Monday, April 24, 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 Case of the Stinky Stench (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) by Josh Funk

First grade students at my school have been awaiting the sequel to the first Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast book since they skyped with author Josh Funk in the fall. Last week was a vacation week, so I haven't gotten to share the book with them yet, but I am sure they will like The Case of the Stinky Stench just as much, if not more, than the first. Similar to the first book, the setting is a refrigerator stocked with food. Lady Pancake, Sir French Toast, and Inspector Croissant journey through the depths of the fridge, which includes places such as Salsa Ravine and Corn Chowder Lake, searching for the source of a horrible odor. As they work to solve the mystery, the sleuthing food items show teamwork and persistence. Young readers will probably want to read this again and again since the detailed illustrations are fun, as is the rhyme and vocabulary. 

Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka

Niko is inpsired by the world around him so he draws things like the warmth of the sun and the hard work of a mother robin as she builds a nest. Because no one understands his drawings, he hangs them up where no one can see them. When a girl moves next door, Niko takes a chance and draws a picture to share with her. This is a story of friendship, but also one that shows the power of creativity and art. 

Bug Girl by Benjamin Harper and Sarah Hines Stephens 

Amanda discovers that she has bug-like superhero powers. The town of Oyster Cove, where she lives has been invaded and her mother and her mother's friend have been captured. Amanda must use her powers to rescue them, but she also has to work alongside a schoolmate who she doesn't get along with. This book is filled with action and excitement and will be appreciated by those readers who like stories about heroes and evil villains.

Flashback Four #2: The Titanic Mission by Dan Gutman

Luke, Isabel, David, and Julia are time-traveling so they can get a picture of the sinking of the Titanic to bring back to Miss Z, a billionaire who has developed the device to send them through time. The four kids find themselves trying to survive as they become a part of this historical event and in the fade of difficulties with the time-traveling device that will get them back to the present. Historical facts about the time period and the sinking of the Titanic are woven into this imaginary tale. I think this will be a popular read with my students since they are intrigued by the true story of the Titanic.

Jake the Fake Keeps it Real by Craig Robinson

Jake faked his way into the Music and Art Academy, but he must show he has a talent. Jake struggle with fitting in at his new school and being in the shadow of his near perfect sister. There is a lot of humor in the story and will appeal to those who enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I loved the ending in which Jake finds his true self. There are many illustrations in the book, which will make it attractive to some of my more reluctant readers. 

Monday, April 17, 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.

This is What I've Been Reading...

Escargot by Dashka Slater

Escargot, a French snail, tries to convince readers that he is their favorite animal. He brings the reader along with him as he travels to the salad at the end of the book. With his beret and some French words, Escargot is quite charming and adorable. The book also contains a message about trying new foods. This is an amusing story with wonderful illustrations that would be fun to read aloud.

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

Ethan lost his close friend in a tragic accident and blames himself. When his family moves in order to give him a new start, he meets Coralee, who seems unique and interesting, and they soon form a friendship. As Ethan deals with the loss of his friend and adjusting to a new school, he and Coralee discover a mystery to be solved. This was an engaging read because I wanted to figure out the mystery and see how the pieces of both Ethan and Coralee's story came together. 

King of the Bench: No Fear! by Steve Moore

Steve, a middle schooler, spends more time sitting on the bench than playing baseball. To make matters worse he develops bean-o-phobia, a fear of getting hit with a baseball. Steve is funny, but he also shows that it takes courage to overcome ones fears. I'll share this book with readers who like sports, want to read a book that gives them a laugh, or are fans of books, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Timmy Failure.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

This is a story of a boy and the close relationship he has with his grandfather. Clayton loves and admires his grandfather. He enjoys playing the blues harp along with him and the other blues musicians although his mother doesn't approve. When his grandfather suddenly passes away in his sleep, Clayton is overcome with loss and runs away. Clayton's journey is interesting and heartbreaking, but his story ends with hope. 

Monday, April 10, 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.

This Week's Reading...

Life on Mars by Jon Agee

A young astronaut is out to prove there is life on Mars. The only life the astronaut manages to find is a yellow flower, but the illustrations, that give readers insight into what is really going on, show that there is more life on Mars than he realizes. Readers will be amused that they are in on the story while the main character remains oblivious. The story is funny, sweet, and surprising.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt

I don't think a Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex creation could ever be anything short of wonderful. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is not only wonderful, but fun. Rock, Paper, and Scissors are warriors, but they are each looking for a challenge. Their battles are quite entertaining. Among them, Rock defeats Wooden Clip-Man (a clothespin), Paper jams Computer Printer, and Scissors beats Dinosaur-Shaped Chicken Nuggets. But it is the battles that Rock, Paper, and Scissors don't win that lead to their friendship. This imaginative legend of how the game Rock Paper Scissors includes so much ridiculous humor that I know it will have my students laughing and wanting to reread it again and again.

