Author Spotlight: Lynda Mullaly Hunt of One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree



Today I had the great fortune of meeting Lynda Mullaly Hunt as she so kindly had breakfast with our Sunshine State Young Readers Book Club. Her upcoming book looks wonderful (and especially appropriate for my struggling readers!).  It is called Fish in a Tree. I will discuss it first and then add a small review of her first book, One for the Murphys.

Here is the publisher's synopsis: "The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike."

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Grades: Middle Grades
Pages: 288
Lexile: 550
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books - ISBN 13:78-0399162596
Date: February 10, 2015

Look at this trailer! It looks really good:

Read chapter one HERE.

OR

Grab a button:

I am anxious to dig into this one; it is already generating some excellent buzz!



One for the Murphys was a lovely book. I read it with our book club last year when it was chosen as a Sunshine State Middle Grades title. I wish I had reviewed it, but by the time it got in my hands it was already well on the radar of excellence (234 reviews on Amazon & a perfect 5 stars or the 7,751 ratings at a 4.3 on Goodreads should give you a hint).
Here is the publisher's synopsis: "A moving debut novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family's love Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future."
From Scholastic: "Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong, until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future."

Here are some educator resources for One for the Murphys:

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Grades: Middle Grades
Pages: 256
Lexile: 520
Themes: Coming of age, Friendship, Nontraditional Families, Foster Care, Pride
Character Development: Amazing! One of those books where you will remember the characters long after you close the last page.
Plot Engagement: Character driven tale, not action-adventure driven. Great for investigating character traits and author's purpose.
Originality: Although there are lots of books on adoption and foster care, this one stands out because of all of the characters and especially the protagonist, Carley.
Believability: Though Lynda Mullaly Hunt mentioned students being 'put off' by the ending during our breakfast chat (and my kids agreed), I found the ending very satisfying. It's a book about a girl coming into her own, opening up and taking her own path. I hate "Disney" endings so I was a happy reader!
Thank You: Ms. Hunt! What a wonderful experience for our students!!!
Publisher: Puffin - ISBN 13: 978-0142426524
Date: May 16, 2013
Trailer:


Read chapter 1 and get Teacher's Guides: HERE and HERE and HERE.

Here is the author's BLOG and her WEBSITE and her Pinterest Page and her Amazon Page.

She also has a great guest post on the creative process over on Watch. Connect. Read.

-------------------- That's all folks! -------------------- 
© 2007-2015 Cheryl Vanatti for Reading Rumpus!

2014 CYBILS Announced

I am a little out of sorts because I did not get to participate in the CYBILS this year. But, here is a nice link to them, with a wish that I can have more time next year!




-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2015 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Bigfoot is Missing by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt with illustrations by Minalima

Bigfoot is Missing! is an interesting poetry addition all about Cryptozoology… Bet you don’t know what that means!

The poems are short and sweet, in some instances not like poetry at all (in a good way!). The illustrations are big and colorful advertisement-style graphics that seem to be looking for eighteen mythical beasts of yore. The brevity of word and gargantuan color makes for a nice balance. The end pages are short definitions of each mythical beast that will leave young readers headed to research more about them.

Writers Lewis and Nesbitt have both been Children’s Poet Laureates and illustrators Mina and Eduardo Lima are heavily involved in the Harry Potter film designs so this book comes with a stellar group of people attached. This is a good poetry book to add to both library and classroom collections. Out just in time for April's Poetry Month!



Genre: Poetry Picture Book
Age: Elementary & Middle
Pages: 40




Thank You to Publisher Chronicle Books for my advanced copy
Release Date: March 31, 2015
ISBN: 978-1452118956

You can read more about the authors on Chronicle's webpage: HERE.

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2015 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla - a must for all elementary classrooms & libraries

When you start to read Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, if you have already read The One and Only Ivan, you are going to tear up on the first page because you already love Ivan and know his fate. I am obsessed with The One and Only Ivan and have been since I had the chance to read it before release and then again when it won the Newbery. The nonfiction picture version doesn't disappoint with the true tale of Ivan. It is (once again) told with an even hand, one where humans make mistakes and humans fix mistakes. It also contains a special magic that only Ivan can create. That gorilla left a lasting mark on us humans and we need to seriously consider the balance between animal care and exploitation because of having known him.

Add this one to all elementary classrooms & libraries.
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Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
Age: All Elementary, especially when paired with the fictional tale of Ivan
Pages: 40
Publisher: Clarion Books
ISBN:  978-0544252301

Themes: Ethics, Animal Rights, Activism
Science: Gorillas

Foreshadowing: “He did not learn about humans until it was too late.”






-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2015 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com
P.S. Sock monkeys are not gorillas, but I didn't have a gorilla button :-)

Little Bird by Germano Zullo with illustrations by Albertine: A very special little book

I usually write about children's books on Reading Rumpus. Sometimes I drop a few teaching ideas, but mostly this is simply a place to chronicle children's literature that I find interesting for one reason or another. I read a lot more books, A LOT more, than I ever could write about here. Every once in awhile, I get my hands on a book that is so profound it transcends the stigma of being labelled a "children's" book (boy, is that a post for another soap box sort of day). Those books become our classics. They are this:
  

and this:



and all of those shiny medal ones we cherish. But across the pond they write books too! I don't get my hands on those very often, not unless they publish them here:



Little Bird is a very special story. It won France's version of the Caldecott, the Prix Sorcières in 2011, but the story is what really gets me. I read it a long time ago and recently found it in a stack of book in the back of a closet. Here are the opening lines just to give you an idea:

"Some days are different.
One could almost believe that one day is just like another.
But some have something a little more.
Nothing much.
Just a small thing.
Tiny."

This is one of those life-affirming stories that should be on everyone's shelf! Go buy it. You will start looking at the mundane, the overlooked, the little things.... Tiny..... with new eyes. 


-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
© 2007-2015 Cheryl Vanatti for   www.ReadingRumpus.com

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