Friday, March 24, 2017

Spotlight Friday - bringing about change on Earth 3.24.17

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

Now that Spring and April are upon us, here is a collection of books you might use in April to discuss ways people can come together to make big and little differences on Earth.

The Tree: A Fable
The Tree 
by Neal Layton

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
by Patricia Newman

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
One Plastic Bag 
by Miranda Paul

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle
Water is Water
by Miranda Paul

This Is the Earth
This is the Earth
by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

The Great Big Green Book
The Great Big Green Book
by Mary Hoffman

Happy Spring Reading!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Moon Shadow - a review 3.23.17

This is a must have book for your upper middle grade collection!

Moon Shadow
Moon Shadow
by Erin Downing
published by Aladdin
May 16, 2017

Maybe because I know a little bit about this novel.  Maybe because I know the heart and soul the author put into it.  Or maybe because it's just amazing.  But I want everyone to know about this book.  

Goodreads summary:
Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself.

Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday.

When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play.

Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad.

With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

My quick thoughts:
Middle school was awhile ago for me :)  But, so many themes of it are universal.  Wanting to fit in.  Figuring out who you are.  Friends changing.  Wanting to fit in but not sure how to go about it - or being uncomfortable with what you have to do to fit in.

This book encompasses all of these things.  I love how Erin brings all of these things to life in this book because it's a book that is going to feel real to all of its readers. And what I love is how Lucia stays true to who she is.  Erin does an amazing job of exploring possibilities and I love the choices she made.

This book has a special place in my heart and I plan to share it widely.  I hope you pick up a copy for your class, your library, and other upper middle grade readers in your life.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - books about our nation 3.22.17

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

The history of our nation is full of interesting stories.  Make these stories come alive in the minds of students with these books!

Introduced in historical order:

Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father
Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father 
by Monica Kulling

Even our youngest students are becoming familiar with Mr. Secretary Treasurer Hamilton!  A biography that introduces Alexander Hamilton, as well as some of the events of the American Revolution.

Soldier Song by Debbie Levy
Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War
written by Debbie Levy
illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Debbie Levy certainly knows how to write nonfiction.  Another fascinating story - and one that offers so much for teachers to use as a mentor text.  A book that concentrates on an unfamiliar story to many readers - how music and a song made soldiers stop for a moment and remember the men they were and their common goal of going home.  Take a closer look at this book to closely read some primary resources of actual letters sent from soldiers. Or look at how these men were at war, yet Levy found ways to highlight the soldiers' similarities.

The Secret Project
The Secret Project
written by Jonah Winter
illustrated by Jeanette Winter

When I first heard about this book I didn't know what it was even about.  I eventually found out it was about the secret project "Gadget" - which was the creation and testing of the atomic bomb in the United States.  This picture book gives readers a basic idea of how secret this project was, some of the precautions that were taken to keep it secret, the duration, the deserted area it was created and tested in and how scientists needed to go underground to test it.  The words "atomic bomb" are never used until the author's note at the end of the book.

This is definitely a picture book that is meant to be used with older readers.  I think of a child picking up this this book and I'm pretty sure they would have no idea what the secret project really is. The end pictures show the atomic bomb blowing up, but without background knowledge, I'm not sure they would really understand that.

What's the Big Deal about First Ladies by Ruby Shamir
What's the Big Deal About First Ladies
written by Ruby Shamir
illustrated by Matt Faulkner

After reading this book, I wish we spent more time spending the First Ladies, and maybe less on some of the crazy politics and happenings of past (and current) presidents!  This book is just a quick window into the lives of past First Ladies, but I definitely added information to what I knew.

Any new books about US history I've missed?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#road2reading - Puppy Pirates and Quirks series 3.21.17

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools 
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Yesterday we were so fortunate to enjoy the entire day with author Erin Soderberg.  I've known Erin for a few years and I knew she would be a wonderful author for our students to interact with and learn from.  If you are able to bring an author to your school, it is one of the most valuable and memorable experiences you can give students.

