Saturday, November 30, 2013

Let's Celebrate #indiesfirst!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating Indie bookstores!

*throws confetti*

I'm sure that many of you know that today is Small Business Saturday. It's also an extra special Small Business Saturday because tons of Indie bookstores all over the country are hosting authors who will be hand-selling books to Indie customers. How fun does that sound? We're headed to an Indie spot today that I'll share another time but I did get to two Indies in Boston last week that I wanted to share and celebrate.
My best friend from high school, Alison, went to college in Boston and still lives there. After the conference, I met up with Alison and convinced her to take me to The Children's Book Shop. Visiting new (to me) Indies is on my Bookish Un-Boring List for 2013 so as soon as Alison heard that, she was ready to help me get there. Alison's Un-Boring List was the inspiration for my both my 2012 and 2013 Un-Boring Lists so she knew the importance of getting to this bookstore before they closed!
 Look how beautiful this store is on the outside? I love the historical look of Boston. It's awesome.
 Seeing some of my favorite character all dressed up for winter in the window got me all excited!
 As much as I loved the window display, it was so cold! I was ready to get inside!
Inside, the bookstore was just as charming as it was from the outside. It was jam-packed with children's books and so much fun to look around. We quickly made friends with a man who worked at the store, talking about books and libraries and Boston. He was a school librarian so it was fun to talk about how awesome libraries are. 
Alison was looking for books for her soon-to-be niece and nephew and I suggested Press Here
She was skeptical...
...but I convinced her! I promised that a three-year-old boy would get a kick 
out of reading the book and watching the dots move around on the page. (I just hope I'm right!)

Alison also recommended I visit Trident Bookstore for vegan food and fun books. She was right, Trident was a complete gem. I invited Meenoo Rami to join me for breakfast and shopping at Trident. I actually had a vegan tofu scramble that was excellent. They definitely had an interesting and eclectic selection of books and funky gifts. I found animal hand tattoos and a Star Wars lightsaber thumb-wrestling book to bring home to my kiddos. They also had tons of flavors of my favorite chocolate bars. This place was a total win when it comes to Indie bookstores.

I'm super excited to be celebrating Indie bookstores this week...and every week! It's Small Business Saturday but I think it's great if we can make every day a small business day. What is your favorite Indie bookstore?

What are you celebrating this week?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Cat on the Mat is Flat



Title: The Cat on the Mat is Flat  
Author: Andy Griffiths
Illustrator: Terry Denton 
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends 
Publication Date: August, 2007 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Early Chapter Book 
GoodReads Summary:  Muck?! Uck! YUCK!
 
Is it just bad luck
when the truck of a duck
gets stuck in the muck?

Nine silly rhymes,
and a pig that slimes,
from a writer voted BEST
by The New York Times!

WARNING:  This book may self-destruct if used to teach a lesson.
“…The rat chased the cat.
The rat chased the cat with the baseball bat.
Around
and around
and around the mat
the rat chased the cat with the baseball bat, until…
KERSPLAT!
Never again did that cat chase the rat—
the cat was much too flat for that.”
What I Think: I'm a huge fan of The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow but only recently read The Cat on the Mat is Flat. I enjoy both but this book seems to be a bit wordier and tongue twistier and a little bit more thinkier. I noticed that I had to talk to Peanut about what was happening in the stories more than I did with The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow.
     This book is another wonderful rhyming book. It's full of silly stories and some slime and muck and swill so it's super perfect for kids who think ick is funny.
Read Together: Grades K - 3  
Read Alone: Grades K - 3 
Read With: Snake Cake and Stop Pop and others by Yukiko Kido, Green Eggs and Ham and others by Dr. Seuss, Elephant and Piggie (series) by Mo Willems, Up, Tall and High by Ethan Long
Snatch of Text:  
"There once was a frog
who lived in a bog.

The frog rode around
on a jet-rocket log.
There was no aster
frog in the bog."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Fluency, Making Connections, Making Predictions  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Rhyme, Literary Elements, Rhythm, Repetition, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia
Writing Prompts: Choose a word family and try to write a story with as many of the words in the word family as you can. Be sure to make it super silly! 
Topics Covered: Animals, Competition, Persistence, Imagination, Friendship, Sharing
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The One With Awesome People at #NCTE13 #slice2013


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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As I hugged Donalyn goodbye at ALAN yesterday, I whispered to her how amazing it is to think how my life has changed in the last five years. Five years ago, I hadn't even heard of NCTE, as crazy as that is. As a hearing itinerant teacher, I was a member of and had presented at an organization for teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing in Illinois but I just went to my third NCTE, presented twice and completely love it. It's hard to imagine not going to NCTE now! It's also hard - really hard - to believe that another year has come and gone already since the last NCTE. I absolutely love this conference. 

What I love most about NCTE is the opportunity to be surrounded by unbelievably amazing colleagues; from teachers, to authors, to illustrators and publishers. It's all about sharing reading and writing and being passionate about making an impact on students. Every year I am more and more inspired!

There were a few highlights of this year for sure! One was getting to spend time with Peter Brown. After celebrating the release of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, it was fun to talk to him about books and writing. If you haven't read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, you can read my review here...and then I'm sure you'll be off to grab it! It's awesome. It really, truly is. Go read it. Or go read it again just for fun and to marvel and how great it is. 

I'm so mad at myself for not taking enough pictures this year but I do have a few to share at least and they are of my other highlights so that's good! On Friday, I presented on the topic of non-fiction picture books as mentor texts for secondary students. It was a complete honor to collaborate with Kellee, Beth Shaum and Audrey Vernick. I loved going through books I have reviewed here and pulling some great mentor texts that I have used with secondary students. 

The Nerdy part was Friday night and it was fun to visit with everyone there! Despite the late night, I was up early and ready to run with this wonderful group of troopers! Look at all of our smiling faces a 7:00 a.m. on a cold and windy morning in Boston. It actually could have been colder. Our run was great, we ran down Newbury street and around the Boston Common before returning to Copley Square and crossing the real finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was fun and I felt so great the rest of the day...except for the crazy cramp I got in my foot/toe...but it went away pretty quickly! (It's really hard to spot me in this picture, I'm way to the right kind of in the shadows in the back.)

It's much easier to see me in this picture! We were just about to cross the street and circle around the Boston Common! Go runners! 


On Sunday morning, I was thrilled to share the epic-ness of Teachers Write with Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles and Brian Wyzlic. I'm still pinching myself and reminding myself just how absolutely incredible it is that I have been able to work with these fabulous people on Teachers Write over the last two summers and that we got to present our passion for Teachers Write all together in the same room. I've been inspired to write more after every NCTE but I can honestly say that my heart is really calling for me to write after this conference. I have a million ideas in my little brain that I'm desperate to get into my computer and have been planning how to make this happen!

If you've been to NCTE before, I'm sure you share my enthusiasm for this conference. If you've never been to NCTE before, I hope you don't feel too bad...there are lots of people tweeting at NCTE, just check out the #NCTE13 hashtag! Did you attend NCTE this year? What did you love about it? Or maybe you've attended another time? Are you thinking of going next year in Washington, DC or maybe the following year in Minneapolis? I definitely recommend it!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/25/13

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...you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: Last week was such a crazy week for me! It was hectic getting things organized at work so I could be away at NCTE. I can't believe that it's over already! I'm sure everyone is having fun at the ALAN conference now if they stayed. I listened to most of Dream Thieves, I only have one more CD to listen to that I anticipate I'll listen to as I travel home from Boston. I'm also reading Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayres and will keep reading that this week. I'm always sad when NCTE is over, it just goes way to fast! It was fun though!

Reviewed Last Week:
 
Click on any picture above to go read the post or review.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'll finish listening to Dream Thieves today and then am going to read Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. I would like to finish Ruth Ayre's Celebrating Writers and then I have Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg that I'm so excited to read! I could use a good romantic comedy. Other than that, I'm not sure! I do need to do some of my own writing so maybe I'll spend some time doing that this week...but hopefully there will be time to read over the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving for those who celebrate!

This Week's Reviews:


Check back throughout the week to read these posts/reviews. 

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 comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Locomotive


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. 
Every Wednesday, I'll review a non-fiction picture book. (It may not always be a picture book.) Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other non-fiction books are shared this week!

Title: Locomotive 
Author: Brian Floca 
Illustrator: Brian Floca 
PublisherAtheneum/Richard Jackson Books 
Publication Date: September, 2013 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: All aboard! From the creator of the "stunning" (BooklistMoonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America's early railroads.
It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America's brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean.
Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!  
What I Think: I'm fascinated by Brian Floca's ability to capture a moment in time and describe it so that it feels like we are living in that one moment...walking around and examining every piece of it before you unfreeze that moment and life goes on.
     What I found most interesting about this book is that it's written in 2nd person voice. Throughout the book, the narrator is talking to "you" and it feels like the reader is literally in the book, smelling, seeing, hearing the sights and sounds, climbing on board the train and heading across the country. This book is a great mentor text for descriptive writing. Students have many opportunities to look at the author's craft and to discuss what he is doing. It's also a great opportunity to look at commas and when we use commas. Using this text, you might have a conversation about what comma rules we have and when we can break those rules. There are definitely different types of comma usage here though and we could take the time to notice what patterns we see as we read.
Read Together: Grades 2 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 2 - 12  
Read With: Moonshot by Brian Floca, Train by Elisha Cooper, How To Train A Train by Jason Carter Eaton
Snatch of Text:  
"The hours and and miles roll by.

The country opens,
opens wide,
empty as an ocean.

Smell the switchgrass and the blustem,
hot beneath the sun.

Here the bison used to roam,
by the hundreds, by the millions.

Here the Cheyenne lived,
and Pawnee and Arapabo.

Here covered wagons used to crawl,
foot by foot, mile by mile,
heading into the West.
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Visualizing, Making Connections, Asking Questions 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Descriptive, Point of View - 2nd Person, Anaphora, Simile, Comma - Appositives, Word Choice, $100 Words, Alliteration, Author's Craft 
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you took a trip - describe the "getting there" part of your travels. Write about how you get from one place to another - maybe from your desk to the library, from your locker to the bus, etc. Write from the perspective of an object and how it moves along during the day, describe what it might see or experience through the course of a day.  
Topics Covered: Travel, History, Integration - Social Studies 
I *heart* It:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Let's Celebrate! #NCTE13

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating a NCTE things!

*throws confetti*


I'm in Boston at the NCTE conference and have some bits of the experience to share so far! 
Ruth and I were on the same flight! I was celebrating being with her and her colleague, Deb and a few others from near Chicago as we headed to Boston.
I'm still celebrating Celebrating Writers and thinking so much about writing. I've been very reflective lately and it's encouraging to be here at NCTE and hear so much about great ideas in writing and to be surrounded by other writers - published and unpublished. It's invigorating!
Boston! Boston is a great city and I love being able to visit again!
Kellee and I presented with Beth Shaum and Audrey Vernick on using non-fiction picture books with secondary students. It was a celebration for me to work with Kellee again and to work with Beth and Audrey. I'm so glad to have been able to collaborate with these wonderfully intelligent women.

What are you celebrating this week?