"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.