Saturday, January 18, 2020

Book Recommendation: Hello Universe #iLoveMG

Welcome to #iLoveMG where I share middle grade books that my fifth graders recommend. (Please note that my fifth graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for fifth graders.) Or check out #3rdfor3rd for recommendations from when I taught third grade.

Hello Universe

Recommended by Yusuf


As you can see on the image my book review is about the book Hello, Universe.

This book is realistic fiction which means it is fiction but it could happen in real life. The author is Erin Entrada Kelly. Not all of them are friends. And not even all of them go to the same school. But when the bully pulls of something unacceptable, all if the kids' lives get pulled together. If you are a person who loves adventure this book would be a PERFECT fit for you

Click here for all of our #iLoveMG posts. What are your favorite middle grade books?


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Book Recommendation: Dragons in a Bag #iLoveMG

Welcome to #iLoveMG where I share middle grade books that my fifth graders recommend. (Please note that my fifth graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for fifth graders.) Or check out #3rdfor3rd for recommendations from when I taught third grade.

Dragons in a Bag

Recommended by Sawyer

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott. Realistic Fiction and Fantasy.

Dragons in a Bag is about a boy named Jaxon (but most of the book refers to him as Jax) and his mom has to go to court. His mom drops him off at "Ma's" house, but Ma seems to be hiding something big.

I really liked this book because it was action-packed with twists and turns, and because it seems like it really could happen.

If you like mysteries, dragons, action, and adventure, I think you would really like this book.

[Note from me: the sequel in this planned trilogy, The Dragon Thief, came out on October.]


Click here for all of our #iLoveMG posts. What are your favorite middle grade books?

Monday, January 6, 2020

#MockNewbery: The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown (spoilers)

For the month of January, I will be participating in Heavy Medal's Mock Newbery Award discussion and voting. You can follow along with the whole process here. I hosted a Mock Newbery Club at school this past semester, and my students and I are eager to see which books come out on top. The Heavy Medal team has chosen a slate of 15 contenders that we will be discussing this month. I will be sharing my thoughts here as well as on their site. (Click here to see all Mock Newbery posts.)

* Spoiler Alert *

All Mock Newbery posts assume you have read the book.

The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown



The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Sarah Jacoby is a 42-page picture book (echoing the 42 years of her short life). I shared this book with both fifth grade classes during our library time in December, and many students had fond memories of Margaret Wise Brown's picture books. (I read aloud Goodnight Moon to them without once looking at the pages, since the toddler is also a big fan.)


Positives:

Since Last Stop on Market Street won the 2016 Newbery, folks have stopped automatically throwing picture books into the "Caldecott-only" pile, but it's still an uphill battle. The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown is a concise, quirky book with a fascinating voice and style. An early example is the question-and-answer format near the beginning, and I love how Barnett added in such kid-perfect questions.
Did she have a dog?
She had lots.
What was her favorite dog's name?
His name was Crispin's Crispin.
Was he a good boy?
She thought so, but he bit lots of people.
Is any of this important?
Why do you ask?
What is important about Margaret Wise Brown?

The style of the book is a perfect fit with the style of the subject and of her own books as well. The interpretation of the theme of one's life is a lofty goal and is achieved in an interesting and still informative way. There are also many connections for the reader to ponder between a story of someone else's life and the impact it might have on their own.

Final quote, as food for thought:

No good book is loved by everyone,
and any good book is bound to bother somebody.
Because every good book is at least a little bit strange,
and there are some people who do not
like strange things in their worlds.

Criticisms:

For a very short book (42 pages), there is perhaps an over-abundance of attention paid to the "antagonist" - Anne Carroll Moore. She appears on page 20 and carries through until page 37, which is a significant portion of the story. I'd be curious to know what had to be cut to make so much room for her.

My final complaint is the one I always make about picture book biographies - the lack of backmatter. While I liked the stylistic idea of making a 42-page book about her 42-years-long life, backmatter is a big deal for teacher and librarian readers. It helps fill in the sources, expand the story, and explain some of the author's choices. It can also highlight small details (like how the line about lives ending "as fast as you kick your leg in the air" references Margaret Wise Brown's untimely death from a blood clot released when she kicked her leg to show her doctors she was feeling fine). It's not a critical point relative to the Newbery criteria, but it is one that irks me nonetheless.


What do you think about the book? Do you have a top contender (or several) for this year's Newbery? (Click here for all my Mock Newbery posts.)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 01/06/20



It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



Recent Posts


      Picture Books



      The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Sarah Jacoby. This is the book-of-the-day under discussion for the Mock Newbery challenge hosted by Heavy Medal. You can read my full thoughts about the book here.

      Middle Grade



      Right before winter break's #IMWAYR board for my fifth graders.


      The Line Tender is Kate Allen's debut book. It's another for the Mock Newbery challenge, and it is definitely a book that I would qualify as "Newbery bait" - dead mother before the book opens with another major upheaval in the main character's life as the key plot point. (No dead dogs, though there are several sharks.) It was a bit of a miss for me - too much sad and too over the top (especially the timing) that I couldn't get hooked on the character first. Still putting together my full thoughts for later in the week.


      Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

      Saturday, January 4, 2020

      Book Recommendation: Tumble and Blue #iLoveMG

      Welcome to #iLoveMG where I share middle grade books that my fifth graders recommend. (Please note that my fifth graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for fifth graders.) Or check out #3rdfor3rd for recommendations from when I taught third grade.

      This series was so popular, two students chose it for their reviews. Enjoy!

      Tumble and Blue

      Recommended by Jillian


      Tumble and Blue is wonderful book by Cassie Beasley, about friendship and one curse that brings them together. Each of Blue's family members have a different curse. Some are good and grants them powers like always winning and the power to create illusions. But Blue has a bad curse, he never wins.

      He has to go to his grandmother's house for the summer and meets a girl named Tumble who has recently moved to a house near where Blue is staying. They meet surprisingly and they become best friends. But Blue accidentally tells Tumble his secret. Tumble understands and wants to help Blue win something that he has wanted to win for as long as he can remember. But soon it seems clear to Blue that Tumble is hiding something from him as well. Strange things start happening to Blue's family and they are the only ones who can stop it. This story is about Tumble and Blue's journey through winning and losing.

      I loved this book because it expresses lots of realness in the sense that it talks about family and secrets but is magic with its curses and talking creatures. I thought this book was sweet and savory in some places and I think that you should read this book too.

      Click here for all of our #iLoveMG posts. What are your favorite middle grade books?

      Thursday, January 2, 2020

      #MockNewbery: Beverly, Right Here (spoilers)

      For the month of January, I will be participating in Heavy Medal's Mock Newbery Award discussion and voting. You can follow along with the whole process here. I hosted a Mock Newbery Club at school this past semester, and my students and I are eager to see which books come out on top. The Heavy Medal team has chosen a slate of 15 contenders that we will be discussing this month. I will be sharing my thoughts here as well as on their site.

      * Spoiler Alert *

      All Mock Newbery posts assume you have read the book.

      Beverly, Right Here


      Beverly, Right Here is the third book in the series that began with Raymie Nightingale and was followed up with Louisiana's Way Home last year. This book follows Beverly, the last of the three rancheros, as she decides to make her own way into the world by running away from home. She meets an assorted cast of well-drawn characters that help her figure out more about who she is and who she wants to be.

      Positives:

      Kate DiCamillo has a way with words. If you have never had the pleasure of hearing her speak, you should. The way she crafts phrases and sentences makes you want to give up everything just to keep listening/reading. In her books, she uses that gift to craft fascinating sentences and unique, quirky characters.


      Criticisms:

      I will admit the the Raymie trilogy have been my least favorite of DiCamillo's books. Raymie felt like a re-tread of Because of Winn-Dixie, and Louisiana felt like a white-wash of child neglect and abandonment.

      Beverly, while set in 1979, feels like it is set on another planet entirely. Maybe I had just read a few too many MG/YA contemporary realistic fiction books, but it feels like writers are doing so much more now to open kids' eyes to the realities (and real dangers) of the world around them. In that sense, Beverly, Right Here seems like escapist fantasy.

      We are meant to believe that a 14-year-old girl with no plans can run away from home and find herself encountering only helpful, well-intentioned (even if cranky) people? That there are no real dangers and everything will be just fine? Personally I found this aspect of the book rather troubling, and my inability to suspend disbelief made it hard for me to commit to caring about the story and the characters.

      I will also just note that as a teacher of both fifth and seventh grade during the publication of the trilogy, I have yet to come across a student who was drawn to these books, so I do wonder about their overall reception with the intended audience.


      What do you think about the book? Do you have a top contender (or several) for this year's Newbery? (Click here for all my Mock Newbery posts.)

      Saturday, December 28, 2019

      Book Recommendation: Treasure Hunters series #iLoveMG

      Welcome to #iLoveMG where I share middle grade books that my fifth graders recommend. (Please note that my fifth graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for fifth graders.) Or check out #3rdfor3rd for recommendations from when I taught third grade.

      This series was so popular, two students chose it for their reviews. Enjoy!

      Treasure Hunters

      Recommended by Eli

      Hola amigos (Hello friends),

      The book that I am reviewing is Treasure Hunters by James Patterson. It is a series, so there are more books. The book is about four kids with different personalities have to work together to gather treasures after they loose their parents on the job.

      The book was really engaging. I really enjoyed the plot and it was very hard to stop. We were driving around the Ningaloo Peninsula (in Australia, look at the link) and I had the time to do the reading.

      Some kids loose their parents nowadays. They have a lot of challenges to deal with. This is similar to that.

      If you like adventure, mystery, surprises and more, this is the book for you. I give it 5/5 stars. Hope you enjoy it!

      Treasure Hunters

      Recommended by Caleb

      With six books in the series, you'll forget them once you reach the end.. so you can restart and have the same amount of fun.

      The Treasure Hunters! series is by James Patterson. Genre: Adventure.

      They're about these people named Bick, Beck, Storm, and Tommy Kidd. (Bickford, Rebecca, Stephanie, and Tommy.) They treasure hunt, but something happens, and they need a treasure to fix it.

      The books have creativity, a drawing every few pages, and the plot hooks you on so much you'll read it an hour a day!

      I have no connection to these books whatsoever, they are really unusual kids, but I like the book anyways..

      If you like creative books with pictures every few pages about people treasure hunting named Bick, Beck, Storm, and Tommy, you'll LOVE these books!

      In conclusion, this is probably my favorite book of all time and the rating is 5 stars!

      Book 1: Treasure Hunters

      Book 2: Danger down the Nile

      Book 3: Secret of the Forbidden City

      Book 4: Peril at the Top of the World

      Book 5: Quest for the City of Gold

      Book 6: All-American Adventure

      COMING JUNE 8TH, 2020: Book 7: The Plunder down Under

      Click here for all of our #iLoveMG posts. What are your favorite middle grade books?