Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's Monday - Great Week



             Thanks to Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers, and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting this group!
        I've finished quite a few books this week, and am excited about what I'm reading now, and have a pile of picture books from the library, too. It's back to work officially Wednesday, but I'll be in Tuesday for a while too. Less reading time, but it is exciting to be back, too. 
chapter books

The Riverman – written by Aaron Starmer
            I don’t know what to imagine about this book other than it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Alistair tells the story, but Fiona drives the rest of it, until Alistair realizes he must act. He is almost thirteen after all, and cares for Fiona very much, and wants to help her. Her story doesn’t make sense, and Alastair believes it’s a form of metaphor for something else happening in her home. Perhaps it’s her uncle, newly back from somewhere that wasn’t good. We don’t know where until the end. Perhaps there’s someone else in the neighborhood that’s the Riverman? My imagination whirled during the book, filling with “what ifs” or “if this, then…”. It’s complex, and I will need to consider carefully what student I might recommend it to. Definitely it’s older middle grader or young adult.  It’s a fascinating book.


  Archie’s War – written and illustrated by Archie Albright, with lots of help from Marcia Williams

              What a marvelous experience to read (and pretend) is this scrapbook of a ten year old boy in London, right before World War I begins, and through the war. It is filled with comic drawings and loads of ephemera that the fictional character Archie has collected.  So much of these teach us about the war, tidbit at a time! There are two funny characters that follow along in some of the pages, ripped out news clippings, photos, and most pleasurable of all, letters from the front that one can actually pull out of an envelope or unfold and read (Think The Jolly Little Postman)! As the months go by, Archie’s pages become more serious. At first it’s quite fun to play at war. But when his Uncle signs up, and goes to France, then his father and others, his mother goes to work at the father’s job, the family chores weigh heavily on Archie himself. In the timeline of things that occur, like the Zeppelin airships bombing London, the brother growing old enough at 16 to go himself, the mention of food, or lack of food, Archie begins to know that war is not fun; in fact, it’s terrible. This is a book to examine again and again, and I’m impressed with the research Marcia Williams had to do in order to include so much.
picture books

The Story of Fish & Snail – written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
         Please add this to your books about friendship, because it is worth reading aloud and talking about with children. Having a friend can be wonderful, but when that friend chooses to do something new, and you want things to stay the same, sometimes friendships can fade away. Or sometimes, because of the friend, you make a leap and try something new! This is the story of fish & snail, and a beautifully illustrated one, too. Since it involves stories, Deborah Freedman has cleverly included a book on every page, where fish & snail live, of course. You’ll love what she does with this idea, snail staying, even clinging to the page, and fish, exploring. You’ll discover a nice surprise when you read the story.
Tea Party Rules – written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by K.G. Campbell

