Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Secret Coders Reading Without Walls Blog Tour


I'm so thrilled to be part of the Reading Without Walls Blog Tour! I firmly believe in the idea of reading outside of your comfort zone - whether that means a new topic, format, genre, or characters that are not like you. Expanding our horizons, and those of the readers under our care, is the best way to make positive change in the world.

Let's start with format, shall we? One of the goals of this blog tour is to introduce our readers to the cool new graphic novel series Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes. If you aren't yet sold on graphic novels being a fabulous way to spark interest, learn new things, and build critical thinking skills - it's time to take the plunge! (You can learn about some of the reasons I love them in a post I wrote a few years ago....) 

Secret Coders is an introduction to some of the basic concepts of computer programming, tied up in a fun story about a trio of kids at Stately Academy. The first one introduces simple coding, repeat loops, and even binary with the eyes of creepy birds on the campus. The only real downside to the first book is the total cliffhanger! Thankfully, it didn't take long for the next book - Paths and Portals - to appear. In the meantime, kids could take a look at the Secret Coders website to learn more about the characters and the "old school" programming style of this book. http://www.secret-coders.com/

In Paths and Portals - we jump right in where the first left off. Kids may want to do a quick reread of the first one to help them remember exactly what was going on at Stately Academy. (Which, for the record, is another beautiful thing about graphic novels. Kids are generally thrilled to do rereads of old titles, helping them discover new things each time.) Hopper continues to build her coding skills, and invites the reader along for the journey. The narrative frequently pauses to ask the reader "can you do this?". What I love best about that is the fact that Hopper's solution is presented as just "one way" the problem could be solved. 

Who will love these books? My classroom is targeted toward advanced students in grades 2-5. I found that my younger kids (2nd and 3rd graders) were the ones most drawn to the first book in the series. They are kids who love math, science, and coding. With the recent emphasis on computer science with international initiatives like Hour of Code, I think this series will appeal to upper elementary kids who are beginning to dive into the world of coding. 


Extensions
-- Kids love puzzles. Help them learn more about binary and other base systems in math. 
-- Set them up for the courses on the Hour of Code site. There are some that are designed to be a single hour or two, and others that will help them build more sophisticated skills in code. 
-- Who is Hopper named after? Kids will be fascinated to learn more about Grace Hopper! 










As the second part of the Reading Without Walls Tour, we got the chance to dive into one of the MacMillan's STEAM books. I gleefully chose the Sally Ride photobiography, since I'd been eyeing that one for purchase for my classroom this year.


"You Can't Be What You Can't See."

Well - SOMEONE has to be the first - and that someone becomes an inspiration to future generations. I'm currently reading Radioactive!, a book about Irène Curie and Lise Meitner. Meitner's story begins with the description of how Marie Curie's life inspired her to realize that women could have a career in physics. We need to fill the walls and shelves of our classrooms with the stories of the men and women who broke barriers in all fields to help the next generation see themselves everywhere they'd love to be.


I've always loved science and science fiction. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of watching shuttle launches with my parents. Sally Ride was one of my earliest heroes, and I don't know that I fully realized how amazing it was that she was part of the "Thirty-Five New Guys" that trained to be part of the newest NASA missions. Now, having read more about the women who tried to break in earlier, it means even more to me to learn about her life and accomplishments.

I love that Sally Ride followed her dreams - as we want all of our students to do. I also love that she dedicated her post-astronaut years to helping children - with a focus on girls - learn more about science. My goal is to continue her work and make sure all of my students can see faces that look like them in any field they long to join.


Other books about women in science
          


Dreaming of NASA? Learn more about people who work there:
http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/work/employee_thoughts.htm#ARE_LRC








Check out the rest of the tour!

