Monday, July 30, 2012

What Are You Reading? Monday

Thoughts ... all reviews in limited weekly posts (like this one?) or lots of shorter posts throughout the week? I see pros/cons to both. Easier to search on separate posts. Slightly overwhelming on multiple posts. Though once school starts I won't have as much time to read. :/

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now… who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.
GREAT IDEA! Check out all of the What Are You Reading? participants for title ideas.

Dog Loves DrawingDog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh ... Dog is back. And he gets to go on a fun adventure!

This could be a fun introduction to "writing" for little ones who don't quite have the letter formation/spelling/handwriting skills to express the stories their heads can create. They may not be able to write the word "train" but they can try drawing one. Practice expressing their stories whatever way they can express them will give them the confidence and skills to transfer over to writing when the time comes.

The book could also be used in a lesson with the kids who can already write. When Dog isn't quite sure what to draw in his new sketchbook? He gets some great advice.

Must go pre-order this one right now. :]

Oh, No!Oh, No! by Candace Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one begs to be read aloud to an audience who will delight in repeating the "Oh no!"s over and over. I can hear them already

Plus I love the illustrations. My favorite is ... I think it's a lemur? I'm no animal expert but her name is Loris.

Middle Grade
Zita the SpacegirlZita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am curious to read more of Zita's adventures.
And I like the friends she makes along the way.

The City of Ember: The Graphic NovelThe City of Ember: The Graphic Novel by Jeanne DuPrau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

SQUEAL! Got to see a preview of this one.

The good ... the graphic novel style? It's totally growing on me. The artwork in this one is COOL. Managed to totally convey the sense of place without giving everything away.

The not quite as good ... for the sake of space (I would guess) some parts of the story were abbreviated. Now, if you hadn't read the original you may not even notice it. But if you HAVE read it ... I kind of felt like it left the pacing and FEEL of the story a little wanting. Examples include how fast they decipher the clues in the note. Lizzie's friendship with Looper. (Is it just me or is it so quick here it's a little untoward?) Lina telling Doon about her grandmother.

To me? It's kind of like the difference between a movie and the book. Both are different art forms and have strengths and weaknesses. So your best bet? ENJOY BOTH.

Summer of the Gypsy MothsSummer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a beautiful little story. Very well written and very different from Clementine (which is the author's work I was previously most familiar with.

Just ... sad. So very sad along the way.

One Year in Coal HarborOne Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was HILARIOUS in some places. I haven't read Everything on a Waffle but I have read some of her other books and she just does quirky and funny turns of phrase so well.

So ... rating for me? Four stars. I started taking some screen shots in Skitch (since you can't bookmark or make notes electronic advanced reading copies, which is how I was reading it) of the funniest lines. I was going to quote a couple of them here.

But there were so many! And having to retype everything ... no. I'll just say funny and share one. The scene where the two people are over having dinner and it is not going so well? Some of them start talking just to fill the silence. "Uncle Jack alone retained his savoir faire as if he were completely at home with people who would really be better off heavily sedated" (p 29 in the advance copy). And do NOT miss the town meeting which was, sadly, a "pastryless event" (p 118).

BUT ...
I really can't think of an elementary student to share this with. I've tried to share some of her books in our collection but haven't ever really found the student that connected with them. Who is the intended audience? The main character is twelve. Do middle school students like her writing? In terms of kid appeal a three.

The ClassroomThe Classroom by Robin Mellom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked Trevor. The slightly nerdy total worrier is a bit overdone but that's OK. We like underdogs, don't we?

This book is set in seventh grade (which is the first year of middle school in this setting) and his best friend Libby decides they need to expand their friend horizons and hang out with other people. They will no longer be friend friends Oh. And they each have to get a date to the dance on the first day of school.

Molly? I was not quite as fond of Molly. Though you have to feel a little bad for her seeking attention like she does.

The doodles and stage directions (for some reason this is set up as a documentary ... which I don't really think was necessary but it wasn't a terrible choice, either) were kind of fun.

Wilson and Marty were two of my favorite characters.

The Candy Shop WarThe Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lots of imagination in this one. Fun little twists and turns and candy elements. Likable characters.

Just couldn't quite ever get over 1)kids breaking the rule DON'T TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS; 2)not quite getting Dart's role in the whole thing; and 3)the time travel explanation made my head hurt!

The White City (The Clockwork Dark #3)The White City by John Claude Bemis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nice finish to the trilogy. Some unexpected parts ... some for the good and others less so. Still. For a random pick off the shelves I'm satisfied!

Solitary (Escape From Furnace, #2)Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

OK. I'm starting to get annoyed now.


And still a little grossed out. It's a morbid curiosity, for sure.

Death Sentence (Escape From Furnace, #3)Death Sentence by Alexander Gordon Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I stayed up Way. Too. Late. last night reading (well ... let's be honest ... skimming parts of) this one.

Something about the story keeps me fascinated. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN. I want an at least semi-happy ending.

But there are still some gory scenes that I skip over. Ugh. And I'm still a bit frustrated--is it a spoiler if we already know there are at least two more books to say there is still NO CLOSURE?

Curious as to what this author is like in "real" life. This is one messed up story.

But you still keep rooting for the main characters. They made some BIG mistakes. But not to the point where they ever even remotely deserve what they are getting. You want the bad guys to pay for what they've done. In a court of law. Would a court of law ever be able to properly punish the warden? And ... the blacksuits? What about them?

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

I'm going to have to think about this one and get back to you. I liked some things about it. I didn't like a lot of things about it.

Still Plugging Away

In Pictures and in Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration StudyIn Pictures and in Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study by Katie Wood Ray

So interesting. Help teach little ones to WRITE by teaching them about illustration. Love it!

I See What You Mean: Visual Literacy K-8I See What You Mean: Visual Literacy K-8 by Steve Moline

Teaching kiddos to take their info and make it visual. I really do want to incorporate more of this but I have to think it through myself. I am a word person. Not a really a graph or timeline person. Maybe a diagram.

Choice WordsChoice Words by Peter H. Johnston

How we talk to kids. Yes! It matters.

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

Listening to the audiobook (cause COME ON IT'S WESLEY CRUSHER aka Wil Wheaton). Could do without some of the language in it but besides that ... COOL.

Next Up

The Last Echo
Haunting of Apartment 101
The Great Unexpected
however many Babymouse and Lunch Ladys I can get my hands on (almost done but not quite!)
perhaps a visit to B&N for some picture books?


PS Can you tell I am excited? Get them here.

PSPS And a reminder!

Go here for more info on my presentation and here for all of the webinars. You will have to give them your email so sometimes (shh!) I just delete messages they send without reading them. And sometimes I read them and they offer useful information. It's up to you!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Books About School

Picture Books
BaileyBailey by Harry Bliss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great for the beginning of the year. Well, really any time. But especially then.

Plus I love the whole decision about which collar to wear. :]

View all my reviews Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School ShoesPete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin

Of course we all know this one. I had some kids help me make this book trailer the last couple days of school. We'll show it to the new kinders.

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the SchoolThe Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray

This looks cute. I haven't used it but it looks cute.
We're not allowed to give treats but I like these ideas.
But I LOVE this idea.

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two VoicesMessing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco

Need some poetry? Fluency practice? Not for beginning readers but third or fourth grade will be fine.

First Week at Cow SchoolFirst Week at Cow School by Andy Cutbill

Another one of the "everyone is different and that's OK" stories. But this one was a little different. So it's OK. ;]

Rules for SchoolRules for School by Alec Greven

This is the same author that wrote How to Talk to Girls when he was in the 4th grade. Hilarious! And spot on! (Actually, you need all of his books in your classroom and library collections.)

One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and BeyondOne Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I love how she relates vocabulary words to different kinds of cookies.

Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School BusTen Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits

To be honest a little long for reading aloud to younger students unless you break it up. But super fun as like a model text.

Skippyjon Jones, Class ActionSkippyjon Jones, Class Action by Judy Schachner

No explanation needed. Did you get a copy at Kohls?

I'm Not Ready!I'm Not Ready! by Jonathan Allen

I have a thing for owls. Cute, fluffy ones who are nervous to go to school.

Rain SchoolRain School by James Rumford

I go to this one when I am ready to scream at our frustrating "library with no walls in the middle of a major traffic hallway" situation. It's all in the attitude.

And these don't have the pretty cover embed code because I never put them on Goodreads after I finished them and if I do it now and mess up my "numbers" for this year's goal. :/ So ... sorry!

What a Day It Was at School by Jack Prelutsky

This Is the Teacher by Rhonda Greene
I love the hamster that you can find on every page.

Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

Back to School Rules by Laurie Friedman

Manners at School by Carrie Finn

Chapter Books (possible read alouds for really second through fifth)
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Alvin Ho, #1)Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
--FUNNY! The scene where all the boys in the class are stuck up the tree in their underwear? Priceless.

Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily DisastersJustin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters by Rachel Vail

I love it. The Hat Dance is one particular part I remember ... but there were lots of funny places. ;]
I just finished the next one (summer vacation). Also hilarious!

Friendship According to HumphreyFriendship According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

Most of the books in this series center around the classroom. Would make for a great read aloud for second grade and up.

Oh, a similar one? I, Freddy by Dietlof Reiche.

The Teacher's Funeral : A Comedy in Three PartsThe Teacher's Funeral : A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck

This one is historical fiction so the kiddos would need some context. Maybe fourth grade and up? I love the first line. "If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of the year for it." Who would the worst possible substitute be if you were a young boy? That's right ... HIS OLDER SISTER. I loved that. I'm the oldest of six. ;]

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio

Also set in the main character's home and not just school ... but any chance to talk this one up I will take it. If you want to open the floor up to discussion on accepting differences in the classroom? THIS IS THE BOOK. I would say third grade read aloud and up.

Any of the Lunch Lady books. They are funny and based around the school. Our students like to write their own stories and make up new Lunch Lady spy equipment. ;]
Several of the Babymouse ones feature classroom scenes as well.

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming--I really liked this one and with the fables lends itself to all sorts of writing connections. Not as big a fan of the fifth grade incarnation.

My Weird School series by Dan Gutman--maybe not so much of a read aloud (although that would work) as one you want to have at least a few of available either in the classroom or the school collection.

So these are some of my favorites. What are yours?


Post Graphic ... Jen Jones/ Hello Literacy

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Magnetic ABC ... thought it could be a center where the little ones match up sight words related to a story.

Rhyming Words ... match pictures of rhyming words. It is VERY simple. Wish you could control which words were offered.

Poetry Creators ... like the magnetic words on the refrigerator.

Story Maker ... basic app is free but of course to get most of the content there are in-app purchases (which you can easily block in the iPad settings).

Shel Silverstein ... animations from his website.

Alphabeast ... funny ABC book. Still need to come up with the task cards. When I do you'll know!

Mad Libs

Smule ... it's just the freebie version. "Play" piano songs. Not sure what the library use will be so it may or may not be deleted.

FacesiMake ... TOO FUN. You must pair it with My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and My Best Friend Is as Sharp as a Pencil. Wonderful for poetic language lessons.

The two neon "drawing" programs (Glow Draw and Glow Jump)? I actually heard about them from a presenter who had a 1:1 classroom. She used them for math and having the kids show their work. I still have to figure out how to best yes them in the library. Right now? PRETTY.

Chalkboard is pretty much what it sounds like. Could be fun for creating screen shot images.

I got the three drawing apps when they were free.

The two Lego ones? Well ... what you might expect from freebies. OK but don't expect too much.


Part One (book apps). Part Two (media creation and video apps). Part Three (Notes, Utilities, & MindMapping). Part Four (teacher librarian apps).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Packaging

So Professor Nana has shared a couple posts about this and it got me thinking.

1) I already asked a couple parents if they thought "bedtime bundles" would go over well. I saw them at our public library. Basically it's a preselected 4-5 books tied up in curling ribbon and sent home once a week. They were based on a theme (cows, snakes, frogs, fairy tales, etc). There's a new book to read almost every night (along with a night or two to repeat a favorite). I was thinking of having parents sign up like at Meet the Teacher Night as well as the first week or two of school. My original thoughts are to let what ... about 20 families sign up for a bundle twice a month? Just to see how it goes (if families really return the bundles on time and if we can keep up with the shelving)? If I was super on top of things I'd get like cute bags and all ... but it's better to start half-crocked than wait forever until it is "perfect," isn't it?

2) How could I do more of this in OUR space when it feels like 9.9 days out of 10 I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. You know the drill. So far these are my random ideas. Most of them are as cheap as I can think of because hello ... 700+ kids and 30 something teachers? Parents? You have it a little easier. Still budgets but you should also check out this blog series ... 150 Ways to Give a Book. Still have to think through the "delivery" as of course if one student gets something they all want it. But for those kids who really need the attention ... how fun would this be? Would feel like Santa Claus. These are in very random order as this was just how blogger uploaded them.

 Pretty easy. A blank Stanley template and a (stamped) envelope? And possibly even a pre-addressed envelope of a friend willing to write back. Kiddos would love mail and love seeing pics of "their" Stanley elsewhere but may not know anyone to send it to. Only ... I wonder if you'd have to like not even share the student's name for privacy concerns. Hmmmm.
This one was a little harder. A cheap magnifying glass or flashlight? (Really for any of the Nancy Drews or any other mystery.) Or if budget is really limited (and whose isn't) a diecut cutout bookmark of one of those shapes.
A yellow crayon? Or again a diecut? (I just gave my copy away so I'm trying to remember what color Ivan liked to use in the story.)

A piece of green paper ready to fold. Or ... I just saw on Pinterest some homemade light sabers using duct tape and pool noodles. Occurred to me that the package of straws I picked up just because the colors were so bright and cheery ... with a little bit of black electrical tape couldn't it look like a light saber bookmark? Maybe it's the SW Nerd in me who is, BTW, SO EXCITED ABOUT STAR WARS READS DAY.
Is it possible to get even fake shark's teeth necklaces inexpensively? Or like a little "kit" with the basic materials and directions to make something like this.
This one's easy with some help from the teacher. A little anonymous note to the student (just like in the story) expressing appreciation for some of their positive qualities. Then have it mysteriously appear in their desk (while at specials or what have you). Would have to probably mention something about oh, BTW, this is a library book so please return it. But still. A thank you note. We all like them.

A similar idea could also work for Chasing Vermeer ... a mysterious letter appearing in the classroom/desk addressed to a student.

Note to self. Stock up on plastic spider rings when Halloween gets closer. Or, even better, when it's over and they are on clearance. (Check other holiday related items ... rats, skeletons, turkeys, gingerbread men, snowflakes, valentines, Easter eggs, etc. for other possible ideas.)
Save the trading cards that sometimes come in the issues of SI for Kids and hand them out as special bookmarks to kiddos reading sports related books.


PS I still remember ... not sure how I even got it but I received a BEAUTIFULLY packaged preview of All the World. It was in a box of shredded tan paper with a small shell and pretty blue stone. Lovely, lovely, lovely.