Monday, September 24, 2018

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. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

The Dreamer by Il Sung Na

A pig dreams of flying and does not give up until he is successful. This book will spark discussions about the benefits of persistence in accomplishing one's dreams. It has lovely, whimsical illustrations.

Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community by Susan Verde

A boy beautifies his neighborhood by transforming a bare wall into a work of art. This book celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of a neighborhood, while also showing an example of how one person can create change.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Seventh-grader, Zoey, spends a lot of her time taking care of her younger siblings. Zoey's family struggles because they are poor and Zoey notices the way her mother's boyfriend treats her and doesn't approve. Zoey wishes she were an octopus and imagines how life would be easier if, for example, she had eight arms instead of just two. As Zoey struggles through the challenges of her life, she learns to become more a more confident person who stands up for herself and others. This is an interesting story, with a great main character, that explores important themes. Some students will relate to the challenges Zoey faces, but for others it will provide insight into the experiences of children living in poverty. I had been hearing about this book for a while before it was published and, for me, it lived up to all the positive reviews.

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso

This graphic novel has adventure, action, and humor. This is one that I can hand those students who love the Hilo series. A few of my students read it last week and they loved it. Read more about my thoughts here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso Book Review

Graphic novels are well-loved among the students at my elementary school. I predict Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker will become one of the graphic novel series that students, once they read, will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.

While their mother is away, Edison and Tamika are in their uncle's care. Uncle Earl is an exterminator and when he has to make a late-night service call, he takes Edison and Tamika with him. Edison and Tamika learn that the family business their uncle is involved in has nothing to do with controlling the ordinary type of pests. Rather, he's protecting the world from the dark creatures behind the Night Door. Edison, who's skilled at finding things, needs to get back the Keystone that will seal the door shut again.

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker has everything many of my students have come to love in a graphic novel. It's adventurous and filled with action. There's funny moments, too. The heroes of the book are everyday kids who have extraordinary courage and the willingness to take huge risks to save the world. This is a graphic novel I can't wait to put on my classroom shelf. I just hope Book Two is in the works so my students don't have to wait too long to find out about Edison's next adventure.

Thank you to Penguin Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of the book.

Monday, September 17, 2018

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. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo

Rosie is a lonely dog. Her owner, George, brings her to the dog park, but not knowing any of the other dogs makes her feel even lonelier. When Rosie meets two other dogs at the park, she helps one out and learns how to make friends. The book is about canine friendship, but readers will be able to empathize with Rosie's struggle to make friends. The  format will appeal to readers, too. It's a picture book written in the style of a graphic novel.

Grow Up, David! by David Shannon

David is back in a book that explores the relationship between two siblings. Being the younger sibling, David isn't always appreciated by his older brother. Although their relationships has lots of downs, the upside is that David's older sibling really does care for him. Like the other books in the series, the story is told through dialogue and fun illustrations. Fans of the previous David books will be glad to see him return.

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian by Jacob Sager Weinstein

The villain, Doctor Glockenspeil, has threatened to have his army of giant moths eat all the world's books. Lyric McKerrigan, secret librarian, is called in to help and, with just the right books, saves the world. This book, written in comic-book style, is exciting and action-packed and includes a message about the power of books. Fun and clever read.

There's a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake by Loren Long

This is a fun adaptation of the children's song. Rather than taking place at the bottom of the sea, the setting is a lake. The text tells the words of the song, but throughout the pages a snail and a turtle have an ongoing dialogue, bringing humor to the book. The illustrations are amusing and the surprise ending is fun. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a copy to review.

The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth

The publisher, Macmillan, sent me a copy of this book and I am so glad they did. Sami and his grandfather have recently arrived in the United States after leaving Afghanistan. Sami's grandfather makes money playing the rebab, an Afghan instrument, in the subway, but it is stolen. When Sami traces the rebab to a music store, he decides to make enough money to buy it back. This story explores the relationship between a boy and his grandfather and their struggle to adjust to their new life in America. It's also a story of friendship. It's a book that will give readers insight into the experience of those who have had to leave their country and are trying to make their way in a foreign place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Croc and Ally by Derek Anderson Book Review

The Croc and Ally series features an adorable duo who are sure to delight early readers. 

Croc and Ally don't always agree with each other, but they prove to be the best of friends. Each book contains three stories about the friends' adventures. Despite their differences, the friends support one another and enjoy each other's company. In one story, Croc solves Ally's problem when he can't find the moon in the sky. In another, Ally tries to convince Croc to get a new hat, but instead helps him realize that his own hat is the best one for him. Each of the stories are sweet and humorous. 

The chapters in the books in the series are short. Each page has just a sentence or two of text. The illustrations fill the pages and include interesting details. This series will be fun and easy for those learning to read. Before readers are able to handle the Frog and Toad series, Croc and Ally will amuse them with their tales of friendship.

Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy 
of the two books in this series, Friends Forever and Fun, Fun, Fun.

Monday, September 10, 2018

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. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

This is a clever and whimsical story. It shows the love between a mother and child, but also gives an imaginative explanation of the phases of the moon. The illustrations, with the brightly colored mooncake against a black background, are magical.

Poe Won't Go by Kelly DiPucchio

Two of my favorite picture books to read aloud to students are Everyone Loves Bacon and Dragon Was Terrible, both by Kelly DiPucchio, so I was excited to find out she has a soon-to-be released picture book. Even better, it's illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Zachariah OHora. Poe is an elephant who won't go. He is sitting in the middle of the road, causing a traffic jam. There are many attempts, all entertaining, made to get him to move, but it's one smart news reporter who gets him to go. This is a fun story and I think readers will adore Poe, as well as his friend, Moe, who makes an appearance. Thanks to the author for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a copy to review.

