Sunday, March 30, 2008

Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor

When you are trying to find books fit for a fifth grade student and you keep coming up empty handed, you are T-TOTALLY THRILLED when you come across a book such as Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor.
I am going to start with the most obvious selling point of this book for me. I absolutely adore the arrangement of chapters with a different character's points of views. Each chapter follows the view of the story through a different character. It is brilliant! I know, it has been done before, but I absolutely love the way it is SPECIFICALLY done in this book. It is seamless. The stories overlap just enough, but nothing is repeated in a way that says, "In case you forgot from last chapter."
Each of the characters adds such a different dynamic to the novel. They all have their own inner struggles, but each has something to endear them to the reader. I hate to pick favorites but Loretta is my favorite character in the book. Of course as I read, I began to love every character for one reason or another. I was rooting for everyone in the end.
The plot of the story follows the fate of a small motel, The Sleepy Time Motel in the Great Smoky Mountains. The hotel is owned by at widow named Aggie. She and her husband originally opened the successful motel years ago and now that he is gone and business is slow, Aggie is finding herself in a position of thinking about selling the motel. As each of the other characters is introduced, the fate of the motel improves.
It is no secret that I wasn't really into the cover of O'Connor's Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, but I think the cover on this book is delightful! I love the way it looks like a real postcard and is almost cartoon-ish. This one is hit for me.
I guess I didn't address how this is a perfect book for fifth grade? Well, take my word, IT IS! The characters all have stories my students can relate to, the vocabulary is just right, and the story move quickly. I am very excited to recommend the book to my kiddos. I can't wait to see what they think of the chapter arrangements. But what I most want to ask them is, "Who is your favorite character?"
OMG, how could I have forgotten to mention--- on page 188 there is a list of guests and one of the guests is Hattie Norris from DAYTON, OHIO! Love-It!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I know I have been MIA for awhile now. But believe me, I am still here. I am reading everything everyone is blogging. I am also reading books, yet I am not feeling anything. I haven't read anything to blog about, but that is about to change. I am currently reading The Mysterious Benedict Society and loving it! (By the way, comes out in paperback April 1) I also have my beach reading packed and ready to go, Greetings From Nowhere! Very excited for that.
Of course I am taking my computer to the beach, but I ain't promising a thing!
See ya a little browner next time!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Like it, I Love it, I Want more of it!

When I first read this morning that Mother Reader had been sharing her blog with someone else, I felt betrayed. No, it wasn't like that, it was BETTER. Check out her new home and find out more information here:
Big Universe!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson is a 2008 Newbery Honor book about finding hope. It is truly a deep book. I am glad I read it, but I am now a little confused about what to do with it.
Frannie, the main character, is struggling in her small world filled with disappointments, challenges, bullies, friends, family, and race. Sounds like a lot? Yeah, that is what I thought too. Frannie lives in an area where everyone is like her, black. When a new boy comes to her school, the class begins to call him "Jesus boy" because of his white skin and longish hair. The class, along with Frannie struggles with just exactly who this stranger is and why he has come into their lives. At the same time Frannie is dealing with the fact that her mother who has lost several babies is now pregnant. She is also living with a deaf brother. WHOA... STOP... information overload!
What I liked about the book was it showed race issues from a new perspective. The book is set in the 1970s which is different from most books covering this topic typically set in the 60s. I also liked that the emotions ran deep on both sides of the topic. There was perspective from both sides of the coin. I also thought the "jive talk" was fun in this story.
Which brings me to the next point. I think this would be a great read aloud but it would have to be a very detailed read aloud with a lot of explanation. I think if I ever had my own children, I would read this book aloud to them. Here is a short video clip for the story. This clip, plus lots more useful information can be found on Jacqueline Woodson's website.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Passion Quilt

When I was tagged for this Meme by A Year of Reading, my wheels began turning right away. As soon as I started looking for pictures, I saw what I wanted in about 1,000 versions, so I may post more than one picture.
Here are the rules of the Meme:
  • Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
  • Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce
My passion or the thing that I want my students to leave my class knowing more about is CHOICE! There are so many different kinds of choices, but specifically I am talking about Choice in literature. As this first picture demonstrates, I hope they learned it way back when:
My Choices are endless...
But if they didn't get the choice then, maybe they have encountered Choice along the way:
Whatever shall I CHOSE?
And I never want my students to feel as thought they need to pull one of these kinds of tricks in my class:
She'll never notice.

I am going to tag those whom I know are teachers and haven't been tagged as far as I can tell, but if anyone else wants to participate, feel free...
I tag:
Jen Barney A Teacher's Life
Amy S. My Breakfast Platter
Stacy and Ruth Two Writing Teachers
Jenny Elementary, My Dear, or Far From It
Sarah The Reading Zone

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Reading is Fundamental Challenge

You may have recently read my post about the proposed cut of funding for the Reading is Fundamental book distribution program. In the words of Layla Wright-Contrearas, (Media Relations Manager of Reading is Fundamental) "on a more uplifting note" here is a challenge from Reading is Fundamental that you may be interested in. Reading is Fundamental is joining with US Airways in a nationwide effort to log 1 million minutes reading with children by May 31, 2008.
You can join the challenge HERE.

The following is a press release from Reading is Fundamental:


US Airways and Reading Is Fundamental Put Children’s Books on Planes; Launch “Read with Kids Challenge.”

TEMPE, Ariz., — Feb. 29, 2008—US Airways (LCC) has joined with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) to launch a new early childhood literacy campaign, “Fly with US. Read with Kids,”which features a free children’s book for passengers traveling domestically during March, the online “Read with Kids Challenge,” and support of RIF programs serving young children across the nation.

During the month of March, US Airways, the official airline of RIF, will distribute copies of best-selling author/illustrator Lucy’s Cousins’ children’s book Come Fly with Maisy to passengers on domestic, mainline flights to take and share with a child. The organizations’ “Read with Kids Challenge encourages Americans to read with young children during March, April, and May in an effort to log one million minutes reading. All entrants who log their time will qualify for a grand prize drawing of a family vacation to Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando as well as other prizes. Participants can enter their time online at

“Reading, much like travel, is an adventure and a way to explore new worlds,” said Doug Parker, US Airways Chairman and CEO. “By teaming up with RIF on this first-of-its kind campaign, US Airways is helping foster literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading in children throughout the country – a key foundation for future academic and economic success.”