Friday, July 30, 2010

Killer Pizza

Killer Pizza
Title: Killer Pizza    
Author: Greg Taylor  
Publication Date: 2009  
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Novel  
Summary: An action packed book about Toby Magill, a 14-year-old boy who accepts a summer job at Killer Pizza for the summer only to find out he won't be making pizzas...he'll be training and hunting down monsters!  Toby and his two co-workers, Annabel and Strobe, make a great team as they make sure monsters don't take over their quiet town! 
What I Think: I've, of course, read the Twilight (The Twilight Saga) by Stephenie Meyer, and I also just read Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by E. Van Lowe, but I'm still kind of new to the whole monster fiction scene.  This book is cool because there is a entirely new breed of monsters that the trio have to take on.  Toby and the other two characters work so well together.  By the end, there was so much action, it was fun to keep reading and reading.  I can definitely see boys getting into this book! 
Read Together: 5 - 8   
Read Alone: 6 - 8  
Read With: The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp (series) by Rick Yancey; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (series) by Rick Riordan; The 39 Clues Book 1:The Maze of Bones (series) Rick Riordan and others;  
Snatch of Text: "The hills of Hidden Hills now seemed to glow brightly in the amber light of the setting sun.  Toby leaned on the sill and breathed in the wamr, humid evening air.  Incredible how things could change so quickly.  From dreading the summer to suddenly welcoming it with open arms!
     Wait, what was that?
     Toby frowned as he scanned the line of trees that bordered the backyard of his house.  He had just seen something move through those trees.  A large upright shape of some sort, too large to have been human." p. 17-18 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Asking Questions, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Visualizing   
Writing Strategies to Practice: Plot Development   
Writing Prompts: Write a story that takes a sudden twist - start of by describing something everyday or normal and then go in a different direction.     
Topics Covered: Friendship, Independence, Courage, Action, Monsters, Teamwork, Responsibility  
Translated to Spanish: No  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hen Hears Gossip

Hen Hears GossipTitle: Hen Hears Gossip    
Author: Megan McDonald  
Illustrator: Joung Un Kim 
Publication Date:  2008 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book  
Summary: What happens when Hen overhears Cow telling Pig that Dog has a thorn in his side and runs around telling everyone on the farm?  Pretty soon the whole barnyard is talking about unfounded gossip until Hen gets to the bottom of everything! 
What I Think: As a teacher of students who are hard-of-hearing, I am consistently talking about how important it is to be a good communicator by asking for repetition or paraphrasing to check comprehension.  This book is a great example of how easy it is to mistake what someone has said.  It's an important lesson for any kid to learn how dangerous gossip can be, especially when you mistake what a person has said.  I love this to generate a discussion about being a good communicator and gossip.  Playing the game "telephone" could easily coordinate with this book!  
     Another idea for expanding on this book, would be to talk about how we treat others in our culture.  I work with lots of students who are learning English as a second language.  We have a huge population of hispanic students in our district so we have several bilingual and ESL classes.  I'm glad that they are proud of their culture and that they use Spanish with each other, but I think it is equally important for students to be taught that it's inappropriate to speak Spanish to each other if there is someone, especially a teacher, but possibly another student, around who doesn't speak Spanish.  I think it's rude to not include the person in the conversation and it doesn't feel good to be the person who doesn't know what is going on.  I also think they need to be aware that they cannot always assume that a person doesn't speak Spanish.  There have been times when I'm in a classroom and students to realize I can speak Spanish and know exactly what they are saying!  I, personally, feel that this is a conversation teachers or parents should have with students who speak multiple languages.
Read Together: K - 5   
Read Alone: 3 - 5  
Read With: Books about good behavior
Snatch of Text: 
"Hen was scratching for bugs
in the barnyard,
by the fence.
"Psst. Psst. Psst."
Pig whispered
something to Cow.
Gossip!
Hen loved gossip!" 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Inferences
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Write about a time when you said something untrue about someone or something OR when someone said something untrue about you.  Persuade someone to stop gossiping.  
Topics Covered: Feelings, Friendship, Gossip, Thoughtfulness, Culture
Translated to Spanish: No
 

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Heart You, You Haunt Me

I Heart You, You Haunt Me
Title: I Heart You, You Haunt Me    
Author: Lisa Schroeder  
Publication Date: 2008  
Genre/Format: Teen Issues - Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse   
Summary: A gripping novel in verse about a girl named Ava whose boyfriend dies...but then comes back to stay with her as a ghost.  
What I Think: I think this book is amazing.  It works so well as a novel in verse, but the plot itself had me teary-eyed throughout and full-out crying by the end.  Death is such a hard subject but this book is a story about how one girl is able to deal with death.  I think it's a great book for teens to be able to experience how Ava deals with the death of her boyfriend and how she is able to live the rest of her life.  I'm a romantic so it had my heart all tied in knots from the first few pages.  In a way it reminds me of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, which I think is another great love story (and had me sobbing and slobbery by the end, too).    
Read Together: 6 - 8  
Read Alone: 7 - 8  
Read With: Other novels in verse: for an 8th grader Crank (series) and others by Ellen Hopkins; Other love stories: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Snatch of Text: A Day of Black (first chapter)
"I've never been
to a funeral 
until today.

I see 
dazzling arrangements of
red, yellow, and purple flowers
with long, green stems.

I see
a stained-glass window with
a white dove,
a yellow sun, 
a blue sky.

I see a gold cross, standing tall,
shiny,
brilliant.

And I see
black.

Black dresses.
Black pants.
Black shoes.
Black bibles.

Black is my favorite color.
Jackson asked me about it one time.  

'Ava, why don't you like pink?
Or yellow?
Or blue?'

'I love black,' I said.
'It suits me.'

'I suit you,' he said.

And then he kissed me.

I'm not so sure 
I love black
anymore. 


Here's my favorite quote from the book - and a good metaphor example!!!
"As we watched
the balloon
float
up
up
up
and away,
Jackson whispered into my hear,
'Ava,
you are my helium.'"
p. 103
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences, Making Predictions,  Asking Questions, Reading Fluency  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Poetry, Anaphora, Descriptive Writing, Dialogue, Personal Narrative, Metaphor  
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you experienced a tremendous loss.  Choose an experience from your life and write a poem about it using stanzas that start with, "I see..."     
Topics Covered: Love, Death, Guilt, Grief, Moving On, Friendship, Family   
Translated to Spanish: No
 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Heart You Giveaway Winner!

I had fun participating in Got Books? this weekend!  How exciting to see so many book lovers uniting!  Each time I participate in a book blogging event I have even more fun!
I know you're ready to find out who won my giveaway of I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder!!!  I'm guessing you might have heard of this book and that's why you entered because it is an awesome book!  I chose the winner using Random.org.  There were 96 entrants in the giveaway.  (FYI-7 people entered the giveaway but were not followers of Teach Mentor Texts, so I took their numbers out.)

The winner is:  
#92 Wendy Wallach from It's Really Only a Purple World.

Congratulations Wendy!  For everyone who did not win...I definitely suggest you still check this book out!  (And don't forget to come back and tell me what you think!)


Friday, July 23, 2010

Got Books?






http://gotbooksevent.blogspot.com

I am so excited to be participating in Got Books? this year.  This event is only open to book bloggers and for two days we're all talking about how we found out about what we're reading now AND offering giveaways!!!  Don't we all love giveaways...especially book giveaways!?!

The book I am currently reading is called I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder.  I found out about this book when I saw it posted at Crazy For Books.  
I Heart You, You Haunt Me
One of my favorite books is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  This year, I read Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel, also by Niffenegger.  I didn't like it as much as my beloved TTW, but it was an interesting ghost story that got me really thinking about the idea of ghosts.  When I saw this book I was immediately intrigued because it's a YA novel with the same idea of love after death.  
So far, I am loving it.  It's a novel written in verse, which is a format I love.  I'll post my review Monday after the giveaway ends!  
And now, for the giveaway!  Fill out the form below to enter to win a copy of I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder.  


This giveaway has now ended! Thanks for everyone who entered!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Jazzman

