In Libris Libertas

NPR Interviews R.J. Palacio

I wrote recently about how much I enjoyed R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. Other people are also taking notice. I woke up the other morning to hear a great interview with Palacio on National Public Radio. In case you missed it, just CLICK HERE to check it out.



Author Spotlight: R.J. Palacio

It’s a cool thing when a friend recommends a book saying, “I think this is my new favorite book of all time!” When your friend also happens to be a smart, voracious reader, you know you’re in for a treat.

The book recommended to me today, which I’m now passing on to you, is from a new author named R.J. Palacio. The book is called Wonder, and it sounds like it’s as powerful as it is well-written. Here’s the book trailer. If it sounds interesting, check out the class library next week. I’m sure my copy will be there by then!

Discover the Arts!

My favorite city (other than Buffalo, of course…) is New York City. One of the things I love about New York is that it has such a strong arts community. New York has some of the best music, art, theater and literary events in the country. I try to visit as often as possible, and, luckily for me, my in-laws live in Mount Vernon, which is a short train ride outside of the city.

Last Thursday, we drove to New York for the long weekend. On Friday, we took the train into Manhattan and visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). They had a special exhibit on the artist Diego Rivera. He was a Mexican painter who mostly did large murals. They were incredibly powerful and thought-provoking. Even my 8-year-old son was in awe of his work. His art was beautiful but also told stories – stories of his heritage, stories of government abuse, stories that could be told better in a picture than in words.

On Saturday, we drove to Brooklyn and saw a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. My son didn’t get to see this one. (Shakespeare isn’t interesting to most people, but especially not to those under the age of 10.) The play was written around 1590, but it still rang true in 2012. They used technology and music to make it even more powerful than it must have been in the 16th century. We were still talking about it hours after we’d left the theater.

So, what’s the point of all of this?

I guess my point is to share how important the arts are to me – music, art, books, theater – and to encourage you to experience the arts as often as you can. Buffalo isn’t New York of course, but there are still some amazing experiences to be had. For example, I just read that Theater of Youth is putting on a production of A Wrinkle in Time this month. You could read the book and then watch the play. If you like visual arts, Buffalo is blessed with the world-renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery.  They even have cool summer workshops for kids. Remember – you’re never too young to start developing a love of the arts!

Author Spotlight: Jeff Smith

Of all the series in our classroom library, the most popular just might be the Bone series written by Jeff Smith. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I haven’t read much of the series, though. You see, I’ve never been too successful with graphic novels – I think it’s because I never read them in middle or high school. Graphic novels are becoming more and more popular however, so I think it’s time to rethink my attitude. When I see how enthusiastic the readers in my room are about this series, I know that this is a good place to start my journey into the world of graphic novels…

Did you know that Jeff Smith first drew Fone Bone when he was only five years old? Or that he based some of his stories on classic adventure books like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Here’s a cool interview that gave me a nice introduction into the series:

Here’s another quick video that highlights his latest book Quest for the Spark:

What’s your favorite Bone book? Answer in the comments or, even better, let me know in person!

Poll: Paper or Plastic?

I love my Nook Color e-reader. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still love books. Over the years, I’ve become as much a collector of books as a reader of them. I could take you on a tour of my bookshelves and tell you where, when, and with whom I bought most of the titles. Each book has become a memory stored on a shelf, ready to be revisited.

But, lately, I find myself reading more digital books than paper ones. The Nook is an impressive piece of technology. I can have magazines delivered wirelessly to my Nook. I can carry a bookshelf of books under my arm when I go to my son’s hockey practices. I can look up definitions of words just by touching them on the screen. I never thought I’d make the jump to e-readers, but I’m glad I did!

I’ve noticed more and more students using e-readers in class lately, which leads me to this week’s poll:

Poll: Favorite Series

I just started reading The Maze Runner two days ago. I’ve already gotten to the point where I can’t put it down. I’m sure I’ll be on to the next book by this weekend. This leads me to the question: What’s your favorite young adult series right now?

Author Spotlight – Ally Condie

Dystopia (n.): an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one. The opposite of Utopia

Dystopian literature has been a major trend in young adult literature lately. Books like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner have grabbed the imaginations of many young readers and left them wanting more. A new author named Ally Condie has added two exciting new books to this genre: Matched and Crossed.

The first book in this soon-to-be-trilogy is Matched. I actually found out about this book from some students who were reading it in a December book club. When I began reading, I didn’t find the story too engaging. I kept thinking that it was too much like some other books I’ve read – especially Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Quickly, however, the author finds her own style. She also adds a romantic conflict to the story that many other books in this genre don’t have. Here’s the publisher’s book trailer that will give you a good feel for the book:

I wasn’t initially planning on reading the sequel right away, but Matched definitely leaves you hanging. I read the follow-up Crossed in just a few days. It’s told in a different way than Matched and the action takes place in a different part of the Society, but it picks up right where the previous book left off. My only complaint about this book is that it seemed to be more of a bridge between Matched and the next book than a story that can stand on its own. Naturally, I’ll be alert for the release for the final book in the trilogy to see how Condie wraps everything up. Here’s the publisher’s book trailer for Crossed:


I’m excited to be typing out my first ever blog post! I hope you check back often and follow how this blog develops over time. I’ll mainly be posting about issues related to reading – favorite authors, trends in young adult literature, books I’m reading, new books that I’ve discovered, reviews, etc. I may also add the occasional post about writing, music, or the Sabres… although they may never win another game, so there may not be much to say. 🙂

I’ll try to have at least one quality blog every week. (The first one will be posted tomorrow!) I will also have plenty of shorter posts throughout the week.

Feel free to join in the discussion and leave comments – just be aware that I need to approve them before they are published to the site. Also, if you have ideas for blog topics please let me know!

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