Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading...

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey by Dion Leonard

Gobi has quite a journey in this story, as does Dion, the runner who was determined to find a way to bring Gobi home. Dion found Gobi, or rather Gobi found him, when he was running an ultramarathon through China. Gobi would not leave Dion's side even as he ran through the desert in extreme heat and when the race was finished Dion knew they belonged together. Bringing Dion home to Scotland was not an easy task to begin with, but then Gobi disappeared. This is a true story of Dion and Gobi's friendship and how they beat the odds to be together.

Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

This is a spooky story that is more than just a spooky story. It is also a story of a girl dealing with changes in her life and navigating new friendships. You can read more of my thoughts about this book here.

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline Ogburn

With a unicorn and a talking cat, I think this book will be one that intrigues elementary readers. Eric starts taking care of an injured unicorn at the farm where his grandmother lived before she went into a nursing home. He discovers there are other magical creatures and he agrees to keep them secret. He also hopes to heal his grandmother with the help of the unicorn's healing magic. This is a touching story that those who have lost a grandparent will be able to relate. I think this book has a good blend of fantasy and realism to entertain readers, but also teach life lessons.

A Book to Look for in 2018

Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard

I loved so much about this book. It's about family and learning to accept one's differences. Definitely a heart-warming read. It doesn't publish until January of 2018, but it's one to be on the lookout for. You can read more about my thoughts here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard

I have taught many students throughout the years who have what could be considered untraditional families. For some students, their grandparents play the major role in their upbringing. There are definitely middle grade readers who will be able to relate to Robinson, the main character in Just Like Jackie, who is being raised by her grandfather.

Robinson has a tough exterior and does not let anyone get away with teasing her about her family even if it means she has to use her fists. When she gets in trouble for fighting at school and her grandfather is called in, Robinson starts to worry that others will find out that something is wrong with him. Lately, he is starting to forget things and get confused. School, also, presents a problem for Robinson when she has to complete a family tree project. Unlike others in her class, she doesn't have any family members besides her grandfather to put on her tree. Robinson would like to know more about her mother and is afraid with her grandfather losing his memory that she will never find out.

Robinson is a character I immediately liked. She acts tough, but she has a sweet side to her, as well. Although it gets her in trouble, she stands up for herself and what she thinks is right. The relationship Robinson and her grandfather have with each other is heartwarming. She is determined to take care of him and find a way for them to stay together.

Just Like Jackie is a story that shows how family can be more than just those who we are related to. It's also a story of friendship. Robinson's story shows how challenging it can be when one feels different from her peers. Although she doesn't always make the right choices, she learns that friends and family stick together and help one another. This is a book that middle grade readers, whether their families are untraditional or not, can learn some important life lessons. This is one to keep an eye out for when it publishes in January of 2018.

Thank you to the author, Lindsey Stoddard, and the book's publisher, HarperCollins, for sharing an advanced reader's copy of the book with my book group, #BookExcursion.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

Tess is not happy that her family has moved to Chicago from Florida. Not only is the weather very different from back home, but she misses her art teacher and her best friend. The house that her family moves into on Shady Street does not help matters either. An old house, built in the 1800's, it seems dark and uninviting. Tess and her family aren't living in the house long before Tess starts to get spooked. She finds a mark on her sketch pad that she didn't make, the lights flicker on and off, she has weird dreams, and her brother Jonah starts to talk about seeing ghosts. More and more strange occurrences take place and Tess comes to the conclusion that her house is haunted.

When Tess is exploring her neighborhood she meets Andrew and, knowing she should make friends, introduces herself. Andrew has a friend, Nina, who knows a lot about graveyards. Together, the friends start investigating the mystery of what is happening on Shady Street. Their research takes them to a nearby cemetery where they begin to connect the haunted happenings in Tess's house to a six-year-old girl who died over a hundred years before. The friends' journey to figure out the mystery is filled with just enough spookiness to entertain middle grade readers without being too dark or scary.

Middle grade readers who like spooky stories and mysteries will be intrigued by the plot of this book. But, this book is more than just a spooky story. Tess is a wonderful character navigating middle school life as she moves to a new place and has to make new friends. Tess shows that it's possible to make the best of a situation that is less than ideal. Middle grade readers will also be able to relate to the challenges of friendship and getting along with others that Tess works through in the book.

