Friday, August 31, 2012


Title: Drama
Author: Raina Telgemeier   
Illustrator: Raina Telgemeier  
Publisher: Graphix
Publication Date: September 1st, 2012   
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel   
GoodReads Summary: Raina Telgemeier, the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the Eisner Award winner, SMILE, brings us her next full-color graphic novel . . . DRAMA!
     Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she's a terrible singer. Instead she's the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of SMILE, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama! 
What Jen Thinks: Everyone who has read Smile by Raina Telgemeier seems to be a fan. I know I am! The cover alone could win anyone over, but the story inside the pages is equally as charming. While Smile is an autobiographical graphic novel, Drama is not. It's important to keep in mind that Drama isn't a sequel or a companion and especially not non-fiction. Drama is quite possibly the most honest piece of realistic fiction I have ever read. I'm insanely proud of Raina for writing this book but also for Scholastic and Graphix for supporting her and this story. Sometimes people are hesitant to be completely honest and transparent about experiences kids are having everyday all over the world - by telling this story, Raina is telling her readers that she acknowledges the fact that not every person feels the same way about his or her sexuality and that understanding and accepting how they do feel might take time and might not be easy but it doesn't mean it's not real. My favorite part is that while Raina tackles this topic, this isn't what the story is all about at all. It's there, it's real, but there is so much more that goes on in Callie's life. 
     Here's what Drama and Smile do have on common: Raina Telgemeier's unique artwork you can't help but adore, endearing characters experiencing very real emotions, characters learning about themselves and who they are while navigating everything life throws at them, and characters who also have to look closely at the relationships they develop with others. I hope fans of Raina because of Smile or even her graphic novel versions of The Babysitter's Club will pick up Drama. I hope readers who may not have read her other books find Drama, too. I hope every reader of Drama keeps an open mind while reading this book and will  realize how deserving of a standing ovation this book is. I know when I finished Drama and turned the last page that I felt as though I had just read an amazing story that will push the envelope when it comes to the themes and topics it addresses. And it's pretty awesome to read a book and feel that so strongly. Bravo!
What Kellee Thinks:  Raina Telgemeier does it again. She has a knack for telling a serious yet humorous story with colorful, fun artwork. I loved her main character Callie- she was a very real 7th grade girl. I also loved that this book was not about the lead actress in a musical- it was about the stage crew (though some actors did play a part). Raina also does a wonderful job at introducing middle school boys who are questioning their sexuality in an unbiased, nonjudgmental way. It is completely appropriate for middle grade and it is very accessible to readers. Well done!!!
Read Together: Grades 6 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 7 - 10 
Read With: Girl Meets Boy by Kelly Milner Halls (editor), Smile by Raina Telgemeier, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Snatch of Text:  

Mentor Text For: Paneling, Dialogue, Making Connections, Personal Narrative
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you were getting to know someone you had just met. How did you learn more about him or her? How did you judge whether they would be a good friend or not? How did you come to trust him or her? 
Topics Covered: School, Integration - Theater/Drama/Acting, Friendship, Love, Relationships, Honesty 
Jen *hearts* It:
Kellee *hearts* It:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Novels with Math Content

When a science teacher asked me for book recommendations and I decided to make it a post to share with my fellow teachers, it made me remember a couple of years ago when a math teacher made the same request. This made me want to share that list as well.

This list is was originally a list for a 6th grade teacher to use as read alouds and/or independent reading, but as I have worked on expanding it, it has grown to include books for older and younger students. I didn't include many picture books though there are tons of math picture books. I tried to stay with 4th and up.

Novels with Math Content
This list contains books that I recommended to her and have read as well as books that I added this week because of  research and with the help of some friends on Twitter

  The Writing on the Wall (Do The Math, #2)  Uses math to describe human relationships and events
Sticks   "Math whiz" friend, Geometry in pool, Gallileo
An Abundance of Katherines  Theorems, Functions, Graphs
The Phantom Tollbooth  Mathematical land
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  Protagonist with autism who is passionate about mathematics
Gifted  Protagonist uses math in her everyday life
Hannah, Divided  Mathematical instincts, Talented mathematician 
The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure  A boy meets the number devil in his dreams and explores math with him
Math Doesn't Suck  Kiss My Math  Hot X: Algebra Exposed!  Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape  Nonfiction  (Series) Math concepts, Math vocabulary
The Shadow Guests  Aunt mathematician
The Wright 3  Codes, Fibonacci sequence
Geek High (Geek High, #1)  (Series) Protagonist with mathematical talents
School. Hasn't This Gone on Long Enough? (Dear Dumb Diary, Year 2 #1)  (Series) Protagonist hates math
The Rapture of the Nerds  Vinge singularity
A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)  Tesseract, Dimensions
Evil Genius (Genius, #1)  Characters with mathematical talents
Claudia and the Middle School Mystery (The Baby-Sitters Club, #40)  (Series) Claudia struggles with math in all of the books, this one it is the focus
Saraswati's Way  Mathematically talented boy looking for a math tutor to expand his knowledge
Math Curse  Fun math "problems"
Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers  Mathematical land filled with mathematical concepts and math history
The Square Root of Murder (P.C. Hawke Mysteries, #5) Math equation is a clue in a murder
The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics Geometry 
Lawn Boy Stocks, Payroll

What other titles would you add to this list?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives to see what non-fiction others have to share, too. 

