Monday, September 22, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (9.22.14)

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:

Greenglass House, by Kate Milford
(Clarion Books, August 26, 2014, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
     Milo lives with his adoptive parents in the Greenglass House, an inn with history of sheltering runners. The Christmas vacation has just begun, but Milo soon finds his intended plans of relaxation and time with his parents will be put off as several unexpected traveling guests arrive one after the other. The cast of visiting characters are peculiar and interesting to Milo, especially when the there are thefts in the house. Milo and his newfound friend Meddy take up the charge to solve the mystery through assumed roles of a role-playing game.
     I was interested and intrigued through the book, mentally working alongside Milo and Meddy to string together hints or clues planted by Kate Milford to help the reader solve the mystery, too. Still, a significant twist snuck up upon me giving me that sort of a jolt that made me appreciate the story even more. Typically not a mystery-reader, the Greenglass House won me over, and I suspect many students will be happy to jump into the book to keep company with Milo and Meddy, if they are sophisticated enough readers to keep track of the many characters and details.

A Million Ways Home, by Dianna Dorisi Winget
(Scholastic Press, August 26, 2014, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
     Although Poppy has only escaped from the children's home to find her grandmother--her guardian--at the nursing home and ensure she is being cared for, Poppy lands herself in a heap of trouble as the only eye-witness to a robbery and murder at a gas station. Poppy enters the protective care of the detective and his mother and experiences what it is like to have someone genuinely care for you, about you. Poppy breaks through the tough exterior of Lizzie, another pre-teen with a reputation for questionable decisions, and she succeeds in training a dog with a track record for impulsive, dangerous behaviors. Poppy's help is necessary to closing the case on the robbery/murder, but can she do that with the looming fear of returning to the children's home and life without the warmth of others?
     Though I have some concern about the fear factor that some readers will have by reading this book and journeying with Poppy, the happy ending that comes will hopefully overshadow the tragic losses that have befallen Poppy. The cover is slightly misleading, suggesting the dog (Gunnar) plays a larger role in the book than he does; it really isn't a dog story even though it looks like it.

Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech
(HarperCollins, 2001)
     Jack's class is studying poetry, and he is expected to write in response to the poems. First he sees himself as incapable, yet by writing to learn and some validation from his teacher, Jack produces poetry that earns him positive attention. As he writes about his dog, he finds his poetic voice and develops his self-perception as a writer.
     I cannot figure out why I had not read this book before. I have no idea what kept me from it previously, because now I cannot stop thinking about ways it could be incorporated into my writing instruction, and it has sent me into a reflective mindset about what worked for Jack as a student and what ideas I can "borrow" from his classroom. As a novel in verse, I'm looking forward to recommending this title to my 4th graders right away.

Aviary Wonders, Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual, by Kate Samworth
(Clarion Books, March 4, 2014)
     This picture book has only a small indication that it is just that, a picture book, and not a legitimate catalog from the future advertising bird parts that can be ordered and constructed to make birds...since birds are extinct. Teetering between informational and a science fiction, the book does include scientific vocabulary and explanation of the specialized parts, such as claws and beaks. Thought-provoking, to say the least, this book deserves many rereads and will offer something new--whether details on the page or considerations in thinking--with each encounter.

What I am Currently Reading:
The Magician's Fire, by Simon Nicholson
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, October 7, 2014, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)

The Writing Thief, by Ruth Culham
(International Reading Association, April 28, 2014)

What I am Reading Next:
(going back to) Bugged!, by Sarah Albee
Gracefully Grayson, Amy Polonsky
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana


  1. I was really bothered when Milo and Meddy had different names that they used for their game, and sometimes both names were used on the same page. I did love A Million Ways Home, and for middle school students who want gory murder mysteries, it won't be too frightening. Lots of good books this week!

    1. Thank you. I definitely think my appreciation for Greenglass House would have been different if I were reading it as a student. When we talk about text complexity, this book is a perfect fit.

  2. I used to assign Love That Dog in my Children's Lit class--and still would, only I've moved away from assigning books. But it's one I push on everyone--SO many ways to use it in the classroom. Great for my many college students who think they don't like or get poetry or who worry that their students won't like or get poetry. I just ordered Greenglass House--looking forward to reading it. It certainly has a beautiful cover.

    1. I was so delighted yesterday when I book talked Love that Dog and the kids asked me to read the first page. I did, and they were clambering for it!

  3. You've gotten some good ARCs from NetGalley! Love that Dog is one of my all-time favorites!

    1. I have been very lucky. I'm grateful for the opportunities NetGalley provides. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I can't wait to get to Greenglass House, it sounds promising! I loved A Million Ways Home, but like you said, some kids could end up a little frightened by it.
    I haven't read Love That Dog but my co-worker loved it. I know I should read it soon!

    1. It's interesting. I perceived A Million Ways Home to be a book that would find more girl readers than boys, but so far my students who have been attracted to it are the boys!

  5. I have a very interesting project that I plan to launch with my class this year and Aviary Wonders Inc will be a part of it. Really loved this book.