Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Woods Runner

Woods RunnerTitle: Woods Runner
Author: Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: January, 2010
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
Summary: Samuel is 13 and lives with his parents peacefully on the frontier in America. They live in a small settlement in a dirt floored cabin that backed up to the forest.  Samuel loved the forest, he'd become the sole provider of food for the settlement and he enjoyed every minute he spent in the forest. They lived far from any town so that it took sometimes months before any news got to their ears, including the beginning of the war.  It was not long after they'd heard about the war against the British that Samuel was out in the woods searching for  deer that he noticed smoke coming from where his settlement was- way too much smoke.  When he arrived he found destruction and death. All the cabins in his settlement were burnt down and bodies were everywhere; however, it seemed his parents were taken captive. It is now Samuel's only mission in life to track down and save his parents. On this adventure, he learns more about more about the horror of the war that America is now in.
What I Think: I love historical fiction! Well, good historical fiction and Woods Runner is good historical fiction.  After first I was feeling so-so about the book, but then on page 20 the book becomes such a page turner.  This book is only my 5 historical fiction book about the Revolutionary war, but it is the first that shows what happened from an American that live on the frontier.  This book also showed me some of the side work the British army and its allies did.  Being in war with someone and fighting them is one thing, but the British along with Iroquois Indians as well as the Hessians, the German fighters for Britain, were ruthless and often committed war crimes.  This book is built to not only entertain you, but to teach you.  Gary Paulsen puts snippets of historical information between chapters to help the reader understand more specifically what is going on in the book- I loved learning that little bit more!

Next to how much I loved the historical element of this novel, Gary Paulsen also crafts such an amazing survival adventure with a protagonist that anyone will root for.
Read Together: Grade 5 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 9
Read With: Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell, Dear America books from the Revolutionary War, Nonfiction books about the Revolutionary War
Snatch of Text: 
"Oh, he knew the forest could kill.  Once, sitting by the fire, a distant relative, a shirttail uncle who was a very old man of nearly fifty named Ishmael, had looked over his shoulder as if expecting sea monsters and said, 'Nothing dies of old age in the forest.  Not bugs, not deer, not bear nor panthers nor man.  Live long enough, be slow enough, get old enough and something eats you.  Everything kills.'" (p. 5)

"There wasn't noise in the forest.  There were smells: wood smoke filled the air in every season because it wasn't just for heat, but to cook as well; the smell of oak for long fires, pine for short and fast and hot fires.  The smell of bread and sometimes, if they were lucky and had honey or rock sugar to pulverize in a sack with a hammer, sweet pie.  The odor of stew cooking in the cast-iron pot over an outside fire or in an iron kettle hung in the fireplace, the scent flying up through the chimney and out over the ground as the wind moved the smoke around.  There was the tang of manure, stacked in back of small shedlike barns to age before it was put on gardens; horse and cow and chicken manure from their farm and other farms.  So many smells swirled by the same wind throughout the small valley." (p. 8)

"He cried over each corpse, thinking of them living, thinking of them meeting in the cabin and living and talking and laughing and. . . just being. And now all gone.  Gone.  He could not stop crying, thinking of his parents, wondering, worrying." (p. 31)
Topics Covered: Revolutionary War, Family, Death, Nature, Survival


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Little Wolf

Title: Good Little Wolf     
Author: Nadia Shireen
Illustrator: Nadia Shireen  
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf 
Publication Date: 2011 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
Summary: Rolf, a good little wolf, cross paths with the Big Bad Wolf of fairy tale infamy. The Big Bad Wolf tries to tell the good little wolf that he needs to get in touch with his inner wolf. Can he trust the Big Bad Wolf? 
What I Think: I think the Big Bad Wolf is not to be trusted!!! This is definitely a story to share with older readers because it will make them think about what it means to be a good little wolf and how that will impact them as they go through life and encounter big bad wolves! (Hint, in life there aren't always happy endings...)

I love this book to teach students about characters in fairy tales. One important element in fairy tales is that the characters are flat - they don't typically go through any life-changing experience. They are all good or all bad from the beginning and we can expect them to always be all good or all bad forever and ever. This is something that is different from other fiction that we read where the characters are dynamic and usually change or develop as the story progresses. This book is a reminder that readers have to remember what they know about fairy tale characters. They can apply this knowledge to the story to try and predict whether the good little wolf will succeed at changing the big bad wolf's ways. What do you think will happen at the end? You have to read to find out!
Read Together: 4 - 12 
Read Alone: 3 - 12 
Read With: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, Little Red Riding Hood by Train Schart Hyman or other versions, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka 
Snatch of Text:  
"'You LOOK like a wolf...

