Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, August 31, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/31/20)


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...   

Race to the Sun 
by Rebecca Roanhorse

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

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

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

*My Novel Published for Adults

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

*My Young-Adult Novel

Brother's Keeper by Julie Lee

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney

*My Middle-Grade Book 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #342 (Year 30)

Wonder Wednesday - A Strange Way to Start Year 30...

*On Monday, August 24, 2020, I headed back to my elementary building of twenty-eight years.  Get this, in the same room and all.  My first two years were in a different district.  

*As we all know, the state of teachers and students has been, and continues to be, in flux.  

*As of this posting, I don't know much, but I do know I'm going to give the 2020/21 school year the BEST I've got and try to make it as normal as possible.  

*We are going to kick-off our year with students on Wednesday, September 2nd.  The district extended summer a couple of extra days in order for teachers to prepare.  We are going to participate in a hybrid model.

*I have twenty-three students on my class list.  I will have eleven students on Monday/Tuesday and twelve students on Wednesday/Thursday.  The half that is at home, will live stream in for our core lessons.  

*On Fridays, we will have the opportunity to do some virtual teaching with all of our students.  We will also have PLC time.  

*I don't know what the year will bring, but I do know I want to focus on the love of reading, books, and stretching ourselves as readers and writers.

*Here is a look at my "2020" classroom.  Sure looks different than a year ago.

*Some aspects of the room will NEVER change = There will always be BOOKS!!!

Our Showcase Welcoming Students to Our Reading World

Library Image #ONE

Library Image #TWO

Library Image #THREE

Picture Book Collection

The New Arrangement during COVID-19

Twelve Desks Socially Distanced

The View from My Work Station

The AWESOME Fourth Grade Team

Day #ONE of Year Thirty

The Desks Have Arrived (Goodbye 2020 Furniture)

(Sure Looks DIFFERENT)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

How I Heard About It:
*This new middle-grade novel came to me via the publisher.  I think the books Rick Riordan "presents" are knocking it out of the "bookstore".  I wasn't in love with the cover, but had heard positive comments about the novel.  I listened to the story via Audible.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Nizhoni is your typical seventh grader, except for one major thing, she can spot "monsters" when other can't.  

2.  *The monster, aka Mr. Charles, is her dad's new boss.  The problem is he is a monster who is overly interested in Nizhoni's family, especially her missing mother.

3.  *When her father disappears, and Nizhoni knows it is because of Mr. Charles, she and her brother begin a quest like no other.  

4.  *Nizhoni, her brother Mac, and her best friend Davery, must reach the house on the sun to solve the mystery.

5.  *Before they reach the sun, they must pass a series of trials which will unlock the answers to the questions they are seeking.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *The beginning of the story was awesome, engaging, and intense.  

2.  *Once the "journey" began, I lost a bit of interest, but that was just because I'm not the biggest fan of fantasy and "quests".  

3.  *I did enjoy reading about the Navajo culture, family-life, and customs.

4.  *The "trials" were unique and full of adventure and suspense.  

5.  *The revelation of Nizhoni's missing mother was one of the highlights of the plot.  

Who Should Read It:
*Young readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and action-packed twists and turns, will definitely be the perfect audience for the story.  Children in grades four, five, and six would be the target group.  If you know of kids who have read other Rick Riordan "Presents" novels, they will want to read this one.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Monday, August 24, 2020

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

How I Heard About It:
*I have been trying to add more novels published for adults to my weekly reading.  I find this easier in the summer than the school year.  As I kept my eye and ear open for the "it" novel to read over my vacation, this title kept popping up.  I ordered it, read it, and now ready to share my thoughts.

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Everyone makes mistakes.  Not everyone is able to move on from them and create a better life for themselves.  

2.  *Beauregard is one such person who had a difficult past, but made a better life for himself.  

3.  *As life begins to hit hard and finances become tough, Beauregard needs to make some difficult decisions.  

4.  *He is lured back to a life of bullets and blood, but tries his hardest to not become the father that abandoned him years ago.  

5.  *Once, he makes his choice, there is no turning back.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I'm not normally a fan of "crime" novels, but I found the story to be intriguing and interesting.

2.  *Some sections ran a bit slow for my taste, but I kept at it.  

3.  *I enjoyed reading about a man, husband, father, son, and friend that was willing to do whatever it took to not only take care of himself, but his family as well.  

