Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Arrow Finds It's Mark: A Book of Found Poems

Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Roaring Brook Press 
Twitter feeds, school notes, advertisements, street signs--find poetry in the unlikely places with thirty contemporary poets.
Imagine picking up a scrap of paper off the floor or reading a sign at a gas station or looking at graffiti on the subway and finding poetry in these words. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poems take existing text, reorder and refashion it, and present it as a poem. Youthful, urban, and ironic, this energetic and surprising poetic form demonstrates the beauty of everyday words and will inspire young poets to find their own poetry.
 I love it when my students and I create found poems. They are so much fun and can be hilarious, serious, heart breaking, and so much more. I collect student examples to use every year, but now I have another resource to show some great examples. This book is a wonderful collection of Found Poems that are quick, easy reads.

Teaching Ideas:
This is a great mentor text to use when teaching Found Poetry. Each poem has the original source documented so that teachers can find it or give students an idea as to where it came from and how they can create their own. 

Creativity is key with Found Poetry. Students can type or write their poems and find or create illustrations to go with them. Allow students to be creative with their poetry both in its format and what you are going to have them do with it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What do you mean by Flipped Classroom?

By definition a Flipped Classroom is when your students complete the traditional lecture that would be done during class at home the night before for homework. They view a video lesson the teacher has created or found outside of the classroom prior to the day's lesson. The video is no longer than 15 minutes. Class time is then spent on inquiry-based learning which is what would typically be viewed as "homework." This is the application part. Which, if you think about it, is where we ensure that our students are demonstrating that they comprehend what was taught. 

If we teach it then have our students work on a generated worksheet, read a quick passage, complete few problems, or whatever else in the last 10-15 minutes of class, are we truly ensuring that they comprehend the lesson taught enough to complete extended practice at home when we can't help them?

Sometimes our students get it. But more often than not, they don't. When they bring their homework back the next day I will have some who have completed the work (usually only a handful), some who have given it a go and done fairly well, some who just wrote down answers thinking that I wouldn't really look, some that gave up after a few (maybe even one) problems in, and then the group who just didn't start it because they never understood it to begin with. This is where the Flipped Classroom can help.

I have used the flipped classroom and love it! Technology can be an issue because some students won't have access to a device to watch a video the night before. At my school, we have computer labs that are open in the morning prior to school so that students who don't have access can come and view the lesson. I have also used a modified version of this in my classroom where my students watch the video at the beginning of class and then complete the work after. 

Teachers, what are your thoughts? Have you used the Flipped method? 

Can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Theory of Everything by JJ Johnson

Hardcover, 334 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Peachtree Publishers 
Just because everyone else thinks you should be over it doesn't mean you are.

Last year, Sarah's best friend Jamie died in a freak accident. Back then, everyone was sad; now they're just ready for Sarah to get over it and move on.

But Sarah's not ready to move on. She can't stop reliving what happened, struggling with guilt, questioning the meaning of life, and missing her best friend. Her grades are plummeting, her relationships are falling apart, and her normal voice seems to have been replaced with a snark box. Life just seems random: no pattern, no meaning, no rules - and no reason to bother.

In a last-ditch effort to pull it together, Sarah befriends Jamie's twin brother Emmett, who may be the only other person who understands what she's lost. And when she gets a job working for the local eccentric who owns a Christmas tree farm, she finally begins to understand the threads that connect us all, the benefit of giving people a chance, and the power of love.

Sometimes authors have a hard time writing authentically when it comes to how they react and deal in certain situations and that drives me crazy. Maybe it is because I teach that age group and I know how they think and if it is so far off, I typically have to struggle to read the entire book (if I even finish it). This book, however, was a completely refreshing novel because I could totally hear Sarah in my students... and me too. Her sarcasm was hilarious and so real. I couldn't put it down. 
There were so many things that I loved about this book. The drawings and journal-like introductions to each chapter allow the reader to see another side of Sarah and how she is dealing with the chaos that has erupted in her life. This is a fantastic book that shows the inter workings of how to deal with life when it doesn't go according to plan. Great conversations will come from this book I am sure as I shop it out to my students. There are so many life lessons that come from this along with the hilarity and reality of Sarah! I can't wait to hand this one to a few of my kids!
Visit JJ here and see more about what she writes, what she does and who she is! 

