Fourth Grade Journey

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

Sunday, April 14, 2024

The First State of Being by Erin Entrada Kelly

How I Came Across It... After seeing so many of my online reading friends, raving about Erin Entrada Kelly's new novel, I knew I had to purchase and see what was the praise was about. What It's About - Five Things You Need to Know...
1. The author takes the reader back to August 1999 before the Y2K scare.

2. The main character is twelve-year-old Michael who lives with his mother in an apartment complex in Delaware.

3. Michael has a crush on his fifteen-year-old sitter named Gibby. They are more friends than anything else and enjoy spending time together.

4. When Gibby and Michael come across a stranger in their apartment complex, their lives are changed forever.

5. Believe it or not, the stranger is named Ridge and tells them he comes from the future.
What I Thought of It - Five Observations/Reflections...
1. As with all Erin Entrada Kelly's novels, this was was top-notch and so well written.

2. I loved the concert of a character coming from the future and interacting with characters from present day.

3. Some of the "scientific" stuff in between chapters confused me and lost my interest a bit, but I was glad to get back to the main story line.

4. The characters were a main focus of the story and the author did a great job of bringing them to life on each and every page.

5. To me the sign of a talented writer is that each of their stories are different from each other and this one is like nothing else Kelly has written.
Who Should Read It...
This is definitely a novel for the older middle-grade readers in grades five and above. The story would be perfect for the middle-school reader. I think even high-school kids would enjoy this "sci-fi" story. Happy Reading! Rating... 4 out of 5 stars

The Teacher by Freida McFadden

How I Came Across It...
With the start of our new book club at school, this was our third book club selection.  We thought it would be fun to read this novel based on the fact that we are a group of teachers reading together.  This was such a departure from Lonesome Dove and The Berry Pickers which were our first two book club selections.

What It's About - Five Things You Need to Know...
1.  Eve is a high-school math teacher, loves shoes, and is in a loveless marriage.

2.  Nate is high-school english teacher, loves poetry, and is the second half in the loveless marriage.

3.  Addie is a high-school student who has just returned to school after she was involved in a scandal.

4.  These three characters find themselves involved in a "triangle" each one keeping their own secrets.

5.  As the secrets become exposed, each character must fight for their own life and survival.  

What I Thought of It - Five Observations/Reflections...
1. This was my first Freida McFadden novel. I enjoyed the overall story.

2. Fellow readers who have read other McFadden novels, commented this one wasn't her best.

3. The first half of the novel was a bit slow, but the second half moved fast and had several surprises along the way.

4. Because I'm a teacher, there were a few scenes I was a bit uncomfortable with, but continued on.

5. I must say the last few pages sure did deliver a shocking twist! Who Should Read It...
This isn't necessarily a work of literature or strong fiction that most readers would gravitate toward, but it certainly is a page turner, especially the second half. Happy Reading! Rating... 4 out of 5 stars

The Women by Kristin Hannah

How I Came Across It... It seems like this is one of the "IT" books of 2024. I downloaded the title via Audible and enjoyed listening to Kristin Hannah's newest work of historical fiction for several weeks.

What It's About - Five Things You Need to Know... 1. Francis (Frankie) has always wanted to be "someone" and make her parents proud.

2. She decides to go to nursing school and finds herself in the middle of the VietnamWar.

3. Frankie isn't ready for what she has to endure in the war, but finds she has a special talent for nursing.

4. Upon her return, she tried to acclimate herself back into society, but finds it isn't easy.

5. With the support of friends, and substances, Frankie tries to move forward and put the war behind her. What I Thought of It - Five Observations/Reflections... 1. The narration was quite well done and I enjoyed listening to the voices as I drove to and from work.

2.  Reading about Frankie and her experiences in the war were interesting and thought provoking.

3.  The real story started with Frankie's return after the war.  I enjoyed the several surprises that came along the way.

4.  The writing was top-notch, and the plot was solid.  

5.  All of the characters were authentic, heart-warming, and added greatly to the overall story.  

Who Should Read It...
I think most adult readers will find this a most satisfying read and enjoying entering the world of a Kristin Hannah novel. Happy Reading! Rating... 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, April 8, 2024

An Inside Look #270 (Author INTERVIEW)


An Inside Look with Amanda Rawson Hill

(Author of Once Upon a Family)

*Season #ONE (June of 2016 to March of 2017)

*Season #TWO (Summer of 2017)

*Season #THREE (School Year 2017/2018)

Season #FOUR
 (Summer/fall of 2018)

*Season #FIVE (School Year 2018/2019)

*Season #SIX (Summer 2019) 

*Season #SEVEN (Fall 2019) 

*Season #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

*Season #NINE (Fall 2020)

*Season #TEN (Winter/Spring 2021)

*Season #ELEVEN (Fall 2021)

*Season #TWELVE (Winter/Spring 2022)

*Season #THIRTEEN (Summer 2022)

*Season #FOURTEEN (Fall 2022)

*Season #FIFTEEN (Winter/Spring 2023)

*Season #SIXTEEN (Fall 2023)

*I'm excited to present season #SEVENTEEN with brand new interviews/authors.  

