From the Pile Beside My Bed, I Recommend...

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (NEW!)
Living on Alcatraz Island in the 1930s does have its perks...

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding (NEW!)
Serial killers, mystery, cults, adventure, and supernatural beings--this book has it all! This gothic-style story is set in London, where Thaniel and Cathaline are wych-hunters. While seeking out the creatures who lurk in the Old Quarter, they find Alaizabel, who is lovely, half-crazed, and possessed. And that is only the beginning! This thriller will keep you turning the pages.

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins
Jazz, 15, and her best friend (and secret love), Steve, own a successful small business in Berkeley. But when her mother wins a grant to spend the summer in India, the whole family has to go. Once burned for following a do-gooder impulse, Jazz is initially afraid to befriend Danita, a talented 15-year-old orphan who dreams about starting her own business. Influenced by the magic of the monsoon season, the girls push one another to take chances rather than play it safe.

Waters Luninous & Deep: Shorter Fictions by Meredith Ann Pierce
The stories in this book of fantasy range from fragment to retold fairy tale to novella, each with a stong heroine, a tangibly imagined world, and unforgettable imagery.

What My Mother Doesn't Know and One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
Sonya Sones writes novels in verse that address issues of family, friendship, and romance. Although these two books are not related in content, I gave you two titles because they are quick but fulfilling reads. Her command of free verse poetry is immaculate. (She even uses it on her website: http://sonyasones.com.)


Writers' Workshop Celebrates Valentine's Day

Yesterday, the workshop members practiced writing dialogue using only the phrases found on the Valentine's Day candy conversation hearts and M&Ms. It was tough, but the results were hilarious! After reading all of their dialogues out loud, the group voted Megan B.'s story with the ambiguous ending and Will's story of, um, "rejection" as the winners. Many of the dialogues are posted below, with some pictures of our writing process!


Check Out These Books!

I was really sick last week, so that's why you haven't seen me at the desk. I have been at home in bed. Of course, I read tons of stuff, so it wasn't a total waste. And I am back in business now, so see you all this week!

Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
When a private school english teacher hatches a plan to have his students become pen pals with the public school kids down the road, he has no idea what forces he is unleashing in the community! These companion novels follow the same letter-writing project, which inevitably leads to rude graffiti, hate mail, chance meetings, love letters, revenge plots, date plans...and much more!

Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb (NEW!)
"...seeks, well, seeks Ben Jones, but failing that, seeks large burka-type garment to cover her deformities." Jess Jordan's hilariously overactive imagination complicates her life, but it will keep you entertained!

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld
Did you ever wonder why certain things become trendy? Or who starts clothing and enteratinment fads? Or what would happen if marketing became sinister????

The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck (NEW!)
Russell Culver is fifteen and itching to leave his tiny town for adventures in the Dakotas. When the schoolteacher dies, Russell figures that the schoolhouse will bel shut down for good and he can get on with his life. No such luck, though: the new teachers is the stuff nightmares are made of!