality - NO one has it all together. Not the “education thought leader” with hundreds of thousands of followers, not the educator with the inspiring YouTube videos, not the teacher with that amazing new book out - NONE of them are living up to what we’re all “supposed to” be doing. Something is falling through the cracks. And I find the ones who admit that are really the ones worth listening to. So, it is now October. I’m more rested and sooo ready to dive back into things - including bringing you some fantastic interviews this fall! This is episode #60 and Today I’m sharing a conversation I had this past summer with Kate DiCamillo about her latest novel, coming out tomorrow - Louisiana’s Way Home! Before we dive into that, I want to give you a few updates. The Middle Grade at Heart Book Club pick for October is The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is the November pick. Also - #MGBooktober is BACK!! The MGBookVillage is hosting a month of awesome middle grade related book prompts. We hope that you and your students will join in the fun. Just use #MGBooktober to post your responses and to find everyone else’s pics. And finally - remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat! This month some of the topics are: Teachers as Readers, Middle Grade Spooktacular (Why Scary Stories Matter), Building Vocabulary with Middle Grade Books, and Taboo Roll Call: Does anything go in Middle Grade now? Those all sound amazing - so see you Monday nights! Kate DiCamillo - Interview Outline Our special guest this week is Kate DiCamillo - author of Because of Winn-Dixie, Tiger Rising, Flora & Ulysses, The Tale of Despereaux, among so many other incredible books. I got the opportunity to chat with her this summer about Louisiana’s Way Home - the follow-up to her 2016 novel, Raymie Nightingale. We talk about why she decided to write a sequel, Pinocchio, bologna sandwiches, and of course her latest novel - Louisiana’s Way Home. Take a listen… Louisiana’s Way Home Your latest novel, Louisiana’s Way Home, is coming out this October. I had the opportunity to read an ARC and simply fell in love this story. It has so much depth and so much clarity all at the same time. For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? This is the first time you’ve revisited the world of a previous novel. What was your journey to decide that you wanted to go further into Louisiana’s story? Early on in the book, Louisiana observes that “There are the rescuers in this world and there are the rescued.” Which one are you? My daughter would like to know - do you like bologna sandwiches? You are known for your vibrant character names but in this book - you have three characters with the same name! Throughout the novel there is this small thread about the book Pinocchio and how most people don’t remember that Pinocchio kills the cricket at the beginning of the story! It made me think that perhaps adults don’t remember how dark the stories they grew up with actually were... You’ve mentioned before that when you are writing, the trajectory of the story or the characters will often surprise you. Were there any unexpected parts of Louisiana’s Way Home? **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Kate and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 36:18 mark. Your Writing Life Was it challenging to write a novel that would be satisfying for readers of Raymie Nightingale but that would also stand on its own? If you can talk about it….. what are you working on now? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child? And if so, what did they do that made such a difference? What were some of your most influential reads as a child? What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? Links: Kate’s website - https://www.katedicamillo.com/ Kate on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateDiCamillo Books & Authors We Chatted About: Pinnochio (Carlo Collodi) The Juniper Tree, and Other Tales from Grimm (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak) Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell) The 21 Balloons (William Pene du Bois) A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary) Stuart Little (E.B. White) Black Beauty (Anna Sewell) Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell) Polly & Buster (Sally Rippin) The Borrowers (Mary Norton) Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) The Search for Delicious (Natalie Babbitt) Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (Rita Williams Garcia) Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
57 minutes | Sep 9, 2018
#59 - Barbara Dee (Everything I Know About You)
