Posted by: Ms. Matson | April 27, 2010

Math Literature part two

In my last post I began listing some children’s books on math that I read for a class.  I thought it would be better to break up the list instead of having one huge post.  I’ll add the last set of books in my next post.  On to the books…

A Million Dots by Andrew Clements

In A Million Dots, tiny dots the size of a period are used to show, over 46 pages, just how much a million is.  They start out with just ten, then 100, 500, and 1,000 dots.  On each page in the sequence of one million dots is an illustration covered in dots, with a fun fact relating to the total number of dots so far.  Dot number 675,000 is a picture of Hershey’s bars.  “To eat 675,000 Hershey’s bars, you would have to eat one bar every two minutes, nonstop, for more than 234 days!”

While I think this book is interesting and I liked the fun facts, I think there are better books for demonstrating the concept of one million.  How Much is a Million? comes to mind, but maybe that’s because Steven Kellogg is one of my favorite illustrators.  Grades 1-5

Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes by Patrick Lewis

Arithme-Tickle is full of rhymes and riddles involving math.  Each poem is a word problem involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.  The solution to each poem is written backwards at the bottom of the page.  This would be a great book to use for a quick mental math or warm-up activity in upper elementary grades.

Poetry and math?  A win and a win for me.  And these are actually fun problems, not the boring ones that so often accompany math curricula to be used as warm-ups.  Grades 3-5.

Museum 1 2 3 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In this book of counting one to ten, the MET uses a variety of works of art.  A question is posed regarding a painting, such as “How many kittens follow their mother?”  On the following page is the answer in numeral and word format, as well as four additional artworks that represent the number.  For example, the paintings for number eight have eight boats, eight vases, eight horses, and and eight-pointed star.  An index in the back lists the title and artist of each work.

Museum 1 2 3 is a great introduction to counting.  It also provides practice in observing an illustration.  The objects in each work that represent the number are not always obvious so children will have to examine each painting carefully.  The size of the book is rather small, making it a poor fit for a whole-class read aloud because kids in the back won’t be able to see the pictures.  I’d use this in small group so kids can see the details.  ECE to Kindergarten.

In this book of counting one to ten, the MET uses a variety of works of art.  A question is posed regarding a painting, such as “How many kittens follow their mother?” On the following page is the answer in numeral and word format, as well as four additional artworks that represent the number.  For example, the paintings for number eight have eight boats, eight vases, eight horses, and an eight-pointed star.  An index in the back lists the title and artist of each work.

Museum 1 2 3 is a great introduction to counting.  It also provides practice in observing an illustration.  The objects in each work that represent the number are not always obvious so children will have to examine each painting carefully.

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Posted by: Ms. Matson | April 25, 2010

Math Literature part one

I’m taking a class on teaching elementary math and one of our assignments was to find ten math-related books for children.  I spent a couple hours main library downtown sitting in the 513 section of the children’s department.  Who knew there were so many interesting books about math?  And I’m not talking text books.  There are lots of great books on a variety of math topics, from counting books, to a story about probability with a cat named Odds.  I’ll definitely be using these in my classroom.  I’ll briefly summarize each of the books I selected for my project over the next few days.

Fraction Fun by David A. Adler

Fraction Fun is a simple exploration of fractions.  Different objects are used to illustrate the concept, from pizza to coins.  There are directions for using paper plates to examine ½, ¼, and 1/8.  A small scale is also used to create fractions out of weights, and graph paper is used to examine equivalent fractions.  The book introduces the concept of numerator and denominator and encourages to reader to compare what happens when either number increases.  Grades 1-5

Fun With Roman Numerals by David A. Adler

Adler presents the difficult concept of Roman numerals in an easy-to-understand format.  Starting with the very basics, they show how to use Roman numerals I, V, X, L, C, D, and M.  The text is straightforward and the vibrant illustrations of Roman citizens and soldiers make it interesting.  They have also included a simple way to practice building and manipulating Roman numerals using coins labeled with I, V, X, L, and C.

Fun with Roman Numerals could be used both to introduce students to the concept and to revisit and reinforce it.  It can be integrated into a study of Ancient Rome and lead to examinations of other numeric systems and why we use Arabic numerals.  Students could be given the chance to develop their own system of numerals.  Grades 3-5

Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno

This simple story begins with a jar.  Within the jar is an island in a sea, and on the island are two countries, and each country had three mountains.  Each mountain had four kingdoms.  The pattern continues up to ten jars in each of nine boxes.  The authors then introduce an explain the concept of 10!, the pattern of multiplying 10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 as it relates to the contents of the original jar.  There is an extended section on factorials in general.