You Don't Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman 

A young boy loves unicorns, as his shirt states, so he throws a coin into a fountain and wishes for one of his own. Although it seems that having a unicorn would be awesome, he soon learns that they shed, scratch, burp, and throw destructive parties with their friends. The cartoon drawings which show just how annoying unicorns can be are very funny. I think those who are fans of unicorns, and even those who aren't, will find this book amusing.   

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

Princess Cora wants a dog, but her fairy godmother sends her a crocodile. So that Princess Cora can have a day off from her training to learn to be Queen, the crocodile decides to take her place for the day. Princess Cora runs off and has an adventure, but returns to find the crocodile has made quite a mess of things. This story of an overworked, overscheduled child has a happy ending, in which Princess Cora learns to speak up for herself. The story is charming and the illustrations add a lot of humor. Just a warning, you may have a craving for cream puffs when you finish reading this one. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017


In January, I made a list of "must reads" for 2017 along with Carrie Gelson of There's a Book for That and a community of other bloggers who have also made #MustReadin2017 lists. Reading over the lists that other bloggers gave me lots of titles to add to my own ever-growing to-be-read list. I am looking forward to reading about the progress others have made on their lists. 

My #MustReadin2017 List

Middle Grade Books I Have Read

I have read just over half of the fifteen books on my must read list of middle grade reads. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold has been on of my favorite books this year. You can read more of my thoughts about it here. I also really enjoyed Moon Shadow by Erin Downing. The book was an interesting blend of reality and fantasy with a great message. I'd also put Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan at the top of my list because I found it to be an interesting and meaningful story. I also read Catstronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington. This is a fun graphic novel that is becoming a student favorite. The other books I have read from my list include: The Gumazing Gum Girl! by Rhode Montijo, The House of Months and Years by Emma Trevayne, One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon and Dean Hale. I have written about all of these books throughout my weekly It's Monday! What Are You Reading? posts.

Professional Books I Have Read

I have read two of the four professional books on my list. 
I read Literacy Conversations in the Classroom: Deepening Understanding of Nonfiction and Narrative by Diane Barone and Rebecca Barone. The book has some useful ideas about engaging students in meaningful talk about their reading. 
I also read What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? Nonfiction, Grades 3-8: Your Moment-to-Moment Decision-Making Guide by Gravity Goldberg and Renee Houser. This is a fantastic professional read with many ideas and lessons for teaching nonfiction reading. The authors also provide useful insight into how they make decisions about what to teach students next. I am looking forward to reading the companion title that focuses on fiction reading.

Books I Still Need to Read

I still have seven middle grade books on my list to read. Many of these have not yet been published so I am eagerly anticipating reading them. I have a copy of Jake the Fake Keeps it Real by Craig Robinsion so this will probably be part of my reading stack next week. I have two professional books on my list to read. I have a copy of Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can't, and What Can Be Done About It by Mark Seidenberg, but have not yet picked it up. In a Voxer book group, I recently read and discussed David Sousa's How the Brain Learns to Read so I would like to read learn more about the brain and reading which I think I will in Seidenberg's book. Vicki Vinton's Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: Shifting to a Problem-Based Approach because is also on my to-be-read list. I attended the Massachusetts Reading Association Conference (with many wonderful speakers such as Donalyn Miller, Mr. Schu, Steven Layne, and Nancie Atwell) this past week and I got a coy there so I will be getting to it soon. 

Monday, April 3, 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.

This Week's Reading...

Everywhere, Wonder by Matthew Swanson

This lovely picture book will help readers appreciate the wonders that exist all around them. A young boy explains that the wonders can become our stories, but first we have to stop to notice them. This book may spark curiosity and inspire readers to tell their own stories. The gorgeous illustrations show that the world is an interesting place, full of beauty even in places we don't think to look. 

Moon Shadow by Erin Downing

Lucia's parents have recently gotten divorced and her mother has moved to Sweden. After a summer away, Lucia returns to discover that two of her friendships have begun to fade. Lucia's life becomes even more complicated when her dreams start to blend with real life and strange things that happen to her seem to be related to her moonstone. Reality is blended with fantasy in this novel that will keep readers interested in figuring out the mystery behind Lucia's dreams. This is a wonderful story about discovering what true friendship really means and having the courage to just be yourself. The book will be available next month.

Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel

Olga is a very small, slightly grumpy girl who thinks animals are way better than humans. This book is her observation notebook, as Olga wants to someday be a scientist. Olga's discovery of a strange, smelly creature leads her to find friends and realize that humans may not be so bad. Young readers will find humor in the illustrations and the many words related to bodily functions that appear throughout the book. Because this book is shorter on text and heavier on graphics, I think it will appeal to many of my reluctant readers.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

This graphic novel is based on Shannon Hale's childhood and highlights challenges of growing up that many young readers will relate to. In the story, Shannon has difficulty fitting in and making true friends. Shannon's early interest in storytelling is also evident within the story. The author's note at the end provides more insight into Shannon Hale's childhood and her decisions in writing her memoir. Knowing the popularity of El Deafo by Cece Bell and other graphic novels among my students, I think this one will be well liked as well. This book will be published at the beginning of next month.