Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle

Title: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle 
Author: Christopher Healy  
Publisher: Walden Pond Press 
Publication Date: April 30th, 2013 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. 
     But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. 
     Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes. 
What Jen Thinks: I was thrilled to see all the great characters from the first League of Princes book back for book two! What struck me so strongly about Saving Your Kingdom was how prominent the girls were in a book that describes itself as being all about the Prince Charmings. The girls are awesome! When it came time to celebrating the release of this book, the girls instantly came to mind. 
     Once thing that I marveled at as I read, was how Chris is able to keep all the characters straight. I imagine this might be difficult as an author. I know for my own writing, it really helped me to stop and freewrite about my characters so I could get to know them. I believe an writer has to know his or her characters. This book would offer a perfect opportunity to talk about character development and what authors do as background knowledge for themselves when writing characters. Students can draw what they would find in their character's closet, create a Facebook page or Pinterest board for his or her characters, or write a back story for his or her character. Writing great characters is so connected to understanding people and what influences and why they make decisions. Getting to know your characters is very important as a writer. 
What Kellee Thinks: A wonderful follow-up to the first Hero's Guide. I was worried that it wouldn't be as good (sequel-syndrome), but the characters grew, the story moved along nicely, and it made me even more excited for book 3. Everyone's place in the group is questioned in this book, including their place within their relationships. 
     I read this book for a different purpose than just to review, I wanted to really look at the princesses in the book for our girl power series and I was so impressed at the different personalities and how each princess is so unique. I am so excited about this week because we get to focus on these girls and how they are strong role models. 
     For the classroom, I am a fan of Healy's books because they are such a funny seamless stories, but are complicated in subtle ways that will make it easy to use as a mentor text and discuss in a classroom but also easy to use as a fun read aloud that can sneak deep discussion into the classroom. 
Read Together: Grades 4 - 8 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 8 
Read With: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom  by Chris Healy, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, Once Upon a Marigold (series) by Jean Ferris, fairy tales from around the world 
Snatch of Text:  
"Frederic wasn't always helpless. Sure, he'd spent most of his life having his servants cut the crusts off his French toast, and he once fained afer merely thinking he had a splinter in his finger (it was really a biscotti crumb). But then he joined the League of Princes and managed to hold his own against bandits, giants, trolls, and witches." (p. 9)
Mentor Text For: Activating Background Knowledge, Making connections (like fractured fairy tales), Characterization, Multiple Story Lines, Humor, Rhyming Poetry/Songs (p. 4 et al.), Foreshadowing, Letter Writing (p. 208), Grammar (Princes Charming, Dwarves), Idioms (p. 311), Synonyms (p. 361), Oral Tradition (the bards), Compare and Contrast 
Writing Prompts: Compare and contrast any of the characters in the book; what do you notice about how they are similar and what sets them apart? 
Topics Covered: Adventure, Loyalty, Honesty, Asking for Help, Relationships, Siblings, Trust
We *heart* It: 
*Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing review copies of Storming the Castle and a giveaway for our readers. Please fill out the form below for your chance to win a copy!*

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/29/13

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!

Kellee: I unfortunately have a sad (yet exciting) announcement to share with you today. Starting June 25th, I will be parting ways with Teach Mentor Texts to partake in a new adventure (though Jen and I will continue working together on IMWAYR and the bookmark/book swap as well as sporadically on reviews and series). I'll be starting a new blog, "Unleashing Readers: Helping Students Navigate the World of Books" at www.unleashingreaders.com. I'll be working with another co-blogger, Ricki Ginsberg (@readwithpassion), a high school teacher in Connecticut and ALAN Executive Board member. Our blog will focus on helping teachers find the right books for their students and the right book for each situation. I hope you all will come visit the new blog when it begins!

