Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Friday, August 23, 2019

The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

How I Heard About It:   While in New York, at the headquarters of Penguin Random House, I was lucky to leave our meeting with several ARC's in hand. The one I was most excited about was this title.  As one of the reps of PRH said, this story was perfection.  After finishing, I completely agree.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1.  *When Bea's parents announce they will be divorcing, they give her a notebook to keep a list of "things that will not change".  At the top of that list is the love they each have for their daughter.  

2.  *Bea is lucky because she has two loving parents, two homes near each other with regular/solid schedules, and two best friends.  

3.  *Her world begins to change when her father begins dating another man.  They announce they are going to get married and Jesse's daughter is going to come visit them in New York City.

4.  *Bea can't wait for Sonia to travel from California to New York and spend time with the three of them.  She is surprised by some of Sonia's reactions while in New York.  

5.  *Bea is not only dealing with the present and future, but holding on to past incidents that she can't quite let go of.  Through therapy with Miriam, she learns on to let go of the past, accept her present, and look forward to a new and unknown future.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *There are some stories I go into excited about the reading.  At other times, I go into it with extreme anticipation and complete joy.  That is how I felt when starting this upcoming novel.  

2.  *Rebecca Stead created a character that was complex, multi-dimensional, and full of life.  I so enjoyed reading about her.

3.  *I loved how Bea's parents put her needs in front of their own, worked as a team 100% of the time, and showed her how much they loved her.  

4.  *The introduction of Jesse and his sister added greatly to the story and brought so much emotion.  To be honest, I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.

5.  *The writing was spot on.  The characters were top-notch.  The emotion was over flowing.  This 216 page novel was a pure delight to read.  

Who Should Read It:    Absolutely everyone.  I actually think that the young-adult and adult reader would gain more from the story, than the middle-grade reader.  The words flowed like a peaceful and beautiful river.  I would recommend readers in elementary school to be in grades five and/or six.  Being that Bea's dad is gay and getting married may be a concern to some parents with young children.  That would be a personal call on their part.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:   5+ STARS out of 5 Stars!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

How I Heard About It:   After reading The Thing About Jellyfish, I couldn't wait to see what Ali would write next.  I was thrilled when I saw that she had a new novel out.  The title and cover were outstanding.  Once I began to see all the positive reviews, I knew I had to get my hands on the book.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1.  *It is difficult to begin a new middle-school, but even more of a challenge when there are only ten students in the entire seventh grade class.  That is the position Caitlyn is facing.

2.  *The day Caitlyn arrives at her new school, the ten "originals" are freaking out because Paulie Fink is a no show and they don't know where he is or what has happened to him.

3.  *As Caitlyn tries to adjust, fit in, and figure out her new school; all she hears about is Paulie Fink.  

4.  *As the days progress and there is no sign off Paulie, the seventh graders decide to run their own reality show to find "The Next Great Paulie Fink".  

5.  *Caitlyn is put in charge of the reality show.  While doing so she learns about Paulie, her classmates, their interactions, and mostly herself.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I must say that I absolutely adored this story!  

2.  *One of the aspects I enjoyed most was the "format" of the pages.  The book was divided up into "regular" chapters, interviews, and a few letters.  

3.  *The premise of the plot was fresh, unique, and completely engaging.  

4.  *Caitlyn's story was mostly about her time at the new school, but Ali Benjamin did a tremendous job of capturing Caitlyn's past at her former school with her former friends.  This was such a strong part of the entire story.  

5.  *The cast of characters were authentic, heart-warming, and full of seventh grade LIFE.  Not only was the story fun and a wild ride; but there were many important life lessons and themes presented throughout the pages of the novel.  

Who Should Read It:    Readers in grades four, five, and six would be ideal for Ali's newest novel.  Of course the middle-school crowd should also be considered.  Since the story is set in seventh grade, I'm sure those readers would eat this "stuff" up.  Well done, Ali!  Happy Reading...

Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #279 (New York Adventure)

Wonder Wednesday - A New Venture

*Last night, I returned from three days in the "Big Apple".  I traveled to the city for a meeting, but was also able to fit in some "tourist" time.

*A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from Penguin Random House Publishers to be a member of  their "Elementary Advisory Board" for this inaugural year.

*As an educator, I have not had many opportunities to travel during my twenty-nine year teaching career.  I was thrilled when I was invited and couldn't wait to find out what this advisory board was all about.

*My flight was early Sunday morning.  Upon my arrival, I had a bit of time to venture out and play "tourist".  I walked down to Times Square and took in all the ACTION.  After a few hours of sight-seeing, it was time to get ready for the opening dinner with the other educators and several members of the Penguin Random House staff.

*We had a lovely dinner with lots of great discussion about books, teaching, and the publishing world.

*Monday morning was the BIG day.  We all met at the headquarters for a full day of conversation, discussion, brainstorming, and sharing of ideas.  I was energized, excited, and honored to be a part of this group.

*After our meeting, I jumped on board the "tour bus" and took in more sights.  Since it was a twenty-four hour pass, I was able to use the bus again on Tuesday morning.  My main stop was the 9/11 Memorial.  This was quite an emotional visit and hard to take it all in.

*The three days ended with a very long wait on the tarmac to head back to Minnesota.

*This advisory board will remain in tack for the next year with an option to extend after the first year.

*I'm thrilled that PRH wants to connect their exceptional books to the classrooms around the country.  They care about the work we are doing as educators and want our young people to be reading as much as possible.  I couldn't agree more.

*As my summer 2019 is coming to an end, I couldn't think of a more perfect way to spend three days.

*Here are some images of my time in New York City...