Fourth Grade Journey

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

How I Heard About It:  I received this book from the publisher and was thrilled to get it.  I had read positive reviews on Twitter and was excited to read the story created by these two authors.  

What It Is About:  Lauren's story is told in prose and Sierra's story is told in verse.  Each girl's story is told in alternating chapters.  Lauren is upset that her older autistic brother is going to school away from home. She believes he should be at home with the family.  She sets out on a mission to earn money to help support the programs at her brother's school.  Sierra moves in next door as a foster child because her mother has run into more "trouble".  She has spent her life taking care of her mother and now finds herself on her own with two special foster parents.  They have a story that Sierra feels they are keeping to themselves.  Sierra and Lauren get to know each other and each bring something new to each other.  As Lauren tries to earn more and more money, she begins to make some horrible choices. She can't stop herself.  This makes her feel guilty, but she feels even more guilty when she recruits Sierra to help her with her quest and keeping her secret.  Sierra is torn between doing the right thing and taking care of her new friend.  

What I Thought Of It:  As soon as I began page one, I knew this was going to be a story that I was going to enjoy.  The format of prose and verse for each girl worked perfectly.  It really gave voice to each character in a unique way.  I think each girl brought something special to their new friend and they were able to learn from each other and grow from it.  There was plenty of conflict and "tension" throughout the story that keep me turning page after page.  All and all this was a strong, interesting, and compelling read.  

Who Should Read It:   The story of Lauren and Sierra would make for an excellent read aloud in grades four, five, and/or six.  I also think it could be shared with students in middle-school.  Individual readers in grades five, six, and above will find this a satisfying and enlightening story.  Female readers may tend to be better suited because of the lead characters of Lauren and Sierra.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Everything I Know About You by Barbara Dee

How I Heard About It:  This title came to me via my #bookexpedition group.    It sat next to my bed for a bit of time.  I almost sent it on before reading, but then gave it more thought and decided to read it.  

What It Is About:  Seventh grade can be tough.  It can be even tougher when you don't fit the seventh grade "mold".  Tally doesn't follow the crowd and really doesn't care to.  She has her two closest friends and that is all she really needs.  When the annual seventh grade trip to Washington D.C. comes up, Tally thinks it will be an awesome time with her two bestie, but comes to learn that the teacher in charge had assigned the students to rooms with a certain roommate.  Tally has been put with the queen bee of the seventh grade.  Ava is the lead of the popular group and Tally believes the two of them have nothing in common.  She is also worried that her two friends are not going to fare well with their room assignments.  Once in D.C., all the kids adjust to being on their "own" for a couple of days and sharing a space with someone they don't normally hang with.  Tally finds out some secrets about Ava and isn't sure what to do with the information.  Should she share with her "old" friends, keep it to herself, or let the whole group know.  The trip is a growing experience for all involved.  

What I Thought Of It:  As I mentioned, I was going to pass this book over, but I'm sure glad I didn't.  Even though it was mostly about a group of seventh grade girls, I found myself engaged and invested in the story of Tally. She was such a cool character and stood her own ground which can teach readers a whole lot.  The writing was great and it was enjoyable to read about the "evolution" of Tally. She sure learned a lot and grew throughout the story.  

Who Should Read It:   The book should definitely be put in the hands of fifth, sixth, and seventh grade readers.  I do believe girls will be drawn to the story more than boys.  They will be able to relate to Tally, Ava, and the whole crew of friends.  There are a few mature themes sprinkled through the story, so I'm thinking upper middle-grade and middle-school readers would be best for the novel.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck

How I Heard About It:  This novel came to me via the publisher.  I loved the cover and was intrigued by the story.  The reading experience was a quick one and I found it to be a unique one.  

What It Is About:  The story begins with a real "CRUNCH".  Will, because of a friend situation, ends up eating a real-live stinkbug.  This not only causes a crunch in his mouth, but also one with his group of buddies.  Will wanted to protect the new boy in school named Eloy.  His buddy Darryl called him a racial slur and Will didn't want to portray his being OK with it.  By eating the bug, he was shifting the attention from the comment to himself, the bug, and the aftermath.  Now all the kids at school are calling him Bug Boy.  Will and Eloy become friends not only in the classroom, but on the wrestling mat at well.  Each boy helps each other and they begin to become true friends.  This new friendship doesn't make Darryl happy and he just may make life for both Will and Eloy quite difficult.  Will not only faces problems with the "BUGS" in his life, but balancing his loyalties to both of these friends.  