READING WITHOUT WALLS BLOG TOUR 

August 31: Colby at Sharp Read
September 1: Jess at Reading Nook Reviews
September 2: Samantha at Forest of Words and Pages
September 5Jennifer at YA Book Nerd
September 6Maria at Maria's Mélange
September 7Gigi at Late Bloomer's Book Blog
September 8Jen at Starry Eyed Revue
September 9Cheyenne at The Hollow Cupboards
September 12Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings
September 13April at Good Books and Good Wine
September 14Cindy at Charting by the Stars
September 15Erica at The Book Cellar
September 16Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks
September 19: Asheley at Into the Hall of Books
September 20: Daphne at Gone Pecan
September 21Mary Ann at Great Kids Books
September 22: Kathy at The Brain Lair
September 23: Michelle & Leslie at Undeniably (Book) Nerdy
September 26Laurie at Reader Girls
September 27: Margie at Librarian's Quest
September 28Victoria at Art, Books, & Coffee
September 29Cee at The Novel Hermit
September 30: Amanda at Forever Young Adult



** I was provided with copies of both Secret Coders books and the Sally Ride Photobiography for free from the publisher. My thoughts about these titles are entirely my own **



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Confratute Wrap Up - Karen Romano Young talk at the UConn bookstore


IMG_5432.JPG
(Karen Romano Young in conversation with Susannah Richards)
I am continuing to share my experiences from Confratute! The first paragraph is the blurb I wrote for the newsletter. Below that is more detail from the amazing evening at the UConn bookstore.. Huge thanks also to Susannah Richards (@sussingoutbooks on Twitter and Instagram) for organizing this event. 






Karen Romano Young visited Confratute on Monday to share some thoughts on writing for children and young adults. Her career began in teaching, but she realized that it wasn’t right for her very quickly when a few students played a prank in the school bathroom. Instead of being upset by this, Karen was amused by their creative genius. Her next stop was writing nonfiction for Scholastic News. This was perfect, because it allowed her to explore and write about the enormous variety of topics that interested her. Soon, she wanted to write longer work and began to write nonfiction books that mostly focused on science. Next, she branched into novels and using doodling in her writing. Her most recent works include an historical fiction novel called Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider under the pen name E. F. Abbott, Stuck in the Middle (of Middle School) a Novel in Doodles, and her upcoming novel Hundred Percent, which will be on the shelves August 2nd.


*****************************************************************************

Untitled

UntitledHere is some of the other information she shared that night:

About Doodling: 

Karen told us her doodling really got rolling after 9/11. She was struggling with her writing at this time, but needed a form of self-expression to help her reflect and work through the events.

Doodlebug was written in a month (May instead of Nanowrimo). It is a sketchbook with doodling and writing and how they interact in her head. Her more detailed drawings were at places where she wasn't sure what happens next. Karen found that doodling was a strategy for her to help her keep her pen moving so that her ideas kept flowing.





Untitled

Historical Fiction!


Sybil Ludington is part of an historical fiction series by E.F. Abbot - a pen name shared by several authors.

Karen is from the same town as Sybil Ludington, so she was excited to take on this challenge. Her children grew up seeing a statue of Sybil outside of their library. She told us about the fact that Sybil's story was kept quiet for 100 years. Karen took the bare bones of what facts we knew and discarded the things we know to be myths through tons of research, and then fashioned a story around those facts. She rode the path Sybil rode as she worked on the story. (But not on a horse!)

The Abbots are a bit of a club, and they hang out on social media. Karen told us that she would love to do another book. Learning about history through story and art brought it to life for her, and she hopes to do the same for her readers.


Science Books!

When was Karen captured by science? It definitely wasn't in school! It wasn't until 6th grade that she first had science in school, and she realized how "far behind" she was. As she was growing up, she lived in a natural area and spent time at the marsh all year and the beach all summer. Her grandfather was a doctor and loved science. He talked to her about anything and everything, and never talked down to her. These real world experiences shaped her scientific understanding. She had to talk school teachers into letting her into high level classes all along the way. She had confidence in her science knowledge and love. It was one of her 5 majors in college!

