Friday, June 26, 2009

The Silver Linings Playbook

Last night I finished a book which many of our students enjoyed, The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. AP Literature teacher, Drew Giorgi, arranged for Quick's visit back in May. I was most impressed with what Quick had to say, and blogged about it soon afterwards.

Straight out of a mental institution, 35 year-old Pat Peoples has a lot of baggage to overcome. While dealing with the fact that he can't remember for how long and why he was hospitalized, he wants nothing more than to be reunited with his wife, Niki. He realizes that "apart time" is something which they had agreed upon, but is determined that someday their marriage will be back to normal, as will his mental stability. Now living with his parents, he has a supportive and loving mother who is trying her best to help Pat get better. But his father has no patience for Pat's insecurities and has volatile mood swings which coincide with the Philadelphia Eagles winning record. Readers will like Pat for his honesty, tenderness and positive attitude and will be routing for him to find that silver lining in his life.Philadelphia fans will recognize the passion for the Eagles and all there is to love about the Philadelphia area. E-A-G-L-E-S...EAGLES!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Moon Poster Released

Fans of the Twilight series will be happy to see this newly released poster for the movie, New Moon. I know many students in our school are counting down the days until November 20.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge Complete

Although I barely got in 12 hours this weekend with the 48 Hour Book Challenge, it is a success in my mind since a) I did get a lot of good reading done and b) I saw a lot of great blogs and connected with some terrific people. I also rediscovered why I like audio books so much. Just today I cut the grass, got a lot of weeding done, did a load of wash or two AND got nearly 4 hours of a book "read".
Though I'm only 1/4 of the way into Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, I already have some boys at school who I'll be recommending it to. The YA novel is about a boy who finds himself under the careful scrutiny of the government after a terrorist attack on San Francisco. Their suspicions stem from his extensive knowledge and use of computer hacking, but their actions are over-the-top and quite alarming. This book would be a great one to start a discussion about the Patriot act.

Paper Towns Completed (Regrettably)

Paper Towns is one of those books you just don't want to end. I've discovered that John Green knows exactly how to write about young adults in a fresh, honest and humorous way. (Shame on me for not yet reading Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines yet! No worries...I have this summer.)
Quentin is the sensible, like-able, "good" guy with parents who are both therapists and, therefore, are constantly providing loving support in everything he does. In fact, they even like it when he curses in front of them since that only proves that he feels the utmost comfort with them. Margo is Quentin's next-door neighbor whom he was friends with when they were young. However, now in their senior year, Margo's among the popular crowd and Quentin (although he is not in Band) is happy with his group of Band friends whom are very knowingly not part of the popular crowd. When Margo decides that she needs more from her life than the imagined "paper girl" which she feels she has become, Quentin finds himself following her trail and discovers himself along the way. Green does wonderful things with metaphors which gives this coming-of-age story style and poignancy.
Green's inclusion of the paper town of Agloe, NY is interesting. The term "paper town" refers to something cartographers started doing in the early 20th century to deter copyright infringement. They included the fictional town of Agloe so that they could track any other cartographer's attempt to copy their map: if another map included Agloe, they would know that it was copied from their own map. Interestingly, an Algoe General Store was even built to acknowledge this fictitious place, thus turning fiction into reality. Green's use of the paper town works well in his novel since Margo has grown up fantasizing that she was someone she wasn't among an imagined place with imagined friends.

Sunday update thus far: 1.5 hours reading, 1 hour blogging and networking.
I'm off to start The Silver Linings Playbook by Quick, but am thinking I may also start the audiobook of Little Brother by Doctorow so I can get chores done in-between hammock rests. :-)

48 Hour Book Challenge - Sunday Update

Progress Update:
Hours reading = 9
Hours networking = 2

Well, I'm certainly not going to be a winner in this challenge, but I'm having fun and my PLN is growing in wonderful ways nonetheless. The plan today is to finish listening to Paper Towns and then crack open The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. Matt Quick came to visit our school this week and I was so impressed by his own story and very intrigued about his first novel.
It's a beautiful day here in New Hope, PA and I plan to take full advantage of it. Reading in the hammock followed by a bike ride with my husband to the Stockton Day Fair. Somewhere in between I'll get the wash done and do some yard work!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Paper Towns Update

Taking a break from listening to Paper Towns to go for a run. While I did debate listening to it while running, I really need my music to keep me motivated for runs. I have a bout 2 hours left of audio book and I'm anxious to see if Q and the gang eventually find Margo in the paper town in NY.