Stowaway! (Puppy Pirates, #1)       Catnapped! (Puppy Pirates #3)       Ghost Ship (Puppy Pirates Super Special #1)

The two series that Erin talked about with our students were her Puppy Pirates and Quirks series.  I love these chapter book series because they reach a wide range of readers.  

  • Both series are wonderful read alouds.  If you have a reader who needs to listen to a series in order to get characters, settings, predictable problems/experiences - both of these series will work!  
  • If you have a reader who is starting to independently read longer chapter books, try Puppy Pirates!  Erin and illustrator, Russ Cox, have make sure there are supports for these readers along the way.  The Puppy Pirate crew does have a few characters!  I appreciate there being an illustration of characters as we meet them and illustrations of the main characters in the scene in each chapter.  Visualization is so helpful for the transitional reader!  And are you paying attention to the pug prank that happens at the beginning of each chapter?  Those pranks always come back and help out later in the book!  Predictability is also so helpful for the transitional reader.  I like that character traits don't change from book to book.  Readers can always expect the pugs to be playful... they know Henry is going to look after everyone (Father Hen?)... they know Wally is going to be trustworthy.  Characters may learn lessons, but who they are won't change.
  • If you have a reader who is ready for a longer chapter book, yet not the maturity of a middle grade novel, try The Quirks series.  Kids love the characters - lovable and fun Finn, who is invisible most of the time!  Penelope who has an amazing imagination.  And Molly who, although, she doesn't have a quirk, she's the glue of the siblings.  And then there's Niblet - the monster that came from Penelope's imagination!  We quickly push kids into books that they may have stamina for, but have situations that don't always match the maturity level of readers.  The Quirks really is perfect for 2nd-5th grade readers.

The Quirks: Welcome to Normal       The Quirks in Circus Quirkus       The Quirks and the Freaky Field Trip

One of the things I'm always looking for are books that will appeal to the readers I work with.  Readers who need support.  Readers who work really hard putting everything together.  Readers who are developing their reading skills.  Often, these readers don't have the stamina for middle grade books.  Often, these readers will choose a middle grade book to fit in with peers, yet not be able to get through it.  I'm always trying to find books that they will be interested in, yet let them feel like they are reading a book that is "acceptable".  Books like Puppy Pirates and Quirks fit this because they are fun.  Kids are reading them.  They can read them in front of their peers.  They can talk about the books with their peers.  And that makes these series a win in my book!

And as kids grow, they like growing with a favorite author!  Erin has books that will grow with them!  Find other titles written by her under Erin Downing.  For older readers, do not miss her middle grade novel Moon Shadow, publishing on May 16th.  My copy is already preordered!

Be sure to visit Alyson's post, which gives great questions to ask when conferencing with transitional readers.

Thinking about readers who are on the #road2reading?  What books are you using with them?

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.20.17

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Reading in general got away from me last weekend.  I really didn't have much to update you on and it was a crazy weekend.  Took last Monday off, book binged this weekend and now have more to share! 

Be sure to check out what did go up on the blog with the following links!

Last Two Weeks' Adventures

Looking for some books to teach theme?  Look no further than here.

Thinking about passion and how that helps you work harder at something!  Picture book biographies that exemplify this here.

A fantastic new series from Candlewick Press - SPARKS - transitional chapter books for readers on the #road2reading!

Check out these upcoming releases for those on the #road2reading!

This nonfiction picture book series is a perfect addition for transitional chapter book readers.

Little Fox in the Forest is my new favorite wordless PB!  Check out these ideas for using it has a mentor text!

