Mark Your Calendars!


NATIONAL  AUTHOR  DAY is November 1st, 2011!

Who’s your favorite author??? Think about it and tell us who it is by leaving a comment with your name, favorite author and a book that your favorite author wrote. Then, on November 1st, we will put all the favorite authors on a post and share them with you so you can see what others thought!

Example Comment Form:




Anna Hibiscus

Anna HibiscusAnna Hibiscus

By Atinuke  illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Realistic Fiction – each book is about 100 pages long and seems right for most Grade 2 to Grade 4 readers (though I have to say I really enjoyed them and what I learned about Africa in the process)

School has begun and I am missing the relaxed luxury of reading each day.  I am missing the long quiet hours to plan and reflect.  School has begun, and yes there are things lost, but there are also wonderful things gained.  I have a chance to talk books with many reading friends and I have a new set of readers to learn about and find the books that will excite and engage them.

I think many of the girls in my classroom will love Anna Hibiscus.  I did. I read the four volumes and I learned about living in “Africa, amazing Africa.”  Anna lives in a compound at the edge of a city.  She is with her entire family – her father from Africa, her mother from Canada, her twin brothers, her cousins, her aunties and uncles and her grandmother and grandfather.  Living there is special.  Through Anna’s stories we learn about special talents and secret wishes.  We learn how family traditions contrast with modern life and how a balance can be found.  We learn about customs and culture.  Mostly we learn about differences and how to better appreciate them.

Anna is a strong individual.  She is adventurous and brave, concerned and caring, curious and inventive.  She does amazing things – shares her best Sunday clothes with children more poor than she could imagine, sings a solo for a visiting president in the National Stadium and finds a way to save water in the dry harmattan months.  It is good to read them in order because the stories in each volume connect (even when you don’t think they will.) Anna Hibiscus is growing up in a world that is finding a way to balance the old and the new – a real global community.  You can join her there she has a lot to offer.

Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! (Anna Hibiscus, #2)Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus! (Anna Hibiscus, #4)

Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus!

Leepike Ridge

Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson

Eleven year old Thomas Hammond has always lived next to Leepike Ridge. His house is chained on top of the ridge for fear of it toppling off in high winds. One night, unable to sleep, Tom heads down to the stream that borders their (his mother and Tom) land. He discovers a large piece of refrigerator foam lying on the bank of the river. He tentatively steps on it with one foot, two feet, and miraculously it held Tom’s weight! What seems to be an aimless trip on the river, Tom falls asleep and then the aimless trip on the river turns into the deadly rapids that suck Tom into an underwater cavern. Read Leepike Ridge to find out what happens.


Hoot by Carl Hiaasen Online Summary Study Guide

292 Pages

Roy Eberhardt is a new Floridian boy who starts noticing a strange kid running down the streets barefoot as fast as a lightning bolt. While Roy starts to get curious about the mysterious kid, the future site of Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House is being vandalized and pranked on. For example, one day a worker is scared out of his wits by the large alligator in the Port-a-Potty. Who is doing these dirty deeds and why are they doing it. At first the authorities think that it is just a couple of teenagers who thought it was funny to put an alligator in a Port-a-Potty, but then when the vandalism persists, people start to try to find the person who is responsible for the crimes and vandalization.  But is the mysterious sprinting boy and the vandalism connected? Read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen to find out.

Hiaasen incorporates some really great characters, humor and other characteristics that make for a fantastic book!!

Click here for Carl Hiaasen’s website.

Here is the Hoot part of Carl Hiaasen’s website: www.carlhiaasen/

Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City of Faar

Here is the next installment of the Pendragon Series…

Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City of Faar

(Psst… there are even more covers than this…)

Click here for the review of the first Pendragon book: Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death (guest blogger version).

After the destructive and lifesaving experience that happened in the territory Denduron, they follow Saint Dane, the evil shapeshifter, to Cloral, a water filled world. Once Vo Spader, the Traveler from Cloral (but does not know it yet), welcomes Press and Bobby to his home. Everything seems to be going just fine, and it seems that Cloral is not reaching it’s turning quite yet, so Press and Bobby settle in the life of Grallion, Spader’s home. But when Maggoran, another floating habitat arrives coming in too fast, the habitats collide and the backside of Grallion is ruined. But when the aquaneers board the Maggoran to find out who was in charge of crashing the two habitats, they find that no one was in charge. Reason? Because everyone on Maggoran is dead. Find out why everyone’s dead and other things like that in Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City Of Faar by D.J. Machale.

Click on this link for DJ Machale’s book website:

Click here for Halla Wiki. A wikepedia site for only for the Pendragon Series.

Click here for Pendragon quizzes and trivia.

Wild Wings

Wild Wings  by Gill Lewis

Realistic Fiction  – 283 pages for middle grade readers – and anyone who loves a great story and writing

I set a goal to read a book a day all summer.  I’ve done that – some picture books, poetry, chapter books and novels – both children’s and adult, and professional books too.  I’ve read great books that I’ve shared on our blog and others that I’ll just share in our classroom.  I loved the charaters of Zulaikha, Diamond Willow and Ha.  I want to become as thoughtful and generous as the Gail Halvorsen and Dr. Gordon Sato.  I’ve learned lots about teaching.  I am looking forward to sharing what I’ve read and what I’ve learned when the school year begins.

