Fourth Grade Journey

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Graham Cracker Plot by Shelley Tougas...

How I Heard About It:  Erin Soderberg was a guest author at my "Breakfast with Books" on November 21st.  Our book club was discussing her book The Quirks:  Welcome to Normal.  As you do with any other reader, you talk about books you are currently reading.  Erin mentioned this title to me.  So of course when I saw it at the bookstore I bought it.  I read it over the holiday weekend.  

What It Is About:  Daisy doesn't have the easiest life.  Her dad is in prison for a crime he didn't commit according to Daisy.  Her mom has to work all the time and isn't around much.  Daisy and her grandmother visit her dad as often as they can.  During one visit, she breaks some of the "rules" and is banned from coming back to the "Club Fed".  Daisy and her friend Graham come up with a plan to break her dad out of prison and bring him to Canada.  The two kids plan and plan and decide to call it "The Graham Cracker Plot."  They enlist an older female friend because they realize they need wheels for this plan to work.  Once the plan is set in motion, things don't go the way they were suppose to and trouble ensues.  Through all the set-backs and problems, Daisy and Graham keep their goal in sight and continue their way toward "Club Fed" to rescue her father.

What I Thought Of It:  The book is told in a series of letters from Daisy to a Judge that is in charge of deciding what should happen to both Daisy and Graham.  In these letters she recounts all of the events that lead up to the "break-out".  I'm so glad that Erin told me about this novel, because there is nothing better than finding a new book that turns out to be absolutely wonderful.  I loved the characters of Daisy and Graham and thought their friendship was quite realistic.  Everything is not ideal for the cast of characters and to me this was realistic and refreshing to read about.  I think it is important for readers to read about all kinds of families and their "status" in life, which can include emotional and economic status.  The story includes lots of great life lessons and would provide for wonderful discussions.  

Who Should Read It:  As I was reading this book, I contacted the author (who happens to live about 30 minutes from me) to let her know how much I was enjoying the book.  When I finished it, I decided to use this novel as a future "Breakfast with Books" book club selection.  I know my fourth graders are going to enjoy the adventures of Daisy and Graham.  To me, this book is perfect for readers in grades four, five, and six.  It would make for an excellent read aloud or a book read by an individual.  Happy Reading!

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friend Friday #70...

Hi!  I’m Sofia and I read the book called SCalendar Mysteries:  January Joker written by Ron Roy.

I think this book was fantasic because I was really into it and couldn't wait to read it each day.  

My favorite part in the story was when Lucy put grapes on the ground for the aliens because it was very funny.  

The character that I liked best was Bradley because he was funny and very mystery like.   

I think the author wrote this book because he wanted to entertain the reader with a great mystery. 

I would recommend this book to my friends because it was a very good mystery and I think they would like it.   

Reading to me is incredible because it is a very fun thing to do and I learned that I really like to read mystery books.  

*Sophia is a fourth grade reader in one of my language arts classes.
*I would describe her as an avid reader.  
*We just recently finished our mystery unit.  The unit had come to an end and most readers went back to their own books.
*Sophia asked if she could keep reading from our mystery collection because she was enjoying them so much.
*I enjoyed introducing (or re-introducing) this series to my readers.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Butter by Erin Jade Lange...

How I Heard About It:  There was a post on the Nerdy Book Club site from a high school teacher.  I'm sorry, I can't remember who.  Also, too lazy at the moment to find the post on the site.  The blog was about her students favorite novels to read.  This one was at the top of the list.  I ordered it online and was excited to give it a try.  

What It Is About:  "Butter" is a high school kid that is extremely overweight.  He got the nickname Butter earlier in his schooling from the other kids based on an incident with him and food.  Butter spends most of his time alone, both at home and at school.  His mother hovers over him and tries to meet his "needs" by giving him food.  His father has become frustrated with his son's weight and mostly ignores him.  Butter enjoys playing the saxophone, but mostly plays on his own in his bedroom.  There is a teacher at school that tries to take him under his wings and help him with his musical talent, but Butter isn't sure that is what he wants.  As Butter watches the kids around him, the idea of eating himself to death online comes to him.  He creates a website to promote this "event" that will take place on New Year's Eve.  As the other high school kids become aware of what Butter is up to, they take him under their wing and bring in him into their circle.  The days go by and Butter becomes more and more "popular" with the kids, but is it worth the price of his life.  This is what he must ultimately decide.

What I Thought Of It:  This novel was outstanding.  The subject matter is quite series.  I read the entire book last Sunday and I have thought of Butter and his story many times since then.  I can see why high school kids love this book so much.  Butter is an incredible character and one that I really came to root for and hope the best for.  There were times when I wasn't sure everything was completely realistic, but since it is a novel, I didn't let this get in the way.  Of course the mystery of whether Butter would actually go through with it was the driving force of turning page after page.  I can see why the blogger from the Nerdy Book Club said this was the number one novel that her students love to read.  The novel was so satisfying as a fiction read.

