Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
I really enjoyed this book. It is a suspenseful novel about a girl who has the ability to fly. Piper McCloud's family strongly discourages her from flying, so she does it alone where no one can see her. But when her ability to fly becomes known in her community, she is sent away to I.N.S.A.N.E.(the Institute of Normalcy, Stability, and NonExceptionality). When she first arrives, she believes this is a school to help her learn how to use her power for good. But as time goes on, she comes to realize that the nature of this institution is something altogether different.

The book has a good message about the nature of talent and extraordinary ability. Once Piper realizes she has the ability to fly by jumping off the roof, she has to practice and suffer many bumps and bruises in order to become good at it. "Raw talent only gets you so far in this old world and the rest is a whole lot of practice, persistence, and perspiration. She got lucky on her first jump. Beginner's luck. But from there on out, Piper fought tooth and nail to get herself back up into the sky and to be a real, honest-to-goodness flyer."

I also liked that one of the lessons she learns as she is practicing is the power of focus and a goal. She discovers that she should never even think about the ground. "The second she even considered the possibility that she might fall, she fell and some part of her body was hitting the earth. The sky was her goal, and she trained her mind to think of nothing else."

This book also does an awesome job of portraying a strong, courageous and inspirational female protagonist. Piper seems to have a way of warming the hearts of the other students in the institution, several of whom are very difficult to befriend. Piper always sees the best in people and seems to accept the imperfections and mistakes that people make as just a natural part of living in the world.

As all of the characters in this novel come together and work toward a common goal, the suspense builds. I got to bed very late a few nights this week, because I really wanted to see what was going to happen and how it was all going to turn out! I can see why this book has been a popular one in my fifth grade classroom!

Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way (Encyclopedia Brown #9) by Donald J. Sobol
I used to LOVE the Encyclopedia Brown series when I was a kid. I saved my allowance and bought each of the books whenever I had the chance. I would always feel very smart each time I was able to figure out the mystery and inspired to read more and learn more whenever I had to peek at the answers. I've been reading Two Minute Mysteries by the same author to my fifth grade students and they've been enjoying those. So there has been a renewed interest in Encyclopedia Brown in my class. I found this aging paperback copy at a library book sale. I had fun rereading these little mysteries that I enjoyed so many years ago when I was in fourth and fifth grade. A few of the cultural references seem a bit dated for today's kids, but I'm going to put it in my library and see if they like it.
Lost and Found by Andrew Clements, Mark Elliott (Illustrator)
I really enjoyed reading this book. When I was younger, I was always fascinated by twins, especially identical twins. This middle grade novel taps into that fascination by exploring what might happen if you had twins sharing an identity at school. I always wished there was a way that I could have a twin that could go to school for me half the time and take on half the work load. That's what the twins, Jay and Ray, do in this story. Through a clerical mistake, the school believes there is only one new student: Jay Grayson. Ray Grayson's file has gotten mixed up in Jay's. And it works well, at first. And then it gets complicated and sticky. There's a good deal of suspense in this book. I was constantly feeling tense, wondering if these two were going to get away with this and what would happen if they were caught. I think this book will be a good addition to my classroom library.


  1. I would love to get to The Girl Who Could Fly. I've heard great things about it.
    I enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown as a child too :)

  2. The Girl Who Could Fly is a fabulous read! I want to get hold of the sequel, but right now it is only available in hard cover. I've put it on hold at the public library, to see if it is worth it.

  3. My children loved Encyclopedia Brown & I wonder how they will be taken today. They are well done. Thanks for the review of The Girl Who Could Fly. The book sounds good, will keep it in mind. Thanks, Jana.

  4. Sobol still does okay; you just have to sell it as historical fiction. And die a little inside! There are a lot of books like that-- Ellen Conford, even John Bellairs to a certain extent.

  5. I remembered loving Charlie Brown Encyclopedia as a kid - it doesn't look anything like the one you have here though. The Girl Who Could Fly sounds lovely indeed.