Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-September 30, 2013

This post can also be found today on the Maine Reading Association's Blog. Please visit this site for more info. 

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 to learn more about it.

With the craziness of the first weeks of school and my amazing weekend at NERA last weekend, I did not have time to post last week.  So, here are some of the books I have read lately.

Picture Books

Crankee Doodle
by Tom Angleberger

Crankee Doodle is hands down the funniest picture book I have read in a while.  I was actually laughing out loud.  Yankee Doodle is bored and cranky and wants something to do.  His trusty horse recommends that he "go to town". Well, "Crankee" doesn't want to go to town and he gives many funny reasons for not wanting to do so.  Then his horse suggests that maybe he could get a feather for his hat and it just keeps going from there. My 11 year-old daughter, Molly, also  loved this book. 

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
by Carol McCloud

Every child need to hear this book.  The author writes about how everyone has an invisible "bucket" inside them.  When the bucket is filled up with positive thoughts and kindness a person feels happy.  When their bucket is empty or others dip into their bucket, they feel sad. I love this metaphor and I think kids will really understand what kindness does inside a person after reading it.  A MUST read!

Hello, My Name is Ruby
by Phillip C. Stead

Sweet, little Ruby is in search of friendship and her place in the world.  She is fearless and asks the other birds lots of questions including "Would you like to be my friend?"  This book would be a great addition to any collection about friendship, empathy or courage.  It also got the Molly 2 thumbs up.  She really felt for Ruby who faced rejection several times, but did not give up. 

Hank Finds an Egg
by Rebecca Dudley

This wordless book is too adorable not to share with children.  Hank finds an egg that has fallen from its nest. Hank shows great ingenuity and determination as he tries to put the egg back where it belongs.  The story is simple and lovely.  On the jacket I read that the author creates everything on each page by hand, right down to each tiny leaf.  This book got the seal of approval from Molly with a big "Awww that's so cute!"

Middle Grade

The Boy on the Porch
by Sharon Creech

My friend Justin Stygles, book talked this book at our MRA open house last week so I decided to pick it up. I am glad I did.  It is a very quick read because of its number of pages and because it is really interesting.  A sleeping boy is left on the porch of a childless couple, John and Marta.  The boy seems to be about 6 years old and is unable to speak.  The boy produces a note that asks the couple to take care of Jacob and they will return for him.  Goodhearted John and Marta take the boy in, but they do not report finding him to the authorities. There is a great undercurrent of suspense as the couple grows to love the boy and foster his unique musical and artistic talents.  Will his parents return for him? Should they tell the authorities?  Who do you root for?  I think this book would make a great book for late 4th through 6th grade.  It would certainly spark many important discussions. 

Currently Reading

Reading in the Wild
by Donalyn Miller

I was lucky to win an advanced reader's copy of The Book Whisperer's newest gem at the NERA conference last weekend and, so far, it is a fantastic as you would expect. 
Please read more about my NERA experience and how I met Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle here

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meeting Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle and Thinking About Reading Communities

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. 

This weekend I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle in person. They were in Portland, Maine to deliver keynote addresses and present at the NERA convention.  I was among a very lucky group of educators who got to have dinner and chat with them.  

Penny Kittle is the author of Book Love and is the high school teacher I wish I'd had. Maybe then I would have become a reading sooner. The way she talks about how she fosters the love of reading in her high school students was so inspirational.  Even after years of not reading much, she gets them hooked.  Her students are so very lucky to have her and we are all fortunate to be able to learn from her. 

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that Donalyn Miller is my professional idol. I was beyond thrilled to meet her, talk with her, listen to her keynote and attend her "Bring on the Books" session (I know stalk much right?).  I even won a coveted advance copy of her new book Reading in the Wild which comes out in early November (It is as amazing as I had expected, go order it now and come back).  

I was going to write about meeting Donalyn as the focus of my SOLS post, but I decided to keep the details to myself.  Suffice it to say that she is as smart, funny, gracious and wonderful as you'd imagine. 

Instead I have been thinking about the focus of her keynote address, reading communities.  As Donalyn described her reading community which includes her family, colleagues and students,  I began thinking about my own reading community and how important it is to me.  I was actually sitting with many in my reading community at the conference.  

I am thankful for colleagues at my school like Anna Sedenka, Laurie Tibbitts, Stacey Sawyer and Missy Mullin who are always happy to share great book titles with me and listen as I gush about my newest book love. 
Then there are the colleagues that I don't see as often like my Maine Reading Association and nErDcampNNE friends Susan Dee, Cathy Potter, Marylou Shuster, Jen Felt, Chris Pirkl and Natalee Stotz to name a few.  Sitting and discussing books with these friends is always so much fun. 

I love my blogging and Twitter reading community.  One of my favorite parts of the week is Monday night when I can read all the It's Monday, What Are You Reading posts linked up at one of my favorite blogs, Teach Mentor Texts.  With Goodreads and my public library page tabs open, I read about what books others are reading.  We leave comments for each other and offer thoughts and even more title suggestions. 

In my family, my daughter is my only reading buddy. Although she is still finding her love of books, we will talk about what each of us is reading and we read together.  I love it when I get a stack of picture books from the library. We sit and read them together and she gives me a rating for Goodreads. 

My students are the people I talk with about books each day.  We recommend titles, discuss what is happening in our books and talk about our reading lives. 

These reading communities enrich my life.  Although I am a reading late bloomer and never had this kind of community until fairly recently, I am so happy I have all of these people in my life to share my love of books. 

We need to remember that reading is a social activity that needs to be nurtured for ourselves and our students. 

So I'll leave you with these questions:

Who is in your reading community?
How do you share this with students?
What do you do to help students develop and nurture their own reading communities?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Kindle Fire Giveaway!

fall kindle fire 

  This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7".
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

  Or $199 Gift Card (International)

  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

    Fall Sponsoring Authors & Bloggers
  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
  2. Feed Your Reader
  3. Author Annette K. Larsen
  4. Phantasmic Reads
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  7. Author Stacy Claflin
  8. MyLadyWeb: Women's History, Women Authors
  9. Book Mama Blog
  10. Word to Dreams
  11. Candace's Book Blog
  12. Once Upon a YA Book
  13. Author Miriam Louise
  14. Author Mary Ting
  15. Author Camelia Miron Skiba
  16. Books4Tomorrow
  17. Author Theresa McClinton
  18. Brooke Blogs
  19. Author Pauline Creeden
  20. Author MK McClintock
  21. Author Kathryn Chastain Treat
  22. Books Unhinged Book Blog
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  24. Meredith & Jennifer's Musings
  25. These Are But Shadows
  26. My Devotional Thoughts
  27. Author Ally Shields
  28. Dark Motive's Books and More
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  31. Author Jennie Sherwin
  32. The Real Bookshelves of Room 918
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  34. No BS Book Reviews
  35. BookLover Sue
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  40. My Nook, Books and More
  41. The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
  42. Clarice's Book Nook
  43. MichaelSciFan
  44. Magical Manuscripts
  45. Author Talia Jager
  46. Every Free Chance Book Reviews
  47. Jessabella Reads
  48. Author Melissa Pearl
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  52. The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl
  53. Christine's Blog
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  Sign up to Sponsor the NOVEMBER Giveaway  
  Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire. Ends 10/31/13 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 participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.    

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Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-September 16, 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 to learn more about it.

I read some really fun picture books this week.
 A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
by Marla Frazee
I would love to read this book to my 4th graders.  Two grandparents host two boys for a week of "nature camp".  The boys would rather stay inside, but do some outdoor activities reluctantly.  Lots of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor which is my favorite kind of funny. 

by Aaron Reynolds 
Illustrated by Dan Santant
This is a great author/illustrator team. The Carnivores are upset because the other animals are leery of them.  They decide to try to become vegetarians with no luck.  Finally they enlist the advice of The Great Horned Owl who sets them on the path of self-acceptance.  This book is super-funny!  

by Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Dan Santant
Cute story about times when "Crankenstein" might shoe his face.  Some of those times include morning time, waiting in long lines and when it's rainy.  All kids will relate to being a little "Crankenstein" from time to time.  

I Finished Listening To...
 The True Blue Scout of Sugar Man Swamp
by Kathi Appelt
Narrated by Lyle Lovett
Loved this story!  There are so many story lines, I can't possibly do it justice.  Please visit the Goodreads page by clicking on the picture.  I would love to have this book in my class library.

I Finally Finished...

The Mighty Quinn 
by Robyn Parmele
This book was not for me.  If you'd like more info, please see my Goodreads' review

The Reading Zone
by Nancie Atwell
Loved this professional read.  Nancie's message: get rid of the extra "stuff" and get kids into the reading zone. 

What Are You Reading Friends?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills Blog Tour Review

I am thrilled to be part of this blog tour for Claudia Mills' Zero Tolerance. Please see below for other tour stops. 

Zero Tolerance
by Claudia Mills
Published in 2013 by Farrar Stratus Giroux Books for Young Readers.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the ARC in exchange for my honest thoughts. 

I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Summary from Goodreads
Seventh grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she has accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a pairing knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's iron-clad no weapons policy. While there Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be-and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life. 

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed reading Zero Tolerance and could hardly wait to find out Sierra's fate.  Like any good book, it made me feel many different emotions. When the administration began to treat, the previously adored, Sierra with such distain and negativity for an innocent mistake I was frustrated and downright angry.  I could not imagine that a well-meaning honor student could be sacrificed in the name of "zero tolerance".  

Having had no personal experience, this book made me think about what a zero tolerance policy would be like in a middle school.  I know administrators have to keep schools safe, but would an honor student with no previous infractions really be expelled for grabbing the wrong lunch and immediately turning in the knife?  I would hope not. I was just so flabbergasted that expulsion was even discussed in this case where she was turning the knife in to trusted adults.  

Something positive came out of Sierra's in-school suspensions. After spending so much time with them, she realized that she had misjudged the "troublemakers" who were there with her.  She developed a real friendship with Luke who proves to be a loyal and selfless friend.  He even tries to take the blame after she does something very uncharacteristically reckless-something she could get in even bigger trouble for if anyone found out. 

Claudia Mills did an excellent job keeping just the right amount of suspense and tension in this book.  It grabs you right from the beginning and you really feel like you are right there with Sierra. You can feel her frustrations, fears, anxieties and hopes.  I think many upper elementary and middle schoolers will really enjoy reading Zero Tolerance.  

Claudia Mills is the author of many chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9=Trouble!; How Oliver Olson Changed the World; and, most recently, Kelsey Green, Reading Queen. She also teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. To learn more, visit her website:

Please visit other blogs along the tour to hear more about Zero Tolerance. 

Wed, Sept 4         Read Now, Sleep Later 
Thurs, Sept 5       proseandkahn
Fri, Sept 6            The Book  Monsters
Mon, Sept 9         Once Upon a Story
Tues, Sept 10        Pass the Chiclets
Wed, Sept 11         The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
Thurs, Sept 12       The Mother Daughter Book Club
Fri, Sept 13            The Children's Book Review
Sun, Sept 15          Nerdy Book Club
Mon, Sept 16         Geo Librarian
Tues, Sept 17         A Life Bound by Books

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? September 9, 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 to learn more about it.

Picture Books

by Aaron Becker
This has to be one of the BEST picture books of the year.  It is a wordless journey of a young girl who is bored because everyone is too busy to spend time with her.  She uses her "magic" marker to draw a door to another world that starts her amazing journey.  The illustrations are simply gorgeous. 

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great
by Bob Shea
Things are going just fine for Goat until Unicorn arrives. Unicorn can fly, has a cool horn and can make it rain cupcakes.  Soon Goat realizes that he can do things that Unicorn can't and the two become friends. 

Brief Thief 
by Michael Escoffier
Kids will think this book is just HILARIOUS! Lots of "potty humor". It was not my kind of funny, but I can see my class rolling on the floor laughing at this book. 

I am STILL Reading...


and listening to...

What Are YOU Reading Friends?

Please check back on Wednesday for my review of Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nonfiction Wednesday: Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Rodriguiez

Through Georgia's Eyes
by Rachel Rodriguez
Illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Published in 2006 by Henry Holt and Company
32 pages
Format: Picture Book
Genre: Nonfiction-Biography
Disclosure: Book obtained from library
 I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Summary From
Georgia O’Keeffe saw the world differently from most people. As a child she roamed the prairie with a sketch pad in her hand, struggling to capture on paper what she saw all around her. At art school she learned to speak in paint on canvas.
But Georgia felt confined by city life. She longed for vast expanses of space, and she found it in the red hills and silent deserts of New Mexico.
Lyrical and vivid, this is a portrait of an exceptional artist, a woman whose eyes were open to the wideness and wonder of the world.

My Thoughts
I have always been fond of Georgia O'Keeffe's work. She found wonder in nature and the world.  The story chronicles her life starting from what the author imagines is her her first memory. The section "More About Georgia O'Keeffe" offers some additional info. The illustrations in this book are reminiscent of her artwork with big pictures and a great use of color. I really enjoyed it and think it would make a nice addition to a classroom biography collection.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?- September 2, 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.

Being back at school, I did not get much reading done.  
Here is what I managed to get through.

The Invisible Boy 
by Trudy Ludwig
Release date: October 8, 2013 
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Picture book
40 Pages
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy from 
Edelweiss in exchange for my honest thoughts. 
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Brian is an "invisible" boy.  No, not invisible in the sense that he cannot be seen, but invisible in the sense that no one seems to notice him.  He is quiet and shy and his teacher and classmates just seem to overlook him. He is not picked for recess teams or classroom groups.  Then one day a new student named Justin arrives at school.  After other make fun of Justin's lunch, Brian makes Justin feel welcome and accepted and soon the two are friends. Having one friend starts to change things for Brian, maybe he isn't so invisible after all. 
The illustrations are terrific.  I love the symbolism of how the illustrator portrays Brian in black and white and everything else in color.  
This book would make a great mentor text for a discussion about making everyone feel accepted.  It also serves as a reminder for teachers to make sure we try to give adequate attention to all of our students. 

Zero Tolerance
by Claudia Mills
I will be reviewing this book as part of a blog hop on September 11, please check back. 

Currently Reading

I am only a few pages into this book and it is AMAZING already!

Currently Listening

What's Next?
I was going to read The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, but I have put it on hold because a book I requested from the library arrived.

What Are You Reading Friends?

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