Monday, September 19, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thank you,  Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers, for giving us a space to share our reads each week!


They All Saw a Cat Cover

They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel

And for all you Emily Arrow fans, there's a song!

Perfect to talk about perspective and point of view - great to pair with Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. Beautiful and interesting illustrations! The kids were really excited to write their own perspective writing in their notebooks afterward. I got this from the library, but I'll be purchasing it for my classroom!                 

The Water Princess
The Water Princess by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Who could resist the beautiful cover and title of this book based on model Georgie Badiel's childhood experiences in Burkina Faso. What touches me about this story is how the beginning - Gie Gie's descriptions of her beautiful African home and establishing her character as full of dreams and song - is juxtaposed with Gie Gie's arduous walk for water, not even knowing if the water will be clean. This juxtaposition is carried out throughout the book - even though Gie Gie and her mother wake in the dark hours of the morning to make the journey, after Gie Gie's initial grumbling, they are full of song, light steps, and dance. However, after the water collection, their feet are sore and thirsts are heavy. Gie Gie plays with her friends at the well, but when dipping her pot in the water, it is dusty and earth-colored. I love the depiction of her loving family. I think my students will see themselves in "Princess" Gie Gie and feel connected. Perfect book to accompany A Long Walk to Water in our Social Injustice unit. Peter Reynolds's illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.



Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

My students have been WAITING for a new Raina Telgemeier book because they've read all her other graphic novels multiple times. They won't be disappointed. There are so many layers to this book, and I'll be interested in how they react to all of it - Dia de los Muertos, the afterlife, cystic fibrosis, fear and acceptance of death, sister issues, appreciating one's own culture and learning about others, etc. I want to have Duncan Tonatiuh's Funny Bones on hand for those kids who would like to know about the Day of the Dead.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

Oh, what a wonderful story! Ms. Bixby is the kind of teacher, we who are in the profession, aspire to be. The kids are funny, real, and endearing, and you wouldn't think a book with cancer at the center could be full of adventure and fun, but it is. I look forward to passing this one around my room. We'll be talking about it at our September staff middle grade book club next Friday.


The Key to Extraordinary



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Slice of Life - Freak the Mighty

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

     I thought I was okay.  I was nearing the end of book (stop if you've never read Freak the Mighty because you're about to read a spoiler), reading aloud to my 6th graders - this was the first time I've ever read Freak the Mighty aloud - when I got to this line: "His heart was simply too big for his body." I lost it - all the composure I had conjured up before this scene, knowing what was going to happen because I read it last summer, dissipated when the doctor explains to Max that Kevin died.  I started to cry and had to stop reading. 

     There is a strange thing  that happens when you cry at a point in  a read aloud in front of a class.  There's a hush that falls over the room.   Kids are unsure of what to do.  Some are crying  with you,  some are quietly waiting, others are impatiently prompting you to keep reading. 

     I recovered eventually, I got a box of tissues and passed them around, and continued the story.  The class loved the book.  It's funny, raw, and so, so sad.  I imagine the kids will remember the friendship that Maxwell and Kevin...Freak the Mighty...forged.  And the day their teacher cried over the boy who slayed dragons, embarked on epic quests, and whose heart was too big for his body.