Thursday, March 31, 2016

review of Raymie Nightingale 3.31.16

Raymie Nightingale
Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
published by Candlewick
April 12, 2016

"Raymie's story is entirely made up.
Raymie's story is the absolutely true story of my heart."

These words are in the inside cover of the ARC of Kate DiCamillo's upcoming Raymie Nightingale, publishing April 12.

I hope her letter appears in the published book too.  I feel like it's important for readers to know.

When I think of this book, I want to remember:

1.  The writing.
Kate uses such wonderful vocabulary.  She uses words that I never would think of using, but after reading them, I know no other word would've fit.  I love the word 'malevolent', but it's hard to throw it around in conversation.  Kate uses it and it seems to be such an easy word to fit in.  
Her characters are never verbose (had to throw my own big word in).  They say just the right amount, with the perfect vocabulary choice.

2.  It's about friendship.
I didn't catch that at first.  From all the promos I had ever read about this book, I knew our main character's, Raymie, father had run off with another woman, and Raymie was going to enter a contest to try and woo her father back.  And while that event starts the book, it turns into something so much more.  But it's quietly, not in your face, done.  We meet Louisiana and Beverly right away, but they slowly become the friends that Raymie needs.  Kate shows the reader that Raymie needs these friends way before Raymie realizes it.  We see how they begin to fit together before Raymie does because she's too intent on figuring out how to get her father back.  My heart bled for these girls and I loved to see how their relationship fit together in this wonderful, odd way.

3.  It's about your soul.
That feeling inside you that balloons big and wide and then deflates the next minute.   I love that the reader gets to learn what Raymie perceives as her soul - the feeling inside that grows and deflates.  In the letter at the beginning of the ARC, Kate says she worried about her [own] soul.  I think we see inside Kate's soul every time we read her books.  I love that she lets us get a glimpse.

For those of you who are getting ready to experience this book for the first time, two pieces of advice.  I love the current cover of the book.  It's simple.  It's eye appealing.  But in my opinion the girl depicted appears to be an older tween/young teen.  Raymie is 10 years old in the book.  I had visualized her as being older and had to constantly remind myself, she's 10, she's 10, she's 10.  Start picturing a 10 year old now.  I also didn't know this book was going to be about friendship.  About how 3 different people can come together and be the friends you need, that you didn't know you needed.

Be sure to check out the trailer:

And you should watch Kate talk about writing this book:

Buzz Feed has a great post about Raymie that I think is one to read.

Find some time to read.  This is a book that you want to set aside a good chunk of time to allow yourself to fall into this book.  You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 3.30.16 The Wildest Race Ever

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

I still don't know what made me sign up for my first marathon.  I was hooked by the running swag bag.  Don't know about the swag bag?  Or expos?  Or medals?  That's the dangling carrot for me.  What gets me signing up for races again and again.  On the weekends, I often have on a sweatshirt that came from one of my many races.  It's fun to buy those at the expos.  I have a wall of medals that I proudly display.  It's in a room I rarely go in, but that's ok, I know they are there.  The medals that come from races held at Disney are the best.  I run ridiculous amounts of races there just to get the super cool medals.  And while I was racking up the 13.1 mile medals and sweatshirts, I guess I really needed one that said 26.2 on it.  The nifty bumper stickers for your car are sweet swag too.  I switched out the 13.1 for the 26.2 real fast!  And after I did that first marathon, you would think I learned my lesson, but no.  I signed up for two more.  I think three is a nice number.  I'm content with that.  I obviously like running, right?  Nope.  Really don't.  I don't get that runner's high, but I've heard about it.  For me it's all about having a goal and working towards it.  And when I finish those races, I get the same thing as the people who came in fourth place (because sometimes the runners who win really do get a "purse"/cash prize).  

