Tag Archives: reading

Add the Book “Wonder” to your Tween’s TBR Pile!

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m Lisa Orchard the bestselling author of “The Super Spies” series and I’m here today to recommend an awesome book for your tween.

Back in March, I read the book “Wonder.” So did my son. There were many lessons in that story and my son and I got to talking about a few of them. It was nice to have that kind of dialogue with him, and I chalked it up to a bonding moment between us.

The story is about Auggie Pullman, he has a birth defect that makes his face abnormal in appearance. He’s been homeschooled his whole life, but now he’s being mainstreamed into a public school. It’s the story of how Auggie deals with his peers reactions to his disability. It’s heartbreaking at times and you really feel his pain.

It’s also triumphant, because Auggie never quits even though he wants to. He’s a strong “little dude” and his strength shines through.

This is an incredible story of perseverance, empathy, and friendship. Lessons we all want our tweens to learn. I highly recommend this book. The cover and blurb are below.

How about you? Do you have any great book recommendations for tweens?

 

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

 

20111210_ABS_1296[1]Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.

Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Two Awesome Middle Grade Books You must Read!

 

 

Hello everyone. I’m Lisa Orchard the author of the bestselling Super Spies series, and I’m here today to talk about a couple of books. One my son recommended to me, and one I discovered on my own. After reading both of them, I thought they’d be perfect for the Emblazon Blog. The title of the books are “Out of my Mind” and “The Thing about Jellyfish.”  The cover and blurb for “Out of my Mind” are below.

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you’ll never, ever forget.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this story. It was heart wrenchingly honest and triumphant. I loved Melody. She has cerebral palsy and is literally trapped in her own mind. She can hardly communicate until she gets a Medi-Talker, that’s when everyone finds out how smart Melody is.

It’s a story that illustrates how dangerous labels can be. I loved Melody’s fighting spirit and this book has made me more aware of the fact, that just because someone can’t communicate the way you and I do, doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent. If you’re looking for a book that’ll teach your middle-grader tolerance and acceptance of differences. This book is for you.

It’s also a book that teaches perseverance. Melody didn’t give up. Even when there were tremendous obstacles in front of her, she stuck to her guns. I wish all kids had her fighting spirit.

I also loved Melody’s support system. Her parents were wonderful, and Mrs. V. was a true guiding light in this story. Wouldn’t it be nice if all kids had that kind of support? I’m sure the world would be a better place because of it.

I highly recommend this story, especially for reluctant readers, because of the message in it. It might help them persevere as they struggle with their reading. It might help them realize everyone has struggles to contend with. One person’s might be cerebral palsy, another’s might be reading, and another’s might be math.

 

The second book I’d like to recommend is “The thing about Jellyfish.” The cover and blurb are below, and it’s an amazing story about how a young girl deals with the loss of her best friend. I absolutely loved Suzy in this story. I loved her strength and her absolute conviction that a Jellyfish stung her best friend. She was not going to accept that things just happen.

Review of “The Thing about Jellyfish”

 

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

My Thoughts:

This was an amazing read. I absolutely loved it. It tells the tale of a young girl trying to make sense of the loss of her friend who drowned. Franny, her friend, was a strong swimmer and Suzanne, the main character, believes Franny must have been stung by a jellyfish. That’s the only thing that makes sense to her. So, she decides to prove her theory. The author tells a tale of a young girl coping with the loss of her friend by trying to find a rational reason.

One thing I loved about this story is the science the author weaved into the tale. Her knowledge of the jellyfish species is vast, and she shares it with the reader in a way that keeps your interest. She also does this without losing sight of Suzanne’s story. I’d highly recommend this to teachers and librarians. There’s a lot of knowledge in this story the reader will pick up, and it may even spark an interest in science. Isn’t that what all good books do, spark interest in a subject?

Another reason I love this story is because it introduces the reader to the loss of a friend, and explains that sometimes there is no rational reason for a tragedy.  Things do “just happen.” This story is a great way to show your child sometimes we can’t find all the answers and we have to accept it.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my book recommendations. I love reading and writing for kids, so I’m always looking for a great story. If you have any recommendations you’d like to share, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

20111210_ABS_1296[1]Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.

Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

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The Super Spies Series:
The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer 500x750TheSuperSpiesandtheHighSchoolBomber 500x750TheSuperSpiesandthePiedPiper 500x750

 

 

 

How I Fell in Love with Reading. Twice.

