Fourth Grade Journey

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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas...

How I Heard About It:  I believe it was during NCTE15 that I first heard about this novel.  I think it came up a couple of times and I put it in the back of my mind.  While checking out books at the public library, I saw the book and added it to my pile.  I spent this morning reading the entire story and loved every minute.  

What It Is About:  Jaques Papier is the brother to Fleur.  Everyone loves Fleur and doesn't seem to notice or like Jaques.  Everywhere they go Jaques appears to be "invisible" to everyone around him.  He can't quite figure out why this is happening.  Jaques begins a quest to find the answers and is surprised to find out he is actually an imaginary friend to Fleur.  He isn't sure what this means, but is about to find out.  His quest brings him on an adventure where he meets other imaginary friends, other kids that need him, and a few peculiar friends along the way.  The lessons he learns center around what truly makes us visible and important to others.  His journey is one of self-discovery, self-reflection, and self-realization.

What I Thought Of It:  This was such an enjoyable and special read.  I began it this morning and finished it a couple hours later.  The story was unique and quite fun.  I loved the writing style because it was fresh and lively.  Jaques was such a wonderful character and brought such life to the story.  The perspective of the story from Jaques' viewpoint was insightful and interesting.  I've never had an imaginary friend but after reading the story, I think it would be kind of fun and magical to have one.

Who Should Read It:  Children who are in grades three, four, and five would be perfect readers for this book.  The chapters are short, there are illustrations used throughout the story, and there isn't a lot of text on each page.  The story would also make for a fun and engaging read aloud for the elementary classroom.  Teachers, librarians, and other adults that enjoy middle-grade books have to read this one.  They will find such enjoyment.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell...

How I Heard About It:  Tawni O'Dell is one of my favorite adult authors.  Her novels Backroads and Coal Run are two incredible stories.  If you haven't read them, be sure to.  As I was browsing Net Galley I came across this title.  It will be released on January 5th, but I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy.  

What It Is About:  Dove Carnahan is the police chief of a small town.  After the body of teenage girl is discovered out in a field, Dove is faced with the biggest case of her career.  The girl came from a large "redneck" family that has more problems than they do family members.  They also host a whole array of issues and problems.  Dove and an agent named Nolan team together to solve the case.  They not only have a professional relationship, but a personal one that has been going on for years.  During this current investigation Dove learns that the man convicted of murdering her mother has been released from prison after spending years there for a crime he insists he didn't commit.  Dove and her sister Neely have held a family secret since the day their mother was killed.  Now that this man has returned to town, they fear the secret will be revealed.  Dove tries to get everything together as she deals with her professional crime she is trying to solve, and her personal demons that she doesn't want to return.  

What I Thought Of It:  I love when I find an author that I can always depend on.  That is the case with Tawni O'Dell.  I have enjoyed all of her novels and this one was just as great.  The story moves along quickly with many fascinating characters.  The two different mysteries that were intertwined throughout the novel were intriguing and left me guessing until the answers were finally unveiled at the end of the story.  The plot keeps moving because of the mysteries that keep unfolding, but the story is also about strong and real people dealing with everyday life.  Lessons about life, love, and overcoming hardships are beautifully written about.

Who Should Read It:  If you have not read anything by Tawni, this would be an excellent one to begin with.  You just need to wait until January 5th.  Any of her novels would make for a satisfying read.  All of her stories have some sort of mystery/conflict, but more than that, they are about people trying to make their life better and make amends with the others they hurt.  Her novels are definitely for the adult reader.  Female readers may enjoy her stories more, but as I male reader myself, I find them wonderful.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Hour of Bees by Lindsay Eagar...

How I Heard About It:  A few weeks before NCTE15 I saw a "Tweet" about this novel.  The title and the cover caught my attention.  While at NCTE I was browsing the publisher booths and came across the book.  After chatting with the representative for a few minutes, she gave me a copy of the book.  I was excited to bring it home and read the ARC that I knew very little about, but was intrigued.

What It Is About:  Carolina is excited about summer and starting junior high with her friends.  This excitement doesn't last long when her father announces to the family they will be spending the summer at her grandfather Serge's ranch in the middle of the New Mexico desert.  The family has decided it is time to move Serge to a facility for people with dementia.  Carol's parents, her younger brother, and her older half sister spend the hottest part of the year at the ranch with Serge.  When Carol first arrives she isn't sure how her grandfather and tries to keep her distance.  As the days and weeks progress, she is begins to be drawn to him and his "stories."  Carolina never knows if she is going to get an "aware" Serge, or a grandfather that has lost touch with reality.  Or has he really lost touch with reality?  The more time they spend together, he begins to share a "story" with her about a tree, a lake, and a woman who can't spend much time on a ranch with her husband.  Once Serge is settled into the home, Carol knows she can't just leave him there without finding out the end to the "story."  She takes it upon herself to rescue him and finally find out the answers she is truly looking for.

What I Thought Of It:  It is a pure joy when I stumble across a new title that I know nothing about and end of loving it.  The story of Carol, Serge, and this mysterious tree in the middle of no where was one of heart, love, and the true meaning of life.  The beginning of the story was a bit slow, but once I was about a 1/4 into it, the plot began to slow and I was absorbed into the adventures of this family out on the ranch.  At first I didn't completely understand the "story" that Serge was sharing with Carolina, but as I read more and more excerpts all aspects came together to form a "magical" tale.  The writing was top-notch and the character development of Carolina and Serge was exceptional.

Who Should Read It:  I'm excited to share this story with my fourth graders later this year.  I'm thinking of using for a read aloud because I know the story will capture the attention (and hearts) of my listeners.  If a reader were to experience this book on their own, they should be in fifth and/or sixth grade.  There are about 360 pages and quite a bit of text on each page.  Middle-school readers would also benefit from reading the story.  Of course any adult reader that enjoy middle-grade stories has to get a copy of the book when it comes out in March of 2016.  Happy Reading!

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel...

How I Heard About It:  It was during a Nerdy Book Club party at NCTE that I first heard about this novel.  A group of us were talking about it and I put the title in the back of my mind to read in the future.  I was then at a Donalyn Miller workshop in early December and the title came up again.  My friend and I went to the showroom to buy a copy, ended up buying the wrong "Nest", and finally bought the correct copy a few days later.  I was warned not to read this book at night (and alone) and I can see why now that I'm done.  

What It Is About:  Steve has had anxiety in the past and thought he had put those worries behind him.  When his new baby brother is born with "problems", those anxieties return in full force.  His parents try to convince him that everything will be alright, but Steve hears their conversations about the baby, and knows things are not as they seem.  During his sleep, he begins to have conversations with a queen bee that is in full power of the "Nest" that is outside of Steve's home.  She tells him that everything will be fine with the baby because she is creating a new baby to replace the old one that isn't "well."  During the day Steve tries to be the brave older brother and understanding son, but during the night he escapes to the Nest to continue his conversations with the Queen Bee.  The more he interacts with the Bee, the more he is conflicted about what he wants to do.  He wants his new brother to be well, but isn't sure that the Queen's plan is the one he wants to follow.

What I Thought Of It:  Sometimes when I hear a lot about a book, it doesn't live up to the hype.  That did not happen with this story.  I began the book the other night and couldn't put it down.  It was like nothing else I have read.  There were times when the story was realistic fiction.  There were times when it was fantasy.  There were also times when it was a mystery/horror story.  It had everything.  During the reading I tried to figure out exactly what was truly going on, but I found this difficult to do.  Now that I'm done, I'm still not sure I know what everything meant.  It may actually take a second reading to figure it out.  The story was well written and there wasn't a word that wasn't necessary.  This book will be one that I won't soon forget.

Who Should Read It:  This isn't an easy question to answer.  When I first started the story, I thought I might use it for a read aloud with my fourth graders.  Now that I'm done, I'm not sure I would use it with this grade level.  I think it would be more appropriate for students in grades five and up.  It would actually be perfect for the middle-school reader.  The adult reader that enjoys reading middle-grade novels will find this a complete satisfying read.   Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy...

How I Heard About It:  I'm not exactly sure how I first heard about this title, but I believe it was on Twitter.  Then when I was at the Donalyn Miller workshop a couple weeks back, the title was brought up.  I decided to give it a try.  I actually used a new app called 3M Cloud Library and checked out the book via my local library right onto my iPad.  I'm trying to use the library more and not buy all the books I read.

What It Is About:  Willowdean is the fat girl in school.  It isn't just the other kids that say this, but she owns it herself.  She has made high school work partly because of her best friend Ellen.  Ellen has the "looks" but this doesn't bother Will.  She knows her place in their relationship.  Will takes a job at the local fast-food restaurant where she meets Bo.  He went to the private school and was a compete jock.  Willow knows she has no chance with him.  Bo ends up surprising Will and the people around her.  With this new attention from him, Willow isn't quite sure how to handle it.  She ends up retreating and spending more time with other kids at school.  She gains the attention of another boy at school, but she doesn't have the same feelings toward him as she does Bo.  To take her mind off all this "relationship" stuff, Willowdean decides to enter the local pageant that her mother is in charge of.  Not only does she enter, she brings three other girls with her that normally wouldn't enter a pageant.  During her preparation for the big event, Willow and Ellen have a falling out.  Life seems to get more and more complicated for Willowdean, but she just wants to be herself and find true happiness.

What I Thought Of It:  Reading the story of Willowdean was a complete pleasure.  I also enjoyed reading this via the new app on my iPad.  I know I will be "checking out" more books using the 3M Cloud Library.  I enjoyed how confident Willowdean was and that some of the "popular" boys could look beyond her body and like her for who she truly was.  The family dynamics Willow had with her mother and late aunt were also powerful moments to read about.  The courage that Will and her three new pageant friends had was heart-warming and encouraging.  Of course the suspense that built toward the big day of the pageant was engaging and made for a fast read.

Who Should Read It:  This is the perfect story for middle-school, high-school, and adult readers.  It may be more suited toward the female reader, but I think could also be enjoyed by male readers.  There are so many great lessons throughout the story and has much to teach our young readers in the world.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter 2015 BLOG Break...

Winter Holiday Blog Break…

*This blog has come to be a major aspect of my life.

*There are times when I need a short break from the life of blogging.

*In the last couple of years I tend to take a little break during the Christmas holiday and one during the summer when I go on our family vacation.

*I have the next two weeks off from my fourth grade teaching duties.  Of course as teachers we know this doesn't mean I won't be planning, reading, or thinking about the "job".

*One of my hopes/goals/dreams for the next two weeks is to get a lot of personal reading time in.  My TBR stack is getting quite large and I want to put a major dent in it.

*There will be no daily posts that are normally featured on the blog over the next two weeks.

*When I finish a book (and I hope it is many) I will feature a review of the book here on the blog.

*I will be back on Monday, January 4th with my "Music Monday" and "It's Monday!  What Are You Reading" posts.

*The year of 2015 was quite an exciting year for me professionally and I can't wait to see what 2016 brings.

*Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy 2016.

The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs...

How I Heard About It:  I actually saw this book before I even knew about book #1 and book #2.  When I realized it was the third novel in the series, I checked out the first and second and listened to them on audio.  Recently, I finished the trilogy and am quite glad I had the experience of Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children.  

What It Is About:  Jacob and his friends are back for the final installment of this massive adventure story.  The story picks up right where the second one left off.  This series must be read in order so be sure to read this one after the first two.  Jacob discovers a new found power that will assist him in upcoming battles he and his friends will face.  The group leaves modern day London and traveling back in time to a very different time and place.  They find themselves in an area called Devil's Acre.  The children are faced with many difficulties, more than one battle, and more harmful characters then they prefer to face.  Once they reach the "Library of Souls", Jacob learns the many secrets and history of "peculiars" and has to decide if he wants to remain in this world or return to his original life.  After many battles and dangerous situations, all the answers he and his friends are searching for will be revealed.  

What I Thought Of It:  This wasn't my usual type of reading I do, but I'm certainly glad I stretched myself and tried something different.  I was intrigued by the covers of the books, and that led me on an adventure of fantasy/mystery/horror.  I'm more of a realistic fiction reader, but found satisfaction with this series.  I did prefer the first two stories compared to this one.  There were times when the story seemed to drag on and lost my attention.  Although just when this would happen, the story would pick up again and grab me back into it.  I think that is why I was able to finish all three stories.  

Who Should Read It:  This book/series is perfect for the high school reader all the way up through adulthood.  Readers who are fans of fantasy/mystery/horror will find great satisfaction with the story of Jacob and his adventures.  Even though I'm a fan of realistic fiction, I believe that fiction lovers will also enjoy this highly adventurous story line.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friend Friday #121 (The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate)...

Hi!  I am Jessica and we read the book called The One and Only Ivan  written by Katherine Applegate.  

I think this book is awesome because it gave a lot of details about animals and it was very realistic.    

My favorite part in the story is when Ivan saw Ruby playing happily and was safe because it made me really happy when I read that part.   

The character that I liked best was Ivan because knew how to deal with things and never really got mad or angry.  

I think the author wrote this book because she wanted to write a heart-warming story that was really good.  

I would recommend this book to our friends because it's a good book for kids in our grade level.  I know they will love it.  

Reading to me is best thing on earth because books have a lot of feelings and sometimes books can be funny and sometimes they can be really sad like this one.  

*I have been talking about my favorite books all year.  Of course this one is at the top of the list.
*Kids didn't gravitate toward it right away, but I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that my readers are starting to read it and share with others.
*Jessy was one of the first to read it and I think she read it in a day and a night.
*I love when a book builds slowly and eventually becomes a class favorite.
*That is bound to happen with this beautiful novel.  
*The thoughts that Jessy shared were so spot on.  Beautiful review!  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Trailer Thursday #121 (Jory John and Friends)...

I Love You Already

Goodnight Already!

I Will Chomp You

Goodnight Already!

The Terrible Two

Life Lesson #13 (Be Merry)...

"Be Merry"

*It is Thursday and that means it is time for another "Life Lesson" video clip.

*I'm not sure this is a true life lesson, but it was fun to share with my writers.

*We have two days left before our winter break and I just wanted to share something fun & merry.

*One of my goals is to help my students reach their full potential.  

*Each Thursday I feature a different video with a "life lesson" in it.  

*After viewing the video once or twice, we chat a bit about it as a group.

*I then have the writers record their thoughts in their writer's notebooks.

*They can write their thoughts, reactions, connections, wonderings, learnings, or whatever is on their mind regarding the video.

*Encouragement is also given to reflect on the "message" of the clip.

*After about 5-10 minutes of writing, we listen to a few of the students share what they wrote.

*It is my hope that through these "life lessons", my students can become the best young people they can be.

Life Lessons (2015-2016)...
Lesson #1 - Be Courageous 
Lesson #2 - Be Kind
Lesson #3 - Be Courageous (part two)
Lesson #4 - Be Motivated
Lesson #5 - Be a Buddy, Not a Bully
Lesson #6 - Be Inspired
Lesson #7 - Be Spooky (Halloween Edition)
Lesson #8:  Be Kind (Kindness Retreat)
Lesson #9:  Be Shoutful
Lesson #10:  Be Happy
Lesson #11:  Be a Reader
Lesson #12:  Be Powerful

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wonder Wednesday #121 (Top FIVE Reading Moments)...

Wonder Wednesday - My Top Five

*I wasn't sure what to do for a WONDER Wednesday post.

*We are wrapping up the week before our holiday break.

*Some great moments have been on my mind so I thought I would share them here...

Our third "Breakfast with Books" book club is meeting tomorrow morning.  We read the Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett.  We are lucky enough to be able to Skype with Jory.  The readers are over the top excited.  

We began our fourth read aloud called The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis.  I had the opportunity to hear them speak at NCTE this past November.  The reaction so far has been excellent and we are reading more than ever.  

I've been over the moon with excitement putting NEW books into the hands of my readers.  I received a bunch of them at NCTE.  I also stopped by the Scholastic Warehouse Sale last week.  I came in with a large box of new titles and the fourth graders couldn't get their hands on them fast enough.  

After our "Breakfast with Books" book club tomorrow I will be announcing our next selection.  It is a brand new title to me and one of my favorite reads this fall.  It is called A Whole New Ballgame:  A Rip and Red Story by Phil Bildner.  I know they are going to love it and we will be Skyping with him later in January.  

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to spend the day at a Donalyn Miller workshop.  Anytime I get to spend the day learning with her is a day to remember.  It was all about authentic ways for children to respond to their reading via writing.  The best part is coming right back into the classroom and apply the learning with my readers and writers.  

Picture Wednesday #15 (Hair Dryer)...

"Hair Dryer"

*This is our last week before our two week winter break.

*We have NO snow here in the Twin Cities which is so strange for Minnesota.

*I thought this would be a fun picture to use and have my students write about.  

*Each Wednesday we write in our writer's notebooks about a particular image.

*They can record their thoughts, reactions, connections, likes/dislikes, reminders, noticings, or anything else they would like.  

*Some of the writers choose to write a fiction story based on the picture.

*We write between five and ten minutes and then do a quick share at the end.  

*The photos always lead to lots of conversation and the sharing of ideas.  I try to get them to write first and then we can share what we wrote and what we were thinking.

*The writers are really enjoying writing about these photographs. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Treat Tuesday #121 (Holiday Edition)...

Treat Tuesday:  Killer Potato Latkes

*We have been learning about holidays in my fourth grade classroom.

*Several of my students have mentioned having latkes during the holidays.

*I've also noticed a few friends posting their latkes recipes on Facebook.

*Saw this one and we just might try it over our two week break coming up.  


1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

Sea salt

2 pounds baking potatoes

1 large onion, finely diced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup matzo meal

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

Applesauce, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, salmon roe and dill sprigs, for serving


Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: Makes 20 latkes
In a medium saucepan, cover the Yukon Gold potatoes with cool water, season generously with salt and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and immediately pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl.
Working quickly, peel and grate the baking potatoes on the large holes of a box grater into a medium bowl. Press with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Add half of the grated potatoes to the riced potatoes.
Transfer the remaining grated potatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion and pulse until the potatoes and onions are very finely chopped. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and press with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the potato-onion mixture to the large bowl. Stir in the eggs, matzo meal, white pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. Working in 3 batches, spoon 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the oil for each latke; press slightly to flatten. Fry over moderate heat, turning once, until the latkes are golden and crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Drain the latkes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve with applesauce, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, salmon roe and dill.
MAKE AHEAD The fried latkes can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Reheat them on a baking sheet in a 375° oven for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and crisp.

Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on
Photo by Stephanie Meyer. 

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Young Adult Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (12/14/15)...

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… 

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars!

My Book Review

The Adults by Alison Espach

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars!  

My Book Review

A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner

*5 STARS out of 5 Stars!

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week 

Hour of the Bees by Lindsday Eagar

*Middle-Grade Novel

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

*Young-Adult Novel

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

*Young-Adult Novel (on audio)

Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell

*Adult Novel

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

*Middle-Grade Novel

Music Monday #14 (Do They Know Its Christmas by Band Aid)...

"Do They Know Its Christmas" by Band Aid

*We are in the final week of school before we head off for our two-week winter break.

*We don't do a whole lot surrounding the holiday of Christmas.

*I like to use this particular song to talk about the event and how the money raised was for the children in Africa.

*This was our 14th Monday where we featured a musical selection.

*Each Monday I highlight a piece of music to share with my writers.  

*We begin with showing a video that goes along with the musical selection.

*The class will watch the video between 1-2 times.

*After the second viewing, the writers begin to record their thoughts in the notebooks.

*As they write, I play the music in the background (minus the video).

*My fourth graders can record their thoughts, ideas, connections, likes/dislikes, or reactions to the song.  They can also write about the message of the song.  

*I have my students write between 5-10 minutes.  At the end of our writing time, I see if a few of the writers would like to share what they wrote.  

Music Monday Selections (2015-2016)…

Week #1:  What I Am by
Week #2:  Proud by Heather Small
Week #3:  Dreamer by Chris Brown
Week #4:  Live Like a Warrior by Matisyahu
Week #5:  Sunshine by Matisyahu
Week #6:  Better When I'm Dancin' by Megan Trainor
Week #7:  Thriller by Michael Jackson
Week #8:  Hopeful by Bars and Melody
Week #9:  Keep Your Head Up by Andy Grammar
Week #10:  The Rainbow Connection from The Muppets
Week #11:  What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis
Week #12:  Hall of Fame by The Script
Week #13:  Clouds by Zach Sobiech

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Adults by Alison Espach...

How I Heard About It:  For about a year now I've been listening to books on audio during my commute to and from work.  Not sure why I didn't start this 25 years ago, but I'm sure glad I have now.  During one visit to the local library I was browsing the shelves for an audio book to listen to next.  This title popped out and I remembered reading or hearing about it awhile back.  

What It Is About:  Emily is trying to be an adult, but finds that it isn't as easy as she thought it was or appeared to be.  Of course she doesn't have the best role models.  Her parents divorce after it is found out that her father has been having an affair with the neighbor lady.  Life gets even more complicated when the neighbor man kills himself in front of Emily.  She is even more shocked when she learns that her father is going to be a father again when the neighbor lady announces she is pregnant with his baby.  Because her home life is so "messy", Emily looks to her friends and teachers to fill in the voids she is experiencing.  After meeting "Mr. Basketball" who is one of Emily's teachers, she becomes an adult faster than any young person should.  Emily life is a balancing act between taking care of her mother and her father and navigating her way through high school, college, and adulthood.  

What I Thought Of It:  I enjoyed listening to the story very much.  There were a few spots where I thought the plot moved along a bit slow, but overall the story was full of twists and turns and plenty of surprises.  Part of the story line disturbed me as a reader, but isn't this was good stories can sometimes do to us.  The actions of the characters were true to life.  I found myself liking them at certain times during the book and at other times they were not the easiest to like.  The story is definitely a character study of individuals trying to grow up and relate to each other as a family.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to listen to this work of fiction.  

Who Should Read It:  The book is for all those readers who enjoy adult fiction and well-written literature.  I wouldn't say there was an overly amount of "action" in the story, but enough to keep the reader interested.  It is difficult to grow up and try to figure out "adulthood" and this is a story that tries to uncover ways to do that with ease, grace and understanding.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher...

How I Heard About It:  I am a member of the BBC (Boy's Book Club).  This is a group of male teachers that work together.  We started the book club back in 2000 and have been reading ever since.  This was the most recent book club selection.  

What It Is About:  Hannah and Clay are in the high school together.  Clay on a crush on Hannah, but isn't sure how to deal with it or how to let her know.  He doesn't have time because Hannah decides to end her life.  A couple weeks after her death, Clay receives a package in the mail that contains a series of cassette tapes (remember those) from Hannah.  As Clay begins to listen to the tapes he learns that Hannah has left "thirteen" reasons why she decided to end her life.  She retraces the variety of events and circumstances that brought her to the point of not being able to continue her life.  The package of tapes have been sent to all of the "players" that have had some effect on Hannah, her fitting into the social scene at school, and handling all the pressure that comes with it.  Clay spends the listening to her story and retraces her steps during the final days.  

What I Thought Of It:  This was a great story and I enjoyed the entire plot.  It was written quite differently.  Some of the narrative was told from Hannah's point of view via the cassette tapes that Clay is listening to.  The other narrative interwoven is Clay's perspective and what is going on in his life while listening to Hannah tell her story.  This back and forth was a bit confusing at first, but then I fell into a routine and it worked.  I thought this was an important story because many of the events that happened to Hannah and the students that surrounded her life, can be found in every day life at most high schools.  I'm looking forward to the BBC discussion at our next book club.  

Who Should Read It:  I think this story could be read by anyone and enjoyed.  I'm an adult male and loved it.  Adult females would also find it a great read.  Being that it is targeted toward the high school reader, I know they would benefit from reading it.  In my opinion the subject matter is a bit mature for a middle-school reader.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friend Friday #120 (Tom Gates Everything's Amazing by L. Pichon)...

Hi!  I am Hanh and we read the book called Tom Gates Everything's Amazing  written by L. Pichon. 

I think this book is great because it was about Tom Gates' life and it was pretty amazing.  

My favorite part in the story is on page 58 when Rooster the Dog got poofy because Tom Gates did too much so Rooster got poofy for the dog show.  

The character that I liked best was Rooster the Dog because the dog is cute and I love what happened at the dog show.  

I think the author wrote this book because they wanted to entertain the reader with a really great and funny story.  

I would recommend this book to our friends because there is a lot happening in the story and makes you keep turning the pages.  

Reading to me is awesome because I get to see what's happening or imagine what's happening.  

*Hanh is one of my avid readers in class.
*She checks out a book every day and comes back the next day with it done and ready for another.
*What I like most is she is willing to read and try anything.  
*She told me she really enjoyed this story and wants to read others in the series.