Saturday, October 25, 2014

Literary Pumpkins


The Worch Library announced their annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest recently. Hearing that the seventh and eighth grade category was severely lacking pumpkin entries last year, I decided to issue a challenge to my eighth grade students. It was simple. Create, on your own time, a pumpkin to enter in the contest. If my first class created at least ten pumpkins and my second class created at least seven pumpkins, we would walk our pumpkins over to the library during class time on Thursday. The catch? I challenged them to create literary pumpkins.

Happy Halloween!

 
 
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T.
 
P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery

 

"When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature."  --Ernest Hemingway
 
Characters. Some have a way of needling through to my heart and becoming more than just characters; they become a living person in my mind. These 'characters' are ones I want to know personally, ones I want to talk to, and ones I want to help through difficult times. Perhaps it's Benjamin in Donna Gephart's humorous book Death by Toilet Paper. Maybe it's Kaia in Tom Avery's gut-wrenching My Brother's Shadow.
 
In My Brother's Shadow, Avery tells the story of Kaia, a year 6 student in a London school. She has felt frozen since the tragic death of her older brother. Kaia's mother is oblivious to her daughter's struggles as she is living within bottles of liquor and seems more of a child than Kaia. Kaia also struggles at school with her classmates. They say she's a freak and ostracize her without trying to sympathize. The only saving grace is a new boy who shows up at school. He does not speak but becomes a friend with whom Kaia can talk and one with whom she can begin to share her feelings.
 
I empathized with Kaia. I wanted to reach out to her in the pages of this book to let her know I was there. I was listening. I wanted to let her know I was hurting along with her. She was a real person to me.
 
Sprinkled throughout My Brother's Shadow are Rules for Life, significant stepping stone lessons for Kaia. They also offer opportunities for readers to stop, think, and connect Kaia's lessons with their own lives.
 
This is a perfect book to recommend to my eighth graders. A very accessible book for these readers, it is one with a mature theme and dark tones. In ways, this story is almost as mysterious, dark and heart-wrenching as A Monster Calls
 
For me, the ending is satisfying. Although some readers may prefer to have all their questions answered at the end of a book, I like for questions to remain. I like filling in some of Kaia's story myself. But one thing is certain. In the ending of this book, there is hope. And as Tom Avery writes on his web site, "Hope is crucial in a children’s book."
 
Pair this book with Wenny Has Wings for a book talk, and young readers will be sure to stay a while with Kaia. The time I spent with her was valuable, and I think my students will feel the same way.
 
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T
 
P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
 
P.P.S. After writing my thoughts above, I kept going back to this story and uncovering deeper questions and meanings. I handed this book to my ninth grade daughter and after she finished reading, we had a lengthy discussion about the boy Kaia befriends. Wow. This book deserves close reading and thinking and discussion. It very well could be my next read aloud in the classroom.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart


It is sometimes quite hard to leave characters in their stories once I close the covers of a book. I feel invested in their lives; I have celebrated their successes and have sympathized with their struggles. This feeling of warmth for believable, real characters is exactly what I feel for Benjamin, the protagonist in Donna Gephart's newest novel, Death by Toilet Paper.

I became engaged in the life of twelve year-old Benjamin. I didn't want him to worry about the rent his mom couldn't pay. I wanted to run to my bank, make a withdrawal, and send an anonymous envelope to the Epsteins that could solve their dilemma.

I didn't want Benjamin to worry about the fact that his mom wasn't making enough money working at Piggy's Pancake House. I wanted to let my school know where they could hire a dependable, hard-working mother as a classroom or library aide.

I didn't want Benjamin to fret about his grandfather's forgetfulness. I wanted to comfort Ben and tell him of my own grandmother's struggle with a similar absent-mindedness to put him at ease.

That's what incredible books have. Authentic characters. Benjamin is an honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth, amazing-amazing-amazing kid. And I'll bet that every reader knows a kid just like Benjamin. That's why Death by Toilet Paper makes an excellent read.

I can't wait to book talk Benjamin's story to my eighth graders. In addition to the realistic protagonist and the exciting plot, this book is humorous. There are many snort-worthy sections. I know the exact pages I will read to begin my book talk ... pages 81-83. If these pages can be read silently or aloud without a single chortle, perhaps the reader should check his/her pulse.