              A little girl readies a table, her bear and herself for a tea party, complete with chocolate chip cookies. A real bear cub sees the cookies, and thinks he should have a few too. What ensues is hilarious, because the invitation to the party has plenty of rules that this little cub doesn’t expect. Fortunately, it all ends happily, with surprises for the cub and the little girl, along with plenty of cookies. Young children especially will enjoy seeing the expressions on the cub’s face as the funny events happen because of those “tea party rules”. I can just hear them predicting, saying “oh, no, now…”
A Is For musk ox – written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers
           I think this is the funniest book. I’ve already shared it with several teachers, and have more than one saying they “must” get the book! A zebra is going crazy with his arguments with a musk ox. They’re collaborating to create a new alphabet book, and the musk ox manages to find ways to be shared with every letter.  He’s just so tired only being with the “M”, always in the middle, the place everyone seems to forget. There is “A Is For Musk Ox”, yes, because he’s “awesome”.  This determined Musk Ox is tired enough of “A is for Apple”, so he’s eaten a hole in the cover of the book (the apple), but then feels a little guilty so shares the “M” with apple, and figured out quite creatively why it deserves to be an “M”. Erin Cabatingan shows her own clever ways because she manages to include actual facts about the Musk Ox. For example, “O is for Musk Ox” because “Eskimos call musk oxen “Omingmak”, which means “the animal with skin like a beard.” Matthew Myers manages to amuse in the illustrations, with beautiful scenes and fun expressions on the faces of the musk ox and the zebra. The book has lots of applications in the classroom for fun work in vocabulary and creative thinking.
Like Pickle Juice On A Cookie – written by Julie Sternberg and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
       I haven’t read the other books in verse of this series, but really enjoyed this one. Now I have the others to look forward to! I loved the voice of Eleanor, whose beloved nanny is moving to Florida. “The worst thing in the world is a cab driving farther and farther away with Bibi in the back seat waving goodbye.” Even Eleanor’s best friend is out of town! Things are so bad that Eleanor decides she should move, too. It’s a sweet book that shows such respect from her parents that know she is upset, and work hard to support her grief, but remain firm that another sitter is coming. This new sitter is especially perceptive, and tries to be respectful of the fond memories of the one she’s replacing. The illustrations are just right, and getting to know Eleanor is fun as well as touching. This early chapter book will touch children who’ve had a recent loss.
Desmond and the Very Mean Word – written by Desmond Tutu and Doublas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by A.G. Ford
          A story of a young boy who happens to be Desmond Tutu is one of sadness, but then of relief and triumph when he learns the lesson of forgiveness. The story tells of a very mean word yelled at Desmond as he rode his bicycle home one afternoon. The rest of the story entails what he learned to do about it through conversations with his priest, Father Trevor Huddleston. The illustrations are full-page paintings of the action throughout the story, showing the highs and lows of emotion as Desmond wrestles with his problem. It will be terrific for close discussion of each story part. And the book emphasizes a lesson even adults sometimes need to remember.
If… - written and illustrated by Sarah Perry
        The cover flap says Sarah Perry is a sculptor, but I would say she’s a wonderful visual artist too. The pages in this creative story are marvelously inventive and realistic, and just terrific. Sarah makes us really understand what it would look like “If caterpillars were toothpaste…” (ew!) or “If zebras had stars and stripes…” (wow). She doesn’t ignore the abstract either with “If  music could be held…”  One should just enjoy the looking, but then perhaps you can create your own “What if…”
poetry
Ordinary Things: Poems From A Walk In Early Spring – written by Ralph Fletcher and illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop
It's a book with poems where Ralph Fletcher shares those small things appreciated and small thoughts noted about a walk in the woods. It includes the beginning of the walk, "step, step, word..." different kinds of litter, fossils, clouds, and nests filled with chirps/raining down like confetti bits. It's going to be a good one to share.
What Is Poetry – written and illustrated by Trudi Strain Trueit

            Thanks to NetGalley I’ve had a preview of this new book, ready for young students to learn about poetry. The book is available September 1st.  It’s an easy-to-follow book with a short intro and history, then the author leads the reader through some easy how-tos, with illustrated examples like a poem about a roller coaster, ending with “Slowing, slowing,/slooooooooooowing/Stop./Can we go again?” The “Ideas at Play” section discusses topics, like feelings, writing about life, and using all the sense. There are examples of alliterations, simile, metaphor, concrete poems, and more!  The book ends with a “you try it” section, more examples and a glossary. It is basic, but I can imagine more than one student who will enjoy exploring poetry with this helpful book. Or there may be a teacher who will enjoy more examples to add to lessons.
         Now reading - a book published last year in Australia, and published here in early September: Zak & Mia by A.J. Betts. So far it's enjoyable reading with a strong voice from Zak.  After it: I have The Secret Hum of A Daisy by Tracy Holczer. So many have raved about it, I can't wait to get into it!
           Happy Reading Everyone! I hope your prep or your days with students are going well!

30 comments:

  1. Loved your beautiful variety this week, wow... The Riverman is still making me tumble over the story months later... Must look into A is for Musk Ox, ready to laugh! :)

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. I think the variety comes from all the recommendations lately. I just sat with my library site open and started ordering! Enjoy A Is For Musk Ox-it's so funny!

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  2. Love your list this week! I felt the same with The Riverman - perhaps the most frightening things are what we all imagined - all very different perhaps. That Musk Ox is very popular in my room! I now want to get the one about counting. We need lots of books to inspire laughter. I like the book If a lot. Have done some interesting writing and art activities with it in the past.

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    1. Yes, The Riverman stirred me up! I'm going to show "If..." to more than one teacher. I think it will be wonderful in writing and art, too, Carrie. I bought the Musk Ox one, & will look for the counting one, too. Thanks for reminding me!

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  3. Wow! You read quite a bit. Riverman has been on our list, but we have not gotten into it. We will give it another go. Thanks
    Clare and Tammy

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    1. The Riverman was so interesting, nearly like a stream of consciousness-imagining, imagining. See what you think, Claire & Tammy.

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  4. Lots of great books! The Musk Ox one sounds very much like M is for Moose (I think that's the title) where its a moose complaining about his placement in the ABC book.

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    1. Yes, it's a lot like M Is For Moose-full of laughs, but a little bit more information in it, too. Thanks, Katie.

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  5. The Musk Ox sounds hilarious. I generally don't like alphabet or counting books and struggle to find titles to share in my Children's Lit class (my students often want nothing but alphabet and counting books!) but this sounds like one I'd love and be excited to share. I reread Snail & Fish to my son this week: it's on my top 10 all-time PB list (a list that exists only in my head!). I really like Julie Sternberg's series. The most recent title might be my favorite. They've been great readalouds with my older son too. Hope you have a terrific week! I'm back at work tomorrow and looking forward to being back in the classroom teaching!

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    1. Glad you enjoy Sternberg's works. They are good, I agree. Glad to know they work for older kids too! I hope you have a wonderful class, Elisabeth.

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  6. A wonderful and diverse list this week, Linda! I LOVE the book "If" - and have a lesson in my Reading Power book using it to promote questions and then create their own "If" page! I'm intrigued with The Riverman - perhaps a bit old for the students I have but I am interested in reading it for myself. I love books that invite us to think! Tea Party Rules reminds me of The Cookie- Bite size lessons series by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I'm excited to see the Poetry book when it comes out in a few weeks. Thanks for ALL these great books, Linda!

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    1. So many of you already are using If... & I just discovered it, probably from Carrie! I'm so glad I did, & know it will be good for a variety of lessons, Adrienne. Thanks for sharing about the Cookie - bite lessons. I will look for them, don't know about them.

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  7. I loved The Story of Fish and Snail. I plan to read it to my 8th graders this week. :)

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    1. Yes, it will be a good one for many ages I think. Glad to hear that, Beth.

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  8. You've had a wonderful week if reading indeed. Such a lovely variety of books - I've added them to my list , especially Archie's war a d A is for Musk Ox.

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    1. Both are terrific for very different reasons, Bev. Archie's War made me want to start scrapbooking for a certain period. It is fabulous!

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  9. wow, this is an amazing line-up! Thanks! I have heard of only a few. Adding these to my TBR list!

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    1. Thanks Jane. Hope you discover some that you really enjoy!

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  10. I really like Julie Sternberg's novels in verse. Her characters are so realistic, and they are fun to read.
    The Riverman was given to me at 2013 NCTE, and I was told it was a must read--I will need to move it up my TBR.

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. Thanks Kellee. The Riverman is the most different read I've had in a long time. Hope you find it interesting. And yes, Sternberg's books have such a voice, don't they?

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  11. I am adding A is for musk ox to my list! Thank you for sharing it. I always get so many great book ideas from your blog. :)

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  12. Hello there Linda, I am happy that you also enjoyed Desmond and the Very Mean Word - the art just gripped me - so beautifully illustrated. I also have just finished reading The Riverman and would post a longer review for our upcoming reading theme. I was tempted to give it a 3 out of 5 in Goodreads because of the ending which was unsatisfactory for me - but as you said it's a novel that would grip the reader's sensibilities and would not let go, plus I just found out that it's the first book in a trilogy, which made it even more interesting. I'm intrigued by the cats in the latter part of the story and the missing children. Hmmm...

    Fats has also shared Archie's War and written a lovely review about the book. I shall have to find that one soon. :)

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    1. Yes, the art in Desmond and The Very Mean Word was unique, Myra. Wow, I didn't know about The Riverman being a trilogy. I hesitated to imagine anything about the cats because I didn't want to give anything away. It was all so strange! Glad you mentioned Fats' review! That's probably where I heard about the book. It is wonderful. Thank you!

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  13. I thought I commented yesterday, Linda, but I think I went straight to my library holds and put the A is for Musk Ox, and never got back to the comment section! I have Riverman and I'm hoping to get to it before the year is out. Sounds intriguing from all of the reviews! I adore Sternberg's Eleanor series. I think you'll like the other 2. Her way with words is so fun! The third one is my favorite in the series. Happy Tuesday, now! :)

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    1. Now I really must find the other two, Michele. I enjoyed Like Pickle Juice on A Cookie very much. Thanks, and have a great rest of the week!

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  14. I agree with Michele. I think you will enjoy the rest of the Eleanor series. They are very fun and the voice is so charming.

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    1. Thanks Crystal, I know I will find them-loved this one!

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  15. I really need to pick up Julie Sternberg's books! I've had them recommended by multiple people lately!

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    1. Yes, since they must be right there in the store, Earl, you should read at least one! Thank you!

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