Title: Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Alix Delinois
Publisher: Collins
Publication Date: December, 2009
Genre/Format: Biography/Picture Book
Goodreads Summary: "I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me."
     He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky. His very first boxing coach, former police officer Joe Martin, told him, "You better learn how to fight before you start challenging people." Once considered the underdog, Cassius, later known as Muhammad Ali, would eventually win the title of heavyweight champion of the world. Acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers recounts the champ's most famous fights and examines the depth and complexity of the larger-than-life legend Muhammad Ali. The bold, vibrant art of Alix Delinois reflects the beauty and power of the man who could "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
What I Think: Muhammad Ali's story is more than just about boxing. It is about civil rights, religion, the Vietnam War, and Parkinson's disease. 
     Muhammad Ali was a nontraditional boxer and a person that beat his own drum. Walter Dean Myers makes sure to include many different quotes throughout to show the reader not only his personality but how others perceived him. 
     I loved the illustrations in this book. They were true pieces of artwork. Very colorful, bold and beautiful. I did feel that sometimes the artist focused more on the political issues for his illustrations instead of Muhammad's story. For example, there is a page where Muhammad was winning championships and there is one line about black people not being able to get into places and the illustration is of picketers and police with attack dogs. It just didn't seem to fit. I that the art and prose had connected more without, but I don't think it takes away too much from the book. 
     I am not quite interested in reading Myers's biography about Muhammad Ali because I know that there is much more to learn.
Read Together: Grades 2 to 8
Read Alone: Grades 3 to 5
Read With: The Greatest Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers, Nonfiction books about Muhammad Ali, boxing, civil rights, the Olympics
Snatch of Text: "Louisville was a quiet southern town. People rode buses to get around, but a lot of young boys preferred to ride their bicycles. 
     "One night this kid cam downstairs, and he was crying. Somebody had stolen his bicycle, and of course he was very upset about that," Joe Martin, a former policeman, said. "He was only twelve years old then, and he was going to whip whoever stole his bicycle. I said, 'Well, you better learn how to fight before you start challenging people.'"
     In his spare time Joe Martin taught kids how to box. Soon, Cassius became a student." (p. 5)
Mentor Text for: Text Features, Making Connections, Primary Sources
Writing Prompts: What is something that Muhammad Ali did that shows that he is brave and deserves to be called The People's Champion?
Topics Covered: Civil Rights, Boxing, Olympics, Race, Religion- Islam, Supreme Court, Africa, Parkinson's Disease
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Ticky-Tacky Doll and The Kissing Hand

This little guy goes to kindergarten today! I'm so excited for him! It's an awesome feeling to think that he was my little baby and now he's five and he's going to school. He just seems like such a little person now that he'll be a student. I can't wait to watch him grow and learn this year! We've read two perfect back-to-school books that I want to share with you!

Title: The Ticky-Tacky Doll 
Author: Cynthia Rylant 
Illustrator: Harvey Stevenson 
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books 
Publication Date: August 2002 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: The ticky-tacky doll has been one little girl's best friend ever since Grandmama sewed it for her. They do everything together--eat, sleep, play, even dream.
Then school starts, and for the first time the little girl has to leave her beloved companion behind at home. Without the ticky-tacky doll by her side, she grows more sad-eyed and lonely each day.Luckily, Grandmama knows just what to do...
What I Think: I know I recognized this title and I'm sure I had read it before, but I didn't remember much about it until I read it last week. Yesterday, I took my son to kindergarten orientation. We met his teacher and put away all of his school supplies. It was actually a fun experience being a parent as opposed to a student or a teacher after all these years. I have to say I was choked up a few times but I did not shed any real tears. As his mom, I know how articulate and how much of a chatterbox my kiddo can be, but I also know how easily he clams up with new people or new situations. Once he warms up, he's okay, but he usually does get shy. Before going to school, we read this book and I gave him two new blankets that I crocheted for him. He loves crocheted blankets and sleeps with them. He calls them "eehee" which is what my husband called his blanket when he was young. I made him a blanket and then I made him a mini-eehee that he could put in his pocket or in his backpack. He loved it. I'm fairly confident he won't have the same experience that the girl in this book does, but I love that through books, we can recognize the fact that new experiences can be scary and hard sometimes. By giving him his little eehee, I hope it's like giving Dumbo his feather. He doesn't need it and he'll be fine without it, but I showed him how much I care and that I will be thinking about him. It's hard to really show him that I will be thinking of him in a concrete way - but this does just that. It ties him to home and his family.
     Building a rapport and developing a community in a classroom or a school is crucial. I know teachers work hard towards this but I'm realistic about the fact that kids in a classroom are still one of many and that the love they feel from home is different from the caring they feel from school. I love this book because it does acknowledge the feelings kids might be feeling knowing they are away from home. This book brings these feelings to the forefront and gives us an opportunity to talk about them and discuss how to deal with them.
Read Together: Pre-K - 3 
Read Alone: 2 - 5 
Read With: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Pete the Cat and His School Shoes by Eric Litwin, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Snatch of Text:  
"Once there was a little girl who owned a ticky-tacky
doll. It was ticky, her mother said, because Grandmama
had made it from sewing scraps. And it was tacky
because pieces of cloth hung from it like soft bits of hair."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Descriptive, Imagery
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when someone or something helped you feel brave.

Topics Covered: Family, New Experiences, School, Fear, Courage

I *heart* It:

Title: The Kissing Hand  
Author: Audrey Penn 
Illustrator: Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak 
Publisher: Tanglewood Press 
Publication Date: January 1993 
Genre/Format: Fiction/ Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive. 
What I Think: Last year, I challenged Kellee to read and review some of my favorite picture books and The Kissing Hand was among my all-time favorites. While I adore The Ticky-Tacky Doll, it is a different kind of story. The Kissing Hand focuses on going to school for the first time and about leaving home and being away from parents. It's a little bit more general than The Ticky-Tacky Doll, even though it's along the same lines. It also tugs the heartstrings of kids and adults alike. Last night, my husband and I gave Peanut his own copy. We had each written letters to him on the cover pages of the book. We told him how proud of him we are and how excited we are to hear about how great school is for him. As I was reading my letter to him, I saw that he had covered his face with his blanket. I stopped reading and had to ask him if he was okay. He said he was sad because it was so nice and then he started crying. He reminds me completely of me. He's a very a sensitive and really sweet kid. I'm so happy for this book because it lets my peanut see that others might feel the same way, that it's okay, and then gives him a way to feel okay about it. Again, it makes the idea of love, which is abstract, into something more concrete. It also helps me, as his mom, feel better knowing that he has a way to know that I'm thinking about him even when we are are miles apart. 
Read Together: Pre-K - 3 
Read Alone: 2 - 5 
Read With: The Ticky Tacky Doll by Cynthia Rylant, Pete the Cat and His School Shoes by Eric Litwin, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Snatch of Text:  
     "Mrs. Raccoon took Chester by the hand
and nuzzled him on the ear.
     'Sometimes we all have to do things we
don't want to do, 'she told him gently. Even
if they seem strange and scary at first. But you
will love school once you start.'"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you had to try something new or do something you were scared of.  
Topics Covered: Family, New Experiences, School, Fear, Courage
I *heart* It:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/27/12

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. 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…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
After doing the meme for a couple of weeks, we realized this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus - anyone reading and reviewing books in children's literature - it can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, you name it in the world of kidlit and it's in! We have loved being a part of this meme and we hope you do too!  We encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we're reading. We hope you join us!

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: It was a mediocre reading week for me. I did finish both of my audiobooks: Hattie Big Sky and Stupid Fast. I was excited to finish both of them and then I did start Airborn by Kenneth Oppel,  which comes highly recommended by Kellee. I did start to reread The One and Only Ivan and I have read bits of the other books I am working on...I just haven't had time to sit and really get into a book. Things have just been super busy! It's definitely that time of year!

Kellee Says: This week was a bit better. I am still in a bit of a slump, but reading is becoming a part of my life again as I get back into the swing of teaching, my extra preps, my continuing role of a mentor for the two other teachers in my department, and my new role as department head. This week I was able to finish My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari and Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel. I really enjoyed them both and they will both be reviewed at some point soon. 

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I will definitely be rereading Ivan and then focusing on the professional books I have going. In the car, I'll keep listening to Airborn. It's fairly long so I'm not sure I'll make it to another audiobook this week. Can you believe I still have Fortune Wookiee? I have so many other books to read before I want to let myself crack it open. I can already feel it's going to be a busy week but I'm going to get to it sooner than later.

Today, I'm off to kindergarten orientation with my Peanut! Then he starts school officially on Tuesday. I'm so excited for him. We'll be reading The Kissing Hand and The Ticky Tacky Doll. Two of my favorite back-to-school read alouds, especially with my baby going to school!

Kellee Says: I hope to push myself a bit more this week and get through 3 books. I am starting The Scorpio Races on audiobook and I hope to get to Ginny Rorby's Dolphin Sky and Scott Nash's The High Skies Adventure of Blue Jay the Pirate. We'll see how it goes!

This Week's Reviews:
The Kissing Hand The Ticky-Tacky Doll  Drama   
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Please link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/28/2023

  It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop hosted by Kelle...