SOCIAL MEDIA

7th Grade?



Well, here we go again...... I have gone back to teaching ELA; this time with 7th graders. OMG, what have I done? 

First things first, let me go download TikTok.....

I have been out of middle school since 2015, having left for an elementary gig. Then, I left the elementary gig in 2017 to teach at university (still doing that on the side). This year, as I contemplate having 7th graders under my tutelage, I wonder if this old bird still has it? Three weeks in and two students of my 168!!!! are on my last nerve already. 

So..... more reading of middle grade books and less picture picture books (ah -who am I kidding?). 

Bring it tweens!
--------------- That's all folks! ---------------
 
Luck!

© 2007-2019 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

Middle School Once Again

Friday

To Life!

It seems like more and more picture book biographies are springing up every year! This is not only GREAT for the rich diversity they add to children's literature, but also because so many children adore nonfiction. I remember there being so few quality nonfiction choices for my students when I started teaching (in the 90's people, I'm not THAT old yet).

Here's a round up of a few from the start of 2019...
It's that time again..... the CYBILS finalists for 2019 have been announced. This was my first year on Board/Fiction Picture books and the experience was fantastic! I got to read lots of amazing picture books and a few standout board books. I am excited to introduce them to my new class of future teachers :-) and looking forward to seeing which titles will end up the CYBILS winners on Valentine's Day (once the round-two judges take a peek)!

2019 CYBILS Finalists Announced!

Wednesday

CYBILS TIME!
I am excited to announce that I have been chosen as a round 1 CYBILS judge in the category of picture & board books. It's a new category for me this year, but one dear to my heart.

When I was a middle school reading specialist and literacy coach, I served on CYBILS middle grade fiction and speculative fiction a few times, but I have always had an abiding love of picture books and a decent knowledge of them. I used them constantly as a teacher (who doesn't) and even as coaching tools with inservice teachers. However, I have been much more involved with them recently while teaching a foundational reading course to preservice elementary educators.

Reading, teaching, mentor texts, bedtime stories, visual aides, way-in books.... however you look at them...

It's that time of year again: CYBILS 2019!!!

Tuesday

What If Everybody Thought That?
Publisher's Synopsis: "What if everybody were more thoughtful before they judged someone? If you see someone in a wheelchair, you might think he or she couldn’t compete in a race. But…you might be wrong. What if you see a child with no hair? Do you think she is embarrassed all the time? How about a kid who has a really hard time reading? Do you think that means he’s not smart? You might think so. But…you might be wrong. With clear prose and lighthearted artwork, this companion book to the bestseller What If Everybody Did That? explores the preconceived notions we have about the world and encourages kids to be more thoughtful."
My Two Cents: Third in a series intended to make kids think about their actions,
Astronuts by Jon Scieszka
Publisher's Synopsis: “This laugh-out-loud, visually groundbreaking read launches a major new series by children's literature legend Jon Scieszka. Featuring full-color illustrations throughout, a spectacular gatefold, plus how-to-draw pages in the back, it's an outer space adventure that demonstrates a giant leap for bookmaking and a giant leap for any kid looking for their next go-to series. AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StinkBug are animals that have been hybridized to find other planets for humans to live on once we've ruined Earth. So off they rocket to the Plant Planet! Will that planet support human life? Or do Plant Planet's inhabitants have a more sinister plan? AstroNuts Mission One is a can't-put-it-down page-turner for reluctant readers and fans ready to blast past Wimpy Kid.”

My Two Cents: I'm not sure that little old me has much to add to discussions of this great new title
Filigree's Midnight Ride 
Publisher's Synopsis: "Join Filigree, a five-pound Pomeranian, as he stows away on Paul Revere’s midnight ride in this first book of the At the Heels of History series, inspired by important events and told through the eyes, ears, and noses of dogs.

Filigree may be a small puff of a Pomeranian but he has a big, brave heart. As the Revere family dog, he’s ready to do his part to help the American colonists stand up to the British soldiers. But the other dogs, like Jove, Sam Adams’s Newfoundland, and even the Revere cat, Anvil, think Filigree is a joke. The Reveres’ daughter Frances is the only one who believes in him.

When Frances’s father, Paul Revere, leaves home on a secret mission, Filigree and Frances know they have to help, no matter how dangerous it might be. Will a pint-sized pup just be in the way, or can Filigree prove that even a very small dog can fight for freedom?"

My Two Cents: Filigree's Midnight Ride is the first book of the At the Heels of History series, a fun premise where dogs tell historical tales (kinda' like the Wishbone Adventures series). Aside from that great angle,
Pirates Don't Go To Kindergarten!

