Saturday, April 5, 2014

Favorite YA Character March Madness Tournament

When I first heard about doing a book spin-off of a March Madness Tournament from my Choice Literacy newsletter, I was all over it! 

Here's how it went down: 

1. Kids nominated their favorite YA characters. I compiled their list and was able to use every one of their nominees with one to spare (mine! Harry Potter anyone?) to create a 32-character bracket. 

2. Instead of worrying about seeds, I entered the names into a randomizer online and went straight down the list for the match-ups. They ended up being pretty good match-ups! I then created two divisions (blue and gold for our school colors).

3. To try to help with the vote tabulations, I created quizzes for the match-ups in my Socrative classroom so my students who participate in BYOT could vote electronically. Students without devices just voted on post-its! Results from Socrative print out in a nice spreadsheet! Kids could see the match-ups on a Google Presentation (like PowerPoint) I created and displayed on the Smartboard.

4.  I promoted our match-ups to the characters' creators on Twitter and received some responses, which motivated my students!

5. Finally, after 4 rounds, and MANY close calls, it came down to two: Katniss and Jonas (love!!). Kids voted, and even our literacy leaders -- our librarian and principal -- got in on the final vote action.  When the winner was announced, the cheering would rival any NCAA stadium crowd. It was book heaven.

Want to know the winner? Who would you have voted for? Comment with your vote to know our winner! :)

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel

Synopsis from Doug TenNapel's website:

Something on this island is up to no good . . .
When Reese is forced to go on a boating trip with his family, the last thing he expects is to be shipwrecked on an island-especially one teeming with weird plants and animals. But what starts out as simply a bad vacation turns into a terrible one, as the castaways must find a way to escape while dodging the island's dangerous inhabitants. With few resources and a mysterious entity on the hunt, each secret unlocked could save them...or spell their doom. One thing Reese knows for sure: This is one Bad Island.

My Thoughts:
Sometimes graphic novels are the gateway into a love of reading for some of my non-readers. I really enjoyed TenNapel's other graphic novels, Ghostopolis and Cardboard so when I came across this at the library this weekend, I had to grab it for a Spring Break afternoon read. It would require some scaffolding for struggling readers because of the split narratives, but overall it's an interesting story. I would definitely recommend starting with Cardboard though if you're first starting with TenNapel's works.

Codename Zero by Chris Rylander

Synopsis from Chris Rylander's website:
From the publisher:

From Chris Rylander, author of The Fourth Stall, comes an incredibly funny and clever mash-up of middle-grade school story and spy adventure, in the vein of H.I.V.E. and NERDS.

There are places in the world where heroes are born. There are places where brave men and women fight a never-ending battle against evil in order to keep our country and all other countries safe. There are places where the fate of our planet is being decided, even at this very moment, the consequences of which will echo through history.

None of these places is in North Dakota.

Carson Fender, seventh grader and notorious prankster, knows this. He’s lived in North Dakota for his entire life, going to the same boring school every day, the same boring movie theater every week, the same boring state fair every year. Nothing ever changes, and nothing ever happens. That is, until today. Because today a desperate man hands him a package with a dire set of instructions. And that package is going to lead Carson to discover that there’s a secret government agency operating in his small, quiet North Dakota hometown.

And that this agency needs his help.

My Thoughts:

Codename Zero is a great read for middle school boys. I'm always on the lookout for recommendations for my boy readers (I think they get tired of my dystopian shero book recs). I've read aloud The Fourth Stall for several years and I think Rylander is becoming an even better writer (faster-paced action, shorter chapters, and even better humor). CZ brings together Anthony Horowitz-type spy gadgets with Jon Szieska-ish humor. I particularly LOVED the character Olek and his hilarious screw-ups of English sayings ("Is okay, as they say, early bird get many intestine worms in guts."). I can't wait to book talk this one when break is over! Side note: Rylander is a great author to Skype with! (See my students' reactions a couple of weeks ago when our librarian set up a Skype with him after finishing TFS).