Monday, July 1, 2013

Visiting the Art Institute with Marianne Malone

I’m typing this post and squinting at my laptop through bleary sleep-deprived eyes. I’ve just returned home from the awesomeness that was ALA. For this conference I decided not to bring my laptop. This meant that I did tweet and check Facebook, but no blogging or real writing of any kind. I knew there would be little free time, so that was likely a good choice, but now I’m feeling a bit behind upon returning home.

This is just going to be a quick post, but today’s Monday and although I wanted to do my normal It’s Monday, What Are You Reading post, I just don’t have time. Instead I want to point you in the direction of an amazing series.

Marianne Malone writes a series called Sixty-Eight Rooms. Two and a half years ago – in November of 2011, I was at NCTE in Chicago. Walking by the Art Institute with Donalyn Miller, I learned about this series and their tie to the Thorne Rooms that are showcased in the Art Institute.

Returning home I immediately picked up the first volume, enjoyed it, and was shocked to learn that the author lived near my school. Marianne was kind enough to come visit my classroom that year, and this year as well. She has also added two more books to the series – Stealing Magic and Pirate’s Coin. The last title just came out a month ago.

This is a series that has gotten stronger with each new book. In Pirate’s Coin, Jack and Ruthie revisit elements of the previous books and meet some pirates as well. This book seemed action packed and I loved tying the threads together as I read, trying to solve the mystery. I have also enjoyed watching Jack and Ruthie grow as the series has progressed. These are two characters who I've become very attached to. Each book in the series has given us new insights to the characters and revealed a bit more about their history - in Pirate's Coin we learn more about Jack's dad, which hadn't been shared before. I know this book will be a hit in my classroom this year.

On Friday I was fortunate enough to go see the Thorne Rooms in person during my visit to Chicago for ALA. Even better news was that Marianne Malone could meet me there and give her own tour of these beautiful rooms. In the video below you can see just a few of the amazing rooms that make up this collection as well as the Caldecott exhibit they are currently hosting. I highly recommend you see the Thorne Rooms in person when you can – and visit this amazing museum. The attention to detail in each room is incredible. And if you haven’t checked out The Sixty-Eight Rooms series, please do. It is a sure hit in any middle grade classroom.