Summer Reading – Week Seven – Makerspace Research

So, last week I read exactly one book. I did a lot of reading on makerspaces, and watched some video as well, but only finished the one book.

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It was Laura Fleming’s great, short text on makerspaces, and how to establish them in your building.  If anyone is thinking of starting a makerspace, this is a great one to read, and at 65 pages, it is a text you can get through easily.  This was a well – written, very practical guide, that helped me get excited about the potential of makerspaces.

I would love to hear from people about their experiences with establishing makerspaces in their own libraries, or museums, or other public spaces.

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Summer Reading – Week 6 – A very eclectic mix

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 I did finish All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr,  this week.  The writing was luminous and beautiful, and that the disparate story lines were wove together in an interesting manner.  I am not giving a great deal of background on this one, because the characters are defined by WWII, but also really transcend the time as well.  This is a highly rewarding novel, and fans of WWII novels should enjoy it, but the audience is much wider than that.  Also, anyone that enjoys novels with complex characters will greatly enjoy this.  I would not buy it for any library that caters to readers younger than high school, as there are some very difficult passages throughout, although the book does not dwell on those horrific experiences as much as the will to survive.   My only real complaint about the writing was that it felt like it ended several times.  

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     Rachet, by Nancy Cavanaugh, is about an 11 – year – old girl, whose real name is Rachel, but everyone calls her Rachet.  She has always been homeschooled by her father, and she wishes for so many things to change in her life.  She wants to fit in, she wants her environmentalist mechanic dad to be more “normal”, and more than anything, she wants to make a friend.  This is a coming – of – age story that is more about acceptance as a form of change, than an extreme makeover type of change.  It was a refreshing story that allowed Rachel to come into her own.

IMG_1633    The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson, is a fantasy novel set in an alternative reality.  In that version of the world, there are several significant differences, with the most significant being that there are wild creatures, made of chalk, that are trying to come into the American Isles – they are centered in the Nebraska Territory, and only Rithmatists can repel them, using their chalk drawings.  This was an interesting, action packed story, with a mystery to root the first in this clear series.  It is an interesting premise, with enough that is different from other stories to be engaging, but enough that is similar for students to grab onto.  Students that enjoy video games, or games or strategy should also enjoy this, as chapters begin with defensive chalk drawings.

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This was purely reading for myself.  I have enjoyed the whole series, and thought that Deborah Harkness tied it up well.  If you like Fantasy, especially dealing with witches, vampires, and daemons, with a great basis in history, you will enjoy this grown – up series.

Summer Reading – Week 5 – A little bit of everything

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Will in Scarlet is a piece of Historical Fiction, set during the time of Richard I the Lionheart.  It is also a reimagining of Robin Hood, which I gleaned from the cover art, but it did not unfold the way I thought it would, which was a pleasant surprise.  The titular character is really Will Shackley, forced into hiding after his families keep is stolen by a minion of Prince John.  While Richard is off fighting a crusade with Will’s father, Will is forced into Sherwood forest, and falls in with a band of bandits.  While the story is interesting, Will is underdeveloped as a character.  There is, fortunately, another narrator in play as well, and Much is truly interesting.  She is a girl disguised as a boy, and her struggles to stay hidden in plain sight nicely parallel Wills.

IMG_1559My husband gave me this book for my birthday – at the end of a fun scavenger hunt.  I tore through this one, and loved every second.  It features not one, but three unreliable narrators, although Rachel, the Girl on the Train, is at the core.  Rachel’s life is a mess, but the character is so well crafted, that you really pull for her.  It is clear she wants to do better, but is struggling with the aftermath of a tremendous betrayal.  That betrayal, and many others, come together for a riveting novel.  I highly recommend this one!

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If you had told me a book about baseball would make me cry, I would have been hard pressed to believe you.  That is, until I read One Shot at Forever, by Chris Ballard.  It is a nonfiction book, and it tells the story of the Macon Ironman baseball team, and their run all the way to the Illinois State Championship.  For anyone that likes a true underdog story, or an inspirational coach/teacher story, this is a great book for you.  Also, as someone who teaching in a rural district, this really captures some of the beats of small town life.  It is well – written, and engaging from the very start.  It also discusses the long range influence of being on a team, not in a sad glory seeking way, but in the creation of true friendships that can see a person through.  At its heart, it focuses on a way to treat people, best illustrated by the following quotation, “Treat people well, believe in them, entrust them with responsibility.  Lift them up.”

Upcoming: this week I also read the majority of All The Light We Cannot See, so that will be on next week’s post, one I finish that.

Summer Reading – Week 4 – A little redemption

For years now, my husband has been encouraging me to read Dune, by Frank Herbert.  This summer, I finally read it, and once I got into the novel, I really did enjoy it.

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     Dune is the first of a series of books, this one tells the story of Paul, and the rest of the house of Atreides, as well as the other ducal house they feud with, the Harkonnens.  It is set in the distant future, where space travel is possible due to the spice melange, but where a strict feudal system is in place, with houses controlling entire planets, and a rather insecure emperor ruling over all.  The desert planet of Arrakis, also known as Dune,  is where the action takes place, and the native people, the Fremen, were my favorite part of the book. If you have seen the David Lynch movie, there is a lot of the book that is different, and much better.  I think my husband was a bit surprised at how many times I paused the movie to point out inconsistencies and divergencies, but he was happy that I finally redeemed myself with Dune.

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   The second book I read during the week was Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25.  It is clearly the first in a planned series, and is highly action based.  I did feel that the characters could have been more developed, and that the ominous corporation needed to be developed more fully.  The basic premise is that there is a small group of teenagers with special electrical powers, and they are being rounded up for nefarious reasons.  The main character, Michael Vey, has Tourettes, and is small in size.  One day, he gets sick of getting bullied, and he uses his power.  He is seen, and soon there are major problems.  I felt that the premise was interesting, and some of the characters had good potential, but some of the coincidences were rather hard to believe.  There was the feel of an origin story here, but I wish it had been a bit clearer in some cases.

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  The second note of redemption in this summer reading week was that I read a graphic novel.  I fell behind in my goal of reading graphic novels this year, so now I am trying to get back on track.  This was both a Caldecott honor book this year, and a Printz honor book, and I found it both easy to read, with beautifully drawn panels, and complex in nature.  Every summer both Rose and Windy, and their families, retreat to the town of Awago Beach for summer vacation.  This year, everything seems complicated, as Rose and Windy are on the verge of growing up, and are both sheltered from, and exposed to, issues that they struggle to comprehend.  It captures loss and pain beautifully, as well as that time when you start to realize your parents are flawed, and they don’t have all of the answers.