Wednesday, February 27, 2013

World Read Aloud Blogging Challenge #3

This is the third week of the World Read Aloud Blogging Challenge and our job this week is to provide a view into our reading life. 

Reading is an integral part of my life and I do not end a single day without having read something. Reading informs me, stretches me, comforts me, and entertains me. I am thankful that authors continue to share their gifts with all of us. I am taking a page from Katherine Sokolowski's blog and have created a video to show the snapshot of my reading life. Enjoy!

A Snapshot of My Reading Life

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trailer Tuesday

So happy to find this fun trailer that shows how the illustrations were made in the book If You Hold a Seed. Thanks @Debrarosenquist and @literacydocent for mentioning the book on Twitter!

Monday, February 25, 2013

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.

You may find more complete information about what I am reading at Goodreads or by clicking on the Goodreads widget along the side of my blog.

The Previous Week:

Mark of Athena and The Diviners were on the 2012 Nerdy Shortlist so now I only have 17 more to go to finish off that little challenge. Diviners was by far my favorite book of the week and it took the most time. I am hoping I escape without nightmares. Seriously creepy book. The Passover Lamb was my favorite picture book. Sweet.

I have a "to do" list a mile long, so I am keeping the post short today.

The Coming Week:
I am listening to Terry Pratchett's Nation on CD and will continue but may not finish up this week. I am also reading Mitali Perkins' Bamboo People. I have Pipestone: My Life in an Indian Boarding School and Joan Bauer's Almost Home on deck so I will probably start one of those too. What are you reading?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

#NF10for10 Part Two

Okay, here was my dilemma. As I gathered titles for the Non-fiction Picture Book #10for10, I passed by sooooo many excellent non-fiction books that were too long to go in the collection. But it was almost painful to leave them out of my list. Therefore, I am going to give them a little shout out too.

Here are some of the middle-grade and YA non-fiction picture books that I am happy to have found. Also, I couldn't keep myself to just 10. No self-control today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge #2

Last week I started the World Read Aloud Blogging Challenge. I didn't quite know what we were going to do, but now I have some pretty cool plans put together. We are going to celebrate on March 1st and March 6th-8th to spread out the fun. We have conferences on the 4th and 5th or we might have celebrated then too. On the 1st, we have 7 Skype visits scheduled with classrooms all around the country. On the 6th we have Skype visits scheduled with Erica Perl, Sarah Albee and Mina Javaherbin. On Friday another class will also get to visit with the author Abby Klein and maybe a few more classes. In addition staff and students will take the chance to read aloud to each other. It should be so much fun. I can't wait.

For this week's post, I need to finish five statements as I would have when I was ten and then again as I would answer it now. Here goes...

At ten: I think everyone in the world should read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Snowy Day.

Now: I think everyone in the world should read A Monster Calls and I Want My Hat Back.

At ten: If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be my mom.

Now: If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be Nick Podehl or Jim Dale, but mom would be cool too.

At ten: When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is Dickon in The Secret Garden.

Now: When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is Hagrid from the Harry Potter series.

At ten: The genre that takes up the most room on my bookshelf is realistic/historical fiction.

Now: The genre that takes up the most room on my bookshelf is realistic fiction.

At ten: The last book I wish I’d written or inspired me to write my own story is Little Women.

Now: The last book I wish I’d written or inspired me to write my own story is A Monster Calls.

These were actually difficult to answer and I think they would be different on any given day, but it was fun.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Non-fiction #10for10

Cathy and Mandy are hosting a Non-fiction version of their 10 for 10 project. I just found out about it 10 minutes ago and there aren't many hours left of today, so I won't be writing reviews, but will at least post the covers of some of my favorite non-fiction picture books.

Trailer Tuesday!

Sometimes I share book trailers, but  having a special day for them seems like a good way to make sure I am on the lookout for excellent trailers every week. In honor of the March 1st release of The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen, here is the trailer for the first book in the series - The False Prince. LOVED this book and its sequel.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

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.

