Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Remote Learning Middle Grade Book Stack Giveaway!

Hi Friends, 
My goodness it has been a very long time since I have posted anything here on this dusty blog. 
I have lost track of how long we have been in remote learning mode, but it has been extended here in Maine for the remainder of the school year. Teachers and parents are all experiencing loss and disappointment and are working hard to to balance it all. 

My senior in high school and my 8th grader with special needs are both learning remotely at home and it is a challenge to keep everyone safe, engaged in their learning, socially and emotionally nurtured while also doing my literacy coaching job from home. That being said, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to keep working and connecting with teachers and kids. 

As we all continue to teach and learn remotely, while we are remaining physically distant, it can sometimes be a challenge to maintain a positive outlook. So I wanted to spread some book love. 
I am giving away the 10 middle grade books, pictured below, to one randomly-selected winner in hopes that they will be put into kids' hands. The books are best for students in grades 4-6. 
The winner will be selected on May 2. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 23, 2019

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? September 23, 2019

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

Here are a few books I have been able to read over the last couple of weeks. Click on the covers to go to the book's page on Goodreads. 

by Pam Berkman
Dorothy Hearst
Illustrated by Claire Powell
Published by Margaret K McEldery Books
August 2019

Goodreads Summary:
Join Filigree, a five-pound Pomeranian, as he stows away on Paul Revere’s midnight ride in this first book of the At the Heels of History series, inspired by important events and told through the eyes, ears, and noses of dogs.
Filigree may be a small puff of a Pomeranian but he has a big, brave heart. As the Revere family dog, he’s ready to do his part to help the American colonists stand up to the British soldiers. But the other dogs, like Jove, Sam Adams’s Newfoundland, and even the Revere cat, Anvil, think Filigree is a joke. The Reveres’ daughter Frances is the only one who believes in him.

When Frances’s father, Paul Revere, leaves home on a secret mission, Filigree and Frances know they have to help, no matter how dangerous it might be. Will a pint-sized pup just be in the way, or can Filigree prove that even a very small dog can fight for freedom?
I love this time period and would definitely add this one to any 3-5 classroom or school library! There are more to come in this At the Heels of History series. 

by Ellen Javernick
Illustrated by Colleen Madden
Published by Two Lions 
August 2019
Goodreads Summary: What if everybody were more thoughtful before they judged someone?
If you see someone in a wheelchair, you might think he or she couldn’t compete in a race. But…you might be wrong. What if you see a child with no hair? Do you think she is embarrassed all the time? How about a kid who has a really hard time reading? Do you think that means he’s not smart? You might think so. But…you might be wrong.

With clear prose and lighthearted artwork, this companion book to the bestseller What If Everybody Did That? explores the preconceived notions we have about the world and encourages kids to be more thoughtful. 

This is the 3rd in the "What if Everybody..." series. The others are What if Everyone Did That? and What if Everyone Said That?

by Michael Engler, 
Illustrated by Joƫlle Tourlonias and Laura Watkinson
Amazon Crossing Kids
Sept. 2019
Goodreads Summary: Life is more fun when you’re a tiger like me!
A little boy—um, no, a tiger!—tells us all about what he gets up to on an ordinary day: how he wakes up in his tiger den, what he eats for breakfast at his feeding spot, and how little tigers feel when they are wide awake, hungry, thirsty, or in the mood for adventures. But at night, even the wildest of tigers is happy to curl up in bed with Tiger-Mom and Tiger-Dad and become a cuddly little tiger cub.

With warm illustrations and playful text, this delightful story first published in Germany shows just how sweet life can be for a little tiger!

by Lynne Kelly
Published by Feb. 2019 by Delacorte Press

Goodreads Summary: In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the story of a deaf girl's connection to a whale whose song can't be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.
From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she's the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she's not very smart. If you've ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.
When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to "sing" to him! But he's three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?
Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

What are you reading friends?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Teachers, I Feel You

The first week of school is done and we are ready to start again with week 2.  I was a classroom teacher for many years and I remember how tough the first week(s) can be. As an instructional coach during the first week of school, I visit classrooms and try to be helpful. I assist teachers with finding resources and pop into classrooms and help as the students learn new routines. I do some read alouds and book talks and answer lots of questions. Part of the role of a coach is to watch and listen carefully. Last week I saw so many beautiful moments in my schools as all of the adults in our buildings collectively supported students in the transition back to school that I wanted to write about them.

