"No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are." Pablo Freire

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Dreamer

Inspired, Visionary, Congenial, Prolific, Inventive

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan & Peter Sis 
Published by Scholastic Copyright 2010
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, Kirkus Best Children's Book of 2010 & Booklist Editor's Choice 2010

"This book has all the feel of a classic, elegant and measured, but deeply rewarding and eminently readable."— Booklist, starred review

Beauty is everywhere in the world around us, and only Neftali finds it everywhere he wanders. He loves to collect treasures, write and daydream. Though his father is very against it, calling him "absentminded"...which rings in his heads after it is said. Neftali only wants to be loved and accepted by his father, but he can't help all the things he loves to do. What's so wrong with exploring the world and wanting to know what's out there? Despite his father's wishes he continues to write and eventually one day becomes a world wide poet-Pablo Neruda with the support and self sacrifice of his mother and dear uncle. Neftali has the vivacity to go against the greater force and do what hes thinks is best for him. This story is about how Neftali came to be a poet and how he found his way, celebrating his imagination and childhood spirit throughout the years. 

Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 650L
Suggested Delivery: Read aloud or small group read
Extras: In the beginning of the book it has a quote by Pablo Neruda, introducing us to the book. After the book has ended, it also has an author's note with information about The Dreamer, and after that there are eleven more poems by Pablo Neruda, followed by the sources he used and lastly acknowledgements. 

Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach The Dreamer...
Key Vocabulary: This book is strong in vocabulary so it may benefit your students to teach these words before reading: lolling, recuperate, sodden, ramshackle, plotsam, zinc, prow, incessant, averted, swashbucklers, cowering, haphazard, disheveled, confrontation, dunce, el viento, feeble, imploring, wallowed, cavern, relentless, anticipation, adorned, sullenness, tenor, elation, wan, waylaid, vigorously, luma, absentminded, antidote, girth, ushered, quivered, clambered, quarrying, ballast, hods, reverently, novelties, deferring, scoured, bulbous, iridescent, cascade, appraising, preen, spectacle, tousled, altar, summoned, vigorous, squandering, loitered, burly, thistles, perspired, overzealous, amigo

Electronic Resources:
  • AuthorsSite: Here on the author's website you can read a synopsis, read an author's interview, view the awards and honors, view the discussion guide for teachers and order the book for yourself. This would be a great site for teachers to view before reading the book to the class.
  • ALANews: Read about how Pam Munoz Ryan won the Pura Belpre Award. It includes information about his life, the book, and how it came about. Great to read before or after reading for more information.
  • BookReview: On this website you can view a book review by Sententia Vera, a connection to the Spanish culture. Great for after reading for students for a more comprehensive summary of the book, or before reading for the teacher to determine if the book fits with the objective they want to fulfill.
Activities for Students:
  • Before Reading: Look up information about the country of Chile. Have children research it's geography, climate, history and indigenous people, especially the Mapuche (which is what Pablo is). Find out what is unique about the part of the country near the city of Temuco, where most of the story takes place.
  • During Reading: Once it becomes apparent in the story that Neftali has a dream: to be a writer, have children discuss this. Talk about how some parents in different cultures don't allow their children to do certain things. After discussing dreams, ask children what their dreams are. Have students write a poem of their own about their dream-what they want to be, or what they want to do.
  • After Reading: In response to the book, how does the culture and the Mapuche research relate to The Dreamer? How does Temuco tie into the book and the poems in the story? What role do the characters in The Dreamer play in Neftali's dream? (i.e. What role does Rodolfo play in Neftali's dream? How about Uncle Orlando and Mamadre?) Write an essay in response to these questions. Support your answers with evidence from the text.
"The book is an immaculately crafted and inspiring piece of magical realism." — Publishers Weekly, starred review 
Ryan, P. M., & Sís, P. (2010). The dreamer. New York: Scholastic Press.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Smile :)

    Extraordinary, Charismatic, Picturesque, Realistic, Pertinent
    Smile by Raina Telgemeier 
    Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Copyright 2010
    "Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume's work...Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching – a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not." -Kirkus Reviews
    As we enter Raina's world, we soon encounter her weariness about getting braces. However, when Raina is running to beat her friends to her house, Raina trips and her two front teeth are broken. Immediately Raina and her mother go to the dentist and have painful work done. Waking up Raina has a cast on her teeth to hold them in place-no big deal, but when the cast is removed and her two front teeth are pushed up into her bone-"I look like a vampire!" (p 24). As the novel progresses, Raina has more and more trouble with her teeth,from head gear and retainers to braces and fake teeth. As the awkward times continue from middle school to high school, Raina realizes the people that make fun of her are not really her friends after all. She stands up to her friends, feeling lonely for awhile but in the end feeling better about herself all around. Telegemeier  writes, "I realized that i had been letting the way i looked on the outside affect how i felt on the inside," (p 206). This graphic novel is a great book for teenagers going through the awkward and difficult times that we all have to go through. In the end we all realize it's what we have on the inside that matters.