Intro Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! And what I love is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two, a teacher of twenty-two (as of the last classlist update), and a little over two days away from the first day of school. This is episode #59 and today I’m sharing a conversation with Barbara Dee - author of Everything I Know About You along with many other fabulous middle grade reads! A quick update on our Middle Grade at Heart Book Club schedule. This month’s pick is The House That Lou Built. And in October we are reading The Three Rules of Everyday Magic and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is our November pick. And remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat! Our upcoming topics are Ending Gendered Labels, Books That Battle Mental Health Stigmas, and Teachers as Readers. And I would love to have you join the conversation and share your thoughts about those topics. Barbara - Interview Outline Our special guest this week is the amazing Barbara Dee - author of so many well-loved middle grade books like Halfway Normal and Star Crossed and Truth or Dare - and lots more. We discuss Hamilton, body issues among young girls, her own experiences with an eating disorder, her secrets to capturing dialogue in her writing, the incredible book that she’s working on next, and of course her latest novel - Everything I Know About You ! Take a listen… Everything I Know About You Your latest middle grade novel , Everything I Know About You, was just released this past summer. For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? Would you mind reading a favorite passage? One of the things I loved about this novel was that it shed some light on the body issues that so many teens and tweens grapple with. When Ava and her friends have that conversations about “thigh gaps” and being “pre-fat”, I kept think about how many kids feel that pressure over their body…. Why did you want to explore those issues in this novel? This story centers around an overnight field trip to Washington D.C. Did you travel there to do research? Did you see Hamilton?! So how naughty ARE your cats? **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Paula and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 43:30 mark. Your Writing Life Everything I Know About You is your 9th published novel. How has your writing process changed from those first books to now? If you can talk about it….. what are you working on now? You’ve mentioned before that one of the ways you get ideas is by eavesdropping. Where are some good places for aspiring writers to eavesdrop? And how do you keep from getting caught? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child? And if so, what did they do that made such a difference? What have you been reading lately? Links: Barbara’s website - http://barbaradeebooks.com Barbara on Twitter Books & Authors We Chatted About: A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) The Black Stallion Series (Walter Farley) Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell) Rascal (Sterling North) Clock Dance (Anne Tyler) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) Every Shiny Thing (Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison) Hope in the Holler (Lisa Lewis Tyre) You Go First (Erin Entrada Kelly) So Done (Paula Chase) Eating Disorder Resources: National Eating Disorder Association - https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org Eating Disorder Referral And Information Center - https://www.edreferral.com Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness - https://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
53 minutes | Aug 19, 2018
#58 - Cindy Baldwin (Where the Watermelons Grow)
Intro Hey everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls, a teacher of 5th graders, and starting to have my annual back-to-school nightmares again. Last night it was that I had no clue what my schedule was, I had no plans prepared and was just winging it the entire first day! And - the worst part? I got to the end of the day and...FORGOT to include a read aloud!!! *shudder* This is episode #58 and today I am giving you a quick first impression of three new books, and a conversation with Cindy Baldwin - author of Where the Watermelons Grow. A quick update on our Middle Grade at Heart Book Club schedule. The September pick is The House That Lou Built. And in October we are reading The Three Rules of Everyday Magic and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is our November pick. And remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat! We’ve got some really interesting topics coming up like ending gendered labels, the importance of immigrant stories, and how teachers and public librarians can support each other. Book Bites First up this week is Book Bites - where I’ll give you a quick taste of a few upcoming books. And share first lines and first impressions from reading the first chapter. This week I am previewing The Right Hook of Devin Velma by Jake Burt, The Lighthouse Between the Worlds by Melanie Crowder, and Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon. The first novel I want to talk about is The Right Hook of Devin Velma by Jake Burt, author of Greetings from Witness Protection. This novel is about Addison Gerhardt and his best friend, Devin Velma, who is trying to become a social media sensation by pulling a risky stunt at a nationally televised pro basketball game. Devin seems to have some secret reasons for doing something so dangerous, and Addison wants to help his friend but his introversion and anxiety often cause him to freeze up when he’s put on the spot. First lines: Chapter One: Narrowed Down I finally figured out why my best friend Devin punched me in the face. At first I