At Scholastic News she had to cover all kinds of topics. She realized the most interesting people to talk to were scientists. They were geeking out, and she loved them. When she starting writing books, she began with science. She got to go out on to sea and in the Alvin submersible. 

Learn more about her projects at sea!

Karen uses art and comics to try to bring kids into science. "I can bring you 12 year olds - can you do that?" There are great examples of her Humanimal Doodles on her site as well. 

Karen has also written science fair experiment books. She talked to scientists about what they are doing and then built science projects to get kids excited about those topics. In the Try This! book, she had kids really doing the science experiments as they were modeling for the photos. She said it was like running her own mini science camp! There is another Try This! in the works.


Upcoming Title - Hundred Percent

Untitled
We got to hear an excerpt from her upcoming novel - Hundred Percent.

It is about being 12 years old. Many of the ideas came from real life. She drew on her student teaching, her life, and her own kids. Everyone was really awkward at this age. Karen tries to show how the events impact each of the kids. She started developing it as a short story set, and then it came together into one full story. She talked about using the "backpacks and bedrooms" strategy to help her understand and round out each character.

And - of course, we got books signed at the end of our evening! I snagged several of her titles at the bookstore and was thrilled to win an ARC of Hundred Percent. Be sure to learn more about Karen at her website - http://www.karenromanoyoung.com/


Untitled Untitled

Confratute Wrap Up - Karen Romano Young talk at the UConn bookstore


IMG_5432.JPG
(Karen Romano Young in conversation with Susannah Richards)
I am continuing to share my experiences from Confratute! The first paragraph is the blurb I wrote for the newsletter. Below that is more detail from the amazing evening at the UConn bookstore.. Huge thanks also to Susannah Richards (@sussingoutbooks on Twitter and Instagram) for organizing this event. 






Karen Romano Young visited Confratute on Monday to share some thoughts on writing for children and young adults. Her career began in teaching, but she realized that it wasn’t right for her very quickly when a few students played a prank in the school bathroom. Instead of being upset by this, Karen was amused by their creative genius. Her next stop was writing nonfiction for Scholastic News. This was perfect, because it allowed her to explore and write about the enormous variety of topics that interested her. Soon, she wanted to write longer work and began to write nonfiction books that mostly focused on science. Next, she branched into novels and using doodling in her writing. Her most recent works include an historical fiction novel called Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider under the pen name E. F. Abbott, Stuck in the Middle (of Middle School) a Novel in Doodles, and her upcoming novel Hundred Percent, which will be on the shelves August 2nd.


*****************************************************************************

Untitled

UntitledHere is some of the other information she shared that night:

About Doodling: 

Karen told us her doodling really got rolling after 9/11. She was struggling with her writing at this time, but needed a form of self-expression to help her reflect and work through the events.

Doodlebug was written in a month (May instead of Nanowrimo). It is a sketchbook with doodling and writing and how they interact in her head. Her more detailed drawings were at places where she wasn't sure what happens next. Karen found that doodling was a strategy for her to help her keep her pen moving so that her ideas kept flowing.





Untitled

Historical Fiction!


Sybil Ludington is part of an historical fiction series by E.F. Abbot - a pen name shared by several authors.

Karen is from the same town as Sybil Ludington, so she was excited to take on this challenge. Her children grew up seeing a statue of Sybil outside of their library. She told us about the fact that Sybil's story was kept quiet for 100 years. Karen took the bare bones of what facts we knew and discarded the things we know to be myths through tons of research, and then fashioned a story around those facts. She rode the path Sybil rode as she worked on the story. (But not on a horse!)

The Abbots are a bit of a club, and they hang out on social media. Karen told us that she would love to do another book. Learning about history through story and art brought it to life for her, and she hopes to do the same for her readers.


Science Books!

