Sunday, December 08, 2013

MMGM- Ultra and Expressionista

Good morning! It's snowy and oh, so cold here in Ohio, but we're trying to have some fun. School was canceled on Friday, so I didn't get to play my parody of One Direction's Up All Night on the announcements, so I have that planned for today.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog. Instead of having to visit lots of different blogs, all of the nonfiction posts will be at Nonfiction Monday. Convenient, although I like to visit all the blogs when time permits.

18281022Carroll, David. Ultra
1 September 2013, Scholastic Canada
Nominated for the Cybils and copy provided by the Publisher

Quinn loves to run, and his body is well suited for it. His heart is stronger, and his body makes less lactic acid than most people's, so he has blossomed into a fantastic runner under his father's tutelage. Since his dad isn't around, he's decided to run the Shin Kicker 100-- an ultra marathon in the mountains. He has done all of the painstaking preparation, has his support team (including his mother, younger brother, and best friend, Kneecap) with him. On the trail, he makes a few allies of other runners who have done other ultra marathons with his father. There are plenty of problems along the way-- his water container bursts, he gets caught in a small tornado, and some of the other runners are less than honest. Quinn keeps going, despite all of these obstacles and hallucinations as well, and he shows how strong he can be not only for the race, but also for all that life has thrown his way.
Strengths: Fantastic details about running an ultra marathon, and running in general. I was surprised at how much NOT running occurs during these very long races. It makes sense that people can't run for 24 hours without some stopping, but I thought that the break scenes added a lot to the story. I also thought that the way Quinn's issues with his father were handled was realistic, for a number of reasons. Quite a good book, and one which I think would appeal even to people who aren't runners.
Weaknesses: I'm not sure that I liked the story framed by an interview that Quinn is doing. There's enough introspection from Quinn himself during the race, and the story is well-paced as it is, so I felt the interview broke it up unnecessarily.

17334424 Walker, Jackie and McKuen, Panela Dittmer. Expressionista: How to Express Your True Self Through (and Despite) Fashion.
September 3rd 2013 by Aladdin/Beyond Words
Copy provided by Young Adults Books Central and reviewed there.

This tween version of the adult book by this author offers some good advice about dressing oneself, as well as feeling good about the clothes one wears. Since this is a topic that fascinates me, I read it avidly. The advice is good-- figure out what type of person you are, and once you know this, it is easier to put together outfits and have clothes that you feel comfortable putting on. The different types are ones that I do see in the middle school-- Classic (which I am-- long live the polo shirt!), Natural (hoodie and jeans, Picky Reader all the way), Romantic, Dramatic, and Trend Tracker-- and the suggestions for obtaining and wearing the clothing are reasonable.  There is a chapter on different body types, and tips for getting clothes to fit the vagaries of each shape, with an emphasis on accepting the bodies we have and making the most of them, rather than advice on how to change the type, which was very prevalent in similar books fifty years ago. There are several quizzes in the book, which girls should like. All in all, this was a fun book to read, and the advice offered in it was helpful and constructive. The only problem with this is that ANY book on fashion is bound to be dated within ten years. Unlike the contents of my closet, which are still perfectly in style, if not in fashion!


  1. Ultra sounds fascinating - I'll have to look into finding a copy to read over winter break.

  2. Both books sound interesting, Karen. I'm always looking for books that might interest a 12 year old grandson, so Ultra might be one. The other one I'll share with our librarian-bet some girls will enjoy it. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the reviews. I will check these out.

  4. I think I'd find Expressionista for my 11 year old daughter. She has her own distinctive style, I'd have a feeling this one might appeal to her.

  5. You manage to review so many books! Thanks for sharing. Expressionista may be dated quickly, but I know some students that would love it.