Many children will enjoy Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar for the beautiful illustrations and curious property of the jar.  Others will delight in discovering the pattern as the story progresses and figuring out the process themselves.  This is excellent for upper elementary and middle school students. Grades 4+

Posted by: Ms. Matson | February 6, 2010

Forest Born

Forest Born
Shannon Hale
New York: Bloomsbury, 2009
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Interest level: Age 10+
AR Level: 5.4

“Growing up in the Forest, Rin always turned to the trees when she needed peace or reassurance, even direction, until the day they seem to reject her. Rin is sure something is wrong with her, something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest, keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all.

When her brother Razo returns to the city after a visit home, Rin accompanies him to the palace in hopes of finding a new sense of herself.  But a mysterious threat haunts Bayern, and Rin joins the magical girls she thinks of as the Fire Sisters—Isi, Enna, and Dasha—as they venture into the woods toward the kingdom of Kel…where someone wants them all dead.”     – from the front flap

Forest Born is about learning who you are, accepting what you are, and looking forward to how you will continue to grow.  That sounds like a very preachy and somewhat boring story, but Forest Born is far from that.  As with Hale’s other books, we are drawn into Rin’s life.  In each of the Bayern books Hale has changed the writing style to match the main character.  Rin is soft and unsure of herself, and the writing reflects that.  It makes you want to pull Rin into a hug and tell her that everything will be all right.

I’m so glad that Hale chose not to give Rin a suitor.  Romance did not seem to fit with this particular story and would have felt too forced.  Rin needs to grow into herself more before she is ready to take on another person’s life.

I really enjoyed Forest Born.  It’s not quite up to the same level as The Goose Girl, my favorite in the series, but a good read nonetheless. The pacing of the events matched the mood Hale set, and while Rin grew considerably, it was not such a change of character that it seemed far-fetched.  My only quibble is the cover art.  I much prefer the lovely drawings that graced the covers of the first three Bayern hardcover books to the realistic representations.  But quality of the story is not affected.

Hale is a master storyteller.  If you have not read any of her works, get the library and start.  She’s a children’s author who is not to be missed.

Reading challenges: Finally get to knock one off the TBR Challenge, and I’m going to count this on the 2010 Challenge under the TBR category.

Posted by: Ms. Matson | February 3, 2010

Saving Juliet

Saving Juliet
Suzanne Selfors
New York: Walker & Co, 2009
Genre: Young adult, romance, light (very light) fantasy
Interest level: age 10+ (do elementary-age girls like to read romance?)
AR level: 4.5

I saw this at the library and picked it up because I had such fun reading The Juliet Club.  Another Shakespeare-inspired YA novel should be a great read.  Or not, as I discovered.  Saving Juliet is mediocre at best.  The idea behind the story is much more interesting than its execution.

Mimi is the reluctant heir to the Wallingford Theater and is expected to follow her family onto the stage.  She may have talent for acting, but it is not her cup of tea.  She is forced to play Juliet opposite arrogant teen idol Troy Summer, cast as Romeo, and develops a case of performance anxiety.  When Mimi discovers that her mother has been taking money out of her trust fund and has canceled Mimi’s trip to Los Angeles to visit her beloved aunt and check out colleges  so that she can audition for a prestigious acting school instead.  Mimi is fed up and wishes herself anywhere but the Wallingford Theater, and ends up in the fictional Verona of Romeo and Juliet via some magic dust.  Now Mimi must save Juliet from imminent death by suicide and get herself back to reality.  And oh yes, Troy has made it to Verona, too.

I love the idea of being transported into a fictional world of a beloved (or not so beloved, in Mimi’s case) story and being able to interact with the characters.  Unfortunately the writing was so uninteresting that the story came out rather blah.  Saving Juliet is written in first person and I think that is part of the problem.  The writing is very “teenish;” it feels like Ms. Selfors was trying to capture her audience by using very simple language, as if Mimi were talking to you.  In fact, Mimi does talk to the reader in some places.  I found it contrived and distracting.

I did like that Selfors added some details about the Romeo and Juliet characters that people may not think about.  Her Juliet is a bratty 13 year old who eats onions and pretends to have a boil on her bottom to get out of an unwanted marriage.  Romeo is so lovesick over Rosaline that he is unable to do much of anything and comes across as a bit of a dip.

