Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.

Past Week:


I am within the final 100 pages, but will still be working on this one. I just attended a workshop with an intense focus on culturally responsive teaching and how to have Courageous Conversations About Race. I appreciate the way the book challenges the status quo and helps encourage us to find our voice. I look forward to continuing the journey with my peers that went to the conference.

Newbery Challenge

Shadow of a Bull was an interesting look at bull-fighting and a young man deciding his future. I found the author the most intriguing though. Maia Wojciechowska and her family fled Poland during WWII. During her life she mastered five languages, lived in many countries, braved parachuting, bull-fighting, and many other things. She seemed to have lived a vibrant life. I would have loved to meet her.

Caldecott Challenge

The Christmas Anna Angel had some awesome folk art details, but the story itself was a bit lengthy for me and didn't hold my attention unfortunately. This isn't really one I would recommend.

Picture Books I Enjoyed

Rocket is again adorable and I loved the interaction between him and the owl. This is also a great way to show how the writing process works. Nighttime Ninja is sure to be a hit with my many students that are always requesting ninja books. The illustrations are fantastic and the plot is just too fun.

Picture Books for the Older Crowd

It's not that young children can't or shouldn't read these, but I think adults will get the humor and/or intentions of the author just a bit better. I believe that All My Friends are Dead was truly written for an adult audience. It is definitely filled with humor, but though the jokes aren't really inappropriate, they just aren't kid jokes. With the Sendak book, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, I was not as sure who he was writing for beyond just communicating. The work is filled with politically charged subtexts through the illustrations though he was simply using two nursery rhymes as the main text. Without adult input, I am not sure that children would get what he was doing because I am not altogether sure myself. This is a great discussion starter about poverty and homelessness no matter the age of the readers though.

Concept Book

Tana Hoban's books are so simple, yet filled with information and fantastic pictures. I snagged this one for the pre-k teachers to use during their dot unit. Count and See goes well with dots as each number has dots to represent it. I am ordering a copy for us to use next year with our Dot Day celebration. 

Favorite Book of the Week

Splendors and Glooms had such a fantastic sense of place. I loved falling into the book each time I picked it up. The characters were full of life and won my heart. The mystery and adventure kept me enthralled. I can't wait to talk this one up to everyone I see. 

The Coming Week:
I have just started Three Times Lucky, a middle-grade mystery set in the south. I am about to begin I, Juan de Pareja for the Newbery Challenge. I am also going to hit some of the books we just got and are just starting to process. It should be a good reading week.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.

Past Week:


This was a great extension for the Teachers Write summer program that I was in this year. Kate provides many helpful strategies for planning, writing, and revising even though the focus is on revision. Loved it!

I also started reading Courageous Conversations about Race in preparation for a conference this week, but didn't get finished.

Early Chapter Book

Kashmira Sheth wrote her first early chapter book. It is funny and engaging as two brothers try to convince their dog-averse mother that their family needs a dog. Our third grade loved it when she shared the first few chapters during her author visit.

Young Adult

I was quite eager to read this collection of sci-fi short stories. The neat thing about this book is that it contains the voices of a diverse group of characters. There are characters from many different countries and backgrounds. I will have a more in-depth review later this week. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to more great works from this publisher.

Caldecott Challenge & Battle of the Books

A Ball for Daisy is part of the Wisconsin Battle of the Books for elementary schools this year. So, I got to mark one more off for the Caldecott Challenge as I prepare for coaching BOB. Have you noticed it doesn't have text? Makes it tricky for writing questions.

Blizzard! is also on the BOB list. I think Murphy does a fantastic job of weaving the facts into stories that capture the imagination of a reader. I would like to find more of his books. 

For the Coming Week:
I will try to finish Courageous Conversations About Race. I am also starting to read Splendors and Glooms. Other than that, I am not sure what the week will bring. Happy reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fun

There were lots of fun moments this week. I especially enjoyed wearing my One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish with my yellow kicks today. I'm always happy to get to celebrate books through my wardrobe. :)

Another fun time this week was getting to meet Ame Dyckman through Skype visits with two of our first grade classes. Unfortunately, technology didn't cooperate fantastically on the first visit so we only had audio, but at least it got straightened out for the second visit and we could actually see this fantastic author! It was so cool to hear Boy + Bot being read by the author. Thanks Ame!!!

