Sunday, March 9, 2014

Room with a Review: Mouseheart

Title:  Mouseheart

Author:  Lisa Fiedler

Illustrator:  Vivienne To

Month/Year Published:  Expected publication date May 2014

You May Know Her:  Hmm...not really sure!  We want to know more!

You May Find Her:  Hmm...  Lisa Fidler...where are yooooou?

Review You May Not Have Seen:  Not a lot of reviews quite yet - the buzz will begin soon though!

The Review

I'm not quite sure how I arrived by this Advanced Reader's Copy of MOUSEHEART, but let me tell you, the packaging alone, from Simon and Schuster free of charge, made me feel like I was receiving something special.  Nestled in a brown paper, the book, complete with a mock-up of the book display and cover with its pyramidical (pyramidical?) illustration in colors both vibrant and muted, definitely caught my attention.

But how would this little nestled egg hold up under the boiling water scrutiny (are ya catching my egg metaphor here) of my most critical readers:  my very own 3rd and 4th grade daughter and son?  Would it crack under the pressure? Would the plot be too scrambled? Or would it read easy (over)?  (Okay, I'm done with the egg metaphor now.)

Over the course of a week, we read this book aloud on successive evenings.  Here is what my own reviewers thought of this forthcoming book, the first in a trilogy.

My fourth grade son:  "I thought MOUSEHEART was very good. A lot of parts were very amusing to read.  This book also makes you think a little bit.  This book is sad, scary, and happy all at the same time.  I thought the characters in this book were very good.  Like, Hopper {the main character}, Zucker, Pinkie, Pup and Titus.  I really think that title matches the story.  I think that it being a trilogy is good because it makes you want to read the others.  I would read the others.  I would recommend this book to people who like action, animals, and cliffhangers.  I really loved this book!"

My third grade daughter:  "The book was awesome.  I can't wait for the sequel.  My favorite characters in order were Pup, Hopper, and Pinkie.  I would recommend this book to people that aren't afraid of rodents.  The title really makes you think about what it means.  I liked the whole story and how it was thought out.  My favorite part was one of the fighting scenes between certain characters in the book {no spoilers!}."

My children really did enjoy this book and asked me to read it to them every night.  I know this book will be a hit in my elementary school library as well.  It's a little less challenging in terms of reading stamina than Redwall and the Warriors series, to which it is being compared, and that will suit my students in grades 3-5 just fine.  A definite purchase for our collection and recommended reading, if, as my daughter cautions, you aren't afraid of rodents! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Creating Movie Dialogue Using Primary Sources

After several weeks of feeling like a creative slug, I finally got a jolt of inspiration made possible, in part, by a request to the Twitterverse.  I was looking for some lesson ideas for my third and fourth graders that utilized primary sources and technology.  Of course my trusty tweeps guided me to the Library of Congress website and from there things fell into place.

First, students will access TR Calls on Neighbors at Christmas, 1917.

Then they will complete the Graphic Organizer I have created and that is available here.

I welcome your comments and any suggestions  you might have for improving this graphic organizer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Inside Out and Back Again

Not only is that the title of a wonderful book by Thahhah Tai but it's kind of how I feel my life has been these past couple of weeks. I love the saying, "If things aren't adding up, try subtracting." and it's so true. Sometimes you just need to cut back to get back in the groove.

 :: Did I tell you I'm attempting to achieve National Certification? On of the positives of this process is seeing how supportive my tweeps and my IRL peeps are when it comes to sharing their experiences and "lessons learned." I hope I will stick with it and follow through - I am giving myself to December to decide whether or not I will need to "subtract" this particular endeavor.

 :: Using the fabulous librarian from Voices from the Inglenook as my guide, I've been attempting some Visible Thinking Routines with my second graders. I think they are enjoying so far and I'm looking forward to coming up with a "bank" of routines that they can then choose from.

 :: We are fortunate to have Ginjer Clarke coming to visit our school in November. Beginning next week, I will be using her books to introduce my younger students to nonfiction text features and the joys of reading the facts!

