Monday, August 27, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/27/2018

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 started listening to The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and reading Jason Reynold's Miles Morales. I swear, I'm going to stick to these two books and commit to getting through them. We're starting our second full week of school this week and I think I might be getting slowly back into a bit of a routine...we'll see!

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm looking forward to listening to The Sun Is Also a Star and reading Miles Morales. I'm also really hoping to find time to watch To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix...I LOVED the series. Has anyone seen it yet?!?!

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies

Title: Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies
Author: Christian Trimmer
Illustrator: Jessie Sima
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 21st, 2018   
Genre/Format: Fiction/Fairy Tales/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: From Christian Trimmer and bestselling illustrator Jessie Sima comes an adorable and imaginative twist on the tale of Snow White…with lots more ponies!

Sweet Snow Pony is loved by all for her beautiful coat as white as snow and her mane as black as ebony. Children come to her farm from all over just to have her braid their hair and teach them line dancing.

But not everyone loves Snow Pony. Jealous Queenie hatches an evil plan to make Snow Pony run away from the stable by planting a trail of apples into the woods and before long Snow Pony is lost! Full of delicious apples but all alone in the woods, Snow Pony stumbles upon the home of seven miniature ponies. The mini-ponies couldn’t be cuter, especially with Snow Pony’s braids, but they don’t have quite the same moves as the kids back on the farm.


Will her new friends help her find her way home? Or will the evil Queenie get her way?
What I Think: To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of horses BUT this story and the illustrations are really sweet. I like how this is a twist on a fairy tale but also a blend of different fairy tales. At first, I thought it would mimic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves but there's a little Goldilocks and the Three Bears thrown in. 
     As a mentor text, I like looking at different versions of fairy tales and seeing how authors switch things up. I particularly like how Jessie switched the characters and made the people characters into animals and vice versa. Student writers could think about this in their own stories if they wanted to. They could write a twist on a fairy tale or even fan fiction with a similar character swap. 
     I've been working on my next young adult novel and I've spent a lot of time working on character development. I've always paid attention to my characters and who they are but this time around, I've really done a lot of character exercises and it's been fun to get to know my characters more before I start writing. Students would play with character options and think through which choice in characters they'd like to try and write. Below you'll find the first paragraph from the book that can be used as a mentor text as writers think about their own version of the story. What if the main character was a tiger or a penguin or a puffer fish? 
     In thinking about the snatch of text, I also really love how it starts with a description and then the author announces, "Her name was Snow Pony." I like how starting with a description and then naming who the character is gives the information a bit of punch. Something else to try!
Snatch of Text:
"Once upon a time there was a pony who had a coat as white as snow and a mane as black as ebony. (As you can see, the combination was quite spectacular.) Her name was Snow Pony."

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Monday, August 20, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/20/2018

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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:
This week I read the first volume of Paper Girls and I started reading Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. For the last few weeks, every time I sit down to write this post, I realize how scattered my reading life is. It's as bad as my writing life. Life ebbs and flows and my reading life is definitely in an unusual place right now but I did enjoy the reading I did this week. 

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm so excited to read Jason Reynold's Miles Morales and maybe get back to an audiobook this week. I'd also like to read more of Multipliers, it's interesting so far!

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/13/2018

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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 listened to more of The Night Circus and read some of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. Dash and Lily is one of my favorite Christmas books but it's August and I needed something familiar and comforting so I grabbed it off my shelf. 

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm back to school this week! I can't wait to see all the kids again. 
And my own guys will be starting 3rd and 6th grade. Peanut was supposed to read Restart by Gordon Korman this summer but he hasn't gotten very far so I might jump in and help him read it. I also have some comics checked out from the library to read. 

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Drawn Together

Title: Drawn Together
Author: Minh Le
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

With spare, direct text by Minh LĂȘ and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.

What I Think: Relationships with grandparents are special. My own kids adore their grandparents and I loved mine so much. I have memories of working in the garden and mowing the lawn with my grandpa, painting with my grandma, and playing cards with my other grandma. Each of them made me feel important. They showed me how to slow down and take my time and enjoy what I was doing. Drawn Together felt so true to me because my grandmother Mamita spoke Spanish and barely knew English. I learned most of my Spanish from her but there were still so many times when I struggled to express myself accurately to her or failed to understand what she was trying to say to me. Especially her jokes. She loved to recite poetry, sing songs, and tell stories and jokes. Jokes involve complex language which made them so hard to understand. I wish I could have better understood everything she ever said to me...but the reality is that I couldn't. It's hard to explain the heartbreak of this reality but in Drawn Together, Minh Le and Dan Santat bring this feeling to life. 
     While not everyone has the same experience with a language barrier with their grandparent, I wonder if many will still identify with the idea of misunderstanding each other in some way or another. In any relationship, there are so many ways to misunderstand each other. We can feel close and still feel so far away at the same time. 
     As a mentor text, Drawn Together can be used to spark conversations about relationships. It offers an opportunity for students to think about their own relationships and whether they recognize similarities in their own relationships or not. It's also a chance to think about how things like language differences might make growing a relationship difficult and whether there might be ways to overcome this. Student writers can then think about what relationships look like in their own writing and think about how things like language differences might impact the characters or people in their writing. 
     This book relies heavily on the illustrations to tell the story with the text. It's not a wordless picture book but there are several layouts without any text. I love books like this because they make it easy to focus on visual literacy. As a mentor text, readers can think about how they might describe what is happening in the illustrations and how to show this in their writing. It's a powerful way to link reading and writing. 
    Drawn Together is an absolutely beautiful book that everyone needs to read.
Snatch of Text:
"All the things we could never say come pouring out...
...and we build a new world that even words can't describe."

Monday, August 6, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/06/2018

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. 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:
It was another hard week for me. I ended up listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgensten. I've read it before but it's a book I adore and Jim Dale is the narrator and it was what my heart needed this week. Sometimes a good book makes such a difference.

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

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'd like to get back to Dear Martin by Nic Stone that I started on audio and to read more of Being the Change by Sara Ahmed.

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Teachers Write Weekly Check In #4


Hi, friends!

Teachers Write is officially over and I'm really sad. I had big plans for this summer: I was going to draft a novel that I've been thinking about all year. It's currently sitting at 2,601 words which isn't bad but it's not an entire novel by any means. 

If you read my post from last week, you know that my agent closed her agency. It threw me and all of her others clients for a loop. I'm still shaking my head. I've talked to friends and family, gone for runs, cut my hair, gone to the beach, played with my dog...so many things to take care of myself as I get through this. It's been emotional to say the least. 

I've also thought about all I've done since I started writing fiction in 2011. My husband and friends have helped me do that, reminding me that I've written three novels, I've written picture books, I was chosen for Pitch Wars. I've put in a lot of time and I've come a long way and that can never be taken away from me. 

At first, I thought of all I've done and especially all the time I've spent on writing and I felt discouraged. That I've worked so hard and don't have much to show for it other than my stories that I love. And then I flipped my perspective. I've been living the life of a writer for seven years now. I have stories that I love and believe in. I have people who support me and my work. I've learned a lot about myself from writing. I have a lot to be thankful for. 

Sometimes we need someone else to point out what we have done. And kids need this too.

Writing is hard. Sure, it's as easy as moving through the writing process. But the reality is that it's hard. Writing words down, thinking carefully about revisions, asking others to read and give feedback, processing feedback, putting your work out there...it's hard.

When I get caught up in the hard, it's helpful to have another person give me some perspective and remind me of what I've done in spite of feeling overwhelmed with how hard it is.

As we confer with kids, we can give them this perspective too. We can remind them of the work they have done. It can be something small or something big. It can be one thing or a list of things. It will all depend on the student and what they have accomplished recently but I love to recap what I notice in terms of the work they have done and then to ask them, "How do you feel?"


I'm not sure we ask kids enough how they feel about what they have done, writing or otherwise. My dad used to ask me this all the time. If I'd go to him with a complaint or to celebrate something, he'd say, "And how does that make you feel?" Thinking about it now, I see how he was helping me process. He was helping me name my emotions instead of telling me how I should feel. it also reinforced the idea that what mattered most was how I felt about it. As I'm going through the betrayal I've experienced this last week and a half, I keep reminding myself that I believe in myself as a writer and in my stories and that's what matters. I keep reminding myself that I love the stories I've worked on these last seven years and I feel pretty damn good about the work I've done. And that's what matters. 

I got some writing in yesterday and took this picture. Quite frankly, I felt like a hot mess. I pulled all sorts of stuff out of my bag and tried to just do something. I'm overwhelmed and unsure and scattered but I made a list of manageable things and I worked through them. I didn't write words so much as I got organized and did some research and contacted people I needed to connect with and did some brainstorming. There are lots of emotions I've felt this week but after yesterday, I'm happy to say I had some hope. I don't know exactly where I'm going or how fast I'll get there but I'm going to keep writing. Even just deciding that feels really good. 


So this year, when you're conferring with writers, don't forget to point out what you notice about them as a writer and what they have accomplished and to ask them how they feel. Stopping to reflect is important and helps us power on. 

Thanks so much for coming by to check in with me and Teachers Write this summer. I have one more week before heading back to school. I cannot wait to see all the kids! I've missed them so much. I'm looking forward to working with teachers on Writer's Workshop and talking to students about writing. Hopefully you'll take the ideas I've shared here back to your students and remember them for yourselves too!


But before you go...I hope you'll tell me how you're feeling! 

Teachers Write has come to an end. Take some time to stop and reflect! What did you accomplish? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about living the life of a writer? How are you feeling about writing, about yourself as a writer, and about writing with students this year? I can't wait to hear all about it!

Rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
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-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
How do you feel?

Before I go, I'd like to extend a virtual hug to Kate, Gae, Jo and all the other amazing authors, illustrators, and people in the publishing industry who have helped make Teachers Write absolutely amazing. Don't forget to thank them by buying their books and showing them some love. I'll forever carry the Teachers Write community in my heart. xoxo


P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!

Nerdcamp 2019!

Last week I was at Nerdcamp Michigan for the seventh year in a row! I can't believe how much it has grown. It's always amazing to...