Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Social Experiments of Dorie Dilts: Dumped by Popular Demand by P.G. Kain Lexile 880

This is the second book we have reviewed by P. G. Kain.  I like how P.G. incorporates the perfect amount of tweenage/teenage drama, discovery and positive life skills into his books.

Reviewed by tween Taylor R.:
Summary from the book cover:
Dorie Dilts has just moved from California to New Jersey.  For most kids this would be horrendous, but for Dorie it's the chance to conduct the most important research of her young life.  She is determined to pour all of her scientific knowledge into an experiment that will, once and for all, make her popular!
Dorie's first discovery is easy enough.  She determines that the Holly Trinity-led by class president Holly McAdams-is the hottest clique.  The one thing the three girls have in common?  They all dated and got dumped by Grant Bradish, the cutest and most obnoxious boy in school.  Getting dumped is one thing, but even IF Dorie finds a way to get Grant to go out with her, will she want to date a total jerk? 

To give you a little Dorie Dilts flavor, here is the first paragraph of chapter 1:
I firmly believe that one day the world will understand the unspoken cruelty of alphabetized seating charts.  In Spanish class I sat next to Amanda Donohue (my last name is Dilts) for an entire year.  Amanda was one of the most popular girls at Rancho Viejo Middle School.  Each year her birthday was practically a national holiday.  Her locker was decorated with such ferocious planning that Martha Stewart would have felt inept.  At lunch the entire cafeteria serenaded her with a jazzy version of "Happy Birthday."  Now, when I say the entire cafeteria, I mean the ENTIRE CAFETERIA.  My God, the lunch ladies in hairnets probably sang the loudest.  But Amanda wasn't the only girl who got the red  carpet for her birthday.  Julie Tavner and Annie Dowd were treated the same way on their birthdays.  As a point of comparison, the only person outside of my family who acknowledged my birthday was my orthodontist, who routinely sent me a Snoopy card with his best wishes and a not-so-subtle reminder to schedule a checkup.
Taylor's question cards were different than the cards Tara and Trent use.  They choose from Richard Peck's questions to discuss a book.  Taylor was given story structure cards to use when responding to her story and she did an AMAZING JOB with them!                                      
List the most important series of events from your book.
Dorie listed her objectives to be popular in a lab report format with her objectives, methods and conclusions.  It was an interesting way to show that she was a smart girl very interested in Science with a wonderful perspective on life.  
  1. Dorie made her first moves to be popular.
  2. She wanted to be popular so she looked for her "target audience."
  3.  Dorie found her research and put her plan into action.
  4. Holly and her popular friends were made contact with.   
  5.  Grant came into Dories's life.  They started "hanging around" each other.  Grant had previously dated and dumped the popular girl group including Holly.
  6. Dorie made friends with Dixie or Dix, a guy she has a lot in common with and enjoyed spending time with. 
  7. Dorie's plan to make friends with the "cool girls," date Grant and get dumped by him to fit in backfired as Dorie and Grant had a fight about the "cool girls" being just "mean girls." Dorie realized that she liked Grant for Grant and didn't want to be dumped like the other girls.  Grant found her written plan for fitting in...
  8. Dorie discovered WHY Grant acted the way he did in school.
  9. Dorie stood up to the Holly Trinity at the dance-ROCK ON!
  10. At the dance, Dorie realized that she has found a true friend in Dix.  *Awesome!*
  11. Dorie and Grant had a very cool episode at Grant's brother's wedding which you will have to read the story to find out about.  *HEA!*
Name three facts, goals or truths that you discovered from reading this book.
  1. Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin.
  2. Don't give up something you love.
  3. ALWAYS hang around the ones you know you can trust and who you love.
List any cause and effects in this book.
Cause:  Dorie wanted to be popular.  Effect:  She did not turn out popular like the Holly Trinity.
Cause:  Dorie met Grant.  Effect:  She found out she liked him.
Cause:  Dorie met Dix.  Effect:  They made great friends.
Cause:  Be yourself.  Effect:  Everything works out the way it is supposed to.
Theresa's Thoughts:  This book was wonderful and a perfect tween read.  The science quotes at the beginning of the chapters were a nice touch.  I enjoyed the science vocabulary incorporated into the book and the theme of "BE YOURSELF!"

                                                                        P.G. Kain's website is:  Check it out!

If you would like to order a copy of this book, simply click the title.  Thank you! The Social Experiments of Dorie Dilts: Dumped by Popular Demand 

Release Date: 2007
Age Range: 9 and up
ISBN:  978-1416935193
Genre:  Fiction
Topic:  Growing, Friendship, Popularity, Fitting in, Being yourself

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stork by Wendy Delsol Lexile 830

Book Jacket Summary:

Moving from LA to nowhere Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Katla Leblanc expected the local fashion scene to be frozen in time.  What she didn't expect was induction into the Icelandic Stork Society, an ancient order of women charged with a unique mystical duty.  Not only is Katla the youngest member, but Hulda, the society's omen-guided leader, immediately bestows the coveted Second Chair on her-a decision that ruffles a few feathers.
As if that weren't enough, Katla also has to deal with her parents' divorce and the social aftermath of a bad date with popular but creepy Wade.  Katla, however, isn't one to sit on her designer-jean-clad behind, and soon she's assigned the fashion column for the school paper and making new friends. 
Things would be looking up if it weren't for editor in chief Jack.  Even though they argue every time they meet, Katla is inexplicably drawn to him.  Juggling her home life, school and Stork duties, will Katla be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Jack?  More importantly, will she find a dress in time for Homecoming?   
Theresa's Thoughts:
The cover of this book was so beautiful, it compelled me to read it. This is the first book in a series centering around Katla Leblanc. Stork is mostly a fictional story with a unique magical twist that adds just the right touch of fantasy.  The Scandinavian folklore interwoven with this book was fresh and interesting.  The Scandinavian words were a little tongue-twistery, which I enjoyed.  Katla's induction into the Icelandic Stork Society with a bunch of old, slightly crazy ladies occurred in the beginning of the story.  I thought it was quirky and fun.  The folklore was very engaging for me throughout my reading of Stork.

Stork followed Katla's experience of moving to a new High School (Norse Falls High School in Minnesota), mistakes that she made resulting in being embarrassed in front of everyone the first day of school at lunch and how she made a solid peer group, a nice boyfriend and dealt with the villain of this story, Wade.  In the middle of this process, Katla learned how to use her new ability as the second-in-command of the Icelandic Stork Society.  The abilities of Stork members were slowly revealed throughout the story.  I especially delighted in reading about the birds which I have to be vague about because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Katla's emotional reaction and healing process regarding her parents' divorce was true to life as well as her response to her Mom moving on and finding a solid relationship with a new person.  Katla's teen hopes, dreams and worries were, again, realistic and identifiable for most teenage girls.  I enjoyed reading the developing friendship/love interest with Jake.  It demonstrated a relationship where two people slowly learned about each other.

That said, both Wade and Jake had secrets of their own that would be revealed to Katla.  I found both secrets entertaining and surprising.  The heart-stopping action at the end of the story with Wade's Homecoming party was superbly written and had me hooked until the last words.  In fact, I have Frost, the second book in this series, in front of me right now so I can find out what happens next.  

This was a very well-written story! I recommend it for teens.
To order a copy of this book through, please click the title.  Stork (Stork Trilogy) 
Release Date: 2010
Age Rage:  12 and up
ISBN:  978-0763648442
Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy
Topic:  Moving, High School, Friends, Relationships, Finding your niche

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Glass Cafe or the Stripper and the State; How my Mother Started a War with the System That Made us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous by Gary Paulsen Lexile 1500

Book Jacket Summary:

