Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4-30-18

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 and recommendations!

Books I've Recently Read:

Drawn from Nature by Helen Ahpornsiri
Big Picture Press, 2018
60 pages
Recommended for all to view,  readability 3rd grade and up

On the most basic level, this is a book with information about plants, animals, and insects and how they grow, change, and behave throughout the 4 seasons. Like I said, that's the most basic (and really, unfair) description of this book. What it really is is a visual masterpiece woven through with information of the natural world. The illustrations are made using pressed plants and flowers, and you almost can't believe it's true. I've stared so hard, put my face so close to the pages, in absolute awe of this talent, and the time consuming work necessary to create these images.

The book is divided into the seasons, with sections within, like:
The Trees Awake
Buds and Bees
Deer Rutting
Red Fox at Night

The text has an easy flow to it, and the pages are eye catching and engaging.
You're going to love this one!

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Candlewick Press, 2018
Realistic Fiction
36 pages
Recommended for Everyone!

This book is gorgeous! I instantly was drawn to the illustrations, and couldn't wait to dive in. See what I did there? I know. Not my best work.
Anyway, the story is sweet and simple, but also not. Not simple at all, really.
Check out this picture I captured of my easel after reading it aloud to my third graders. The writing is sloppy and the image is blurry, but that's not what I want you to focus on. Instead, check out the top two words used to describe the book. Those words were said out loud while I was reading.
Hmm. There's a lot to take in there. I hadn't planned to write down any words when I decided to read this story aloud. But as we neared the end of the book I heard the words "awkward" and "scary" said quietly from different sides of the rug. I knew that we needed to process this story.
So, after reading I closed the book and said I'd love to hear their thoughts on the book since it was sent to me for review, and who better to review it than a group of kids?
I wrote the two words first and then just looked at them. Many students scoffed at the two words, or denied that they were accurate. Immediately the boys that said the words looked uncomfortable, like they shouldn't have said them. But they did say them, and it was true to their initial reactions, so they needed to be held gently, not guffawed at.
The conversation we had, spur of the moment, was one of the most significant of our year, to date. 
I won't even try to capture the entire conversation here, because I couldn't do it justice, but I will say that I am hopeful that one point sank in. That we don't need to say words like: 'awkward', 'scary', or 'weird' when confronted with something unfamiliar to our experience. Instead, if we need to vocalize it, we can simply say, 'That's different from me, what I'm used to, or what I've seen." Different isn't negative. 
This short and unassuming story opened a door to such an important conversation in my classroom.
I urge you to share it with your people.

Granted by John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press, 2018
Recommended for grades 4-7

Well, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into when I began this novel. After all, Anderson is spot on with his male middle school characters, how would he transform into a small female fairy?
Luckily Anderson is as much middle school boy as he is strong-willed lady fairy. Wait, that came out all wrong. But you know what I mean. *major wink*
Ophelia is tough stuff, she's the fairy you would want in charge of granting your wish, because she won't. ever. give. up.
She is a perfectionist.
She is smart.
She is sure and ready for this first mission.
But when things become too much for even one as gritty as Ophelia to overcome, she must come to rely on the help of others. Even if it is smelly and slobbery.

The opening lays a lot of background for the fairy world and their roles, which might bog some readers down. I am still waiting to hear back from some kid readers on how it goes for them.
Because while I carried this book to and from school with me (I read for 10 minutes with the kids before we begin Morning Meeting so they often know what I'm reading.) it gained more and more interest with the kids. One boy brought a copy in after going to the bookstore with his mother, and then a group of my book club students asked for it as their next title!

The final parts of the book left room for lots of wonder and speculation and a tiny bit of dread. I enjoyed how it was stretched out just so.

*Blog Tours that are Currently Live and  Offering Giveaways*

Click each image to head to that post.

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Reading Aloud:

Have a great reading week!
Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Girl Power Graphic Novels: The Blog Tour!

When I was approached by First Second to be a part of this blog tour I was SO excited to include student readers' opinions! Please enjoy this glimpse into some of the awesome titles in the First Second collection as we celebrate Girl Power!

Why I love it: A headstrong, courageous female lead, a princess wannabe that is anything but fragile and a son of a sword smith that relishes in the art of cooking accompany each other on a journey that leads to much more than the discovery of the giant.

Oh, they had fun.
Let them know in the comments which book you are most excited to read from this awesome collection! 
One winner will be randomly selected to chose a title of their choice!
Drawing will take place on Friday, May 4th at noon.
Good luck!

Check out the other stops in the tour:
4/23 — Novel Novice
4/23 — YA Bibliophile
4/24 — The Book Rat
4/24 — Kid Lit Frenzy
4/25 — Daddy Mojo
4/26 — Ex Libris Kate
4/26 — Bluestocking Thinking
4/26 — The Roarbots

4/27 — Me on Books

Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy 10 Year Anniversary to The Underneath by Kathi Appelt!

If you've read The Underneath you know how difficult it must be for me to put in words how I feel about this story. Can you wholeheartedly hand this book to another, gushing about how good it is without also giving a bit of a warning? A warning about all the sadness the reader will be exposed to, enveloped in. I think you can, if you are careful with your audience. 

I do not believe in censoring or shielding young readers from heavy stories. Because some of our young readers have even heavier lives, and to pretend otherwise simply isn't fair.

Kathi recommends her book is best suited to readers in grades 4-8, and I agree 100% with this. The parallel stories in this book nudge me to think that older readers will take a bit more away from it. And the story certainly begs to be discussed. In fact, reading this in solitude was difficult. Many people around me have heard about The Underneath because I couldn't keep all my thoughts inside while reading, I needed to process through talking.

The story does not dash along at a breakneck pace. Readers that need constant action and motion will need to work hard at sitting put and waiting, much like a character or two in the book. With chapters commonly under 1/2 to 3 pages long, it doesn't drag, either.

So, who are those sweet animals on the cover? The old hound dog, Ranger. The two gray kittens, Sabine and Puck. What is their story? And whose porch do they call The Underneath? Gar Face. Do not cross Gar Face. He is the most damaged soul I've ever come across in a middle grade novel.

If the cats and dog were humans this story would be too much. But they are cats and a dog. And you should read this story. Appelt's writing is masterful, which is what saves you in the midst of the sorrow, her beautiful way of stringing words together.

In celebration of 10 wonderful years, a new trailer and a contest have been released. Enjoy and share!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Judy Moody: Redesigned and More Fabulous than Ever!

I brought the excitement to my classroom, and am pleased to share the following student reviews:

My super-stellar reviewers!
They want you to know they worked for stickers...and you can get your own Judy Moody stickers in the back of the books!
Coming September, 2018:
Keep the fun rolling! Visit the official Judy Moody website for activities, information about the creators, and other Way-Not-Boring-Stuff!

Now, do you want to own the collection? Enter below, and read carefully for bonus entries! 
Drawing will be held April 30th. Please no P.O. Boxes. Open to US and Canada.

Thanks for stopping by!