Pirates Don't Go to Kindergarten! is a cute take on the transition from one grade to the next, Pre-K to K in this case. New Kindergartener Emma wants to stay in her pirate themed Pre-K classroom with her pirate Pre-K teacher. The kindergarten is space themed and Emma will have none of that! She knows the pirate lingo and trusts the pirate captain; she's not so sure about that new teacher. Great illustrations add to the telling with a play on reality/imagination done well. Some pirate lingo may need specific vocabulary instruction (see below) and lends this tale to first and second grade reads as well.

Sweet Home Alaska
If good historical fiction is supposed to make us wonder about the people who lived during various points in history, then Sweet Home Alaska is certainly good. It had me, instantly upon closing the last page at 1:00 am, researching the Matanuska Valley Colony. I don’t have a vast knowledge of Roosevelt’s New Deal specifics, I just know that the vestiges can be seen in our public spaces and government programs.
Authentic Texts Are Best!
It occurred to me today that I assume those        reading my ramblings on Reading Rumpus simply know how to use authentic literature as mentor texts. That was an assumption I made whilst teaching preservice teachers last year - and it was a poor one. Therefore, I thought I should spend a moment talking about selecting authentic literature for instructional use and how most of my full book reviews (not the mini-reviews) include some sort of authentic text teaching ideas, even if I haven't explained HOW to use them as such.
“Fall down seven times; get up eight” is one of many witty quotes that highlight the central theme of SumoKitty written and illustrated by David Biedrzycki. Written as an ode to tenacity, SumoKitty is both witty and instructive for young folks facing adversity. The humor is subtle, played out through a big, strong sumo wrestler being afraid of mice while his friend, the Kitty, gets a little too comfortable, forgetting the job of a cat.

Between humor and wit, SumoKitty is a tale completely filled with new vocabulary opportunities, both English and Japanese. Children will love learning all the Japanese sumo wrestling terms while expanding their English vocabulary. Contractions are a prominent feature within the written structure and offer older children a chance to practice their usage.
I'm a dog person. Sorry cat folks. My adult children have five cats between them, and I appreciate my grandcats, but I own two doggies: Jebediah Peabody. & Annie Roo.

Here they are:
Publisher's Synopsis: "The sounds of the city at night create a lively lullaby in this melodious bedtime story from superstar producer and musician Timbaland, Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator Christopher Myers, and Kaa Illustration!
As a little boy gets ready for bed, the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, lulling him to sleep. From the crash of thunder to the pitter-patter of raindrops to the beat of passing cars, the music of the city creates a cozy bedtime soundtrack."

My Two Cents:
Nighttime Symphony is more than another sweet, lyrical bedtime story, it is an ode to fatherhood.
Publisher's Synopsis: "A breathtaking picture book about the relationships we share from New York Times bestselling storytellers Julie Fogliano and Loren Long in the tradition of The Runaway Bunny and Guess How Much I Love You....
Through clever, thought-provoking verse and warmly evocative art, New York Times bestsellers Julie Fogliano and Loren Long explore the awe-inspiring nature of relationships, love, and connection."

My Two Cents: If I Was the Sunshine is one of those books that begs you to pick it up. The typography, the pastel colors, the title….  All done with an artistic swoosh that begs you to grab it. That’s what I did as soon as my library acquired it. And, I am glad.
Publisher’s Synopsis: "It’s the first day of summer and Rachel's thirteenth birthday. She can't wait to head to the lake with her best friend, Micah. But as summer unfolds, every day seems to get more complicated. Her “fun” new job taking care of the neighbors’ farm animals quickly becomes a challenge, whether she’s being pecked by chickens or having to dodge a charging pig at feeding time. At home, her parents are more worried about money than usual, and their arguments over bills intensify. Fortunately, Rachel can count on Micah to help her cope with all the stress. But Micah seems to want their relationship to go beyond friendship, and though Rachel almost wishes for that, too, she can’t force herself to feel “that way” about him. In fact, she isn’t sure she can feel that way about any boy — or what that means. With all the heart of her award-winning novel See You At Harry's, Jo Knowles brings us the story of a girl who must discover where her heart is and what that means for her future."

