Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: Bird

Title: Bird
Author: Crystal Chan
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Availability: January 28, 2014
Review Copy: Edelweiss Digital ARC

Summary: Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut. "Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away."

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family's past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit--a duppy--into their home. Grandpa hasn't spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence. Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe--just maybe--the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past. -- Cover image and summary via IndieBound

Review: Bird punched me in the gut on the very first page. Within the first few pages the reader sees a bit of the pain that Jewel's family is struggling through. As the story continues, it becomes evident that the family may be struggling, but it seems they are losing the battle. Jewel meets a mysterious boy though and she starts changing. It's hard to tell whether the change is a good thing. Crystal Chan manages to keep the reader wondering about a lot of things. Is Jewel changing for the better or the worse? Is the boy a duppy or just what he claims? What keeps Grandpa silent? All of this wondering kept me reading at a fast clip.

Much of the book takes place outside. Jewel and her family have a garden, but she is also out climbing trees, walking in the rain, climbing and examining rocks and spending time at a cliff. Another character loves space, so there is also a healthy dose of star gazing. Jewel's home is an uncomfortable place to be so it made sense that she would be away from it as much as possible.

The book slowed down a bit in the middle, but what kept me interested was the conflict and relationship between Jewel and her grandfather who was withdrawn and silent. Jewel's grandfather seemed more than just detached. He even seemed a bit hostile. I wanted to puzzle that out and I had hope for some change. In addition to the family issues, Jewel and her new friend both seem to be dealing with how they fit in with their families, but also in the wider community. Jewel's father is Jamaican and her mother is Mexican which is pretty unusual in small town Iowa. Race isn't the central issue of the book, but does come up and I am glad to find a middle grade book happening in the mid-west with such a situation. There are young people here in the mid-west that need to see that they are not alone as a mixed-race child.

There is just enough mystery to keep the reader off-balance and interested in the solution and the relationships are what won me over. The word duppies might have been a factor too. I love learning fun new words. This would be a nice addition to an elementary library.


Interview/Discussion with Caroline Rose Starr

Read part of the book here (I don't know how many pages are available) 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature

The bloggers at Jump Into a Book and Pragmatic Mom came up with the idea to celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day. It sounded like a fantastic idea to me. Celebrating books and diversity at the same time is a definite winner.

If you are wondering why we need such a day or diverse literature, I wrote a post about that over on Rich in Color that addresses that question.

Here are some of my favorite multicultural children's lit titles.

I have connected with these books, cried, laughed, thought, and even dreamed. These are stories that matter. They help me see the strength and diversity in our world and share it with my students. If you are interested in seeing this list with more information about each title along with reviews, please visit my Multicultural Children's Book Day shelf on Goodreads. 
--Cover images were from Goodreads

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week

I had a bit of time at the library today so I read a bunch of picture books and a few nonfiction too. I got to remember how much I love Owl Moon for both its words and pictures. I then experienced Golem for the first time. Those two definitely deserved their shiny Caldecott stickers. I noticed that Golem was very Frankenstein"ish." It was a great story along with the fantastic illustrations.

I really enjoyed my lengthier books this week also. I will put up a review of Bird very soon. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong brought me lots of smiles and the Warrior Heir sucked me in. I didn't get a picture of it up there, but I also finished Stuck in Neutral today. Phew. That one is tough. There was a lot to think about.

The Coming Week
I am listening to The Lord of Opium and am on the final disk. I am also listening to The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I plan to start Open Mic next and I have a professional book I am reading called Privilege, Power and Difference. Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day so I am also going to read a few multicultural books for that.

What will you be reading this week?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

EdCamp Madison

I got to meet Makulu at EdCampMadWI and read some of his journal yesterday. He is traveling with Tim Nielsen @teach1tech right now and is part of a learning project from South Africa similar to what people have done with Flat Stanley. We might even get a visit at our school before Makulu moves on to another state.

If you weren't able to make it to EdCamp Madison, here is a tagboard of the tweets. Also, the schedule has live links to pages of notes that were taken in sessions. I appreciate that because I wasn't able to go to all of the sessions that I was interested in, but at least I can see some of the ideas and resources that were discussed.

My first session was on Gamefication. This was not on how to use video games in the classroom like some people might assume, but rather on how to use a game type model for motivation in the classroom. For example, Michael Matera (@mrmatera) the presenter, has a courtly type of situation set up in his class with guilds and the students are vying for control of the kingdom. I felt that it was much like the Oregon Trail simulation type of learning activity that I participated in when I was in 8th grade where we were in wagon train teams and each day there were learning activities in a game type situation. I still remember that because it involved a bit of drama and was not simply listening to a lecture or reading a textbook to learn the history.

