Sunday, July 6, 2014

Monday Reading Plus A Giveaway

                                 Thanks to Jen at Teach.Mentor.Texts and Ricki and Kellee at UnleashingReaders for this Reading community. 

       Come share what you've been reading!

          Tweet at #IMWAYR



GIVEAWAY! I’m happy to offer one copy of The Great Greene Heist on this post. If you’d like a copy, leave a comment and I’ll draw later in the week from those commenting.

The Great Greene Heistwritten by Varian Johnson
               Here's a great story of a group of middle schoolers who are growing up with all the usual problems, cafeteria food, popular kids who aren't so nice, and girl-boy problems. It's also a story of a group of friends who carry off a heist that holds a few surprises. It's cleverly twisted when one doesn't always know what's true, but going along with the fast-moving action is fun. I taught this age for a long time, and found the characters realistic and likable, with just the right amount of humor without sarcasm. Mostly, they're nice kids trying to learn how to live life. I also enjoyed the small parts parents played, beginning to be hands-off, but supportive. There's a fun part at the end about rules that wraps everything up nicely.




       This completes another of my #MustReadIn2014 list. See the list above! And I've joined Gathering Books for the Check Off Your Reading List challenge. See the button on the right! 
Every Day After – written by Laura Golden

          I made strong connections to this story of a young girl trying her best to solve big problems during the tough times of the Great Depression. Laura Golden tells the poignant story of eleven year old Lizzie Hawkins whose father has deserted the family after being laid off at a local mill and whose mother has gone silent from that terrible loss. I know that many of us are fortunate enough that we might never endure the poverty that so many faced at that time, although some in the US, and all over the world, still do. My maternal grandfather, with a family of five children, lost the family farm during that time, and his family of seven moved into a house and shared it with a family of six who also needed a home. My mother told of the sadness of the time, but also that the parents made the times happy through looking at it all as if it was a wonderful experience to be together. And so, for the children at least, it was.         
       The story’s chapters are proverb titles from a book that Lizzie’s mother used to read, and now Lizzie reads to her mother, hoping that soon she will speak again. For a middle grade novel, the story is complex, full of lessons of knowing oneself truthfully, figuring out that people are not always what they seem, that there are lessons to be learned in life like asking for help is not a bad thing at all.  Laura Golden weaves the story in and out of the proverbs, Lizzie’s journal writing, and her thoughts beautifully, ending the story with an poem of inspiration everyone will appreciate. It will make a good read aloud for discussions of problems in times past connecting to similar problems today.

Hoops – written by Walter Dean Myers
            I chose this book to remind me of the wonderful writing of Walter Dean Myers, and because I’m going to read Crossover by Kwame Alexander next and thought it would be good to compare them. For those older students, 8th grade and up, this is filled with the basketball life of Lonnie, a high school senior who tells his story of living in Harlem, and living with a basketball skill he thinks might make a dream of the NBA a reality. Along comes a man he’s seen passed out on an outside court, Cal, coaching the local tournament put together so college scouts can find players for their teams. Lonnie can’t believe this man can be the coach, yet he doesn’t give up the team. Nothing in Lonnie’s life is smooth, his mother is always yelling, so he stays most of the time in vacant rooms at a local hotel where he works. He isn’t sure he really wants to connect with his girlfriend, and the craziness with those who aren’t to be trusted makes the tension of an already tough life moreso. Cal is immediately on his case, and finally Lonnie realizes that he needs to trust this man. The story weaves in and out of games in the tournament, practices with the team, and descriptions of a life I found hard to read. Walter Dean Myers never tells pretty tales, but he tells real ones, with characters to love and root for despite their imperfections. It is a story worth reading and knowing.


Honeybee’s Adventures At Wilderness Pond – Written and illustrated by Cathryn Carmen Davis
              Written in poetry, this delightful book tells the story of an adventurous honeybee who survives her adventures through the goodness of a large bullfrog who lives at Wilderness Pond. There are lessons to discover as one enjoys the exciting story in poems about the dangers faced by this honeybee, saved more than once by the frog, who fills up with ants, and happily sends her on her way, kindly warning about the dragonfly and a lizard. He finally saves her from a spider. After such adventures, she returns home only to find her own hive in danger. Beautiful illustrations enhance the story, sure to be entertaining for young children.

Lilly Babysits Her Brother – written by Brenda Bellingham and illustrated by Clarke MacDonald
            This is an early chapter book from a series titled “First Novels”. For students moving into longer books, it provides a more complex story with more character development and added conflict. Lilly gets to babysit her young brother Mac for the first time, but a problem comes up: a dead bird is found in the garden and Mac is allergic to feathers and fur. The story shows Lilly being so caring and loving as she solves the problems of Mac’s allergies and his wonderings about what to do with a dead bird. Themes of kindness and friendship carry the story along. 

i carry your heart with me – written by e.e. cummings, illustrated by mati mcdonough
           I think this book is going to need to be a gift for a new mother, or for my daughter with two of her own daughters! The poem is another love poem from e.e. cummings, and the mixed media illustrations of mother and child, whether human or elephant or bird will make you feel so good when you see them. It’s a joyful and loving treatment of the poem. Thanks to Carrie at There's A Book For That for the recommendation!

My Little Car – written by Gary Soto and illustrated by Pam Paparone
             This is a “find” at the library, an older story by Gary Soto about Teresa, a first grader, whose mother says she’s too young for a bike, but she’s finally happy when her grandfather sends her a lowrider car for her birthday. She loves the attention when she rides around the neighborhood, but soon forgets about it. It is left out in the rain, a bird poops on it, and left in the driveway means her father backs into it. She thinks it’s ruined until grandfather comes for a visit and helps fix the car again. I love the inclusion of Spanish words in the story, and the way the story will support a discussion of taking responsibility for one’s things. Paparone’s illustrations are colorful and filled with family and neighborhood kids.

Interrupting Chicken – written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
         This sweet little red chicken needs to go to sleep, time for bed! He says he can’t go to sleep without a story. Papa begins to read, but each time he gets to a scary part, the little chicken interrupts to help save Hansel and Gretel, and others! There is a fun surprise at the end, and Stein’s illustrations fill the story with warm pictures of the bedtime, along with the stories’ pages being read. It’s a wonderful book for laughing and predicting!

King for A Day – written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Christiane Kromer
         This story is told of a little boy who sits in a wheelchair on his rooftop and readies for the kite flying celebration in Lahore, Pakistan. The festival is named Basant, is a festival that crosses all religious boundaries. This is fictional, but includes the kite flying and the boy winning, defeating many others, including a neighbor who’s a bully.  The festivals must be amazing to see with many kites filing the air at the same time. The illustrations are cleverly done collages of textured papers and (I think) felt, with drawings of the characters in pen and ink. Two page spreads are the norm and are gorgeous.  

NEXT: Already reading Crossover by Kwame Alexander, want to read The Boy On The Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. I'm reading Read Write Teach by Linda Rief and Reading In The Wild by Donalyn Miller to participate in #CyberPD with Cathy Mere, Laura Komos and Michelle Nero. If you want to know more about it, check Michelle's post at Literacy Learning Zone here!
                                                    Happy Reading!

32 comments:

  1. The Great Green Heist sounds like fun, Linda - all the usual stuff of middle school life plus the adventure. Every Day After sounds wonderful, too. My kids have always been drawn to stories set in Depression era America - a time which they (lucky ones) find difficult to imagine. You will love The Boy On The Wooden Box - a story of such courage and perseverance - a very moving read.

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    1. Your students will love both, I think, Tara, for very different reasons. The "heist" will make them wonder if they could pull off such a thing as these boys. There's a little romance too, the beginnings of middle school... Thanks.

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  2. WOW! You've been quite busy. I loved "Interrupting Chicken." So perfect for my 4th graders. The Great Greene Heist is next on my reading list ever since hearing Donalyn talk about it at All Write. I enjoyed reading your reviews. You've inspired me that I need to read more. :)

    Jennifer
    Sweet Writing Life
    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

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    1. I usually don't read quite as much, Jennifer, but lots of time lately helped. Hope you enjoy the 'heist'!

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  3. I loved Every Day After when I read it last winter.

    I can't wait to read The Great Greene Heist. Sounds like it will be a fun read.

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    1. Every Day After was beautifully done, I agree, & hope you enjoy the Heist!

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  4. It's hard to know which book to read next! Thank you for sharing these titles!

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    1. You're welcome, Loralee. Have a good time reading.

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  5. Ahhh, hit sign out instead of publish so I lost all of my original comments!!! Here's the shorter version. I have Heist ready to read. My daughter, turns 9 on fir and going into 4th gr, wants to read this book. What do you think of the content? Loved a Every Day After. So many layers

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    1. It is definitely middle school stuff, Michele, nothing bad, a little romance, a little sneaking around-more independence than many of our kids have today, but it's fun, too. Depends on what she's read before I think. Yes, I enjoyed Every Day After very much.

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  6. Hi Linda, Every Day After is on my mustreadin2014 list also. Hoping to get to it soon. I feel fortunate to have been able to see Walter Dean Myers speak at NCTE last year, what an amazing person! My 4th graders love Interrupting Chicken. Enjoy your day!

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    1. I'm so sorry I missed seeing him, Gigi. Every Day After was a fast read because I kept wanting to read more! Interrupting Chicken is such fun. Happy to know about the age that enjoyed it too. Thanks!

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  7. Hi, Linda!
    Every Day After is on my to read list, and your review made me want to read it even more. Thank you for that! I have had I Carry Your Heart with Me on my list too, and your review made me move it from my library list to me "to-buy" list. It looks phenomenal.
    You had a great week! :)

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    1. Thanks Ricki, hope you enjoy both books. I try hard not to order too many on Monday, but just keep the library site open!

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  8. Heist is going to be popular I think. I know we'll be recommending it during our Educator Night.

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    1. It was quite a good read, Earl. Mysterious, too, which adds to the enjoyment! Thank you!

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  9. Every Day After is so well done. Both my daughter and I adored this title. I am so pleased that you enjoyed i carry your heart with me - I thought it was a Linda book as soon as I read it. And agreed, perfect for a gift book. It was gifted to me in fact :-) The Great Greene Heist looks great. Love the cover!

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    1. I did love i carry your heart with me, Carrie. I have several illustrated poems by cummings-all so nice. Every Day After was special, to think that "little" girls are capable of doing so much! Thank you!

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  10. Another great array of wonderful books, Linda! I loved Interrupting Chicken - fun read aloud at bedtime or anytime. I have Crossover in my "to read" pile - looking forward to it. I haven't heard of The Great Greene Heist, but it sounds like a great read - perfect for my 10 year old. Happy Monday! = )

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    1. Happy you found a good book here. I'm enjoying Crossover a lot, especially after reading Hoops. Interrupting Chicken is fun, just like you said! Thanks, Bridget.

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  11. I haven't read nearly enough Walter Dean Myers. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I think I have only read Monster, which I admire but don't love, and Slam, which I do love and sometimes include on the syllabus for my Adolescent Lit course. Hoops sounds like a story I'd enjoy, so I'll look for that at the library this week. I also bought Kwame Alexander's Crossover and want to get to that soon. I read a different book by Rukhsana Khan this week and loved it, so I was just reading the description of King for a Day on Amazon before I popped over to your blog! Must get to that one soon!

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    1. I talked about Hoops with a friend, realize I don't know enough about how some kids live. It was an amazing eye-opening experience for me, Elisabeth. I'll look for more Khan books too-this one was good. Thank you!

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  12. I always get great book suggestions from you. Would The Great Greene Heist be good for upper elementary as well as middle school? I am going to look for Every Day After because it sounds like one I would especially enjoy. Thanks for being such a thorough reviewer.

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    1. I think your 6th graders will enjoy The Great Greene Heist, but there are places it goes they might never even imagine (breaking into the principal's office, for example), yet it was fun to see these kids solve their problems. Every Day After is good, a connection with history we don't all know about. Thanks, Margaret!

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  13. Every Day After sounds like a beautiful book with a story that resonates. Walter Dean Myers wrote such gritty, real stories. I am so sad that he is gone...he was such an advocate for adolescent literacy. I haven't read Hoops, but I could definitely identify with finding the story hard to read at times because of the situations the characters are in. I think that is why kids like his books so much, because they are real.

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    1. I agree Andrea, the stories seem real, & they are hard to read for those of us who haven't lived it. I think we will miss him very much. Every Day After is good, but perhaps for middle grades, your new students? Thanks!

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  14. The Great Heist book looks like a great one for my almost 14 yr. old son! I love e.e. cummings so am looking forward to reading this very soon. I was touched by your connections to Every Day After and I have marked this one as one I'd like to read. As always, I enjoy seeing your weekly choices, Linda. Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, Adrienne. I hope your son enjoys the books, & you enjoy Every Day After-both good for quite different reasons!

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  15. I've heard so many great things about The Great Greene Heist! Kate Messner was the first one I heard about it from. I LOVED Every Day After. I was hoping for more Newbery buzz about it than it got. Can't wait to read i carry your heart with me! So sad about Walter Dean Myers' passing. He was a great writer.

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    1. Thanks Holly, I discovered The Great Greene Heist from Kate too, the words about diversity, & that's why I have a book to give. I think I'll do it more often!

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  16. Oh dear, my comment magically disappeared. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I am glad that you found and loved King for a Day. Rukhsana Khan is truly a talented author. I've had the privilege of hearing her speak at the AFCC in 2010 and 2012, such a powerful speaker. I am intrigued by The Great Greene Heist - sounds like a really interesting read. I own several novels by Walter Dean Myers but haven't had the chance to read them yet. Deeply saddened by his loss.

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    1. The comment went to moderation, Myra, so here it is. How wonderful that you met Rukhsana Khan. I enjoyed the book very much.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!