thought it was because I saved his life, but that wasn’t it. For awhile, I blamed my freezing, only it wasn’t that either. It wasn’t even Twitter, the Velma Curse, that stupid dishwasher, or the Golden State Warriors. Nope. It was the Double-Barreled Monkey Bar Backflip of Doom. First impressions: I love this book! And could not stop reading at just that one short chapter. The banter between the two boys is clever and I’m intrigued by the possibility of this book exploring the power and pressures of social media on kids. Twitter is a space where I spend some time but I do have concerns about that. And I’m curious about how Addison’s anxiety plays a part in the plot later on. The Right Hook of Devin Velma is out October 2nd and is definitely one I want to order for my classroom. The second novel I’m featuring today is by Melanie Crowder - author of Three Pennies - a book from a couple years ago that I just loved. This novel - The Lighthouse Between the Worlds is about a young boy named Griffin who lives with his father on the coast of Oregon where they tend to their lighthouse. Every day they follow the same routine - a walk on the beach, placing a new piece of sea glass on his mother’s grave, and learning how to cast prisms in his father’s glassmaking studio. Things are routine. Until...one day a group of mysterious strangers appears and Griffin discovers that the lighthouse contains a portal to other worlds and that his father has far more secrets that he ever realized. First lines: “Chapter 1: The Apprentice Glassmaker The day began normally enough, for a Tuesday. Griffin and his father, Philip Fen, ate breakfast (juice and apple-butter toast for one, coffee and oatmeal for the other). They buttoned up their thickest flannel shirts and stepped out into the gray morning. Mornings are almost always gray on the Oregon coast. But that’s what makes the green of the mosses and the ferns and the scraggly trees so very green.” First impressions: My first thoughts on reading the first chapter were how… atmospheric and lush the language is. And the fact that the mother’s grave has no headstone but only a suncatcher was both beautiful and also sent tingles up my spine - I’m sensing something...off there. This novel is out on October 23rd - the perfect time to read something with a blend of mystery and fantasy. And book number 3 - Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon - sequel to the award-winning Zora & Me - a fictionalized account of the early life of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Like the first book, this novel is set in a small Southern town during the very early 20th century of the Jim Crow era, and this book is about Zora and her best friend, Carrie who uncover a tragic mystery centered around an enslaved girl named Lucia. First lines: From the prologue; “There are two kinds of memory. One is the ordinary kind, rooted in things that happened, people you knew, and places you went…..” First impressions: I am intrigued - and so fascinated by that concept of the memory of the community and how it impacts all of us in subtle ways we don’t even fully realize. The first chapter launches us into a mystery with the adventurous Zora pulling her friend out into the night into trouble against her friend’s better judgement. It’s so good - and I loved Simon’s beautiful use of metaphor that adds such zing to the language. So be on the lookout for Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground on September 11th. And if you are like me and haven’t yet read the first novel yet, add that one to your list, too! Cindy Baldwin - Interview Outline Our special guest this week is Cindy Baldwin - debut author of the acclaimed Where the Watermelons Grow. We discuss honey, the importance of accurate depictions of disability in children’s literature, Pitch Wars, the Anne of Green Gables adaptation on Netflix, and of course her novel! And joining me this week to chat with Cindy is one of the founders of the MG at Heart Book Club, and Cindy’s Pitch Wars partner, Amanda Rawson Hill. Take a listen… Where the Watermelons Grow Your debut middle grade novel, Where the Watermelons Grow, was just released this past month... CA: For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? CA: Would you mind reading a favorite passage? AH: I love how you slip into this southern accent when you read. I think every time you do it, people are surprised. But those who know you aren’t. What’s your history with the setting of this book? CA: I know that your novel is mostly associated with watermelon, but it’s really more about honey! Is watermelon honey a real thing? CA: Cindy - I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, BUT - reading your book made me feel sooooo hot and sweaty! **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Paula and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 42:27 mark. CA: How is the final version of the novel different from earlier drafts? AH: While the book is about Schizophrenia, you are not Schizophrenic yourself. And yet, your own personal experience with disability helped shape this narrative. How? Your Writing Life AH: For those who don’t know, Cindy has Cystic Fibrosis which has her spending a lot of time every day doing breathing treatments and affects her energy levels. On top of that, you have this wonderful spitfire of a child, who Della’s little sister is based on. And if that’s not enough, I know that in the past year you have also suffered from a lot of pain while writing. Yet, you just finished another novel (and it’s beautiful by the way, I’m reading it now.) Talk to us about some of your strategies for getting the writing done even with all these things in your life that make it a bit difficult. CA: What are you working on now? CA: While I have both of you here, I have a writer related question to ask. On Twitter, I keep seeing this thing called PitchWars. What IS that? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. CA: Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child? And if so, what did they do that made such a difference? AH: I’d love advice on reading aloud when you have a precocious child, like Kate. CA: So Cindy - I’ve gathered that you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables. What do you think of Anne with an E adaptation on Netflix? CA: What have you been reading lately? Links: Cindy’s website - http://cindybaldwinbooks.com Cindy on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook Amanda’s website - https://amandarawsonhill.com PitchWars website - https://pitchwars.org Cindy & Amanda’s blog hop PitchWars post - http://blog.cindybaldwinbooks.com/2018/08/2018-pitch-wars.html Pragmatic Mom website - https://www.pragmaticmom.com/booklists/ What We Do All Day website - https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/category/books/ Books & Authors We Chatted About: Horton Hears a Who (Dr. Seuss) Clementine series (Sara Pennypacker) Anna Hibiscus (Atinuke) E.B. White Dick King-Smith James Harriot Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) The Anne of Green Gables graphic novel (Mariah Marsden) Race to the Bottom of the Sea (Lindsay Eager) Amal Unbound (Aisha Saeed) Mostly the Honest Truth (Jody J. Little) Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8
50 minutes | Aug 12, 2018
#57 - Paula Chase (So Done)
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom for the past 11 years, a teacher for the past 17 years, and a fan of flavored seltzer for the past two months. Either I have been oblivious to it or suddenly there is a plethora of sparkling waters and seltzer available everywhere! Including some tasty hard seltzers for those inclined. And during a hot, sticky summer - a frigid, fizzy can of black cherry seltzer poured over a full glass of ice is just about the best thing ever. Cheers! This is episode #57 and today I am giving you a quick first impression of three new books, and sharing a conversation with Paula Chase - author of So Done. One super quick announcement - set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you never miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat! We have some really great topics coming up like creating a classroom community through books, ending gendered labels, and how teachers and public librarians can support each other. Book Bites First up is a brand new segment I am calling Book Bites - where I will give you a quick sampling of a few books. And share first lines and first impressions from reading the first chapter. This week I am previewing The Phantom Tower by Keir Graff, The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser, and Scream Site by Justina Ireland. The first novel I want to talk about is The Phantom Tower by Keir Graff. You may know him from his other middle grade novel The Matchstick Castle. This book is described as magic, mischief, and mystery colliding in a thrilling adventure. It’s about 12 year old identical twin brothers who move into a mysterious apartment building and discover a portal to a parallel dimension. First lines: The first time I saw Brunhild Towers was the day we moved in. Even though it wasn’t that long ago, I saw a lot of things differently back then, I thought old people were boring. I thought learning history was a good way to fall asleep. I thought dying was simple. You probably noticed I said Towers, not Tower. Pay attention and I’ll explain everything. First impressions: The first thing I noticed when I opened the pages - a map! The first chapter was fast-paced and fun but didn’t make you feel lost. You definitely get enough background info to help orient you to the characters and the tone with lots of touches of humor. The story is written in 1st person and told by one of the twins - Colm. The first chapter reminded me a bit of Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, so if you have kids who like that novel or The Explorers or The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Phantom Tower would be a good book to introduce them to next. Next up is the sequel to a beloved middle grade novel - Karina Yan Glaser’s The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden. In this story - the Vanderbeeker kids band together to do something nice for their upstairs neighbors (Miss Josie & Mr. Jeet) who are going through a tough time. And in classic Vanderbeeker fashion, the five kids make an elaborate plan to convert the abandoned (and possibly haunted) lot next to the church into the gorgeous community garden that Miss Josie has always wanted. First lines: “This is the most boring summer in the whole history of the world,” nine year-old Oliver Vanderbeeker announced. He was wearing basketball shorts and a faded blue T-shirt, and his hair was sticking out in every direction.” First impressions: Well - Oliver doesn’t stay bored for long! And oh how I loved jumping back into the sweet Vanderbeeker banter! The premise of this novel reminds me a bit of the book Seedfolks, and I’m curious how they solve the water problem here…. Along with all the other obstacles I am sure they will encounter! I love the Vanderbeekers, and I know so many of you do as well - and apparently we are not alone. Because Amy Poehler’s production company has optioned the rights to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street! Ahhhh! And I know, I know - that doesn’t mean it’s going to hit the screen next year, but I’m still so excited and so happy for Karina. If you want to hear her talk about the first Vanderbeekers novel, check out episode 46. And finally, I wanted to check out Scream Site by Justina Ireland. She’s the author of the YA novel Dread Nation among other books. This novel features 14 year-old Sabrina Sebastian who wants to be an investigative reporter so she’s digging into this popular website where people post scary videos hoping to go viral. And she starts to think that maybe some of the videos are real - and then someone very close to her goes missing. First lines: “So, what do you think? Should I go with ‘Taco Tuesday is a Day Made of Lies’ or ‘Football Team Organizes Book Drive for Local Library’? Those are my two best stories, and I’ve narrowed it down to them. I think. I’m actually not sure.” Sabrina Sebastian leaned back in her chair and waited for her best friend, Evenlyn Chao, to respond.” First impressions: Number one - the cover is awesome. It’s a gorgeous blue with the shadows of trees looming over a young girl’s silhouette as she faces what looks like an abandoned ferris wheel lit from behind by a full moon. Already - I’m drawn in. And the first chapter leads me to think that there is going to be some interesting and timely discussion about social media and journalism. Scream Site is marketed as YA, but I’ve read in several places that it’s really geared toward more of an upper middle grade audience. Probably wouldn’t include it in my 5th grade classroom, but if you have strong readers in 6th grade and up - this would be a great book for kids who like mysteries and kids who are drawn to internet rumors and hoaxes and those paranormal YouTube videos. This August be on the lookout for The Phantom Tower and Scream Site. Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden will be headed our way September 25th. Paula Chase - Interview Outline Our special guest today is author Paula Chase. Her debut middle grade novel, So Done, comes out tomorrow. It’s about best friends Tai and Mila who are somewhat awkwardly back together after a summer spent apart from each other. And each is wondering if they can salvage their friendship from the secrets and pressures of middle school and crushes and tryouts and memories that have started to loom in their lives. I loved getting a chance to chat with Paula about her novel, being a dance mom, and the importance of books with authentic stories and authentic voices. Take a listen… So Done Your middle grade debut, So Done, is coming out tomorrow! For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? Would you mind reading a favorite passage? From the very first pages, I had a huge smile on my face because I was so happy to be reading a book that sounds like some of my students when they are talking to each other. You have this special knack for voice - whatever that “it” is - you’ve got it! What is your secret for for capturing those voices? I think I heard you mention that there was some back and forth with your editor about the vocabulary you used in the novel. Can you talk a little about that? One of things that I loved about So Done were scenes about dance. I’ve heard you mention that your daughter is a dancer. How much did you draw on her experiences to write this story? Nicknames (as opposed to “government names”) are an important part of the story. Did you have a nickname? Are you more like Tai or more like Mila? **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Paula and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 40:14 mark. Your Writing Life Your previous series was young adult. Did you decide from the outset that So Done would be middle grade or did it evolve in that direction? If you can talk about it….. what are you working on now? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child? What were some of your most influential reads as a child? So - what ARE your thoughts about “dessert” books? What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? Links: Paula’s website - http://paulachasehyman.com Paula on Twitter Books & Authors We Chatted About: Mildred Taylor Judy Blume Dread Nation (Justina Ireland) The Belles (Dhonielle Clayton) Ghost Boys (Jewell Parker Rhodes) Breakout (Kate Messner) Parker Inheritance (Varian Johnson) Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