4.  *The author did a phenomenal job of laying out the torment a person can experience between doing the right and wrong thing.  

5.  *The story was real, raw, and didn't pull any punches.  And if you are a fan of cars, you will really "drive" into the story.  

Who Should Read It:
*I'm in the minority thinking this was an average, "so-so", story.  Based on reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, most readers RAVE about the plot, characters, and setting.  The writing is spot-on and Beauregard is a man you won't soon forget.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/24/20)


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 Campaign by Leila Sales

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

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

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

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

Race to the Sun 
by Rebecca Roanhorse

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

*My Novel Published for Adults

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

*My Young-Adult Novel

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Campaign by Leila Sales

How I Heard About It:
*Amulet Books was gracious allowing me to download an electronic ARC of the September 2020 middle-grade novel.  This will be the perfect story for the upcoming election season.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Maddie is twelve years old, doesn't really love school, but is completely interested and obsessed with her art classes.  

2.  *When she finds out the candidate running for Mayor, wants to cut all the art programs in their town, Maddie realizes she must do something.

3.  *She learns she herself can't run for Mayor, but convinces her life-long babysitter, and friend, Janet, to run against the evil woman who wants to abolish the arts.  

4.  *Janet agrees to run against Lucinda, and Maddie becomes her campaign manager.  

5.  *The two of them work together to defeat Lucinda, learn a whole lot about politics, and fight for what they know is important and necessary.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I can see this being a fun, and timely read, with the 2020 election coming up.  

2.  *Maddie was a strong and independent female character and provided a wonderful example of the power of young people.

3.  *There were definitely some events in the story that were a bit far-fetched, but I didn't take it too seriously and tried not to worry about it.  

4.  *Any story where the young character goes up against the "evil" adult, is a winner in my book.

5.  *There would be lots to talk about dealing with politics, activism, and fighting for a cause.  

Who Should Read It:
*I could recommend the novel for a class read aloud in grades three through six.  Being that Maddie is a middle-school student, I believe the middle-school reader would enjoy her adventure.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Saturday, August 22, 2020

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

How I Heard About It:
*I was able to download an electronic ARC of this upcoming middle-grade story.  The novel will be released in October of 2020.  Thank you to Quill Tree Books which is an imprint of HarperCollins.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *The reader is transported to Karachi, Pakistan in this upcoming middle-grade story about two very different girls.

2.  *Mimi is not thrilled to be leaving Houston to spend the summer in Pakistan with her mother and her grandparents, whom she has never met.

3.  *Sakina, who lives in Pakistan, is the daughter of the cook working in Mimi's grandparents' home.  

4.  *Both girls have a secret they are keeping from their parents, and rely on each other for support

5.  *Sakina must pass an English test to move forward in her education, and Mimi may be the only one who can help her.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *This was a beautifully story about two different young girls who actually had more in common than they thought.  

2.  *I loved how the story was told from alternating points of view per chapter.  

3.  *As a reader, I enjoyed reading about the culture, customs, and traditions of the people in Pakistan.  

4.  *The transformation of the relationship between the two girls was told with honesty, grace, and real emotion.  

5.  *Each girl became a better person because of their friendship with the other.  I know young readers will appreciate the friendship they formed.  

Who Should Read It:
*Readers in grades four, five, and six would be ideal for the story.  I could also see middle-school readers enjoying Mimi's journey to Pakistan and her new friendship with Sakina.  I know there shouldn't be "girl" and "boy" books, but I do think the young female reader will have more to identify with this particular book.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #341 (Writer Check-In #7)


Wonder Wednesday - My Seventh Week

*I'm almost done.  Which means I'm probably just beginning.  

*As of today, I've written a prologue and thirty-five chapters.

*Since starting, I have NOT gone back and reread anything I've written and/or changed anything.  

*I just wanted to get through the first draft, not worry about what I was creating, and just go with it.  I'm not sure that is the correct way to write a novel, but what do I know.  

*I just have the final chapter (epilogue) to write and then I think the story is complete.  I'm a little nervous to write the conclusion as I'm not exactly sure how to wrap it all up.  

*There are a couple of possibilities and I guess I'll just see where the "pen" takes me.  

