Monday, December 10, 2012

Post Thanksgiving, Pre Christmas = Spinning Head

 In all the chaos it is sometimes hard to find time to reflect on all the books I'm reading through.  I've just finished up a great graduate course on digital literacy, and am supposed to feel like I've got a bit more time on my hands.  Funny how it finds ways to fill itself.

So, it's been a couple of weeks...maybe 3...I'm not checking, since I've posted my Monday post.  So here comes the catch up!  Buckle up!

Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker (Book 1) by Adam-Troy Castro
Illustrated by Kristen Margiotta
Grosset & Dunlap, 2012
Fantasy
227 pages
Recommended for grades 4-5

I love a creepy tale (but you're a loyal reader of mine, so you already know that), but I don't love this creepy tale.  Mainly because it is lacking in the creep department.  Mostly we have here a fantastical journey through Gustav Gloom's looks-are-very-deceiving-size-wise-mansion, while young Frannie What tries to get out of the house alive...and with her shadow.  Residing in Gustav's home is the People Taker, his monster pet and a ton of shadows that have been relieved of their people.  I don't truly understand much about this book...except that I didn't really like it.  But, man, that's a pretty sweet cover and title.

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert
Disney, Hyperion, 2012
Graphic Novel
92 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

Here we go!  This is an amazing graphic novel!  In this story about Helen Keller's young life we are focusing more on her teacher, Annie Sullivan, and her backstory.  The artwork in this book is well thought out.  When we begin the book all passages that are from Helen's perspective are drawn with a black background with a featureless childlike figure of a solid color as the main image of each box.  When Helen meets Ann their perspectives are woven together, but it is clear to the reader which boxes represent Helen's point of view.  And the more Helen learns and experiences, the more we see her self image begin to sharpen.  Flipping between Helen's present and Annie's past we learn how Ann Sullivan spent her early years.  With passages from Ann's own journals spread throughout the book, we  are directly linked to the history behind this story.  

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press, 2012
Fantasy
416 pages
Recommended for grades 9+

And here it is, my favorite YA book (to date) of 2012!  Last year I was wowed by Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  This year, it is hands down The Raven Boys.  Too bad I review for a committee that builds a reading list for grades 4-8...my YA love for this book will not be included on that list.
At 416 pages this book was far, far too short.  Yes, too short.  We meet Blue, living in house with her psychic mother and aunts, and discouragingly not a psychic herself, however Blue does possess the ability to strengthen her aunts' powers when Blue is near to them .  Blue has been told for ages that if she kisses her true love he will die.  In an early scene Blue and an aunt visit a cemetery on St. Mark's Eve, where the spirits of all that will die that coming year pass by on the ley line.  Blue sees her very first spirit, a boy about her age.  He mumbles a name, Gansey, to her, and it means nothing to Blue. 
As we journey onward and meet the "Raven Boys" from Aglionby Academy we keep the knowledge of the threat of the fatal kiss and the mysterious spirit boy tucked in the back of our minds.  Now we meet Gansey and his roommates, all well developed and vastly different characters.  Gansey is on a passionate quest to find a ley line, a line that can connect this world with the spirit world.  Blue becomes a part of this quest, and even though we know what we know, it is so very easy to be wrapped up in the story to forget what destiny has already been shared with the readers.  The twists and turns and ever added layers spur this story onward, though it moves at a pace that seems slow and enveloping.  I loved every minute spent with this story.  


I've also recently read:

Into the Woods (Bigfoot Boy Book 1) by J. Torres and Faith Erin Hicks
Kids Can Press, 2012
Graphic Novel-Fantasy
100 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5



Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin
Roaring Brook Press, 2012
32 pages
Nonfiction Informational
Recommended for grades 3-5

One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath
Schwartz & Wade, 2012
Realistic Fiction
224 pages
Recommended for grades 5-7

Sway by Amber McRee Turner
Disney, Hyperion, 2012
Realistic Fiction
311 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

Pigmares: Porcine Poems of the Silver Screen by David Cushman
Charlesbridge, 2012
Poetry
40 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

Happy to share thoughts on any of those, but truth be told, I'm rather sleepy now.

On to Tuesday!
Nicole








Monday, November 19, 2012

A Poetry Kind of Week

Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts

I've been busy, busy, busy reading and reviewing books.  This week I read through some poetry collections.

Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis
National Geographic, 2012
185 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

This is a hefty collection.  Don't attempt to read through this book in one sitting, there is far too much here for that ambition!  All poems are printed overlaying lovely, stunning and sometimes humorous photographs.  Poetry reading kids will see some familiar names in this collection, including: Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, and Valerie Worth.  And the older crowd will certainly recognize poets like: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling.  In short, this book has a wide span of styles, something for everyone.

So you've probably got a Jack Prelutsky collection sitting on your poetry shelf.  And you know he has a taste for humor, and often the simple ink drawings that accompany his poems reflect that humor as well.   But when you open this book and read Prelutsky's "The Egg" with a close up photograph of a bird hatching, humor is not what you experience.  What fun to show students the same poem with different artwork, will they agree that the art impacts their feelings of the poem?  Does it change in any way when reintroduced in a different format?  

I highly recommend this collection.  I use poetry in science class, and this collection is perfect for animal classification.  

If You Were a Chocolate Mustache by J. Patrick Lewis
Wordsong, 2012
160 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

Do you love silly, over the top, what sense is there to be made of this mishmash of lines, type of poetry?  Good, go read this.  I wasn't very taken by this collection.  Don't start bristling if you love this book.  We can politely have different opinions.  Just as our students have diverse likes and dislikes, so will book readers and reviewers.  Obviously.  Kids love silly poems, but I found some of this silliness more like nonsense.  Make it rhyme, give it a rhythm, put it in this book.  Don't look for too much depth in these pages.  

A Meal of the Stars: Poems up and down by Dana Jensen
Houghton Mifflin, 2012
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2-4

Each poem in this book is written with a single word on each line.  With no title at top or bottom, the reader knows not where to start, because as you discover, some start at the top, and some start at the bottom!  It was fun to begin reading only to discover that I should have started on the other end of the poem.  The poems are simple, ideal for young readers.  The artwork is appealing as well.


Next on deck is:


Other 2012 poetry collections I should be checking out?  Tell me, please!

Best,
Nicole



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

This post: some fabulously fun and clever books to celebrate the season of spooky!
I have pulled together a collection of some of my favorite read alouds for this time of year:

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci
Illustrated by David Catrow
Scholastic Press, 2001
Fantasy-Picture Book
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2+  

Older listeners or readers will be able to appreciate the language more.   I love the illustrations!  Catrow is one of my favorite illustrators, and his whimsical and style brings the creep factor to this book.  Kids really love when Cinderella doesn't losse a shoe, but rather has a her foot snapped off in the grip of her darling prince.

"Cinderella Skeleton,
Ignoring the thump of her footless stump,
Reached her coach and cried, 'Away!
I must be home by the break of day!'
They raced pell-mell past the palace gate;
The prince kept pleading, 'Lady, wait!'
In his hand, a foot-in his throat, a lump."

Come on, you had fun reading that!


Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis & Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins
Charlesbridge, 2012
Poetry
32 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

I ordered this book over the summer.  After showing it to my sister she looked up at me and said, "You're not going to read this to your kids, are you?"  And I tentatively replied with, "Um, noooo...?"  Ok, so maybe I should not read it to them this year.  Thankfully I have these kiddos for 4th grade too, when I can pull out all the questionable titles because they can handle them then ;)  The illustrations are what gets you with this book.  Right off the bat you can't help but think, ewww.  There is a little continuing storyline with the illustrations that happens in the background throughout the pages.  I don't find the book offensive, but I don't offend easily, so be careful who you send this one home with!
It's not the epitaphs themselves that are gruesome, as below you will see.  But these pictures play up the deadly messages.

Blue Whale Blues

She sang a melody,
two continents apart,
so long and sad, the echo
broke her heart.

In my Laugh Out Loud Picture Book Top Ten I shared the book Sipping Spiders Through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters by Kelly DiPucchio, ill. by Gris Grimly.  I see Last Laughs sitting nicely on the shelf next to that silly collection of songs.   
For the kid that thinks poetry is love and flowers, hand them this!

Tell Me a Scary Story...But Not TOO Scary!  By Carl Reiner
Illustrated by James Bennett
Little, Brown and Company, 2003
32 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 2-4

This book came with a CD of the author reading the story.  There are great sound effects and music to bring the story to life.  I love sharing a well read audio book, and this one has been a hit with all groups.  


The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992
32 pages
Fantasy-Picture Book
Recommended for grades 3+

I can't share a line up of favorite read alouds without including Van Allsburg, the master of storytelling and illustrating.  Van Allsburg respects young readers by not giving too much away, by letting young readers work with him to give life to his stories.  I don't think anyone could read a Van Allsburg story to a group of students without hearing gasps of realization or without seeing hands shoot up into the air because a listener is bursting to tell you what they just connected.
I always point out how 3 full length films have been made from three of Van Allsburg's picture books, giving credit to how powerfully immaginative his stories are.  

Kids love the kicker at the end of this book.

Happy Halloween Boys & Ghouls!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Creep, creep. What a great word!

I said spooky, but will Creeepy work?  It will.

Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts.

This week I read:

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech
Joanna Cotler Books, 2012
Fantasy?  Realistic Fiction?
226 pages
Recommended for grades 5-7

If you've read this, let me know, do you think this is a fantasy book?  As in, is you-know-who a you-know-what?  Or not?  Fantasy or not though, this book is beautifully written.  I have a serious complaint though.  Too short.  I wanted more time with these characters.  The language and feel of this book take you away from where you are sitting as you turn the pages.  So vivid are these characters that you instantly connect to them.  I love the mysterious going ons across the ocean that the reader peeks in on from time to time.  When watching Poirot was mentioned I smiled to myself.  My father loves Poirot.

Back to back I read the following books:

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin, 2012
Nonfiction, general information
33 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

What do I love about this beetley book:
The awesome illustrations.  Enlarged color drawings with life size black silhouettes accompanying.   
Lots of white space make this book easy to navigate. 
Text looks handwritten-I just like that sort of thing.
The information within the book ranges from habits of the beetle to parts of a beetle to how the beetle survives.  
Lastly, I love how excited my students were today to get their hands on this book.

Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders by Jim Arnosky
Sterling Children's Books, 2012
Nonfiction, general information
40 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

First of all, Arnosky is a brilliant artist.  His love of nature and his curious nature makes him a writer that kids can connect to.  This book begins by telling the reader why and how this book came about.  Don't you love when authors include you in their writing?  Really make you a part of it?  Yeah, kids do too.  So this book was sparked by a furry little yellow, black and white caterpillar.  Thanks caterpillar, without you this book wouldn't be here.  
Readers can either choose which groupings of insects to read about via the table of contents, or they can read start to beautiful finish.   As I was sharing this book with the class we talked about how to read a book with massive fold out pages like the ones found in this book.  We also talked about the similarities found in this book and The Beetle Book, lots of similar information, plus the life size silhouettes.  Then I pointed out what Arnosky does that not every nonfiction author conveys.  Arnosky shows us his love of words and language.  He knows the power in more than just facts, the power that lies in the way we craft our message.  
"Insects and spiders enliven the motionless ground and vibrate invisible air, filling the world with movement and sound."

He leaves us with the wisdom to "be mindful of the small."


But what on earth to read now?  Well, this one might be surprising.  I am reading, and LOVING:

ParaNorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
256 pages
Fantasy
Recommended for grades 4+

I thought this would be a bit...umm...how to say...not so good.  I mean come on, there is an animated movie out at the same time the book is out, how am I to know this isn't just more money to be made in the same story, different format.  WRONG-O!  This book is a hoot!  Poor Norman, he is bullied by meatheads and is pestered by the dead at every turn.  When Norman's great-uncle decides to rest in peace a bit too soon, Norman is charged with protecting the town from the risen dead before...before what?!  I don't know!  I have to keep reading!

Cheers, Nicole






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Start Spelling!

Want a fun way to get students spelling with a beloved character?



Good news, I spelled 'purple' correctly! 


Then I got the word 'Chihuahua.'

That's just UNFAIR!

I'll never spell 10 in a row to win a way cool prize THIS way. hum.

On the cool side,
Judy Moody creator Megan McDonald reads the words, sentences and definitions to you!

Have fun, go spell.  And good luck!
Nicole




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ivy and Bean Day Fun, Fun, Fun


Well, it's Tuesday, which means I have let down hundreds of thousands of blog following fans by not posting my It's Monday post. 

Ok, hundreds of thousands might be a stretch, but hey, you're here!   That's plenty good in my book.

Last week we celebrated Ivy and Bean Day!  



Fun included reading:


The kids listened to it during snack and our afternoon read aloud time.  We continued it during snack for the next 2 days.  If you haven't read an Ivy and Bean book yet, you are missing out on some fun times.  These two are total crack-ups.  Even though Ivy and Bean are second graders, my third grade guys and gals truly enjoyed the book.  
Later that day we made invisible ink Ivy and Bean style.  Idea courtesy of the blog Kid Lit Frenzy.

Kids were given the name of a classmate and wrote a secret message to that friend.  We let the "ink" dry while we went to lunch and recess.  Later we came back to paint over the messages in grape juice concentrate.  A fun time for the little scientists! 

To end the fun the kids got an Ivy and Bean word search and got to pick from the fun goodies sent by Chronicle Books!


Can't I just spend my days celebrating great books and awesome characters?!  

Oh wait...I do.  Just not with enough stickers and confetti.




I wasn't the only one wearing advertising for the event...I was greeted by this hilarious walking billboard.  (It was also Miss Dietlin's birthday, she observes and teaches on Fridays this semester.)


Gotta love Book Love!





Monday, October 8, 2012

Spook On!

Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts

I wanted to write only about spooky titles this month.  I really wanted that.  But the truth is, I haven't been reading any spooky books lately.  Double darn.  So, to get around that I will add on some favorite spooktastic books at the end of the posts.

Here's what I've actually been reading this week:

Giant Squid by Mary Cerullo & Clyde F. E. Roper
Capstone Press, 2012
Nonfiction: General Information
48 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6 as an independent read

Awesome nonfiction text about the search for the giant squid, alive and in its natural habitat.  As a teacher with little squid hunters in my own classroom, this book is especially relevant and exciting to add to my classroom library.  The author is also from our good old home state.  I love the mixture of vintage feeling graphics alongside photographs of the biggest eyeball on Earth and the inside of a Sperm whale's belly.  Ok, I didn't actually "like" either of those pictures, but you catch my drift.



Hocus Pocus Hotel (Book 1) by Michael Dahl
Capstone Press, 2012
Mystery
204 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

One of the things I love about Capstone books is that they publish fun to read texts that support striving readers.  This book has lots of white space on the pages, and every chapter or so has a full page color illustration.  And with over 200 pages, this book doesn't look like an "easy" read.  The Capstone titles I've added to my classroom have always been a hit.  It's not that they are the best written literature, but they certainly serve an important role in helping many students feel more and more like accomplished readers.


Escaping Titanic: A Young Girl's True Story of Survival by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Kory S. Heizen
Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone), 2012
Historical Fiction
32 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

I'm on the fence about this title.  Students with a lot of background on the subject of the Titanic will not find any new information here.  The illustrations look old fashioned, which I personally think are charming, though not moving.  One of the best features of the book is the true information about Ruth Becker.  To be honest, I would rather have read about her after the voyage.  We have many texts about the sinking, but not as many written for kids that tell about the people after the voyage. 

Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So
Chronicle Books, 2012
Poetry
32 pages
Recommended for grades 3-forever

Oh, the loveliness of this book is so powerful!  The watercolor illustrations are absolutely perfect, Coombs must feel so fortunate to have been paired with So.  The style and subject matter of the poems changes throughout, of course keeping an ocean theme.  These poems need to be shared!  It was impossible for me to read this book to myself.  I kept reading them out loud to the fianc√©!  
If you have yet to come across this book, don't forget to read the back jacket flap.  I love what Meilo So wrote for her 'about the illustrator'.  I can certainly see doing this with students!

What Came from the Stars by the Amazing Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books, 2012
Science Fiction
304 pages
Recommended for grades 5 and up

I'm currently in the middle of this book.  I adore Schmidt's writing, and this is a big change from Lizzie Bright, Holling and Doug's stories  What isn't missing from this book are the emotions found in Schmidt's other works.  What's new is the far away planet where a terrible overthrowing is taking place.   When human Tommy Pepper finds himself in the possession of an item that is desperately needed by both sides of the fighting back on the home planet of the Velorim, he is targeting by the aliens.  Things are violent and frightening as the town of Plymouth is ravaged by nightly storms and home break-ins.  The creature wants to find what Tommy has.