When was Karen captured by science? It definitely wasn't in school! It wasn't until 6th grade that she first had science in school, and she realized how "far behind" she was. As she was growing up, she lived in a natural area and spent time at the marsh all year and the beach all summer. Her grandfather was a doctor and loved science. He talked to her about anything and everything, and never talked down to her. These real world experiences shaped her scientific understanding. She had to talk school teachers into letting her into high level classes all along the way. She had confidence in her science knowledge and love. It was one of her 5 majors in college!

At Scholastic News she had to cover all kinds of topics. She realized the most interesting people to talk to were scientists. They were geeking out, and she loved them. When she starting writing books, she began with science. She got to go out on to sea and in the Alvin submersible. 

Learn more about her projects at sea!

Karen uses art and comics to try to bring kids into science. "I can bring you 12 year olds - can you do that?" There are great examples of her Humanimal Doodles on her site as well. 

Karen has also written science fair experiment books. She talked to scientists about what they are doing and then built science projects to get kids excited about those topics. In the Try This! book, she had kids really doing the science experiments as they were modeling for the photos. She said it was like running her own mini science camp! There is another Try This! in the works.


Upcoming Title - Hundred Percent

Untitled
We got to hear an excerpt from her upcoming novel - Hundred Percent.

It is about being 12 years old. Many of the ideas came from real life. She drew on her student teaching, her life, and her own kids. Everyone was really awkward at this age. Karen tries to show how the events impact each of the kids. She started developing it as a short story set, and then it came together into one full story. She talked about using the "backpacks and bedrooms" strategy to help her understand and round out each character.









And - of course, we got books signed at the end of our evening! I snagged several of her titles at the bookstore and was thrilled to win an ARC of Hundred Percent. Be sure to learn more about Karen at her website - http://www.karenromanoyoung.com/

Untitled Untitled

Monday, July 18, 2016

Confratute Keynote - Rachel McAnallen aka Ms. Math



(I wrote up summaries of the keynotes at Confratute 2016 for the daily newsletter. I'll be posting those summaries with more information about each presenter here on my blog. Confratute is a yearly, week long conference for educators interested in enrichment learning. Want more information? Visit http://confratute.uconn.edu/)


Untitled
Photo by Maria Selke - 2016
“I Won’t Mess With Your Comma If You Don’t Mess With My Decimal Point”

Rachel McAnallen’s passion for math has been a lifelong endeavor. When she decided to pursue a graduate degree in math education, she didn’t let anything stop her. She went back to grad school at 70! Rachel works with students and teachers all over the world as she seeks to improve mathematical understanding and teaching practices.

Rachel’s goal tonight was to help us understand how current instructional practices have caused many of the problems students have today. Most of these problems are tied into the fact that we don’t respect place value in numbers. Understanding and teaching how place value impacts every aspect of math is key to recreating our instructional strategies so students truly understand what numbers mean.

One key thing we do is incorrectly is move the decimal point all over the place. Rachel demonstrated this problem using the division problem 148 divided by 4. We all learned to start with “four doesn’t go into one”. That’s not one - it’s one hundred! We just moved the decimal point and disrespected the place value of the number. So then we say “How many times does four go into fourteen?” We moved the decimal again! It’s no wonder that kids are perplexed by those inconsistencies.

Another problem is teaching counterintuitive ways to add and subtract when we start addition on the right and when we regroup in subtraction. This isn’t how we count money or make change! It also leads to more misnaming of numbers and misunderstanding of place value.

We confuse children even more when we say things like “you can’t divide one by four” and “you can’t subtract a big number from a small one” and then a year or two later wonder why they scratch their heads over fractions and negative numbers.

Rachel suggested several things we can do that will help students gain deeper understanding of place value and mathematical processes. We need to show kids how to break numbers apart so they respect the decimal. We can model renaming those numbers in different ways. Challenge students to find their own ways to show a problem. You’ll be amazed at what they discover.