Happy reading!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Summer Sacrifice by Holly Hinton Release Week Teaser Tour & Giveaway

summerrelease (1)

Upper middle grade fantasy THE SUMMER SACRIFICE will be available to buy from major online retailers as of June 21st 2014. Available in ebook and paperback form. (Audiobook to follow.)
Click here to read Chapter One of The Summer Sacrifice.Click here to listen to the first chapter of The Summer Sacrifice's audiobook. Click here to watch Holly visiting Dancing Ledge: the birthplace of The Summer Sacrifice.

Praise for The Summer Sacrifice

"The present world is often terrifying to a sensible adult. Hinton reflects its effect on youngsters in a powerfully imagined world that hums with poetry. In its pages, in the words of Yeats, a terrible beauty is born. Herein lies empathy, barreling adventure and an iconic heroine, Jamie Tuff."

Charles Bane Jr., award winning author of The Chapbook, and Love Poems; creator of The Meaning Of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, and nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida. 

Welcome to the Island

Map designed by Joel Sams.

No Place Only the Island survived the Great Storm. It's quite small and just a quarter of it is inhabited. That quarter is called No Place.   The Establishment The Establishment rule No Place. Here is what they have to say: “We in the Establishment save lives through the boundaries we create. Our boundaries are your protectors. And trespassers will be punished.”   Pity Me Pity Me is No Place's largest settlement and its capital.   The Perfects The Pity Me Perfects are students selected by the Establishment to help them rule, both in school and out. Officially, they are selected for their objectivity and fairness. Really, they are selected from the ranks of the wealthy. The Perfects do not live up to their name. The Tombland Gang The Tombland Gang are Pity Me School's resident thugs. As the Gang’s ranks have swollen, the number of orphans plummeting to their deaths has also grown. The Gang do live up to their name. Funnella Fitzgerald “I am the Headmistress of Pity Me School and the Head of the Establishment. But you probably all know that. At least, you ought to. . . ” Phosphor-Jones, Head of History “Dreaming is of little use, and not to be cultivated.”   Miss Humfreeze, Head of English The English teacher's eyes look like they could tell a thousand tales, and her wide mouth often tells them. The manshu and juvenites love her for this, lapping up her words like they are delicious drops of non- fermented Honeydew. No Place's Chief Doctor “What a wonderful specimen you are! You’ll look perfect sweating out your life in my Laboratory!”    


About the Author:

Holly grew up in a small, sleepy village in Suffolk. The acting bug hit her at age nine, when she was asked to play Baboushka in the school nativity. That same year she played the lead role of a naughty black poodle in a pet parlour themed ballet, and she thought she had made it. Years passed, but the acting bug didn’t. She went to Goldsmiths, University of London to study Drama, after which she completed her actor training at Arts Ed.
Writing a book was never part of the plan. But life’s full of swerves and surprises and ideas dropping into people’s heads. Holly had an idea drop into hers, and that idea became The Summer Sacrifice, and The Summer Sacrifice became the first book of the Master Game Series.
For more information please visit:


Holly Hinton is giving away one signed copy of The Summer Sacrifice (Paperback), and a bookmark illustrated by David Revoy. Open Worldwide!
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Bluebird by Bob Staake

Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Schwartz & Wade 

In his most beautiful and moving work to date, Bob Staake explores the universal themes of loneliness, bullying, and the importance of friendship. In this emotional picture book, readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old.

Bob Staake has been working on this book for 10 years, and he believes it is the story he was born to write.

This book is one of the ones that I hadn't read from the list of 2013 Nerdy Book Clubs winner list, so I was excited to find it at the library. There are no words to describe this book... literally, there are no words in it at all. The story is all in the pictures. It is utterly beautiful (and so well deserving of the award!). Telling the most beautiful story in the simplest way, I couldn't help but pull my kids over (and maybe some others... I cannot confirm or deny this though) and we read it and talked about it. It was the greatest conversation with a few kids aged eight and under. Fantastic book!!

Teaching Ideas: 
This is a fantastic book to teach the concept of reading pictures. It lends itself to being a prime mentor text for this with the beautiful story told throughout the novel with only pictures. You can't really call this a "Read Aloud" since there are no words, but it would make a great book to look at and analyze. This one will definitely be used with my middle schoolers because after the picture analysis, the discussions that will be had will be amazing! 

Happy reading!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Night of the Moon by Hena Khan

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Chronicle Books

Yasmeen, a seven-year-old Pakistani-American girl, celebrates the Muslim holidays of Ramadan, "The Night of the Moon" (Chaand Raat), and Eid. With lush illustrations that evoke Islamic art, this beautiful story offers a window into modern Muslim culture—and into the ancient roots from within its traditions have grown.

This book was beautifully written and illustrated. Over the past year, I have read more and more about the Muslim community. It is utterly fascinating. This beautiful story does just what the review says... opens a window into modern Muslim culture while weaving in the traditional roots. My daughter enjoyed learning about Ramadan from Yasmeen (my daughter is 8, so it was completely relate-able to her). Simply beautiful! 

Teaching Ideas:
This is a great text to pair in a Social Studies class when you are discussing modern cultures. It could also be paired when discussing the events of September 11 while discussing the differences in the Taliban and the Muslim community (which many assume are related). This text would also be a good read aloud for younger students when discussing different holidays or cultures as well.

Here are links to some of the other books that I have read about the Muslim community and the Middle East:

Happy reading!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Paperback, 447 pages
Published February 6th 2012 by Egmont Press 
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

I posted earlier about the free audiobooks from and if you haven't taken advantage, you need to! This was one of the downloads from last week and all I can say is WOW! This book is a fantastic read, but it was so much better with the audio! The book is told in two parts and each part represents a character's point of view of the story. The narrators are FANTASTIC! The accents (Scottish, British, German, English) are all what really made the story for me. I can read with an idea of what the accents should be, but to have an authentic reading... totally made the story! I highly recommend this novel!!

Teaching Ideas:
This is a great mentor text for WWII for Social Studies teachers. Elizabeth Wein does a phenomenal job at the end of the audiobook explaining how she found the pieces which inspired the story. She also explains how she took liberties with pieces. This would be great for ELA teachers to allow students to see how a writer goes through the writing process, their inspiration, and how they research. 

Find out more about Elizabeth here and see what her upcoming projects, more about her books, and much more!

Happy reading!

Ish by Peter H Reynolds

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 19th 2004 by Candlewick Press 
A creative spirit learns that thinking "ish-ly" is far more wonderful than "getting it right" in this gentle new fable from the creator of the award-winning picture book THE DOT.

Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

Drawing is what Ramon does. It¹s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon's older brother, Leon, turns Ramon's carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just "right." Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Peter Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.
When I took the kids to the library the other day, apparently the books I went after had the same thing... remember The Blue Ribbon Day "Ish" is a fantastic book that shows how we take in what others say and how it can impact our success or failure at whatever it is we are doing. Ramon thinks that he will never do anything since he can't draw, until his little sister sheds light on what he believes are his failures.

Teaching Ideas:
Another great read aloud for all ages. With the younger students this could be used to discuss the language that you use with others, how you talk to your friends, and the impact of your words even if they are in jest. You could do the same with the older students as well. You could also incorporate role playing so that the students can see harmful words in action along with the resolutions or even the "what should have happened" in the situation. 

Happy reading!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Free Audio books!!!

Don't forget to check out one of my favorite things about summer... FREE SYNC DOWNLOADS!!

SYNC offers 2 FREE audiobooks each week May 15 - Aug 13, 2014. 

Check it out here and start reading with your ears!! 

The Blue Ribbon Day by Katie Couric

Hardcover, 32 pages

Published October 19th 2004 by Doubleday 
Everybody’s a star, a brilliant creation.
The trouble is finding the right constellation!

Ellie McSnelly and Carrie O’Toole, the winning pair of friends from The Brand New Kid, are back in a new adventure. Ellie and Carrie decide to try out for the school team in their favorite sport, soccer. But when only one of the girls is selected, the inseparable pair faces a challenge (what do you say when your best friend is terribly disappointed?).

But while some disappointments can’t be avoided, Carrie learns (with some help from her mother and her old friend Lazlo) that while she may not be good at everything, she has undiscovered talents waiting to bloom, if she has the courage to try something new.

For every reader who has ever set his or her heart on joining a sports team, getting a part in the school play, or winning a class election, and been let down, Katie Couric’s reassuring and inspiring story gives a charming lesson in confidence.

As a parent, it is hard for me to watch my children struggle with anything, but I know that I have to let them fail sometimes no matter how hard it is (for both of us). This book is great for teaching us all that though we may be disappointed at what we view as failures, we learn that it is those things that allow us the opportunities to find what we are good at!

Teaching Ideas:
This is a fantastic read aloud for any age group. With younger children, you can use it at face value and discuss why it is important to keep trying. Middle and high school students can bring in more personal reflections, research people or companies who didn't succeed but kept trying, or even interview someone older than them about the things they learned from the things they weren't able to accomplish. The possibilities are endless!! 
Happy reading!  

{Huge Announcement | Guest Post | Giveaway} Temptation Series By: Karen Ann Hopkins

One of the many fun things I get to do is partner with other amazing book blogs for BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS and that makes me super excited!!

Along with  A Leisure Moment, Once Upon a Twilight, Owl Always Be Reading we are excited to be a part of the grand announcement that The Temptation series by Karen Ann Hopkins has been optioned for Television!! How cool is that? Keep your fingers crossed with us that this dream becomes a reality!!

Official announcement made in Publisher's Marketplace Newsletter: TV Karen Ann Hopkins's 

TEMPTATION series of Young Adult romances, a trilogy about the dramatic and forbidden love between two teens, one who's Amish and one who's not, and the sacrifices they must make in order to be together, to Pilgrim Studios, producing in conjunction with Danielle Von Zerneck, by Christina Hogrebe at Jane Rotrosen Agency. Along with this exciting announcement we have an extra special guest post from Karen and a great giveaway you will not want to miss! Enjoy! About the Author
Karen Ann HopkinsA native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amis
h community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah in her Temptation Series. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.
Goodreads|Facebook|Temptation Facebook|Twitter
Persistence Pays By: Karen Ann Hopkins Persistence. This one word is the main reason I got published. Most of the time a good product just isn’t enough and neither is experience for that matter. When I finally did get the magical phone call from Christina Hogrebe, my amazing agent from the Jane Rotrosen Literary Agency, telling me that she would be thrilled to represent me for my Amish themed YA novel, I didn’t have any experience or knowledge of the publishing industry. I was about as green as writer could get. Truth be told, I wasn’t a writer at all. I was a horse-back riding instructor and 4H coach. My only writing experience was the monthly articles that I’d submit to the local newspaper about the farm’s events and activities. My entire life had been dedicated to learning about horses, not writing. I’d attended just about every equestrian discipline and husbandry clinic available in a tri-state region, but I’d never taken a single creative writing class. But once upon a time, before the five children came along and the homeschooling began and the horse farm grew, I’d been an avid reader myself and that's what helped me to get started. At this point, you might be wondering how I ended up writing Temptation, a three hundred and eighty page novel that would eventually become the first of a published trilogy with Harlequin Teen. Persistence and strange circumstance are the answers. There’s that P word again, but I’ll get to that later. My strange circumstance was moving from the mountains of Tennessee to the middle of an Amish community in northern Kentucky in 2008. It was one of those reluctant moving experiences. My husband had found a better job offering in Kentucky and we made the move, leaving behind a successful horse-back riding stable, dozens of much loved students and close family to start over fresh in another state. My general advice to anyone who is considering a major life changing choice, think very carefully before you do it and take your parents thoughts into account before you make your final decision. Of course, I didn’t do those things and a few years later I was a divorced woman caring for five children and a slew of horses and other pets on my own in unfamiliar territory. My ex returned to Tennessee and immediately remarried another woman. I learned the hard way about not listening to my momma. Getting back to the beginning of my writing career and moving away from unpleasant thoughts, I found myself living in the middle of a community of people who lived their lives as if they were trapped in an episode of Little House on the Prairie. As crazy as it all was, it was still completely fascinating! And immersing myself into learning about my new community was a good way to keep me distracted from the troubles I was enduring on a personal level. I was in a unique position. Early on there was a group of about fifteen Amish teens visiting my farm on a weekly basis to watch my non-Amish (called English by the Amish) students take their lessons in the arena. Soon enough, the Amish youth were riding with the English ones and some of the older Amish girls even assisted me with my lesson program. Through those experiences, a seed of a thought grew in my mind. What if an English teen and an Amish one fell in love? I soon realized that it wasn’t farfetched at all as I witnessed the daily interactions between the two groups of young people. Friendships were forged and there was definitely some serious flirting going on. “How could this ever work out?” I asked myself. That question plagued me day and night and Temptation’s story took on a life of its own. I took almost two years of experiential research, observations and having discussions with the Amish before I felt confident enough to tell Rose and Noah’s story properly. I was lucky. I interacted with the Amish on a daily basis. The youth spent time at my farm, the boys hung out with my teenage sons and the girls babysat my small children. I drove Amish families to town to shop and I even took an Amish family along on a Gatlinburg vacation. I had a lot of opportunities to observe and ask questions, and that’s just what I did. I had to write Temptation for two reasons. First, I knew that it was a unique and interesting story, especially for young adults. Second, I was a single mom with five kids and a farm, and I needed the extra income. That’s where the persistence part came in. I knew I had a great idea, but I had to learn to write, which I did through trial and error and many rejections. I took professional advice when given and continued over the course of a year to revise and improve my work until it was finally at the level where an agent embraced it. That’s when the real work began. My agent helped me with some more edits before she began submitting to publishing houses. I was lucky, having both Harlequin Teen and another large publishing company make offers on Temptation. Ultimately, I chose Harlequin Teen and began a writing career in earnest. Through the process of working with editors like Adam Wilson and TS Ferguson, my writing continued to improve and what was once an unattainable dream became a career. If I’d given up early, when the rejections were coming in, Rose and Noah’s story would never have been told and so many fans who loved the Temptation series would never have had the opportunity to read it. Temptation’s fan base continues to grow and I’m reminded almost every day about how much my books have affected readers. I was even contacted by an Amish girl who was shunned by her family for leaving her community to marry her ‘outsider’ boyfriend. She tearfully told me how therapeutic my books were for her and how they'd helped her get through her own ordeal. Writing Lamb to the Slaughter was an even more enlightening experience. It’s an Amish murder mystery that I began writing over a year ago after my agent asked me if I could create such a thing on demand. I became intrigued with the idea, especially since I had personally witnessed some strange and almost creepy goings-on in the Amish community where I lived. I really wanted to delve deeper into the darker side of being Amish, especially in relation to my personal passion, the lives of the teenagers and some of the harsh realities they’re faced with. I pushed myself once again, and amazingly, through much persistence, I wrote another popular book in a whole new genre. The Temptation series and Lamb to the Slaughter has opened up a mysterious culture to mainstream young people and adults everywhere and I’m ever-so-glad that I was ever persistent enough to stick with a crazy dream. If you’re an inspiring writer, please remember that P word and hold tight to your dreams. If I could do it, then so can you! Thank you so much for stopping buy! I hope you’ll give my Amish fiction a try. If you do, please contact me on my website, my FB pages or on Goodreads. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading :)
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Caminar by Skila Brown

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Candlewick Press
Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is. 

Is it strange to anyone else that this is considered historical fiction?! It is set in 1981- one year before I was born! Apparently I am getting old... sure don't feel it though!

This powerful debut novel is simply amazing. Carlos lives a life that most of us could not imagine in his village, but he is happy. Things change when the soldiers come and he is faced to make the decision that no one wants to make, but we all have to at some point. The beautifully scripted prose of this novel sets readers in a place where they can feel Carlos' emotions and envision what his life is like. There are many coming-of-age novels, but this is one that will forever stick out to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this magnificent novel.

Lesson Ideas for Social Studies:
This book is a wonderful text to pair with the text when teaching this time period in history. If you do not cover this particular event in your standards, you could pair it with another event to give the students another viewpoint from another event that is similar. The Holocaust is one that comes to mind. The poems can be analyzed in isolation or as a group. There are a great many to choose from and pair with a variety of events to show the effects throughout history. 

Lesson Ideas for ELA: 
Where do I even start?! There is so much that you can do with this beautiful novel. Each one of the verses in this novel are stylistically different from the looks to the verbiage. This could be a mentor text for poetry, but also for teaching narrative writing. There are a multitude of possibilities that this text could be used for.

This is one of my favorites (there are so many) and I wanted to share it with you so that you could see how beautiful and powerful this novel is...

Happy reading everyone!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wings (Black City #3) by Elizabeth Richards

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 12th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile

Following the cliffhanger ending of Phoenix, Natalie finds herself separated from Ash and unexpectedly reunited with her parents, including the father she thought was dead. But she can only think of Ash. She hasn't heard a word of him since she and Elijah were brought to the underground headquarters of the Sentry Rebellion. But she vows to find him.

Ash, meanwhile is back in Black City; it's the perfect place to hide from the Sentry government. But not for long. He won't give up on Natalie or bringing an end to the terrible reign of Purian Rose.

A pulse-racing end to an exciting series.

This book!! Oh my goodness! As you may remember from my reviews of Black City and Phoenix (if you haven't read the reviews, go do it :)), I am in love with this series and have had this book since the beginning of this year and have been waiting on putting up the review. So here we go...

Though I knew this series had to come to an end, I didn't want it to. However, no one but Elizabeth Richards could wrap up a series this well. Not only were we given new insights to Natalie and Ash, but also to so much more. I gasped, I got mad, I cried, and I loved this book from cover to cover. Sometimes when you read the third book in a trilogy, it is full of rehashing what was already talked about or done, but that was definitely not the case with Wings. 

One of my students introduced me to the series, so when I got finished reading this one (the day after I got the ARC in the mail) I took it to school and handed it to her. I wish that I could have gotten a picture of her face. It was priceless! She had it read within a few days so we have had fun talking and rehashing the series long before the others got their hands on it. 

If you haven't read the series, go now and buy it. Especially if you are missing Divergent or any of the other amazing YA Dystopian novels out there. You won't regret it! Visit Elizabeth Richards here to find out more about her, her books, and other goodies!

Happy reading!

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Hardcover, 458 pages
Published October 13th 2011 by Viking Juvenile 
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

This novel is written in verse which is what initially appealed to me (plus, Ellen Hopkins has a quote on it so... you know!), however, I was not as blown away as I thought I would be. I probably hyped myself up too much though. Sara is a small town girl who moves into the big city to follow her dream and definitely learns more about herself than she ever intended to. The plot of the novel is beautiful and I found it true to how a teenager would seemingly react when faced with the challenges that Sara faces. The first person point of view definitely lent itself to be very poetic and beautiful in some places, but others just left me feeling unsatisfied. Overall, I did enjoy the read and will recommend it to some of my students. I can't imagine the boys liking a poetic book about a girl who dances... then again, they may surprise me! 

Happy reading!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Catch A Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 29th 2014 by Scholastic Press 
Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?
For those who know me well, you know that I have a whole file of useless information in my head... all about celebrities!! Yup. I know birthdays, who got married, who had a baby (Kelly Clarkson just did and named her River Rose!!)... you get the picture. I even have a trophy! 
Carter and I are very different. She couldn't name celebrities to save her life, but one certainly came in and through her for a loop. In this fantastic novel, Carter is faced with a situation that most girls would die for, but she looks at as a way to fix a problem... I would die! Haha! I loved that even though it would have been easy to fall into the typical fangirl mode, Carter never did. She stayed true to herself and didn't back down. That is a powerful message to girls- don't change for someone else! Stay who you are!! 
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and already have some names in mind of who to share it with!  Visit Kim Culbertson's website here to see more about her, her projects and see if she is coming your way!

Happy reading!!

Frankenstein by Gris Grimly

Hardcover, 208 pages

Published August 27th 2013 by Balzer + Bray 
Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is a twisted, fresh, and utterly original full-length, full-color graphic-novel adaptation of Mary Shelley's original text, brought to life by acclaimed illustrator Gris Grimly.

This is the first fully illustrated version to use the original 1818 text and is destined to capture the imagination of those new to the story as well as those who know it well.

New York Times bestselling illustrator Gris Grimly has long considered Frankenstein to be one of his chief inspirations. From the bones and flesh of the original, he has cut and stitched Mary Shelley's text to his own artwork, creating something entirely new: a stunningly original remix, both classic and contemporary, sinister and seductive, heart-stopping and heartbreaking.

Perfect for fans of Edgar Allan Poe and Neil Gaiman's Coraline. 

Frankenstein is one of those novels that is read in high school and you either love it or loath it. I loved it and am so glad that my fellow teachers still teach it at our high school. We always talk about how once they get past the letters at the beginning, it is usually an interesting read for most students. Gris Grimly has created, in this graphic novel, a way for students to still be exposed to all of the language and plot while giving a visual for students to pair with their reading. The illustrations were fantastic and they will definitely come in handy for my students as they read the novel. I am excited for my students to get their hands on it!!

Classroom Ideas: Use this novel in conjunction with the original text as a way to review what is going on in the chapters. If your students have chapters to read for homework, use this text as a way to review what was covered in the chapters. It could also be used for struggling readers as a way to introduce the text they are reading or even as a supplement for them.

Happy reading!!

Tales from the Secret Annexe by Anne Frank

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 8th 2010 by Halban Publishers

Tales from the Secret Annex is a  complete collection of Anne Frank's lesser-known  writings: short stories, fables, personal reminiscences,  and an unfinished novel. Here, too, are portions  of the diary originally withheld from publication  by her father. By turns fantastical, rebellious,  touching, funny, and heartbreaking, these writings  reveal the astonishing range of Anne Frank's  wisdom and imagination--as well as her indomitable love  of life. Anne Frank's  Tales from the Secret Annex is a  testaments to this determined young woman's extraordinary  genius and to the persistent strength of the  creative spirit.

I bought this book last year when I visited the Secret Annexe in Amsterdam. It was one of my most memorable trips for many reasons, but standing in the same place where Anne hid, wrote, and lived was something that I will never be able to put into words. Walking through the building, climbing the stairs, going behind the bookcase... it was amazing. If you ever have the chance to go, do it! 

In this book, you are able to see more of Anne's personality. I have a feeling that if she and I had been friends, we would have gotten in quite a bit of trouble! I couldn't help but think that my students would love to hear from her in these short stories and excerpts. This could be used in a history class when teaching about The Holocaust and what the Jews endured or  in an ELA class you could use it as an paired text when teaching using her diary (either the full text or the play version that some textbooks include) or as a journal writing exemplar.

I laughed, cried, got mad right along with Anne, and went through every other emotion right along with her. I cannot wait for my students to get to see Anne in another light through these stories. I will say that when this book was put together, they definitely saved the best for last! 

Here is the view (minus the cars and modernization of course) that Anne viewed from her window when she could. Pictures, of course, don't do it justice!

Happy reading!

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

Hardcover, 323 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by HarperTeen

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of IllĂ©a, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

When this book came out, I had three of my students at my door the next morning asking, "DID YOU GET IT?" I was (admittedly) confused because I didn't know what they were talking about. Again, I was late getting to this amazing novel (sorry again), so I didn't have it with me. They were not happy. One went and bought it that afternoon, read it, and then shared it with the others. I had let them down. :( They forgave me though as long as I promised to read this series first in my summer reads and I did!!

As many recommendations as I give to my students, they give me just as many good ones!!

The ending of this series could not have had more drama, nail biting action, and eyebrow raising moments I don't think. Just when I thought I knew how it was all going to go down, it was all turned upside down and rolled around. When a novel can keep you on the edge of your seat, you know it is a great one. This amazing conclusion did just that. I loved this series from start to finish and hate to see it end. I will gladly have this series displayed on my shelves first thing next year and already have some kiddos in mind who I know will love it! 

Make sure to check out Kiera Cass on her website to find out more about her and her books. 

Happy reading!

Chart Sense: Common Sense Charts to Teach 3-8 Informational Text and Literature by Rozlyn Linder

Paperback, 182 pages
Published February 2nd 2014 by Literacy Initiative LLC 
Chart Sense is the ultimate resource for elementary and middle school teachers who are ready to create meaningful, standards-based charts with their students. The same charts that Rozlyn creates with students when she models and teaches in classrooms across the nation are all included here. Packed with over seventy photographs, Chart Sense is an invaluable guide for novice or veteran reading teachers who want authentic visuals to reinforce and provide guidance for reading skills. Organized in a simple, easy-to-use format, Rozlyn shares multiple charts for every reading informational text and literature standard. Don't mistake this as just a collection of anchor chart ideas. At over 180 pages, this book is filled with actual charts, step-by-step instructions to create your own, teaching tips, and instructional strategies. This book includes: Over sixty-five photographs of teacher-tested charts and examples Easy to navigate chapters, organized by the 3-8 reading standards Step-by-step instructions to create each chart Teaching notes and instructional strategies Ideas and tips for scaffolding and differentiation . . . and MORE! Not a bunch of theory or philosophy . . . just hands-on, teacher-tested charts that you can use in your classroom . . . TODAY!
Whether your state is adopting the Common Core State Standards, making up their mind about them, changing their mind about them, abolishing them all together, or thanking God they never jumped on the bandwagon- this is a great resource!  I love using anchor charts and my students definitely benefit from me using them. In this resource, Dr. Rozlyn Linder has given us anchor charts that match the standards (which are all broken down by the standards and by grade level). 

What I liked about this book is that it isn't full of things that bog you down. Sometimes I just want something that I can turn quickly to, get an idea, and go. Getting bogged down in words (though they are great, sometimes I just need to see it quick!) can be overwhelming, and I definitely didn't with this one. There are places where I knew I could build on what Dr. Linder offered, and she even says that she knows that will happen and welcomes it! Even asks us to send her pictures and ideas! 

With each standard and chart there are a variety of goodies included for teaching the standard using the chart. Here is a quick list of some of them:

- A picture of the chart
- Grade level considerations
- Scaffolding ideas
- Teaching Tips
- Real examples from the classroom
- Writing connections
- Example texts to use

This is going to be a great addition to my professional library and I can't wait to share it with my peers. Visit Dr. Linder here for more information, and follow her on twitter (@rozlinder) for more fun!!

Happy reading (and teaching)!
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