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:
(Algonguin Young Readers, March 25, 2014)
Francesca (Frankie) Snell has a big heart that is troubled by grief left when her little brother, Simon, accidentally drowned at the beach. Grief has thwarted her home life, as she and her mom and her dad are all handling the loss of Simon in their own ways. Additionally, Frankie's best friend Lisette has jumped ahead in the teenage race for romance, and something about Lisette's boyfriend Bradley makes Frankie curious about love. When Frankie Sky (short for Schyler) clambers into Frankie's life, she is faced with more reminders of her brother than she is ready for, but something about this four-year old boy coaxes her around to a summer of growth and letting go.
Frankie (and Frankie) will climb into your heart and you will find yourself wishing for their well-being more and more with each turn of the page. In Frankie, Gae Polisner creates a character on the page that realistically muddles in a tangle of 15-year old emotions. Polisner's book will leave you wondering about the possible and the impossible around death and loss and have you hoping for healing for the Frankies and their families.
Where I Belong, by Mary Downing Hahn
(Clarion Books, September 2, 2014, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
Brendan is troubled by the threat of failing sixth grade, a rigid foster mother who doesn't embrace him, and a pack of bullies who taunt and beat him for wearing a long hair style and his lazy attitude towards school. Brendan's love for the natural world draws him to the woods in pursuit of the Green Man. He builds a tree house there and prepares the dwelling so he could retreat to life alone in the woods (like the Green Man) if he wanted. One day the Green Man turns up, in the likeness of a homeless man, and Brendan's tree house and relationship with the Green Man cause him to befriend Shea, a girl with troubles of her own. On the other side of a lot of struggle and violence, Brendan begins to find acceptance.
I wanted to like this book. At the start, Brendan's character had my attention, and I anticipated more hope within it's pages. However, the weight of Brendan's troubles and the grave bullying scenes of gang-jumping style (including alcohol, knives, and leading to a man's death) left me questioning what reading audience I would promote this book with.
Projecting Possibilities is a support tool for educators who are organizing writing instruction. Glover and Berry advocate a preparation style of "projecting" rather than "planning," which allows for increased preparedness and responsiveness to students' needs. This text guides readers through steps of projecting, including analysis of mentor texts for immersion and instruction, goal setting, generating minilesson ideas, and accounting for celebration of writing. Moreover, the duo also recommends projecting genre-specific and non-genre-specific units of instruction, lending writing units to student choice for practice.
This recommended text was the right book at the right time for me, affirming a lot of my practice, and challenging me to broaden my scope. It aligns so well with the work I remember from NBPTS! This could be a great title to anchor planning (er, projecting) work for teachers at a common grade-level or even across grade-levels. It would open conversations about scope and sequence, which are frequently concerns in my school district. I'm looking forward to tinkering with my writing instruction with some nudges from Glover and Berry.
What I am Currently Reading:
Nest, by Esther Ehrlich
(Wendy Lamb Books, September 9, 2014)
What I am Reading Next:
Leroy Nicker Saddles Up, by Kate DiCamillo
Greenglass House, by Kate Milford
Sway, by Amber McRee Turner