Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (6.23.14)

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:

(Ok, confession: I didn't read this one THIS week, but I still needed to mention it!)
Manhunt, by Kate Messner

(Scholastic Books, June 24, 2014 - ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
     Manhunt is the awaited finale in the Capture the Flag triology. For fans who read the mystery-driven adventures of Henry, Anna, and Jose, this next adventure does not disappoint. I enjoyed all three titles, but this one may be my favorite.
      The three children are reunited when their Silver Jaguar Society connections are called to assist with an art heist. Though the initial setting of the book is Boston, MA, the society members are soon off to Paris, France, and when the adults begin their top secret work, the kids are free to venture, attempting to beat their adult relatives to the solution. Their regular dynamics are changed with the introduction of a new French character, Hem, who the group has mixed feelings about. Throughout the book, Messner succeeds in enlisting the reader as another "member" of the Silver Jaguar Society clan-it is inevitable that the reader begins to puzzle through the mystery themselves. In anything I have read by Kate Messner, her research always impresses me, but her thorough research allows this book's accurate description of the sights and sounds, reminding me of my fondness for the city of Paris.

Absolutely, Almost, by Lisa Graff
(Philomel, June 12, 2014)
     Albie is almost. Almost...anything. Albie is a student in any of our classrooms with his self-perception of inadequacy and comparison to others. When Albie's mom announces a new babysitter, Callista, Albie wants to argue and deny that there is any need. However, Callista turns out to be a significant influence for Albie as she is that older person who treats him respectfully, honors his individuality, and reflects back to him what it is he IS, pure and true.
     Lisa Graff is an author I've enjoyed reading, and even if I still love The Thing About Georgie as my favorite Graff novel, Absolutely, Almost comes awfully close. Albie is that student in your classroom who you empathize for because he so badly wants a chance to be "the one" with a chance to shine. Albie is the kid with a kind heart who wonders why his best isn't enough to get him noticed or help him feel important. Kids in our classrooms need Albie, Lisa Graff gifted him to us, and now we have to forge the connections. Albie will be perfect companion for so many.

Read Write Teach, by Linda Rief
(Heinemann, April 21, 2014)

     In her most recent professional text, Linda Rief invites us into her classroom, providing a walk through of the learning environment she crafts for students through deliberate orchestration of activities that promote choice and challenge for her middle school students. Using narrative description, anecdotes, and ample student work samples, Rief offers more than a glimpse into the ways she seamlessly promotes reading and writing, manages the activity of her classroom, and evaluates student progress. This will be a good read for teachers who are exploring ideas for instilling the importance of reading like a writer and, in turn, writing like a reader. Rief writes in with a style that is compassionate, understanding, and gentle-just like she presents in person. 

The Meaning of Maggie, by Megan Jean Sovern
(Chronicle Books, May 6, 2014)
     In some ways, Maggie Mayfield is a typical 5th grade girl who is trying to make sense of the world around her-particularly as it relates to relationships with her family, friends, and boys. As a kid with factual smarts, but little social awareness, Maggie is awkward in a wonderfully charming way. Maggie and her family are living life with the added dimension of caring for a dad with Multiple Sclerosis. Accurate to real family dynamics in dealing with such illness, the family members-including Maggie-come to terms with his debilitating state in their own time. All the while, Maggie continues to grow into her "self."
     I instantly had empathy for Maggie and her shallow understanding of her father's condition. I am curious to see how students respond to Maggie, but more so to the choice Sovern made to leave her father's condition unnamed for so long in the book. I suspect The Meaning of Maggie will be another great read aloud with classrooms full of talk in the company of Rules, Wonder, and Out of My Mind.

Athlete vs. Mathlete, by W. C. Mack

(Bloomsbury USA Childrens, February 2013)
     This was my next title as I continue to try to read most of the Maine Student Book Award list. I jumped into it quickly because it was handed to by one of my students in the last week of school who insisted I needed to read it because he really enjoyed it.
     Athlete vs. Mathlete is the story of twin boys who-though twins-have stereo-typically developed interests in different areas. Owen is the renowned athlete with a passion for basketball, while Russell prefers to excel academically on his school's Masters of the Mind team. When a new basketball coach arrives at the school and plants a seed of recruitment in Russell's mind, status quo is challenged, and Russell finds himself curious about playing. He goes on to make the team, and then the boys have a new dynamic to adjust to, surfacing the kind of rivalry and jealousy that many sports-oriented readers prefer. The book wraps up with a tidy and positive message about the importance of family as tried and true support.

What I am Currently Reading:
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
(August 28, 2014, ARC)

What I am Reading Next:
Circa Now, by Amber McRee Turner
How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, by Jess Keating
What Readers Really Do, by Dorothy Barnhouse & Vicki Vinton


  1. Brown Girl Dreaming is a title I can't wait to read and hearing so many wonderful things about Absolutely Almost - this is also on my list!

    1. Both were really great, in different ways. I can't wait to take them back into my classroom in the fall!

  2. The Capture the Flag trilogy and Athlete vs. Mathlete sound like two my son would like. Thanks for the recommendations! Have a great week!

    1. You're very welcome! I love when sharing thoughts about a book leads it into other people's hands. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Yep, I want to read all of these!

  4. How have I not seen your blog before fellow Maine girl? Must write all of these down!!!