Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again!

Title: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again 
Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce 
Illustrator: Joe Berger 
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: March 2012 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel 
Summary: When the Tooting family finds an old engine and fits it to their camper van, they have no idea what kind of adventure lies ahead. The engine used to belong to an extraordinary car . . . and it wants its bodywork back! But as the Tootings hurtle across the world rebuilding the original Chitty, a sinister baddie is on their trail -- one who will stop at nothing to get the magnificent car for himself.

Fueled by wry humor, this much-anticipated sequel to the children’s classic by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond -- featuring a contemporary family and a camper van with a mind of its own -- is driven by best-selling, award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce and revved up by Joe Berger’s black-and-white illustrations. 
What I Think: I love reading books that were made into movies I remember from when I was a kiddo. As an adult I read Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. When I watched the movies I didn't know they were based off of books. It was interesting to read the books and see how they were different from the movies.
When I got Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again to review, I realized I had never read the original! I listened to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on audio. It was a quick listen and a fun adventure of a book. I love how Frank Cottrell Boyce captured the spirit of the first book in this current story about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I'm not sure kids today know the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie or the book, and they really don't need to to read this book. It definitely can stand alone but I have to say I was a little more excited knowing the first story as I read this one. I could feel the connection and the history with the car.
In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, Frank Cottrell Boyce introduces readers to a new family: the Tootings. The Tooting family has three kids, a mom, and a recently unemployed father. It's so funny to see how the three kids relate to their parents and each other. They definitely act their age but it's also still evident that they care for each other and their parents. I love it! This text makes for a good study of characterization and dialogue for young writers. On their adventure they learn about each other, about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and about recognizing who they can trust. It's a fun adventure!
Read Together: Grades 3 - 5 
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 5 
Read With: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming, A Whole Nother Story by Cuthbert Soup, Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, We Are Not Eaten By Yaks (Accidental Adventure series) by C.A. London 
Snatch of Text: 
"'What do you call her?'
'What?'
'Your camper van. A motor like that should have a name. It's not like it's some run-of-the-mill four-wheel drive with satnav and a super de-icer. That's a vehicle with heart; that's one you're going to need to talk to - to coax around corners and swear at when she won't start.'" p. 42

"'Listen to that!' yelled Dad. 'That is a beautiful sound. That is music.'
It sounded more like an earthquake. It also felt like one. The branches of the tree shook. Squirrels scattered. Birds fled. A storm of leaves and acorns whirled around Jem's head. 'Stop! Dad! Turn it off!'" p. 48
Mentor Text For: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing, Making Inferences, Characterization, Description, Personal Narrative, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time when you worked on a project or task with a parent, and adult or any other family member. Describe how you felt while you were working together and when you were finished. 
Topics Covered: Family, Siblings, Dreams, Friendship, Listening, Trust, Loyalty, Adventure
I *heart* It:
 
**Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing a copy of his novel for review**

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/30/12


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!


Before we begin this week, We wanted to share with you the importance of today. 
Exactly 1 year ago, I (Kellee) was lucky enough to become part of Teach Mentor Texts!!! Jen and I met on Twitter approximately 18 months ago (because we both love Baby-sitter's Club!). Then we met FTF about 14 months ago and we had the idea of me joining and within 6 weeks, I was being introduced. Since then it has all been up hill. I have loved every minute of collaboration with my fabulous blog partner and today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite posts over the last year: 
Jen's challenge: Picture Book Mini Reviews (12, & 3)
Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: Honestly, I think every week this summer has been a busy week! We were in Nashville for a few days but I got some reading down on the drive down and a little bit at night. I was able to finish Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again. It's really fun and I'm excited to share more about it in my review tomorrow! I'm going to be reading Girl Parts this week to review on Saturday. I also finished Jeff Anderson's 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know. It was great. I also finished the third Penderwicks book. I loved it! A little bit different from the other two, but still so great. I love the writing. 

