December 19, 2010

A Reading Festival (AKA avoiding grading papers)

Okay, it's not really a ready festival, but I have read three books this weekend. Okay, that's not really true either. I've read two books and finished a third...but still. It all counts in the greater world of reading, right?

My first finish is Linger, the sequel to Shiver. I read Shiver a few weeks ago, but I have not had time to do a review; therefore, I will do both in one.

Stiefvater brings to YA the Wolves of Mercy Falls series with a tale of forbidden love, because in the world of teens, all love is forbidden. But, in this series you have love between two souls, one human and one wolf. That, of course, is metaphorical because Grace and Sam are both human and wolf.

The author presents readers the story of Shiver through the alternating viewpoints of Grace and Sam. We learn the truth of their love and devotion to one another both in the human world and in the wolf world. In this case, Grace is fighting and searching for a way to keep Sam from the woods and in human forever. Stiefvater leaves of with just the right ending, leaving the reader craving more.

Linger introduces us to a new character, Cole. And through the points of view of Grace, Sam, Isabelle, and Cole, the reader is thrown into another dimension of  the Wolves of Mercy Falls. We learn that things are not always as they appear, and sometimes they are. Steifvater takes a different approach and leaves Sam fighting and searching for a way to keep Grace with him, presenting a cliffhanger that fits smoothly into the world of waiting for Forever. What will be the fate of Grace and Sam? Can one live while the other survives?

This series will appeal to all kinds of readers, but especially to those who have grown tired of supernatural novels. The author offers a fresh new idea in the world of the supernatural, an idea that has long been needed.

My second devoured novel is one that is true to its writer, Clements' The Last Holiday Concert. In this "school situation" novel, Clements introduces readers to Hart Evans, the most popular boy in sixth grade.

Hart's popularity lands him as the director of the Christmas concert, the last for his school due to budget cuts. But soon Hart learns that popularity does not mean organization and comradeship. It means headaches and enemies, but only when others do not get their way. Hart is an adorable character who just wants to please everyone, and who really does NOT want to be in charge of this concert. But democracy rules, and he must move forward and find solutions to the many problems his classmates keep presenting. Can Hart balance his life, his school work, and the choral Christmas concert?

Clements presents readers with a tight plot, rife with just enough drama to keep the reader turning the page and ending with the same sweet note to which Clements readers are accustomed. This is a must read for the holidays.

And my final read of the weekend, Word after Word after Word, is a fast, inspirational read. Anyone who loves to write, anyone who teaches writing, or anyone who loves words will devour this book. It is meant for readers 8-12, but we all can learn a lesson with it. After all, words are the most powerful when on paper.

The fourth graders get a life-lesson in this novel, "What is the writer's tool in all of this? Making people laugh, or cry, or be angry, or think? Words, yes, magical words." This novel is a reminder that we all have a story to tell, and that those stories are worth more than we could know. We own the power of words, own them because they are ours. We own them because we are "we" together.

An absolute must read for English teachers, writers, lovers of words - Word after Word after Word is worth the hour and a half it will take for you to devour, to appreciate, to love.

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