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
Fantasy
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!





Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-18-14

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!

Books I Read this Week:

The Worm by Elise Gravel
Tundra Books, 2014
Nonfiction (with a talking worm narrator) :)
32 pages
Recommended for grades up to 4th

Fun compact book full of unique facts about the common earthworm.
I love the information, I love the humor, I love the illustrations, and I even love the way the book feels (come on, you know that's important!).
If you're looking for easy to navigate nonfiction, this fits the bill.


Mogie: The Heart of the House by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Atheneum Books, 2014
Realistic Fiction
32 pages
Recommended for grades up to 4th

A story based on a real dog living at the Ronald McDonald House.  Unfortunately, my library copy didn't allow me to read the author's note in the back of the book, as the back jacket-flap is taped down over half of it.  I fear this will be a problem for all library copies.  I certainly missed out on an important part of this story.  Which might explain why I have some small issues with falling in love with this story:
First, I felt confused about how Mogie came to be at the Ronald McDonald house, and how he came to stay.  This confusion comes because the book does make it clear that dogs are not allowed in the Ronald McDonald house.  The second thing that I thought was lacking was a solid explanation of what the Ronald McDonald house is really about.  This might be because the author is making a decision to let the adults sharing this book with young readers gauge how much should be explained, and how much needn't be.
A sweet story though, and I do wish I could have read that author's note!

I'm Currently Reading:

So good!

I'm Currently Listening to:


Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful reading week!


Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-11-14

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!

What I Read this Week:

Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera
Amulet Books, 2014
Realistic Fiction
261 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Inside these pages is a beautiful story of one young girl named Star navigating her way through the confusion of figuring out who she is.  Who is her father, and why has he been absent from her life?  Why do the kids at her new school think Treasure Trailers is such a bad place to live?  What's going on with her older sister who suddenly seems to be distancing herself from Star?
All these things swirl through Star's mind, tough to pin down for long.  Then one day she looks up to see Emily Dickinson's poem "Hope" on the chalkboard, and things begin to change.
Star begins a club at school where she and others can study the works of Dickinson.  The thread of hope becomes something to bind Star with unlikely friends and the hope of finding her father.
There are some heavy issues in this lovely story, so know your reader (and their parents!).  I can't spoil the story with specifics, but if it weren't for a big twist I would say this would work for 4th graders too.
In the end, I was not ready to close this one.  I miss Star, and deeply wish I could follow her for just a little bit longer.

Bonus: Discussion questions in the back of the book give readers a chance to go deeper in their reflections...and to spend a little more time with these awesome characters!

I'm Currently Reading:

Because if it's creepy and mysterious I just can't resist it!

(On audio)

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful reading week!


Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-4-14

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!


 What I Read this Week:

Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin
Amulet Books, 2014
Historical Fantasy
288 pages (ARC)
Recommended for grades 4-6

Well, this book certainly caught me off guard!  Of course the cover and title suggest a fantasy-a girl and a bug as friends... But the story starts with such a realistic feel to it that when the fantasy begins you're almost not expecting it.
Franny is a young girl recovering from polio in the 1950s.  When the story opens she is in an iron lung-not a light and fluffy opening.  I was immediately drawn in to this historical story, and enjoyed the way the author explained what Franny was going through in a way that would build background knowledge for young readers.
Now, once Fleabrain the...flea, enters the story, things start to get a little crazy.  This flea has super powers, which are in his saliva.  The things Fleabrain and Franny do together are a bit out there, and in one way I was confused by the odd direction of the story, and in another sense I understood Rocklin's choices in how the relationship between bug and girl played out.
The author's note provides a nice historical background to the story, and following that is a series of discussion questions.
This is a book geared toward girls that enjoy high fantasy.

On Deck:


Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great reading week!