Monday, December 31, 2012

Dec 31, 2012 What I'm Reading

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme many book bloggers are using. One of my favorites is Kid Lit Frenzy. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
This meme helps me keep track of what I've read and plan out my reading for the next week. It's a growing trend!
I'm finishing up Inkheart. Oh how I love this book! I hope to also read the two following books in the series, Inkdeath and Inkspell this week. 
Inkheart  Cover ImageInkspell Cover Image 
Inkdeath  Cover Image 
I also hope to read How Full Is Your Bucket.
How full is your bucket? positive strategies for work and life  Cover Image 
 On my Ipad, I'm reading 168 hours


So many books, so little time!! I will fill as much of my 168 hours this week with reading as I can.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce)

Now and then a book comes along that totally speaks to me. This is one of those books! William Joyce is brilliant!

Mr. Morris Lessmore is a man who loves reading and loves books. They're not inanimate. They're real and alive and exciting. It's a magical story.

If I ever get asked to speak somewhere about the magic of books and the importance of story, I will read this book to the matter who they are. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Noah Webster and his Words (Jeri Chase Ferris)

You know, I never really thought about the first dictionary. I suppose, though, someone had to make the first one. In the United States, apparently it was Noah Webster!

He was quite an interesting fellow. He couldn't just follow the crowd. He couldn't stay on the farm like his father expected. He worked on projects that were long and tedious because he loved words and he loved learning and he wanted to share that.

That's my kind of guy!! I need to remember to share this book when we are working on using dictionaries in class!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boy and Bot (Ame Dyckman)


I love love love this story. It is a simple story about a boy and a robot who become friends. Here is the summary from Amazon:

 One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun.

But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he's sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don't help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep.

Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?

Using the perfect blend of sweetness and humor, this story of an adorable duo will win the hearts of the very youngest readers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Extra Yarn (Mac Barnett)


This is another book of magic. It is about a girl who has a box that looks just like any other box. It has yarn in it. But actually, it isn't like any other box at all.She shares what she has and is able to keep giving and giving and giving.....even when people try to thwart her efforts.

This book really made me think about how important it is to just go about doing good. A great lesson in a really simple story.

Love Them Anyway

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Great Joy (Kate DiCamillo)

This is another fabulous creation of Kate DiCamillo's. It is a picture book story of a little girl who, when she looks out her window, sees an organ grinder and a monkey standing on the corner of a street. Every day she sees them and watches them and wonders where they go. It suddenly occurs to her that they have no where to sleep and so she asks her mom if they can help them. In all the business of life, I suppose, and realizing the inability to solve all the world's problems, mom ignores her concerns. There is a happy ending. This is a fabulous read for any age.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Book of Holiday Awesome (Neil Pasricha)

This was a really good book for me to read this year. I haven't had the same excitement about Christmas for a few reasons: top of the list being that Jill is away for Christmas this year. Tonight we celebrated Christmas Eve with dinner with family and then came home to get ready for tomorrow morning. I sat and read through this book when all was finished. There are so many little things in here that put a smile on my face and helped put me in the right mood for Christmas. I have much to be grateful for. Life is awesome! Awesome is: Wrapping a gift in the last little bit of paper Having the wrapping match up perfectly Having the Christmas tree lights be the only ones on in the room

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How To Hug a Porcupine (Dr. John Lewis Lund)

I used to read a lot of "self-help" type books and for some reason I stopped. This book has been such a great experience for me that I have resolved that I will get back to reading them more often.

How To Hug a Porcupine really helped me to understand why some relationships with people dear to me are so difficult, and that I cannot fix them. Hopefully they will be able to fix them. This book could really help with the challenges. If nothing else, it has really helped me understand. It also really helped me with some ideas for how to respond to people who are uncomfortably critical (well, is there any kind of comfortable criticism??)

The epilogue really sums things up well:

The ultimate objective is for each of us to become our healthiest and best selves. This means that we cannot allow others to take us down. We live in a world of confused human beings. Unhealthy people surround us at time. We are left with making the best out of a difficult circumstance or relationship.

Recognizing destructive traits and labeling them for what they are helps us to accept reality and avoid denial. We must protect ourselves from toxic interactions and from toxic personalities. Standing up for ourselves is vital. Setting perimeters of what we will or will not permit as appropriate behavior establishes a boundary for a healthier relationship. Overcoming fear, doubt, and insecurity begins with a sincere determination to become our healthiest and best selves. All other decisions must be made in light of appropriate self-concern.