Spook time:


Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky
HarperCollins, 2011
Fantasy
227 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

This title is currently on the Maine Student Book Award list.  So Maine kids in grades 4-8 looking for a good October read should check this out!

Juniper Berry is the only child of two famous movie stars.  She lives in a mansion, and even though she is surrounded by people that work in her house, she is totally void of human companions.  Luckily she has her little dog, Kitty.  When Juniper watches her parents sneak out in the night towards the forest behind their home, she becomes curious as to where they are going.  Around this strange event Juniper has been noticing some odd changes in her parents.  They are involved with something not right.  Something not human, and Juniper will have to come very close to the source of the evil to find out what it is.  A good creepfest.





Monday, October 1, 2012

A month of Spooooky titles!


Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts

I absolutely love the month of October.  Spookiness is the name of the game this month, and my book posts will be centered around this theme for the next 5 Mondays!  You're welcome ;)

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke, illustrated by Andrea Offermann
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012
Fantasy
Recommended for readers in grades 5-8 (352 pages)

Growing up I loved a good ghost story.  Okay, I still love them!  There is just something about being spooked, and believing in what may or may not be real.  So when I saw Funke's latest title, Ghost Knight, I was immediately drawn to it.  

Jon is a typical adolescent boy who at the start of the school year finds himself shipped off to a boarding school.  Jon suspects his mother's boyfriend, which he awesomely calls "The Beard," has a part in his sending off.  Once settled at school Jon hears some strange sounds outside during the night.  Daring a peek outside, Jon finds himself haunted by spirit knights hanging out below his window.  As all good spirits should be, they are bloody, fearsome and apparently after Jon!  Jon ends up learning of the family connection he has to the spirits, finds help from the living as well as from the spirit of Sir William Longspee, a real person in history!  The illustrations add great visuals throughout.  

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand, illustrated by Sarah Watts
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012
Fantasy (352 pages...again, that's weird!)
Recommended for readers in grades: 6-8

Here we have a very unique story.  Victoria is top of her class, organized to a fault, rigid and unsure of how to have a loving relationship.  Things begin getting weird in her quaint town.  First we hear and see and feel the bugs that creep and crawl in the strangest places.  Then we notice the adults have wolfish grins at times.  And there's that chilling breeze that sweeps through a room.  And the kids.  Why are some kids missing, and why don't their families seem alarmed?  We, the reader, and Victoria are trying to figure this all out together.  
Things get real bad when Victoria's one friend-even-though-she-won't-admit-it, Lawrence, disappears.  His parents say he is visiting a relative.  But Victoria doesn't buy it.  And neither do we.  Something strange is afoot, and the root of it might be at the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.  Pun intended, if you've read the book you caught it!

It's creepy and twisting and dark, the perfect October read.  What is wicked of Claire Legrand is the ending.  The ending is just wicked of her.  

The illustrations are of an interesting style, however they give the story a cartoonish feel that almost makes light of the darkness that is there.  Plus, in a scene at the end Victoria was running from someone  with something in her arms, and neither were portrayed as they were in the text.  That kind of thing can irk me, but I liked the book enough not to dwell on it.  



What are you reading on these dark and windy October nights?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Best Graphic Novel of the Year!



Here's what kept me busy this weekend.  I'm still plugging away at The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, which is better savored. 

Hunter Moran Saves the Universe by Patricia Reilly Giff
Holiday House, 2012
Recommended Grades 3-5
Realistic Fiction/Crazy Adventure (128 pages)

I wasn't blown away by this story, but I can certainly see some major boy appeal to it.   Young readers will like the mystery and adventure around trying to figure out what Mr. Diglio buried in his backyard (the twin boys in the story think it is a bomb).  There is trouble with parents and siblings, middle of the night rendezvous, and weird townspeople.  The problem for me was how quickly one thing ran into the next, never giving my mind time to create a world where these characters lived.  I think young readers might have trouble picturing the story unfold and have trouble keeping characters straight, as there are many minor characters.