*Now, that I'm almost done, I'm not sure of what the next step will be.  I do have a few authors I know so I plan on reaching out to them to ask their advice on where I should go next with my summer 2020 writing adventure.  

*I've never written as much as I have this summer.  I'm up to 146 pages written on "Word" and almost 87,000 words.  Even if this project doesn't go anywhere, I'm proud of myself and never thought I could do it.  

*Of course, what else is there to do during COVID-19!!!  

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...

Wednesday, August 12, 2020:  Chapter 30 (Summer 1998)

Thursday,  August 13, 2020:  Chapter 31 (Spring 2005)

Friday, August 14, 2020:  Chapter 32 (Fall/Winter 2011)

Monday, August 17, 2020:  Chapter 33 (Friday, January 6, 2012)

Tuesday, August 18, 2020:  Chapter 34 (Winter 2012)

Wednesday, August 19, 2020:  Chapter 35 (Summer 2013)

Thursday, August 20, 2020:  Epilogue 

Blog Post from Wednesday, August 12, 2020

*The writing continues.  I have no idea what I am doing or where this writing will go, but I continue to find time each week day to sit down and write.  

*Some days are easier than others.  Some days the words flow (type) right onto the page.  Other times, the writing is a struggle and what ends up on the page, I hate.  

*I'm still not rereading what I have written and I'm not going back to change anything.  At this point, I just want to keep writing, compose a chapter a day, and move forward.

*There are parts of the story I think are really good, and I'm sure there are parts that will never be read by another person.  

*The writing process is a strange one.  It certainly isn't the process we teach our students at school.  It is personal, hard, and unique.  

*The cool thing about writing a story/novel is that the writing doesn't only occur when you are writing.  I find myself thinking about and "writing" the story in my mind and thoughts.  

*I do most of the writing in the morning hours and find I spend between one and two hours on each chapter.  

*I'm also saving up a STORM because I don't want to lose any of the writing/work.

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...

Wednesday, August 5, 2020:  Chapter 25 (Friday, September 2, 2011)

Thursday,  August 6, 2020:  Chapter 26 (Fall/Winter 1991)

Friday, August 7, 2020:  Chapter 27 (Summer 1997)

Monday, August 10, 2020:  Chapter 28 (October 2011)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020:  Chapter 29 (Friday, October 21, 2011)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020:  Chapter 30 (Summer 1998)

Blog Post from Wednesday, August 5, 2020

*It is hard to believe I'm already in my fifth week of creating the next great American novel.  I'm joking!  

*After a week away from the writing, I'm back at it this week with more motivation than ever.  

*We spent the last week out in Breckenridge, Colorado for a family summer vacation.  My son lives in Denver so he join my wife, daughter, and myself.  

*My initial thought was to write while out west, but once I got there I found I didn't have the time I needed to devote to the writing.  

*So, I took the week off and didn't worry about it until I returned to Minnesota.  

*I have continued the routine of writing a chapter a day.  I'm also realizing my chapters are getting longer.  I'm also experimenting with some different writing techniques and having fun with that.  

*Overall, before and during writing I feel a bit stressed, but when I finish for the day, I have a sense of satisfaction.  

*I have not really gone back to reread anything I've written.  There have been a few occasions where I've gone to previous chapters to verify a date, event, or character.  

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...
Wednesday, July 22, 2020:  Chapter 20 (Monday, July 18, 2011)

Thursday,  July 23, 2020:  Chapter 21 (Friday, August 26, 2011)

Friday, July 24, 2020:  Chapter 22 (Fall 1986)

Writing Break (Monday, July 27 - Friday, July 31) - Breckenridge, CO Vacation

Monday, August 3, 2020:  Chapter 23 (Spring 1997)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020:  Chapter 24 (August 2011)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020:  Chapter25 (Friday, September 2
, 2011)

Blog Post from Wednesday, July 22, 2020

*The writing continues.

*The routines are becoming grounded and smooth.

*During the last week of writing, I've spent between one and two hours writing.

*I typically still head out to the front porch, plug in the air pods, hit play on the playlist, and begin typing.  

*The more I've gotten comfortable with just letting the words spill out onto the page, the more I'm able to write.  

*I have not gone back and reread anything I've written.  My goal is to write the entire novel before I go back and see what I have written.  I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not, but the process I'm choosing to use. 

*While getting further into the book, I am forgetting some of the "events" I've created, and I may have taken better notes on what each chapter contains.  For now, I'm going with it and trying not to worry about the details.

*There are times I would like to reach out to author friends to ask questions or get feedback, but for now I'm keeping the writing to myself.  

*I'm learning there is no right or wrong way to construct a novel.  For the first draft, I'm letting go, letting the words spill from my mind, and letting what happens, happen!  
*For the most part, I would say I'm enjoying the writing, but to be honest there are some moments when I dread it and have to force myself to sit down with the laptop.  

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...

Wednesday, July 15, 2020:  Chapter 15 (Summer 1994 - Summer 1996)

Thursday,  July 16, 2020:  Chapter 16 (Friday, July 15, 2011)

Friday, July 17, 2020:  Chapter 17 (Friday, August 19, 2011)

Monday, July 20, 2020:  Chapter 18 (Spring 1986)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020:  Chapter 19 (Winter 1997)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020:  Chapter 20 (Monday, July 18 2011)

Blog Post from Wednesday, July 15, 2020

*Another Wednesday, another "wonder" post, and another week of writing.  

*I was on vacation last week so I didn't get any writing done.

*I was going to bring the laptop and try to continue to write a chapter a week, but decided to give myself a break, and leave the laptop and writing at home.

*My wife and I had a wonderful time on the beach, visiting friends, and reading.  I did find myself thinking about the book, the writing, and where the story was going to go next.  

*After a relaxing week away from home, I was ready to get back to the daily writing and see where that writing was going to take me this week.

*Each day, I find myself getting nervous about sitting down and composing the next chapter.  I'm not sure why this is, if it is a normal reaction, or if I'm putting too much pressure on myself.

*Once I sit down, plug in the air-pods, open the laptop, the words seem to spill out with the ideas coming from somewhere deep inside of me.

*I've often heard writers say, they aren't in control of the story, characters, or events which unfold on the page.  I'm finding that statement to be true.

*Yesterday, while writing on the front porch, I wrote a chapter that became quite difficult for me to compose.  I found myself with tears in my eyes and emotional.  This reaction surprised me and I wasn't ready for the response.

*I have no idea what I'm doing, if I'm doing it right, or where this journey will lead me.  I'm writing, trying not to worry about the details, and not spending too much time thinking whether the story is any good or not.  There will be plenty of time for that later.

*For now, I'm enjoying my summer, the time on my front porch, and the process of composing a story that hopefully will lead me in new directions that I've always dreamed of.

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...

Wednesday, July 1, 2020:  Chapter 10 (Fall 1980)

Thursday,  July 2, 2020:  Chapter 11 (Spring 1994)

Friday, July 3, 2020:  Chapter 12 (Thursday, July 14, 2011)

Summer Vacation (Monday, July 6 - Friday, July 10) = No Writing

Monday, July 13, 2020:  Chapter 13 (Thursday, July 14, 2011)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020:   Chapter 14 (Fall, 1983)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020:  Chapter 15 (Summer 1994 - Summer 1996)

Blog Post from Wednesday, July 1, 2020

*Two Wednesdays ago, I took a BIG leap in my life and decided to try my "hand" at writing.

*The last two weeks have been pretty cool as far as my new writing life goes.  I don't know if I'm doing it right, but I don't think there is a right or wrong way to write.  

*I've continued the structure I set up two weeks ago.  I'm writing Monday through Friday and writing a chapter, or what I think will be a chapter, a day.  

*One of the most frustrating aspects has been trying to get it "perfect" the first time through.  When this happens, I just think back to all the authors I've heard speak, and remember how they have shared that writers write and there will be many, many, many revisions along the way.

*Some days I enjoy the writing process more than others.  On the harder days, I give myself permission to write as badly and quickly as I need to in order to get a chapter written.  I know I don't have to write a chapter each and every day, but for me, this set-up WORKS.

*I'm still using the iPods and playing what I would consider "emotional" music which helps me put myself in a space to write the story; which overall is an emotional and tragic story.  

*Most days I write on the front porch where I can be alone, yet still see the world go by.  Some days when it is too hot and I need to be in the shade, I move to the backyard to the deck.  

*I have tried writing while watching television, but that hasn't worked out real well.  It takes me much longer to compose the story and I know the writing isn't as good.  

