Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/25/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 found myself doing more writing than reading last week...but I did read more of A Curious Mind and I started reading Here Comes The Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn. The voice is unique and captivating right from the start. 

Last Week's Posts:
I celebrated over at Story Exploratory this week: nErDcamp Michigan 2016!
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm hoping to continue reading both A Curious Mind and Here Comes The Sun.

This Week's Posts:
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!

Week #4 - Teachers Write Sunday Check-In 2016

Well, hello there, campers!!! How is your writing going!? I can't wait to hear all about it but first I have a quick mentor text for you to think about this week in terms of writing what you devour. I believe that writing is an extension of reading, that when we read voraciously then we can apply what we've learned about how to weave stories and then we can write our own. It's also why I believe mentor texts are powerful, our favorite books are models we can learn from. 

When we write, it's helpful to think about what you love to read and have read tons of as a place to start. Not that you can't read in one genre and write in another, but people talk about writing what you know (and not everyone agrees with that...) but writing what you know in terms of the genre you read most can be a good place to start. The same goes for our students, asking them to write in a genre they love can help them embrace, or maybe just ease into, writing.

My short and sweet video today comes to you from my kitchen...which isn't usually where I devour books but it is where we've been making Jell-o since my kids devoured it in Guatemala and now can't get enough of it. 
(Um...please ignore that I said Raymie Nightingale is coming out soon! 
It's already out! You can go get it right now! And you should. Now. Really!)

I've devoured every one of Kate DiCamillo's books so she's my choice for a mentor text this week when thinking about writing what I devour. Kate's descriptions are wonderful. It's like she makes time stand still and zeroes in on the most specific detail. I shared my review of Raymie Nightingale in April with some other snatches of text and here's a link to my review of Flora and Ulysses with some of my favorite snatches of text.

Some quotes I devoured 
from Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale:

     "The station wagon shot forward. The back doors swung open, then shut with a loud bang and stayed closed. The car accelerated at an alarming rate, the engine roaring and groaning, and then the station wagon disappeared entirely, and Raymie and Beverly were left standing together in a cloud that was composed of dust and gravel and exhaust." (p. 27)

     "The woman had green eye shadow on her eyelids and big, fake eyelashes and also a lot of rouge on her cheeks. But underneath the rouge and the eye shadow and the fake eyelashes, she looked very familiar. She looked like Beverly Tapinski, except older. And angrier. If that was possible.
     'Why do I have to do everything?' said the woman.
     This was the kind of question that had no answer, the kind of question that adults seemed to be overly fond of asking. 
     Before Raymie could even attempt some sort of response, the woman was out of the car and had hold of Beverly's baton and was pulling on it and Beverly was pulling back.
     More dust rose up in the air.
     'Let go,' said Beverly.
     'You let go,' said the woman, who was surely Beverly's mother, even though she wasn't really acting like a mother." (p. 35)

     "The sun glinted off the abandoned grocery carts and made them magical, beautiful. Everything shimmered. The seagulls called out. Raymie thought that something wonderful was going to happen." (p. 43)

I had the pleasure of meeting Kate at BEA this spring and at nErDcamp this summer. If you want to read more about my fun at nErDcamp, head on over to Story Exploratory.

My Teachers Write Recap:
I made some great progress this week so I'm feeling pretty good! I finished up revisions and sent them off to a writer friend...and I also sent a few queries too. (!!!) Querying is not easy but I keep telling myself that every query I send is one more step in my journey as a writer. Now I'm working on revisions of the YA contemporary I drafted last summer. I even snuck in some time to dig a little deeper into research for a non-fiction narrative picture book. 

This week I'm hoping to really revise like crazy. I've found that I need a lot more brainpower to tackle revisions but zoning in on something specific to work on makes it easier. I've also realized that as much as I love to work out a beat sheet and know where the story is going to go, writing the first draft (and every draft after it) and looking back on it is the only way to really know what story needs to be told. 

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
What books, author, or genre do you devour and are they mentor texts for your own writing?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?
P. S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! You r-o-c-k!

Psst! Yes, you! One more thing...
Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee Blog Tour!

Title: The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee  
Author: Erin Petti 
Publisher: Mighty Press 
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Eleven-year-old Thelma Bee is never bored. In fact, she has curiosity and adventure in her blood. She spends her time running science experiments, practicing Spanish, and daydreaming about exotic landscapes. But Thelma gets more than she bargained for when a strange woman sells a jewelry box at her father’s antique shop. That night, a ghost kidnaps her father, and the only clues are the jewelry box and a word the ghost whispered in her ear: “Return.” Now it’s up to Thelma to get her dad back, and it might be harder than she thought—there’s someone wielding dark magic, and they’re coming after her next.  
What I Think:  I'm all about girl power books and especially books with girls and STEM. Even though The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee is a ghost story, it's also a story of a brave girl who uses her scientific skills to her advantage when she encounters a ghost...and maybe a little bit of trusting her intuition too. As a mentor text, Thelma is a great character to use as an example of how to use the scientific method in real life. She takes note of what she observes and uses the information to understand the world around her. Student writers can take note of what they observe in the world around them and think about which might be important to include in their own writing to help readers.
     I also love The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee as a mentor text when getting to know characters. Main characters and secondary characters need to grow or experience some kind of change throughout the story. Knowing your characters inside and out is important when it comes to story. The first snatch of text below is an example of two sentences that give us insight into Thelma Bee and her heart's biggest desire. She wants to be an adventurer and is fascinated by mysteries so here we learn about her and a little about her personality. But also we learn about her mom and that her mom is off adventuring. It's important for writers to know their character's deepest desires but also to be able to make sure readers understand this as well in a show-don't-tell almost seamless way.
Snatch of Text: 
"Thelma often dreamt of the day when she would adventure through the world like her mom, Mary Bee. Uncovering nature's mysteries and making important discoveries in the wild - what could be better?" (p. 3)

"...Thelma reached up and grabbed for the mini flashlight that she kept tied to a long shoelace on her bedpost. She clicked it on and propped it on her nightstand. In her notebook, under "Ghost Facts (according to E)" she created a new heading: GHOST FACTS: OBSERVED." (p. 42)
Writing Prompt: Free write about your main character and what he or she wants more than anything. Now try and zone in on his or her deepest desire and pare down your words to 2-3 sentences that show your reader what your main character cares about most.
Additional Resources:

Check out other stops on the tour!

*Thanks to Mighty Media Press for 
a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review!*

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/18/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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:
At Nerdcamp, Louise Borden and I presented on research and talked mainly about curiosity so she gave me the book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman. I've been reading it and I'm fascinated. Little Bean and I are reading The Adventures of Captain Underpants and Comic Squad: Lunch. Peanut and I have been reading The 13-Story Treehouse. It's been a silly and fun week of reading at our house!

Reviewed Last Week:
 
 
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
My plan this week is to keep reading along with my boys and their wild and fun books while finishing A Curious Mind. I also grabbed a few new picture books from the library I'm excited to get to!

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!

Week #3 - Teachers Write Sunday Check-In 2016

Welcome back, writers! I was in Michigan for nErDcamp for the beginning of the week and it was as awesome as ever. It's been good to be home again though and to be trying to get into a summer routine. I'm sure I'll figure it out just as we go back to school...which is August 15th for us! Anyway, I'm going to revel in these last few weeks and in writing with all of you and the rest of the Teachers Write community. 

Thanks for checking in again with me this week! I love having the time to reflect on how things are going. This week I'm sharing two books by Jandy Nelson that I've used as mentor texts for my own writing. Jandy puts so much emotion on the page and it moves me every time. 
When it comes to writing, I hope to bring my characters to life for readers and doing that means writing what is real and raw...all those emotions have to be right there so the reader can experience them along with the characters. Jandy's description makes me feel as though I'm there with her characters so that's why her books The Sky Is Everywhere and I'll Give You The Sun are mentor texts for me when it comes to writing what is real and raw. It's not always easy, it's actually usually super scary to open up my little heart and bare those feelings, but I'm pretty sure that's what writing is all about!

