February ’15 Update – Ashley

Nothing like the last day of the month to do my monthly update, right?  February was a very hectic month, so unfortunately most of my reading was postponed until the end of the month.

Here’s what I read:

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (reread) – This was my second reading of this particular book.  The first time I read it was actually in college for a Children’s Lit class.  I remember loving it the first time and the second time was no different.


Bridge to Terabithia centers around the friendship between its two main characters – Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke.  The two are unlikely friends, but their mutual awkwardness and shared tendency to behave “differently” from the status quo is enough to create a lasting bond.   Together, they create their own magical land, the namesake Terabithia, where they go to escape their ordinary, if not depressing, lives.  The story takes a turn when tragedy strikes Terabithia and Jess is forced to deal with things far beyond his ten or eleven years.  At that point, it’s probably best to just go ahead and grab your tissues.

My Take:  Finding Bridge to Terabithia on “the list” was no surprise.  This is one of those books that makes you reevaluate life and love.   I appreciate that this book, written for very young adults (preteens even), touches on some very heavy topics in a way that is super-relatable.  Being a teacher of young children allows me to read these kinds of books through a completely different lens.  I see the Jesses and Leslies of the world every day in my own classroom – the kids that don’t quite “fit in” because maybe their family is a little bit different or they interested in something considered unusual for their age, gender, whatever.  I’ve seen the way their lives change when they find that one friend with a common soul who understands and accepts them as they are.  I want that for every child.  It also makes me sad to think about how many kids out there are like this, but never find that one friend who will change their life…  Overall, this book is an easy read with a big message and definitely worth the minimal time it takes to read.  I dare anyone to try to get through the whole thing with dry eyes!

* Frindle by Andrew Clements (new read) – I have to be honest about my deciding factors for reading this book first off of my (lengthy) new read list.  #1) I totally judged the book by its cover.  Those kids holding that pen… so cute!  Plus, the cover also included a review hailing it as a “hilarious” read, which I was ready for after sobbing my way through Terabithia.  #2) It was the shortest of all the new reads I just ordered and I was running short on time for my first monthly challenge (aka I started reading it this morning).  Just felt like I needed a disclaimer about my true motivations…  <insert sheepish look here>


Frindle is story about young Nick Allen who has a knack for causing minor “disturbances” at his elementary school – things like transforming his third grade classroom into a tropical paradise… and getting his first-year teacher to buy into it!  However, after meeting his all-business fifth grade teacher (Mrs. Granger), Nick’s escapades seem to be in jeopardy.  That is, until he spontaneously decides to create a brand-new word: frindle (to name the object formerly known as a pen).  His seemingly harmless prank catches some steam and soon the word has grown beyond Nick’s control.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Granger is doing everything in her power to thwart frindle-users everywhere.

My Take: First of all, I love lovelove the character of Nick!  I love the way his mind works and that his portrayal does not stay true to any one stereotype.  He’s smart, but not nerdy.  He’s unusual, but not a “weirdo.”  He’s a bit mischievous, but not mean-spirited.  Secondly, I love that this book, written for elementary- and middle-schoolers, isn’t focused on the social issues they may face at school, but rather on a child’s growing curiosity and innovation.  So many books directed at this audience tend to deal with those social issues (admittedly important in more than one way), but I feel like we have a generation of children who need to know that creativity is important too.  I feel like they need permission to take risks and to think outside the box, and more importantly, to want to have an impact beyond their immediate scope.  Frindle at first glance is a funny story about a silly, made-up word, but the implications of what Nick created reach towards a greater purpose and hint at what can happen when kids make up their mind to change even one small part of their world!  This book left me smiling and inspired to think big…  Another easy, but worthwhile, read!

So… what do you think?  Has anyone else read Terabithia or Frindle?  Do you agree with my reviews?  I’m excited to hear everyone’s thoughts!

Now, I’m off to decide on what to read in March…

Happy Reading!  🙂


The List – Ashley

Since meeting Tiffany almost three and half years ago, she and I have bonded over many things – our students, our shared teaching beliefs, our love of chocolate and other delicious food stuffs, our mutual devotion to television…   We share “new finds” with each other all the time.   I tried to give her a heart attack by making her watch 24 and she got me hooked on Revenge, Scandal, Gilmore Girls, and more.  We also have a shared obsession with great young adult novels.  For her birthday last year, I got her the Divergent box set and she introduced me to the Matched series.  We read and talked, saw the movies and felt like we had a pretty good grasp on the world of young adult novels… until we found the list! In Tiffany’s post, she mentioned that she was disappointed that she had only read about a third of the list. I was more shocked than disappointed.  I thought for sure that I would have read more of them!  I felt very confident in my supreme knowledge of the genre.  Alas, I too had only read about one third of the books! So, here is my list – divided into new books and rereads!  Any surprises?

New Rereads
1.      The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian

2.     The Book Thief

3.     Holes

4.     The Outsiders

5.     The Phantom Tollbooth

6.     Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret.

