Fourth Grade Journey

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #280 (Classroom Tour)

Wonder Wednesday - Welcome to Room 113

*We officially started back on Monday, August 26th.  I had spent a couple days during August rearranging the classroom, the library, and cleaning out a cupboard or two.

*Our students attended Open House tonight from 4 PM - 6 PM.

*Right before they were to arrive, I decided to get my camera out, take a video tour, and take some pictures of the different areas of the classroom.

*I'm excited to meet my new students, their parents, and get my 29th year started.

*Welcome to room 113...

Monday, August 26, 2019

An Inside Look #101 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Amy Rebecca Tan
(Author of A Kind of Paradise)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to the blog which was called "Season #ONE".  This first season ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*I started up the interviews again in June of 2017.  It was great to get back to Season #TWO.  This season ran throughout the summer.  

*Season #THREE ran during the school year of 2017-2018.  

*The next season (season #FOUR) of interviews took place during the summer and fall of 2018.  With each interview I became more and more impressed with the authors I was having interactions with.  

*Season #FIVE ran during the 2018/2019 school year.  I took a little break during June of 2019.

*I'm thrilled to be back with season #SIX featuring all new books, authors, and conversations.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*This is the TENTH interview of what I'm calling Season #SIX.

*Thank you to Amy Rebecca Tan for being the One-Hundred First author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first One Hundred interviews…

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)

SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)

Interview #81 with Tony Abbott (Author of The Great Jeff)

Interview #82 with Susan Ross (Author of Searching for Lottie)

Interview #83 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Caterpillar Summer)

Interview #84 with Rebecca Ansari (Author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly)

Interview #85 with Ali Standish (Author of August Isle)

Interview #86 with Shaun David Hutchinson (Author of The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried)

Interview #87 with Greg Howard (Author of The Whispers)

Interview #88 with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Author of Shouting at the Rain)

Interview #89 with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Author of One for the Murphys)

Interview #90 with Laurie Morrison (Author of Up for Air)

Interview #91 with Jody J. Little (Author of Mostly the Honest Truth)

SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)

Interview #92 with John David Anderson (Author of Finding Orion)

Interview #93 with Lisa Thompson (Author of The Light Jar)

Interview #94 with Keith Calabrese (Author of A Drop of Hope)

Interview #95 with Alicia D. Williams (Author of Genesis Begins Again)

Interview #96 with Kim Ventrella (Author of Bone Hollow)

Interview #97 with Natalie Lloyd (Author of Over the Moon)

Interview #98 with Cynthia Lord (Author of Because of the Rabbit)

Interview #99 with Tina Athaide (Author of Orange for the Sunsets)

Interview #100 with Elly Swartz (Author of Give and Take)

*Amy Tan was kind, gracious, and giving with her answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post her responses here on the blog. 

*Thank you Amy for writing this incredible and thought-provoking book.

*Here is my book review...

A Kind of Paradise 

by Amy Rebecca Tan (April 30, 2019)

How did you come to know Jamie?
Jamie formed gradually as I developed the other characters in the book. Black Hat Guy was the first one who came to me and the first one I wrote about. Next came Wally. I had very clear visions in my head of the library patrons, and I took a little more time to flesh out the staff members. I learned who Jamie was as a result of working my way through the other characters.

What do you think is Jamie's most admirable quality?
I think Jamie’s most admirable quality is her ability to observe and listen. Because she allows herself to take in her surroundings with an open mind, she is able to learn and grow from the people around her.

Is there anything you wish Jamie would have changed or done differently in her story?
I think Jamie did the best she could, day by day, during her summer at the library. I don’t wish she did anything differently because it would change her learning experience and who she became.  I feel confident that Jamie will handle herself with more self-assurance in her future.

What do you think Jamie can offer other children who are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I think Jamie sets a really good example of surviving embarrassing moments and pushing through. Everyone makes mistakes; it is what you do after the mistake that determines who you truly are. I think Jamie’s struggle is real and her happy ending is earned, and her story can be a comfort to others who have also made very public mistakes.

How did you research Jamie and the circumstances she found herself in?
I work in a public library now, and have worked as a teacher and a librarian in several schools, so writing about both came quite naturally to me. I have been living my research every day for years. At the very least, I hope my book makes readers eager to visit a public library. They are magical places.

Do you and Jamie share any similarities?
Jamie and I both love to read, we are both listeners more than we are talkers, and we both strive to never be in the spotlight. Jamie’s mistake is such a gigantic blow because it’s so out of character for her. She is the good, quiet kid who follows the rules and never causes any trouble. I was the exact same way when I was in elementary and middle school. Jamie is lucky, though, because she has this life changing experience when she is only thirteen years old, and I didn’t have my life changing experience until I was in my twenties, my first year teaching in a public school in New York City.

