Showing posts from January, 2014

The Gettysburg Address Graphic Novel Review

Gettysburg Address - and so much more! While a graphic novel isn't technically a picture book, I'm going to toss this review into the NFPB review ring. Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy every Wednesday for reviews of new nonfiction picture books and links other blogs that post reviews each week! The Gettysburg Address:  A Graphic Adaptation by Aaron McConnell (Art), Jonathan Hennessey , Tom Orzechowski (Lettering) Paperback, 224 pages Published June 25th 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2012) ISBN 0061969761 (ISBN13: 9780061969768) Source: My local library Recommended TO me on twitter by @jtabrys From Goodreads: A fully illustrated graphic adaptation that offers a new look at the Gettysburg Address, the bloody battle that prompted it, and the Civil War Most of us can recall "Four score and seven years ago," but much of what we know about this historic speech, and what it has to say about the Civil War itsel

Interview with Rachel Searles- author of The Lost Planet

The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles (Goodreads Author) Hardcover, 384 pages Publication: January 28th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends ISBN 1250038790 (ISBN13: 9781250038791) Source: ARC from the publisher for my honest thoughts From Goodreads: This is what the boy is told: • He woke up on planet Trucon, inside a fence he shouldn't have been able to pass. • He has an annirad blaster wound to the back of his head. • He has no memory. • He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor. • His name is Chase Garrety. This is what Chase Garrety knows: • He has a message: "Guide the star." • Time is running out. I got the chance to read the book and then ask Rachel some burning questions. It sounds like she's the kind of author I'd love to hang out with and watch a science fiction marathon! My thoughts about the book itself are below the interview.  Maria:      I love the fact that you talk about Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galatic

Top Ten Bookish Treats

(This post ran on the Nerdy Book Club site on January 25th. I do love being a guest blogger with my tribe!)  It is a fact universally acknowledged that a Nerdy Book Club member in possession of a good book must be in want of nothing. Wait… did we mention that there would be treats? Everything is better if you add in a treat. Let’s update that old saying even more and say that a Nerdy Book Club member in possession of a good book still requires some themed treats to nibble while they read. 1)  Bake Sale by Sara Varon - Raspberry Squares Who can resist a graphic novel as sweet at this? Cupcake runs his own bakery, and he’s looking for just the right recipe. Readers young and old will appreciate the story, and making the treats shown in the back is a great family activity. My sons and I loved making the raspberry squares. Eating them was even better! Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater- November Cakes Are you looking for something a little more … intense? After dev

It's Monday January 20th

It's been a busy week... lots of reading to get ready for my Cybils Judging responsibilities. I'm also steadily plugging away at my #MustReadin2014 list. Don't forget to visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to find other posts about wonderful reads. I added a few books to that list, since I decided having three per month is a reasonable number. So my MustRead is now at 36 . I've updated my MustRead post to show the additions. MUST READ in 2014 Since the challenge is similar, I'm also throwing my hat in the ring for the Check Off Your Reading List Challenge , hosted by Gathering Books. I'll be going for level 3 - which is 25 or more books. Since my last update, I've finished FOUR more books on my Must Read in 2014 / CORL list. Listening to Neil read his own books is worth almost any price. I adored this story, too. Childhood memories aren't always what we think... magical realism at its best. Marketed for adults, but the

Sci Friday Spacey Picture Book Bonanza

Welcome back to Sci Friday - a celebration of one of my absolute favorite genres. Science fiction is the perfect way to build a love of science and spark the curiosity that makes humanity constantly move toward the next horizon. Today I'll share three picture books. Filled with adorable animals, goofy humor, and space travel, these are books you can use to get even young readers interested in the genre. For the Littlest SciFans and Fans-to-be  Sheep Blast Off! (Sheep) by Nancy E. Shaw , Margot Apple (illustrator) Hardcover, 32 pages Published June 2nd 2008 by HMH Books for Young Readers ISBN 061813168X (ISBN13: 9780618131686) Source: My local library From Goodreads: When a mysterious spacecraft lands in a nearby pasture, the lovable, blundering sheep get in gear for the ride of their lives! Unfortunately, these sheep don’t know the first thing about piloting a spaceship . . . but there may be someone else on board who does! My thoughts : There are adora

A New Sherlock Fan Emerges

Image It was early January, and I started to watch Sherlock on Netflix to get me through my elliptical routine. I enjoyed it… but something intervened. (That something was a big blue box called the TARDIS. Six months and seven series later, I was more than an official Whovian. I was a fanatic fan.)  Still… somethi ng about Sherlock Holmes beckoned to me. I love the idea of Sherlock. I love his lack of interpersonal skills and his overwhelming hubris. I adore how he notices… everything. I love how his connection with Watson has been depicted over the years. Since I started my school year reading mysteries with my students, I took the time to reread Hound of Baskerville and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for myself. I even attempted to have my fifth graders read one of the short stories that were most appropriate for that age (though only a few of my students went on to read more themselves… since they are pretty tricky). So when Karen announce