7.     Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

8.     Monster

9.     The Golden Compass

10.    The Diary of a Young Girl

11.     From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

12.   Looking for Alaska

13.   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

14.    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

15.   Wonder

16.   The Sword in the Stone

17.   Lord of the Flies

18.   Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

19.   A Separate Peace

20.  Harriet the Spy

21.   The Chocolate War

22.  Jacob Have I Loved

23.  A Series of Unfortunate Events (series)

24.  Hatchet

25.  Feed

26.  The Alchemyst

27.  The Princess Bride

28.  Tarzan of the Apes

29.  Johnny Tremain

30.  The Westing Game

31.   The Wind in the Willows

32.  Mary Poppins

33.  The Fault in Our Stars

34.  A Northern Light

35.  The Yearling

36.  For Freedom

37.  The Wall

38.  A Monster Calls

39.  Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series)

40.   The Illustrated Man

41.    A Wreath for Emmett Till

42.  Every Day

43.  Where Things Come Back

44.   Number the Stars

45.  Blankets

46.  Private Peaceful

47.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond

48.  Dangerous Angels

49.  Frindle

50.  Boxers and Saints

51.   The Graveyard Book

52.  City of the Beasts

53.  American Born Chinese

54.  The Lost Conspiracy

55.  Dogsbody

56.  The Pigman

57.  Alabama Moon

58.  Esperanza Rising

59.  The Knife of Never Letting Go

60.  Boy Proof

61.   Fallen Angels

62.  A High Wind in Jamaica

63.  The Tiger Rising

64.  When You Reach Me

65.  Saffy’s Angel

66.  The Grey King

67.  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

68.  The Thief Lord

69.  The Mysterious Benedict Society

70.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret

71.   Sabriel

72.  Tiger Lily

73.  Secret (series)

74.  A Wizard of Earthsea

75.  Tales of Mystery and Imagination

76.  Whale Talk

77.  The Chronicles of Prydain (series)

78.  Danny the Champion of the World

1.      Harry Potter (series)

2.     A Wrinkle in Time

3.     Charlotte’s Web

4.     Matilda

5.     The Giver

6.     To Kill a Mockingbird

7.     Anne of Green Gables

8.     The Chronicles of Narnia (series)

9.     Little House on the Prairie (series)

10.    The Catcher in the Rye

11.     Little Women

12.   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

13.   The Hobbit

14.    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

15.   Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

16.   Bridge to Terabithia

17.   The Call of the Wild

18.   The Lord of the Rings (series)

19.   Beezus and Ramona

20.  Speak

21.   The Hunger Games (series)

22.  Twilight (series)

The List- Tiffany

As promised, here is my version of the list, divided into “new reads” and “rereads.” To be honest, I was pretty disappointed that I had only read about a third of the entire list!

Is it weird that I’m actually more excited about getting to reread some old favorites than something new?

If you’ve read anything I haven’t, leave a note in the comments section so I will look forward to some of the others!

New Rereads
1.      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

2.     The Book Thief

3.     A Wrinkle in Time

4.     The Phantom Tollbooth

5.     The Golden Compass

6.     The Diary of a Young Girl

7.     From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

8.     Looking for Alaska

9.     The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

10.    Wonder

11.     The Sword in the Stone

12.   The Hobbit

13.   The Call of the Wild

14.    A Separate Peace

15.   Jacob Have I Loved

16.   Hatchet

17.   The Lord of the Rings

18.   Feed

19.   The Alchemyst

20.  The Princess Bride

21.   Tarzan of the Apes

22.  Johnny Tremain

23.  The Wind in the Willows

24.  Mary Poppins

25.  A Northern Light

26.  The Yearling

27.  For Freedom

28.  The Wall

29.  A Monster Calls

30.  Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series)

31.   The Illustrated Man

32.  A Wreath for Emmet Till

33.  Everyday

34.  Where Things Come Back

35.  Blankets

36.  Private Peaceful

37.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond

38.  Dangerous Angels

39.  Frindle

40.   Boxers & Saints

41.    The Graveyard Book

42.  City of the Beasts

43.  American Born Chinese

44.   The Lost Conspiracy

45.  The Pigman

46.  Dogsbody

47.  Alabama Moon

48.  The Knife of Never Letting Go

49.  Boy Proof

50.  Fallen Angels

51.   A High Wind in Jamaica

52.  The Tiger Rising

53.  When You Reach Me

54.  Saffy’s Angel

55.  Twilight (series)

56.  Danny the Champion of the World

57.  The Chronicles of Prydain (series)

58.  Whale Talk

59.  Tales of Mystery & Imagination

60.  A Wizard of Earthsea

61.   Secret (series)

62.  Tiger Lily

63.  Sabriel

64.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret

65.  The Mysterious Benedict Society

66.  The Thief Lord

67.  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

68.  The Grey King

69.  Anne of Green Gables

1.      Harry Potter (series)

2.     Charlotte’s Web

3.     Holes

4.     Matilda

5.     The Outsiders

6.     The Giver

7.     Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret

8.     To Kill a Mockingbird

9.     Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry

10.    The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

11.     Monster

12.   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

13.   Little House on the Prairie (series)

14.    The Catcher in the Rye

15.   Little Women

16.   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

17.   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

18.   Lord of the Flies

19.   Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

20.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

21.   Bridge to Terabithia

22.  Harriet the Spy

23.  The Chocolate War

24.  A Series of Unfortunate Events (series)

25.  Esperanza Rising

26.  Number the Stars

27.  The Hunger Games (series)

28.  The Fault in Our Stars

29.  Speak

30.  The Westing Game

31.   Beezus & Ramona

Welcome to the Young Adult Book Challenge!

Long story short, my friend Ashley and I are always looking for new things to read, particularly young adult novels. We had originally toyed with the idea of a 2015 new YA challenge list that was put out by Buzzfeed… then I came across this list of The 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time put out by Time.com. I knew this was the challenge we should pursue.

Of course, we had to start a blog about it!

We first came up with a few “ground rules”:

  • The list will be divided into New Reads and Rereads for each of us.
  • At least one book from each list must be read each month.
  • If a series is listed, only the first book must be read– any remaining books to be read are up to the reader.
  • Blog posts must be written at least once a month to update our status and to review the books read.

We are really excited to start the challenge and blog.

Stay tuned for our lists and first reviews!