Friday, August 26, 2016

They All Saw a Cat

Title: They All Saw A Cat 
Author: Brendan Wenzel 
Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel 
Publisher: Chronicle 
Publication Date: August 30th, 2016 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .

In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see? 
What I Think: Eep! It's so hard to write about this book as a mentor text without giving away the story. If you are looking for an example of how the text and the illustrations in a picture book work with each other to tell a story, this is it! Brendan shows us how a cat might be seen differently from different perspectives with his illustrations. Readers have to use all the visual cues and connect them to each of the different beings that see the cat. My six-year-old was entranced by the story. I could see the little gears cranking around in his head as he made sense of the illustrations and how they connected to different perspectives.
     My snatch of text is simple but profound at the same time. The more I read picture books and listen to authors and illustrators talk about all the intention that goes into their work, the more fascinated I am. When I write, I think about the state of my character and where he or she is when the story starts in relation to where I want that character to go. It's an art to give a teeny, tiny hint at what's to come or what's at play here and to clue the reader in to what to pay attention to. Honestly, it took me a few times through to think about how this story starts, and the specific focus that is put on the cat as we start off thinking about his whiskers, ears, and paws. In a way, it sets the mood, we're stalking along with the cat with his whiskers, ear, and paws but also, we have to pay attention to those whiskers, ears, and paws, right? As a mentor text, I would read the story and then go back and pay close attention to this line and have students think about how Brendan sneaks in this specificity right here and sets the stage for the reader. And then see if students can think about a starting sentence that might show the mood of the story while also pulling readers into the story.
     I've included the book trailer here as well as it's another example of the mood of the story.
Snatch of Text:  
"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws..."
Writing Prompt: Think about where you will take your readers from start to end. Think about your main character and the state he or she is in at the start of the story and at the end. Write a first line or first paragraph that gives some subtle hint at the change we might see as we read.
Book Trailer:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/22/2016

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:
Ack! Being back to school for a whole entire full week kicked my butt! But the good news is the kids and I are back to school and loving it. We finished up Charlotte's Web. It was the cutest thing to talk to them about it. We also read an review copy of Dear Dragon by Josh Funk and loved it!

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'm really hoping to read more of A Curious Mind and I think I'm going to start reading Matilda to the kids but we might pick something else to read instead. I'm taking a course this semester to work towards my ESL endorsement and that book just came in the mail so I'll start reading that text soon! It's going to be a busy year. I hope those of you still enjoying summer are reveling in the time you have left and for those who are headed back or went back recently, Happy New Year!

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!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hey A.J., It's Saturday! Blog Tour





I'm super excited to be sharing my thoughts on Hey A.J., It's Saturday! and how it might be used as a mentor text to kick off the blog tour. Each blog will have a giveaway so be sure to check all the blog stops to join in on the fun!

Title: Hey A.J, It's Saturday! 
Author: Martellus Bennett 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary:  
A.J. Is an imaginative girl who finds another world that is strangely right downstairs in her kitchen. So strange there’s already a feast, breakfast being served by creatures and beasts.

Oh! What is going in this kitchen of hers? Pancakes! Waffles! Scrambled eggs! And a Jamaican Giraffe?

Breakfast will never be the same. Ever!

What I Think: Honestly, Marty Bennett's imagination comes to life in this wonderfully imaginative breakfast adventure. As a mentor text, I love that reading this book might spark kids' imagination and give them some ideas they can incorporate into their own writing or even spur some stories. I would stop at the two-page layout that invites readers to listen up close as Marty explains some secrets about breakfast and ask students to brainstorm what some secrets they might know about breakfast...and then even brainstorm some other secrets they might know about other parts of their days or lives. Insider information is exciting to write about and helping writers see that they might be secret experts is a fun way to engage them and get them into writing.

Marty also includes some alliteration and rhyme as you can see in the second snatch of text here. Alliteration is just so much fun! Stop and have kids listen to the sounds - not only the repetition of the "f" sound and the "s" sound but also point out the assonance here as the short "i" is repeated throughout.  Ask kids to write their own silly sentences using alliteration or assonance.

Snatch of Text:  
"There's a couple of things about breakfast that no one in the world knows. 
I'm going to tell you these secrets so listen up close."

"Fifty silly fishes,
swimming in the dishes.
This cannot be right.
Why are animals
in the kitchen?"

Writing Prompt: Write about your most outlandish breakfast ever or the wildest breakfast you can imagine!
Additional Resources: Order Hey A.J., It's Saturday! at the Hey A.J ShopAnd find the app on iTunes and the Google Play Store.

Here are the stops on the blog tour!

Jen at Teach Mentor Texts - 8/16
Niki at Daydream Reader - 8/17
Michele at Mrs. Knott's Book Nook - 8/18
Jessica at Little Lake County - 8/19
Linda at Teacher Dance - 8/20
Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers - 9/4

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to The Imagination Agency for send me this title
and providing a prize pack for one winner from my site!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/15/2016

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:
The kids and I are almost to the end of Charlotte's Web! It was cute listening to them fill my husband in on the story. I'm glad even Little Bean (who is going into 1st grade) is following along with the story. I ended up reading more of A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman this week.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I have a bunch of picture books from the library, maybe I'll take some pictures of do a video when I go through them just for fun! I'm also hoping to finish up A Curious Mind and see if I can get to anything else...it's officially back to school for me and the kids this week so we'll see!

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!

Friday, August 12, 2016

For The Love Of Mentor Texts - Marcie Atkins

Welcome to another post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts! We're celebrating today with some mentor texts for writing novels in verse from Marcie Flinchum Atkins. I hope you are as inspired by her ideas as I am!