We will be held hostage by that which we fear the most. If it is divorce or abandonment, we must place being a healthy person above those fears. If what we fear is physical abuse, there are places to go and people who will help. Start by calling 911.

In a relationship where verbal and emotional abuse are present, the suggestions in this book will help. However, all the knowledge in the world cannot replace the need for us to act. Willingness does not come in a book. It comes from within each person.

It is my earnest desire each of us will find the strength to become our highest and best selves.
Sometimes that is the hard part. Reading the book is easy - well, sometimes it's easy. I found I drank this book up rather quickly - but sometimes I would have to stop and just let everything settle in my mind before I could go on with another chapter.

It's definitely a book worth reading. I'm thinking it's worth reading on an annual basis. I borrowed this from my dear friend, Patti. I am going to have to find myself a copy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What I'm Reading

It's Christmas Break and time for some freestyle reading! We will have some quiet time during the holidays and I'm really looking forward to snuggling up in the new blanket my students and their parents gave me and taking in a bunch of great books.

Maybe I'm being too ambitious, but this is what is on my list:

Inkheart - and what the heck, why not the rest of the series! (Inkspell, and Inkdeath)
Inkheart  Cover ImageInkspell Cover ImageInkdeath  Cover Image

Christmas Cookie Club

Cover Art Image

How Full is Your Bucket (great concept!)
 How full is your bucket? positive strategies for work and life  Cover Image
The Last Apprentice
 Cover Art Image
The Kitchen House

Cover Art Image

The Giver Series (there are 4 books....I've read the first one. The fourth just came out)
 The giver  Cover ImageGathering blue  Cover ImageMessenger  Cover ImageSon  Cover Image
How to Hug a Porcupine
 Wonder  Cover Image
End of Your Life Book Club
The end of your life book club  Cover Image

Friday, December 21, 2012

Finders Keepers (Andrea Spalding)

Finders Keepers 

This is kind of a good news, bad news story.
Good news: the kid's in book club chose Inkheart for this past month!
Bad news: it was too overwhelming for some, and some kids got too scared reading it
Good news: I found a great new book, and it came with great reviews from my son!
Bad news: I was later informed that the Gr. 4's use this book as a novel study (No wonder we had so many in our library
Good news: Hardly any of the Gr. 3's that I ended up getting this book for have read any of it (or is that bad news??)

I don't know. At least I enjoyed a good read!

The story is set in Alberta. Fort Macleod, as a matter of fact. I remember, as a kid, reading stories set in place I lived and being so thrilled by it. I still feel that way! It is kind of cool!

There are a lot of neat threads woven through the story. Learning disabilities, history and cool artifacts, relationships with white people and First Nations, and, did I mention, it is cool to read a book set in a place I know so well?

Definitely a book worth reading! It isn't too long either. I think it would make great read aloud.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Each Kindness (Jacqueline Woodson)

I read this book to my class today. The story is about showing kindness to others. When I picked it up at the library the librarian said to me, "That's an interesting book. When I read it I thought 'who is going to appreciate the beautiful artwork and amazing story in this book?"

She doesn't know my class! They sure did.

The example is given of a new girl in a class. No one wants to play with her, even when she asks. She seems to be poor, wears hand me down clothes, and doesn't have flashy toys.

Then, suddenly one day, she's gone.

One girl in the class realizes that she hasn't been kind and hopes for another chance.

The book ends with the problem totally unresolved. They don't get another chance to be kind to the new girl.

When I read it to my class they were totally quiet. And then when it was over they sat and looked at me. I didn't say anything. I just let them sit in their quiet for a moment. One girl finally said, "That's so sad!" We talked about why it's sad and how important it is to be kind to people around us. I commented that we are really lucky in our school because kids usually are kind to each other. But what about in our families? Are we kind to our siblings? That's where it's hardest...and perhaps where it is most important.

It's a beautiful book, with great potential for discussion.

This book would go great with The Hundred Dresses

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Escape From Camp 14 (Blaine Harden)

Every now and then I read a book that makes me wonder about our humanity and how we look after one another on this planet. This is the story of a man who was born in a work camp in North Korea. These camps are brutal. People are beaten, they are killed for minor infractions of camp rules, they are starved, and they are void of any of what we would consider natural human feelings.

Shin, the man in this story escaped from a work camp and struggles still to make his way in the free world. As the author says on p. 121, he spent 23 years in a open-air prison run by men who hung his mother, shot his brother, crippled his father, murdered pregnant women, beat children to death, taught him to betray his family, and tortured him over a fire.

He is out now, and lives in the USA, but in many ways he is still a prisoner. Just like when I read Left To Tell, I am shocked that this can happen in our world today. While I sleep in my warm bed, have the freedom to go wherever I want, to learn whatever I want, and make decisions about my own life, this still happens in North Korea. Is anyone doing anything about it? What can be done? We have satellite images that show tha camp that Shin lived I. Why is it no one does anything about it??!

Monday, December 3, 2012

What I'm Reading

It's been a great week of reading! Time for the Monday meme! What are you reading??!

Some books that found me but haven't started reading yet: How to Hug a Porcupine (John Lewis Lund) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) And I am working on reading these: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
Cover Art for The Christmas cookie club : a novel

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Breadcrumbs (Anne Ursu)

I love this book!! It is brilliantly written. It captures beautifully the magic of imagination alive with children. It makes you wonder if we all shouldn't stay in that phase of life. It is a book a well-read child would really get. And best of all, the princess has to save the prince! It made my feminist heart proud.

The story is about a girl named Hazel who has a best friend named Jack. Girls' and boys' can be best friends, of course, but there comes a time in life where people start thinking it's not okay. Hazel is at that point in life. Her friend Jack seems to be turning away and hanging out with boys more. Hazel knows something is wrong and only she can save him because only she knows the truth - his heart has been frozen by the White Witch. She has to do something! Sometimes the princess CAN save the prince. And sometimes kids DO know more than adults, and luckily they have magic and imagination on their side.

This book is full of themes that kid's face: leaving the magical world of imagination and growing up, figuring out who you really are (p. 176), learning to fit in (p. 17), or realizing it's okay to not fit in, being stifled by school and it's silly rules (p. 10), being adopted (p. 17), being a proper young lady like people expect you to be (p. 9) and relationships with parents. In this book the parents are lost in their own world and really no help to the kids because either they don't believe, or they're too busy with their own issues to even know the big problems the kids are facing...just like in all fairy tales. Parents and adults are totally peripheral.

The bread crumb theme was really interesting. I think the purpose of that was to talk about how sometimes you have to follow the clues that are left to comfort yourself, and sometimes you have to follow them to save yourself. (p. 15, p. 150)

I love how the author brings fairy tale characters into this story. It is brilliant! Because the characters in this story are familiar with so many great stories, they're able to build their lives around rich imaginative play. It is powerful! (p.224) Hazel's friendship with Jack is a strong one because he is the only person she knows who sees things for what they could be instead of what they are. Together they can see what lives beyond the edges of what your eyes take in. (p. 20)

Stories and books referenced:

p. 2 Narnia
p. 13 Wrinkle in Time
p. 31 The Golden Compass
p. ? Harry Potter
p. 161 Red Riding Hood
p. 164 Alive in Wonderland
p. 168 a woodsman
p. 171 Dorothy (red shoes)
p. 176 3 witches/fairies....from Cinderella??
p. 187 the witch from Sleeping Beauty?? she wanted to be beautiful....swan lady
p. 200 Hansel and Gretel (only Hansel's name is Ben)
p. 220 magic potions abound!
p. 224 a couple who turn little girls into flowers so they can keep them (??)
All through out part 2 there are wolves....they seem bad. Wolves are always bad in fairy tales right?  But on p. 252 she realizes these woods are ones where the woodsman tells lies, and so maybe the wolves are telling the truth (and they are!)
p. 253 the Little Match Girl
And of course, there is a magical object they use to save themselves from danger (a signed baseball!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

What am I Reading

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme many book bloggers are using. One of my favorites is The Late Bloomer's book blog. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
This meme helps me keep track of what I've read and plan out my reading for the next week. It's a growing trend!

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke for my Gr. 3 book club

Cover Art for The Christmas cookie club : a novel
The Christmas Cookie Club for my book club  with friends

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is our read aloud in class right now

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, just for fun

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winds of L'Acadie (Lois Donovan)

I heard about this book at the Kaleidoscope Conference I went to last month.  I felt like it started kind of slow, but the more I read, the more I enjoyed it. It just got better and better as I read. It is a story of a girl who is fom Toronto. She spends the summer with her grandparents in Nova Scotia. She learns about her heritage and becomes really interested in the story of the Acadians. I didn't even know this story at all. Apparently in the 1700's the Acadians were deported from Canada. The author did an amazing job of portraying how horrifying the scene was, and how tramatized the people were. And the ending was terrific!

I don't always like it when books are made into movies, but this book would be great makings of a movie.

I also especially loved that the author of this book is from Calgary and is a teacher. Her workshop really helped me see how great historical fiction can be for teaching. This is a great read!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Twits (Roald Dahl)

I read The Twits a number of years ago when my son was just starting school. He loved it then, and kids love it now.

I presented this book as a choice in my Grade 3 book club. I think I did a much better sales job on the other book. I didn't give this one much air time at all - but I think the clincher was that I told them, "Your parents will hate this book. The Twits are rude and mean and they play nasty tricks on each other."

That was it. They had to read it.

It's a hilarious book of adventurous tricks. It's full of silly laughs. It's a quick read - less than 100 pages. I think it was a great pick for our first book because almost anyone can be successful at reading this book.

What Am I Reading?

The Twits by Roald Dahl


The Winds of L'Acadie


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)

I just read this book again. I read it in the summer. We are reading it for Book Club so I read it quick (skimmed?) it one more time. You can read more about the book on my other blog here.

When I read this book I kept finding myself wondering if it could be true. The author gathered weird photos from garage sales and such and built a story around it. The stories are odd. The pictures are odd. And it is all put together so well that I had to question whether or not it possibly could happen.

It's really quite an entertaining read!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Witches (Roald Dahl)


I have always wanted to read The Witches aloud at Halloween time, and this year I finally got to. This book is a great read aloud. Sometimes, while doing s particular good job on my voice for the grand high witch some of the children in my class would timidly say, Mrs. Ackroyd I'm scared!" Success!! I hope they will always remember the thrill of listening to this story. I know I will always remember their squeals and laughter as we read this book. It is truly one of the best read alouds I have experienced! The story is about a boy whose parents die. He ends up living with his grandmother, who teaches him about the thing many children fear: witches! But not pretend witches.....real witches. And these witches hate children. Their mission in life is to rid the world of all children. And what an adventure it is as they battle it out! Definitely a must read.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hattie Big Sky (Kirby Larson)

Not that I am always persuaded by awards, but this book is a Newberry Honor book. That did intrigue me. More than that though, this book was talked about on a number of blogs I read. I have had it on my list for a while so I am happy to say I have finally read it.
I get why so many people rave about this book. It's very inspiring!
It is historical fiction, about a girl who is an orphan, and who attempts to earn a land claim in Montana in the early 1900's. She is only 16, but certain mature beyond her years, and has more of a work ethic than ANY 16 year old I know - well, anyone I know, really.
I was mesmerized by the stories of struggle, by the strength of friendship, and by the sadness of war. It was especially compelling to me today while reading the last hundred pages. Yesterday was the American election. Obama has won a second term, beating Mitt Romney. My Facebook page has been full of contention and political posts. I'm so ready for people to move on and quit fighting about politics!
I loved the character, Hattie. She is a hard working, never say quit, tough woman. A great role model! Sometimes fate works in her favor, and sometimes it doesn't. Whatever happens though, it is a beautiful read. I definitely recommend this book!
Some of my favorite memories from this book:
(page 121) When Hattie gets to Montana she realizes she is going to need to d osomething to earn some cash while she is working her claim, only she has no idea what she can do. She gets a letter from her uncle with a miracle, of sorts, for her:
Dear Hattie,
Your letters have provided me such entertainment and enlightenment that I have shraed them with Mr. George Miltenberger, editor of the Arlington News. He concurred that such lively observations about homestead life would be of general interest to his readership. As you will see from his letter (enclosed), he hopes to publish more of your stories. I hope you can accommodate him.
With affection,
Uncle Holt
So she ends up writing monthly articles in a paper, and get spaid $15 a month!

P. 216
One of the things that surprised me was the stories of people being downright mean and unkind to people who were German, or people who they didn't feel were being supportive enough of the war. At one point Hattie comes across a group of men bullying another man because they think he isn't being patriotic enough. She is horrified at what she sees, and more horrified that no one does something to stop the abuse.
"He lifted his glass to his lips, started to slip, then put the glass down. "It's the War."
I placed my palms on the desk, breathinging deeply. "Did the war burn Karl's barn?" I said slowly. "Break little Elmer's arm? Change you into a criminal"
"No." He sat heavily in a chair. "No. But this evil is so big. The fight has spread far beyond the battlefield. It's to the point that anything - even writing a letter on behalf of a pastor and his flock - can be seen as treason." (He had written a letter asking the pastor if some of the sermon could be given in the language of the congregation - and it wasn't English.
But somehow through all the challenges, Hattie's heart remains tender and kind.
P. 231
My uncle's hero is Abraham Lincoln, surely the ultimate symbol of independence. One of the stoires I love best about Lincoln is that after his election to office, he appointed some of his bitterest enemies to his cabinet. It seems then, as now, the greatest freedom is found in forgiveness. Let us embrace that element of liberty as we forgive our enemies as we forgive ourselves.

That message seems especially poignant as the bitterness of the American election settles.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Loser (Jerry Spinelli)

When I finished this book I was on a city transit bus. It didn't seem like a good place to throw a book as far as I could toss it. Anyplace else, I probably would have.

I was nagged into reading this book. I kept coming across it. I got a copy from a collection of books I ordered from Scholastic for gifts for my students. I put it aside. Who could I give that book to? I try to give books to kids that I think fit them. "Here. You're a loser. You'll like this." Serious? I got one from Scholastic as a free gift. I found another copy in my classroom. Serious? What was with that?? I only read it because it kept crossing my path - kind of poking me again and again.

"Okay! Fine! I'll read it!"

I was a little bit curious and hopeful. I have always liked the books I've read by Jerry Spinelli. In chapter 1 the reader is introduced to Zinkoff. He's the kid no one pays attention to. He's the kid that is socially awkward. He's the kid who doesn't have a best friend (or any friends?) Even though he is a loner, he is the kid who is just always happy and eager - maybe a little too eager.

At the start of the book he is starting Grade 1 and we continue with him through to the end of Grade 6. Things never change.

I felt uncomfortable with the blatant talk/writing about what a loser he was. I kept reading almost out of responsibility - someone has to keep an eye on this kid and keep him safe. I read, however, with one eye open, wincing, hoping things would change for Zinkoff. I hoped he'd find a friend. I hoped things would turn around and he'd become a hero. I hoped the people around him would see the good in him. They never did. And really, those cool kids were the biggest jerks! They were insecure and just plain terrible. I hated them. Zinkoff was always just "a loser". It never changed.

That's why I wanted to throw it at the end.

What was the point, Mr. Spinelli??

That was a painful read.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me (Roald Dahl)


I don't know how many times I have read this book with my son. He is now 10. He proves to me that kids really don't change that much. Sometimes I think he's too old to sit and snuggle together and read a book, but it's clear that he still loves it. He still has favorite books he likes to read again and again. He still jumps up and acts out things that happen in the book (It's like he can't help himself). He still likes the silliness of Roald Dahl. Well, truthfully, who doesn't?!

Roald Dahl amazes me. This book is just full of nonsense that doesn't seem like it would make a good story. You wouldn't imagine that you could make a story about a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey who meet a boy and they make him their business manager for their window washing business, but you can! They are able to solve a crime while cleaning the Duke's windows at his estate, that have not been washed for 50 years or so. The silly words, the silly actions, the plain old silliness of it all has made it a book that he have read a number of times in our house. My son has also listened to it on CD a few times and so he can't seem to help reading it with a British accent.

Really, it's quite a hoot. It's a quick read (we read the whole thing tonight in an hour!) and it's definitely worth it. Well, if you like silliness, it's worth it. But then, who doesn't.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I'm Reading

Still haven't finished Loser. I'm not loving that book...but I really should finish it and see if the ending makes me enjoy it more.

Hattie Big Sky has been recommended by a lot of bloggers that I read. I think I will jump into that book this week.

I'm reading The Witches aloud to my class. It's such a hoot. They're loving it! And so, I'm loving it too.


The Kaleidoscope Conference is coming up and I really should get reading some more books by the authors that will be there. *sigh* So mny good books. So little time!