Some real and raw quotes 
from Jandy's Nelson's The Sky Is Everywhere:

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. 
Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; 
it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. 
I will never stop grieving Bailey 
because I will never stop loving her. 
That's just how it is. 
Grief and love are conjoined, 
you don't get one without the other. 
All I can do is love her, and love the world, 
emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”


“I wish my shadow would get up and walk beside me.” 

“... if you're someone who knows 
the worst thing can happen at any time, 
aren't you also someone who knows 
the best thing can happen at any time too?”


Some real and raw quotes 
from Jandy's Nelson's I'll Give You The Sun:

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. 
“Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time. 
Hauling them in as we make choices, 
good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, 
find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, 
retreat from the world, dive into the world, 
as we make things, as we break things.” 

“Sometimes you think you know things, 
know things very deeply, 
only to realize you don’t know a damn thing.” 

“In one split second I saw everything I could be, 
everything I want to be. And all that I’m not.”

My Teachers Write Recap:
I did it! I did it! I tackled my troubling timeline and think I worked it out. I had to rearrange a few chapters but now I think it makes sense. I still have to read through the entire manuscript to make sure it's ready to go but I'm so glad I worked through this whole timeline business. What really helped me was to take a break from it and come back to it with fresh eyes. 

I actually had a picture book that was finally ready to be written so I spent time getting that first draft out. It was almost like a warm up that then helped me tackle that timeline trickiness. So, hooray picture book! I sent it to a few readers and am curious to hear their thoughts. I've decided that when it comes to picture books, I need to write more. I went through my writer's notebook and made a list of 30 topics for picture books. I'm hoping to pick a month to write a picture book (draft) a day just to see what happens. 

This week I'm hoping to work through the rest of my revisions for this draft and hopefully to dive into my other ms that needs revising. My goal will be two 20-minute revision chunks this week everyday and hopefully towards the beginning of the day. We'll see how it goes! 

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What mentor texts come to mind when you think of 
books that made you experience raw and real emotions?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?
P. S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! You r-o-c-k!

Psst! Yes, you! One more thing...
Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here!

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Girl Who Drank The Moon

Title: The Girl Who Drank The Moon 
Author: Kelly Barnhill 
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers 
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel  
GoodReads Summary: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.
 
The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic. 
What I Think: I got lost in Xan and Luna's world which to me, illustrates just how effective Kelly Barnhill's writing is. She brings Xan and Luna and all the other characters to life and in so clearly developing the characters, she brings their world to life as well. Reading her writing had me looking at people and my own characters in a different way. I thought about what each of my characters want and what propels the story forward because of it. I noticed more in my own characters but also in people around me. I've never thought I could write fantasy before but this story has me believing I can. It's just so full of heart and rich with description.
    As a mentor text it's a remarkable text to help readers think about characters and how each character has to have his or her own story arc. Knowing what drives each character and motivates him or her helps to tell a more rounded story. I've thought about qualities of characters before but this is an amazing mentor text for thinking about what each character wants.
Snatch of Text: 
"The madwoman in the Tower could not remember her own name.
She could remember no one's name.
What was a name, anyway? You can't hold it up. You can't smell it. You can't rock it to sleep. You can't whisper your love to it over and over again. There once was a name that she treasured above all others. But it had flown away, like a bird. And she could not coax it back." (p. 127)

"For the people who loved Luna, time passed in a blur. Luna, however, worried that she might never be twelve. Each day felt like a heavy stone to be hoisted to the top of a very tall mountain." (p. 152)
Writing Prompt: Write about a character and what he or she might want more than anything.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/11/2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 finished The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery this week and I completely loved it. So fascinating. And believe it or not, Peanut and I are still reading Charlotte's Web...to say we're a little off of our routine would be a complete understatement. 

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm at Nerdcamp! I'm sure I'll pick up a book or two here and see what captures my attention. I do still have A Dog's Purpose from my friend to read when I get back and hopefully I'll time to dive into it.

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!