Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog

Happy reading!

January 29, 2014
by Mrs. McGriff
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Which book will you choose?

Time is running out for your favorites from the Young Hoosier Book Club.  Check out the next four that are up for discussion in Survivor Book Club.

Candy Bomber:  The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” by Michael Tunnell

Prisoners in the Palace:  How Victoria Became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel:  a Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl

Trapped by Michael Northrup

Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac

December 11, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Which book will survive?

Today is our rescheduled meeting for Survivor Book Club.  If you couldn’t make it, check out the books we presented.  Which book will you read?  Which book will be your favorite?

Hidden by Helen Frost

Two girls are brought together by a carjacking turned kidnapping.  Years later their paths cross again at summer camp.  The alternating voices in this novel in verse will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Emerald Atlas by John Stevens

Three children are taken from their parents and hidden in orphanage after orphanage.  At their last stop, they discover a magical atlas and a dangerous prophecy that says they must save the world from the power of an evil witch and her friends.  The only bad news—this is the first of three books.

City of Orphans by Avi

The streets of New York City in 189 are a tough place to be if you’re a kid like newsie Maks or orphan Willa.  Can they avoid the Plug Ugly gang and free Maks’ sister from jail with the help of only a washed up detective?

Amelia Lost:  The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming

I thought I knew a lot about my favorite flyer, but I learned much about her life and the search for her after her plane disappeared.  I loved the photographs!

October 26, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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More awesome book trailers!

I am enjoying watching the book trailers my students have created.  Here are some more of the best for you to enjoy.  There’s a book for every reader.  What’s your choice?

Trey presents the ultimate book in the most popular fantasy series in recent memory (and maybe ever):

If you want a rich retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, check out this trailer by Tori:

Blaine shares one of Paulsen’s funniest books:

Just in time for Halloween is this spooky book trailer from Will:

Ashley creates a trailer for an inspiring story of being true to yourself:

October 25, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock

Eleven year old Wen has grown up in a Chinese orphanage.  The aunties there care for the children but there is never enough of anything to go around–love, food, clothes.  She and her best friend Shu Ling long to be adopted, and they promise each other that whoever is adopted first will find a family for the one left behind so that they can be together again.

One day Wen is chosen by an American family.  Even though she has gotten what she has always dreamed of, Wen is shocked by how hard it is to adjust to America.  She can barely speak English–not enough to make friends or even tell her new family what she is thinking.  The sights and sounds and choices are overwhelming, and she feels guilty for leaving Shu Ling behind.  More than anything else, she is afraid. What if she makes a mistake and her new family sends her back to the orphanage in China?  What if loving her new little sister lessens her love for Shu Ling, who always looked out for her?  What if she can’t find anyone to adopt Shu Ling?

I love the image of a red thread that weaves through Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock from an old Chinese legend.  The legend says that an invisible red thread connects those people who are destined to meet.  The thread may stretch or tangle across time and space, but it will never break.  Wen learns the strength of the thread that connects her with Shu Ling, but she also learns that she can connect with her new family and friends without giving up the old ones.  The thread will still hold.

The topic of international adoption is close to me since I have family who have gone through the process with younger children.  Peacock writes a heartwarming story that portrays both the joys and struggles that come with adopting older children, especially across cultures.  I can’t imagine trying to start my life over with such a drastic change, but now I have a glimpse of what it might be like and am richer for it.

October 24, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Looking for a good read?

If you are looking for a good book to read, check out these book trailers created by my seventh grade students.  I’m sure you will find something that appeals to you.

This one is by Chloe for a funny, modern-day fairy tale mash-up:

Here is one for a graphic novel by Madison:

Here is a summer romance, but there’s no need to wait for summer to enjoy. Oh yes, Summer created the trailer:

Tonya created a trailer for one of my favorite modern fantasies. What will you do with your savvy?

Here is one for for sports fans, created by Kyle:

October 14, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

I suspect that Micheal Vey:  The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans will be among the more popular of the Young Hoosier Books with my students this year.  It has just enough science fiction to give it quite the cool factor.  Who wouldn’t dream of being able to electrically shock the school bullies when they have you down?  It’s not so far out that the science fiction will turn off readers who don’t think they like science fiction.  Other than having cool powers, Michael Vey and his new friend cheerleader Taylor Ridley seem like perfectly normal high school kids.  Even though Michael’s best friend Ostin Liss has no super powers, his brains help them out more than once on their mission to rescue Michael’s mom from kidnappers.  Even the bullies come around to help fight the evil scientist.

Since my students are creating book trailers on Animoto this week, I decided to give it a try tonight.  Here is my trailer for the book.  Enjoy!

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

September 28, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Which book will survive?

We kicked off a new year of Survivor Book Club on Thursday with four fantastic books.  By the time we left, all of the library copies were checked out!  Check out these trailers for the four books and see for yourself.

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt combines bullying older brothers, Audobon’s bird pictures, violent family problems, and an eccentric actress into a year that will never be forgotten.

Legend by Marie Lu packs kick-butt action with evil government secrets to reveal a stunning and deadly secret.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer is filled with hidden secrets, delicious cupcakes, new friends, and a menacing prison escape.

Titanic Sinks! by Barry Denenburg blends fact and fiction to bring you all the behind the scenes details of the magnificent ship and its tragedy. There is not a trailer for the book, so here is a computer simulation that explains how the ship sank.

I’ve read all four of these, and I’m not sure which one I like best.  They are all good.  Which one do you want to read? Can you stop with just one?

June 23, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica

Even though Nate Brodie loves football (and like many of Lupica’s character, he is that one-in-a-million player who both loves and knows the game), Million Dollar Throw is different from Mike Lupica’s other books.   Nate has won a once-in-lifetime opportunity to throw a football through a target during halftime of a Patriot’s game.  If he makes it, he will win a million dollars.  The pressure of making that throw is not all that weighs on Nate.  His dad lost his job and now his parents are juggling three and four part time jobs to make ends meet.  If something doesn’t change, they will lose their house.  Even worse, his best friend Abby is losing her sight to a rare eye disease.  Nate would give anything to help his friend see again well enough to paint her pictures.

The ever increasing real-world problems give this book a more somber mood than other Lupica books, but it also has many of the trademarks that my students enjoy from Lupica’s books.  Obviously, Nate is the ultimate kid athlete.  Abby is is best friend, who is both encouraging, pretty (with just a hint of a possible romantic interest) and witty.  Abby definitely has the best lines.  Nate faces obstacles both on and off the field, but he always gets up when he’s knocked down on his way to achieving greatness.

May 30, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
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Beware the Ninja Weenies by David Lubar

Fans of David Lubar’s Weenie series won’t be disappointed with this installment. Beware the Ninja Weenies is packed full of stories with bizarre twists, gross deaths, and just plain weird characters.  I played around with iMovie to create this trailer.  Believe it or not, all the images have a connection with one or more stories.