Fourth Grade Journey

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Year We Fell From Space by Amy Sarig King

How I Heard About It:  An author friend of mine recently posted how much she enjoyed this story and gave it five stars.  After some "research", I saw that several readers I know gave the novel rave reviews.  I downloaded it via Audible and spent this last week listening to it on my commute.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1. *Liberty has a love and passion for the sky, the stars, and the great big universe that is beyond herself.

2.  *Liberty and her younger sister Jilly are not entirely surprised when their parents announce they are separating.  

3.  *What they are surprised by is how much their father changes once he is out of their family home.

4.  *The two girls naviagate a new "normal" spliting their time between two homes.  

5.  *While they once shared an interest in the night sky, Liberty now wonders if she shares the same emotion problems her father suffers from.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *2019 must be the year of space, stars, and galaxies far away.  I've read several middle-grade stories that revolve around the topic of astronomy.

2.  *I truly enjoy the story of Liberty, Jilly, and the changes in their lives.  

3.  *A.S. King created a perfectly paced story with short, engaging chapters.  I know this will be appealing to young readers.

4.  *Liberty's "conversations" with the rock that fell from space were unique, thoughtful, and spot on.

5.  *In my opinion, the author created a realistic picture of what a family goes through during a divorce and coming to terms with a new reality.     

Who Should Read It:
Readers in grade three and above would be perfect for this newest story from A.S. King.  The chapters are short which I think is appealing for young readers.  If you know of children that have and/or experiencing divorce, this story would definitely be a support for them.  Happy Reading!

Rating:   4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #293 (Author Preparation)

Wonder Wednesday - Comments and Questions for Authors

*We have our second "Breakfast with Books" on Friday, November 15th.

*Author Rebecca Ansari will be joining us in person.

*We are excited and thrilled to be able to interact with Rebecca in person.

*The readers can't wait to dig into the story of Charlie and his "missing piece".

*After finishing the novel, each reader composed a few comments/questions to ask the author during our time together.

*Here are a few samples of what we will be sharing with Rebecca...

One comment I have about the book is it was really good. To me, the story was wonderful because it was good. Something I noticed about the story was Johnathan was Charlie’s brother. My first question about the story is why Charlie’s mom says à stor.  I'm wondering if there will be a sequel? (Carli)

One comment I have about the book is I loved it. To me, the story was entertaining!! Something I noticed about the story was that Charlie really cares about Liam. My first question about the story is where did you get the idea. I'm wondering if things between Liam and Charlie met its end during the year of Charlie’s isolation? (Landon)

One comment I have about the book is why did they pick someone to hide. To me, the story was Great because it was. Something I noticed about the story was they found him it was so good.  My first question about the story is why did they chose someone to hide?  I’m wondering why someone to hide? (Cooper)

One comment I have about the book is why did you make this theme. To me, the story was legendary because It just was. Something I noticed about the story was it was engaging. My first question about the story is where did you write the story?  (Colin)

One comment I have about the book is that it’s an awesome book.  To me, the story was awesome because I love books.  Something I noticed about the story was that Charlie is the only one who remembered Liam.  My first question about the story is why does Charlie remember Liam?  I'm wondering if Ana ever saw Liam before he went missing?  (Abby)

One comment I have about the book is it's amazing.  To me, the story was interesting because It was great. Something I noticed about the story was it saw kinda sad. My first question about the story is why did he disappear?  I’m wondering why did you decide to write the book? (Jayden)

One comment I have about the book is that I like mysteries-especially this one. To me, the story was a good life-lesson because forgiveness is the only way. Something I noticed about the story was Brona is his mom. My first question about the story is why did you decide to write about Charlie, Anna, Jonathan, and Liam? I’m wondering how Kirien died? (Lilli)

Monday, November 11, 2019

An Inside Look #114 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Chris and J.J. Grabenstein
(Author of Shine)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to the 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.  

*The next season (season #FOUR) of interviews took place during the summer and fall of 2018.  With each interview I became more and more impressed with the authors I was having interactions with.  

*Season #FIVE ran during the 2018/2019 school year.  I took a little break at the start of June 2019.  

*During my summer 2019 vacation I continued a series of interviews in which I put under the heading of Season #SIX.

*To kick off my 29th year of teaching, I'm adding Season #SEVEN with a whole new season of authors, books, and interviews.  

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

*This is the ELEVENTH interview in which I'm calling Season #SEVEN.  

*Thank you to J.J. and Chris Grabenstein for being the One-Hundred Fourteenth author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first One Hundred Thirteen interviews…

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)

SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)

Interview #81 with Tony Abbott (Author of The Great Jeff)

Interview #82 with Susan Ross (Author of Searching for Lottie)

Interview #83 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Caterpillar Summer)

Interview #84 with Rebecca Ansari (Author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly)

Interview #85 with Ali Standish (Author of August Isle)

Interview #86 with Shaun David Hutchinson (Author of The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried)

Interview #87 with Greg Howard (Author of The Whispers)

Interview #88 with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Author of Shouting at the Rain)

Interview #89 with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Author of One for the Murphys)

Interview #90 with Laurie Morrison (Author of Up for Air)

Interview #91 with Jody J. Little (Author of Mostly the Honest Truth)

SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)

Interview #92 with John David Anderson (Author of Finding Orion)

Interview #93 with Lisa Thompson (Author of The Light Jar)

Interview #94 with Keith Calabrese (Author of A Drop of Hope)

Interview #95 with Alicia D. Williams (Author of Genesis Begins Again)

Interview #96 with Kim Ventrella (Author of Bone Hollow)

Interview #97 with Natalie Lloyd (Author of Over the Moon)

Interview #98 with Cynthia Lord (Author of Because of the Rabbit)

Interview #99 with Tina Athaide (Author of Orange for the Sunsets)

Interview #100 with Elly Swartz (Author of Give and Take)

Interview #101 with Amy Rebecca Tan (Author of A Kind of Paradise)

Interview #102 with Varsha Bajaj (Author of Count Me In)

Interview #103 with Laura Resau (Author of Tree of Dreams)

SEASON #SEVEN (2019/2020)

Interview #104 with Laurel Snyder (Author of My Jasper June)

Interview #105 with Lisa Bunker (Author of Zenobia July)

Interview #106 with Jasmine Warga (Author of Other Words for Home)

Interview #107 with Barbara Dee (Author of Maybe He Just Likes You)

Interview #108 with Graham Salisbury (Author of Banjo)

Interview #109 with Donna Gephart (Author of The Paris Project)

Interview #110 with Jake Burt (Author of The Tornado)

Interview #111 with Jess Redman (Author of The Miraculous)

Interview #112 with Karen Strong (Author of Just South of Home)

Interview #113 with Nicole Melleby (Author of Hurricane Season)

*J.J. and Chris were kind, gracious, and giving with their answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post their responses here on the blog. 

*Thank you J.J. and Chris for writing this incredible and thought-provoking book.

*Here is my book review...

Shine by J.J. and Chris Grabenstein

(November 5, 2019)

How did you come to know Piper?
Chris is going to answer this one:  Piper is a 12-year-old version of J.J. – the kindest, most caring, funniest person I've ever met.   J.J. came up with the name for the character.  The last name came from a childhood friend.  Piper came from a dog we know in our neighborhood.

What do you think is Piper's most admirable quality?
As the story progresses, Piper becomes surrounded by people who value accomplishments and status more than anything else. But she values other things and, even though it's often a difficult thing to do, stays true to herself. She is a very good friend and a kind person who is willing to put others before herself.

Is there anything you wish Piper would have changed or done differently in her story?
Piper had to do whatever we told her to do in the story, so we think she made all the right choices. 

What do you think Piper can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
It’s important to know that who you are is more important than what you accomplish.

How did you research Piper and the circumstances she found herself in?
Living in New York City, we are very familiar with kids who are being pushed to accomplish great things.  Believe it or not, a lot of parents here think the path to Harvard or Yale starts with choosing the right Pre-K for their kids.

What was the hardest scene to write about Piper?
We needed to find a way for Piper to express her feelings and her greatest fears.  Once we added a dog (Mr. Pugsly) for her to talk to, these scenes became easier to write.

Who do you think was Piper's biggest supporter and why?
Her dad is her biggest supporter. He loves her and wants her to have all the good things in life. He is a single dad (Piper’s mom died before our story begins) so he feels even more pressure to give Piper the best life possible.

How do you think adults, parents and teachers, can help young people find what they are destined to SHINE with and foster that?Everyone shines in their own way and not all “shining moments” are in the spotlight. Adults, parents and teachers can help kids by letting them know when they shine, even if it’s a small good deed or a simple act of kindness.

What do you think Piper is doing as the present time?
Good question! I guess we’ll all find out if there is a sequel! We’re sure she is still being kind and helping others even when nobody is watching. 

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

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...

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

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

New Kid by Jerry Craft

*Graphic Novel (5 STARS out of 5 Stars)

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

*Middle-Grade Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

For Black Girls Like Me by Cariama J. Lockington

*Middle-Grade Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

*My Novel Published for Adults

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

*My Young-Adult Novel

Indian No More by Charlene Willing Mcmanis and Traci Sorell

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell

How I Heard About It:   Based on a few of my reading friends recommendations, I decided to spend yesterday, Saturday, with this middle-grade novel.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1.  The year is 1957 and Regina's family are part of the Umpqua Native American Tribe.

2.  *That is until the United States Government declares that her tribe doesn't "exist" any longer.  

3.  *Regina and her family must relocate to Los Angeles to begin their new "none" Indian ways.

4.  *All she and her sister have known are their Native American ways, culture, and environment.  Living in LA, forces both girls to adapt and navigate new ways of life.  

5.  *Regina's family is faced with various forms or racism and stereotypes from their neighbors and children at school.  They find it quite difficult to balance their "way" of life and the one that is being forced on them.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *What amazes me most about this story is that the plot is based on the author's own experiences.  

2.  *How in the late 50's could our country tell a group of people they don't exist any longer?  This fact just boggles my mind.

3.  *The story was a joy to read even though there were many tough moments they experienced and made me cringe.  As a kid of the 70's, I actually remember many of these situations taking place in my own neighborhood and/or school.  

4.  *I appreciated how much Regina's father wanted to provide for his family while keeping their culture in tact and blending into the "norms" of America.  It wasn't an easy task at all.

5.  *The story contained some light-hearted moments along with some tear producing ones which gave me such a strong and well-rounded read.  

Who Should Read It:
The novel is short at 168 pages, but has quite a few pages of "back matter".  The subject matter is a bit heavy.  I would recommend the book for readers in grade six and above.  The story may make for a strong class read aloud because the events in the book would lead to great discussion and conversation.

Rating:   4 STARS out of 5 Stars