Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Spotlight- Starchild: The City of Souls and a Giveaway!

Starchild: The City of Souls

In The Age of Akra, a pilgrimage to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts brings together four children as an ancient prophecy is set in motion. Having triumphed against dangerous adversaries, Mai, Long, Akra and Sahib are now pursued by the melkarie and must escape to the City of Souls. In the land of Naroan, in a city hidden under a blanket of living green, they are confronted with the challenge to find the Singing Soul.
But the underworld has other plans, and a beast so fierce is conjured to stop the children from finding anything that will add to the power to the prophecy of the seven nations.

Author Vacen Taylor

Vacen Taylor is an author, writer, storyteller, occasional artist and amateur photographer. She describes her writing as a basic prose style with the occasional splash of creative penning. She collects comics and loves superheroes, anime and science.

Giveaway Details
$10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open Internationally
Ends 9/8/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an 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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

*An additional $10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash is available to anyone who shares this giveaway on their blog by 9/8/13 See link in the rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclaimer-Blog author has not read this book.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bookblast Giveaway- DiSemblance by Shanae Branham

Jason Tanner’s life has always been different from the ordinary citizen’s. It started when he was an infant and his parents were only teenagers. A computer science prodigy, Lloyd attended MIT but left a pariah in the eyes of the school’s dean—but a computer physics genius in the eyes of his primary investor. Then his theories and ideas created a holographic machine and their world shrunk as contact with the outside world became less and less frequent. A computer prodigy now himself, Jason is about to learn that the world never waits for you if you have the ability to change it: it will come for you.
Detective Bruce Durante has been handed the case of the Comfort Killer, a serial killer so named because he appears to abduct terminally ill patients before returning their corpses to their families in refrigerated coffins. When he picks up the trail, it leads straight to the home of Lloyd Tanner.
Jason has been living life through the world of Lloyd’s invention and wishing he could carry on a relationship with Boston, the beautiful girl next door. When his father is murdered and framed as the Comfort Killer, he is brought back to reality in a hurry. He is forced to destroy all of the planted evidence—and finds he is being targeted as the killer’s new fall guy. But the secrets of his father’s invention run deep and Jason, his brother Isaac,Boston, the Comfort Killer, and Detective Durante hurtle towards one another on a deadly collision course that leaves everyone’s life hanging in the balance.

Author Shanae Branham
I am a professional writer with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in grammar. I have also attended several years of classes and workshops in screenplay writing at the Los Angeles Screenplay writer’s Expo.
I love suspense thrillers and am a master at plot and character development. I enjoy stories with happy endings. I promise all my readers that when they put one of my books down or walk away from one of my movies, they will be enthused with excitement and joy. This does not mean there will not be some sad parts, because you have to feel the bitter in order to understand the sweet. In fact, I have struggled with Dyslexia my whole life, so you can imagine how overjoyed I was when DiSemblance won a Silver metal in the fantasy/science fiction category at the eLit awards in 2012.

BookBlast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/13/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an 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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nonfiction Wednesday The Beatles were Fab (and They Were Funny)

Please visit the host of this weekly nonfiction book event: Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy

The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)
by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
Illustrated by Stacey Innerst

Published in 2013 by HMH Boks for Young Readers
40 pages
Format: Picture Book
Genre: Nonfiction Biography
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book briefly summarizes the Beatles band from beginning to end.  The reader will learn about how the band came together, and chronicles their rise to fame. It offers a bit more of a look into their personalities and how they interacted with one another. They were a very silly and fun-loving bunch. 

My Thoughts
I was born just after the Beatlemania craze so I did not know much about The Beatles other than a few of their songs until reading this book.  I found it to be entertaining and informative. I really loved the whimsical style of the illustrations. 

Students who enjoy music or have an interest in the 1960's may enjoy this book.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Picture Book Review- The Day the Crayons Quit

by Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Published June 27, 2013 by Philomel
Format: Picture Book, Hardcover
40 Pages
Genre: Fiction
Ages 3-7 from the publisher
I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Summary from Goodreads
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

My Thoughts
This book is definitely one of my very favorite picture books of 2013. I love the concept of the crayons writing letters of complaint about their specific gripes. It is so adorable and the writing really shows the "voice" of each color.  Who knew that red would be upset because he is so overused and pink would be feel left out because Duncan rarely used her?  The illustration by Oliver Jeffers (done in Crayon of course) are perfect!  

Who Would Enjoy It
Although the publisher lists the book for ages 3-7, I think it will appeal to a wider audience. My 11 year-old daughter read it and thought it was "awesome". Younger children will love it because the crayons write the letters and they are really cute.  Older children will appreciate the sarcasm and humor. I would definitely read this to my 4th grade class. 

Use This Book...
as a mentor text to model use of voice in writing, letter writing, to teach character traits and argument writing.

See what others think about The Day the Crayons Quit
Kids' Book Review

Oliver Jeffers' Website

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-August 26, 2013

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

Please click on the picture to go to the book's  page on Goodreads.

Picture Books 

Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I Don't)
by Barbara Bottner

 The Incredible Book Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers

 Mustache Baby 
by Bridget Heos

Lost and Found 
by Oliver Jeffers


A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk...A Forest of Poems
by Deborah Ruddell

Middle Grade

The View from Saturday
by E.L. Konigsburg

Audiobook: Doll Bones 
by Holly Black
Click here to see my review.  

What's next???
I'm not certain right now.  I start school with 3 days of PD tomorrow so I will be pretty busy.  I have The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom to read, but I also just ordered 4 books that are due to come in the mail tomorrow so who knows?

What Are You Reading Friends?

Recent posts:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Audiobook Review of Doll Bones

by Holly Black
Narrated by Nick Podehl

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Listening Library 2013
Format: Audiobook
5 discs- 5 hours 15 min
Disclosure: Obtained from library
I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Summary from Goodreads
Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends forever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . 

My Thoughts 
Sometimes I marvel at childrens' ability to create imaginary worlds through play.  My 11 year-old daughter and her friends can play for hours with their figurines or just make up characters that they act out.  Sadly, most teens and adults out grow this type of play. 

In Doll Bones, the relationship between the three friends on the verge of leaving childhood behind is endearing.  They still love to play make believe games with their action figures and have wonderful imaginations.  However, they are starting to peek into adolescence and this is producing many different emotions for them.  

When Poppy tells Zach and Alice that she is being haunted by a china doll made from the bones of a young girl (Eleanor) and she needs to put her to rest, the three decide to go on a quest.  Zach and Alice don't completely believe Poppy, but they decide to go along. At first, it seems like and exciting adventure. Then things don't exactly go as they planned. They hop on a bus, end up stealing a boat and sailing up the Ohio River and spend the night in a library. During the quest, it is revealed that Alice has a crush on her long-time friend Zach.  Poppy feels like their friendship will be threatened and is afraid that they are all going to grow up too soon and forget how to play.  The doll, they call "The Queen" does some creepy things such as moving to another room while the kids sleep and turning her head when no one is looking.  Eleanor visits Poppy and Zach in their dreams and sends messages about where she needs to be buried. Can the kids work together to complete this quest? Will they continue to play or will they grow up and forget about their games?  Readers will enjoy how Holly Black wraps things up in Doll Bones. 

Who will like it?
Students who enjoy a bit of creepiness (but not too much) may enjoy this book. There is time spent in a cemetery, on a bus in the middle of the night with a creepy old man and don't forget the creepy doll.
I would recommend this book for grades 4 and up. 
It would make a good class read aloud.

Friendship, quest, coming of age, teamwork, loyalty, ghost stories

Characters deal with: growing up, divorce, death of parent, teasing, crushes, feelings of betrayal, jealousy

Holly Black is no stranger to creepy stories.  Her newest book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown comes out in September. Visit her website here.

Nick Podehl does a terrific job narrating this audiobook.  Visit his website here

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Back-to-School Ritual- Revisiting The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Rereading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller has become a before-school-starts ritual for me over the last couple of years. I reread it to energize myself for the upcoming year and to remind myself why I teach reading the way I do. I had to purchase a new copy this summer because someone borrowed it and has yet to return it (not that I blame them at all).

Recently I opened my new, clean copy and reread it.  I was not half way through the introduction and I already wanted to jump up and down and shout YES! Hallelujah! Amen!  It. Just. Makes. Sense!  Donalyn Miller so eloquently describes how she teaches and why she teaches that way.  She gives proof that fostering student choice in what they read, in a supportive environment with a passionate educator, creates lifelong readers.  

I could write literally hundreds of quotes from it that struck home for me. Please permit me to share a few that I find particularly poignant. 

"The children cannot wait. They do not have more time. While Washington policymakers, state and district boards of education, and administrators scramble to figure out what is best practice for getting children to read, crafting program after program in which they claim to have the answers, these children are graduating and breathing a sigh of relief that they never have to read a book again."pg. 3

"When you take a forklift and shovel off the programs, underneath it all is a child reading a book." pg. 3

"Providing students with the opportunity to choose their own books to read empowers and encourages them. It strengthens their self-confidence, rewards their interests and promotes a positive attitude toward reading by valuing the reader and giving him or her a level of control. Readers without power to make their own decisions are unmotivated." 23

"No matter how long students spend engaged in direct reading instruction, without time to apply what they learn in the context of real reading events, students will never build capacity as readers....students need time to read and time to be readers." pg. 51

"Instead of standing on stage each day, dispensing knowledge to my young charges, I should guide them as they approach their own understandings." pg. 15

"Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education." pg. 18

And that is only the first 50 pages!  I love how Donalyn describes her journey to change her classroom and the way she teaches.  She also gives alternatives to traditional practices that may be out-dated or counter-productive to creating readers such as round-robin reading and whole-class novels and gives ideas for creating more reading time in the school day.  There is something for everyone in this book.

Donalyn Miller is a reading Rock Star! The Book Whisperer is the perfect book for new and veteran teachers alike.  It gives real strategies and reasons behind them.  If you don't have a copy, go get one.  If you have one, crack it open again, you'll be glad you did. 

For those of us who have been anxiously waiting, her newest book Reading the the Wild is coming in November.  See what people are saying about it on Goodreads and preorder your copy here.  

For my New England friends, Donalyn is speaking and presenting at the NERA conference in September! Get more info here.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Poetry Friday- A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk

 Poetry Friday is hosted by I Think in Poems.  Be sure to visit to read about other poetry books.

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk 
A Forest of Poems
by Deborah Ruddell
Illustrated by Joan Rankin

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books 2009
40 pages
Format: Picture Book
Genre: Poetry
I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars on 

This book contains 22 short, rhyming poems about forest animals throughout the four seasons. Poems include: Proposal for a Squirrel Spa, Ode to a Salamander and Nobody's Pet

My Thoughts
If you are looking for animal poems that share factual information, this is not the book for you. These poems are silly, entertaining and sometimes, downright funny.  The water color illustrations fill each page with whimsical pictures. 
This book would make a nice addition to any poetry unit or collection.  Older elementary as well as younger children will enjoy these poems because of their content, humor and use of language.

My favorite poem was Biography of a Beaver.
Bucktoothed Cleaver
Tree Retriever
Building Conceiver
True Believer
Waterproof Weaver
Hooray for Beaver!

Use this book to...
Teach/reinforce poetry rhyming schemes
Develop vocabulary. Words such as smidgen, position, uncommonly, flimsy, quavery and investing are included to name a few.
Teach/reinforce visualization.
Have a good laugh.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Maine Student Book Award Books 2013-14-Post One

Hello Maine Educators!  I have been busy trying to read as many of the MSBA's as I could before school starts.  I still have 7 more to go, but from my experience so far, there are some really great books on this list. For the whole list, visit the website here.

I thought I would periodically write my thoughts about some of the MSBA books throughout the fall in hopes of helping you make decisions about what books you may want to recommend to your students. These will not be full reviews, but my a brief summary and my personal thoughts on the books. 

But first, you HAVE to see this site.  My friend Cathy Potter from Falmouth Elementary School has put together book trailers of all of the titles on the list categorized by genre! Here is the link.

So here, in no particular order are 5 of the MSBA books for this year. 

Giants Beware 
by Jorge Aguirre 
Illustrated by Rafael Rosado

Goodreads Summary
Make way for Claudette the giant slayer in this delightful, fantastical adventure!

Claudette’s fondest wish is to slay a giant. But her village is so safe and quiet! What’s a future giant slayer to do?

With her best friend Marie (an aspiring princess), and her brother Gaston (a pastry-chef-to-be), Claudette embarks on a super-secret quest to find a giant—without parental permission. Can they find and defeat the giant before their parents find them and drag them back home?

Giants Beware! offers up a wondrous, self-contained world in the tradition of the very best of Pixar. Claudette and her friends will have you laughing out loud from page one.

My Thoughts
I enjoyed this graphic novel very much.  Claudette is a nice example of "girl power". She shows courage in the face of danger and extreme confidence in her abilities. It is relatively easy to read and therefore accessible to many students.  Students who like graphic novels or books with humor may enjoy this one. I recommend it for grades 3-5.

Prairie Evers
by Ellen Airgood

Goodreads Summary
A sweet, spirited ten-year-old embarks upon the adventure of first friendship in this sparkling debut

Prairie Evers is finding that socialization isn't all it's cracked up to be. She's been homeschooled by her granny and has learned the most from traipsing through nature. But now she has to attend public school, and feels just like her chickens--cooped up and subject to the pecking order. School is a jolt for Prairie until she meets Ivy, her first true friend. But while raising chickens and the great outdoors have given Prairie wisdom and perspective, nothing has prepared her for the give and take of friendship. When Prairie finds out that Ivy's home may not be the best place for Ivy, Prairie must corral all her optimism and determination to hatch a plan to help.

Fabulous writing and a narrator full of personality distinguish this lively middle-grade novel.

My Thoughts 
This is a very sweet story.  I loved watching how Prairie and Ivy's friendship developed. She sees how Ivy is being badly treated and finds a way to help. Students who like spunky characters and the theme of friendship may enjoy this book.  I recommend it for grades 4-8.

Reminds me of/Similar to: Faith, Hope and Ivy June
 and True..(Sort Of).

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate

Unless you have been out of the kidlit loop for about a year, you know about this book already.  It is the 2013 Newbery winner and beloved by all who have read it.  

Goodreads Summary

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. 

My Thoughts 
I have much love for this book.  If you have not read it, you should.  Get a copy for your class or library.  

Little Dog, Lost
by Marion Dane Bauer

Goodreads Summary

From Newbery Honoree Marion Dane Bauer comes the tale of a boy who needs a dog, and a dog who needs a boy—a match made in heaven, if only the two can meet. Mark is a boy who needs a dog. But he can’t get his mom on board with his plan. Buddy is a dog who needs a boy. Buddy has an owner already, but not one who understands the kind of love and care—the “something more”—a dog needs. Mr. LaRue is a neighbor who needs a community. He’s alone all the time in his huge old house—and everyone needs more than that. Over the course of a summer thunderstorm and one chaotic town council meeting, these three characters cross paths and come together in a timeless tale ripe with emotions and told in verse that resolves with love, understanding, and a sense of belonging—plus a place to play a game of fetch!

My Thoughts 
Little Dog, Lost is just so sweet. I would recommend it to any dog lover.  My 11 year old, who does not love to read, LOVED it!  That is high praise. The book is 208 pages, but is written in verse so it is actually a quick read.  I recommend for grades 3-6.

Malcolm at Midnight 
by W. H. Beck

Goodreads Summary

When Malcolm the rat arrives as the pet at McKenna School, he revels in the attention. He also meets the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that keeps the nutters (kids) safe. There’s just one problem…rats have a terrible reputation! So when the Academy’s iguana leader is kidnapped, Malcolm must prove his innocence—and that even rats can be good guys. Illustrated by Brian Lies of Bats at the Beach, this engaging middle-grade novel will have readers rooting for Malcolm as they try to solve the mystery alongside him. 

My Thoughts
I think kids will love this story of school pets who roam around at night protecting the school. They show great teamwork and determination.  There are a few twists and surprises along the way. I was actually considering using it as a read aloud this year. I recommend it for grades 4-6. 

That is all for now.  Please check back for more thoughts on the MSBA book list soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Slice of Life- August 20, 2013 -Blogiversary

Each Tuesday Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Stories (SOLS). This is where bloggers link up to share anything they would like to share about what is happening in their lives. 

Last week I reflected on my first year of blogging and wrote a top ten list of highlights.  It was fun to look back at all the people I have met and all the opportunities that I have had because of my connections started through my blog.  For my SOLS and blogiversary today I am reposting my first 2 posts about my reading history and how I came up with the title for this blog.  It is long story, but I think it serves as a cautionary tale for teachers and explains my passion for creating lifelong readers.  

Here is my post from one year ago today.

Welcome to my new book blog.  I started it because it is my passion to connect children with books they will love in hopes of creating lifelong readers.  I plan to use this blog to review and recommend books for children and discuss successful literacy activities from my fourth grade classroom.

But let's start with how I came up with the blog name.
I was indeed a late reading "bloomer".  I did not start reading for enjoyment until I was in my mid twenties.

As a child I remember feeling smart, but I had a difficult time learning how to read.  I was the kind of kid who would read a page and have no idea what happened.  In third grade, my teachers tried to help me by placing me in the lowest level reading group to read our basal readers.  I remember the day that I was demoted from the middle reading group to the lowest group.  That was the day I learned that I was not smart and I was not expected to succeed (at least that is how my third grade self felt).

So I accepted my fate and continued through elementary school on my path of mediocrity.  I have brief glimmers of enjoyable reading experiences during this time.  I loved when our teacher or librarian read to us.  Our school librarian read Ticki Ticki Tembo by Arlene Mosel to us and I loved it so much that now it is one of my favorite picture books to read to my students.

In school I read because I HAD to.  I do not remember any teacher showing me that reading could be enjoyable or suggesting any great books for me.  

To make a long story short, I finished school and barely squeaked into college.  All the while I still never read for any reason other than to do my assignments and I was training to become a TEACHER!  How would I ever be able to inspire my students to read? 
I managed to graduate from college with a degree in special education (the fact that I was ill-prepared to teach reading is another topic altogether).

It wasn't until I was about 24 years old that I started to read for enjoyment.  I can't remember what I started reading, but I found that I LOVED it.  I was so surprised, excited and, well ANGRY!  Yes I was so furious that I had missed out on all those books growing up.  Just imagine all the children's books that I did not read.   So I have been making up for lost time reading children's books constantly (and slipping in a few grown-up books in between). I am now the type of reader who is never without a book.  The type that loses sleep because I just need to read one more chapter. 
After I finally learned how to teach reading, I became almost obsessed with making sure my students had access to great books and a teacher who was over-the-moon excited about them.  It has become my passion to make sure that every child leaves my fourth grade class feeling smart and loving to read.  I don't want a single child to have to wait, like me, or worse to never become a reader.  

Thanks so much to anyone who has visited this year!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 19, 2013

There is still ONE more day to enter my blogiversary giveaway here.

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

Please click on the picture to go to the book's Goodreads page.

Wonderful Picture Books I read this week

 Absolutely LOVED it!  Miss maple gathers all the seeds that have not sprouted at the end of each summer.  She nurtures them and teaches them about how to be a seed and sets them free in the late spring.  Seems like a metaphor for teaching to me. 

This was probably my favorite book of the week. It is so good that I am ordering a copy and I have already contacted my school librarian about it.  All the crayons in the crayon box write a letter to Duncan (their owner) with some kind of gripe.  Black is sick of being used as an outline, pink feels ignored and red feels over-worked. The illustrations, by the talented Oliver Jeffers, are just perfect (done in crayon of course).

Great Graphic Novels

I am not a Star Wars fan and I did not think I would enjoy this book, but it is fabulous.  Darth Vader, known for being evil and heartless, has a daughter.  It is funny to see the author's view on how Vader might deal with tea parties, moodiness and even dating.  Can you imagine being the boy who tries to date Darth Vader's daughter?  The story and illustrations are just terrific!

Squish becomes obsessed with his new video game, neglecting his sleep and his schoolwork. He even stops reading his beloved comics.  Will this video game take over his whole life?  Kids who like the other Squish books, Baby Mouse, and Lunch Lady will enjoy this book.

I really wanted to love this book, but I just found many of the poems to be disconnected and not so funny. However, because of the topics and the illustrations, many kiddos will enjoy it.

Professional Read

Patrick Allen shares his theories and practices in conferring with readers.  This book it written in simple terms with lots of conferring examples.  I good book for those new to conferring with students.

Currently Reading

Sunday, August 18, 2013

nErDcamp Northern New England is Coming this Winter!

Many educators watched with envy this summer as the first nErDcamp Battle Creek was held in Battle Creek, Michigan.  We would have loved to attend, but it was just too far away. Instead we stalked the event via Twitter and Google Docs. They were kind enough to post live notes from their sessions and they looked amazing.

So, some of my Maine friends decided to host our own version of nErDcamp for educators.  We we calling it nErDcamp NNE.  Any educator is invited to attend. It will be a whole day of making connections and learning about our favorite subject, literacy!

Please visit the website and spread the word!  Hope to see you in January!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blogiversary Giveaway!

My Blogiversary is coming! 

I started this little blog about a year ago (August 20, 2012) to share my love of children's books. It has been so much fun!! I have learned a great deal about myself as a reader and educator. I have met some great professionals who share my passion for literacy both in person and through blogging and Twitter.  I honestly feel like I have finally found "my people". 

When I started this blog, I sincerely thought I would write for myself and that would be enough for me. Now I have over 200 followers on my blog, and over 500 each on Twitter and on my Facebook Page. My page has about 13,000 views.  It still thrills me to no end when someone comments on a post or reads a book because I have reviewed it here. 

Here is a list of ten highlights from this year (in no particular order) that would NEVER have happened if I had not started this blog.

1. Meeting my friend Susan Dee who in a kindred spirit and shares my passion for books. Susan has been a great mentor as I navigate through this new digital world. Through her I met other Mainers like the amazing Cathy Potter and Marylou Shuster that I consider valuable members of my PLN.

2. Meeting author Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of One for the Murphys in person.  Yes, I sat next to her and talked to her at dinner and she is amazing! 

3. Better yet, one of my students who absolutely loved her book, got to meet Lynda in person. That was way cool. 

4. Posting on Nerdy Book Club 3 TIMES! I think a 4th is coming soon.  Click here to view my posts. 

5. Winning a signed copy of Hattie Ever After and emailing back and forth with Kirby Larsen......yes, pinch me. 

6. Having my students post book reviews on my blog.  Kirby Larsen commented on a post of Hattie Big Sky and Lynda Mullaly Hunt commented on a review of One for the Murphys.  The looks on the students' faces was absolutely priceless. 

7. Meeting authors Kate Messner and Megan Frasier Blakemore. I am an idiot when I meet authors I admire.  It is really embarrassing.

8. Reading Arc's.  Because of my blog I have been able to gain access to some books before they are released.  This is how I read Navigating Early, The Real Boy, This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, The Center or Everything and A Tangle of Knots just to name a few.

9. Serving on the nErDcamp Northern New England planning committee. It is going to be awesome! Visit our website here.

10. Discovering all the wonderful blogs that inspire me on a daily basis.  I never fail to learn something new when I visit: Teach Mentor Texts, Two Writing TeachersNerdy Book Club, Kidlit Frenzy and many more. 

Thank you so much for visiting whether you are a regular visitor or stopping by for the first time. I am truly honored and humbled by every visit. 

To celebrate my blogiversary I would like to pay it forward by giving away a $25 Amazon digital gift certificate.

Please enter by using the rafflecopter below.  
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire (Heroes in Training Book 4) Book Blast Giveaway

Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire (Heroes in Training Book 4)
The action heats up for Zeus and his fellow Olympians in this blazing Heroes in Training tale.
Phew, it’s hot! Under the titan Hyperion’s rule, the sun is burning even brighter than normal and scorching everything in northern Greece—including the villagers! The Olympians are forced to play a sizzling “game” of Dodge the Sunbursts as Hyperion hurls giant fireballs that could fry them to pieces!
Armed with some clues, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades set out to figure out why in the world Hyperion has been making things so hot. They also need to rescue Hera, who is still missing. Battling the extreme heat—and some fantastical and scary creatures, courtesy of their old foe Cronus—the boys are off on another epic adventure…and Zeus is one step closer to discovering his destiny.
Heroes in Training by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams deliver fun, adventures, and a few surprises as ten-year-old Olympians go on a journey of a lifetime to discover their true identities and defeat their Titan enemies.
Praise for Heroes in Training
“Readers will gobble this down and look for more, make no mythtake.”
~ Kirkus
“This is a fun read, casting Zeus in the role of relatable kid, and there is a nice balance between his primary goal of survival and his sense of destiny and adventure. . . Share this title, and likely more to come, with those still too young for Percy Jackson’s adventures.”
~ School Library Journal
The Series
#1 Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom
#2 Poseidon and the Sea of Fury
#3 Hades and the Helm of Darkness
#4 Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire

Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Book 1)
After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series! The terrible Titans–merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans–have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe….
Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.
Zeus gets his wish–and a lot more than he bargained for–when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, he grabs the first thing he sees–an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his youthful fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime–and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods.

Poseidon and the Sea of Fury (Book 2)
A young Poseidon must triumph over aquatic terrors in this Heroes in Training adventure. The merciless Cronus and his Titan buddies are in hot pursuit of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, who plan to travel across the treacherous boiling sea in order to save a fellow Olympian. They have a boat, but they also have a problem: Poseidon can’t swim and is terrified of the water (well, really of the creatures that lurk in its depths). The group faces danger after danger as they battle singing sirens, a fishy and ferocious Titan named Oceanus, and people-eating monsters sent by Cronus himself. Can Poseidon overcome his fears and help his fellow heroes escape Cronus and his cronies?

Hades and the Helm of Darkness (Heroes in Training Book 3)
The Heroes in Training are entering the Underworld—if Hades can conquer his canine fears, that is.
The Underworld usually isn’t really meant to be a fun place—but tell that to Hades! He loves the dark and the stinky smell of sulfur. However, there is one thing that Hades is not a fan of: dogs. And when Zeus and his fellow Olympians encounter Cerberus—a snarling, three-headed dog—Hades must conquer his fears and tame the hound so everyone can continue into the Underworld and deposit their Titan prisoner, Oceanus, back where he belongs!
But with magical water that causes forgetfulness, hot beds of lava, and another epic battle with two more Titans standing in their way, will Zeus and his heroes make it out of the Underworld with everyone intact?

Author Suzanne Williams
Suzanne Williams is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives near Seattle. Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children’s choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. She is co-author (with Joan Holub) of the popular Goddess Girls series(for ages 8 – 12) and Heroes in Training (ages 6 – 11). Other series include Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power.

Author Joan Holub
I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children’s books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job.
I illustrated my first published children’s book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts — Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee!
Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children’s books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.

Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 8/29/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an 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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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