Sunday, April 23, 2017

POSTED Blog Tour and Giveaway!

I recently finished reading Posted by John David Anderson. At 384 pages long, I was able to spend a lot of time getting to know the characters, and a lot of time thinking about the messages in this story. But even though I had 384 pages to think through, it didn't feel like nearly enough time.

Here's the thing, the characters Anderson creates are real. They have real personalities, real experiences, and real emotions and thoughts. As Sandra Cisneros reminded us in Eleven, we are still 11, and 13 and 12. Once we've been those ages, we never undo them. So even though I'm far from middle school, I could still feel the uncertainty, and the frailty of feelings when faced with comments or looks from certain people. I could also remember the feeling of what it meant to be part of a tribe of friends. Being surrounded by the people that get you.

It's all here.

Anderson's writing is a gift to us. I hope this novel is used in classrooms, as a read aloud or for book groups and clubs. There is just so. much. here. Navigating friendships, and navigating who you are. I often paused while reading to savor passages.

"You can do an awful lot of damage with a handful of words. You can destroy friendships. You can end a marriage. You can start a war. Some words can break you to pieces.
But that's not all. Words can be beautiful. They can make you feel things you've never felt before. Gather enough of them and sometimes they can stick those same pieces back together."
If you were to read the final paragraph of the book before reading the whole story (do not do this), it wouldn't mean all that much to you. But after spending so much time with Frost, Wolf, Deedee and Rose, you've been privy to many inside jokes and been there for all sorts of events and conversations, and that final paragraph is filled with references to those things. You might just feel like part of the tribe by the time you read that final paragraph. And feeling that will bring a smile to your face.

If books were for hugging (and they are) then this is surely one to hug. Please get this book. Get it for you, and get it for others.
Oh, and include some cool sticky notes.

Other stops on the tour:

April 18 Nerdy Book Club
April 22 Next Best Book
April 24 Litcoach Lou
                        Book Monsters
April 25 Kirsti Call
                                                                          April 27 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia                                                                          
                        Ms Yingling Reads
                                                                                    April 28 Maria's Mélange                                                                                     
                     Novel Novice
April 29 The Hiding Spot

Special thanks to Walden Pond Press!
Giveaway closes Friday (4/28) at 9pm Eastern

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4-17-17

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Books I Read this Week:

Varmints by Andy Hirsch
First Second, 2016
Graphic Novel
215 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

Lots of fun, and tons of action. The only problem with a story for kids being set in the wild west is the amount of drinking, shooting and saloon scenes! Eeeee, I hesitate putting this in my classroom library because I feel like I have to be able to stand behind my decision 100%. Public library, heck yeah! Do other teachers grapple with this??
I do know that kids will certainly like the humor, pacing and vibrant illustrations.

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea by Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Carolrhoda Books, 2017
Recommended for grades 1+

I'm hosting today's stop in the How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea blog tour today. Visit this post for a more complete review and a chance to win a copy!
You'll love the humor and heart in this story. Travel with the queen to Japan, India and Turkey in search of a perfect cup of tea.

I'm Currently Reading:

What My Kid is Currently Enjoying:

Thanks for stopping by!

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea (Review & Giveaway!)

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour of

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea!

Written by Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Carolrhoda Books, 2017
Recommended for grades 1+

 What fun Hosford and Swiatkowska must have had working on this book! It surely feels like they had fun. I'm a huge fan of Gabi Swiatkowska's illustrations, and found the character of the Queen to be delightfully portrayed in words and images that worked perfectly together.

What I love, love, love about this book:
The transformation the queen goes through.
How children from Japan, India, and Turkey share their tea drinking traditions.
That tone of voice you can hear in your head while reading the queen's nose-in-the-air lines!
And of course, the way the words and images create a perfect experience. 

So, grab a copy (winning one is a bonus!), grab a friend or a cat or a dog, and then:
Go to the faucet, fill up the kettle, and boil the water. The tea you choose is up to you!
Sip, read, and enjoy!

Please read the following message about the author's commitment to donate to First Book.
Be sure to enter below for a chance to win a copy of the book! 

Making friendship and fun countIn the spirit of the book's message, Kate Hosford will donate $1 (up to $500) for every retweet of a review or interview from her blog tour to First Book. (Be sure to include .@khosford_author.) Established in 1992, First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need.

Thanks for stopping by!
And thank you to Blue Slip Media for hosting this tour and providing the book for the giveaway!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 4-12-17

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.
I noticed years back that my classroom library was heavy on fiction. Since noticing the imbalance of fiction to nonfiction, I've remained on the lookout for engaging and diverse nonfiction titles. Here are some recent finds!

Caroline's Comet: A True Story
By Emily Arnold McCully
Holiday House, 2017
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

I enjoyed this biography of a young female scientist breaking ground in her day. It certainly left me curious as to what her life was really like. Forging ahead and crossing gender boundaries was surely not an easy task, and it seemed that there must be so much more to learn about this woman. I also couldn't help but think about how incredibly lucky I am to have been born generations after pioneers like Caroline Herschel.

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness
Written by Donna Janell Bowman, 
Illustrated by Daniel Minter
Lee & Low Books, 2016

I love block print illustrations. The illustrations give a sense of power and strength even when depicting scenes of vulnerability. I am sure I have heard of this amazing horse before (Jim Key), but I certainly didn't fully know the story of how Doc raised and trained Jim. 
As the title suggests, Doc and Jim spread a message of how to treat animals with kindness, but the real takeaway for me is sort of one of disbelief. How is it possible that Jim Key was able to read, write, and compute, or to answer questions, like he did? Scholars from Harvard conducted a study in hopes of determining whether there was some sort of cheating taking place. I worried when I found myself going to that place too. Why do I jump to the conclusion that it just can't be so? That a horse simply can't do what Jim supposedly did? That's the adult in me getting the best of me. I think young people will latch on to this remarkable story and see it for how amazing it was at that time, and is even still today.
(Also, Maine illustrator!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4-3-17

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Books I Read this Week:

The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano
Bloomsbury, 2017
211 pages (ARC)
Recommended for grades 4-7

More to come on this title in the future, closer to publication. What I've got to say for now: Sad. Sad, sad, sad. Starts off sad, then punches you in the gut with more sad! Heavy, serious things to ponder beneath all that sad.

The Amazing Crafty Cat by Charise Mericle Harper
First Second, 2017
Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel
123 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

Readers will think this crafty cat is in fact, a cat, but will soon be surprised to see that beneath those kitty ears is a young girl named Birdie. When Birdie dresses as Crafty Cat she gets into the crafting zone, which can help her problem solve (when a foodie disaster strikes) or delight her classmates (to salvage a birthday celebration). The back includes the projects made my Crafty Cat in this volume. More to come from this author!

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?! 3-27-17

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

I love March because A. My birthday, and B. Because it's supposed to turn lamb-like by the time it winds up. Well, I did have a birthday this month, but my the month is remaining a bit too lion-like. Come on spring, just come on!
To cheer myself up I'm sharing some books with you!

Books I Read this Week:

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schiltz
Illustrated by Brian Floca
Candlewick Press, 2017
74 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

Princess Cora has it bad. Cora's days are tightly scheduled with bathing (Nanny's thrice-a-day demand), reading (dull books chosen by her mother), and by incessant workouts run by her father (mainly involving a jump rope).  When Cora wishes for a dog to become her companion, she is granted a pet that is very much not an adorable yellow puppy. 
But maybe this crocodile could turn out to be ok. He volunteers to dress up like Cora to fool (and set straight) her nanny and parents. Of course this plan is doomed. But while it is unfurling, Cora is outside experiencing a day of her own making.
Delightful illustrations bring this thoughtful and silly story to life.

Shackles from the Deep: Tracing the Past of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy by Michael H. Cottman
National Geographic, 2017
127 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

Get your hands on this book. Read it, and then tell other people about it.
Even though I felt a bit like an intruder at times, reading something that was at times so sacred and personal, I'm glad to have intruded. My mind was stimulated with images and thoughts throughout the reading of this book. The Henrietta Marie was a slave ship that now rests below the ocean, and has been viewed and researched by black scuba divers. The impact of this is deep. 

At one point early in the book the author explains how small insignificant glass beads were used to trade for human lives. When I read this passage near the end of the book it stuck with me:
"...I ran my hands through the grains of sand and plucked tiny blue, yellow, and purple beads from the ocean floor."

Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence
First Second, 2017
Science Fiction/Graphic Novel
187 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

When Avani is accidentally transported to space by an alien named Mabel, she is in for an eye opening adventure!
Avani doesn't fit in with the girls in her new school, and the Flower Scouts are not her kind of girls. Too much talk about boys and make-up, and no one interested in rodeos or barrel racing (except the girl she overlooks, but more on her in the next book I assume).
Avani becomes friends with some Star Scouts, works hard at earning badges, and proves her strength of character.
Also, fits the bill for diverse books!

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Reading Aloud to my 4th Graders:

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Matylda, Bright & Tender Blog Tour

Welcome to the next stop on the Matylda, Bright & Tender Blog Tour!

Here you will not only learn about this new release, but you will also have the chance to enter to win a copy! This giveaway is graciously provided by Candlewick Press.

224 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 3+

From the publisher:
Sussy and Guy are best friends, fourth-graders who share their silliest thoughts and deepest hopes. One afternoon, the two of them decide they must have something of their very own to love. After a trip to the pet store, they bring home a spotted lizard, the one with the ancient face and starfish toes, and they name her Matylda (with a y so it’s all her own). With Guy leading the way, they feed her and give her an origin story fit for a warrior lizard. A few weeks later, on a simple bike ride, there is a terrible accident. As hard as it is, Sussy is sure she can hold on to Guy if she can find a way to love Matylda enough. But in a startling turn of events, Sussy reconsiders what it means to grieve and heal and hope and go on, for her own sake and Matylda’s. By turns both devastating and buoyant, this story is a brave one, showing how far we can justify going for a real and true friend.
In a courageous debut novel, Holly M. McGhee explores the loss that shakes one girl’s world — and the unexpected consequences of the things we do for love.

From me:
 As I had previously posted, when I finished this book I sat for a while. I sat holding the book tightly closed, staring at the leopard gecko, the bright yellow and the dark spots. My eyes read the title, Matylda, Bright & Tender, over and over again. I think I was unsure of where to go next. What do I say about a book that holds such fierce and loyal love, but also holds such deep, deep pain within?

Really the depth of this book is so strong that there isn't much I can say that feels "enough".

What I can say is, this book will be devoured by the readers that love heart-wrenching stories. 

The grief Sussy experiences is a grief that comes from being faced with a world without her most loyal and comfortable friend. Sussy had a rare friendship. One that many young people might not ever find. But with that rare and beautiful friendship comes a pain just as rare and extraordinary when it is lost.

IF you are willing to go on this journey with Sussy, you will be glad to make it out on the other side with her.

Thanks for stopping by!