Feathers

23 May

I have very little to say about this clip of Jason Reynolds’ commencement speech at Lesley University,  except you should watch it. And you might want to have a hankie.

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Audiobook Tuesdays

22 May

Books get published on Tuesdays. By that I mean that new books come out on Tuesdays. Don’t ask me why the publishers do this. They just do.

Because publishers publish on Tuesdays, I know that, when I get up Tuesday morning, I will have a message from my local library. You see, I am not an audiophile, I am an audiobookphile. I always have the maximum number of audiobooks on hold – sometimes I even exceed the maximum because I recommend books for purchase. When you recommend a book for purchase, you are automatically placed on its hold list, even if your holds are already maxed!!! Biblioheaven

This morning, when I got up, there were two new, just released audiobooks waiting for me. They are downloading to my iPad as I write. And I already added two books from my wishlist to my holds list, so my holds are maxed again and all is right with the world.

My next recommended book comes out in two weeks.

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In the meantime, I have 19 other holds to think about and several borrowed books to get through. The last month of driving to and from work will be just delightful!

 

My last read aloud?

21 May

Choosing a classroom read aloud is important and tricky. I am about to finish our current read aloud and have been thinking about which book I can read aloud to finish off the year. I found it in Breakout by Kate Messner.

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Publisher’s Summary: Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek–two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics–a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project–Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.

So, what makes this a great read aloud for the end of 6th grade?

  • a great mix of action and reflection that will appeal to readers who like those types of books
  • a variety of styles and voices that holds readers’ (and listeners’) attention
  • it tells the story of the end of a school year
  • authentic voices – I could visualize the protagonists right away
  • it touches on current issues without feeling preachy

The book comes out on June 5th, and Kate Messner is writing a series of posts about her experience writing the novel on her blog. It is well worth reading and I will probably share her posts with my students because it is interesting to see how she incorporated real life into a work of fiction.

This week’s book talks 5/14-17

18 May

A short week for me! I am at a union retreat in Hood River today, working hard, but also enjoying the local attractions. Consequently, I only booktalked 4 books this week. They are all books in a series…trying to get the kids thinking about summer reading plans. Summer is a great time to read a whole series.

Monday

Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate…..This is the first in the series and the only book published so far.

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Tuesday

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen…There are two other books in this series.

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Wednesday

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare…Six books in this series!

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Thursday

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger…This series has four books.

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A serious topic and an exciting read

17 May

A book can tackle a serious topic and still be an exciting read. In The Sky At Our Feet, author Nadia Hashimi tackles immigration issues and takes readers on a chase through New York City as our protagonist tries to get to safety.

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Publisher’s Summary: Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in the US, it’s hard to feel American now when he’s terrified that his mother will be discovered—and that they will be separated.

When he sees his mother being escorted from her workplace by two officers, Jason feels completely alone. He boards a train with the hope of finding his aunt in New York City, but as soon as he arrives in Penn Station, the bustling city makes him wonder if he’s overestimated what he can do.

After an accident lands him in the hospital, Jason finds an unlikely ally in a fellow patient. Max, a whip-smart girl who wants nothing more than to explore the world on her own terms, joins Jason in planning a daring escape out of the hospital and into the skyscraper jungle—even though they both know that no matter how big New York City is, they won’t be able to run forever.

The writing is tight and the story believable (except maybe for one part, but I willingly suspended my disbelief as I cheered for Jason D). This book will appeal to 10-14 year olds who like a fast paced story and those who love a book with heart.

As a side note, Jason and his mom are always asking and answering riddles. This so inspired me that I printed off a bunch of similar ones with numbers and letters, such as 26 L in the A – 26 Letters in the Alphabet. I gave them to my Enrichment class. At first they groaned, then they got competitive. I whistled hints. At the end of the period, one girl said, “I thought this was going to be lame, but it was really fun!: High praise indeed.

 

 

16 May

I don’t know that Katherine Applegate will ever write another book that will touch my heart the way The One and Only Ivan did. That puts her in a difficult spot because everything else she has written since, just pales in comparison.  On the upside, it means that I will always read what she has written because I know I am in for a journey that has depth and meaning, like her newest book Endling: The Last the first book in a series.

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Publisher’s Summary: Byx is the youngest member of her dairne pack. Believed to possess remarkable abilities, her mythical doglike species has been hunted to near extinction in the war-torn kingdom of Nedarra.

After her pack is hunted down and killed, Byx fears she may be the last of her species. The Endling. So Byx sets out to find safe haven, and to see if the legends of other hidden dairnes are true.

Along the way, she meets new allies—both animals and humans alike—who each have their own motivations for joining her quest. And although they begin as strangers, they become their own kind of family—one that will ultimately uncover a secret that may threaten every creature in their world.

Byx’s journey is a hero’s journey. It begins with tragedy an reader’s know it will end with some sort of triumph, but we will have to keep reading into the next book to find out what form that triumph will take.

One of my favorite characteristics of the dairne is that they can tell when a person is lying. I don’t think that Applegate was thinking about the present political situation, but the idea of fake news popped onto my head as I read. This morning as I was getting up, I was listening to the news and heard about the murder of another Mexican journalist. It can be dangerous to speak truth to power and the dairne do just that.

Applegate’s world building is meticulous and I truly felt as though I was journeying along with Byx. Endling: The Last  is a wonderful journey for middle grade readers.

 

 

Testing is snot funny

15 May

SBAC testing is very serious, and yet, I couldn’t help but laugh at the cacophony of upper respiratory noises emitted during our first day of testing – a mix of allergies and a feverish upper respiratory thing that has had kids out for a week, was sweeping my classroom. So many kids had to get up for tissues during the test period that I decided to put a box on every table for the next class.

As I knelt to pull out the last tissue boxes from the cupboard, I uttered a small gasp. The last boxes, in a Target multipack, were perfect for test season.

 

Although all the teaching posters were covered, I decided these were completely appropriate.

 

Jone Rush MacCulloch

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