Papa is a Poet - NFPB

Nonfiction picture books are simply amazing! Alyson at KidLitFrenzy features nonfiction picture books every Wednesday. As often as I can, I will be joining in by reviewing some of the new (or old) gems I've discovered this year. Using nonfiction (and fiction) picture books in the classroom is a great way to introduce or reinforce topics. I've used them to tie into Civil Rights units, discuss science concepts, and introduce touchy topics for discussion with older students. Don't ever think your class is "too old" for a picture book! Papa Is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost by Natalie S. Bober , Rebecca Gibbon (Illustrations) Hardcover, 40 pages Published October 15th 2013  by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) ISBN 0805094075 (ISBN13: 9780805094077) (blurb from Goodreads ) When Robert Frost was a child, his family thought he would grow up to be a baseball player. Instead, he became a poet. His life on a farm in New Hampshire inspired him to w

One Little Word... or theme?

I've been pondering what I want to adopt as my "one little word" for 2014. Honestly, I'm terrible at remaining focused on one thing for all that long. I just had to search back on my own blog to figure out what LAST year's word was. Since last year was "Create" (I had to look it up), I can happily report that I did a decent job. I wrote a ton of posts, and even worked with a friend to create a Doctor Who Week! This year, I think I need to remind myself to slow down. I try to do everything - quickly - and tend to skim over instead of dive deep. I get frantic, and that exhausts me. It affects my students, too. I rush, rush, rush to cover as much as I can. Since my job is to help my students reach higher, and dig deeper, I can afford to stop and linger a while on things that would benefit from more time. So - my "word" is more of a theme this year. Breathe... slow down... enjoy each moment instead of always looking for the next thing to

It's Monday January 6th

A new year has begun - new goals have been chosen.  So far, I'm keeping my 300 book goal for Goodreads. I may bump it down a bit. I don't want to read frantically - and I did get rather frantic toward the end of last year. I want to relish my choices. The best part of my goal was that it encouraged me to read more picture books. That was a benefit to my students, as I incorporated a lot of new picture books into our lessons along the way. So... maybe I'll keep it at 300? Don't forget to visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for other great weekly wrap up posts.  My first  Can't believe it took me so long to read this fabulous middle grade mystery. We'll be Skyping with Kristen later this month. Bought for Younger. It was fun.. kids will love the yuck factor. Wow! This fantasy was really great! So glad I carved out the time for Jinx. A gift from my students at school. They know me well! It's been a hopping week on my blo

Exemplary is a Tricky Concept - GN Edition

Image As part of my "unboring 2013" challenge, I decided to toss my hat into the ring to be a judge for the Cybils awards. When I found out that I had been selected as a second round judge for graphic novels, I was excited - and a bit worried. Find the full list of 2013 finalists here ! Now the time has come. The finalists have been selected. My library bag is full. I've already read many of them (especially in the middle grade category), and my young adult nominee actually made the cut! Before I dive into the pile and read (or reread) the finalists, I wanted to spend some time considering my criteria for what makes an Exemplary comic or graphic novel. It's easy to tell you if I enjoyed one. It's even easier to tell you what my students will enjoy. But the responsibility of choosing ONE of the list of finalists as "the best" hangs heavy on my shoulders. Here are my current thoughts - though I reserve the right to add to

Must Read in 2014 - The Challenge Begins

Admit it - you have a stack of books somewhere that you've meant to read for AGES. You bought more books than you could read last year (and the year before that), or your ARC "eyes were bigger than your stomach". Friends buy you books. Students tell you that you just must read their latest favorites. My "to be read" shelf on Goodreads was out of control. I had almost 400 books I'd added over the years, and I couldn't even remember why they were all on the list. After a bit of pruning, I got the list down under 200. Still, I am constantly frustrated by the ones I keep meaning to read and forgetting. After a bit of chatting on Twitter (of course), Carrie and I started using a hashtag. Others jumped in with their own thoughts on what they planned to read. Thus, a new challenge began. Carrie at There's a Book for That made her must read list . More and more tweeps made their own lists. It feels like it took me forever, but I finally whittle

Battle of the Books 2014 - The Contenders

Several coworkers had a marvelous brainstorm last year in mid March - we decided to create our our March Madness for our students with books. It was well received, and certainly got our kids even more excited about books. My colleague had this brilliant brainstorm just as March Madness was about to begin, so we didn't have a lot of lead in time. We had about a week between idea and battles. We got 4 of our 10 elementary schools involved. This year, we decided to start earlier. We wanted to give our students the chance to read some of the books they hadn't yet read, and to do some persuasive work with their favorites. So shortly before winter break we set up a google drive form for them to nominate books. This year, we got all 10 of our elementary schools involved, since we had more time to talk it up with the other teachers. It is just the gifted students in 4th and 5th grade, since trying to do full school involvement would be .... well... darn near impossible. The rules