2015 Book Challenge

33 out of 50 Challenges Complete!!

A book with nonhuman characters:
A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
I really enjoyed the illustrations and the voice given to the different characters through dialect.  
A book by an author you've never read before:
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
This was an amazing story full of fun puzzles to solve.  The clues were given at exactly the right pace to keep me turning the pages.  I didn't want to put it down!

A book that made you cry:
The One and Only Ivan by K.A. Applegate
I actuallly listened to this as an audiobook in the car.  I was amazed at how simple, yet powerful the text was.  The book made me cry twice.  Once at a very sad event in the story (no spoilers!) and then again at the ending, which were tears of relief and joy.  Here's a link to the book trailer

A funny book:
Knucklehead by Jon Sceizska
Although I only grew up with one brother,  having a bunch of cousins, I could totally relate to a lot of the stories in this memoir!  Jon Sceizska's wacky tales of the things he and his brothers got away with as kids had me laughing until the tears rolled down my cheeks.  
A book by a female author:
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
I didn't choose this book because it had a female author.  I chose it because it won the Massachusetts Children's Book Award this year.  That means that out of the 20ish books nominated, kids in MA voted that this one was the best, and they weren't wrong!  However, this was the category it fit into the best. 
Although the characters are fictional, the story is set in Little Rock the year after the Little Rock Nine started attending Central High School.  It is about a strong, quiet girl who decides to do everything she can to make a difference.  It was fantastic!
A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet:
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is one of my very favorite authors, having written Coraline and Stardust, to name just a few.  This book was an explosion of imagination, as a father explains to his two daughters what took him so long when he went to pick up milk for their breakfast.  Although he was gone a long time, fortunately, the milk seemed to always save the day! The illustrations by Skottie Young made it a total page-turner!

A book based on a true story:
Riding Freedom by Pam Muñoz Ryan
I didn't realize this was based on a true story until I read the author's note at the end!  What a brave, amazing girl Charlotte was! A great read for horse-lovers as well.
A book with a one word title:
Rules by Cynthia Lord
So, so good.  I can't do it justice in a blurb right now, but this book really has an important point of view to show the world and does it beautifully.'

A book from your childhood:
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
What a great adventure story! I never would have guessed that I would get so attached to characters who were mice and rats.  This is definitely one of those stories that left me wishing for a sequel!
A Graphic Novel:
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
This book made me want to go buy a pair of skates and come up with a crazy Roller Derby name.  Astrid, the main character, makes mistakes and struggles, just like any real kid, but that makes it even easier to cheer her on as she tries to learn something new.  The colorful illustrations in this graphic novel make the roller derby scenes really spring to life.  I didn't want this one to end.

A book you own, but have never read:
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
This book has been on my shelf for a few years, ever since it won a Newbery Award.  I've picked it up a couple times, but just never felt like it was the kind of book I wanted to read at that moment.  Now I'm really glad I finally read it!  It was a story set in two different times.  Even though they were only 18 years apart, the changes in the town and characters made it seem like it could have been a hundred years apart, until everything started connecting!  Definitely recommend this one!

A book that scares you:  June 4
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Once I got past the first couple chapters, this book was more creepy that totally scary, but it still counts.  Probably not one I'd recommend to kids in grades 4-6 because of strong language, but to me it seemed like a cross between The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and The Thief of Always by Clive Barker.  The photos made it extra creepy!
A Trilogy:
Divergent by Veronica Roth
I just finished book one of this trilogy.  I am actually "reading these with my ears" and listening to the audiobook versions in the car.  I wasn't sure I was going to like this book, but I felt like I should read it since it was so popular with the students at the South.  It really surprised me!  I thought the characters were fun and interesting and it wasn't as graphic as Hunger Games.  I am excited to listen to the next one (in July, when I can get another download from audible.com).

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (August 3)
I'm still really liking this series!  I listened to this one from Audible.com and, once again, it was really hard to stop once I got going.  Luckily, I got stuck in the car with a sleeping toddler for a few hours and got to finish it!  I immediately downloaded the third book (Allegiant) and started listening to that one.  
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (August 24)
That's all I can say about this one.  I don't trust myself to write more now.  

