Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11/19/18)



Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to the site...
                
Books I Read this Past Week…



Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

*Novel Published for Adults (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)




Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

*Middle-Grade Novel (5 STARS out of 5 Stars)









Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week


Any Second by Kevin Emerson

*My Young-Adult Novel









August Isle by Ali Standish

*My Middle-Grade Novel






An Inside Look #71 (Author INTERVIEW)

Inside Look with Adam P. Schmitt
(Author Speechless)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to my blog which was called "Season #ONE".  This first season ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*I started up the interviews again in June of 2017.  It was great to get back to Season #TWO.  This season ran throughout the summer.  

*Season #THREE ran during the school year of 2017/2018.  


*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*This is the Twentieth and final interview of what I'm calling Season #FOUR.  I'm taking a break from the interview during the upcoming holiday season.  I will be back with MORE authors at the start up of 2019.  

*Thank you to Adam P. Schmitt for being the Seventy-First author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first Seventy interviews…

SEASON #ONE

























SEASON #FOUR

Interview #53 with Preston Norton (Author of Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe)

Interview #54 with Jonathan Auxier (Author of Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster)

Interview #55 with Sharon Creech (Author of Saving Winslow)

Interview #56 with Stacy McAnulty (Author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl)

Interview #57 with Kelly Yang (Author of Front Desk)

Interview #58 with Jennifer A. Nielsen (Author of Resistance)

Interview 59 with Christina Collins (Author of After Zero)

Interview #60 with Eric Walters (Author of Elephant Secrets)

Interview #61 with Phil Bildner (Author of The Rip and Red Series)

Interview #62 with Erin Soderberg (Author of Milla in Charge)

Interview #63 with Laura Shovan (Author of Take Down)

Interview #64 with Donna Gephart (Author of In Your Shoes)

Interview #65 with Alan Gratz (Author of Grenade)

Interview #66 with Barbara O'Connor (Author of Wonderland)

Interview #67 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Just Like Jackie)

Interview #68 with Katherine Marsh (Author of Nowhere Boy)

Interview #69 with Dusti Bowling (Author of 24 Hours in Nowhere)

Interview #70 with Christina Uss (Author of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle)


*I was thrilled when I received a copy of this novel from the publisher.  I was not familiar with the title and/or author.  Both the cover and title were intriguing to me.  After reading the story I reached out to Adam to share my praise for the book and ask if he would be author #71 for "An Inside Look".  

*Adam was kind, gracious, and giving with his answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post his responses here on the blog.  

*Here is a link to my review of the book...

*Thank you Adam P. Schmitt for writing this book...

Speechless
by Adam P. Schmitt (November 6, 2018)


How did you come to know Jimmy?
I wanted a narrator who was an observer watching chaos unfold around him.  In early drafts, Jimmy hardly spoke. My agent had me give him more teeth which helped the book immensely. What started as sheepish, mild mannered protagonist developed into a well-rounded kid who found some guts.


What do you think is Jimmy's most admirable quality?
 I really like his take on life. He is able to put a spin on anything that's part cynic, part, realist, and lots of humor. He has a lot thrown at him in a very short period of time. His coping skill is to put that twist on it all.


What do you think Jimmy can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what he went through?
That they're not alone. If they're attending a wake for the first time, they aren't the only ones uncomfortable or unsure how to act. A lot of adults are too.  I think in life overall, Jimmy would tell kids to speak up, especially if they have a question or are unsure of something.


How did you research Jimmy and the circumstances he found himself in?
For the wake scenes, those were entirely based on personal situations. There wasn't one service I based it on, but several over a longer period of time where I unfortunately had to attend services for people we'd lost at a variety of ages. I remember at times not knowing how to act as a grown man at some of them, and having trouble processing the range of emotions that people had.


Do you and Jimmy share any similarities?
My day job is an instructional coach at a middle school. So a big part of my job is public speaking on a regular basis. I had a lot of personal experience to draw from because I still get nervous and wonder if I'm saying the right thing. For the flashbacks, I did a lot of research on mental health that included reading and interviews. It was very important to me that I accurately and respectfully depicted Patrick's struggles. 


What was the hardest scene to write about Jimmy?
The hardest scene wasn't about Jimmy, it was about Sofia, when her teachers came to see her at the wake. There was a lot to balance in that scene. I think there's 6 pages in the book that went through more revision than anything else. I'm grateful my editor pushed me though, it's my favorite scene. 


Who do you think was Jimmy's biggest supporter and why?
Patrick. Hands down. Patrick loved his cousin and saw Jimmy as his best friend. He may not have shown support in ways Jimmy wanted, but he was the one character who always wanted to be involved in Jimmy's life.


Why do you think children can often overlook other children’s challenges and accept them for who they are when adults sometimes have a hard time accepting and working with difficult situations?
Seeing kids accept each other is one of my absolute favorite parts of being a teacher. I love seeing that in classrooms on a daily basis. I think kids naturally do that. I wish there was a simple, scientific answer where we could teach others who struggle with it.  And I think a lot of adults could learn from that.


What do you think Jimmy is doing as this present time?
I think he's taking Sofia out for ice cream, and having a lovely conversation with her. Sofia is impressed at how my ASL he's taught himself since the wake so he can listen to her more.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wonder Wednesday #246 (Skype Visit)

Wonder Wednesday - Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor


*Our third class read aloud was Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor.

*When I read it on my own, I knew I wanted to share the story with my class.

*This summer, Barbara offered several free 20-minute Skype visits, and I was lucky to get one of her time slots.

*Our visit was scheduled for Wednesday, November 7th.  Because of a very busy schedule, we finished the novel the morning of the visit.


*I had my listeners create comments and questions that we could share with Barbara.

*The Skype visit was wonderful, meaningful, and quite fun.  Barbara is so easy to talk to and connects so well with the students.

*After our visit, my class wants me to read Wish so we can experience another story by this incredible author.

*Here are some images of the Skype session in action...



Monday, November 12, 2018

An Inside Look #70 (Author INTERVIEW)

Inside Look with Christina Uss
(Author of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to my blog which was called "Season #ONE".  This first season ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*I started up the interviews again in June of 2017.  It was great to get back to Season #TWO.  This season ran throughout the summer.  

*Season #THREE ran during the school year of 2017/2018.  


*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*This is the Nineteenth interview of what I'm calling Season #FOUR.  

*Thank you to Christina Uss for being the Seventieth author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first Sixty-Nine interviews…

SEASON #ONE

























SEASON #FOUR

Interview #53 with Preston Norton (Author of Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe)

Interview #54 with Jonathan Auxier (Author of Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster)

Interview #55 with Sharon Creech (Author of Saving Winslow)

Interview #56 with Stacy McAnulty (Author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl)

Interview #57 with Kelly Yang (Author of Front Desk)

Interview #58 with Jennifer A. Nielsen (Author of Resistance)

Interview 59 with Christina Collins (Author of After Zero)

Interview #60 with Eric Walters (Author of Elephant Secrets)

Interview #61 with Phil Bildner (Author of The Rip and Red Series)

Interview #62 with Erin Soderberg (Author of Milla in Charge)

Interview #63 with Laura Shovan (Author of Take Down)

Interview #64 with Donna Gephart (Author of In Your Shoes)

Interview #65 with Alan Gratz (Author of Grenade)

Interview #66 with Barbara O'Connor (Author of Wonderland)

Interview #67 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Just Like Jackie)

Interview #68 with Katherine Marsh (Author of Nowhere Boy)

Interview #69 with Dusti Bowling (Author of 24 Hours in Nowhere)


*After receiving a copy of this novel from the publisher, I decided to download it via my Audible app and listen to it while driving to and from work.  This story brought me hours of enjoyment, smiles, and laugh out loud moments.  There were also several heart-warming and touching scenes between the incredible cast of characters.  As soon as I finished the story, I reached out to the author to see if she would be interested in an interview.  I was thrilled when she said YES!  

*Christine was kind, gracious, and giving with her answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post her responses here on the blog.  

*Here is a link to my review of the book...

*Thank you Christina Uss for writing this book...


The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle
by Christina Uss (June 5, 2018)


How did you come to know Bicycle?
Bicycle appeared in my life for the first time as a name in a book title. My husband started joking with me while I was browsing the children’s department of the library for something good to read and said, “Someday, you’re going to write a children’s book.” I asked, “Oh yeah? What’s the name of this book?” and he said, “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle.” (At the time, I was writing for newspapers and magazines about bicycle adventures.) My eyes got wide and I yelled, “YES! I AM going to write that book! Why is she called Bicycle? What are her adventures? I think she rides her bike across the country…” And I ran home to my computer to get to know Bicycle and start writing her story.
  

What do you think is Bicycle's most admirable quality?
She. Never. Gives. Up.


Is there anything you wish Bicycle would have changed or done differently in her story?
I wish she’d listened to Griffin when he told her to get out of the way of the Parade of Pigs. It was hard to write what happens to her beloved bike Clunk when the pigs come stampeding along.


What do you think Bicycle can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I hope Bicycle’s readers absorb two main things: first, when face-to-face with a challenge, before you collapse and give up, eat some cookies and see if there’s a way over, under, around, or through it. Second: I also hope readers will know that making friends doesn’t have to follow a certain set of rules to be real, and that they are perfectly within their rights to wait until they’re good and ready to make the friends they want to make the way they want to make them.  


How did you research Bicycle and the circumstances she found herself in?
As soon as I realized I was writing a story about a determined girl who wanted to ride a bike across the United States, I knew she was going to follow the same route I took when I cycled across the United States with a group of riders at the age of 22. I got out my journal and photos from that ride and did my best to recall how it felt to enter each state and experience all the surprises and beauty and kindness of strangers (not to mention the hunger and heat and dogs chasing me), so when I wrote about what Bicycle saw and felt and ate, it’d feel real to my readers.


Do you and Bicycle share any similarities?
We both love bikes, we’re tremendously comfortable hanging out mostly in silence, and we both have a tendency to go off optimistically on big adventures without thinking through potential pitfalls. “How hard can it be?” is something both of us said about biking across the country. Bicycle is, however, a MUCH faster cyclist and cries a lot less when things go wrong than I do.


What was the hardest scene to write about Bicycle?
The aftermath of the Parade of Pigs really got to me. I didn’t want Bicycle to lose Clunk. I know firsthand how much losing your most beloved bike and leaving a friend behind can hurt.


Who do you think was Bicycle's biggest supporter and why?
I’d have to say Griffin G. Griffin the ghost was her biggest supporter. He accepted her plan right off the bat without even questioning for a moment whether she had the muscles or determination or even anyone’s permission to ride across the entire country.  Whenever he could help, he’d pitch right in to keep her moving towards her goal.
  

Why do you think some children need lots of friends and people around them and others are self-sufficient and content to be alone and/or with a few close friends?
I believe this depends on our innate temperament – we’re all born preferring higher amounts of togetherness or solitude. Both are equally good! It’s most important that any child know themselves well enough to know what suits them better, and that their grown-ups believe them and make room for their preferences.


What do you think Bicycle is doing as the present time?
I love this question. She sent me a postcard recently, so I know she’s in the Midwest, riding with her new friends. I have a feeling she’s about to run into her original family for the first time. (For any readers who thought she might have been an orphan, please know she was just seriously misplaced.)