Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

An Inside Look #48 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Jacqueline Resnick
(Author of Raffie on the Run)

*This was a new feature I added to the blog during the summer of 2016.  It was a shot in the dark that it would work, but much to my surprise; it took off and over first season I conducted 22 interviews with a variety of authors.

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

*I ran a series of interviews for Season #TWO over the summer of 2017.  It was great to get back to these conversations, that I decided to run Season #THREE during the 2017/2018 school year.  

*Thank you to Jacqueline Resnick for being the Forty-EIGHTH author of the third season.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first FORTY-SEVEN interviews…


*Years ago I got to know Jacqueline when I used her novel The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie for my Breakfast with Books Book Club.  The story was always a winner with my readers and we enjoyed chatting with Jacqueline via Skype. I was excited to learn she had a new novel coming out and was even more thrilled when she sent me an ARC.  This is our current Breakfast with Books book club selection.  We are going to Skype with her on March 29th.  

*She were kind, gracious, and giving with with answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post the responses with my "Inside Look" feature.   

*Here is a link to my review of Raffie on the Run

*Thank you Jacqueline for writing this story for readers and taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog...

Raffie on the Run 
by Jacqueline Resnick (Released February 13, 2018)

Jacqueline Resnick Website

How did you come to know Raffie?  
I often draw inspiration for stories from a location: a town, a street, a building, or in Raffie’s case, a subway station. While living in Brooklyn, I spent a lot of time at my local subway station, waiting for my train. I liked to think about the rats who lived there and imagine what their life was like. Slowly, a character grew from those imaginings. He was a young, small subway rat who told amazing adventure stories, but wasn’t quite as brave in real life. His name was Raffie, and I knew I had to write about him.

What do you think is Raffie's most admirable quality?
Can I choose two? I’d like to say it’s a tie between his creativity and his loyalty.

Is there anything you wish Raffie would have changed or done differently in his story?
I wish he hadn’t let Ace the rat get to him so much! I wish he’d known that even though he was small, he was strong in his own ways. But some lessons need to be learned.

What do you think Raffie can offer to children that are experiencing similar situations to what he went through?  
Be proud of who you are and believe in yourself, and you WILL get where you want to go—even if the path looks a little different than you imagined.

How did you research Raffie and the circumstances he found himself in?
That part was really fun! I started out by reading a lot about rats. (The book RATS by Robert Sullivan was one of my favorite resources.) I also did some investigating into the New York City subway system. I learned about underground subway stations that were long ago abandoned (there was even one right by my apartment!), and entire train tunnels that were no longer in use. And my favorite part: I did first-hand research by spending time in subway stations and searching out rats!

Do you and Raffie share any similarities?  
We both love to tell stories. And we both have younger siblings who are our best friends.

What was the hardest scene to write about Raffie?
I find scary scenes the hardest to write. I don’t want to give too much away, but Raffie has a scary, dangerous adventure in an abandoned subway tunnel. That was probably the hardest scene for me to write.

Who do you think was Raffie's biggest supporter and why?
Raffie’s little brother, Oggie, is usually his biggest supporter. But with Oggie missing, Raffie really comes to lean on new friend, Kaz. I love how Kaz proves to Raffie that true friends come in all shapes and sizes. They can be the brother you’ve had by your side your entire life, or the street pigeon you just met.

Why do you think young people and/or animals can be so much more determined than adults to accomplish/reach their goals?  
I think most people are born with an innate sense of faith that things will work out, and sometimes people (or rats!) start to lose that as they grow up. Kids still have that faith that if they just keep at something, it will happen. And you know what? They’re usually right!

What do you think Raffie is doing at this present time?  
It’s daytime as I write this, so I bet Raffie is behind the wall in his subway station home, snacking on some “aged” pizza, and telling Oggie an amazing story! 

Music Monday #23 (Fresh Eyes by Andy Grammer)

"Fresh Eyes" by Andy Grammer

*Music Monday is HERE and I'm excited to share a year's worth of musical selections with you.

*I know it is going to be a GREAT year of music, writing, thinking, and sharing.

*A colleague brought this song to my attention.  He does "Tunes Tuesday" and of course I do "Music Monday".  I have used Andy Grammer songs in the past, but never this one.  When I saw the video, I knew it had to be a song to share with my students.  I hope they realize how important this message is for our world.  