We also need to always provide context for our numbers. Numbers are adjectives and should always be connected nouns. Don’t give kids naked worksheets; always build the context. Understanding real world applications will help inform the way we teach addition and subtraction as well. Teaching that we can add cows plus cows, but not cows plus houses will help them later in algebra. 

Rachel reminded us to commit to several key changes tonight. Let’s stop giving naked worksheets. Let’s be sure our number lines in every classroom includes negative numbers. This is a concept that all children can understand. Let’s keep asking “did anyone do it a different way?”. After all, “Arithmetic is answering the question - mathematics is questioning the answer.” Most importantly, let’s promise to call numbers by their correct place value names. Let’s take what we’ve learned back to our students and create a generation of mathematicians, not calculators.


Visit her website for great math resources and information 

Learn more about Rachel!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ms. Bixby's Last Day - Teacher Appreciation Blog Tour




Ms. Bixby's Last Day is about an unforgettable teacher. The kind of teacher who inspires, excites, and enthralls. So when the publisher asked me to join the blog tour and said that our focus will be on celebrating OUR "Ms. Bixby", I knew I had to join in. More information about the book and author are below!

(I also love this author, and participated in the blog tour for The Dungeoneers, did a quick Q&A with questions from my son when he used Anderson as his author study author, participated in the blog tour and reviewed Sidekicked, and joined the Minion blog tour.) 

My school career was filled with enough loving, memorable, inspiring teachers that I had trouble choosing just one. Even this set of names doesn't include the many, many teachers who kept me learning and helped me mature and grow.


Younger Years:
Mr. Bateman - Fifth Grade
My reading choices in elementary school were a bit less than traditional. We had to read and do book reports on a regular basis, and Mr. Bateman was always flexible and encouraging. Maybe the other kids weren't super interested in hearing my presentations on C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, but he never minded. When I decided it was time to read Moby Dick - and it took me significantly longer to get through the book than our book report schedule required - he gave me the extensions I needed to reach my goal.

Believe it or not - this energetic man is still teaching elementary school. He's been there since 1980! I recently saw photos of him on the extended beach trip with his current 5th grade class. That's serious dedication.

(I started at this elementary school in second grade. I'd like to also give huge thanks to my other teachers - Mr. MacDonald who managed to handle a very emotionally intense 2nd grader without losing his mind, Miss Sink who helped me learn about butterflies, and Miss Wressler who doodled fun creatures on all of our purple mimeographed worksheets and invited her whole fourth grade class to her wedding.)


Upper Grades:
"Doc Rock" - Dr. Roberts
A man of science and a man of faith. Dr. Roberts taught earth science, physics, and several theology classes. He could read and write Hebrew, Greek, and several other languages. One of my major regrets of my high school years is that I never was able to make the time to learn Greek with him. Doc took us on geology field trips that were amazing. I still have a large bin of rocks, minerals, and fossils I found on those trips.

Here's my favorite set of memories of Doc Rock. I first met him when I was touring the school before second grade. I was convinced this wasn't the school for me before I even arrived, but I was also a pretty big rock hound. When I walked into his classroom in the high school, I was enthralled. Then he pulled me aside and handed me a special treasure - a fluorite octahedron. Sold. This was the school for me. Time went by, and I lost my crystal (but never my love of rocks!). In ninth grade, I told him how much that day meant to me, and how it helped me decide that this would be the right school for me. He reached into his stash of minerals and handed me another fluorite octahedron.

Mr. Leach
Jamie Leach was a fairly new teacher when our class descended upon him. (I think it was his second year at the school). His enthusiasm for chemistry AND for us was contagious. He was also a dedicated youth leader who never minded setting time aside to talk to his students about life. His class was where I met my husband, who was a year older and helped run our chemistry labs. Jamie's daughter ended up walking down the aisle as my flower girl.


Fraulein McDonald (now Dr. MacDonald)
It may be telling that I chose "Gabrielle" as my German name when I started in her class because I thought the nickname "Gabby" would be appropriate. That never mattered to this amazing teacher.

Dr. MacDonald was a wonderful language teacher (and still is working at my alma mater - she started in 1981). More importantly, she felt that exposure to other cultures was a vital part of our education. She orchestrated an exchange program, and I had a German "sister" come live with me for six weeks before I went and lived at her house for another six. She also took 10th and 11th graders to tour Germany and Austria each summer. We were good kids, but I'm sure we tried her patience on more than a few occasions. While I no longer speak German, her willingness to help me spread my wings and take those risks had a huge impact on my life.


MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY


ISBN: 9780062338174



(Book summary from publisher) 

John David Anderson, author of Sidekicked and The Dungeoneers, returns with a funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking contemporary story about three boys, one teacher, and a day none of them will ever forget.



Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.



Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.





John David Anderson

Links:
http://www.johndavidanderson.org/
https://twitter.com/anderson_author
https://www.facebook.com/JohnDavidAndersonAuthor/

Author Bio:
John David Anderson is the author of many books for young readers, including Sidekicked and The
Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.








MS BIXBYS LAST DAY  BLOG TOUR
6/2/2016     Nerdy Book Club
6/3/2016     Next Best Book
6/6/2016     Walden Media Tumblr
6/7/2016     Teach Mentor Texts
6/8/2016     This Kid Reviews Books
6/9/2016     Read, Write, Reflect
6/10/2016   Flashlight Reader
6/13/2016   Julie Falatko
6/15/2016   About to Mock
6/16/2016   Kid Lit Frenzy
6/16/2016   The Hiding Spot
6/17/2016   Unleashing Readers
6/20/2016   Ms. Yingling Reads         Novel Novice
6/21/2016   Maria's Melange              Novel Novice         All the Wonders
6/22/2016   Lit Coach Lou                  Novel Novice
6/23/2016   Novel Novice
6/27/2016   Librarian's Quest
6/29/2016   Bluestocking Thinking
6/30/2016   Mindjacked
7/1/2016     All the Wonders



(I received an advance copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mechanical Mind of John Coggin Blog Tour

Illustrations by Ben Whitehouse.

Welcome, my bookish friends! Today I have a real treat for you. This title looks like so much fun - and I'll be diving into it myself shortly. It disappeared from my stack and I just rediscovered it in my son's pile. Read on for a description of the book and then a fabulous Q&A with the title character - written by Elinor Teele.

For even more excitement - head to the bottom of the post to learn how you could win a signed copy (generously sent to you by the publisher).

The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin

by Elinor Teele
Hardcover, 352 pages
Pub Date: April 12th 2016 by Walden Pond Press
ISBN 0062345109 (ISBN13: 9780062345103)

Book Description:
Roald Dahl meets The Penderwicks in this quirky, humorous, whimsical, and heartwarming middle grade debut about two siblings who run away from home to escape working in the family coffin business.

John Coggin is no ordinary boy. He is devising an invention that nobody has ever seen before, something that just might change the world, or at least make life a little bit better for him and his little sister, Page. But that’s only when he can sneak a break from his loathsome job—building coffins for the family business under the beady gaze of his cruel Great-Aunt Beauregard.

When Great-Aunt Beauregard informs John that she’s going to make him a permanent partner in Coggin Family Coffins—and train Page to be an undertaker—John and Page hit the road. Before long, they’ve fallen in with a host of colorful characters, all of whom, like John and Page, are in search of a place they can call home. But home isn’t something you find so much as something you fight for, and John soon realizes that he and Page are in for the fight of their lives.


An Interview with John Coggin


John Coggin is an 11-year-old boy, somewhat undersized, with a grave and quiet demeanor. Although John spent much of his youth working for “Coggin Family Coffins,” in recent months he has started to explore the world beyond. I spoke to him while he was working on a strange vehicle that he said was based – and this is an exact quote – on an Autopsy. 