Image result for the wildest race ever

The Wildest Race Ever
by Meghan McCarthy
published by Simon & Schuster Books

When I read Meghan McCarthy's newest book, The Wildest Race Ever, I loved it because of the connection I had with it.  There's something that makes you feel good when you can relate to other people putting their bodies through this crazy torture.  My favorite line was at the end of the book, "He claimed he would not run again.  But like all good long-distance runners, who are compelled to keep running, Hicks did the same."  Been there, done that.

This is a book that I will put in my classroom library.  I think young readers will enjoy reading about the competitive part of this sport.  They will enjoy the back and forth between the runners, never knowing for sure who will win.  McCarthy has a layout early on showing some of the key players in the race.  I would flip back to this page frequently so I knew who was who.

McCarthy talks directly to the reader at times, asking the readers opinion over something that could be considered controversial.  What a great opportunity for students to come up with an opinion and use textual evidence to support it.  

I love the end of the book.  McCarthy wraps up the book with a perfect conclusion that brings the theme and the events of the book together.

Check this book out soon!  I think readers will run away with it (ha, see what I did there?).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Big Thoughts for Young Readers

For our students and our own children, we want their lives to be easy and perfect.  We want heartbreak to stay away and all problems to be solved easily.
But life doesn't always work that way.  And even when it does, it doesn't stop some children thinking about those big issues.  Issues, that while they may seem foreign, still weigh on their minds.
I was one of those readers who liked reading about bigger issues.  I didn't have to worry about them, but the unknown was a thought in my mind.  I read voraciously as a child, and sometimes I read light and funny books.  But sometimes I wanted a book that explored something heavy.  Anyone else remember Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die?  And there were others too.
These books are important for students.  Some kids look for them to ease what they are feeling.  Some kids look for them because they have questions.  
There are a few books that are being released that have young characters searching for answers to big questions.  I hope you find a place for them in your library.

Summerlost by Ally Condie
Goodreads summary:
It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar. 

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.

Raymie Nightingale
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Goodreads summary:
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Every Single Second
Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb
Goodreads summary:
A single second. That’s all it takes to turn a world upside down.

Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini’s life is changing too soon, too fast. Her best friend, Clem, doesn’t seem concerned; she’s busy figuring out the best way to spend the “leap second”—an extra second about to be added to the world’s official clock. The only person who might understand how Nella feels is Angela, but the two of them have gone from being “secret sisters” to not talking at all.

Then Angela’s idolized big brother makes a terrible, fatal mistake, one that tears apart their tight-knit community and plunges his family into a whirlwind of harsh publicity and judgment. In the midst of this controversy, Nella is faced with a series of startling revelations about her parents, friends, and neighborhood. As Angela’s situation becomes dangerous, Nella must choose whether to stand by or stand up. Her heart tries to tell her what to do, but can you always trust your heart? The clock ticks down, and in that extra second, past and present merge—the future will be up to her.

Tricia Springstubb’s extraordinary novel is about the shifting bonds of friendship and the unconditional love of family, the impact of class and racial divides on a neighborhood and a city, and a girl awakening to awareness of a world bigger and more complex than she’d ever imagined.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.28.16

IMWAYR 2015 logo

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.

Last Week's Adventures

One of the great things about libraries is that they allow me to read a book before deciding on purchasing them.  Here are some books that I got from the library but decided they were must-haves.

Another must-have book for me was this week's nonfiction selection, The Secret Subway.  Here are some mentor text suggestions.

I celebrated Liesl Shurtliff's newest book, Red, and her author visit at my school.

Be sure to check out this FANTASTIC book, I Hear a Pickle.  Mentor text ideas here.

I was the guest blogger on Scholastic's Reader Leader blog this week, talking about including nonfiction choices in your independent reading time!  Check it out!

Picture Books

Let's Play!
Let's Play by Herve Tullet
4/5 stars
I was so excited to get this book!  Press Here and Mix It Up have been 2 favorite books to check out among my students - and that's students ranging from Kg-4th graders!  There is something magical knowing something is going to happen with each page turn.  Watch out for a separate post on interactive books that will be coming soon!

The Opposite Zoo
The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na
4/5 stars
Great concept book for opposites.  This book will be perfect to use in a preschool/kindergarten setting.
A monkey goes exploring in the zoo at night and finds things that are the opposite.  Good visual representation and I like how the monkey appears in each layout - feeding the giraffe is my favorite.
Zoo books are tricky because I have very conflicted feelings about them.  But concentrating on the conceptual pattern of this book and the beautiful and vivid colors used in the illustrations makes me more comfortable.

Hannah and Sugar
Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube
4/5 stars
Use this book to talk to students about conquering their fear.
A lot of young readers have a fear of animals, particularly dogs.  This will be a great book to use and talk about with young readers.

Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs
Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park
4/5 stars
This book that is full of word pairs, does more than just say the pairs, we see them illustrated which gives readers a visual clue and there is also a small definition on each page in case someone doesn't pick up the clues in the illustrations.  In the back matter there is a brief explanation of homographs and then a table that has the words, the origin of the animal's name and where the action got its meaning from.

Hoot and Peep
Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
3/5 stars
Sweet book, good to use with growth mindset.

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles
Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson
5/5 stars
This book will have its own post on a Spotlight Friday next month.  
Loved this book about how a young student activists worked together to help the local sea turtle population!
publishes April 5th.

This Is Not a Picture Book!
This is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
5/5 stars
Ruzzier perfectly captures what books do for readers and the power of imagination.
Another book that will be feature in an upcoming Spotlight Friday post!
publishes May 3rd.

Transitional Chapter Book

My Life in Pictures
Bea Garcia: My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke
3/5 stars
This is going to be a fun, new transitional chapter book series!  Diverse character, a little bit of Spanish added.  Part doodles, part story.  I think young readers will like this series!

Middle Grade

Summerlost by Ally Condie
5/5 stars
I loved this one because my heart just broke, then was stitched up, then broke again.
The multiple story strands - the heartbreak after death, falling into a new and special friendship, ghost stories - were woven together expertly and kept me turning the pages.  
Great for 5th and up.

Young Adult

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
5/5 stars
Loved it.  Loved the different angle on the end of the world that leads to a forced new society - where you never know who is the bad guy.

On Deck

I'm hoping to get to this week:
Weekends With Max and his Dad by Linda Urban
Once Was a Time by Leila Sales

What have you been reading?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Spotlight Friday I Hear a Pickle 3.25.16

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!

I hear a book... pages turning.
I see a book... one that I want to read.
I touch a book... and enter a new world.
I taste a book... ok well maybe that's not a good idea.
I smell a book... because I'm a book sniffer and they smell good!

Every time we activate our senses when we learn, we make new pathways in our brain.  The more senses we use, the more we can remember.

Activate your senses as you read this book by Rachel Isadora:

I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too!
I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!)
by Rachel Isadora
published by Nancy Paulsen Books

Each sense gets 3 double page layouts where the reader experiences the characters using a sense and a corresponding description.  What I love about this book is the different descriptions.  For example, the sense of hearing is described by sounds, but also not hearing sounds - "I don't hear the worm".  Smells are pleasant - soap, perfume, blankie - and not pleasant - baby's poop, brother's smelly sneakers.  And even not smelling, when you have a cold!  The top right side of the page lists all 5 senses and highlights the sense that the layout is describing.  The end of the book has a character using all 5 senses to describe a pickle.

What a wonderful book to use in a 5 senses unit!  I love the contrasting descriptions and vocabulary used.  Have students pick an object and describe it using their senses!

from I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!

Image result for I hear a pickle           Image result for I hear a pickle

Thursday, March 24, 2016

review of "Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood" 3.24.16

If you know me, you know I love fairy tales.  There is something about the magic in them, the themes of good vs evil, lessons learned, characters changed (sometimes literally).  They are so fun!

I remember when I first heard about Rump.  It was an upcoming book by a debut author.  I was just getting on the nerdy train at that point.  I was new to blogs and Twitter, so I was only reading a few blogs, a few tweets and getting more buzz from book companies.  Based on my affinity to fairy tales, I preordered the book, not really knowing much about it.  Well, it was just as good as the buzz said, and I was a Liesl Shurtliff fan for life.  What I loved about Rump was seeing the character from a new point of view.  I knew the fairy tale version (or at least one of them), and I love the character from the TV show "Once Upon a Time" (remember, I have a thing about the villains), but this was a new look at a familiar character. I love how Shurtliff spun the tale that made us think of new possibilities.  Then Jack came out and I fell in love with a new character.  What I loved about Jack was he was complicated.  Good heart, mind full of mischief.  And when you have that, you have a wonderful troublemaker who really means well.  I love those characters - the ones who can't help but get into a little trouble.  And while absolutely not a sequel, I loved the crossover between the two books.

Image result for red the true story of red riding hood
Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood
by Liesl Shurtliff
publishes on April 12th

And now we get to fall in love with a new character, Red, as in Little Red Riding Hood.  And while Rump and Jack will always have a place in my heart, I think it's Red that I love best.  Throughout this book, there were three themes that seemed to come up again and again.  

The first was family.  In Red, our main character is out on a quest to save her beloved Granny.  Granny has fallen ill, and it's up to Red to help her out - without using magic.  Magic doesn't seem to work for her.  I loved the bond that Red has with her Granny - I loved that it was a special bond between granddaughter and grandmother.  Granny is such a wise character and the wisdom she shares with Red not only makes Red grow as a character, but teaches her about life and death.  It was exciting to see how far Red would go to save her Granny.

The next theme was the bond between friends.  Through Red's relationships with friends - both of the human and animal kind - we see Red learn how you have to sometimes look deeper to find a friend.  Sometimes the first, and maybe second, third and fourth attempts at friendship don't always work, but if you take the time to see the person inside, it may be worth the wait.  I think this is a great lesson for middle graders to read about!

Finally, the theme of destiny is woven through this story.  While not as prevalent as in Rump, I think each fairy tale character in all of Liesl's books have had to figure out their destiny and what it means for them.  I think the idea of choosing your destiny versus letting your destiny happen would be an interesting conversation for children to tackle.

I hope you find a copy of Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff on April 12th.  In the meantime, be sure and watch the trailer of the book!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about read alouds lately.  Some of the work you can do using a read aloud is to track the development of an idea in a story.  I think you can do this with any of Liesl's stories.  I would love to track character development with any of the three main characters.  There would be so much to stop and jot and write longer about or have conversations around.  If you're thinking about using a read aloud for some real purposeful work, grab one of these three!

Finally, our school was so fortunate to host Liesl at our school last week.  It was an entire day that was full of celebrating literacy and writing.  Liesl gave a couple of presentations to our younger (K/1) students and older (2/3) and each presentation focused around fairy tales.  She tailored each presentation to the age of the audience.  The students left the assembly knowing a little bit more about fairy tales and thinking a lot more about the perspective of the character.  My favorite part of the day was the workshops she gave with our 4th grade students.  Liesl worked with the 4th graders, giving them specific writing tips and helping them craft a story.  It was some of the best writing work we've seen.  The level of engagement was fantastic!  Finally, she ate lunch with some of our passionate readers and writers in 3rd and 4th grade.  Such a rewarding experience for these students.  But the day didn't end there.  Liesl came back for our evening's Family Reading Night and talked reading and writing with parents and students.  The parents were thrilled and we had so many compliments about the evening.  

If you have author visit funds, I highly recommend looking at having Liesl Shurtliff visit your school.  The work she did with students was fantastic and the message given to families about reading and writing was absolutely received!

I'll leave you with some pictures and vines (literally)!

This vine grew a little bit more each day.
The kids were amazed every morning!

Haven't read Red yet?
Check out these student book blurbs!

Hanging out with Liesl Shurtliff!  Not a bad start to your day!

teaching the younger kids about fairytales

Just doing some writer's workshop with Liesl Shurtliff!

Getting to hear a preview of Red!