Virgil & Owen by Paulette Bogan

Virgil & Owen

The cover of Virgil & Owen by Paulette Bogan includes a polar bear and a penguin.  I asked ML, “Which do you think is Virgil?  And which do you think is Owen?”  She guessed correctly.  Her reasoning was impressive.  The text for Virgil’s name on the cover is darker.  The text used for Owen’s name is white.  Can you guess who is who based on this clue?

Another fabulous picture book about friendship.  This time featuring the challenges of a friend wanting undivided attention.  The simple text and engaging illustrations make it a perfect read for preschool teachers to their students.

 

Julia’s Review of Fish in a Tree

FishinTree

We heard from Lily.  Now it’s time to hear what Julia, her sixth grade sister, thinks about Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

  • Write three words to describe this book.  memorable, interesting, realistic
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  I liked when Albert and Keisha stood up to the boys that had been bullying Albert.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  My favorite character was Keisha because she was brave and easy to befriend. If I were a new student I would really like to have someone like that to help me. I also really liked Travis, because he was so caring.
  • How did the book make your feel?  I felt sorry for Ally, but I also felt like she would make things so much easier for herself if she had told the teachers that she had trouble reading. I think that Mr. Daniels is a lot like my sister’s math teacher. She’s always talking about the funny things he does, and both teachers are very eccentric.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  I was happy that Ally learned to like Mr. Daniels and that Jessica stood up to Shay.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what? I was sad when Ally squished the butterfly. She reacted without thinking and the lady at the Butterfly Gardens thought she was stupid.

Book Synopsis from Penguin – “Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.”

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

finding Spring

With eight out of the past ten school days cancelled due to inclement weather, it’s been an exhausting two weeks.  Even the kids are happy to be back in school.  When I entered the living room this morning, ML had her pink backpack strapped to her back.  Sitting on the sofa waiting for 8 am.

Last night, we read Finding Spring by Carin Berger.  A few pages in ML shouted “collage.” At the end she called it a “lovely book.”  It’s both of these things.  It’s hard to imagine the time and skill required to cut each snowflake and delicate flower.

We know we’re getting close to Spring.  The Robins have returned, our first daffodil bloomed, and bluebirds are building a nest in our house.  We just need to make it past Thursday.  Temperatures close to 70 on Wednesday and a wintry mix forecast for Thursday.

I won’t feel completely safe from winter weather until after March, 12th.  That’s when the Blizzard of 93 hit north Georgia and Berry College students were stranded with no power and little food.  Except me, a family reunion sent me home for the weekend.  Our power never went off, the ACC basketball tournament was on and the fresh green beans and Honeybaked ham for the family reunion provided sustenance for our family.  As for the ACC tournament, I relished Georgia Tech beating Chapel Hill.  Little did I know in a few years I would be a Tarheel.

Books Comparing Now and Then

A Fine DessertWhale Trails

Recently ML and I were introduced to the app Trivia Crack.  We’re addicted.  It’s like Trivial Pursuit but online.  This has sparked an interest in history for ML.  Two picture books arrived recently to fuel her new passion.

A Fine Dessert:  Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall – We followed the making of blackberry fool from Lyme, England to present day San Diego stopping in outside of Charleston, SC in the 1800s and Boston, MA in the 1900s.  ML is eager for blackberries to be in season so we can try the recipe.  We may go blackberry picking and make a whisk with clean, soft twigs like the mom and daughter in the 1700s.  However, we will buy the cream at the grocery.  We don’t have access to cows we can milk ourselves.  The details in the illustrations span centuries. . . from an ice pit in the hillside to gumball machines at the supermarket.

Whale Trails:  Before and Now by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by G. Brian Karas – A delightful tale comparing today’s whale watching industry with whale hunting ships of the 1800s.  Each page spread includes one page showing a modern whale watching adventure in bright gouache and acrylic;  and a page that looks like aged paper with black toned illustrations.

Julia’s Review of Waiting For Unicorns

Waiting for Unicorns

I’ve found another avid reader to help me review books for middle grade children.  Lily’s sister, Julia.  She is a sixth grader.  I was reading a book when I learned these sisters were eager to review books for the blog.  I almost didn’t send it because I was enjoying it so much.  As I’m writing this review, I’m trying not to read Julia’s review.  Other than her three words describing the book, which convince me I should read this book.

