Fourth Grade Journey

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #351 (CLOUDS)

 Wonder Wednesday - Clouds (Zach Sobiech)

*So the other weekend, I sat down and watch the new Disney movie "Clouds".

*I had used the song in the past for a Music Monday selection.  

*I always love sharing Zach's story and message of hope with my students.

*Zach grew up in the Twin Cities where I'm from.  He story touched me in ways I can't describe in words.  


*To me, Zach, his journey, and the way he decided to live out his final days are truly a WONDER.

*Here are some videos I shared with my students for Music Monday...







Monday, October 26, 2020

An Inside Look #150 (Author INTERVIEW)


An Inside Look with Shelley Pearsall
(Authors of Things Seen from Above)

*Welcome to my favorite feature of my blog.  

*Season #ONE (June of 2016 to March of 2017)

*Season #TWO (Summer of 2017)

*Season #THREE (School Year 2017/2018)






*
Season #FOUR
 (S
ummer/fall of 2018)

*Season #FIVE (School Year 2018/2019)

*Season #SIX (Summer 2019) 

*Season #SEVEN (Fall 2019) 

*Season #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

*I'm excited to be back for season #NINE with brand new interviews/authors.  


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

*This is the EIGHTH  interview in which I'm calling Season #NINE.  

*Thank you to Shelley for being the One-Hundred Fiftieth author I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.


*Here is my Review of the Novel...




Things Seen From Above

by Shelley Pearsall

(February 4, 2020)


How did you come to know April?
By reaching back in my imagination (many years...) to talk to my very awkward sixth grade self -- and also by reaching forward to interview a group of current sixth graders who agreed to chat with me about their lives today.  I was surprised that some things (like the Friday night football social drama) actually hadn't changed that much since I was a kid.


What do you think is her most admirable quality?
Persistence in searching for answers -- and empathy.


Is there anything you wish April would have changed or done differently in her story?
To be honest, I wish that she'd had the time to get to know Joey even better.  I feel like she and Veena (another recess helper) really only scratched the surface of who he was, but that's the reality of life.  It was the reality of who Joey preferred to be -- like his art, he was a fleeting presence.  


Or maybe I was leaving room for a second book about Joey himself.


What do you think she can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I think April and Veena both demonstrate the values of empathy and compassion.  Despite the fact that they weren't always treated with empathy by others, they persisted in reaching out to Joey.  Their single-minded focus led them to discover a marvelously gifted person who ultimately changed their lives and community.  That's the lesson -- reaching out to others may ultimately help you too.


How did you research April and the circumstances she found herself in?
The research for this book and its characters was really wide-ranging.  In preparation, I read about Indian art and culture, crop circles, wild plants as foods, Kellogg's cereal, visual-spatial learners, dyslexia, Polaroid cameras -- you name it!  I even visited Stonehenge in England (an example of land art) and interviewed a Welsh artist who creates spectacular designs on beaches.


Do you and April share any similarities?  
Definitely.  Like April and Joey, I was an outsider.  (And yes, I'm still that way as an adult.) April and I share the same fierce persistence, curiosity, love of learning, and commitment to kindness.


What was the hardest scene to write about April?
Getting her perspectives to integrate and work together with Joey's.  Joey sees the world through simple words and complex illustrations.  April sees the world in a more personal, narrative way.  Art vs. words, insider vs. outsider, looking down vs. looking up, little detail vs. big picture -- I wanted to show the variety.  

But it was SO tough to get those perspectives to connect smoothly. I did a lot of rewrites and chapter shuffling.  (I also don't have the same visual-spatial ability that Joey does, so sometimes I had to climb on ladders or make models to picture what he might be seeing.)


Who do you think was April’s biggest supporter and why?
Mr. Ulysses, the janitor. He's an ever-present background figure who notices all and doesn't judge -- and I love that about him...and about janitors in general.


Why do you think some young people, like April, are willing to go the extra mile to help a peer, when some, or most, other people look the other way and do nothing? 
I think there is an innate ability among some young people to easily imagine or relate to someone else's life.  Maybe that comes from upbringing, personality, or being in a similar position in the past.  But I think it is a skill that can be taught and encouraged in all kids.  That's a major reason why I write books with this theme.


What do you think April is doing as the present time?
I picture her being in the Peace Corps or volunteering on a service project somewhere in the world.  She will always be a learner and a "giver" I think.  I imagine Joey being just like Marc Treanor, the amazing beach artist I met in Wales.  A gentle gifted soul "a rare bird" who is just creating art somewhere in the world for the sake of beauty, peace, and joy.



