Fourth Grade Journey

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

Sunday, July 12, 2020

One Time by Sharon Creech

How I Heard About It:
*While looking at upcoming titles on NetGalley, I saw that one of my favorite middle-grade authors had a new novel coming out and an E-ARC was available for request.  I requested and was granted a copy.  I spent my Sunday afternoon reading the new story from the one and only Sharon Creech.


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Gina stands out, both in her family and at home.  She loves her Italian  heritage and "displays" it for all to see.



2.  *Gina didn't enjoy her previous school year because of a strict teacher who didn't appreciate her creative writing and ideas.

3.  *She is hoping the new school year will be refreshing changes.  Gina is surprised with a new teacher and a new neighbor boy.

4.  *As the teacher challenges her students to stretch their thinking and ideas, Gina is pushed to new levels and a new world.

5.  *The neighbor boy, Antonio, also helps Gina realize she can be more than she ever thought.


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *Sharon Creech's newest work of fiction, brought me an afternoon of complete enjoyment.

2.  *I so enjoyed immersing myself in the world of Gina, her family, and her Italian culture.

3.  *The best character in the story had to be the new teacher Miss Lightstone who brought such life, energy, and excellent teaching ideas.  I'm going to use some of them in the coming school year.

4.  *I enjoyed the format of short chapters, creative chapter titles, and the journey that Gina and Antonio took together.

5.  *My most favorite chapter was the final chapter where Sharon worked her magic and brought everything together to warm this reader's heart.


Who Should Read It:
*As with all of Sharon's books, this one could be used in third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms.  If you know of readers who are fans of Sharon Creech, then you must tell them about her upcoming story.  Happy Reading!


Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn

How I Heard About It:
*This was another middle-grade title that I obtained during the #alavirutal2020 event.  Penguin Random House has a list of books readers could download from their virtual exhibit.  I knew nothing of the title or author so was excited going into the reading experience. 


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Andrea and her parents haven't been the same for the last three years.

2.  *That was when her younger brother, Francis, disappeared and was never heard from again. 


3.  *When Andrea finds out her parents are ready to get rid of Francis' things, she freaks out, and flees from their home. 

4.  *While she is on her own thinking, Andrea stumbles across a "circus" called Reverie. 

5.  *It is here she meets several other children, a mysterious leader called "The Sandman", and learns her brother may actually be inside the circus. 


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *As I've stated before in other posts, magical realism, isn't my favorite genre, but I certainly did enjoy the story. 

2.  *Andrea was a thoughtful, sensitive, and realistic character I enjoyed getting to know through the pages of the story.

3.  *The author did a tremendous job of slowly revealing what happened the night Francis disappeared. 

4.  *I found the world under the circus tents to be full of imagination, suspense, and mystery.

5.  *On the surface, the reader may not recognized the depth of important themes and life-lessons, but there is a lot to think about and discuss. 


Who Should Read It:
*The novel is just over 300 pages, the story line is a bit complex, and the pacing can be a bit slow and detailed during certain sections.  For these reasons, I would recommend the book for readers in grades five and six along with the middle-school reader.  The novel will be released in September of 2020.  Happy Reading! 


Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars



Saturday, July 11, 2020

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

How I Heard About It:
*During #ALAVirtual2020, I requested and E-ARC on the Penguin Random House site.  I was excited when I received a great BIG yes.  I downloaded the book right away, and read the entire story during an airline flight I took last week.


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *ZJ's life consists of his loving parents, and his three best buddies.

2.  *His father has been a professional football player for years which brings a lot of attention to both ZJ's father and even himself.


3.  *ZJ begins to notice a change in his father's behavior.  At first he shrugs it off, but after awhile the behaviors get worse and worse.

4.  *He turns to both his best friends and his mother for support during the uncertain times.

5.  *ZJ must navigate a new "play" while trying to hang on to the "pass" of family he once knew.


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *Once I started the story, I could not stop reading; good thing I was on an airplane for three hours.

2.  *As one would expect with Jacqueline Woodson's writing, this story flowed from word to word, paragraph to paragraph, and page to page.

3.  *I could feel the heart and emotion within ZJ.  He was truly an amazing character that came to life with the pages of the story.

4.  *I was thinking the memory issues were going to go in one direction, but was surprised when the author took it in another direction.

5.  *I'm so happy the talented and inspiring Jacqueline Woodson has written a beautiful and memorable middle-grade novel for many young readers to enjoy.


