Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 17: Lots of Reading But Not So Much Blogging

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have two book reviews (both middle grade) and two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter. I've been ill since New Year's, and have not been able to blog very much. I have been able to read about a book a day since the start of the new year, so there is an upside to all of this time in bed, but my blogging has definitely suffered. 

Reading Update: For those who are interested in such things, in 2017 I read 65 middle grade, 23 young adult, and 72 adult titles, for a total of 160 books read (just above my very informal goal of 150, though not as balanced by age range as I would have liked). You can see the full list here. In the last four weeks I finished three middle grade, two young adult, and thirteen adult titles. I read/listened to: 

I'm currently listening to The Wanted by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike). I'm reading Fall from Grace by Tim Weaver, a random library pick that I'm enjoying, but that is making me wish I had started the series at the beginning. There's a lot of backstory that I'm now familiar with, so it would be tough to go back and read the earlier books. Ah well. Lesson learned. 

HarryPotterPhoenixMy daughter and I have started reading Harry Potter Five (The Order of the Phoenix). I really wanted to wait until the summer to start it, but she got a lot of Harry Potter stuff for Christmas, and she just couldn't wait. So far she's not finding it too dark, but we're at a pretty early point. She was giddy with delight over Petunia Dursley receiving a howler.  

For her own reading, she was very sad to come to the end of the Dork Diaries books and has been re-reading the books and reading the spinoff Max Crumbley series. Sadly, there are only two of those. She finally read and enjoyed the first Jedi Academy book, which I had purchased for her months ago. She had refused to read it because it wasn't a graphic novel, but once she did read it she immediately hit me up for the other books in the series. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. I do hope to get my blog back up to speed eventually, but it will probably take a while. As illnesses go, this one is really lingering. Luckily I have books!

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

The Van Gogh Deception: Deron Hicks

Book: The Van Gogh Deception
Author: Deron Hicks
Pages: 320
Age Range: 10-12

VanGoghDeceptionThe Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks is a suspenseful, smart, fast-paced mystery for middle grade readers. The story begins when a boy with amnesia is discovered one December day in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. When the boy, dubbed Art, is sent to temporary foster care, he meets Camille, a strong-willed young red-head. It turns out, however, that dangerous people are looking for Art. Soon he and Camille find themselves on the run, trying to solve the mystery of Art's past and determine whether or not a recently discovered Van Gogh is real or fake. 

Classic art, and the way it might be forged, is discussed throughout the story. There are QR codes included in the book, wherever a famous piece of art is mentioned. Readers can scan the codes to bring up a picture of each artwork. I didn't personally need that distraction after looking at one or two, but I'm sure this will be fun for many young readers. 

What makes The Van Gogh Deception fun for me is the quick-wittedness of Art and Camille, and the fast pace of their adventures. Art, though he can't remember anything about himself, knows a lot about art, and he has instincts that cause his pursuers to liken him to Jason Bourne. Camille, while lacking Art's educational background, is a firebrand and a loyal friend, a more than worthy sidekick for Art. The characters of the Camille's mother and a concerned police detective are also strong, though Hicks never lets them take over the story, or do any real rescuing. Even the bad guy is intriguing, definitely not a one-note criminal stereotype. 

I read this book so quickly that I didn't stop to flag any quotable passages. But it's unquestionably cerebral as well as action-packed, perfect for mystery fans of all ages (10 and up). 

The Van Gogh Deception belongs in libraries serving upper middle grade and middle school readers everywhere. It has a great cover, and an irresistible premise (amnesia is always compelling, as is art theft/forgery). Highly recommended, and one I will be passing on to my daughter when she is just a bit older. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: January 5: The #Cybils Shortlists, #SchoolLibraries, and Love o

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter over the past two weeks @JensBookPage. While there hasn't been a lot going on in the kidlit blogosphere over the holidays, the big news is that the Cybils shortlists were announced on New Year's Day. Other topics included: #FlexibleSeating, #GrowthMindset, book fairs, bookstores, growing bookworms, independent learners, inspiration, libraries, raising readers, recess, schools, and writing.

Top Tweet of the Week

How to Stop Killing the Love of #Reading | @cultofpedagogy talks w/ @pernilleripp | #GrowingBookworms #schools

Cybils Awards

Cybils-Logo-2017-Round-SmThe 2017 #Cybils Finalists are live! High-quality, kid-friendly titles in 12 #kidlit categories #poetry #graphicnovels #nonfiction #poetry + more

The 2017 #Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Finalists, with blurbs, from category chair @MsYingling #kidlit

The #Cybils shortlists are here! Category organizer @charlotteslib has the elementary / middle grade speculative fiction shortlist #kidlit

We are grateful to @locusmag for sharing the relevant 2017 #Cybils Awards Finalists with their readers #ScienceFiction #Fantasy

SpirithuntersCybils Finalists Are Live! | @book_nut shares her panel's #kidlit speculative fiction choices

Announcement! Announcement! Announcement! from @JoneMac53 | 2017 #CYBILS #Poetry Finalists!

#Cybils Reading Round-Up, Part 2 from co-blog editor and round 1 panelist @book_nut

Today's featured #Cybils REVIEW is #poetry nominee The Playbook, reviewed by @AndersonGL

Today's featured #Cybils REVIEW is Jr. High #Nonfiction nominee Beastly Brains | review by @RebeccaGAguilar @HMHKids @NCastaldoAuthor

BeyondBrightSeaToday's featured #Cybils REVIEW is middle grade fiction nominee Beyond the Bright Sea, review by Tara Smith

On the #Cybils blog: 2017 Finalist Reactions! | So great to see this enthusiasm from #kidlit + #YA authors, illustrators + publishers 

Events + Programs

The 6th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2018-2019 is @JackieWoodson | News release at via @medinger @cbcbook @EveryChildRead @librarycongress

Growth Mindset

RT: @MindshiftKQED:What's the most effective way to praise girls? Compliment them for taking on difficulty, trying different strategies and sticking to it over time. Not for how smart they are.


20 Inspirational Quotes to Start off 2018 from @gcouros | "Stay positive and happy" + lots more

Schools and Libraries

I love this! A School Library’s Free Bookstore Turbocharges #Reading | @ritaplatt @sljournal | librarian's former office = bookstore w/ used + donated books [Though if they could find a way to do this without "book bucks" based on AR points, I would love it more.]

#Teaching #Introverted Students: How a 'Quiet Revolution' Is Changing Classroom Practice - @susancain @educationweek  via @drdouggreen

BookLoveHow My High School #Library Doubled Its Circulation | @StiggeMe @sljournal | teacher + librarian enthusiasm, #ReadingChoice + more

Move Over, @Scholastic: @FollettNews Launches Book Fairs | @llauren @sljournal | Parents want fewer non-book items

Guiding #Students to Be #IndependentLearners @BrainSMARTU @edutopia #schools #teaching

3 Ways to Make the #Writing Process More Authentic by @katiemartinedu #teaching #students

This Is Why Schools Need To Stop Taking Away Recess As A Form Of Punishment, thoughts + links from @melissarunsaway @ScaryMommy

Thoughts from @pernilleripp On #FlexibleSeating as part of encouraging flexible thinking in the #classroom

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.