Fourth Grade Journey

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #249 (Skype Visit)

Wonder Wednesday - Our Skype Visit with Jarrett Lerner

*I think Jarrett Lerner is one of the coolest guys and authors I've had the honor of meeting.

*Last year I shared his first novel, Enginerds, with my fourth grade class.  They loved it.

*This year we shared the first book again, and I was able to read the ARC of his second novel, Revenge of the Enginerds.

*My class absolutely LOVED both stories and were on the edge of their seats to find out what was going to happen.

*Jarrett certainly has a talent with writing for young readers.  His stories have suspense, humor, and characters that the reader can relate to.

*After reading both books, my class had the opportunity to Skype with Jarrett.

*We were able to share our comments and ask questions about the two books.

*It was such a fun time and my students enjoyed chatting with Jarrett.

Monday, January 14, 2019

An Inside Look #73 (Author INTERVIEW - Part #ONE)

Inside Look with Abby Cooper
(Author Sticks and Stones)

*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.  

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

*This is the SECOND interview of what I'm calling Season #FIVE.

*Thank you to Abby Cooper for being the Seventy-Third author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first Seventy-Two interviews…



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)

Interview #71 with Adam P. Schmitt (Author of Speechless)


Interview #72 with Dan Gemeinhart (Author of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise)

*I'm so lucky to have gotten to know so many authors.  I'm even luckier to have gotten to know some wonderful authors that live right here in the Twin Cities.  Abby Cooper is one of those authors.  She has been kind enough to visit my classroom on multiple occasions.  Her first visits were about her first novel Sticks and Stones.  Then she started to visit about her second book called Bubbles.  I recently read an ARC of her upcoming story called Friend or Fiction.

*I'm going to be running a three-part series with Abby Cooper.  Each interview will be about one of the three books.  We are starting with the novel that started it all.  

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

*Thank you Abby Cooper for writing this book...

Sticks and Stones
by Abby Cooper (July 3, 2017)

How did you come to know Elyse?  
The character was brewing in my head for a long time before I started writing. I sort of heard her voice, in a way, telling me her story. After some time piecing together her experiences and background, I was able to get a clear sense of who she was.

What do you think is Elyse's most admirable quality?
I think it's admirable that Elyse maintains a sense of humor despite various tough situations and circumstances. Even when she's upset, she's always able to find something to laugh about.

Is there anything you wish Elyse would have changed or done differently in her story?
Elyse makes a lot of mistakes and bad choices, but she needs to do that (as do we all!) in order to learn and grow. There are definitely scenes where I feel for her, but I wouldn't change a thing.

What do you think Elyse can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?  
I hope that Elyse will reassure kids who struggle with bullying and/or self-esteem issues that they are not alone, and that they can and will get through it and come out on the other side.

How did you research Elyse and the circumstances she found herself in?
The initial idea for this character and this book came from working in a school library, where I observed tons of kids and conversations every day. I once had a student tell me she was "too dumb" to check out a certain book, and my heart broke into a million pieces. From that experience, I knew I needed to write my story. I don't know that I really researched as much as I observed, listened, and tried to be the best librarian/supporter/friend I could be.

Do you and Elyse share any similarities?  
I definitely put little snippets of myself in each main character I write! Like Elyse, I can be pretty introverted, and I'd usually rather hang out with a book than with a bunch of people. I'm also a huge fan of chocolate cupcakes, grilled cheese, string cheese . . . all the cheese, really. Mmm, cheese.

What was the hardest scene to write about Elyse?
The soccer field scene toward the beginning was pretty tough to write. In this scene, Elyse is thinking about her former friends and wondering what happened and why they don't want to hang out with her anymore. I think it was hard to write because I've been through similar situations in my life and I know how much that stings, and how confusing it can be to still miss your friend even when it's clear that your friend doesn't miss you.

Who do you think was Elyse's biggest supporter and why?
That's tough - I think a lot of characters in the book support Elyse in their own ways, and I can't really say any type of support is bigger or better than any other. I will say that Elyse is very lucky to have the support she does, even if she doesn't always recognize it.

Why do you think young people/children say such mean things to each other during the elementary & middle-school years?    
I think there's a lot of insecurity at that age, and it's a lot easier to put others down instead of taking a serious look at yourself. I want kids to understand that it's okay not to feel 100% amazing about yourself all the time, but you can still know that you're good overall, and hurting someone else's feelings is not the way to make yourself feel better.

What do you think Elyse is doing as this present time?  
Well, right now it's about 8:30 AM on a nice summer morning, so I'm guessing Elyse is sound asleep, dreaming of nice words, nice people, and super chocolatey cupcakes. :) 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (1/14/19)

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 lost girl by Anne Ursu

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

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskers

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

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss

*My young-adult novel (audio)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Sadie by Courtney Summers

How I Heard About It:   This was listed as the number two top choice for young-adult novels in 2018 on the website GoodReads.  After seeing this, I decided to download it on my Audible app.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  

1.  *The story is told in two parts.  One part revolves around the character of Sadie and her quest to find her sister's killer.  The second part is a podcast by West McCray in which he follows Sadie's story and what happened to her.

2.  *Sadie and her sister had a difficult life and practically raised themselves because of an absentee mother.  When Sadie's sister Mattie is found dead, Sadie's life is turned upside down.  

3.  *When officials can't find her sister's killer, Sadie sets off on a journey across the country to find her long-lost father and the answers to the mystery of what happened to Mattie on that fateful night.

4.  *While Sadie is out on the "road" and missing, radio personality West McCray begins a podcast in which he and a very close person to Sadie and Mattie try to unravel the clues as to what happened to Mattie and find Sadie before she ends up like Mattie.

5.  *A family with many secrets is torn apart by a horrendous event in which they each try to put the pieces back together and bring the guilty to justice.  

What I Thought Of It:  I thought this was a fascinating read/listen.  The Audible version of this novel was top-notch.  It was actually like a live podcast and/or play.  There were so many actors involved in this production.  There were sound effects.  It was like no other audio book I've listened to.  Listening to it was enjoyable, suspenseful, and keep me guessing until the very end of the story.  The format was incredible.  I enjoyed how half the story was a "typical" novel about Sadie and her journey across the country.  The other half was actually like a real podcast and brought such depth to the story.  Such an original idea.  This was one of the best young-adult novels I've read in the last couple of months.  

Who Should Read It:   This is definitely a young-adult story for high-school and college readers, but I also think adult readers would enjoy the story as well.  Of course I would recommend the audio version over the written form since it was produced in such a professional and detailed way.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:   4 STARS out of 5 Stars!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #248 (Breakfast with Books)

Wonder Wednesday - Breakfast with Books #THREE

*We had our third "Breakfast with Books" on Friday, December 14th.

*I hosted Melissa Savage last year for the first time and we had a blast talking all things Lemons.  When I contacted her this year, I found out she and her family had moved.

*Melissa was kind enough to agree to a Skype visit with my book clubbers.

*The readers came up with comments and questions to share with the author.

*We gathered in our classroom before school.  The children brought breakfast "treats", their books, and thoughts about this incredible middle-grade novel.

*Everyone had a wonderful time and enjoyed talking with Melissa about her story, characters, and life as a writer.

*Thank you Melissa Savage for giving us Lemons and we look forward to reading more thought-provoking and heart-warming stories that you write in the future.