Tag Archives: Kate Messner

This week’s book talks 5/21 -25

25 May

Monday: Breakout by Kate Messner

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Tuesday:  Votes For Women!  by Winifred Conkling

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Wednesday: The Playbook by Kwame Alexander

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Thursday:  Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

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Friday:  Elon Musk & the Quest For A Fantastic Future  by Ashlee Vance

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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 booktalks 9/25-9/28

29 Sep

It is banned Books Week, so I booktalked some books in my library that have been challenged over the years, in various places.

MONDAY,  I presented This One Summer.

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It was a popular check out last year and has already been checked out a couple of times. I was worried it wouldn’t be on the shelf for me this week.

TUESDAY, I shared The Seventh Wish.

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WEDNESDAY, I talked about The Golden Compass.  There is a new book in the series, La Belle Sauvage, coming October 19th. It seems an opportune time to introduce students to the series.

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I am at a conference Friday & Saturday, so my last booktalk was THURSDAY. I saved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for the end of the week.

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It is the only book in the HP series in my classroom library. I haven’t read it and don’t plan on reading this book. I like to leave Harry at the end of the Deathly Hallows. I live the life of a middle-aged person. I don;t need to see him as one.

Title twins: Epic Fails and Brilliant Falls

19 Jun

Sometimes the title of one book makes me think of another.

I just checked out The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. It reminded me of Kate Messner’s The  Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

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Both are solid middle grade novels that tackle issues of family. Both have strong grandmother characters, of which I am a little jealous, never having really known mine well. Both would make excellent summer reads for kids if late elementary, early middle school age.

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Publisher’s Summary: Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

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Publisher’s Summary: Gianna Z has less than one week to collect, identify, and creatively display 25 leaves for her science project-or else she won’t be able to compete in the upcoming cross-country sectionals race. As the deadline for her leaf project draws near, life keeps getting in the way. Some things are within Gee’s control, like her own procrastination, but others aren’t, like Biana Rinaldi’s attempts at sabotage and Nonna’s declining health. If it weren’t for her best friend Zig, Gee wouldn’t have a chance at finishing. His knowledge of trees and leaves in their rural Vermont town comes in very handy- as does his loyalty to Gee. But when Nonna disappears one afternoon, things like leaves and cross-country meets suddenly seem less important.

My Summer Writing Plans

13 Jun

I’m worried about summer slide. MY summer slide.

Oh, I have no concerns that I won’t read over summer. And I will do as much math as it takes to get through life.

No, it’s my writing.

It is such a huge portion of my life during the school year and I don’t want to give it up. I don;t want to keep using the same mentor texts I’ve written, even though they are good ones. I want to keep writing, and so, I signed up for Kate Messner’s Teachers Write 2017!

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Along with three other authors (Gae Polisner, Jen Vincent, and Jo Knowles), Kate will take anyone who signs up on a month-long adventure in writing.

Here is what it entails:

Mini-Lesson Mondays: Mondays feature mini-lessons on writing craft or logistics. We’ll share a workshop-style lesson with ideas, tips, and examples, and then there will be something to work on during the week. Jo also gets our writing juices flowing with Monday Morning Warm-Ups on her blog.

Tuesday Quick-Write: Tuesdays will feature a writing prompt that can be used to brainstorm new ideas or deepen your thinking on the project you’re working on now.

Wednesday Q and A: Ever wished you could just pick an author’s brain about how they do it?  Each Wednesday, we’ll have a post where anyone can ask questions about writing .  Our guest authors will answer!

Thursday Quick-Write: Like Tuesdays, Thursdays will feature a writing prompt that can be used to brainstorm new ideas or deepen your thinking on the project you’re working on now.

Revision Friday and Feedback Friday: Fridays will feature a guest author’s thoughts on revision, along with virtual lemonade.  Author Gae Polisner will also host Feedback Friday on her blog, where you can share your work, get ideas, and offer feedback to others.

