Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/15/14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Last week I listened to half of Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella. I rarely read adult fiction so it's a nice break for me and a fun read. I've been reading The Lean Startup and have read a few stories in My True Love Gave to Me. I'm enjoying all of them...just need more time and less sickness in my life.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm planning to keep listening to Shopaholic to the Stars this week and to read more of The Lean Startup and My True Love Gave to Me. After Peanut and my husband being sick all of last week and then me being sick the end of the week...I didn't get any review or posts up. I'm hoping to get back on track this week. I'm thinking a lot about how to prioritize everything and making everything fit in...might be a Slice of Life post in the making actually!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/8/14

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I read more of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and otherwise, Peanut and I have been reading The One and Only Ivan. I'm loving discussing the story with him and how attuned he is to Ivan and the other characters and their feelings. It's so sweet to read with him. We've also been reading all of Chris Haughton's picture books - Little Owl Lost, Oh No, George! and Shh! We Have a Plan.

Last Week's Reviews:




Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Well...I didn't really read what I thought I was going to read last week...and now I'm in a different mindset. This week I'm really hoping to finish The Lean Startup and then to read My True Love Gave to Me but I also got Shopaholic to the Stars on audio from the library. I'm a total Shophie Kinsella fan and have read the whole Shopaholic series and many of her other novels. I actually think this book is going to be a perfect listen for me right about now.

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Let's Celebrate The CYBILS 2014!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating CYBILS 2014!

*throws confetti*
Apparently, I never shared this post about being part of this year's Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. I'm super excited to be part of Cybils again and have enjoyed reading all of the book apps that were nominated. We're in the heart of discussing book apps that we have read and I'm planning to share some reviews in the next few months. I'd like to share the other judges I'm working with this year. 

Jill Goodman
appoLearning
@queenofappland

Emily Lloyd
Little eLit
@poesygalore

Cathy Potter
The Nonfiction Detectives
@cppotter

Colby Sharp 
Sharp Read
@colbysharp

Stacey Shubitz
Two Writing Teachers
@raisealithuman

Erin Warzala
Falling Flannelboards
@fallingflannel

Jen Vincent
Teach Mentor Texts
@mentortexts 
@u46insttech

I'm excited to be working with these dedicated judges and to be part of Cybils again!

What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Countablock

Title: Countablock 
Author: Christopher Franceschelli  
Illustrator: Peskimo 
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed 
Publication Date: August 5th, 2014 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book/Board Book 
GoodReads Summary: Following on the heels of a successful abecedary, Countablock features thick pages cut into the shape of each numeral, creating a peek-through guessing game around the number form itself. One acorn becomes . . . one oak tree! From snowmen to puddles and eggs to chicks, quantities are illustrated twice: both before and after their “transformations.” As children interact with the pages, they will familiarize themselves not only with the numbers 1–100 and associated quantities, but with each numeral’s physicality—angles, holes, and curves, both front and back. Die-cut numerals include 1–10, and 20–100 by tens. Illustrated by hip British design team Peskimo, this fresh take on the 1-2-3s encourages readers to manipulate numbers in a whole new way.
What I Think: We completely adore Alphablock in our house and were so excited to add Countablock to our book collection. We've almost outgrown most of the board books in our house. Sometimes, we pull them out of the box where we house them, but it's more rare these days now that Little Bean is almost 4 1/2. But Alphablock and now Countablock are two board books we love. They are super thick and super chunky and engaging. Each page leads to the next with great, colorful illustrations and some cut-outs as well. Little Bean loves to read this book himself but Peanut loves reading aloud to him as well. It's fun to see both kiddos get so excited about a book.  
In the summary, they point out that this is a fresh take on a counting book and I completely agree. I'm not sure I've seen another board book that counts to 100 and makes it this fun. I can see sharing this book at home and in a kindergarten classroom. It has tons of appeal whether the reader is 1 or 100.
Read Together: Alphablock  by Christopher Franceschelli, Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, Let's Count Goats by Mem Fox
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - K 
Read With: Grades Pre-K - K 
Snatch of Text: 
"THREE BOXES BECOME
THREE FORTS!"   
I *heart* It:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads

Title: Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads 
Author: Bob Shea  
Illustrator: Lane Smith 
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press 
Publication Date: October 7th, 2014 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Drywater Gulch has a toad problem. Not the hop-down-your-britches, croaking-all-night toad kind of problem. The thievin', hootin' and hollerin', steal-your-gold never-say-thank-you outlaw toad kind of problem.
 Then hope rides into town. Sheriff Ryan might only be seven years old, and he might not know much about shooting and roping. But he knows a lot about dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. And it turns out that knowing a thing or two about paleontology can come in handy when it comes to hoodwinking and rounding up a few no-good bandits. From Bob Shea and Lane Smith comes this hilarious picture book, Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads.   
What I Think: What a cunning book! We've read this so many times and talked over and over again about just what Sheriff Ryan does in this town! It's pretty great what Bob and Lane have done here. I have no idea how they came up with this book but it's brilliant.
There seem to be more and more picture books that really push for close reading and I love that about children's literature today. I'm so glad my kids get to grow up reading books like Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads. This book is just another example of how picture books aren't only meant for elementary-age students. This would be a great book to read with older kids because the story is not quite what is seems after the first reading.

One element of the story that I think takes it to a higher level apart from the plot is the language. It's dripping with descriptive words and oozes dialect that is sometimes a bit hard to decipher, or at least might be more accessible for older kids. All of these rolled up into this book make for a great discussion of words and dialogue and how they impact a story. There's definitely a trick to getting dialogue just right and making sure that it truly adds to the character without taking away or distracting from the plot. Reading this book with attention to word choice and then looking at others as well might be a great activity for looking at how dialect and dialogue impact our writing.
Read Together: Grades 3 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 12 
Read With: One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka 
Snatch of Text:  
"Why, those Toad brothers
would steal your gold, kiss
your cattle, and insult your
chili. Hootin', hollarin', and 
cussin' all the while.

Mayor McMuffin was
beside his self. His cumin-
scented town was a goner."  
Writing Prompts: Write about whether you think there really were dinosaurs coming to town or not. Support your answer with evidence from the text.
Topics Covered: Wit, Determination, Confidence 
I *heart* It:
*Thanks to Roaring Brook Press for 
a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review!*

Louise Loves Art

Title: Louise Loves Art 
Author: Kelly Light  
Illustrator: Kelly Light 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Publication Date: September 9th, 2014 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: For fans of Olivia and Eloise, this stunning debut from Kelly Light is an irresistible story about the importance of creativity in all its forms.

Meet Louise. Louise loves art more than anything. It's her imagination on the outside. She is determined to create a masterpiece—her pièce de résistance!

Louise also loves Art, her little brother. This is their story.
Louise Loves Art is a celebration of the brilliant artist who resides in all of us.  
What I Think:  
We've had so much fun with Louise Loves Art in our house! We read this in November during Picture Book Month and I tried my best to grab book pics with my wild and crazy kids. 
We loved watching Art follow Louise around and were just waiting for her to find out what he was up to. Having a little brother or sister can be complicated but Louise gave us an opportunity to talk about that. Little Bean is constantly wanting to be like his older brother but it's hard for Peanut to see that. It was nice to be able to talk about Louise and how she reacted to her little brother in this book.

One character we absolutely love is their cat. That cat is awesome! It follows them around, knowing all the time what's going on and trying to help bring the siblings together. That little cat has some pretty amazing expressions. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more expressive cat before. It was fun to imagine what words would come out of the cat's mouth if it could talk. As a mentor text, this is a great opportunity to talk about personification and dialogue. Here students can see that the cat isn't able to talk and doesn't in the book, but what if we personified the cat and gave it the ability to talk? What might the cat say? This is also an opportunity to look at dialogue. What I love about dialogue is that it gives us access to the character who is talking but also to the other characters as well. What might the cat say that would reveal something about what it's thinking? What might the cat say that would reveal something about Louise and Art? Has this happened before? Has Louise had a chance to practice some patience before, too? This is a great time to talk about characters and how dialogue can play a role in developing characters.

And what I completely, totally, utterly love about this book is that it reminds us to let free our inner artist. Growing up, I painted a lot with my grandmother and my aunt but I also did all sorts of arts and crafts. I still consider myself to be very creative and love how my artsy side has evolved over the years. I write more than practice any other kind of art but I do love colors and design and painting in the backyard with my kids. Louise Loves Art reminds us that we have imaginations that we can bring to life and that our art is worth sharing. At home or at school, kids can put on their own art show, hanging up their work and inviting others to come and admire it. What a great way to celebrate art and share what kids - and maybe adults? - have created!

Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 3 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 5 
Read With: Bink and Gollie (series) by Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, Chloe Instead by Micah Player, One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Snatch of Text:  
"I love art!
It's my imagination on the outside."

"I've done it.
So fierce! So feline! So fantastic...
a masterpiece!"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Dialogue, Characterization,  $100 Words, Personification, Point of view, Perspective
Writing Prompts: Imagine you are the cat in the story. What do you think the cat might think or say to Louise and/or Art? Think about how dialogue shows the reader about the characters. 
Topics Covered: Family, Integration - Art, Self Esteem, Determination, Forgiveness 
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The One With An A-W-E-S-O-M-E NCTE In DC #slice2014


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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Last year, I came home from NCTE in Boston with hope in my heart. I believed so strongly in myself and my writing life. With that motivation, I invested a lot of time into writing - making the time to write, carving out minutes and moments, seeking out other writers, joining SCBWI, believing each word was a baby step. Today I started another round of Write Daily 30 with Linda Urban and an amazing group of writers. I'm already so in love with writing all over again. I'm happy to be back at work on a draft I started in June. I added almost 500 words in 20 minutes of free writing. Not too shabby. 

