Monday, January 22, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? January 22, 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" lists!

Here is what I have recently read (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Vera Brosgol
I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters in this graphic novel! The main character, Vera, is just a Russian girl trying to fit in like everyone else. She finds this harder then most because of the fact that her family is Russian. She thinks that she has finally found a way to feel like she fits in when she discovers a Russian summer camp. She cant wait to spend the summer like the rest of her "friends" by attending summer camp. When she gets there, she quickly finds out that it isn't everything she dreamed it would be and she has to make some tough decisions about what type of person, and friend, she really wants to be.

By Jake Burt
Stay tuned for a full review of this great book later this week!

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

By Erin Entrada Kelly
Still working on this one! I keep forgetting to bring it home from school!

By Serena Valentino
I recently went on a short trip to Chicago and had this audiobook to keep me company! Now, it is only fair for me to first tell you that I am a huge Disney fan and that Maleficent is hands down my favorite villain. But because all of that is true, I was afraid that I would be disappointed by this story. I am happy to say that I wasn't! The story does get off to a bit of a slow start, and there are lots of different stories woven through, but all in all I have been thoroughly enjoying it! I only have a few chapters left and am intrigued to find out what fate Serena Valentino is going to hand Maleficent.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review of The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd

The Problim Children
By Natalie Lloyd
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
January 30, 2018
ARC Obtained at NCTE 2017

Goodreads Summary:
When the Problim children’s ramshackle bungalow in the Swampy Woods goes kaboom, the seven siblings and their pet pig have no choice but to move into their Grandpa’s abandoned old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift.

Wendell and Thea—twins born two minutes apart on a Wednesday and a Thursday—see the move as a chance to make new friends in time for their birthday cake smash. But the neighbors find the Problims’ return problematic—what with Sal’s foggy garden full of Wrangling Ivy, toddler Toot’s 365 stanktastic fart varieties, and Mona’s human catapult.

Truth be told, rumors are flying about the Problims! Rumors of a bitter feud, a treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. And the neighbors will do anything to get their hands on those secrets—including sending the Problim children to seven different homes on seven different continents!

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this fantasy story by Natalie Lloyd! I am currently 2 for 2 with Natalie Lloyd books, as I also really enjoyed Snicker of Magic which came out in 2015 (I still have to read The Key to Extraordinary which came out last year).  It took a few chapters before I was able to keep all seven Problim children straight, but there is a handy list of who is who at the beginning of the book that I used until I had them all figured out. Otherwise, I enjoyed the blend of fantasy, adventure, hijinks and humor in this story. I enjoyed following the seven Problim children as they tried to get in touch with their traveling archaeologist parents, fight off their evil neighbor Desdemona O'pinion, and figure out the riddle that their grandfather left them which they, and Desdemona, believe will lead to some type of treasure.
The only "warning" I will give is that it appears that this book is going to be the first in a series. It is possible that a quiet, "nooooooooo!" escaped my lips when I finished the book and realized that I was going to have to wait quite a while before joining back with the Problim clan to continue their adventures.
I would recommend this book for grades 4 and up!

Monday, January 15, 2018

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

A great meme hosted by Jen at tech Mento 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 Matt de la Peña and Loren Long
This has definitely been the book of the week! I have been aware of this book for quite some time, but I have seen it everywhere this week; on blogs, on twitter, in the bookstore. I was really sad that I missed Matt signing this one at NCTE, but my flight left before his signing on Sunday. I tried to find someone that was willing to stand in line for me, but to no avail. All that being said, I was so excited to finally get my hands on a copy when it come out this past Tuesday! This book is as gorgeous as I heard it was and I really wish that I knew someone who was starting a new phase in their life, new job, graduation, etc whom I could buy a copy for! This book may become the new Oh, The Places You Will Go! book for me! If you haven't seen it yet, go out and find a copy!

By Tony DiTerlizzi
Because I am in charge of my schools One School, One Book "project" every year, I keep an ongoing list of possible titles that would be appropriate for K-5. This year, I was tasked with picking next years book way earlier then I normally do, so I started furiously reading a few of the titles on the list. This was one of them! Of course I know Tony DiTerlizzi, I enjoyed the Spiderwick Chronicles and really enjoyed the WondLa trilogy, but I had never gotten around to reading this one. I am happy that it ended up on my list because it is such an adorable story! I think it is a great choice for K-5 because the younger kids will enjoy the "cuteness" of it with the animal characters and the older grades will enjoy it because it is also a great story about friendship and about not judging someone by the way they look. I have a few more to read before I make my final decision, but this one will definitely be a contender!