*Here are links to the One Hundred Forty-Nine interviews...

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

























SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)






















SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)













SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)







SEASON #SEVEN (Fall 2019)




















SEASON #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

Interview #121 with Melissa Savage (Author of Nessie Quest)

Interview #122 with Tamara Bundy (Author of Pixie Pushes On)

Interview #123 with Lindsay Lackey (Author of All the Impossible Things)

Interview #124 with Tae Keller (Author of When You Trap a Tiger)

Interview #125 with Jamie Sumner (Author of Roll With It)

Interview #126 with Hena Khan (Author of More to the Story)

Interview #127 with Phil Bildner (Author of A High-Five for Glenn Burke)

Interview #128 with Leslie Connor (Author of A Home for Goddesses and Dogs)

Interview#129 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Queen Bee and Me)

Interview #130 with Jody J. Little (Author of Worse Than Weird)

Interview #131 with Jenn Bishop (Author of Things You Can't Say)

Interview #132 with Kaela Noel (Author of Coo)

Interview #133 with Rebecca Stead (Author of The List of Things That Will Not Change)

Interview #134 with Gae Polisner (Author of Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me)

Interview #135 with Emily Blejwas (Author of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened)

Interview #136 with Joy McCullough (Author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

Interview #137 with Kim Baker (Author of the Water Bears)

Interview #138 with Erin Entrada Kelly (Author of We Dream of Space)


Interview #139 with Jess Redman (Author of Quintessence)

Interview #140 with Melanie Conklin (Author of Every Missing Piece)

Interview #141 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Brave Like That)





SEASON #NINE (2020/2021)






It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (10/26/20)

 


      


Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to the site...
                


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









The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

*My Middle-Grade Novel









When Stars Are Scattered
 by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

*My Middle-Grade Graphic Novel




The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert 

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)










Books I Read this Past Week...


One Last Shot by John David Anderson

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

Lightfall #1 - The Girl & The Galdurian by Tim Probert

*Middle-Grade Graphic Novel

Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wonder Wednesday #350 (The Books of our Lives)

 Wonder Wednesday - Our Day Full of Books

*We are hitting our stride through this crazy time in education.

*Today was out 32nd day of Hybrid Teaching/Learning, and I had a moment when I thought to myself, "Hey, you got this and everything we are doing is actually in a groove and running smoothly."



*There haven't been many of those moments during the last couple months, but I will take them when they happen.

*As hard as teaching as been, I'm determined to keep the "BOOKS" in the front and center of everything we do.

*Here are some of the stories that are filling our hands, minds, and hearts...


Breakfast with Books Book Club Selection
(Enginerds and Revenge of the Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner)


Class Read Selection
(Things Seen from Above by Shelley Pearsall)






#classroombookaday Selections
(Picture Books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)

Monday, October 19, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (10/19/20)


      


Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to the site...
                


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









The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

*My Middle-Grade Novel









When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

*My Middle-Grade Graphic Novel











Books I Read this Past Week...


What Stars are Made Of by Sarah Allen

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









The Brave by James Bird

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

An Inside Look #149 (Author INTERVIEW)


An Inside Look with Rob Harrell
(Authors of WINK)

*Welcome to my favorite feature of my blog.  

*Season #ONE (June of 2016 to March of 2017)

*Season #TWO (Summer of 2017)

*Season #THREE (School Year 2017/2018)






*
Season #FOUR
 (S
ummer/fall of 2018)

*Season #FIVE (School Year 2018/2019)

*Season #SIX (Summer 2019) 

*Season #SEVEN (Fall 2019) 

*Season #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

*I'm excited to be back for season #NINE with brand new interviews/authors.  


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

*This is the SIXTH interview in which I'm calling Season #NINE.  

*Thank you to Alyssa for being the One-Hundred Forty-Eighth author I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.


*Here is my Review of the Novel...




Wink

by Rob Harrell

(March 31, 2020)


How did you come to know Ross?
As a character, he was an interesting one to figure out. He was based largely on me - both the me I remember from middle school, but also the me that went through cancer as an adult. But at some point, during the countless rewrites, his own personality took over. I was a fairly quiet kid like Ross, so to rise up the way he does and play at the talent show, etc, would have been a fairly tough go for me. So I'm proud of him.


What do you think is Ross’ most admirable quality?
His resilience. Time and again you see him get beaten down, and yet he finds a way back up. That's not to say that he doesn't get super sad, or angry at times. He has moments where things overwhelm him. But he learns to lean on his friends, his interests, his humor... and he uses those as a toehold to get back in the fight. A close second would be his sense of humor. That gets him through a lot of horrible stuff.


