Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog

Happy reading!

December 3, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
6 Comments

An Author and Me

IMG_20131130_113556_141Unlike most of the rest of the country, I stayed home Friday and avoided all the crowds elbowing each other to get the best deal at the super stores.  I did venture out Saturday to Village Lights Bookstore to meet Indiana author Julia Karr.   Author visits anywhere nearby are infrequent, so I was excited to meet a real live author of a book I had read and enjoyed.  XVI gives a chilling look at the future that focuses on problems we face today.  Now I have the companion, Truth, to look forward to as well.

This was my second attempt to meet her at a book signing.  I had planned to drive to Bloomington with our awesome librarian a couple of years ago, but the weather did not cooperate.  With the prediction of an ice storm, we decided to mature and grown-up and stay home instead of slipping and sliding across the hills between here and there.  Fortunately, the weather Saturday was glorious!

The bookstore was glorious, too.  I arrived early at the bookstore, so I had the chance to talk with Julia.  She is super nice and even offered a school visit (since we are so close) or Skype visit.  One of the things I love the most about YA and children’s literature (besides the fabulous books to read) is how warm and gracious and welcoming the authors are, especially to teachers and students.

Now I’m debating whether or not to take my new signed copies into my classroom.  I could use the excuse that her books are a little edgy for middle school.  Certainly not every student is ready for the, but some of them are already reading–and living–stories that are far worse.  No, my real hesitation is how quickly I lost my first copy of XVI.  I don’t think I saw the book after the first student read it.  It never came back home to my bookshelves, either.  My students might just have to check these books out of the school library, where our awesome librarian can keep a little closer track.  Meanwhile, I have another good book waiting at the top of my TBR pile.

 

image

 

I’m taking part in the weekly Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers, where teachers write and share each Tuesday. Join in yourself or head over to check out what’s happening with other slicers. If you’re taking part in the SOL, leave a link to your post. I’d love to read it.

April 5, 2013
by Mrs. McGriff
2 Comments

More Authors My Students Love

My afternoon classes approached our author research project a little differently.  They chose the book first.  Groups read the same book and discussed it.  Quite a few students read more books by the same author once they finished the first one.  (Yes, my evil plan for reading to take over the world is working.)  Since we were crushed for time, groups divided the research in order to conquer the research paper.

I’ve grouped them by author.  Some students copied the entire group research paper (using Google Docs to collaborate was quite interesting) while others copied just their paragraph. Either way, you can discover new tidbits about some favorite writers.

Ann E. Burg has a very private life that made it difficult to find enough information to research.

Caroline B Cooney creates suspense and mystery.

Carl Hiaasen uses humor to defend the environment.

Peg Kehret spins adventure and mystery together.

Gordon Korman finds the funny side of multiple points of view.

Patricia McCormick writes heartfelt, heart-wrenching novels.

Patricia McKissack explores the past, present and future in her books.

Ben Mikaelsen writes adventure from a life of adventure, including a pet bear.

Gary Paulsen lives and writes adventure in the past, present, and future.

Shelley Pearsall writes with humor.

Gary Soto brings his Hispanic heritage into his writing.

Stephanie S. Tolan writes with humor and inspiration.

Cheryl Whitesell draws you into the secret past of ninjas.

Paul Zindel creates creepy suspense.

April 25, 2012
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Who’s Your Author?

Now that I’ve graded all your research papers, I can say that I enjoyed reading them and learned some things about the authors you researched.  If you’re looking for another good book to read or author to explore, here are some you won’t want to miss!

Laurie Halse Anderson

Natalie Babbitt

Melody Carlson

Suzanne Collins

Caroline B. Cooney

Sharon Creech

Carl Deuker

Sharon Draper

Margaret Peterson Haddix

April 3, 2012
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Great visit with Patricia McCormick

Seventh period had a great skype visit with author Patricia McCormick.  She is such a gracious person and answered all the questions with honesty and humor.  I was very proud of my students and the questions they asked.  Here’s what they looked like with the fabulous Patricia McCormick.

March 20, 2012
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

When an author comes to visit

One of the most exciting things I’ve done with my classes this year is to invite wonderful YA authors to visit.  Thanks to the technology of Skype, authors are as close as my computer.  Today, second period visited with Sarah Darer Littman.  Many of them have read (or are on a waiting list to read) Want to Go Private (my review).    If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?  Get to a library or bookstore now.

Which of her other books do you want me to order for our classroom library?

February 15, 2012
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

So, you read The Pull of Gravity

I am super excited about our Skype visit with Gae Polisner tomorrow.  She sent surprises for you, too.  She would like to feature our class and your responses to The Pull of Gravity on her blog.  All you need to do is answer the questions in the form below.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer all of them, just as many as you want.  Oh yes, if you want your picture included, I need you to return a signed permission slip!

Here are the questions from Gae.  Once you’ve all had a chance to answer them, I’ll email her the results.

What else you can do: If you liked the book, it is always helpful if you’ll put a review up on Amazon.com. It can be brief! And, tell two friends about it.
Thanks so much for participating! When your classroom’s blog post is up, I will email your teacher! Please come play in the comments when it is!
Gae

 

Meanwhile, check out her websites and blogs:

http://gaepolisner.com

http://thepullofgravity.com

December 2, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Censorship sucks

Banned Books Week may have come and gone, but censorhip never really goes away.  Here’s a video from Penguin Books in which authors–some of my favorites and some of yours, too–speak out against the censorship they have experienced.

Which books by these authors have you read?  What would you say to speak out against censorship?

August 29, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Book signing at Blue Manatee

On Saturday I trekked over to the Blue Manatee in Cincinnati where I met five fabulous YA authors for the Girls Taking Over the World Tour.  There was a small crowd, so we had lots of time to ask questions and interact with all five writers.  I won sparkly stuff for asking questions, and they even let me take a picture!

 

 

 

 

 

Here I am with Lara Zielin, Christine Johnson, Sara Bennett Wealer, Saudran Mitchell, and Rhonda Stapeleton.

Of course, I had to buy books and get them autographed.  They were also generous with swag.  Just wait until you see the bookmarks I have to share.

 

 

 

 

 

It was hard to know which book to start with, but I picked up Cupid Stupid by Rhonda Stapelton.  I’ll bring them all in as I read them.  I think you’re going to like them.

 

August 24, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Meet some writers!

Writers are coming to a bookstore near you!  Well, sort of near you–Fishers, IN, Fort Thomas, KY,  and Cincinnati, OH.  That’s about as close as they come to us, so take advantage of the opportunity.  Four YA authors will be on tour together with Girls Taking Over the World–meeting readers, answering questions, and signing books.  Here are the authors and their books:

Saundra Mitchell

         

 

 

Lara Zielin

                                     

 

 

Rhonda Stapleton

                                    

 

 

Christine Johnson

 

 

Julie Kagawa (in Kentucky only)

                      

 

 

Sara Bennett Wealer (in Cincinnati only):

 

 

Don’t those titles look good?  I think so.  If you’ve never been to a book signing, there are some things you should know.  Bookstores don’t usually get paid for hosting a book signing or author visit.  They get paid for selling books.  So plan to buy a book, especially if you want one signed.  Some bookstores have specific requirements about buying and signing books, so check with the book store before you head out.  I plan to go to the signing on Saturday.  Maybe I’ll see you there.  Here’s the schedule for three days of books and authors!  I know, it’s too much fun!

Meet, Greet & Sign
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
5:00-7:00PM
Mudsock Books
11850 Allisonville Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
 
Book Talk, Q&A & Signing
Friday, August 26th, 2011
7:00-9:00PM
Special Guest: Julie Kagawa
Campbell County Public Library
Carrico/Ft. Thomas Branch
1000 Highland Ave.
Fort Thomas, KY 41075
(Sponsored by Blue Marble)
This event will be LiveStreamed!
 
Booktalk & Signing
Saturday, August 27th, 2011
4:00-6:00PM
Special Guest: Sara Bennett Wealer
blue manatee
3054 Madison Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45209

June 28, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

I am so excited to be part of the ARC tour for Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs.  I had a blast–or was it a splash–being part of the Splash Team for Forgive My Fins when it released last summer.  Fans of Princess Waterlily will not be disappointed as her adventures continue with the release of the sequel June 28.

Lily is back on land, living with Aunt Rachel, hanging out with her best friend Shannon, and dreaming of her best guy.  Now that she’s made her decision, she has decidedly more human concerns to worry about–mainly getting into a college–any college that will take her.  Just when it all appears to be smooth sailing, her bratty cousin Dosinia shows up on the doorstep.

Whatever Dosinia’s done this time, it must be bad because she is banished from the sea to live with Lily.  Dosinia is not what Lily needs.  She hates humans and loves stirring up trouble.  Now she’s even flirting with Lily’s old crush Brody.  Nothing good can come from this.  Just when it all seems ready to blow apart, a merboy from Lily’s past shows up with an urgent request.  Will Lily choose love or duty as she plots her future?