Who Should Read It:
*Everyone should read this book when it comes out in September 2020.  Readers in grades three through six would be perfect for the story.  I can't wait to share the book with my fourth grade class during the upcoming school year.  Happy Reading!


Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

How I Heard About It:
*A story I've been hearing a lot about in the last couple of months.  I requested an E-ARC via NetGalley and was thrilled when I was approved for a copy.  I read the story while on summer vacation.


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Hannah appears to have it all.  A loving family, a talent at sports, and friends at school.

2.  *Her cousin Cal, doesn't have it all and he knows it.  His mother has died, his father is missing, and he isn't accepted by the kids at school.


3.  *After the death of his mother, Cal moves in with Hannah and her family.  This is the last thing Hannah wants and isn't sure how she is going to deal with it.

4.  *As Hannah's family adjust to having Cal in their home, Hannah realizes her parents are having issues of their own.

5.  *Cal tries his hardest to fit into Hannah's family, life, and school, but can't seem to leave his past where it belongs; in the past.


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I loved this story.  I loved the characters.  I loved the feelings.  I loved the themes.

2.   *The story was told in verse which I normally don't enjoy, but the format worked so well with Hannah and Cal's story.

3.  *The plot unfolded by alternating viewpoints of the two main characters which created one strong middle-grade tale.

4.  *The themes of family, friendship, addiction, acceptance, and abandonment were written about with grace, sensitivity, and authenticity. 

5.  *The only element in the story I was unsure about was an incident that occurred at the school toward the end of the story.  I'm not sure it was needed and may have been a bit too much.  Just my opinion.


Who Should Read It:
*This is an important story and one that should be in all classroom libraries from grades four and above.  Middle-school readers will definitely be able to relate to both Hannah and Cal's stories.  The story would be an excellent class read aloud and/or used as a book club selection.  Happy Reading!


Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars


Friday, July 10, 2020

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

How I Heard About It:
*An Instagram blogger I follow chose this novel as his book club pick.  I did a bit of research and was intrigued by the story.  Then Oprah announced the novel as her book club selection.  I decided to order a copy and see what all the buzz was about. 


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *The author takes the reader back during the year 1969 and focuses on a group of people living in a "project" in the New York area.

2.   *Deacon, "Sportscoat", walks out into the middle of the Cause House and shoots the local drug dealer.

3.  *"Sportscoat" has had a slew of health issues over the years, including alcoholism. 

4.  *As the residents come to terms with the shooting incident, their stories are told and unfold throughout the pages. 

5.  *The lives of the shooter and the drug dealer are changed forever based on one single event. 


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I was extremely excited going into the story.  Based on the last couple of Oprah picks, I was thinking I was going to love her newest selection.

2.  *The start of the story was interesting and I was curious as to where "events" were going to go.

3.  *As the narrative introduced the neighborhood characters, my interest began to wane.

4.  *The plot was a bit slow and after the initial incident, not a whole lot happened.

5.  *The writing was beautiful, detailed, and quite descriptive.  


Who Should Read It:
*Since so many readers are giving the book 4 and 5 stars, I know there are definitely a lot of readers out there who have and would enjoy the novel.  For the reader who gravitates toward the richly written with a slow and deliberate plot, this is the novel for them.  Happy Reading! 


Rating:   3 STARS out of 5 Stars





Friday, July 3, 2020

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

How I Heard About It:
*I was excited to receive this book in the mail via my Twitter #bookexpedition group as I have been hearing really great things about the story.  The weather was extremely hot here today, so I hunkered in and read the entire book this afternoon. 


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Welcome to the world of Chattana where "light" is controlled by one man - the Governor.

2.  *Welcome to the world of Namwon, the prison across the river where there is no light.

3.  *Children born to parents in the prison must remain in the prison, which is the case for friends Pong and Somkit. 

4.  *Pong longs for freedom and life in the city of lights.  Even though he must leave his best friend, Pong risks his life and escapes. 

5.  *He finds safety, but when Nok, the prison warden's daughter, takes it upon herself to find Pong, his life becomes quite dangerous. 


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *As I posted on social media, the story line eerily represents the issues our country is facing at the moment. 

2.  *Even though the story takes place in a fantasy land of Thai, there are many similarities to the social and economic divide taking place in our country.

3.  *The strength and wisdom in which Pong, Somkit, and Nok displayed was inspiring and full of hope. 

4.  *I loved how there were plenty of surprises, twists and turns, and several OMG moments.

5.  *The writing was excellent and the plot was unique, fresh, and thought-provoking. 


Who Should Read It:
*There are many important themes and topics of conversations that could stem from the story.  I believe readers in grades four and above would be most appropriate for the content.  Middle-school readers would also gain much from either reading the story for themselves or having the book used as a class read aloud.  Happy Reading! 


Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars






Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #336 (Writer Check-In #TWO)

Wonder Wednesday - My Second Week

*Two Wednesdays ago, I took a BIG leap in my life and decided to try my "hand" at writing.

*The last two weeks have been pretty cool as far as my new writing life goes.  I don't know if I'm doing it right, but I don't think there is a right or wrong way to write.  

*I've continued the structure I set up two weeks ago.  I'm writing Monday through Friday and writing a chapter, or what I think will be a chapter, a day.  

*One of the most frustrating aspects has been trying to get it "perfect" the first time through.  When this happens, I just think back to all the authors I've heard speak, and remember how they have shared that writers write and there will be many, many, many revisions along the way.

*Some days I enjoy the writing process more than others.  On the harder days, I give myself permission to write as badly and quickly as I need to in order to get a chapter written.  I know I don't have to write a chapter each and every day, but for me, this set-up WORKS.

*I'm still using the iPods and playing what I would consider "emotional" music which helps me put myself in a space to write the story; which overall is an emotional and tragic story.  

*Most days I write on the front porch where I can be alone, yet still see the world go by.  Some days when it is too hot and I need to be in the shade, I move to the backyard to the deck.  

*I have tried writing while watching television, but that hasn't worked out real well.  It takes me much longer to compose the story and I know the writing isn't as good.  

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020:  Chapter 5 (Friday, July 29, 2011)

Thursday, June 25, 2020:  Chapter 6 (Spring 1976)

Friday, June 26, 2020:  Chapter 7 (Fall/Winter 1993)

Monday, June 29, 2020:  Chapter 8 (Thursday, July 14, 2011)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020:   Chapter 9 (Friday, August 5, 2011)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 (Today):  Chapter 10 (Fall 1980)





Blog Post from Wednesday, June 24, 2020

*If you read last week's post, which I have included down below, you know I've had the desire and the "idea" for a book for quite some time.  I'm not sure why now seems like the perfect time, but I'm more motivated now to do the writing more than I ever have.  

*This past week, I actually sat down and began writing/typing.  I was scared, nervous, and also excited.  

*After listening to many authors discuss their writing habits and techniques, I decided I needed to create some structure for myself to create a writing space and time that worked for me.

*I decided to write five out of seven days during the week.  At first, I was going to write for an hour a day, but then found myself creating a chapter a day so I'm going to stick with that plan; for now!

*Here is what my writing schedule looked like for the last six days...

Wednesday, June 17, 2020:  I wrote the prologue (I love a great prologue) = the year 2011

Thursday, June 18, 2020:  I wrote chapter 1, which actually became chapter 2 the next day =  the year 1973

Friday, June 19, 2020:  I wrote chapter 2, which turned into chapter 1 = the year 2011

Monday, June 22, 2020:  I wrote chapter 3 = the year 1993

Tuesday, June 23, 2020:   I wrote chapter 4 = the year 2011

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 (Today):  I still need to write the next chapter

*So far, I have been writing on my front porch with my laptop on my lap.  Go figure!

*I also put my iPods into my ears and have been playing around with some "writing music".  

*The music seems to put me in a space where I can create the story I'm trying to write.  I haven't found the perfect playlist yet, but still working on that each time I sit down and write.

*The book idea probably won't go anywhere, but I must say I'm enjoying the process and find myself thinking about the fictional story quite a bit.  

*Thanks for keeping me accountable and I'll check in next week.

*Happy Writing!!!!



 Blog Post from Wednesday, June 17, 2020

*If you follow this blog, you know I'm a READER.

*I pride myself on being an avid reader and sharing that love of books and reading with all those around me, especially my students.

*Over the years, I've had the honor and privilege of meeting and getting to know many authors from many walks of life.  To me, they are ROCK stars.

*During many conversations with students, fellow readers, teachers, and authors I get asked the question; "When are you going to write a book?"

*I started one story years ago and never got back to the writing.  To be honest, I have a couple ideas for both a middle-grade story and a story for adults.  I've just been too scared and intimidated to begin the actual process.

*Part of my problem, is I think I need to start, continue, and finish within a finite amount of time.  I should have known better since all the writers I've talked with have told me how long it took them to create their novel.

*I've decided to take the leap this summer and dip my toe in the waters of writing.  I have a general idea of a story I would like to create, but we shall see where the days take me.

*To start with, I'm going to dedicate an hour a day to the writing.  The structure will help me get started and get into a routine.

*Who knows, I may just stare at the blank screen, but the "ideas" will be swirling around my brain.

*I'm going to use my "Wonder Wednesday" posts to record the progress, or lack of progress.  Tracking my ideas here may keep me more accountable.

*I'm scared.  I'm nervous.  I'm excited.  I'm looking forward to this new "CHAPTER" in my life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

How I Heard About It:
*Over the last couple of months I've seen this title on several must read lists for summer 2020.  One day after a visit with her mother, my wife brought home a copy of the novel.  Her mom had read it and said she could NOT put it down.  I guess I had my next novel published for adults. 


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Nina loves a good con.  Why wouldn't she being that her own mother was a master of the ultimate con. 

2.  *Vanessa doesn't need to con anyone since she comes from one of the wealthiest families in the states. 

3.  *When Nina was in high-school she met Vanessa's brother Benny.  The two of them began to hang out, but Benny's family didn't approve of Nina or her life.

4.  *When Nina's mother becomes seriously ill, she must find a way to get enough money to pay for the necessary medical treatments. 

5.  *The time has come for the con to end all cons.  Nina and a partner head back into the world of Vanessa, which ultimately leads her back to Benny. 


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I love a strong story line, a page turner, and memorable characters.  This book had them all. 

2.  *This was the perfect novel published for adults to be read during summer vacation.  Nothing too heavy, but an engaging plot and interesting characters.

3.  *There were plenty of surprises and twists and turns along the way.  I never knew what was going to happen in the next chapter. 

4.  *Even though both female characters had their flaws, I still found myself liking each of them in their own "special" way. 

5.  *The idea of wanting what the rich and famous have, is strewn throughout the pages of the book and show no matter how much money or access one has; that isn't going to bring true happiness. 


Who Should Read It:
I think most adult readers would enjoy the story.  If you are heading on a "safe" vacation or staying safe at home, I highly recommend the book for your summer enjoyment.  Happy Reading! 


Rating:   4 STARS out of 5 Stars




Monday, June 29, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (6/29/20)



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...


Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

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









Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

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







Pet by  akwaeke emezi

*Young-Adult Novel (3 STARS out of 5 Stars)








A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron

*Middle-Grade Novel (Abandoned)





Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

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





The Secret Life of Sam by Kim Ventrella

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







Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week...  


Deacon King Kong by James McBride

*My Novel Published for Adults








A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Orphan Eleven by Gennifer Choldenko

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

How I Heard About It:
*There are some books that get a lot of book buzz on social media.  This is one such novel.  After I finished listening to Echo Mountain, I began listening to this story via Audible.


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Efren is the oldest sibling of three which includes twins Mia and Max.

2.  *His parents are undocumented immigrants and Efren worries his family may get in trouble.



3.  *While Efren helps his best friend run for class president, his worst fear comes true when is mother is deported back across the border of Mexico.

4.  *He tries to keep his family problems away from school and the election, but as more and more days pass; it becomes harder and harder.

5.  *Efren is divided between standing by his friend and standing on his own two feet and working with another friend who has quite a bit in common with Efren.


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I'm glad I listened to the story via Audible because the narrator was so wonderful and the Spanish language was beautiful.

2.  *The topic/content of the story was quite timely and happening in our country.

3.  *I enjoyed how the author presented two story lines simultaneously showing how divided Efren actually was in both situations.

4.  *Efren is a one of a kind young man and any parent would be proud to call him their son.

5.  *Everything about this story was enjoyable, thought-provoking, and eye-opening.  I loved it!


Who Should Read It:
In my opinion, the book could be read by children in grades four and above.  The novel should be part of all classroom collections in grades three through six and of course in the middle-school library.  The story-line has so much to offer young readers.  Happy Reading!


Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars







Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Secret Life of Sam by Kim Ventrella

How I Heard About It:
*One day last week I had the best mail surprise.  This middle-grade ARC was sent to me by the author/publisher.  I know when a book arrives and I had no idea it was coming my way.  I've enjoyed other works of fiction by Ventrella and was intrigued by the title and cover of her upcoming novel.  I actually spent yesterday, Saturday, reading the entire story.  I could NOT put it down.


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Sam has lost his Pa, and is now moving from Louisiana to Oklahoma with his Aunt Jo.


