Monday, March 20, 2017

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.
 
 
 

 


 
 
 
Today is the first day of spring, even if it doesn't exactly look or feel like it. It's just good to know it. Between getting ready for state testing and the end of the third grading period, I haven't had as much time to read as I normally do. But I've read a few good books. Here's what I've been reading:
 
 
 
Middle Grade Fiction
 
 
 
 


 
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord  
 
 
I found a copy of this middle grade realistic fiction novel in my classroom library, and remembering how much I enjoyed Cynthia Lord's Newbery Honor Book Rules, picked it up and brought it home to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will definitely be book-talking it at school.

Middle grade students will be able to relate to the characters. Lucy, whose family moves around frequently, is once again the new kid. Her family has just moved into a lake home in New Hampshire. She makes friends with the kids in the house next door, who are spending the summer on the lake. Her father is a famous photographer who spends a lot of time traveling for his job. Lucy experiences so many of the same situations that most kids know so well: the stress of making new friends in groups that are already established, the loneliness of having a parent who spends so much time away from home, and trying to make your parents proud of you.

The story has several things occurring at once, which is also typical of an adolescent's life. Lucy wants to show her father what a good photographer she is by secretly entering a contest he's judging. As her friendship with Nate and Emily develops, she encounters some passive aggressive hostility from Megan, their friend that also spends summertime on the lake. There is also a heartbreaking decline in the health of Nate and Emily's grandmother, that adds new urgency to Lucy's desire to win the cash prize from the photography contest.

This book has so many great messages for kids to take away. Lucy has such a big heart for animals, and she is always looking for opportunities to help creatures that need it. A little brown moth that she finds stuck on some pollen while walking her dog near the lake is a good example: "The moth might already be too wet, too exhausted to live. But I found a leaf to scoop him out of the water and placed him gently on a rock so he could dry his wings. Even half a chance beats none."
 
 
 
Picture Books
 
 
 
 
 


 
Bunny's Book Club by Annie Silvestro, Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Illustrator)  
 
 
This adorable picture book celebrates the joy of spending time reading books with friends and going to the library. Bunny loves to hang around the library listening to stories with other children. But when summer ends and the librarian goes back indoors to read books aloud, Bunny figures out how to sneak inside and get all the books he wants to read and share with friends. The illustrations are so sweet, I want to join the Bunny Book Club myself!
 
 
 
 


 
Martin's Dream Day by Kitty Kelley  
 
 
This nonfiction picture book gives a fascinating account of not only Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, but King's efforts to persuade leaders in Washington to pass civil rights legislation. Kitty Kelley used great, true-to-life photographs taken by Stanley Tretick to tell this story. These photos really pull readers into the momentous day. This would be an awesome resource to have in any classroom library.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

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.



Did you remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour! For some reason, I can never remember how to change the clock in my car. I have had the same car for three years and still need to get out the manual to figure out how to turn the clock ahead. Even though we lost an hour of reading, it's awesome that spring is just around the corner. Longer days spent reading!
Here's what I've been reading this week:
Picture Books




This wordless picture book tells a wonderful story of friendship and giving with a beautiful, magical world as the setting. A little girl and her friend follow a fox into the woods after the fox takes off with her treasured stuffed animal, which happens to be a fox. They catch up with the fox in a deep woods wonderland. The story is presented with awesome illustrations, which were rendered in pencil, watercolor, and ink and then assembled and colored digitally. The artist used a limited palette of various shades of blue and gray, until the children reach the magical place in the woods. The illustrations are in full color while the characters are in this world, which is a great contrast from the everyday world. The scenes of love and generosity will take a hold of readers' hearts, which is desperately needed these days when kindness can be tough to find.







This is a sweet follow-up to the earlier picture book, Gaston. Antoinette is growing up in a family of bulldogs. Each one is special and unique, but Antoinette is having a hard time figuring out what makes her special. When on of Gaston's sisters goes missing, Antoinette steps up and proves herself to be very grave and resourceful. I love the acrylic painted illustrations, from the award winning illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street!  







This is such a fun picture book, and would be so much fun to read aloud. It would definitely be appreciated by anyone with a horrible, snotty cold! Poor Little Louie comes down with a terrible cold. All he wants is for his mom to take care of him. But every time he calls for her with his stuffy nose, Bob (the family dog) comes running. This book is one that all readers will be able to recognize themselves in, as we can all relate to those nasty colds that turn one into a mouth-breather and make it impossible to enunciate certain words. The illustrations are great, too! 







This hilarious picture book has plenty of reasons to deter folks from wanting a unicorn as a pet. They're messy, destructive, and overly social. And you definitely don't want to eat the cupcakes they leave behind! Kids will have so much fun reading this. The illustrations were created by an artist from The Simpsons, and so they have that same humorous quality to them.  







This sweet picture book tells the story of young helpers with good intentions run amok. Tic and Tac are bored and nothing their mother suggests sounds interesting. When she suggests they help hang the wet laundry, they discover that they're pretty good at this job. When she leaves them at it while she goes to the market, they get carried away. Young readers will have fun relating to these two fun-loving characters who learn that you can have too much of a good thing. The pen and watercolor illustrations are warm and whimsical and will make this a great book to have in a primary library. 






I know - the title and subject matter of this rhyming picture book is kind of gross; but, it's still funny. Mom leaves strict instructions when she leaves, no picking and no playing ball in the house. Once she's gone, the fingers go into the noses and before you know it, there's a gigantic booger that gets out of hand. The colorful illustrations are just as silly, and I'm sure this would get tons of giggles as a read aloud to kids. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know some older elementary kids that would laugh at it, too. This would be a fun one to have on the bookshelf! 



Young Adult Fiction







I just finished reading this beautifully written novel, which was published over ten years ago. My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner. The story is set in Germany during World War II and follows a young girl who has been brought to live with a foster family in Molching. Her younger brother died on the train, and so she is all alone. As she faces challenges to fit into her new household and neighborhood, she becomes especially close to her foster father, Hans Hubermann. He is kind and gentle as he teaches her to read. As she grows to love reading, she starts stealing books to feed her hunger for words and stories.

This family struggles to make ends meet, especially as the times become more difficult with the escalation of war. But even as they face these challenging times, the family takes in a Jewish man and lets him hide in their basement, which is very dangerous for them. There is also the constant threat of air raids, which forces them to huddle together in a neighborhood shelter.

I love how the book shows us the World War II, Nazi Germany story from the point of view of a German family. In the midst of the hateful propaganda and suspicions of the Nazis, we have the story of people that are bravely capable of extraordinary kindness and selflessness. There are so many awesome characters with compelling circumstances. As you go deeper into the book, the characters grab a hold of you and it's very difficult to put them aside.