Saturday, April 30, 2016

Celebrate This Week! 4.30.16

It's always good to end the week on a positive note.  Sometimes we concentrate on the negatives.  We have a choice.  Choose positive.  Choose to celebrate.  I will be joining Ruth Ayres and her weekly link-up, Celebrate This Week.  Check out all the other celebrations HERE

Oh, it's been a long time since I've written a Celebrate post.  Seems like always so much going on and my weekend writing has been for getting the during the week posts ready!

But a lot to be thankful for and to celebrate right now.

1.  I'm thankful that our drive to our temporary home in South Florida went well.

2.  I'm thankful that my daughter's surgery went well.  She's going through her third limb lengthening and it's amazing how life changes.  She's a very active individual and this literally stops you in your tracks.  She's at most 50% weight bearing for the next 5 months and she loses a lot of independence.  But we're thankful and grateful that we found the right doctor.  Her leg will grow 4 inches over the next 3-4 months and she'll be that much closer to being even.  She'll achieve that in high school, but she'll take an extra 4 inches right now!

3.  I'm thankful for kind nurses.  The doctor and his surgical staff do some amazing work, but it's the nurses that help in the days after surgery.  I am so thankful for their care.

4.  I'm thankful for the kindness of friends, near and far.  My heart was overwhelmed with the generosity of others this week.

5.  I'm thankful for my daughter's new swim team.  She walked away from the first day with a couple of new friends and she likes her coach.  "Mom, he tells us the same things Coach Derrick does!" said in amazement....

There's a long road ahead of us, but I'm hoping there's more to celebrate.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Spotlight Friday 4.29.16 Interactive Books

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 work with striving readers.  I work with struggling readers.  I work with students who aren't interested in picking up a book.  I work with students who may not read a book all summer long.  I work with students who are young and I know I can help change their opinion of books and reading.

I know we're at the end of the year.  But maybe end your year with this.  Or maybe think about starting your year with this.  This is how I start my year with my youngest students.  I want them starting the year with laughter.  I want their eyes to light up with enjoyment.  I want them begging to take that book home.  I want the book to be accessible to them - so hearing the book once, maybe twice, is enough for them to read/remember many of the words at home.

So I start with interactive books.  Books that make the reader do something with the book.  

I first pull out my collection of Herve' Tullet books.  Have you read one?  Each page has you doing an action that changes the layout of the following page.  The wonderment in their eyes never gets old.  Those young enough believe their action changed the page.  Those old enough want to believe in the magic and so they believe.  Every child wants to touch the page.  Every child wants their turn to press, mix, and follow the line.  And then they want to bring the book home and try {read} it again.

Press Here     Mix It Up!     Let's Play!

And once those students need something fresh, pull out Christie Matheson's books.  They essentially do the same thing but center around a more concrete theme.

Tap the Magic Tree          Touch the Brightest Star

Try these with your readers.  I promise the excitement will be there!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 4.27.16 - Adelaide Herrmann

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.

Anything But Ordinary Addie by Mara Rockliff
Anything But Ordinary Addie
The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic
written by Mara Rockliff
illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
published by Candlewick Press

The dynamic combination of author Mara Rockliff and illustrator Iacopo Bruno are back in the book Anything But Ordinary Addie.  I'm seeing a trend here - anything they work on together is a book I want to own!  

Rockliff has written another picture book biography spotlighting a person I didn't know anything about, Adelaide Herrmann.  Addie quickly realized at a young age that she was destined to be someone who was far from ordinary.  As she tried new experiences, she quickly found that the more daring and the more extraordinary feats were the ones that held her passion.  But it was meeting the magician, Alexander Hermann, that her life really took meaning.  They traveled around with their stage act, performing magic tricks that captivated audiences.  Even after the death of her beloved husband, Addie continued the act for many more years.  It's in the author's notes that we learn that not much was ever published about Adelaide Hermann.  It wasn't until many decades later when another female magician went looking for Addie's privately written memoir, was her extraordinary life brought to the public's attention.

