Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-Feb. 23, 2015

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

Be sure to enter my giveaway of a signed hardcover copy of Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a tree here.

Thanks to a trip to the book store, I was able to read a bunch of picture books. Click on the covers to learn more about them.

Really cute book about counting and sharing. K-2

A book about fate and friendship. K-4

I really love the illustrations in this book about 
the ingredients necessary to make a good book. K-3

Neat story of creativity, persistence and making 
mistakes. Good for K-3.

LOVED this adorable parallel story. Great for any 
child who has ever been afraid of monsters. K-3.

Betty wants to peel her banana by herself. If you have 
spent any time around toddlers, you will totally recognize this scenario. 

I finished....
Thanks to my friend Jason Lewis for lending me this arc. 
Loved it! Good for grades 6+. Review later.

Currently Reading....
Really loving so far!

What Are You Reading Friends? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Dory Fantasmagory 
by Abby Hanlon
Published 2014 by Dial Publishing
160 Pages
Early Chapter Book
Copy obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary
To say that six-year-old Dory has a wildly creative imagination is an understatement. Her family calls her Rascal because she pesters them with too many questions and is a general pest to her brother and sister. She has developed a rich imaginary life with her imaginary best friend Mary. In an attempt to get her to stop acting "like a baby" her siblings tell her that a person name Mrs. Gobble Gracker is looking for her. Mrs. Gobble Gracker eats babies so they warn Dory to stop acting like a baby.  This only fuels Dory's imagination further as she starts firing questions about Mrs. Gobble Gracker. 
Can Dory escape Mrs. Gobble Gracker? Will she stop acting like a baby? 

My Thoughts
Dory is adorable! This book is filled with Dory's real and imaginary events. She plots to escape Mrs. Gobble Gracker, annoys her siblings to no end, goes through a phase where she pretends to be a dog, yells and has lots of temper tantrums. Fans of Junie B. Jones or Clementine will love Dory. At 160 pages with lots of hilarious kid-like pictures to support the text, this early chapter book will feel like a "big kid book".  I can imagine many children wanting to tell about the next crazy thing Dory has done in their book. I hope for many more Dory books to come. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Giving Away a Signed Copy Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I can not say enough about Lynda Mullaly Hunt's latest book, Fish in a Tree. It is a middle grade must-read! As she did with One for the Murphys, Lynda tells an emotionally-charged story that will live on in the hearts of its readers. Readers will LOVE Ally and find inspiration in her story. 

My daughter and I are huge fans of Lynda and both of her books. Click here to see our thoughts about Fish in a Tree.   

You can also read about it at

Because I love it so much, and truly feel it should be part of every middle grade classroom, I am giving away a signed hardcover copy. 

Here is the official book trailer. 
Looks great right? 
Use the rafflecopter below to enter (US only please). 
Good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-February 18, 2015

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

by Sara Levine
Illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

By asking questions, the author helps the reader compare human skeletons to the skeletons of other animals. For example all animals have skulls, ribs and vertebrae. The author adds, changes or removes types of bones and asks the reader to predict what type of animal would have that kind of skeleton. Then she gives more information about the animal. This book is filled with interesting facts. For example, did you know that a single giraffe vertebrae can be ten inches long? 

With a mixture of realistic skeleton illustrations and adorable cartoonish children, Bone by Bone will engage elementary readers. Sara Levine includes extra information about bones and vertebrates, a glossary and suggestions for further reading in the back of the book. 

Bone by Bone would make a wonderful addition to a nonfiction picture book collection or a unit on the skeletal system or animal classification. Grades K-4.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slice of Life-The Power of Book Talks

Each Tuesday the amazing bloggers 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. 

I like to do a few book talks each week in my fourth grade classroom, but recently due to snow days and just regular business, I have not been doing them regularly. This week I made sure to do two book talks. I shared Jennifer Richard Jacobson's new book, Paper Things and Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 

My students do not always hang on my every word when I am teaching, but they do when I am talking about books I love. Even if the book does not interest them, they want to know why I liked it so much. 

I must have been pretty excited because after talking about these two books this week, almost every single student wanted to enter for a chance to be the first reader, even the boys who normally prefer fantasy. I felt like a gameshow host as I pulled out the "winners". There were squeals of delight and fist pumping. This was followed by negotiations by classmates to get the book when the winners were done. 

Why am I NOT doing this more often? Book talks are a simple, quick way to get students motivated and excited to read. This week was a good reminder for me. If you have not tried book talks in your classroom, just try one and you will be hooked. Just choose a book you love and tell your audience what it is about and why you love it. Make sure not to give too much away. I keep a jar and slips of paper for my two classes to enter to read the book first, but any procedure will work as long as your enthusiasm shines through. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?-February 16, 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.

This one was just ok for me. I guess I had hoped for more measurement.  

Cute story of enjoying the journey.  K-3

Great nonfiction picture book about animal skeletons. Interesting format. Grades 1-4. 
Review on Wednesday.

Finished Listening
Thankfully I listened to this one or I probably would not have finished. Very slow paced. 

Currently Reading
Sooo good!

What Are You Reading Friends?

Recent posts:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner

Circa Now
by Amber McRee Turner
Published 2014 by Disney Hyperion
288 Pages
Personal Copy

Goodreads Summary
Twelve-year-old Circa Monroe has a knack for restoring old photographs. It's a skill she learned from her dad, who loves old pictures and putting fun digital twists on them. His altered "Shopt" photos look so real that they could fool nearly anybody, and Circa treasures the fun stories he makes up to explain each creation. 

One day, her father receives a strange phone call requesting an urgent delivery, and he heads out into a storm. The unimaginable happens: a tornado, then a terrible accident. Just as Circa and her mom begin to pick up the pieces, a mysterious boy shows up on their doorstep, a boy called Miles who remembers nothing about his past. The only thing he has with him is the photograph that Circa's dad intended to deliver on the day he died. 

As Circa tries to help Miles recover his identity, she begins to notice something strange about the photos she and her father retouched-the digital flourishes added to the old photos seem to exist in real life. The mysteries of the Shopt photos and Miles's past are intertwined, and in order to solve both, Circa will have to figure out what's real and what's an illusion. 

With stunning prose, captivating photographs, and a hint of magic, Circa Now is a gripping story full of hope and heart.

My Thoughts
Kirkus Reviews had this to say about Circa Now, "Just a tinge of fantasy pervades this captivating tale of grief and acceptance and of the power of imagination."
I think this is a perfect description. The reader questions what is real and what is imaginary throughout this fascinating story. Circa's grief over the sudden loss of her father is very fresh when the stranger, who they call Miles, enters the story. She is also dealing with a mother who suffers from anxiety so severe, she rarely leaves the house as they try to find Miles' family. 
One thing that brings Circa a bit of comfort, during while dealing with her grief, is working on photographs at her father's computer. Restoring and photoshopping pictures is something she and her father enjoyed doing together. As strange coincidences start to occur, Circa (along with the reader) begins to wonder if some of the things inserted into the "shopt" photos come true in "real life". 
There are many layers to this story. With themes of grief, change, friendship, family, illness, compassion and a bit of mystery, Circa Now has much to offer middle grade readers. I would recommend this book for grades 4-6. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Rock Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas

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

A Rock Can Be...
by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Violetta Dabija
Expected Publication Date: March 1, 2015
32 Pages
Review copy obtained through

Laura Purdie Salas and Violetta Dabija make the reader look at rocks in a whole different way. As they did with Water Can Be... they show the reader a bit about where rocks can be found, what they look like and how rocks can be used. Whether they are used for fountains, stepping stones, skimming stones or hop scotch markers, rocks have many uses in our lives and throughout nature. 
The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! I can imagine children wanting to take a second, closer look through this one. 

One of the best parts of the book is the section in the back called "More about rocks". In this section the author shares more information about each type of rock presented in the book. Did you know there is a colony of more then thirty-five thousand parrots nesting in a five mile stretch of cliffs in Argentina?! And the world record for the most numbers of skips of a stone in the water is 50! 

A Rock Can Be... would be a great part of a poetry collection or a rocks and minerals unit. It also helps children see how a natural resource could be used in our lives. It is also just a beautiful book to share. I would use it most with grades K-3. 

Visit Laura Purdie Salas' webpage and Violetta Dabija's webpage

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?-February 9, 2015

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

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

The picture book adaptation of Fatty Legs. Nice story of determination and 
the power of reading. Nice read aloud for grades 1-4.

Really loved this new one by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. 
A very touching story. Great for grades 4-8. Review to come.

Currently Reading
I LOVE anything by Lisa Graff so I was thrilled to see a new title. I am only a couple of chapters in, but this story is very intriguing so far. Thank you to my friend Jason Lewis for lending it to me. 

What Are You Reading Friends?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-February 4, 2015

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

by Miranda Paul
Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published February 1, 2015 by Millbrook Press
32 Pages
Digital copy obtained through Netgalley

Goodreads Summary
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.

Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person's actions really can make a difference in our world.

My Thoughts
I was captivated by this story. It is a great example for children about the power one person's choices can have. Ceesay saw a problem and instead of ignoring it, decided to do something about it. 
The book starts with Ceesay as a young girl who notices a discarded plastic bag blowing across the ground. She uses it to hold her fruit after the basket she is carrying breaks. As she grows up, the plastic bag problem multiplies. Miranda Paul does an excellent job using present tense narration to show Ceesay's process of dealing with the hug piles of bags, washing them and figuring out how to recycle them. The women finally try cutting the bags into strips and crochet them together to make purses to sell which benefits the whole community. 
I would recommend One Plastic Bag for grades all elementary grades. 

Click here to read some scary statistics about plastic bags. 

Watch the Book Trailer

Isatou Ceesay shows how to crochet plastic bags into purses. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-February 2

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

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

Adorable early chapter book!

I discuss this excellent example of how one person can make a difference on Wednesday. 

Finished Reading
Really enjoyed this mysterious "realistic" fiction book. Great for middle grades.

Thank you to my friend Susan Dee for recommending this book and lending me your copy. I LOVED it. 
Stella, her family and community face discrimination and violence in segregated North Carolina. Good for grades 4-8. 

Currently Reading

What Are YOU Reading Friends?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Stack-It-Up Sunday-February 1, 2015

On infrequent Sundays I like to share some of the random piles of books around my house. I originally posted about my piles on this celebration post.  Along with showing everyone how messy my house is, I like to share because each pile has its own story.

The Jack at the Helm books are waiting for me to 
read and review them next to Stella by Starlight, which was amazing! 

 Adorable Dory Fantasmagory is on a side table. 

In my reading nook sits Kate Messner's Real Revision.

 One of TJ's faves in the sun room.

Molly's Doctor Who book and TJ's Tyrannosaurus Reg on the couch. 

These stacks are coming to school with me tomorrow. I truly hope A River of Words gets some sort of shiny sticker tomorrow!

What Books Are in YOUR Stacks Friends?