I thought Fins Are Forever lived up to my expectations.  Lily still has a knack getting caught up in the middle of turmoil, but she is learning to see past the surface of people who drive her crazy–like her cousin Dosinia.  Dosinia adds conflict and humor as she adapts to the human world she hates.  Maybe, just maybe, her heart is in the right place after all.

In addition to writing great books, Tera Lynn Childs graciously answered these questions from my students for a brief blog interview.  Her books have been among the top circulated books in our school library.  I have a hard time keeping them on my classroom shelves as well.  My students are eagerly waiting for Fins Are Forever!
 
Ariana:  Why did you write Forgive My Fins?

Growing up I always wanted to be a mermaid. I was a water baby and a competitive swimmer, so my dream was to be in the water full time. I got the idea for Forgive My Fins when I was in Florida for the summer and spending a lot of time on the beach. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a merman walked out of the Gulf and bestowed his magical powers on me with a kiss?” I knew right away it was a great book idea, especially if I created conflict when my mergirl accidentally kisses the wrong boy.
           
Audrey:  Why do you write fantasy?

I write fantasy because normal, everyday life is pretty dull. I already live in the real world, with stubbed toes and spilled soy milk and nights in front of the TV, so I’m not really excited to write about that. I love writing about things that couldn’t really be possible in our world, and making them seem plausible.
             What do you plan on writing in the future?

Oh, I have a bajillion ideas for books and stories. Who knows how many of them I’ll actually get around to writing. But for now I’m working on my new trilogy about triplet monster-hunting descendants of Medusa. The first book, Sweet Venom, will be out in September.
            
Charity:  Why did you become a writer?

I never planned to become a writer. Growing up and through graduate school I wanted to be: teacher, veterinarian, architect, lawyer, biologist, doctor, actress, scenic artist, set designer, historic preservationist, muralist… You name a career and it was probably on my list at some point. After grad school, though, I ended up back home with my parents who were traveling for work a lot. I was basically house sitting their place in the country and I started reading. A lot. It got to the point where I wanted characters to act differently or to say different things. I finally decided that if I wrote a story they would do and say whatever I wanted.
 
             Who do you look up to?

 In life, my parents of course. But as for writers, I have changing tastes. My favorites right now are Suzanne Collins, Susan Beth Pfeffer, E. Lockhart, and Jaclyn Moriarty. I also love classics like Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Greek plays.
Courtney:  Where did you come up with these ideas?

I get my ideas from everywhere. Oh. My. Gods. and Goddess Boot Camp came from playing around with reality TV show titles. Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever stem from my lifelong obsessions with mermaids. I got the initial idea for Sweet Venom from a fashion magazine spread about snaked-themed accessories. I just keep my eyes and my mind open to seeing ideas in the world around me.
 
Anna:  How often do you write?

That depends on how close I am to deadline. As much as I feel like I should write every day, there are days (maybe even weeks) when I don’t write at all. But as I get closer to deadline, I write every single day and for more and more time each day.
 
          How do you plan your books before you start writing?

 I’d rather not plan them at all. I would rather get my idea spark, brainstorm some characters who might wind up in that world/situation, and then start writing from scene one. My editor sometimes has other plans and I have to write a synopsis first. (I stink at synopsis writing, btw.) When that happens, I try to use a basic plot structure, like Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure, as a road map for story action. Somewhere early in the process I like to make character collages, too, to give me a visual picture of who my characters are.
 
          What is it like to have written your own book?

It’s an amazing feeling, like reaching the top of a mountain. And, like climbing a mountain, getting to the top is only half the trip. Once the first draft is finished, there are so many other things to do. Revise it. Revise it again. Get an agent. Sell to a publisher. Revise it again and again. Proofread it. Wait for it to get printed and go on sale. Hope that it does well and lots of people buy it so your publisher wants to buy more books. But the bottom line is that finishing a book is one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
 
          Who is your favorite character in the Forgive My Fins series?

Oh come on, I’m not allowed to have favorites. But I do have a special place in my heart for my bad girl characters. Dosinia might be a total brat, but I know there are reasons underneath, in her past, that have made her that way. We get to learn more about that in Fins Are Forever and I hope readers realize she’s more than what she seems.
 
Mrs. McGriff:  Thanks for writing books my students are excited to read!

Thank you all for the fun and thoughtful questions!