I love NCTE as a sort of barometer for where I am in my life in terms of being an educator, a blogger, a reader, and a writer. Two years ago, when NCTE was in Vegas, I was looking for ideas to support new teachers and their mentors. This was my second year zoning in on digital literacy but also thinking about what nourishes my soul as an educator who believes we need to remember that literacy is more than reading and that reading and writing go hand in hand. I look at my writing life now and I see how much I have grown thanks to Teachers Write and blogging and Write Daily 30. I'm a different writer today than I was last year. I've reflected on habits that work for me and surrounded myself with others who motivate me. Some of those people, I have pictures of to celebrate here today but I didn't get nearly enough pictures and there are so many people I cherish and loved catching up with who I missed out on taking pictures with. I did try...but I'll always want to do better next year.

The focus of the conference this year was storytelling and I was invited to share how what happens outside of the classroom influences what happens in the classroom. The idea that literacy is everyone's job really resonates with me. We all have to be invested in making reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing something fun and engaging for students. The pictures below show all sorts of different people who share a love of literacy - teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators - and what it all boils down to is inevitably, our passion for literacy shines through in everything we do and spreads to students. Each of these people here have influenced me professionally and personally and I'm happy to celebrate them here as I share a bit of my story at NCTE this year.
CeCe Bell - author of El Deafo who I had to tell my whole career path story to...and she listened!

I had to take a picture with George at the Candlewick booth. Little Bean has been enamored with all of Chris Haughton's books lately thanks to the Hat Monkey app!

The One and Only Gae Polisner of Teachers Write Friday Feedback fame!

Franki is always so busy at NCTE that I worry I won't see her...but I did!

Seymour Simon - I loved telling him about Peanut, my forever, non-fiction fan.

Mr. Maquizga himself, all shiny and newly married, Brian Wyzlic!

Margaret Simon! Meeting Teachers Write friends in real life is always amazing!

JoEllen McCarthy is such fun and always full of energy and knowledge!

I snuck into Sunday morning breakfast to sit in the back and her Jon Klassen talk about his books. I can never get enough of hearing about all the thought that goes into his books. Ever fascinating.

This was one of the huge highlights of the exhibit hall...seeing the Kate Messner's 59 Reasons to Write will be out soon from Stenhouse! I can hardly wait!

I've had such a blast with Amy Blaine on Twitter talking books and writing and it was great to finally meet her in person. She's a blast.

All the way to DC to hang out with Ms. Michele Knott who literally lives in the town next door. 

I get a little emotional about people who have had such an impact on my life...and when I saw Katie Dicesare I struggled not to cry. NCTE is like a family reunion for me. I'm so glad to have know such great people.

The sparkly, fairy-in-disguise, Laurel Snyder. I loved getting to meet her in Atlanta over the summer and it was a treat to see her again.

It just wasn't quite the same without Colby Sharp there but I loved that Donalyn paid tribute to him in her Nerdy Book Club panel introduction. 

Jason Lewis is a new Nerdy friend but a Nerdy friend just the same.

I was so happy to find Kellee Moye and to visit with her. I even got to meet Ann M. Martin with her. Yes, Ann M. Martin. Babysitter's Club fan for life!

Getting out of the hotel/convention center was great. It was a short walk to little downtown-type area. Bonus, I got to visit with Melissa Thomson and gab about writing. Check out her jazzy shades!

Here I am with my side-pony and Jenny Han. How awesome is she? I love her writing.

And finally, it's me and Stephanie Perkins! She was super sweet and totally great.

I missed pictures with people like my roommate, Alyson Beecher, Cynthia Alaniz, Lisa Morris Wilkey, Candace Fleming, Donalyn Miller, Katherine Sokolowski, Jenni and Matt Holm, John Shu, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, Jennifer Nielsen, Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet, Melissa Stewart, Sarah Albee, Kate Messner, Linda Urban, Gigi McAllister, Susan Dee, Deb Frazier, Karen Terlecky, Jilian Heise, Sarah Anderson, Jeff Anderson, Terry Thompson, Heidi Stemple, Jane Yolen, Jon Klassen, Gareth Hinds, and so many others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Hugs to everyone and remind me to get a picture next time!

Looking back at these pictures makes me so happy. I'm always glad to visit with friends, learn new things, and discover some new books along the way. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to attend NCTE and I look forward to it every year because it does give me so much to take back to classrooms in my district. If you haven't been yet, I encourage you to think about adding it to your to-do list for November 2015. Maybe I'll see you there?