My Two Cents: Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles is a solidly written realistic tale told from the viewpoint of a young girl struggling to figure out her own sexuality against the backdrop of her parent’s financial struggle. Typical middle grade feelings , worries, and even some joys fill the pages. Many tweens will find this a good read and appreciate the writer's firm grasp of middle grade concerns. Where the Heart Is is rightfully getting lots of good bibliophile buzz.
Publisher’s Synopsis: "Fergus and Zeke love being the class pets in Miss Maxwell’s classroom, and they do everything the students do — listening at storytime, painting masterpieces during art class, and keeping their own special journals. But when it’s time for the school science fair, the mice aren’t sure just how to get involved. Lucy wants to time them as they run through a maze, but they want to do an experiment, not be an experiment. Then Zeke comes up with a great idea: since Lucy is training animals for her experiment, maybe he and Fergus can do the same thing! Unfortunately, the only animals available are the students themselves. Can Fergus and Zeke turn the tables and train Lucy in time for the science fair?"

My Two Cents: Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair is a cute second in series book about two anthropomorphized classroom mice with lots of personality. I did not read the first in the series, Fergus and Zeke, but Kate Messner books are always a treat so I can imagine why there is sequel.
 Publisher's Synopsis: "Inside the cozy house, a baby   has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer,   but there will be time enough for that later. Right now,   the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting,   learning, and muddling through each new concern.   While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a   parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was   originally coined by midwives to describe days like   these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at   bay and the wonder of a new family constellation   unfolding. Paired with warm and winsome illustrations  by Juana Martinez-Neal, Hayley Barrett’s lyrical ode to these tender first days will resonate with new families everywhere."


My Two Cents: Babymoon's lyrical prose and quiet illustrations allow readers to feel as if they are tip-toeing through a newborn’s first days with Mom & Dad. The rhyming cadence and matching joy-filled glow of the illustrations have the effect of a lullaby.
Publisher's Synopsis: "Princess Puffybottom has the perfect life — her subjects serve her delicious meals, clean up her “delicate matters” and wait on her hand and foot. Life is good . . . until Darryl arrives. Princess Puffybottom thinks he’s disgusting, horrid and a true animal. Though she tries everything in her power to banish him (including hypnosis, trickery and even sabotage), it looks like this puppy is here to stay. Can Princess P. and Darryl find a way to co-exist? A hilarious picture book from acclaimed author Susin Nielsen, with adorable illustrations by Olivia Chin Mueller, Princess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl is perfect for not only warring siblings, but also anyone who loves cute pets (and some toilet humor)."

My Thoughts: Princess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl is a nice addition to the PK-1st classroom. The story is about the cat, Princess Puffybottom (every bit as stuffy as her name sounds) gaining a new member of the family, a pup named Darryl. At first glance this picture book seems a simple dog/cat tale, but the illustrations tells a different story.
Publisher's Synopsis: "What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids will find love everywhere in this delightful book. It can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in your lunchbox, or a family singing together on a car trip, and it isn't always what you expect! With delightful illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff and sweetly simple prose by award-winning author Stacy McAnulty, this is the perfect book to teach children what love means, why it's important, and how they can spread the love in their daily lives."

My Two Cents: I like Valentine's Day, but it falls too darn close to Christmas. I still have all that candy from my stocking and the last thing my umpteenth New Year's resolution needs is more chocolate. But, I love hearts and I love love and the idea that love is so universal and inhabits the space where we can all begin to connect and understand one another. I wish Valentine's Day was more about love and less about chocolates.

Love by Stacy McAnulty - a book bite

Saturday

Well, after 117 elementary/middle grade speculative titles, I can say that being away from this blog has not been boring! My fellow CYBILS 2018 round one judges and I have narrowed the 117 down to 7 (no easy task!) and our picks were announced on January 1 (as is tradition).

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by Jessica Townsend
Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
The Stone Gil's Story by Sarah Beth Durst
Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain by Zac Gorman

-----------------------------------------------
I was so thrilled to be back judging for the CYBILS

CYBILS 2018 and a few more good ones!

Thursday

Publisher's Synopsis: "From the acclaimed author of The Nest, The Boundless, and Airborn comes a brilliantly funny, breakout book about a boy who discovers an ink blot that’s come to life! Perfect for those who love Hoot and Frindle and sure to be a hit with kids everywhere!
       The Rylance family is stuck. Dad’s got writer’s block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school–even though he can’t draw. Sarah’s still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom. So much more than they can say.
       Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together–and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything.
       Ethan finds him first. Inkling has absorbed a couple chapters of his math book–not good–and the story he’s supposed to be illustrating for school–also not good. But Inkling’s also started drawing the pictures to go with the story–which is amazing! It’s just the help Ethan was looking for! Inkling helps the rest of the family too–for Sarah he’s a puppy. And for Dad he’s a spark of ideas for a new graphic novel. It’s exactly what they all want.
       It’s not until Inkling goes missing that this family has to face the larger questions of what they–and Inkling–truly need.
       Kenneth Oppel has given us a small masterpiece of middle-grade fiction. Inkling is funny and fizzy and exciting, and brimming with the kind of interesting ideas and dilemmas that kids will love to wrestle with. And Sydney Smith is creating wonderfully inky illustrations to bring the story to vivid life. Get ready. A little ink blot is about to become your new favorite character!"