Jen: I'm so thankful to Kellee for blogging with me for the last two years! When I started Teach Mentor Texts, I wholeheartedly wanted it to be a resource for teachers and parents, and Kellee brought her experience and passion for reading, books, and teaching. As Kellee said, the future is an adventure and I look forward to supporting her on her new blogging endeavor while continuing on my own journey here at Teach Mentor Texts. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: It was a wild and crazy and amazing week! Edcamp Chicago was an awesome experience on Saturday. I knew I wasn't going to get much reading done because of it. I'm happy to say I finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson on audio and started The Power of Habit which is interesting so far. I read about summer camp in Like Bug Juice on a Burger and I snuck in some great picture books along the way.
Kellee Says: I had a successful reading week, but it wasn't in numbers of books I read, it was in the success that I felt when I finished the book I was reading. I did read daily, but ended up only finishing one book: Code Name Verity. I found Code Name a beautiful, brilliant book, but so dense it just took me a while to read it. I could only digest so much each time I read it. Jen already reviewed it here, so I will not, but if you are interested in my thoughts, you can see my Goodreads review.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I have no idea what the week holds in store for me other than it should be much less crazy...finally! And Screen Free Week is here! We talked about Screen Free Week when we reviewed I Haiku You recently. I'm planning to limit my screen time when I'm home (there's not much I can do about my screen time at work...). Besides the blogging that has to get done and tweeting my bookpics, I'm going to really try to be conscious of not spending time looking at a screen. I'll keep listening to The Power of Habit on audio which I'm guessing will take me all week. There is one more day of rereading in April and I never got to From What I Remember... so I'm going to dive into that as my one last reread. It's a great read to put me in the summer mood. I'm excited! Happy reading everyone!

Kellee Says: First, I am going to read a short story that my little brother wrote for his creative writing college course (yay!) and then I am going to reread Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes this week in an attempt to assist in writing the teacher's guide. I'm also still listening to Sedaris's Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. After Olivia Twisted, I will probably read some Netgalley GNs I have as well as start Ask the Passengers. I also started new class read-alouds with my students so I am currently reading (for about 3 weeks) Hurt Go Happy and Endangered

This Week's Reviews:
We continue our Girl Power series this week! 
We'll be sharing posts about each of the unique The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle girl characters: Ella, Briar, Snow, Rapunzel and Lila. As well as celebrating School Lunch Lady day!
Also, Kellee will be on Kirby Larson's Teacher Tuesday tomorrow at Kirby's blog.
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books, characters, and events. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you please try to comment on at least the three blogs that posted before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Girl Power - Chris Healy

The celebration of Girl Power in literature series continues! We heard from Maria SelkeKirby LarsonJenni HolmKristin LevineJ.E. Thompson, ViVi Barnes, and Colby Sharp about the presence of strong girl characters in literature. Today we are thrilled to welcome Christopher Healy, the author of The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, to Teach Mentor Texts to share his perspective on girl characters.  