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

*This is the NINTH interview in which I'm calling Season #SEVENTEEN 

*Thank you to Amanda for being the Two Hundred Seventieth author I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

Once Upon a Family
by Amanda Rawson Hill

(August 1, 2023)

How did you come to know Winnie?
Winnie is a prickly character. She's very defensive and doesn't like being vulnerable. And she was actually very difficult to write because she was that way with me as well! It took several rewrites to finally chip away at her enough to figure out what her wound was and really get into her head. I think she wanted me to work for it the same way she wanted Jeff to.

What do you think is her most admirable quality?

Winnie is loyal!

Is there anything you wish she would have changed or done differently in her story?
For Winnie's sake, I wish she would have let everyone around her love her right away. But of course, then we wouldn't have a story.

What do you think Winnie can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I hope she provides coping strategies for anxiety, and a mirror to let kids with these nasty thoughts in their head know that they aren't alone and it isn't normal to feel that way and they can get help. I've lived my whole life with anxiety and didn't realize that's what it was until my mid-30's. I hope this book can help someone get help for theirs a little sooner than I did.

How did you research Winnie and the circumstances she found herself in?
I lived it! At least the anxiety part. I've spent the last nine years writing this story and rewriting it and after it sold, my editor gave me these notes saying, "We don't understand why Winnie thinks everyone hates her. What's the backstory?" And I thought, "What do you mean you don't understand? Doesn't everyone think everyone hates them?" But then a year later I was diagnosed with anxiety and was also able to diagnose poor Winnie with it too. Many of her thoughts are based on ones I've had. Many of her nervous tics come from me, my son, or my mom. I researched coping strategies through a book I got to help my son, titled Anxiety Relief for Children and also ran it past an expert reader for that.

What was the hardest scene to write about her?
The opening scene! I always struggle with openings and starting in the wrong place. It took several tries to find the right opening scene and then to try and balance Winnie's anger about moving with her love for her mother so that (hopefully) readers could love her despite all her prickliness.

Why do you think some young people can show such resilience, strength, and courage during difficult life situations; sometimes even more than the adults in their lives?
That's a good question. Sometimes though, I think we give kids too much pressure with the resiliency narrative and leave them with things they have to work through later. Are they really being amazingly resilient? Or do they just seem that way because they aren't allowed (either by the adults in their life or themselves) to break down, to cry, to show weakness and fear? Often, we expect our children to handle frustrating, unfair, and scary things much better and more calmly than we, ourselves, would handle it if it were happening to us. And sometimes children like Winnie have come to see themselves as a kind of caretaker of their parent's safety or mood, so resiliency is the only option. I hope though, that we let our children know and that this book gives permission to children to sometimes have that breakdown, that cry. It's okay to feel angry about things. You aren't weak or bad for that.

What do you think Winnie is doing at the present time?
I think she is THRIVING!

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)

SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)

SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)

SEASON #SEVEN (Fall 2019)

SEASON #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

Interview #121 with Melissa Savage (Author of Nessie Quest)

Interview #122 with Tamara Bundy (Author of Pixie Pushes On)

Interview #123 with Lindsay Lackey (Author of All the Impossible Things)

Interview #124 with Tae Keller (Author of When You Trap a Tiger)

Interview #125 with Jamie Sumner (Author of Roll With It)

Interview #126 with Hena Khan (Author of More to the Story)

Interview #127 with Phil Bildner (Author of A High-Five for Glenn Burke)

Interview #128 with Leslie Connor (Author of A Home for Goddesses and Dogs)

Interview#129 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Queen Bee and Me)

Interview #130 with Jody J. Little (Author of Worse Than Weird)

Interview #131 with Jenn Bishop (Author of Things You Can't Say)

Interview #132 with Kaela Noel (Author of Coo)

Interview #133 with Rebecca Stead (Author of The List of Things That Will Not Change)

Interview #134 with Gae Polisner (Author of Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me)

