Friday, February 29, 2008

February Carnival of Children's Literature

The February Carnival of Children's Literature is up at Picture Book of the Day! I must say it is an entirely impressive list of THE BEST bloggers out there! Congratulations on such a wonderful turnout. I am glad I decided last minute to get a review in there, I am proud to be part of the bunch!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

2008 Dublin Literacy Conference

Saturday was one of the most enjoyable and thought provoking days I have had all school year. (Possibly longer) It was the 2008 Dublin Literacy Conference in Dublin, OH. Not only were there so many cool famous authors there, my blogging friends were too!
The neat thing about living so close to Columbus or CBUS as the cool kids call it, are all the AWESOME literacy giants who reside there. You would not believe all the literacy advocates who have come out of the Columbus area! So for the past I believe they said 17 years, the school district of Dublin has sponsored a Literacy Conference. This year the keynote speakers were Sharon Taberski and Pam Munoz Ryan. The other famous main attractions were: Jennifer Holm, Jennifer Roy, Melanie Watt, Jen Allen, Aimee Buckner (A fellow UD grad!), and Terry Thompson. (Thank you for the links, Mary Lee)
As if that was not enough, I went to three great sessions. I listened to Jennifer Holm talk about where she comes up with the ideas for many of her novels. So interesting. One of the most interesting things I learned was that it took 7 years for Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf to come to publication. 7 YEARS! I heard Max Brand talk about his book Word Savvy and his spelling program. I have the book, but I needed to hear about it in person. Seems doable. We'll see what we can do on that next year. Last but not least, I FINALLY met Mary Lee Hahn in person! So surreal! She spoke on the topic of Blogging the Kidlitosphere and specifically spoke of her blog she co-authors with Franki Sibberson A Year of Reading.
Many of you may know, Mary Lee was instrumental in helping me begin my blog. She took me under her wing, sight unseen. I emailed her with my questions and she willingly answered. She didn't even know me for gosh sake! May she live in Sainthood.
On that note, I will pay it forward and introduce another new blog which came about with help from Mary Lee. On Saturday I was introduced to Karen who co-authors the blog Literate Lives with her friend Bill. It is a super new blog and very quickly growing and becoming well known. Check it out!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where Have I Been?-- Don't answer that..

Where have I been that I didn't get on Goodreads before? Two people have recently mentioned it, so I thought I would give it a try! Here is my profile link:

Checkout my reading list on Goodreads - where you can see what your friends are reading.

Friend Me!

Got a Question for Beverly Cleary?

Have you always had a burning question you wanted to ask Beverly Cleary? Now is your chance! In honor of D.E.A.R. Day, April 12th, Reading Rockets is sponsoring a contest looking for the best and most creative questions to present to Ms. Cleary. Questions must be presented by February 29th. Click HERE for more details.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail by Lesley M. M. Blume

The wonderful cover shot is what drew me to this book, The Rising Star of Rusty Nail by Lesley M. M. Blume. Then the story itself did all the rest.
Franny Hansen and her friend Sandy ARE what is happening in small Rusty Nail, Minnesota. Besides being a prankster, Franny is a genius piano player, just ask her. In the small town there is also another budding piano star, Nancy. (Prancy Nancy) Franny thinks she has found her ticket out of Rusty Nail when she participates in what turns out as a piano-off with Nancy in front of the governor's wife. As it turns out, the governor's wife could have cared less. Next comes the mysterious Olga Malenkov, whom everyone in the town believes to be a "commie" but who turns out to be a famous piano player. Is Olga a communist? Does she help Franny with her piano playing? Will anything come of any of this? That you will have to read to find out.
What I loved about this book also drove me crazy! It is set in 1953-54 and as such contains lots of history. Yet, I am not sure all of the book would be considered historically accurate. I spent a lot of time while reading Googling facts. Most turned up pretty accurate, except some of the McCarthy references. I also could not get over the fact that Franny constantly called her mother and father by their first name. WHAT? Not many kids would do this and ESPECIALLY NOT IN 1953! I guess Ms. Blume could have been trying to evoke the feeling that this family was anything but traditional, but that is really unnecessary once you have met the characters. In some spots the dialect was strange. Minnesota does not elicit thoughts of country twang to me, but that is often what came up in the middle of nowhere. I thought the story was a bit long in places and may not be able to hold the attention of one of my students.
On the other hand, I did love the way the book was divided into three parts. I thought the characters were very well developed. I could not stop reading because of the suspense brought forth in the plot. I was completely satisfied with the ending. I am not really one to be upset about a book's historical inaccuracy when it is a fiction book to begin with. (I just felt I needed to point them out for anyone who that really matters to.) I am quite excited to see what else Lesley M.M. Blume has in store for her readers. Her newest book Tennyson sounds like a winner.
Other Reviews of The Rising Star of Rusty Nail:
Miss Erin
Miss Erin Interview of Lesley M.M. Blume

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm Just Sayin...

I know about 200 people have already said this, but in case you live under a rock... CYBILS WERE ANNOUNCED TODAY! And I ain't braggin or nothing, but check out the "Nominated by" under the Picture Book Winner... I know I wasn't the first to think of it, but I was the first to nominate it, I'm just sayin. By the way, I hate when people give stuff away, so I am not writing any of the winning books on here, you'll have to check them out for yourself. I think I will leave up the nominated books widget awhile, cause I just like it, okay?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Simple Way to Help

Tell your Representative: Books are Fundamental!
Here is the easiest way in the world:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New teacher Tool

I just read about this on the IRA's Reading Today Daily. I have only brieftly checked it out, but I think it could be helpful in certain situations. Although, I did try the BookAlike (TM) system and I did not exactly get the results I wanted, but I bet it could happen.
Teacher Book Wizard (TM) by Scholastic

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Isn't teaching wonderful?

This makes all the bad stuff of teaching seem so little...
Hi this is A*** ******* from last year and its kind of weird emailing my old teacher. I have a problem with finding a good book to read. Most of the time last year you knew what i liked to read and i was wondering if you found any more good books like the Watsons go to Birmingham and Harris and me. My teacher this year is new to our school and isn't my favorite because she doesn't give good book ideas like you did. I enjoyed all of the books you suggested and was hopping you could help. Also did you know Christopher Paul Curtis had a new book. I have read it and it is my favorite book.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

I recently finished If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko... finally. I feel like I am the last person on earth to read this book. I was waiting on my library to have it available and it recently was. When I read Al Capone Does My Shirts by the same author, I was really impressed, so I figured this book would be equally as amazing. And let's face it, I had heard plenty about it by this time.
The book the teen life of the main character, Kirsten. Her parents are fighting, her sister is a the brainiac Kirsten wishes she were, and the girls at school are excluding her. At the same time the story also follows the life of Walk (Walker) who is a new black student in a predominantly white middle school. Walk deals with is mother who is a tad on the protective side, his cousin who is dabbling in some activities Walk is unsure of, and the new students he is meeting at the middle school. The best part of the book however, is when the plot takes a very interesting turn. As a matter of fact, it was so interesting I heard myself yelling to no one in particular, "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!" (Talking about the author)
The author's craft that makes this a great recommendation is the way Choldenko varies the chapters between Kirsten and Walk. This technique often seems to quite confusing for my age student, but I think it is quite appropriate for more experienced fifth grade readers and of course for sixth grade and up it would be totally appropriate. I must admit however, I did not particularly like the way Walk's chapters were written in a sort of third person voice. That seemed strange for me.
If you are looking for a tween book that is quite unassuming, this is a great book for you. It will have you saying, "Didn't see that coming" but that is what I loved about the book.