Twig by Aura Parker

Heidi is the new bug at school, but she blends in so well with her surroundings, because of her twig-like shape, that no one notices her. When she's mistaken for a twig, she speaks of for herself and the class finds a way to make sure she stands out. This is a book about making friends that also shows the importance of welcoming others into the group.

Quit Buggin' Me! (Princess Pulverizer #4) by Nancy Krulik

Princess Pulverizer's Quest for Kindness continues in the latest book in the Princess Pulverizer series. If she completes the quest her dream of being a knight, which she prefers over being a princess, will be fulfilled. Her latest mission involves finding a beast in the forest and rescuing her friends who have been taken prisoner. This series for transitional chapter book readers continues to be humorous and action-packed. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart

Miles spends a lot of time in his family's bowling alley trying to bowl the perfect game. He tends to worry a lot, especially about his grandfather. Amy has just moved into town where she lives with her uncle at a funeral parlor. She misses home and really wants to make a friend. Their lives intersect, unexpectedly, the day Miles wears his lucky bowling shoes to school. This is a sweet story of friendship that also explores anxiety, loss, and grief. Middle grade readers will be able to relate to the characters and their challenges. The story conveys the message that friends take care of and support one another. Thanks to the publisher, I received an advance reading copy of this book. It publishes in October.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Books I Planned to Read in 2018 Update #2

In January, I made a list of "must reads" for 2018 along with Carrie Gelson of There's a Book for That and a community of other bloggers. The #MustReadin2018 community is sharing another update on the progress they have made with their reading lists. I am sharing my progress along with them. Check Carrie Gelson's blog or the Twitter hashtag to find out what others are reading in 2018 and get ideas to add to your own to-be-read list.

My #MustReadin2018 List

Middle Grade Books

Previous to my last update, which you can read here, I had read the following books:

  • Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana Arnold
  • Breakout by Kate Messner
  • Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender 
  • Maggie & Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  • The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers
  • Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O'Connor 
  • You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
As of this update, these are the books I have now read:
  • Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff which is imaginative and engaging.
  • Elephant Secret by Eric Waters, which is a book I absolutely loved. There is a twist in the story that makes it an intriguing read.
  • The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, which I got about half-way through because it just didn't grab me at the time.

Professional Books

As of last April, I had read two out of the four professional reads I had on my list. These are the books I read:
  • Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes by Jimmy Casas
  • The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads by Daniel Willingham
I have since finished the other two professional books I had on my list. Both are excellent, insightful reads. 

Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman
To find out more about this book, you can read the following posts:

Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres
Read my post here to find out more about my thoughts on this book.

Monday, September 3, 2018

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. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Eat Pete! by Michael Rex

A monster with a hungry appetite appears at Pete's window. He's able to hold off eating Pete while they have fun playing cars, pirates, and blocks. But, eventually Pete's appetite gets the better of him. This book is pure fun with an element of surprise. I imagine that my first graders will want to hear this book again and again.

Holes in the Sky by Patricia Polacco

I was excited to see a new book by Patricia Polacco because quite a few of hers are favorites of mine. This is another heart-warming story based on her childhood. Read more about my thoughts here.

Kick It, Mo! by David A. Adler

The latest book in the Mo Jackson series for early readers is as charming as the previous three. Mo loves sports even though he is not the best player on the team. In this book, he is the smallest and youngest soccer player and is still learning to kick, but he doesn't let that stop him from playing and enjoying the game. Mo's practice and determination always pay off. I love the important message in these books, but the sports-related action is also entertaining. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing #BookExcursion with a review copy.

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

This is a book about loss, grief, and healing. Evan, a fox, seems unable to get over the loss of his dog, taking his anger out on his once beautiful garden. Eventually, a surprise in his garden leads him out of his despair. The illustrations are stunning with colors to match the mood of the text. This is definitely an emotional read, but gorgeous.

Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Louisiana from Raymie Nightingale is back in this companion novel. It's definitely a heart-tugger, but also a whimsical, beautiful story. If you've heard this is an amazing book, it's because it is! Read more about my thoughts here.

Time Castaways #1: The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

Three siblings find themselves on a mysterious ship that time travels. They arrive in the past where they become in involved in the theft of the Mona Lisa. The kids try to understand the reason they are on the ship and whether they can trust the captain. The curious ship with its eccentric crew and the different settings from the past provide for an interesting story. The cliff-hanger ending sets readers up to find out more in book two. Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, an advanced reading copy.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Holes in the Sky by Patricia Polacco Book Review

Patricia Polacco's books are among some of my classroom favorites. Her books, based on her own life, explore family and community and offer wisdom and life lessons. In Holes in the Sky, Patricia tells another story based on her childhood experiences, one that shows the importance of kindness and the power of the connections we make with one another.

Trisha's babushka has passed away and her family has moved to Oakland, California. There she meets Stewart, who soon becomes her best friend, and his grandmother, Miss Eula. Together, they hatch a plan to bring happiness to a neighbor by bringing her garden back to life. All the while, Trisha is waiting for a sign from her babushka until she realizes that she doesn't have to look any further than Miss Eula.

Holes in the Sky is a story with warmth, conveying the importance of caring for and being compassionate toward others.  It also celebrates the beauty of a diverse community. The illustrations, drawn with pencil and marker, bring the story to life, revealing the joy and love between the characters at its center. This is a sweet and realistic story.

Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, 
for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a copy of this book.