Kellee Says: I had a phenomenal time visiting my parents in Chattanooga and though I find that vacations are some of the hardest time to read, I think I did pretty well. I finished From What I Remember on the car ride and I adored the book. I now see why Jen loved it and I am now on the bandwagon. I was able to finish  Insurgent (Divergent #2) and I was not disappointed. I know that the 2nd book of trilogies are always very full of info but I feel that it is a great set up for the finale. The other novel I read was Liar and Spy, Rebecca Stead's newest novel, and I cannot wait to review it with Jen in a couple of weeks. 
     I've been trying to bulk up on nonfiction in preparation for CCSS, so this week I read three biography picture books: Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney (which I will definitely review because I loved it!), A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison & Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown. 
     Lastly, I read some wonderful illustrated and graphic novels: Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight, Franny K. Stein: Lunch Walks Among Us by Jim Benton, Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian & Fangbone! The Egg of Misery by Michael Rex, Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! & Mal and Chad: Food Fight! by Stephen McCranie and finally Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm. I truly enjoyed all of them though I loved the Mal & Chad books, Frankie Pickle and Middle School

Reviewed Last Week:
   
Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers  
Just click on any picture above to go read the review

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I have a professional book on coaching to read this week because this year I will be working with the Teacher Mentor Program at my district. I'm also going to start Real Revision. I know I have Rapture by Lauren Kate to listen to on audio - it's the last in the series! But I'm not sure if I have something else to listen to. It'll be a whim of a reading week!

Kellee Says: I started Bitterblue and I cannot wait to curl up with it and get-a-reading. I also hope to read Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, Athena's Son by Jeryl Schoenbeck as well as a couple of Rick Riordan books (Kane #3 & Olympians #2).  Finally, I have a bunch of nonfiction books I hope to read. I cannot wait for this week (Only 2 more weeks before I go back to school!!!!!!!!). 

This Week's Reviews:
   Power Play    
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!

 and

TMT Summer Writing Group - Week Nine


I owe (what I consider) my success with writing this summer to Teachers Write! Teachers Write motivated me to focus and get into the mode of writing. I feel accountable to everyone going through Teachers Write in the sense that I want to be able to share my own writing experiences and I also want to be there for others as they write.

About a month ago, I realized Brian Wyzlic and I were talking a lot on Twitter about my writing and his writing and writing in general. His comments on Friday Feedback were also really helpful to me. One time they spurred a whole discussion about my WIP that helped me brainstorm some ideas and think about where my story could go. I’ve been able to read some of Brian’s writing, too and I know he has been willing to share and accept constructive criticism.
Then I had an epiphany and realized I wanted to ask him to work together as mini-critique-writing-support-group partners. And he said yes! What Brian and I have set up is a very focused and specific version of Teachers Write. It has made my life as a writer and my writing so much better. I’ve invited Brian to chat with me about how we’re supporting each other and why we think having a writing partner really works.  

Hi Brian!

Hi, Jen!

When you asked me about being a mini-critique-writing-support-group partner (MCQSG, pronounced “ma-QUIZ-gah” [I just made that up; I hope you’re okay with that]), I was flattered, and then excited. And then I realized that meant I had to do things.

You see, Teachers Write has been helpful, but it’s been very much a cafeteria-style thing for me. I take what I want, I leave what I don’t, and on some days, I don’t stop by at all. Before long, I was starving, not writing at all. You asking me to be your MCQSG partner was like dragging me back to the cafeteria and forcing me to eat. You’re making sure I’m writing.

This is something I personally needed. Having someone there to do something as simple as ask “Hey, did you write today?” has taken me from writing every now and then to writing nearly every day. Beyond that, the advice and encouragement you have given me has been big. Sometimes, as I’m responding to something you’ve said or written, I’m realizing things about my own WIP, so it’s kind of like I’ve been helping myself even when I’m helping you. It turns out that saying yes to being your MCQSG partner has been the most selfish thing I could do to help my own writing.

First of all, MCQSG is just one reason I knew we would be able to work well together...I come up with something ridiculous and you find a way to make it even more ridiculous! I’ve already forgotten what those letters even stand for because all I hear in my head is maquizga.

If I could give any advice to other Teachers Write participants about finding their own maquizga, it would be to take time to find someone who you get along with, who understands what you are doing (and is kind of in the same place), but most of all, who is going to be straight with you. A maquizga should be someone who can be brutally honest but who also makes you feel hopeful and ready to write on after dispensing that sometimes hard-to-hear feedback.

Secondly, it really makes me feel so great to know that I have been helpful to you. We talked the other day about how, while we have both written different amounts, we still have each written more than what we had at the beginning of the summer. I really believe that even when you aren’t writing you are still writing. Just being part of Teachers Write has changed my whole outlook on life...I see a story everywhere I look. Sometimes I’m not able to write everyday, but checking in with you and talking about what we’ve been doing and knowing that I’m going back to my writing at some point, helps me feel like I am really truly in this for good. I feel so much more serious and committed by having Teachers Write, first of all, but even moreso from having a maquizga.

