Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New April Carnival of Children's Literature

There is a new Carnival of Children's Literature up for April at Ellsworth's Journal. It is a really fun one! Lots of work went into it.
By the way, I am having another little bout where I am finding it impossible to post. Bear with me. I know this part is kind of tacky, but I just want to you to be patient. I WILL return. And when I do, be prepared!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


VoiceThread? What is it anyway? That is the same question I had. So I checked it out. Then I found out via Barbara O'Connor that this was on there: VoiceThread from Sara Holmes.
So try it for yourself and then try not to get absorbed in watching everything you can find... I DARE YOU!
OH-- And Now I think I learned how to embed it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall

Ever since I read this review of Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall at A Year of Reading, I have been scouring the library for a copy of the book. Unfortunately, someone loved the book as much as I did and held on to it for themselves. All I can hope was that the someone was a preteen learning more about themselves and the students around them.
It is well known that teenagers can be cruel. But did you know that preteens, say those aged 4th to 6th grade, can be just as cruel and often don't even originally know what they are doing is bullying? I see this scenario day in and day out. Fifth grade boys and girls who are so wrapped up in their own world, that they do not even stop for a moment to think the thoughts they are thinking and or saying may be considered cruel and unusual punishment to others around them.
In an unconventional way, Mackall uses her main character, Laney Grafton, as a first person narrator who not only tells us the heart wrenching story of the new classmate Lara Phelps but also explains the elements of writing a good story at the same time. As the story begins, Lara has arrived at the school and the students are stunned because she is so different from them. So different as in weighing 300 or so pounds. The story follows the relentless teasing of the classmates on Lara. (Dubbed Larger than Life Lara) It continues through the whole story to the point where you think there will be no ending.
The story shows the true nature of the preteen with all its warts, but also all its heart as well. I wept uncontrollably because I have seen this scenario play out so many times in so many different ways. I do not have children of my own, but if I ever do, I hope I can raise them with enough tolerance and dignity to realize everyone is a shining star in some way. We all just need to decide how we are going to help one another let that star shine.

Another Review:
My Breakfast Platter

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I knew It All Along!

You Are An Exclamation Point

You are a bundle of... well, something.

You're often a bundle of joy, passion, or drama.

You're loud, brash, and outgoing. If you think it, you say it.

Definitely not the quiet type, you really don't keep a lot to yourself.

You're lively and inspiring. People love to be around your energy.

(But they do secretly worry that you'll spill their secrets without even realizing it.)

You excel in: Public speaking

You get along best with: the Dash

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

Thanks to Miss Rumphius Effect and all others for the link.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sara Pennypacker Q & A

There is a new Kids Q & A at Powells and it is Sara Pennypacker! How fun! Only part I didn't love was the question "If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why?" Love her answer, but I really think Marla Frazee is the perfect illustrator for ANY AND ALL Clementine books. JMO

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

So I might be the last reader in the Kidlitosphere to read The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, but I did and that is all that matters. Right?
I need to say right here, this is not going to be a summary of the story. You can get that anywhere. In fact, I almost liked not having any idea what I was getting into with this book. I left a lot of the suspense just that, suspense.
As I was reading, I found myself constantly thinking of Harry Potter. I know people hate being compared to Harry Potter, but that is what I thought as I read. I kept seeing the themes of sticking together, friends helping friends, and feelings of belonging to a bigger purpose. I really liked that about the story. What I also liked was the feeling I got as I was reading. That feeling that if I put the book down, I would miss something important. There was so much suspense! A good suspense, though. Not a suspense that something bad would happen, but more of "How will they figure this one out?" Because for whatever reason, I always thought every situation would have a silver lining. Although they did not always solve everything with a silver lining, each end was always tied up neatly.
I am REALLY not sure this is a fifth grade book. I hate to say that because I know it could be, but I also know my fifth grade students. Much of the vocabulary and references are going to go right over their head. I think it has potential to be a great read aloud. In fact it recently won the E.B. White Read aloud Award. However, you would have to have a LARGE CHUNK of time each day for read aloud. Having only 20 minutes four days a week myself, I don't see that happening for me.
Am I ready for a sequel? Bring it on! But what could possibly happen next?
Check out the Curiosity Chronicles (Great fun!)
Other Reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews
Fuse #8 Production (Part One) (Part Two)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

D.E.A.R. Day April 12

I forgot I had written about this earlier, but take a little time for National D.E.A.R Day today. Also celebrate by taking about 17 minutes to watch and listen to a video of Beverly Cleary answering questions submitted from all around the United States. It took me back to the days I read endlessly Ramona, Ralph S. Mouse, and Dear Mr. Henshaw.
Mrs. Beverly Cleary Interview

Monday, April 7, 2008

Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker

It all started way back when, reading this post by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. I was so new to blogs, I don't even know how I stumbled upon this one. I believe I searched Google for the words "Fifth Grade Read Aloud" and a whole new world opened up for me. Not only the world of blogs, but the world of Clementine!
The third book in the Clementine series is Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee. This might possibly be my favorite of the three books.
The plot is that Clementine's teacher has been nominated for a award which will afford him the privilege to work outside the classroom on a project. (Lucky him) But Clementine feels very betrayed by his leaving. Clementine is also again trying desperately to please her mother and father which turns into a very cute subplot.
The reason I love this book so much, or even dare I say, more than the other two, is the fact that so much of it centers on Clementine and her relationship with her teacher. I hope everyday that I mean that much to one of my students. If just one student would feel betrayed by me not being at school, I would be thrilled! I also really like the way she talks about the substitute teacher. My favorite line (not quoting because someone has already snagged my book) is where Clementine talks about how she didn't know the substitute teacher's rules before hand. (That is before she had done wrong.) And haven't we all felt like that at some point?
I could probably go on and on about this book, but my suggestion is, just read it! It will only take you a very small slice of time and you will feel so happy you did!
Other Reviews:
Literate Lives
A Year of Reading

Friday, April 4, 2008

Two New Picture Books We Enjoyed

I recently read aloud two new picture books with my class, just for something fun. They weren't meant to make us think real hard about a specific topic, they weren't for test prep, they weren't even meant for my age student. But they didn't care. In fact, they loved going back in time for a minute and just laughing for the pure joy of laughing. Or at least that is how I perceived the moment. If you teach middle grade kids, you'll enjoy hearing the laughter in your room from the following picture books:
Doctor Ted by Andrea Beaty (ARC from the author available next week)
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems