Thursday, August 5, 2010

This summer, I've been catching up on some reading of young adult fiction. I just finished reading Catherine, Called Birdy about a girl growing up in medieval England. It was good and was also fun to read aloud. I read it to my husband in the car while we were driving home from Maine as a way to keep us both awake and entertained. I also just finished reading Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn. It was set in Maine, and since I was on a vacation to a  lake there, I thought I'd take it along. Turns out, the characters in the book actually went to a beach at Pemiquid Point - the same beach near where we were staying!

While in Maine, I also read a young adult science fiction book titled Code Orange by Caroline Cooney. It was set in New York City, and since I'm spending a week in NYC this August, I thought it would be a quick read that would also get me a little familiar with some of the city. It's a great book about a boy who ends up in the midst of a terrorist plot after finding old scabs in a medical book when he's researching for an infectious disease project in his advanced biology class. It kept me reading late into the night while we were on our vacation. 

While at Bethany Beach earlier in the summer, I read Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. I've already passed it along to another teacher friend to read. It tells the gripping story of a young African girl who was captured and sold into slavery. It wasn't the type of book someone would usually read at the beach, but I couldn't put it down and had to finish it. Once I finished it, I found another book in a bookstore there to read. It was titled The Help and told a story about growing up in Mississippi in the 1960's. It's not a "young adult" book, but a good friend of mine had recommended it to me. It reminded me of places and people that I knew, but my family didn't ever have "help" like the main character in the book did when I was growing up.

One of the most interesting books I read this summer was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Wow! What an amazing nonfiction story. The author (a science journalist) told the story about how a sample of a woman's cancer cells that had been taken routinely from her without her knowledge ended up growing  in laboratories. Her cells eventually played a key role in many breakthroughs in medical science, but her family never really understood what had happened. It reminded me of another great nonfiction book I'd read this past spring - Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracey Kidder. This book tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, an amazing doctor who founded an organization called "Partners in Health" to bring medical services to the people of Haiti. In both these books, the writers ended up putting themselves into the narratives as characters. That's interesting to me because that's not usually what nonfiction writers do.

Right now, I am reading a book (Shanghai Girls) that I picked up at the book fair we had at Walkersville Middle. It's not the type of book I thought it would be at all, but I am learning a lot about the Chinese immigrant experience at the beginning of the 20th century. It wasn't easy or pretty; in fact, it contains some extremely brutal scenes. I'm going to have to finish it, though, because the writer has really drawn me into the story and made me care about the characters. I've got to find out what happens to Pearl and May.

I also read an adult sci-fi novel, and of course, read Time Magazine almost weekly. I'll post some more about summer reads and summer reading soon.

I hope that all my incoming seventh grade students read at least one book from the WMS Summer Slide reading list. You can use this blog site to tell me what you read and what you thought about the books. What would you recommend I read next?


  1. Hi Mrs. Mowen. It's Lions0835. Relycs is my LiveJournal username. This is not on the topic of this post, but I have an Idea for your blog. You should put the vocab for the week on here. It would help students in the same predicament I'm in. Bye!

  2. Thanks for the comment and the suggestion. I may post the lists on my regular webpage for students. Be sure to let me know who you are at school so I can give you a Pawller for participating! Just put your "Lions0835" on a card or note in the basket for me :-)