What was the hardest scene to write about Jamie?
I can’t think of a scene about Jamie that was hard to write. The most fun scene about Jamie to write, though, was definitely the one when she flashes back to the day in May when she commits her crime in the middle school library. I loved writing it. I loved unfolding it moment by moment so the reader is in her head and able to understand how and why she did what she did.

Who do you think was Jamie's biggest supporter and why?
Jamie received a lot of support from all the staff members in the Foxfield Public Library, but I would definitely say Sonia was her biggest advocate. Sonia was very welcoming and accepting, and she filled the role of surrogate mom for Jamie during her hours in the library. Sonia shared her personal story with Jamie, which helped Jamie put her own mistake in perspective. Sonia taught her the importance of accepting herself and moving on, of turning the page.

Why do you think some young people can't move on from a mistake they have made and/or forgive themselves, while others seem to just move on without a care in the world?
I think individual personality has a ton to do with this. Some people can shrug off a mistake as no big deal while others wallow in despair. Sonia tries to teach Jamie that wallowing is okay at first, but then it’s time to pick yourself up and move on.

What do you think Jamie is doing at the present time?
Right now Jamie is at the library shelving books, or at her favorite Chinese restaurant with her mom and Aunt Julie, or, if she’s really lucky, hanging out with Trey and her best friend Vic, drawing in their sketchbooks while eating KitKat bars. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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...

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

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

My Book Review

The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

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

My Book Review

Chirp by Kate Messner

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

My Book Review

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

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

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

The Chain by Adrian McKinley

*My Novel Published for Adults

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner

*My Young-Adult Novel

A Swirl of Ocean by Melissa Sarno

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

How I Heard About It:   This is another novel that is being shared within our #bookexpedition Twitter group.  I had reading Piecing Me Together which was a strong and important story.  It was exciting to learn that Renee Watson had written a middle-grade novel.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1.  *Amara has a birthday coming up.  Most young kids would want a new phone, or some sort of electronic.  Not Amara.

2.  *She would like to travel from Oregon to New York.  

3.  *Her father's family are all living in Harlem and Amara wants to meet and get to know them.

4.  *When a school project pops up, Amara is able to convince her mother and father to allow her to tag along with her dad while he travels to New York for business.

5.  *While in New York, she meets a grandfather that does not have a great relationship with her dad. She sets her mind on finding out why and what she can do to change it.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *The story flowed like syrup being drizzled over a fresh hot pancake.  I pretty much read the entire book in one sitting.

2.  *Amara has a focused interest on her family and their story.  I'm also a person who is curious and interested and in my family's heritage and background.  

3.  *The start-up of the story was fun because it was all about Amara trying to convince her parents to allow a trip to New York.  Watson captured these interactions perfectly.  

4.  *Once in New York, it was fascinating to read about Amara getting to know a grandfather, some cousins, and other relatives.  Some of her dreams for the trip were positive and others didn't go quite as planned.  

5.  *I'm a father and I enjoyed reading about, and feeling a lot, Amara and her father.  They had such a special relationship.  A win-win in my book!  

Who Should Read It:    Readers in grades four, five, and six would be a perfect place to start when thinking about who to share the story with.  I hope that middle-school readers will also read.  If you have read other works by Renee Watson, then I highly recommend her newest work of fiction.  Her novel will be released on September 3, 2019.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:   4 STARS out of 5 Stars!

Chirp by Kate Messner

How I Heard About It:   This novel came to me via my #bookexpedition Twitter group.  I was excited to read Kate's newest novel.  I was especially thrilled to be on the list to read since the story won't hit the world until February of 2020.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:  
1.  *Mia is a gymnast.  Or was a gymnast.  She had an accident and wants to move away from that time in her life.

2.  *She and her family have recently moved to a new town and are now living near Mia's grandmother.  

3.  *Upon the family's arrival, Mia's grandmother shares with them that someone is out to get her and ruin her cricket farm. 

4.  *While Mia meets new friends, they join "forces" to find out what is truly going on with the cricket farm.

5.  *They think they know who is responsible, but will all be surprised to find out the TRUTH.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *Kate's writing is enjoyable to read, think about, and interact with.

2.  *This was a fun and unique reading experience.  I mean how many stories are out there about cricket farms.  And farms that may be being sabotaged.  

3.  *I loved how Mia and her friends set their mind to a task and did everything in their power to help her grandmother.  

4.  *Kate always presents real-life issues in her stories and I so appreciate that.  Such rich and deep discussions can come from the events in the story.

5.  *As aspect of the book that was enticing was the mystery aspect of the plot.  Readers love to read and find out "Who Did It?"

Who Should Read It:    After finishing the story and thinking about how best to use it, I think the best audience for Kate's newest story would be readers in grades five and/or six.  I also believe that middle-school readers would also enjoy and be able to connect to Chirp.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:   3 STARS out of 5 Stars!