Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nonfiction Wednesday

  Join Alyson and others at Kid Lit Frenzy for a nonfiction picture book bonanza each week!
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
The Case for Loving by Selina Alko, illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
I didn't realize before I read this book that the title is a play on words. Before 1967 interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia and sixteen other states, so when Richard(white)and Mildred Loving (African American and Cherokee) returned to their home state of Virginia after marrying in Washington, D.C., they were dramatically arrested in the middle of the night and locked up in jail. They were told they must return to Washington, D.C. if they wanted to remain married, so they did and had three children there. However, they missed home and family, so they decided to fight the law. They won! Interesting Author's Note: a husband and wife team, also an interracial couple, wrote and illustrated the book together. I loved the art - paint and collage. Selina Alko says, when explaining their different styles, "Just like a marriage is the joining of two people, the illustrations for this book could not be achieved individually, but only by Sean and me working together."
Bigfoot is Missing!
I wish I had discovered this book during the school year. One of my 6th grade students was interested in cryptozoology and even wrote a blog series on it! He would have enjoyed this book and probably could have added more information on each creature. We also have a teacher who leads an after school Big Foot Club. He'll need this book! I thought it was a little difficult to read because of the various genres/formats, but I was excited to read that the illustrators were the graphic designers on the Harry Potter films and created all the graphic props, such as the Daily Prophet and the Marauder's Map in the film series. How cool is that?!  
How to Read a Story
How to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel
Such a cute book about the steps to reading a story successfully. Endearing illustrations and instructions such as "When the characters talk, whatever's being said...say it in a voice to match who's talking." This is the perfect companion to the beginning-of-the-year mini-lesson on reading strategies and finding the just-right book. I'd also use it as a mentor text for writing creative instructions/directions/how-to texts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Slice of Life - Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary Celebration

I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.

Instead of recapping Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary Celebration in Florida in words, I'm sharing with a video instead.  What a great week!

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week.  I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books.
Lion, Lion
This book has a story for me! I won artwork by Larry Day (featuring the LION and the little boy) at Nerd Camp earlier this month. I was very excited to meet the author of the book he illustrated (who happens to be his wife) and Larry right after I claimed my prize. It was interesting that I won the art because all the other works of art that I was interested in I knew the illustrator and the books they were from - except this one! I put raffle tickets in the bag for this one just because I loved the lion and the boy, the beautiful, rich colors, and thought the illustration was awesome. After I won it, I thought I better buy the book, so I did. As Miriam Busch was signing the book for me, I realized my phone went dead, and I couldn't take a picture of me with her (Larry had signed it already and was signing someone else's book when this was happening, I think). I was so disappointed! My friend, Megan, was in the bathroom at the time, so I couldn't even borrow her phone. Lo and behold, and only at Nerd Camp, there was another illustrator/author, Ruth McNally Bershaw, standing by to rescue me. She SKETCHED us as we were standing there and handed me the sketch!!!! WOW! WAY better than a photo! Both the Larry Day art AND the sketch of Miriam and me are being framed at my favorite framing store and will be added to my collection of children's book illustrations in my classroom! I finally got to read the book and loved it. Kids are going to love the surprises and twist in this book, the endearing LION, the funny, colorful illustrations of all the animals, and the brave boy.
Holly Mueller's photo.
Holly Mueller's photo.
How to Draw a Dragon
Douglas Florian books always make me smile. The fantastic, humorous art, the quirky verse, and the kids in his books are great! Each two-page spread features a colorful, unique, and creative dragon, a child (I appreciate the diversity of the children!), and tips on how to draw the dragon.
Boats for Papa
Oh my, this one is a tear-jerker. Beautiful illustrations accompany a poignant story about a few stages of grief (denial, acceptance) and the love of a mother. One of my favorites this year!
Roller Girl
I loved this graphic novel about a 12-year-old and her experiences with roller derby, changing identity, and learning about what friendship really means. Her chosen sport also teaches Astrid a lot about determination and grit. Moms could learn a few things, too, about how to handle a little girl growing into a teenager from Astrid's mother. I know this will be a favorite in my classroom!   I better order multiple copies!
      Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time, #1)      Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time, #2)   
2015-book, adventure, dogs, early-middle-grade, historical-fiction, historytime-travel

Rescue on Oregon Trail:

              I loved this first book of a new historical fiction/time travel series for young readers! Once again, Kate Messner knows exactly how to appeal to any and all levels/ages of readers. It's amazing. Ranger is a search-and-rescue dog, and when he finds a first aid kit that transports him back in time to 1850, his skills come in handy on the Oregon Trail. I love Ranger's devotion to his present-time owner, Luke, even when doing what he can for the families in the past. Kids will love Ranger while also learning lots of history!
Danger in Ancient Rome
This follow up to the first in a series of time-travel historical fiction books featuring Ranger, the search-and-rescue dog, was a little more violent and action-packed. It will appeal to early middle to middle graders who love adventure, survival stories, and history. Lots of facts about gladiators sneak into the narrative, and there is a great Author's Note and glossary at the end. Ranger's antics will delight dog lovers!
Young Adult
When I Was the Greatest


Megan and I listened to the audio of this book to and from NErDcampMI. Ali is a kid living in Brooklyn with his kid sister, Jazz, and mother, who works multiple jobs to make ends meet. His neighborhood is noisy, full of action, and sometimes dangerous, but Ali stays clean. Jazz loves giving everyone nicknames, including the brothers who moved next door. Noodles becomes his best friend, even though he's constantly looking for trouble, and Needles has Tourette's Syndrome. He gets his nickname from his love of knitting, which he learns when Ali's mother teaches it to him to calm him down. Noodles is hard on Needles, which really bothers Ali. When a misunderstanding turns into a brawl at a party, Ali has to figure out how to stay on the right side of the tracks. There is a lot going on in this story, and I loved how Reynolds dealt with decisions, emotions, the urban setting, family, forgiveness, values, and friendship. It was nice to read a young adult novel in which the character decides NOT to participate in things that many YA novels celebrate (sex, drugs). Lots to talk about in this novel. Also, don't let the cover scare you away.  This book SHOULD be included in your teen libraries.
The Hunted (The Living #2)
Strong follow up to The Living.  I highly recommend both - teens will love them!
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Wow.  This book was intense!  I've argued that as a whole series, Legend is strong than the Divergent and Hunger Games series.  I'm waiting for the movies - I hope someone is making them! This one promises to be just as strong.  However, while I would recommend Legend to some of my mature 6th grade readers, this one is for older kids!  There are more mature themes and more intense violence in this story.  Adeline is a great character, though, because she has built up anger from her father's abuse and abilities that are potentially greater than any of The Young Elites' powers if she can learn to control them.  I hate that I have to wait now for the 2nd installment!
The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)
                           adult, adult-fiction, characters-with-disabilities, gifted-character

I finally got around to reading this novel, and I'm glad I did. I loved it! It's smart, funny, and thought-provoking. It helped me think about Asberger's in a new way, and I enjoyed the budding romance between Don and Rosie.  I'm excited about the movie - Jennifer Lawrence is being talked about to play Rosie - perfect choice!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebration Saturday

I love linking up to a wonderful celebratory community, inspired by Ruth Ayres, every Saturday!
Lots to celebrate this week!

1.  Tomorrow, my friend, Megan, and I will take a road trip to Parma, MI to join hundreds of other teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators, administrators, literacy coaches, etc., for Nerd Camp 2015.  I attended the first one two years ago and had a great time.  Now it's grown to epic proportions.  I hated to miss it last year, but am thrilled to be going back AND presenting this year on Day One.  I'm sure my Celebration post next week will be all about it.  Now, what audio book should we listen to on the way up....
2.  After decluttering, cleaning, and getting ready, our house officially went on the market this week.  We're excited about what lies ahead.  We've had lots of wonderful times in this home and many memories have been made, but we're ready to downsize and simplify since Libby is married and Katie is in college.  We're praying that it will sell quickly so we can move on to our next adventure!
3.  Ed and I celebrated 26 years of marriage on July 1st!  Last night we went to a restaurant in Cincinnati that we just love - Carlo & Johnny's - and ate a delicious steak meal and listened to the Sly Band.  We had a great time and look forward to 26+ more years together!
4.  I wasn't going to participate in Teachers Write this summer.  I felt like I just had way too much going on.  However, after reading Greg Armamentos's Nerdy Book Club post today about the importance of teachers being writers, I realized it's too important to pass up.  Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jen Vincent, and Jo Knowles are fantastic mentors and put this FREE writing camp together for us to write and learn.  How can I pass that up?!  I signed up this morning!
5.  Happy 4th of July!  I celebrate this amazing country and the freedom we all enjoy.  We'll be celebrating with neighbors tonight.  It's a gorgeous sunny day - perfect for a cookout and fireworks!