The academic year is winding down. For some reason, the school had a movie day yesterday. The LEGO movie. It's an awesome (everything is awesome!) movThe academic year is winding down. For some reason, the school had a movie day yesterday. The LEGO movie. It's an awesome (everything is awesome!) movie, but I have seen (or heard it) thirteen gazillion times since Tuesday when it was purchased as my children, particularly Fritz, watch it over and over and over again. So when it was on the SMARTboard Friday afternoon, I had no interest in paying close attention to it. So I sat at the reading table and shuffled some papers as the students enjoyed the school-sponsored treat.
During the movie a student from another classroom came in with a pile of books his teacher had borrowed from me at some point during the school year. So, within reach were six or so copies of this book.
Ah, I remember this book. It's the only thing in our new reading series that looked remotely interesting. But we were told it wasn't part of our curriculum. The obligatory questions are left unanswered.
I picked it up. I am very much into prepping for next year already. Before I knew it I was halfway through this 190-page book. Large print, lots of illustrations, and an easy-to-read cadence make for a quick read.
I have no idea what "the experts" expect from this book to include in a reading series, but I kept thinking how it would mesh in with what we do. At the end of the book, I am still scratching my head.
Phineas is an interesting fourth grader. He helps his friends realize their potential all the while he grows mold for fun. It would be a suitable lead-in for the scientific method. As for reading/writing, other than teaching "voice", I found the book rather hollow and uninteresting. Phineas does have a way with words and thinking. The plot is contrived and offers nothing meaningful.
At the same time, I imagine some fourth graders would find it mildly amusing. It's certainly not a bad read, but nothing I will go out of my way to accommodate....more
Once upon a time I thought I would create a unit about the Iditarod. This was one of the books purchased for that. The unit never got to the teachingOnce upon a time I thought I would create a unit about the Iditarod. This was one of the books purchased for that. The unit never got to the teaching stage.
This is an okay story. Told in rhyme, it shares the story of Kiana, the lead dog on a team in the Iditarod. Of course, through Kiana's perseverance, her team won the race.
We see the journey, the snow, the struggles of running the race. It is decent, but the language I think would be problematic for most of my students.
One scene provides a good place to predict (why did the mushers keep an eye on the door?)....more
It was about 1998 when I first heard of Harry Potter. One of my students was reading this. Over the next year, Pottermania exploded. I finally succumbIt was about 1998 when I first heard of Harry Potter. One of my students was reading this. Over the next year, Pottermania exploded. I finally succumbed and purchased it. I was most impressed. I found the story compelling, interesting, and better written than Rowling was being given credit for. I am a proponent of children reading without regard to the "quality" factor. There is time to build that later on . . . concentrate on getting them interested while they are young and they will be readers for life. This book has done that with countless students of mine....more
My mother bought me this book about 15 years ago. They had settled into Tarpon Springs and this book provides a fictional, albeit accurate, account ofMy mother bought me this book about 15 years ago. They had settled into Tarpon Springs and this book provides a fictional, albeit accurate, account of how sponge industry in Tarpon Springs and how it attracted Greeks at the turn of the 20th Century.
This was a fun read. The reader learns in the preface that a photograph of a boy at Hellas restaurant was the inspiration of the main character, Tasso. Hellas is a complete joy and should be included on any visit to Tarpon Springs. And if you cannot afford the time to dine there, at least pop into the bakery. You will not be disappointed!
Tasso is a young boy who overhears his father and older brother make plans to leave Greece and head for America. In Greece they are poor and there is not much outlook for a sponge diver after 10 years. In America, diving is in shallower water, the sponges plenty, and riches are expected. Tasso cannot wait. Of course, he is disappointed that he won't be going nor will his mother and sister. This is only for the men.
Disappointed, Tasso sets a plan to stow away aboard the ship. Once they clear the Strait of Gibraltar, he came come out of hiding. His father is displeased since stowing away has brought shame upon his family. Tasso must confess to the captain and work the rest of the voyage to pay for his passage.
In America at Tarpon Springs, Tasso is once again disappointed. His father and brother will have a sponge boat that will have the at sea (the Gulf) for months on end; Tasso is not permitted to join them. He must remain at the Fishhouse, help out, and attend school.
Tasso befriends Willie, a black boy. This is where the book becomes unpleasant and why I won't read it to my students. In an effort to relay the prejudices the Greeks faced, the author drops in racial slurs that are tossed about. Tasso is called a greaser and his friend a nigger. It fits to the authenticity of the book, but I shun any racial discord in my classroom.
Tasso is bullied at school until a girl steps in and helps. He helps out on the sponge docks. All is okay . . . until his older brother arrives home injured from having sliced his hand. That provides Tasso the opportunity to take his place on the sponge boat with his father.
Tasso learns the hard work of cleaning the sponges. We also learn of the exertions involved with helmet diving. In the end, it is Tasso who saves the day when his father's air supply is cut.
FWIW, there was some excellent language used in the book. How often does one read "indomitable", "cobalt-blue", and "slack-jawed" all on the same page?
Overall, the book does a good simple job of presenting what life was like a century ago in Tarpon Springs. It is an easy and amusing read. If you have any interest in this area of Florida treat yourself to reading this. I am rather certain it is for sale along the sponge docks!...more
This is a book I purchased when I developed my How-Why folklore unit back in the beginning of my teaching career. I am rather certain I purchased it aThis is a book I purchased when I developed my How-Why folklore unit back in the beginning of my teaching career. I am rather certain I purchased it at the Marlton Borders, but am not positive regarding that.
It's an interesting tale about a young boy who is an excellent hunter. He disappears, but the village finds his bow. Miraculously, the bow produces fish for everyone to eat. The bow falls and cracks open relinquishing a flood that creates the sea....more
I just haven't gotten into this book. I have muddled through but 8% of the book here in two weeks. It's not bad, but it hasn't captured me.
The book isI just haven't gotten into this book. I have muddled through but 8% of the book here in two weeks. It's not bad, but it hasn't captured me.
The book is due tomorrow. Obviously, I will not complete it. I am going to return it electronically. I may try this again at some point. ****
Life got in the way and I lost interest. Then an idea struck me the other day at work; I bet the book is still on the Kindle. I have wireless turned off. Hmmm . . . Just in case, I checked out the physical book from my school's library.
Well, I got into this book big time! I don't ever recall balling reading a book like I did this one. At 91% through, I couldn't even see my Kindle.
Vanderpool was masterful in how she wove 1918 and 1936 together. You knew who Gideon was going to be, but wow! There was just no way of seeing Sadie's story. Wow!
I have goosebumps just thinking about it and my eyes are still watering.
Sure, this won the Newberry Medal last year. Why this is considered children's literature, I do not know. You (whoever you are) need to read this book. It will move you!
I don't like historical fiction and this time period in the midwest isn't exactly my cup of tea, but my goodness, a great story needs to be read.
We all search for home. Abilene sure did find home. And the reader is better for it.
When an author has to write that the main character has to go back into the woods, well the shark has been jumped.
This is not a story . . . it'Forced.
When an author has to write that the main character has to go back into the woods, well the shark has been jumped.
This is not a story . . . it's merely words about a familiar character. Each chapter is a vignette. Brian is back in nature, off of a schedule because he is an animal-boy. Okay . . .
Billy shows up out of nowhere. This is Paulsen attempting to impart pithiness upon the reader.
Again, I like Brian and I enjoy the survival aspects of the book. It's the storytelling that suffers here. He beats up a boy, has a blind psychologist who doesn't charge him, and takes two volumes of Shakespeare into the woods as part of his 200# gear, not including his kevlar canoe.
I picked this book up as a freebie via Scholastic. I finally got around to reading it. Of course, I had to bang out books #2 and #3 first. This series is left best after reading only Hatchet....more
Once upon a time I called this tale a favorite of mine. This is the classic tale, not an updated bastardized version of it. I'm not a huge fan of theOnce upon a time I called this tale a favorite of mine. This is the classic tale, not an updated bastardized version of it. I'm not a huge fan of the illustrations. They're colorful, but the characters are animals, and that doesn't please me greatly.
This is a solid book with Andersen's original text intact....more
At a cursory glance, this looks to be a wonderful resource. The photographs are colorful, and the crafts look wonderful. But this is a far-fetched booAt a cursory glance, this looks to be a wonderful resource. The photographs are colorful, and the crafts look wonderful. But this is a far-fetched book, as far as I am concerned. It has the omnipresent making paper craft. Yeah, that doesn't work out so well. The "wormery" is not realistic. It certainly isn't what I use with students. I don't think building a sawdust kiln with children is something I ever will attempt. I like kaleidoscopes, but making them is iffy at best.
When one delves into what is here, despite the photographs, there's not much here....more
I like this book although it is not stellar. The illustrations by Kim Howard really place the reader into the mode of this story.
Three brothers of a tI like this book although it is not stellar. The illustrations by Kim Howard really place the reader into the mode of this story.
Three brothers of a tailor are asked to help out. The two older brothers, who want to be tailors like their father, get to work and make a cloak as they are requested to do. The youngest son has no desire to be a tailor; he wishes to travel the world. The cloak he makes uses circles instead of squares and triangles as his brothers had used. Circles do not connect and leave gaps, therefore, his cloak was not good. The problem here is that is would have been easy to have accomplished the task by sewing the circles onto another piece of cloth. That wasn't done.
Instead, the father recognizes his youngest son's desire to leave home and explore the world. The other sons cut the circles down to hexagons to make the pattern work.
There's a good explanation after the story that explains circular geometry and how planar shapes work for these patterns, but not circles themselves. Of course, this is exactly what tessellations are. This would be a very good book to read when introducing that concept. The circular geometry is something I teach . . . this would be a good follow-up/reinforcement to when I broach that in early October.
20 July 2009 (Arlene read this to me) 23 June 2012...more