Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nonfiction Wednesday


   I'm excited that Alyson Beecher, at Kid Lit Frenzy, is continuing her Nonfiction Picture Book                                                      Challenge for the fifth year in a row!

I had so much fun reading nonfiction picture books today!  What amazing stories, inventions, people, and animals in these books!  Ada and The Recycled Orchestra's story in Ada's Violin was probably by favorite.  Wow!  Such a beautiful book of transformation, art, music, and beauty.  It's at the top of my list for a Sibert or Caldecott so far this year!  I think Pink is for Blobfish will be a student favorite!  Who could resist the compelling photos of the pink animals and the humorous cartoons on each page, along with fascinating facts and trivia about each animal?! Reviews for each book are on my Goodreads page.  

I loved snapping a picture of my daughter, Libby, and her husband, Jamie, reading through all my picture books this weekend.  Libby exclaimed at how interesting all these nonfiction books were!


I looked for more information on The Recycled Orchestra, and found these videos:

Pink Is For Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals
 5 of 5 stars 
Jun 29, 2016

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
 5 of 5 stars
Jun 29, 2016

The Hole Story of the Doughnut
 4 of 5 stars
Jun 29, 2016

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
4 of 5 stars 
Jun 29, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slice of Life - A Writer's Life

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

This summer I vowed to live a writer's life.  

This coming year I will be the 5th grade writing content coordinator.  I wanted to spend the summer immersed in many writing goals.  So far, I've accomplished some of these goals:  a writing group I pulled together met for the first time at my house last Monday, I attended All Write last Thursday and Friday (I plan to write more about that in an upcoming blog post), I purchased bunches of books on writing, and worked on my fiction story.  Well, "worked on" is a strong phrase.  It went something like this... 
1.  Write in my notebook for 30 minutes.
2.  Form a monster headache.
3.  Decide writing fiction is ridiculously hard.
3.  Lay down and take a nap for an hour.

Hmmm.  Not exactly stellar.  I know I can do better!  One goal I've had a hard time meeting is to faithfully keep a writer's notebook and to write in it as close to daily as possible.  I still need to work on this.  

I spent this morning at a neighboring district's gifted ELA teacher's house, talking about our upcoming plans for the fall.  It was an energizing morning of conversation and collaboration which ended over a delicious plate of egg salad.  We shared lots of ideas back and forth, and I look forward to implementing some new things.  Each year I struggle with how to fit everything - reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary and word work, mechanics and grammar, and listening - into an hour, and I've yet to completely figure it out, but I know this for sure:  kids need to see their teachers doing everything we ask them to do.  They need to see us in the trenches.  Writing is hard, and our students need to see our struggles as well as our successes, and the only way they can see that is to see us doing it.  One of my favorite (and yet terrifying/frustrating) things my students say is, "You should write a book, Mrs. Mueller!"  Well, yes.  I should.  In fact, I need to stop blogging and go write in my notebook.  I'll have my Ibuprofen on hand.

Books about writing on my TBR pile:


Image result for writers are readers

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Nonfiction Wednesday


I'm excited that Alyson Beecher, at Kid Lit Frenzy, is continuing her Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge for the fifth year in a row!

Freedom in Congo Square

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book about Congo Square in New Orleans, a place that slaves could enjoy on Sundays by dancing, playing music, and getting together to relax.  I would like to use this book with kids for text structure.  Weatherford chose to open her story with a Foreword that gave a lot of background information on Congo Square.  I imagine she decided that because the text in the main body of the book is sparse (told in verse).  I've always wanted to go to New Orleans, and this book gave me a new reason!

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Oh, I loved this biography about weaver and artist, Louise Bourgeois!  I was fascinated by her and by the illustrations in this book.  Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault wove a beautiful biography together - one that captures the depth and symbolism of Bourgeois's creative life.  I'd love to see her artwork in person, even though the spiders are a little creepy!

A Beetle Is Shy

A Beetle Is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

I can't imagine ever giving less than 5 stars to one of Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long's collaborative creations!  They have once again made you look at nature in a new and appreciative way.  Even beetles!  Wonderful!

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page keep finding new ideas about animals and nature to write about and illustrate.  In this one, they explore unusual ways animals move.  I love the "Whirling, tumbling, somersaulting..." pages.  I also enjoyed seeing the tree-climbing goat.  I recently watched a segment on t.v. about the tree goats of Morocco and Argan oil.  Fascinating!

Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine

Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine by Heather Lang, illustrated by Raul Colon

I was interested in Ruth Law and her fearless flying since I didn't know anything about her.  What an amazing feat she accomplished - breaking an American nonstop flight record from Chicago to Hornell, NY!  Her goal was New York City, however, so after refueling and stopping one more time, she made it to Lady Liberty and flew around her to a welcome band upon landing.  Great illustrations by Raul Colon!  The only thing I didn't like about the book was that it jumped in too fast in the beginning.  I would have liked more information about how she got into flying.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colon

Another book beautifully illustrated by Raul Colon!  This is also a person I knew nothing about, like Ruth Law above.  Kids will be interested in knowing how Tharp measured the ocean floor and figured out how to map it.  When I taught social studies, I thought the maps and globes unit was somewhat dull.  This book would add a little spice and give kids food for thought about how the first maps were made.  I'm not sure I loved the choice Burleigh made in making it first person, but it would make a good discussion with students about literary choices in telling nonfiction stories.