2.  *Sam and his aunt have not seen each other for years because of an incident involving his aunt.

3.  *He is not thrilled to be living in a new house, a new town, and with someone he barely remembers.  Sam is determined to keep his heart closed, and find a way back to his true home.

4.  *With a half-faced cat, a mysterious young boy, an enormous crocodile, and a tree that appears to be a portal to another world; Sam is torn between his old life with Pa and the new one he is being forced to create with Aunt Jo.

5.  *The themes of loss, friendship, family, and grief are presented through the eyes of Sam, his Aunt Jo, and a new friend with purple hair.


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *From the moment I opened to the book to the final minute on the last page, I was captivated by the story of Sam and his family.

2.  *I could feel Sam's heartbreak and found myself wanting to jump into the pages to rescue him.

3.  *Ventrella did a fantastic job of weaving together a realistic and magical realism story that had me convinced 100% of what was happening within the pages of the book.

4.  *Sam was not the only character I fell in love with.  Aunt Jo was complex, dynamic, loving, and someone that every young child needs in their life.

5.  *The friendship with Edie was an integral aspect of the story and she portrayed the strength and bounds young people will go to in order to survive and be successful; even when knee-deep in a different situation.


Who Should Read It:
*I already know this is going to either be a class read aloud or "Breakfast with Books" book club selection with my fourth grade class during the 2020-21 school year.  The story line, content, and themes would be perfect for all readers in grades four, five, and six.  Of course, the middle-school reader will love the story of Sam and his journey.  Adult readers that navigate toward middle-grade books, must put this on their TBR list.  Happy Reading!


Rating:   5+ STARS out of 5 Stars





Saturday, June 27, 2020

Pet by akwaeke emezi

How I Heard About It:
*During an email conversation with a friend who works in the publishing industry, she mentioned this young-adult title to me.  I haven't been very good at fitting in the young-adult titles as I have been with middle-grade and novels published for adults.  She raved about it so I ordered it, read it, and now I will share my thoughts with you here on the blog.


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *The story takes place in the city of Lucille where the residents have gotten rid of the "monsters".



2.  *Jam lives with her parents and her mother is an artist.

3.  *One day while observing a piece of art work her mother has created, Jam leaves a drop of blood on the painting and a creature from the work comes to life.  The creature's name is Pet.

4.  *Pet has come to Lucille to hunt for a "monster" that shouldn't be in their town.

5.  *Along with her friend, Redemption, they begin a search for the monster that Pet is after, but are torn because they have been taught there are no longer any monsters remaining.


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *First of all, this was one of the most different stories I've read in a very long time.

2.  *I think it is the type of story the reader needs to read slowly, pause, ponder, and reread passages.  There is a lot packed into this almost two hundred page story.

3.  *The young-adult story tackles some serious issues and they are presented in quite a unique way.

4.  *The character names and some of the topics were confusing and I wasn't always sure of what was going on.

5.  *I didn't love the story as much as some readers, but I'm probably not the target audience.  I may come back to the book someday and give it another try.


Who Should Read It:
*The target audience is the young adult reader and I do think they would relate to Jam and everything she experienced.  Based on the reviews, most readers do LOVE this story.  Happy Reading!


Rating:   3 STARS out of 5 Stars






Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #335 (Writer Check-In #ONE)

Wonder Wednesday - My First Week

*Last Wednesday, I took a BIG leap in my life and decided to try my "hand" at writing.  No, not a one-page story, not a short story, not a picture book, or even a middle-grade book.  

*I decided to give writing a novel published for adults a try.


*If you read last week's post, which I have included down below, you know I've had the desire and the "idea" for a book for quite some time.  I'm not sure why now seems like the perfect time, but I'm more motivated now to do the writing more than I ever have.  

*This past week, I actually sat down and began writing/typing.  I was scared, nervous, and also excited.  

*After listening to many authors discuss their writing habits and techniques, I decided I needed to create some structure for myself to create a writing space and time that worked for me.

*I decided to write five out of seven days during the week.  At first, I was going to write for an hour a day, but then found myself creating a chapter a day so I'm going to stick with that plan; for now!

*Here is what my writing schedule looked like for the last six days...

