Imposters: Scott Westerfeld

Book: Imposters
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Pages: 416
Age Range: 12 and up

ImpostersImposters is a new book set in the world of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras series (links go to my reviews), a generation or so after Tally Youngblood and her friends changed the world. Frey and Rafi are the motherless twin daughters of a powerful, ruthless ruler. Frey, the younger by 20-some minutes, is kept hidden. Only a few trusted advisors know of her existence. Her role is to provide protection for her sister. She is trained to kill enemies, and poses as her sister in riskier public appearances. Rafi is the public face, focused on politics, society, and her appearance. Despite their different roles, the two sisters are close, viewing themselves as two sides of the same knife. 

Imposters is Frey's story, however. When the leader of a rival city asks for a "visit" from Rafi, as a guarantee of safety during a business arrangement, Frey is sent in Rafi's place. Separated from her sister for the first time, and living more publicly (though incognito) than she has before, Frey blossoms. She develops an alliance, and possibly more, with rival scion Col Parafox. Then violence ensues and Frey and Col find themselves in peril and on the run. 

Imposters is the first of a new four-book series, and ends on something of a cliffhanger. The tone of Imposters is similar to that of the Uglies series, though the world has changed significantly in the aftermath of Tally's overthrow of the Pretties regime. Westerfeld explores the fact that freedom isn't the same as utopia. Corrupt leaders can arise. Tensions can flare. Scarce resources can cause conflict.

There are references to the pre-Pretties civilization (Rusties = our world), and there are rebels who long for the return of Tally Youngblood. As in the Uglies books, there are advanced technologies for surgery and generation of food and clothing. There are also advanced technologies for spying, and avoiding being spied upon. There are echoes of the Hunger Games series as well as the Uglies series (calorie blockers, for instance, to allow people to eat to excess).

But the premise of being a hidden twin, who no one knows about, is fresh and compelling. Frey is a strong protagonist, physically and mentally, one who is easy to root for. I found Col a little bit of an enigma, but hope to see his personality fleshed out more in future installments, along with those of some of the supporting characters. 

Imposters is a fast-paced read. I tore through it in a day. I didn't mind the unresolved ending because I was expecting it, but I do look forward to the next book. It's not necessary to re-read the Uglies series first to follow Imposters. Westerfeld provides just enough background to refresh the reader's memory. But it certainly couldn't hurt, for those who like to prepare. It's an engaging world in which to spend time. I am certain that fans of the Uglies series will enjoy Imposters, as will anyone who likes reading about Machiavellian conflicts set in future worlds. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Source of Book: Advance 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: August 10: #ClassroomLibraries, #ComicBooks + #LoveOfWriting

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #anxiety, #AP, #BookLists, #ClassroomLibraries, #ComicBooks, #DiverseBooks, #Failure, #FlexibleSeating, #GraphicNovels, #HigherEd, #introversion, #Math, #parenting, #Schools, reading, storytelling, teaching, testing, and writing.

Top Tweet of the Week

A #ClassroomLibrary: If You Build It, They Will Read @nerdybookclub | "#Students who are able to utilize a well-stocked, diverse classroom library spend 60% more time #reading compared to those that don’t" - @jcbailey3 takes action!

Book Lists

WhatIsChasingDuck#FunnyBooks make kids want to read. Here's a #BookList from @momandkiddo to help: Beyond Elephant and Piggie: Funny #EarlyReaders #kidlit #UndiscoveredReaders

Wonderful Wordless #PictureBooks | new #BookList from @momandkiddo | My family especially loves #Rainstorm by #BarbaraLehman + #WheresWalrus by #StevenSavage

Four new + uncommon #GraphicNovels for beginners w/ mini-reviews from Elissa Gershowitz @HornBook #BookList

KeeperOfLostCities10 Bingeable Series That #MiddleGrade Readers Love | @Bookopolis @ReadBrightly #kidlit #fantasy #mystery #BookList

Events + Programs + Research

NYC Study Shows #Literacy Coaches Had No Effect on Low-Income 2nd-Graders. I bet spending the $ on awesome #ClassroomLibraries + focusing on #LoveOfReading would have worked better @lesliebrody @WSJ

Study finds the most effective #teachers are the ones who turn to their colleagues for advice (while weaker teachers don’t bother) @Inner_Drive @ResearchDigest #PLN #learning #TeacherEffectiveness

The 'Brain' in #GrowthMindset: Does Teaching Students Neuroscience Help? @SarahDSparks @educationweek #Neuroplasticity #resilience #StereotypeThreat

How #LearningScience Is Catching Up To Mr. Rogers | @anya1anya @MindShiftKQED | social + emotional #learning

Diversity + Gender

MaddisFridgeWhy inclusive #PictureBooks need to think about #SocialClass and #poverty, by @AnnaMMcQuinn @Booktrust via @MindShiftKQED #DiverseBooks

Sigh: Japan Medical School Accused of Rigging Exam Scores to Keep Out Women (b/c they might take time off for marriage or kids) @megumifujikawa @WSJ #GenderBias

#Gatekeepers Do Kids A Disservice When Defining Books as “Boy” or “Girl” | @literacious | "Do we really want kids to ... Automatically assume because there’s a character of a different gender, the book isn’t for them?"

Growing Bookworms

All You Need to #ReadAloud: "a good book, an engaged adult, and a receptive child" | excellent tips from @mrskatiefitz for #GrowingBookworms

Tips & Tricks for #Booktalking Great Books to Kids from @literacious | "It's not our right book" but "what the child needs at that particular moment in time" | #GrowingBookworms #kidlit

A Friendly Reminder (especially for #parent) from @lucasjmaxwell @BookRiot that #ComicBooks Still Count as #Reading #GraphicNovels #ReadingChoice

I mean, if I told my child (as @lucasjmaxwell witnessed a parent doing) that #GraphicNovels didn't count for #library checkout, she would never go to the library with me again. And THAT would be sad.

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Sabrina#GraphicNovels Get New Respect, showing up in the #ManBooker prize longlist + elsewhere by Ellen Gamerman @WSJ | Mostly about adult books, but notes rise in #kidlit GN sales

One more benefit kids enjoying #reading: When adolescents read (especially a variety of) books they realize "You’re not alone" | @donald_gately

'Elitist': angry #ebook pirates hit back after author campaign sinks website | @GuardianBooks | I say reading #PiratedBooks is theft. #Authors + #publishers should be paid for their efforts.

DaVinciCodeThe Way We Read Now. A new survey of America’s favorite #novels shows that #storytelling moves us far more than #LiteraryQuality | Adam Kirsch @WSJ #reading

On getting kids started writing realistic #fiction by having them get to know their characters | #writing #teacher @MelanieMeehan1 @ChoiceLiteracy

Want Young Students to Love #Writing? Let Them #Play With It. "reaching standards and finding joy, creativity, and a sense of identity through writing are not mutually exclusive" @EmilySkeie @EdWeekTeacher

This month's #Costco magazine has a couple of nice articles about the benefits of #reading (brain health, reduced stress, etc) + tips for including more reading in your life (and modeling for your kids)


Good advice here: What to Do When Your Child Says, ‘But Everyone Can Read But Me’ | @lalalalambert @ReadBrightly #GrowingBookworms #Parenting #reading

Three ways to ease your child’s #BackToSchool jitters - @marijanewilliam @washingtonpost #Parenting #Anxiety #Listening #Schools

Schools and Libraries (inc. Classroom Libraries)

Questions to Assess our #ClassroomLibrary Before #BackToSchool from @pernilleripp #BookCondition #WindowsAndMirrors #Organization + more

PipsqueaksNew Resources for #Teaching #Nonfiction by @mstewartscience @nerdybookclub | #educators tend to prefer #NarrativeNonfiction but many kids like #ExpositoryNonfiction | #ClassroomLibraries

#BuildYourStack: Five Ways to Stay on Top of the Latest and Greatest in Children's Literature | @colbysharp on new @ncte blog for #teachers | "most important: Listen to your students" | #ClassroomLibraries #kidlit

Four Reasons to Tackle #FlexibleLearningSpaces. @RossCoops31 shares his elementary school's experience #Schools #FlexibleSeating #Classrooms

There’s Strength in Being Vulnerable @ReadByExample suggests #principals become "more aware of the areas in which you lack knowledge or experience with regard to excellent #literacy instruction" #education

One Approach Does Not Fit All when figuring out what's best for individual #learners (e.g. taking notes by hand vs. typing) @katiemartinedu #schools @gcouros

How California is transforming bus drivers, clerks and yard supervisors into #teachers by giving them #grants to earn #TeachingCredentials @sacbee_news

GiftOfFailureShould we be setting our kids up for #failure in the safe space of #classrooms instead of only success? "Failure not only builds our #resilience; it makes success all the more joyful and fruitful" | @paul_emerich

This seems like quite a resource for #PLN enhancement: 400 #Educators to Follow on Twitter: Crowd-Sourced List for Educators by Educators – @mrkempnz #teaching #literacy #STEM #whatisschool


Changing teachers’ ideas about #math boosts student test scores @carolynjones100 @EdSource @mercnews | @joboaler + team recruited 40 CA 5th grade #teachers for course, kids scored 8 pts higher than control group

Make Your Daughter Practice #Math. She’ll Thank You Later. @barbaraoakley @nytopinion | Girls think they aren't good at #math because they are often better at #reading, so they don't put in the time to practice + improve

Testing + College Admissions

More students are taking #AP exams, but researchers don’t know if that helps them (especially black + Hispanic #students) @Chalkbeat #testing

Huh. I never thought about #collegeadmissions discriminating against #introverts. This is very interesting...

@JonHaidt: The admissions scandal at Harvard (which gave Asians bad ratings on personality to reduce their numbers) reveals a related kind of discrimination in admissions: against introverts. Great essay by Jonathan Zimmerman:

© 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.

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: August 8: Favorite Picture Books, Harry Potter 6, and the Reading Nest

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 usually sent out every three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have two picture book reviews and three literacy milestones for my daughter (crying over a book, building a reading nest, and feeling nostalgia for past favorites). I also have three posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, full of tons on reading-related news. 

Reading Update:  In the last three weeks I finished four middle grade (3 of them very short), one young adult, and nine adult titles. I read/listened to: 

  • LongLostHomeMaryrose Wood: The Long-Lost Home (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book IV). Balzer + Bray. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed July 19, 2018, on MP3. This book was lovely, a perfect end to a great series. I bought the first book in paperback (having listened to them all) in the hope of reading it with my daughter one day (or her reading it on her own). 
  • Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm: Babymouse: Monster Mash. Random House Children's Books. Early Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed July 23, 2018, read aloud to my daughter.
  • Jarrett Krosoczka: Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain. Random House Children's Books. Early Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed July 24, 2018, read aloud to my daughter.
  • Jarrett Krosoczka: Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle. Random House Children's Books. Early Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed July 24, 2018, read aloud to my daughter. She basically knows these books by heart. I can read them aloud to her while she's across the room doing something else, because she KNOWS what the pictures look like. But having me read them to her is a form of comfort reading, I think. I enjoy them, so it's all good. 
  • LIesYouNeverJennifer Donaldson: Lies You Never Told Me. Razorbill. Young Adult Fiction. Completed July 31, 2018, on Kindle. I couldn't put this one down, although I disliked several of the characters, and quite disliked the situations that they got themselves into. I still had to know what was going to happen, and I would certainly read other books by this author. I figured out the twist, but not so early, which is exactly what I want as a reader. 
  • Victoria Abbott: The Wolfe Widow (Book Collector Mysteries, Book 3). Berkley Publishing. Adult Mystery. Completed July 22, 2018, on Kindle. I'm enjoying this cozy series about a book collector's assistant who stumbles into various murder mysteries. The supporting characters are fun, and the food descriptions are to die for. And of course I like that each book is based on a golden age mystery author (though I'm not familiar enough with most of the referenced books to appreciate all of the details). 
  • Stephen Guise: Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Amazon Digital Services. Adult Nonfiction. Completed July 22, 2018, on Kindle. This was a quick little read about the idea that if you want to change your behavior in some way, the trick is to start very very small, with something that you simply can't fail to do. Then you'll do it every day, and at least some of the time do it more. You'll build a streak and you'll want to keep the streak going. I'm trying it out on a few things. The book has more detail than it really needs (an article might have done the trick), but I read it sitting by a pool one day while my daughter swam, so it was all good. 
  • RethinkingSchoolSusan Wise Bauer: Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education. W. W. Norton and Company. Adult Nonfiction. Completed July 23, 2018, on Kindle. This book has some useful material in it for people whose kids are having difficulty fitting in to the standard US school system, for whatever reason (giftedness, learning disability, temperament, etc.). The author talks about leaving the school system, which I'm not interested in doing, but also about "flexing" the system in terms of things like homework. 
  • Joy Ellis: Thieves on the Fens. Joffe Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 25, 2018, on MP3. This series is very dark, but I can't resist it for some reason. 
  • Marianne Cantwell: Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills. Kogan Page. Adult Nonfiction. Completed July 29, 2018, on Kindle. This I read on a whim after it was a Kindle deal. The author is a strong cheerleader for people who want to leave their unfulfilling jobs and figure out how to make money doing something more interesting. There are a lot of exercises and things, so it could take quite a while to get through the book if you really do them. What I learned in thinking through some of the exercises is that I have it pretty good as I am. It did inspire me to start a new Twitter account to share some of the topics that are of interest to me, but not so much for most of the people who read my blog (freedom of speech on college campuses, ideological diversity and the polarization of debate, etc.). 
  • OriginDan Brown: Origin. Anchor. Adult Fiction. Completed August 4, 2018, on Kindle. I actually really enjoyed this book (also a Kindle deal). I haven't read any of Brown's books in a while, and this was a good choice for a free reading weekend that I had recently. 
  • Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park. Ballantine Books. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 5, 2018, on MP3. This was recommended as an audiobook, and it had been years (if ever) since I read the print book, so I gave it a listen. I enjoyed it, but I found it a bit too similar to the movie for there to be much suspense. Can't complain - I usually grumble when movies are NOT true to the book - but still... I may listen to the sequel though.  
  • Victoria Abbott: The Marsh Madness (Book Collector Mysteries, Book 4). Berkley Publishing. Adult Mystery. Completed August 5, 2018, on Kindle. See above. This is the next book in the same series. 

I'm listening to Not Alone: Second Contact by Craig Falconer, the sequel to a book that I listened to earlier in the year.  I'm between reads apart from my audiobook, as I keep starting books and then deciding not to finish them. Not sure why so many books aren't working for me, but I guess reading slumps happen to everyone. 

HalfBloodPrinceI know that I said last time that I was going to try Gone-Away Lake as my next read aloud to my daughter. But, well, she wasn't that interested - we never did start it. We did read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I had planned to take a break, but she really wanted to start the next book. However, after that one chapter, her pressing interest waned, and we've gone back to picture books for a while. (Hence the literacy milestone about nostalgia for favorite picture books.) It's possible that her interest waned because of the girl at her childcare who keeps telling her spoilers for the series (who marries who, who dies at the end). I am quite unhappy about it. We reached out to the girl's parent and I'm hoping that this stops. But anyway, that's a risk with popular books, isn't it? 

DonutChefMeanwhile I'm going to use this resurgent interest in favorite picture books (I'm talking to you, Bob Staake) as an opportunity to start sorting the picture books. I would like to keep the good ones and get rid of some of the ones that we will never read again. (Because of my blog and a couple of years of Cybils round 1 picture books, there are quite a few of those.) We can definitely use the space, because the graphic and notebook novel collection continues to grow. Not to worry, though. The favorites will be with us for the long term, for sure. 

TwelveDaresOne her own, she continues to read frequently, if not very broadly (graphic and notebook novels all day long), especially in her new reading nest. She did pick up a middle grade title that she is reading on her own (though she wants me to read it, too, so that we can discuss). It's The Twelve Dares of Christa by Marissa Burt. I think it's too advanced for her, but far be it from me to interfere with her reading choice. All the more reason for me to read it so that we can discuss, though. She's also making progress with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She has not, as far as I can tell, actually opened any of the books for the Battle of the Books contest, though she has expressed interest in participating in that this fall. You can see her reading list here. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Hope that your summer reading is going as well as ours is!