Is there anything you wish he would have changed or done differently in his story?
I have to say I'm pretty happy with how this book turned out. We (my agent and editor and I) did a LOT of fixing and rewriting until it felt right. In particular, the humor had to feel right. I never wanted the laughs to feel forced or flippant. Cancer is a horrible thing, so I wanted to make sure any humor felt authentic to Ross' experience, and to ring true for people who've been through it. Hopefully we got there!


What do you think Ross can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what he went through?
I think one of the main lessons in the book is about empathy. Having empathy for those that are going through a hard time, empathy for those that have a hard time with knowing how to act around that person. Ross develops some better understanding of his dad and his stepmom, Linda. He even comes to see another side of Jimmy, the 'bully'.

But specifically, when a classmate gets sick, hopefully kids will get a better understanding that it could just as easily be them. And how would they want to be treated. It's easy to just avoid someone if you feel awkward about talking to them, but hopefully Wink shows how much it can mean if you conquer that fear and reach out.


How did you research Ross and the circumstances he found himself in?
Well, I lived it. :) I mean I survived middle school, and later - as an adult - I survived the same cancer and treatments that Ross has to deal with. So for me it was less about researching and more about letting my mind go back to 2005 when I was diagnosed, had my surgeries and went through the proton radiation treatments. I had squashed a lot of that stuff into the back closet of my brain, the way most of us do with really unpleasant memories. But for this book I spent quite a bit of time remembering. Talking with my wife about the timeline, and the emotions, and then just sitting in those thoughts. It wasn't a lot of fun at times, but I actually think it was therapeutic. At the time I was just trying to get through the days. In hindsight you can hold tour thoughts and feelings - even the weird, funny, awkward ones - up to the light and study them. Wow, did that sound pretentious and writer-y? I didn't mean it to. It's just... you have some really bizarre thoughts going through something like cancer, and it's nice to be able to go back when the immediate danger isn't right on top of you and take some time with them.


Do you and Ross share any similarities?
Oh, yeah. Obviously I like to write and draw and tell stories. And I play guitar, though not nearly as well as Ross. And we're both very into music. And our sense of humor. And we both draw Batpig!


What was the hardest scene to write about him?
There's a scene where he gets overwhelmed by it all. He's known all along that things could go really bad or he could even die, but he has a moment where it really sinks in. He feels it, and the floor seems to drop away. That was based on a moment I had where it all sort of landed for me. And that feeling of the floor vanishing was as real and scary as when you go down that first big hill on a rollercoaster. So reliving that, and thinking how to put it in words was rough. On the flip side, writing the talent show scene was just an absolute blast. I'm not sure I've ever typed that quickly. It just felt so good and right. Hopefully the reader feels that 
good when Ross gets that cathartic moment. By that point he's more than earned it.


*Here are links to the One Hundred Forty-Eight interviews...

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

























SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)






















SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)













SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)







SEASON #SEVEN (Fall 2019)




















SEASON #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

Interview #121 with Melissa Savage (Author of Nessie Quest)

Interview #122 with Tamara Bundy (Author of Pixie Pushes On)

Interview #123 with Lindsay Lackey (Author of All the Impossible Things)

Interview #124 with Tae Keller (Author of When You Trap a Tiger)

Interview #125 with Jamie Sumner (Author of Roll With It)

Interview #126 with Hena Khan (Author of More to the Story)

Interview #127 with Phil Bildner (Author of A High-Five for Glenn Burke)

Interview #128 with Leslie Connor (Author of A Home for Goddesses and Dogs)

Interview#129 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Queen Bee and Me)

Interview #130 with Jody J. Little (Author of Worse Than Weird)

Interview #131 with Jenn Bishop (Author of Things You Can't Say)

Interview #132 with Kaela Noel (Author of Coo)

Interview #133 with Rebecca Stead (Author of The List of Things That Will Not Change)

Interview #134 with Gae Polisner (Author of Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me)

Interview #135 with Emily Blejwas (Author of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened)

Interview #136 with Joy McCullough (Author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

Interview #137 with Kim Baker (Author of the Water Bears)

Interview #138 with Erin Entrada Kelly (Author of We Dream of Space)


Interview #139 with Jess Redman (Author of Quintessence)

Interview #140 with Melanie Conklin (Author of Every Missing Piece)

Interview #141 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Brave Like That)





SEASON #NINE (2020/2021)