Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why I Bought It Wednesday

Hello Good Readers!

I just received my first book shipment of 2015!  Some people need to bungie-cord off bridges or go sky-diving to get their heart pumping, but for me just opening those boxes of new books is enough to make my heart go pitter-patter.

Here are five books and why I bought them.

You can see the others on my Pinterest Boards, here and here

Image of Food Trucks! Written and illustrated by Mark Todd

Why I Bought It:  No, it's not because I loved the move Chef, although that may have had something to do with with it.  Each page highlights a different type of food truck and gives a description in verse.  It's cataloged as an "E" book but I may have to move it to my 811s as I will definitely want to highlight this book when doing poetry with my students. Additional food-related quick facts add even more interest to this colorful, energetic book!  Here's the review in the New York Times book section.  Bon appetite!

Why I Bought It:  Well kiss my brain for actually purchasing this book BEFORE it won a Pure Belpre award this year.  But really I buy every thing by Duncan Tonatiuh, including a perennial favorite Dear Primo:  A Letter to My Cousin.

Why I Bought It:  GASP!  Where have you been all my life?  The idea behind this book is genius and it is executed to perfection.  Selected artists are asked to draw their favorite animal and to write a brief description of why.  The styles are so different and each are recognizable.  Everything from Bad Kitty to Lucy Cousins.  A beautiful book benefiting the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts.

Why I Bought It:  So here is a lesson on Listen To Your Students.  I read this book.  I have to say I did not care for it.  My students asked me to buy it.  THEY LOVE IT.  Lesson:  Your School Library Is Not About The Librarian.  Here's the book trailer with a wonderfully dreamy description by the author Katherine Rundell.

Why I Bought It:  I am a huge fan of picture book biographies.  I read them to all of my students, even my youngest.  Here is a book by Deborah Heiligman about a person I had never even heard of before:  the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos.  I haven't read it yet because it's been snatched up my our school's math coach.  We have so many boys who love math in our school {and girls too} that I think this is going to be a very popular pick.

And that's Why I Bought It for today!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Room with a Review: Gargoyles Gone A.W.O.L

Title:  Gargoyles Gone A.W.O.L

Author:  Cl√©mentine Beauvais

Illustrator:  Sarah Horne

Month/Year Published:  U.S. Edition expected publication date 5/15/15

You May Know Her:  If you live in the United Kingdom where the third Sesame Seade mystery is already on shelves. BTW, she's also an academic at Cambridge and she writes in French as well.  Wow!

Review You May Not Have Seen:  Since her books are already popular in the United Kingdom, here's the Kirkus review of her first Sesame Seade book published in the U.S.   

The Review
Okay, prepare for some name dropping, which I rarely get to do, so please indulge me.  About three months ago I was on Twitter and I asked my tweeps for some recommendations for Brit Kid Lit mysteries. So my tweep {here's where the name dropping begins} Robin Stevens {author of MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE, soon to be released in the US as MURDER IS BAD MANNERS} directed me to Ms. Beauvais and the Sesame Seade mysteries.  I tucked that away for future reference.  

Fast forward last week to the National Council of Teachers of English conference.  I was meandering my way through the exhibit hall when I came to a tiny booth {here is where my name dropping fails me - I have no idea what booth I was at - I am SO SORRY booth!!} where I picked up a cute little book solely on the cover art.  Then my eye traveled to the author's name...Beauvais...Beauvais...THINK!  "Oh," I said.  "Not what you want?" said the lovely lady at The Booth.  "No!  This is British!!"  "Yes," said mystery lady, "it is!  I'm very impressed that you knew that!"  And then I skipped off with my copy of GARGOYLES GONE A.W.O.L. not believing my luck!!  {I even tweeted Ms. Beauvais to let her know <--author name drop}

But enough about me.  Welcome to Gargoyles Gone A.W.O.L, the second book in the Sesame Seade Mystery series.  Sesame Seade is really Sophie Seade who lives in Cambridge (England, not Mass.) with her parents who seem to be lumps but are really ultimately quite loving.  She has two chums that she pals around with {either on roller skates or a too tall bicycle} and this time the mystery involves missing gargoyles.  I was a sucker for this book from basically the first page where there is a MAP {who cannot love a book with a map - although is it too late to add The Senate House? - wink, wink} and the fact that there is British jargon, slang, what-have-you, tossed around throughout the book.  I'm glad this was left in the US version because frankly, my readers can handle it and honestly, who doesn't love adding a little Brit Lit Lingo to your every day vocabulary.  Add a grouchy cat gone suspiciously docile and a red herring hornet and you have GARGOYLES GONE A.W.O.L. {Plus something else that will make most of GGA readers go AWWWWW but even to mention it will give away part of the mystery.}

I thoroughly enjoyed this light-hearted, fast-paced mystery that shall find a place on my library bookshelves for my readers who already enjoy those eclectic and adventuresome Americans Judy Moody and Gooney Bird Greene.

**This review was based on an Advance Reader's Copy I received free of charge from...SO NCTE.  

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.
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