Teachers, I Feel You

To the teacher with the new student 
Who can not keep his hands to himself. 
You cheerfully say, 
"It looks like you could use more space, 
How would you like to use the table?" 
I feel your patience.

To the teacher who gently holds the hand 
Of an exhausted little guy as he sobs, 
"I miss my mom". 
I feel your kindness. 

To the teacher with that challenging class.
You read a book to them called, I Believe in You.
I listen as you talk about ways to support them.
I feel your devotion.  

To the teacher who dropped your own child at day care 
for the first time this morning.
You dry your tears and give your best self to your students. 
I feel your strength. 

To the teachers who walk their classes in lines. 
Saying, "I see walking feet." 
"I see students facing forward." 
I feel your optimism. 

To the teacher with the "resistant" student
Who refuses to come to circle.
"We simply can't do this without you." is all you say.
I feel your respect. 

To the nervous new teacher. 
Who greets a class of eager students for the first time
With a wide smile and knocking knees.
I feel your courage. 

To ALL the educators who work so hard for our students
Every day.
I feel your passion, your dedication, your hope and your exhaustion. 
I am with you.
I feel you. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 22, 2019

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

Here are a few books I have been able to read over the last couple of weeks. Click on the covers to go to the book's page on Goodreads. 

This one was not exactly my cup of tea, but many kids will like it. Grades 2-4. 

So glad I found this series from Capstone. Great for late 2nd to early 4th. 

Daisy finds that she can talk to animals in this delightful series. Grades 2-4. 

Really sweet story to add to your collection of #Ownvoices.

Currently Reading

Up Next?

What are you reading friends? 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

Pie in the Sky 
by Remy Lai
Published May, 2019
Henry Holt & Co.
385 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
When eleven-year-old Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he's often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.
To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she's at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they'll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.
Told in prose and graphic novel elements, this middle-grade novel is about a boy's immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks!

My Thoughts
Remy Lai has done a wonderful job portraying what it can be like for children who relocate and do not speak the language of their new country. Jingwen is confused, embarrassed, frustrated and angry. It doesn't help that his little brother seems to be making friends and learning English far more easily. Jingwen's desperation is palpable as he feverishly tries to finish making all the cakes he and his father had talked about making for the Pie in the Sky cake shop, hoping that he will feel better by honoring his father. 
Although the book is 385 pages, parts of it are presented using a graphic novel format which help move the story forward. Australian people are drawn looking like aliens and their speech bubbles are nonsense symbols representing how Jingwen sees them. 
This book offers many discussion possibilities for students. It can serve as a mirror for students who are English Language Learners and a window for native students to see what new students may be experiencing as they acclimate to a new country. 
I would recommend it for grades 4-6. 
I would also not recommend that you read Pie in the Sky on an empty stomach. Those cakes just sound so yummy! 

Images from the Macmillan website.

See What Others Have to Say About Pie in the Sky:

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

New Series "By the Numbers" from Steve Jenkins

I wanted to share this super-cool new series from Steve Jenkins. So far there are two in the series published by HMH Books for Young Readers. 

Each is hardcover with approximately 40 pages. They are filled with fascinating infographics and include a glossary of important terms. Kids will love examining the infographics and sharing their learning. 

These books would make a wonderful addition to your library for grades 3-5. 

Coming soon: 
The Solar System by the Numbers
Insects by the Numbers

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cowhide-and-Seek by Sheri Dillard and Jess Pauwels

by Sheri Dillard
Illustrated by Jess Pauwels
Published May, 2019
Running Press kids
Picture Book
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
A fun and humorous picture book, perfect for fans of Click, Clack, Moo.
Where, oh where, could Bessie be? When Bessie hears the farmer counting his cows, she thinks he's starting a game of hide-and-seek. She hurries off to hide, determined to be the winner- but she's the only one playing! When her "hiding spot" walks away, she follows it . . . right off the farm! Ready or not, here comes the farmer! Will Bessie find the perfect place to hide?

My Thoughts
Kids love a good game of hide and seek. Imagine how they will enjoy watching Bessie and she tries to hide in plain sight. It reminds me of how toddlers play hide and seek as they crouch behind a small object and think that they can't be seen. This book is silly and fun. The illustrations are well done with mostly stark white backgrounds with colorful diverse characters. 
Kids from toddlers to age 5 will enjoy this book. 

Image from

See what others have to say about this book:
The Baby Bookworm Blog
Visit Sheri Dillard's website
Visit Jess Pauwels website