Cardboard, by Doug Tennapel
Graphix, 2012
Recommended Grades 4-6
Fantasy (283 pages)

LOVE.  I love this book because it is funny and crazy and heartwarming. 
When Cam's dad gives him an empty cardboard box for his birthday he doesn't let it get him down. Together they work to create something amazing out of that plain box.  Rich kid bully, Marcus, across the street taunts Cam for being poor.   Magically, the man Cam and his father created out of cardboard comes to life and becomes a member of their family.  Use your imagination here, it works :)  What follows is jealousy and cardboard creations gone mad.  Marcus gets his hands on the magic cardboard and begins creating terrible and dangerous monsters.  When Marcus needs help most he finds that Cam, the boy he constantly put down, is the one there to help him.  The artwork is absolutely amazing.  Yucky Marcus could not have been more perfectly visually created.  Fast paced, deep storyline, creative, stunning artwork, this is what graphic novels are all about.  You could do some great things with characterization using this book.
It gets my vote for best graphic novel of the year...so far :)
I just get such a kick out of Marcus, he is soooo despicable and yet so lovable by the last page.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Call this Post: Two Very Different Books...




Sometimes going to bed at 7:00 is awesome.  Because you can read and read and read, and STILL get to sleep on time.  I don't get to do that often, but I did the other night and here's what I spent my time with:


The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng (Great illustrations by Abigail Halpin)
Houghton Mifflin, 2012 (146 pages)
Realistic Fiction, Grades 3-5

If you love books you will appreciate this simple, sweet, yet very deep story.  If you don't love books, why are you reading this blog? ;)  

One of my favorite novels of the year so far!  This little story packs a lot of emotion into it.  4th grade Anna Wang might be dealing with things unfamiliar to many, like being a first generation American, but she also deals with things we all can relate to, like hurt feelings.  Anna feels on the outs, and lets it get to her at first, but she reaches within and realizes that others are fragile too, and she makes the choice to be the kind of friend she wants to have.  Wonderful book to share with young female readers!  

And on the non sweet side:

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin
RazorBill, 2012 (283 pages)
Fantasy, Grades 4-6

First off, great title.  Secondly, the author has a great first name.  But seriously, this book was fun to read.  Sixth grader Lorelei has a pile of problems.  She is struggling with figuring out her undiagnosed learning disability, trying to live with her obnoxious stepmother, and coping as best she can with the fairly recent death of her mother...which she thinks she caused.
But when Lorelei and her new friend Andrew begin to piece together what is happening at Splendid Academy, all her old problems are not all she has to worry about.  Because frustration and embarrassment and grief are tough to deal with, but being alive to deal with them is better than being...not.

October is right around the corner, which would be a swell month to read this spooky tale.  

~Nicole

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Step Inside My Classroom!

The first week of school with my new batch of 3rd graders has been so amazing.  The group of students I will be sharing the next 2 years with have been impressing me by how quickly they have become a community.  Before they entered our classroom on the first day of school I snapped some pictures of the room.  Here's how it looked:


The bulletin board right outside the room in the 3rd/4th hallway.  I was inspired by a similar board on pinterest.





Welcome to my room!  I made the letters above the door the summer I was hired.  This is the last year I can use them!  
Yay :)


Here's the view from the doorway.  We are so lucky to be on this side of the school with a view of the garden.  I feed the birds all year, so we see many types throughout the seasons.


State Book Award book shelf, lunch count and...the most awesome shelf that a custodian saved from the dump for me.  He built the selves and I gave it some paint.  It is big enough to hold all 18 bins and literacy binders!  


Our small group table.


Student mailboxes, etc.


Inside the bureau are all our general supplies (glue, scissors, colored pencils, etc.) as well as math supplies behind the double doors.  Keeps things neat and uncluttered.


Looking towards the right side of the classroom library


Summer reading bulletin board, filled with pictures of the kids and myself reading this summer.


Another pinterest inspired bulletin board!


Where they will track their home reading minutes this year.


Our retelling board used for read alouds.




Library Buds


My bench, I use the storage for seasonal books.


I have been looking for a magazine rack for years.  I happened upon this one last month at TJMaxx.  Our magazine drive begins in a couple of weeks, so I'm leaving the top spot free for a subscription of the kids' choice.


And finally, my space.  The flowers were a sweet surprise from my friend next door.

Feel free to leave any Qs or comments.  And if you have a classroom tour online let me know about it!

Best,
Nicole