*Here is a breakdown of what I've worked on the last week...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020:  Chapter 5 (Friday, July 29, 2011)

Thursday, June 25, 2020:  Chapter 6 (Spring 1976)

Friday, June 26, 2020:  Chapter 7 (Fall/Winter 1993)

Monday, June 29, 2020:  Chapter 8 (Thursday, July 14, 2011)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020:   Chapter 9 (Friday, August 5, 2011)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 (Today):  Chapter 10 (Fall 1980)

Blog Post from Wednesday, June 24, 2020

*If you read last week's post, which I have included down below, you know I've had the desire and the "idea" for a book for quite some time.  I'm not sure why now seems like the perfect time, but I'm more motivated now to do the writing more than I ever have.  

*This past week, I actually sat down and began writing/typing.  I was scared, nervous, and also excited.  

*After listening to many authors discuss their writing habits and techniques, I decided I needed to create some structure for myself to create a writing space and time that worked for me.

*I decided to write five out of seven days during the week.  At first, I was going to write for an hour a day, but then found myself creating a chapter a day so I'm going to stick with that plan; for now!

*Here is what my writing schedule looked like for the last six days...

Wednesday, June 17, 2020:  I wrote the prologue (I love a great prologue) = the year 2011

Thursday, June 18, 2020:  I wrote chapter 1, which actually became chapter 2 the next day =  the year 1973

Friday, June 19, 2020:  I wrote chapter 2, which turned into chapter 1 = the year 2011

Monday, June 22, 2020:  I wrote chapter 3 = the year 1993

Tuesday, June 23, 2020:   I wrote chapter 4 = the year 2011

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 (Today):  I still need to write the next chapter

*So far, I have been writing on my front porch with my laptop on my lap.  Go figure!

*I also put my iPods into my ears and have been playing around with some "writing music".  

*The music seems to put me in a space where I can create the story I'm trying to write.  I haven't found the perfect playlist yet, but still working on that each time I sit down and write.

*The book idea probably won't go anywhere, but I must say I'm enjoying the process and find myself thinking about the fictional story quite a bit.  

*Thanks for keeping me accountable and I'll check in next week.

*Happy Writing!!!!

 Blog Post from Wednesday, June 17, 2020

*If you follow this blog, you know I'm a READER.

*I pride myself on being an avid reader and sharing that love of books and reading with all those around me, especially my students.

*Over the years, I've had the honor and privilege of meeting and getting to know many authors from many walks of life.  To me, they are ROCK stars.

*During many conversations with students, fellow readers, teachers, and authors I get asked the question; "When are you going to write a book?"

*I started one story years ago and never got back to the writing.  To be honest, I have a couple ideas for both a middle-grade story and a story for adults.  I've just been too scared and intimidated to begin the actual process.

*Part of my problem, is I think I need to start, continue, and finish within a finite amount of time.  I should have known better since all the writers I've talked with have told me how long it took them to create their novel.

*I've decided to take the leap this summer and dip my toe in the waters of writing.  I have a general idea of a story I would like to create, but we shall see where the days take me.

*To start with, I'm going to dedicate an hour a day to the writing.  The structure will help me get started and get into a routine.

*Who knows, I may just stare at the blank screen, but the "ideas" will be swirling around my brain.

*I'm going to use my "Wonder Wednesday" posts to record the progress, or lack of progress.  Tracking my ideas here may keep me more accountable.

*I'm scared.  I'm nervous.  I'm excited.  I'm looking forward to this new "CHAPTER" in my life.

Monday, August 17, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/17/20)


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 Wonder of Wildflowers by Anna Staniszewski

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

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

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

Any Day with You by Mae Respicio

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

Blue Skies by Anne Bustard

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

My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee

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

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


Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

The Campaign by Leila Sales

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

*My Novel Published for Adults

Sunday, August 16, 2020

My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee

How I Heard About It:
*This upcoming middle-grade novel came to me via my Twitter #bookexpedition reading group.  I waited a long time for my turn and was extremely excited and happy when the ARC arrived in the mail.  I couldn't wait to get started reading.

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Zinnia, Zinny, is our main character, and one of four children in the Manning family.  

2.  *Life for them had been pretty typical, until the oldest brother Gabriel attends college and suffers from a mental illness.

3.  *After he is diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder, the family dynamics are thrown into a tailspin and each member of the family handles the situation in their own personal way.  