Saving Juliet was not a complete waste of reading time.  I did finish it in one sitting and I did get the romance fix I wanted when I picked it up.  If you have a couple hours, you don’t want to have to think, and you don’t want to start one of the more involved books on your list, then give it a read.  But if you’re deciding between The Juliet Club and Saving Juliet, definitely choose the former.

Posted by: Ms. Matson | January 23, 2010

The Juliet Club

The Juliet Club
Suzanne Harper
New York: Greenwillow Books, 2008
Genre: Young adult, romance, realistic fiction
Interest level: 7th grade and up
AR level: 5.7

Seventeen year old Kate Sanderson has been invited to participate in the summer Shakespeare Symposium in Verona, Italy, setting of the famed play Romeo and Juliet.  Her best friends urge her to use the experience to get over her ex-boyfriend and have a thrilling Italian romance.  Kate, on the other hand, has vowed to eschew all forms of romantic love and plans to immerse herself in the study of the Bard she so admires.  Instead she finds herself thrown into escapades of Shakespearean proportions.

Sometimes you need to read something easy and straightforward that’s just plain fun.  The Juliet Club is that book.  It’s a light-hearted innocent romance that’s predictable but engaging; even though you know how it will end, you are compelled to find out exactly what happens to Kate and Giacomo.  I loved that their relationship started out as a sort of contract to prove others wrong.  There is real character growth beyond the two leads.  Each of the teens (and arguably Kate’s father and Giacomo’s mother) learn a little bit about themselves and step out of their comfort zone to love or be loved.

The story reminds me of Polly Shulman’s Enthusiasm because it’s centered around a girl finding romance through her literary interests.  Like Shulman does with Austen, Harper incorporates Shakespearean themes and scenes into her story.  The Juliet Club is in many respects an updated story of Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing.  I liked that the reader is expected to have some familiarity of Shakespeare; while some references are explained, all are not.  The Juliet Club makes me want to read more of his plays and pay more attention to the subtext and what Shakespeare was really trying to say beyond the basic plot.

My only complaint is that the ending is too abrupt.  [Spoiler]  Yes, they finally confess their mutual feelings, but it’s Kate’s last night in Italy.  What happens after she returns home?

Any girl that takes an interest in historical literature will enjoy The Juliet Club.  This is definitely read and reread worthy.

I get to mark off another from the 2010 Reading Challenge, this time in the Young Adult category.

Posted by: Ms. Matson | January 11, 2010

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
New York: Greenwillow Books, 2008
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Interest level: upper elementary
AR level: 5.4

From the back cover:

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate.  But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady.  Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle.  To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on.  Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

I was first introduced to Howl through Miyazaki’s wonderful animated film.  It was some time after seeing the movie that I learned that it was based on Jones’s book.  Then I decided to get myself a copy and read it.

I was not very interested in the book at first.  It started off very similar to the movie, so nothing was new.  That’s the thing about seeing a movie first.  The scenes and way characters look have been decided for you so that when you do read the text, your imagination doesn’t have as much fun.  However, about half-way through the book the story diverged from the movie in significant ways.  The basic plot is similar (Howl and Sophie each have a curse which they must deal with), but the details become quite different.  Now I wanted to know what happened.

Howl’s Moving Castle is very unlike any fantasy I’ve ever read.  It seems a bit meandering and, as odd as it may sound for a fantasy story, rather down to earth.  By that I mean that the story happens very naturally and matter-of-factly.  If books had a temperament, Howl’s Moving Castle would be very mild.  It is not action-packed, but this is its charm.  As Sophie and Howl slowly get acquainted with each other, so do we.  Aside from the two leads, I loved Calcifer, the fire demon.  He’s such a funny character.  It seems perfectly normal for him to reside in the fireplace as the force that moves the castle and the fire over which breakfast is cooked, all while he converses with Sophie.

I recommend Howl’s Moving Castle to those who enjoy quirky and light-hearted fantasy (the movie is a bit darker).  It will probably appeal more to the average girl than boy.  Read the book, but see to movie also!

This book marks one off the TwentyTen Challenge in the Shiny & New category.

Posted by: Ms. Matson | January 8, 2010

Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
New York: Scholastic, 2009
Genres: Young adult dystopian fiction
Interest level: 7th grade and up
AR level: 5.3

Catching Fire follows Katniss after she and Peeta return home from their victory in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death between 24 teenagers from the 12 districts of Panem.  Katniss comes to realize the consequences she faces for forcing the Capitol to accept two victors in the Games instead of the standard one—consequences involving her family’s safety and that of her best friend Gale.  She struggles to understand and reconcile her conflicting emotions toward both Peeta and Gale.  Meanwhile Katniss has become a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol and some districts begin to stage uprisings.  Katniss and Peeta find themselves thrown back into the arena when the terms of the Quarter Quell, a “celebration” of the 75th Hunger Games, are announced; once again it is kill-or-be-killed.

Suzanne Collins has done it again.  Readers are pulled into another great story with well-defined and well-developed characters.  She takes a different approach from the usual dystopian novel; Catching Fire is more about Katniss’s personal struggles than it is about the growing rebellion against the Capitol.  The writing is both emotionally engaging and emotionally draining.  It’s a hard read because so many heart strings are pulled to breaking.  Usually a good book will keep me reading until the end, but with this one I had to take breaks to escape from the utter despair and desperation Katniss was experiencing.  It just became too much to handle; crying was necessary.  And this, I think, is the mark of a great book, when characters become real in the heart of the reader.

I loved the development of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, and Katniss and Gale.  When I first finished the book, I was unsure who I wanted her to choose in the end.  Now, though, I’ve thought about it, and I vote for Peeta.  Katniss needs him more than she needs Gale.  I don’t think Gale will ever be able to understand what she has gone through.  I think she is starting to fall for Peeta, even if she doesn’t realize it yet.  Her relationship with Gale seems more like that of siblings, at least on her part.  Not to mention Peeta has gotten a lot more “screen” time (page time?) than Gale, and I think his character is slightly more developed.  But that’s my opinion.  We’ll have to wait until August to find out.

I heartily recommend this series to readers, from middle school to adult.

My review of The Hunger Games is here.

Posted by: Ms. Matson | January 1, 2010

2010 Reading List

I was looking over my collection of book lists and figured I ought to put it all into one list in the hopes that it will help me complete it.  Here’s a list of all the books I hope to read over the next year.  I’ll probably I know I’ll end up passing on some and picking up others as I see good reviews, but at least I have a starting point.  My priority will be the books listed in the TBR Challenge.  Over winter break I’ve been working through Harry Potter again, and I’ll probably try to finish that before I pick these up, but I haven’t listed them.  I’m currently half-way through Order of the Phoenix.

Anyway, here’s my 2010 reading list, in alphabetical order:

Fiction

A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Artemis Fowl Book 1 by Eoin Colfer finished 5/29/10
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, Ina Rilke
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
First Light by Rebecca Stead
Forest Born by Shannon Hale finished 2/6/10
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones finished 1/11/10
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins finished 8/28/10
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Mimosa by Amy Carmichael
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro finished 6/18/10
Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr finished 6/11/10
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
The Divine Comedy: The Inferno by Dante
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson finished 2/19/10
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa finished 7/13/10
The Inferior by Peadar Ó Guilín
The Invention of Hugo Cabrey by Brian Selznick
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Last Queen by CW Gortner
The Line by Teri Hall
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Resistance by Gemma Malley
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer finished 6/12/10
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
When We Were Saints by Han Nolan
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Non-Fiction

A Different Kind of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesteron
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Real Education by Charles Murray
Slackernomics by Dale Franks
Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright
The Early Church by Henry Chadwick
The Prodigal Tongue by Mark Abley
Why Don’t Students Like School by Daniel T. Willingham
Your Jesus Is Too Safe by Jared C. Wilson

Here’s to another year of good reading!

Posted by: Ms. Matson | December 31, 2009

A Year in Books

This is the first year I have been a conscious reader.  I have read purposely, writing down thoughts and opinions on some of the books I have read, and keeping track of everything I’ve finished.  Looking over my list is both satisfying and challenging.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a productive reading year.  I had a lot of fun with most of the books I’ve read in 2009.  At the same time, I can tell that I need to read more broadly.  Most notable, I ought to read more non-children’s/young adult books.  My list is rather unbalanced, with only six of 43 books read falling into the “grown-up” category, and two of those were read as homework.  That’s one of my personal challenges for next year – read more “grown-up” books.  My TBR lists are ready and waiting for the new year!

My 43 finished reads:

Children’s  and Young Adult Books:

  1. McKinley, Robin. The Hero and the Crown. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1984. Newberry Medal 1985. Fantasy.
  2. Hale, Shannon. The Goose Girl. New York: Bloomsbury, 2003. Fantasy/Fairy Tale.
  3. McKinley, Robin. The Blue Sword. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1982. Newberry Honor 1983. Fantasy.
  4. Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Gypsy Game. New York: Delacorte Press, 1997. Realistic fiction.
  5. Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three. Chronicles of Prydain 3. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1964. Fantasy.
  6. McKinley, Robin. Beauty. New York: Harper Trophy, 1978. Fairy Tale.
  7. Hale, Shannon. Princess Academy. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005. Newberry Honor 2006. Fantasy.
  8. Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. New York: Scholastic, 2005. Fantasy. (reread)
  9. Hale, Shannon. Book of a Thousand Days. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007. Fairy tale.
  10. Ryan, Pat Muñoz. Becoming Naomi León. New York: Scholastic, 2004. Realistic fiction.
  11. Hale, Shannon. Enna Burning. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004. Fantasy.
  12. Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Realistic fiction.
  13. Spinelli, Jerry. Smiles to Go. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. Realistic fiction.
  14. Van Draanen, Wendelin. Flipped. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Realistic fiction.
  15. Levine, Gail Carson. The Wish. New York: HarperTrophy, 2000. Fantasy (Light).
  16. Hale, Shannon. River Secrets. New York: Bloomsbury, 2006. Fantasy.
  17. Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life As We Knew It. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. Fiction.
  18. Riordan, Rick. The Battle of the Labyrinth. New York: Hyperion, 2008. Fantasy. (reread)
  19. Riordan, Rick. The Last Olympian. New York: Hyperion, 2009. Fantasy.
  20. Spinelli, Jerry. Love, Stargirl. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Realistic fiction.
  21. Timberlake, Amy. That Girl Lucy Moon. New York: Hyperion, 2006. Realistic fiction.
  22. Anderson, Laurie Halse. Twisted. New York: Viking, 2007. Young adult realistic fiction.
  23. Shusterman, Neal. Unwind. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. Young adult dystopian fiction.
  24. Creech, Sharon. Granny Torrelli Makes Soup. New York: Scholastic, 2003. Realistic fiction.
  25. Malley, Gemma. The Declaration. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007. Dystopian fiction.
  26. Shulman, Polly. Enthusiasm. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. Realistic fiction.
  27. Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Historical fiction.
  28. Friesen, Gayle. The Isabel Factor. Towanda, NY: KCP Fiction, 2005. Realistic fiction.
  29. Perkins, Mitali. Secret Keeper. New York: Delacorte Press, 2003. Historical fiction.
  30. Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Young adult dystopian fiction.
  31. Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. New York: Hyperion, 2008.  Young adult realistic fiction.
  32. Konigsburg, E.L. The View from Saturday. New York: Scholastic, 1996. Newbury Medal. Middle grade realistic fiction.
  33. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1999. (reread)
  34. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, 2000. (reread)
  35. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 2001. (reread)
  36. Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2009. Young adult dystopian fiction.
  37. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2002. (reread)

Adult:

  1. Rivers, Francine. The Atonement Child. 1997. Christian fiction.
  2. Hale, Shannon. Austenland. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007. Fiction.
  3. Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. New York: Doubleday, 2002. Fiction.
  4. Kunstler, James Howard. World Made by Hand. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008. Fiction.
  5. Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
  6. Latterell, Carmen M. Math Wars: A Guide for Parents and Teachers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2008. Non-fiction, education
Posted by: Ms. Matson | December 29, 2009

Favorite Books of 2009

When I started thinking about the books I loved this year, the first that came to mind was The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.  It’s such a perfect retelling of a little known Grimm tale.  I loved Isi’s character and the way she grew over the story.  Hale’s language is captivating.   The Goose Girl is probably my favorite book of all I’ve read in 2009.

Other favorites:

Life as We Knew It and it’s sequel, The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  They’re both excellent apocalyptic novels for the middle grades.  I don’t think I’ll ever look at the moon in the same way.  I’m anxious for the third book to come out in the spring.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and it’s sequel, Love, Stargirl.  I want to meet Stargirl, and I want to be the teacher that reaches out to the Stargirl in my class or community.  We should all be as curious and uninhibited as Stargirl.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is definitely my favorite among the dystopian stories I read this year.  I just finished reading the sequel, Catching Fire, and find that these books offer a refreshing and highly personal take on the theme of authoritarian and dysfunctional societies.

Noticing a theme?  Apparently book series grabbed my attention this year.  When I find an author I enjoy I tend to read them more rather than picking up a new author every time.  I ought to diversify a little.

2009 brought lots of good stories and opened me to the wonderfully rich world that is middle grade and young adult fiction.  At least I can use the excuse that I read them because I work in education.  I can’t wait to see the places books will lead me in 2010.

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