Wednesday, November 28, 2007

November Carnival of Children's Literature

(I know that says education news, but it is really News to Educate You.)
IT'S HERE! The November Carnival of Children's Literature is here at MotherReader. It is a DOOZIE! I guess having an extension was just what this Carnival needed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beautifully Done Historical Books

Darn, Darn, and Darn again! I am going to have to quit teaching and just work with only books because it is so easy for them to get away from you with all the other responsibilities of teaching. Had I seen these beautiful picture books a couple weeks ago, I could have nominated them for a Cybils. But alas, I did not. So I will talk about them here in hopes that others will look at them as well.
I guess you could say I had some themes going on in my head when I picked up these books, but actually I just grabbed them, didn't really pay attention. But, they are all wonderful historical books.
Henry's Freedom Box: A true story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
An interesting story of Henry "Box" Brown, an escaped slave on the Underground Railroad, who mailed himself to freedom in a box. (A story I would have never believed to be true.) The artwork is glorious and the text is just right to tell a story which is quite heart wrenching. Apparently the paintings for the book were inspired by a lithograph created in 1850 by Samuel Rowse as a fundraiser for the anti-slavery movement. (How inspiring is that- Truly!)
One thing I thought was odd was how rushed the author was in telling this story. I would like to have heard a little more of the story. But C'est La Vie...
One Thousand Tracings: Healing the wounds of World War II written and illustrated by Lita Judge
The BEST! The best of the three books I read! I cannot even believe this story came from the author finding thousands of paper-traced feet in her grandmother's attic. The book tells the story of a young girl and her mother who tirelessly search for shoes (and other necessities) needed by families in post World War II Europe. The story is so touching and is only enhanced by its wonderful illustrations, some of which are actual photos of artifacts either found in the attic or representative of the things that would have been sent to families. There is so much more behind the scenes of this book, so make sure you read the Author's Note.
Stealing Home Jackie Robinson: Against the odds written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Mike Wimmer
I know what you might be thinking, "Another Jackie Robinson book?" but this one is quite special. The illustrations look just like real photographs! (The pictures are actually oil on canvas.) On each page of the book there is a verse about Jackie Robinson stealing home plate, but what really makes it different is there is also box made to look like an antique baseball card which tells an account or factual aspect of Jackie Robinson's life. I did however, have to read the verse and go back to the cards because it was too hard to read all at once.

~ I am a little too tired to do any links to other reviews tonight, so I may come back and do that later. My apologies.

Deadline Extention- November Carnival of Children's Literature

I am reposting my original reminder about the November Carnival of Children's Literature, and I am adding that the deadline has been extended. The new deadline is Tuesday, November 27th by 9:00 a.m. EST. Here is my original reminder post (With the date changed)(I am not sure if the posting date has changed or will still be Wednesday?):
Don't forget to enter a post for the November Carnival of Children's Literature. MotherReader is in charge, and she is leaving no one out! Teacher, Librarian, Author, Publisher, Reader, anyone virtually can participate. The deadline is Tuesday, November 27th by 9:00 am EST. and the post will appear at MotherReader on Wednesday, November 28. You can read her explanation of the theme here in the section Thing Number Two. (I am not sure I can explain it well enough as I needed clarification as well.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cybils Widget

Want your own Cybils Widget? Go FOR IT! It is so easy, just click HERE!
(Mine is over on the side. It changes categories each time you load the page, HOW AWESOME?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter

I know I promised this post last Friday, but life is hectic. What can I say?
I recently finished reading Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter. This novel reminded me of the brother book to Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop. The story is quite similar, because of the underlying theme of child labor in the early 1900s. Although, this book has its own unique style and story.
Young Billy Creekmore, the main character, goes through so many twists and turns during the story it is hard to tell whether to laugh, cry, or be frightened. Creekmore begins his life journey in an orphanage awaiting his day to begin working in the local glass factory. When a young friend returns disfigured from the terrible working conditions in the factory, Creekmore is determined to escape the same fate. Luckily he is quickly plucked from the orphanage by a long lost aunt and uncle. (See how the story flips your emotions so quickly.) Next Billy eagerly dives into the world of mine work, something his aunt and uncle are not truly in favor of him trying. Next thing you know, that career is cut short by terrible mine accidents and union arguments. (I am completely understating that part, but I don't want to give it away.) Creekmore suddenly is swept into the world of circus work. OH MY GOSH, I am telling WAY TOO MUCH!
The book was wonderful for its historical fiction. I love the fact that I could recommend it to a boy who may be leery of Counting on Grace, because of its girl main character. I felt as though I got more into Counting of Grace, but this not an admittance of anything, necessarily. I really felt the power of the story. I did not however, feel that I connected with the main character the same way I connected with Grace.
Something I am dying to know more about is the relationship with Billy and a woman from the orphanage. (forgot her name, sorry) I just really think she had more to do with the finding of the mysterious "aunt and uncle." I would love to ask the author more about this part of the novel.
Will Billy's life turn out blissful or sorrowful, will he ever find his father, will find his own life's joy? You must read to find out!
Other reviews:
Children's Books Too Cool For School (wonderful review!)
Deliciously Clean Reads
Kids Read

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Black Friday

If you are interested in shopping at home on Black Friday (aka the day after Thanksgiving), think about using as you shopping place. You can directly connect to their Black Friday Deals page by clicking on the words Black Friday in this sentence.
Or if you would like, vote for your favorite deal and it may come true! It is called Amazon Customer Vote. Here is how it is explained by
Each round of Customers Vote lets you and your site visitors vote for the deal you’d most like to have. Voting begins on Thursday, November 15th and continues through Monday, November 26th. There will be six rounds of voting this year with three products in each round. Beginning Thursday, November 22nd, each day the new winning product will be announced, and randomly selected customers will have the opportunity to purchase the item for which they voted at a great discount.
This year the following products will be featured:
  • 1,000 Nintendo Wii Game Systems (see prices on Customers Vote page)
  • 500 Panasonic 7.5MP Digital SLR Cameras, $499 (*normally $1,149.95)
  • 1,000 Razor E100 Electric Scooters for $29 (*normally $89.99)
  • 500 TiVo HD Digital Video Recorders, $89 (*normally $253.48)
  • 500 Magellan Maestro 3140 Portable Auto GPS Systems, $99 (*normally $247.00)
  • 200 Samsung 46” 1080p LCD HDTVs, $719 (*normally $1,899.98)
You can vote for your favorite product by going to this page at Customer Vote.

Friday, November 16, 2007

November Carnival of Children's Literature

Don't forget to enter a post for the November Carnival of Children's Literature. MotherReader is in charge, and she is leaving no one out! Teacher, Librarian, Author, Publisher, Reader, anyone virtually can participate. The deadline is Saturday, November 24 and the post will appear at MotherReader on Wednesday, November 28. You can read her explanation of the theme here in the section Thing Number Two. (I am not sure I can explain it well enough as I needed clarification as well.)

P.S.- I am planning a review this weekend, maybe even tonight, although that is doubtful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thinking About Writing in the Classroom

Recently I have been forced kicking and screaming into a downward spiral of what I see as a LARGE WASTE OF TIME! I won't go in to that so much, but I will say it has me thinking critically about the way I grade the writing of my students. I have always been a proponent of rubric scoring, but sometimes it isn't as easy as it looks.While perusing one of my new favorite websites, Mrs. Hayden World, I found a helpful tip. The following website allows you to practice your scoring technique on actual writing samples:
Once you have chosen your grade level and genre, you are shown a student sample. You are asked to evaluate it for different Writing Applications and Language Conventions. After you submit your score, it is compared against the score given by an expert (whoever that may be). The most interesting aspect is the portion that shows why the writing received a certain score over another score.
I found the site so helpful and it assured me that I am in fact capable of scoring without bias. If you have found yourself in the position of proofing you do in fact have students writing and you are able to critically analyze the writing, you simply MUST test your skills at The Writing Site!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

