Monday, March 20, 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 Read This Week...

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Carmille Andros

Charlotte the Scientist has so many brothers and sisters that she doesn't have enough room to work on her science experiments. Using the scientific method, Charlotte tries to solve her problem. This is a great book to introduce young students to the scientific method. Charlotte is also persistent and flexible in her problem-solving which makes this a book that would be useful in teaching about the mindsets for learning.

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

This is book is about a girl finding her voice while trying to manage friendships and figure out how her Muslim and American cultures fit together. The book is also one that shows the power of community. Amina's experiences are relatable while also providing insight into a culture that some readers will be familiar with and others will learn from. This is a lovely book that will help grow compassion.

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

Bat's mother brings home a baby skunk that has been rescued and Bat immediately forms a bond with the animal. Bat tries to convince his mom to let him keep the skunk who he names Thor. Although it's never directly stated in the book, it seems as if Bat has autism. Bat is a funny, heartwarming character with a unique perspective on life. The book has a gentle message about being oneself. This is a middle grade novel I quite enjoyed and I have written a more detailed review here.

CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington

The CatStronauts are sent on a mission to the moon to solve the energy crisis that threatens to leave the world in the dark. This is a pretty cute graphic novel about a group of determined cats who become heroes. There is not a lot of action as there is in other graphic novels my students tend to read, but the students I have shared it with have enjoyed it. I think they are amused reading about cats traveling through space.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Boy Called Bat Book Review


A Boy Called Bat has been on my to-be-read list since last fall. Walden Pond Press is currently highlighting the book on a blog tour, which piqued my interest even more. I was absolutely delighted to win a signed copy of the book through a giveaway on one of the tour stops, the Bluestocking Thinking blog. I read the book the same night it arrived. The book is certainly a wonderful middle grade read.

In the book, Bat's mother surprises him with a baby skunk that has been orphaned and is need of care until it can be sent to an animal rescue center. Bat, an animal lover, immediately bonds with the skunk who he names Thor. Bat is determined to convince his mom to let him keep Thor as a pet, even writing to a skunk expert in order to seek his approval. Bat's adoration for Thor is heartwarming. The interaction between boy and animal will be appreciated by readers who feel a similar love for animals. 

From the beginning of this book, Bat's behaviors indicate that he is somewhat different from his peers. Although not stated in the book, Bat appears to be a child with autism. Through his relationship with his sister and classmates, the challenges Bat faces with fitting in and making friends becomes clear. The story tells about a slice of Bat's life, showing that it's possible to walk one's own unique path in life. Bat's story can help young readers to understand and empathize with others who may be different from themselves. 

A Boy Called Bat is a book about friendship that conveys a gentle message to be oneself. Bat is a sweet, funny character and it was hard to close the book on him. Although the ending was positive and satisfying, it was not all neatly tied up so maybe the future will bring more engaging and charming stories about Bat. 

Monday, March 13, 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 Read This Week...

One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel

Told from the perspective of a penny, this story is both imaginative and informative. A penny tells what has happened to him throughout his life, such as where he has traveled and the places he's been left lost and forgotten. Interspersed throughout the book, are facts about the penny. The illustrations are unique and give the book humor. This book would make a great read aloud, especially in the younger grades when students are learning about money. The book includes end pages explain more about the history of the penny.

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary Lambert

This book was so much more than I expected. The story is one of a girl, Annabelle, who is dealing with her dysfunctional family. The fact that Annabelle's mother is a hoarder makes the story interesting. Annabelle was a character I just loved - her voice is true to life of that of a kid, she is funny, and her relationship with her sister is heartwarming. The topic of this book is a serious one, but it's addressed with humor and presented in a way that makes Annabelle's problems relatable. 

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

Brian's summer is extremely boring until he and his cousin discover a very unusual house in the woods they have been forbidden to enter. Brian finds himself in the middle of an adventure that is anything but boring. With its quirky characters and eccentric plot this was a fun read. It was also interesting to imagine the house that is unusual, but also a little mysterious.

Monday, March 6, 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 Read This Week...

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

The story follows a girl and her father hiking through the Grand Canyon as it provides information about the land formation, both from the present and the past. The illustrations are beautiful and give a feel for the vastness of the canyon. With all the information presented, this is a book that may require multiple reads. The end pages include additional information about the Grand Canyon and a note from the author includes information about Jason Chin's research.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Kelp is born in the ocean, but he doesn't seem to fit in with the other narwhals in his family. When Kelp ventures on land he discovers creatures that look just like him and he wonders where he really belongs. This sweet book has a message about acceptance and finding one's place in the world. The illustrations are lovely, too. The rainbows and unicorns and the sparkles on the cover give the book a cheery tone.

Bird & Squirrel On Fire by James Burks

I was quite pleased and excited to win a copy of this book, as well as Bird & Fire on the Run, thanks to Graphix Books. The Bird and Squirrel is a popular series among many of my students. This fourth book was scooped up within minutes after placing it on the graphic novel shelf. As with the others in the series, this book is cute, funny, and action packed. Even though Bird and Squirrel are back at home they have many adventures in the forest as Bird convinces Squirrel to have a party with him. I loved the surprise ending.

One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High

This story alternates between the perspective of twelve-year-old Lily and Queenie Grace, a circus elephant. The two form a friendship when Lily's grandfather, who was also the caretaker of Queenie Grace, dies. This story, sad and sweet, shows the bonds between humans and animals and the importance of family. The story also draws attention to the issue of animal cruelty and the author's note at the end gives information about the mistreatment of elephants. I think Queenie Grace's story will warm the hearts of my readers who gravitate towards books about animals. 

Monday, February 20, 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 Read This Week...

Pax and Blue by Lori Richmond

Pax is a good friend to Blue, a pigeon, bringing him toast every morning. One morning when Blue follows Pax and gets lost in the subway, Pax knows just what to do to help him. The story is short, some of it told through phrases and dialogue, but it is a meaningful one about friendship and helping those who need it. I think early elementary readers will enjoy this story and it will spark thoughts about kindness and empathy. 

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

I received an ARC of this book at the NCTE conference in the fall. The lives of four very different middle schoolers intersect by chance one afternoon. Virgil is a shy boy who wants to find the courage to befriend Valencia. Valencia, who is deaf, is confident, but without friends. Kaori is the neighborhood psychic and Chet the neighborhood bully. As their lives intersect, friendships are formed. The characters are unique and interesting and the plot is engaging. Readers who have ever felt different or wanted to stand up for themselves will be able to relate to this story. It also speaks to the fact that the universe can bring us unexpected surprises. The book is being released in March.

Monday, February 13, 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 Read This Week...


Bunny's Book Club by Annie Silvestro

This is one of a few books that I read this week that celebrate reading. A book-loving bunny finds a way to sneak inside the library so he can get books to bring back to his home. His book joy soon spreads to his animal friends who want books of their own to read. Bunny and his friends show readers how engaging and joyful reading can be. Both the story and the illustrations are heart-warming and sweet. This is a story that I think will help entice readers into the world of books.

Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio

Dragon is terrible, actually super terrible. He stomps on flowers, chases fuzzy yellow ducklings, and even TP's the castle. The villagers want someone to tame the dragon. It almost seems impossible until a boy comes along with a storybook. The dragon's antics, the illustrations, and the narration all help to make this a very humorous tale. This fun read also has a great message about the power of story.

Hug This Book! by Barney Saltzberg

This ode to books is all about the many things you can do with a book. You can read the book to a hippo, wrap it in a sweater, or kiss and hug and smell it. Suggestions are humorous, but also highlight the love that readers feel for books. The illustrations are bright and whimsical. Any book lover will relate to the message of this book.

Gasparilla's Gold by Sandra Markle

I received this book from children's book author Augusta Scattergood who posted a giveaway opportunity on her blog. Gus is dealing with the recent death of his brother and is sent to an island in Florida to live with his aunt for the summer. Gus becomes involved in trying to protect animals in his aunt's wildlife refuge and search for a treasure. There is mystery and lots of adventure. Animal lovers especially will find the plot interesting. There is also factual information about the animals that appear in the story at the end of the book. 

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander

As a bonus, Augusta also sent me an ARC of Kwame Alexander's newest book. In this book, Kwame gives advice for living life inspired by the rules for sports. Along with rules which read as poems, such as "Even if you're afraid, when you get the chance shoot, launch your best shot" the book includes stories of success and inspirational quotes from famous athletes. Illustrations and photographs, mostly related to basketball, add interest to the book. The inspiration and motivation within this book will appeal to sports fan.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Celebrate This Week: Reading Days


Thank you to Ruth Ayres at Ruth Ayres Writes. She hosts a link-up every week that focuses on the reasons we have to celebrate.

Today I am celebrating found time. A blizzard last Thursday brought over a foot of snow, but also two snow days that gave me some unexpected free time. For me, there is never a question as to how I can spend found time. A snow day means plenty of time to read. I consider this no-guilt reading. Since I would normally be at school and not able to do chores or errands, I don't have to feel guilty about spending time reading instead of doing those things.  With not just one, but two snow days, I had lots of time for reading.


I read an engaging, insightful novel called Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. This story addresses immigration and motherhood and tells the story of two women, one living in the United States illegally after crossing the Mexican border and another who longs for a child. I had a hard time putting this one down. I also read a middle grade novel, an ARC of Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly that I received at NCTE, but still hadn't gotten to read yet. The characters are four very different middle school-aged kids whose lives intersect by chance, resulting in new friendships. I am in the midst of a professional read, How the Brain Learns to Read by David Sousa, which I am discussing with a group of literacy educators on Voxer. With my found time, I was able to read more of this book. I also started another professional read that I have on my #Mustreadin2017 list, Literacy Conversations in the Classroom: Deepening Understanding of Nonfiction and Narrative by Diane Barone and Rebecca Barone. Both professional books are enhancing my knowledge of literacy teaching.

My found time, with which I was able to get lots of reading accomplished, was definitely time well spent. The found time that I had to spend shoveling, on the other hand, did not quite measure up on the satisfaction scale. With additional snow possibly coming for Monday, there is always the chance of another snow day filled with reading, but I'm not quite so sure my back would appreciate that!