Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No Talking by Andrew Clements

No Talking by Andrew Clements
The Laketon Elementary school has had a huge problem with the Unshushables, the nickname of the fifth grade class. They have been talkative and loud since first grade.  But, what happens when Dave and Lindsey start a No Talking Contest between the girls and the boys? A 2-day contest with a 3-word limit to be used only when an adult asks a question? Whichever side talks less, wins!  How do the teachers react? the parents? How about the principal with her red plastic bullhorn?

My Take (warning: spoiler alert!):
This was a great book with a focus on language and how we use it throughout the day.  Language can be spoken. It can be gestures or sounds. Language can be mean or kind. And in this book you see the demonstration of the power that words can have. Words can tear down or build up.
I loved that Mr. Clements brought out those elements, not with just the students, but you see what the teachers are all thinking as well. They are clueless about the contest at first, so it is interesting to see their different reactions. Some are ecstatic at first, then frustrated because the kids are only answering with three words. Others love it because they are now quiet and the teacher doesn't have to yell at all. Then there are some that don't like it right from the start. Kind of hard to teach music when they won't sing....
I think this is a great middle grade book that kids will love because the students are doing something that is driving some teachers crazy. It is really well written with some great illustrations to enhance the book. I feel Mark Elliot captured some great expressions of the kids with his drawings.

East of Eden readalong--woops

Sorry I stopped posting, guys. I've been apartment-searching and largely without internet, and I kept forgetting to update while I was at work. SORRY!

Anyway, did everyone keep reading? I finished the book this last weekend--I fell way behind but then caught up. Over all, I liked it, but I didn't love it. But I'm definitely glad I finished it.

Sorry I went AWOL, and I'd love to discuss in greater depth with anyone else who's finished.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami

It feels like I've been reading it for about twenty years, but it's actually only been about three weeks. I need to debrief!

This is the first Murakami book I've read, and definitely won't be the last. But to explain why is difficult. As an experience, this book is like watching a David Lynch film - it makes perfect sense until you try and explain it to someone. It's certainly not for everyone. Plot-wise, not a lot happens (a cat goes missing and turns up again). I found it deeply unsettling to read, especially the part in Mongolia. The copy I read (Vintage) was advertising it as a pair with Alice in Wonderland, which is a fair comaparison. It's like going down the rabbit-hole, but for adults. Except in this case it's a well. And it's infinitely more terrifying.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Girl She Used To Be By David Cristofano

I added this on to my Fill In The Gaps list after seeing numerous people talk, no, rave about it. I'm so glad I finally found out what the fuss was all about. This is a fantastic story. I had trouble putting it down. This is the story of Melody. Melody's in the Witness Protection Program. She's been in the program since she was 6. She's about 26 now. Despite this being a short book (only 240ish pages) there's a lot crammed in. We learn about Melody over the course of the book as well as Sean (Mr FBI protector) and Jonathan (has strong Mob ties). And we see Melody grow and change to become who she wants to be. The Girl She Used To Be was wonderful story about finding who you are. Great story, wonderful writing too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby is a widowed mouse with four small children.  Winter is ending soon and they need to move to their summer home. But, the youngest has pneumonia and can't be moved. What's a mom to do? She searches for help, even from those who are most likely to refuse. But, the rats of NIMH have a grand plan to help her in her dilemma.
I really enjoyed this book. It was written in 1971 and received the Newbery award in 1972.  
**Spoiler Alert**
There are themes in this book that will never grow old. Like being kind to everyone, no matter who it is. And that if you are kind to them, most likely they will return that kindness.  I know that not everyone is kind back, but the importance of being kind and compassionate is something we all long for. Even the bully craves those things.
As a mother, I could relate to Mrs. Frisby.  Her worries, doubts, fears, and determination were all strong and very real. I like that about this book. That as a child I could read it and love the adventure and the mystery as to why the rats are so helpful. But, as an adult I can relate, too! 
Can't wait to read this on out loud to my kids!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I don't know what to say about this book. It was a well written book but I didn't care for it. The story follows Yossarian, a bombardier during World War 2. I use follow loosely. The story isn't linear. I had a real hard following what was going on. It was like reading an episode of Hogan's Heroes or Gomer Pyle. Plenty of funny parts, just confusing over all. I talked a few people who stated this was their favorite book of all time and they said I had it right. It's supposed be confusing, ridiculously so. Glad to have this one off my list.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


"Two Old Women" by Velma Wallis

This is another book that has been on list to read for ages. This is a really good book. The writer takes you deep into the heart of Alaska during the bitter cold of Winter. These two women must survive somehow or die. I really liked the characters, Ch'idzigyakk, meaning Chickadee bird, and Sa' meaning Star. They are very determined to live what has happened to them. You can feel the worry, hunger and tiredness that these women go through. I was rooting for them the whole time I read the book. I wanted them to survive. They had to go back to a time when they were young and remember how to survive. Gathering wood, keeping a fire going, and trapping animals for food. They also had to travel a long way until they found the place where the fish was plentiful. Did they survive? What happened to the people that turned them out? You will have to read the book to find out. If you have a chance to read this book, please do. You won't be disappointed. You can see my complete review at Just Books.

East of Eden read-along: p240 - 320

Hey, everybody! I'm still chugging along. How's everybody else doing?

Last week was quiet here so I wonder if people are dropping behind (or giving up)--please feel free to leave comments from any point in the book up until now, though, and if you DID give up feel free to share why.

Hope everybody's keeping warm!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


MY THOUGHTS: I have been trying to get this book from the library for the longest time. Every time I went to get it, it was out. So I finally put it on hold. I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon. It is a very good book and keeps you locked on to what the author is writing. You want to find out why Clay is on the list of 13 people. Did he do something to Hannah? You also want to find out what the 13 reasons are for Hannah to take her own life. This is a very moving book. While I was reading this book I was so hoping that it was a mistake and someone helped Hannah. And the interesting thing is that while Clay was listening to the tapes he recognized all the signs of suicide. But by then it was too late. This book also made me very angry at all the people that added to the reasons for Hannah's suicide. The consequences of what they did took a life. If you haven't read this book, please do. It's very well written and moves along very fast. I highly recommend this book.

You can see my full review at my place, Just Books.