All of the first graders in the school got to take home some great swag too. They were soooo excited!

Another first grade class got to visit with a class from a middle school in another part of the state via Skype to celebrate Dot Day. @pageintraining organized that connection. Along with the special events, library classes were utilizing technology to create Dot pictures, write comments on our school reading blog, and having many other fun learning opportunities. It was a busy week, but it was also very productive. I am slightly exhausted, but after the weekend, I am hoping to be re-charged and ready for some more great learning. Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


See this post to find out more about THIRSTday. Thanks LibraryFanatic and David Etkin!

Bengal Spice Tea and my evening read.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.
Past Week

Newbery Challenge
A Wrinkle in Time came out on top between these three. It is the one I read the most times (3 or 4 now) and the only one of these I read when I was in elementary school. Meg has always been someone I related to well. The storyline is a bit tricky, but I love falling into this book. It's Like This, Cat didn't have much of a plot to it, but the voice of the main character was fantastic. I really enjoyed hanging out with Dave and his cat. The Bronze Bow was the slowest of the three. I didn't hate it, but sometimes the story got a bit bogged down. I read it years ago and didn't really remember much except that it happened in biblical times. It seemed a rather unremarkable book once again.

Caldecott Challenge
I found Yonie Wondernose fun and I loved Yonie's fits of wondering. His curiosity is so believable and natural.

New Picture Books
Magritte's Marvelous Hat utilized something that I have always loved in a book - those transparncies that lay over other traditional pages and add another layer of illustration. The illustrator used clever devises all through the book. The surreal and the sneaky were both in evidence. There wasn't a lot of plot, but there certainly was a ton of fun. Goldilocks had a cute twist, but it wasn't my favorite Mo Willems. It was a bit too predictable for me, though I appreciated the many fun jokes and I believe that my students will enjoy it. I'm Bored had me laughing out loud. I loved the expressions that the illustrator created. You can see a wonderful trailer and learn more about this one at Mr. Schu's blog.

International Dot Day

For this celebration, various classes were treated to readings of Ish and The Dot by Peter Reynolds. I love the way these stories encourage creativity and just trying without the worry. My students love them too.

Middle Grade Novel
Colby Sharp mentioned Fig Pudding several times, so it landed on my TBR pile. I should have known it would bring tears. Colby seems to gravitate to the books that pack a powerful emotional punch. Now I know about the "steaming bowl of sadness" and will never forget it.

Non-fiction (sort-of)
This is a slightly fictionalized account of a camping trip that Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir had together that inspired the president to protect wilderness in our country. The illustrations are wonderful and there is just enough "story" to keep this engaging rather than a listing of facts.

Modern Fable (or something difficult to categorize)
Six Men is a pretty powerful statement about how wars may begin. This is for an older crowd possibly upper elementary, middle school or even high school. It is a great way to open up discussion about how fear and greed may lead to violence.

For the Coming Week
I really don't have much of a plan for the coming week except for finishing Diverse Energies and re-reading A Ball for Daisy and Blizzard! for our Battle of the Books competition. Otherwise, I think my reading will be fairly random. Have a great week of reading!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Finally Friday!

I am happy to get to the end of this week and get a little more recovery time so I can be the best me possible next week. There were many great things going on at our school, but in the middle of it all I got my first cold of the school year. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty tough. Both included naps after school and early bedtimes with very little reading and no energy for the running I was scheduled to accomplish. 

Fortunately, the worst of the cold is past and the kiddos at school have provided me with tons of positive moments this week in spite of my icky cold. Today I met with 5th grade students that are jazzed about planning video announcements for next week. Co-workers shared lots of laughter throughout the week. And there are also just so many people that have been handing out hugs, smiles, positive comments and general warm fuzzies - both students, staff, and parents. We have an awesome school with some fabulous people. I really love my job!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.
Past Week:  
I only managed one middle grade novel this week, but it was excellent so it should be worth several. I finally got to read Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead. It has many things to wonder about throughout.
This book is a fantastic example of a journal for young writers. Bits of poetry, lists, sketches, all show thoughts of the writer.

A topic that seems to be coming up often recently is bullying. I found these first-hand accounts powerful. They are accompanied by excellent thought provoking discussion questions that would be perfect for classroom use.
I really enjoyed getting to hear the voices of these outstanding illustrators as they discussed their work. There were many fun tidbits.

