Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review of Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Lost in the Sun 
by Lisa Graff
Expected Publication May 26, 2015
Philomel Books
304 Pages
Realistic Fiction 
Review Copy lent by a friend

Goodreads Summary
Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can't get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he's not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is. 
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.

It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.

My Thoughts
Ever read a story where you just wanted to reach in an give the main character a big hug? I so wanted to do this with Trent. Graff creates a "flawed" character that is so real you just can't help but root for him. He is dealing with guilt that is just too big for a 6th grader because of a freak accident for which he blames himself. His parents have divorced and dad is remarried with a baby on the way. Trent and his father struggle to get along. No, actually they don't struggle, they just do not get along. Trent is too abrasive for his father who thinks he just needs to "stop thinking" about things too much.
Trent does not have many friends. Then he meets the feisty, quirky, wonderful Fallon Little who, despite his efforts, wears him down and the two develop a friendship. However each of them has a secret that prevents them from better too close. Then Trent's quick temper gets the better of him and the choices he makes damages their friendship. 
Another aspect of the story is Trent's mother and brothers (he is the middle child). Mom works hard and older brother puts a lot of pressure on himself to help take care of the family. Mom loves them all, but Trent's behavior puts her at her wit's end. There is so much more going on in this story than I am able to convey here. 
This book feels real, it feels like middle school. These kids are carrying around a ton of baggage and it comes out as smart-aleky, rude, violent or is masked by humor. 
I love all of Graff's books and this one is no exception. I think it would make a fabulous middle school read aloud and read alone book. Because of some language, I would recommend this one to grade 6+. Put it on your TBR list for sure! 

Related Reading:
   

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-May 18, 2015

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.


Here are the books I read this week. 
Click on the covers to learn more about them.

Fun story for young middle graders. Lots of great pictures with sparse text. 

I did not expect to like this story, but it is an AMAZING way to teach kids about the parts of a fiction story. I will be using it next year as a read aloud before we write fiction. 

The third in the Franklin School Friends series. Good series for grades 2-early 4th. 

Currently Reading
Actually starting this one today. Cynthia Lord is one of my favorite authors and I can't wait to get to this one! 

What Are YOU Reading Friends?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-May 13, 2015


My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.

by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Published March 2015
Peachtree Publishers
32 Pages 
Review copy provided by publisher

This book is a fictionalized representation of a nonfiction event so I decided that it would still be ok to showcase it here today. 

Summary
The story takes place in a city on a rainy, spring evening.  The rain makes little Ally sad because she is stuck inside with nothing to do. When Ally's mother arrives home, she insists that Ally and her grandmother get on their rain coats and boots and head outside with her to see a "big surprise". The trio walks the city streets noticing things that only come with the rain like a rainbow of umbrellas and water spurting up through a manhole. Finally Ally hears it, this must be the surprise. They round a corner to find hundreds of toads hopping across the road. A volunteer, who is carrying the toads safely across the road explains that the toads are crossing to get to the pond across the street to mate and lay eggs. Ally, her mother and grandmother join in and help get the toads to the pond. 

The author's note explains that every year in Roxborough, Pennsylvania, there is a toad migration.  The toads wake from their hibernation when the temps reach approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They wait for rain so their skin stays moist during their trip. About two months later, there is another trek across when the new, teensy baby toads travel from the pond to the land across the road. 

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed reading this book. I never had really thought about the possibility of what a toad migration might look like in the city. The story is great, but what really makes this book very special are the illustrations. Thomas Gonzales creates amazingly detailed and lifelike images that almost seem like photographs. Color fills every inch of the page. I think children will love this book and will look at rainy days a lot differently. I also think it will spark some interest in toads and toad migrations. I have included some videos of the Roxborough toad detours below. I would recommend Toad Weather for students in grades K-4. 

Use this book....
To jump start an environmental service project.
During a unit on animals, or amphibians. 
To show how people can impact the environment.

Baby Toad Detour Video-kids will LOVE seeing these itty-bitty toads. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? May 11, 2015

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.


Here are the books I read this week. 
Click on the covers to learn more about them.

Cute story about a boy, a bike and a bully. 

Cure story of a little girl who wants to be a ballerina just like her big sister. 

