Fourth Grade Journey

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Blog BREAK...

Summer Blog Break 2015...

*Just a quick blog post before I head out on a summer family vacation.

*It is strange to take a vacation when I'm already on vacation from teaching.  Maybe it is a vacation on vacation.

*After about 101 weeks of "daily features" and a little over 1,000 blog posts, I believe this is only my third break from keeping the blog.

*I took a week off last summer for the family vacation and I took a week away during my Christmas break this past season..

*The blog is part of my reading life and such a passion, but I do enjoy the time away from it.

*We have had quite a summer.  My second child, Ben, graduated from high school, we sold our home of 22 years, bought a new home about a mile from where we live now, and packed up our entire house.

*Unfortunately, we had a set back last week with the closing and our buyer's loan was delayed.  Our plan now is to close on our new house today, and close on our existing home later in August.

*Needless to say, it has been a bit stressful.

*Our family had a vacation planned since last winter to celebrate our son's graduation.  Hopefully all will go according to this "second" plan and we will be on the high seas for a week.

*We fly to Miami on Friday and board the Norwegian Getaway for seven days of family, fun, and of course some great reading time.

*I will be back to the blog on Monday, August 3rd.  There were be lots of books to blog about from the vacation reading I'm planning on doing.

*Happy summer and I'll see you in a little over a week...

Trailer Thursday #101 (Every Day and Another Day by David Levithan)...

Every Day by David Levithan (Young Adult Novel)

Another Day by David Levithan (Young Adult Novel)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wonder Wednesday #101 (Part Seven)...

Wonder Wednesday - The Love of Reading (Part Seven)

*This is the seventh of an on-going series I'm going to post each Wednesday.

*I love posting on Wednesdays because it is all about the WONDERS of books, reading, and all that comes with it. 

*Each student filled out a reading survey with six questions to respond to.

*I will post their thoughts here on Wednesdays throughout the summer.

*One of my most favorite things to do as an educator is to get feedback from my students.

*Here is a look at a couple of my students' responses from the survey I gave...

STUDENT #1 -Marissa

Before I was in fourth grade I thought that reading was exciting because visualizing was my key and you can learn many new things. 

Now that I'm almost done with fourth grade I think that reading is even more exciting because learning new words helps me understand more and visualize more. 

This year I learned that as I reader I prefer history type books and mythology because I'm reading a series called Goddess Girls and I really like it.  

To me reading is exciting and an opportunity to learn new things because reading helps me learn a lot of new things. 

As a reader I'm most proud of being able to read more challenging books because reading more challenging books seems more fun and I like the challenge. 

The best thing about reading is learning new things because learning new things makes you smarter and I want to be as smart as I can.  

STUDENT #2 -Abdiwahid

Before I was in fourth grade I thought that reading was horrible because I never use to read. 

Now that I'm almost done with fourth grade I think that reading is amazing because I started to actually read books this year and learned that there are great books.  

This year I learned that as I reader I read better when I'm in a silent area because I can concentrate better and not get distracted. 

To me reading is amazing because I love the books that I read and enjoyed the stories in them. 

As a reader I'm most proud reading the Alex Rider Series because I saw lots of kids reading it and Mr. Andrus said I might enjoy it and I really did.  I wish there were more in the series. 

The best thing about reading is reading a great story because I forget my own life and get to read about other people. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead...

How I Heard About It:   I had read When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy and enjoyed both of them.  When I received an ARC from NetGalley for this new novel, I was excited to read it and see what this story was about.  

What It Is About:  Like all of Stead's books, they are not easy to describe.  She can really write an intriguing plot.  Bridge, Emily, and Tabitha are best friends and are going to try to make their seventh grade year in New York City the best yet.  They make a promise that the three of them will NEVER fight.  No matter what!  As the year goes on, they realize this promise might be harder than they thought.  Bridget meets Sherm and they become friends and wonder if it can be more than that.  Sherm lives with his parents and grandparents, but his grandfather has just left after fifty years of marriage.  These two begin to share their lives and their love for the "tech" crew at school.  Emily has begun to flirt with Patrick who is in eighth grade.  They begin to share digital pictures back and forth, but it goes too far causing much pain for Emily and her friends.  Tabitha has bonded with a teacher and wants to make the world right including her friendships with these two girls.  Her sister Celeste also becomes a part of her world more than she thought.  