Q. That’s an interesting project you’ve got there. 

A. It’s steam-powered. 

Q. What’s wrong with it? 

A. It runs okay at the moment, but I think the boiler metal is too thin – I don’t want it to explode in the middle of the street. And I’m having trouble with the flow of steam into the cylinder with the pistons. I may have a small leak in a feedpipe join.

Q. You sound like you know what you’re doing. Did you learn about engineering in school? 

A. No, I didn’t go to school – I was making coffins. But I did a lot of reading when I could. Most of the time I figure things out by trial and error.   

Q. Tell me about making coffins. 

A. It’s awful. 

Q. Is that all you want to say about it? 

A. I guess it taught me discipline. It would be really hard to make mechanical monsters if I didn’t know how to drill a hole or measure twice and cut once. But I never got to use my imagination. Kids should be able to use their imaginations.  

Q. What else – besides imagination and discipline – does an engineer need to have? 

A. Excuse me, but if you stand where you’re standing you’re going to get blasted in the face with boiling hot steam. 

Q. Oh, I see. Yes. I’ll move. So what else…?  

A. Patience, because you’re going to screw stuff up – a lot. I think I rebuilt that engine four times before I got it to run. And being stubborn and brave. You’ve got to be brave because most people are going to tell you’re nuts. And help. You’ll always need help. 

Q. What do you mean by help? 

A. Like my little sister Page. She’s always ready to hold the soldering iron. And Colonel Joe. He’s the one who gave me the loan to buy the parts for the steam engine. And Miss Doyle. She taught me about coming at a problem sideways. You can’t build anything in this world without a family and friends. 

Q. What about your redheaded friend, Boz? How does he help?  

A. Boz tends to blow things up.

Q. Yes, but when he’s not blowing things up? 

A. Um, I guess… I think… maybe Boz is a catalyst!  

Q. I’m not sure if I… 

A. That’s it! I knew there was a scientific word for him. A catalyst causes and accelerates reactions. That’s what Boz does – he gets me excited about a project.

Q. Isn’t a catalyst dangerous? 

Sure. He uses gasoline when he shouldn’t and steals fire trucks to take them for joy rides and complains about dog hair and sewage, but he’s Boz. At least he’s not boring.     

Q. I heard he was cursed with the gift of gab. 

A. Maybe?

Q. I meant he uses strange words and talks too much.  

A. That’s true. Nobody understands what Boz is saying. 

Q. Doesn’t that bother you? 

A. Not really. I like having him around.

Q. Well, thank you for your time, John. I’d leave you to work on your project. 

A. Come back in a few months. I’m thinking about making it fly.  


Find Elinor Teele at her website.


There's even an Educational Activity Kit based on the book for use in the classroom or library!

Check out all the stops on the blog tour...

April 11 - Bluestocking Thinking
April 12 - Novel Novice
April 13 – This Kid Reviews Books
April 14 - Maria's Melange
April 15 - Unleashing Readers
April 18 - Next Best Book
April 19 - Foodie Bibliophile
April 20 - For Those About to Mock
April 21 - Walden Media Tumblr
April 22 - Charlotte's Library
April 25 – Flashlight Reader
April 26 - Teach Mentor Texts
April 27 - Librarian's Quest
April 28 - Kid Lit Frenzy
April 29 - Novel Novice


Disclaimers: Content provided by the publisher. I received a review copy of the novel. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Battle of the Books - 2016



The third annual Battle of the Books has begun! I forgot to put up the full list of 32 books earlier this year. (I know, I've been an awful blogger). Here is the entire list, split into four divisions.

Just after winter break, we had our students nominate up to 5 favorite books. I took that list and whittled it down to what you see below. Any surprises?

The students have already voted in the first set of brackets, and we are down to 16 books. More on that in the next post.




 
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