Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-August 31, 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 learn more about each book. 

I was looking for some read alouds for the first week of school so as you can see, that is the theme of most of my reading last week. 

Not sure I will share with my 4th graders, but younger kiddos may like it. Lots of unbelievable and silly things happen on the way to school. 

Fun book about the craziness of the school bus. Could make a good springboard into talking about dos and don'ts. 

This one could have gone is a better direction for me, but it could make a good discussion starter.

Everyone has woken up with a case of the "grumpies" from time to time. This book takes a fun look at how to get rid of them. 

I love books about The American Revolution and look forward to reading this to my class. 

Currently Reading
Yes, I can hear you all telling me how amazing this book is. Glad to finally get to it. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Review of Your Alien by Tammi Sauer and Gorō Fujita

Your Alien
by Tammi Sauer and Goro Fujita
Published August, 2015
Sterling Children's Books
32 Pages

Goodreads Summary
One day, you'll be looking out your window when something wonderful comes your way… and you will want to keep him. 

When a little boy meets a stranded alien child, the two instantly strike up a fabulous friendship. They go to school, explore the neighborhood, and have lots of fun. But at bedtime, the alien suddenly grows very, very sad. Can the boy figure out what his new buddy needs most of all? This funny, heartwarming story proves that friends and family are the most important things in the universe . . . no matter who or where you are.

My Thoughts
Move over ET, there's a new adorable alien in town. He is so cute that anyone would want to try to keep him. 
Fans of Laura Numeroff's "If You Give.." series will enjoy this book as it follows a similar, but not identical, pattern. The alien goes to school with the boy where, of course,  he is well received by the students and the teacher is left wondering if she is imagining things. Later the alien gets sad as it starts to miss home. I think many children will be able to relate to both the alien and the boy in this book. They would likely want to keep the alien also, but will also be able to imagine what it might be like to miss your family when you are away from home. 

The illustrations are wonderful! Each page is filled top to bottom with color and superb pictures and interesting background details. However it is the cuteness of the alien (and the boy) that will grab the reader's attention. The target audience, in my opinion, is ages 3-7. 

Use this book as a mentor text...
to discuss cause and effect.
to ponder the questions, "Would you keep the alien?" "Why or why not?" "Where would you take it?" "What might happen there?"
to infer-"How did the boy know why the alien was upset?"
to discuss homesickness.
for writing their own Your (insert creature) story. 

What Others are saying About Your Alien

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-A Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino

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

by Salvatore Rubbino
Published 2011
Candlewick Press
40 Pages 
I have never been to London, but after reading this book, I feel like I just visited. A little girl and her mother are walking around London for the first time. The story is told through the girl's narration and the dialogue between the two of them. Accompanying the story are multiple captions scattered about the detailed illustrations of this beautiful city. 
Did you know that Buckingham Palace has its own post office and postal code? And the Imperial State Crown (which the monarch wears at the State Opening of Parliament each year) has 2,868 diamond, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 5 rubies and 273 pearls in it. This book is filled with little nuggets like this. The illustrations are realistic and adorable at the same time. Kids will enjoy getting their hands on this book and studying the pictures. Because of the density of information, this is a book to share closely and possibly in two sittings with younger students. I would recommend it for grades 2-5. 

Discussions and Activities
Pair A Walk in London with another book about the royal city. Some are shared here.
Find London on a map.
Share a real map of the city.
Compare and contrast London to students' home town. 
How do the narration and captions work together to convey information?
Which place in London interests you the most? 
Write a class book following this pattern about your town. 
Share this video of London created by local children. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 24, 2015

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

It was a good reading week for me. I will miss having lots of time to read as we head back to school.
Click on the book covers to read more about them.

A cute story to share about strengths and expectations.

I enjoyed this adorable story about how a boy loves his special book at the library. 

A sweet story of how a person can change their beliefs after a chance encounter. 

This book is a twist on the "telephone game" as James' words are changed through retellings resulting in hurt feelings and misunderstanding. 

I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Review to come. 

This book had been on my TBR list for a while. I am so glad I finally was able to read it!

Currently Reading

What are you reading friends?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Secret Mission of William Tuck by Eric Pierpoint

The Secret Mission of William Tuck
by Eric Pierpoint
Expected Publication Sept. 1, 2015
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Historical Fiction
320 pages
Digital copy obtained by Netgalley

Goodreads Summary
William Tuck is set on justice. For his brother killed by British soldiers, for his friend Rebecca’s father held prisoner by the redcoats, and for the countless other rebel Americans struggling beneath the crushing weight of British rule.
The whispered words of a dying soldier and a mysterious watch give William all the ammunition he needs: a secret message for the leader of the rebel army. Rebecca disguises herself as a boy, and she and William join the American troops. They embark on an epic journey that pulls them into a secret network of spies, pits them against dangerous gunmen, and leads them on a quest to find General George Washington himself.

Can William and Rebecca determine friend from foe long enough to deliver a message that might just change the tide of the American Revolution?