This magical book could not be told without illustrations that truly capture the magic within this story.  Iacopo Bruno's beautiful illustrations, which match the historical time, really bring this story to life.  I loved what  looked like cut paper pieces that are added to the layouts.  The bright colors are sure to catch young reader's attention!

After reading this book, I thought about how it could be used in a classroom setting.  Of course, it could just be used in a biography unit, but it felt like it needed more than that.  Addie was such a unique character for this point in time, I felt like her traits needed a spotlight.  And that's what made me think - character traits.  I know many classrooms talk about characters - their traits, how they change, feelings, motivations.  I would use this text to talk about her traits, but use them to talk about her traits and how they influenced her life and her decisions.

1st reading of the book, find character traits:
  • she was daring
  • she didn't want to be ordinary
  • she was bold
  • she was caring

2nd reading of the book, use the character traits and find how she used those traits in her life:
  • daring - she was always willing to try new things, even if it was dangerous (cannon ball trick, bullet catching trick, traveling to new places)
  • didn't want to be ordinary - always looking for the next thing (being on stage wasn't enough, had to try something that was always a little bit harder)
  • bold - she asked her Alexander to marry her!
  • caring - she didn't want her employees to be out of work so even though she was heartbroken, she went back to "work"
I think young readers are going to really enjoy meeting Addie.  Add this book to your classroom or library!

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading 4.25.16

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

Matt Tavares is at it again with another fantastic picture book biography.  Check it out here.

Imagination is such a powerful thing - love this new picture book about imagination and picture books!

Picture Books

Tell Me a Tattoo Story
Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee
5/5 stars
I don't have any tattoos.  I don't have a desire for any tattoos.  I've got to believe that most people who go into a tattoo shop, are getting their ink design for a specific reason.  And so many of them walk out with these beautiful displays of art.   I love that the dad in this story shares with his son the stories of his tattoos.  I love that they mean something and it's something special he shares with his child.  Eliza Wheeler captured the words in her illustrations perfectly.  

Don't Call Me Grandma
Don't Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
4/5 stars
I enjoyed reading this prickly great-grandmother's relationship with her doting granddaughter.  The author did a great job of showing us great-grandma's characteristics.  

Grandad's Island
Grandad's Island by Benji Davies
4/5 stars
Beautiful story, but heartbreakingly sad.  I had no idea it was a book about death.  I think it was very well written because it wasn't a hit you over the head book about death, it's one that can open the discussion that a loved one is now in a better place, and it's ok to miss them and think about them.

Graphic Novels

Lowriders in Space (Lowriders in Space #1)
Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper
4/5 stars
I absolutely have readers for this series.  The pen drawings make it unique and I enjoyed the integration of Spanish throughout the book.  Looking forward to book 2!

Transitional Chapter Books

Cody and the Fountain of Happiness
Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb
4/5 stars
I've owned this book for awhile and I wish I had gotten to it sooner.  This is the kind of transitional chapter book that is perfect for kids who aren't quite ready for middle grade.  I loved Cody and her big brother, Wyatt, and I loved GG, the neighbor.  The story is quiet, which could make it too slow for some striving readers, but I'm going to do my best to book talk this series (yes, there is a second one that just came out!) and get it into hands of readers.

Mischief Season
The Witches of Benevento: Mischief Season by John Bemelmans Marciano
4/5 stars
This book started out slowly, then slowly picked up, then ended with a big cliffhanger!  My 5th grade daughter read it very quickly and told me how much she loved it and wanted to the 2nd one.  I had only read a few pages and was surprised she enjoyed it as much as she did.  But once I got well into it, I can see her enjoyment.  This is another one that I think will need some front loading for readers - explaining life in Italy in the 1800s, giving some vocabulary, especially for the name of the supernatural spirits (it's not a scary story) and a little bit of the characters.  Once they're hooked, I think they will enjoy the series.  
And the illustrations are by Sophie Blackall.  That helped for me!

Middle Grade

Finding Perfect
Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz
5/5 stars
I'm not going to say much because I have a blog post about this book.  It won't go live until September because the book isn't released until October 18.  In the meantime, do yourself a favor and preorder it.  It's fantastic.  It will break your heart and then slowly put it back together.  But this book isn't for you and me, it's for kids.  Kids who need this book.  Kids who need to understand the Mollys that are in their class.  
It's fantastic.

Save Me a Seat
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
4/5 stars
I really enjoyed this story, told in alternating chapters.  It was fun to meet the two characters and see their stories collide.  Great message about not making assumptions.

Currently Reading

All Four Stars
All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
This is my April #mustreadin2016.  I added this one to my list because my good friends Jason Lewis and Kristen Picone have raved about it!  And my 10yo gave it two thumbs up!

Happy Spring Reading to all!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spotlight Friday: Books With Imagination 4.22.16

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!

This Is Not a Picture Book!
This Is Not a Picture Book!
by Sergio Ruzzier
published by Chronicle, May 3rd, 2016

Sergio Ruzzier is known for packing a lot of detail, in s small amount of text.  His newest book is no exception, and I think it's his best.

How often do you hear that picture books are for young students?  That once you get past a certain grade/age, they are too "old" for picture books?  I bet you and I know that picture books are for everyone, but in case you need proof, have these conversations with students using this picture book!

Goodreads summary:
In this quirky yet sweet picture book about the joy and power of reading, Duck learns that even books without pictures can be fun. While he and his friend Bug may struggle at first to decipher their book, they stick with it, and before long they discover that not only can they read it, but it deserves a place on the shelf with all their favorite picture books. Author-artist Sergio Ruzzier has created a fanciful tribute to books of all kinds. It includes both words AND pictures.

This book begs to be read over and over and discussed.  Questions to ask students and have a conversation around:
  • Notice the layout that has the characters in the white, and a log bridging it to the colored illustrations.  Talk about the symbolism of this.
  • Go through and look at how the illustrations match the words.  Why does it work having minimal text and more detailed illustrations?
  • Ruzzier talks about the emotions words bring out of the reader in books.  Think about those words and books that go along with them.
  • One of my favorite pages is the one that talks about how books take you places.  Where have you been taken to in a book?
  • Books stay with you forever.  How is this important?  What does Ruzzier want us to know by the end of the book?  
  • Minimal text means more to infer.  What does Ruzzier want us to put together after reading his words and illustrations?
  • I really like how Ruzzier starts the book before the title page.  Why do you think he made that decision? How did it add to the reading of the book?
Looking for more books about imagination?  Try:

The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak
It's a Book by Lane Smith (definitely for older readers!)
The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski
Inside My Imagination by Marta Arteaga

Happy Picture Book Reading - for everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 4.20.16 - Crossing Niagara

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.

Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin
Crossing Niagara:
by Matt Tavares
published by Candlewick Press

I fell in love with Matt Tavares' writing in last year's Growing Up Pedro.  See, as a Chicago White Sox fan, finding and enjoying a book about a Boston Red Sox player is not going to be easy.  But Tavares did it - I loved the way he framed and wrote the story.  He made me care about the person, not the figure.  I fell in love with Tavares' illustrations in Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport.  The colors and full layouts are stunning.

When I found out Tavares had a new book coming out, I knew it was a must-have.  And it did not disappoint!

Crossing Niagara is the story of the Great Blondin's "residency" at Niagara Falls.  Think of it like how recent celebrities set up extended stays in Las Vegas.  Not only did the Great Blondin cross Niagara on a three inch tightrope one time.  Once he got to the other side, he turned around and did it again.  Over the course of a year, Blondin repeated his crossing, always adding extra tricks and surprises.

When sharing this book with students, you must go back and notice what Tavares did as a writer.  Go back and look for what he did to add suspense.  As the reader turns the pages, the constant question of "is he going to make it?" is asked.  I kept waiting for the inevitable fall.  If you're like me, you'll want to skip to the end just to make sure all ends up ok (spoiler alert:  all is good).  

As I read the book, I found myself wrapped up in the story.  The suspense keeps you turning the page, but I realized I was also invested in the Great Blondin's story.  I wanted to know more about him and his life.  This is a testament to Tavares' writing - he makes you care about the character.  I tried to figure out what it is that made the story so engaging. I think that Tavares did a great job showing Blondin's determination - checking his own wires, always thinking about the next thing, going for the more complicated.  I also liked how Tavares added the "other side" - that the owner of land Blondin wanted to start on said no, that he wanted no part of it.  And the opposite, his manager trusted in his abilities so much he agreed to be carried over the water, not once but twice! 

You cannot talk about this book without taking a moment to appreciate the illustrations.  Tavares did a fantastic job capturing the grandeur of Niagara Falls.  Adding to the suspense of the story, the visualization adds to the fear and questioning of "is he going to make it?"  I really enjoyed the illustrations of Blondin's tricks and paused to admire the illustrations - Tavares makes it comical while capturing the death-defying moment.  And then the four page layout just takes your breath away.

Crossing Niagara is a great example of nonfiction storytelling.  This book will draw in readers of all ages and will appeal to everyone.  Great addition for your classroom library!

Visit Matt Tavares' blog and read about his on-site research for this book.

Take a look at the teacher's guide and get some ideas how you can use this book.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.18.16

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

Study monarch butterflies?  How about migrating animals?  This is a great book to add to your collection!

This is a MUST add to your read aloud collection.  Peter Brown's The Last Robot is great for discussing theme and essential questions.  Ideas here.

Books that make you DO something - love the way this book added steps for community action plan!

Picture Books

Flora and the Peacocks
Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
5/5 stars
Idle's color schemes have always been just beautiful, but the regal greens are simply gorgeous in this book!  As always, a beautiful give and take in a friendship is spotlighted between Flora and, this time, a pair of peacocks.

Are We There Yet?
Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
4/5 stars
Everyone has suffered from "are we there yet?" syndrome, usually asked hours away from the destination.  I like how Santat has turned the age old question into something more philosophical, just not sure if the targeted demographic will get it.  Although, again, this proves, that picture books should be read by older readers, as well!  The illustrations are pure Santat, and that will keep everyone interested.  The QR codes are fun, but I thought there would be more to them.

The Whale
The Whale by Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow
3/5 stars
The pencil drawings of this story are reminiscent of Brian Selznick's The Marvels.  Stunning, with every minute detail, you feel like your eyes might miss something important!  With as beautiful as the illustrations are, I just didn't love the story.  It felt disjointed, and I had to go back and reread because I felt like I was missing an important detail, or there weren't important separations between story lines where there needed to be.

On the Farm, At the Market by G. Brian Karas
4/5 stars
Do you visit a Farmer's Market?  It seems that they are popping up in more places as people are being more conscious about what goes into their food.  Great book that shows the work it takes to get the food to the market to sell.

Chicken Lily
Chicken Lily by Lori Mortensen
4/5 stars
Intended for younger audiences, yet this book stays smart and clever.  Lily is many things but one thing she is, is a chicken.  Yes, the animal chicken, but also a scaredy chicken.  Lessons are learned, while staying true to who she is.  Cute humor is embedded in the story.

Secret Tree Fort
Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley
4/5 stars
Didn't you want a fort when you were younger?  I made countless forts, but certainly never had a special one in a tree.  But if you use the power of your imagination, you could have something like in this book.  

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
5/5 stars
Just got this from the library and it's a must-own.  And one for your Mock Caldecott unit.  It's beautiful.

Informational Texts

This Kid Can Fly: It's About Ability (NOT Disability)
This Kid Can Fly: It's About Ability (NOT Disability) by Aaron Philip
4/5 stars
You know with a title like that, this would be a book that would grab me!  This was a chapter book autobiography and a good length for readers who need something a bit longer, but short enough to hold stamina.  
Aaron was born with cerebral palsy, but shows middle grade readers that with love, support and hard work by him, his parents, and the many "angels" in his life, he's been able to set goals and achieve them.  Aaron, who was born with a disability, has not let that define him, and instead has worked towards many new opportunities.  He speaks directly to the reader and I think this can put a nugget of thought into middle grade readers - look past the disability and see the person.

