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Tuesday Top Ten: Books My Students Are Reading

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It’s Tuesday! YAY!

Who knows what’s popular in YA and MG fiction better than real live actual teens? My students can be pretty picky when it comes to books they enjoy so I know that when they like books, that means they’re titles worth taking a look at. So, this week’s Top Ten highlights some of the current popular titles at my school.

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass13 Gifts by Wendy Mass (MG)

Nothing but Drama by ReShonda Tate BillingsleyNothing but Drama by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (YA/MG)

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon SandersonAlcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (MG)

All Night Party by R.L. StineAll Night Party by R.L. Stine (MG/YA)

Hatchet by Gary PaulsenHatchet by Gary Paulsen (MG)

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor (MG)

Alibi Junior High by Greg LogstedAlibi Junior High by Greg Logstead (MG)

Double Dutch by Sharon DraperDouble Dutch by Sharon Draper (MG)

Chasing the Falconers by Gordon KormanChasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman (MG)

The Sea of Monsters by Rick RiordanSea of Monsters (Percy Jackson #2) by Rick Riordan (MG)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started by The Broke and Bookish to
encourage blogger interaction! :)

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Geeking Out, Just a Little

Today I’m blogging from the 39th Annual FAME Conference.

You may be thinking “FAME? I’m gonna live forever!?!”

Not that FAME! This is the Florida Association for Media in Education so I’m here with hundreds of other Media Specialists from around Florida. It’s pretty cool to hang out with and learn alongside fellow book lovers all day!

What’s also great about the FAME conference is that there are authors here!! Last year I met Caroline B. Cooney, Margaret Peterson Haddix (!), and Jessice Day George (!!). I completely geeked out on them and this year is no different.

So far today I’ve had a chance to chat with a few authors while they signed books for my kids. First up, M.C. Delaney author of Obi, Gerbil on the Loose which was a Sunshine State book (elementary) last year. My 6th graders like this title.

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Now I also got to talk a little with Jennifer Allison author of the Gilda Joyce series. The newest in the series is set in St. Augustine, Florida which is right around the corner!

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I’ve already reviewed books by the next two authors Greg Logsted and James
Preller since their books are on this year’s Sunshine State list. Greg Logsted wrote the spy novel, Alibi Junior High which I loved and so do my kids!

20111006-133746.jpg P.S. There may be a sequel in the works!

James Preller (super nice man! Loved chatting with him about his influences while writing Bystander.

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Anything supernatural is a win with my girls at school. Kirsten White wrote Paranormalcy andSupernaturally. She was very friendly and enjoyed hearing about my students.

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Thank you to all the authors who signed books and were so friendly!  Tomorrow Roland Smith and Gordon Korman will be speaking also! We so excited!

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Tuesday Top Twenty: I Know What you Read this Summer!

Well,  I don’t know what you read this summer, so I can’t write about that.

But, I do know what I read this past summer.  I was busy alright!  This is not a Top Ten today, it’s a list of the twenty (yes twenty) books I read this summer.

1. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

2. Rumors by Anna Godbersen

3. Dark Life by Kat Falls

4. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

5. The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

6. Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid of Westminster by Berkley Breathed

7. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

8. Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story by Tonya Hegamin and Marilyn Nelson

9. Scat by Carl Hiaasen

10. Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

11. The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

12. Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

13. Bystander by James Preller

14. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

15. Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival by Arther Slade

16. Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

17. Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

18. One False Note by Gordon Korman

19. I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

20. The Help by Katheryn Stockett  (The only adult fiction I read all summer!)

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James Bond Jr.? Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

Does anyone else, besides me, remember this show?

I used to love James Bond Jr.  I don’t remember what day or time it came on T.V. but I remember that whenever I’d catch it, I was a very happy kid.  Plus, I thought he was super cute (shocker I know).  Yes, I know he’s a cartoon. That didn’t matter to my 9 year old self.

Wait I thought this was supposed to be a book review?  Yes, you’re right.  I do have a point!

Point is that I see big connections between James Bond Jr. and Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted. 

In Alibi Junior High,  thirteen year old Cody Saron is not your normal teen.  Cody has spent his whole like traversing the globe with his CIA agent father.  Cody has been trained to be constantly on watch, be alert for enemies, an expert at karate and knows how to take down assailants.  In a sense, Cody Saron is James Bond Jr.  and is perfectly at home “chasing scum around the world”.

But when something goes wrong and things get a little too dangerous, Cody moves in with his Aunt Jenny in Connecticut. Cody knows absolutely nothing about normal suburban life and he knows nothing about junior high.  Slowly, Cody adapts to this new way of life, but just when he begins to feel at home, Cody realizes his father’s world has, in fact, found him making everyday life that much more dangerous.

I really liked this novel a lot.  It’s perfect for middle grade readers (remember that tend to be grades 5-8ish).  Cody is entering this new lifestyle as an outsider, someone who may be used to hunting down spies and illegal arms dealers, but knows nothing about the ins and outs of everyday teenage life.  Cody’s obvious cluelessness provides the reader with some pretty funny moments.

Two major saving grace for Cody are his relationships with his Aunt Jenny and his neighbor Andy.  Jenny is Cody’s mother’s sister.  Since Cody’s mom died when he was younger, he doesn’t remember much about her, so Jenny helps Cody know more about his mom.  Cody also isn’t used to sharing this thougts, since his father and he only talk about the job at hand, but Aunt Jenny encourages Cody to talk with her. Jenny is definitely a mother figure who is involved with her nephew, which is different from the common absentee parents in most teen fiction.

Cody’s other strong relationship is with Andy.  Recently injured from the war in Iraq, Andy seems to be the only other person who really understands and reaches out to Cody when no one else does. Andy sees in Cody the same special ops type training he experienced in the Middle East and quickly realizes that there is more to Cody’s story than he’s letting on to.

In the middle of all the cool espionage and spy stuff, Cody is dealing with some pretty important things including the loss of his mother, his anger over his father “dumping” him off somewhere, and the death filled memories of past missions that plague his nightmares.  I believe the author attacks these issues in a way that is humorous, real and appropriate for middle grade readers.

Although most likely geared toward boys, girls may like Alibi Junior High too. In fact, if you or your teen has enjoyed Roland Smith’s I.Q. series, this would fit into your list of good reads.

Definitely one of my favorites on this year’s Sunshine State list.