48 minutes | Aug 5, 2018
#56 - Kelly Yang (Front Desk)
Intro Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for educators, librarians, parents, and everyone who loves middle grade books! My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls, a 5th grade teacher, and I just discovered the COOLEST thing last week and I have to share it with you! There is this teacher named David Marsh and he makes stop motion LEGO Batman Book Talks. They are SO awesome! There’s one for Enginerds and one for Serafina and the Black Cloak - and, my favorite - the one for The Frame-up! I’ll drop a link to his YouTube Channel in the show notes. Do you yourself a favor and go watch them. This is Episode #56 and oday is all about Kelly Yang and her fabulous new novel, Front Desk. Before we begin, I have two quick announcements! First is the Middle Grade at Heart Book Club update. This month’s pick is Where the Watermelons Grow, and I am so close to finishing that book - it’s so good and I can’t want to have Cindy Baldwin on the show to chat with me about it. In September we are reading The House That Lou Built and in October is Three Rules of Everyday Magic. So grab those books and let me know if you have questions you think I should ask the authors when they come on the show. And second quick reminder that Monday nights are the #MGBookChat Twitter chats with some really juicy topics coming up like building book access in book deserts, creating a classroom community through books, and ending gendered labels of books. It can be very easy to get into the hustle and bustle of your day and forget - so set a reminder on your phone for Mondays at 9pm EST and check out #MGBookChat on Twitter. Kelly Yang - Interview Outline Our special guest today is Kelly Yang. And as you will hear - she is one incredible and humble person. And since she’s not going to talk herself up, I am. Kelly Yang is one of the youngest graduates of Harvard Law School - earning her degree at 17. She’s a columnist for the South China Morning Post and her features have been published in The New York Times and the Washington Post. She’s a commentator, a debater, and founder of The Kelly Yang Project - an award-winning writing and debate program for kids in Hong Kong. And that’s really just scratching the surface of this WOW Woman! I was really honored that Kelly took the time out her family vacation to sit down with me and chat about so many things - how to reach English-language learners, racial profiling, the Simpsons, her writing journey, and her childhood helping her parents run motels which was the inspiration behind her debut middle grade novel, Front Desk. Take a listen… Front Desk Your debut middle grade novel, Front Desk, has been getting all kinds of love!! For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it? Would you mind reading a favorite passage? Aside from running the front desk of the motel, Mia is often translating for her family. Was this something you also had to do? If so - how did that impact you? I adored Mia, but I really really came to love her parents! But… her mother could be carelessly cruel. Her pressure to be good at Math. And then when she tell Mia that the other kids are cars but that Mia is a bicycle - oh my GOD! I started to wonder if maybe Mrs. Tang was just really scared for her daughter? One of the most powerful scenes is when a car was stolen from the motel and in the course of that investigation, Mr. Yao discovers that the Tangs have been renting to black people. And he says, “I thought I told you not to rent to bad people.” That thread of discrimination and racial profiling (even by other marginalized people) was woven throughout the story at various points. Can you speak a little bit about your thought process behind those sections? I love following you on Twitter and I loved your thread about the Simpsons and Apu controversy. Could you talk a little bit about your response to that and your relationship to that character? **BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Kelly and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 40:14 mark. Your Writing Life What was your journey from Harvard Law graduate to author? What are you working on now? Your Reading Life One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books. Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child? What were some of your most influential reads as a child? What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked? Links: Kelly’s website - http://kellyyang.edu.hk Kelly on Twitter and Instagram Books & Authors We Chatted About: The Babysitters Club series (Ann M. Martin) Matilda (Roald Dahl) To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) Unidentified Suburban Objects (Mike Jung) Peasprout Chen (Henry Lien) Magicians of Elephant County (Adam Perry) Alan Gratz Ban This Book (Alan Gratz) The Wild Robot (Peter Brown) The Wild Robot Escapes (Peter Brown) Orphan Island (Laurel Snyder) Ghost Series (Jason Ryenolds) Closing Alright, that wraps up our show this week! If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well. Thanks and see you soon! Bye!
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