Tony's mom, Al, is a terrific single mother who works as a dancer at the Kitty Kat Club.  Twelve-year-old Tony is a budding artist inspired by backstage life at the club.  When some of his drawings end up in an art show and catch the attention of the social services agency, Al and Tony find themselves in the middle of a legal wrangle and a media circus. Is Al a responsible mother?  It's the case of the stripper vs. the state, and Al isn't giving up without a fight.
Trent's Question Responses:
1. If you were to film this story and could not use all of the characters, which character(s) would you eliminate and why?
There is a scene in this book where a person hits a police officer in the head with a lamp. I would take the officer out of the story because he just gets hit in the head and drops to the ground. He’s so useless, but not as useless as my brother. ;)

2. If you could design a new cover for this book,what would it look like?
If I could design a new book cover, I would put a picture of Tony, the main character, with sunglasses on, paparazzi around him and a big wad of cash in his hand. Above Tony I would have The Glass Cafe and Below Tony I would have OR, The STRIPPER and the STATE; How My Mom Started a War with the system That Made Us Kind of RICH and a Little Bit FAMOUS.

3. Reread the first paragraph of Chapter 1. What’s in it that makes you want to read on?

So you know my name is Tony and I am twelve and my mother who is named Alice except nobody calls her that, they all call her Al, like she was a guy only she isn't, is a stripper, only it's called exotic dancing, at the club called the Kitty Kat, except that everybody calls it the Zoo on account of an animal act they used to have but don't anymore because the humane society said it was wrong to use snakes out of their "natural element" although Muriel, who danced with a seven-foot boa named Steve, swore that the snake slept through the whole dance except I know Steve who lives in the dressing room in a glass cage and I can't tell if he's sleeping or not because he never closes his eyes.
 The first paragraph was intriguing to me because it’s not like anything that I’ve read before. It talks about how Tony’s mom is a stripper but calls it ‘exotic dancing’. To me it’s different from the usual books I read; different in a good way. I am normally into SyFy books and mythology books, but something in The Glass Cafe was different and I like it. The first paragraph, to me, gives so many pathways that could be taken by Gary Paulsen, the writer. I was excited to read on and find out more.

Trent's Thoughts:
I really liked the voice in this book. It made me feel like a real boy my age was speaking. I love the way the book turned out. The right path was taken in my opinion-the path that lead to an extraordinary ending. Does that make you want to read this book?

Theresa's Thoughts:
Trent loved this book! I have to say that I read the title, but not the subtitle, assessed the small size and page count of the book, assumed that it was a Gary Paulsen adventure story and let a tween read this book. This was a completely foreign concept to Trent which resulted in a discussion about strippers/exotic dancers and why a person would pursue that occupation. Our conversation was excellent speaking about life circumstances, jobs and families. Trent enjoyed every page.

Well written? Yes! Engaging? Yes, again. Written for a tween? This book is not graphic, but the content and understanding of of the dynamics of this situation would make me recommend this for a mature tween only. Would I recommended The Glass Cafe for a teen? Absolutely. This is an excellent example of how "voice" is used to engage a reader.

Release Date: 2003
Age Range: 10 and UP
ISBN: 978-0385324991
Genre: Fiction
Topic: Families, Life, Fairness

To order a copy of this book through, please click the title. The Glass Cafe: Or the Stripper and the State; How My Mother Started a War with the System That Made Us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fractured Fables Edited by Jim Valentino & Kristen K. Simon, Ages 12 and up, Lexile around 900

I seriously thought I had had enough of "fractured" anything, but we picked this Comic Book Style of Fractured Fables because our little guy, Gavin, insisted on it.  He is very drawn to this style of writing.

Fractured Fables is a collection of 30 stories written by 30 different authors with 30 unique, crazy, off-the-wall, interesting styles of thinking.  I read several of these out loud to Gavin who did not understand the off-beat humor, but still enjoyed the stories.  That said, Trent hung over my shoulder and we both laughed loud and long at everything I read aloud.  Later, when I put Gavin to bed, Trent was curled-up in the chair reading the rest of Fractured Fables rocking, giggling, laughing and repeating lines out loud.

