I have been so busy reading these past few days that I have not wanted to stop--not even to blog. (What a wonderful problem to have, is it not?!) So today, I'm going to catch you up on all these things I've read. (Get it? "all these things I've read" is an allusion to my last blog about Gabrielle Zevin's new book All These Things I've Done. Clever, right?)
I loved loved loved reading Tom Angleberger's The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back. I loved them so much that I have already book talked them at our latest professional development workshop, made a sign to hang over the display at the book fair that says "Ms. Dorsey LOVES Origami Yoda!" and even bought a copy for a lucky 5th grader. These books are about just exactly what you think they are about: Origami Yoda, who dispenses wise advice to students at McQuarrie Middle School. He's the twist: Origami Yoda was made by Dwight, who carries Origami Yoda around on his finger; unlike Origami Yoda, who is clearly a Jedi, Dwight is...um...well...weird. So Tommy sets out to learn whether or not Origami Yoda is real. I need to stop right there, though, because I have a bad habit when I love a book: I want to tell you the whole story. And I don't want you to do that here. I want you to go buy these books right now and get reading! Oh, sure, you could find a copy at your local library. That's fine too. But as Origami Yoda might say, "Read it you must. Sorry you will not be."
Then, since I was on a middle grade reading kick, I also read Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace. And I also liked it a lot, but sadly, it is probably not an 8th grade book. You see, Frankie Pickle appears to have a nasty case of test anxiety; lucky for Frankie, he also has a great teacher who sees this for what it is and tells him on Friday that he can retake his math test the following Monday. Frankie spends the weekend thinking about the math test, but not actually studying for it...or does he? Part traditional narrative, part graphic novel, this is a series that is sure to delight (I'd guess) 8-11 year olds. Once I finished, I immediately had a student deliver my copy to my favorite 6th grade team. I think they'll love it there.
Finally, I was super lucky (again) to read an advance copy of Cynthia Leitich Smith's latest installment in her series that began with (one of my favorites, BTW) Tantalize. Diabolical follows all the characters we have grown to love: Quincie, Kieran, Zachary, and Miranda; it will be released in February 2012. One of things publishers ask us to do when we are lucky enough to read advance copies of a book is to keep it under our hats (metaphorically speaking) until closer to the release date: 30 days before release, to be exact. So I'm not really supposed to tell you that three of the four beloved characters are reunited in one location that is full of danger and adventure, while the fourth can watch but has little power to interfere. And I probably shouldn't tell you that this is the most exciting book in the series to date. So here is what I can tell you: I started reading it at about 3:00 yesterday afternoon and I was done by 10:00 last night. I was upset when our dinner plans interfered with my reading. It was that good. Here is something else I can tell you: I've already pre-ordered multiple copies so that I can get it into students' hands the day it is released, because I know they are going to love it. And here is a third thing I can tell you: if you haven't read the first three books in this series, what are you waiting for?! You're going to want to be ready for this one. It is GREAT.
Whew! Time for me to keep reading. Don't you want to do the same? Or perhaps I should say, "Keep reading I must. Try it you should. Like it you will."