Wednesday, June 17, 2020:  I wrote the prologue (I love a great prologue) = the year 2011

Thursday, June 18, 2020:  I wrote chapter 1, which actually became chapter 2 the next day =  the year 1973

Friday, June 19, 2020:  I wrote chapter 2, which turned into chapter 1 = the year 2011

Monday, June 22, 2020:  I wrote chapter 3 = the year 1993

Tuesday, June 23, 2020:   I wrote chapter 4 = the year 2011

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 (Today):  I still need to write the next chapter

*So far, I have been writing on my front porch with my laptop on my lap.  Go figure!

*I also put my iPods into my ears and have been playing around with some "writing music".  

*The music seems to put me in a space where I can create the story I'm trying to write.  I haven't found the perfect playlist yet, but still working on that each time I sit down and write.

*The book idea probably won't go anywhere, but I must say I'm enjoying the process and find myself thinking about the fictional story quite a bit.  

*Thanks for keeping me accountable and I'll check in next week.

*Happy Writing!!!!

 Blog Post from Wednesday, June 17, 2020

*If you follow this blog, you know I'm a READER.

*I pride myself on being an avid reader and sharing that love of books and reading with all those around me, especially my students.

*Over the years, I've had the honor and privilege of meeting and getting to know many authors from many walks of life.  To me, they are ROCK stars.

*During many conversations with students, fellow readers, teachers, and authors I get asked the question; "When are you going to write a book?"

*I started one story years ago and never got back to the writing.  To be honest, I have a couple ideas for both a middle-grade story and a story for adults.  I've just been too scared and intimidated to begin the actual process.

*Part of my problem, is I think I need to start, continue, and finish within a finite amount of time.  I should have known better since all the writers I've talked with have told me how long it took them to create their novel.

*I've decided to take the leap this summer and dip my toe in the waters of writing.  I have a general idea of a story I would like to create, but we shall see where the days take me.

*To start with, I'm going to dedicate an hour a day to the writing.  The structure will help me get started and get into a routine.

*Who knows, I may just stare at the blank screen, but the "ideas" will be swirling around my brain.

*I'm going to use my "Wonder Wednesday" posts to record the progress, or lack of progress.  Tracking my ideas here may keep me more accountable.

*I'm scared.  I'm nervous.  I'm excited.  I'm looking forward to this new "CHAPTER" in my life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

How I Heard About It:
*I can still remember reading Wolf Hollow to a group of fourth graders and the response from the listeners was positive, powerful, and deep.  We had the opportunity to talk with Lauren about the story.  Now that was a Skype visit to remember.  I was excited to learn about a new release from author Lauren Wolk.  After seeing positive review after positive review, I knew it was time to get reading.  I decided to download the title via my Audible app.  The middle-grade story was my first audio experience of summer 2020. 


What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Lauren Wolk takes the reader back in time to the Great Depression era. 

2. *Ellie's family has been hit hard just like most of the townspeople and neighbors.  They leave their home in town and begin fresh up in the heights of Echo Mountain. 

3.  *It is here that Ellie begins to find a series of carved wooden figures.  They seem to be placed intentionally for her to find.  She begins a search to find the carver. 

4.  *The family is devastated when Ellie's father is injured in an accident that involved Ellie, her older sister, and their younger brother. 

5.  *During an exploration of Echo Mountain, Ellie meets the mountain's "hag" and from that moment on, her life changes in more ways than she could have ever imagined. 


What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *Lauren Wolk certainly has a way immersing the reader back in time and experiencing life as it was during that time period. 

2.  *The characters, plot, and setting were all top-notch and pitch perfect. 

3.  *As I listened to the story, I was struck by the beautiful relationships that Ellie had both with people that had been in her life for years and also with an incredible few characters that came into her life while living up in the mountains. 

4.  *The connections between characters were revealed with such grace, sensitivity, and perfect timing. 

5.  *Within the pages of the story, many life lessons were presented and explored; family, secrets, honesty, strength, and standing on one's two feet. 


Who Should Read It:
*The novel would be awesome to put in the individual hands of young readers and/or use it as a class read aloud.  I would say readers in grades four through six would be best. Of course the book should also be in all middle-school libraries and classrooms.  As an adult, if you have read other works by Lauren, then you MUST put this new title on your TBR list.  Happy Reading! 


Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars





Monday, June 22, 2020

It's Monday! What are You Reading? (6/22/20)



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...


A Burning by Megha Majumdar

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










Three Keys by Kelly Yang

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








Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week...  


Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

*My Novel Published for Adults








Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)








Deacon King Kong by James McBride

*My Novel Published for Adults 

Pet by  akwaeke emezi

*My Young-Adult Novel








 A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron

*My Middle-Grade Novel