Monday, November 30, 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.
Lenny & Lucy


I met Philip and Erin Stead at NCTE 2015 and got to get this book signed. I am a huge fan of their work. This book, like their others, is packed full of feeling and meaning. All it takes is one good friend to make life better. The emotions Erin Stead is able to express in her illustrations are palpable. Beautiful story. Beautiful book.
The Tiara on the Terrace (The Wig in the Window, #2)


Best friends Sophie and Grace, now famous in their town of Luna Vista for solving a previous mystery, are back at it again! This time a new crime is committed during the 125th Winter Sun Festival - and who better to figure it all out than our town heroes?! I loved the humor, over-the-top floats, and obsessed parade organizers in this one. Full of twists and turns, this middle grade mystery kept me entertained and guessing all the way through. This will be a favorite alongside The Wig in the Window in my classroom! I loved running into Kristen Kittscher at NerdcampMI and NCTE - she is such a nice person, and I thank her for this ARC and a few goodies that came with it!
The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #1)
I enjoyed this fantasy book about 16-year-old Jack, a fierce soccer player living in Trinity, Ohio. He has to take medicine daily because of a heart issue - a thick scar on his chest evidence of surgery when he was small. Everything changes, though, when he skips his medicine one day. His true identity is revealed when he becomes stronger and more aggressive. The ending had me turning pages quickly - I wanted to know how it would be resolved. Loved it! I'll be book-talking this!

The Seventh Wish
This book reeled me in hook, line, and sinker. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...Kate Messner writes the perfect middle grade novel: accessible, captivating, realistic (even when there's magic), emotional, suspenseful, and honest. Twelve-year-old Charlie has a lot going on. She wants a very expensive, very beautiful solo dress for Irish dance (what an interesting sport for a main character to pursue - I've had a couple students involved in Irish dance, and I find it fascinating), a strained relationship with her college sister, fear of the ice (which in most places wouldn't be a big deal, but this is the Northeast and ice fishing is a popular activity), and a major crush on the cute boy at school. When an unusual fish in the shallow ice gives Charlie an opportunity to grant wishes, of course she takes him up on it. However, even Charlie knows you have to be careful what you wish for. Charlie's life is about to get even more complicated when her family finds out Abby, Charlie's sister, has a drug problem. What will she wish for then? Messner presents this real-life problem delicately but honestly. Perfect pairing with Jennifer and Matthew Holm's Sunny Side Up. Another aspect of the story is Charlie's family's wordplay game.  I grew up with a family who loves words, so even though we didn't play that exact game, we had several others, so I could relate.  I look forward to passing this ARC on to students.  Read Kate's blog post about this book here.

Wow. Creepy. Captivating. Disturbing. I don't know quite what to say. A cross between Grasshopper Jungle (scary bugs) and The Giver (discussions of a perfect society) maybe? I also saw that David Etkin compared it to Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls - that's a good comparison! I wouldn't quite call it horror, but it was close. I can't really imagine recommending it to kids, but I loved the writing. The story was just super weird. At the same time, the message was profound. I listened to it - great narrator!


Circling the Sun


Serafina and the Black Cloak (Serafina, #1)


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nonfiction Wednesday - Mock Sibert 2016

  Join Alyson and others at Kid Lit Frenzy for a nonfiction picture book bonanza each week!
I haven't posted on Nonfiction Wednesday for awhile, but I can't let the Mock Sibert 2016 opportunity go by, led by our own Alyson Beecher!  I don't want to miss out on the fun!  So, I'm going to start with nonfiction books I've rated a 4 or 5 or shelved as "Mock Sibert 2016" and narrow from there.  Here are some we're going to start with (in no particular order) - when I read new ones between now and January, I'll add them. I believe they meet the criteria, but when I reread, I will make sure. Here is my list so far (22 - my goal will be to make it 25 by the end of the year):

Trombone Shorty

Here is my post about Trombone Shorty.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower

Here is my post about Tricky Vic.

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

Here is my post about Swan.

The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams

Here is my post for The House That Jane Built.

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Here is my post for The Case for Loving.

In Mary's Garden

Here is my post about In Mary's Garden.

The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist

Here is my post about The Sky Painter.

A Chicken Followed Me Home!: Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl

Here is my post about A Chicken Followed Me Home!

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France

Here is my post about Mesmerized.

Egg: Nature's Perfect Package

Here is my post about Egg.

A Nest Is Noisy

Here is my post about A Nest is Noisy.

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues

Uh oh!  I don't think I blogged about Growing Up Pedro!  Here is my Goodreads blurb:

I always enjoy Matt Tavares's books. Not being a baseball fan, I didn't know anything about Pedro Martinez, but this book taught me a lot and made me appreciate his path to greatness. It's not only about Pedro, though, it's also a tribute to his big brother, Ramon, who inspired and encouraged him throughout his life.

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh

Here is my post about Winnie.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Here is my post about Up in the Garden, and Down in the Dirt.

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama

Here is my post about Seeds of Freedom.


Here is my post about Enchanted Air.

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution

Here is my post about Gingerbread for Liberty.


Here is my post about Earmuffs for Everyone.

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea

Here is my post about The Most Amazing Creature of the Sea.

 Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Here is my post about Emmanuel's Dream.

High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

Here is my post about High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs.

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Here is my post on Water is Water.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

DigiLit Sunday - NCTE Bound!


I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.
I'm NCTE 2015 bound this week!  My Prezi is made, my Google Slide submitted to our fearless leader, Carol Varsalona, and I'm beyond thrilled to present in a Roundtable session featuring Debbie Diller, Blanca Duarte, Paul Hankins, Trudy Ludwig, Margaret Simon, Terry Thompson, and Carol.  It's the first time I will meet Margaret and Carol with whom I've blogged, Tweeted, Facebook Messaged, hung out in Google, and e-mailed for a long time.  I can't wait!  I feel like I already know them.  I hope you can attend our session on Igniting Wonder in Students and Teachers at 4:00 on Friday!  See you in Minneapolis!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Celebration Saturday

I love linking up to a wonderful celebratory community, inspired by Ruth Ayres, every Saturday!
     I'm writing this on Friday as the tragedy unfolds in Paris.  It seems wrong to be celebrating the week's good things while so many people are suffering there.  However, I saw this posted on Facebook and thought it was perfect, so I shared it, also.  I'll share it here as well.
     I'm going to celebrate the caring people in the world.
     The third annual #ReadWalkWater event was held last Friday at our school.  Our 6th graders were inspired to help with the world water crisis after reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park by raising money for Water for South Sudan, Inc.  We have raised over $5,000 so far this year to add to our $20,000+ that we've raised for the last two years to build wells in South Sudan.  I love that these students are changing the world.  We thank Jordan Griebner, too, for donating her time again this year to teach our students about the world water crisis and her work with the Wells Project and Living Water, Int'l.  She's an amazing young woman.

     We celebrated our 28th Friends' Thanksgiving last weekend.  These women are fabulous, and I thank God for the years of friendship, caring, and love they've provided in my life. 

Not all the college kids came this year, but it sure was special to see these beauties!
As the weekend events continue to unfold, I will #PrayForParis, and while grieving for the lost and changed lives, I'll also look for and celebrate the helpers.  We know they are there.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Counting Blessings

 I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly basis.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us! 
This week, I am THANKFUL and am counting my 2015 blessings!  No words this week - just pictures and music!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - HOME

 I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly theme topic.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us!
This week's theme topic is HOME.
     It's Thanksgiving season, and amidst all the busy-ness of this month (right after this post I need to work on my pre-conference form for my evaluation next week), I wanted to focus on things that remind me of the holiday - things that make me grateful.  The first one - home.
      We're selling our current house and downsizing since we're empty nesters.  The sign has been in the front yard since July.  We've purged, organized, staged, and cleaned. I reminisced as I went through boxes and tubs.  I looked through toys, dolls, clothes, pictures, and heirlooms.  I thought about how many things accumulate over the years.  But now,  it's ready.  We're ready.  Our downsized place is almost ready.  We're trying to make peace with the timing.  We know God has it all planned out when our current house will sell and when we will be able to move.  While we're waiting, we will continue to make memories here.  We will be hosting the 28th Friends' Thanksgiving weekend  starting Friday, and will make plans for the holidays.  Lots of memories have been made here, and it's been our home for almost 11 years. 

     When I look around at the place we're renovating, I already feel a sense of home.  It overlooks a beautiful lake, and we chose everything that is in it.  I wonder what celebrations, occasions, memories, and people will fill that house.   Home is such an important place.
     This brings me to the spiritual aspect of home.  What will await us in our heavenly homes?  If our earthly homes mean so much to us, how much more will God's house mean to us?  What will it look like?  What will fill the rooms?  How will we feel when we finally see it?  I don't know all the details, but I know it will be amazing.  It will be home.  And for that, I am thankful.
"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.…"  John 14:1-3


Monday, November 2, 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.
Goodbye Stranger
While the audio was excellently narrated, I wish I had read the print version instead because of the complexity of the various points of view. With that being said, I think this is a very important book - perfect for the summer before or the beginning of 7th grade. I don't think I've read any books about the problems with social media and sexting, and this story captures how innocently it can start and how quickly it can escalate. It also addresses the way girls bully each other, changing friendships, young romance, and how difficult adolescence is. I wouldn't put it in my 5th/6th grade classroom library, but I will be recommending it to my students who have moved on to the junior high. Now I'd like to go back and reread the story that's told from the second point of view. It was hard to follow on audio.
The Marvels



I started this book, put it down, came back to it, and the second time around, read it straight through. I was swept away when I read it like that. Selznik's magical storytelling enraptured me. I love the way his wordless story comes together with the text, the mood he creates, and the worlds he invents. I'm not sure what my students will think. I've got some fans of Selznik looking forward to getting their hands on this book now that I finished it. They're captivated by its cover, gold-tipped pages, and sheer heft, and they've loved Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, but I'm not sure if it will ultimately appeal to the intermediate reader. The mention of AIDS is interesting - I don't think many of my middle graders will know much about that. The LGBT element is part of the story without didacticism - again, I'll be interested in the response of the kids to that. The house the uncle created reminded me a little of the garage in The Seven Important Things.
The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #1)
The Hired Girl