Monday, April 28, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (4.28.14)

Every Monday bloggers all over the web participate in an effort to share books we have read and what we are excited about digging into. Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee & Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting us all!

What I Read this Week:

Crankenstein, by Samanthan Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013)
     We have all encountered a Crankenstein or two in our own lives. This book sweetly pokes fun at the crankiness of young ones and the unusual way in which that crankiness can be broken. I read this book with my 5 year-old nephew this week, as his 2 year-old brother listened in. It held both boys' interest, and garnered some knowing chuckles. Their mom enjoyed the reread, too. Certainly this is one of those books that is best enjoyed with your favorite little one.

Who Says Women Can't be Doctors?, by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
(Henry Holt & Co., 2013)

     This picture book biography informs students of the persistence and tenacity of Elizabeth Blackwell in her pursuit to be a doctor. Truthful and relate-able, Stone follows Blackwell's life from the conception of her dream to actualization, and she highlights the obstacles and challenges that had to be overcome.
      I'm glad to add this vibrant picture book to my biography collection. It compares well with other favorites that highlight perseverance and commitment from women, like Tillie the Terrible Swede and Thank You, Sarah.

Annie and Helen, by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Raul Colon

(Schwartz & Wade, 2012)
     I acquired this picture book at NCTE '13 and finally indulged in it this week. It is beautiful with soft illustrations and, most memorable, the inclusion of letters written by Helen Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan. This picture book allows the reader to feel engaged with the young Helen, trying to live with enormous frustration due to her disabilities. Similarly, readers can react to the feelings of Annie as she tried to be strong and consistent, holding out her belief that she could teach Helen. The incorporation of Annie's own words helps to communicate these feelings well.

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, by Loree Griffith Burns
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010)
     I am long overdue at investigating the Scientists in the Field series. This informational text about ocean currents and patterns of movements is full of information that will interest readers. The richness of the book is that the text also informs readers of possible careers in science and alerts readers to the significance of environmental advocacy by exploring the effects of trash in the ocean waters and what happens when ocean currents spread trash. The photographs and page layouts are attractive, modern, and well-designed to help attract readers' attention. This is a great find for updating the informational section of my classroom library.

The Summer Experiment, by Cathie Pelletier
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, April 1, 2014)
     Roberta McKinnon is a middle-grade girl character who, along with her best friend, is on a mission to earn top prize in the science fair competition. Roberta--who lives in the small, remote town of Allagash, Maine--finds herself in the heart of the excitement when the town is the site of UFO sightings. While Roberta and her friend, Marilee, pursue their scientific dreams, they encounter some typical growing pains, including loss, changing families, and an interest in boys.
      I had a unique interest in this book, familiar with Cathie Pelletier as a fellow citizen of Aroostook County, Maine. Her establishment of setting and the youth who live there is true to life, and I could appreciate the specificity of details that reminded me of my own upbringing in the St. John Valley. The characters in this book are likable, and the narrator is written with a realistic voice that will help her become a fast-friend to student readers'. The suspicion over whether or not they will have a close encounter with the UFO is convicting enough to hold student readers' attention. I'm curious to see other opinions of this book turn up as it becomes more discovered.

Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching, by Meenoo Rami

(Heinemann, March 4, 2014)
     Meenoo Rami's professional text is well-timed. In a day where many teachers are feeling isolated and disconnected from their passion for teaching, Rami offers straightforward suggestions for taking responsibility for increasing engagement and breaking through the walls that create that illusion of isolation. Rami addresses the ideas of mentorship, networking, building relationships with students, and pursing personal interests and goals.
      This book strikes me as important for teachers early in their careers in hopes that it will help them to sustain their passion and love for teaching. It also is a great publication for the more experienced teachers who are feeling the need to be replenished and freshen up in their practice. Any teacher who is open to growth and self-improvement will walk away with something from this text that they can immediately begin with as steps for reclaiming their teaching passion.

What I am Currently Reading:

What Readers Really Do, by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton
(Heinemann, 2012)

The Boy on the Porch, by Sharon Creech
(HarperCollins, 2013)

What I am Reading Next:
The Joy of Planning, by Franki Sibberson
Serafina's Promise, by Ann E. Burg
The Ghost of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage


  1. There are so many good Sullivan/Keller Books out there. I managed to interest my students in the topic by showing them You Tube videos of Keller talking. They were enthralled. My favorite middle grade one is Miss Spitfire by Miller.

  2. Thank you for that recommendation. I am acquiring something of a Helen Keller mini-set without intention!

  3. Loved, loved Boy on the Porch. Read it all in one sitting. Such a book. I love seeing so many of the Scientist in the Field titles on people's lists lately. I have so much appreciation for these books! Tracking Trash is on my TBR list.