What I Thought Of It:  Rebecca Stead is quite a talented writer.  I remember I had to read When You Reach Me twice to really understand all that was going on.  I enjoyed Liar and Spy and the surprises that kept coming at me.  This new book was also enjoyable to me.  I find I can't breeze through them because if I did so there are so many details and important elements that I would miss.  I liked the story of the three girls and their bond toward each other.  I also really liked the friendship between Bridge and Sherm.  I got a bit confused when it came to the chapters about Valentine's Day and told in second person.  It did come together at the end, but all through the story I wondered how this particular part of the book fit with everything else.  Overall, I'm really glad I had the chance to read this ARC.  Thanks NetGalley.  

Who Should Read It:  Her books are not easy to read for an adult let alone a young reader.  In my opinion, I think this book would appeal to a reader in sixth grade or for sure middle-school.  If they have read either of her other books and enjoyed them, then I'm sure this will be a hit also.  Adult readers who are fans of Stead's will find this to be a great read.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles...

How I Heard About It:  I had read See You at Harry's a few summers ago and it was one of my favorite reads that year.  Such a powerful and emotional story. I was excited to see this new novel by Jo Knowles on the shelf and picked it right up.  I have spent about the last week with this really great story.  

What It Is About:  This is not an easy task to summarize this story.  There was a lot that happened to quite a few different major characters in the story.  The plot takes place during one particular day in the lives of about ten different high school students.  At first I thought the stories of each student were not related to each other, but the more I read, the more I realized just how intertwined the "little plots" were connected to the overall "big plot."  One student is quite unpopular with a tough life in his dad's home and breaks his "middle" finger during gym class.  This makes for interesting interactions with other students and his father.  One girl is quite popular and has her "click", but isn't sure she wants to be in that click any longer and is on a quest to find herself.  Another girl is dating the star basketball player, but when she finds out his secret, she isn't' sure what she should do.  Finally, a third girl so desperately wants to fit in with the crowd at school, but knows her weight could get in the way of this.  As the day goes on for these characters, and others, their lives and situations twist and turn all colliding in the same direction.

What I Thought Of It:  When I first bought this book I thought it was a novel.  When I started reading it, I was thinking it was a collection of short stories.  Once I got more into the book, I realized it actually was a novel.  There were times when I had a hard time keeping all the different characters straight, but once I just relaxed and enjoyed the slow of the story, I was fine with them.  It was amazing to me how the author was able to take a day in the life of several different high school kids and tell quite a unique story.  Each story alone could stand alone, but together they were even stronger.  I was fascinated how they all were tied together in different ways and told from different points of view.  Some of the story lines I enjoyed more than others, but overall I really enjoyed this novel.  

Who Should Read It:  When I read See You at Harry's, I thought that particular book would be for upper elementary and/or middle-school readers.  This new novel is definitely for the high school reader or above.  I know many adult readers that enjoy "young-adult" stories, and this one would be perfect.  Jo Knowles is a great writer and really knows how to portray the young people in our society with honesty and sensitivity.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Treat Tuesday #101...

Treat Tuesday - Breakfast Bake

*A tasty breakfast treat or for anytime of the day!  

*A video of this recipe is at the bottom of this post.

1 Can Flaky Grands
Bag shredded cheddar 8 oz.
Half cup milk
Cubed ham or ground cooked sausage 1 cup cooked
5 eggs
Salt and pepper
Add all ingredients and mix saving biscuits for last

Cut biscuits into fours and carefully mix in.
Transfer to roomy casserole dish that has been oiled. 
Cook 25 minutes at 350. 
You can't mess this up and it comes out looking JUST like picture.
Serve for breakfast or dinner with a small salad.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

*From Pepper Faircloth Romo's Facebook Page

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (7/20/15)...

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

**With packing up my house last week, a closing that didn't happen, and a lot of stress in-between, I didn't get to much reading.

**It always surprises me that when you aren't "with it" mentally it becomes very difficult to focus on a novel.  Hopefully this week will be better for me.  

Books I Read this Past Week… 

In a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware

*My adult novel

*My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week 

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

*My middle-grade novel

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles

*My young-adult novel

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer

*My adult novel

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Friend Friday #100 (The Girl on the Train)...

Hi!  I am Sue and I read the book called The Girl on the Train written by Paula Hawkins.

I thought this book was amazing because the story line and characters are kind of crazy!

My favorite part in the story was 
the beginning as Rachel makes up stories about all the people living in the houses she passes daily because it grabbed my attention and made me curious about her.  

The character that I liked best was probably Rachel because she is a dysfunctional mess and was entertaining to read about.  

I think the author wrote this book because she wanted to entertain and challenge the reader to figure things out.  

I would recommend this book to my friends because 
it is a great page turner with all kinds of twists and turns.  

Reading to me is so relaxing and comforting because it is fun to read and then discuss books with others.  

*Sue is a co-worker of mine at the elementary school I teach at.

*She is an avid reader and it is always a pleasure to talk books with her and share the novels back and forth.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Trailer Thursday #100...

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer (Adult Novel)

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles (Young-Adult Novel)

When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Middle-Grade Novel)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wonder Wednesday #100 (Part Six)...

Wonder Wednesday - The Love of Reading (Part Six)

*This is the sixth of an on-going series I'm going to post each Wednesday.

*I love posting on Wednesdays because it is all about the WONDERS of books, reading, and all that comes with it. 

*Each student filled out a reading survey with six questions to respond to.

*I will post their thoughts here on Wednesdays throughout the summer.

*One of my most favorite things to do as an educator is to get feedback from my students.

*Here is a look at a couple of my students' responses from the survey I gave...

STUDENT #1 - Annabelle

Before I was in fourth grade I thought that reading was fun when you like your book because if you are interested in your book you are more likely to read it more often.  

Now that I'm almost done with fourth grade I think that reading is like a show when you pick the right book for yourself because I learned that visualization makes the books more interesting.  

This year I learned that as I reader I can use visualization to make the story more interesting because I tried it out and learned to do it more.  

To me reading is entertaining when you enjoy what you're reading because you read more and it's more fun to read.  

As a reader I'm most proud of starting the Harry Potter series  because I've been excited for a long time to read them.  

The best thing about reading is the story behind it and the way you visualize it because it makes more sense and more interesting.  

STUDENT #2 - Holden

Before I was in fourth grade I thought that reading was boring because why would you want to read about someone else's life.  

Now that I'm almost done with fourth grade I think that reading is good because it tells how other people live or lived in the past.  

This year I learned that as I reader I can read bigger books better because I read more this year and am learning how to do it better.  

To me reading is entertaining because it passes the time.   

As a reader I'm most proud reading the Amulet series because there were six books in the series and I read them pretty quickly.  It was a great series.  

The best thing about reading is knowing how people lived because it can get very intense.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Treat Tuesday #100...

Treat Tuesday - Mexican/White Trash

*I saw this recipe on my Facebook page and shared it with my wife.

*We gave it a try and it was pretty darn good.

*Not real healthy, but ever so tasty.



1 bag Nacho Doritos, crushed.
2C shredded chicken
2C shredded cheese--or more (I always use more!!)
1 Can Cream of chicken soup
1 Can ro'tel tomatoes
1/2C sour cream
1/2C milk
1/2 package taco seasoning (or more if you'd like)


Preheat your oven to 350. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with nonstick spray. 
Mix together all ingredients BUT Doritos.
Layer half the Doritos (about 2 cups) on the bottom, then spread half the chicken mixture, rest of the Doritos, and the rest of the chicken mixture. Add more cheese on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

I usually double the recipe and cook it in a 9x13 pan for 45 minutes, just so we can have leftovers the next day.

Recipe from: unfgvngodess

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware...

How I Heard About It:  This novel came to via NetGalley as an ARC.  I knew nothing about it, but was happy to give it a try.  

What It Is About:  Lee/Nora is a mystery writer that pretty much keeps to herself.  She hasn't seen her best friend Clare for ten years.  She also hasn't seen her X-boyfriend during that time either.  Lee/Nora is surprised when she is invited to Clare's wedding shower weekend and even more surprised when she learns that Clare is going to marry James.  James is the man that Lee/Nora dated ten years ago and hasn't dated since.  She decides to go to the weekend out at the country house with Clare and her friends.  The weekend becomes stressful and full of memories for Lee/Nora.  She still can't figure how why she was included on this weekend when she isn't even being invited to the actual wedding.  When someone ends up dead on the second night of the celebration, Lee/Nora's life is turned upside down and she must bring her past to the present and truly figure out what is going on with herself, her former boyfriend, and the girl that use to be her "best friend."

What I Thought Of It:  It was a bit of a slow start, but after a few chapters I was completely hooked.  This isn't the type of novel I normally read which made it quite enjoyable.  I would classify it as a mystery and/or light fiction.  The experience was trying to read so fast in order to find out what is going to happen is always a pleasant one for me.  The story kept me guessing until the very end and I was satisfied with the conclusion.  This was the perfect book to read during my summer vacation.  It was quick, easy, and just a plain fun read!

Who Should Read It:  If you are a mystery lover, then I think this is the book for you.  The story is different from most mysteries, is well written, and a great plot line.  I believe the novel was released at the end of June so it would be perfect as a beach/summer read.  Happy Reading!

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (7/13/15)...

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… 

Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin

*5 STARS out of 5 stars!

*My Book Review

Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin

*5 STARS out of 5 stars!

*My Book Review

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

*4 STARS out of 5 stars!

*My Book Review

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

*5+ STARS out of 5 stars!

*My Book Review

*#ABCT (Adult Book Club on Twitter)

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week 

In a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware

*My adult novel

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

*My middle-grade novel

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles

*My young-adult novel

Denton Little's Death Date by Lance Rubin...

How I Heard About It:  I remember reading about this book sometime this past spring.  I kind of forgot about it until I recently saw it on the shelf at the local bookstore.  I added it to my stack of purchases.  I was looking for a young-adult novel to read so I thought this would be the perfect one to try.  

What It Is About:  Denton lives in a world where people know the date they are going to die.  Unfortunately, his death date is an early one and he is "scheduled" to pass during his senior year of high school.  The night before his funeral, which he will attend, Denton finds himself very drunk, dumped by his girlfriend, and with his best friend's sister.  He can't quite believe his luck.  After a few mishaps, Denton finally arrives at his own funeral and gives a speech that soon won't be forgotten.  What follows the funeral is called the day of sitting when the person that is going to pass, spends the day sitting with their family and friends waiting to find out how they are going to die.  Denton's mother died the day he was born and there were many mysteries surrounding her death.  On Denton's sitting day, he decides he wants to find out the truth and will stop at nothing to do it.  There are issues with his girlfriend, his best friend, his best friend's sister, his best friend's mother, and a class bully.  The closer his "time" gets, the more complicated he realizes his life is.

What I Thought Of It:  I guess this novel is half realistic fiction and half fantasy/science fiction.  I normally don't enjoy fantasy or sci-fi, but this story worked very well for me.  I really enjoyed the story of Denton and all that happened to him the last few days before his "death".  There was a lot of humor used throughout the story which made me laugh out loud.  There were so many things happening in the plot that is made for quite the page -turner.  The ending took me completely by surprise and I didn't see it coming at all.  I love when that happens.  I guess there is going to be a sequel called Denton's Little's Birthdate which comes out in the spring of 2016.

Who Should Read It:  I can see young adult readers really getting into this story.  There are so many elements that they will be able to relate to.  The idea of knowing your death date would be quite intriguing to the young-adult reader.  The novel would also appeal to readers who enjoy high school fiction with elements of fantasy and science fiction.  It really has it all.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Saturday, July 11, 2015

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman...

How I Heard About It:  One of my favorite books I read during 2014 was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  It was like nothing I had read before and the character of Ove was one of a kind.  I told everyone about that novel and many read it and enjoyed just as much as I did.  I was quite excited the other day when I saw that Backman's new novel was out.

What It Is About:  Elsa is a seven year old little girl going on seventy.  Her best friend has been her granny for as long as she can remember.  She doesn't have many friends because she is not your typical seven year old child.  Elsa is beyond bright, has an exceptional vocabulary, and loves to do research on WikiPedia.  She and her grandmother have created their own world in "Land-of-almost-awake" where six different "worlds" exist and many fairy tales are told.  These fairy tales help Elsa deal with real life, but in the end they also help her granny.  After Elsa's grandmother dies, Elsa begins to find a series of letters in which her granny apologizes to several different people in her life including residents of the flat where she lived and her family members.  It becomes Elsa's job to deliver these letters and make things "right".  During this journey the real world and the imaginary world begin to get closer and closer.

What I Thought Of It:  I read a lot of books and great books at that, but this novel has taken a place in my top adult books.  I so enjoyed it and was a bit skeptical at first.  After reading the debut of Ove, I wasn't sure the author could do it again.  He sure did.  The story was unique, special, and buried itself deep in my heart.  The relationship between Elsa and her granny was like no other I have experienced.  They each were such strong women and together were unstoppable.  The twists and turns of the fantasy world integrating with the real world was a treat to read about.  There were so many great life lessons throughout the story.  Every child needs a grandmother like Elsa's.

Who Should Read It:  Well, if you follow this blog, you know that I think everyone should read this novel.  That is why I picked it as the next selection of the #ABCT (Adult Book Club on Twitter).  I think it would make for a terrific book club selection and lead to some wonderfully deep conversations.  Both of Backman's novels are excellent and should be experienced by all lovers of fiction writing.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, July 10, 2015

#ABCT is Back...

The #ABCT - The Novel that Brought it Back...

*It has been since last fall that we had our last #ABCT (Adult Book Club on Twitter).

*The last selection was actually a middle-grade novel that I absolutely loved.  We had a great book discussion with the author and was such a satisfying experience.  

*Life got busy this past year and the #ABCT slipped by the wayside.  But as I finished an adult book this afternoon, I knew I had found the perfect selection for this book club.

How #ABCT Came About:In November, 2012 I came up with the idea of the #ABCT (Adult Book Club on Twitter).  It was during a Twitter discussion on #titletalk that I realized how wonderful it would be to bring together teachers, librarians,  educators, authors, and all other adult readers and form an online book club.  I knew we were reading lots of middle-grade novels, picture books, and other resources for our children, but what about "feeding" ourselves with a delicious and engaging adult novel.  So began the #ABCT.  We have read six novels as a Twitter community and have even had some of the authors join us during these discussions.  Here are the novels we have covered so far...

First book:  Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach
Second book:  Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Third book:  Schroder by Amity Gaige 
Fourth book:  We are Water by Wally Lamb
Fifth book:  Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
Sixth book:  The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer (The first middle-grade selection)

The Invite Sent Out:   I invite all Twitter readers, their friends, and anyone else we can spread the word to; to join us for the seventh book club selection for the #ABCT.  It would be wonderful to get as many readers as we can to read the new book club selection, Tweet their thoughts while they read, and meet on Twitter for the book club discussion.  We all enjoy reading those books for our young readers and I know we can enjoy a "big person" book just as much.  So get the word out, join the fun, and read this seventh selection for the #ABCT!

Seventh Book Chosen:   Being on Twitter has been one of the best things I've ever done.  I have come across some of the greatest teachers, educators, librarians, other readers, and authors.  My original goal of the #ABCT was for readers who normally read middle-grade material and/or young adult material, take some time and enjoy an adult novel.  After reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman, I knew I had to bring back the #ABCT.    I read his first novel A Man Called Ove last year and thought that was an incredible story.  When you read a debut novel that is so great, the second one can be somewhat of a letdown.  That was NOT the case with this story.  It captivated my attention and heart and didn't let go until the very last page.  I loved everything about this story and want to share it with as many other readers as possible.  

When is the Book Club:  To give everyone a chance to get a copy of the book and get busy reading, I'm trying to give as much notice as possible.   I thought summer would be the perfect time for many of us to read an adult book since we have the extra time of summer.  At this point, I'm thinking of having #ABCT on Thursday, August 27th at 7:00 PM CT.  That way we can get the book club in before the busy time of the year begins when most of us head back to work.  I hope you will join me (and hopefully many others) for this "Adult Book Club on Twitter."  This really is a story that everyone should read, enjoy, and experience.  Happy Reading!