*Today is our TWENTY-THIRD Monday together and that means it is time for our musical selection.

*I truly believe Mondays are my favorite day for our writer's notebooks.  

*Each Monday I present a piece of music to my fourth graders.  I usually present the song via a video so they are hearing and "seeing" the music.  

*After I share the video, we discuss the song/video for a few minutes as a class.  It is always a joy to hear what my young listeners have to say about the song.  

*They then get busy writing in their notebooks.  We start off at the beginning of the year writing for about five minutes.  This will gradually increase as the year progresses.  

*Here are some ideas I give the writers to think about during their writing time...

*Their opinions of the song.
*Their likes and dislikes of the song.
*What the song reminds them of.
*Any connections they may have to the music.
*What they think the message in the piece may be.
*What listeners can learn from the song.
*A fictional story about the music/video.

*These are just some ideas I give to the writers.  They are really free to write anything they would like as long as it connects to the song.

*After our silent reading, we spend a few more minutes sharing out what we wrote.  

*I keep a collection of the videos on our Schoology Site so that my students can always go back and rematch them anytime they wish.

Our Musical Selections for 2017/2018... 

Week #1:  "What I Am" by                                                  Click Here for Week One MUSIC
Week #2:  "Hopeful" by Bars and Melody                                         Click Here for Week Two MUSIC
Week #3:  "Somebody" by Lemonade Mouth                                  Click Here for Week Three MUSIC
Week #4:  "Dream Big" by Ryan Shupe                                            Click Here for Week Four MUSIC
Week #5:  "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield                                 Click Here for Week Five MUSIC
Week #6:  "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly                                    Click Here for Week Six MUSIC
Week #7:  "Candyman" by Zedd, Aloe Blacc                                   Click Here of Week Seven MUSIC
Week #8:  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson                                         Click Here for Week Eight MUSIC
Week #9:  "Clay" by Grace Vanderwaal                                           Click Here for Week Nine MUSIC
Week #10:  "I Don't Know My Name" by Grace Vanderwaal           Click Here for Week Ten MUSIC 
Week #11:  "Brand New Eyes" by Bea Miller                               Click Here for Week Eleven MUSIC
Week #12:  "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen         Click Here for Week Twelve MUSIC
Week #13:  "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka                    Click Here for Week Thirteen MUSIC
Week #14:  "Rise Up" by Andra Day                                          Click Here for Week Fourteen MUSIC
Week #15:  "Carol of the Bells" by The Piano Guys                     Click Here for Week Fifteen MUSIC
Week #16:  "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman                Click Here for Week Sixteen MUSIC
Week #17:  "A Million Dreams" The Greatest Showman        Click Here for Week Seventeen MUSIC
Week #18:  "I'll Be Your Water" by Keb Mo                              Click Here for Week Eighteen MUSIC
Week #19:  "The Champion" by Carrie Underwood                  Click Here for Week Nineteen MUSIC
Week #20:  "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake             Click Here for Week Twenty Music
Week #21:  "Legends" by Sleeping with Sirens                    Click Here for Week Twenty-One MUSIC
Week #22:  "Geronimo" by Sheppard                                   Click Here for Week Twenty-Two MUSIC

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3/23/18)

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 Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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

Love, Penelope by JoAnne Rocklin

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

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

(Novel Published for Adults) - AUDIO

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

(Middle-Grade Novel)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

How I Heard About It:  Was there a book more "talked" about than this one?  Everywhere I turned I saw reviews, articles, and press about the novel.  It definitely went on my TBR list.  When I was looking for a new audio book, I came across this title and bought it through Audible.   

What It Is About:  Leni's father is unpredictable.  This is mostly because he is a former POW of the Vietnam war.  His most unpredictable move yet is when he moves his family from the contiguous United States to the frontier land of Alaska.  Leni and her mother aren't thrilled about this move, but have no choice but to travel with him.  When the family arrives in Alaska, they are not prepared at all for the harsh reality of living off the land.  They slowly make a new home in a small cabin, meet the local residents, and learn what it takes to actually survive in the difficult elements that Alaska provides.  Leni meets Matthew at school and the two of them fall in love.  This causes a problem in her family as her father HATES Matthew's dad.  Leni's father becomes more erratic and abusive toward Leni's mother.  When his actions goes too far, Leni and her mother find themselves in a situation they aren't sure how to get out of.  

What I Thought Of It:  Oh my gosh.  I so enjoyed listening to this story.  Kristin Hannah is a master at story telling.  Everything about her writing was incredible.  She developed strong and unique characters.  She described Alaska so well that I felt like I was there.  Her plot was kept the story moving and provided many "gasp" moments.  These characters wove their way into my heart and I've found myself still thinking about them after finishing the last page.  This novel is definitely now one of the top ten adult novels that I've had the privilege of reading.  

Who Should Read It:   If you have read Nightingale, then I know you will enjoy this work of fiction just as much.  I can't think of any reader who will not find this a satisfying read.  I know that I will be telling everyone I know about it.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Love, Penelope by Joanne Rocklin

How I Heard About It:  This middle-grade novel came to via the publisher  I loved the cover and was excited to read the story.  

What It Is About:  Penelope is a fifth grader with two moms.  They live in California and enjoy life.  Penelope especially loves basketball and follows it closely.  She also enjoys writing.  She decides to write letters to YOU during her mother's pregnancy.  She tracks the stages that YOU is developing while sharing what is going on in her own life.  Penelope writes about the basketball teams she follows, her moms, her friends, life in California, and her feelings about YOU's upcoming arrival.  The letters to the baby prove not only a record of the nine months before she arrives, but a way for Penelope to work through her thoughts, feelings, and ideas.  

What I Thought Of It:  When I first began the story, I thought the idea of letters to an unborn child was brilliant, unique, and engaging.  Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it lacked a sense of depth for me and I didn't really feel like I got to know the characters.  This could have been because of the letter "format" or just not relating to a fifth grade girl writing to her sibling.  I'm sure this book will be perfect for some middle-grade female writers.  

Who Should Read It:   In my opinion, this novel is best suited for readers in grades five, six, or above.  There were a few sections of the story that touched on some mature themes which I don't think about be appropriate for readers in grades four and below.  I also think girls will be more drawn to the story than boys.  Middle-school readers would also be a great audience for this upcoming book Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

How I Heard About It:  I bought this book so long ago, I can't even remember when.  I started it at one point and then it sat for quite awhile.  I began it again and tried to read it while reading other books.  I found I needed to give it more attention and time to truly understand the story.  Recently I gave it a couple of days, dived in, and finally finished it  

What It Is About:  Mateo and Rufus are both in high school.  They are completely different from each other. They don't really know each other.  By the end of the day, they will be best of friends.  They each begin their day by getting a phone call from "Death-Cast".  This is one phone call you don't want to get.  They call to inform you that within the next 24 hours you will die.  Each boy realizes they need a friend to spend their final day with.  They each know there is an app for that.  It is called "Last Friend".  Both Mateo and Rufus go online, fill out the form, and find each other.  They spend their last 24 hours together.  Both boys have certain things they want to accomplish before they "go".  There are people they want to visit.  There are places they want to stop by.  There are also a few unresolved issues they want to resolve.  

What I Thought Of It:  I don't think I was ever in the right mind frame for this story.  There were times when I enjoyed the story and was getting it.  There were other times when I wasn't engaged with the story and/or didn't get it.  The premise was incredible and thought-provoking.  It gave me pause as to how I would live my last day on Earth.  I try to make the most of each day of my life, but this story reminded me how important this concept really is.  I probably didn't relate to the "unreal" or  "fantasy" parts being that I'm more of a realistic fiction reader.  

Who Should Read It:   I know that high school readers will EAT this story up.  Fans of Adam Silvera will EAT this story up.  Both the young-adult and adult reader are the perfect audience for this work of fiction.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wonder Wednesday #216 (Picture Book March Madness)

Picture Book March Madness - Week #TWO

*As you know I love books.  I love novels.  I also love picture books.

*We share picture books each and every day for #classroombookaday.  The class has an extensive bulletin board where we keep track of what we have read together as a class.

*March is a very special time in our classroom.  We celebrate March Madness and we celebrate picture books.  This activity is one of my most favorite things we do all year.

*We begin with 32 picture books.  I pick the books based on my audience and the type of listeners/learners they are.

*Each day I read TWO books to the class.  We discuss our noticings and wonderings.  A discussion about theme is also had.

*The students then head to their iPads and do some voting for their favorite.  I use SurveyMonkey to collect the results.

*Here are some images that capture the second week of March Madness...