A Book that takes place in your hometown: June 12
Blue Moon by Luanne Rice
Unlike most of the books on my list, this is a book that is NOT written or kids. However, it was a great story and I loved that it was set in a fictional fishing town in Rhode Island, that very closely resembled where I grew up.  There aren't any books published about the exact small town that I grew up in, so I am going to count this one as close enough.  

A Book you can finish in a day:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
I never would have guessed that I would finish this book in a day, but the beautiful language and wonderful story telling made it impossible to put down!  (It also helped that I woke up very early in the morning and Alex actually slept in for once! ) This book is entirely written in free verse poetry that has such amazing voice, I just wanted to read the whole book out loud.  No wonder it has won so many awards this year.  It deserves every single one!
A Book with magic: July 4
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
I want to live in Midnight Gulch and be best friends with Felicity Juniper Pickle and The Beedle!  I want to collect words and do good deeds and find snickers of magic left in unexpected places.  This book made me smile on every single page.  I took a long time reading it because I enjoyed it so much, I just didn't want it to end.   I hope this author writes more because this was a lovely and creative story.

A Book set in (junior) high school: July 14
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
I admit it, I'm cheating a little bit with this category.  This book is about a seventh grade basketball phenom, but I had to read this amazing book, and I really want it to count towards my 50.  The Crossover is narrated by 12 year old, Josh "Filthy McNasty" Bell, who is an amazing basketball player, mostly thanks to his pro basketball player father.  The whole book is written in hip-hop style poetry and the voice that comes through is so powerful.  I can't wait to introduce this book to as many people as possible.  It definitely deserves the Newbery Award it won this year!
A Memoir: July 15
El Deafo by Cece Bell
This is the second graphic novel I've read recently, and I am so glad that this genre is making such a strong come back for middle grade literature.  In El Deafo, Cece Bell recounts her experiences as a kid who is hearing impaired.  She discovers that her hearing aids give her secret super powers and uses that knowledge to help her overcome her feelings of loneliness.  A fabulous story that I couldn't put down! I started it this morning before my son woke up, and finished it this evening as soon as he went to bed! (Also, cool fact, Cece Bell is married to Tom Angleberger, who wrote Origami Yoda!)

A Book by an author with your same initials first name: July 18
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
**I know, I shouldn't change the challenge, but the only author I could find with my initials (S.M.) was the author of the Twilight Series, Stephanie Myers.  I have already read the first book, Twilight, and I didn't love it, so I really wasn't interested in reading more of that series.**  
Instead, I found a wonderful book by an author with my first name.  Three Times Lucky is the story of Mo LoBeau, a sixth grade detective who is trying to solve mysteries in her town and her own family.  I loved the realistic way Mo and her best friend, Dale, talk to each other and interact with the rest of the quirky characters who live in their small town.  Great book!

A Book published this year: July 21
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
This was a great book about a young girl in Maine blueberry country.  Lily befriends a migrant worker, Salma, and they work together to try to save Lily's dog's eyesight.  This book really reminded me of what it's like trying to navigate friendships at that age.

A Book with antonyms in the title: August 2
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
This was a very creepy book about a woman who kidnaps children to try to "fix" their flaws in a town where all the adults seem to just let it happen.  If you like strange and frightening stories, this one might be just right for you!  I thought it was okay, but I have read others that were similar, but that I liked more (like Coraline).

A Book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: August 12
The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
This books mostly takes place in Long Island, NY, which is where my grandmother grew up.  My great grandpa was a fisherman and I've always wanted to see where they lived because my dad always tells such great stories about going there when he was a kid.  

However, that really has nothing to do with this amazing story.  The Truth About Twinkie Pie is one of my favorites from this summer.  I can't wait to recommend it to kids once we get back to school. It's the story of a very smart 12 year old girl who moves from a trailer park in South Carolina to a super fancy town on Long Island when her big sister (who is the only family she has left) wins a million dollars from a baking contest.  The reason they choose this town is that it has the best private school in the country.  The book describes GiGi's journey to try to find out who she really is, and boy is the answer surprising! Sprinkled throughout the book are recipes written by Gigi's mama, and you can really learn a lot about a person by the way they cook.  Loved this book!!

A Book recommended by a friend: August 13
Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
I don't know what to say other than this book is amazing and everyone should read it.  It's Ally's story, a sixth grader who really struggles in school.  It gives such great insight into what it is like to face challenges, find friends, and learn what makes you important.  I LOVED this book.

A Book with a number in the title: August 17
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
This book was a fun surprise.  I didn't expect it to have the science fiction aspect, which I really liked.   It had great, believable characters and a fun, quick moving plot.  

A Book with a color in the title: August 20
Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff
I might be stretching the "color" thing a little bit, but "ginger" in the title is referring to the main character's bright red hair, so I am going to say it counts.  This is the story of Jayna, a young girl whose brother, her only remaining family, goes to fight in WWII, leaving her with a family friend.  When her brother goes missing, she sets out to find a distant family member in Brooklyn, with the help of a friendly spirit.  I really enjoyed it!

A thriller or mystery: August 23
Seer of Shadows by Avi
Well, this book was certainly creepy!  In true Avi fashion, it's a historical fiction ghost story!  Horace, a young photography apprentice, discovers a strange talent and a tragic story when he and his boss are asked to photograph a grieving mother.  The story that ensues is strange, scary, and a page turner!
A Book that was made into a movie: August 26
Matilda by Roald Dahl
While I certainly knew the story well, I'd never actually read it the whole way through.  What a great story!  The Trunchbull is one of the greatest villains ever written for children, in my opinion.  I am quite certain that she helped inspire Harry Potter's Umbridge character too!  Matilda's brilliance and magical powers combine to make her absolutely lovable.  
A nonfiction book: August 28
How to Write Your Life Story by Ralph Fletcher
This is a fun book full of advice for young writers about how to turn their lives into memoirs and autobiographies.  It is full of great examples from famous authors and regular kids.  It also has interviews with important kids' authors who have written in this style.  It was definitely inspiring and made me think about the events of my own life more like a writer. 
A book that takes place in another country: August 30
When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
This book was fascinating!  I've read many books about World War 2, but all of them have been about the European side of the war: Hitler, the Holocaust, etc..  This book is about the Japanese side of the war.  Specifically, it is the story of a family in Korea, when it was ruled by Japan. This is a part of history that I have to admit, I knew very little about.  It was really interesting to learn about what those families had to go through and how their whole culture, even their names, were taken away from them by Japan.  I definitely want to find out more about this time in history!
A book of short stories: September 7
GuysRead: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka
I think that Jon Scieszka does an amazing job with the GuysRead series.  All of these are anthologies of short stories, organize around a central genre.  This one was all science fiction stories.  Within that genre, though, there was quite a variety of stories.  One was a ridiculously funny story about robot shoes that take over the world!  Another was a short story about Percy Jackson.  Some were very silly and others were kind of creepy.  While not every story in this book was my cup of tea, overall I enjoyed the book.

A Book based on or turned into a TV show:
Never where by Neil Gaiman
Just a heads up, this book isn't written for kids.  I love when I read enough of a certain author's books that I start to feel like I am getting to know them.  This book was a great adventure that takes place in London Below - a secret world under London inhabited by all the people and creatures who have "fallen through the cracks" over time.  So much fun imagination went into this book, it was a really fun read.

A Book that was published the year you were born:
A Place Called Ugly by Avi
This book was very unlike any of the other books I've read by Avi.  It wasn't historical fiction, and it didn't have any super-natural elements.  It was the story of a boy who was very attached to his family's beach house and was determined to stop it from being demolished.  Coming from a beach state, I thought the interactions between the main character and the people who lived on the island year round were very interesting.  I also found the ending of this book very unexpected, although thinking back there was a lot of forshadowing!

A Book set in the future:
Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix
This is the first book in quite a long series.  The premise is that the population of the country has gotten out of control, so there's a law put in place that limits families to only 2 children.  Luke, the main character, is an illegal third child who has been living in hiding for his whole life.  This was an exciting story and I could feel Luke's tension every time he was worried about being caught.  I am looking forward to continuing the series!

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