My second session was Race Equity in Education. There aren't notes for that one, but it was a good time to hear what is going on in this area in other districts. We are at varying stages of awareness and change.

The next session I attended was one on Makerspaces. Karie Huttner led the session. Her website is www.icreateilearn.weebly.com We got some information on 3D printing at the elementary level in addition to coding and many more ideas for what students can do in Maker Spaces. This is one more encouragement for me to get going with that.

My final session was on Diversity in Literature. I actually proposed that one and led it. I enjoyed having the time to talk with other librarians about the resources we have available. I did learn that one ought to set up the sharing document for notes ahead of time or have a participant do it. I didn't think about it and was trying to get it done while the session was happening so then I thought it was shared for editing, but nobody could contribute notes. I didn't realize that until after the session and just figured nobody was in the document. :(  I learned the hard way - but I bet I won't do that again.

There is another EdCamp scheduled in April that I would like to go to. It will be in Eau Claire so the drive will be a bit shorter. Yay! And even better - there is talk of having one in the Onalaska area. That would be really cool.
This was another great day of learning and I am so thankful to the organizers for making it all happen!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Celebrate this Week

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate life.

One: A girl who hasn't been much of a reader is starting to rip through books. She took When Life Gives You O.J. today. :)

Two: Our district equity team (that I belong to) put together a staff development activity devoted to learning about Culturally Responsive Practices. We had a keynote speaker and breakout sessions. My principal an EL teacher and myself lead a session together. I have a very difficult time speaking in front of adults so it was a challenge. It was a great day of sharing and learning. I think that we're on a positive path.

Three: I am getting to go to an EdCamp in Madison today and will also get to see my son. Yay!

Four: This week I got to share Deep in the Sahara, The Swirling Hijaab, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns with my primary students. We learned together about how people practice their faith.

Five: The 5th grade tech crew again wowed me with their excitement for creating video announcements.

Six: My daughter and I had a fantastic time working together on a huge Lego set (the Tower of Orthanc from The Lord of the Rings).

It was an excellent week and I am so glad this post encourages me to look back for the special moments.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review: Rose Under Fire

Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 360
Availability: On Shelves Now
Review Copy: CD set & Hard Cover from Library

Summary: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her?  -- Cover image and summary via IndieBound

Review: Rose Under Fire is a companion book to Code Name Verity which I loved so I went into this book with some expectations. If you haven't read Code Name Verity, I strongly recommend that you do that. It is not a pre-requisite for reading this book, but it's a good one and if you are going to read both, that one should be first. Rose Under Fire is well able to stand alone though.

Wein introduces readers to Rose, an innocent and fairly naive young woman who has stepped up to help in the war effort. Rose is a fantastic pilot with just enough skill and knowledge to land herself in a huge amount of trouble with the enemy. Getting to know Rose is a pleasure. She is a young girl with hopes and dreams and she has no idea how ugly life can be until she is surrounded by pain, hunger, and brutality. The friendships made in the midst of such horrifying circumstances are amazing to behold. Though this novel doesn't have nearly the mysterious twists and turns of Code Name Verity it does deliver another strong emotional impact. The bonds between the prisoners and the situations they dealt with tore at my heart especially knowing that Wein was not just making everything up and there were such atrocities that happened to real people. She explains some of that history in her afterward, but also provides links to more resources on her web site.

Throughout the novel, Rose is quoting and writing poetry. Poetry and writing is a significant part of Rose's character and added another layer to the book. It also created a strong connection with another young prisoner who then led her to more friendships. There were so many unique characters surrounding Rose pointing to the fact that those numbers of dead and imprisoned that we hear about from the holocaust lead back to distinct people - daughters, mothers, sons, and fathers.

I enjoyed the audio, but did want to note that one aspect of it did bother me. The reader read with animation and I appreciated that she read the different characters in a way that made it easy to distinguish them, but one of the characters was difficult to listen to. She read Róża lines with a high pitched Polish accent. It was annoying to me and perhaps it was meant to be. The text is not written with the accent though so I am not sure why that choice was made except that when the character is first introduced, the book says "Her heavily accented English was just like Felicyta's, though the voice was different--higher, soprano instead of alto. And younger." I still enjoyed the audio overall, but I started to dread Róża speaking and she is a fairly major character.

I would highly recommend Rose Under Fire to anyone with an interest in historical fiction or novels of friendship.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lego Sorting

The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday.

What do you do when you are avoiding what you should be doing? Do you read, watch tv, eat, talk on the phone, text? This week for me, I sorted a box filled with hundreds, perhaps thousands of Lego pieces. That's right. I sorted them into piles, tossed broken ones, pulled out toys that didn't belong. Were they mine? No. Does the owner care if they are sorted or not? No. But Friday night, I spent hours doing this rather mindless task and it was soothing. I also really loved the feeling of accomplishment when everything was sorted into containers and put back into the bin. Everything had a place. My other work was still there to do some other time, but the sorting was a kind of meditation. It was that same sort of rest for my mind that I have when I am running. It was just the thing for a bit of relaxing. I am such a librarian.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week:

My favorite young adult book this week was the audio of The 5th Wave. I noticed that in the audio, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between times when a character is actually speaking or is thinking. My favorite picture book was Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic. It has a wonderful sense of family and the excitement of getting together around food. One Came Home and Maximilian were both fun middle grade books too. The one that stopped me in my tracks was Kindred. It was amazing. I am up way too late so I will direct you to my goodreads for the rest of those reviews. :)

The Coming Week: 
I am listening to The Lord of Opium in the car and am reading an ARC of Bird from Edelweiss. I posted a trailer of that earlier this week. I just started The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver on audio also. That is the one on a Playaway so I listen to it when I am running. I will also be reading a few more ARCs this week. What will you be reading? Have a fabulous week!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate life.

One: I saw a post somewhere (and I don't even know where sadly) and the man explained how he had introduced computer programming with his primary grades using a paper grid on the floor. He had the students give him commands as he moved on the grid. Then he used activities on the Tynker site with them. I had already used Code.org with 3rd through 5th grade, but hadn't decided to go lower than that. His post inspired me to give it a whirl with 2nd grade and they loved it. They especially loved making me jump over the Pigeon and Elephant sitting on the grid. We had fun with the Tynker site too.

Two: This week was spirit week so I got to have fun wearing flannel and jeans one day, rainbow striped tights another day, sports gear, and school colors another day. The students have a blast with this and I have to say, I love the quirky clothing too.

Three: I work with excellent people who make me smile and that is a huge celebration every week.

Four: I finished the scarf that I started knitting back before winter break. It doesn't usually take me so long, but I kept putting it down & wouldn't get back to it. My dog attacked it once and I had to undo about half of it too, but it was finally wrapped around my friends neck to keep her warm.

Five: We have a winter wonderland outside. Much as I detest driving in the snow, it is still gorgeous.

What were your celebrations this week?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trailer Tuesday

I'm reading an ARC of Bird by Crystal Chan from Netgalley right now. The beginning of this middle grade novel has been amazing. I found this video and appreciated hearing from the author about how the book came to be written. It will be published on January 28th. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week:

My reading week was definitely varied this week. The Shadow Hero was available to me through Netgalley and I loved it. He's a superhero from the past and I will review this excellent graphic novel closer to the July release date. Inheritance was a great sequel to Adaptation. I was happy to spend more time with Reese, Amber, and David. More Than This was a challenging book with so many questions and not a lot of answers. I don't know that there is any possible way to talk about the book without spoiling things. I am pretty amazed by Patrick Ness. The Wig in the Window was a fun middle grade mystery. Nightjohn was a powerful look at slavery through a child's eyes. Bitter Melon was a coming of age novel involving a Chinese American girl who is trying to respect her mother's wishes while figuring out what she wants for her life. I enjoyed the fable The Flight of the Hummingbird. It is a great inspiration for making a difference in the world. The other book I read was Tender at the Bone. I like to read books about food and memoirs with food are the best. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. The last half was a little slow for me, but it was still a nice read.

The Coming Week:
I'm reading One Came Home, The Fifth Wave and Miles from Nowhere right now. I have Kindred on the shelf and will likely start that one next. It should be a great week. I hope yours is also.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I was out of town yesterday, so this weekend I'm posting on Sunday.

One: We are hosting a foreign exchange student again for the coming school year. This week the paperwork was finalized and we are allowed to communicate with the family. It was great to see a video that our teen filmed to introduce himself. We have also exchanged emails. We had a student a few years ago and I am happy that we are getting to have another experience with someone from the other side of the world.

Two: We went to our first Wisconsin Badger hockey game. It was a lot of fun to eat at a fantastic Korean restaurant with our son and share the exciting hockey game.

Three: I was happy that I found a helpful yoga routine for hamstrings. I have had difficulty with my running over the past year due to a hamstring issue. This week the yoga I was doing seemed to help a lot and I had less pain when I ran. Yay!

Four: Winter weather days! The extra days at home this week were helpful as I was able to clean up around the house and I spent some time buried in good books.

Five: I had a great time with my new tech crew at school. They plan, tape, and edit our video announcements that we post about once every six days. We had training and taped our first video with excellent results.

I hope your week was filled with celebrations.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Slice of Life: Just Dance!

The Slice of Life Challenge was created by the people over at the blog Two Writing Teachers. The challenge is to write about some part of your day and share it each Tuesday.

This is what -17 degrees with a windchill of -30ish looks like. Yeah, the sun is shining. It is a cruel trick. The day appears beautiful, but feels nightmarish. My son just retweeted someone's #wisconsinpickuplines, "I would go outside for you." With temps like this, a run was not in my plans, so I pulled out Just Dance! for our Wii. Since school was canceled, I remained in my flannel pajamas beyond the lunch hour. Must stay comfy.

My dog follows me around the house, so he hung out with me down in the living room as I danced my way through many fun songs. Then I chose Sway. Picture me in tennis shoes and slouchy flannel pajamas. Not quite the image of the lady on the screen in her fancy flapper dress. The irony was not lost on me, but it appears that my dog may have been amused. He stood and stared at me straight on while I danced through the "sultry" poses. When I finished he was still staring without a blink. Our animals certainly see us in all of our glory. He cracked me up. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week:

My favorite picture books were Little You, a beautiful board book, Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue, another gorgeous book, and surprisingly enough Dot. There have been other books about keeping a healthy balance around technology use, but I thought Dot. is done very well. The Black Rabbit was very cute and I liked What Does the Fox Say? way more than I wanted to. It's like one of those things that I don't want to admit that I enjoy. The illustrations were really cool.

Trail and America the Beautiful are both fabulous pop-up books that were donated to our library. Trail is actually a poem that is displayed in circles that the reader turns on each page. America the Beautiful showcases many landmarks from across our country. I know that the students will be excited to see these new additions to our collection. My students love to sit and read books from our "special collection" on days when they aren't checking out books. I keep books with movable parts on a shelf near our couch and chairs and they don't leave the library, but are available to read in the LMC.

I read several books of fables since our second grade has been studying fables and I just bought new books for the unit. The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World was hilarious. Mulla Nasruddin is a delightful character with wonderful tricks up his sleeve.

Africa is My Home was a fascinating read. I didn't know this bit of history and liked seeing it from a child's perspective. It would be nice paired with Never Forgotten.

I talked about Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia here, though I might still do a more detailed review sometime. I really enjoyed it. Golden Boy was also fantastic. The story was so compelling. 

Overall it was a good week of reading.

The Coming Week: 
Currently Reading
I am listening to The 5th Wave on CD and just switched to the second point of view. My daughter overheard part of it and said, "Is this a zombie book? It sounds like a zombie book." It really does seem like one though it is a spaceship and alien kind of book. I am reading Tender at the Bone because I really love books about food and this one was given to me. I am loving Inheritance. My next book is very likely More Than This. I just picked it up from the library on Saturday and can't wait to start. It's on my Must Read shelf. I had 110 books on that shelf at the beginning of the year and now the number is sitting at 103. We'll see what kind of dent I can make in it this week. :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: The Sittin' Up

Title: The Sittin' Up
Author: Sheila P. Moses
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 244
Availability: January 9, 2014
Review Copy: ARC from Publisher

Review: This title caught my attention - a middle grade book about children sitting with a dead body? I almost didn't believe it, but that's exactly what Sheila P. Moses wrote. In The Sittin' Up, Mr. Bro. Wiley, a revered man in the Low Meadow community, dies and the story is about what the community does to honor his life and death.

The main characters are two young friends, Bean and Pole. As you can see, though this book is about death, there are also reasons to smile. There are certainly many tears, but the story goes way beyond  the tears. Bean is sad about the death of a beloved man who had become his adopted grandfather, but he is also scared and excited about the prospect of sittin' up with Mr. Bro Wiley like the adults. This is the first time he is old enough to participate. There are also moments of hilarity as so many personalities get together in a highly emotional state.

The Sittin' Up also has rich language. When I was a child, I loved reading dialect aloud. It can help the reader feel that they have stepped into another time and place. This could be a bit of a problem for young readers though. Even Mr. Bro. Wiley's name was a little puzzling. I assumed that Bro. stands for Brother, but I could be wrong. His given name is Mr. George Lewis Wiley so it isn't an abbreviation for his name. I never saw an explanation in the ARC though. I wondered if children would make that connection.

What I loved about the book was seeing the community and how they interacted with each other. This is a group of people that knows each other thoroughly. They are a small community so they know the good the bad and the ugly and yet they help each other just the same. I also appreciated the history that is shown. Mr. Bro. Wiley is the last person in the Low Meadow that had been a slave. He had shared his experiences with Bean and Pole. He also shared his hopes for a time when things would be different - when black and white people would be able to get along.

