Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 06/27/2016

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. 

Did you know I have a newsletter? 
You can click here to sign up for it. 
When you do, I'll send you updates 
so you never miss out on any writing fun with me
AND you get a free copy of my ebook: My Story Is Here

Last Week's Book Adventures:
We've had a few lazy summer nights so Peanut and I are still reading Charlotte's Web. I'm about halfway through The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti and am hoping I can finish it this week!


Posts From Last Week:
Click on any picture above to read my post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Along with reading Charlotte's Web and The Pecular Haunting of Thelma Bee I'm hoping I can also get started with Wrecked by Maria Padian. We'll see how the week goes! I 'm also going to be writing this week as Teachers Write starts today!!! Here's my Sunday Check-In Introduction post from yesterday in case you missed it!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these 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!

Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Introduction 2016!

Hello writer friends! Welcome or welcome back to another summer of Teachers Write! I'm so excited for the official start of Teachers Write tomorrow! Here's a quick video introduction welcome!

So let's here it! 
What are you hoping to get out of Teachers Write this summer?
What are you most excited about?
What are you nervous about?

I'll be back next week with the official 1st Teachers Write Sunday Check-In!
Woo hoo! 
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! One more thing...
Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 06/20/2016

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. 

Announcements:

Ms. Bixby's Last Day Giveaway Winner:
Shelly Moody
Thanks to Walden Pond Press 
for sending me this title in exchange for an honest review
and the opportunity to offer this giveaway!

Did you know I have a newsletter? 
You can click here to sign up for it. 
When you do, I'll send you updates 
so you never miss out on any writing fun with me
AND you get a free copy of my ebook: My Story Is Here

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Peanut and I started reading Charlotte's Web...we're reading Charlotte's Web! It's pretty fun to share this book with him. I also read The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. So good!

Posts From Last Week:
Click on any picture above to read my post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to keep reading Charlotte's Web with Peanut and to start The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti.

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, June 17, 2016

The Thank You Book

Title: The Thank You Book 
Author: Mo Willems 
Illustrator: Mo Willems 
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.
In The Thank You Book!, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone . . . someone important.  
What I Think: Just today my two sons got into an argument and I had to coach them in how to nicely apologize to someone. We talked about just saying sorry isn't enough. There's a sort of art to apologizing and making sure the person really and truly knows you mean it. And thanking someone can have it's own similar art-ness to it. Thanking someone and being specific and clear about how they helped you is powerful. In a world where kindness is more important than ever, spread thank yous seems like a great idea. Plus, it's free to be polite...so why not?

After reading The Thank You Book ask students to think about what makes a good thank you. Then invite students to write thank you notes to people who have helped them in some way. It could be a thank you to someone who helped them recently or a long time ago. It could be a thank you to someone who helped them in a big way or in a small way. If you have older students, you could put a twist on this activity and show a clip Jimmy Fallon's Thank You Notes segment...but I would advise you to watch all the way through and make sure it's appropriate to share with students!
Snatch of Text:  
"'Squirrels!'
'Piggie!'
'Thank you for your great ideas!'
'Aww!'
'Shucks!'"
Writing Prompt: Write a thank you note to someone who has helped you in some way - recently or a long time ago, big or small.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 06/13/2016

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:
This week I continued my summer reading fun! I finished Booked by Kwame Alexander, Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar, and Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles.

Posts From Last Week:
Click on any picture above to read my post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Peanut just finished third grade and we've been reading the Beverly Cleary's Ramona books but I think it's time for us to read Charlotte's Web. That's my plan of the next week or two. I'm so excited to share it with him...we'll see how it goes! I hope he loves it as much as I do. I'm also hoping to read Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank The Moon...and maybe some others!


This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these 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!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Anything You Want

Title: Anything You Want 
Author: Geoff Herbach  
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016 
Genre/Format: Contemporary/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Expect a bundle of joy—er, trouble—in this hilarious, heartwarming story from the award-winning author of Stupid Fast Geoff Herbach.

Taco's mom always said, "Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better." That was hard to believe the day she died of cancer and when Taco's dad had to move up north for work, but he sure did believe it when Maggie Corrigan agreed to go with him to junior prom. Taco loves Maggie- even more than the tacos that earned him his nickname. And she loves him right back. 
Except all that love? It gets Maggie pregnant. Everyone else may be freaking out, but Taco can't wait to have a real family again. He just has to figure out what it means to be a dad and how to pass calculus. And then there's getting Maggie's parents to like him. Because it would be so much easier for them to be together if he didn't have to climb the side of the Corrigans' house to see her... 
What I Think: Somehow Geoff Herbach takes a wild, carefree, over-the-top character like Taco and brings him to life with all his high-school-boy antics but still makes him like-able. I really liked Taco but it definitely took me a while to want to root for him. He's just larger than life and at first reading his story was like trying to look into the sun - I was doing it but he was just so full of boy. (Which makes me think boy readers would probably love this book right off the bat!) But as I look closely at what Geoff did here with Taco, there are a few techniques he enlisted to helped to make him endearing to readers.
     First of all, he breaks the fourth wall. The fourth wall is the divider between the reader and the story. Sometimes, a character talks directly to the reader and that's what is means to break the fourth wall. As you can see in the first snatch of text, Geoff does this right away - his very first line breaks the fourth wall. It cracks me up because Taco is being himself as usual but because he's talking to us, I felt connected to him. 
     Another way Geoff connects us to taco is how overall exuberance for life. The kid is excited about a continental breakfast - but Geoff shows us that Taco is excited and again he breaks the fourth wall. It's hard to not be excited for someone who is so silly excited and asking you to be happy with him. 
     The last snatch of text I pulled really lets us into Taco's head and helps us see that his whole world isn't all rainbows and Froot Loops, we get to see him talking to his mother before she died and we see a hint of his vulnerability. This is just another way we connect to him - at least we can see he has a chink in his armor. Even if it seems small now, we get to see how this grows over time and as we get to know Taco more.
     One of the biggest challenges as a writer is to develop a character who has flaws but readers can still relate to. Readers have to see their strengths and their weaknesses and want to root for them throughout the book. Anything You Want is a great mentor text for looking at character development and how to invite readers to connect with the main character.
Snatch of Text:  
"When did this start? Duh, dingus. Last spring." (p. 1)

"Have you ever had a continental breakfast? They had one at the hotel. I ate six little boxes of Froot Loops, fourteen pieces of bacon, three cinnamon buns, and eight cups of coffee with these little blue vanilla creamers that tasted like milk mixed with frosting. What a cornucopia!" (p. 5)

"She said, 'You were born special. You were born to do this family proud. You make me proud, Taco.' 

She said, 'Today is the best day of your life. So is tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next. No matter what happens, everyday you have is the best day of your life.'

'Today is the best day of my life,' I said, though it didn't feel that way." (p. 21)

Writing Prompt: Write a scene when your main character breaks the fourth wall. What would your character tell you about his story? What do you learn from your character when he or she talks directly to you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ms. Bixby's Last Day Blog Tour


Today I'm the stop on the blog tour for Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson! But this is an extra special sort of blog tour as I've been invited to celebrate a teacher I loved when I was in school. As it just so happens, I got together with one of my high school English teachers for coffee over spring break. 

In April, I blogged about reconnecting with her in my This Is Your Life post at Story Exploratory. Truly, I had so many wonderful teachers along the way. I'll always remember reading aloud Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out in Ms. Armstrong's class, writing back and forth in a notebook to Ms Corn, taking The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle from Ms. Eustis when she handed it to me and believed I could handle it. 


With Ms. B. (now Mrs. Zimmerman), I read The Once and Future King and The Odyssey. We turned off the lights and hung up a sheet and did shadow puppets to act out scenes. My best friend and I sewed hat-veil-type creations that we decorated and wore as we performed a scene from Romeo and Juliet. She reserved days for reading workshop, where we could silently read a book of our own choosing. And we even had writing workshop. We took pieces through the writing process and she facilitated peer conferencing and met with each of us to give us feedback. And this was in the 90's. It was awesome. I'm so lucky to have experienced workshop as a student! I'm so so so grateful that I had her as a teacher. Without a doubt, being in her classes helped me continue to love reading and to grow as a writer. 


As we talked in March, we both took notes, jotting down titles of books the other recommended, plotting how we might collaborate going forward, sharing resources. It was awesome. As a teacher and now as a tech integration specialist, I can only hope I had/have a similar impact on students' lives. 

Learning was fun with Ms. B, she was enthusiastic about teaching and literacy but most importantly us. Talking with her now as an educator felt similar to talking with her when I was a student because at the root of it all, I know she respects me now just as much she respected me when I was her student. And that's what makes a teacher awesome. Teachers like Ms. B. who genuinely care for students, see students as individuals, and thoughtfully design learning opportunities that respect what students bring to the experience are the teachers we remember years later. They are the teachers who make a positive impact. They are the teachers we love. 

Maybe you had a Ms. B in your life? I hope you did! Ms. Bixby is Ms. B. for Topher, Brand, and Steve in John David Anderson's book Ms. Bixby's Last Day. Read more about it below, check out the other blogs on the tour, and be sure to enter my giveaway courtesy of Walden Pond Press!

Title: Ms. Bixby's Last Day 
Author: John David Anderson 
Publisher: Walden Pond Press 
Publication Date: July 21st, 2016 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The good ones. The not-so-good ones. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. But Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like the indignity of school is worthwhile. Who makes the idea of growing up less terrifying. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.

Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she is very sick and won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a plan. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand just what Ms. Bixby means to Topher, Brand, and Steve—and what they are willing to go to such great lengths to tell her.
John David Anderson, the acclaimed author of Sidekicked, returns with a story of three kids, a very special teacher, and one day that none of them will ever forget. 

Additional Resources:
Read a free excerpt here.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day Blog Tour Stops!

6/2/2016 - Nerdy Book Club
6/3/2016 - Next Best Book
6/6/2016 - Walden Media Tumblr
6/7/2016 - Teach Mentor Texts
6/10/2016 - Flashlight Reader
6/13/2016 - Julie Falatko
6/15/2016 - About to Mock
6/16/2016 - Kid Lit Frenzy
6/16/2016 - The Hiding Spot
6/17/2016 - Unleashing Readers
6/20/2016 - Ms. Yingling Reads
6/21/2016 - Maria's Melange
6/22/2016 - Lit Coach Lou
6/23/2016 - Novel Novice
6/27/2016 - Librarian's Quest
6/29/2016 - Bluestocking Thinking
6/30/2016 - Mindjacked
7/1/2016 - All the Wonders