You may find more complete information about what I am reading at Goodreads or by clicking on the Goodreads widget along the side of my blog.

Printz Challenge - This year I am planning on trying to finish up all of the Printz winners and honor books that I have never read. The Printz awards go to books that exemplify excellence in young adult literature. There are fewer than 70 books since it is a relatively new award. I had already read 28 of them and this week I finished two more. :)

Both of these were powerful. Strangely enough, both were set up to flip from the past to the future with different characters. Jellicoe Road (Winner 2009) was extremely difficult to understand at first because I was listening to it. Once I had a hard copy and could flip back to other passages, everything was easier. The storyline is quite complex, but after about 120 pages, things start to pull together. I loved the strong friendships in this story. In Darkness (Winner 2013) was almost painful to read. The extreme poverty and violence present were shocking and heartbreaking. I had heard of the slave revolt in Haiti, but I realized I knew little about the country's history. I fully understand why both of these books won awards. The writing in both drew me in and made me care about the characters and their lives.

Picture Books

So now I know what F&Gs (folded and gathered) are like. It is kind of cool to look at an unbound picture book. I will have to show my students. The storyline on Who Needs Love was disjointed to me, but I appreciated the message of love. I enjoyed revisiting the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since we have a shrine to her in our area, it would be great to have a copy of this book in our library. I don't think I have ever read a book by Pat Mora that I didn't like and The Beautiful Lady was certainly a winner. It was fun to visit Pat Mora's website to see the images of the lady that may be found in and around Mora's home.

For my second grade team who needed to compare two folktales, I tracked down Petite Rouge. I am so glad that someone mentioned this title. It is a hilarious take on Little Red Riding Hood with Cajun dialect. I laughed my way through as my teen daughter and I took turns reading. So if you need to compare and contrast folktale versions for Common Core, I would recommend this one.

I was excited to see Hide and Seek on Netgalley. I liked this mystery even more that Kate's first one. The mystery was fast paced and action packed, but what really got me was the setting. It takes place in the rain forest and we get to meet critters such as snot frogs, bullet ants, and three step snakes along with watching characters attempt to cross the swinging bridge of death. Too fun. I will write a more in-depth review later, but just know, this is one mystery series that keeps my attention.

By the way, the e-book format is growing on me, but I have to say, I still prefer paper copies. If it wasn't for Netgalley, I don't know how often I would read books on a device. With time, I may be completely won over, but I don't see that happening any time soon. Still get frustrated when page turning freezes up & I am stalled out.

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer is a peek into the family life of a young girl named June. When the story begins we learn quickly that her Mom is in a serious relationship with another woman and is even talking marriage. June is really not sure what to think about this since not everyone in the community is receptive to such relationships. In fact, some of the people that June trusted react negatively and she hears hateful things said about her mother. The ending resolved a little too easily, but the book handles a sensitive topic well for this age level.

One more realistic fiction book was Postcards from Pismo. I am reading all of Michael Scotto's books in preparation for his visit next week. Students have enjoyed the trailer for this book and we have had some good discussion about families serving in the military. We have a few students with siblings and/or parents in the military and they have had a chance to share some of their experiences as a result of talking about this book.


I enjoyed reading about the lives of some of my favorite Native American authors in Native Writers - or Indian authors. In the first section about Sherman Alexie, he is quoted as saying "Indians call each other Indians. Native American is a guilty white liberal thing." So, I guess I will go with Indian for now. I had been familiar with Alexie, Bruchac, Erdrich, Nicola Campbell and Tim Tingle, but was happy to learn about several more authors. This added a few books to my TBR pile.

The Coming Week:
I am currently reading all of these. Yikes. So hopefully I finish one or two. Happy reading!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books hosted by WEMTA (Wisconsin Education Media & Technology Association) is winding down. We have just one week left. There were many teams, but we finally narrowed it down to just three top teams earlier this week. They will be competing with a nearby school via Skype for fun soon. The top team is also preparing for the final state battle.

I always enjoy interacting with the students around the battle books. This year we had some amazing books on the list: I Want My Hat Back, Wonderstruck, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Blizzard!, Ella Enchanted and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe among others.

During battle practice, we used questions about the books. Sometimes we used the iPads as mini whiteboards to answer. We also used Socrative a few times.

With Socrative, the iPads became a student response system. I could see the answers from each team as they worked in various locations around the LMC.  All spread out, they could talk to teammates without worry of being overheard. Since it was new to the students, they found it pretty exciting. The program also emails the results after the quiz ends. Too cool.

I enjoy Battle of the Books, but I am also looking forward to the book club that will begin as soon as we finish up our final battles. We will get to read during lunch time. I can't wait. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

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.

You may find more complete information about what I am reading at Goodreads or by clicking on the Goodreads widget along the side of my blog.

It seems so weird that I won't have a Newbery Challenge section now. Hmph. But, that frees up time for other reading and no I am not going to start in on all of the Newbery honor books. If I did do such a crazy thing, I would start now and work my way back and that is a fact.

Picture Books

I have been on the lookout for picture books that show the experiences of indigenous peoples of our continent and When I was Eight fits the bill. This is a first-hand account of an Inuit girl who went to a residential school. While there, attempts were made to strip her culture from her. Young readers will see the many injustices, but also see the resilience of Olemaun, or Margaret as she is renamed. This is a picture book version of a portion of the previously published book Fatty Legs. I was able to read it through NetGalley and it is set to be published later this month.

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey was okay, but I just didn't find the storyline terribly interesting and what is up with the offering of cocktails? Also, the female dolls were more than slightly annoying with their stereotypical behavior. Traction Man was fabulous in the first book, but this one isn't nearly as well done.

Library Lily was a cute book about the love of reading. I could totally relate to Lily's constant need to read. What Does Peace Feel Like? seems to be the perfect book to generate discussion about peace. I think I will use it with some of my younger classes.

Shane Evans wowed me again with We March. It is amazing that he can tell so much about the March on Washington with pictures and just a few words. He brings history alive for even very young readers.

As I think back on Stick Man's Very Bad Day I do NOT know what to say. I showed some of the illustrations to many different people and I laughed so very hard as I read it several times. It is bizarre and rather pointless, but it struck my funnybone. Steve Mockus has used pictures of actual signs from around the world to create a storyline of calamitous events for this stick man. Too funny if you are in just the right mood. Possibly irritating otherwise.


My goodreads review has some quotes and information about this thought-provoking book about culturally responsive teaching. Over and over again, I read that we need to get to know our students and their families and that the families are resources for us that we could utilize. There was so much more here that I will likely have to re-read at a later date.

Middle Grade
In preparation for our author visit with Michael Scotto, I read Latasha and the Kidd on Keys. I appreciate this sequel to Latasha and the Little Red Tornado

Both books are realistic fiction that shows us a family with warts and all. There are happy times, frustrating times and heart crushing times. Scotto doesn't provide a fairy tale ending, but one that is realistic and believable and hopeful. I look forward to seeing him at our school in a few weeks to share his books and about his writing.

The Coming Week
I am in the midst of two different audio books. One is a playaway so I am listening to Jellicoe Road while exercising. This is difficult since it is a rather confusing book, but I will stick with it. The other is Mark of Athena. I am listening to this while driving for the most part. I just started reading Kate Messner's new mystery Hide and Seek that I got on NetGalley. So yeah, I am "reading" three different books in three different formats. :)

I am also about to jump into some F&Gs which stands for "folded and gathered." This was new vocabulary for me. Anyway, they are pre-pub picture books and I get to read them. I am kind of holding them as treats and haven't started them yet. I just like knowing that they are sitting there waiting for me.

Have a great week of reading!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

World Read Aloud Day "Read It Forward" Blog Challenge #1

I am participating in the "Read it Forward" Blog Challenge sponsored by LitWorld. This week's prompt is What do you think is special about reading aloud?