You FEEL like a wolf...

You SMELL like a wolf...'

'That's because I am a wolf,' piped up Rolf.
'I'm a very good little wolf.'

'Good?' said the Big Bad Wolf.
'Wolves aren't good!
Wolves are BIG and BAD.'"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Narrative - Fractured Fairy Tales 
Writing Prompts: Take your favorite fairy tale and mix it up! Change the setting, change the characters, maybe change the plot like this book does and write your own version of the story! 
Topics Covered: Innocence, Naivete, Identity, Folk Literature - Fairy Tales, Characters
 

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/28/11

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey.  
Each week we'll recap what we've read/reviewed the week before 
and then look ahead to what we are planning on reading/reviewing in the upcoming week. 

We have an exciting announcement coming next week! Make sure to check back!

Last Week's Book Adventures: 

Kellee Says: It is quite ironic that NCTE/ALAN is a place where I am surrounded by book lovers and authors, but I never get any reading done. All of my reading over the last 2 weeks was done on the plane. On the plane there I finished I am Number Four and started The Power of Six (which I finished my second day in Chicago) then on my way home on the plane I was able to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, and 12 Things to Do Before you Crash and Burn by James Proimos.  I really enjoyed all of them and I will probably share the latter two with you through reviews, so check back.
Jen Says: There is definitely something about NCTE being back to back with Thanksgiving that meant the death of reading for me somehow. It's curious but when I'm on break (especially summer break) I find it harder to find time to read. Partly because I don't get my audiobooks in and party because I spend so much time with the kiddos that I don't get to reading as much as usual! Except for picture books. I do read lots of picture books! I finished Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star and have started Zombies Vs. Unicorns. I did read an ARC of Girl Meets Boy which is a collection of short stories that are pairs of the girl's perspective and then the boy's perspective. It was great! I'm almost halfway through with Eye of the Storm an ARC of Kate Messner's next novel and still working on Ellen Potter's Kneebone Boy. Great picture books I have read are: Chicken Butt's Back, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and Dogs Don't Do Ballet. Lots of great reads here!

Reviewed Last Week:
 
Just click on any picture to go read the review

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Kellee Says: I hope to get a lot of reading done this week, but with going back to school (and having to catch up from having a sub for 3 days) and being sick (have been since last Saturday) I am not sure how much reading I'll get done.  I'm currently reading Neversink by Barry Wolverton which is a fun, animal story.  After that, I plan on reading Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle and Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson.  Also, at NCTE/ALAN I received 80 pounds or so of books, so I hope to crack into some of them at some point including Fever by Lauren DeStefano, Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler and many more! I am so looking forward to reading all of them!
Jen Says: I'm going to work my way through Zombies Vs. Unicorns on audio, finish up Kneebone Boy and Eye of the Storm, read the graphic novel of Anne Frank's story from NCTE, and then I'm going to be reading some Christmas/winter themed picture books. I'm also gearing up for doing an author study in the next few weeks...have to decide what picture book author to read! (Any suggestions?)

This Week's Reviews:
Woods Runner
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Please share! And remember to check in at Sheila's blog to see what she and others are reading!

Happy reading!!
 and

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bit of Me(me) 11/26/11


We all leave our “footprint” on the world, in one way or another. In our daily lives, we each do something or are someone that makes the world a little better simply by being ourselves. Danielle from There's a Book  created this wonderful, weekly meme to learn a bit more about bloggers in this blogging community we all have come to love. The idea is to share our lives outside of books. Each week a question will be posted. Your job is to answer in the following week’s “A Bit of Me(Me)”. You can link up here with your post that answers Danielle's questions from last week.

We understand that some of you are skeptical about putting yourself out there on the internet and completely respect that. If ever a questions is posed through this meme that you feel is too personal for your liking, feel free to post something else. We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable with what they share and promise the kids will always be “kid-friendly”. Really, this is a primarily children’s and young adult site, you know?

So, let’s get started!

Do you like parades and do you have a favorite this time of year?

I do like parades! I think parades are fun...I'm not sure why now that I think of it! I guess it's fun to see what floats are going to be in the parade or what other funny things will pop up on a parade. As a kid, I loved getting all the candy and handouts at the parade. In the town that I grew up in they had a parade just to celebrate the town. It was fun to look for people I knew in the parade and a special treat to be able to be in the parade myself. When we went to Disney World this summer we watched their Electric Lights parade at Magic Kingdom and the Pixar parade at Hollywood Studios. It was fun to see what characters were going by and to call out to my sons to look and see some of their favorite characters.


I haven't been to any parades around this time of year so I don't really have a favorite. I love to watch the parades on TV and it's always fun to see the Macy's balloons but, in general, when I think of the holidays I don't think of parades. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of a parade is the 4th of July. Those are some good memories of parades. 

Next week’s A Bit of Me(Me) will be hosted by Crystal at I Totally Paused! where she will provide the link-up and the next question for the following week. Thanks everyone! See you next week!

Now, your turn! Link up below and tell everyone “A Bit of You!”Next Week’s Question (link-up with your answer at Crystal’s site): How do you feel about holiday cards? Do you send them? Do you refuse to send them? Do you get them out on time?!


Have a question to add? We love suggestions! Just leave them in the comments and I’ll share them with Danielle so we can think about adding them in as we go! Also, feel free to grab either of the buttons for your own “A Bit of Me(Me)” post (or create your own), but make sure to link back to There’s A Book(You can also resize these down to a smaller size if you’d like.)
  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kellee's NCTE/ALAN 2011 Fun!

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference followed by the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) post-workshop has quickly become one of my favorite weeks of the year.  First, one thing that made this year even better was that it was being held in my favorite city in the nation, CHICAGO! Although I didn't get much time to wander, it being there just made it that much better.


The Experience

While I am at NCTE/ALAN I feel like I am surrounded by people who are all as passionate about teaching and reading as I am.  Going to this conference is like being given a shot of adrenaline that will help me make it until the next year. It is amazing to be in an environment where becoming the best professional you can be is the most important thing.  It is an experience like no other. 

I wanted to share with you the experience I had, because it is something worth sharing (also, I took LOTS of pictures because I always make a PowerPoint to share with my students).  

NCTE Sessions

Throughout NCTE you get to chose from 1,000s of sessions that deal with every aspect of teaching English or reading that you can think of. AND some of the sessions you can chose from are presented by some of the most well-known national educators including Kelly Gallagher, Jim Burke, Teri Lesesne, Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Bob Probst and Linda Rief.  Authors such as John Green and Chris Crutcher present as well. You even have the option of going to meals with speakers like Sharon Draper and Anthony Horowitz! 

Some highlights from my sessions were: 
  • Chris Crutcher at the Secondary Get Together
    • "There are certain books you can put into the hands of a kid and it'll change how they look at things." 
  • Linda Darling-Hammond 
    • "Greatest obstacle to learning is poverty.  Schools reflect society and reinforce it.  We must fight poverty, not beat up our schools." 
    • "Can't fire our way to Finland.  We need to do what Finland does." 
  • A technology session presented by Donalyn Miller, Franki Sibberson, Teri Lesesne, and Sara Kajder
    • Don't schoolify technology! 
  • John Green's session on Intellectual Freedom
    • "Public schools exist for the benefit of the social order. An educated society benefits us all." 
    • "Anti-censorship is not giving up on your beliefs and what is good for your students." 
    • "Reading can be a way of not feeling alone, but it is also important to read about those not like us." 
    • "We need to trust teachers.  When we don't, we do ourselves a great disservice." 
  • Session on working with struggling readers with Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, and Linda Rief
    • "Many of the problems in education will go away if we focused on engagement." -Beers
    • "How will kids grow as learners if they are not given challenges? Opportunities?" -Rief
    • "We have segregation by intellectual rigor in our schools." -Beers
    • "Life is about reprocessing information and reshaping it." -Probst
  • Anthony Horowitz talking about the importance of reading during the Secondary Luncheon
    • "Reading is a muscle- you just have to start somewhere and work at it." 
    • "Books give you a civilized outlook. They give you empathy for other people and color for the world."
John Green (swoon!) presenting about Intellectual Freedom.
Meeting Anthony Horowitz (swoon again!) after seeing him talk at the Secondary Luncheon.

NCTE Exhibition Hall

Also, on top of that, you can visit the exhibit hall to receive Advance Reader's Copies (ARCs) of books and meet authors to get your books signed. The exhibit hall is a book nerd's dream! Over the 3 days that the exhibit hall was open, I got to meet and get signatures of some amazing authors. 


Kate Messner with her new book Eye of the Storm which I am so excited to read. 
Jim Murphy, my favorite nonfiction author.
The award winning, book legend Katherine Paterson
Allan Wolf with one of my favorite books of the year, The Watch that Ends the Night. 
Bill Willingham with Down the Mysterly River an under-hyped, fun fantasy novel.
Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher, the authors of The Future of Us
I was lucky enough to meet Laurie Halse Anderson 3 times while at ALAN/NCTE and she was so nice every time.  She even asked for a link to my blog when I told her I'd reviewed Forge. She also made me cry when I saw her at ALAN.  She is such an amazing advocate for education. 
Kenneth Oppel with Silverwing his middle grade adventure book that I'm excited to read after recently listening to Airborn 
Sara Zarr signing her newest novel, How to Save a Life.

