I read this story with my third graders this year before they went on their field trip to the Museum of Appalachia. I alternated reading the author'sI read this story with my third graders this year before they went on their field trip to the Museum of Appalachia. I alternated reading the author's note before the story and at the end--and I think I liked it better at the beginning as a kind of introduction. I loved the art and the description, and appreciated the author including the mention of how the grandfather used to use mule power to turn the rollers. Juxtaposing the history with the next generation being raised in the tradition gave this story a sense of coming full circle. To really make the story come to life, I paired this with a video converted from YouTube via SafeShare of sorghum syrup making at Sandhill Farm....more
As a library teacher, an avid reader, and someone with family members who have struggled with school due to ADD (undiagnosed until adulthood), dyslexiAs a library teacher, an avid reader, and someone with family members who have struggled with school due to ADD (undiagnosed until adulthood), dyslexia (undiagnosed until adulthood), and other learning differences, this book resonated with me in a powerful way. It gave me hope and, reading it at the beginning of the year, it inspired me to remember--sometimes those students who give us the most trouble in class may be the ones who need us the most.
Several reviewers mentioned issues of stereotyping and issues with how military family life didn't ring true for them. The description in the book may not match what others in more highly populated military towns experience, but it rings true for what I see at our school. The stereotypical characters that some reviewers complained of? Well, interestingly enough, it worked for me and I suspect it will work for my students because I could actually picture students I have (and classmates from my own days as a student!) in each of these roles.
Does the book offer a solution to dyslexia, bullying, or any.of the other issues? No. To me it offers something to bother educators and to students. To educators, at least to THIS educator--this story offers a reminder that, in spite of the ever-changing, often maddening rules. testing, & curriculums, we are there first and foremost for the students--and we CAN make.a difference. To students, floundering in a sea of undiagnosed learning disabilities and learning differences--this story offers hope, a message.that they are.not truly alone, that being a square peg forced into. a round hole doesn't make the square peg any less or the round hole bad--just different. This story has inspired me to take a second look at the metaphorical peg board and start thinking of how to show all my students that outside the box thinking can be (should be) valued.
I am thinking this book would be a great readaloud for a class or, perhaps better yet, for small groups. I think it is also a powerful book for teachers to read and discuss together--as a catalyst for discussion and maybe for better understanding....more
I paired this informative fiction picture book with different titles depending on grade. Located a copy of PBS excerpt called "The Power of Silent FliI paired this informative fiction picture book with different titles depending on grade. Located a copy of PBS excerpt called "The Power of Silent Flight", where viewers see (and hear) the difference between a pigeon, a peregrine falcon and a barn owl, in flight. Enjoyed pointing out the use of different fonts to indicate the realistic fiction story versus the facts. Some of the text was difficult to share, even with a lighted document camera because of the size of the font and darkness of the pages. That said, I love the illustrations and the examples of figurative language--onomatopoeia and simile. Ended lesson with sharing of the owl cam on Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Georgia, where a great horned owl pair have two babies....more
Wonderful story about 1st grader, Jim, who wonders when he will learn to read and fears that it may never happen. Used in discussion about choosing juWonderful story about 1st grader, Jim, who wonders when he will learn to read and fears that it may never happen. Used in discussion about choosing just-right books and not worrying and comparing themselves with one another. Was also useful in discussing contractions, exclamation marks, question marks, and capitalization....more
Fannie Flagg never fails to invent a cast of characters that stay in my mind long after I've finished the book. Maggie, former Miss Alabama/2nd runnerFannie Flagg never fails to invent a cast of characters that stay in my mind long after I've finished the book. Maggie, former Miss Alabama/2nd runner up Miss America-turned real-estate agent, has come to a decision. She's over it. Her list of pros and cons (& she has many lists), is horribly skewed toward the pros of jumping in the river. She even has a plan for how to do it. But life just kind of keeps getting in the way in the kind of way of her impending death.
If you check out other reviews, you'll find that a lot of people who gave it low ratings were comparing it to Fried Green Tomatoes. This book is not Fried Green Tomatoes. It's a warm fuzzy of a southern fried humor, mystery, realistic fiction and historical fiction all stirred together with a cast of memorable characters that I won't soon forget. All that said, don't read this book expecting Fried Green Tomatoes. It's more like succotash--lots of stories mixed together to form a flavor all its own....more
A series I will be happy to recommend to my readers who are fans of Junie B., Amber Brown, & Judy Moody. As the story opens, Piper's mother (an arA series I will be happy to recommend to my readers who are fans of Junie B., Amber Brown, & Judy Moody. As the story opens, Piper's mother (an artist) and the Chief(Piper's father, a Navy mechanic)announce to their 3 daughters that they will be moving from their home in California to Pensacola, Florida. As a career Navy family,this isn't the first time that the Reeds have moved, but this move hits Piper hard. The Reed home in California was their first ever that wasn't on-base and their first where Piper was able to have a tree house and her own club--The Gypsy Club. Will she be able to make new friends? A new club? Even if there is no tree house? And what about school? What if her teacher asks her to read in front of the class? Piper is dyslexic. Add to these worries the fact that her father will be leaving for a 6-month tour and you can see that Piper has a lot on her plate. But maybe, living near the home base of the Blue Angels, Piper Reed, Navy Brat, can find her new place in their new home.
Duncan's a 17-year old who lives in "the Jungle", the inner-city of Toronto. During the searing heat-wave of summer, his dead-end summer job in the ToDuncan's a 17-year old who lives in "the Jungle", the inner-city of Toronto. During the searing heat-wave of summer, his dead-end summer job in the Toronto Transit Authority's "morgue" (aka: Lost and Found) offers him some respite from the heat, but it doesn't offer him any relief from his nightmares. Or does it? Plagued with nightmares about the drowning girl he couldn't save, Duncan's world takes a CSI-type turn when he finds a journal amongst the "lost treasures" of the morgue--the things left on city buses or subway cars. This book is not just any journal--it's someone's chronicle of their descent into going from torturer of small animals, to arsonist, to a stalker of women--someone on the way to becoming a serial killer. The pictures and newspaper clippings in the journal are all too real, but the police don't seem willing to take Duncan's concerns seriously. Is the journal real or just someone's sick creative writing attempt? If the journal IS real, can Duncan find this man before he takes his first human victim? Read Acceleration by Graham McNamee to find out.
Duncan's voice rings true and it's almost as hard to put the book down as it is to find a copy at the high school library I worked at--yep, it was checked out THAT often. Recommended for Grades 8 and up....more
Fin knows that something is wrong, she just doesn’t know what. She can’t stop counting. Some of the teachers at her new school think she just isn’t paFin knows that something is wrong, she just doesn’t know what. She can’t stop counting. Some of the teachers at her new school think she just isn’t paying attention, but Fin knows that maybe she’s paying too much attention--to everything. Her dad wants to be buddies with his new girlfriend. Her mother wants her to go to counseling. Her counselor wants her to take Paxil, but her mother doesn’t want her to take meds at all. Fin feels like she’s all alone--until she begins a “conversation” with a tagger on the stall wall of one of the girls’ bathrooms. Maybe she’s not so alone after all, but will she ever be able to stop counting everything? Will she take the meds? Will she meet this tagger? Read Total Constant Order by Crissa-Jean Chappell and see.
Chappell does for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) what Jack Gantos and his character, Joey Pigza, do for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Neither Gantos nor Chappell presume to solve their characters’ problems, nor do they preach or sugar-coat. They do not push any particular treatments. What they do is to skillfully offer the reader a glimpse into the minds of young people as they learn that, maybe, they’re not crazy--and that they aren’t alone. Total Constant Order is a worthy addition to any young adult collection....more
Russel Middlebrook is an average high school sophomore. He doesn’t stand out in sports or in specific social groups. He’s not unpopular—he has friends Russel Middlebrook is an average high school sophomore. He doesn’t stand out in sports or in specific social groups. He’s not unpopular—he has friends, but he feels alone. Yes, he’s an average high school student, but he has a secret--he is gay, and he’s pretty sure he’s the only gay student at his high school.
"That night in my bedroom, I logged on to the Net. I said I’d never actually been naked with a guy, but it’s possible that once or twice I might’ve gone to a gay chat room and maybe even gone off for a private chat with a guy or two. I refuse to say any more about this on the grounds that it may incriminate me, but I will say that mostly we really did just chat about innocent things, like how long had we known we were gay and which actor did we think was cute."
"The fact is, there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely; I may not have been completely alone in life, but I was definitely lonely. My secret mission—four years in an American high school—had been an involuntary one, and now I desperately wanted to be somewhere where I could be honest about who I was and what I wanted. I had plenty to say on the topic, but no one to say it to—not my friends, definitely not my parents (don’t get me started). The Internet gave me people to say it to. Problem is, they weren’t real."(Excerpts from Pages 11-12)
After this discussion, Russel goes into an online chatroom for gay teens and notices that his city’s name has been added. Could there be another gay teen in his town? His school? If Russel identifies himself to this other person, all his careful work at “playing it straight” could just blow up in his face. What would you do? Would you go meet this person? Whether you’re gay, straight, or not really sure, you won’t want to miss what happens next.
This book has won several awards and honors, is thoughtfully written, witty and definitely thought provoking. I suspect that most readers will recognize some of their own high school cliques, the cafeteria(!), and maybe even some of their own peers. Russel’s voice rings true in the sense of every high school student’s search for their own identity, their own place. It was no surprise to find out that it was semi-autobiographical. It might suffer somewhat from the notion that it’s just “a gay book,” which would be a real shame because there really is something there for anyone who is in or who has ever been in high school....more
As an eighth grader, Delia is totally immersed in the upcoming Double Dutch (jump roping) competition, and all seems to be going well until she findsAs an eighth grader, Delia is totally immersed in the upcoming Double Dutch (jump roping) competition, and all seems to be going well until she finds that, if she doesn’t pass the upcoming achievement exams, she will be barred from competing. She would not only let herself down, but her teammates as well—and everyone would learn her secret—that she could not read. What Delia doesn’t know is that she’s not the only one with a secret. How did Delia fake her way through reading, at school and at home, for 8 years? Will the scary new kids really “cross the line from intimidation to violence?” What happened to Randy’s father? Will Delia get to compete in the upcoming championships?...more