What I Thought Of It:  As I began the story I was excited to see what the story was going to be about.  I thought the beginning scene with the eating of the bugs was fun, thrilling, and perfect for young readers.  As I got into the book, events in the story slowed down a bit, but it was still an enjoyable read.  I kept trying to put myself into the shoes of a ten-year boy and knew they would EAT this type of story up.  On the surface, it is a light-hearted and fun story, but if you dig deeper there are some strong and meaningful life-lessons.  

Who Should Read It:   When this book hits the shelves in May of 2018, I know that readers in grades four, five, and six will truly enjoy it.  I don't like to classify books for boys and/or girls, but I do think male readers will be a better audience for this particular story.  They are going to adore the story line, the boys in the story, and of course all the creepy crawly creatures.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Wonder Wednesday #214 (Breakfast with Books)

Wonder Wednesday - Saving Marty by Paul Griffin

*We had our FIFTH "Breakfast with Books" on Thursday, February 22nd.

*With all the standards, tests, assessments, and "politics" in education, it is events like this one that keep me excited and energized about my teaching career.

*I'm incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to meet authors like Paul Griffin.  He is such a genuine guy and I have enjoyed getting to know him.

*So far this year, these are the novels we have read for "Breakfast with Books"...

The Quirks by Erin Soderberg

Lemons by Melissa Savage

The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Sticks and Stones/Bubbles by Abby Cooper

*We had a great Skype visit with Paul.  We had the chance to share our comments and ask questions about his newest novel Saving Marty.  

*The readers were enthralled and fascinated by all the information Paul had to share with us.

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

Monday, February 26, 2018

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

How I Heard About It:  I remember reading a review of this novel published for adults awhile back.  It was added to my TBR list and forgotten about.  When I ran across the title on the Cloud Library app, I downloaded it and began to listen.  

What It Is About:  Lydia leads a simple life.  She enjoys her work at the bookstore she owns.  She enjoys her life with her partner David.  Lydia also enjoys the patrons that frequent her store and enjoy books as much as she does.  While at work one day, she ventures up into the loft of the store to find one "regular" patron has hung himself.  She also finds that he is holding a picture of her when she was a child.  This sets off a quest to find out why he has the picture and how he is tied to her childhood.  Lydia had tried to put her early years behind her because on one fateful day her friend Carol and her parents were killed by the "Hammer Man".  Lydia's life was spared and she never understood why.  Not only does Lydia want to find answers about the man who killed himself, but also how her present is connected to the past and how all the puzzle pieces fit together.  

What I Thought Of It:  It has been awhile since I've read a novel published for adults that is not only an incredible story, but a strong mystery tied to the plot.  There were so many mornings when I arrived at work that I just sat in my car to listen to the story unfold.  Just when I thought I had something figured out, I was surprised with a different twist and/or turn.  The story was so well written and unfolded at a perfect pace.  The cast of characters were unique, special, and ones that I truly cared about.  I can't see any reader not enjoying this story as much as I did.  

Who Should Read It:   The audience for this novel could either be the high-school, college, or adult reader.  Of course avid readers and book-store lovers will be completely drawn into the story because of the bookstore itself and the mystery that surrounds both the characters and the books!  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock

How I Heard About It:  This title came to me via my #bookexpedition group.  I didn't know anything about the story so was excited to read it.  

What It Is About:  Sam and Allie are both in middle-school.  One is the "new" girl and one is the "star" athlete.  Allie wants to make a name for herself and fit in with the crowd. She becomes a school reporter and wants to capture all of the "top" interviews.  One of these interviews is with Sam.  After the interview, the two girls become friends and soon realize they have more in common than they realized.  Each of them is keeping a secret and they find it comforting to have a friend they can confide in.  Life isn't easy for kids that may not fit the 1970's mold.  Not only are these girls hiding secrets, but some of the adult townspeople have sides of them they would rather not have go public.  Some of the families are supportive and others want to "convert" their children into that they think is "normal".  Some families send them to a church called "ONE TRUE WAY".  It is here where young people can truly know themselves and others.  

What I Thought Of It:  A quick read that I thought was very well written.  For me, it was interesting to read about life in the 1970's because many of the events I could relate to being that I grew up in the 70's.  The portrayal of both the adults and the children was thoughtful, realistic, and authentic.  I was impressed that the author presented "both" sides of accepting all children.  By doing this she showed acceptance and also resistance that some friends and family members may feel toward their loved one.  This is going to be an important story for many of our young readers.  

Who Should Read It:   This is a tough one for me to answer.  Amazon states that the book is geared toward grades four through seven.  I would not use this novel in fourth grade.  This is party because I'm teaching in a conservative community.  I also think some of the themes are too mature for readers in grades four and/or five.  In my opinion, the books would be ideal for students in grade six, seven, and eight.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Music Monday #21 (Legends by Sleeping with Sirens)

"Legends" by Sleeping with Sirens

*Music Monday is HERE and I'm excited to share a year's worth of musical selections with you.

*I know it is going to be a GREAT year of music, writing, thinking, and sharing.

*I found this song while searching for videos and music to use during the winter Olympics 2018.  I knew as soon as I heard the song that my fourth grade writers would completely enjoy this newest section.  I especially like the video with the Olympic images.  I would love for all my students to feel like they can be their own LEGENDS!  

*Today is our TWENTY-FIRST Monday together and that means it is time for our musical selection.

*I truly believe Mondays are my favorite day for our writer's notebooks.  

*Each Monday I present a piece of music to my fourth graders.  I usually present the song via a video so they are hearing and "seeing" the music.  

*After I share the video, we discuss the song/video for a few minutes as a class.  It is always a joy to hear what my young listeners have to say about the song.  

*They then get busy writing in their notebooks.  We start off at the beginning of the year writing for about five minutes.  This will gradually increase as the year progresses.  

*Here are some ideas I give the writers to think about during their writing time...

*Their opinions of the song.
*Their likes and dislikes of the song.
*What the song reminds them of.
*Any connections they may have to the music.
*What they think the message in the piece may be.
*What listeners can learn from the song.
*A fictional story about the music/video.

*These are just some ideas I give to the writers.  They are really free to write anything they would like as long as it connects to the song.

*After our silent reading, we spend a few more minutes sharing out what we wrote.  

*I keep a collection of the videos on our Schoology Site so that my students can always go back and rematch them anytime they wish.

Our Musical Selections for 2017/2018... 

Week #1:  "What I Am" by                                                  Click Here for Week One MUSIC
Week #2:  "Hopeful" by Bars and Melody                                         Click Here for Week Two MUSIC
Week #3:  "Somebody" by Lemonade Mouth                                  Click Here for Week Three MUSIC
Week #4:  "Dream Big" by Ryan Shupe                                            Click Here for Week Four MUSIC
Week #5:  "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield                                 Click Here for Week Five MUSIC
Week #6:  "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly                                    Click Here for Week Six MUSIC
Week #7:  "Candyman" by Zedd, Aloe Blacc                                   Click Here of Week Seven MUSIC
Week #8:  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson                                         Click Here for Week Eight MUSIC
Week #9:  "Clay" by Grace Vanderwaal                                           Click Here for Week Nine MUSIC
Week #10:  "I Don't Know My Name" by Grace Vanderwaal           Click Here for Week Ten MUSIC 
Week #11:  "Brand New Eyes" by Bea Miller                               Click Here for Week Eleven MUSIC
Week #12:  "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen         Click Here for Week Twelve MUSIC
Week #13:  "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka                    Click Here for Week Thirteen MUSIC
Week #14:  "Rise Up" by Andra Day                                          Click Here for Week Fourteen MUSIC
Week #15:  "Carol of the Bells" by The Piano Guys                     Click Here for Week Fifteen MUSIC
Week #16:  "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman                Click Here for Week Sixteen MUSIC
Week #17:  "A Million Dreams" The Greatest Showman        Click Here for Week Seventeen MUSIC
Week #18:  "I'll Be Your Water" by Keb Mo                              Click Here for Week Eighteen MUSIC
Week #19:  "The Champion" by Carrie Underwood                  Click Here for Week Nineteen MUSIC
Week #20:  "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake             Click Here for Week Twenty Music

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2/26/18)

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to the site...
Books I Read this Past Week…

Everything I Know About You by Barbara Dee

*Middle-Grade Novel/Young-Adult Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

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

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison

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

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Patrick

*Middle-Grade Novel (3 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

*My Young-Adult Novel

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge By Erin Soderberg

*My Middle-Grade Novel

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

*My Novel Published for Adults

The Girl With More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass

*My Middle-Grade Novel