Now, Jen, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a moment to address our readers.

Something that we’ve found really works well for us (and helps to keep the ideas organized and flowing in other collaborative efforts I have [yes, Jillian Heise, that’s a shout-out to you]) is using Google Docs. Jen began a doc one day, and it has become a place for us to share any frustrations we’re having, or quotes and advice that help us out. Our schedules are very different: Jen writes in the morning in her laundry room while I write in the afternoon in my. . .well, I don’t know what room it is (someone: quick, come up with a name for a room with a dinner table, wine and liquor cabinets, bookshelves, and camping supplies).

We don’t have a lot of real-time conversations (though they certainly do happen). Most of our conversations are through the Google Doc, e-mail, or Twitter (often DMs). In fact, this very post was written over the course of over a week and a half, back and forth on a Google Doc. It works for us. It helps us help each other. Find something that works for you. Maybe it’s a phone call. Maybe it’s grabbing lunch once a week. Or maybe it’s a Google Doc. But find your maquizga, and find a way to make it work for you.

Don’t just take our word for it! I recently read about people making big life changes in Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth and Chris Lehman. They explain that states adopting the Common Core Standards are engaging in major school reform. What they share about how to be successful with this change can also apply to those of us tackling Teachers Write:
“Dr. Ed Miller from Johns Hopkins says, ‘If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, ninety percent of them have not changed their lifestyle’ (Deutschman 2007, 4). Deutschman points out that the only situation under which health patients improved was when the call for them to change their habits was accompanied by weekly support groups. ‘If the threat of death does not motivate people who are ill [to change], what on earth is going to motivate teachers to change?’ Fullan asks. He answers, ‘deep engagement with other colleagues and with mentors in exploring, refining, and improving their practice as well as setting up an environment in which this not only can happen, but is encouraged, rewarded, and pressed to happen’ (65)." p. 181

The authors encourage teachers to work together, talk together, share, ideas and support each other to move towards achieving the Common Core Standards. Having a continuing support group is what works for health patients, it can work for teachers as we go forward with Common Core, Brian and I have found that having a maquizga has proved that it also works for writers.

Teachers Write has brought so many of us together in this large online community. (Thank you, Kate! Thank you, Gae!) Now, Brian and I encourage you to seek out a maquizga or a small group (maquizgai?) to support you and your writing as well.

This is where we huddle up, put our hands in, and cheer gooooooooo maquizga!


My rules for the TMT Summer Writing Group:
1. We respect each other and the types of writing we do.
2. We only criticize each other constructively.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Today, in the comments section:
Do you have a maquizga or small group you work with?
How does working with them look like for you?
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-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The bet part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week of writing!
 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chloe, Instead

Title: Chloe, Instead 
Author: Micah Player 
Illustrator: Micah Player 
Publisher: Chronicle Books 
Publication Date: April 2012 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Picture book
GoodReads Summary: Molly always dreamed of having a sister who is just like her. But she got Chloe, instead. These two sisters are nothing alike: Molly loves to color with crayons. Chloe prefers the taste of wax. Molly loves to read. Chloe prefers to nibble a book s spine. Molly is frustrated! But then she realizes that maybe sisters aren t the ones next to you on the piano bench, they re the ones dancing to the music you play! This humorous, perceptive snapshot of sibling love is perfect for those who may need a bit of convincing what fun little siblings can be!
What I Think: I love books about siblings! I have a younger sister and now I have two kids who are brothers (obviously...). This book was so perfect for my own experiences on both accounts. It's so interesting to be a parent and to witness firsthand and all the time how siblings interact. I have to say, my younger son is very different from my older son. He really is a tornado and reminds me of Chloe from this book. The idea of having a baby brother or sister is so exciting but when they are first born all they really do is sleep. It's not like you have a built-in friend right from the beginning. It just takes time for the baby to grow up a bit and to be able to be a friend. My youngest is two now and he is able to play more with his older brother. 
     What I'm really saying is that this book was perfect for our family because it so accurately captured how an older sibling might feel about a younger sibling. I think any family with multiple kids would be able to relate to this book. We have two boys in our family and the book has two girls, but we easily made connections with everything from the book. It also helped us start a discussion about how Little Bean really is the baby and how he does need time to grow up and learn how to share and take turns.  As a mom, I love books like this because it makes having that kind of discussion seem natural and not forced or like it's coming out of nowhere.
     As a teacher, I can see how talking about siblings can generate some great ideas for young writers. Family stories are fun stories. Kids can think about a funny or embarrassing family story or they can interview their family to ask about some of their memories. My nephews were just visiting last week and my husband told them something about each of them when they were little. It was so interesting to hear the curiosity in their voices, they really wanted to hear more. I think having kids interview family members to learn about family stories they may not know is so much fun. 
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 5 
Read Alone: Grades 1 - 5 
Read With: My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee, Emma Dilemma by Kristine O'Connell George, Take Two! A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Snatch of Text:  
"I was hoping for 
a little sister who was 
just like me.

