I know it's been a while. The last month has been a bit bonkers with the end of the school year looming, and a bunch of projects in the air. One of the most exciting projects was moderating a panel during School Library Journal's Day of Dialog at the beginning of BEA!
Consequently, I was reading up a storm. I'm happy to share a bit about the books that were represented on the panel!
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
I talked about this fantastic and hole filling title on this blog when it first came out. I can tell you, if you ever get an opportunity to have Tim on a panel make it happen! Stage presence times 1000 -- lovely, generous and kind, Tim speaks eloquently about his own books as well as the world of publishing. He has also been a visiting author at our school and our kids still talk about him and his presentations!
Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia
I am going to dedicate a whole blog post to this one soon (if you can't wait follow the title link to the Book Smugglers review), but suffice it to say the Gaither sisters remain characters who I will always carry in my heart. Rita makes each word in her books count, and these are titles I am going to listen to with my daughters this summer. A fantastic panelist, Rita is willing to get real and share stories. She speaks powerfully on her writing process and is willing the share the lessons she's learned about writing over the years.
Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff
This will get a Tweendom review soon as well. Feel free to follow the title link to the NYTimes review. Lisa revisits the world of Umbrella Summer, this time focusing in on Trent -- the boy who shot the puck. I quickly got sucked into Trent's world of broken family and friendships and was pulling for him as he tried to figure his way through his guilt and pain. Lisa writes across ages and genres and brings keen insight to the conversation. Lisa clearly remembers her middle school years and is willing to get personal! Such fun!
Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead
Again, one I will talk about more closer to the pub date. I have linked to Monica Edinger's review in the title. I have seen Rebecca speak several times now (including being the lucky duck to be there for the presentation of the Newbery Award) and each time she comes fresh to the table. It's obvious she considers the questions, and her heart is in it for her readers. She speaks about middle school readers having the freedom of choice, and the many little deaths they experience as they grow up. Goodbye Stranger does read a bit older than When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy and I can't wait to put it in the hands of my students and hear what they think!
The Looney Experiment, by Luke Reynolds
And last but not least we have The Looney Experiment, by Luke Reynolds. While relatively new to the world of middle school literature, Luke has been writing extensively on the world of education for some time. His job as a 7th grade teacher obviously gave him the stage presence necessary to hang with the rest of the panelists! His passion for literature and for kids is palpable and he reminds us that kids want us to notice them and see what is below the surface. His character of Atticus demonstrates this idea as there is so much going on in his mind that his classmates, and most of the adults in his life just don't see!
It was such an honor getting to moderate this panel, and I just wish we had more time. I want to thank all of the authors for being so generous with their time, and also thank School Library Journal for allowing me to have this opportunity. This was definitely a career highlight for me! This was the first time I had ever moderated, and I hope it won't be the last!