Friday, April 21, 2017

Spotlight Friday - Spring Books Roundup! 4.21.17


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!

Spring is definitely in the air in the midwest.  I live in the north suburbs of Chicago, closer to the Wisconsin border than to Chicago.  Close enough to the lakefront to feel the effects of the cool wind coming off the lake.  We've seen lots of wet, rainy days.  We've had warm days, and days that are reminiscent of a December morning - and with Chicago's infamous temperature drops, some of those temps have happened on the same day!  Yet, the grass is green.  There are buds on all of the trees.  My pear tree is in full bloom.  The petals on the magnolia tree are starting to open.  I see tulips and daffodils growing and growing.  Yes, spring is here.  Here's a roundup of newly published spring books that would be perfect to use right now!

Hello Spring!
Hello Spring! 
by Shelley Rotner
published by Holiday House
A lyrical ode to spring, Rotner's beautiful words and gorgeous photographs highlights the changes that happen in spring out in nature.

Wake Up!
Wake Up!
by Helen Frost
photographs by Rick Lieder
I love the books this pair has put out - the simple poetry that packs a punch by Helen Frost and the close glimpses of nature by Rick Lieder are books that always warrant multiple reads.  Spotlighting the young animals, insects, birds that often make springtime appearances makes this book a perfect one to add to your spring roundup!

Rain
Rain
by Sam Usher
Something that is not missing in this midwest Spring is rain!  It's funny how adults look at things one way, yet kids think another way.  Such is the young boy in this book - the abundant rain is an excuse to go on a journey, have adventures, and find fun!  Might be a fun read on a rainy day!

Fantastic Flowers
Fantastic Flowers
by Susan Stockdale
Have you ever played the game of lying on your back, looking at the clouds, and deciding what they look like?  This book is like the same thing except its flowers - these flowers look like dancing ballerinas, parrots, and baboons!  I love that the author included photographs of the actual flower in the back.

Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World
Pedal Power
by Allan Drummond
April seems to be a month where we try to become more conscientious of protecting Mother Earth.  If you're doing anything with conservation, awareness, being a change maker, you'll probably want to include many of Allan Drummond's books.  His newest book takes on using bikes as a form of transportation.  

Muddymania! by Chris  Barton
Mighty Truck: Muddymania! 
written by Chris Barton
illustrated by Troy Cummings
Rarely does a spring go by that doesn't see its fair share of mud!  Celebrate that mud with the next "Mighty Truck" book!  Mighty Truck is back and this time everyone is getting dirty.


Do you have a new, favorite spring book?  How about one of your favorites?  List titles in the comments and share!  Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beyond the Bright Sea - a review 4.20.17





Beyond the Bright Sea
Beyond the Bright Sea
by Lauren Wolk
published by Dutton Children's Books
May 2nd, 2017


Goodreads summary:
From the author of the critically acclaimed Wolf Hollow comes a moving story of identity and belonging.

Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift on a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow's only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.

Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn't until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

Vivid and heart wrenching, Lauren Wolk's Beyond the Bright Seais a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.



My quick thoughts:
How do you follow up Wolf Hollow?  That book packed such an emotional punch.  I was so wrapped up in the many sides of that book, and it brought up such strong feelings for {or against} the characters.

Beyond the Bright Sea started slower for me, but one thing was evident right away, the writing was beautiful.  Lauren has this way of wrapping words so they swirl like a fine glass of wine, around in your mind.  Although it started slowly, the development of characters was just right, so by the time the action starts rising, you know these characters - or in one case - have enough questions of others that it all makes sense.  

I felt that Bright Sea had a strong theme, one that readers will be able to have a variety of connections to - what makes a family?  How do I fit in?  What is my place?  What is treasure?  It will be an interesting topic to explore in conversations.

A connection between the two books lays in the main characters - both Crow and Annabelle see past the outside of a person.  Both characters are wise beyond their years and I admired how both see qualities in people that others miss.

I think this book will find an audience in 5th-7th grade classrooms.  Another historical fiction novel, this book takes place in the 1920s and is close to an island that had been used to house people with leprosy until their deaths.  Many young readers will need some background about this illness and how it was treated in the United States to fully understand some of the references.  There are enough clues for savvy young readers will be able to make inferences to what leprosy could be and why people inflicted with it would be condemned to an island.

Lauren has written another beautiful novel and I look forward to sharing it with readers on May 2nd!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Water ideas 4.19.17


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.


Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth
Rivers of Sunlight -
How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth
written by Molly Bang
illustrated by Penny Chisholm
published by The Blue Sky Press

I recently read Molly Bang's recent book in her Sunlight Series, Rivers of Sunlight.  This book focuses on how the sun moves the water on Earth through stages of the water cycle and goes into other weather patterns.

Here's the Goodreads summary:
In this brightly illustrated narrative, readers will learn about the constant movement of water as it flows around the Earth and the sun's important role as water changes between liquid, vapor, and ice. From sea to sky, the sun both heats and cools water, ensuring that life can exist on Earth. How does the sun keep ocean currents moving, and lift fresh water from the seas? And what can we do to conserve one of our planet's most precious resources?

Thinking about water and what an important resource it is, made me think about these books - a mix of fiction and nonfiction.

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

Raindrops Roll
Raindrops Roll
by April Pulley Sayre

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
by Rochelle Strauss

The Water Princess
The Water Princess
by Susan Verde

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World
A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water Across the World
by Christine Jeronimo

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story
A Long Walk to Water
by Linda Sue Park


What books would you add to this list?



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - Transitional Chapter Books for older readers 4.18.17


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.


* congratulations to Melanie Roy for winning last week's giveaway, a copy of Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen's Platypus *

Transitional Chapter Books

What are they?  My own definition is transitional chapter books are a stepping stone for readers who are ready for longer texts but may need support before reading traditional middle grade novels.  

Some characteristics of transitional chapter books:
  • chapters are shorter in length
  • font is larger than that of a middle grade novel
  • plot lines are fairly simple to follow 
  • illustrations may be included, but not on every page
Just like in all formats, there is great variation within transitional chapter books.

Today's post will concentrate on transitional chapter books that are meant for older readers.

As discussed in previous posts, the road to reading is different for all who journey on it.  Some readers will be ready for these books as early as 1st/2nd grade.  The great thing about these books is how they appeal to the older range of readers as well.  They have great story lines and are likely to hook readers.  We know reading is a social event and readers look to each other for book recommendations and see what their peers are reading.  The great thing about these books is no matter the level of difficulty, you'll find ALL readers wanting to get their hands on these books!


Series:

The Bad Guys: Episode 1
"The Bad Guys" series by Aaron Blabey

Sam the Man  the Chicken Plan
"Sam the Man" series by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year
"Charlie Bumpers" series by Bill Harley

Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe
"Cody" series by Tricia Springstubb

The Jolly Regina (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters #1)
"The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters" by Kara LaReau
This first book is a bit complex - some tricky vocabulary - but the story is engaging, and short enough, that readers will stick with it.

Rise of the Balloon Goons (The Notebook of Doom, #1)
"Notebook of Doom" series by Troy Cummings


Upcoming:

Lights, Camera, Middle School! (Babymouse Tales from the Locker)
Babymouse: Tales From the Locker
by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
published by Random House
July 4th, 2017
I know most of us are familiar with the very popular Babymouse graphic novels by the same author/illustrator.  Babymouse is growing up with her readers and is now starting middle school.  Yes, middle school, the place where you question everything, including who you are.  Babymouse has the same insecurities as her readers, and seeing yourself in a book, whether you're worried about straightening your hair or straightening your whiskers, is important for all readers.
What I love about this first book in the series, is it still has the visual piece for readers to hold on to - there are graphic novel frames or illustrations on almost every page.  The chapters are named which help give the reader an idea of what is coming.  The font is bigger and the plot is easy to follow.  If the reader has read the series, they will find familiar sayings and characters.
This is a series that is going to be well loved by many, many readers.  It will support readers who are not ready for longer chapter books and those same readers are going to see readers all around them with that same book in hand.
Score another one for Jenni and Matthew Holm!


What series do you like to use with older readers who need supports?  Share titles in the comments!

Did you swing by Alyson's blog yet?  Check out her post about a new sports book!  

We would love to have you join in on the conversation!  If you're a blogger, think about joining us on Tuesdays.  Or, if there is a topic that you have questions about, please share in the comments!

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.17.17

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.


Last Week's Adventures

Some ideas for when your youngster is interested in print.

The man behind the Newbery medal - I'm using this nonfiction picture book to kickoff Mock Newbery next year!

This character is all heart - don't miss Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge.

Using voices to better understand characters - an upcoming book that is PERFECT for this!

Picture Books

Frankie
Frankie by Mary Sullivan
4/5 stars
Young readers are going to relate to the universal themes of wanting what other's have and sharing.  Told through the thoughts of two dogs, this book will absolute delight young readers!

Town Is by the Sea
Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz
4/5 stars
What a beautiful book.  Young children typically work well with routine.  Knowing what is coming next, or having a regular structure to the day.
This book takes place in a mining town where some of the routine comes from working in a mine, generation to generation.  Schwartz tells the story of a young boy and what he does while his father works underground in the mining tunnels.  
The amazing illustrations by Sydney Smith (Sidewalk Flowers) are a standout.

Still a Family: A Story about Homelessness
Still a Family by Brenda Reeves Sturgis
4/5 stars
This book about a family that is homeless is a very important book to share with readers.  This book will hopefully be a window for many readers and hopefully give them another way of thinking about families who are homeless, as it happens to so many more around us than we realize.  For others, this book may be a mirror and the message that even without a home, you're still a family, will be important to hear.  Over and over.

Carrot and Pea: An Unlikely Friendship
Carrot and Pea: an Unlikely Friendship by Morag Hood
4/5 stars
Great book to add to your collection for preK-1st grade.  Perfect to use at the beginning of the school year to talk about how what makes us different can make us perfect friends - that we don't have to all be exactly alike.

The Way Home in the Night
The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi
4/5 stars
If you're not already familiar with Miyakoshi's work, you need to get familiar!  Beautifully illustrated book.  This sweet story is about a young bunny going home with her mom on a night walk.  The young bunny notices all of the people in the city and what they are doing.  As she goes to bed she decides what all of those people are doing now, at night.

Brobarians
Brobarians by Lindsay Ward
4/5 stars
As the eldest sibling, I believe it was my job to antagonize my younger siblings at a very high frequency.  This book compares that age old art by making the siblings...brobarians!  Love the fun vocabulary Ward uses - older readers will understand the hilarious comparisons, younger readers will understand the older brother taking the younger brother's prized items!  Very fun!

Happy Dreamer
Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds
4/5 stars
I hope you had a chance to read the Nerdy post about this book.  If not, here it is.
After reading that and then the book.... I'm thinking this book would be great to use at the beginning of the school year and the middle and the end... I think kids will find themselves within the pages of the book!

Dad and the Dinosaur
Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko
5/5 stars
I read this book at NCTE.  It's hard for me to concentrate on reading picture books when I'm in public.  There is always so much going on around me that I don't give all of my concentration to the book.  Not with this story.  I got lost in it, even in that busy exhibit hall!
I love this story.  I think it's going to connect with young boys, but with it's universal theme of being afraid and having a loved one help you will reach all readers.  As I read it, I thought about the special bond I have with my daughter.  This is a book I will share with her!
Oh, and do I need to mention Dan Santat is the illustrator?  Sold!

Informational Text

Germs: Sickness, Bad Breath, and Pizza
Germs: Fact and Fiction, Friends and Foes by Lesa Cline-Ransome
3/5 stars
I humorous look at the history of germs, how they survive, and what we can do to conquer them.  While I certainly learned some new facts and I liked the humorous approach, a reader has to infer through some of the tongue in cheek jokes to learn the information.  If a reader has difficulty with inferring, they may also miss some of the points the author is trying to make.

Transitional Chapter Books

Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe
Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe by Tricia Springstubb
4/5 stars
I really love this series.  If you're a 2nd-4th grade teacher, this series is a must!  Important themes, relatable characters, realistic settings.  This one was so fun!

Middle Grade

Beyond the Bright Sea
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
5/5 stars
Wolk is an amazing storyteller and has such a talent with words.  Check back here on Thursday to see my thoughts about this gorgeous book.

Currently Reading

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan
Loving this book and the character so far!

Counting Thyme
Counting Thyme by melanie Conklin
This book is on my April #mustreadin2017 list.  It's a book I've owned since it was released, and I'm glad to finally be getting to it.  I've heard tissues should remain nearby....

I hope you are getting lost in a good book this week!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spotlight Friday - Moo Moo in a Tutu 4.14.17


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 was young, one of my earliest memories is my dad reading to me.  I remember him adding intonation, expression and even different voices that made reading come alive.  It's something I worked on when I babysat, then student taught, and finally with my own students.  It makes me very happy to find a book that encourages readers to use multiple voices and lots and lots of expression.

Moo Moo in a Tutu
Moo Moo in a Tutu
by Tim Miller
published by Balzer + Bray
April 25th


Time to meet Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers!  In my head, Moo Moo has a high pitched voice that sounds like she is up for new adventures.  Mr. Quackers has a dry, monotone voice.  In my mind, he's the kind of character that sees things as they are, no more, no less.  

And that's the magic that happens when you start hearing the characters.  You start thinking about who they are, their likes/dislikes, their traits.  Understanding them, describing them, figuring out their motivations start to come easier.

Give it a try with students.  A book like Moo Moo in a Tutu is perfect.  Show it on a doc cam. Let the kids hear the voices in their head.  Let them compare with each other.  Discuss with each other, how would they describe the character.  Did they come up with similar character traits?

This is a book I'll be adding to my collection.  I think it's a great character mentor text, but also just a really fun read.  I'm looking forward to more Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers adventures!


Goodreads Summary
In the classic tradition of George and Martha, Elephant and Piggie, and Frog and Toad comes Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers in their debut, Moo Moo in a Tutu.

A cow who wants to be a ballerina? Are you for real? This is a hilarious, one-of-a-kind friendship story between an adventurous cow and a very loyal duck that will have you quacking up all the way through and applauding for more.
 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge - a review 4.13.17




Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge
Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge
by Kristin L. Gray
a Paula Wiseman Book
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


Goodreads summary:
Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it, and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness. 

Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?



My quick thoughts:
Vilonia needs to be in 3rd-5th grade classrooms!  The early middle grade reader is going to love her heart - which leads her to crazy adventures.  Vilonia always has the best intentions, if not the best outcomes!  Every time she tried so hard but didn't always meet with success, I wanted to jump in the book and cheer her on or give her a hug!  

Readers who are just getting into middle grade books need books like these - characters they can relate to (even when the experiences aren't exactly the same, they get their feelings), adventures that seem realistic or known, and ups and downs and highs and lows that keep you reading.

I hope Vilonia finds a spot in your classroom!  I'm looking forward to introducing her to readers!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - a John Newbery story 4.12.17


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.


For the past three years we have held a Mock Newbery Club at school.  I know the award is for most distinguished contribution to children's literature for that publishing year, but who is the man behind the award?


Balderdash! by Michelle Markel
Balderdash!:
John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books
written by Michelle Markel
illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
published by Chronicle Books


I was excited to hear about this book, first in the fall of 2016.  I was lucky to be able to thumb through a copy of the book in the Chronicle booth at NCTE 2016.  Now, I'm holding my copy in my hands and I can't wait to share this book with our future Mock Newbery Committee Members!  I think this book is going to be used annually to kick off our future meetings.

Why?  Because this book gives readers an understanding of John Newbery's contribution to children's literature.  Today, we talk about how important choice is when reading.  Back in the 1700s, adults had a choice in reading material, but children had to stick with a very thin diet of religious books and literature that taught them deportment rules.  Not fun.  Thank goodness for John!  His love for literature, changed how books were published for young readers.  Until John got into publishing, bookshops and libraries not only sold literature for youngsters, but parents did not allow for choice in reading.  So John started publishing his own material.  Not only did children enjoy the little books, they sold extremely well!  Catering to what children liked, John continued to publish, branching out to magazines and then novels!

While the book does not go into how the American Library Association came up with the award (there is a quick mention of it in the end notes), we have a much better idea of the man behind the medal, and what his own contributions were to children's literature.  I wonder what he would think of our current award winners??

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - using read alouds with beginning readers 4.11.17


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.


One of the questions I often get from parents of young children is "my child wants to start reading independently, where do I begin?"  As long as the child is initiating the desire to read, it shows there is a genuine interest.  There are many many early concepts of print, and by no means will this blog post cover them.  But, if you have a child that is noticing print and asking questions, there are a few things you can begin doing. 

The books I use with young children usually have a larger font size and a limited number of sentences on a page.  By starting with a longer picture book, it's too overwhelming for a beginning reader.  With the shorter text, you can do things like:
  • start pointing out just a few things in print while reading.  A good place to start is by picking a couple of sight words that they will encounter in books a lot, like "and" and "the". Invite readers to read those words when you get to them in the text.  As their sight word vocabulary increases, they'll be reading more and more words. 

Often parents will purchase books that are "sight word readers" or labeled with something like "level 1".  While the controlled text these books use are good for young readers, I would still begin with read alouds.  The best teaching of reading can happen in that one-to-one situation with an actual story book.  Great books to use are rhyming stories.  While you read them:
  • track the print with your finger.  When you get to the second rhyming word, leave it out and invite the young reader to give it a try.  You'll be encouraging them to use reading comprehension and showing them the printed word.  
Find books that have repeating parts.  Invite the young reader to point to the words as they read those parts.
  • Maybe It's a quote, like "run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man" or "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down."  Every time they get to that part, it's their turn to read.
  • Maybe it's a word or word part like a word that has -ing at the end.  By reading it over and over, young reader's eyes are paying attention to those words and adding them into their known reading vocabulary.
Ready to give it a try?  Here's a fun new rhyming book that has lots of repeated parts.


Splatypus
SPLATypus
written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
published by Two Lions

Goodreads summary
Lonely Platypus wants to play, but where should he go? Should he jump with the kangaroos? Leap with the possums? Fly with the bats? Every time he tries to find out—skipping, hopping, dipping, dropping—he winds up going splat instead. Can a SPLATypus find a place where he belongs? This rhyming, rollicking story is perfect for reading aloud.


Would you like to win a copy of the book?  Enter the rafflecopter and cross your fingers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you to Two Lions for the review copy and giveaway!

Visit Alyson's post today for a chance to win another great title!

What books do you use with young readers?  Link up with us or share titles in the comments.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.10.17

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.

Last Weeks' Adventures

I took a couple of weeks off while I vacationed in Florida with my family over Spring Break.  It felt good to relax, read, and be present with my family!

Here is a list of posts since my last IMWAYR update.  Hope you find something to read!

                         ***************************************

A list of new poetry books to use in April, National Poetry Month!

Two must reads for current happenings written in a way that makes you look at multiple sides.

My spring #mustreadin2017 update.

A wonderful nonfiction picture book mentor text - Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep.

New releases for readers who are on the #road2reading - independent reading!

A new MG my 11yo and I highly recommend - Braced.

What's the rush?  Let's get young readers reading appropriate reading content!

Some books to inspire change makers and keeping Earth clean!

A review of Erin Downing's upcoming MG novel (psst, it's FANTASTIC!)

Books about our nation.

If you teach 1st-4th grade, you'll want these two series in your classroom!


Picture Books

If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed
If Your Monster Won't Go to Bed by Denise Vega
3/5 stars
Very cute - loved the bright illustrations by Zachariah Ohora!  Young readers will laugh out loud at some of the monster antics.

Can I Eat That?
Can I Eat That? by Joshua David Stein
4/5 stars
Stein asks some great foodie questions that will make kids think, or most likely giggle.

Round
Round by Joyce Sidman
5/5 stars
I think this is one of those books that will appeal more to teachers than readers.  It's a quiet, simple book, but the use of language is just beautiful.  I love the way Sidman organizes information, the way she uses descriptive words, verbs, the way she explores complex ideas.  I think this book makes a great mentor text for writing.

Hello Goodbye Dog
Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari
4/5 stars
Make sure you have this sweet, sweet book on your summer TBR list!  I'll have to more to say about this book in an upcoming blog tour post later this summer, but I'll leave you with my favorite quote, "Goodbye was an itch that couldn't be scratched."

Cowboy Car
Cowboy Car by Jeanie Franz Ransom
3/5 stars
Very cute story about a car who just wanted to be a cowboy, even though he kept hearing "you can't"!  Good theme.  Even better as a read aloud - I get to use my Southern accent (I really should have been born in Texas....).

We're All Wonders
We're All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
I'm not going to rate this book.  The reason is because I find it hard to rate it without having the background.  
I wonder what it's like for readers who have never heard of the story Wonder.  It's going to be even harder by next year with the release of the movie.  I think it has great points to talk about - seeing the wonder in each other, being kind.
But having read Wonder many times, I feel like I know too much, I'm filling in the space the book isn't talking about.  I think new-to-this-book readers are going to have some questions (why is he shown with one eye?) and not understand the significance of certain things (helmet).  
I'm going to share this with some of my students over the next month and see what their reaction is.

Informational Texts

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression
Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford
3/5 stars
I usually really enjoy Weatherford's writing, but this one seemed really choppy.  It went from one idea to another, often not expanding upon ideas.  I wish there had been more pictures of Lange's actual work, whether in the story or in the end notes.

Knockin' on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates
Knocking' on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates by Lynne Barasch
4/5 stars
I came across this book on Myra's blog at Gathering Books.  See her post here.  I always find books that feature someone who has overcome a physical disability - turned their challenge into something positive - motivating, as my daughter has her own challenges to overcome.  But just in case you need a visual of this incredible tap dancer, be sure to watch the youtube video here:




Middle Grade

Capture the Flag (Silver Jaguar Society Mysteries #1)
Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
4/5 stars
I've been meaning to read this one for awhile and it's been pushed back.  I put it on my #mustreadin2017 list so it wouldn't be pushed back anymore!  The only problem is I need to find time to get to the next two books in the series!  I will though, because I know I have readers for this series at school and I want to get them in their hands.  This is definitely a fun adventure series!

Tournament of Champions
Tournament of the Champions by Phil Bildner
4/5 stars
I've always loved this series because they are so fun to read, they are so fun to share with students, because these books are going to feel familiar to students.  I'll have a longer post about this book in May.

Young Adult

Goodbye Days
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
5/5 stars
What an amazing follow up to a debut novel!  This book certainly shows that Zentner is the real deal - the man can write!
I wrote about the complexity of this book here.

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
5/5 stars
Loved this book, even more than Cinder.  But what I said about Cinder is the same for this one - I love how Meyer is finding a way to keep pieces of the well known tales into her very own stories.

Ramona Blue
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
4/5 stars
Read this book on my Kindle app - review copy from Edelweiss.  I read the book while waiting in lines at Disney :)
I think this book will be important for young adults as they grapple with identity and how they fit into their world.

Currently Reading

Beyond the Bright Sea
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
I can tell you the writing is amazing.  Again.

Lots of books on deck.  Not lots of time to read.  How to fix that problem?

Happy reading to all!