Really sweet story of friendship. 

Unbelievable illustrations!

Too much cuteness!! Kids will love this one. 

Currently Reading
A very touching story so far.

Yep, still

What Are You Reading Friends?

Click here to enter the $50 Book Blogger Yellow PagesAmazon/Paypal Giveaway.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Reviewer Yellow Pages and a $50 Amazon or Paypal Giveaway

Book Reviewers Yellow Pages   
Book Reviewer Yellow Pages: A Book Marketing Guide for Authors and Publishers 
Christine Pinheiro 
Book blogging today has grown into a serious business. It is a necessary marketing tool to promote books and the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages—now in its sixth edition—is the definitive guide to this informal network of book reviewers. -Author David Wogahn, President of Sellbox.com This book is designed to make book marketing easier. The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is a popular book promotion reference guide for authors and publishers. Use this guide to learn about book tours, author etiquette, and how to write a good pitch to grab the interest of a book reviewer. Updated every year, this reference lists hundreds of book reviewers, their contact information, submission guidelines, and genre preferences.  
Grab Your Copy Now! Amazon Kindle * PDF * Print

  Book Reviewer Yellow Pages Foreword by David Wogahn I wrote my first eBook in 1991. In those days, like today, it wasn’t hard to do if you had something to say and a computer to produce it. But what was hard, was marketing those early eBooks. Even if you advertised the book on a service like CompuServe, Prodigy or AOL, how would you ever find people willing to tell other people about your book? I “discovered” the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages more than five years ago; April 29, 2011 to be exact (then called The Indie Book Review Yellow Pages). Newspapers and magazines were still employing book reviewers and “book bloggers” were considered an anomaly, given the same respect that big publishers were giving the new-fangled eBook formats like Kindle. Fast forward to today and those same reviewers—if they are still writing reviews—most likely have started a blog (and in fact might even be in this book). An indie author trying to get reviewed by a traditional media outlet is an exercise in futility. It’s also fair to say that eBooks have made the big publishers huge profits and now form a permanent part of their publishing operations. Book blogging today has grown into a serious business. It is a necessary marketing tool to promote books and Christy Pinheiro-Silva’s Book Reviewer Yellow Pages—now in its sixth edition—is the definitive guide to this informal network of book reviewers. Collectively they rival the promotional power of the large circulation newspapers and magazines. Individually they can help niche books break-out to a wider audience. And that’s what book marketing is all about: helping thousands of small products in scores of categories seek and find their own passionate audience. How I met Christy is a testament to modern book marketing, itself a lesson for new publishers. As a long-time reader of the pioneering eBook news website Teleread.com, I came across an article saying that her second edition was available for free. Free is still a popular way to connect with readers but in 2011 it was the fastest, sure-fire way to get your name and book noticed. Everyone had Kindles to fill-up and as a book marketer and author, who couldn’t use a free directory? By the time the fourth edition was published in 2013 it had grown to a 778 page tome. Seeing an opportunity for constructive feedback, I took to Amazon reviews to voice my ideas about what makes this guide book so important for my clients, and where I thought it could be improved. I’m happy to say that Christy read that review, contacted me, and took many of those suggestions to heart. Here are the two things you should know about the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages:
  1. It defines a standard of etiquette. Christy’s 10 rules for author etiquette should be required reading for every author, regardless of whether or not book bloggers are part of your marketing mix. I confess it is so solid that I based a section of my own book, Successful eBook Publishing (Sellbox, 2012) on her advice. The blogosphere would be a better place if every author took her admonitions to heart in all their book promotion interactions.
  2. It codifies the essential facts about a book blogger, so you don’t have to. Shouldn’t we be able to just “Google” book bloggers and fire off emails to reviewers? Nope. In reality it isn’t that easy. Trying to find the pertinent information so you can approach the reviewer who is right for your book (see point 1) is going to take you hours! There are no standard website designs for review websites, and you will need to visit each one (again, see point 1). Here is where the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages shines. Your small investment will pay big dividends in saving time in finding the relevant reviewers, and their contact information.
But one thing still remains the same, as it did for me in 1991. You simply must get people talking about your book if you are ever going to be a successful author. A book no one talks about is even worse than a book that doesn’t make money. And that’s where this wonderful community of book bloggers comes into play. Let the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages be your Michelin Guide to the Wild West World of book review bloggers. David Wogahn President, Sellbox.com Publisher, PartnerPress.org Author, Successful eBook Publishing  
For more information visit: The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages Website * Facebook
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$50 Blast Giveaway Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/1/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Celebrate this Week-Special Olympics 2015

Every week, Ruth Ayres over at Discover. Play. Build. invites people to share celebrations from their week.  Please visit and consider linking up your own celebration. 

Thanks to Ruth for providing a platform for me to share my big and small celebrations. 

It has been quite some time since I have posted a celebration post, not because I have had nothing to celebrate, but just since life is racing at lightning speed. 

Today I celebrate the Special Olympics, more specifically my son, TJ's day at the Special Olympics. Once a year our family dons our "Team TJ" shirts and gathers to watch our boy participate in track and field events. No big deal right? Well, maybe not for a lot of families, but for us, the day is HUGE. TJ is nine and has moderate autism. He is not on sports teams or in clubs. He has even stopped participating in school concerts so this is literally the one day each year where we can watch him in any kind of performance.
The day is a celebration for individuals, school and families. Everyone cheers for each other and the atmosphere is loud and festive. These Olympians are rock stars! 
My heart swells as I watch him run, jump, throw and give high fives. To see the happiness and pride on his face is indescribable. Watching the way his sister, Molly, cheers for him and helps him throughout the day makes me well up with gratitude. 

I would also like to celebrate the many adult volunteers and coordinators that make this event possible. Thank you for giving our amazing children a chance to shine! 
Looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-A Review of The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist


My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.


The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist
by Margarita Engle
Illustrated by Aliona Bereghici
Published April 28, 2015
Two Lions Publishing
Picture Book Biography
Poetry
Review copy provided by Blue Slip Media



Goodreads Summary
Louis loves to watch birds. He takes care of injured birds and studies how they look and how they move. His father wants him to become an engineer, but Louis dreams of being a bird artist. To achieve this dream, he must practice, practice, practice. He learns from the art of John James Audubon. But as Louis grows up, he begins to draw and paint living, flying birds in their natural habitats.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927) is now known as the father of modern bird art. He traveled with many scientific expeditions all over the world. His best-known works—paintings for habitat exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York—are still beloved by visitors today. His art helped to encourage wildlife conservation, inspiring people to celebrate and protect the world of wings.

Poems by Newbery Honor–winning author Margarita Engle and illustrations by Aliona Bereghici capture the life of Louis Fuertes and the deep sense of wonder that he felt when he painted the sky.

My Thoughts
This book is simply gorgeous! Aliona Bereghici's water color and ink illustrations accompany Margarita Engle's poetic verse in the most beautiful way. Told in first person point of view, the verses chronicle Louis Fuertes' life as a bird-lover and artist. As a small boy he took care of animals in a makeshift "hospital" under the porch. He traveled the world studying and painting until he became one of the most important nature artists of our time. Each verse has its own feeling and voice. My favorites are the descriptive verses about the places he visited as an artist, Alaska, the Caribbean, and South America, depicting gorgeous native birds, scenery. 

I love how this book shows Fuertes' passion and dedication even as a young child. He practices and practices his drawing and painting to develop his craft. This is a valuable lesson for children who, often think that important and influential people are simply born that way. 

Children will love The Sky Painter for its illustrations, its poetry and for Fuertes' story. I would highly recommend it for grades 1-5. 

View the book trailer



See what others have to say about The Sky Painter by following the blog tour. 

Mon, Apr 20     Library Fanatic
Tues, Apr 21     Kid Lit Frenzy

Wed, Apr 22    Unleashing Readers

Thurs, Apr 23   5 Minutes for Books

Fri, Apr 24     Teach Mentor Texts

Sat, Apr 25     Booking Mama

Mon, Apr 27    Sharpread

Tues, Apr 28   The Children's Book Review

Wed, Apr 29   Cracking the Cover

Thurs, Apr 30   A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust

Fri, May 1     Archimedes Notebook