Theresa's Thoughts:
This was just plain fun to read.  My favorite was probably Rumplestiltskin by Doug Tenapel.  The main character who spins the gold is so lacking in intelligence that she drives Rumplestiltskin crazy to the point that he told her his name and ripped himself in half; I did say these were off-beat stories!  I will never look at the name Sam the same way again.

Fractured Fables lends itself well to the concept of voice.  I found myself reading aloud with many different voices and styles depending on the story.  Kids who have a great grasp of fairy tales and fables will understand the nuances of the changes in language and story lines in this collection.  
Loved it!

Release Date:  2011
Age Range:  12-17 years (I put it at an approximate 900 Lexile.)
ISBN:  978-1607062691
Genre:  Fairy Tales and Fables
Topic:  Fairy Tales and Fables, Voice

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thesaurus Rex by Laya Steinberg

Thesaurus Rex is the PERFECT book to introduce kids to synonyms and their strength.  It is written with engaging rhythm and rhyme with colorful illustrations that will surely draw younger children to the story!


 Thesaurus Rex is a little dinosaur who happily spends his days finding different adventures.  For each adventure, the author writes several synonyms for how Rex handles his mischievous situations.  The illustrator, Debbie Harter, did a fantastic job illustrating each synonym to show the strength of the word.

Thesaurus Rex starts to slip: slither, skid, slide and glide.  Whee!  What a speedy ride! 
 For those parents and teachers who are working on expanding vocabulary of their children/students, this book is a MUST ADD to your collection!                                                                            
Here is the link to Barefoot Books.  It is a new company for me, so I made sure to "follow" it on Twitter.

Release Date:  2003
Age Range:  Early Elementary
ISBN:  1-84148-180-7
Genre:  Fiction
Topic:  Expanding Vocabulary

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman Lexile 530

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous is a "Fabulous" gem of a book for intermediate students.  Roger is an energetic, easily distracted boy who thinks everything in the world is absolutely fabulous.  In fact, he ALWAYS uses the word fabulous.  

What a fabulous man in a fabulous hat.  What a fabulous tie, or perhaps a cravat?  What a fabulous boot, what a fabulous shoe.  What a fabulous suit made of fabulous blue.  What a fabulous dog, what a fabulous cat.  What a fabulous this, what a fabulous that.  What a fabulous boy, what a fabulous girl.  What a fabulous day, what a fabulous world!

The author  clearly overuses the word fabulous which lends itself perfectly to expanding vocabulary and finding synonyms for that very tired word. Roger finds himself in trouble with his parents for wandering and being late for everything including school.  They decided that Roger needed to stop saying fabulous and gawking at everything around town; therefore, they told him that fabulous was now the one word they DID NOT want to hear.  Instead of sulking, Roger found different ways to say the same word:
What a wonderful bridge, what a beautiful boat.  What an elegant queen on a dazzling float.  What a glorious band, what a magical song.  What a splendid march, may we come along?
Rogers parents decided to enjoy Roger with all of his fabulous qualities ending with an affirmation of their love for him.                                                                    
This is another amazing book for discussing word choice, synonyms and expanding vocabulary for children/students grades 3-5.  
Release Date:  2004
Age Range:  I recommend 2nd through 5th grades.
ISBN:  978-1-58246-224-0
Genre:  Fiction
Topic:  Individuality, Expanding Vocabulary

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Spaghetti I Say by Rita Golden Gelman

Submitted by Kindergarten teacher, Anna
Anna writes:

I love working with More Spaghetti I Say! because the children love the rhythm of the book and there are so many ways to connect, act out, or plan activities!  This book works at the Kindergarten level because of its simplicity and the abundance of words that have rime patterns.  I often integrate pasta=spaghetti=noodles=macaroni with oodles of activities!  This book is a perfect fit for my students!

Click the image below for Anna's differentiated unit.  Activities can be selected for small groups depending on their level of phonemic awareness/reading skills.

Thank you Anna for the wonderful, usable unit!
Release Date:  1993
Age Range:  4 yrs. and up
ISBN:  978-0590457835
Genre:  Fiction

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne Lexile 1080

Tara and Trent attend a Project-Based Literacy Charter School.  Tara is learning about the Holocaust.  She has researched facts and events at school, attended a museum exhibit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and now has read a historical fiction based on the events of the Holocaust. 

  Summary:  This is the story about two boys who saw each other as two boys, not defined by social prejudice or boundaries.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was set in the past, in 1942.  Bruno is the main character in this story.  He and his parents moved from Berlin to a new city in Poland. He was confused about the fence that seemed to go on forever.  Bruno explored the fence and made friends with a boy on the other side with a shaved head and striped pajamas. Bruno made the decision to crawl under the fence...
Tara's discussion question responses:
1.) If you had to design a new cover for this book, what would it look like?
When I thought of this book at the very beginning, all I saw was a little boy in striped pajamas in my head. The cover of this book just had big light blue and white stripes on it which I then understood why the author picked that for the cover as I read on. If I was to create the book cover I would’ve put a barbwire fence on a cloudy rainy day from up close to as far as you could see representing the Holocaust. 

2.) How does this book connect with another book that you have read?
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was about this little boy and his family that was not Jewish and his perspective of what it was like or could have been like during the Holocaust. In the book, The Diary of Anne Frank, it tells through diary entries how Anne and her family lived during the time of the Holocaust that they took place in. Both stories took place during the Holocaust from different viewpoints. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is really historical fiction and The Diary of Anne Frank is real. Her hopes, dreams, attitudes and thoughts are written for history. 

3.) What would this story be like if the main character was of the opposite gender?
The main character in this book was a nine year old boy named Bruno who loved to explore the area around him. If the main character was a girl, she would probably have spent more time at home and less time exploring because that is what girls did during that time. Girls learned how to cook, clean, sew and take care of their home.

Tara’s Thoughts:
Normally I read fiction (princess/romance books) but this book really made me think of what happened during the Holocaust and how Jewish people were murdered. I thought this book was a fantastic book, from Bruno moving and hating it, to meeting a new best friend.  I thought that this book would have more violence than it did regarding the topic choice, but it wasn’t that violent until later on in the book. I would completely recommend this book to people older than 12. There is too much violence and the ending is too hard for younger kids.

Theresa's Thoughts:
Tara and her Advisor found a website called Operation Butterfly. The original thought was for the class to make 1500 butterflies to represent the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. Their site is up and they have written of their potential contribution to the Houston, TX butterfly collection. See link for more information. 

The Houston, TX Holocaust Museum has stated that they will take butterfly projects through June 2013. See link below.

This is Tara's final project...a remembrance butterfly.

John Boyne's website is:

Release Date:  2006
Age Range:  12 and up
ISBN:  978-0385751063
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Topic:  Holocaust, Friendship

Thanks for reading my review!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Perfect Square by Michael Hall is one of my FAVORITE books because it emphasizes individuality, creativity and the strength in our differences.  It starts with a perfect square that quickly gets turned into something else making it no longer perfect.  Instead of being upset, the square embraces its new form and chooses to celebrate it! Throughout the book, the square changes into different shapes and adventures.  It soon realizes that it no longer likes the confinement of being perfect; instead, it it is joyful at its differences. Perfect Square is an amazingly uplifting book!

You HAVE to watch the video!!!

Here is a simple activity that Administrators can use for a fresh inservice day or for teachers to complete with their students:
Note:  Provide hole punches, scissors, glue, and glitter

  • As teachers/students walk in the door, give them a 4 x 4 inch red square and a 5 x 5 inch black square.  
  • Direct teachers/students to cut the square up and make a creation from it, gluing the creation on the black paper.
  • Read the book.
  • For Administrators:  Discuss how none of our students are a perfect square.  Each student is an individual with different interests, hobbies, personalities and achievement levels.  We need to embrace those differences and remember to facilitate learning through those strengths, through differentiating our curriculum to meet each individual child.  
  • For Teachers:  Discuss how we are perfect just the way we are with our interests, likes/dislikes and learning styles.  We celebrate these differences!
  • Distribute the following label to put on the front of the picture.  Give teachers a magnetic strip to place on the back to keep displayed as a reminder that we are all perfect in our individuality.  For students, you have a beautiful bulletin board celebrating each child!
The following labels are printed on Avery 5160.

Release Date:  2011
Age Group:  All
ISBN:  978-0061915130
Genre:  Fiction
Topics:  Individuality, Shapes, Days of the Week

Monday, April 23, 2012

Commercial Breaks: Famous for Thirty Seconds by P.G. Kain Lexile 910

Commercial Breaks:  Famous for Thirty Seconds centers around Brittany, a thirteen year-old girl who lives in New York City.  She and her family: Mom, Dad and (sister) Claire, have spent the last year in Hong Kong while her Mother worked.  Before leaving, Brittany was one of the most famous faces in the commercial world, being the top candidate selected at most auditions.  While in Hong Kong, Brittany learned a little bit of the language, made a few friends, discovered drawing as a hobby and anxiously awaited establishing the spotlight once again.

  Upon returning to New York City, Brittany expected to immediately jump back into the spotlight and become the commercial star she was one year ago.   She described how she felt about being in a commercial as:
All of a sudden the world stops and everything is focused on you and the new soda you are drinking or ice cream you are tasting.  I was hooked from the very start and my parents never once tried to stop me.  
 Her casting agent was named Judith.  Upon meeting Judith again, Brittany reflected:
Everything I want begins on the other side of the door.  For a second I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz the moment before her life goes from black-and-white to color.
Brittany would soon discover that much can change in one year...
How can so much change in twelve stupid months?  It's not my fault my family moved to Hong Kong so my Mom could stop freelancing and become a full-time staff reporter.  Why am I being punished?  Not a single person in the room knew who I was or even recognized me.  I was just one of the names on the list, just one of the girls wearing a teal polo shirt.
Brittany found that she was no longer the first call-back.  In fact, she didn't even get very many call-backs.  Brittany decided that she would have to work a little harder to define herself in the business. Along with that decision, she spent quite a bit of time feeling sorry for herself.  I loved the following "Brittany feels sorry for Brittany" statement:
Now I realize that day was just the first drop in the bucket that is the utter disaster called my life at this very moment. 
 Next, enters Phoebe, the girl who used to forget her lines and is now the "it" girl in the commercial business.  Brittany communicated the dismay that candidates feel when the "it" girl walks through the door.
Every single girl in the waiting area snaps her head toward the door and after seeing who has entered, looks down in despair.  I am not unfamiliar with the scenario; I'm just used to being the one who provokes it.
Phoebe and Brittany met over and over at many auditions with Phoebe obtaining the lead in most of them.  Finally, Brittany was booked and later discovered that she was the "extra" in the commercial.  Although Phoebe was consistently nice to Brittany and went out of her way to speak with her, Brittany was jealous. Phoebe's very cute brother, Liam, went to auditions with her to help practice lines and keep her from getting nervous.  Brittany decided to steal Liam from Phoebe and make him her boyfriend. 
Phoebe may think that after a year she can just become me and steal all of my bookings and even my wardrobe, but she's underestimated me.  I've figured out something I can steal from her, and it might just be the thing that helps me become me all over again.
Brittany discussed her plan with Claire who responded that she was an evil genius.  Brittany told Claire that she didn't need to worry about Phoebe or Liam.  Claire very wisely retorted:
I'm not worried about them...See, that's the thing about an evil genius:  They are always the ones who wind up getting hurt by their own spectacular, but insane plan.

 Throughout the remainder of this book, Brittany struggles with her choices, developing a friendship, her feelings about Liam and where she fit in the commercial business and as a person.  

The book summary asks the following questions:
1.  Will Brittany be able to steal back her spotlight?
2.  Or will she discover there's more to life than being famous for thirty seconds? 

Commercial Breaks:  Famous for Thirty Seconds is well worth reading to find out the answers.

Theresa's Thoughts:
I was absolutely captivated with this book.  It is a must read for any 9-13 year-old girl.  Famous for Thirty Seconds was engaging and dealt with real-world concepts that any tween/young teen is immersed in on a daily basis:  Where do I fit in?  Am I important?  Do I have friends?  Why does that person like me?  What is important to me?  Am I making the right decision?  Does this boy like me?  Why would this boy like me?  How do I define myself?

I felt like I was right there with Brittany as she journeyed through self-discovery and found her way through life including friendship and her first crush.  I especially liked that Brittany's family was portrayed as supportive with no family conflict.  They were a family that celebrated each other.  Another point that I would like to emphasize is that the author wrote Brittany's first crush as happening not only because the boy was cute, but because he and Brittany had something in common that they enjoyed doing together.  What a great way to model why we spend time with other people!

Bottom line:   Commercial Breaks:  Famous for Thirty Seconds is a "must read" for any tween/young teen girl.  I loved it!

P. G. Kain has a rockin' website~check it out!

Release Date:  March 6, 2012
Age Group:  5th-8th Grades
ISBN:  978-1416997863
Genre:  Fiction
Topics:  Life, Friendship, Self-Worth, Love

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic

The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic is a realistic look at death, grief and loss through the eyes of a young boy struggling with the death of his Mom.  Throughout this book, the boy demonstrates anger, sadness, conflict, empathy, loss, pain, hope and remembrance--all emotions that we struggle with when someone we love dies.


Theresa's Thoughts:
I was so happy to have discovered this book through the Kids Book Review,  The Scar immediately went into my Amazon cart and I received it last week, read it and cried.  This author accurately voices how everybody feels when someone they love dies.  The ability to write these feelings through the voice of a child is priceless for every child to come who receives this book at the loss of their Mother. It will validate their fears, words and actions-that everything that happened and will happen is normal and o.k.  Don't we all want to hear that?

The scene where the boy's Mom tells him that she is not going to get better left me in tears...
"I told her that she could come back after she was rested, that I would wait for her.  She said that she wished she could but that it wasn't possible.  Her smile got smaller and her eyes were a bit wet.  That made me mad, and I shouted that if it was going to be like that, I wouldn't be her son anymore, that she shouldn't have had a kid if she was going to leave before he was grown up.  She laughed a big, but I cried because I knew that she was really going to die."
Later, the boy expresses his fear that he will not ever be able to smell his Mother again so he closes all of the windows, but his Grandmother opens them.

"I shout and cry and scream, 'No!  Don't open the windows!  Mom's going to disappear for good...'  And I fall and the tears flow without stopping an there's nothing I  can do and I feel very tired."
The last few pages show hope, love and healing.

"He (Dad) opens his arms to me, I throw myself in them, and my heart beats so hard I can almost hear Mom whispering, 'Go on, my little man.  Go on..." 
What a beautiful book...

Release Date:  2011
Age Group:  5 and up
ISBN:  978-0-7636-5341-5
Genre:  Fiction
Topic:   Death, Grief & Coping

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

H.I.V.E.-Dreadnought by Mark Walden Lexile 1000

H.I.V.E.-Dreadnought was another fantastic addition to the H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute for Villainous Education) series!  This installment introduced the Disciples, which is a new organization that is trying to take over the world...

Trent's Points:
  • Jason Drake made a giant command ship for himself and Number One, but the new ruler of G.L.O.V.E., Nero, took over the command ship, Dreadnought.  
  • Jason left G.L.O.V.E. and joined the Disciples, got mad and captured everybody on the Dreadnought and took it over by force. 
  •  The Disciples were trying to take over the world along with the Overlord who takes over bodies.  When the bodies die, he transfers to a new body.
  • There was a facility where the military tested atomic bombs and where Drake had his underground hide-out.  That was where Otto's friends were captured. Otto and Wing had to fight to get them out. 
  •  Drake set a bomb that blew-up the facility. 
  •  Raven made her way aboard the Dreadnought with her swords that cut through just about anything, including titanium. (Way cool!)
  • Jason Drake's partner, Furan, shot Jason thinking he was dumb and not a good example of the Disciples.  Furan became the commander of the Dreadnought working with the Overlord.
  •  Otto helped Darkdoom, the former ruler of G.L.O.V.E., destroy the Dreadnought. There is so much more to tell, but you will have to read and find out.
Trent's review chosen from Peck's questions to ask about a novel.

How does this book connect to another book that you have read?
In this book there is a lot of similarity with another book I read called H.A.L.O. by Eric Nylund.  The similarity is the action in the books. In H.A.L.O. the people are against aliens called the Covenant. In this book there are Otto and his friends fighting a former G.L.O.V.E. member named Drake.

If you to film this story and could not use all of the characters, which character(s) would you eliminate and why?
If I were to make a film I would eliminate Chief Lewis and Number One’s name.  I would eliminate Chief Lewis because he doesn’t do anything but say, “Security go take them prisoner,” and “Security go take them to the brig.” Do you see where I’m going with him? I would change Number One’s name because it’s lame.  I would call him Trey.  I don’t know why, but Trey is such a cool name to me.

If you had to design a new cover for the book what would it look like?
I would have it look like the dreadnought which is a giant command ship. It would include a picture of Otto by the Dreadnought.

This book is COOL!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This Little Chick by John Lawrence

I just received my copy of This Little Chick illustrated by John Lawrence and it is delightful! This Early Literacy book promotes rhythm and rhyme and can be sung to the tune of Five Little Chicks. I embrace any book that integrates singing, which is brain-based learning at its best!  The simple bold pictures in This Little Chick were created through engravings and will easily draw the attention of young children.

This Little Chick is a perfect book to introduce rhyming.  This book follows the long a sound at the end of a word in the -ay pattern.  Jack Hartmann, one of my favorite children's musicians, has a CD where he explains that rhyming words have "different sounds as they begin and sound the same at the end."  That is the phrasing I use when discussing rhyming with children.

The simple rhyme text in this book follows:
"This little chick from over the way
went to play with the pigs one day.
And what do you think they heard him say?"

Kids could stamp, clap and tap every time they hear these rhyming words as they sing along.

Those who have taken my courses know that I am a true believer that anything on a Popsicle stick is more fun.  I have created the attached graphic for students to cut out, place on a stick and lift in the air every time they say the rhyming words in this book:  way, play, day and say. 

Grab this book and your singing voices.  This is sure to be a classroom treasure!

Update 3/18/2013:  Great link to integrated math activity at PreK and Sharing from Deb Chitwood!


Jack Hartman's CD:  Shake, Rattle and Read 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reading Level Conversion Chart

I love this conversion chart!  It compares all leveling of books that teachers I work with use in their classrooms:  Lexiles, Grade Equivalents, Fountas & Pinnell, DRA, Reading Recovery, Basals and DRP.  Whatever you use for leveling students in your classroom, this conversion chart will keep you on track!


Links to conversion charts you may want to print:

The Going to Bed Book By Sandra Boynton Submitted by Joyce M.

Joyce is a PreKindergarten teacher. She has submitted a wonderful unit for The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.   

Joyce's Comments:
Sandra Boynton's poem, in book format, was a great anchor book for our unit on Healthy Hygiene Habits!  This text offered a very rhythmic story that was entertainingly silly.  The pictures were engaging and promoted conversation about healthy bedtime habits.

Using a pocket chart, we transferred this poem to sentence strips where all rhyming words were written in red.  This allowed students to pick up a word card to match one-one-one to one of the red words on the sentence strips.  My students really enjoyed the challenge of this activity.

Theresa's Comments:
Joyce's differentiated graphic organizer draws activities that focus on rhyming words, directional positional concepts, opposites, graphing, rime families and sorting with beginning phonemes.  This is a wonderful, usable unit for PreKindergarten and Kindergarten teachers!

Thanks, Joyce for sharing your beautiful unit!