By Nikki Grimes and Raúl Colón
Unfortunately this one I read for sadder reasons. I have a former student who recently lost her younger brother to an ongoing illness. In the fall we were informed that her brother wasn't doing well and probably didn't have much longer. Of course, being the person I am, I immediately went on a search for a book that I could send her that might help, even the littlest bit. Nothing jumped out at me until I heard Nikki Grimes speak at NCTE. She was talking about some of the children's books she has written that tackle the tough subjects in life, and she specifically mentioned this one. It sounded perfect so I purchased it immediately. Sadly my former student's brother lost his battle a few weeks ago so I gave the book a quick read to make sure it was what I was looking for. Indeed it was. I mailed it out yesterday, hoping that it will give her even the tiniest bit of comfort or hope in this tough time.

Here is what  am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Natalie Lloyd
Almost done with this one and will be writing a full review of it some time this week. Stay tuned!

By Erin Entrada Kelly
Now that I am almost done with The Problim Children, I may have to take this one home to read. It's currently my independent reading book at school, which means I only get about 5-10 minutes to read it every day before I start my reading conferences. For me, this usually means that I have a hard time getting into the book because I read it in such small snippets. That is usually ok when the book is on the shorter side, but this one is a bit lengthy. I am enjoying the story so far and would hate to be put off it simply because it takes me so long to finish. 
It's decided then, time for it to become my home book!

Monday, January 8, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? January 8, 2018

A great meme hosted by Jen at Teacher 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!

I haven't posted since before the holidays, so here is a list of all the books I have read since my last post (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Cassie Beasley
I really enjoyed Circus Mirandus, so I wasn't surprised when I also really enjoyed Tumble and Blue! I liked the two main characters, Tumble and Blue, and enjoyed the fantasy elements woven throughout the book.

By Kate Messner
I was excited to get my hands on an ARC of Kate Messner's newest MG novel. I loved the way this one was written, with a bunch of different types of writing. A few of them being letters, graphic novel-esque pictures, texts, announcements, etc. The story itself is also a great one. As always, Kate Messner does a great job of tackling tough subjects in an age appropriate way.

By Elly Swartz
Like Cassie Beasley, Elly Swartz is another author where I enjoyed their second book as much as, if not more then, their first! I enjoyed reading Finding Perfect and knew I was going to enjoy Smart Cookie. I wasn't disappointed! Elly Swartz is another author who tackles serious topics in a way that kids can understand them. This one is on my classroom shelf right beside Finding Perfect!

By Liesl Shurtliff
Another series of books that I LOVE! I remember being so excited to get my hands on an ARC of Red at NCTE 2016. It kept me company on a long, delayed flight home! I was equally as excited to get an ARC of Grump at NCTE this past November. Again, I started it on my flight home, which thankfully was not delayed this time. It didn't take me long to finish this one, as it was equally as entertaining as the other books by Shurtliff!

 By Sayantani Dasgupta
I was happily surprised to find an ARC of this one in my December Scholastic book box! I enjoyed this adventurous fantasy story and appreciated the diverse main characters.

By Ilyasah Shabazz
With Renee Watson
After the fantasy of Serpent's Shadow, I really enjoyed this historical fiction story about the young Dr. Betty Shabazz, the wife of Malcolm X. I didn't know much about Betty Shabazz before reading this book, therefore I was fascinated by the story of her young life. It is not surprising that she became such an amazingly strong adult!

By Gordon Korman
I had been hearing a lot about Gordon Korman's newest book, Restart, so I snuck it off my classroom shelf to read it! Of course it only took one day for my students to notice that it was missing. It is a good thing the book sucked me in the way it did because I finished it in two days and got it right back on the shelf. I really liked the premise of this book and think it teaches some really good lessons about what type of person you want to be.

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book): 
By Erin Entrada Kelly
Another one I was lucky enough to get at NCTE and that I have been starting to hear some buzz about. I only started it a few days ago, but I am already enjoying. It's another one of those books that I think will tackle some tough topics in an age appropriate way.

By Natalie Lloyd
I have been a fan of Natalie Lloyd since A Snicker of Magic. I am only on page 2 of this one, but I have high hopes! 

Edited by Colby Sharp
This project was such a brilliant idea! Kudos to Colby Sharp for coming up with this crazy idea and for putting it all together into an amazing collection of stories! I started reading this one, along with Grump, on the way home from NCTE. I am amazed that the same book can have me laughing out loud one minute, crying the next, and then on the next turn of the page have goosebumps rising up my arm and the hairs on the back on my neck standing straight up. Amazing!

Monday, November 6, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? November 6, 2017

A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and 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 Celia C. Perez

I have been looking forward to reading this one for awhile! I had heard so much about it over the summer and into the fall. I wasn't sure if it would be too old for my 4th grade classroom so I wanted to request it from the library first. It was so popular that I had to wait a few weeks until it was available! 
I have to say it was worth the wait! I really enjoyed getting to know Malu and traveling along on her move to Chicago. I enjoyed watching her try to figure out what type of person she wanted to be. I liked learning about her hispanic heritage, about what she thinks it means to be "punk", as well as how to make a zine! Malu makes some great friends at her new school and near the end of the book, might just have found a way to reconcile la senorita that her mom wants her to be with the punk that she wants to be.

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Rita Williams-Garcia

Finally got some time in the classroom to really start getting into this one. I think my students will be given some extra independent reading time this afternoon! ;)

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved My Life was one of my favorite books of last year so I was very excited to learn that there was more to Ada's story. I started this one yesterday afternoon and had a really hard time putting it down at bedtime! Can't wait to get back to it tonight!

Monday, October 23, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? October 23, 2017

I apologize for being on a bit of a hiatus for a few weeks. I have been getting ready for parent/teacher conferences and have a graduate level writing course that is wrapping up this Saturday. Overall, October has been a busy month! But as you will see below, I have still found time to read! 

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

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

I have had this one in my classroom for awhile and finally decided it was time for me to take it home and read it! The book is a bit thick and it took me a while to finish it, but I really enjoyed it! I liked the historical fiction nature of it. I enjoyed reading about what life would have been like in East Berlin before the wall fell. This story was very intriguing and I am happy that I finally took it home and read it!

By Victoria Jamieson

I had been hearing so much about this one that I was very excited to finally get my hands on my own copy! I also really enjoyed Roller Girl so was looking forward to Jamieson's next book. This one was definitely a "cant put it down until it's done" story. I thought it was a very unique idea to have the main character's family work at a Renaissance Fair, and I really liked the message that Jamieson was teaching about friendship with this story!
As there is one topic that would be questionable for my 4th graders, I would recommend this for grades 6 and up.

By Katherine Applegate

What can I say about this's Katherine Applegate people! You know you have heard about it, you know you should read it. If it's not on your list, add it now!
Enough said!

By Dusti Bowling

This was another one that I had been hearing so much about and couldn't wait to crack open! I have to say it was worth the wait! I loved this story! I loved the premise; the girl with no arms befriends the boy with Tourette's, then they eventually become a trio when they start eating lunch with a classmate who is self conscious about his weight. I love that they all found each other and helped each other to work through the hardships that their "disabilities" bring. Throw in a little mystery and you have yourself one great book!

By Alison McGhee

I forget where I heard about Pablo and Birdy, but it ended up on my Amazon wishlist not too long ago. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started it last week, but I was immediately drawn in by the story of Pablo, the main character. I enjoyed following Pablo and his "pet" parrot, Birdy, around his small tourist town of Isla. I also really enjoyed getting to know the townspeople, and was intrigued by the mystery of where Pablo and Birdy came from. I enjoyed this one to the end and was also really impressed by McGhee's illustrations which can be found here and there throughout the book. 
Here is one example...gorgeous!

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

By Rita Williams-Garcia

I enjoy everything that Williams-Garcia writes so I immediately purchased this one when it showed up in our Scholastic book orders! It is currently my in school independent reading time book, which means the students will all want to read it when I am done, but also means that I only have about 5 minutes per day for it. I have a feeling that it might make a short trip home with me this week so that I can spend more time with Clayton!

By Kimberly Willis Holt

Looking forward to starting this one tonight! Stay tuned! :)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Review of Moon Shadow by Erin Downing

Moon Shadow
By Erin Downing
Published by Aladdin
May 16, 2017
Hardcover Purchased from Amazon

Goodreads Summary:
Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself.

Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday.

When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play.

Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad.

With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

My Thoughts:
I had been hearing a lot about this book at the beginning of the year and was very excited to finally find the time to read it! I really enjoyed the premise of the book, the idea that maybe the main character's, Lucia's, shadow self has been going out and doing things while she thinks she is asleep. At first Lucia is completely freaked out when she realizes what might be happening, but then she starts realizing that her shadow self has been doing things that she only wishes she had the courage to do. She eventually needs to figure out if she has the courage to be the person she wants to be without the help of her shadow self. 
Overall a very intriguing story about having the courage to be your own self and about working to make the things happen in your life that you want to happen.

I would recommend this for grades 4 and up!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review of Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly

Shadow Weaver
By MarcyKate Connolly
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
January 2, 2018
Digital Copy Provided by NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
The shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

The first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology, MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale filled with shadows, danger, and magic that has the feel of a new classic.

My Thoughts:
This book was a bit dark, but I really enjoyed it! I was pulled into the story right from the start, as I thought the storyline was quite unique! I don't think I have read any books in the recent past where the main character's shadow has its own personality and is therefore also a main character. 
It was interesting to watch Emmaline come more into herself as the story progressed, as she started to depend less on her shadow to help her figure out what to do. I really enjoyed the family that Emmaline meets and I appreciated that this story came to an end, but also left itself open for future books! Hoping for a book 2!

I would recommend this story for grades 5 and up.

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? October 2, 2017

A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and and Kellee at Unleashing Readers! A place for people t talk about the books they have recently read and are currently reading. 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 Erin Downing

I really enjoyed this book by Erin Downing! I immediately book talked it to my students as soon as I finished it (I was selfish and had to read it first!). There is now a very long wait list!
Check back for my full review mid-week!

By Mira Bartok

Scroll down to see the full review that I wrote last week!

By MarcyKate Connolly

Check back tomorrow morning for my full review!

By Jason Reynolds

When was the last time you read something written by Jason Reynolds that you didn't think was amazing? Right, never! This is the second book in Reynold's Track series. The first book Ghost came out last August, and the third book, Sunny, comes out next April. I really enjoyed reading Ghost, but may have enjoyed Patina even more! 
As the main character, I really like Patina (Patty). She is brave and strong and feels like she has to act as a mother to her younger sister Maddy. All of this before she is even out of middle school. This is a great story about trying to fit in where you don't feel like you belong, and about finding the place where you can really be yourself without worrying about what other people think.
This book is immediately going into my classroom library!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review of The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

The Wonderling
By Mira Bartok
Published by Candlewick
September 26, 2017
Digital Copy Provided by NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
Have you been unexpectedly burdened by a recently orphaned or unclaimed creature? Worry not! We have just the solution for you!
Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name -- a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck -- it is the only home he has ever known. 
But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home's loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name -- Arthur, like the good king in the old stories -- and a best friend. Using Trinket's ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur's true destiny. 

My Thoughts:
I would definitely call this book an epic fantasy! I loved the fantastical nature of the story and, though it took me a while to finish it, I enjoyed the journey that Mira Bartok took me on as I followed Thirteen (Arthur) in his search for answers about his family and about himself. One of the ways I know that I enjoyed this book because there was at least one character who I really detested, and I only truly dislike a character when I am fully invested in a book. I also enjoyed meeting, and learning about, the other friends that Thirteen meets and makes along his journey. This story also addresses the idea of equality in a way that I think my 4th grade students will really understand. I would definitely use this book to have bigger conversations about equality in the real world and how it might compare to this story. 

Though it is long, I would recommend this story for grades 4 and up.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? September 18, 2017

A great meme hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers! A place for people to talk about the books they have recently read and are currently reading. 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 Mira Bartok

This was an epic fantasy and I really enjoyed it! Full review coming this week.

By Ally Condie

I started this one right before school started back up, so it sat, untouched, on my nightstand for a bit. I finally had time to pick it back up this weekend and couldn't stop until I was done! It is a pretty deep story about sadness and loss, but also about friendship and family. Even though the story is a fairly serious one, I still think that I will add it to my 4th grade classroom library.

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

By Erin Downing

I had been hearing a lot of good things about Erin Downing's (Soderberg) newest book so I purchased it right when it came out. It is my classroom independent reading book so I only have about 5 minutes everyday to read it, but I am really loving it so far! I find that I have to pull myself away from it when it is time to start my reading conferences!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review of Ugly by Robert Hoge

By Robert Hoge
Published by Puffin Books
February 7, 2017
ARC obtained from the 2016 Annual NCTE Conference

Goodreads Summary:
Robert Hoge was born with a giant tumor on his forehead, severely distorted facial features and legs that were twisted and useless. His mother refused to look at her son, let alone bring him home. But home he went, to a life that, against the odds, was filled with joy, optimism and boyhood naughtiness.

Home for the Hoges was a bayside suburb of Brisbane. Robert's parents, Mary and Vince, knew that his life would be difficult, but they were determined to give him a typical Australian childhood. So along with the regular, grueling and often dangerous operations that made medical history and gradually improved Robert's life, there were bad haircuts, visits to the local pool, school camps and dreams of summer sports.

Ugly is Robert's account of his life, from the time of his birth to the arrival of his own daughter. It is a story of how the love and support of his family helped him to overcome incredible hardships. It is also the story of an extraordinary person living an ordinary life, which is perhaps his greatest achievement of all.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this story! I read Wonder by RJ Palacio every year to my class, so it was interesting to read a "real" version of August Pullman's story. I was surprised at how truthful Robert was in his story. Some of the things that he shared about his birth and the days that followed were hard to read and I imagine hard to write and "relive". I was amazed at Robert's outlook on life as he grew up and especially as he started school. For the most part he kept a very positive outlook and really just tried to have a normal life. When he was a bit older, he had a really hard decision to make about having one more major surgery in order to even further "fix" his face. I'm not sure I would have been strong enough to make that decision if it had been me.
Overall Robert is such a courageous and strong character. When you stop and remember that he is actually a real person, it makes his story that much more powerful!

I would recommend this story for grades 4 and up.

Click here to hear his story that aired on NPR last September!