Picture Books

What Will Grow?
What Will Grow? by Jennifer Ward
4/5 stars
Great book to add to your growing/plants/life cycles units.  I know our second grade studies plants and while this book is geared to a younger crowd, there is still a lot that can be used to cover the second grade NGSS.  Each layout has a rhyme that describes the seed or plant.  The left side of the layout shows the seed, the right the plant it turns into.  My favorite spreads are the ones that have a page to pull out into a larger layout.  Also depicted are animals that eat the seeds or plants.  In the back are some notes about each seed, how to plant them and how long it takes to grow.

Over and Under the Pond
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
5/5 stars
I got to read this book at NCTE, but I'm so glad to have more time with it.  I think the detail in the research that Kate Messner has clearly put into this series makes these exceptional books.  Books you want to spend lots of time pouring over words and illustrations.  I'm glad Christopher Silas Neal has stayed with this series because I love the continuity it brings.  His illustrations are always full of gorgeous detail.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy
5/5 stars
When you've heard from many trusted Nerdy friends how wonderful this book is.... I just got to it... Too much on my plate....  This is a very very important book to be reading right now.  When it is so important to talk about being a leader, about having a voice.  Be sure to get your hands on this book and read it and talk about it.

Charlotte and the Rock
Charlotte and the Rock by Stephen W. Martin
4/5 stars
Loved this sweet story!  For every child who has wanted a pet... and was given a rock.  Many tongue in cheek jokes, some kids will get, some may need some explaining (but they'll make the teacher laugh!).  An ending that I guess I should've seen coming but didn't!

The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra
The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra by Marc Tyler Nobleman
3/5 stars
This is probably the most fun title to read out loud!  I love the colors illustrator Ana Aranda used.  Fun read aloud.  Good book to get from the library.

Great, Now We've Got Barbarians!
Great, Now We've Got Barbarians! by Jason Carter Eaton
4/5 stars
A new twist on the you-haven't-cleaned-up-your-room cause/effect story.  Silly, and it will appeal to young readers.  The ending was funny and certainly set up the story for more adventures!

Middle Grade

Braced by Alyson Gerber
5/5 stars
Loved this book about a main character who has scoliosis and has to go through seventh grade with a back brace.  Happy to see a very realistic portrayal of a middle grade student dealing with a physical disability.
Please be looking for my upcoming post about this book and make sure it's on your TBR - it publishes March 28th!

Young Adult

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
4/5 stars
Finally got to this one!  I think it's been on my #mustread lists a couple of times now.  I really loved Cath and Levi's story.  I was not a huge fan of the fan fiction/additional fiction story.  Halfway through the book I stopped reading them.  Not sure if it was supposed to parallel what was happening in the novel or if there was a connection between the stories I was supposed to get, but regardless, I didn't read them after awhile.

Currently Reading

This Was a Man (The Clifton Chronicles, #7)
This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer
This is the final book in the Clifton Family chronicle.  I've enjoyed all of them - I thought I would be tired of them by now, but have held on to the end!  I think this is my first adult read of the year!

Capture the Flag (Silver Jaguar Society Mysteries #1)
Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
I've owned this book for a long time, but just never got around to reading it.  I made sure to put it on my #mustreadin2017 list so I could get to it for sure.  It's my current purse read - meaning it's the book I carry around and read in the edges! 

On Deck

Goodbye Days
Goodbye Days by Jeffrey Zentner
This will be my first Spring Break read!

Spring Break starts next week for us and I am really looking forward to taking a break, getting in some reading time and plenty of time to RELAX!  I'll be taking a short blogging break in order to get in some family time.  I have a couple of posts that will go up, but otherwise I'm going to spend more time reading than writing.  I'll be back to #IMWAYR in a couple of weeks!  See you in April!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spotlight Friday: Books for theme - and a green book! 3.17.17

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

When I think about green pants I can't help but think about my Granddad.  He had a green suit that he would pull out and wear - mostly on special occasions but sometimes is would make other appearances.  Maybe it was his way of putting on the infamous green jacket golfers get after winning the Master.  The green suit is something all of us think about when reminiscing about Granddad and always brings a smile to our face.