My Thoughts
This riveting story had me from the beginning. Tweleve-year-old William leaves home in hopes of becoming a drummer for the Continental army in an attempt to help in the war after his brother is killed. Despite being injured in his very first battle, William sets off to deliver what he believes is a message that will change the war to none other than General Washington himself. 
The reader is left feeling breathless while watching William and his new friend Rebecca face British soldiers, injuries, spies and even time on a prison ship. 
The relationship between Rebecca and William develops into a sibling type of relationship that is very endearing. Rebecca is an extremely strong female character who doesn't let the fact that she is a girl get in the way of serving her country. 
The Secret Mission of William Tuck is a well-developed story with tons of action that will keep readers interested. It includes descriptive scenes of battles and some graphic scenes that are more suited for middle school and high school rather than elementary readers. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Emmanuel's Dream

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

by Laurie Ann Thompson
Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Published 2015 by Schwartz and Wade
40 Pages
Nonfiction Picture Book
Obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary

This inspirational picture book biography, written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls, tells the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who bicycled across Ghana--nearly 400 miles--with only one leg. With that achievement he forever changed how his country treats people with disabilities, and he shows us all that one person is enough to change the world. 

My Thoughts
I loved everything about this book. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah is an inspiration and reading his story made me want to get up and just DO something!  These days, talking about grit is all the rage and Emmanuel is grit personified. This is a person who hopped to school on one leg for 2 miles as a child. HOPPED!! Incredible! Children will be amazed and inspired by his determination and resilience. 
I like how the story started with his birth and showed how his father left the family because of his disability. His mother's love and determination made all the difference for Emmanuel. The reader tags along watching Emmanuel overcome obstacle after obstacle. There are many opportunities for discussions about disabilities and challenges in the classroom. 
This is a book I will certainly share with my 4th graders. I would recommend it for grades 2+. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Slice of Life Post-Back to School Shopping

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. 

Yesterday I took my 13 year-old daughter school shopping for some new clothes and school supplies. The whole process went extremely smoothly and was actually quite enjoyable compared the way it has gone in previous years. The experience got me thinking about how I have been getting ready to go back to school for 40 years now! 
I love the preparation, anticipation and sense of newness and hope that comes with the beginning of a new school year. Although I loathe seeing back to school flyers and commercials in July, by mid August, it is not so bad. I was in Walmart the other day shopping for something entirely different, but somehow ended up in the school supply section. My pulse quickened as I looked at the brand new packages of clean, sharp crayons and markers. Standing in the center of the aisle I realized that I have an abnormal fondness for colorful binder clips and brand new dry erase marker multi-color packs, and don't even get me started on different colored Sharpie pens! Do I really need these new supplies? Maybe not, but they make me happy. They represent a fresh start, the promise of a new year with new students and the opportunity to learn and grow together. 

Let's have some fun. In the comments, please tell about your back to school must-have(s) or your favorite school supplies.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 17, 2015

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

I took a bit of a blogging break for the last few weeks to relax a bit with family. I was able to read quite a few books. I won't list them all, but here are the highlights.
Click on the book covers to read more about them.

Such a sweet wordless picture book.

A moving story of a family forced to sell many of their belongings as they move into an apartment due to financial struggles. 

Loved this middle grade novel. Part fantasy, part historical fiction. 

Halfway through, I did not think I would like this book, but I am glad I stuck with it. It is extremely well-written. Betters for grade 6+ in my opinion.

New middle grade fiction from a well-respected educator/author. Review to come. 

Currently Reading

What are you reading friends?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Published May 5, 2015
Sky Pony Press
256 pages
Realistic Fiction
Review copy provided by publisher.

Goodreads Summary
Last spring, Pansy chickened out on going to spring break camp, even though she’d promised her best friend, Anna, she’d go. It was just like when they went to get their hair cut for Locks of Love; only one of them walked out with a new hairstyle, and it wasn’t Pansy. But Pansy never got the chance to make it up to Anna. While at camp, Anna contracted meningitis and a dangerously high fever, and she hasn’t been the same since. Now all Pansy wants is her best friend back—not the silent girl in the wheelchair who has to go to a special school and who can’t do all the things Pansy used to chicken out of doing. So when Pansy discovers that Anna is getting a surgery that might cure her, Pansy realizes this is her chance—she’ll become the friend she always should have been. She’ll become the best friend Anna’s ever had—even if it means taking risks, trying new things (like those scary roller skates), and running herself ragged in the process.

Pansy’s chasing extraordinary, hoping she reaches it in time for her friend’s triumphant return. But what lies at the end of Pansy’s journey might not be exactly what she had expected—or wanted.