© 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 Goodnight Train Rolls On! by June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith

Book: The Goodnight Train Rolls On!
Author: June Sobel
Illustrator: Laura Huliska-Beith
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Did you know that there is a sequel to The Goodnight Train coming out in early September? It's true! The Goodnight Train Rolls On! is set to roll. The Goodnight Train was a family favorite and regular bedtime read in my household for years. I can still recite much of it by heart. My 8-year-old was SO excited when I unwrapped the sequel. We both thought that it was fabulous. 

The Goodnight Train Rolls On!, like the first book, uses the journey of a train as a metaphor for the journey towards sleep. In this case most of the passengers are already asleep as the story begins, but they are moving into dreams. Members of the crew sprinkle "dream dust" (a mix of moons and stars of varying sizes) all around them as they sleep. Meanwhile, the train's crew has to deal with sheep invading the track, and a particularly mischievous sheep causing all sorts of over-the-top problems (like a pillow fight with a giant teddy bear). By the end of the ride, however, the train ends up safe at home, with the naughty sheep finally cooperating, and pretty much everyone else asleep and dreaming. 

Here's a snippet (over two page spreads):

"Clouds blow in. The night turns gray.
The Goodnight Train is on its way!

Chugga! Chugga!
Shhhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!

Down Midnight Mountain, race along
until something seems very wrong!

A naughty sheep has switched the track.
Uh-oh! There's no turning back!

On Wild Dream Hill, whistles blare
Warning of a great, big bear!"

So well-done! It's rhyming without being at all grating or clunky (as I find many rhyming picture books these days), and full of things that are fun to read aloud. What kid won't enjoy an exaggerated "Uh-Oh!" or a whistle "blaring"? 

The "dream dust" filled illustrations are, if anything, even more lovely than those of the first book. There are a couple of page spreads where you have to turn the book sideways to read, lending some visual excitement to the middle of the book. The sheep are joyous, and the bedtime imagery is everywhere (sleeping caps, cookies, etc.). There's a nice mix of soothing images and silliness, with the occasional slightly darker dreams. The final image shows a sleeping girl holding a book and a sleeping cat, sharing her bed with a sleeping skunk crew member and a sleeping formerly naughty sheep, with dream dust floating happily above. Immensely satisfying all around. 

I can't think of a much better baby gift (or birthday gift for a preschooler) than a pairing of The Goodnight Train and The Goodnight Train Rolls On! Though the book held up for my 8-year-old, I think a lot of her joy in the sequel was due to nostalgia for the first book. The sweet spot for reading these books is around 3-5, I would say. Old enough to happily repeat the "Chugga! Chugga! Shhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!", and then fall asleep. The Goodnight Train Rolls On! is a highly recommended and welcome addition to the canon of picture books. Don't miss it!

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids) 
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
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).

Literacy Milestone: Feeling Nostalgia for Past Favorites

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter is only 8, but she is already nostalgic about books that she loved when she was younger. When the Goodnight Train sequel arrived (review to come, it is lovely), she had to read it immediately. She adored it, but I know that love was partly a response to how much she had bonded with the first Goodnight Train book.

CuriousGardenA day or so later I got out a bunch of picture books that had been favorites and stacked them on the table for the next day's breakfast reading. (We were taking a break between Harry Potter read-alouds.) She looked through the stack said "Oh, The Curious Garden" in that tone we all use for nostalgia. Like "Oh, something that I have loved and haven't seen or thought of recently. How lovely." I couldn't even get her to eat dinner until she sat down and read it herself. 

She's also been quoting from Little Blue Truck recently, for some reason, even though we haven't looked at that one in years. It's not so much the quoting that catches my eye, but her affectionate tone when she does it. Like someone sharing a fond memory.  

ChangelingI think we can build on this nostalgia, actually. I know I have some books that are favorites now in part because I read them and re-read them over the years, constantly reminding myself about my previous love for the book each time. Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright and The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder come to mind from middle grade, Listening Valley by D. E. Stevenson from adult reads. So my task with my daughter is going to be to weed through the picture books so that I can keep the ones we LOVED in one place. Then we can reread them regularly, and keep that nostalgia building. 

What about you? Are you nostalgic about favorite books? How about your kids?

© 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