Who Should Read It:  This is definitely a novel that needs to be in all high school classrooms.  I know that high school readers and college readers would enjoy the story as much as I did.  This is also a book that adult readers should read.  It is well written, great character development, and a plot that doesn't stop.  Happy Reading!!!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Trailer Thursday #70...

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Adult Novel)

Butter by Erin Jade Lange (Young-Adult Novel)

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
(Middle-Grade Novel)

Miss Smith Under the Ocean by Michael Garland (Picture Book)
*This is one book of a series of picture books.  

Amulet 6 by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphic Novel)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wonder Wednesday #70...

Breakfast with Books #2 - The Quirks: Welcome to Normal

*We had our second "Breakfast with Books" book club on Friday, November 21st.

*This was an exciting book club because the author, Erin Soderberg, was joining us in person.

*I teach 4th grade here in the Twin Cities and lucky for us Erin lives in Minneapolis.

*The readers were extremely excited to have the author join us for the book club discussion.

*Each member wrote a question and comment to share with Erin.

*Of course you can't have a book club without breakfast treats.  There was no shortage of treats for this particular book club.

*Erin Spent about an hour with us before school started.  It was completely enjoyable and I know the students were excited to have her with us.

*Here is a look at our book club in action…

Picture Wednesday #13...

Turkey Head

*Each Wednesday we write about a photograph.

*Since we have tomorrow and Friday off for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I thought this was perfect.

*Once I show my students the photo, we talk a bit about it.  There are always reactions.

*The writers then get busy recording their thoughts, feelings, reactions, or create a fiction story.

*It is always so fun to see what they come up with.  We share at the end of our writing time!  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Treat Tuesday #70...

Treat Tuesday - Loaded Cauliflower

*I normally post real "treats" for my Tuesday posts.

*Even though this is more on the healthy side, it is so delicious!



*1 large head of Cauliflower cut into bite size pieces (approx 6 cups)
*6-8 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled (Cooked in oven at 400° for 20 mins)
*6 Tbs chopped Chives
*1/2 cup Mayonnaise
*1/2 cup Sour Cream
*2 cups Colby Jack Cheese ( may use cheddar)
*8 oz container sliced mushrooms


-Preheat oven to 425°

-In a large pot boil water and cook Cauliflower for 8 - 10 minutes, drain and let cool

-In a large bowl combine sour cream, mayo, 1/2 of crumbled bacon, 3 tbs chives, 1 cups of cheese,mushrooms and cauliflower and mix well

-Place in baking dish and cover with remaining 1 cup of cheese and rest of bacon crumbles.

-Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. top with remaining 3 Tbs chives and serve.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11/24/14)...

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to their site...

Books I Read this Past Week…

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

*My young-adult novel

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

*My young adult novel

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week   

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

*My adult novel

In a Vertigo of Silence by Miriam Polli

*My adult novel

The Graham Cracker Plot by Shelley Tougas

*My middle-grade novel

Music Monday #12...

"Superheroes" by The Script

*I love the moment I hear a song on the radio and know right away I want to share it with students.

*That happened with this song when I heard it earlier this fall.

*I used "Hall of Fame" earlier this year which is one of my favorites.

*I share with song/video with my fourth graders.  We will watch it once or twice.

*Then while they listen to the song (no video), they write in their notebooks. 

*They can record their thoughts, feelings, reactions, reminders, or anything else they would like.

*At the end of our writing time, we have a few share what they wrote.  

*I want all of my students to feel like they are "Superheroes"!  

Music Monday Selections for 2014-2015…

Week #1 = What I Am by and Sesame Street Characters
Week #2 = Proud by Heather Small
Week #3 = Dreamer by Chris Brown
Week #4 = Roar by Katy Perry
Week #5 = What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis
Week #6 = Rainbow Connection from the Muppets
Week #7 = Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson
Week #8 = Thriller by Michael Jackson
Week #9 = Hall of Fame by The Script and
Week #10 = Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka
Week #11 = Count on Me by Bruno Mars

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson...

How I Heard About It:  If you are on Twitter, there is no way you could miss the "talk" about this novel.  After reading so many "tweets" about it, I had to hit the bookstore and get my own copy.  

What It Is About:  Jude and Noah are twins.  The story goes back and forth between when they are ages 13/14 and 16/17.  Noah tells the story when they are 13/14 and Jude tells the story when they are 16/17.  The twins are extremely close, but as they continue to grow up life events get in the way of their relationship.  Both are incredible artists and their mother wants them to attend a prestigious art school.  The competition between the siblings begins.  While Noah is age 13, he meets a neighbor boy that is everything he wants in life.  Unfortunately Jude gets in the way, the Noah can't ever forgive her.  While Jude is 16 and attending the art school, she seeks out an art tutor to help her with her craft.  The art tutor becomes a part of both Jude and Noah's life, but the consequences will be life changing.

What I Thought Of It:  I know I say this many times, but I absolutely loved this novel.  Once I started it I could not put it down.  This was a book that I finished within days.  The story was powerful, heart-wrenching, and incredible.  I completely liked the characters of Jude and Noah.  The relationship between the twins was so interesting to read about and the ups and downs they faced were realistic.  It was entertaining to read this book and race toward the end to see what will finally happen with the twins, their family, and the people that surrounded them.

Who Should Read It:  Even though this book is advertised as a young adult novel, I have been recommending it to my adult reader friends.  The story is appropriate for high school readers and above.  Some of the content is quite mature.  I have thought about this book many times after finishing and I know readers will enjoy it just as much.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Read Aloud #2 (2014-2015)...

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

*I read this book over the summer.  

*After reading it, I knew I wanted to share it with my students.  

*We finished the book a few days ago and the class LOVED the story.

*I have each student fill out a reflection sheet about the book.

*Here are a few responses from my students…

I thought this book was…

*Amazing because there were so many interesting things that happened.
*Great because there were a lot of funny and emotional things that happened in the story.
*Spectacular because it was such a great story.

I liked it when…

*Albie and Calista had fun at the zoo because they didn't have to go to school and had fun instead.
*Calista made a sad day for Albie because it was such a nice thing to do.
*Betsy gave Albie red Gummy Bears because it was a kind thing to do and I love Gummy Bears.

My favorite character was…

*Calista because she was a nice and friendly nanny.
*Betsy because she was different from everyone else.
*Albie because he really liked doughnuts and I do too.

My favorite part in the story was…

*When Albie got a "B" on his spelling test because he got a Gummy Bear.
*When Albie left helpful hints for Betsy because they didn't really help Betsy.
*When when the TV people said no air time on this kid, no air because it was funny and the lady didn't care at first.  

It was interesting when…

*Calista was fired because it was sad.
*Darissa came to the school because you wouldn't think a new person would come to the story toward the end.
*Darren only wanted to be friends with Albie to meet Erlan because that is interesting a bit rude.  

I was frustrated when…

*Erlan moved away because I wasn't really expecting it.
*Calista had to leave because I think she was a good babysitter.
*Darren was being mean to Betsy because I wonder why Darren would do that.  

I give this book _____ stars!  

5 STARS = 19 Students
4 STARS = 5 Students
3 STARS =  1 Student
1 STAR =

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Friday #69...

Hi!  I’m Micah and I read the book called Squish:  Captain Disaster written by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.

I think this book is great because I love soccer.  

My favorite part in the story is when Squish makes "The Bite" because it is a very good plan.    

The character that I liked best was Squish because he is nice and I think he would make a great friends, even though he isn't human.   

I think the author wrote this book because they wanted to make a new series for graphic novels.  

I would recommend this book to my friends because it is very funny and I know they would like the Squish character and all the other characters in the book.  

Reading to me is awesome because it is fun to read about other people, other worlds, and cool things.  

*Micah is a fourth grade reader in my class.
*He loves to read and will read anything that is presented to him.
*This was the first graphic novel series he read this fall.  
*He would talk it up to the other kids so many of my students ended up reading it.  
*I like that he connected to the book because of personal likes.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trailer Thursday #69...

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs 
(Adult Biography)

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Young Adult Novel)

Scumble by Ingrid Law (Middle-Grade Novel)

Life Lesson #11...

The Power of Literacy - Be a Reader

*This is such a powerful video clip with a message that is so important.  

*To me the message is all about the power of reading and the hope of reaching all goals.

*I show the video to my students and then we do a class discussion about it.

*After the discussion I have the kids write in their notebooks.

*They can write about their reactions, thoughts, feelings, or what this video reminds them of.  

*Another aspect they could write about is what they think the "message" of the story is.  

*At the end of our writing time, we have a few of the students share their notebooks.  

*This is one video that I know I will show several times throughout the year! 

Life Lessons from this Year...
Life Lesson #1 - Be Brave
Life Lesson #2 - Be Kind
Life Lesson #3 - Be Courageous
Life Lesson #4 - Be Motivated
Life Lesson #5 - Be a Buddy, Not a Bully
Life Lesson #6 - Be Inspired: Never Give Up on Your Goals
Life Lesson #7 - Be SHOUTful (Shout Your Success)
Life Lesson #8 - Be Spooky (Halloween Week)
Life Lesson #9 - Be Kind (Part Two)
Life Lesson #10 - Be Happy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wonder Wednesday #69...

Wonder Wednesday - Skype Visit with Lynda Mullaly Hunt

*Our first read aloud of the year was Fish in a Tree.

*I read it last summer and absolutely loved the novel.

*It was a great novel to start the year off with my fourth grade students.

*When we finished the novel, Lynda was quite busy with promotion of this novel and working on other things.  We weren't able to schedule a Skype visit.

*She contacted me last week and said she had some time on Thursday, November 13th to Skype with us.

*We were going to be the first class she was Skyping with about her new novel.

*I was thrilled as were my students.  We quickly wrote questions/comments to share with her.

*The class spent about a half hour with Lynda and we had a great time.

*There is nothing quite like Skyping with an author.

*Thanks so much Lynda Mullaly Hunt for spending time with us about your upcoming novel.

*Here are some pictures from our Skype visit…