The best thing about reading aloud is that it is almost always a shared reading experience. Typically someone is reading aloud to or with at least one other person. Sharing a book with someone else brings people together.

Since I am a teacher librarian, I am often the person reading aloud. I love having the chance to bring a book to life for others and see their faces light up. Sometimes I do the funny voices or add sound effects, but even a straight unadorned reading can touch hearts.

If you haven't read with anyone lately, make time for a reading date with someone. It's definitely a win-win.

This year for World Read Aloud Day, we will be reading aloud at school and I plan to have some classes Skyping with authors and/or other classes around the country. We had a great time last year for WRAD and hope to follow it up with a wonderful time this year too.

To see what we did last year, click here and here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

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.

You may find more complete information about what I am reading at Goodreads or by clicking on the Goodreads widget along the side of my blog.

Newbery Challenge

And so I come to the end of the challenge with a fabulous book. Gorillas are apparently short on words. Ivan says, "Humans speak too much. They chatter like chimps, crowding the world with their noise even when they have nothing to say." Ivan keeps his speech brief, but with beauty. Katherine Applegate used few words, but they were well chosen and powerful. I look forward to putting this book into many hands over the years.

Nerdies Shortlist Books

I am in awe of this gorgeous book of poetry. National Geographic photos of animals from around the world accompany this collection. The poems are a mix of serious and funny and many are favorites. I will be using this one often in the future and have already shown it to many staff members.

Grave Mercy was quite the unique fantasy. A handmaiden of death is the main character in this fantasy/coming of age novel. It is a hefty doorstop type of book, but I fairly flew through it. There is quite a bit of action and intrigue. I will be happy to get the next installment.

Bonobos were the star in Endangered. I appreciated seeing this picture of The Congo and learning a bit about those sweet Bonobos. This was quite the survival story. I won't forget it soon.

Sleep Like a Tiger has beautiful peaceful illustrations. I totally understand why they gave it a Caldecott Honor. The illustrations are whimsical like the bumblebees fluttering around underwater with the whales. They puzzle me, but in a good way.

My favorite award book this week, aside from Ivan, was definitely Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I fell in love with the characters and basically drowned in the story. I read it straight through and finished around 2:30 in the morning. Fortunately it was a Friday night. There is an excellent interview with the author here

Christopher Myers seemed to be having a lot of fun in H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination. The two characters keep one-upping each other in their efforts to be seen as the most awesome H.O.R.S.E. player. Funny and I think students can easily relate to such an exchange.

Back to Front and Upside Down! helps people to see and maybe understand what it would be like to have dyslexia. I appreciate the book because I think it helps to build empathy and I like having more books that show diverse experiences, but the story was not terribly compelling.

I also shared Green, Each Kindness, and This is Not My Hat with classes this week, but they were re-reads for me. Love these.

Random Picture Books

It's fun to think of waking dragons up and getting them out of their jammies and help them brush teeth. It's also fun to think of polar bears frolicking around in the morning. So they were fun, but not out of this world.

Professional Reading

I have been hearing about this book since December when several Nerdybookclub members started tweeting about it. There is a Facebook group and they have had at least on Twitter chat. This convinced me I should make the purchase and I am glad I did. Penny Kittle (@pennykittle) outlines specific ways to help lead students to a love of reading which in turn leads to development of the skills they will need for college and throughout life. She shares examples from her own teaching. I appreciated that she shared successes, but also shared some of the rough spots in her teaching too. I will be happy to pass this one on to colleagues.

The Coming Week
While I work on a crocheting project, I am listening to The Mark of Athena and I am enjoying it so far. I will likely finish it next week. I also just started Libba Bray's The Diviners as part of my effort to finish all of the books on the Nerdy Awards shortlist. I have 640 books on my TBR shelf on Goodreads, so if I finish those two, I have plenty more to read. Have a great week of reading.