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.