Interview #135 with Emily Blejwas (Author of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened)

Interview #136 with Joy McCullough (Author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

Interview #137 with Kim Baker (Author of the Water Bears)

Interview #138 with Erin Entrada Kelly (Author of We Dream of Space)

Interview #139 with Jess Redman (Author of Quintessence)

Interview #140 with Melanie Conklin (Author of Every Missing Piece)

Interview #141 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Brave Like That)

SEASON #NINE (Fall 2020)

SEASON #TEN (Winter/Spring 2021)

Interview #158 with Rebecca Ansari (Author of The In-Between)

Interview #159 with John David Anderson (Author of One Last Shot) 

Interview #160 with Tracy Holczer (Author of Brave in the Woods)

Interview #161 with James Bird (Author of The Brave) 

Interview #162 with Marcella Pixley (Author of Trowbridge Road)

Interview #163 with Barbara O'Connor (Author of Halfway to Harmony)

Interview #164 with Alan Gratz (Author of Ground Zero) 

Interview #165 with Lisa Fipps (Author of Starfish)

Interview #166 with Ann Braden (Author of Flight of the Puffin)

Interview #167 with Kimberly Willis Holt (Author of The Ambassador of NoWhere Texas) 

Interview #168 with Elana K. Arnold (Author of The House That Wasn't There) 

Interview #169 with Erin Soderberg (Author of The Great Peach Experiment)

Interview #170 with Donna Gephart (Author of Abby, Tried, and True)

Interview #171 with M. Evan Wolkenstein (Author of Turtle Boy)

Interview #172 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Bea is for Blended)

Interview #173 with Jess Redman (Author of The Adventure is Now)

Interview #174 with David Levithan (Author of The Mysterious Disappearance of Aiden)

Interview #175 with Chris Grabenstein (Author of The Smartest Kid in the Universe)

Interview #176 with Ali Standish (Author of The Mending Summer)

Interview #177 with Holly Goldberg Sloan (Author of The Elephant in the Room)

Interview #178 with Jeff Zentner (Author of In the Wild Light)

SEASON #ELEVEN (Fall/Winter 2021)

Interview #179 with Katherine Applegate (Author of Willow) 

Interview #180 with Padma Venkatraman (Author of Born Behind Bars)

Interview #181 with R.J. Palacio (Author of Pony)

Interview #182 with Kyle Lukoff (Author of Too Bright to See)

Interview #183 with Barbara Dee (Author of Violets are Blue)

Interview #184 with Anne Ursu (Author of The Troubled Girls of Dragonmir Academy) 

Interview #185 with Margaret Finnegan (Author of We Could Be Heroes)

Interview #186 with Jasmine Warga (Author of Shape of Thunder)

Interview #187 with Joseph Bruchac (Author of Rez Dogs)

Interview #188 with Kathryn Erskine (Author of Lily's Promise)

Interview #189 with Elly Swartz (Author of Dear Student)

Interview #190 with Heather Clark (Author of Lemon Drop Falls)

Interview #191 with Veera Hiranandani (Author of How to Find What You're Not Looking For)

Interview #192 with Elizabeth Eulberg (Author of The Best Worst Summer)

Interview #193 with Cathy Carr (Author of 365 Days to Alaska)

Interview #194 with Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard (Authors of REAL)

Interview #195 with Gillian McDunn (Author of These Lucky Stars)

Interview #196 with Alyssa Colman (Author of The Gilded Girl) 

Interview #197 with E.L. Chen (Author of The Comeback)

Interview #198 with J.M.M. Nuanez (Author of Birdie and Me) 

SEASON #TWELVE (Winter/Spring 2022)

Interview #199 with Jamie Sumner (Author of One Kid's Trash)

Interview #200 with Chad Lucas (Author of Thanks a Lot, Universe) 

Interview #201 with Jenn Bishop (Author of Where We Used to Roam)

Interview #202 with Rebecca Caprara (Author of Worst-Case Collin) 

Interview #203 with Leslie Connor (Author of Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?)

