It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-19-14

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!

The days truly feel like they are flying by right now.  Sometimes I feel like I'm flying along with them, and other days I feel utterly left behind.

I only have nine more days with my students until my maternity leave begins.  Nine days, after spending two wonderful years with this group of diverse learners and thinkers.  My mind (and body!) is in a place it's never been before, and I find myself needing a reminder to slow down and honor the place I'm at with my students.  The nine day countdown is the same span of time for both me and the students, but the impact and feelings around it are not the same.  There is a genuine bond that is formed after spending two years with a group of students, true power in the long-term relationship between teacher and student.  And so, my goal for the next two weeks is to be totally present with my kiddos, mindfully appreciating each one of them.

Books I Read this Week:

The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky
Walden Pond Press, 2014
336 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

Wow.  I read this book slowly, and even then, I didn't spend enough time with young Vince.  The summary of the book can be found here.  
I love the parallel journey readers are taken on, as they follow young Vince setting out to find his father, and as they follow Vincent (Vince's grandfather) retell the story of his life through his book: The Dyerville Tales. 
Readers will wonder where the truth begins, and where it ends.  They will wonder if Vince is truly going to find his father.  There will be moments of joy, sadness, and times when they are scared.  And at the end of the book, readers will want to close it, only to turn it over to start again.  At least, that is how I experienced The Dyerville Tales.
Now, a warning on age appropriateness.  On my ARC it says 3rd to 7th grade.  I gave my 4th graders fair warning about some of the scary parts, because there are some parts of this book that might legitimately bother young readers.  And, there are thrill seeking readers that will find this not at all scary!  It depends on the reader, but even though, I don't think I'd put it in the hands of many 3rd graders.

The Dumbest Idea Ever, by Jimmy Gownley
Graphix, 2014
238 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

This memoir by Jimmy Gownley, creator of the Amelia Rules series, gives readers insight into his youth, specifically his high school years, when he became a comics writer/illustrator.
I was struck at first by how idealistic Jimmy's young life was.  Perfect grades, skilled athlete, got along with everyone...I was waiting for the: just kidding, no one's life is that perfect.  But it didn't come...Jimmy's life was pretty perfect.  And then he got sick, was out of school for weeks, and rethought who he was and what he wanted out of his life.  Hence, a change occurred which ultimately brought Jimmy on a journey to create his first comic book.
In a time when graphic novels are such a huge part of children's literature, I think young readers really appreciate the vast array of genres available to them.  A glimpse into: how did this guy get where he is today?  is fun for those budding artists that dream of one day creating their own comics.  Look at the success in Raina's memoir, Smile.  Kids like reading about people, and they like learning, as much as they like to be entertained.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Scholastic Press, 2014
320 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

I listened to this on audio-great reader, very youthful sounding, which gelled well with the young narrator.
This one has been bouncing around the internet for months now, so I now my review isn't the first you've come across.  So, I will get straight to the point. 
I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.  I admittedly got tired of the phrase, "a snicker of magic."  I'm sorry.  I think this book is perfect for girl readers that like a realistic fiction story about friendship and overcoming one's personal battles.  Because even though there is mystery and fantasy, this story feels very realistic throughout.

I'm Currently Reading:

On a side note, I had a TON of fun at the 2014 Maine Comic Arts Festival held in Portland yesterday:
The book geeks arrived...

Me with my buddy Ben Hatke

Ben's fun presentation...

Portland's Own: Lincoln Pierce

The amazing Kazu Kibuishi!

Jimmy Gownley (and my buddy Sam-a fellow MSBAer and total book geek!)

This event was a blast, and was free to kids under 12, only $5 for the big people.  If you live in Maine, get to it next year!

Have a wonderful week!


  1. Oh look at you and your gorgeous baby belly! So excited for you and this little one. Good luck with your next week or so - it will be emotional I am sure. This festival looks fantastic! Love all of the pictures. Enjoy Nightingale. It is a favourite of 2014 for me for sure. I'm planning to read A Snicker of Magic soon and I am a little anxious as there are so many rave reviews. I appreciate your comments here.

    1. Thank you Carrie! This countdown with my students is tough because I don't have those last couple of "fluffy" days with them, we are still working away as normal. Which is good, and sad...
      The Comic Festival is so cool, and so cheap, making it totally accessible to all interested in attending!
      I am LOVING Nightingale's Nest right now. I want to sneak it open all the time to get lost with Little John. I look forward to your thoughts on Snicker, I seem to be in the minority with this one, but I'm totally ok with that ;)

  2. The Maine Comic Arts Festival sounds like a wonderful event! Loved the photos you showed. The Dumbest Idea Ever is new to me. I love memoirs for kids--wish I had a bigger library of those titles--so I'll definitely be getting a copy. Enjoy the last nine days in your classroom with your students. How wonderful that you are able to be with your students for two years. I wish more schools followed that model.

    1. The expansion of genre availability in graphic novels is amazing. I've got a bunch of historical and nonfiction titles in my classroom library, which works to expose readers to so many topics and ideas.

      I have got to say, having the same class for two years is pretty amazing. The connections we build between each other is priceless. I'm going to miss this group, they are one collectively kind and thoughtful bunch!

  3. Oh wow, Nicole, you are with some rockstars here! Kazu Kibuishi! How awesome is that?! My 12 year old girl just squealed as she *still* loves Big Nate. How very nice. Sounds like the Maine Comic Arts Festival is THE place to be.
    I am sure the nine days with your students would be very meaningful, and that they're bound to miss you a great deal.
    It's too bad A Snicker of Magic didn't resonate that well with you - perhaps the experience would be different if it isn't an audiobook? I read it last week and perhaps it is also because of that time in my life when I needed to believe in magic, hence, I did love it. :)

    1. I know, right?! The people that make it all the way out to our little city for this festival are always impressive!

      I hear you on the experience of an audio and non-audio book certainly influencing one's enjoyment and experience. I can't say for sure if I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it myself, and I just might never know ;) I will agree though that believing in magic is something we all least every now and then :)

  4. That comic festival looks awesome. I think my friend had her wedding reception in that room. I think I have to read Snicker of Magic just because people have different reviews.

    You look amazing by the way. Savor every last minute with your class and then let it go and be with your new little person!

    1. The room where we listened to the presentations was gorgeous, I kept thinking that as the sun streamed in and boats went by in the distance. A perfect wedding venue!
      I have seen so many great reviews for Snicker, so I have no doubts that it is a wonderful story, I just couldn't get too excited over it myself...

      Thanks for stopping by! I am trying to savor these last days, but as you can imagine, it's a crazy time of year! I am sensing that I will be able to let all that go by the end of next week though ;)

  5. Hi Nicole :) I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award! Check out the award information at


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