48 HBC Progress Update

Friday 5:00 - 10:00: Finished reading Hunger Games (with breaks in between)
Saturday 7:00 -7:30: Blogged and caught-up on fellow 48HBC partcipants (and discovered many too add to my PLN!)
Saturday 8:00-10:30: Listening to audio book of Paper Towns while grocery shopping, ironing, and doing all the stuff that needs to get done (is that cheating?)
Saturday 10:30 - 10:50: Blogging and tweeting update

Hours reading (or listening!) = approx. 6
Hours blogging/tweeting = .75

Not looking to win any prizes, just enjoying an excuse to read and to network with a lot of great fellow readers!

Book 1 Done: The Hunger Games

So, I began the 48 Hour Book Challenge last night at 5:00pm by continuing a book I had already started: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. With just a little cat-nap or two, I finished the book at 10:30. The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel which had me turning the pages from the very first chapter. Sixteen-year-old Katniss takes the spot of her little sister in an annual, national game which pits young people against each other for a fight for survival. Katniss is tough and her hunting skills help her immensely throughout the Game, but she quickly learns that the Game also requires learning who to trust and how to "play" among human relationships. The book guarantees a sequel and I'll be the first in line!

After doing some catching up with what my fellow challengers are reading, I'm on to the next book: Paper Towns by John Green.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The 48 Hour Book Challenge Begins

Okay, so I just learned about the 48-Hour Book Challenge thanks to a tweet from @SLJournal and how can I resist? Gotta love a challenge when books are involved. So - count me in! Game on!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Matt Quick has a Strong Message

A couple of weeks ago, NHS was fortunate to have author, Matthew Quick, visit Drew Giorgi's AP Literature class. Giorgi had assigned the students to reading The Silver Linings Playbook and thus arranged for Quick's visit.
At the time, I had not started the book but was intrigued by the story-line and interested to hear more about it. The novel revolves around a young man who is released from a neural health facility and his coming to terms with his life as he regains his memory while living with his parents in New Jersey. My students tell me they really enjoyed the book for its wittiness, truthfulness and for the fact that Pat Peoples, the main character, is a very like-able guy.
What I found from the author is that he, himself, is indeed a very like-able guy. He's down-to-earth, funny, approachable, and has a life history that is interesting and endearing.
Growing up, Matt Quick was one of those kids who just didn't fit into school. He didn't like classes and it basically reflected in his grades. He had a strong passion for writing, but that passion was squashed by his father who felt that writing would not bring him success. So, Matt ended up going to college and eventually became an English teacher.
Fast forward about seven or eight years later when Matt suddenly takes inventory of his life and wonders how he ended up in the state he was - working in a profession which brought him little reward and in a near state of depression. Thanks to a wonderfully supportive wife who recognized Matt's unhappiness, he ended up quiting his job, moving in with his in-laws, and writing with passion in his in-law's basement. A couple of years later, and many rejections later, The Silver Linings Playbook was published in 2008 and he has a young adult novel, Sorta Like a Rock Star, forthcoming in 2010.
The lesson of his own story hit a chord in mine. As Matt spoke about his father's disapproval, I thought of my own son and his love of the arts and his struggle with academics. It is so, so important that I'm supportive of his creative passion. I guess, in fact, I always knew that. But hearing Matt talk about his own struggles and then his eventual success as a writer, the message hit home. Follow your heart and happiness will follow. What defines success more than that?