   Why did I go out of my way to include strong female characters in the Hero’s Guide novels?
   The short answer: My daughter would have killed me if I didn’t.
   The long answer: Seriously, my daughter would have killed me if I didn’t.
     My daughter, Bryn, is the most avid reader I know (though her little brother, Dash, is gaining ground on her). At any given point in the day, you’d be hard pressed to find Bryn without a book in her hands. And she reads pretty much everything—fantasy, historical dramas, sci-fi, realistic fiction, you name it. Still, with all the reading she does, she gets shout-it-from-the-rooftops excited when she comes across powerful female characters. Even if they’re not the main protagonists. She’ll come running to me, joyously waving the book as if it were a winning lottery ticket: “Dad, you’ve got to read this! The girl in it is so cool!” If the novel in question happens to be an action-adventure story, she gets so wound up I start to fear she may implode.
     On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see a tween so enthusiastic about the books she reads. But at the same time, it’s bittersweet. Because I wish that finding awesome girl heroes was something she could take for granted, something that happened so frequently she wouldn’t feel the urge to declare a national holiday around it. Unfortunately, she’s come to expect the standard set-up of “boy hero/male best friend/girl along for the ride.” Especially if it’s an adventure story. And it’s not that she finds that general dynamic inherently disappointing—it’s that too often the boy hero is flawed-but-courageous, the best friend is lovably goofy, and the girl is—in Bryn’s words—“just a girl, like that’s a personality trait or something.”
    So when I started to write an action-fantasy novel that centered around—sigh—four men, I knew I’d really have to amp up the ladies in the story if I wanted to please Bryn. But I didn’t just do it for her. I mentioned my son Dash earlier. For the past year or so, he’s had the typical girls-are-icky mentality so common to first grade boys. And as a result, he wanted his books to be as girl-free as possible. Until he met Amelia Bedelia—whom he found so hilarious that he couldn’t wait to read every one of Peggy Parrish’s classics. And then he decided to visit Oz, even though his main guide on the journey would be a young girl name Dorothy. After that, he agreed to try Wonderland—despite knowing that Alice wouldn’t even have three male companions to help distract him from her femaleness.
    My own kids are heavily in mind when I write. I figure that, like Bryn, there are other girls out there who are constantly on the lookout for exciting female characters. And that, like Dash, there are other boys who—once they are introduced to fun girl protagonists—will figure out that reading about the opposite sex doesn’t give you cooties.
    But I can’t say I loaded the Hero’s Guide universe with strong women just for my daughter and son—or even for all the other sons and daughters out there who may read my books. I also did it for myself. Because I’ve always loved strong female characters. I started off like Dash, missing out on such fabulous stories as Harriet the Spy and the Ramona series because they were “girl books.” But then I developed a literary crush on Pippi Longstocking, rooted for Turtle Wexler to win the Westing Game, and found Eilonwy to be the true star of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain chronicles. I wish I’d had more, though. Back then, I would have adored Coraline Jones, Lyra Silvertongue, and, of course, Hermione Granger.
    I’m grateful that my kids have it so much better than I did on the strong-female-character front. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to take the gender factor into account when I write. I’d like to make sure that I never put a future parent into a situation like the one I currently find myself in… I’m more than halfway through the process of reading the entire Lord of the Rings saga (Hobbit included) aloud to my daughter—after billing it as one of my favorite all-time stories and biggest influences on my work.  And while Bryn is very much into the plot and has grown attached to many characters (Pippin and Gimli in particular), she still asks me every single night, with growing fatigue in her voice, “Are there any girls in this chapter?”
    Thank you to Chris Healy for sharing this very honest insight into girls in books and particularly powerful perspectives from his own children. Chris Healy's book The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle actually prompted our whole Girl Power series. Be sure to visit our other Girl Power posts and to check back this week when we review The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle and highlight each of the Chris' fantastic girl characters!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Girl Power - Jen and Colby Sharp

Today we are sharing our last Girl Power series post before we hear from Christopher Healy and celebrate the girls in this latest book, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle. Chris will be here to talk about Girl Power tomorrow, we'll be reviewing the book on Tuesday, and a giveaway will be up all week as we celebrate each of the girl characters in the second installment of The League of Princes series.

When I think about girls in literature, I always think about the influence I have on my own kids. I am a mom to two boys so I don't have a daughter to celebrate girl power with. I believe strongly in teaching my sons about equity and equality when it comes to gender and I am very conscious about words or phrases or messages we send that might lead towards a gender bias. My every hope and dream is that I model for them that girls can do anything boys can do...and maybe even bettter (just kidding!).

Since, I'm not a mom to girls, I thought I would invite my great friend, Colby Sharp (SharpRead)  to talk to me about girls in books. I love talking to Colby about books and knew he would have a lot to say about strong girl characters.

JEN: Hi Colby! Thank you for being part of our discussion about girl power in literature!

COLBY: My pleasure. I am a pretty gigantic fan of powerful girl characters in children’s literature.

JEN: As a mom of two boys, I love to read books with strong female characters to them because I know it’s great for my sons to see girls portrayed as independent and curious and intelligent just as much as boys are. I hope to help them value everyone regardless of gender, race, status, etc. Then I started thinking about my own father who raised two girls. He has always believed in us and encouraged us helped us to see our own potential. And that made me think of you because you have three kids and two of them are girls. And, I have to add, your wife is an Iron Man. What comes to mind when you think of your daughters or your wife and girl power in literature?

COLBY: I am very lucky that my girls have such a strong female role models, both in their mom and their two grandmothers. I think that it is important that our young readers see strong characters of multiple genders, race, cultures, and religions. We live in a beautiful melting pot, and our readers need to see that awesome comes in all forms.

JEN: I agree! We need all kinds of role models! I believe each and every one of us can make a difference and that we learn so much from reading about how people struggle and how people succeed. There is such inspiration in seeing the effort and energy it takes to do something great or how someone overcomes a challenge.

This makes me think of Mattie from Hound Dog True because she is so shy and unsure of herself in the beginning of the book but she is a remarkable example of girl power. She fights her own battle and is so brave. Jenni Holm's characters, especially May Amelia and Babymouse, definitely have spunk! It's no secret that you love Jenni's writing, what stands out to you about her girl characters?

COLBY: I love that they are strong and powerful. I wouldn’t mess with Penny, Turtle, or May Amelia. But at the same time I like that they have their imperfections. Nobody is perfect, and I think that it is important for young readers to be able to relate to the faults in the characters they read. Jenni captures this beautifully.

JEN: So true. Nobody is perfect. I think we support each other (as kids or as adults) better when we accept our shortcomings and  are open about how we can overcome or manage them. I have always taught my kids to ask for help. When they were little they knew sign language for more, please and help. It's amazing how determined we as people can be to do things on our own but I think it's important to see how much more we can accomplish with help from others or at least some cheerleading from someone who believes in us.

What other strong girl characters come to mind when you think of girl power and what do you admire about them most? Name three...go!

1. Hattie from Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After
I love Hattie’s perseverance and grit.

2. Sarah from Sarah, Plain and Tall
I love how Sarah is different from the stereotypes Anna and Caleb expect from a mother.

3. Claudette from Giants Beware!
Love her spunk.

JEN: Colby, our conversation reminds me of our great discussions about books when we were doing the I-94 Book Club! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective on girl power in literature as a dad of two adorable girls!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Girl Power - Kellee & Vivi Barnes

One of the things that brought Jen and myself together is our love of books that empower girls by having a female protagonist that is strong in every sense of the word. As a young girl, I wanted to see girls in my literature that showed me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I found these girls in books starting with Matilda then The Baby-Sitter's Club, Charlotte Doyle, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  I also searched for these woman in non-fiction books liked Prozac Nation and The Diary of Anne Frank. This love of stories that celebrates the ability of girls has continued into adulthood with my love of 
Hurt Go Happy, Graceling, Shine, Uglies, and Airborn

I am continually searching, finding, and sharing books that have these role models. I recently read a book Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes which is a modern retelling of Oliver Twist, but with a female protagonist and she embodies girl power. Here is Vivi sharing why these characters are so important in 
literature and who has inspired her: 

One of my favorite characteristics of young adult novels is the strength of the female protagonist. It’s not even a symbol of today’s times. Consider the strength of the girls in Little Women, the resolve of Jane Eyre, the sharp wit of Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. These women set the framework for Katniss, Hermione, and so many other kick-butt heroines in today’s literature.

Though she certainly has her moments of strength, Bella from Twilight has arguably become synonymous with weakness. I know that my crit partners have slashed certain lines that sound “too Bella.” An author would be hard-pressed to get an agent or publisher interested in a female protagonist who can’t hold her own, who doesn’t stand strong in the face of adversity.