About the Author

Lindsay lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and THREE DOGS! She's fond of tea, Halloween, Disney World and things that go bump in the night!

An author of young adult and middle grade fiction, Lindsay is represented by Kathleen Rushall, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her middle grade novels are published with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Her young adult novels are published with Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, published by Aladdin, is available today. Thanks to Lindsay Currie and the publisher for providing me with a digital advanced review copy of the book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading This Week...

Ada Lace, On the Case by Emily Calandrelli

Ada has recently moved to a new neighborhood and is missing her best friend. She would rather be outside exploring and researching, but she is stuck inside because of the cast on her leg. Ada befriends a girl in the neighborhood and together they investigate a missing dog case. This book has a mystery, friendship, and a character who loves science and technology. This is a shorter text with quite a few illustrations so it will appeal to transitional readers and those who don't have the stamina yet for longer chapter books.

Open if You Dare by Dana Middleton

Birdie and her friends find a box buried in the ground with the words, "Open if you dare" written on it. The clues lead Birdie to a mystery about a girl who lived in the neighborhood decades before. As Birdie becomes wrapped up in the mystery she is also facing challenges of being middle-school aged, such as a friend who is moving away, an annoying younger sister, and friends who are beginning to like boys. This is a story that many middle grade readers will be able to relate to, but the mystery also makes it an intriguing read.

Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy

This is one of two books I read this week about lost objects. Gertie Milk wakes up on a mysterious island with no memory of who she is or where she is from. When she meets a strange little man, named Kolt, he explains that she is on the island of Skuldark and she has been chosen to be a Keeper of Lost Things, as he is. Together they travel in time to return lost objects while they try to escape the clutches of the Losers who want to destroy all knowledge. Gertie and Kolt's time travel is adventurous, but also leads them to encounters with historical figures and gives some clues to Gertie's life. The quirky characters and imaginative setting make this an enchanting story.

A Book to Look for in 2018

The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Marty's favorite possession, a jacket given to him by his father, has gone missing. Marty has also learned that his father, who has cancer, has limited time left. To get his lost jacket back, Marty goes on a journey to find the Train of Lost Things, a train that collects lost treasures that children have lost, which his father has told him stories about. When Marty finds the train he meets two other children also searching for lost objects. Through his journey, Marty learns about love and memories. This is a heart-breaking and sweet story of hope and resilience. The book publishes in January of 2018.

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading...

Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals by Gabrielle Balkan

This book was in the Halloween section at my local Barnes and Noble. Being about bones, this book could be shared around Halloween, but this is a nonfiction book that will be useful all year round. The book tells about ten animals who hold a record related to their bones. Readers can find out what animal has the biggest bones, the lightest bone, and the fewest bones to name a few of the records shared in the book. The book gives clues about the animal and its bones for the reader to figure out. The information is presented in a fun way that will amuse readers. The author also makes connections between a human's bones and the animals' bones. I can definitely see my students being enthralled with the information in this book.

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

I have a collection of well-worn alphabet books from when I taught first grade that I used to put out in my classroom library at the beginning of the year. These books helped beginning readers feel successful because they could go through them naming the letters and the word associated with each letter. Even though I don't teach first grade any more, Patrick McDonnell's book is one that I will add to my collection. The book is almost wordless, telling the tale of a little red cat who ran away and is being chased, first by an alligator, and then some other animals who join in. As readers tell the story, they can figure out what each letter of the alphabet stands for (the author gives the list of words for each letter at the end). There is an almost catastrophe at letters N and O, but the story works out for all involved. This is probably the most fun alphabet book I've read.

