Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading-January 28

Please visit the amazing blog: Teach Mentor Texts 
who host this terrific meme each week. 

Here is what I read this week....

Loved it!!  Read my review here.

Two ARC's to be released on March 1 2013

Check back for reviews soon.

A book of poetry
Click here to go some of Ken Nesbitt's poems 
read aloud by the author. 

A few picture books...

Currently (still) Listening  to....

Lizzie Bright and the 
Buckminster Boy

Currently Reading....

Finally, congratulations goes to...

Caldecott winner: This is Not My Hat
A classroom favorite!

The 2013 Newbery Medal Winner!!
My students went crazy!
We LOVED this book!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Review of Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating Early
by Clare Vanderpool

320 pages

Published Jan. 2013 by 
Delacourt Books for Young Readers

Review copy provided by

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!!

A Summary from  

At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains.
Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear.
But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.

What I think...
With her very first novel (Moon Over Manifest) winning the Newbery Medal, Clare Vanderpool had set the bar high. In my opinion, this second book, although different, is just as good.  

I loved this book for many reasons.  First, I like books that are set in Maine.  It is fun to read and be able to exactly picture the settings.  I also love Early.  I am drawn to books with characters who have an autism spectrum diagnosis. Because of his preoccupation with numbers (the number pi particularly) and how he sees them as having colors, textures and movement, I was reminded of another book I had read.  In his book, Born on a Blue Day, mathematical savant Daniel Tammet explains how he sees numbers the same way.  In her epilogue, Vanderpool writes that she did indeed base some of Early's characteristics on Tammet.  However, since the book is set in the mid to late 1940's, Asperger's Syndrome is not yet a recognized diagnosis so it is not discussed in the book.  Early is just seen as different or strange by the other boys. 

Early and Jack are both social outsiders at their boarding school. Jack is a newcomer and Early is just seen as weird.  They have both lost a close loved one. Jack's mom passed away about a year earlier and Early's brother did not return from the war. Early, with his logical mind, is not convinced that his brother is dead and sets out to find him in the woods of Maine during a school break.  Jack's father cancelled a visit so Jack is left alone during break and decides to accompany Early on his quest.  Throughout the trip Early tells the story of "pi".  This story quite closely parallels their journey including pirates, an "ancient one" and a huge black bear.  I loved watching their friendship develop and how Jack's view of Early changed as they get to know each other better.  Maybe he's not so different after all.

Clare Vanderpool has written a book with an intricately woven plot with coincidences, twists and turns around every corner.  
I would recommend this book for ages 10 and up.  
It would make a good read aloud in grades 4-6.  
Themes covered include: accepting differences, loss of a parent or sibling, military families, friendship, nature/wilderness quests and perseverance.

Please Visit Clare Vanderpool's website for more info on her books.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Review of Hattie Ever After

Hattie Ever After 
by Kirby Larson

240 pages
Ages 12 and up
Publication date Feb. 12, 2013
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
I LOVED this book!

Review copy provided by

I finished reading the Newbery Honor winning, Hattie Big Sky very recently and had to start Hattie Ever After right away to see what Hattie was going to do next.  Although Kirby Larson did not originally plan to write a second "Hattie" book, I am thrilled that she did.  This beautifully written sequel brings closure to Hattie's quest to prove herself and to find what she really wants in her life. 

A synopsis:
After losing her homestead (bequested to her by her late Uncle) in Montana during WWI, Hattie decides to leave prairie life and get a regular job.  Her employment as a maid at a small inn, leads to an opportunity to travel to San Francisco to work as a "wardrobe mistress" for a traveling variety show.  Coincidentally, she received a love letter from a woman in San Francisco addressed to her late Uncle, Chester. She feels sorry for the woman who does not realize that Chester has passed.  To complicate things, now that the war is over, her longtime friend and dashing soldier, Charlie comes calling looking for more than her friendship.  Although she is torn, Hattie makes the difficult the decision to go to San Francisco.  

While writing small "homilies" for a small news paper in her hometown in Iowa about her homestead experiences, Hattie was bitten by the writing bug.  She has since set her sights on becoming a news reporter for a real newspaper.  She decides to leave her job with the show, a few months after arriving in California, when she is offered a job at a major newspaper, not as a reporter, but as part of the cleaning crew.

With the help of Ned, a reporter who has taken a shine to Hattie, she is soon given a research job to help reporters and quickly many events unfold.  She writes a series about working women after the war that catches the eye of the editor.  Through some fortunate events, she is quickly promoted to her dream job, reporter. Things seem to be going well for Hattie, but she is lonely. Should she move to Seattle to be with Charlie? (To be honest, that's what I wanted her to do). Could she work and be a wife without losing herself?  Then, a series of person betrayals (and an earthquake) rock her world.  

This book will appeal to those who love historical fiction and a bit of mystery.  There is some romance, but nothing beyond hand holding or a kiss on the cheek.  Although the publisher recommends the book for ages 12 and up, I would say that grades 5 and up with some knowledge of the time period could enjoy this book.  

Click here for the Goodreads summary. 
More books by Kirby Larson
Amazon Page

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Monday January 21

Please visit the amazing blog: Teach Mentor Texts 
who host this terrific meme each week. 

Not a huge literary week for me, but here is 
what I managed to read....

 One by Kathryn Otoshi  
This one of my new favorite picture books to share with my 4th graders. 
It sends a powerful message one person can make a difference in dealing with bullying.  
Thank you to Carrie Gelston for recommending it to me. 
 Extreme Babymouse  
         by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
A very sweet graphic novel.  #17 in this popular series!

      Hattie Ever After
by Kirby Larsen

After finishing Hattie Big Sky last week, I could not 
wait to read this book.  Check back tomorrow for my review. 

Currently Reading
Navigating Early
by Clare Vanderpool

Currently Listening 
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
by Gary D. Schmidt

Check out my blog posts from this week:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Picture Book Challenge Week Two

We continued our picture-book-a-day challenge this week.  Please click to see our last post. 

This challenge has not been much of a challenge.  Through this challenge, I am more convinced than ever that 4th graders still love picture books.  We have been enjoying our reading very much.  Some books are just fun and we all share a laugh together.  Others are thought provoking and relevant, lending themselves to wonderful, rich discussions.  

Here are the five we read this week.

 One by Kathryn Otoshi led to some     My Brother Martin was a great         We are learning about
 important discussions. A great book      MLK book to share this week.         similes and metaphors.
 to pair with our reading of Wonder.                                                             Love these books!

                       We enjoyed Extra Yarn and discussed          Mo Willems is ALWAYS a winner!

So over the two weeks the students are pretty split on their favorites but here are the top three.

Please visit again for more updates on our 
picture book-a-day in January Challenge.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review- A Tangle of Knots

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

240 pages
To be released on Feb. 12, 2014
Review copy provided by

The Thing About Georgie is one of my favorite books so I was really exited to read Lisa Graff's latest.  She definitely has a way of creating quirky, loveable characters and unique story lines.

Goodreads describes Tangle of Knots as "Savvy Meets When You Reach Me" and I would have to agree.  

Here is their summary (minus spoilers at the end):
Told from multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's mysterious past and how she became an orphan.

What I think:
I have to say that I was a bit confused at the beginning.  The book has a LOT of characters that appear to be unrelated at first. It moves quickly and goes in a million different directions.  Having said that, I really enjoyed this book very much.  I loved Cady and how she positively affects everyone she meets. There are also many yummy looking cake recipes throughout the book.
Lisa Graff has woven an intricate web of lives that come together by fate.  It is fascinating to watch how all of these lives could lead to Cady and her perfect family. 

I would recommend this book for grades 4 and up. Themes and topics covered in this book included families, adoption, differences, talents and friendship. 

Click here to see Lisa Graff baking Miss Mallory's Peach Cake.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wonder-ful Reading part 2

Another Wonder-ful week of reading Wonder
Click here for the last installment. 

The students are really enjoying Wonder. As of this post, we have read just past "The Summer Table". Many students have purchased a copy on their e-readers so they can follow along or read ahead.  Here are a few activities that are happening to enhance the experience.


Our Wonder Kidblog
A huge thank you to Mrs. Sedenka for setting up our Wonder account.  The blog has been a great way for our classes to communicate and share thoughts on the book. Here is a particularly insightful post from one of our 4th graders.

Riley J
January 15, 2013 at 6:49 PM
Mine were sad, anxious, filled with laughter, and happy. I was thinking, and if I hear something like that, than it makes me so courageous. I think now hearing that book, I can now hold my head up high and to not be afraid to try new things…this book can really make changes to many peoples lives…including my own life. 

My class has also been responding to the book in their read aloud notebooks.  Here is an example of a student listing her feelings while listening to the book and what she predicts August has been feeling so far. 

Please visit again for more updates.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday- January 14, 2013

Please visit the amazing blog: Teach Mentor Texts 
who host this terrific meme each week. 

Here is what I read this week....
I finished listening to Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larsen was just amazing.  I am very anxiously awaiting Hattie Ever After due out next month.

Like Bug Juice on a Burger.  I really enjoy this series (the first book is Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie click here to see my full review. 

Luz Makes a Splash.  A neat graphic novel focusing on water conservation.  Really liked it.

At a trip to the bookstore, I discovered Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books.  I wish these had been around when I taught younger students.  They are hilarious!

Memoirs of a Goldfish as part of our picture book-a-day challenge.  Click to see my post.

 On my weekly trip to The Windham Public Library with my son.... 

                             Don't Forget, God Bless   Because Amelia Smiled
                            Our Troops

I am currently reading....

What's Next?

Please visit my posts from last week....

What Are You Reading??

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Picture Book Challenge- First week(s)

We have really been enjoying our picture book-a-day challenge.  It has been nice to just spend a few minutes sharing a funny, informative, or important story with them each day.  Here are the books we have read so far.

          Bear Has a Story to Tell                         Emily's Art                          Rocket Writes a Story
           by Phillip C. Stead.                         by Peter Catalanotto                     by Tad Hills
        Students thought it was sweet.            Made them think                Related to own writing process.
                                                                about acceptance.                                                             

                                   This is Not My Hat                           Memoirs of a Goldfish
                                       by Jon Klassen                               by Devin Scillian
                                          So Funny!                           Related to our personal narratives.

                                                          Hello! Hello by Matthew Cordell
Was a great reminder to take a 
look around every now and then.

After 6 books, they voted on their favorite so far..... Memoirs of a Goldfish was the winner with This is Not My Hat at a fairly close second place.

Coming up next...

Do you have a favorite picture book?