Fourth Grade Journey

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

How I Heard About It:  Opposite order for reading Nickolas Butler's novels.  I first read The Hearts of Men which is his newest work of fiction.  That was such an enjoyable read that I ordered this novel which was his first.  This one was just as good if not better.  

What It Is About:  Henry, Lee, Ronny, and Kip all grew up in a small Wisconsin town called Little Wing.  They hung out in a variety of ways during their youth.  Each one of them set off to accomplish something BIG.  Lee is an artist with many top selling songs.  Kip is making a lot of money in the financial district of Chicago.  Ronny is a big-time Rodeo star that has never been quite the same since all of his injuries.  Henry is the glue that holds all of these men together.  He has remained in Little Wing where he works a farm with his wife Beth.  These four men come together years after being "pals" for a couple of weddings.  Some of these marriages are meant to be, and others will not last long.  Henry is surprised to learn a secret that his best friend Lee and his wife Beth have been keeping for years.  Each chapter is told from the view point of one of these five main characters.  Life in small-town can be ideal and easy, but it can also cause stress, difficulties, and pain for those that live there.  

What I Thought Of It:  Stories like these are a pure joy to read.  Butler is such a strong and incredible writer.  He draws the reader in and makes them feel like they are actually in the story.  I so enjoyed reading about these four men, their life in Little Wing, and what they went off to do in their adult lives.  There was a surprise here or two, but nothing earth shattering.  Even though it was a plain and simple story about people living their lives, it kept my interest for the entire read.  It was fun for me too because there were many references to places in Wisconsin and Minnesota that I was familiar with.  

Who Should Read It:  This is a great novel for the adult reader that enjoys well-written fiction with the focus on the characters and their development.  Both of Butler's books are excellent and I recommend them for your spring and/or summer reading.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars



Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

How I Heard About It:  One of many titles that I get my all of my Twitter friends.  This came in an Amazon order of a variety of titles that I was excited to read.  I loved the cover and title of the book so I was quite excited to read the book.  I must be on an OCD kick lately because this was another story with the theme of OCD.  

What It Is About:  The story begins with Matthew secluding himself in his room because there he is safe from "germs" and the "dangers" of the outside world.  He blames himself for the death of his newborn sibling and can't forgive himself.  While he spends his days in the room, convincing his parents that he is alright, he observes the neighborhood from his window.  While he watches, he takes notes about the going-ons of all the residents on the street.  There are some kids on the street that call Matthew the "Goldfish Boy" because he lives his life in a "bowl".  When a little boy on the street goes missing, all the neighbors are sent into a tail-spin trying to locate him.  Matthew, with the help of a neighbor girl, take it upon themselves to figure out who is responsible for the missing boy.  Their clues and evidence point to different people while some of the residents begin to point to Matthew for being responsible for the missing child.  

What I Thought Of It:  What a terrific read.  I loved it.  From page number one to the final word, I enjoyed everything about this story.  It wasn't only about Matthew having OCD and dealing with that, but it had several other "sub-plots" that added greatly to the overall story.  The author dove into the relationship Matthew had with his parents, his relationship with the neighbor girl, and above all his relationship with himself.  A great mystery is aways fun to read about and this one sure had its fill of surprises.  At least for this reader.  As soon as I finished I brought it into the classroom to share with my readers.  

Who Should Read It:  Readers in grades four, five, and six are the perfect audience for this top-notch novel.  Of course it can also be read by readers in middle-school.  The book could either be read alone or shared as a class read aloud.  There would be so much to discuss as a class.  I can't wait to see what my fourth grade readers think of this story.  I hope they like it as much as I did.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars





The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

How I Heard About It:  Somewhere along the way, I added this title to my TBR list on GoodReads.  I really can't remember where I saw or got the title from.  While looking at what I wanted to read next, I checked my "Cloud Library" app to see if this title was there.  It was.  After checking it out electronically, I began reading.  Not knowing or remembering much about the storyline, I was excited to see what the book was about...

What It Is About:  David and Leo.  Leo and David.  Each of these boys has a secret.  Each of these boys is suffering.  Each of these boys need someone to lean on.  When Leo begins going to David's high school, each of their lives will change dramatically.  Leo had a difficult time at his old high school and when "life" got too difficult for him, he made a change.  David isn't really understood by his parents or most of the kids at his high school.  He does have two friends that know him 100%.  When Leo defends David against the school bully, these two young men will form a friendship that will change their lives forever.  They will learn that each has their own history, own secrets, and own will to be truly who they are.  

What I Thought Of It:  I'm really glad that at some point this title was added to my TBR list.  It was a wonderful read and truly powerful story.  There were so many life "issues" presented in the story, but not shown in a preachy way.  The plot moved along at a perfect pace, the two main characters were heart-warming and endearing, and there was a surprise or two; which always makes for a terrific reading experience.  An important novel to be read by both young-adults and adults.  

Who Should Read It:  This is definitely a perfect novel for the young-adult reader.  High school readers will gain so much from the story.  Any reader (male or female) that may be struggling with their identity should pick up this book and read it.  They can gain so much from David and Leo's story.  I will also be recommending the book to my adult readers

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars





Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

How I Heard About It:  This had been a novel on my radar for quite some time.  Every time I saw it at the book store, I debated whether to buy it or not. I finally added it to my "request" list at the library.  The wait was long, but I finally get the CD case and began to listen to the story via my commute to and from work.  

What It Is About:  Take a small private luxury jet, a cast of characters, and a tragic plane crash; and you get a really strong and "engaging" fiction read.  There are two families on board, three flight crew, and a single man that doesn't know anyone on board.  After taking off from Cape Cod heading toward New York City, the jet goes down into the ocean.  No one should have survived, but the single man and a little boy fought the odds and lived.  The plot line goes back and forth sharing the stories of the passengers on board before the crash and what happens to the sole survivors after the "fall".  There are many theories of what happened that caused this jet to go down into the water.  One reporter, who has ties to a passenger, goes on a quest to expose what truly happened on board and who is responsible for the horrific "accident".  

What I Thought Of It:  Some stories/books are just pure joy to read and/or listen to.  This was one such book.  Is it a piece of "high" quality literature that will become a classic?  No!  Is it a fiction story that deals with real-life "issues" and explores the complexities of characters?  No!  But it is one heck of a story that leaves you wanting more each time you have to turn off the ignition of your car and head into work or the house.  It was complete fun to listen to and such a fascinating fictional tale. I'm glad I finally got the chance to see what all the "hype" was about.  

Who Should Read It:  I would recommend this book to any high school and/or adult reader.  I can't imagine any reader not enjoying the story.  There is something in the book for everyone.  A great story line, strong characters, and lots of mystery and suspense.  This would be the perfect novel for summer reading.  Happy reading!!!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars





Friday, April 21, 2017

Friend Friday #185 (The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish)

Hi!  I'm Audrey and I read the book called The Ethan I Was Before written by Ali Standish.


I thought this book was AWESOME 
because it was really cool to see what would happen next in the story.  I could NOT stop reading.  


My favorite part in the story was when they found the wolf cubs because that was a really cool part of the story and I liked it.  



The character that I liked best was Coralee because she was cool and tough and I'm glad a girl was like that.  


I think the author wrote this book because she wanted people to enjoy reading a great story and see how kids can make new friends after losing an old friend. 


I would recommend this book to my friends because it is a really fun book to read and they would like Ethan, Coralee, and all the other kid characters.  


Reading to me is awesome because it helps me learn as both a reader and a writer.  I get such good ideas for my own writing when I read books like this.  


*This was our most recent "Breakfast with Books" book club selection.
*We Skyped with Ali today and had a great conversation.
*Audrey is a wonderful reader and flies through books like no one else I know.
*She read this "longer" novel is about two nights.  
*It is one of my new favorite books and I know she enjoyed it just as much as I did.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trailer Thursday #185 (The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish)

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*One of my goals this year to promote reading, books, and literacy was to expose my readers to the idea of "trailers".  