ALAN Cocktail Party

Then when NCTE's convention ends, the ALAN post-workshop begins.  ALAN is like nothing else I've ever experienced. The first event of ALAN is the cocktail party where all the authors come and hang out with everyone attending ALAN.  

AH!!!!! I got to meet John Green!!! However he was so swarmed I didn't get to talk to him much :(
Neal Shusterman, author of the Everlost trilogy, Unwind, and many others
Sharon Draper, author of many amazing books including Out of my Mind
Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, a fellow member of Dumbledore's Army
Yay! Heather Brewer! She is one of my favorite people that I get to see at ALAN and I was so glad that I got to see her again :) She is a really down to earth person who is a good someone to have on your side. 

 
 Oh, and the pajants made multiple appearances during ALAN. First on Megan McCafferty, then on Kazu Kibuishi and finally on David MacGinnis Gill.  They are magical.

ALAN Workshop

ALAN then is 2 days of presentations by authors focusing on everything from censorship to the publication process. You also get a box of books that you can get signed by the authors after they speak.  

Some of the highlights during ALAN for me were: 
  • The breakout session on bullying, domestic abuse, self harm and eating disorders with A.S. King, Heather Brewer, and Jackie Kessler. 
    • "Turning your head is the worst thing you can do." (re: bullying) -Heather Brewer 
    • "Be a positive ripple in the pond of life." -Heather Brewer
  • Laurie Halse Anderson fighting through her food poisoning to give a speech that will stay with me forever. 
    • "You did not become a teacher so that you could teach children to pass tests. You are a teacher to help students forge their future." 
    • "Be the beat that you can dance to." 
    • "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes." 
  • Andrew Smith, Paul Yee, Cheryl Rainfield, and Lauren Myracle talking about challenged books
    • "Try to break the silence of things that aren't talked about." -Rainfield
    • "If kids are at school and don't feel safe, we've failed them." -Yee
    • "The biggest challenge that teens are facing are the institutionalized idea that all teans fit a cookie cutter idea. The standardized teen." -Smith
    • "You don't know what's inside the person next to you." -Myracle
  • Chris Crutcher, again, who is an amazing advocate for education and anti-censorship. 
    • "I believe that if we don't fix public education, we are done." 
    • "The idea that you can keep people safe by keeping them ignorant is ignorant."
    • "We need heroes now more than ever."
  • Neal Shusterman sharing a letter a letter from a reader who lost a best friend and found faith in Everlost
  • Matt de la Pena's story about his father
    • "Hand a kid a book and you can give them a life." 
  • David Levithan building up his Army of Empathy
    • "Single most important thing to teach is empathy." 
    • "These stories will make them a better person." 
Below are some of the authors that made appearances: 

M.T. Anderson who was the keynote speaker for the workshop and has some majorly cool glasses
Angela Johnson
Matt de la Pena, an Amelia Walden Award finalist and such an articulate speaker. Also, a great person to use when talking to reluctant readers as he was one himself. 

James Dashner who shared with us that he is writing a prequel for the Maze Runner series!
Rita Williams-Garcia with her award winning novel 
Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher (again!)
David Levithan- the leader of the Army of Empathy
Katie Alender who wrote a hello note to a social studies teacher in my book because the teacher loves her novel so much
Jordan Sonnenblick, also an Amelia Walden Award finalist and used to be a teacher!
The brilliant, funny, down to earth, amazing Chris Crutcher
Kazu Kibuishi, many of my students' favorite author because he writes Amulet
The beautiful Sarah Dessen who was so forgiving after I elbowed her at the ALAN cocktail party
National Book Award Winner Thanhha Lai
Veronica Roth, author of another one of my favorite books of last year

Tweeps

Another amazing part of this experience is seeing many members of my PLN from Twitter. (All names will link you to their Twitter account.)
Teresa
Katherine
In my matching shirt with Jennie
Alyson
Lea
Kathy
Jillian

Alethea
Donalyn
Kate


Jen (yes our Jen) showing her rabbit pride at the Candlewick booth (Go #teamreabbit!)
John (Mr. Schu) and Alyson

With my roomies Kim and Jennie
At ALAN with Aly, Lea, Jillian, Teresa, Jennie and Lee Ann
A bunch of us at Gino's including Aly, Kathy, Alethea, Sandi, Teresa, Jennie, Vanessa, Kim, Jessica, Tracy and Cathy
Other tweeps I met, but don't have a picture of were: 

So, overall- NCTE/ALAN was epic!  I cannot wait for next year and the experiences that will come with it.

Happy learning,