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How It Should Be Done: Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

Hello!

In high school photography was kind of my thing. I took a photography class and was even the head photographer of my yearbook staff for a few years. There were even these little freshman boys who had lockers near mine and used to call me “Camera Girl”…I loved it! I’d read Cynthia Lord before but was really interested in Half a Chance when I realized that Lucy, the main character, was an aspiring photographer!

When Lucy’s family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera’s lens, as her father has taught her — he’s a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet Half a Chance by Cynthia Lordhis high standards? When she discovers that he’s judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special — or only good enough.

As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn’t want to see: his grandmother’s memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.

Half a Chance is one of those middle grades novels that deals with difficult topics, but does it exactly how it should be done. Often times in middle grades fiction difficult topics are dealt with using a heavy hand, but Cynthia Lord manages to handle hard subjects with a perfect mix of sweetness and gentleness. What we see is Lucy struggling to get her father’s attention and help her new friend Nate’s family come to terms with their grandmother’s growing illness. All of this difficult stuff is approached through Lucy’s camera lens and creates a book that isn’t heavy handed in it’s struggles.

Lucy is your quintessential middle school girl who is constantly riding that line between self discovery and lack of confidence. Her father is this world renown photographer who is rarely home, she is the new girl in town who is starting to have a crush on her new friend and who isn’t too sure about the girl across the lake who hasn’t been very welcoming. I understand Lucy in the midst of all of this and she’s a very likable character.

The summer lakefront setting just adds to the gentle way Lord approaches Lucy’s story. The morning sunrises over the lake and the haunting calls of the loons (who play a major part in the story) create that kind of hazy summer setting that always seems to find itself in coming of age stories. It makes me wish I spent summers in a lake house!

I would highly recommend Half a Chance to any middle grade readers looking for a quick contemporary and even to parents interested in finding a way to open the conversation about an ill grandparent.

Author: Cynthia Lord

Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 25, 2014 )

Format: Hardcover

Length: 218 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:

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Reading Queue: June

The Reading QueueHi guys!

It’s about that time! Summer is getting so close I can almost taste it!

In my opinion, the absolute best thing about summer is not having to get up and go to work, which leads to spending tons of time with my husband, friends, and books!

So, what is this Reading Queue?  The Reading Queue is a monthly event hosted by me and Books: A true story where we share our reading plans for each month. You can check out other participating blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you!  Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

How I Did in May

This past month I finished six books from my May Queue, but also read six that weren’t on my original plan. That brings me to twelve books read for the month of May, which I’m pretty proud of!

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J Freedman Caminar by Skila Brown

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman

Caminar by Skila Brown

Can You Say Catastrophe? by Laurie Friedman The Crossover by Kwame Alexander The Last Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Can You Say Catastrophe? by Laurie B. Friedman

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

In the Hands of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) by Tamora Pierce

Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3) by Tamora Pierce

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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My June Reading Queue

I always have high hopes for my summer vacation reading plans! Educators put their heart and soul into their students for ten months out of the year, so we need these lazy days of sleeping in, spending time with our family and friends and just allowing time for ourselves to rest and recoup. For me, resting and recuperating means reading! Here are all the books I plan to start my summer break with!

The One by Kiera Cass Prisoner B3087 by Alan Gratz The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

The One by Kiera Cass

Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Counting by 7′s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Paperboy  by Vince Vawter A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher

Belles by Jen Calonita Nantucket Red by Leila Howard The Key and the Flame by Claire Caterer

Belles by Jen Calonita

Nantucket Red by Leila Howard

The Key and the Flame by Claire Caterer

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What books are on your Reading Queue for June? We’d love it if you’d link your TBR or Reading Queue up with ours!

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Reading Queue: May

The Reading QueueHola!  Happy May!

It still amazes me how fast this school year is going! We’re already only a few weeks away from the start of summer break! The weather has become absolutely gorgeous and both my porch and a good book are calling out to me!

What is the Reading Queue?  The Reading Queue is a monthly meme, hosted by Book Tasty (hola!) and Books: A true story where we share our reading plans for the month. You can check out other participating blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide. Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

What I Read in April

I’ve been reading a ton of middle grade books recently and my total number of books read in April was 8! I know I didn’t stick tight to my April Reading Queue but I did read a lot, even if they weren’t the titles I originally planned.

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff Icons by Margaret Stohl

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

Icons by Margaret Stohl

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper Searching for Sarah Rector by Tonya Bolden Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America by Tonya Bolden (nonfiction)

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Alanna by Tamora Pierce The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

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My May Reading Queue

Seriously, I just want to cancel everything I’m supposed to do this month so I can sit on my porch and read! Here are the ones I hope to finish this month!

TheBoyOnTheWoodenBox My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J Freedman The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord The Last Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

Can You Say Catastrophe? by Laurie Friedman PrisonerB3087 by Alan Gratz Caminar by Skila Brown

Caminar by Skila Brown

Can You Say Catastrophe? by Laurie Friedman

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

The One by Kiera Cass

The One by Kiera Cass (My precious!!!)

Okay! I’m off to get reading! Have you read any of the books on my Reading Queue?  Please feel free to link up and join us this month! I’d love to check out your Reading Queue too!

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Reading Queue: April

The Reading QueueHello!

Holy junk April surprised the heck out of me! One day it was March and the next….BAM! APRIL!

I guess that’s how it happens though isn’t it? haha

Well, I’m back and ready to bring you a brand new Reading Queue…even if it is a few days late!

What is the Reading Queue?  The Reading Queue is a monthly meme, hosted by Book Tasty (hola!) and Books: A true story where we share our reading plans for the month. You can check out other participating blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide. Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

What I Read in March

March was a really good reading month for me! I was able to finish eight books, which is two more than my average six! Now, I’m counting one I Did Not Finish (DNF) because it’s my list and I can! haha

The Lord of Opium by NancyFarmerThe Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer (DNF)

Maybe it’s because I didn’t read House of the Scorpion, but I just couldn’t get into this one.

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was a very cute contemporary filled with family and romance.

Jessica Darling's It List by Megan McCaffertyJessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection by Megan McCafferty

I haven’t read the original Jessica Darling books, but I know now I must!

Skybreaker by Kenneth OppellSkybreaker (Matt Cruise #2) by Kenneth Oppel

Starclimber by Kenneth OppelStarclimber (Matt Cruise #3) by Kenneth Oppel

This series is one of my new favorites!

March Book One by John LewisMarch (Book One) by John Lewis

Civil Rights history in graphic novel form! I loved it!

Serafina's Promise by Ann E BurgSerafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

This novel in verse was beautiful.

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. NielsenThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I really enjoyed this trilogy a lot!

My April Reading Queue

There are so many books I want to read so badly this month! I’ve already started three of them, so I’m hopeful about my goal of ten!

The Flame in the Mist by Kit GrindstaffThe Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

The Boy Problem by Kami KinardThe Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl

Half a Chance by Cynthia LordHalf a Chance by Cynthia Lord

The Hypnotists by Gordon KormanThe Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Ghost Hawk by Susan CooperGhost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Manor of Secrets by Katherine LongshoreManor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

TheTimeFetchThe Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Better to Wish by Ann M. MartinBetter to Wish by Ann M. Martin

Doll Bones by Holly BlackDolly Bones by Holly Black

There you have it! Have you read any of the title on my April Reading Queue?  Please feel free to link up and join us this month! I’d love to check out your Reading Queue too!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR List

Hi there!

For a few days I thought spring had sprung, but it seems South Carolina disagreed with me. The past few days have been very “Seattle-like” as it’s been cold and rainy down here in the South! I’m not complaining because I really do prefer these actual seasons to Florida’s never-ending summer and rain just means that I get to wear my awesome pink wellies!

Although it quite been springtime weather, I do still have my spring reading all planned out!  If you haven’t checked out Reading Queue, the meme I host with the awesome Jen at  Books A True Story, you’ll be interested to know that today’s TTT is what we do every month in our Reading Queue. We talk about the books we read the previous month and plan our our TBR pile, or Reading Queue. You can participate too if you’re interested!

So, today’s list is going to be made up of my March Reading Queue, as well as titles I’s like to get to in April and May. You’ll notice a ton of middle grade titles as I try to focus on that level since I am a middle school librarian who sometimes gets sucked into more YA…not that its a bad thing! haha

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. NielsenThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Neilsen (MG/YA)

Jinx by Sage BlackwoodJinx by Sage Blackwood (MG)

Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl (YA)

The Flame in the Mist by Kit GrindstaffThe Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff (MG)

The Time Fetch by Amy HerrickThe Time Fetch by Amy Herrick (MG)

The Moon and More by Sarah DessenThe Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (YA)

Manorof Secrets by Katherine LongshoreManor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore (YA)

Half a Chance by Cynthia LordHalf a Chance by Cynthia Lord (MG)

A Spark Unseen by Sharon CameronA Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron (MG/YA)

    Better to Wish by Ann M. MartinBetter to Wish by Ann M. Martin (MG)

The Boy Problem by Kami KinardThe Boy Problem by Kami Kinard (MG)

I am sooo looking forward to all these fun spring reading titles I have planned out! And yes, I know my list includes eleven titles instead of just ten..whoopsie!  I’ve actually already started The Shadow Throne and The Boy Problem, but only a little bit so far. Are you also planning on reading any of these books this spring?

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Tuesday Top Ten: My Favorite Sunshine State Books Ever

In case you don’t know what Sunshine State books are, they’re a list of 15 books chosen by media specialists throughout the state of Florida.  Every year there are 15 new books on the Sunshine State list. Its pretty much a list of recommended titles for middle schoolers.  I’ve been reading them for the past few years.

I didn’t post yesterday, because my day was pretty busy.  So, this week it’s actually a Wednesday Top Ten. I’ve mentioned some of the titles before (because they’re that good!) so you know that I highly recommend them if they’re also on this list.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (LOVE!!!)

Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith (Cute)

Mercy on These Teenage Chimps by Gary Soto (hilarious)

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson (fun)

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (intriguing)

Schooled by Gordon Korman (cute)

The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble (historical fiction!)

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach (National Treasure-ish)

Rules by Cynthia Lord (really good story)

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (soo good!)

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Top Ten Tuesday: Recently Read

My school uses Accelerated Reader to promote reading, as well as to hold students accountable for what they actually read.   I have an app on my phone that tells me how many AR quizzes have been taken and what books they’ve been taken on.

As of today (the 13th day of the month) 135 books have been read and quizzed on.  Today’s Top Ten will be the most recent books read at my school.  Approved by 6-8th graders in Orlando. :)

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Pierce

Rules by Cynthia Lord

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Graphic Novel) by M.C. Hall

Secrets in the Shadows by Anne Schraff

The Phantom Menace: Volume 4 (Graphic Novel) 

Someone to Love Me by Anne Schraff

Guitar Girl by Sara Manning

P.S. I’m going to the annual Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) conference again this year.  Last year I met authors Jessica Day George, Margaret Peterson Haddix and Caroline B. Cooney!  (I’ll find my pics and post them soon)  This year Roland Smith, Gordon Korman, and James Preller will be there!  It’s in October, so hopefully I’ll have pictures to post!