The toilet paper facts at the beginning of each chapter only add to the enjoyment of reading this book. I have already shared several of the facts with my students. It's hard to resist!

I am happy to say that Benjamin has secured a forever home on the classroom bookshelf right next to Olivia and David and Vanessa. 

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reading Quote




*Thanks to Augusta Scattergood for sharing this quote from Raising Readers on her Facebook page. 

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer 2014 Bookaday


It's here! Summer! Reading! Bookaday!

Here's a quick look at some books I have read so far this summer! Remember, you can get updates on Goodreads and Twitter as well.


My first read this summer was Soldier Dog by Sam Angus. I had to take this one slowly due to my pitiful lack of background knowledge about World War I. However, Soldier, Bones, and Pistol (the war dogs) kept me engaged and reading until the very end which did NOT disappoint.

I will gladly hand this novel to my eighth graders in the fall. The vocabulary is challenging; I don't think I would have handed Soldier Dog to one of my sixth graders last year without support.

This is definitely a Kleenex book--you will want to keep the tissues handy while reading this one.


I have read many many many picture books already. These were just pure fun!

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant
Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales (Click HERE to watch and listen as Yuyi reads her book.)
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub (Click HERE to read a review on the Nerdy Book Club site.)
Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
America the Beautiful: Together We Stand by Katharine Lee Bates
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka (Click HERE to watch the book trailer.)
Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier
Warning: Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt (Click HERE to watch the book trailer.)
As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck
Tea Rex by Molly Idle (Click HERE to watch the book trailer.)
Ike's Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins
Look Up! The Story of the First Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
Ann and Nan are Anagrams: A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma by Mark Shulman (Read a review on Jen Robinson's Book Page HERE.)
Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park (Watch the book trailer HERE.)
The Hueys in...It Wasn't Me by Oliver Jeffers
Moonday by Adam Rex
Linus the Vegetarian T-Rex by Robert Neubecker
The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall (Click HERE to watch the book trailer.)
Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin


The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier was just the right kind of creepy read! I can't wait to share this book with students in the fall. It reminded me of Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky. Click HERE to visit the author's blog where he shares a list of songs that helped him finish writing The Night Gardener. Fantastic!


Bluffton has been on my TBR list for a while. This was an enjoyable read by Matt Phelan. Bluffton is a historical fiction graphic novel that I will definitely have my eighth graders put on their own TBR lists.


Looking for a good sports read? Swagger by Carl Deuker is a fantastic story with powerful messages. Short chapters will allow readers to slide into the story and travel with Jonas to his new town and new school. Readers will be drawn into Jonas's story and will have a hard time putting this one down. Swagger will absolutely be one of the first books I book talk to my eighth graders.


Yes, I FINALLY read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. I read this one so that I could talk with my students in the fall about Hazel and Gus. I can see why teens have latched onto this story. Click HERE to read John Green's answers to questions about this book. Spoilers are included, so don't read unless you have finished the book.


The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan was a powerful story about family, bullying, and first love. This novel in verse will be a good mentor text for poetry writing and writing notebook entries for my students.


As you can see...summer is for reading! What books have you read lately?

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Candymakers


The following book talk has been submitted by sixth grader Lydia G.


The Candymakers by Wendy Mass is a book about four kids: Logan Sweet, the candymaker's son; Miles O'Leary, a boy allergic to rowboats and the color pink; Daisy Carpenter, a cheerful, sweet girl (or so people think); and Philip Ransford III, a boy who wears a suit and tie for everything. These kids do not know anything about each other and that's good for some of them.

The kids are invited to the Life is Sweet candy factory to compete in a challenge of who can make the best candy. The winner is given a prize and more.

The Candymakers is divided into five parts; each character tells one part with the exception of Logan who tells the first and last part of the book. This book is part mystery and part friendship. 

When I first saw this book in the library, I thought it was a huge book (over 400 pages)! But I was up for the challenge, so I started the book. It was amazing! Each day as I put the book down, it looked like it was getting smaller and smaller. I didn't mind the length at all!

Wendy Mass did an excellent job writing this book. I liked the division of each character's perspective because I could hear the thoughts of all of the characters.

So give it a try, and see if you like it.

View Wendy Mass's website HERE.


Thank you, Lydia, for sharing this book!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Legend





The following book talk has been submitted by sixth grader Jaden P.

Legend by Marie Lu is a dystopian book like The Hunger Games and Divergent. This book takes place in the future where everything is different. The Colonies and Republic are at war while a raging plague is all over the area. The characters are June Iparis, a Republic prodigy, and Day Wing, a criminal legend. June is trying to find Day to take revenge for her brother's death, but a twist happens sending them on their journey.

For me, this book is amazing! I think the book was written well and had great details. I love that the book is set in the future so I can see the things that have changed. The characters are strong and powerful in this book, and that's another reason I like it. I am recommending this book because it is a great read. The reader gets to see into the minds of two people. It's very interesting to see two completely different lives intertwine to make the story.

Readers can find the Legend series website HERE.

Be sure to watch the Legend book trailer.  The book trailer for the second book in the series, Prodigy, can be watched HERE. The third book, Champion, also has a book trailer which can be found HERE.



Thank you, Jaden, for sharing this book! This series is going on my summer TBR list!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. Tyo

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Vanishing Coin

 
New drawings by Eric Wight? Yes, please!
 
The illustrator of the popular Frankie Pickle series makes a return in a new series authored by Kate Egan and Magician Mike Lane.  The Magic Shop series looks to be a promising one for budding magicians and readers alike.
 
In The Vanishing Coin (Book One), fourth grader Mike is having no luck in school. He finds himself in the office continuously because he cannot sit still in class. It's so bad that his parents won't let Mike play soccer.  Fourth grade is not looking so great.
 
Mike and Nora, a neighbor, stumble upon a quaint shop called the White Rabbit.  Part magic store, Mike meets Mr. Zerlin and is in for a magical transformation.
 
Not only will readers enjoy Mike's story, they will also learn some secrets to magic tricks included in the book.  My students had a fun time with "Can you cut a hole in this paper big enough to walk through?"
 
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T
 
P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
f

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday Reading Squiggles


What fun!
 
Last Friday, each sixth grader received a paper with a squiggle. A squiggle is nothing more than a random scribble that the students then turned into a picture or symbol about the book they were currently reading.  (I use a resource book called Squiggles: So Much Writing, So Much Fun, So Much Creativity by Patricia Pavelka.  Honestly, though, a simple scribble on a blank sheet of paper would work just as well.)  
 
The squiggle that the students used on Friday can be seen in most of the pictures below as two bold lines. After the students finished their illustration, each reader had a chance to share it with the class giving a quick book commercial at the same time. Not only did we see amazing creativity, we put some new books on our TBR lists as well!  
 
 
 Forest and stars from "Coyote and the Pebbles" (Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection by Matt Dembicki)

 
 Here is an important scene on the island of Chuuk in When the Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little.
 
 
Philip, Daisey, and Logan stand outside of the candy factory and talk before going inside and learning how to make candy.  (The Candymakers by Wendy Mass)

 Fisher is on a mission to find the Western Ark.  (The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eeekhout)
 
This boat plays a significant role in The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little.
 
 
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T
 
P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

World Read Aloud Day 2014


It has been exactly three weeks since World Read Aloud Day 2014.  It's time to recap the wonderful visits that took place on the first Wednesday in March of this year.







Nan Marino



At 8:30 in the morning, the sixth graders had the opportunity to Skype with Nan Marino, author of   Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me and Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace.  Nan talked about one of her earliest memories of being read aloud to.  She gushed with fond thoughts of her fourth grade teacher reading Charlotte's Web. This book holds many memories in its pages for Nan.

Nan told the sixth graders that reading (and writing) is like a muscle; we get rusty if we don't read and write. Nan also described the work that goes into writing a book.  She is always revising her stories.  She said that writers take chances, and writers always make mistakes.  In addition, she told the students about the hours of research she completed to define what sound a Slinky makes when writing her first book.  In the end, she decided the sound was, "Shink. Shink. Shink."

Nan reminded the students that, "Stories are amazingly powerful."  Before the Skype was over, Nan recommended A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell to the sixth graders as fantastic stories that were put on their TBR lists.

**We thank NAN MARINO so much for the time she took out of her busy day as a librarian and writer to meet with us and share her stories.







Sarah Albee



At 9:15 in the morning, we were very fortunate to Skype with Sarah Albee.  Sarah had a previous Skype visit scheduled that had to be postponed.  We snatched up the extra time, and the sixth graders were so glad we did!  Sixth graders think poop and bugs are two of the coolest and acceptably nastiest topics about which to read. 

Sarah kept the students entertained by reading about Ancient Egyptian poop.  The sixth graders had already studied the Ancient Egyptians and were pleased to add to their knowledge with facts from Poop Happened!: A History of the World From the Bottom Up

Sarah shared her early reading memories and talked about her parents' love of reading.  They were big storytellers. Sarah writes every day and often does so on her treadmill desk! The students decided they want one of these for the classroom!

Sarah loves research. She spoke to the students about calling up experts and going to the library. The students remained wide-eyed through the Skype and were amazed at the connections they had with her.  When Sarah recommended Wonder by R.J. Palacio and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, they were thrilled to have read both of these books, too. Sarah also recommended How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous.

**We thank SARAH ALBEE for fitting us into her World Read Aloud Day schedule. We cannot wait to read about the history of crazy fashion and look at the pictures in her soon-to-be book.






Kimberley
Griffiths
Little





The morning continued to fly by. At 10:20, Kimberley Griffiths Little joined us in the classroom via Skype.  Kimberley is the author of several books. Since our Skype, the sixth graders have been devouring The Healing Spell, Circle of Secrets, and When the Butterflies CameThe Time of the Fireflies will be a popular one when it is released in July.

Kimberley proved that WRAD was turning out to be "a long glorious day" when she read the first chapter of her newest book, The Time of the Fireflies, to the sixth graders. She told them they were the first to ever hear the beginning chapter of the book read aloud!

She showed the students pictures of beautiful butterflies from her research of When the Butterflies Came. Students saw the red lacewing, small blue, and the piano key butterflies. Kimberley talked to the students about writing being a lot of thinking and a lot of questions.  She uses a notebook for ideas and discussed her 3x5 card plotting.

**We thank KIMBERLEY GRIFFITHS LITTLE for Skyping with us on World Read Aloud Day. The sixth graders are voraciously reading her books and enjoying them.  The students also thank her for sending gorgeous bookmarks and book club cards!







Donna Gephart 




World Read Aloud Day would not be complete without a Skype visit from the ever-fantastic, super-hysterical, greatly-loved Donna Gephart. We Skyped at 11:00 in the morning which was apparently the perfect time for the Internet to go haywire!  Alas!

Even though our connection was not perfect, the sixth graders clearly understood why Donna remains a favorite in our classroom. Through her witty and entertaining story of her sister and The Price is Right to the exclamation of "You will never ever be a writer!" she had the students laughing and learning the entire visit. Is it surprising that Donna is teaching a creative writing class this year?

Oh the fun we had! Donna had the perfect book recommendations of Holes by Louis Sachar and A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban.  She also mentioned a *personal* favorite (of this teacher) when she named Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick.

**We thank DONNA GEPHART for taking time to Skype with us. The sixth graders absolutely, hands-down, 100% definitely, positively, no-bones-about-it, CANNOT WAIT for Death by Toilet Paper to get delivered to our bookstores this summer. You rock, Donna! You rock!








Greg van Eekhout  


 


World Read Aloud Day continued into the afternoon. At 12:30 we were joined by Greg van Eekhout, author of Kid vs. Squid and The Boy at the End of the World.  Greg graciously read aloud to us from The Boy at the End of the World. Many readers were hooked on Fisher's story that day and multiple copies of the book had to be requested from the local library.

Greg had very wise words for the sixth graders. He told us that writers have to write "a million words of junk before you do good writing."  He said that "not writing" is "a big failure for writers" and that one has to "write a bad book before a good book." 

The most poignant of all advice from Greg was the quote "Fill your life with words."

Before we said good-bye, Greg recommended The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate to us. The students loved hearing that this author had a special place in his heart for a book they loved as well.  Greg told the students that Ivan was actually an inspiration for his work in progress, a "robot book."

**We thank GREG VAN EEKHOUT and DOZER for taking time to Skype with us. The sixth graders appreciate the fact that he was willing to read aloud to us. The students thought Greg was quite funny and sincere and hope that we get to read another book from him very soon!








Chris Grabenstein







World Read Aloud  Day couldn't end any better than with our 1:00 Skype with Chris Grabenstein. Even though this visit (at first) had no audio, Chris was the ultimate puzzle solver. Hmmm....a little bit like Kyle in Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library?!  We made a phone call, and by holding a microphone next to a cell phone, we were able to hear Chris perfectly and talk books and writing!

Chris shared the question spotlight with his famous dog Fred for a minute during the Skype visit. However, the students were eager to hear from Chris and learn more about his writing life. He talked about collaborating with James Patterson on I Funny and Treasure Hunters. He talked about his newest book, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

All of Chris's books have been checked out since our visit, and some students are on the third and fourth book in The Crossroads series. Students are also enjoying solving puzzles along with Kyle in Luigi's library.

**We thank CHRIS GRABENSTEIN and FRED and PHOEBE SQUEAK and TIGER LILLY and PARKER for taking time to Skype with us and sending pictures to us after our visit. We know how busy he must be and very much appreciate the extra effort he went to in order to make our visit happen on WRAD.


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the authors! You are our ROCK STARS!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Snicker of Magic


It’s about words. It’s about ice cream. It’s about magic. It’s about family. 
It’s about Felicity Juniper Pickle and Jonah Pickett.  It’s about Frannie Jo and Mama. It’s about Miss Lawson. It’s about the Brothers Threadbare.  It’s about Day Grissom, Aunt Cleo, Oliver and Charlie Sue.  It’s about Boone and Florentine and Jewell and Rosie and Elvis Phillips. It’s about Midnight Gulch and everything that happens after the Pickled Jalapeno pulls into town.
 
This story is comparable to making a big ‘ole ice cream sundae. Take your favorite kind of ice cream and start drizzling a variety of toppings over it…In A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, take Felicity, Frannie Jo, and Mama then start drizzling other characters into their lives—Jonah, Cleo, and the rest of the residents of Midnight Gulch.  In the end, there is one delicious taste and satisfying ending.
 
Here's just a taste of A Snicker of Magic...“Believe. The letters were made of melted sunshine. They dripped down the window glass, warm and tingly against our faces. Believe is a powerful word to see and to say.  But that morning, I felt it. And feeling it was the best of all. I knew something wonderful was about to happen to me.  I didn’t know what, or why, or how. But I believed.”

Patch it
Mend it
Stitch it back together

Want another bite? “I bet there’s a snicker of magic on every street, in every old building, every broken heart, every word of a story.  Maybe it’s hidden away and you need to look harder for it. Or maybe the magic is right there, right in front of you, and all you have to do is believe.”
 
Yes, Yes Yes!

Factofabulous
 
Spindiddly


Be sure to visit the author's blog HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Flora and Ulysses


cynic  malfeasance  tentative  inadvertently  obliged  mundane  smug  heinous  eradicate  deplete  literal  envision  treacherous  vanquish  stout   capacious  foreboding  immensely  perpetually  retract  inept  relevant  pervasive  strewn  inexplicable  ... 

Words have flying around the classroom like superheroes during our most recent read aloud, Flora and Ulysses.  The 2014 Newbery Medal Winner about a girl and a rescued squirrel held the sixth graders' attention from beginning to end. I think we are still seeing Kate DiCamillo's captivating language in comic-strip bubbles over our heads!

We ate donuts with sprinkles and wrote letters and poetry.  We cheered for Ulysses. We rooted for Flora. We empathized with William Spiver.  We shook our heads at Phyllis Buckman.  We adored Mr. Buckman.  "How do you do?" 


You haven't read Flora and Ulysses?  Such a malfeasance! Get to your library or local bookstore to pick up this delightful story. (And don't forget to swing by your grocery store and grab a bag of cheese puffs to go along with it.)

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year...of Reading!


What better way to come back to the blog than to share the good Nerdy news...the 2014 Middle Grade Nerdies Announcement!



Before I list the winners and link to the Nerdy Book Club website, I'd like to acknowledge the other nominees. When taking a look at this list, you'll wonder how readers were able to vote in the first place.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle - This book is on my TBR list, and I will be getting to it as soon as possible. Looks good!

Doll Bones by Holly Black - Read it. Book talked it. Students are reading it. What more can I say?

Every Day After by Laura Golden - This is another book on my TBR list. It sounds wonderful, and I've only read the first line of the book, "I learned a lot from my daddy, but the number one most important thing is this: never, ever, under any circumstances, let something get the best of you."

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett - I actually had this checked out from the library but didn't have a chance to read it. It's a new year, though, which means more time for reading!

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia - I'm feeling terrible here! No, I haven't read this one, even though it is in my classroom. I must rectify this soon! I did read One Crazy Summer and loved it. I'm sure to like this sequel.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech - What a great story and wonderful testament to foster families! I have this book in the classroom and have encouraged all my students to pick it up and devour it.

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban - This is a book I would love to go back to and reread sometime. I will be book talking this in the new year to my sixth graders. What reader wouldn't be intrigued by a story that takes place in the course of a single parade route?

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen - I love Jaron's story that began in The False Prince and continues in this book. I cannot wait for the next book The Shadow Throne coming out February 25.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt - Don't miss out on reading this fun story! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just may pick up the audio version of this book and 'read' it with my students. I have heard that the audio version is amazing with Lyle Lovett as the reader.

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore - It's on the TBR list. I think the cover has been keeping me from reading it. I should trust my Nerdy friends, though, and pick this one up soon.

Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner - I've read just about every Kate Messner book, but this, too, is on the TBR list. I'm sure I won't be disappointed when I finally grab this one.


SO THERE! Do you see how hard the vote must have been? Nearly impossible.



The WINNERS of the 2014 MIDDLE GRADE NERDIES are...and I have read every single one...


 
 
THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu
 
 
COUNTING BY 7S by Holly Goldberg Sloan
 
 
 
 
FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo
 
 
Travel over to The Nerdy Book Club's site to read more about these finalists. Which ones can you not wait to read?
 
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T
 
P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library


Wait a second. The Crossroads? Why is this post titled "Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library" yet The Crossroads cover is here?


Good question! 

I loved reading The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein. What a spooky story! I recommend it every year to all my sixth grade readers (and other readers I happen to see in the library).

Zack, his dad, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father's hometown in Connecticut, not knowing that their new house has dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took forty innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn't over, and Zack is directly in his sights.  -from the website of Chris Grabenstein

Sounds awesome, right?

So when I saw that the author had a new book, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, what else could I do but pick it up and read it?

                                               
Can twelve 12-year-olds escape from the most ridiculously brilliant library ever created?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library plunks a dozen sixth-graders into the middle of a futuristic library for a night of nonstop fun and adventure.

In a nod to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this fast-paced new novel features an eccentric billionaire who welcomes a group of children into a fantasy setting full of weird, wondrous touches.

Kyle is a game fan--board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle's hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town's new public library, which contains not only books, but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.

Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello's most fabulous prize ever. -from the website of Chris Grabenstein

This book is great fun! I enjoyed playing the game with Kyle. Alas, I am a horrible game player and Kyle had it figured out before I did. (I did better at The Westing Game!)  Which makes me even sadder to say that there is another game afoot! In the ending pages of the book, the author lets readers know there is one puzzle that is in the book but not in the story. Readers who can find and solve the bonus riddle will have a chance to win an exciting prize. 

Will I really be sharing this new book with my students? Yo! Yes!  But for now I will simply go for a quiet walk in my secret garden to look for snozzcumbers and contemplate what book I should start next. Great Scott! Gadzooks! One half of my life is reading books!

Click HERE to view the BOOK TRAILER for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
P.P.S. Did you catch what I did there at the end? Those allusions? That's another reason why you'll love reading about Mr. Lemoncello's library. See how many you can find in this book!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ghetto Cowboy


"You never know what someone will do with his life once he finds himself."

From G. Neri's website:
"When Cole's mom dumps him in mean streets of Philly to live with the dad he's never met, the last thing Cole expects to see is a horse--let alone a stable full of them. He may not know much about cowboys, but what he knows for sure is that cowboys ain't black and they don't live in the inner city!  But on Chester Avenue, horses are a way of life, and soon Cole's days of goofing off and skipping school in Detroit have been replaced by shoveling muck and trying not to get stomped on.