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

*********************************

Using Mentor Texts to Revise a Novel in Verse
By Marcie Flinchum Atkins
I use mentor texts at all different points in my writing process, and I use them for just about every type of book that I write (picture book, middle grade, poetry). I began a novel in verse a few years ago, then put it in a box. This past spring, something made me pull it back out again. I planned to attend a Novel in Verse retreat at Highlights in an effort to revise this book. At different stops along this process, I used other novels in verse as mentor texts.
Read
The first thing I do when I’m studying a particular type of book is read a LOT of it. Heather Sellers calls this THE BOOK 100 in her book CHAPTER AFTER CHAPTER. The idea is that before you ever set out to write a particular type of book, you have read 100 of them. Writing a mystery for middle grade readers? Read 100 of them. Writing a magical realism book for young adults? Read 100 of them.
Several years ago, I started reading lots of novels in verse. As I planned to attend Highlights, I read even more. Here are a few good lists to get you started:  
Then I began to read specifically. For example, I love Margarita Engle’s novels in verse, so I started reading as many of her books as I could. I also wanted to read as many books set in other countries as I could. Mine is set in Thailand, but I wanted to see how authors shared their stories set in other countries.

Study
As I read those dozens of novels in verse, I took a look at setting and character and style in a more holistic way. But as I begin to hone my own novel in verse, I wanted to look into two specific things: Beginnings and Transitions.
An agent showed some interest in my novel but noted some issues with my beginning. I wanted to study some things that other writers did in the beginnings of their novels in verse to ground the reader. I read several beginnings of novels in verse and made detailed notes.
I noted things such as:
* Beginning Information
In some cases, there was some sort of beginning information in the form of a quote, a note, a preface, or even headings of some kind set apart to tie the reader to place, time, or both.
I also wrote down the kind of information that was provided for the reader. I love studying the ways that the book layout even contributes to the overall reading experience.
* Titles of poems
As I read titles of the poems and wrote them down, I wanted to see how the titles fit with the overall poem. Sometimes the poem titles served as the first line of the poem.
My biggest takeaway is that titles often served as transitions. One of the questions I asked Caroline Rose Starr in her Teachers Write post was about how she does transitions.
Other times, transitions came in the form of locations and dates in between poems.
* Poem Content
As part of my study of beginnings, I also wanted to see what kind of information was conveyed in the first 8-10 poems. As I studied those opening poems in each book, I actually made notes on what information was given: character, setting, plotting, and how it was handled.
In the aforementioned post by Caroline Starr Rose, she says, “If a prose novel is a rolling film, a verse novel is a collection of still photographs, placed one against the next.” My goal was to see how those “photographs” fit together like a puzzle to form a narrative.
For me, each book I write requires different things. I study different mentor texts at different stages of my process. If you are also writing a novel in verse, I’m including some recent links below. If you are writing a different type of book, I hope you can apply some of my mentor text studying process to your own project.
Links:

Marcie Flinchum Atkins has been an elementary educator for 19 years. She is currently a PYP/IB librarian in Falls Church, Virginia by day and writes books for children in the wee hours of the morning. She has a M.A. and M.F.A. in Children's Literature from Hollins University. She blogs about mentor texts at: www.marcieatkins.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MarcieFAtkins.

Marcie and I are curious:

How are you currently studying mentor texts
to help you make your work stronger?

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

A big bear hug and giant thanks to Marcie for stopping by today!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/08/2016

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'm loooooooooooooving rereading Charlotte's Web with my kids! I'm also taking a class this year that focuses a lot on growth mindset and there are a few parts that are standing out to me. So fun!

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Guess what...it's back-to-school time for me! We have teacher days on Thursday and Friday this week. I'm hoping to finish up Charlotte's Web with the boys and I have a biography about a marathon runner to read.

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 #6 - Teachers Write Sunday Check-In 2016


Srsly? Where did the summer go!?! 
I'm sad to say that Teachers Write has come to an end. 
via GIPHY

I would love to give a HUGE shout-out to the amazing Kate Messner, Jo Knowles, Gae Polisner and all the other incredible authors and book world people who were part of Teachers Write this summer. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have that satisfied feeling, 
like we just did something really great. 

I have that warm and fuzzy feeling, 
like we were just part of something special. 
But I also have that sad-face feeling, 
like it all went too too fast and now it's over. 

So basically, this:


No matter how you participate in Teachers Write this summer, I wholeheartedly believe you made the most of it based on what was right for you this summer. Isn't that the beauty of Teachers Write? Don't forget, you can always access any of the blog posts from this summer and previous summers. And the #teacherswrite hashtag is always there for you too. 

My final Sunday Check-In this week is meant to encourage you to keep on writing. Write, write, write. Write what you are. Write what moves you. Write what is real and raw. Write what you devour. Write what begs to be written. Whatever you do: write. Until next time...

 Rock on, writers!



My Teachers Write Recap:

This week I tightened up the query for the novel I've been revising this summer. I also put in a lot of time on final revisions this week to be ready to enter Pitch Wars. I was thrilled to be selected for Pitch Wars in 2014 and it was such an amazing experience that I thought I would enter again. I figure it can't hurt. Either I get in or I don't but no matter what my writing life will go on. Do I totally hope I get in, of course! So I went for it. Now I just have to wait and see what happens. If you aren't familiar with Brenda Drake and the different contest she offers, I definitely recommend following her on Twitter and checking out her blog. Did you maybe enter Pitch Wars too?!? If so, let me know so we can bite our nails together as we wait!

Overall, this was another summer of Teachers Write awesome for me. Thank you so much for stopping in to share your story with me - whether you were here every week or one week, I'm sending out virtual hugs. You are brave and you are awesome. I applaud you!

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 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 your plans to write write write now?
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!