My Two Cents: Inkling is a master class in personification. Taking an ink blot and not only giving it character, but DEVELOPING that character into a full-blown bildungsroman is brilliant.  Inkling devours ink as sustenance and his pal (and the protagonist) Ethan feeds him some great literature choices. Watching Inkling grow and develop on ink from the BFG, Moby Dick, Anne of Greene Gables (and others) speaks volumes about the ways in which literature has the power to shape who we are. I can not decide if I liked Inkling's BFG or Captain Ahab influenced speech better! AND... there is that double entendre name! This book is metafiction perfection for literary-inclined readers.

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel - a book review

Saturday

Publisher's Synopsis: "Kelpy is an otter―and also a passionate sea captain. He builds himself a ship that he adores, from keel to cabin to crow’s nest. All the other otters and pirates and sharks just laugh at Kelpy’s ramshackle craft, but Kelpy sails on. Until one day on the high seas, he encounters a sailor even more laughable than himself―a petite butterfly pirate in a teeny-tiny boat. Kelpy’s laughter shifts to empathy when he realizes how much he has hurt the tiny pirate’s feelings. So Kelpy decides to scuttle his beloved boat in a playful ploy to repair the emotional damage he’s done. Along the way, an unlikely friendship (and rivalry) begins. Packed with rhyme, repetition, and lots of humor, this is a read-aloud with a heartwarming message about following your dreams even in the face of ridicule and doubt, and how even an underdog can lift someone up."

My Quick Two Cents:  It's a little harder for me to "review" all picture books. First, I'm solidly a middle grades gal myself, having spent the bulk of my teaching career between 3rd - 8th grade. Secondly, I could go all 'reading specialist' on a review and try to come up with phonics and foundational reading activities - even if I had to think a bit harder on them. So, it's sometimes easier just to talk about if I like a book (or not) and if I think kids will like it and, consequentially, if teachers and parents should buy it.
Publisher's Synopsis: "There are lots of things Duncan likes about bedtime --- the stories, the pajamas, the bubblegum-flavored toothpaste ... The only thing he doesn't like is going to sleep. And he'll do anything he can to avoid it. Until one day, Duncan's mom has had enough of his stalling. ?Try counting sheep,? she tells him. So, he does. At first, it's kind of fun. As he counts, each sheep appears, wearing its number like a race car, and leaps over the bed. But then comes Sheep #68, who hesitates. He needs a drink of water before he can jump. Then he has to go to the bathroom. Then he wants to put on running shoes. Will Sheep #68 ever do what he's supposed to?

 Kerry Lyn Sparrow's hilarious picture book story offers a new take on a universal experience. Using delaying tactics to avoid going to sleep at bedtime is a common routine for young children, and they'll love the sly humor when Duncan's own tricks get turned on him by the (?sheepish?) sheep. In subtle colors with lots of telling details, Guillaume Perreault's illustrations bring Duncan's bedtime rituals and his unexpected sheep guests humorously to life. This book makes a fantastic, funny read-aloud, appealing to both children and adults."

My Two Cents: Sleep, Sheep! is mostly a bedtime book for small pre-school age children, but I wanted to give it a spot on here because it may not get a lot of buzz in the US (Canadian folks involved) and it has some strong merit in the bedtime story department. There's lots of humor complimented by very interesting and elaborated illustrations. I like the idea that the "mom knows best and is always there for you" as that is clearly part of my own favorite picture book (Reading Rumpus didn't get named accidentally!).

Publisher's Synopsis: When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)

My Two Cents: I typically shy away from writing about books that I know will get a lot of “buzz.” Mostly because I am a late-to-the-party girl and by the time I set out to write a review, all sorts of accolades from folks way more influential than I have already been given. But, Kate DiCamillo is one of my very favorite, like top five - count on one hand, children’s writers and I don’t think I have ever written a word about any of her books! Her fabulous collection of meaningful and powerful works of art have their very own special shelf in my home, but nary a word on this little blog. That ends today with Louisiana's Way Home! I will still reserve my favorite Kate DiCamillo spot for the fantastical The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread, but Louisiana's Way Home has all the makings of another Newbery-worthy addition to the Dicamillo canon. Just like most of her stories, it's filled with: Hope, Forgiveness, Trust, and Tenacity. Not surprisingly, since I read it as an eBook, I’ll be rushing out to my local bookstore in order to add the book to my DiCamillo shelf.