    Reading Level: Grade 6
    Suggested Delivery: Independent read
    Extras: This book has neat signatures and yearbook signings in the front and back of the book. It also has a "Thanks To", "Author's Note" and page about the author in the end pages of the book.

    Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Smile...
    Key Vocabulary: Endodontist, orthodontist, overbite, Novocaine, head gear, molars, optimism, Richter, periodontist, negligence, dissertation, respect
    Electronic Resources:
    • Scholastic: Create your own smile video, read about Raina, and even watch a Smile video. Great for after reading activities.
    • Raina: Visit Raina's website as you view a summary of the book, where to purchase it, and multiple reviews. 
    • Youtube: Before reading, this would be a good video to show students to get them engaged and interested about the book. 
    • NYTimes: Read the first NY Times news article about Smile by Raina Telgemeier on May 14, 2010.
    Activities for Students:
    • Before Reading: Show students the front cover of the book and ask them to make a prediction, then show them the back cover of the book. Did their predictions change? Why did they change? What did you notice about the back of the book? As a class, try to make a general prediction about what the book will be about.
    • During Reading: Students will be relating with Raina when it comes to friends, embarrassment, awkwardness and more. Have students write an essay comparing and contrasting how Raina's life is similar to their life. How does Raina feel in middle school? How is she starting to feel about her friends? What is she starting to realize about her friends and about her teeth? How does this relate to your life?
    • After Reading: Have students create their own smile comic on scholastic. After everyone has finished, share them with the class.
    "Telgemeier's storytelling and full-color cartoony images form a story that will cheer and inspire any middle-schooler dealing with orthodontia." -Booklist
    Telgemeier, R. (2010). Smile. New York: Graphix.  

    Monday, September 12, 2011


    Delightful, Inquisitive, Engrossing, Intriguing, Impinging
    Tangerine by Edward Bloor 
    Published by Harcourt Brace Copyright 1997
    ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults & Horn Book Fanfare Book

    "Paul makes a memorable protagonist in a cast if vividly drawn characters; multiple yet taut plot-lines lead to a series of gripping climaxes and revelations. readers are going tyo want more from this author." -Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
    When Paul moves to Tangerine, Florida he meets many friends and a couple enemies. One of these enemies being his brother Erik. Erik Fishers Football Dream takes family priority in the Fisher household. While his parents choose not to notice the downward spiral of Erik, Paul does but keeps it to himself. Faced with many situations and circumstances where he can step up and tell the truth, Paul decides to keep quiet. Throughout the story Paul goes through a lot, from muck fires and frost to sinkholes and death. When Paul hears about the death of Luis, he immediately knows what happened. Paul decides its time to speak up and tell the truth. Confronting his parents with the situation leads us to explore other lies deep down. What really happened that day when Paul was five, did he really stare at the eclipse? 

    Reading Level: Grade 6
    Suggested Delivery: Read aloud or small group read
    Extras: Praise for Edward Blooms Tangerine on the first page of the book provides us with reviews from journals, magazines and more. Along with the reviews include the awards the book has received over the years.

    Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach Tangerine...
    Key Vocabulary: Here are some challenging words throughout the book that you may need to teach before reading: Turpentine, Muck fire, Grove, Quonset hut, Civil Engineer, Sink hole, Restitution, Egret, Legally blind, Aneurysm, Smudge pot, Lean-to, Black jack (not the card game), IEP, Shantytown

    Electronic Resources:
    • GoogleBooks: As another resource, students may use google books to read part of Bloor's story. Also a great reason they won't have an excuse for not doing homework! :]
    • AuthorSite: On the authors website you can read a summary of Tangerine and purchase it if you wish. This also includes awards this book has won. Great for before reading to capture interest because the summary does not give the book away!
    • StudyGuide: Here you can find a complete study guide for students. This includes each journal entry/chapter in the book, discussion notes, setting, character list, conflict, short story, theme, mood, biography, a multiple choice quiz with an answer page, an overall analysis of certain aspects of the book, and essay topics. Great for during reading and after reading activities.
    Activities for Students:
    • Before Reading: Use questioning as an initiation to the central idea of the book:lying. Have you ever been afraid to tell the truth? Do you feel better after you tell the truth, even if its a bad thing and you get in trouble? Do you think parents should lie to their children, even if its to make them feel better? This may be a controversial discussion with differing ideas so allow students to express their feelings and disagree in a positive way.
    • During Reading: Every part should be broken up and discussed in groups of four to five students (i.e. there should be three literary discussions). There may be confusion within this book and it's beneficial for students to develop a greater understanding by discussing this with other students. Have students write down questions they have as they read, predictions they may have for the future, or anything else they found interesting.
    • After Reading: How are the characters affected by the Erik Fisher Football Dream throughout the book? Write an essay to explain your thoughts with key supportive details from the text.
     "So much happens so quickly that you are pulled right along into the story, and the engaging sports scenes highlight the personalities of the players as well as the action on the field." -The Horn Book Magazine
     Bloor, E. (20071997). Tangerine. New York: Harcourt Brace.

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night

    Discursive,  Alluring, Enthralling, Eloquent, Didactic
    Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman 
    Illustrated by Rick Allen
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt Copyright 2010
    Newbery Honor Book 2011 && Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award

    "Allen's detailed yet moody prints encapsulate the mysteries and magic of the midnight hours. In Sidman's delicious poems, darkness is the norm, and there's nothing to fear but the rising sun."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

    Sidman's twelve poems and informational pages use imagery to bring the words to life. Not only does he provide us with a poem describing the creature, but he gives us an illustration with a paragraph if facts about the creatures of the night. This piece of literature is great for science topics including but not limited to: pollination, photosynthesis, stridulation, omnivores, and nocturnal. In this book students will learn about all different creatures, capturing their interests with poems and interesting facts. From the tiny snails to the oak trees Sidman presents us with a typical night with nature stirring, eating, growing and sleeping. While some poems such as "Welcome to the Night," "Ballad of the Wandering Eft," and others rhyme, others do not. Each poem is accompanied with an alluring illustration for readers to enjoy.

    Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 1020L
    Suggested Delivery: Read aloud or small group read

    Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night...
    Key Vocabulary: dappled, enchanted, nocturnal, forage, omnivorous, nimble, unparalleled, morsels, whorls, nectar, dainty, pollinating, preen, mesmerizing, symphonies, realm, swivel, pores, warblers, photosynthesis, triumphs, sprig, pirouette, porcupette, raucous, trilling, serrated, stridulation, elfin, spores, eft, don, loam, vagabond, echolocation

    Electronic Resources:
    • Youtube: Watch this video before reading to capture student interests and have students make predictions about the book. 
    • AuthorsSite: On Sidman's website you can read reviews, view awards, watch a video, read about how the book got started and buy the book from multiple places.
    • GoogleBooks: Read this book now at google books! Great for incorporating technology into a lesson.
    Activities for Students:
    • Before Reading: Show the beginning page (with no words) and ask students to make predictions about what the book will be about. Have them write a couple sentences to make their thinking concrete. Then show the last page and ask them if their predictions changed. Why did they change? What made you change them? Discuss these questions with the class.
    • During Reading: Have students pick their own favorite animal from the story and have them write a poem about it, describing what it does. Also, invite them to look up and research additional facts about the creature they chose.
    • After Reading: Discuss the dark emperor. Which animal or insect was the dark emperor? What does that mean? This may be tricky, because in the picture next to the poem "Dark Emperor" the mouse looks like it might be the dark emperor, but invite them to look at the cover page and then have them take a closer look at the picture again. Have them write about the dark emperor, what animal he is, and what he does, including researched facts and background knowledge. 
    "This is a fine collection for classroom use at any time, but it'll bring extra impact to those who can find a way to share it at dusk with the lights dimmed, watching through the windows as the nocturnal ballet begins outside."—The Bulletin, starred review

    Sidman, J., & Allen, R. (2010). Dark emperor & other poems of the night. Cookery: Houghton Mifflin Books For Children.

      Sunday, September 4, 2011

      Turtle in Paradise

      Remarkable, Intriguing, Endearing, Inveigle, Capturing
      Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
      Published by Random House Copyright 2010
      Newbery Honor Book 2011, Booklist Editor's Choice, NY Times Bestseller, &&A Kirkus Reviews Best Childrens Book of 2010

      "Sweet, funny and superb"
      - Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
      Arriving in Key West in 1935, meeting her aunt and cousins for the first time, Turtle is unhappy and distraught. Her mother, Sadiebelle received a new job working for Mrs. Budnick. However, Mrs. Budnick doesn't like kids, so Turtle had to be sent away. After Turtle arrives she struggles to find her place in Key West. But then she discovers the Diaper Gang: Beans, Kermit, Buddy and Pork Chop. They watch children and change their diapers with the secret ingredient that cures all. Turtle tags along with the Diaper Gang so she doesn't have to sit at home, risking the chance that she might have to watch one of her cousins. One day Aunt Minnie asks Turtle to take lunch to Nana Philly. Soon Turtle realizes it's her grandmother, feeling very hurt and confused as to why her mother would lie to her. Caught up in the need for money, Turtle seeks a job with Slow Poke, hearing stories of gold and Black Caesar's treasure along the way. When Turtle discovers a map and a gold coin in Nana Philly's piano it changes her life forever!

      Reading Level: Grade 3/4 Lexile 610L
      Suggested Delivery: This book is great for a continuous read aloud in class or a small group read for more advanced students.
      Curry Lane
      Extras: On the first pages of the book there is a definition for conch, that could be used for a before reading activity to introduce students to the word and it's meaning. There is also a section called "author's note" in the back of the book discussing how this book was inspired and where it came from, including pictures. After this section there is another page "resources" where Holm displays the resources she used in order to make this book more accurate. There are also three websites on the page 189. Next there is the "acknowledgments" where Holm gives her thanks to those that helped her along the way. There is also a short section called "about the author" where Holm talks about her other books and gives readers her website to learn more.

      Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach Turtle in Paradise...
      Key Vocabulary: fraying, bloomers, serum, peddling, mange, abide, furtively, harried, exasperated, forlorn, abruptly, kraals, mutiny, dinghy, intently, conch, cistern, bollos, scoffs, filtering, salvage, guffaws, crucified, wade, bearing, wistfully, narrator, conspiratorial, glint, chortles, feigns, ignorance, rheumatic, erupt, sauntering, gingerly, mending, despicable, arsenic, bungy, linger, debris, brash, cocky, podium, scruffy, sappier, anguished

      Electronic Resources:
      Jennifer Holm
      • AuthorsWebsite: Here you can view all of Holm's books as well as a short synopsis and awards each book has won.
      • Pictures: On this website you can read a summary of the book, as well as pictures from Curry Lane, Pepes, Duval Street, Sloppy Joe's, and more! Great for students to look at during reading to get a clear picture of what it may look like, or also after reading to clear up ideas. It may also be useful to show students the pictures in the book.
      • TheScoop: You can find information about the book, a summary of the book, a spoiler alert of the book, and content keywords in the book on this website. This would be beneficial for teachers to look at prior to reading or teaching the book to get a better sense of it's background and history.  
      • PublishersWebsite: On the publishers website you can buy the book in a hard copy, an ebook and an audio book. Students with disabilities, ELLs or students that need additional help would benefit from using different forms of this book. It also has information about the book, about the author, praise and quotes from reviews, and a PDF teacher's guide that can be downloaded. This site is optimal for teachers before reading. 

      Activties for Students: 
      • Before Reading: Discuss the history of Florida in 1935 and what was happening in the world at that time. This is where the information in the back of the book could be used, prior to reading. Read the "author's note" to introduce the history, allowing students to ask questions and put pieces of history together. It may be helpful to research history using other resources and creating a small time-line to go along with the book.
      • During Reading: In different stages of the book Turtle feels different ways. Have students write letters home to Sadiebelle acting as if they were Turtle, telling her what is going on, how she feels, and what might come next. This formal assessment would be beneficial to teachers to ensure students are comprehending the material.
      • After Reading: In the "author's note" previously read, Holm  discusses entertainment and how it amused children. Little Orphan Annie and Shirley Temple were huge stars in the book that kept appearing throughout. Research along with students to provide them with information about Annie or Shirley Temple. Have each student write a letter to Turtle describing their favorite media star today, comparing and contrasting their favorite star with one that Turtle discussed. It may be helpful to create a Venn Diagram prior to writing the letter.
      "Turtle is just the right mixture of knowingness and hope; the plot is a hilarious blend of family dramas seasoned with a dollop of adventure."
      - Booklist, Starred Review

       Holm, J. L. (2010). Turtle in paradise . New York: Random House.

      Saturday, August 20, 2011

      A Difficult Boy

      Captivating, Stimulating, Unmitigated, Contingent, Riveting
      A Difficult Boy by M.P. Barker 
      Published by Holiday House Copyright 2008
      Children’s Book Caucus Discovery Award && Notable Books for a Global Society 2009
      "A memorable tale of friendship and a fascinating glimpse into mid-19th-century Massachusetts. . . . This is an eye-opening look at indentured servitude in American history." —School Library Journal

      As the book begins we learn about Ethan Root, who has to leave his family and farm at the age of nine to work off his father's debt at the Lyman's farm. "I need you to go," the famous words of Gideon that repeat over and over in Ethan's head. Ethan first despises the farm and everyone on it, especially Daniel. Ethan despises the other indentured servant, but after they endure physical pain from Mr. Lyman, they soon learn they have more in common than they realized. Daniel is the difficult boy, always getting blamed for everything. Therefore, he tends to stay away from everyone when he can, secretly dealing with his own family hardships that we learn about later in the book. Ethan soon learns that Mr. Lyman isn't the upstanding, honest man that everyone believes, but rather a liar and a cheater. With the help of Mr. Lyman's son, Silas, Ethan faces the Mr. Lyman, exposing Mr. Lyman to harsh punishments, and possibly even jail. What will happen to Mr. Lyman?  

        Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 760L
        Suggested Delivery: Small group read or independent read
        Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach A Difficult Boy...
        Key Vocabulary: indenture, solemnly, scalded, stanchion, contempt, feeble, apprehension, conjured, deferential, averted, blissful, bolster, Lucifer, prodigal, jarred, intonation, disheveled, incantation, deft, liable, resignation, gaped, indulgent, accentuating, inconspicuous, patronizing, amiss, perpetual, jovial, placid, bemused, quizzical, cajole, rogue, physio-gratification, heathen, constable, quandary, regal, relinquishing, stature, peddler, cravats, vendue, satiated, reprieve, mastiff

        Electronic Resources: 
        M.P. Barker
        • M.P.Barker: On the publishers website you can view her biography, as well as guest blogs and interviews, watch a trailer video, read FAQ's, a summary of the novel, and you can even follow it on twitter! This website is great for before reading to capture interest or after reading to extend student knowledge. 
        • EducationGuide: Holiday House gives teachers a great educators guide filled with information about the book, a before reading activity (shown below), theme connections, questions for classroom discussions, multiple curriculum connections (including social studies, music, math, language arts and drama), vocabulary connections and the authors website. This is extremely useful to any educator before teaching and while teaching this book.
        • MPBarkerJournal: On the authors website she shares information through her blog and through interviews. This may be beneficial while gathering background information about the author and the book. 

        Activities for Students: 
        • Before Reading: Ask students to use resources in the library, or sites on the Internet, to find out about indentured servants. Have them write down the differences between the lives of indentured servants and slaves.
        • During Reading: Discuss prejudice and bigotry. What's the difference? How does this relate to A Difficult Boy? How did Ethan feel about Daniel at first? Did that change? Discuss the differences between people and how we should accept people for who they are and where they come from, and not make judgements right away. Invite students to share how this made them feel and anything else related.
        • After Reading: As we know, Ivy and Phizzy played an important role in A Difficult Boy. What part do horses Ivy and Phizzy play in the story? What do they represent when ridden by the horseback riders in the story? How do you think the story/characters would have changed if Ivy was not on the farm? Write a paragraph in response to these questions.

        "Barker's gift for historical detail illuminates this absorbing first novel." —Publishers Weekly
        Barker, M. P. (2008). A difficult boy . New York: Holiday House. 

          Friday, August 19, 2011

          The Wall

          Informative, Extraordinary, Remarkable, Artistic, Significant
          The Wall Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain written and Illustrated by Peter Sis
          Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Copyright 2007
          Caldecott Honor Book && The Robert F Sibert Medal 2008
          "A masterpiece for readers young and old."—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

          Growing up as an infant and transforming into an adult, Peter Sis takes us on a journey through his life of growing up on the Communist side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.  Readers read about Sis's life under the Communist rule of Czechoslovakia, the problems he faces and his dreams of traveling to America. In The Wall readers discover pieces of history as Sis describes how children are told to report to their families and parents are to keep their opinions to themselves. By inferring readers discover that Sis could not question what he was being told, but then he found that that there were things that he was not being told, things that were hidden from him. The secret police coat the pages as they intrude into every drawing of Sis's. In 1968 we hear promises of freedom, but that promise is soon broken. In the final pages of the book Sis breaks free by wings made from his artwork, soaring off to America and freedom.

          Reading Level: Grade 4/5 Lexile 760L
          Suggest Delivery: Read Aloud
          Extras: On the first page there is an introduction with background about the Cold War and how it came to be. There is also an afterward about drawing, how it changed his life and how his drawing changed when he entered school and became part of the soviet communist.

          “Complex, multifaceted, rich in detail . . . [Sís’s] concluding visions of freedom are both poignant and exhilarating.”—Starred, School Library Journal

          Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain...
          Key Vocabulary: cataclysmic, revolution, communist, democracy, liberated, allies, dictatorships, totalitarian, exodus, ideologically, indoctrination, subordination, averted, infestation, censored, subversives,cosmonaut, decadent, embalmed, anarchy, descends, lethargy, tainted, ideological, infiltration, dissidents, regime

          Electronic Resources:
          • NYTimes: Here you can read a Sunday review about the Wall by the New York Times. This may be beneficial to read before you read the Wall because it will give you more information about the book and most likely capture your interest to want to learn more. 
          • PeterSis: On the author's website you can look at his other books, play games, read about the author, read about the press room, contact him, and about the publisher. This website would be great for before, during or after reading.
          • Youtube: On this website you can watch a video of pictures from The Wall as you hear a review about the book. This would be great for before reading to captures reader's interest and give them a small background about the book.
          • FreeLibrary: Here you can find discussion questions for students! Great when planning a lesson for before, during and after reading activities.

          Activities for Students:
          • Before Reading: Using the front or back page of the book, use the map of Europe to show students where Czechoslovakia is. Explain the background of the book and Peter Sis's struggle during the cold war. Talk about how times were hard and sometimes borders were built to keep others out. Why do you think they wanted to keep people out? What do you think they used to keep others off their land?
          • During Reading:Have children create a timeline of all the important events throughout the war. This lesson could be appropriate for helping them try to pick out key details from a text, just like summarizing a book.
          • After Reading: How did this change history? What affect do you think the war has had on the world? How did it change who we are today? Do you think it changed Peter? How? Do you think war will ever end? Write a couple paragraphs in response to these questions.

            "The ecstatic energy and big-spirited inventiveness of the artist’s drawings make the once all but unimaginable realization of that dream visible for all to see."-The New York Times Book Review
          Sís, P. (2007). The wall: growing up behind the Iron Curtain. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

          Thursday, August 18, 2011

          Crazy Lady

          Intriguing, Guiding, Enlightening, Tranforming, Engaging
          Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conly
          Published by HaperCollins Copyright 1993
          Newbery Honor Book 1994 && Best Books for Young Adults 1994

          Conly starts off the book discussing a group of guys that get bored and terrorize the "crazy lady", as we later discover to be Maxine. The main character, Vernon Dibbs starts off being a part of that group, but when his first seventh grade report card comes in, he has bigger things to worry about. He soon asks Maxine about a tutor when bringing her potatoes home to her, blurting out that he is failing English. Maxine refers him to a friend, Miss Annie. Soon enough, Vernon meets Ronald, Maxine's son with special needs and they start to form a friendship over time. Vernon becomes Ronald's closest friend, taking him shopping and for walks. An unexpected twist of events occur as Maxine realizes she can't take care of Ronald the way that she should. What will happen to Ronald?

          Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 570L
          Suggested Delivery: Independent or small group read

          Teachers, here are some resources that may help teach Crazy Lady...
          Key Vocabulary: This is a great book with readable vocabulary, but a few words may still need to be addressed prior to reading, including: addled, keeled, caricatures, duplex, gawky, welfare, practical, remnant, clod, agitate, affluent, celebrant, hunker, mumbo, defiant, scrawl, remnant, titter, sowed

          Electronic Resources:
          • HarperCollins: Here on the publishers website you can view all information about the book, including all the awards it has won and where you can buy the book. This can be used for before reading if you need to buy the book or if you want more information about the book.
          • CrazyLady: On this website you can read either part of the book, or the whole thing! Great for schools with limited book resources and great for students who enjoy using the computer to read!! This website is especially helpful for teachers while students are reading the book.
          • RandomHouse: This website is perfect for ELL's or students struggling reading! On this website you are able to download the audiobook of Crazy Lady. Therefore all students can keep up and follow along with added assistance!
          • TeachersGuide: On this website you can find resources to teach this book including discussion questions, reading strategies, cross-ciricular activities, interviews and more post reading activities.
          Activities for Students:
          • Before Reading: Show students the cover of the book and ask them to predict what the book will be about. What do you think the shadow with the red and white checkered shoes is going to do? What do you think the flowers on the front mean? What about the stairs? Get them to look at every aspect of the cover.
          • During Reading: After a couple chapters of each section have students answer questions. What do you think about Maxine and Ronald? Do you think Maxine is really crazy? How did you feel when the group of boys were tormenting Maxine? Why is it wrong to do that? etc.
          • After Reading: What do you think the message of this book is? Why did I have you read this book? What is it trying to teach us? Write a paragraph in your journal with specific details from the text to support your answer.
          Crazy Lady by Jane Conly (HarperCollins, 1993) is a gem of a story about outsiders, loss, friendship and growth." -Library Journal

          Conly, J. L. (1993). Crazy lady! . New York: Harper/Collins.

          Runny Babbit

          Witty, Mirthful, Atypical, Imaginative, Capturing
          Runny Babbit A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein
          Published by HarperCollins Copyright 2005
          Children's Choice Award 2006

          This billy sook will have students laughing as you trip over the crazy made up words created. Runny is a rabbit that gets into a lot of mischief and does a lot of silly things. Though words are created abnormally with the first letter or couple letters switched in words, Shel Silverstein still allows us to figure out the underlying meaning of the passage. The reader is able to read the book and still come away knowing exactly what happened. This book will be sure to bring smiles to students everywhere!