This Jazz Man
Title: This Jazz Man    
Author: Karen Ehrhardt  
Illustrator: R.G. Roth 
Publication Date: 2006  
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book  
Summary:  A jazzy twist on the song "This Old Man"!
What I Think: I loved the artwork on the cover of this book the second I saw it, and as I started flipping through the pages, it got even better!  The artwork is lots of fun and words throughout the book seem to dance on the page.  What makes it even better is that the text is as jazzy and unique as the artwork.  It completely exudes rhythm and musical vocabulary.  For younger kids, you can use it to incorporate some counting!  You could even have kids come up and do a little dance and "give them a hand"!  I'm ready to bounce and boogy out of my seat just writing about it.  At the end, it includes short, musical biographies of nine famous African-American jazz greats! 
Read Together: Pre-K - 8  
Read Alone: 3 - 8  
Read With: Cats' Night Out (Paula Wiseman Books) by Caroline Stutson; Non-fiction books about jazz; Biographies of jazz musicians;  
Snatch of Text: 
"This jazz man, he plays one, 
He plays rhythm with his thumb,
With a snap! snap! snazzy-snap!
Give the man a hand,
This jazz man scats with the band."  
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections
Writing Strategies to Practice: Word Choice, Onomatopoeia, Rhyme    
Writing Prompts: Write your own rendition of "This Old Man" with your own musical twist!  Write about your favorite kind of music or you favorite musician.  While/after listening to a sample of jazz music, describe what the music makes you feel or what you visualize as you listen to the music.    
Topics Covered: Music, Jazz, Culture, African-American Culture, Math    
Translated to Spanish: No
    

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cultivating Readers and Writers

I think it's so interesting to talk to other readers and writers about what they attribute to their love of reading or writing.  I feel like the more I talk to people, the more perspective I gain about how to help my students develop as readers and writers.  
For this installment of Cultivating Reader and Writers, I am interviewing Kai from Fiction State of Mind.   


 

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

The Witchy Worries of Abbie AdamsTitle: The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams    
Author: Rhonda Hayter  
Publication Date: 2010  
Genre/Format: Fiction-Fantasy/Novel  
Summary: Abbie Adams is your average 5th grade...witch!  Her parents and her little brother, Munch, are witches, too.  Abbie deals with 5th grade - her teacher who gives too much homework, her best friend who she can't tell about magic, being in the drama club - until her dad brings home a kitten and really makes things interesting.  It turns out her kitten is really Thomas Edison who has been turned into a cat and sent to the 21st century.  How can they change him back and who would do such a thing?  Abbie and her family try to solve the mystery and return things to normal before time is re-written entirely!  
What I Think: I am excited to recommend this to my 3rd grader when the school year starts!  I think she would love this!  I think it's a great middle grade book.  Abbie is a great character and she makes the story so much fun.  It kind of reminds me of the TV show Sabrina, The Teenage Witch - in a completely good way.  It also reminds me of the TV show Bewitched.  It's a fun story while still being relatable because the witches are part of everyday life.  It's cool to read about a normal girl who can cast spells to freeze time, make milk and cookies appear, and change into a bug on the wall.  I have always wanted to be able to freeze time so it's cool to read about a character who can really do that.  What I really love about this book is  that the author incorporates some history/science by putting Thomas Edison as a young kid into the book.  I love books that easily relate to non-fiction topics and this book does exactly that!
Read Together: 2 - 5  
Read Alone: 3 - 7  
Read With: Non-Fiction about Thomas Edison; Non-Fiction about inventions  
Snatch of Text: "When Munch and I got home, I ran right to my mom to tell her about the play.  She laughed really hard when she found out about the part I got, and wen I asked if we could tell Aunt Sophie about it, she got right on the phone and passed it to me. 
     I told Aunt Sophie the big news about the play and then I told her about how my character didn't believe in magic...and as soon as I did, there was a terrific WHOOOSSHH of air and I felt as if cold fingers were playing up and down my spine.  All of a sudden, it looked as if silvery snow was falling in the living room for just a second and there was a sound like tinkling bells.  Aunt Sophie was popping in."  p. 33  
Reading Strategies to Practice: Asking Questions, Making Connections, Visualizing, Activating Background Knowledge   
Writing Strategies to Practice:      
Writing Prompts: Write about what an everyday experience would be like if you had magical witchy powers.  Describe how it might feel, look like, smell like, sound like to cast a spell or have a spell cast upon you!  Persuade Abbie Adams to cast a spell for you - what spell would you ask her to cast and why would you need her to cast that specific spell for you.    
Topics Covered: Adversity, Friendship, Family, Challenges, Right Vs. Wrong, Science-Thomas Edison/Inventions, Working Hard   
Translated to Spanish: No   
    

Unwrapping the Read Aloud: Making Every Read Aloud Intentional and Instructional

Unwrapping the Read Aloud: Making Every Read Aloud Intentional and Instructional (Theory and Practice in Action)Title: Unwrapping the Read Aloud: Making Every Read Aloud Intentional and Instructional (Theory and Practice in Action)
Author: Lester L. Laminack  
Publication Date: 2009  
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Professional Book and DVD 
Summary: Laminack takes a close look at the benefit of reading to kids and how to prepare for reading a book by identifying your purpose for reading and using the hints in the text to understand how it should be read.  He relates reading aloud to playing music because you have to pay attention to how the words and the layout are guiding you as a reader.   
What I Think: I find myself learning so much now that I have my own little Peanut to read to.  It has opened my eyes as an educator, especially when it comes to reading to him.  I just assumed everyone knew how to read a book aloud to a child.  It never occurred to me that it doesn't come naturally to everyone.  (I say this to demonstrate my naiveness not to fault people for not having the knack to read aloud as others might.)  I've heard people read to Peanut and thought, "Wow, he's not really reading with much emotion...it's like he just wants to get through the book..."  And I've heard people read books like Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner that has such colorful language that it sounds choppy if it's read for the first time out loud.  Both of these experiences made it clear to me that is important to preview a book and plan how to read it ahead of time.  That is exactly what this book talks about!  Gotta love it!  
Read With: Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox; Cracking Open the Author's Craft: Teaching the Art of Writing (Theory and Practice in Action) by Lester Laminack
Snatch of Text: "When we read aloud to inspire, our expectations or students are simple and direct.  We want nothing more than to pique their interest, to spark their desire, to entice them to read.  Our ultimate goal is that they fall in love with language and books, that they lust after language and books and reading as they will later lust after driving.  Therefore, any intentional read aloud designed to inspire would not ask students to answer a set of questions, give a retelling, unpack meaning, host a conversation, define vocabulary, write a character sketch, compare or contrast anything.  None of that would follow a read aloud to inspire our students." p. 25-26 
Topics Covered: Book Talks, Just-Right Books, Genres, Authors, Integration
Translated to Spanish: No
 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Books

EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A CHILDREN'S BOOKTitle: EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A CHILDREN'S BOOK    
Author: Various - edicted by Anita Silvey
Publication Date: 2009  
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Collection of Essays  
Summary: A collection of essays from over 100 leaders from the arts, sciences, politics, business, and other fields.  They each talk about the impact a children's book has had on their lives.  It includes a picture and excerpt from each book highlighted.
What I Think: I was really excited to get this book, and just a teeny tad disappointed.  There are a good deal of people I recognize in this book, but at the same time, a lot of people who I don't even know at all.  I'm glad books were influential to them, but I didn't know who they were so it was hard for me to get excited about reading about their experience with books.  There were a lot of authors I recognized and it was fun to read about a children's book that touched their lives.  There were quite a few books I didn't expect people to connect with, lots of classics.  I think I would use this with older students more than younger students.  Overall, it was interesting to see what people said.  
I took away 4 overall trends that I kept noticing as I read - 
1. Many essays discussed a memory of a person reading to them or with them.
2. Many essays talked about being immersed in books, that they grew up with books all around them.
3. Each essay identified one book that was a "home run" book to them, a book that just stands out as one that really got them into reading.
4. Many essays pointed out that their either loved the book because they could connect with it or that it was so different from their life it helped them experience something completely novel.   
Read Together: 6 - 8  
Read Alone: 7 - 8  
Read With: Choose one of the famous figures from the book and do a more intense study of him or her and use this as part of learning about him or her; Choose other memoirs and match them up with a few from this book to discuss memoirs.
Snatch of Text: Lucy Mangan, British Journalist, wrote, "Children should be encouraged to read anything and everything because you never know what they will get out of a book." p. 203
     Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition (which I loooooove), wrote, "Until The Call of the Wild, I'd always been aware I was reading a book; that is, I'd yet to be "lost" in one.  Jack London gave me my first dose of "virtual reality" decades before the phrase was coined...I discovered that the experience wasn't peculiar at all, that nearly all lifetime readers experience it with a singular book at some point.  Fadiman explained that such a book is like one's first big kiss or first home run - they're unforgettable, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to duplicate or surpass them."  p. 57
Reading Strategies to Practice: Making Connections, Just-Right Books
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Memoir
Writing Prompts: Write about your favorite book of all time.  Write about a memory of reading a book from your childhood.  Write about your "home run" book.      
Topics Covered: Reading, Just-Right Books, Genres  
Translated to Spanish: No