Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Graces by Laure Eve Booktalk

River is a lonely 15-year-old who has just moved to a small, old coastal town with her mother. She's not popular and she's picked on by mean girls. She becomes fascinated with this family whose children go to her school, and they're called the Graces, because that's their last name. Summer Grace is her age, and the twins, Thalia and Fenrin, are a few years older. They're beautiful and intriguing and popular, and their family is wealthy but is rumored to be witches.

If you liked Twilight (or Mean Girls), try this.
River develops a huge crush on the boy, Fenrin: he's got a lot of girlfriends and is one of the most popular boys in school, so when he shows an interest in her, she's flattered. Summer Grace starts befriending her, too - this uptick in River's popularity is great, and for the first time, she feels happy.

But River starts flirting with the supernatural: she visits an old, obscure bookstore to buy books on magic, and she practices spells. Yet there's another loner, Marcus, who warns her very strongly against associating with the Graces. He seems to have dated Thalia, and he warns that the Graces will use River and then discard her.

The Graces by Laure Eve. 336 p. Amulet Books, 2016. Booktalk to high school.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo Booktalk

I want you to imagine three girls breaking into their teacher's house. One of the girls, Beverly, has taught herself lock-picking from a book. She is breaking in, and her best friends, Louisiana and Raymie, are right there with her. Why are they breaking into their teacher's house?

Their teacher is not a school teacher: she teaches baton twirling to girls entering beauty contests and other competitions. Two of them want to enter and win a local competition called the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition. It's sort of a beauty/talent competition, and there is a big cash prize. You have to prove that you are talented and a good person. Breaking and entering is not a good way to prove that.

Let's get back to the girls. You've heard the expression "to be down on your luck"? What does it mean? [Take answer/s.] We have three girls down on their luck here. Raymie's dad just left her and her mom. Louisiana lost her beloved cat and doesn't have enough money to buy food. Beverly doesn't seem to have a dad around, plus she gets into fights with her mom. Beverly's mom forces Beverly to take baton twirling lessons, which she seems to hate. The lessons are where the three girls met one another.

But where is their baton teacher?

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. 2016: Candlewick Press. 263 p. Booktalk to intermediate grades, middle school. Great read-aloud.