 :: My fourth grade students have just finished up studying some of Virginia's native peoples. This week we will read Encounter by Jane Yolen so that they can gain a new perspective on Columbus' discovery of America.

 :: And it's just AMAZING how a little book talking will get those books FLYING off the shelf. I showed this video from A Tangle of Knots - SO LONG A Tangle of Knots! LOL!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


(For Amelia 1995-2002)

I cannot pretend
to know
what you would be like today.
Your likes
and your dislikes.
Would I recognize you
if we passed on the street?
(How I wish we could)

The day we gathered
in the Meeting House
was the last warm day
of summer;
a belated commencement
to fall.

We could barely stand
to begin again.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome to the New Classic Six!

Every since, well forever, I've been drooling over Sherry's adorable blog design {okay, the content's swell too but as a librarian I can't help but judge a blog by its cover}.  I finally asked her about it and she told me that Lori over at Imagination Designs had dreamed it up for her.

A few months later, wa la {okay, I know that's supposed to be voila}...the new Classic Six!

And let me tell you, dear readers, Lori got it {me?} in one take {not counting my, "Oops, did I mention I'd really like to see..." episodes}.  And did I mention she's super nice?

So thank you Sherry {I hope you work on commission} and thank you, Lori, for my new, beautiful, fresh, clean, happy, chirpy, sunny design!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Why I Bought It Wednesday {The Late Edition}

Like, the really late edition.

Like, it's totes Friday.

Thank you to my great colleague for keeping me on task!

So without further ado...  Here is the final Why I Bought It Wednesday of my summer vaca. {SOBS!}

::  Beautiful Oops by Barney Satlzberg

Why I Bought It:  Okay, so I'm a little slow on the uptake.  I realize this book is not new, but it's new to me!  It's a perfect book for the start of the year because it encourages students to take risks and not worry about making mistakes.  This book is rather delicate, so I will probably not circulate it, but allow for much touching, ooing and ahhing over it in the Library.  I foresee many an "oops" project in the Library as well.

:: The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

Why I Bought It:  I'm actually at a loss for words {in an entirely positive way} as to the "usefulness" of this book.  Of course, it will make a wonderful read aloud all on its own but there are so many other ways that this book fits beautifully into the curriculum.  To help us navigate, Candlewick has created a teacher/librarian guide.  I plan on suggesting this book as a companion to so many other tried and true picture books by authors such as Eve Bunting and Pat Brisson.  Books about the immigrant experience, small moments, memories, past and present...the list goes on and on.  Enjoy.

:: Arnie the Donut and the Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller

Why I Bought It:  Oh come on.  How could you NOT buy this book?  It's Laurie Keller for heaven's sake!  This is the first book in a new chapter book series feature our good friend, Arnie and his ... um ... owner (?) Mr. Bing.  I will be doing a Laurie Keller author study this year with my multiage classes (mixed first and second) but it will be a bit more than just an author study.  The entire year will be themed around Laurie Keller's books, including Scrambled States of America {lots of opportunities for learning about states and the atlas}.  

:: P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

Why I Bought It:  Now here is a situation where I bought a book totally because my students enjoyed One Crazy Summer...and I did not.  And here is also an example of  how I am often very candid with my students but challenge them to come to their own conclusions and form their own opinions.  In other words, I do not just booktalk/recommend books I like.  I am looking forward to reading P.S. Be Eleven, though.  It just sounds so good...I hope it's as good as it sounds!

:: Robert Griffin III by Jon M. Fishman

Why I Bought It:  I rarely buy books on individual sports figures.  It just seems that as soon as they arrive the player has been traded or retired or jail or de-medaled for steroids or something.  But I do purchase books about local team members, including this recent (and already slightly outdated) bio on RGIII.  Now if only they'd change that terrible team name...  What books do you very hesitantly purchase for your collection?

So there you have it!  See you next Wednesday!

Imagination Designs