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Last stop on Market Street

17 Apr

When I hear the name Matt de la Peña, I think young adult literature. But, he has also become a picture book author with  Last Stop On Market Street which is marvelously illustrated by Christian Robinson.

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On his way home from church with his nana, CJ is impatient and wants things he a cannot have. As they travel on the bus, Nana ignites CJ’s imagination where trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. The text is an excellent example of “show don’t tell” writing that will inspire kids to see and imagine what is around them. This is a gentle book, but full of wonder.

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Kids from urban neighborhoods will connect with CJ’s environment, and kids in less urban environments will have an opportunity to experience city life. I was thinking of our kinder team and the units they teach, but any primary classroom will enjoy this book.

Random book thoughts

9 Apr

I’ve been reading a lot for the Morris award lately and haven’t read as much else outside of school. At school, however, a lot is happening, so, I thought I’d share some of what I’m up to and thinking about.

Last week, a Scholastic order came in which included a paperback copy of Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses.  It perplexed me at first. Something was not right. Then I realized they had changed to color of the cover. When I first  read the book, and when I read a student’s copy tot he class, it was fairly pink. The new cover on the paperback is more blue. It got me wondering if they’s changed it to encourage more boys to read it.

Before:                                                      After:

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In Reading, we are looking at nonfiction text right now and talking about a whole host of things. I’m using  Mosquito Bite by Alexandra Siy and Dennis Kunkel, as my intentional read aloud,

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My kids are so excited about this book. I’ve only read the first third but they are begging me to not do other work so they can hear the rest. Yup, I hooked them!

Finally, I just started R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, for my after lunch read aloud.

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This is not really on anybody’s radar. A few kids said they seen the book, but hadn’t read it and didn’t really know anything about it. PERFECT!! They loved Auggie’s voice from the start and I can see them wondering about what he looks like. We are looking for clues that the author is leaving for us.

2015 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award

6 Dec

The 2015 finalists are:

Laughing at My Nightmare written by Shane Burcaw, and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group;

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This one was not even on my radar, but I now have it on hold at the library.

 

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia written by Candace Fleming, and published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books;

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Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business—and Won! written by Emily Arnold McCully, and Published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

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I’ve seen this one around, but hadn’t paid it much attention. It’s now on hold, too.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights written by Steve Sheinkin, and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan’ Children’s Publishing Group;

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek written by Maya Van Wagenen, and published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

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 Check them out if you haven’t done so yet.

Physicist, cosmologist, astronaut

3 Dec

I’m currently thinking of revamping my biography unit. This is always daunting because it is so easy and comfortable to do things the way they’ve been done before. But I think this is a necessary step to take to make it better for  both the kids and for me.

I am always on the lookout for good biographies, either chapter books or picture books. It’s the writing that matters. And I’ve found a trio of good ones.

Albie’s First Word, by Jacqueline Tourville and Wynne Evans, is a fictionalized account the oft hear tale of the young Albert Einstein who didn’t talk until after he’d turned three.Unknown

The book goes through the concerns Einstein’s parents had that compelled them to take young Albert to a doctor, who prescribes experiences like taking him to the symphony and exposing him to new places, people and things. The illustrations give context and Albert’s eye are riveting. You can see the wisdom  and curiosity in them that will turn Albie into Albert Einstein. The endpapers are pages from Einstein’s actual notebooks and the Author’s Note provides more detailed biographical information.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson follows Carl from his days star-gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space.

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The back matter in this book includes an Author’s Note, a bibliography, and source notes. Fortunately, there aren’t billions & billions of them. ha ha.

Finally, for older or more confident readers we have a new biography of Sally Ride.

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Sally Ride: Life on a Mission by Sue Macy goes beyond her role as an astronaut. Did you know that,  in her lifetime, she was also a nationally ranked tennis player, a physicist who enjoyed reading Shakespeare, a university professor, the founder of a company that helped inspire girls and young women to pursue careers in science and math, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom? A readable biography and  an excellent example of a woman who excelled in Science & Math.

Ben & Vicky

8 Oct

What do Queen Victoria and Benjamin Franklin have in Common? Besides the new pictures books that feature each of them, they both loved swimming!

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Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine,  written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, is written in verse and tells the true story of Queen Victoria’s real dilemma. She wanted to bathe in the sea, but decorum dictated that she mustn’t.  Prince Albert, ever the innovator, created a bathing machine, a small house that permitted the Queen to bathe in privacy. The real thing has been restored and can still be seen.

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While listening to the 7th Jacky Faber book, Rapture of the Deep, I came across mention of the paddles Ben Franklin invented to help. What a delight to discover Barb Rosenstock’s  Ben Franklin;s Big Splash which talks about Ben’s desire to become a better swimmer. To go faster he first created hand paddles, which were very effective. His feet paddles were less helpful. The playful illustrations, by S. D. Schindler, show a naked Ben swimming, with vital parts strategically covered by water.

Both books take readers through the design process and would be a fun introduction to ann engineering and design unit.

1964

1 Oct

I will turn 50 in December. I am actually very OK with that. I wish the body wasn’t as creaky as it has become, but I am much more confident at 50 than I ever was at 30.

1964 was a tumultuous year and tumult makes for good reading.Here are 2 books set in the tumult of 1964.

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Deborah Wiles’ Revolution is second book in her Sixties’ trilogy. It is set in Mississippi during Freedom Summer and, like Countdown, uses words and images to make the reader feel more connected.The inclusion of primary sources is very effective and explains why this title is being mentioned as a contender for a variety of book awards.

From the publisher:

It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer.

Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool, where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

As she did in her groundbreaking documentary novel Countdown, award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place, and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what’s right.

The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell focuses on one aspect of the summer of 1964.

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This is a non-fiction book that takes a comprehensive look at the brutal murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, through to the conviction in 2005 of mastermind Edgar Ray Killen. It is well researched, written and documented.

Both of these books are published by scholastic, who has some online Guide to Teaching and Talking About the Civil Rights Movement With Books for Children and Teens. Both books are certainly the sort of thing teachers are looking for to support Common Core Standards.

Some Non-fiction news

18 Sep

Just guess who has been selected to be a YA Nonfiction round 2 judge for the 2014 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards  ME!

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The CYBILS, as they are commonly known have a mission:

to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Round 1 judges have to read all the nominated titles in their category and create a list of finalists. Round 2 judges read all the finalist tiles and come to consensus on a winner. I thought my first time through, I’d prefer to be a second round judge because I thought it might be a better place to get my feet wet.

If you have read a children’s or young adult book this year that you really loved, you can nominate it. Public nominations run from Oct. 1-15 every year. The form will be live at http://www.cybils.com at 12:00 a.m. PST on October 1. They’ve tried to make the form mobile-friendly, so you can use your phone to nominate if you prefer.

I’ve been reading 2 YA NF books recently, one of which I finally finished last night. I’m not sure if I am allowed to blog about them or not (I haven’t read the fine print yet) but let me recommend them to you with few words.

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The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming is a look at the end of the Romanov dynasty in Russia.

 

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Babe Conquers the World by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace is a biography of Babe Didrickson Zaharias.

Enjoy!

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Sounding my barbaric yawp

27 Aug

Today, I get to present to my staff about the CCSS for reading. There will be grumbles as I sound my barbaric yawp about best teaching practices in reading. I know this. I am prepared. I am going to show them this and maybe other clips from Dead Poets’ Society. Really, it comes down to this question: Do you want to be Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, or do you want to be Mr. Keating?

Last week I started reading Falling in Love With Close Reading by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts.

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I will be facilitating a book group/action research group with any staff members who are interested. I am hopeful that we have a biggish group, and that there are some people who join who might be a little uncomfortable with the whole thing.

I am excited about all the changes happening for me this year, but had a little meltdown when I got home yesterday because I haven’t had a chance to unpack any of my stuff and we are full on for meetings all day today and tomorrow morning. It’s this way every year.  I know, once the real business of teaching begins, it will be good. I just have to make it through this week.

 

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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