As I read, I kept wondering which students would read this book on their own. This might be one that would be best as a class read-aloud due to the dialect and some of the context that might need to be provided. I appreciated that this book addressed slavery, but was also about a time and event that isn't often shared in children's literature. There would be plenty of opportunity for lively discussion.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. This first week of 2014 has been filled with family and fun.

One: I had a wonderful time with my mother-in-law who came to visit right after Christmas. One afternoon we took a beautiful walk by the frozen Mississippi and then drove to the top of the bluff to watch the sunset.

Two: My son was home from college and we got to have fun together with one of the games he got for Christmas and playing my grandma's favorite card game - Hand and Foot.

Three: I finished setting my goals for the year which included reading, professional, and health goals.

Four: My daughter, my mother-in-law and I, started off our New Year's Eve celebration at a Zumba class that ended with a chilled and wonderfully fizzy drink.

Five: I heard, "I love coming to the library!" multiple times from students after the winter break. They were happy to be back.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Book of the Year 2014

Sheila from Book Journey has created a meme that allows us to share what we will be reading first this year. I found out about it after finishing my first book of the year, but wanted to participate anyway. I am involved in two different reading challenges that involved reading diverse literature (books written by or about people of color) so I wanted to read one that had been reviewed by Jessica over on Rich in Color - Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez. It fits both challenges, Latin@s in Kid Lit and the 2014 Diversity on the Shelf Challenge.

Cover image via Goodreads
Summary from Goodreads: 
Frenchie Garcia can’t come to grips with the death of Andy Cooper. Her friends didn’t know she had a crush him. And they don’t know she was the last person with him before he committed suicide. But Frenchie’s biggest concern is how she blindly helped him die that night. Frenchie’s already insane obsession with death and Emily Dickinson won’t help her understand the role she played during Andy’s “one night of adventure.” But when she meets Colin, she may have found the perfect opportunity to recreate that night. While exploring the emotional depth of loss and transition to adulthood, Sanchez’s sharp humor and clever observations bring forth a richly developed voice.

My thoughts: I was inclined to enjoy this book because Emily Dickinson has been one of my favorite poets for as long as I can remember. Frenchie really clinched it though. I was drawn into her emotional struggles. She has a snappy humor, but she is stuck in a dark place that she is struggling to escape even as she wants to just give up the fight. In spite of the dark subject matter, Sanchez provides enough humor to keep the reader periodically smiling and laughing. There is a lot in this book that inspires deep thinking. It is one that I will be recommending and will likely re-read.

New Year - New Goals

My Reading Goals

I will be working to get more diverse reading into my hands this year. To that end, I will be participating in the Latin@s in Lit reading challenge for one. I will also be participating in the 2014 Diversity on the Shelf Challenge. I will be aiming to read at least 50 books by or about people of color.

My Little Pocketbooks

In addition, I would like to continue to work on finishing the Printz winners. I started reading them in 2013 and should be able to finish them this year. During January, I will continue to read through the books on Anderson's Mock Newbery list. I think I have 7 more left. Finally, I will continue to chip away at the Caldecotts as they come my way. I have been working on those since 2012, but that list is very long. I may finish the list this year and I may not, but I will try to read a few each month.

I went through my To Be Read list on Goodreads and prioritized about 100 of them for this year. Some will help with my reading challenges and some are just for fun.

I accomplished some of my reading goals this year:  finishing all of the Newbery awards, reading 523 books (though I had a goal of 800 initially), I read some of the Caldecotts (though didn't finish them), and I read all but 3 of the 2012 Nerdy Nominees (they aren't available in our area).

Professional Goals
I would like to start a club for computer coding. I introduced The Hour of Coding with my fourth and fifth grade students and now would like to provide a time at least once a week where students could be learning coding. I am not sure if that will be before school or after school, but would like to start soon.

After reading Donalyn Miller's book Reading in the Wild, I want to help my students become more independent in choosing reading materials. I will introduce some of the resources available and I hope to help foster a reading community that will support that.

I will start planning for WRAD. I have really enjoyed connecting with classes around the country for WRAD in the past.

I am also entertaining the idea for having a summer checkout. I am considering allowing students to take home books over summer break, but would also like to enlist volunteers to help with a few hours of checkout at least once a week over the break too.

Exercise Goals
I am aiming for 5-6 days a week of exercise whether it be yoga, zumba, running, or some activity I have yet to discover.

We'll see how much of this gets done, but it is fun to make plans.