Weekend reflections & Sunday check-in – Weekends are for recharging, spending time with family and friends…and that includes online writing friends, too!  Teacher-writer Jen Vincent hosts a Sunday check-in on her blog, Teach Mentor Texts.

The month-long class is free, but they ask that you purchase one book by each of the authors. I am always happy to add to my classroom library.

I stumbled on this last year, after it had started, and decided there and then that I would undertake it this year. I am keeping my vow.

Maybe I will see you there.

 

I Wish…

14 Jul

Jury duty day 2 was even less eventful than day 1. The jury coordinator stepped up to the mike 3 times to call the names of people to go up to courtrooms. Mine was not one of them. At 11:00 she came up for a fourth time to tell us that we could go home.

While waiting that second morning, I read  The Seventh Wish  by Kate Messner.

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This one got a bit of buzz in the media because some schools were hesitant about putting it in their library because it talks about the impact of heroin addiction on families. In fact, a school visit by Messner was canceled when an administrator got nervous. You can read Kate’s post about it HERE.

Publisher’s Summary:Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last. From her Mom’s new job to her sister’s life away at college, everything else always seems to be more important than Charlie’s upcoming dance competition or science project. Unsure of how to get her family’s attention, Charlie comes across the surprise of her life one day while ice-fishing . . . in the form of a floppy, scaly fish offering to grant her a wish in exchange for its freedom. Charlie can’t believe her luck until she realizes that this fish has a funny way of granting wishes, despite her best intentions. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they’ve ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish.

With the same warmth and fun that readers loved in All the Answers, Kate Messner weaves fantasy into the ordinary, giving every reader the opportunity to experience a little magic.

Kids should be able to read about hard topics. This can be hard for many adults because it might lead to kids asking questions some adults don’t want to aster. From experience, I can tell you that, if a kid isn’t ready, they will abandon the book, or finish it and say they didn’t like it.

Fortunately, the situation at the school that cancelled Kate’s visit is working towards resolution. From the end of her blog post:

Updated 6/13: On Saturday, I received an email from South Burlington’s Chamberlin School principal Holly Rouelle, who told me that a decision has been made to carry THE SEVENTH WISH in her school library. She also sent home a note letting parents know about an upcoming event at the public library on June 28th.  In addition, I’ve offered to reschedule this free author-visit presentation in the fall and hope Chamberlin will take me up on that offer, once school is back in session and they’ve had a chance to prepare the students.

I think the kids at that school have learned some very important lessons about censorship. Every Fall, ALA celebrates Banned Books Week. I hope this school joins in.

Questions & Answers

15 Jul

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As soon as I read the jacket blurb, I knew I had to read All the Answers  by Kate Messner.

Jacket blurb:When Ava Anderson finds an old blue pencil , it doesn’t seem like anything special. But then she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, and something very strange happens.  She hears a voice loud and clear – one that nobody else can hear – and it tells her the answer!

With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava sees that having a magic pencil in middles school can be very handy.   But as Ava’s reliance on the pencil grows, the truths it reveals about herself and her family lead Ava on an adventure she never expected to take.

In a story as heartfelt as it is magical, Kate Messner gives readers a glimpse at the biggest fantasy: a magic pencil that helps you through the ups and downs of middle school.

I really liked All the Answers  because it wasn’t quite the book I thought it was going to be. I expected Ava to use the pencil for schoolwork, which she does. But she quickly discovers it knows about things beyond school and asks it questions about family members. Ava is a worrier and the pencil is a comfort to her, until it gives her an answer that causes her to worry more, But it also helps her mature and learn to deal with things beyond her control.

Although Ava is in middle school, the book leans towards a younger demographic. Fourth & fifth graders will love this glimpse into the world of middle school and sixth graders may find some comfort in knowing that they are not alone in worrying. Heck, even this ld teacher, who is returning to middle school in September, found some comfort and wishes she could have a magic pencil to help her navigate a new world.

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