YA Book Clubs: Part 2


 








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Candy Mafia Book Blog Tour

 




Synopsis: 
In a city where candy is a crime and sugar is scandalous, Nelle Faulker is a 12-year-old private detective looking for her next client.

When notorious candy gangster Eddie de Menthe asks for her help to find a missing teddy bear, Nelle Faulkner is on the case. But as soon as the teddy turns up, Eddie himself goes missing! As a seemingly innocent investigation unravels into something more sinister, Nelle and her friends quickly find themselves swept up in a shady underworld of sweets smugglers, back alley deals, and storefront firebombs.

If Nelle has any hope of tracking down her missing client, first she'll have to unmask the true faces behind the smuggling ring. Can Nelle and her friends find a way to take the cake? Or will they come to a sticky end...?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Bugsy Malone in this page-turning mystery from World Fantasy Award-winning author Lavie Tidhar. With moody spot illustrations by Daniel Duncan, readers will be sucked into the action-packed narrative as Nell pulls the curtain back on the black market candy rings.

Review: 
A very well-told detective story for middle grade readers that will definitely keep them on their toes. I have so many readers who are constantly wanting adventure and mystery solving, but again not always intrigued by a "murder mystery" - and this is definitely the type of mystery story that my students are going to dive after. EVEN BETTER - it comes with illustrations. A lot of teachers are always looking for titles that will bridge the gap of constantly reading Dog Man, then moving to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and they struggle to bring in more literature with the same design concept - The Candy Mafia is exactly what I would recommend next to readers. It has the adventure, the humor, and it's relatable. As a kid, I remember constantly playing detective, or being a private investigator and using my imagination to make up "cases" in our neighborhood, and following Nelle through her investigation took me back to those days big time. 

Literary elements to discuss: vocabulary, tone, plot layout, theme, character development. 

I have added here where you can access the teacher's discussion guide if you choose to do this a read aloud or book club. 




Lavie Tidhar social handles:

            Twitter: @lavietidhar

            Instagram: @lavietidhar

 

Daniel Duncan social handles:

            Twitter: @DanielDuncan

            Instagram: @dunks_illustration

 

Peachtree social handles:

                Facebook: @PeachtreePub

                Twitter: @PeachtreePub

                Instagram: @peachtreepublishing


Stops on the blog tour:

            Monday (9/21): The Library Voice

            Tuesday (9/22): Teachers Who Read

            Wednesday (9/23): Mom Read It

            Thursday (9/24): Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

            Friday (9/25): Librarian in Cute Shoes

            Saturday (9/26): Beagles and Books
















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Secrets of the Sand Series - Review

 


Synopsis: 

In her search for answers, Sesha must find a priceless scroll for the pharaoh.

Sesha and Ky, children of the pharaoh’s royal physician, are left charming snakes and stealing food to survive after a brutal fire takes their parents and their home.

Unsure of whom to trust, the pair are found and brought back to the palace, despite misgivings that the royals are somehow involved in their parents’ deaths. Sesha is tasked with finding the rare and valuable medical document her father was transcribing for the pharaoh, who needs it urgently for his upcoming campaign.

Befriended by another scribe and a young princess, Sesha must navigate palace intrigue and temple treachery while desperately seeking the priceless scroll that not only has the power to reveal the circumstances around her parents’ death and mitigate any casualties of battle, but may also be the only thing that can save her brother’s life.

Student Reviews: 
"I loved the adventure set in Egypt! It made me want to learn more about their culture!" 

"I never got bored reading this story, usually this type of story drags on and on, but the adventures they had to go on to get answers was awesome!"

"I couldn't stop reading it. I read it in one night after school!" 

Teacher Review: 
I had a few students read prior to my reading because I had a few others to get through on TBR and their reviews did not disappoint - I was so excited to dive in even though this storyline is nothing like what I typically read. 

I found myself really into the characters and their story line - I was rooting for Sesha hard the whole time. I love reading about girl protagonists who aren't afraid to get dirty and fix a man's problem ;). 

The Kirkus Review was AMAZING










Synopsis: 

Sesha and her friends must decide where their future lies.

Forced to abandon her brother and the priceless scroll that saved his life, Sesha, joined by Paser and Reb, flee Thebes, venturing up the Nile and into deshart, the red lands. They are in search of a hidden oasis and Princes Merat, who was given to a Hyksos chieftain against her will.

Led by a freed spy, the friends battle endless dunes, unrelenting heat and blinding sandstorms before straggling into the Hyksos camp, where the rebels prepare for combat. As they spend time with the tribe, the lines in the sand blur and Sesha wonders if there’s anything she can do to prevent war. When she takes on a secret mission and learns of a prophecy that could change the course of history, Sesha and the others must decide where their loyalties — and futures — lie.


Teacher Review:
So, obviously my students are ready to get this second one in their hands, and I love when characters stick with kids so much they want more. 

There is so much to enjoy about this book (and this series) that I know kids will devour. I have students constantly asking me for mystery solving books with spies, and even danger, but they aren't ready for murder mystery yet. This is a great suggestion to cover all of those bases in the middle grade. 

Sesha is still amazing and such a fun character to follow and relate with. Even if your students don't all relate to Sesha, there is a character for almost anyone I felt like. 



To purchase, click on the images above! 
$8.99 each! 
*Affiliate link 









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Guest Blogger: Kath and the 2K20 - Encouraging Future Authors

 Encouraging Future Authors: Advice from the Class of 2K20 books



By Kath Rothschild and the Class of 2K20 Books (Twitter @Class2k20Books; Instagram @class2k20books) https://classof2k20books.com/

 

A teacher’s impact on future writers, whether online or in person, is huge. In recent research, students consistently linked their writerly identity to what their teachers had told them about their writing abilities (Rothschild, 2020). The Class of 2K20, a group of middle grade and young adult debut authors, can attest to the impact that teachers can have. They offer three ways today’s teachers can increase students’ interest in, and commitment to, writing: regular low-stakes writing, offering diverse books (especially inclusive of multiple languages), and encouraging small group book clubs and other extracurricular literary experiences.

 

Encourage Daily Low-Stakes Writing

 

It may seem simple, but often it is time that is spent not at home doing writing for homework, but in class writing—at levels from kindergarten to college—that can impress upon students how important low-stakes, especially non-graded writing, can be. Although scaffolded writing exercises are the norm now, there are strong benefits to cross-over between self-sponsored writing (such as home journaling) and “academic” writing. Claire Swinarski, author of WHAT HAPPENS NEXT attest to the benefits of unstructured writing. “I had one teacher in particular who gave us a half hour a day to simply free-write. Most kids complained about it and used it as journaling time, but I would always write short stories. Just having the time and space to use my imagination was incredibly valuable, and the fact that they weren’t graded allowed me to just be creative!”

 

Amanda Sellet, author of BY THE BOOK: A NOVEL OF PROSE AND CONS, notes that when classrooms only address the academic, and ignore the creative, it can have lasting negative effects. I wish I’d tried my hand at fiction sooner. Growing up, it felt like being good at school meant I had to focus on strictly academic things, because creative writing was for a different type of kid--someone more artsy and poetic…It took me a long time to give myself permission to invent my own stories instead of writing about other people’s work.” In her academic work, Katherine Rothschild, an instructor at Stanford University and the author of the forthcoming WIDER THAN THE SKY, has found immense benefits to students seeing crossover between their “creative” writing selves and their “academic” writing selves. “Daily writing with an approach that moves between self-sponsored, or self-chosen types of writing, and academic models, has been shown to increase students’ ability to identify as a writer—an issue that can assist them to value writing in the future.” Setting daily writing prompts before the week or month begins can be a great way to make sure the practice sticks.

 

Offer Diverse (and Multi-lingual) Books

 

Great readers often become great writers, as we know. But no single type of book can speak to all students. One approach that many teachers in K-5 are taking is to have a genre BINGO board so students can check off all different types of book genres and engage in learning genres as well as exposing themselves to all types of books—while still getting to choose what they read. Speaking to the impact of exposure to good books, Amy Noelle Parks, author of THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST-KISS, says, “my teachers encouraged me to write by getting great fiction into my hands. I had a really amazing language arts teacher in middle school who introduced me to so many books I loved. When I started writing, it was because I wanted to recapture that feeling of losing myself in an imaginary space.”

 

That said, books that include multiple languages can strongly prepare students for a globalized world, and a for life in a diverse community. Tanya Guerrero, author of HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA and the forthcoming ALL YOU KNEAD IS LOVE, says, “Coming from a trilingual family, I learned early on that language and storytelling doesn’t only have to be in English. My family spoke using English, Tagalog, and Spanish all at once. That’s why I pepper my dialogue in this manner, not only to reflect my own upbringing, but to also reflect other multicultural reader’s experiences.”

 

Books can transform our thinking. Cathleen Barnhart, author of THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS DO, attests to the importance of critical thinking through reading. Everything I read makes me think differently. That’s what books do: they open up space in our brains where we didn't have space before. About a year ago I read a book: Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy. It blasted a hole into what I thought was a solid wall so that I could see through a window that hadn’t existed before.” And KayLynn Flanders, author of SHIELDED, says “from an early age, books taught me how powerful words could be. They create a connection between me and others, a connection between my experiences and theirs. They allow me to see a new world, or to see my world in a new way.”

 

Encourage Extra-Curricular Writing and Storytelling Groups

 

Due to the recent move to online learning, many teachers are encouraging book clubs and other literary extracurriculars organized by parents or teachers but led by students. The move to give students literary-focused time, through a creative writing prompt and then share-on-Zoom, or through a book club, or a Spooky Storytelling group, can all encourage both students’ imaginations as well as their commitment to writing and reading. Lorien Lawrence, author of THE STITCHERSspeaks of the power of storytelling to create both a lifetime love of stories and understand the power of language. “I moved schools in the fourth grade, so I told spooky stories at lunch to make friends.” And now, she tells them for a living! Our students today don’t have the playground on which to tell stories, but they can still engage in self-directed language-arts driven activities, such as book clubs, storytelling projects, and creative writing groups.

 

A Last Thought: Validate!

 

It’s always a good reminder to any teacher at any level that writing is an act of bravery, and that students’ creative work should be given high positive feedback, and very little negative feedback. The validation needed to keep writing is high—and it’s often why students report stopping writing, or feeling that they are “not really writers”—they got negative feedback from teachers over the years. Teachers at the high school and college level must give feedback to assist students to improve their academic work, but when it comes to creativity, studies show it’s okay to just say “great!” Lawrence attests to the importance of validating writers' efforts. “I was fortunate enough to have MANY teachers who encouraged my love of writing - all the way from 4th grade to graduate school. And it was never just one word or encouraging phrase - it was a steady stream of validation. I became a teacher and an author because of these interactions.”

 

Follow the Class of 2k20 Books!

Twitter @Class2k20Books

Instagram @class2k20books  

https://classof2k20books.com/

Class of 2k20 Books is a group of Young Adult and Middle Grade authors releasing debut novels in 2020. If you’re interested in learning more about our books, our authors, giveaways, and in-person events, you’ve come to the right place. Prepare to be All Booked Up from now through our release dates!


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Guest Blogger: Amanda Hunt - Book Review

 Amanda Hunt, @thenextgenlibrarian



Hey TeachersWhoRead! My name is Amanda Hunt and I am a middle school librarian in New Braunfels, TX. The book I want to share today is They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman.




This young adult thriller released on August 4, 2020 so it's still relatively new, but as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb I knew I had to read it. I feel like ever since One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus dropped in 2017 the YA mystery genre has exploded. So many amazing authors are releasing who-dun-it style suspense books set in high schools so they're relatable to our middle and high school readers and They Wish They Were Us was no exception.

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems. When Jill was a freshman her best friend, Shaila, was killed by her boyfriend, case closed, no questions asked. Now as seniors Jill and her friends are at the top of the food chain. They run the elite and exclusive group The Players and Jill has the perfect-on-paper boyfriend with her eye on the ivy leagues.  

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham's innocence in the killing of her former BFF, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn't kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

This book is sure to be a hit with middle and high schoolers and would be great to use in the classroom to discuss characterization, foreshadowing, context clues and the genre of mystery-thriller. Fans of One of Us is LyingGossip Girl and The Skulls movie will be on the edge of their seats throughout this book. One thing about being a Player: people would die to be a member, but the only way out might be death itself. If you've read it, be sure to drop a comment letting me know what you thought!  

Thanks for sharing, Amanda! If you'd like to be a guest blogger, please fill out this form here: GUEST BLOGGER FORM. 




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If you like Hatchet...


 

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SUMMER of L.U.C.K


Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices.

As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.


 Book Trailer


Review

As a teacher, I absolutely loved the imagery used throughout the entire novel. The story is fun and engaging and allows kids to relate to situations with friends and parents that they may also be experiencing. The story encompasses magical realism - the friends who meet at a summer camp realize they can hear each other's thoughts on top of mysterious music that sets the scene for a super eerie abandoned warehouse near the camp. As they do what any typical kids would do - go explore the creepy abandoned warehouse - they are drawn in by someone who used to run the carnival, but in knowing him they learn far more than they could have ever imagined. 

Themes for the classroom include building confidence, facing your fears, helping others, friendship and family. 


Click the image to order! 


Laura Stegman 



Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based author and arts publicist whose middle grade debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., will be published in September 2020 by INtense Publications, followed by a sequel in 2021. Having grown up in Southern California with parents who valued reading, she remains spellbound by kidlit. Some of her favorite middle grade novels, then and now, are The Diamond in the Window, Ellen Tebbits, All of A Kind Family, Wonder, A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Miraculous. Laura’s non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways Magazine and Christian Science Monitor, among others. A long-time publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC, which has represented a wide-ranging client list of businesses, arts organizations and non-profit events over the years. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Irvine with a B.A. in Drama. Laura and her husband live in Los Angeles and part-time in New York City. She loves reading, L.A. Dodgers baseball, classical music and theater.




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IMWAYR - September 14

 


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Summer Reviews from a Middle School Librarian - Amanda Hunt


































Amanda 


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