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris

This poetry book is just what it sounds like from the title, a collection of poems with a lot of nonsense. Chris Harris has been referred to as the 21st-century Shel Silverstein and his book is definitely reminiscent of Silverstein's poetry. I think these poems, which will definitely make young readers laugh, are a bit edgier. Some are a play on words, such as, "The Ice Cream Mondae." Some give insight into childhood, like "You'll Never Feel as Tall as When You're Ten" and "The Little Hurts." Others, like "I Don't Like My Illustrator," are just plain funny. Fans of ridiculous and amusing poetry will enjoy this collection.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas

Stella is on her way home from NASA when she is followed by a black hole. The black hole seems a convenient pet because it can swallow all the things she wants to get rid of, like Brussels sprouts, the stranger sweaters her aunt makes, and anything that reminds her of her father who recently died. When Stella, and her brother, get swallowed into the black hole she finally learns to acknowledge the black hole at the center of herself and realizes that it's possible to move on in the face of sadness. There is some science interwoven into the book, as well as a lot of humor. Michelle Cuevas, author of one of my favorite novels, The Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier, and the picture book, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, has a great imagination and unique writing style.

Mr. Lemoncello's Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle and his friends are participating in Mr. Lemoncello's new Fabulous Fact-Finding Frenzy game in the third book in the Mr. Lemoncello series. With its puzzles and adventure this is a fun book to read. The book also highlights the importance of research, facts, and not jumping to conclusions as Kyle and his friends work to uncover the truth when they discover information about Mr. Lemoncello that could destroy his company and the library. Many well-known books are referenced throughout the story and the list of titles is included at the end. This is another fun addition to the series with a great lesson.

Monday, September 25, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading...

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway

This is a wonderful and inspiring story. Deo is in a refugee camp, separated from his family, where he is often the target of bullies who steal from the others when food and supplies are scarce. The boys in the camp find a way to unite with each other by playing soccer. Deo's soccer skills and knowledge of how to make a soccer ball from banana leaves help him make friends with one of the boys who bullied him the most. The end pages explain that the story is based on the life of a boy from Burundi in East Africa and include information about an organization that helps to change lives through sports and games. This book will definitely provide students with insight into life in another part of the world. It made me think of Goal! by Mina Javaherbin which is also a story about the power of soccer to bring people together.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

This book has been on my to-read list for bit and knowing that Banned Books Week is this week I figured it was a good time to read it. Amy tries to check her favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, out of the school library, but she is told it has been banned. Amy thinks this is unfair and starts a to run a banned books library out of her locker. This book is a celebration of books and the joy they bring to young readers, but it also shows the power of students when they stand up for what they believe in.

The Wild Bunch by Jan Gangsei

Paul does not want to spend his first weekend of summer camping with his dad and the sons of his dad's friends, but he has no other choice. There is a lot of action and adventure as the boys decide to explore Bear Falls on their own even though they have been told it's off limits. There is plenty of humor, as well, some of it the gross-out kind that kids will love. This is sure to be a book that will amuse many readers.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading...

Read, Read, Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

This is a book of poems that will speak to book lovers' hearts. Those who love reading or teach reading will want this collection of poems all about reading. Being a reading specialist, I find it hard to resist any book about books or reading. This is one I had to buy for my collection and I look forward to sharing the poems with students.

The Adventurer's Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos

Zed and Brock live in the city of Freestone, one of the last cities still standing after the world has ended. They hope to be picked for Guilds that will give them the best opportunity in life, but on the day of the Guildculling they both find themselves a part of the dreaded Adventurers Guild. Their survival skills are put to the test and they are soon trying to save the city. This is an engaging fantasy, with magic and lots of action told through the alternating perspectives of Zed and Brock. This book will capture imaginations and enchant readers who enjoy stories about other worlds, mythical creatures, and children who must be brave, strong, and quick-thinking in the face of threatening situations. This book will be published at the beginning of October.

The Princess and the Page by Christina Farley

This is another adventurous read, but this one is part fairy tale and part mystery. Keira's parents have always forbidden her to write stories. She writes a fairy tale with a unique pen and wins a trip to a French castle. At the castle, she begins to realize that her story has come to life and it has something to do with the pen she used. Keira becomes involved in an adventure to figure out what is happening at the castle and ensure that no one else goes missing. Mystery and magic will intrigue young readers. Keira learns the power of words, as they can create either a happily or unhappily ever after ending.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

This book is as great as everyone is saying it is. It's an intense and important book. Three kids, during three different times periods, are on journeys in search of safety as they have been forced to flee their homes. There is action and suspense to keep young readers interested, but it will also give them insight into the refugee experience.