*This was our most recent "Breakfast with Books" book club selection.  We are going to meet with the author via Skype on Friday, April 21st.

*Many of the readers in the book club, created a trailer to capture the "essence" of the story.  

*Our goal is to create a book trailer a week that we can share with our classmates.  

*We are collecting all the trailers we make and putting them into our Schoology Site.

*Each student will have their own album where they can keep all of their trailers.  Then the other readers will be able to browse those trailers and find a new book to read.   

*As the year progresses we will learn what should be included, and not included, in the trailer to make them the best they can be.

Here are Some Other Trailers that Promote this Novel...
*There were no trailers/videos on YouTube for this book at this point!  
*Maybe we are the first to create them?  

Life Lesson #28 (Be a Hero)


"Be a Hero"

*This is the twenty-eighth Thursday of our school year together and that means it is "Life Lesson" Thursday.

*Every time I use any "Kid President" video with my class, it is a sure-fire hit.  They love him!

*I think it is so important for young people to hear important messages from their own peers.  I want them to see the possibility from kids their own age.  Kid President is just the one to deliver this message.  

*Everyone can be a hero to themselves and of course to others.

*I set aside time during each day for us to work in our writer's notebooks. 

*We talk about what types of writing we can do in the notebook.  Here are some of the possibilities...


-What we notice in the video
-What we wonder about
-Connections we have to the video
-Thoughts, feeling, emotions about the video clip
-Reminders we have from the lesson/message
-Create a fiction story about the video


*Once the video is shared with the writers, we spend a few minutes "talking" about what we observed.

*My writers set up their HEADING in the notebook and we get busy writing.

*During the start-up of the year, I have my students write for about five minutes.  We slowly build our stamina for writing and slowly add time to the writing block. 

*At the end of the individual writing time, we call on a few volunteers to share their actual writing and/or further thoughts about the video we watched and wrote about.

*If there is time, I sometimes share the video clip with my class at the end of the writer's notebook time.  


Life Lessons for 2016-2017…          

Week #1 - Be Brains -                                                  Click Here for Week #1 Lesson
Week #2 - Be Kind to Others -                                     Click Here for Week #2 Lesson      
Week #3 - Be Safe -                                                     Click Here for Week #3 Lesson
Week #4 - Be Responsible -                                        Click Here for Week #4 Lesson    
Week #5 - Be a Friend -                                               Click Here for Week #5 Lesson
Week #6 - Be Courageous -                                        Click Here for Week #6 Lesson
Week #7 - Be Life Changing -                                      Click Here for Week #7 Lesson
Week #8 - Be Spooky -                                                Click Here for Week #8 Lesson
Week #9 - Be Kind -                                                     Click Here for Week #9 Lesson
Week #10 - Be Courageous (To Continue On) -          Click Here for Week #10 Lesson
Week #11 - Be Motivated -                                           Click Here for Week #11 Lesson 
Week #12 - Be Inspired -                                             Click Here for Week #12 Lesson
Week #13 - Be Merry -                                                 Click Here for Week #13 Lesson
Week #14 - Be a Team -                                              Click Here for Week #14 Lesson
Week #15 - Be Giving -                                                Click Here for Week #15 Lesson
Week #16 - Be SHOUTful -                                          Click Here for Week #16 Lesson
Week #17 - Be Happy -                                                Click Here for Week #17 Lesson
Week #18 - Be a Reader -                                           Click Here for Week #18 Lesson
Week #19 - Be Powerful -                                            Click Here for Week #19 Lesson
Week #20 - Be Brave -                                                 Click Here for Week #20 Lesson
Week #21 - Be Positive -                                              Click Here for Week #21 Lesson
Week #22 - Be a Friend -                                             Click Here for Week #22 Lesson
Week #23 - Be Strong and Courageous                      Click Here for Week #23 Lesson
Week #24 - Be Dance-Like                                          Click Here for Week #24 Lesson
Week #25 - Be Inclusive                                              Click Here for Week #25 Lesson
Week #26 - Be a Sports-Person                                  Click Here for Week #26 Lesson
Week #27 - Be Different                                               Click Here for Week #27 Lesson