Sometimes a character appears weak until one delves into their motivations, which seems too often be family. It is the obvious strong character who is the outward challenger of society; but just as important is the woman who allows herself to be challenged in order to keep someone else safe. One of my favorite examples is Nancy from Oliver Twist. As the impoverished prostitute girlfriend of the terrible and abusive Bill Sykes, one could consider her weak until you consider how she betrayed her violent boyfriend and put her life at risk—and indeed was murdered—in her attempt to save the innocent Oliver and get him to his family. She was a person who fought in the end against the way society shaped her. I always admired Nancy, which is one of the reasons I turned her into the caring mother figure of the gang of hackers in Olivia Twisted. She epitomizes girl power in an unusual way!

Translating this to real life, I recently read an article in our newspaper about how Florida Atlantic University just promoted the cheerleading coach to director of football operations, not a role women typically hold. I was thrilled to see that the trail is being blazed for our future women leaders, and I’m pleased that literature continues the trend of creating strong female roles for our girls to emulate.

Go girl power!

It is so important that girls see these role models in real life as well as literature! Thank you Vivi for being part of our series! I have loved celebrating the power of woman with you all and 
cannot wait to continue this series through next week!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Girl Power - J.E. Thompson

We are having such a blast with our Girl Power series! It's been great to hear from Maria SelkeKirby LarsonJenni Holm, and Kristin Levine already! Authors have many different reasons for making sure to include strong girl characters in their writing and have different female characters that they think of as exemplars of strong protagonists. 

The Girl from Felony Bay
Today, we have J.E. Thomspon, the author of The Girl of Felony Bay, as a guest blogger to share with us why he includes strong female characters and how these female characters can play a major role in literature.

I believe strong female characters in books may be lifesavers for girls who have no other examples of strength, courage and integrity in their own lives. They also provide reinforcement to other girls by showing them role models they can use to re-imagine how they would like to act and react in their own lives.

Strong female characters in books don’t hold back; they throw themselves into the action. They are dynamic, clever and intrepid. They make mistakes, but they learn from their mistakes and grow from them and move forward. They are formidable. Strong female characters show girls that they can be strong without being harsh, stand up for themselves without being bossy or prudish, be smart without being nerds, be outspoken when they know they are right and be leaders of the group just as readily as any boy.

Some of the obvious female characters that jump to mind are Katniss Everdeen from THE HUNGER GAMES and Hermione Granger from HARRY POTTER. They are smart, strong, brave and intrepid, wonderful female characters who don’t sacrifice a bit of their loveliness but who manage to be heroines at the same time.

However, there are also female characters who aren’t powerful in a physical sense. Remember Hazel Lancaster in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, who drags an oxygen bottle around on a cart because her cancer-riddled lungs no longer function well enough for her to breathe on her own, but who embodies such tremendous courage, intelligence and integrity and who finds the courage to love and let herself be loved in spite of her totally hopeless circumstances.

Other wonderful female characters include June Iparis the courageous and brilliant 15 year-old heroine of LEGEND, who struggles to unearth the ugly truths about her society that force her to become a rebel. There is also Beatrice Prior in DIVERGENT who learns the risks and strengths that come from being different from others, in other words the risks from being divergent.

All of these female characters defend their sense of right and wrong; they face their fears; they do what they are convinced is right in spite of opposition from other people, their society or their own internal fears. In spite of the great difficulties each of them faces in their personal struggle, they are each reinforced and strengthened by their courage and their determination to prevail in whatever way they can.

None of them are passive. None allow the world to consign them to a predetermined fate or role. Each of them is dynamic, reactive and each shapes the world around her through her own determination. These are EXACTLY the kind of women I want my daughters to look up to.

It is so important to remember that strength isn't just physical! We must show our girl readers that woman can be strong in all sense of the word. Thank you J.E. for taking part in our Girl Power series!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Actual Size

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 to see what non-fiction others have to share, too.

Title: Actual Size 
Author: Steve Jenkins  
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins 
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Childrens Book 
Publication Date: December 2006 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins delivers this mammoth-sized animal book that shows moths, ostrich heads, anteater tongues, and other animal features in actual size. Working with stunning torn- and cut-paper collages set against stark white backgrounds, Jenkins briefly describes exotic animals -- listing their length, weight, and other stats -- as he showcases what makes each of them so remarkable. Whether it's a Goliath birdeater tarantula at a gargantuan 12 inches across, a pygmy mouse lemur at 2 inches tall next to a gorilla's hand, or an eye-popping fold-out of a saltwater crocodile's head, Jenkins's life-size depictions of animals -- accompanied by extended blurbs in the back -- are a wondrous treat.  
What I Think: We fell in love with this book instantly at our house. My kids love animals and non-fiction and there were definitely audible gasps as we turned the pages and discovered new animals - or animals in different ways - in this book. Imagining what animals might look like in real life can be very abstract for kids. Actual Size really helps kids make connections between themselves and animals and their sizes. I particularly enjoy how visual this book is and that there is simple text to support the artwork. At the end, Jenkins gives longer descriptions of each of the animals in the book with pictures of the animals. When we read about the crocodile I was surprised that it is known as a man-eater. I quickly turned to the back to see if there was some clarification around that. Reading non-fiction is especially fun when it leads you to other texts, be it more non-fiction or even fiction. What a great book to use to introduce this because further reading is right there in the text itself. If a reader still wants more after the information in the back of the book, then he or she can search for other resources to get more information. This book seems like it would be a great way to introduce non-fiction and research. By incorporating actual sizes of animals (and their parts), Jenkins captures readers attention but also piques their desire to know more.
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 5  
Read Alone: Grades - Pre-K - 5 
Read With: Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by H.P. Newquist, Butterflies and Moths and others by Nic Bishop, Where in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz, Sharks and others by Seymour Simon, Mister Seahorse and others by Eric Carle (artwork) 
Snatch of Text: "The saltwater crocodile, the world's largest reptile, is a man-eater." 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Visualizing, Using Non-Fiction Text Features, Asking Questions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Commas, Research  
Writing Prompts: Write an "actual size" expository book about yourself. Trace parts of your body on to the pages and tell something about yourself related to each part you trace.  
Topics Covered: Integration - Science, Animals
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kellee Rereads Harlem

I have been a Walter Dean Myers fan ever since I read him for the first time in 2007 during my Young Adult Literature graduate class. Since then I have read 8 of his novels, 2 of his pictures books, and a handful of his poetry. I have enjoyed, appreciated, and admired every piece of his that I have encountered. Though, because of either the intensity of the story or the complexity of his writing, I find that I only fully experience his books during my rereads of his books. Harlem, a poem picture book of his, was no exception.  I originally ordered this book from the public library because I have a student who adores WDM and had asked me to get it for him. He read Harlem multiple times and said it was amazing; I knew I immediately wanted to read it and discuss it with him. When I first read Harlem, because of the lack of background knowledge I had about the history and culture of Harlem, I found myself not connecting with the book. I knew that on the reread, I wanted to change the outcome. 

Title: Harlem: A Poem
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Christopher Myers
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 1997
Genre/Format: Poem/Picture Book
Goodreads Summary: Walter Dean Myers calls to life the deep, rich, and hope-filled history of Harlem, this crucible of American culture.
     Christopher Myers' boldly assembled collage art resonates with feeling, and tells a tale all its own. Words and pictures together connect readers -of all ages - to the spirit of Harlem in its music, art, literature, and everyday life, and to how it has helped shape us as a people.
What I Think: After reading this book the first time, I knew I was going to have to tackle it differently than just reading a picture book. I wanted to make sense of it and I knew that I didn't have the background knowledge and I know that the power of all of the words had not sunk in yet. So, I typed up the poem in Google Drive and begun doing my very own close reading of the poem.  I started with research of terms and names that I didn't know building my knowledge of the culture and history of Harlem. Through this build up of knowledge, I began to understand the beauty behind Myers's poem. The voice of this poem is one of heartbreak, but strength; proud of not only what he has become, but where he came from. This poem is a celebration of the history of Harlem and its citizens- a celebration of its religion, music, poets, authors, and everything that made/makes it a hub for the civil rights movement and African America culture. 
     While doing my research, I found an amazing website that I will definitely use when teaching this poetry book- Harlem: A Visual Interpretative Analysis- which takes an excerpt of the poem and an accompanied collage and takes the reader through an analysis of the excerpt and artwork. Fascinating!
     This book would be a great one to use across many different subject areas- history, literature, and art. 
Read Together: Grades 3 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 4 to 12
Read With: Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, The Complete Poems including Harlem by Langston Hughes, Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers, Nonfiction books about Harlem
Snatch of Text: 
They brought a call
A song
First heard in the villages of
Calls and songs and shouts
Heavy hearted tambourine rhythms
Loosed in the hard city
Like a scream torn from the throat
Of an ancient clarinet
A new sound, raucous and sassy
Cascading over the asphalt village
Breaking against the black sky over
1-2-5 Street
Announcing Hallelujah
Riffing past resolution
Mentor Text for: Imagery, Rhythm, Mood, Voice, Metaphor, Making Connections
Writing Prompts: Do research about your ancestors and your heritage. Through this research, find people, places, literature, art, musicians, etc. that helped shape who you or your family are. Use this research to contruct a poem about your heritage. Find a piece of artwork to accompany your poem. 
Topics Covered: Harlem, Religion, Music, Slavery, Boxing, Poets, Civil Rights
I *heart* It:
(After my reread and research)


Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/22/13

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: Life is still a whirlwind but I'm chugging along and did get a lot of reading done actually. I finished re-listening to All American Girl which is a book that I still love. I started listening to Will Grayson, Will Grayson again, such a treat to listen to this book again. In preparation for the culmination of our Girl Power series this week/next week, I finished up Chris Healy's The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle. What a fun read! For picture books, I read and loved Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead. I was pleasantly surprised by how creative it was.

Kellee Says: I mixed up my reading this week throwing in a couple of professional books, early readers, a graphic novel and a novel. It is always nice to have a good mix of reading in. First, I finished Book Love by Penny Kittle which was such an inspiring book and I cannot wait to be able to implement many of what Penny Kittle taught me. I also read Motivating Students Who Don't Care by Allen Mendler which included many strategies that I already use, but gave me some great new ones as well. The early reader books I read were book 1 and 2 of The Chatswood Spooks series by Notti Thistledore which are cute, (not) scary stories about a quirky group of ghosts just trying to find their way. Probably my favorite read of the week, next to Book Love, was the graphic novel Yummy by G. Neri. As readers of TMT know, I was a HUGE fan of Ghetto Cowboy so when I saw this graphic novel, I picked it up immediately and it did not disappoint. I will make sure to review it on a NF Wednesday at some point. Finally, I finished the novel Small Damages by Beth Kephert which was a beautifully written novel that in the end was quite powerful. 

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: This week the busy-ness continues! Edcamp Chicago is on Saturday. I have been looking forward to it for a long time now and can't wait! With all the Edcamp planning, I'm anticipating I'll get mostly audiobook reading done. I plan to continue listening to  Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I do have the Bink and Gollie books to reread and Squid and Octopus. Otherwise, I have a few professional books to listen to and read that I hope to sneak in when I can! 

Kellee Says: Right now I am currently reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and I am about 2/5 of the way through. Right now, I am liking it, but it is such a dense book that it is very hard to read for long periods of time. I have been told that at about halfway, the story gets to where you don't want to put it down- I am looking forward to this. I am also listening to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris continuing my Sedaris-thon. I just love his memoirs; they crack me up. 

This Week's Reviews:
Harlem: A Poem 
Our Girl Power Series goes into full throttle this week with posts from 
authors J.E. Thompson and Chris Healy as well as Jen and Kellee. 
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you please try to comment on at least the three blogs that posted before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

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...