Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mid-Summer Book Report Part II

A couple of days ago I shared with all of you a couple of Chapter Books for Elementary students. Summer time is that perfect time in between those morning coffee to get some reading start and to start looking at some new possibilities for the next school year. Today I will like to share with you some more titles that fit under the category of Chapter Books for Elementary grades.

Frankly, Frannie by A.J SternFrankly, Frannie and Frankly, Frannie Doggy Day Care Doggy Day Care (Frankly, Frannie)

Oh sweet Frannie, our little friend who can not wait to be an adult. See, there are so  many things that are so cool about Frannie: she loves office, has some terrific ideas (according to her), and loves to use big, big words. She believes in herself so much, without boundaries, especially age boundaries.  Frannie sees every moment as an opportunity to be that adult she wants to be so badly, with responsibilities and unlimited knowledge. What is so cool about the way A.J. Stern writes is the different she uses to catch the audience or readers attention on extraordinary, magnificent words or expressions. I'm sure our young students will LOVE learning to pay attention to words and language when it is done in such a fantastic way. Adorable character, great language, excellent illustrations! What is there not to love?

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade by Stephanie Greene and Illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade: Book 1I believe many, many anxious first graders will feel identify with this young lady. Posy will be starting first grade in a couple of weeks, but there are so many changes coming her way that she is not sure First Grade is a good idea anymore. I mean, Posey must say good bye to mom at the Kiss and Go lane. She has to walk to her classroom by herself.  The only time that Posey feels very strong and courageous is when she wears her tutu. One day Posey runs into her future First Grade teacher at a shop and both Posey and her teacher had an amazing eye-opening moment, one that helps everyone on that first day of First Grade. You would have to read to find out the moment that help all those little one start a new academic year!

Stay Tuned my dear blogger friends. There are more great summer reading I got to share with all of you!  In the meantime, enjoy the journey!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mid-Summer Book Report Part I

Oh my dear friends! Summer 2010 is proving to be quite the summer. As always I try to find a balance in my life between work and fun, between fun and being productive with my time. Do you find this a challenge as well? It sure is for me. But I'm here to share with you some of the books that have kept me company at the pool, at the coffee shop, by the entrance of my apartment, and in many other little places where I love to read. How's your summer reading going? Do you have any favorites? Please share them with me! That's how we love, learn and grow! ;-)

Elementary Chapter Books

43 Old Cemetery Road Dying to Meet You Book One by Kate Klise and Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road Oh I much I enjoyed the humor of this book! Talk about voice, talk about unique!  So what is happening at this house located at 43 Old Cemetery Road? Well, definitely some interesting things. First, a famous writer named Ignatious B. Grumply is trying to find inspiration and peace so he can write more children's books. But he has a terrible case of writer's block. With the hope that the Victorian mansion will provide him with the freedom to write again, he moves in the house for the summer. Did he find what he was looking for? Well, he found a bit more of what he was looking for. Let's see....he found a boy named Seymour whose parents abandoned him at the house so they can tour Europe and speak at conferences. He also found an interesting ghost Olive Spence who was once a writer herself. So how did these three awkward, uncommon trio live in the same house? Well, that's part of the adventures happening at 43 Old Cemetary Road. The unlikely trio actually found something in common but I won't tell you what it is'll have to discover it by yourself.
Over My Dead Body: 43 Old Cemetery Road: Book 2 I can't tell you much about the Book 2 in this series without spoiling Book 1 but you'll have to trust me on this one. It is as good as the first one. I'm planning on sharing this with my Third Grade ESL class about mid-year. I have to make sure my students don't believe in ghosts or get easily scared by ghost stories before reading it as our Read Aloud. I have to know my audience first! I certainly enjoyed the humor in it! My recommendation is for students in grades 3 and up.

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan
Word After Word After Word  I always enjoyed the work of Patricia MacLachlan and I can see the endless possibilities and potential with this book. In this chapter book, we meet Ms. Mirabel, a writer who will be spending several weeks in a 4th grade class. This writer introduces, encourages and teaches the children to think of the power of words in writing. Lucy, one of the girls in this 4th grade, believes that she doesn't really have much to contribute to this writing class. She doesn't think her life is interesting enough to be shared in writing. However, little by little, word  by word, the students in this class start finding new discoveries and excitement in writing. But most importantly, the writer helps students understand that by writing about things that matter, they're also learning how to cope with some of the most difficult moments in life. A wonderful beginning of the year story to set the mood for Writer's Workshop.

More books coming your way in Part II of Mid-Summer Book Report! Stay tuned. So much to share! So many great books!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

One Smart Cookie

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, you're brilliant and I just ADORE your books!

Now that I got that out of the way, I can start writing about her newest book: One Smart Cookie, just in time for the new school year!One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond Get ready to love her new books, just like the others! In One Smart Cookie, Amy invites us to discover a whole new batch of fresh words, tasty new vocabulary for our young ones to devour. From organized, to contribute, to persevere, all these words are so delicious, it's impossible not to go for seconds (multiple reading of the book). I've mentioned this before in my blog and I will say it again, vocabulary enhancement and language development is something that ALL students would benefit from. Not just your English language learners benefit but ALL our children do. So I can't think of a better way to start the year, establishing that community feeling than with one of Amy's books. She gets it. She really does!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella Oh The Red Umbrella!! How I LOVED this book. The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez is one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time. The waiting for this book was completely worth it. Chirstina Gonzalez brought us a story that although it is a work of fiction, the story is based on real events. Let me take you to Cuba back in 1960 when Castro to over the country. At first a lot of people believed in Castro and his idea, but later you realized but his true intentions really are. He wanted to retain complete control of the country by  taking away the right to private property, stopping freedom of speech, censoring the press and limiting people's choice in religion. But worst of all, he wanted to also control Cuban children's lives. Children were being separated from their parents, sent to Russia to attend boarding schools. The fate of many children and their families did not look promising.
In The Red Umbrella,  you meet Lucia and her seven-year old brother who are sent to the United States when her parents fear the worst: that their children would be taken away from them. Lucia's family is against the regimen, they do not believe in Castro's ideas, therefore, their lives are at risk.

The Red Umbrella brought me tears, laughs and at the end a sense of hopeful and optimism. The author has done such a successful job describing this story the way it is, painful at times, confusing but optimistic. Her work in this book is absolutely brilliant. And in this hard times in the United States when there is so much talk about immigration, The Dream Act and the Immigration Reform is imperative for educators across this country to read books like this one because it forces you to look and consider other perspectives as well.

I invite you read the following excerpts from the book which I believe are so powerful:
"I stared at the crumpled pages that filled my bedroom wastebasket. Who knew that a simple five-hundred word report on a book of my choice was going to be so difficult? I'd thought by picking something that I'd studied in Cuba, the whole thing would be easy to do, but it was hard to express myself in English when all my thoughts were in Spanish."

"I just want to get good grades because Papa always said that's what's in here-I tapped my head-"no one can take from you"

"That in the U.S, I'd found friends, happiness, and something she could never have with the revolution...freedom. It was here that people were free to choose their own path in life, free to speak their mind, free to have a different opinion, free to be themselves...all without fear."

"I'd carry Cuba with me wherever I went. That no matter what, I'd never stop loving my childhood home."

Like I said, this story will stay with me for a very long time as a reminder of the reasons why so many of my English language learners are here. Thank you Christina Diaz Gonzalez for writing this book which would hopefully bring clarity, compassion and understanding to many people and educators in the United States.

Hope you get to read this book as well. That's my invitation to you! Enjoy the journey, it is where we learn the most.