But I got Chloe, instead."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Narrative, Personal Narrative, Interview, Expository, Characterization 
Writing Prompts: Write about your favorite family story. Interview a member of your family or a neighbor and ask him or her to tell about a fun family story. 
Topics Covered: Siblings, Family, Sharing
I *heart* It:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers
Title: Captain Underpants series 
Author: Dav Pilkey
Illustrator: Dav Pilkey
Publisher: Scholastic Children's Books
Publication Date: 1997 to 2012
Genre/Format: Fantasy-Humor/Illustrated Novel
Goodreads Summary of Adventure of Captain Underpants (#1)Pilkey plays with words and pictures, providing great entertainment. The story is immediately engaging - two fourth-grade boys who write comic books and who love to pull pranks find themselves in big trouble. Mean Mr. Krupp, their principal, videotapes George and Harold setting up their stunts and threatens to expose them. The boys' luck changes when they send for a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation. Later, Pilkey includes several pages of flip-o-ramas that animate the action. The simple black-and-white illustrations on every page furnish comic-strip appeal. The cover features Captain Underpants, resplendent in white briefs, on top of a tall building.
What I Think: Ever since I started teaching I have had Captain Underpants fans in my classroom. Readers (especially boys) love these books. This last year, when I taught intensive reading, my students loved that I read so much but were astonished that I had never read a Captain Underpants book, so I promised them this summer that I would read the entire series.  And suprsingly, I am happy I did. I enjoyed the books so much and I found many different ways that I could use in the series in classroom. As I read I not only enjoyed the stories (well most of them, the booger one was quite gross) but kept notes on different ways each book could be a mentor text.  I know that students already love the books so I would love to be able to use them in the classroom. 
     Some of my favorite things that are addressed in the series are spelling, grammar and vocabulary. The spelling is not directly addressed; however, Harold and George misspell a lot of words and it would be good to use to talk about phonics and spelling.  Also, each book begins with an anagram which is great word play.  The grammar is sporadic only showing up in some books, but the vocabulary is in all of them.  Some vocabulary I found was billowing, narratively convenient, fizzled, improbability, jubilant, mock, scurried, and merciless and that is just in book 3! Each book also has some great alliteration- each title alone has alliteration in them. There are also allusions, puns (mostly in the flip-o-ramas) and onomatopoeias. 
     Lastly, I love the set up of the novels. They are a great mix of novel, graphic novel, comics, and picture books. It is a great transition between picture books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I especially like the flip-o-ramas. They are unique to the Captain Underpants books and I think it puts a great interactive and kinesthetic feel to the books. 
     One thing I do not understand is why these books are challenged. Yes, they have some potty humor. Yes, the adults aren't the best representation of teachers. Yes, it is silly. But they are harmless and actually have some really great qualities to them. 
Read Together: Grades 2 to 7
Read Alone: Grades 3 to 6
Read With: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce, Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald, The Adventures of Ook & Gluk by Dav Pilkey, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight
Snatch of Text: "Warden Schmorden was known far and wide for his cruelty and strictness. He once sentenced a prisoner to a year of solitary confinement for ending a sentence with a preposition." (#9, p. 36) 


"'I've heard a lot about you two, said the rabbi, 'and I don't want you boys playing any of your tricks today.'
     'Silly Rabbi,' said George, 'tricks are for kids!'" (#5, p. 55) 


"[H]e had his won personal drinking fountain, because . . . well, would you use a drinking fountain after a Bionic Booger Boy had globbered all over it?" (#6, p. 98)

Also, check out some flip-o-ramas by going to Scholastic's click-o-rama site. The puns are hilarious. 
Mentor Text for: Allusions, Onomatopoeia, Grammar, Paradox, Rhyming, Alliteration, Spelling, Vocabulary Development, Anagram, Comics/Paneling, Puns
Writing Prompts: In the first Captain Underpants, Harold and George brainstorm a superhero including his name and then create a comic based on their superhero. With a partner, brainstorm a name for a superhero and then complete a story to go along with your superhero. To expand it even more, complete a comic for your superhero. 
Topics Covered: Comics, Humor, School, Science, Math
I *heart* Adventures of Captain Underpants and most of the series including the newest Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers:
 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The 2012 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award

The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (AEWA) is an award given to young adult books by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN). The AEWA was established in 2008 and has been awarded since 2009.  The criteria of the award is that the book must have widespread teen appeal, literary merit and a positive approach to life. I love that it does not only focus on the writing, but what is within the story. 

Its winners so far have been Steven Kluger's My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins and Fenway Park, Kristin Cashore's Fire and Francisco X. Stork's The Last Summer of the Death Warriors and its honors have included books by Jordan Sonnenblick, Matt de la Pena, Rick Yancey, Jaqueline Woodson, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Quick, Kristen Chandler, Justina Chen Headley, Jenny Valentine and Jill S. Alexander, all amazing authors. I was honored to be present at the ceremony for the 2010 and 2011 awards where I got to see many of these authors share the stories behind the books. I could definitely tell why the chosen authors were honored. 

Last summer when I was told that the ALAN was looking for new members to join the AEWA committee, I was so excited to even have the opportunity to apply. When I was accepted to be part of the committee, I was ecstatic and so honored. I didn't think that something like an award committee was something that I would ever be able to be part of, but here I was suddenly part of one! 

Over the last year, the committee considered nearly 300 young adult titles throughout the process. The committee consists of 11 members including librarians, universities and K-12 schools. Through the process, we narrowed it down to 4 finalists and 1 winner. I am happy to share them with you today. I have reviewed all of them in the past, so if you would like to learn more about them please click on the book covers. 

WINNER

Shine

FINALISTS

The Berlin Boxing Club          Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)
Between Shades of Gray          Under the Mesquite

Congratulations to all of the award winners 
and I truly recommend you read all of these books if you haven't yet, 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chase Against Time

Title: Chase Against Time
Author: Steve Reifman
Publisher: Brown Books
Publication Date: March, 2009 (re-released March, 2012)
Genre/Format: Fiction-Mystery/Novel
Summary: Chase is a 6th grader who dreams of playing cello in the school's honor orchestra, but recently the budget has been cut. The day begins with the Chase and the intermediate orchestra are preparing for a PTA fundraiser to raise money to continue supporting the music program by auctioning off a handmade one of a kind cello. The cello is guaranteed to bring enough to save the music program! However, when Chase is walking by the case where the cello is stored, he noticed it missing. The music programs only chance to remain has been stolen! It is now Chase's job to determine who took the cello and save the music program and his dream. 
What I Think: Fans of Scooby Doo, Encyclopedia Brown, and Hardy Boys will find a new kid detective to love in Steve Reifman's Chase mystery series. Chase's mystery is filled with multiple suspects and red herrings and leads to a one day back and forth and ends with quite a surprise.
     I also find Chase Against Time is going to be a great bridge between juvenile fiction like Magic Tree House, Marty McGuire and A to Z Mysteries and larger middle grade books like Emerald Atlas, Liesl & Po, and The Unwanteds. It will definitely help transition readers from one to the other. Chase is in 6th grade, but the story still will very much be connect to elementary students more than middle schoolers. 
     I will say, though, that teachers/adults will need to suspend reality a bit because of the amount of responsibility Chase is given and how he is treated very much like an adult. He is given a lot of the free reign and control throughout the school. I do think, though, that this book would be a fun read aloud to follow the clues and try to figure who the culprit is.
Read Together: Grades 3 to 5
Read Alone: Grades 4 to 6
Read With: A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon, Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
Snatch of Text: "My emotions had been going up and down like a roller coaster all day. Five minutes ago, I was all set to capture the final piece of the puzzle and get the proof I needed to implicate [him]. Now I was frustrated." (p. 113) 
Mentor Text for: Mystery, Asking Questions, Predicting
Writing Prompts: Chase spends his whole day investigating the missing cello because he does not want to lose his music class. What class would you work this hard to save? Why? 
Topics Covered: School budget, Music class, Jealousy, Friendship, Teachers 
I *heart* It:
**Thank you to Steve Reifman for the copy of Chase Against Time to read and review**

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Astronaut Academy

Title: Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity 
Author: Dave Roman 
Illustrator: Dave Roman 
Publisher: First Second 
Publication Date: June 2011 
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Graphic Novel 
GoodReads SummaryHakata Soy's past life as the leader of a futuristic super team won't stay in the past! 
The former space hero is doing his best to keep his head down at Astronaut Academy. Things aren't going so great, though. The most popular girl in school has it in for him. His best friend won't return his calls. And his new roommate is a complete jock who only cares about Fireball. Hakata just wants to make a fresh start. But how will he find time to study Anti-Gravity Gymnastics and Tactical Randomness when he's got a robot doppelganger on its way to kill him? 
What I Think: Do you ever read a book that just completely blows your mind? Astronaut Academy completely blows my mind. I have been reading Jeff Anderson's 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know. He share how teachers need to expose kids to books that are examples of different ways to unroll a story or even non-fiction text. Expose kids to these books and then stop and examine how the authors do it. It kept coming to mind as I read Astronaut Academy. Dave Roman uses the characters to drive his story. The book is told through little mini stories that focus on one character but over the course of the whole book, one story is told. It's not just giving each character a chapter, he makes each section into a character's comic almost but together they all work to tell a complex story. I love it and I love how it might stretch kids' brains to think of developing their own story this way.
     Here's another reason Astronaut Academy completely blew my mind: it is so unique! I have been trying to think of books I can recommend to read with it but it's really really hard. To me, that tells it's a very unique book. As I was reading, I recognize the feelings and trying to navigate those from books like Smile and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, the latter of which also switches from character to character but Astronaut Academy is in outer space! It's wild! Which made me think of Ender's Game but Ender's Game is intense in terms of the training and the fighting but lacks the feelings and emotions that teens go through (they are kids after all...). I even started making connections to Harry Potter because of all the characters, they are all at a school, Hakata has to face an enemy that comes after him, there's a girl with a time-stop watch who also has the power to throw fireballs...the point is, this book is awesome because it is so different and awesome but in the end is still about kids and experiences and feelings kids would have. This book is a great addition to any middle school or high school library!
Read Together: Grades 7 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 7 - 12 
Read With: Smile and Drama by Raina Telgemeier, Teen Boat by Dave Roman and John Green, Missile Mouse (series) by Jake Parker, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (series) by Tom Angleberger, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Harry Potter (series) by JK Rowling 
Snatch of Text: 
Mentor Text For: Characterization, Form, Personal Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you and a friend had a misunderstanding. 
Topics Covered: Friendship, Feelings/Emotions, Love, Space, Identity, Relationships, Attitude
I *heart* It:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/23/12



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: I loved Above World by Jenn Reese last week and Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman. I was super excited to start 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson. Isn't it terribly dorky that I love reading professional texts??? I love it. I found myself smiling hugely and loving what Jeff has to say in his most current book. I also listened to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I've started The Penderwicks at Point Mouette on audio, too. I feel like I did pretty good with my reading this week!

Kellee Says: I had some rereading to do, so I did that first this week. After I was done, I have been reading From What I Remember, which I LOVE! and will probably finish very soon, and a mixture of nonfiction books and graphic novels. 
     The nonfiction books I read were The Greek News by Anton Powell, Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder by Tanya Lee Stone, By My Brother's Side by Tiki and Ronde Barber, and Pompeii: Lost and Found by Mary Pope Osborne. I will definitely be reviewing The Greek News for you- it was a great nonfiction book set up like a newspaper. I also loved Sandy's Circus, especially because I love Calder's work and I love reading about art because I have grown up in art museums. 
     The graphic novels I read were the Knights of the Lunch Table series. #1 and #2 were rereads, but I wanted to reintroduce the characters to myself before I read #3 and I really just enjoy the whole series (though #1 is my favorite). I also read Jay-Z: Hip Hop Icon by Jessice Gunderson which is a graphic biography of Jay-Z and Bad Island by Doug TenNapel, a unique GN about a family that gets stuck on an island that is not a normal island.

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


Monster Ninjas Giveaway winner is:
Holly Sanford
Congratulations to Holly!

 Thanks again to Ryan Jacobson for giving us the opportunity for this giveaway!


Babymouse For President Giveaway winner is:
Debbie Tanner
Congratulations to Debbie! 
Thanks again to Colby Sharp for hosting the original  giveaway that made this possible!



Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: This week I'm reading Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again and Girl Parts to review soon. I'll keep listening to The Penderwicks #3 and making my way through Jeff Anderson's 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know so I can start Kate Messner's Real Revision!  

Kellee Says: It is once again a free reading week. I know I am going to get to Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead, Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I hope I am able to finish all of them and more! 

This Week's Reviews:
        
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!

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