Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mal and Chad

Meet Mal. He's the cutest boy genius ever!

Meet Chad. He's the funniest doggy companion ever!

Meet Stephen McCranie. He's the bestest graphic novelist ever!

Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever is a graphic novel that needs to be added to your TBR pile if you have not yet read it.

Mal, cutest boy genius ever, needs to write an essay about what he wants to be when he grows up, and he has two days to complete it.

Chad, funniest doggy companion ever, tries to suggest ideas to Mal.

First, Chad suggests the occupation of a scuba diver. With a bit of Mal's genius and a touch of Stephen McCranie's fantastical imagination, Mal and Chad are shrunk into bitty-sized divers, just the perfect proportion to explore the depths of the kitchen sink!

After avoiding possible sinking down the drain, Chad suggests the occupation of an archaeologist. Into the time machine go Mal and Chad to the dinosaur age. Excitement and danger abound!

Will Mal and Chad make it back home safely? Will Mal figure out what he wants to be when he grows up so he can complete his essay for school?

There are so many great things about this book...**tension between Mal and another character (Zachary)...**a smidgen of "like" between Mal and Megan...**humor that will make even the oldest reader (me!) giggle...**auto-inflating ducky boats...**Yum Sauce (makes anything taste like your favorite food)...**a perfect ending with the BESTEST message.

I'm sure you will find other reviews written about Mal and Chad, but I am here to say, "THIS IS ONE OF THE BESTEST GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR KIDS THAT I HAVE READ IN A WHILE!!!" I just know my students are going to eat this first book up--no Yum Sauce required!

Luckily, there are two more Mal and Chad books I can give to readers. Mal and Chad: Food Fight! and Mal and Chad: Belly Flop!  (Belly Flop! is out in bookstores TODAY.)
To visit the author's website, click HERE. To view a trailer of the newest book, click HERE.

Tune in tomorrow for a glimpse into our classroom Skype visit with Stephen. It was the BESTEST time!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T  :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Auggie!

Versailles Middle School has completed reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Even though the reading is over, the lessons and discussions continue.

On October 10, sixth grade students celebrated Auggie's birthday. The students brought in cards and gifts for him.  Whether it was a new puppy or a Star Wars art set, the students showed that they knew Auggie and thought about what he would like best.
Here is one of my favorite gifts for Auggie...

After sharing their gifts, students celebrated by singing to Auggie and eating cake! While I do not have any pictures of my homemade cakes (including the one with smooshed icing because my daughter's gym bag landed on top of it during our ride to school that morning), I do have this picture of AUGGIE COOKIES!  Our fifth, seventh, and eighth graders ate these yummy cookies baked by Aunt Julie's Cookies and More.
Stay tuned for details about our Skype visit with R.J. Palacio as well as a special standing ovation for some very WONDER-ful kids!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T  :)

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The wonder that is Wonder has hit Versailles Middle School in rural Ohio.  All students in fifth through eighth grades have met Auggie and have heard his story.

Our experience started one day last spring as an innocent conversation over lunch.

"I've heard of schools that select one book to read. I wonder if we could do that here."

"Have you read Wonder by R.J. Palacio?"

Here are some of our plans that have transpired since that initial lunchtime conversation...

*Middle school teachers read Wonder at the end of last year and over the summer and agreed that this book would be the perfect way to begin a new school year.

*Our principal ordered all of our language arts teachers a copy of Wonder to be read aloud to the students.

*Parents were invited to join in the reading of Wonder.  A letter was sent out during the first week of school inviting them to read along with their child.  Parents secured a copy of Wonder at the bookstore of their choice, at a local library, or sent in payment to their child's teacher for the book to be ordered for them.  A total of 79 books were ordered and delivered to parents!

*Tomorrow, October 10 is Auggie's birthday! Students will be signing the Choose Kind pledge HERE.  (Random House Children's Books will donate $1 to PACER'S National Bullying Prevention Center for every pledge in October.)  Students will also be signing two huge "Choose Kind" signs that will hang in our hallway at school. Some classrooms have planned a birthday celebration to include cupcakes and 'gifts' for Auggie.  A post will run later this week with a wrap-up of our festivities.   

*Parents are invited to join a Skype visit with author R.J. Palacio on Wednesday, October 17. Our fifth through eighth grade students will meet R. J. Palacio via Skype in our theater. I will be sure to post about our meeting after it takes place.

*On October 22 at 7:00-8:00 in the evening, parents who have read Wonder are invited to a Grand Discussion.  Parents and students will come together for an evening of discussion around Auggie's story.  It is our goal to provide parents and their child with the time to share a great book and a fun evening in which to discuss it.

Our students and staff feel blessed to have shared this story together. So many valuable discussions have resulted.  Following are some more ideas that our teachers have used with students in their classrooms...

**There is a weekly quote in my classroom.  The students write our weekly quote in their Language Arts notebook each Monday.  Attendance is taken every day with each student repeating the weekly quote.  After six weeks, the students can recite all of the weekly quotes we have had since the beginning of school! 

Week 1 Quote = "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." -Aesop

Week 2 Quote = "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." -Wonder

Week 3 Quote = "Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up." -Jesse Jackson

Week 4 Quote = "Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns."  -Author Unknown

Week 5 Quote = "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -Mother Teresa

Week 6 Quote = "Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness." -Seneca

Week 7 Quote = "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato

**I have been sharing the CCA (Children's Craniofacial Association) Kids Blog with my students.  They are amazed by the stories of the kids that we have read there.  Most recently, Peter's story has touched us. He and Auggie share so many similarities.  

**One of our seventh grade teachers had her students draw a picture of what they thought Auggie looked like as she read.  She then held the pictures up in front of the class and they had a discussion about their reactions to the drawings and how those reactions would be similar or different if they met Auggie face to face.  This led to a discussion on empathy and acceptance. "It was very powerful," said the teacher.

**The seventh grade teachers had their classes write letters to Julian's mother after learning how Mrs. Albans felt about Auggie being at school with her son.  The letters were written in groups and contained powerful words for Julian's mother.

Versailles Middle School says, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUGGIE!"  We will keep everyone updated on our celebrations, our Skype visit with R.J. Palacio, and our Grand Discussion coming up at the end of October.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T  :)

P.S.  Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Diamond in the Desert

World War II + baseball + short chapters + great story = Kathryn Maurice's newest novel A Diamond in the Desert.

For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game.

On December 6, 1941, Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, 1941, everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family will be relocated to an internment camp.

Gila River camp isn't technically a prison, but with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no time frame for leaving, it might as well be. So when someone has the idea of building a baseball diamond and starting a team, Tetsu is overjoyed. But then his sister gets dangerously sick, forcing him to choose between his family and his love of the game.

An ARC of A Diamond in the Desert provided by *Worch Library* went in and out of my sixth graders' hands this past spring. I wanted to read it, yet it was never on the shelves to pick up for myself. Waiting until the summer was hard but very rewarding as I finally had the chance to read through Fitzmaurice's latest book.

No wonder this book was always checked out from my classroom! It has everything my sixth graders want in a book.

1. Baseball - Need I say more?
2. World War II - I have readers who seek out each and every historical fiction read on my shelves that take place during World War II.
3. A Fantastic Beginning - I only had to read the first page to hook readers into this book.

Gila River was the place where my eight-year-old sister, Kimi, learned to go to the bathroom with a white cotton pillowcase pulled over her head. It was Mama who came up with the idea after a week of Kimi refusing to go.

The pillowcase, Mama said, took the place of the walls and doors that weren't in the latrine, and gave some privacy from others sitting close by trying to use the bathroom, too.

"No one will see you through it," Mama promised. "Yes, you'll be able to breathe. The air can get in."

Then she stood for three long minutes with the pillowcase over her own head to prove this.

4. Short chapters - This is such a lure for my students. (I don't mind short chapters either!)
5. A great story - I was pleased to find out by reading the Author's Note that many of the events in the book really happened.

I will definitely be booktalking A Diamond in the Desert this fall. I will have no problem lining up interested students to read this one.

Visit the author's website HERE. Click HERE to view the book trailer made by a librarian that I will use in the classroom. I love the images that make up this trailer!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Little Dog, Lost

Marion Dane Bauer’s recent book, a novel in verse, is one that all children will love. Little Dog, Lost is about Buddy…

“Little black dog with brown paws
and a brown mask
and a sweet ruffle of brown fur on her bum
just beneath her black whip of a tail.
Satiny coat.
Ears like airplane wings
that drop
just at the tips.”

Buddy once had a family. She had a boy, a mom, a dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, too. But her family has to move to the city. Buddy is left with a strange woman who doesn't seem to know much about dogs. Buddy escapes the yard and leaves behind the only home she has left in order to find her boy.

Meanwhile, the reader meets another boy named Mark. Mark does not have a dad or brother or sister or even a cousin. Mark desperately wants a dog.  His mother is the mayor of the town.  She will not let Mark have a dog.

Readers also meet Charles Larue, a lonely man in an enormous house.

“So many stories hidden
in even the smallest town.
So many stories
to be revealed.”

And so, this is a story about longing. As Marion Dane Bauer writes,

"So much longing.
So many lives
with longing.

It’s what stories---
all our stories---
are made of.”

FOUR PAWS up for this delightful read.  I know many readers who will like this book.  I always have readers looking for novels in verse, and this one is perfect.  I wonder if any of my students will recognize the alliteration, assonance, consonance, and repetition used in Little Dog, Lost.

I will be putting this book in the hands of as many readers as I can.  A perfect book to read alone or to read aloud.  

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
**Copy provided by Worch Library. Thank you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night was a SUCCESS!
Just look at these faces!
I gave away The Hunger Games at a junior high track meet.
I could have had five times the books to give away,
and I still would not have made everyone happy!
That was the only disappointment...not having MORE books to give!
Maybe someday I will win the lotto. I will buy tons of amazing books and become The Book Giver!

Seriously, it was an amazing night! Readers were smiling and hugging their books!
Readers were grateful to receive a book and many promised to pass the book along to another reader, neighbor, friend, sibling, or parent to share the joy of reading.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible...

**World Book Night USA! Click HERE to visit their website.

Click HERE to view **The Board of Directors for World Book Night in the U.S. as well as **The Advisory Council.

**UPS! They sponsored the delivery of 25,000 boxes of books across America!

**The printers and paper supplies! Find a list at the World Book Night USA website.

**The publishers and trade sponsors! This list can also be found at the World Book Night USA website.

**Booksellers and libraries across the nation served as book pick-up locations.


Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

World Book Night 2012

It's here! It's here! It's World Book Night!

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books to be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out FREE World Book Night paperbacks.

I am very fortunate and grateful to be a World Book Night giver! It thrills me to be giving away twenty FREE copies of THE HUNGER GAMES this evening! I have chosen to give out the books at a junior high track meet. Students at my school have already heard about World Book Night and to say they are enthusiastic is a bit of an understatement. It will be my goal tonight to put these books into hands of light or nonreaders who need that 'just right' book to experience the joy of reading.

Thank you to those who support and make World Book Night possible.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Hunger Games

Read The Hunger Games.

Just Read It.

I finally did.

Now would someone please find me a copy of Catching Fire?


Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

P.P.S. Stay tuned for a special announcement about World Book Night! It's a celebration of reading and books which will see tens of thousands of people share books with others in their communities across America to spread the joy and love of reading on April 23.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

A: She has a crazy sense of humor and a mad talent for hula hooping.

Q: Who is author Donna Gephart?

A: This new book about a trivia obsessed girl arrives in bookstores Tuesday, March 13.

Q: What is Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen?

RUN! Don't walk. RUN to your nearest bookstore on Tuesday, March 13, and pick up a copy of Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart.

Why? Because it's Donna Gephart's new book, for goodness sake! You've read How to Survive Middle School. You've checked off As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! on your TBR list. Now it's time to read another Gephart gem! It's Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen.

"Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show's kids' week. Not only would she win bundles of money, she'd get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.

"One day Olivia's friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she's getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom."

Will Olivia's dream to appear on Jeopardy! come true? Will Olivia be supported by all the members of her family? Or will one family member disappoint her yet again?

I LOVED Olivia! I have so many students, boys and girls, who will love Olivia and her not-so-trivial story! I not only loved Olivia, I loved Olivia's younger brother, Charlie; he was such a sweetie. I loved his hankering for gross trivia. (Did you know there are 516,000 bacteria in each square inch of armpit? Charlie does!)

Even though it took Olivia some time to warm up to Neil, her mom's boyfriend, I knew from the moment that he belted out Aretha (not to mention the fact that he's a librarian) that he was going to be one of the good guys in the story.

I was impressed by Tucker and enjoyed him immensely. What a super 'frenemy'.

Donna wove pieces of herself into Olivia, and I loved loved loved what she did with the Hula-Hoop incident. I knew I had to keep reading to find out what that was all about and why it tortured Olivia. And then I read about the fifth grade talent show and how Tucker was waiting offstage and what he said and how he said it and how Olivia finally realized HOW he said it....Oh my! No spoilers here! You must read this one for yourself!

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a keeper! It has found a special place in my classroom library and has already been read by several students. Everyone who has read Olivia has loved their time spent with this special young lady.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up off the bookshelf and take it home with you!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

World Read Aloud Day 2012

Celebrate the Power of Words and Stories and Take Action for Global Literacy with LitWorld.

At least 793 million people in the world cannot read or write. Imagine your world without words.

On March 7th, 2012, LitWorld, a global literacy organization based in New York City, will be celebrating World Read Aloud Day. World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

To learn more about LitWorld and to sign up to participate in World Read Aloud Day, click HERE.

We will be celebrating World Read Aloud Day in the classroom with Skype author visits! Wonderful, generous authors have agreed to spend time with my students on Wednesday: NAN MARINO, DONNA GEPHART, ALAN SILBERBERG, LINDA URBAN, SARAH PRINEAS, KATE MESSNER, and GREG VAN EEKHOUT.

Sixth graders will also be pairing with first graders and reading aloud! What fun!

Happy Reading (Aloud)!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gate

I am pleased to offer you the following post written by Ellen, one of my sixth grade students.

Louisa and Maddie live in 2020 when their country is in war. They are running out of gas and fresh food. They are being sent away to a school called Country Side Manor (CMS). They don’t know where this school is or when they can come home, but Louisa knows that she will have the freedom her parents never gave her. Maddie is a little different; she doesn’t want freedom from her parents. She only wants to see her parents who are off fighting in the war.

The two girls get on the bus heading for school. There they meet a very paranoid girl, Eleanor. Eleanor thinks the school is some sort of trap for kids, but she has no proof. Louisa and Maddie also meet a sporty, “too cool” girl named Rosie. Rosie doesn’t talk to them; they just overhear her conversation with some other girls on the bus.

When they get to CMS, some pretty strange things happen. Is Eleanor right? Is this school a trap?

The Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gate is a riveting read. This book hooks you from the start and never lets you go. It is definitely in my top ten books that I have read this year. The entire series consists of four books that are amazing! Eva Gray did a wonderful job writing these books!

THANK YOU, Ellen, for this post!

Click HERE to see a book trailer made by Ellen and her classmate, Tessa. Thanks for your time and effort to create this, girls! Job well done!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

"I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.

It's not as easy as it looks."

And so begins the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.

"Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he's seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home--and his own art--through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it's up to Ivan to make it a change for the better."

The One and Only Ivan is a book that young readers will want on their bookshelves so they can visit Ivan as often as they wish. Yes, Katherine Applegate hooks readers with the lovable and unforgettable Ivan. However, this book will also lure readers with its short chapters. I know readers who will be tempted by the 'white space' in this book. There might not be room for Ivan to breathe in his Exit 8 Big Top Mall domain, but Katherine Applegate breathes life into her words and uses the space on each page to add a sense of poetry to her prose.

I cried when reading this book, but I also laughed out loud. It's a story told from a gorilla's point of view that will stay with me for a long time. It is likely that this book will stay in my Top Twelve Favorites of 2012!

Be sure to read the author's note at the end of the book which shares the story of Ivan, the real gorilla who now lives at Zoo Atlanta. The real Ivan spent twenty-seven years alone in a cage at a circus-themed mall in the state of Washington.

Click HERE to watch the book trailer.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. Tyo

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Binky the Space Cat

I am so thrilled to have discovered Binky!


Binky has never been out of the HOUSE before. This makes Binky's plan to go into outer space even more humorous.

Binky may be a stay-at-home cat, but he is out-of-this-world when it comes to protecting his humans from 'alien invaders'...bugs! And when Binky is notified by F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) that he has become Space Cat qualified, there is no looking back for Binky.

With Binky the Space Cat, author Ashley Spires has me hooked! I can't wait to find and read the second and third adventures, Binky to the Rescue and Binky Under Pressure.

Fantastic feline protagonist + Humorous story + Wonderful illustrations = One sure fire hit of a graphic novel that kids will want to read again and again.

I will be adding these graphic novels to my classroom as soon as possible.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!