On this chilly dreary day, let us think of something warm and sunny. How about Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli? After I read Where I Live by Spinelli, I thought I should try Summerhouse Time. It sounded, from reviews I read, to be the same type of book. It was.
Written as a mix of poetry and prose, the story follows the main character, Sophie, and her family on their annual visit to the summerhouse they share with other members of their family. Although the visit is usually the family's favorite part of the summer, there are many things that have changed this year. Even though it is not the same great time they usually have, all works out in the end and Sophie ends up having a wonderful time.
I love how the book is really just short poems put together as chapters. It makes the read go so fast. At first I thought it was just different poems about summer and I was a little bummed. But I should have known better.
This book is great for your inexperienced 4th and 5th grade students. It is an easy read, and not babyish what-so-ever. There is even a little bit of a love story involved. Although I don't think the book was meant for a specifically girls, I think it would appeal greatly to a girl compared to a boy. I really hope Spinelli continues on with this type of book. I LOVE IT and here are other's who did as well...
Comics in the Classroom
Welcome to My Tweendom
Bookworm Readers

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw

YES! YES! YES! Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth Barshaw is just what I have been looking for! It is a mix between a journal, diary, and possibly graphic novel (?) might be stretching it). It is JUST RIGHT for my readers who aren't quite sure of themselves as readers and maybe not sure they even really like books.
The quick read was funny without being goofy, and serious without being annoying.
The main character, Ellie, is sent on a trip with her younger brother, three cousins, and her aunt and uncle. She is less than thrilled to be trapped in a car with the group, and even less thrilled to be "camping" with them. Ellie records all of this in her journal with blow-by-blow commentary and drawings. Her cousin Eric is forever trying to get his hands on her journal, and finally succeeds. Ellie eventually finds out she has more in common with the rest of the family than she originally expected.
What I most liked about this book was the humor. It was not "potty" humor, it was not "dumbed down" humor, and it was not "over the heads of children" humor. This is the very thing that bugs me about books aimed at this level of reading experience. Notice I didn't say age, because I think the age could vary from 3rd to 5th grade depending upon their reading experience. (Of course that being more experienced 3rd grade to less experienced 5th grade readers.) And I don't care what age or sex your talking about, all kids love books with funny pictures. Especially appealing to my students is any book that does not take very long to read.
For a first children's book, Ruth McNally Barshaw really knows what she is doing. She has pegged her target audience perfectly! What will Ellie's next adventure be? It is soon to be announced right here!
Other reviews:
A Year of Reading
Becky's Book Reviews
Ellie McDoodle's own blog!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Penderwick's by Jeanne Birdsall

Officially titled The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, this book is worthy of its National Book Award and written by first time author Jeanne Birdsall. I know this is no new book, and many people have reviewed it with good and bad results. Personally, I loved it.
I thought it was a great "old-timey" type story. There weren't many frills and extra crazy events to distract from the original point of the author. (Which by the way was to write a book that reminded her of her own childhood favorites.) The characters were sweet, but yet each had their own voice as a strong young woman. There were lessons to be learned, characters to cheer for, characters to despise, and a setting to wish you could see in person. I felt better about myself for reading it. As if I had just read a book that I could share with my children and grandchildren. (Should there ever actually be children and grandchildren.) I actually love the fact that you are never really sure the time period in which this story takes place. I was so reminded of Little Women the whole time I read this book.
The book is just right for most ages, but not all readers. This book would take a strong fourth or fifth grade reader to read alone. It would appeal to many young girls and select few young boys. It would work best as a read aloud I feel.
One and only one complaint I had is a complaint I have had for other recently read books... THE NAMES, THE NAMES, THE NAMES! Is is necessary to name characters obscure names like Rosalind???? Skye (not bad, but not great either) Batty? Cagney?? Arundel Hall???? It is so distracting for kids trying to read a book on their own. That is one thing I would rather my students not have to deal with. Get with it. Kids don't care what the characters are named.
Other reviews:
What's New On the Book Shelves
The Neighborhood Librarian
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Bookshelves of Doom
As well as about 9,000 others...
Next up, some great new stuff! I am so excited for my pile of books from the library!