Waiting For Unicorns by Beth Hautala

  • Write three words to describe this book.  touching, well-written, captivating
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  Why?  My favorite part was when Talia got the necklace from her dad for her birthday.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  My favorite character was Simon (aka Guitar Boy).
  • How did the book make your feel?  I felt very sympathetic for Talia because she had lost her mom and then her home, and then her dad got stuck out on the ice.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  If so, what? I felt happy that Talia became friends with Simon, Sura and the Birdman.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what?  I was sad that Talia didn’t get to see the narwhals, but also kind of happy because Sura had said, “Unicorns break your heart.”

Book Synopsis from Penguin website – “When twelve-year-old Talia—still reeling from the recent death of her mother—is forced to travel with her emotionally and physically distant whale-researcher father to the Arctic for the summer, she begins to wonder if the broken pieces inside of her will ever begin to heal. Like her jar of wishes, Talia feels bottled up and torn. Everything about life in Churchill feels foreign, including Sura, the traditional Inuit woman whom Talia must live with. But when Sura exposes her to the tradition of storytelling, she unlocks something within Talia that has long since been buried: her ability to hope, to believe again in making wishes come true.”

Icy Roads – Thankfully We Had Books, Friends, Food and Heat

Cat & BunnyRaindrops RollLetter for LeoPapa ChagallPlease Mr PandaPrincess PattyGeorge in the DarkSnoozefest

It wasn’t Boston here; but there was sleet and snow this week.  On Tuesday, five children meandered from house to house sledding, eating, drinking hot chocolate, holding gerbils, and to my dismay forgetting to close to the door.  I’m hoping they will remember the fun times; not me yelling “Close the door!”

Cat & Bunny by Mary Lundquist – Sometimes there is drama when second grade girls get together.  It’s more likely to happen when there is an odd number.  Wednesday morning ML had two friends over.  For about thirty minutes one of the girls was upset at ML and the other friend.  We read this book the night before.  Sadly, my brain was fried.  I didn’t think to read it to ML’s friend.  It’s the perfect book to discuss feeling left out.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre – As the sleet fell, we read this book filled with exquisite photographs.  The girls couldn’t choose a favorite page.  Mine was the spider web.  ML and I decided the next time it rains, we’ll take pictures of rain in the natural world.

A Letter For Leo by Sergio Ruzzier – Our mailman wears shorts in spring, summer, fall and winter.  Even on days when there are inches of sleet on the ground.  In this book, Leo is mailman.  (He only wears a hat and carries a satchel) You can get away with that when you’re a weasel.  I’m not going to summarize the story.  It would take away the charm of discovering it yourself.  Promise me you will pay close attention to the illustration of the snowy day.

Papa Chagall Tell Us a Story by Laurence Anholt – ML saw the cover and exclaimed, “That painting’s in the art room at school.”  Anholt has created an entire series on a variety of painters.  ML wants to read Picasso and the Girl With a Ponytail next.

Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony –  Panda carries around a box of donuts asking everyone he meets, “Would you like a doughnut?”  However, he only gives one to lemur.  ML knows why lemur receives the doughnuts.  Can you figure it out before you read the book? Here’s a hint.  ML said, “The ostrich shouldn’t have said, ‘No, go away.’ He should have said, ‘No Thanks, I’m good”

Princess Patty Meets Her Match by Charise Mericle Harper – I’m not going to tell you the story line of this book.  It’s my favorite princess book ML and I’ve read together.  With eight years of reading together, I’d say twenty-five of the books involved princesses.  This doesn’t count the Disney princess books, which I always paraphrased.

George in the Dark by Madeline Valentine –  I was afraid of the dark.  ML rarely is.  If it was a nightly occurrence, this is the book I would choose to read to help discuss her fear.  The book begins with a positive slant; highlighting how brave George is about many things.  Then, shows his fear of the dark.  After he saves his bear from the darkest place, you get a clearer view of the items making the creepy shadows.

Snoozefest by Samanta Berger and illustrated by Kristyna Litten – After this week, I would love to have a Snoozefest.  There are a variety of places to snooze in the digital illustrations.  ML and I chose the hammocks.