I experienced a treat today. I got to meet Sarah A.K.A. @pageintraining at the CCBC in Madison. We spent time sharing thoughts about books, reading, and getting to know each other in person since we have only met before on Twitter and Skype. While there, we were able to preview many non-fiction titles and read a few picture books. 
J.R.R Tolkien is a very brief, but nice biography that would be a good purchase in light of the coming Hobbit movies.

Vote for Me! is a humorous look at what some candidates seem to do to get a vote. Several jokes that adults would get, but many children would miss without help from adults.
This was a cute little book that includes a bit about bullying. The monster loses the capital 'M' and becomes a simple Onster instead. This causes the other Monsters to ostracize the Onster. All is not lost though.

For the Coming Week:
I will continue to read The Bronze Bow for the Nerdbery Challenge and will hopefully read a few more Caldecotts. I also want to finish Real Revision. I got Fig Pudding from the public library and will give it a go too. Happy reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


See this post to find out more about THIRSTday. Thanks LibraryFanatic and David Etkin!

Fresh mint tea (from mint outside my house) and a great book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Days Back

So far, the week has been passing in a blur of activity. It is great to meet the new students and reconnect with past students. I also love being able to read aloud again! Here are some of the books we have shared this week.


I have also been able to book talk a storm with the upper grades which is always fun. I love to see those book-talked books fly off of the shelf.

Today second grade students also used ipads to photograph each other using browsing sticks, lining up to check out, and otherwise "catching" each other following proper library procedures. 

We are also gearing up for Dot Day and will be having some fun with that next week. I can't wait.

In the midst of classes though, technology has sometimes been dicey. This is the complication of leaving technology alone for the summer. Somehow things unplug themselves and when they are turned on again, things that were perfectly functioning in the spring have somehow become my nemesis. The strangest glitches turn up and troubleshooting has been the name of the game for me. I am sure that within a week or so we will get it all sorted out and be back to normal. Fortunately teachers are a flexible bunch. We'd go crazy otherwise. We bend with the wind so we don't break. I plan on bending and swaying throughout this week.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.

The Past Week
Caldecotts: I have finally gotten back to reading the Caldecotts. I had taken a break for awhile. Of the five, I enjoyed Nothing at All and In the Forest the most. They were both imaginative and very playful.

Newberry: The only one I got to was The Island of the Blue Dolphins, but I loved it once again. Survival stories are so intriguing. They make me wonder how I would do in such a situation. 

Non-fiction: I enjoyed both of the children's non-fiction books, but did wonder how they would go over with my students if they were reading them on their own. I think both work with adult support, but the book about Islam was a bit dry sometimes. The book about the artist was such different art than most of my students are used to and the text is choppy. 

My favorite non-fiction was Michele Norris' memoir The Grace of Silence. She does a wonderful job of pealing back the layers of her family history. She provided much to think about. This would be an excellent pick for an adult book group because there is so much to discuss and ponder about race.

Picture books: My absolute favorite picture book this week was Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. Olivia just cannot fathom why all of the other girls want to be exactly the same and be princesses. Olivia tries to express her individuality. There are some hilarious lines in this book and I was forced to laugh big old belly laughs. Olivia won my heart with this one.

Fables: For the Common Core, we will be teaching fables at the fourth grade level and I have been asked to look for more materials. I found a great one this week. Beverley Naidoo believes that Aesop may have been a slave from Africa so these fables are set there. The introduction is well worth reading. I enjoyed the African setting and the use of some unique vocabulary (always explained at the end of each fable). These are not Disney stories with perfectly happy endings every time. Beware if reading to the very young. Know your audience or there may be tears. Some will love it, but the more tenderhearted may be bothered by the deadly consequences in some of the fables.

YA: I finished Hattie Big Sky and loved it! Review here. Kirby Larson picked me up and dropped me right back in time. I am SO glad that Mr. Schu and Colby Sharp picked it for their August book club. I can't wait for the Sept. 5th Twitter discussion.

Altogether it was a busy reading week and I am so happy that I was able to participate in #bookaday and #summerthrowdown this year. I was able to read more books this summer than I ever have before. 

The Coming Week
I'll be starting The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. This is another Newberry re-read for me. I will try to finish Show Me a Story and Diverse Energies. I am also planning to read Liar and Spy. That may be all I get to with school starting. In fact, I am not sure I will even get through those, but I will give it a shot. Happy reading!