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!


  1. I hope the independent school works for you. I was at a private school for 4 years and didn't enjoy it, but have loved being in a public school. Good there are different settings for teachers and students.

  2. "My hands are untied and I suddenly feel lighter."

    Isn't that an amazing feeling? I experienced that this year too with my new, shorter commute to work. I used to spend two hours a day in the car at my old school. Now it's less than an hour. I'm finding that extra time I have at home so incredibly freeing!

    Congrats on your new job and I hope you have a wonderful school year!

  3. Such a cute boy!!!!! A new baby, a new job, a new year! It is going to be wonderful :)
    Love the Hazardous Tales books! I agree that this one was more complex than the others, but still very enjoyable.
    I adore Cynthia Lord's other books, so I know I need to read this one.
    I have Cleopatra in Space over on my library pile--hopefully I get to read it before it is due!

    Happy reading this week :) and have a great time with your kiddos (and YOUR kiddo)!

  4. Best of luck tomorrow! I just recommended Josephine the other day to a dance instructor. What a great story!

  5. Good luck with your new start, Nicole! Glad move in went smoothly and hope the first days do as well. Love Cynthia Lord, so I will definitely be checking out Half a Chance, thanks!

  6. I'm looking forward to hearing about your new position! Sounds like an exciting change. What you wrote about public schools... so true :(

  7. Oh what a lovely little guy! Have a wonderful start to your year. I will be thinking of you. I too loved Half a Chance. Such a writer, Lord!

  8. It was great to see that photo of you moving into your classroom. Must have been a really exciting time! And that photo of your little man looks precious - he is indeed the handsomest. I've been meaning to get my hands on Josephine - it sounds like my kind of read. I just did a list of graphic novels that feature war for Nonfiction Wednesday this week, and the Nathan Hale graphic novel escaped my radar. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


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