Transitional Chapter Books

The Case of the Missing Tiger's Eye (Rider Woofson Book 1)
Ryder Woofson: The Case of the Missing Tiger's Eye by Walker Styles
3/5 stars
I'm always on the hunt for transitional chapter books and if it's a series, all the better.  This is a cute new series about the PI Pack - a group of dogs who are ready to take on crime in the town of Pawston.  Four dogs round out the PI Pack and they each bring a talent to help keep crime down in the town.  With mystery and crime at the center of this series and doggy characters, I think this series will be enjoyed by 1st-3rd grade readers.


Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka
5/5 stars
Poetry is iffy for me.  I seem to either love it or only think eh.  This one fell in the love category.  Fantastic collection of concrete poems.  Many made me laugh, almost all made me smile, all were very clever.  Add this one to your collection.

Graphic Novels

Babymouse #20: Babymouse Goes for the Gold
Babymouse Goes For the Gold by Jennifer Holm
5/5 stars
Oh, I got a huge kick out of this book.  Babymouse joins the swim team.  If you don't know this about me already, when I'm not at school, I'm at the pool.  Either watching my daughter swim (it's where I get some reading and blogging done!), or I'm in the pool myself.  So I laughed out loud throughout this whole book because I GOT it!  My daughter has been passing this book around her team!

Young Adult

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
4/5 stars
This book took a little bit for me to get into, but once I did, I really enjoyed it!  I like how Meyer took bits and pieces of the timeless tale and wove it through the book.  This was definitely not a retell of the infamous story, but it was fun seeing familiar pieces.  I enjoyed Cinder's cyborg side, even though it was what she hated most about herself.  I saw the big twist coming, but some of the smaller ones throughout the story were a surprise.  I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.

Currently Reading

Finding Perfect
Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz
It's heartbreakingly beautiful.

Have a great week of reading!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spotlight Friday: Community Activism 4.15.16

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!

Books that make you DO something!

Are you thinking about having your students think about what they can do to help in the community?  This is a perfect book to use!

Image result for follow the moon home
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea,
Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles
by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson
illustrated by Meilo So
Published by Chronicle Books

After reading this book to students, think and talk about:
  • the action plan!  On the second layout, there is an illustration of the way the teacher, Mr. J, was outlining the class project - community action.  I love the basic steps that are posted:  Identify, Plan, Take Action, Tell the Story and Reflect.  Take time to go over this chart.  How can you make it work?
  • If you want to use this book as a mentor text, go back and reread.  Have students look for evidence in the text the characters following the action plan.  What did they do?  What sources did they use?
  • Notice how the plan in this book is local for that particular community.  What are the benefits of keeping a community action plan local?  I also like how the kids went outside the classroom walls to identify the problem.  It wasn't just brainstorming in the classroom.
  • By keeping their plan local, they were able to see the outcome.  Was this important?  Why do you think so?
  • Be sure you check out the letter Philippe Cousteau wrote at the end that is titled "Letter to Young Activists".  Notice how he touches upon the steps of the action plan, giving options and ideas of how people of all ages can get involved.
  • I also love the passion-filled letter to parents and teachers explaining how young people are our hope to be leaders and thinkers and doers.
  • Finally, check out the additional sources included in the endnotes!
We have an amazing teacher in our building, Angie Wake (if you aren't following her already, make sure that you do now @mrswake3rdgrade) that has spearheaded projects with our Student Council, but has also done a Student Activist Club that has taken on a number of projects.  Things you can do with your students:  collect supplies for a local children's hospital, make blankets for your local homeless shelter, sell popcorn during lunch to raise money for a variety of things (including books for the school library!) and write letters to the troops, fire and police departments.  I've seen other clubs/schools do a Little Free Library, what an awesome idea!

Thank you to Chronicle Books for the review copy!