When I saw this book from Candlewick, I knew it was a book I wanted to add to my collection!

Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel
Green Pants
by Kenneth Kraegel
published by Candlewick
March 21st, 2017

I love books that have a clearly stated theme.  Green Pants can't get any clearer!  Jameson loves his green pants.  He's amazing in his green pants.  He can do anything in his green pants.  But what happens when he has a difficult decision to make?  Can he put aside what he wants to happen to make someone else happy?  It's hard to to put someone else's needs in front of yours!  What a great conversation you'll be able to have with students after reading this book.  

Do you have Morning Meetings/Community Meetings in your classroom?  This book is a perfect one to use to talk about empathy and thinking about other's.  

Talk about theme and central message - this is a book you'll want to add into your rotation!  Want some others?  Here are some recent favorites for teaching theme:

I Am Not a Chair!
I Am Not a Chair!
by Ross Burach

Not Quite Narwhal
Not Quite Narwhal
by Jessie Sima

The Green Umbrella
The Green Umbrella
by Jackie AzĂșa Kramer

The Tree: A Fable
The Tree:  A Fable
by Neal Layton

The Cat From Hunger Mountain
The Cat From Hunger Mountain
by Ed Young

The Darkest Dark
The Darkest Dark
by Chris Hadfield

Happy reading and sharing!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Biographies that show Passion 3.15.17

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

Passion - it's a word that comes to mind when I read many picture book biographies.  So many people who have gone on to do amazing accomplishments have such a passion for what they believe in.  These two new picture biographies spotlight people who show a real passion for their dreams.

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot
Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot
written by Matthew Clark Smith
illustrated by Matt Tavares
published by Candlewick Press

Believe it and you can achieve it.  We tell students, our children, ourselves this encouraging phase.  But when you read Lighter Than Air, you know this is what Sophie believed.
The reader can see Sophie's passion for flying through Smith's words and Tavares' illustrations.  We see Sophie as a young child showing her natural curiosity and wonder about flying as she admires the birds around her and watching them take to flight.  We are drawn to Tavares' illustration of Sophie as she sits on a hill on a dark day as she ponders the world's attitude of the place of a woman - that place certainly not being the pilot in a balloon.  But it's the passion for flying that drives Sophie to accomplish her dream.  The reader is taken through other milestones in her life, as she tries new things and meets new goals.  Tavares sets the mood of each scene through his use of light and dark colors.  Our spirits life and soar with every accomplishment Sophie meets.

I think readers will be drawn to Sophie's story.  Her story does not come without failures and disappointments.  But having that dream, that passion, kept her moving forward and finding new goals and finding true happiness.

The author's note continues Sophie's story, although the ending is not a happy one.  But when you think about how her bravery and passion paved the way for many other women who continued that path into the sky, you really view Sophie as a pioneer.

Other books you may pair with this text:
A Voyage in the Clouds by Matthew Olshan
Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh
Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine by Heather Lang

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
written by Kay A. Haring
illustrated by Robert Neubecker
published by Dial Books

Keith Haring's artwork is probably familiar to many people.  Even some of the young readers of the book will be familiar with the broad lines and comic-like outlines of characters.  But the story of the artist will probably be new.  And what stands out to the reader is the passion this artist had for his work.  It wasn't about the fame or the money, it really was about creating and giving back.  Haring's work with the public, and the way he encouraged children to explore the arts, was something that stuck with me.  To have a passion so deep for something and to use that enthusiasm to encourage others is definitely something to recognize! 

This picture book biography struck a chord in my own memories.  Growing up in the 80s, I remember spending a lot of time coloring.  As I got older, it was fun to experiment with broad strokes, coloring in the different spaces with bright colors.  I'm not sure if what I was doing was inspired by Haring's artwork, but I'm guessing his influence on the art scene in the 80s filtered down to us kids!

Other books you may pair with this text:
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant
A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney