What I did read was Tesla’s Attic which will be released this coming February 11th. This is book one of the The Accelerati Trilogy by Neal Shusterman. You should remember Neil from a long series of books but the one that rung a bell for me was The Schwa was Here.
Shusterman is a man of many, many series and this starts a new trilogy for him. Tesla’s attic is an everyday science adventure book. Science comes from everyday items – toasters, hair driers, and lights.
Nick with his father and brother move to Colorado Springs after a house fire and the loss of his mother. They are struggling to re- establish themselves as a family, to set down roots in a new community and heal their emotions. Sound sad right? Think again.
In this mix of high emotions Nick finds a lot of old junk – most of it electrical in the attic of his Aunt’s house. He plans to sell it but finds this is not the best idea a bit to late.
This junk leads Nick towards learning (who is Tesla and how did he connect to Edison), friends (is/can Caitlin be a friend or girl friend and what is with Petula anyway?), adventure (can an old wet cell really re-animate the dead?) and healing (we can be a family of three – right?)
What a great mix of fun, mystery, emotions and a bit of science learning along the way. I am excited for book two and three. I want to see where Shusterman will take us.
This trilogy fits into middle grade readers ( 5th -8th grade) for me. Nick is fourteen, there is a bit of a love story started and science concepts can be hard to understand if you were in 3rd or 4th grade and reading this book. That said I think the 3rd and 4th graders I am currently teaching would love this book. The mystery and puzzles it presents would catch their attention. I would use it as a read aloud for this younger group so there is a chance to explore concepts and people like Tesla and Edison. This would be a great set up for future reading when books two and three come out and they are a bit older as well.
The Year of Billy Miller
I quickly read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. It is a cute book about Billy’s fears about second grade. You can find a more detailed review here.
The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata was awarded the National Book Award for 2013. I was surprised when it was announced. I know Weedflower and Kira Kira both books I have read but I had not checked out The Thing about Luck.
I side tracked from my large pile of books and downloaded The Thing about Luck to read as we traveled. It was stunning for me to read about the long expanse of wheat fields as I was driving through the mid west in route to family. My extended family are also farmers, although I was looking at the harvested fields of corn and soybeans. Summer and her family would not have traveled as far north as I. They remained in the Kansas, Oklahoma and Dakotas where you would see miles and miles of wheat fields instead of corn and beans.
This story shares struggles of a second generation Japanese family as they travel to harvest the fall wheat crop. Kadohata explores that fine line between joining the “American culture” and holding fast to the traditional ways of your family. In this book she also deals with friendship and the differences in personalities each child must learn to deal with when growing up.
Summer’s brother has difficulties making friends. He asks bold questions, bangs his head when frustrated and finds it hard to understand the social graces of the world around him. There is so much to explore and think about as you navigate Summer’s story.The reading is slow at the beginning as we learn so much about the harvest and the machines and ways of the fall migration from farm to farm.
This book again belongs with the middle readers (5th-8th grade). Summer is tying to understand her brother, relationships with boys and how she fits into her family – all the issues of middle school students.
The New York Times ran a review for both Kadohata’s book and Allan Says new book The Favorite Daughter which I have to agree with. Both books have value and offer much to the reader but are a bit light compared to past books and topics from these fine writers. The last line in this review says it all “as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might say, skim-milk versions of these very fine authors.
Here is the New York Times review:
Books to Read this next week:
I usually have a long list here but find I almost never read what I say I am going to read. I get a bit distracted by so many new titles. I think and will try this week I will to finish reading these books on my stake.
- Out of Easy
- The Summer of Letting Go
- Al Capone Does My Homework