Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (12/30/19)

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...

Seven Clues to Home
by Age Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin

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

*Released June 9, 2010

by Jess Redman 

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

*Released May 19, 2010

The Queen Bee and Me
by Gillian McDunn

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

*Released March 3, 2020

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week...

The Dearly Beloved
by Cara Wall

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Quintessence by Jess Redman

How I Heard About It:
*During our class Skype visit with author Jess Redman for her first novel The Miraculous, her new work of fiction came up in our conversation.  We asked if we could read an ARC as an upcoming class read aloud.  Jess agreed and sent  a copy.  When the book arrived in the mail, I was amazed by the beauty of the cover.  I couldn't wait to share it with my fourth graders later this school year so I opened to the first page and was spellbound during the entire read.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Alma is adjusting to living in Four Points with her mother and father.  Since her arrival, she has been experiencing panic attacks.

2.  *During a stroll through town, Alma finds an odd shop called "Five Points".  Within the shop, she finds a unique telescope which the owner calls a Quintescope.

3.  *After being granted the Quintescope, Alma finds herself heading in a new direction.  Much to her parents delight, she joins the "unique" and "odd" astronomy club.

4.  *Through the astronomy club, she meets Hugo, Shirin, and Dustin.  Each member of the club is a necessary "ELEMENT" that contributes to the greater good of a mission they set out on.

5.  *While trying to deal with the ongoing panic attacks, Alma and her new friends, navigate the world of Four Points, the "magic" of Five Points, a mysterious shop owner, and the ever-changing universe including a shooting star or two.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *As I posted on social media, I can't quite come up with the correct words to describe how much I loved this story.

2.  *The plot, characters, and setting were amazing, brilliant, and like nothing else I have ever read.

3.  *Jess Redman's writing was beautiful, exquisite, and absolutely perfect.

4.  *The journey that Alma took was magical, mystical, and also full of realistic heart-felt moments.

5.  *I was overcome with joy, deep emotion, and awe while reading about Alma, her friends, and the connections and experiences they shared in the little town of Four Points.

Who Should Read It:
*I know I have probably said this before, but I want EVERYONE to read this book.  It is perfect for the elementary, middle-school, high-school, and even adult reader.  I can't imagine ONE reader being disappoint with this AMAZING, BRILLIANT, and UNPUTDOWNABLE novel,  Happy Reading!

Rating:   5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wonder Wednesday #298 (The GIFT of Books)

Wonder Wednesday - Gift Giving GAME

*We "wrapped" up our first 72 days together on Friday, December 20, 2019.

*As much as my district as moved away from holiday celebrations, I still try to make it a fun-filled, memorable, and special day for all of my fourth graders.

*Part of my holiday tradition, is the "Gift Giving GAME".

*I spent several "wrapping" sessions at home getting some gifts ready for my students.  I wanted each  child in my room to receive a 2019 picture book, novel, and a small box of candy to enjoy while reading.

*The gifts were passed out and then we did several rounds of "trading" their gifts.  When they couldn't stand it any longer, I let them OPEN their gifts.

*Each year this "moment" brings me the ultimate JOY.  I will never give up this tradition.

*Here are a few images that captured our last day together in 2019...

Monday, December 23, 2019

How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish

How I Heard About It:
*There are some stories you read and enjoy.  There are some novels you experience and don't seem to forget.  That is the case with all the Ali Standish books I've had the honor of reading, enjoying, and spreading the book love.  Her novels The Ethan I Was Before and August Isle are two of my favorite middle-grade stories.  When I got an ARC of her upcoming third novel, How to Disappear Completely, I was over the moon with excitement.  Her newest work of fiction will be out in April 2020.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Emma must deal with the loss of her beloved grandmother.  The two of them shared an extraordinary relationship.  Emma isn't sure how she can move forward.

2.  *Just as she is trying to figure out life without her grandmother, she begins to notice spots on her skin.  At first she doesn't give them must attention, but as they grow and multiply, she realizes something is truly wrong.

3.  *Seventh grade is difficult enough, but when you have to arrive at school with "marks' on your skin; your existence can almost be unbearable.

4.  *Emma finds refuge in a "magical" land where she and her grandmother spent hours and hours.  She continues the love of writing that her grandma instilled in her.  Emma is surprised when she finds another writer adding to the story she is creating.

5.  *With the help of the "one" friend she has, Emma sets out to "puzzle" the pieces of her grandmother's early life and the secrets and people she left behind.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *This was the first book I read during my 2019 Christmas vacation and I couldn't think of a better one to begin with.  Ali Standish sure knows how to write a story.

2.  *I was drawn into Emma and her grandmother's world on page one.  I could feel the depth of their relationship and the special bond they held.

3.  *I've never read another middle-grade novel, and/or any book, that dealt with the topic within the pages of this book.  The plot was fresh, unique, and thought-provoking.

4.  *As a reader, I loved reading about the stories that Emma and her grandmother created and how these stories related to their own existence.

5.  *Ali's writing is solid.  She takes hold of the reader's heart and doesn't let go until the very last word.  Actually, the feelings, emotions, and connections go well beyond the last page.  I know I will be thinking of this story for quite some time; just as I did with the author's first two books.

Who Should Read It:
*EVERYONE!  This will make for an excellent and necessary story in all fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms.  Whether you use it as a class read aloud and/or put in the hands of an individual reader, you can't go wrong.  If you have read either of her first two books, you MUST add this to your TBR list.  Happy Reading!

Rating:   5 STARS out of 5 Stars

An Inside Look #120 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Stacy McAnulty
(Author of The World Ends in April)

*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 at the start of June 2019.  

*During my summer 2019 vacation I continued a series of interviews in which I put under the heading of Season #SIX.

*To kick off my 29th year of teaching, I'm adding Season #SEVEN with a whole new season of authors, books, and interviews.  

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

*This is the Seventeenth interview in which I'm calling Season #SEVEN.  

*Thank you to Stacy McAnulty for being the One-Hundred Twentieth author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the One Hundred Nineteen 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)

Interview #101 with Amy Rebecca Tan (Author of A Kind of Paradise)

Interview #102 with Varsha Bajaj (Author of Count Me In)

Interview #103 with Laura Resau (Author of Tree of Dreams)

SEASON #SEVEN (2019/2020)

Interview #104 with Laurel Snyder (Author of My Jasper June)

Interview #105 with Lisa Bunker (Author of Zenobia July)

Interview #106 with Jasmine Warga (Author of Other Words for Home)

Interview #107 with Barbara Dee (Author of Maybe He Just Likes You)

Interview #108 with Graham Salisbury (Author of Banjo)

Interview #109 with Donna Gephart (Author of The Paris Project)

Interview #110 with Jake Burt (Author of The Tornado)

Interview #111 with Jess Redman (Author of The Miraculous)

Interview #112 with Karen Strong (Author of Just South of Home)

Interview #113 with Nicole Melleby (Author of Hurricane Season)

Interview #114 with J.J. and Chris Grabenstein (Authors of Shine)

Interview #115 with Susan Vaught (Author of Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalyse)

Interview #116 with Chris Baron (Author of All of Me)

Interview #117 with Meredith Russo (Author of Birthday)

Interview #118 with Abdi Nazemian (Author of Like a Love Story)

Interview #119 with Sarah Baughman (Author of The Light in the Lake)

*Stacy 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 Stacy McAunlty for writing this incredible and thought-provoking book.

*Here is my book review...

The World Ends in April Book Review

The World Ends in April

by Stacy McAnulty

(September 3, 2019)

How did you come to know Eleanor?
Eleanor is your “average” kid. Not that I believe anyone can be defined as average, and I hate terms like “normal,” but she certainly feels average. She doesn’t think there’s anything special about her. In my last book, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, the main character was very special. (A math genius, thanks to a lightning strike!) Eleanor is unique and has skills most kids don’t; she just doesn’t know it at the beginning of the book.

What do you think is her most admirable quality?
Eleanor has great stick-to-it-ness. A quality that’s admirable when working on a science fair project or learning to play the piano, but it can also overwhelm one’s life. She’s also loyal. She’d do anything for the people close to her, especially Mack Jefferson. They’ve been friends since kindergarten, and they depend on each other.

Is there anything you wish she would have changed or done differently in her story?
Oh my gosh, of course. If I read this book as a parent, I want to grab Ellie and hug her and tell her she’s going off course. Imagining myself as a young reader, I probably wouldn’t feel the same way. Eleanor is fighting for what she believes in. However, I might have cringed and yelled, “STOP!” at the scene with the water filter. (No spoilers. You have to read the scene to understand.)

What do you think Eleanor can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
The World Ends in April is essentially a story about change we can’t control. Whether the asteroid hits or not, Eleanor’s world is “ending” because her BFF, Mack, is leaving to attend a school for the blind. At one time or another during the middle-grade years, I think every kid feels like his/her life is ending. I remember in middle school being assigned a different team than my best friend, which meant we wouldn’t see each other all day. We might as well have been on different planets.

How did you research Eleanor and the circumstances she found himself in?
I love research. I read books about prepping (and now own a water filter). I Googled asteroids (and it’s terrifying to think of the possibility—look up Chelyabinsk). I visited an after-school program for the visually impaired (and learned an incredible amount). Research is one of my favorite parts of writing a book. When I visit schools, we really dive into the behind-the-scenes work I do for a novel. Fun stuff!

Do you and Eleanor share any similarities?
Eleanor and I both hate gym class. (Though, the only part of PE I did like was the basketball unit. That’s my sport.) We both had awful haircuts in middle school, and we were responsible for taking care of younger siblings. She’s not me. This is not autobiographical, but I relate to her in many ways.

What was the hardest scene to write about Eleanor?
Chapter 37. But that’s at the end so I can’t say much without giving away the story.

Who do you think was her biggest supporter and why?
This is a hard one. Of course, Mack is the original BFF. He’s on her side even when they disagree. Londyn is a new friend, and the girls learn to lean on each other. And Dad is a good parent, even when he can’t relate to Eleanor. He doesn’t know how to help her, but he wants to (which breaks my heart a little bit).

Why do think some young people make assumptions about and/or judge others when they dont really know them and then when they get to know each other, they actually realize they have more in common than they originally thought?
I don’t think it’s just young people who do this. We all want to put people into categories. (Just think of our political system!) It certainly takes less time to label someone as a jock, a mean girl, a Republican, etc. than it takes to get to know him/her. People are so complex and not one thing.  We need time to connect.

What do you think Eleanor is doing as the present time?
I hope she’s spending less time on the internet and hanging with Londyn and her other friends from the Nature Club.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (10/23/19)

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...

All That's Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums

*Novel Published for Adults (3 STARS out of 5 Stars)

How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish

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

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week...

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall