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! 
Enjoy!


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.

Wishtree
By Katherine Applegate

What can I say about this one...it'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

Ugly
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!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Slice of Life - September 5, 2017


If Only Every Weekend was a 4 Day Weekend!


So I officially went back to school last week. I had open house last Monday night, then had students Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I then had Friday-Monday off. At the beginning of last week my classroom was ready, my supples were set to go and I was ready for my students. Then they arrived. I forgot how exhausting the first few days of school can be! We got all the rules down and got all of our norms set, we got our #classroombookaday off to a great start, and we started our first read aloud of the school year. All in all it was a pretty good first few days, but boy was I ready for a few days off! I'm not sure what it is about this school year, but I don't think I have ever looked forward to my 4 day Labor Day weekend this much before. Maybe it was because I felt like summer really flew by this year or that I know I am going to have to be on top of my classroom management skills this year. Whatever it was, I was ready to enjoy my weekend with my family! We spent the first two days just kind of lounging around, my daughters played while my husband and I did some yard work, there may have been a trip to get donuts! Also, a true sign that fall really is around the corner, we spent Saturday afternoon watching the first Notre Dame football game of the year (Go Irish!). Then the Sunday it rained, but we still made the most of it by taking a quick trip to the playground and then going for ice cream. On Labor Day we took a ferry ride on Casco Bay in Portland and went to one of the nearby islands for some more ice cream. We finished off the night with some great Flatbread pizza and possibly some more dessert! All in all I felt like it was a great weekend and I am now recharged and ready to be truly back to school!

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? September 4, 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):
Last week was back to school for me so I didn't get much reading in! 

By William Joyce

Scroll down to see my full review of Ollie's Odyssey!

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

By Robert Hoge

In my 4th grade classroom we are starting the school year with Wonder as our first read aloud. I wanted to read it to my students before the movie comes out in November. This book is one of my all time favorites so I was very intrigued to start Ugly by Robert Hoge. I am hoping that it will be appropriate for my classroom, as I am sure a number of my students will be interested to read Robert's memoir.

By Mira Bartok

I'm not too far into this one yet, but I already love the fantasy nature of this story!


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Review of Ollie's Odyssey by William Joyce

Ollie's Odyssey
By William Joyce
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
April 11, 2017 (Reprint)
Paperback Purchased from Amazon

Goodreads Summary:
Can a beloved but lost stuffed rabbit save himself and other Losts from becoming the most feared designation of all: The Forgotten? Find out in this epic quest from the author of The Guardians series and the creative force behind The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Oswald is a favorite. Of all the toys in Billy’s home, the stuffed rabbit takes top rank: everywhere Billy goes, so goes Oz. But being a favorite is more than a privilege—it’s also fraught with danger. Because of Zozo.

Zozo has never been a favorite. An amusement park prize who was never chosen, Zozo has grown so bitter that, when the amusement park closes, he seeks revenge on every toy lucky enough to be a favorite. He wants them all to become The Lost, and even better, Forgotten.

When Billy accidentally leaves Oz under the table at a wedding, Oz finds himself on an unplanned adventure, kidnapped by the nefarious Zozo and his gang of creeps and faced with the momentous task of saving not only himself, but all the other stuffies who are “lost” as well…

With nods to Toy Story and Knuffle Bunny, but with that insoucient joie de vivre that is all William Joyce’s and Moonbot’s own, here’s a look at what REALLY goes on with your stuffed animals when the lights are out. 

My Thoughts:
Ollie's Odyssey had been on my Amazon wish list for quite some time so I was excited when I was finally able to read it. I was surprised at the length and overall heft of the book when I received it. The pages are gorgeous and shiny and thick, and the book has some amazing illustrations! Overall, I was surprised at the darkness of the story. The "bad guy" in the story is an old clown who's heart has turned cold and hard. William Joyce did a great job making Zozo the clown a fairly frightening create, to a level that only creepy clowns can achieve. Zozo's henchmen are also a pretty creepy lot, rightfully named the Creeps.
From Moonbot Studios
But fear not, the story has a happy ending and I think shows some great examples how even the unlikeliest of characters can find the courage to be brave and stand up for what is right in the name of friendship!

Even though it is a bit dark, I would recommend this book for 4th grade and up!

Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? August 28, 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 Patricia Forde

Scroll down to see my full review of The List from last Thursday, August 24!


By Mike Lawrence

A really cute graphic novel about friendship, learning to get along, working together, and just being yourself!

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

This book had been on my Amazon wish list for quite a while and I finally bought it! I was surprised at the size and heft of it when I opened the box. It was quite a bit bigger then I was expecting it to be. And when I opened it...the pages are just gorgeous! They are really beautiful, thick, glossy pages and the illustrations are equally as impressive! Take a little peak:



I am enjoying the story so far, but it is quite a bit creepier then I expected it to be. I imagine it will be the perfect amount of creepiness for my 4th graders, but I will let you know for sure once I am finished!



Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review of The List by Patricia Forde

The List
By Patricia Forde
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
August 1, 2017
Digital Copy Provided by NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world. 
On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

My Thoughts:
I'm normally not one for apocalypse and end of the world type books as they completely stress me out! Though I have to say that I was intrigued by what people have been saying about this one, so I decided to give it a try. As I mentioned in my #IMWAYR post this past Monday, this story immediately sucked me in! I was intrigued by the idea of words being the perceived threat to this post apocalyptic world, and even though I don't like them, I have read a few books like this, as well as seen a few movies on the same topic, but never have words been the "bad guy". It was a very interesting and intriguing story, getting a glimpse of what life might be like without freedom of speech. I also liked the main character Letta. She is young, but strong and courageous, and willing to do what she must in order to do what she knows is right. I always enjoy reading books with strong female main characters! There are a few twists woven throughout the story, and the end kept me glued to my kindle! 
Definitely put it on your to read lists! As there is some violence, I would recommend this book for 5th grade and up.

See What Others Have to Say: