Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/29/17)

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...

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

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

My Book Review

Posted by John David Anderson

*Middle-Grade Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

 York by Laura Ruby

*My Middle-Grade Novel

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

*My Young-Adult Novel

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

*My Novel Published for Adults (Audio)

Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

*My Novel Published for Adults

Posted by John David Anderson

How I Heard About It:  Ms. Bixby's Last Day was one of my favorite reads last summer.  I had read it right before #NerdCampMI and was lucky enough to get another copy signed by the author.  I knew it was going to be one of our class read aloud selections for this school year.  We actually just finished it last week and were lucky enough to Skype with John David.  I was excited to read his latest work of fiction and finished it last night.  

What It Is About:  Everyone knows middle-school kids.  They love to be social.  They love to use their cell phones.  They love to communicate.  Unfortunately, they also bully each other at times.  There are four boys at Branton Middle School who don't necessarily "fit in".  They do fit in with each other.  Frost, Deedee, Wolf, and Bench have created their own "tribe" even though they are quite different from each other.  After the students get out of control with their cell phones, the administration cracks down and BANS them from the school.  I know, can you image!  The four friends aren't sure how they are going to "talk" with each other without the use of their phone during the school day.  One of the boys begins to use post-it notes to chat with each other.  The post-it notes begin to show up on lockers, tables, and backpacks.  This new "trend" catches on and soon many of the students are "posting" notes all over the school.    While most of the messages are positive, some negative and hurtful notes begin to pop up around the building.  To add to the "drama", Rose shows up as a new student and works her way into this unique tribe.  The boys find themselves in new situations and realize life will never be the same as it was before their worlds went "posted."  

What I Thought Of It:  After the "buzz" about this novel, I was so excited to read it.  When so many readers score an ARC, it makes it difficult to wait for the actual release.  This story was well worth the wait.  I really enjoyed it.  I was a bit worried about loving Ms. Bixby so much, but found myself enjoying just as much.  One of the strongest aspects of the book were the four characters that it focused on.  I guess I should say five because Rose was just as important as the tribe.  The message of  different boys finding friendship, safely, and a place to land was so powerful.  I also found the theme of the power of our words to be one that needs to be shared with young readers.  My own class spent a lot of time this past school year talking about the messages we send with both our positive and negative words.  

Who Should Read It:  This is the PERFECT novel for readers in middle-school.  They will be able to relate to the story, the characters, and all the "action".  The book may appeal to boys a bit more than girls because of the four main characters, but this certainly doesn't mean girls wouldn't enjoy the story.  Plus, they have Rose and she is one heck of a female character.  Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade readers would also be the perfect audience for Anderson's newest book.  Of course adult readers who enjoy strong middle-school novels, then this is the one for them.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

How I Heard About It:  I can't remember in what source, but I read a glowing review of this novel published for adults.  As I was browsing through Hoopla (audio app via my public library), this title popped up and I downloaded it.  I listened to it the last few weeks during my commute to and from work.  I just saw in our Sunday paper that the author will be speaking here in Minneapolis this week.  I'm not sure I have the time to go, but it sure would be cool to hear her speak.  

What It Is About:  Deming is a young boy when his Chinese "undocumented" immigrant mother disappears.  This leaves him alone with other Chinese "friends/family".  They are living in a small apartment in the middle of New York City.  Deming and the others just keep waiting day to day for his mother Polly to return.  But she doesn't.  A friend of Polly's takes Deming to the "authorities" in New York, and after a time he is adopted by a couple from upper New York.  They mean well, but life for Deming and the adoptive parents isn't easy.  He is renamed Daniel and begins a life trying to fit in.  Daniel/Deming always wonders where his mother is and what actually happened the day she disappeared.  As a young man, Daniel ends up back in New York city as a college student and musician.  His adoptive parents aren't always happy with the choices he is making.  Daniel can't quite shake the feeling that his "real" mother is out there and begins a "quest" to find her.  Some of the answers he receives validate his "feelings", but others will shake him to his core.  

What I Thought Of It:  I enjoyed the audio version of this novel.  The plot was strong.  The characters were real and believable.  The relationships were touching and intense.  As the reader, I was reading to find out what had happened to Deming's mother that day, and it was fun to finally find out.  I must say that I was completely off base on my prediction.  I enjoyed how the story was told from both Daniel's and his mother's point of view.  This technique worked well for the book.  Not only was the story enjoyable to listen to, but I learned a lot about the Chinese culture and being an immigrant in our country; specifically New York City.  

Who Should Read It:  The novel was reviewed in the Minneapolis Sunday paper today so I'm learning it is getting a lot of "buzz".  This would be the perfect novel to read over the summer of 2017.  It is definitely a novel published for adult readers.  This book has lots to offer so give it a try.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Summer 2017 Blog Break

Some Time Off...

*On Wednesday, July 18, 2012 I began my venture into the world of "blogging".

*The last "almost" five years have been incredible and full of growth, learning, and fantastic connections.

*As I scroll through the "ReadWonder" blog, I'm amazed at how this personal reading "journey" has evolved, grown, and enriched both my personal and professional life.

*This past week I posted my 190th weekly "features" and that kind of blows my mind.  Over the last five years I have taken a few "breaks" from the blog.  These usually happened during winter vacation and/or a summer vacation that I took with the family.

*I've decided to take the summer off from the daily/weekly features of the blog.  I will still post the books I've read and special events I will be attending over the summer related to my professional development.

*I will be back with all new daily and weekly posts in the fall of 2017.  These posts will include: Music Monday, Treat Tuesday, Wonder Wednesday, Picture Wednesday, Trailer Thursday, Life Lesson Thursday, and Friend Friday.

*The reasons I"m taking this break?  Let's see if I can put it into a TOP TEN list...

1.  I've been blogging for almost five years now.  

2.  I've blogged 190 daily features.

3.  I was getting to a point where it was becoming "work" instead of "fun."

4.  I want to step back, take some time, and rethink ways to put some new energy into ReadWonder.

5.  I want the month of June to read, read, read! (and relax)

6.  I want the month of July to read, read, read!  (and relax)

7.  I want the month of August to read, read, read!  (and relax)

8.  Without a current group of students over the summer, the posts aren't as real, personal, and/or helpful to other readers, teachers, and others that follow the blog.

9.  I don't want the features on this blog to become stale, repetitive, or god forbid "boring".

10.  Hey, it's summer and I want to be foot loose, fancy-free, with no "have to's" on my sunny, warm, carefree, and book filled days!  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Breakfast with Books #EIGHT (Final One of the Year)

Matylda, Bright & Tender by Holly M. McGhee

*It is hard to believe that the year of "Breakfast with Books" has come to an end.

*I've run this book club for years and I think this past "season" has been the best one yet.  We have read some incredible books and chatted with awesome, amazing authors.

*This was our final novel of the year and we ended on quite the high "note".

*This story was "praised" on Twitter by some very reliable sources.  I got a copy, read it, and knew it had to be a "Breakfast with Books" book club selection.

*It was great to see how many readers climbed aboard and experienced the magic of Matylda, Gus, and Sussy.  This truly is one of a kind story and the readers in my class enjoyed it.

*We had a wonderful visit with Holly and she shared so many great "tidbits" with us about her life, her writing, and the story behind the story.

*I'm already thinking about next year, the new books, and a whole new set of authors we will get to chat with.

*Here are some images from the Skype visit...