          Reading Level: Grade 4/5
          Suggested Delivery: This book should be read aloud with students for the first time so they can understand whats happening. The students will surely enjoy the teacher stumbling over the words as well! This book could also be read as a small group read for added fun!
          Extras: On the back flap of the jacket, Silverstein includes titles of his other works.

          Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Runny Babbit...
          Key Vocabulary: The vocabulary in this book is perfect for the reading level. Silverstein did this to assure young readers would understand the book even though the words are altered. However, here are a few that might prove to be problems for students: swine, scolded, griddle, feline, poached
          Electronic Resources:
          • RunnyonMtRushmore: Listen to Shel Silverstein read Runny on Mount Rushmore as you can follow along with the text on the page. Great for students during reading, or post reading for added clarification.
          • HaperCollins: Before or during reading, you can visit the publishers website you can download audio, go to critic's corner, read Runny Babbit on NPR, and view its awards.
          • ShelSilversteinPlan: Here on Silverstein's website there are lesson plan ideas and teaching suggestions! Great for before, during or after reading!

          Activities for Students:
          • Pre Reading: Say the title and have the children determine whats going on. What are they doing with the letters of the words? What does the title actually sound like, what does it mean? How do you know that's what it means? Lead a discussion to explain the way the story is written.
          • During Reading: Ask children questions along the way. So what just happened? What did Runny do? Because the words are altered, its important to make sure they can still infer the meaning through the context.  Pick one story within the book, for example "Runny's Bight Toots" on page 69. Read the passage, then have the children write about what it means. What happened here? Why did Runny become the tallest "lunny in the band"? What made that happen? Have the students write their answer with specific details from the text on a piece of paper.
          • Post Reading: Have students create their own "billy sook" or silly paragraph about whatever they choose to write about. Let some students share theirs with the class for some added fun!
          "Children will love these clever poems and without prompting will probably create their own, unaware that they are focusing on a key reading skill: phonemic awareness. This is a treasure."School Library Journal
          Silverstein, S. (2005). Runny Babbit: a billy sook. New York: HarperCollins.

          Wednesday, August 17, 2011

          Poetry for Young People

          Intuitive, Colorful, Unprecedented, Esoteric, Imaginative
          Poetry for Young People by Langston Hughes
          Illustrated by Benny Andrews
          Edited By David Roessel & Arnold Rampersad
          Published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc Copyright 2006
          Corretta Scott King Award 2007 && School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2006 && 2007 Illustrator Honor Books as Diverse Culture and Poetry

          "Hughes' stirring poetry continues to have enormous appeal for young people. In this illustrated collection of 26 poems, Andrews' beautiful collage-and-watercolor illustrations extend the rhythm, exuberance, and longing of the words--not with literal images, but with tall, angular figures that express a strong sense of African American music, dreams, and daily life--while leaving lots of space for the words to "sing America." -Booklist

          Poetry for Young People is comprised of twenty six poems about African American life, including Langston Hughes and his own life growing up from 1902 to 1967. These poems discuss and portray various topics including African American music traditions, Hughes' grandmother's stories, slavery, culture, fighting for equal rights and so much more. Before each poem there is an introduction where the reader is given background about the poem and what it is pertaining to. By giving the reader an introduction to the poem, we are better able to understand the meaing that lies behind it. Each poem intrigues the reader, and each story dispenses a variety of emotions.

          Reading Level: Grade 5/6
          Suggested Delivery: Small group or independent read
          Extras: In the beginning pages of the book we are given an introduction, which describes Langston Hughes and his life for roughly four pages. This book also given us a couple sentences at the beginning of each poem describing how this poem was created and where the inspiration came from. Throughout reading, there are some difficult and unique words given in the poem, however Langston Hughes gives us some definitions and history on the bottom of the page to help us understand.

          Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Poetry for Young People...
          Key Vocabulary: bondage, Eurphrates, bosom, cameo, clashed, syncopated, pallor, ebony, melancholy, croon, dialect, atavistic, injustices, friz, avarice, wretchedness
          Electronic Resources:
          • PowellBooks: On this website you can buy the book, read a synopsis, read reviews, publisher comments, about the author, and even read customer and children reviews. This website could be used before or after reading to discover more information about Poetry for Young People.
          • ReadWriteThink: Teachers, here you can find lesson plans for post reading and information about any book by Langston Hughes. There are many different grade level lesson plans for on this site as well.
          • LibraryPowwow: Here you can find a small bibliography, a critical review, one of Hughes poems called "Mother to Son" as well as a kid's connection and explanation of the poem. This website would be best used during or after reading.
          Activities for Students:
          • Before Reading: Ask students if they have read any poetry before. What is a poem? Does it have to rhyme?
          • During Reading: Choose a poem and don't read the introduction sentences, ask children's to listen to the poem carefully. After you have read the poem two times, tell students they have to write a paragraph describing what the poem is about. Give supporting evidence with details from the poem. Allow them to refer back to the poem, but cover up the small introduction.
          • Post Reading: Ask students to think about the poems and what makes a poem. Tell children that they will be writing their own poem about anything related to this book, particularly African Americans and what they encountered. It's important for the children not only to understand the book but to infer meaning from the text.
          "This will be a welcome introduction to Hughes's poetry for elementary students, and it includes sufficient detail to make it useful and enjoyable for older students." School Library Journal

          Hughes, L., Rampersad, A., Roessel, D. E., & Andrews, B. (2006). Poetry for Young People . New York: Sterling Pub.

          Amelia to Zora

          Inspiring, Motivating, Informational, Engaging, Unique
          Amelia to Zora: Twenty Six Women who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee
          Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
          Published by Charlesbridge Copyright 2005
          Children's Choice Award, ABC Best Books for Children Award

          "There are many books on women and the strides that they've made, but this one is very smart--in design, art, and choice of subject." -Booklist

          Starting with A for Amelia Earhart and traveling to Z for Zora Neale Hurston, Cynthia Chin-Lee discusses twenty six of the wonderful women of the world and how they changed it forever. In this book there are journalists, artists, scientists, politicians, athletes, and so much more. For each extraordinary woman, the biographies are concise, giving readers a sense of who they are and what they accomplished in their lifetime. Each page is filled with a two paragraph summary of a woman's accomplishments, a quote that they are remembered by, and a picture of what they looked like. The short synopsis of these pages captures readers interests and encourage them to want to learn more about these exceptional women.

          Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 1040L 
          Suggested Delivery: Read aloud
          Extras: This book is filled with quotes on each page that the women were famous for, which many books do not include. Amelia to Zora also has a selected bibliography and an authors note on the end pages of the book that give more information about why she chose the women she did and decided to write this book. There is additional information about Cynthia Chin-Lee and the illustrators on the end pages of the book.

          Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Amelia to Zora Twenty Six Women Who Changed The World...
          Key Vocabulary: javelin, hurdles, hurling, amateur, girdle, astronomer, observatory, boycott, immigrants, folklorist, advocate, anthropologist, menial, architect, veterans, mourned, entrepreneur, executive, congresswoman, dispossessed, democratic, missionaries, diplomat, publications, contemporary

          Electronic Resources:
          • CynthiaLee: Here on the author's website, there is an excerpt from the book, as well as a starred review by Booklist and Kirkus (shown at the bottom of this blog). This would be a good website to visit after reading the book.
          • Cynthia Chin-Lee
          • Awards: After reading you can visit the publishers website to see all of the awards that Amelia to Zora has won. The few big awards were mentioned above, but this book continues to receive rewards for its exceptional quality.
          • BookReview: Before reading if you want to know how others feel about this book, you can read a review by armchairinterviews here.
          • Interview: Here you can read an interview with Cynthia Chin-Lee as she answers questions about Amelia to Zora. This would be great for post reading clarification for students.
          Activities for Students:
          • Before Reading: Ask students if they know about any famous people. What did they do? Why are they famous? Do you know any women that are famous? Get their minds going, thinking about what it means to be famous and what it means to change something.
          • During Reading: As you read, enable students to identify what the women's roles were. For example, Rachel Carson was an environmentalist...what does that mean? What did she do? Enable them to see all the different things and roles the women played in life. Tell them that anyone can be great and anyone can do great things.
          • Post Reading:  Give each student a woman discussed in the book. The students may have to refer back to the book, so it may be a good idea to make photocopies of the women in the book. Tell the students that they are to write in their own words about the woman they were given and why she made such a contribution to the world. Specify that you do not just want facts given in the book, but that you want them to think deeper about what it was that they did that changed the world forever. Have them write a couple paragraphs in detail to show their inferential comprehension.

          "In this engaging book, Chin-Lee evokes the stories of 26 women, their unique voices, visions, and victories. Young readers will find inspiration and motivation in each woman's story and her powerful message. From sports figures like Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Kristi Yamaguchi to scientist, such as Grace Hopper, and writers like Zora Neale Hurston, our world has been influenced by women and their hard work and zeal for the life they love. Beautiful. Intricate collages spotlight each woman and her special gift." --Booklist && Kirkus Reviews

          Lee, C., Halsey, M., & Addy, S. (2005). Amelia to Zora: twenty-six women who changed the world. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.