Thursday, August 1, 2013

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Wait a second. The Crossroads? Why is this post titled "Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library" yet The Crossroads cover is here?

Good question! 

I loved reading The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein. What a spooky story! I recommend it every year to all my sixth grade readers (and other readers I happen to see in the library).

Zack, his dad, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father's hometown in Connecticut, not knowing that their new house has dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took forty innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn't over, and Zack is directly in his sights.  -from the website of Chris Grabenstein

Sounds awesome, right?

So when I saw that the author had a new book, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, what else could I do but pick it up and read it?

Can twelve 12-year-olds escape from the most ridiculously brilliant library ever created?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library plunks a dozen sixth-graders into the middle of a futuristic library for a night of nonstop fun and adventure.

In a nod to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this fast-paced new novel features an eccentric billionaire who welcomes a group of children into a fantasy setting full of weird, wondrous touches.

Kyle is a game fan--board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle's hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town's new public library, which contains not only books, but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.

Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello's most fabulous prize ever. -from the website of Chris Grabenstein

This book is great fun! I enjoyed playing the game with Kyle. Alas, I am a horrible game player and Kyle had it figured out before I did. (I did better at The Westing Game!)  Which makes me even sadder to say that there is another game afoot! In the ending pages of the book, the author lets readers know there is one puzzle that is in the book but not in the story. Readers who can find and solve the bonus riddle will have a chance to win an exciting prize. 

Will I really be sharing this new book with my students? Yo! Yes!  But for now I will simply go for a quiet walk in my secret garden to look for snozzcumbers and contemplate what book I should start next. Great Scott! Gadzooks! One half of my life is reading books!

Click HERE to view the BOOK TRAILER for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
P.P.S. Did you catch what I did there at the end? Those allusions? That's another reason why you'll love reading about Mr. Lemoncello's library. See how many you can find in this book!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ghetto Cowboy

"You never know what someone will do with his life once he finds himself."

From G. Neri's website:
"When Cole's mom dumps him in mean streets of Philly to live with the dad he's never met, the last thing Cole expects to see is a horse--let alone a stable full of them. He may not know much about cowboys, but what he knows for sure is that cowboys ain't black and they don't live in the inner city!  But on Chester Avenue, horses are a way of life, and soon Cole's days of goofing off and skipping school in Detroit have been replaced by shoveling muck and trying not to get stomped on.

“Crazy as it may seem, the lifestyle grows on Cole, and he starts to think that maybe life as a ghetto cowboy isn’t so bad. But when the City threatens to shut down the stables—and take away the horse that Cole has come to think of as his own—he knows that he has to fight back.

“Inspired by the real-life inner-city horsemen of Philadelphia and Brooklyn, Ghetto Cowboy is a timeless urban western about learning to stand up for what’s right—the Cowboy Way.”

Hold your horses and stampede to your local library or bookstore! Wrangle yourself a copy of Ghetto Cowboy and giddy-up reading.

Stop. Hold the horse puns. This is not your typical horse story. In fact, I cannot wait to give this book to some of my "traditional horse story readers" in class. They will be amazed at the inner-city horse world that opens up in front of them.

I found this story interesting from the beginning and believable until the very end. I was rooting for Cole and Harper, Jamaica Bob and Tex, and even Smush and Snapper. Kids will love entering this cowboy world and learning the Cowboy Way. 

Visit G. Teri's website HERE.  Make sure to watch the book trailer HERE.

Happy Reading! 

Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Runaway King

It is appropriate that I should come back to my very neglected blog with Jennifer Nielsen's The Runaway King.  The last book I posted about back in January *hanging head in shame* was The False Prince, the first book in The Ascendance Trilogy. Jaron is back in The Runaway King, and I couldn't be happier.

The second installment in Nielsen's series is just as engrossing as the first. Jaron will take you along on his adventure to keep the fleeing the throne!

"Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation.  Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya.  Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it.

"As his adventures lead him into dangerous new territory, Jaron must learn to tell his friends from his enemies and decide who he can trust--if he can trust anyone at all.  But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far.  Will he ever be able to return home again?  Or will he have to sacrifice his own life to save his kingdom?"

To my former students: I have introduced you to The False Prince. You must read this first book if you haven't yet and quickly go check out The Runaway King so as not to miss these books!

To my future students: I cannot wait to tell you all about Jaron and Carthya. This will be one series you'll want to put on your TBR list.

Check out Jennifer Nielsen's website HERE.  Get a sneak peek at the third book in The Ascendance Trilogy (The Shadow Throne) HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The False Prince

I first "met" Jennifer Nielsen when she graciously created a video for our middle school promoting our book fair and The False Prince.

"The False Prince is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end. In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

"An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats."

It took me ONE day over Christmas break to read this book, and I told my students about Sage's story immediately upon returning to the classroom.  There are now two copies of The False Prince circulating in the classroom, and several students have read the book and are recommending it to their friends. We are anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.  Some of us just can't wait. So here is some incredible "can't wait" news...

#1 - Jennifer Nielsen is holding a giveaway of THE RUNAWAY KING on her blog.  Click HERE to enter.

#2 - Sorry to further tempt you, but a MOVIE is in the works.  Click HERE to read the exciting news.

This is a MUST read book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Just when you think you have this story figured out, twists and turns will make you gasp in wonder!

Read this one. Seriously.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Tree 2012

Last year I showed my students a picture of a book tree I had seen on the Internet.  It didn't take long before we had our own book tree built in our classroom.  We did the same this year.

Each holiday season our awesome local library has businesses and organizations decorate themed Christmas trees for patrons to enjoy. Christmas trees dot the floor of the library decked out with ornamental splendor.  What better contribution to themed Christmas trees in a library than a book Christmas tree!

Worch Library was very welcoming of the idea, so on our December visit to the library, my students not only treated themselves to checking out their monthly cache of books, they also built a book tree.  The students thought they were privileged individuals when they were escorted into the basement and given free reign in the discarded book stacks to choose and bring up to the main floor the texts they would need.  Here is what resulted from their efforts...

Fantastic, right?  What made this tree even more special?  My students made bookmark ornaments for the tree.  Listed on each bookmark was their favorite book or a book recommendation.


And just when we thought this book tree couldn't get any better, the wonderful librarians placed these signs on top of the book tree...

Worch Library held a contest to see if patrons could guess how many books were in the book tree! Great idea! How fun!  How many books did it take to build this tree?  We don't know until we take it down on Wednesday this week!  We'll have to count the books then!  (Leave a comment if you'd like to guess, and I'll let you know the number later this week.)

Happy Holidays! Happy Reading!
Mrs. T  :)

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stephen McCranie Skype Visit

My students have gobbled up the first and second books in the Mal and Chad series by Stephen McCranie.  We are awaiting the third book, Belly Flop, as I type.  We should get the newest book in the series next week, so what better way to continue the BESTEST excitement ever than to relive our Skype visit with the author.

Stephen illustrated using his Screen Share program.  We loved this!

Look at our sixth graders! They were mesmerized! (It was their first Skype with a graphic novelist.)


He also demonstrated how drawings begin with simple shapes...a circle, a square, and a triangle. Some very familiar characters appeared on the screen.

Stephen connected with students when he presented ideas on how to create a story...Who is your character? What does your character want?  What is preventing your character from getting what he or she wants?  (Hmm...where have my students heard this before?)  :)

Stephen even led the students through a brainstorming session which resulted in this one-of-a-kind drawing! Amazing!

THANK YOU, Stephen McCranie, for taking time to meet with us and show us your amazing talent.  We cannot wait to see what other works you create for us.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T  :)

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!