When I was young, my mother had to literally force me to learn how to read. I remember she would make me sit for what felt like hours (but was probably only 10 minutes) and practice reading. I hated it. But my mom knew that it was an important skill and so did not give up on me.

Even once I finally started getting the hand of the whole reading thing–I was still really slow. But I did enjoy stories. Then a single book changed everything.

The Boxcar Children, Book 1
The book that changed it all for me.

My mom got The Boxcar Children from the library. We started with book 1 and that was it. I was hooked. My new favorite place was the library and I read everything I could get my hands on. In the course of one summer I went from being two grades behind in reading to being three ahead.

And it was all because of this one book that sparked my love for reading–for the first time.

I recently fell in love with reading again, and not only did it spark my imagination it set me on the right path for my on stories.

See, back then when I was devouring everything I could get my hands on–I quickly found and became fascinated with the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. But I could not find many for my age group. So I started reading young adult and adult books. That may have helped with my reading comprehension going up so quickly.

Fast forward to my adult life. I had written my very first novel. An adultish/young adultish type story that was a high fantasy and had been my main writing project for over 10 years. I wanted to submit it to a specific publisher. So I went to what is still my favorite place: the library.

I checked out several books published by this company and set about reading them. They were all middle grade science fiction and fantasy stories. And an amazing thing happened. That same spark, the excitement that I got sitting on my mom’s bed while she patiently helped me read The Boxcar Children out loud, came again.

I got to fall in love with reading once again and it revitalized me.

Since then I have been on many reading binges. I really like middle grade but I still read books for young adults and adults. I enjoy it all pretty much. But something else amazing happened after I fell in love with reading again.

I found my niche in writing. Yep, I really liked writing middle grade level fiction. That path led me to releasing my very first novel. (Check out our catalog to see my book and other great books to read).

Now that I am mother, I plan to work as patiently and tirelessly as my mom did and hope that my children get to experience falling in love with reading.

~Krista Wayment

The Most Important Thing a Child Should be Doing

When a child reads a book they view it as a type of mirror world—as if by magic they become the main characters, living and breathing in that character’s mind. Gender holds no boundaries when it comes to this mirror world. Whether they are a boy or a girl, when they read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, they become Harry Potter. When they read The Lightning Thief, they are Percy Jackson. The mirror world is not only beneficial to children because they get to learn about new places, but they get to experience emotions and situations they otherwise might not get to experience. The mirror world is why reading is the most important thing a child should be doing.

81zdSFzJh+LRecently I read a fantastic middle-grade book entitled, Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. This book is about an eleven-year-old boy named August Pullman (Auggie) who was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis, a very rare facial deformity. The book is written in first person so you really get to see into the mind of Auggie and how much others struggle with his face. People cringe, shy away, even scream when they see him. As I stepped into the mirror world and saw things the way Auggie did, I began to feel things I have never felt before. I was suddenly more aware of how I spoke to others and how I treated them. I wanted everyone to feel important. So often children don’t see how their looks and words can hurt others. One of the best lines from the book is: “… sometimes you don’t have to be mean to hurt someone.” Empathy is learned in the mirror world.

The mirror world can not only help children learn to feel what others go through, it can help children overcome fears and challenges. Bullying is something that happens all the time and there’s not much parents and teachers can do to stop it. The best way to extinguish the problem is the victim empowering themselves. The mirror world can do that. I was ecstatic when two years ago I received an email from one of my readers who had been dealing with a bully issue at school. readingThey said after they read about Kaelyn’s experience in The Dream Keeper they felt they could stand up to their bully. Reading had empowered them and their problems with the bully went away. They learned to stand up for themselves through a book! I think that’s amazing.

As parents, as teachers, as librarians, as human beings, we should be encouraging all children to step into the mirror world and embrace the magic within. Share with them good books that made you “feel” something when you read (yes, that means YOU should be reading too). The more they experience the better they will be able to deal with the world around them and understand the people within it.

-Mikey Brooks

 

The Personal Nature of Language

I spent three and a half years in college because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

In those three and a half years, I learned many things about the world and about myself. The last thing I learned was I didn’t want to be in college anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn new things — always have. I had just grown tired of doing it in that particular environment. I had been working toward a degree in English Literature, largely because, at the end of my sophomore year, my counselor informed me I had to choose a major in order to continue. English Lit was the degree I was closest to fulfilling from the mishmash of classes I had taken to that point. Yes, that was truly the determining factor, because I simply couldn’t make up my mind. I was interested in everything. Why the University thought it necessary for me to choose one area of study didn’t make sense, yet I had to play by their rules, even though I (or more accurately, my mom) was paying for me to be there. I had courses in biology, physics, three semesters of calculus, psychology, history, religion, and philosophy under my belt. I also took creative writing, Medieval literature, Shakespeare, Victorian literature, as well as courses in linguistics, two semesters of French and one of Russian. I even spent three semesters in the drama department as extra-curricular — Charlie Brown with wispy red hair? Yes, it was a thing.

Suffice to say, language and how we communicate has forever fascinated me. I also had a year and a half of Spanish in high school and was tutored in Japanese for several weeks as part of a job I had subsequent to leaving college. The variety of the spoken and written word around the world is astonishing. Even within the United States, regional dialects can differ wildly — sometimes to the point of confusion and miscommunication. And don’t get me started on the British Isles, South Africa, India, and Australia, all of which purportedly speak a language dubbed “English”.

Dictionaries give us a basis of understanding, but even they morph and change as language evolves. New words are added each year and the definitions of old words are adjusted in some cases if their meaning or usage has changed over time. Words and definitions can vary between brands of dictionaries. But, why all the confusion? Why isn’t something like the way we communicate more structured and immutable?

Because language is personal.

ScarletDressYes, many aspects are fundamental. If I describe a woman walking down the street as wearing a red dress, we all will conjure a picture in our minds. That picture would be different for all of us, but we should all be able to agree on the basics: woman, walking, red dress. But what if I said the dress was scarlet in color? It’s still red, but the word “scarlet” will evoke different images — different emotions — within each person, based on our experiences. A young reader might be encountering the word for the first time and have to ask about its meaning or look it up. A fan of the movie Gone With the Wind might first conjure an image of the glamorous Miss O’Hara upon seeing the word. Someone who recently read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter may react negatively toward the word given its use and meaning in that story. Same word, different reactions. What if I used “crimson” instead? Again, more disparate meanings and feelings toward the word — and, by association, the woman wearing the dress — because of the individual experiences we each bring when we read or otherwise communicate.

As a senior in high school, I took AP English and one of our assignments was to read The Old Man and the Sea. I enjoyed the story and during one of our discussions about the symbolism and allegories within the work, my teacher mentioned an interview with Hemingway where he claimed he simply “wrote a story about a man and a fish.” In other instances, he, of course, talked about the deeper meanings within the story, but the quote got me to thinking. We all bring our own frames of reference, biases, and experiences when we read a work and can’t be certain how an author truly intended the reader to feel as they progress through a book. In fact, while doing some research for this post, I ran across an article where some scholars feel Hemingway had been so heavy-handed with the symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea, he might have been poking fun at the critical literary community. That shines an entirely new light onto the story.

Which brings me to the reason why I never finished that English degree.

As I took higher level literature classes, I noticed a pattern. Analysis of the assigned pieces drilled deeper and deeper, investigating why the author chose a particular phrase, or even a particular word, at a certain point in the work. I even remember a lecture on what happened during a dash — yes, a dash, just like these — within a story. At that point, I realized my professors had lost sight of the forest for the trees. Language is too personal to make absolute statements about intent and meaning. We can, more often than not, agree on basic premises when we communicate with one another, otherwise the world would be like the biblical Tower of Babel. But, for me, or anyone else, to say with certainty all an author meant by using a certain word at a particular point in a three hundred page novel just doesn’t make sense. It’s like asking Picasso why he placed a particular brush stroke where he did and why he chose that particular color. Maybe he had a specific reason, or maybe his brush slipped and he thought it looked good. Seeing deeper meanings in a piece depends as much on the viewer, or the reader, as on the artist.

Sometimes, the dress is just red.

TuckerPenny1010smAlan Tucker , author of The Mother-Earth Series (A Measure of Disorder, A Cure for Chaos, and Mother’s Heart), as well as a new science fiction series, beginning with Knot in Time, is a dad, a graphic designer, and a soccer coach. Mostly in that order. He’s had a lifelong adoration of books, beginning with Encyclopedia Brown, progressing through Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx, and continuing on with the likes of Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine and Naomi Novik, to name a few.

“I wanted to write books that I’d enjoy reading. Books that I hoped my kids would enjoy too!”

Visit his website for more information about his books. View maps, watch trailers, see reviews and much more!

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