Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Olympics

Sorry that I haven't posted in quite a while, but I have been concentrating on recreating several syllabi for this fall. OK, that is true, but I am also spending a lot of time watching the Olympics.

The Olympics have always been important to me (mainly the T&F events), but this year, it seems as thought I watch everything I can. To tell the truth, I will be glad when it is finally over so I can get back to more reading. Of course as soon as the Olympics are over I will start watching football (The Ohio State Buckeyes & the Indianapolis Colts). The bottom-line is that at times I lack self-control to turn off the TV and pick up a book. Sorry, but that is just the way I roll.

I have a plan to integrate my students' responses to their children's literature readings to this blog, so hopefully that will give us more books to explore. Classes start in about a week, so we'll see if this pans out or not.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Sunday, August 3, 2008

YA List from a Friend

I have recently been emailing back and forth with a colleague and new friend from Minnesota, Charlotte Sullivan. In our last few emails Charlotte has given me some YA recommendations. With her permission, I have taken the words right from our email to share with all of you. Because these are Charlotte's annotations and because I have not read any of these book, I will not be rating them. Also please note that Charlotte's original intention was for my eyes.

From Charlotte...
I highly recommend Neal Schusterman's Dark Side of Nowhere. Sci Fi for kids who don't like sci fi. Strong first person voice, examples of leadership, excellent suspense and plot arc. For middle school...but also high school. There's also a great audio recording.

Also love Anne Ursu's Shadow Thieves, the first in a wacky Chronus Chronicles trilogy about contemporary kids and three main Greek gods. (You may not know that one of the doors to the underworld is in our very own Mall of America, here in MN. ;-) . Strong voices, imitates Greek epic story structure, good humor. Protagonists are two cousins, one white/ one black--one from US/ one from England. The second book is out. Haven't read it yet. I'd say, intermediate and up.

Also, you've probably heard of Lightning Thief. Another blend of today and Greek mythology. Main character has ADD.

Although City of Ember, I feel is a so-so book craft-wise, I loved challenging students to think about possibilities in the classroom. We looked at parallels to Plato's cave, and at Crown (a Christian college), the concept of having limited knowledge of the spiritual realm, or of life beyond what we know.

You might check out Pete Hautman. He won the National Book Award for Godless, about a teen who creates his own religion...but I actually like his other books. Especially Sweetblood (teen w/ diabetes, interest in vampires...but the story is real-world), Invisible, etc. These are all teen reads. Stunning, concise, first person, short chapters. He's a true artist. But he's lately done a new Bloodwater mystery series with is partner and author Mary Logue. Fun... more intermediate level.

Susan Fletcher's Shadow Spinner, is a retelling of Scheherazade story from the POV of a young, handicapped girl who happens to be a spunky storyteller herself. Intermediate. Great action, great story.

One last title. I really enjoyed Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. Humor, fantasy, adventure, intriguing explorations of social power structures, resistance to oppression, etc. I see some post-9/11 overtones, though, I believe Stroud is from UK. Some conservative readers may object to the djinn and spirit world represented. I loved it. Also a great audio version of this.

Thank you Charlotte for sharing these titles and for permission to post them to my blog.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn