Archive for ◊ July, 2012 ◊

23 Jul 2012 Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe

I downloaded Nathan Bransford’s first Jacob Wonderbar novel to my Kindle because I followed the former literary agent’s blog. I picked up the second book, Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe, because the first book surprised and entertained me. The second book is as good as the first.
Bransford’s space adventures have strangeness, strong female characters, and male characters with enough flaws to keep us reading. This second book doesn’t end as neatly as the first; the last lines tell us just where Wonderbar, that nemesis of substitute teachers, will go next.
I plan to go with him.

09 Jul 2012 Fleischman and Henkes
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In an interview on NPR, Paul Fleischman talked about how his father did research for his historical fiction. That’s how the Fleischman family came to keep chickens, Paul said. It sounded like my kind of book.
Father and son, Sid and Paul Fleischman are two of my favorite authors. My classes perform from Paul’s Joyful Noise every year, and Seedfolk is one of my best tools for teaching characterization. I have an entire shelf reserved for the elder Fleischman, but I didn’t have the chicken book, Humbug Mountain. It’s out of print. Lucky for me, my excellent library has it. Humbug Mountain has Sid’s trademark humor, quirky characters, and adventure. What a treat!
While I was at the library, I picked up a book by another favorite author, Kevin Henkes. Return to Sender is Henkes first novel, and it’s less simply written than his later books. For example, when he describes the main character’s front porch, Henkes says, “Ivy leaves, like musical notes, sang their way up and down and around the railings.”
While kids may not appreciate the poetry as much as I do, the story is pure Henkes. Two treats in one library visit!
It’s important to keep up with new authors and to buy new books so authors can afford to keep writing. But sometimes, we need to go back and see where the masters started. I hope your library, like mine, yields its share of old treasure.