Interview #204 with Caroline Gertler (Author of Many Points of Me)

Interview #205 with Margaret Finnegan (Author of Susie B. Won't Back Down) 

Interview #206 with Shawn Peters (Author of The Unforgettable Logan Foster)

Interview #207 with Aisha Saeed (Author of Omar Rising)

Interview #208 with Adrianna Cuevas (Author of Cuba in my Pocket)

Interview #209 with Jennifer Swender (Author of Stuck)

Interview #210 with Brenda Woods (Author of When Winter Robeson Came)

Interview #211 with Danya Lorentz (Author of the Book Of a Feather)

Interview #212 with Saadia Faruqi (Author of Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero)

Interview #213 with Ellen Hopkins (Author of What About Will) 

SEASON #THIRTEEN (Summer 2022)

Interview #214 with Nora Raleigh Baskin and Gae Polisner (Authors of What About the Octopus)

Interview #215 with Lauren Wolk (Author of My Own Lightning)

Interview #216 with Rebekah Lowell (Author of the Road to After)

Interview #217 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Honestly Elliott) 

Interview #218 with Dan Gemeinhart (Author of The Midnight Children)

Interview #219 with Melanie Conklin (Author of A Perfect Mistake) 

Interview #220 with Kyle Lukoff (Author of Different Kinds of Fruit)

Interview #221 with Tracy Edward Wymer (Author of The Great and Mighty Benjamin Teller)

Interview #222 with Louise Hawes (Author of Big Rig)

Interview #223 with Paul Acampora (Author of In Honor of Broken Things)

Interview #224 with Shannon Doleski (Author of Gabe in the After)

Interview #225 with Jennifer Ziegler (Author of Worser)

Interview #226 with Natalie Lloyd (Author of Hummingbird)


Interview #227 with Celia C. Perez (Author of Tumble

Interview #228 with Greg Howard (Author of The Visitors)

Interview #229 with Rob Buyea (Author of The Daredevils)

Interview #230 with Sashi Kaufman (Author of Sardines)

Interview #231 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of The Real Deal)

Interview #232 with Margaret Finnegan (Author of New Kids and Underdogs)

Interterview #233 with Amanda Rawson Hill (Author of The Hope of Elephants)

Interview #234 with Jasmine Warga (Author of A Rover's Story)

SEASON #FIFTEEN (Winter/Spring 2023)

Interview #235 with Varsha Bajaj (Author of Thirst)

Interview #236 with Torrey Maldonado (Author of Hands)

Interview #237 with C.C. Harrington (Author of Wildoak)

Interview #238 with Margi Preus (Author of Windswept)

Interview #239 with Dayna Lorentz (Author of Wayward Creatures)

Interview #240 with Katrina Nannestad (Author of We are Wolves)

Interview #241 with Anika Fajardo (Author of Meet Me Halfway)

Interview #242 with Chrystal D. Giles (Author of Not an Easy Win)

Interview #243 with Gregory Maquire (Author of Cress, Watercress)

Interview #244 with Will Taylor (Author of The Language of Seabirds)

Interview #245 with Gillian McDunn (Author of When Sea Becomes Sky)

Interview #246 with Ann Braden (Author of Opinions and Opossums)

Interview #247 with Jarrett Lerner (Author of A Work in Progress)

Interview #248 with John David Anderson (Author of The Greatest Kid in the Universe)

Interview #249 with Aubrey Hartman (Author of The Lion and Lark-Hayes Manor)


Interview #250 with Sally J. Pla (Author of The Fire, The Water, and Maudie McGinn)

Interview #251 with Chris Baron (Author of The Gray)

Interview #252 with Dusti Bowling (Author of DUST)


Interview #253 with Sarah Everett (Author of The Probability of Everything)

Interview #254 with Andrea Beatriz Arango (Author of Something Like Home)

Interview #255 with H.M. Bouwman (Author of Gossamer Summer)

Interview #256 with Kaija Langley (Author of The Order of Things) 

Interview #257 with Elaine Vickers (Author of Half Moon Summer)

Interview #258 with John Gaspard (Author of The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks)

Interview #259 with Dana Kramaroff (Author of The Do More Club)

Interview #260 with Jessica Vitalis (Author of Coyote Queen)

Interview #261 with Katherine Applegate and Gennifer Choldenko (Authors of Dog Town)

SEASON #SEVENTEEN (Winter/Spring 2024)

Interview #262 with Chad Morris and Shelly Brown (Authors of The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry) 

Interview #263 with Anne Ursu (Author of Not Quite a Ghost)

Interview #264 with Erin Soderberg Downing (Author of Just Keep Walking)

Interview #265 With Kate Albus (Author of Nothing Else But Miracles)

Interview #266 with Robin Gow (Author of Dear Mothman)

Interview #267 with Toni Buzzeo (Author of Light Comes to Shadow Mountain) 

Interview #268 with John Schu (Author of Louder Than Hunger)

Interview #269 with Allie Millington (Author of Olivetti)