My Thoughts
I have to admit, looking at the cover of this book, made me think that it was a romantic young adult novel. Instead, it is a heartbreakingly sweet story of friendship and one friend's desperation to get her best friend back after her brain is damaged due to a tragic illness. Pansy is only in 5th grade and is forced to deal with some heavy-duty feelings of guilt, confusion and deep sadness. In her quest to become "extraordinary", the usually timid Pansy tries to face some of her fears in order to prove her loyalty and achieve goals that her friend Anna had set for herself. Despite what everyone tells her, Pansy believes Anna will be "cured" after her surgery in December. The author creates a feeling of desperation as Pansy almost obsessively pursue's her goals of learning how to ice skate, earning badges as a Girl Scout and earning the most points in the class reading contest. Because she is so busy and focused on her goals, she has alienated her close friend Andy (Anna's twin brother) who really needs her. She is also resistant to befriend the popular Emma, who wants to become friends, because Pansy sees this as a betrayal to Anna. 
The book builds as Anna's surgery gets closer and closer. In fact, the chapter titles are the number of days and weeks remaining until her surgery. I won't spoil the ending here, but I think some students will be surprised  how it all works out in the end. 

I will definitely be including Extraordinary in my 4th grade classroom library. I would recommend it for grades 4-7. Readers who enjoyed heart print books such as One for the Murphys, Out of My Mind and Wonder will enjoy Extraordinary. 

Read what others have to say about Extraordinary.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

No Excuses: The Story of Elite Gymnast Amy Walker-Pond-Book Blast Post and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

No Excuses 
  No Excuses: The Story of Elite Gymnast Aimee Walker-Pond by Adam U. Kempler No Excuses: The Story of Elite Gymnast Aimee Walker-Pond traces the gymnastics career of a girl born deaf and blind in one eye. Despite challenge after challenge and setback after setback, Aimee rose in the gymnastics world to compete for UCLA and BYU and at the level of International Elite—a feat no athlete with comparable disabilities has accomplished in the history of the sport. This biography describes how Aimee overcame her health struggles, learned American Sign Language, succeeded in gymnastic, enjoyed social activities, acted in movies, traveled to Hawaii and Russia, worked hard in school, competed in college, and found romance. Bruno Grandi, President of the International Gymnastics Federation, said, “Aimee has filled our hearts with the fire of warmth and love and inspired us all to become better.” Valorie Kondos Field, head women’s gymnastics coach at UCLA and winner of six NCAA National Championships, said, “Aimee’s not deaf. She just can’t hear. Why would she need two eyes, when she has one? She has no excuses.”
Order Your Copy Now!
On paperExcerpt - Preface “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now,” says one Chinese proverb. When I started this project, I had no idea that it would take thirteen yearsto complete and involve about eighty interviews with Aimee’sfamily, friends, mentors, and coaches. Why did it take so long? When I first met Aimee, I was an English professor, and she was in the middle of her career. No one knew how long her career would take or where it would take her; however, I could see that her story was significant and had to be told, so I approached Aimee about writing her story. We then agreed to work together on this project—although at the time we didn’t fully understand the place her story would take in the gymnastics world and in disability literature. Helen Keller said, “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.” Most of us don’t have much experience with blindness, deafness, or other disabilities. When I was working my way through college, the only job I could get was working with severely handicapped students as an instructional aide at a high school, which I reluctantly accepted out of financial desperation. I worked with a young man who had been a popular running back on the school’s football team but had been hit head-on by a drunk driver, placing him in the severely handicapped program. When I first saw him, he was drooling in a wheelchair, and I felt sick to my stomach. After four years of working together, he became one of my best friends. Through that experience and many others like it, I gained a better understanding of some of the struggles that others face, and it prepared me to see the significance of Aimee’s story when I first heard about it. After twenty-seven years in prison, Nelson Mandela said, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” People with disabilities are imprisoned by their bodies, and most of them are never set free in this life. I taught a class in a juvenile detention facility for five years, and I had a student who stopped me outside of class one day. She looked across the grass at the tall fence at the end of the field. It was wrapped with razor wire at the top. She said, “I can’t take it in here. I’ve got nine months left, and I can’t handle being away from my family.” Being incarcerated can change us, and by teaching in detention camps, I gained a better understanding of the need that we all have for hope, especially the disenfranchised. I hope that readers of Aimee’s biography will gain a better understanding of the world of people with disabilities and encourage others to feel hopeful.   

Praise for the Book: “Aimee’s not deaf. She just can’t hear. Why would she need two eyes, when she has one? She has no excuses.” Valorie Kondos Field—Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach at UCLA who won six NCAA National Championships “Aimee has filled our hearts with the fire of warmth and love and inspired us all to become better.” Bruno Grandi—President of the International Gymnastics Federation "As a parent, devoted gymnastics fan . . . and one who views success in terms of personal growth, not medals or titles won, this is a story that inspires me.” Kathy Johnson Clarke—1984 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Captain who won a team Silver medal and an individual Bronze medal on the balance beam.  
Available from Impact Publishing
add to goodreads
Author Adam U. Kempler Adam U. Kempler is an English professor and author in southern California. He has worked extensively with students with disabilities, including those in high schools, colleges, and detention facilities. He enjoys spending his free time surfing locally and fly-fishing in the backcountry of Yosemite. Adam and Jennifer have six children: Jesse, Stephen, Rachel, Rebekah, Timothy, and Ruth.

  BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 8/30/15 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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway