Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You reading? July 27, 2015

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

Click on the book covers to read more about them.

Picture Books
The Sweetest book for young readers.


Jeff Mack writes an adorable story using only two words!

Middle Grade
I Really loved this story of being true to oneself and finding where you belong. Grades 4-8

Upper Middle Grade/YA

Finished Reading
This is an excellent historical fiction novel set during the American Revolution. It is a bit too graphic for my 4th graders but would be good for grades 5-8. 

Finished Listening
Art, mystery, friendship, family conflict and a bit of historical fiction. Great read for grades 5-8.

Currently Reading
Great so far!

After today's post, I will be taking a bit of a blogcation for a couple of weeks. See you soon and happy reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review of Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

by Katherine Applegate
Expected Publication September 22, 2015
Feiwel and Friends
256 pages
Middle Grade Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher

Goodreads Summary
In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

My Thoughts
As with The One and Only Ivan, Crenshaw has become a heart print book for me. Katherine Applegate has a way of writing that just makes you want, no NEED to keep reading to find out how the story will unfold. Children (and some adults) often think that becoming homeless happens to "other people", people who don't have jobs or abuse drugs or alcohol. While reading this story it is easy to see how a hard-working family, who falls on tough times, can slowly lose their ability to pay the rent. It was very difficult as a parent to watch Jackson try to be so brave and not let his emotions show his parents how angry and frustrated he really was. I also felt for the parents who try so hard to keep things as "typical" as possible for their children. It is fascinating to watch how Jackson's imaginary friend, Crenshaw, creeps back into Jackson's life even though Jackson says he is too old for such things. Through the dialogue between Crenshaw and Jackson the readers is able to learn a bit more about how a child's imagination can protect them and help them deal with large and small challenges. 
Applegate is a gifted writer who creates characters that absolutely live on in the hearts of the reader. She develops each of the characters in the book extremely well and made me care about them individually and as a family. 
Crenshaw lends itself to discussions about homelessness, coping with challenges, expressing emotions and family. 
Fans of The One and Only Ivan will indeed love this book. I would highly recommend it to grades 4+ as an independent read. It would also make a great read aloud for grades 3+! 

Take a look at what others have to say about Crenshaw.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Celebrate This Week-July 18, 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. 

Today I am catching up on a few celebrations from the last couple of weeks. 

Girls Weekend
Last weekend I went to an annual "girls weekend". This is one weekend each year where I get together with friends from high school on a gorgeous lake here in Maine. The weekend was a picture perfect summer weekend with lots of sunshine and low humidity. Twelve of us "girls" spent floating on the lake and catching up on what is happening in our lives. There was talk of kids getting ready to head to college and others facing the challenges of middle school. Of course there was also much eating, drinking and much laughing. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? 

Learning New Stuff
I spent the last 5 days in a graduate class on assessment at The University of Southern Maine. Although it is tough to miss out on some of the few warm, sunny days here, I enjoyed this class very much. I love learning new things, but I especially enjoy learning among really smart and dedicated educators. The twelve of us spent the week learning more about assessment for learning with lively discussions and challenging perspectives. It was an invigorating experience has me rethinking the ways I will teach and measure learning going forward. 

A Weekend at Home
Today I celebrate being with my family. After over a week of being gone, I am very happy to be able to hang out with my family this weekend. Today is a rainy day and I am welcoming the chance to talk, read, watch movies and just be home. 

What are YOU celebrating this week? 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Space Boy and His Dog by Dian Curtis Regan

Space Boy and His Sister Dog 
by Dian Curtis Regan
Published 2105 
Boyds Mills Press
32 Pages
Picture Book
Review Copy provided by Blue Slip Media

Goodreads Summary
Niko may live on boring old Earth with his family, but he’s always finding a new adventure. Using the spaceship that he built from a box in his backyard and a little imagination, he flies off into space with his robot, Radar, and his dog, Tag. The only one NOT invited is his sister Posh who keeps trying to insert herself into Niko’s story. In this first mission, Niko and crew (and maybe also pesky Posh) fly to the moon in search of a lost cat. Illustrated in comic–book style and featuring easy–to–read text packed with humor, Space Boy and His Dog is Niko’s first adventure, with two more books planned in the series.

My Thoughts
Let's just get something straight here. Despite what you might see, this book is definitely NOT about Niko's sister Posh. Niko has a fabulous imagination. He has created a spaceship in his backyard with cardboard and scraps. His trusty toy robot is his copilot and he never goes anywhere without his dog, Tag. When a neighborhood cat goes missing, Niko and his crew travel to the moon to find it. Unfortunately Posh has stowed away and is now part of the story, which was NOT supposed to happen. Can they find the lost cat? Will Niko find it before Posh? 

This book is a cute way to show a bit of sibling rivalry and competition. Although it is a picture book, it is told in mini chapters and sometimes uses a comic-book style. The pages are filled with color and the cartoonish illustrations will appeal to young readers. I love how Niko uses his imagination to have adventures. Perhaps this book will encourage readers to do the same. This book would appeal to readers approximately ages 3-7.

See What Others Say About Space Boy and His Sister Dog
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Visit Dian Curtis Regan's Website for more information about her books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall
by Anita Silvey
Published June 2015
National Geographic Children's Books
96 pages
Review copy provided by publisher

This biography chronicles the life and influence of Jane Goodall on the scientific community and the planet as a whole. Starting with young Jane who loved animals, the readers learns about how she used this love to become one of the most recognized and important scientists in the world. 

My Thoughts
This book is gorgeous! In addition to the text, each page contains a photo of Jane with her beloved chimps, other scientists, animals, field notes, or sketches. I enjoyed learning about each of the chimpanzees that she named when she was living in Gombe. These mini bios give inside information about the animals' habits and unique personalities. 
When Jane did her famous research, she did so using binoculars, a notebook and very little else. The book shows how research is done more easily today, largely with the aide of technology. Untamed also focuses on Goodall's legacy and how she changed how people look at the planet. In the Forward, she describes what people can do to help our planet and the creatures that inhabit it.  
I would highly recommend Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall to grades 4 and up. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 13, 2015

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

Click on the book covers to read more about them.

A very funny book about silliness and grammar. I will be sharing it with my 4th graders for sure!

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. 
Marlin is a very endearing character. Great for grades 4-8. 

This is a new heart print book for me. I adore Ruby! Click here for my review. 

Currently Reading
Really loving this historical fiction novel. 

Currently Listening
Very interesting so far. 

What Are You Reading Friends?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lazy Days of Summer $250 Cash Giveaway

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 $250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Gift Code) Ends 7/26/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. 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. 

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