Wild WingsYesterday, though, I finished my summer favorite, Wild Wings by Gill Lewis.  Set in Scotland, Iona and Callum join together through their passion for the wildness and beauty of nature. We first meet Iona standing in a freezing river, fishing with her bare hands.  Callum asks her how she does it and she tries to teach him.

“D’you see them?” whispered Iona.  I nodded. “Now run your hand slowly into the water behind them.”  I slid my hand into the river.  Closer and closer until my fingers were inches from their tails.  “Run your fingers underneath and try to stroke behind their gills,” said Iona  … “People are like rivers,” said Iona.  “That’s what I think.”  I sat up and squeezed the water from my sleeve.  “What d’you mean?”  Iona rocked back on her heels and looked right at me.  “You’ve got to learn to look beneath the surface, to see what lies deeper in.”

Thus they become friends and make an amazing discovery  – a pair of osprey nesting on Callum’s farm.  A nesting pair in the wild is a rarity in Scotland.  Iona and Callum make a pact to keep them secret.  It is theirs alone, until they must act to save a bird’s life.

This is a story of fierce determination, kindness, loss, community and conservation.  It is a story that spans continents by tracking of the osprey’s migration across Europe to the mangrove swamps of the Gambia. The writing flows beautifully as they story is told mostly through Callum’s and occasionally through the osprey’s perspective.  Readers, bird lovers and revelers of nature are in for a wonderful treat.  This will be an early read aloud our room.


384 Pages

Mrs. Starch is by far the most feared biology teacher in the Truman School. That’s what it seems to Nick and Marta. And when she disappears after a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, they get suspicious. While the principal assures and insists that Mrs. Starch was on leave because of a urgent, “Family Emergency” Nick and Marta feel that same sense of suspicion. When weird  things start happening with a dude in their class nicknamed Smoke, they have a hunch that Mrs. Starch’s disappearance has something to do with that kid Smoke. And they would be right, but not in the way they would think in a million years. Read Scat by Carl Hiaasen to find out what happens to poor Mrs. Starch.

Click here for Carl Hiaasen’s website. Scat is not on there for whatever reason but it’s still a great website.

Words in the Dust

Words in the DustWords in the Dust

By Trent Reedy

Realistic fiction – 288 pages of interest to 6th through 9th grade readers

Do you wonder what it would be like to live in another country?  Do you wonder as you’re reading, “Is this real?  Is this now?”  I do. I try to imagine how vastly different my life would be if I lived somewhere else in the world.  I often choose to read sets of books that have a similar setting as a way understand as much as I can about a country and its culture – Vietnam, Somalia, India, and Afghanistan have been the settings of recent collections.  Even though I have read many books about a place – I wonder, “Is this real?  Is it now?”

I am sure of the truth in the story behind Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy.  The author was stationed in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005 as part of the peace keeping troops working build schools and provide opportunities for the people in and around Farah.  The story was inspired by actual people and events the author witnessed.

Zulaikha reaches out to trace the few letters she can remember on the dusty floor beside her pallet.  She rises to begin her day and we are transported into her life – a life that begins to change the moment we meet her. Zulaikha has a cleft lip with teeth that jut through the split.  Despite her deformity she has hopes and dreams – she wants to learn and become more than the “donkey face” she called. American soldiers arrive and promise her corrective surgery.  She begins to dream of the beautiful life she and her sister have always imagined. But when her beloved sister’s arranged marriage leads to a horrible tragedy, Zulaikha must choose for herself the future she knows is right.

Throughout the novel readers come to understand the strong ties and relationships in Zulaikha’s family. Through recurring tragedy and pain, Zulaikha, ever courageous and hopeful, faces her challenges and the cultural changes that are coming to Afghanistan. The author’s inclusion of cultural customs, moments in history and the exploration of beautiful Afghan poetry are the added details that brings the culture and country to life – adding beauty to the stark reality of living.

This is an amazing story that will stay with you for a long time.  One scene dealing with burning and loss makes this appropriate for mature readers.  Please  read it. It a beautiful book.

Peter and the Starcatchers

When you start this book, you better have time to read because you won’t be able to put it down! When orphan Peter and his mates are being sent off to an island ruled by the vicious King Zarboff, they climb aboard the Never Land, the ship to take them to their fate. But when they discover a trunk that holds something so mysterious, only few know what is kept between wooden planks and exposure. Meet Molly, a curious and complex girl that befriends Peter aboard the Never Land. Once he starts seeing unexplainable things, he gets involved in a world that is known by only a select handful of people.

Humorous and adventure filled, Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Riddley Pearson explores the fascinating past of Peter Pan. Read these prequels and you will be aching for more, so read the next ones on the series:

Peter and the Shadow Theives, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon and Peter and the Sword of Mercy.

Click here for the Peter and the Starcatchers website…

Favorite Ten Picture Books

Do have one or more picture books that you really, really loved as a small child? I’m sure that I do. So here are my favorite 10 picture books from when I was a toddler. You should read them as well!!

  1. Another Important Book by Margaret Wise BrownAnother Important Book
  2. Piggies by Audrey Wood                                                                                                                                          Piggies
  3. Copy me, Copycub by Richard Edwards
  4. Silly Sally by Audrey Wood                                                                                                                                    
  5. Be Gentle! by Virginia Miller                                                                                                                  
  6. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell                                                                                                                
  7. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
  8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault
  9. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly
  10. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey