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:

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading, August 21, 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 Bridget Hodder
I had a hard time getting into this one, but once I did I enjoyed it. During some point in the school year I usually do a cinderella story comparison. This would be a good title to add to my list of unusual Cinderella stories. I like that it had a bit of a twist on the idea of the prince saving the helpless maiden. Yes the prince is a very strong character, but Cinderella seems to be more of his equal in this story. 

By Tamara Bundy
I had been hearing a lot about this book and was excited to finally get it from the library! This is a very timely book about what life was like in the south in the 1960's. I enjoyed it because it allows the reader to really understand what it was like for Miss Millie, an elderly black woman, growing up in the south around this time. I also like it because it deals with an elderly grandmother who is suffering from what appears to be Alzheimer's, as well as a parent who is no longer in the picture. What's great is that Tamara Bundy deals with all of these issues in a way that is still appropriate for my 4th graders. This one will definitely be going in my classroom library!

Here is what I am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):
By Patricia Forde
Recently got this one from NetGalley and started it yesterday. I was immediately sucked into this story of a post apocalyptical world where the only words that you are allowed to use are the 500 words that are part of The List. I am intrigued by the plot, as well as by the main character Letta, as she seems to be a very courageous young girl. I imagine that I will have this book finished in the next day or two!


Friday, August 18, 2017

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
By Karina Glaser
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
October 3, 2017
Read Digital Copy provided by NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It's practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

My Thoughts:

I immediately fell in love with the Vanderbeeker family! I loved meeting mom, dad, Jessie, Isa, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney! I enjoyed reading about their antics in trying to get their landlord, Mr Beiderman, to renew their lease that was going to be up right after Christmas. I enjoyed the craziness that was the Vanderbeeker household at all times. I also enjoyed reading a story where all of the siblings are actually working together, even though they might not get along 100% of the time. There is also a sad element to the story, that I thought really brought things together in a meaningful way at the end.

Thinking about having this book in my 4th grade classroom, I feel fairly certain that with so many main characters, that most students would connect with at least one of the Vanderbeeker kids.

I would recommend this book for 4th grade and up.

See what Kirkus Reviews has to say about this book!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Slice of Life - August 15, 2017

Welcome to my new blog!

My name is Anna Sedenka and I currently teach 4th grade ELA and social studies in southern Maine. In a few short weeks I will be starting my 10th year as an elementary school teacher!
This blog will be about all things ELA, though it will most likely end up being a bit heavier on reading. I will try to keep up with a few different weekly memes, such as this one. I will also post book reviews here (picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, graphic novels...you name it!). Also, keep your eyes peeled for various book related giveaways!
Enjoy!



Back to School? Nope!

Last week I had to pop into school in order to fill out a piece of paperwork. I decided that this would be a good time to bring in the mountain of books that had been collecting in my coat closet, as well as get a cursory start on getting my classroom ready for the upcoming school year. I got into the building to immediately find my usual route upstairs blocked because of newly waxed floors. Huffing with frustration, I lugged my mountain of books to the next stairwell, only to find that one blocked as well. I decided to leave my mountain at the foot of the stairs and stop into the office to at least accomplish one of my tasks. I filled out the necessary paperwork and then figured I would try one more stairwell, hoping against hope that it wasn't blocked so that I wouldn't have to carry all my books back out to the car and do this all over again in a few days. Miracle of miracles, this stairwell was open! I lugged my books upstairs, rummaged around in my bag for the keys to my classroom, dropped a few books in the process, and finally barged into my room. I immediately dropped my books inside the door, took a deep breath, and looked at my room. The sight that greeted me was one I thought I was ready to handle. Nope! The sight that greeted me was a mishmashed pile of classroom furniture, along with a few pieces that weren't even mine. My classroom is half carpet ad half tile, and the tile had been recently waxed, which means that every last piece of furniture in my classroom was all piled into one big heap in the middle of the rug. In all honesty I knew that this was what my classroom was most likely going to look like when I went in that day and I really thought I was ready to start sorting it all back into place. Turns out I was so very wrong. I quickly decided that I wasn't quite ready to be "back to school" yet, so I added my mountain of books to the nice pile in the middle of my classroom, turned out the lights, closed the door, and headed back down the only open stairwell to try again another day!

Monday, August 14, 2017

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It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 14, 2017

Welcome to my new blog!

My name is Anna Sedenka and I currently teach 4th grade ELA and social studies in southern Maine. In a few short weeks I will be starting my 10th year as an elementary school teacher!
This blog will be about all things ELA, though it will most likely end up being a bit heavier on reading. I will try to keep up with a few different weekly memes, such as this one, and I will also post book reviews here (picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, graphic novels...you name it!). Also, keep your eyes peeled for various book related giveaways!
Enjoy!


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 am currently reading (click on the title to learn more about the book):

by Linda Williams Jackson
I am only a little ways into this book, but I can already tell it is going to be a powerful story! It is set in the south in the 1950's and I am already learning a lot about what life was like for African Americans living during this tumultuous time. I am intrigued to see what happens to the strong willed main character Rose Lee Carter.

by Kate Messner
I was very excited to get started on this one as well! I pretty much love everything from Kate Messner and I am especially excited to be back with my friends Gianna and Zig. You can read this as a stand alone, or you can read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, where you first meet these two characters.

By Lee Canter
As the new school year approaches, I am working on upping my classroom management game with this book! This is a book that my school decided to choose as an optional summer PD read. My whole grade level decided to read it over the summer so that when we return for the new school year, we will hopefully all be on the same page as far as our classroom management goes. 
So far I am really enjoying the set-up of the book, it is easy to read and has some great, realistic, ideas in it. I am looking forward to seeing what great tools I can add to my management toolbox!