4.  *Zinny has a difficult time adjusting to her "new" life both at home and at school.  

5.  *She has to navigate new interactions with her siblings, parents, and even some kids at school who she considered her true friends.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I have read many of Barbara Dee's books and loved them all.  This new title measured up and will stand as one of her best.  

2.  *I've never read a middle-grade story dealing with mental illness with a family member.  The author did a tremendous job of telling an important story that middle-grade readers will be able to understand and sympathize with.  

3.  *The character of Zinny was the glue that held not only the story together, but her family together.  She was so enjoyable to follow along with as she journeyed through a difficult time.  

4.  *Not only did I enjoy the scenes from home, but the school scenes with the lunch bunch and the science class added greatly to the overall story.  

5.  *The importance of mental illness is a story that needs to be told and told at the middle-grade level.  This will be an important book for elementary classrooms and libraries.  

Who Should Read It:
*I would recommend the story for readers in grades five and six, along with the middle-school student.  Some mature fourth grade readers would also be great for the book.  I could see the story being used a class read aloud and/or book club selection as the plot would lead to deep and meaningful discussions.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

How I Heard About It:
*Over the summer, I've been hearing wonderful things about this historical fiction middle-grade novel.  I had an ARC copy, but decided to listen to the story via Audible during my morning walks.  There were some days I would walk a little further because I wasn't ready to hit pause.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Hanna is a young girl, who has just relocated from Los Angeles to a small America town in the middle of the country during the year 1880.  

2.  *She has traveled here with her father who is going to open up a new shop.

3.  *Life is not easy for Hanna because she is what they call a half/half.  Her father is white and her mother was Chinese.  She lost her mother when she died from cancer a few years back.

4.  *Hanna can't wait to start school as that was a goal she and her mother had for her.  She is shocked and dismayed when she is treated like a complete outsider by not only the other children, but some adults as well.

5.  *Hanna and her father work hard to get their new shop set up and hope the townspeople will show up once it is open.  This may not happen because of Hanna's background and color of her skin.

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I have been on a roll with historical fiction and must saying I'm enjoying it.  

2.  *Based on all the positive reviews, I was excited to start listening to the story.  The first few chapters were a bit slow and I was nervous I wouldn't enjoy the story.  

3.  *Once I got several chapters in and the "conflict" started, I was HOOKED.  

4.  *As I listened, there were several cringe worthy moments when some of the characters treated Hanna so poorly because she was Chinese.  

5.  *I not only enjoyed the story, but I learned a lot about this time period in our country.  

Who Should Read It:
*Readers in grades four, five and six will enjoy the story Linda Sue Park has created.  They will especially love the "back-matter" Linda included.  A great historical fiction story for all students in upper elementary school.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Blue Skies by Anne Bustard

How I Heard About It:
*This is another ARC I've had in my collection of TBR titles since #NCTE19 in Baltimore last November.  I have enjoyed working my way through the stack of books during my summer 2020 reading.  

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *The author takes the reader back in time to a small American town reeling from the loss of many of their own men during WWII.  

2.  *Glory Bea is one such girl, but knows her father will return and return one day soon.  

3.  *She has been waiting for years, but knows this is the summer he will return during the small-town celebration when the "Friendship Train" comes through town.

4.  *While she waits, she does her best to be a "match-maker" for her two friends that she knows she be together because they like each other so much.  Or do they?  

5.  *Glory Bea is not happy when a friend of her father's arrives in town and seems to be trying to step into her dad's shoes, and she is not having any part of that.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *This was a beautiful historical fiction story and I absolutely loved it.

2.  *I found Glory Bea to be heart-warming, special, and unique.  Her relationships with her friends were quite special too.  

3.  *The mystery of Glory Bea's father, his friend, and what happened during the War in France kept me reading and turning page after page after page.

4.  *I enjoyed reading and learning about small-town life in the late 1940's.  It certainly was a simpler and most likely better period of time in our country's history.  

5.  *The transformation Glory Bea took from the beginning of the story until the conclusion was a meaningful and important journey that I know young readers will enjoy.  

Who Should Read It:
*Historical fiction lovers definitely need to experience the story of Glory Bea and her family.  Not only middle-school readers would be ideal for the novel, but I would also recommend the book to children in grades four through six.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars