Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-3-14

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!

Today midcoast Maine saw quite the little snow storm! No one enjoys the snow as much as our dogs do, but the boy didn't seem to mind it either!

Books I've Recently Read:

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
Harper, 2014
Science Fiction
279 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

If I wasn't responsible for reviewing as many books per year as I need to for my committee work, I'd start this one over again right now.
This husband and wife author team come from backgrounds of writing for adults and young children, and magic happened when they met in the middle.
A gorgeous story about a young girl willing to do whatever it takes to save her father's life after he is found guilty of arson and murder. The opening of this book is so intriguing-it would be impossible for anyone to read to page four and not want to forge onward.
Love, loyalty, bravery and time-travel merge into a tightly woven story that is full of danger, suspense and the reminder of the strength of friendship. 
Throughout my reading of this book I was marking and flagging, preparing to share lines with my students in writing workshop. Absolutely gorgeous writing, one of my top favorites of 2014!

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
Delacorte, 2014
272 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 4-7

Woo-Whoo, this one was a fast paced, fun loving read!
Four adopted boys with two dads, all with wonderfully distinct personalities, assure this house full of guys is never low on action-or humor!
This book will appeal to both boy and girl readers. I loved how each of the boys deals with his own personal troubles in the story, working through them in very believable ways. I listened to the audio version, and the reader did an outstanding job.
Another one of my favorites of 2014!

Half for You and Half for Me by Katherine Govier, illustrated by Sarah Clement
Whitecap, 2014
Poetry/Traditional Literature
182 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

The author has a fondness for the memories these nursery rhymes evoke, and as her mother ages, those memories seem extra important. This book felt to me like a tribute to the author's mother-the woman who shared a love of literacy with her daughter.
Many of the nursery rhymes found here are well known, and some were only vaguely familiar to me. Histories were given for some of the rhymes, but in many cases the histories were speculative.  I enjoyed revisiting the rhymes, and I think there is importance in preserving them with our youth.

I'm Currently Reading:

(Amazing audio book!)

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful reading week!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10-20-14

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!
It seems harder to carve out time to sit down to share my recent readings. The reading still happens, but admittedly, isn't happening in the same volume it used to. The reading also looks a little different...
So, blogging might slow down for now, but I'm still here, reading and living the good life :)
So, here's what's been going on lately:

Books I've Recently Read:

The Last Wild by Piers Torday
Viking, 2014
322 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

I love the cover of this book. There is such beauty and mystery, simple yet thought-provoking.
This story is set in a bleak future where animals have all died off from the "red eye" or been killed by humans in hopes of stopping the spread of the deadly virus.  Young Kester has been living in an institution, separated from his father following the death of his mother. Kester hasn't spoken in years, and lives a miserable life. Until one day he discovers that he can communicate with animals. Animals! Known as the Wild, there are some animals still living in the woods, desperate for Kester's help. Young readers will ponder over the possibility of a world without animals and fresh food, and will be whisked along on this fast paced, and sometimes dangerous, journey.

Nightmares by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller
Delacorte Press, 2014
355 pages
Recommended for grades 3-7

This book caught my eye while I was in Target buying diapers. I just couldn't pass it by!
Then I noticed it was co-written by actor Jason Segel-who I love! However, whenever I see a book written by a Hollywood actor I become slightly hesitant.
The verdict: it will be entertaining to young readers. 
I was not anticipating the sadness tucked within these pages though. Main character Charlie has recently lost  his mother to cancer. Charlie's father has re-married, and the family has moved into the stepmother's mansion. Charlie is haunted with nightmares each night, and eventually finds himself in the Netherworld, the land of nightmares. I wasn't quite prepared for the reality of what scares Charlie. I will admit, I found myself crying more than once while reading. Maybe it's the new mom in me-I'm not sure how kids will react.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Books, 2014
Science Fiction
208 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

Ellie is a typical middle-school girl, dealing with typical middle-school girl issues. Except for her newest issue, the one where her grandfather shows up in her house as his middle-school self!
Ellie's grandfather, Melvin, is a scientist, and he's developed a formula to reverse aging. Before things can be sorted out, Melvin needs to fly under the radar, which means acting as Ellie's long-lost cousin and joining her at school.
Through this strange experience Ellie comes to see not only her grandfather, but also the field of science, in a new light.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy this gorgeous season!

This photo was taken today by my friend Molly, as a group of us enjoyed a walk around Bowdoin College's campus.
New England is so vibrant right now!

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-29-14

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!

If you live in New England you just finished up a fall weekend that was a page right out of mid-summer! My family enjoyed a gorgeous road trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire yesterday, and soaked up the beauty of autumn's vibrancy! 

Books I've Recently Read:

The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott
Katherine Tegen Books, 2014
432 pages
Recommended for grades 5-7

A mystery surrounding the work and theories of Copernicus, and one highly coveted item, takes a group of kids on a fast paced adventure around the world. I enjoyed it, but wasn't riveted to it.  I do think it will appeal to many readers though, and would certainly add it to my classroom library!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Eerdmans Books, 2014
44 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

For my review on this AWESOME book, visit last week's Nonfiction Picture Book post.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Books, 2014
36 Pages
Recommended for everyone!

Are the best kinds of friends the ones that bring you books?  You know my answer to that! ;) This was a gift to me from a very special bookish/writerly friend of mine. Will I give it to my son, bring it to my classroom? Both!
This beautiful, sweet and funny little book is all about one boy's nighttime walk. This wordless book urges readers to explore alone with the boy, as his flashlight beam illuminates sections of each page. 
But the tables turn when the animals recover the dropped flashlight!
Great inspiration for art and writing projects for various ages!

I'm Currently (still) Reading:

I'm getting there...I need to finish this!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

I'm joining in the Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Book fun for the first time today!

I recently read a book that I am dying to share, and it fits this theme perfectly, which is why I'm here today!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Eerdmans Books, 2014
44 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

Every single inch of this book is:


From the fascinating life story of the mind behind the writing tool we all take for granted, to the quintessential Melissa Sweet collage illustrations, everyone that loves the art of the written word, will: 

delight in this special story.

A must add to your personal collection and your classroom library.  I can't wait to share this story with my 3rd and 4th grade students...but I want to wait until we are ready! As my students grow as writers this text will be even more significant to them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-8-14

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!

This week was a blur!  A wonderful blur.  The first week of school is now behind me, and I look onward with great excitement.

This week at school we will be celebrating International Dot Day with daily activities.  To kick off Dot Week I took a trip to The Blue Bunny with a dear friend.
And look who came to say hello to us:
If you think Peter's messages to readers are moving and powerful, you will find that the man behind those books is more delightful than you'd think possible!  Each time I've been to Blue Bunny (twice), I've been treated like royalty, simply because I'm a teacher!  Heck yeah! This time Peter brought over an original watercolor that he had just whipped up.

I also love this picture because it's the first time Greg Heffley has photobombed one of my pictures.

Books I Read this Week:

Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Santat
Abrams, 2013

I thought this would be a fun one to read to my students during the week of picture day.  We all got a kick out of the irony in this story.  A fun read for elementary students, my third graders had their little lightbulbs click on as they realized the twist at the end of the story.

Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack
Scholastic Graphix, 2014
Science Fiction/Graphic Novel
172 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

When young queen Cleopatra gets transported to the future she discovers that she is a prophecy the people-and cats-have been waiting for.  Oddly, Cleopatra is not bothered at all by finding herself far from home and all she knows. Cleo is enrolled in classes, despising all but the courses involving fighting/shooting.
The cover alludes to a bit more action than the book delivered.  As book one, there is certainly an open ending to build on with future volumes. A little bit Astronaut Academy, a little bit Silver Six, kids will enjoy it.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful reading week :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-1-14

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!

On Tuesday I will welcome ten students into my brand new classroom, my new home away from home.  I've taught 3rd and 4th grade for eight years in a public school.  I've seen many changes in education in those few short years.  And I can't say they were all positive changes.  I don't believe we need to test kids to the extremes we have begun to accept as normal.  I wasn't excited about the prospect of my son entering school in a few years to a technology filled kindergarten setting.  I was saddened by the policies and frustrated by my time being filled with goal setting and observation write-ups and ipad trainings and common core EVERYTHING.
And then I saw a job posting at an independent school.
I applied, and I got it.
I'm truly going to miss seeing some of the amazing people I worked closely with for the past eight years.  But, I have to say, I am getting to know some very amazing people at the new school.

And the best part, the very best part: politicians and policy makers will not be deciding what I teach, how I teach it, or how I report out on it.  I will be the person running my classroom.  The teacher running the classroom.  Imagine that.  My hands are untied and I suddenly feel lighter.

I have many future photos to share, but this one is so special to me.
The building my classroom is in was undergoing a huge expansion this summer.  For many days I arrived on campus hoping to be let into my new room, only to find that the move-in date had been pushed back another day.  With the school year rapidly approaching I was getting anxious.
So, there I was, sitting in an early meeting this week-literally on the edge of my seat, waiting for the go ahead to begin moving into my classroom.  My parents were meeting me at school with a U-Haul trailer filled to the brim with my collected belongings (mostly books).  The day was going to be long, that trailer was packed.
So as I sat there feeling equal parts anticipation to get into the new room, and dread at the amount of work ahead of me, I heard the most wonderful words come out of the Head of School's mouth...He urged all staff to go help the Lower School teachers move into their building-including unloading that beast of a U-Haul.
So, there they are, the amazing faculty and staff at the school I now belong to.
It's going to be a great move forward.

And look who has been helping me sort and organize my things once the boxes were opened:
Just my very favorite small person in all of the world!

Books I Read this Week:

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
Amulet Books, 2014
Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel
128 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

This time Hale takes on the ambitious task of putting WWI into a short, understandable, graphic novel.  The who, what, where and whys are not easy to keep straight with no background knowledge, so Hale decided to represent each involved country with a different animal.  If you can remember that Russia are the bears-or was that Germany-then you are all set!  I've got to admit, I found this installment tougher than the previous three, but that could be due to the fact that I was reading it at all hours of the night while feeding the baby.
Even so, I love this series, and think it is a must for classroom libraries 4th grade and up.

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
Scholastic, 2014
Realistic Fiction
224 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

If you've read Cynthia Lord's work then you know she has a knack for writing touching, realistic stories with a timeless feel.  Set in New Hampshire, Lucy is relocating yet again with her parents.  When she befriends a neighbor and his family, Lucy finds herself having a wonderful summer learning about loons and honing her photography skills with Nate.  Lord decides to include a character with onsetting dementia, and I think she handled that character well.  Dementia is an awful thing that many of us are familiar with.  For a child the idea of a beloved grandparent no longer acting like them-self is scary.  Nate and Lucy can help young readers understand this better, and will perhaps open avenues of conversation around this topic within families. 

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell
illustrated by Christian Robinson
Chronicle Books, 2014
104 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

Do you know who Josephine Baker was?  Well, good for you, aren't you clever!  In reading this book I was introduced to her, so her story was new to me.  I adore the illustrations in this book.  Like the text, the illustrations at times are sparse, yet so alive.
Josephine's life was an amazing journey through show business and beyond, and this book left me wanting to know more.  I'm especially curious about all of her adopted children.  What became of them, her Rainbow Tribe?  Go pick this one up, you'll enjoy it.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful reading week!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-25-14

August 25th-seriously?!
I'm pumped to start the new school year, but I feel far from ready!
I have yet to step foot inside my classroom, and won't be able to until Tuesday.
I've never come this close to the first day of school without having been in my classroom.
Normally I would be all set up, ready to put pen to paper for some fabulous lesson planning.
Not this year.
This year I will crank out an awesome classroom layout, followed by some awesome lessons and activities, all in a matter of days.
Why am I not allowed in my classroom until Tuesday?  Because it is brand spanking new, and that's when we have the green light to enter the building!
So, there is a very cool upside to my late setup.  I can't wait to see my new room, and I can't wait to share it with you!

On to the books!

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!

Books I Read this Week:

The Thickety: A Path Begins by J. A. White
Katherine Tegen Books, 2014
488 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Oh, I so wish I could add this book to my classroom library.  I've asked myself a few times whether or not I think it is too scary and heavy for 4th graders.  If I'm asking myself, I think I know the answer...darn.  Although, it's not much worse than A Tale Dark and Grimm...and my students eat that one up.  I will toy with this for a while.
BUT, if you teach 5th through 8th grade this is a must!

The opening scene is rough. Our narrator, only five when the book opens, is kidnapped and taken to her mother's execution.  I know, harsh.  What happens to accused witches?  You know.
Jumping ahead seven years we meet back up with twelve year old Kara.
Readers are just as uncertain as Kara is over the notion of Kara being a witch just like her mother.
On the Island magic is evil.  If Kara does have powers she had better keep them secret.
The Thickety sits on outskirts of town, darkly waiting to claim those that come too close.  Growing and stretching each day, the Thickety must be kept at bay by constant hedging.  And that's a job no one wants.
It isn't until a strange one-eyed bird comes to lure Kara into the night, that we enter the Thickety.
What Kara is taken there to do will change not only her life, but the lives of every single inhabitant on the Island.
And before things get good, they will get very, very bad.
The Thickety is full of fantasy, mystery, action and evil.  You know a reader that will love it!

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
Delacorte Books, 2014
Science Fiction
400 pages
Recommended for grades 5+

There has been a lot of hype about this book, which intrigued me.  And though everyone I've heard from has loved this book, it just didn't hit the mark for me.  It's not that I found the book unenjoyable, it's just that it was built up so high in my mind that it wasn't able to meet my expectations.
In short, Piper, a girl with a gift of "working" with machines, makes her living by collecting things that fall from the sky during meteor showers, fixing them, and selling them.  Piper's gift ends up being far more important than she expected when she finds herself on a journey to help one of the elite, a young girl with the mark of the dragonfly.

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Listening to:

Thanks for visiting my...

Have a wonderful reading week!