Monday, October 15, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? October 15, 2018


A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. A place for people to talk about books they have recently read and are currently reading. Also a great place to find books to add to your "must read" list.

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By  Deborah Ellis, Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon, and Melusine

Great graphic novel adaptation! A little heavy, but I think still appropriate for my 4th grade classroom.

By Diane Wynne Jones

Fairly long story, but enjoyable!

By Jen Wang

Young adult graphic novel with a great message about not being afraid to be who you are and also about accepting those we love the way they are.

By Joanne Rocklin

Told as a set of letters from the main character, Penny, to her yet to be born sibling. I loved the way this story appropriately dealt with issues such as a racism and what it's like to have gay/lesbian parents. This story also appropriately talks about, as the characters called it, "the facts of life", using real terms for things and not using any slang. Unfortunately this chapter went a little too deep, which makes this book inappropriate for my 4th graders.

By Alan Gratz

I have loved all of the Alan Gratz books that I have read to date so I was excited to start this one. This one is a completely different type of story then his usual historic fiction stories, but I loved it! I cant wait to book talk it this week!

These are the books I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):

By Cindy Baldwin

I have heard some really good things about this one, but only just started it today!

By Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

Very entertaining audiobook so far! Getting my joy on! :)

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? September 17, 2018


A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. A place for people to talk about books they have recently read and are currently reading. Also a great place to find books to add to your "must read" list.

Here is what I have recently read (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Melissa Sarno

Another great story containing tough topics that need to be talked about! This one involves homelessness, continually changing schools, a father who has passed away, as well as a younger sibling with autism.

By Adam Gidwitz

I loved the 2017 Newbery Honor winning The Inquisitor's Tale by Gidwitz and had heard a lot of good things about The Unicorn Rescue Society. This one is definitely meant for a younger crowd than The Inquisitor's Tale, which means it is perfect for my 4th graders! I really enjoyed this cute fantasy story and look forward to reading book 2!

By Jacqueline K. Ogburn

Another great fantasy story! This one is on our state's student book award list (Maine Student Book Award) and I plan on book talking it all over the place because I absolutely adored it!

By Ellie Terry

Another great story involving serious topics that are written in a way that kids can understand them. In this one, a girl with Tourette's syndrome is starting yet another school as her mother packs her up yet again after another failed relationship. Calli has spent her life trying to hide her Tourette's, but it finally gets too hard and she decides she decides she doesn't want to hide it anymore.

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):

By Meika Hashimoto

Another one of the books on our Maine Student Book Award list. This one is my independent reading time book at school, which means I only get to read it for about 5 minutes each day. So far I am enjoying this survival story, but I have a feeling it is going to be on the more serious side as I'm pretty sure something terrible has happened to the main character's best friend.

By Lauren Baratz-Logsted

So there is an ongoing theme here...yet another one of the books on our Maine Student Book Award list! I have only just begun this story, but already like the format of it. The main character, Mamie, is writing letters to one of the Apollo 11 astronauts, Michael Collins. It starts as a school project, but ends up being much more for Mamie. The entire book is a collection of the letters that Mamie writes to Michael Collins.

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

Jennifer Nielsen is one of my all time favorite authors! All throughout the summer I was hearing a lot of great buzz about her newest historical fiction story. The book came out right at the end of August and I immediately got it through audible. I have been listening to it on my way to and from work everyday. As is always the case with Nielsen's stories, it is amazingly written, but boy is it heavy! I am sure it is very historically accurate, which is what makes this story, set in Nazi-occupied Poland, so intense. This story is definitely for older readers, I would say middle school and up. If you like historical fiction I highly recommend this one!

Monday, August 27, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading! August 27, 2018


A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. A place for people to talk about books they have recently read and are currently reading. Also a great place to find books to add to your "must read" list.

Here is what I have recently read (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Leslie C. Youngblood

This is the story of Georgie and how she is dealing with her new blended family. Georgie desperately wants her new stepsister to like her, but doesn't realize that, because of this, she is beginning to "neglect" her own younger sister who absolutely adores her. When her younger sister falls ill, she feels extremely guilty that she was worrying more about her older stepsister then her younger actual sister.

By George R.R. Martin

Being a George RR Martin fan, I have had this one on my bookshelf for quite some time. I was looking for a quick read the other day and unearthed this one from the back of the bookshelf. It was definitely a quick read, but also a good little story!

By Caroline Starr Rose

This coming school year I have the good fortune to be part of the #KidsNeedMentors program and have been lucky enough to be paired up with author Caroline Starr Rose! She sent me a copy of one of her books to introduce to my classroom. It is a fairly quick read as it is a novel written in verse. The main character is sent to live with a "neighbor" to help him with his new homestead and to help make his new city wife comfortable with prairie living. Something happens and May is left alone to brave the winter by herself.

By Erin Entrada Kelly

So far I have enjoyed everything I have read from Erin Entrada Kelly. This title is no different! I really enjoyed this moving story about Sol and her sister Ming and the hardships they endure when they are left in America with their evil stepmother.

By Margi Preus

An interesting story that blends fairy tale with reality. Set in Norway, this story follows Astri who is sold by her aunt to a mean goat farmer to basically be his slave. She escapes and sets off to get her little sister and find a way to America where she hopes their father is waiting for them.

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Pernille Ripp

I saved this one for right before I went back to school because I knew it would get me energized and excited for the upcoming school year!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review of The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

The Benefits of Being an Octopus
By Ann Braden
Published by Sky Pony Press
September 4, 2018
ARC Obtained Through NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?


This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.

My Thoughts:
I had been hearing a lot of great things about this book so needless to say I was very excited when I was able to get an ARC from NetGalley. Zoey, the main character, lives a hard and busy life. She is trying to survive middle school while at the same time taking care of her younger siblings. Unlike other kids her age, Zoey doesn't really have time to be a kid because she has to get her siblings up and to daycare in the morning, get herself to school on time, get them off the bus after she gets out of school, then make sure they behave at "home" so that they don't disturb her mother's new boyfriend Lenny and his angry father. This is a tough job in and of itself seeing as they are all packed into Lenny's trailer and her brother and sister are young and full of energy. Dealing with Lenny is also hard because of his often uncaring and hurtful words towards her, her siblings, and especially towards her mother. But Zoey's family doesn't have enough money to move out on their own so Zoey believes that this is how her life will always be...dirty second hand clothes, barely any food in the fridge, listening to her mother get verbally abused, and feeling like her peers are better then her.

I was sucked into this book right away. I was desperate to find out what was going to become of Zoey and her family. Zoey's story also made me think about the number of students in my classroom every year that probably also live in situations similar to Zoey's and feel the same way she does, that they are trapped in a life where they are worthless. I thought this story was one of the most powerful stories I have read in a long time. I think it might be a bit old for my 4th grade classroom library, but I am definitely going to purchase a copy to keep in my closet, as I know that at some point I will have a student in my classroom who really needs it.

I would recommend this book for grades 5 and up.

Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? August 13, 2018


A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. A place for people to talk about books they have recently read and are currently reading. Also a great place to find books to add to your "must read" list.

Here is what I have recently read (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Veera Hiranandani

Set in the late 1940's, this is a powerful story about what happens to a family who is forced to leave the newly "created" Pakistan and make the dangerous journey to India.

By Chad Sell

A great graphic novel about a group of diverse neighborhood kids and how they decide to entertain themselves over the summer.

By Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

A heartbreaking graphic novel about a young refugees journey from Africa to Europe. Definitely more young adult than middle grade!

By Jonathan Auxier

I loved this middle grade story about a young orphan and her hard life as a chimney sweep in Victorian London.

By Ann Braden

WOW! I haven't read a book this powerful in quite some time! A full review coming this week.

By Jennifer Richard Jacobson

I enjoy everything by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and this one is no different! Another good, and pretty powerful, middle grade story about how Lowen, the main character, deals with some serious guilt that he has after something terrible happens to someone he knows.  

By Gary D. Schmidt

Both funny and serious, an entertaining story that includes a lot about cricket! :)

By Barbara O'Connor

Another great story about friendship by Barbara O'Connor!

Here are the books I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Diane Magras

I was lucky enough to meet Diane Magras at a book signing last week. I have heard a lot of good buzz about this book and am excited to start it!

By Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo...enough said!

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? July 16, 2018


A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers! A place for people to talk about books they have recently read and are currently reading. Also a great place to find books to add to your "must read" list.

Here is what I have recently read (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Lisa Graff

This title had been on my to read list for quite some time. Then, about a month ago, I was cleaning off one of the rarely looked at bookshelves in my bedroom and lo and behold I realized I had a copy! I think maybe I had gotten it at an NCTE before really knowing anything about it and then when I got home I put it on the bookshelf and forgot about it. The story was as entertaining as I had heard it would be. I will look forward to adding this one to my classroom bookshelves in the fall!

By Pablo Cartaya

I listened to the audio version of this one and it was really good! I really enjoyed the voice of the person narrating the story. This story is a bit older (the main character has a love interest), but I think I may still get a copy for my classroom because it is such a good story.

By Kelly Easton

This one had been my independent reading time book at the end of the school year. I hadn't quite finished it by the last day of school so it came home with me! A really cute and entertaining story about a girl with pretty crummy parents who has never been allowed to leave her house. One fateful day she breaks into her fathers basement "laboratory" and discovers some things that will change the course of her families life.

By Barbara Dee

I got this one from NCTE last November. Every time I picked it up and reminded myself of the story, I decided that it sounded too sad for me at that moment and put it back on the shelf. A few weeks ago I decided that I was finally ready to tackle it and it turns out that it didn't need tackling, that it wasn't quite as sad as I had expected it to be! It ended up being a really good story about friendship, bravery, and figuring out who you really are. 
This one is a bit older so I think I will send my copy over to the middle school.

Ann M. Martin

So, unlike Halfway Normal, this one ended up being quite a bit sadder then I had anticipated! I was still happy I read it though as it is a pretty powerful story about family, friendship, acceptance and understanding.

By Jason Reynolds

This is the third book in Jason Reynolds' Track series. I really enjoyed Ghost and Patina and therefore was not surprised that I enjoyed this one as well! Though this one was written in a bit of a different style than the first two books and it took me a few pages to get the "rhythm" of the story. I look forward to the last book in the series, Lu, due out at the end of October.

Here are the books I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Cornelia Funke

I'm not sure how I haven't read this title before now as I absolutely love Cornelia Funke! Her Inkheart trilogy is one of my top favorite series, right there with Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings! I am listening to the audiobook on CD and am looking for reasons to get in my car as often as possible (only place where I have a CD player)! I was hooked within the first five minutes of listening and will be sad when it's over.

By Jack Cheng

I have had this one on my to read list for awhile, but as I thought it might be too old for my classroom, I had been waiting to get it from the library. The idea of the story is a very interesting one. The main character is making recordings that he plans to send to outer space so that whatever other life forms are out there can learn a little bit about earth. Each chapter is one of the recordings. I am definitely enjoying the story so far!

Monday, May 28, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? May 28, 2018


A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers! A place for people to talk about books they have recently read and are currently reading. Also a great place to find books to add to your "must read" list.

Here is what I have recently read (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Kelly Yang

I finished this one in just 2-3 days! A very interesting story about an immigrant family who is trying to make it in America. The main character Mia, and her parents, end up managing a hotel under the harsh supervision of the mean and racist owner. The thing that made this story even more interesting was the fact that much of it is based on the author's life! I think it may become my first or second read aloud next school year.

By Stephanie Burgis

This title is on our state's student book award list (Maine Student Book Award) for 2018-2019 so I decided to give it a read! An entertaining story about a young female dragon who sneaks out of her families cave in order to prove herself. She's only out of her cave for a few minutes when she is tricked by a mage and is turned into a human. The rest of the story is how she survives as a human and how she finally figures out what her passion is. I can see why this one made the list and imagine it will be passed around the classroom quite a few times next school year!

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Kieran Larwood

Still reading this one during independent reading time in my classroom. Still enjoying it!

By John David Anderson

This one has been in my to read pile to quite a while. I finally decided to read it because it is also on our student book award list for 2018-2019. I am only on the second chapter, but I have high hopes!

By Daniel Rechtschaffen

I am reading this one for a graduate level course I am taking this summer.