Sunday, September 27, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/28/15

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 your 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:
I'm still reading The Construction Zone, This Book is Gay, Quirkus Circus,  and Roscoe Riley Rules #1. It's just taking me longer to find time and get through them!

Reviewed Last Week:
 
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'll still be reading The Construction Zone, This Book is Gay, Quirkus Circus, and Roscoe Riley Rules #1. I'm also excited to read the Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

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!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Max the Brave Review and Blog Tour

Title: Max the Brave 
Author: Ed Vere 
Illustrator: Ed Vere 
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Publication Date: September 8th, 2015  
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Max is a fearless kitten. Max is a brave kitten. Max is a kitten who chases mice. There's only one problem-Max doesn't know what a mouse looks like! With a little bit of bad advice, Max finds himself facing a much bigger challenge. Maybe Max doesn't have to be Max the Brave all the time...

Join this adventurous black cat as he very politely asks a variety of animals for help in finding a mouse. Young readers will delight in Max's mistakes, while adults will love the subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor of this new children's classic. 
About the Author/Illustrator: Ed Vere is an author, artist and illustrator with a long track record of success in the picture book category. Max the Brave was named one of The Sunday Times’s 100 Modern Children’s Classics. His book Bedtime for Monsters was shortlisted for the2011 Roald Dahl Funny Prize and Mr Big was chosen by Booktrust as the official Booktime book for 2009 (and was distributed to 750,000 British schoolchildren making it the largest single print run of a picture book)Vere was the World Book Day illustrator for 2009.
What I Think: I'm in love with Max! He's super adorable and so full of spunk that readers will fall in love with him whether they are cat lovers or not. When it comes to characterization, Max the Brave is an example of how it's possible to tell so much about a character in two sentences. Of course, the rest of the book elaborates and helps readers get a better sense of Max and who he is but it is possible to pack a lot of punch in only a couple of sentences.
     The illustrations are vibrant and simple but powerful as well. Reading Max the Brave offers an opportunity to talk to students about illustrations, how they support the text, and what choices or moves the artist might have made to impact the story.
     Readers will be rooting for Max, cracking up at his misunderstanding, worried about him and then cheering for him all over again as he goes along on his adventure. Reading Max the Brave is also a perfect opportunity to practice prediction as the story moves along. I read with Peanut and Little Bean and we had a blast trying to guess what was going to happen next. This will be a perfect read aloud for a super hero themed event...get our your super hero capes!
    Visit Sourcebooks' Max the Brave website where you can access an activity kit and the educator guide. And be sure to follow @ed_vere and @jabberwockykids on Twitter!
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 5 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 2 
Read With: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, Pardon Me  by Daniel Miyares, Boris and the Snoozebox by Leigh Hodgkinson, Won Ton and Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw
Snatch of Text:  
"Max looks so sweet that sometimes
people dress him up with bows.

Max does not like being
dressed up with bows."

Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you were confused or misunderstood something and how it impacted you.
Topics Covered: Courage, Determination, Self-Awareness 
I *heart* It:
*Thanks to Sourcebooks for 
a copy of this title and the opportunity for a giveaway 
in exchange for an honest review!*

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The One With Bringing the Fun #sol15


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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Last Monday I had a tickle in my throat. 
Last Tuesday I had a saws in my throat and my head felt like a brick. 
Last Wednesday I stayed home from school to rest.

Being sick is no fun. 
Every time I'm sick, I hesitate to stay home. 
I want to be at school. 

So on Thursday when I did go back to school and it was a day to meet with my middle school teams, I shared a quick reminder with them. I gathered up all sorts of gift bags and grocery bags and tucked in a secret to share with them. 

I told them I wanted to share the secret of teaching with them.
One by one, 
I pulled a bag out
of another bag
out of another bag
until we got to the 
heart of the matter.

I revealed a handheld mirror and walked around to make sure everyone looked into it to see his or her face smiling back. 

Teachers make all the difference.
When we shows students we care and respect them, they care and respect us.
When we are passionate about our subject matter, the students will be too.
When we are excited about learning, our students are excited, too.

Our energy and enthusiasm is what we want to be contagious in our classrooms!

The best we can do is take care of ourselves - physically but also mentally - so we can bring our best selves into our classrooms. 
Over the weekend I dressed up like a pirate with Peanut and snapped a few shots of Little Bean at a park and on a jumpy slide we visited. Then I came to school yesterday and danced the whip and wrote in my writer's notebook with 5th graders. I'm sharing a few pictures now and asking you to double up on your hand sanitizer use and remember to have fun in and out of your classroom! 

Take care of yourself! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/21/15

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 your 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:
I finished reading The Digital Writing Workshop and have been contemplating how to encourage teachers I work with to engage in digital writing - whether it's blogging or micro-blogging. I'm a few chapters into Terry Thompson's The Construction Zone: Building Scaffolds For Readers and Writers and loving the connections Terry makes between the decisions we make in teaching and those we make in our lives. There's still time to enter my giveaway of Brian Selznick's The Marvels. It's completely fabulous and one that I'm still thinking about. I was planning to finish Quirkus Circus, Roscoe Riley Rules #1 and This Book Is Gay but I'm still working on all of them.

Reviewed Last Week:
 
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm still practicing how to judge the busy-ness of my weeks! In a perfect world, I would finish The Construction Zone and start in (finally) on Children Want to Write and also finish up This Book is Gay, Quirkus Circus,  and Roscoe Riley Rules #1. We'll see how it goes!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

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!

Peg + Cat: The Race Car Problem

Title: Peg + Cat: The Race Car Problem 
Author: Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson 
Illustrator: Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson  
Publisher: Candlewick Entertainment 
Publication Date: September 8th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Peg and Cat, stars of their own Emmy Award–winning animated TV series, zoom into a picture book and put math skills to the test in a lively racing adventure.

Peg and Cat have built an amazing car out of things they found lying around. They’ve named her Hot Buttered Lightning (since she’s built for speed), and they plan to win the Tallapegga Twenty. If they can make it out of the junkyard, that is. It’s a good thing Peg knows the best shape to use to make wheels and how to count laps to see who is ahead. And it’s lucky that Cat reminds Peg to keep calm when she’stotally freaking out! Will Peg and Cat be the first to complete twenty laps and win the Golden Cup? Or will it be one of their quirky competitors? Count on Peg and Cat to rev up young problem-solvers for an exciting race to the finish.  
What I Think: I'm fascinated by brain research and what it tells us. It's no secret that I'm a fan of the growth mindset but I'm also keen on problem solving. The brain loves to solve problems. For instance, if I suggest you solve the problem 5 + 5...you can't help but think 10 in your head! Your brain just can't hold itself back, it wants to think of the answer. Taking this into account when designing lessons makes learning much more engaging. Giving students the ownership to brainstorm, research, try and try again is powerful.
     Peg + Cat: The Race Car Problem is an example of what might happen when we give kids the opportunity to come up with their own creation and see how it works. Last winter, my family had a blast creating our own cardboard games after watching Caine's Arcade. This book could be a great mentor text to discuss how to hang onto the growth mindset and persevere when creating - whether it's a race car or another type of creation - and this aligns well with the CCSS Standards for Mathematical Practice...in case you address these in your district/classroom. Reading The Race Car Problem and other texts about creating, tinkering, experimenting (see below) would be a great opportunity to build students' background knowledge about the mindset of a maker.
     There is a lot of mention of various shapes in this book. You could read and ask students to recognize shapes as the story goes on. The characters in this book are so fun and looking closely at the dialogue gives readers an opportunity to see how the characters' personalities come to life with the words they use. Overall, there are some really great words that can be pulled out as vocabulary words as well.   
Read Together: Grades K - 3  
Read Alone: Grades 1 - 3 
Read With: Going Places by Peter H. Reynolds and Paul A. Reynolds, What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada with illustrations by Mae Bosom, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 
Snatch of Text:  
"They called it Hot-Buttered Lightning
because they hoped it would be as swift as a bolt of lightning.
(They added 'hot-buttered' to make the name even better, 
the way butter makes popcorn even better.)"
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you made something using your imagination. Did it go how you planned? Or did you have to try again after your first attempt? What helped you believe you should try again to make your idea better? 
Topics Covered: Friendship, Ingenuity, Determination, Integration - Math 
I *heart* It:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Let's Celebrate 2015 Cybils Book Apps Judges!

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 2015 Cybils Book Apps Judges!

*throws confetti*

I've been fortunate enough to be part of the Cybils fun for the last two years and am excited to share that I'll be a judge again this year. I love explore book apps and discussing the apps with the other judges. Being immersed in book apps and great conversation around them has truly impacted how I think about book apps and I'm happy to help bring the best book apps forward as finalists for the second round of judges to look at. Here are the book apps we shortlisted last year. They are all amazing!

If you aren't familiar with Cybils, they have all sorts of different categories: Graphics, Poetry, YA Speculative Fiction, YA Fiction, YA Non-Fiction, Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Elementary/Middle Grade Non-Fiction, Easy Reader/Early Chapter Books, Fiction Picture Books. Isn't that just amazing? 

Here are all the Book Apps Judges in case you want to check out their blogs or Twitter streams. I'm so looking forward to seeing what books are nominated. If you have any book apps that you love from this year, make sure you nominate them starting October 1st!

Round 1
Emily Lloyd

Jennifer Vincent 

Sarah Towle

Jill Goodman

Cathy Potter


What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Poetry Friday - An Interview with Josh Funk!

 Today Poetry Friday is at Today's Little Ditty
Be sure to visit and check out all the great poetry posts!

I recently reviewed Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk with illustrations by Brendan Kearney. Then I dragged my kids to our favorite French Toast spot to celebrate! We go to a local diner called The Caboose where we can sit on high stools and look out the window as we wait for a train to go by. They have train history on the walls and a funky caboose mural on one that is pretty fun. The boys love the French Toast there and can never get enough!
Today I'm sharing an interview with Josh Funk, author of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast! While this adorable picture book isn't actually poetry, it is written in rhyme so it definitely reads like poetry and actually remind me of a Shel Silverstein poem or two. Enjoy!
TMT: In my house, I'm the pancake and waffle fan while my sons and my husband love French toast. I won't make you pimn ck a side...but Peanut (my 8-year-old) would like to know what you like to put on your pancakes, waffles, or French toast. Chocolate chips, whipped cream, sprinkles maybe?

JF: My favorite are those industrial waffle makers where you pour the batter in and flip them over. In fact, I had to teach Debbie Ridpath Ohi how to use one at the Hampton Inn during nErDcampMI. I love the way those giant waffles soak in the syrup and if you pour too much in you get the crispy burnt parts that leak out. One of the best waffles I’ve had is from The Friendly Toast with crushed pecans inside and caramelized bananas on top.

I generally like chocolate chips mixed in with my pancakes. Another one of my favorite restaurants, In a Pickle will even mix in m&m’s, Reese’s, Snickers, Cookie Dough, or Oreos.

For French toast, I prefer nice, thick challah bread as the base. As far as toppings, I IHOP’s boysenberry syrup is my favorite, but I don’t think I could have that all the time. It’s just for special occasions; original maple is perfect for everyday use.

(Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my face)

TMT: In August, you shared your PB 10 for 10 list (10 pictures book you just can't live without) and your theme was Team Rhyme. You have a rhyme Tumbler and you chose to use rhyme in Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. Can you talk about your process for writing in rhyme?

Just like a wand, I didn’t choose to use rhyme, rhyme chose me. (I’m not claiming to be a rhyme-wizard, btw.) When I started writing picture books, they just came out in rhyme. I’ve since learned how to write in prose; however, all but one of the manuscripts I’ve sold to date is written in rhyme (that one is JACK! [and the beanstalk], Two Lions, 2017).

The most important thing about a rhyming picture book is not the rhyme and rhythm. It’s the story. So first you’ve got to have a good idea, characters, and plot for a picture book.

For me, I think that writing in rhyme adds a certain element of charm. And it’s taken me several years to really figure out how to get it right. The rhythm/meter is what’s critical. You want to make it so the reader has the easiest time reading the story as possible. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, leading SCBWI workshops about it, and even writing about it on my website.

TMT: What is the best writing advice you have received and what advice would you give student writers?

I honestly can’t think of one piece of advice I’ve received that trumps all others. I’ve had some great mentors from Jane Sutton to Heather Kelly to Anna Staniszewski, and I’ve certainly tried to absorb as much about the craft of writing as I could over the last several years.

As far as advice I can give, it’s: keep writing. Read your stories to your family and friends. And then revise to make them better. Then write more stories. What you write next will be better than what you wrote before.

(Again, it might seem obvious that the more you practice something, the better you’ll get at it, but it’s important to remember this applies to writing as well.)

TMT: What are you reading and loving right now (or recently)? What are some ways what you have read influences your own writing?

Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley and Snoozefest by Samantha Berger are both new favorites.

I think there are two things I really look for when reading picture books.
  1. Have I seen something like it before?
  2. Does it evoke a strong emotional response?

I don’t know any bedtime books that turn a Woodstock-style festival into a nocturnal Snoozefest, so this fits #1. And Boats for Papa literally made me tear up in the middle of a book store (see #2).

If a book can do both 1 & 2, it’s bound to be a classic (at least in my eyes).

For example, The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart & David Small has a historical fiction angle, is written in epistolary format, has wonderful award-winning illustrations, and gives me chills when Uncle Jim sees Lydia Grace’s garden on a wordless spread.

For me, I think I’ve had an easier time with #1. Evoking an emotional response is tough and it’s certainly something I’m still working on. We’ll see what people think about Dear Dragon next year.

TMT: At Teach Mentor Texts, I'm all about promoting literacy and spreading the love of reading and writing books. How would you finish these statements: 
Reading is... and Writing is...

JF: Reading is...the best way to pass the time between waking and sleeping.
Writing is...where all stories are born.

Thank you, Jen, for inviting me. Oh, and tell Peanut that I prefer to eat my sprinkles plain – out of the container with a spoon.

Thank you, Josh! What a fun interview. I never thought about rhyme picking a writer and I might need to figure out how to frame your reading is... and writing is... sentences.