Thursday, May 28, 2015

So Much (Summer) Time and So Many Books to Read

As busy as I am all summer traveling, visiting with family, taking a class here and there, engaging in professional development opportunities at Park View, and thinking about how to make the upcoming school year even better for my new third graders, I am reading all the time. All. The. Time. I have alarmingly tall piles of books waiting to be read this summer stacked precariously in more than one room at home. I don't imagine I'll read them all, and it's so much fun pretending that I will.

Here are two books I hope you will add to your own wobbly stacks of summer reads...

What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World by Henry Clark, Little Brown, $7.00, ages 9-13

Some of you might remember that I pretty much insisted you use crayons when illustrating your work. I still insist and I won't go into all my reasons why I prefer them, but now I can add that a crayon might just save the world one day. In fact, in this very wacky science fiction caper, a zucchini-colored one from a limited-edition box of crayons called Victory Garden helps the outcast heroes foil an evil billionaire's attempt to take over the world using cell phones and junk food. River, Fiona, and Freak ( an orphan, a color-blind science geek, and the son of an angry, down-on-his-luck father ) live in the town of Cheshire, in houses surrounding Hellsboro, an enormous patch of off-limits, toxic land which occasionally glows with the light of subterranean fires. One Tuesday these 12 year-olds discover a sofa a few feet down the block from their bus stop. The arrival of this seemingly innocuous piece of furniture launches the three friends on a high-stakes adventure to save the world from invading interstellar storm troopers.

The word play and puns in this book are plentiful and spot-on. The message, about the importance of curiosity, is vital. The technology is AWESOME! Flash mob scenes where the participants sing Broadway show tunes ( It's mind control, people!) are hilarious. And this sentence from the book cracks me up: "Freak risked his life every time he went to the library" There are plenty of libraries around in which you can find this book. Take a risk!

The gifted booksellers at bbgb bookstore in Richmond, Virginia thrust this book into my hands with such enthusiasm it nearly knocked me over. And it turns out The Glass Sentence nearly knocked me over, too, it's that powerful. In the summer of 1799, the Great Disruption unfastens the continents from time, sending them spinning freely in different directions, each piece of the world flung into a different age, from prehistory to the far future.  In 1891 Boston, now part of New Occident, renowned cartographer Shadrack Elli is kidnapped. His rescue, and the FATE OF THE ENTIRE WORLD, are in the hands of his 13 year-old niece, Sophia Tims, whose parents disappeared 8 years earlier on a mysteriously urgent mission. Unfortunately for Sophia, the local government, brimming with xenophobia, has just closed the borders of New Occident, potentially frustrating any search efforts for her uncle, and leaving her fearful that her parents now might never come home.  To top things off, Sophia has no internal clock (she has learned to compensate) and this mortifies her since she comes from a family "famous for its sense of time and direction." Armed with everything her uncle has been teaching her, and accompanied by Theo, an unreliable refugee from the Baldlands in the west, Sophia finds herself caught in adventures both thrilling and terrifying, in worlds she could never have imagined. 
Can you lose more than things? Can you lose emotions? Can you lose your past? And what sort of maps would you need to find them? This big book poses big questions!
The world-building undertaken by S.E. Grove in The Glass Sentence, the first volume in her Mapmakers trilogy, is astonishing, and Sophia Tims is a hero for the ages. 

In addition to the stacks of books waiting to be read, I've got stacks of books waiting to be written about for A Bald Guy with a Book. Yay! One stack is two books shorter. Now go read!

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