“Crazy as it may seem, the lifestyle grows on Cole, and he starts to think that maybe life as a ghetto cowboy isn’t so bad. But when the City threatens to shut down the stables—and take away the horse that Cole has come to think of as his own—he knows that he has to fight back.

“Inspired by the real-life inner-city horsemen of Philadelphia and Brooklyn, Ghetto Cowboy is a timeless urban western about learning to stand up for what’s right—the Cowboy Way.”

Hold your horses and stampede to your local library or bookstore! Wrangle yourself a copy of Ghetto Cowboy and giddy-up reading.

Stop. Hold the horse puns. This is not your typical horse story. In fact, I cannot wait to give this book to some of my "traditional horse story readers" in class. They will be amazed at the inner-city horse world that opens up in front of them.

I found this story interesting from the beginning and believable until the very end. I was rooting for Cole and Harper, Jamaica Bob and Tex, and even Smush and Snapper. Kids will love entering this cowboy world and learning the Cowboy Way. 

Visit G. Teri's website HERE.  Make sure to watch the book trailer HERE.

Happy Reading! 

Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Runaway King

It is appropriate that I should come back to my very neglected blog with Jennifer Nielsen's The Runaway King.  The last book I posted about back in January *hanging head in shame* was The False Prince, the first book in The Ascendance Trilogy. Jaron is back in The Runaway King, and I couldn't be happier.

The second installment in Nielsen's series is just as engrossing as the first. Jaron will take you along on his adventure to keep the crown...by fleeing the throne!


"Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation.  Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya.  Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it.

"As his adventures lead him into dangerous new territory, Jaron must learn to tell his friends from his enemies and decide who he can trust--if he can trust anyone at all.  But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far.  Will he ever be able to return home again?  Or will he have to sacrifice his own life to save his kingdom?"


To my former students: I have introduced you to The False Prince. You must read this first book if you haven't yet and quickly go check out The Runaway King so as not to miss these books!

To my future students: I cannot wait to tell you all about Jaron and Carthya. This will be one series you'll want to put on your TBR list.

Check out Jennifer Nielsen's website HERE.  Get a sneak peek at the third book in The Ascendance Trilogy (The Shadow Throne) HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The False Prince


I first "met" Jennifer Nielsen when she graciously created a video for our middle school promoting our book fair and The False Prince.

"The False Prince is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end. In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

"An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats."


It took me ONE day over Christmas break to read this book, and I told my students about Sage's story immediately upon returning to the classroom.  There are now two copies of The False Prince circulating in the classroom, and several students have read the book and are recommending it to their friends. We are anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.  Some of us just can't wait. So here is some incredible "can't wait" news...

#1 - Jennifer Nielsen is holding a giveaway of THE RUNAWAY KING on her blog.  Click HERE to enter.

#2 - Sorry to further tempt you, but a MOVIE is in the works.  Click HERE to read the exciting news.

This is a MUST read book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Just when you think you have this story figured out, twists and turns will make you gasp in wonder!

Read this one. Seriously.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Tree 2012


Last year I showed my students a picture of a book tree I had seen on the Internet.  It didn't take long before we had our own book tree built in our classroom.  We did the same this year.


Each holiday season our awesome local library has businesses and organizations decorate themed Christmas trees for patrons to enjoy. Christmas trees dot the floor of the library decked out with ornamental splendor.  What better contribution to themed Christmas trees in a library than a book Christmas tree!

Worch Library was very welcoming of the idea, so on our December visit to the library, my students not only treated themselves to checking out their monthly cache of books, they also built a book tree.  The students thought they were privileged individuals when they were escorted into the basement and given free reign in the discarded book stacks to choose and bring up to the main floor the texts they would need.  Here is what resulted from their efforts...


Fantastic, right?  What made this tree even more special?  My students made bookmark ornaments for the tree.  Listed on each bookmark was their favorite book or a book recommendation.

         

And just when we thought this book tree couldn't get any better, the wonderful librarians placed these signs on top of the book tree...

Worch Library held a contest to see if patrons could guess how many books were in the book tree! Great idea! How fun!  How many books did it take to build this tree?  We don't know until we take it down on Wednesday this week!  We'll have to count the books then!  (Leave a comment if you'd like to guess, and I'll let you know the number later this week.)

Happy Holidays! Happy Reading!
Mrs. T  :)

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!