Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Braced - a review 3.30.17

by Alyson Gerber
published by Scholastic

Goodreads Summary
The first contemporary novel about a disorder that bends the lives of ten percent of all teenagers: scoliosis.

Rachel Brooks is excited for the new school year. She's finally earned a place as a forward on her soccer team. Her best friends make everything fun. And she really likes Tate, and she's pretty sure he likes her back. After one last appointment with her scoliosis doctor, this will be her best year yet.

Then the doctor delivers some terrible news: The sideways curve in Rachel's spine has gotten worse, and she needs to wear a back brace twenty-three hours a day. The brace wraps her in hard plastic from shoulder blades to hips. It changes how her clothes fit, how she kicks a ball, and how everyone sees her -- even her friends and Tate. But as Rachel confronts all the challenges the brace presents, the biggest change of all may lie in how she sees herself.

Written by a debut author who wore a brace of her own, Braced is the inspiring, heartfelt story of a girl learning to manage the many curves life throws her way.

My Quick Thoughts
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I would be excited about this book.  A book that has a middle grader facing a physical challenge in a realistic light?  I'm all over that.  As a parent of a middle grader who has faced her entire life with a physical challenge and knows that there are ups and downs, but you hope the ups outweigh the downs - yeah, I'm glad this book came around.
What I loved about this book is it came from an important place - the author has had these experiences, she's writing about what she knows - which means it's written from the heart.  Gerber writes so realistically - because there really are ups and downs with any type of disability.  And this book is a very realistic middle grade novel.  I love how the main character has a sport that means so much to her.  That she works so hard at it.  I love that middle grade friendship and how they change on a minute by minute basis are explored.  The trio of friends were so realistic, I know readers will feel comfortable with them.  And, the middle grade romance.... I'm not going to spoil anything but I like the way Gerber took everything.
When I got this book at NCTE, I came home and told my daughter about it.  When she was ready to start a new book, she asked me specifically for it.  To me, that means she was looking forward to reading a book that she sees as a mirror.  There are not many books out there with a character who has a physical disability.  I'm glad this one was available for her.  I've asked her to share some thoughts below.
Speaking of mirror books, I think this will also be window book.  A book that might help others get an idea of what having a disability, or something different, is like, how talking about it, asking questions, may be more helpful.

A middle grade reader's thoughts (aka my daughter who has a physical disability)
I liked Braced because it was about bravery and courage to do anything even with a brace or a disability.  I loved how even though Rachel had a tough time, she pushed through it and survived!

You should buy this book because it is such a heartfelt story and I felt like it was a true story.  In the book, Rachel has to wear a back brace, and I thought that it was amazing that even though she had one, she made it through life and still did her favorite sport, soccer.  It was an amazing book and I loved it.

Hope a copy of this amazing book finds its way into your library.  Don't just take it from me, take it from a reader who sees herself in this book!

Monday, March 27, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - what's the rush? 3.28.17

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.

I feel like more than ever, there really are some great middle grade novels being published.  So often I read them and then I'm sad.  Because the readers at my school are not ready for those books yet.  My school is kindergarten through 4th grade.  And what is hard to sometimes remember, is that 4th grade students are nine and ten years old.  They have a decade of life experiences.  Why are we always rushing them to grow up and have them reading novels that, although are amazing, are not always appropriate?  I am guilty of this too.  Every year as I plan our Mock Newbery list, there are books that I know are probably going to win, but maybe aren't the best for this particular age.  Do I put them on the list, or hold off?  It's a decision I always try to go over in my head.

Readers also need to have a transition into longer middle grade books.  They need a chance to build their stamina.  That might mean they are finishing books really fast.  But... allowing readers time to get comfortable reading longer books.  Getting comfortable holding an idea - or even multiple story strands - across a novel.  Allowing readers to have a chance to build their repertoire of books read.  By doing these things, the transition to middle grade novels will be smooth and seamless.

When I think about readers, particularly those in second and third grade, there are many books that fit these readers, yet are not often in classroom libraries.  Take a look at this list, what do you have?  Missing anything?  Add some of these to your wish list or library list!

The Case of the Missing Tiger's Eye (Rider Woofson)     The Rival Detective (Rider Woofson Book 5)     The Soccer Ball Monster Mystery (Rider Woofson Book 6)
"Rider Woofson" series by Walker Styles

Dory Fantasmagory     Dory and the Real True Friend     Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep
"Dory Fantasmagory" series by Abby Hanlon

The Princess in Black (The Princess in Black, #1)     The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party (The Princess in Black, #2)     The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde (The Princess in Black, #3)
"Princess in Black" series by Shannon Hale

Rise of the Balloon Goons (The Notebook of Doom, #1)     Rumble of the Coaster Ghost (The Notebook of Doom, #9)     Snap of the Super-Goop (The Notebook of Doom, #10)
"Notebook of Doom" series by Troy Cummings

Stowaway! (Puppy Pirates, #1)     Catnapped! (Puppy Pirates #3)     Sea Sick (Puppy Pirates #4)
"Puppy Pirates" series by Erin Soderberg

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree     Too Much Good Luck (Piper Green and the Fairy Tree)     Going Places (Piper Green and the Fairy Tree)
"Piper Green" series by Ellen Potter

Lola Levine Is Not Mean!     Lola Levine: Drama Queen     Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean
"Lola Levine" series by Monica Brown

Eva's Treetop Festival (Owl Diaries #1)     A Woodland Wedding (Owl Diaries #3)     Warm Hearts Day: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #5)
"Owl Diaries" series by Rebecca Elliott

Posy the Puppy (Dr. KittyCat, #1)     Clover the Bunny (Dr. KittyCat Is Ready to Rescue, #2)     Daisy the Kitten (Dr. KittyCat, #3)
"Dr. Kitty Cat" series by Jane Clarke

Inspector Flytrap     Inspector Flytrap in The President's Mane Is Missing     Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much
"Inspector Flytrap" series by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell

Captain Awesome to the Rescue!     Captain Awesome, Soccer Star     Captain Awesome Has the Best Snow Day Ever?
"Captain Awesome" series by Stan Kirby

The Bad Guys: Episode 1     The Bad Guys: Episode 2: Mission Unpluckable     The Bad Guys: Episode 3: The Furball Strikes Again
"The Bad Guys" series by Aaron Blabey

Mr. Pants: It's Go Time!     Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet!     Mr. Pants: Slacks, Camera, Action!
"Mr. Pants" series by Scott McCormick

The Big Move (Commander in Cheese, #1)     Oval Office Escape (Commander in Cheese, #2)     Have a Mice Flight! (Commander in Cheese #3)
"Commander in Cheese" series by Lindsey Leavitt

I really enjoy all of these series and know they are a hit for second and third graders.  I would have them available for students kindergarten through fourth grade because everyone is on their own path to reading.  We want to make sure we have books that are matches for all readers!

Be sure to visit Alyson's post filled with more books for readers who are beginning their reading journey.

What series do you love passing on to transitional readers?  Share your favorites in the comments.  Or, do you have a post or a Goodreads shelf of transitional chapter books?  Link it up below!

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!