Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (6/19/17)

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to their site...
Books I Read this Past Week...

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

*Young-Adult Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

My Book Review

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

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

My Book Review

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

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

Lemons by Melissa Savage 

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

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst

*My Professional Book

Swing Sideways by Nancy Turner Steveson

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

*My Novel Published for Adults

Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan

*My Young-Adult Novel

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lemons by Melissa D. Savage

How I Heard About It:  While at #NCTE last fall in Atlanta I spent some time chatting with a publishing rep about new and upcoming books.  She pulled this one out and handed me a copy.  I brought it back to my classroom and shared it with readers.  Several of my fourth graders read it during the school year, but I never got to it.  I put this at the top of my summer TBR pile of books that I brought home to read.  

What It Is About:  Lemonade Liberty Witt has just arrived in Willow Creek, California to live with her "estranged" grandfather.  She isn't thrilled about this new living arrangement and misses her mother terribly.  All she wants to do is go back to the city and live with her mother.  Since at the moment this isn't possible, she must make the best of living in this new town.  Lemonade learns this is the "Bigfoot" capital of the world.  What!  Soon after her arrival she meets Tobin Sky, who is the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives Inc.  He invites her to be his assistant in the search of the illusive creature.  Since Lemonade doesn't know anyone else, she decides to join him in his quest to be the one to find Bigfoot.  They spend their summer receiving calls from the local residents stating they have seen Bigfoot and/or clues that lead them to believe he is nearby.  Of course some of the calls, are prank calls from other kids in the neighborhood.  Lemonade meets residents who knew her mother and begins to know her mother better.  She also gets to know the real story behind what truly happened between her mother and grandfather.  Tobin also shares his family's story with her and Lemonade decides she wants to help him deal with the past to be able to move forward.  These two young people truly rely on each other to figure out their past, know their present, and figure out where they want to go in the future.  

What I Thought Of It:  Loved it!  As I saw once, this book was "unputdownable".  I loved everything about it.  I now know why my students who read it this past school year enjoyed it so much.  The character of Lemonade was sweet, strong, and full of life.  Her friendship with Tobin was awesome and I enjoyed reading about how these two friends came to know each other, helped each other, and changed each other for the better.  There were a few fun mysteries along the way that I didn't see coming and was quite surprised by several outcomes.  This is on my list of books to share with my group of fourth graders next year.  

Who Should Read It:  All fourth, fifth, and sixth graders will completely enjoy this story.  It is perfect for them.  The book could be used for a read aloud or read individually.  I'm thinking of using it as a read aloud.  There are so many elements of the story that I want to share with all my students.  Adult readers will also find this a strong and powerful middle-grade story.  I can't recommend it enough.  Get out there and read it.  You won't be disappointed.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

How I Heard About It:  I'm always amazed when I scroll through my "Want to Read" list on GoodReads and see a title I don't remember adding.  That was the case with this title.  I was looking to read a young-adult novel and decided to give this story a try.  I downloaded it via Cloud Library and read it on the iPad.  

What It Is About:  Mallory is heading into her senior year.  It should be a year of friends, socializing, and romance.  Not for Mallory.  This is her first year attending public school since being home schooled the last four years.  That was when she was "adopted" by two loving parents after years of living in the foster care system.  During these horrific years living with a cruel man and "sick" woman, Mallory endured more than any human should have to.  Luckily for her, she had Rider.  He lived with her in this "hell hole", and protected her from all the evil.  After a particular horrible night, both of these young people were rescued, but separated.  Mallory ended up with in a loving home, while Rider continued in the "system".  She can't quite believe it when she sees Rider her first day as a senior.  Mallory has learned since her foster-care days that the less she says, the better.  During the last four years, she has had therapy and is learning to express herself.  Mallory and Rider are in the same speech class.  She isn't sure can be successful in this class, but with the help of her friend, she learns the strength that is truly inside of herself.  

What I Thought Of It:  When I first started the book, I was drawn in and was thinking it was going to be of those stories about surviving the unthinkable.  I would say about 1/3 of the book was about Mallory and Rider during their foster care years, but the other 2/3's was more of a high school romance story.  This isn't a bad thing, but wasn't what I was expecting.  It was interesting to read about Mallory and Rider coming back together and getting to know each other away from their earlier years.  They each handled the horrible events of their childhood in different ways, and this affected the way they interacted as seniors.  I enjoyed the growth and progress that Mallory made during her senior year.  It was also interesting to read about Rider and how he was able (and not able) to move forward from the years of protecting Mallory.  

Who Should Read It:  In my opinion I think all young-adult readers would find this a satisfying read.  Female readers will be able to relate to Mallory while male readers will find Rider a strong and unique male character.  Readers who enjoy survival stories with characters showing courage and bravery, will also enjoy The Problem with Forever.  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

How I Heard About It:  This book came to me via #bookexpedition.  I didn't know anything about it, but I'm always up for reading up and coming novels for middle-grade readers.  I was thrilled when the book package arrived on Friday, I began reading Friday night, and was done by Saturday.  I could not put the book down.  

What It Is About:  Aven's life is pretty good.  Two loving adoptive parents, lots of friends, and no arms.  Yes, you heard me right.  Aven was born without arms.  She was given up for adoption and was lucky to find two of the most loving, caring, and special parents.  When her father loses his job and finds another one in Arizona, the three of them pick up and head off to the land of desserts.  Aven isn't thrilled about this, but puts her positive attitude and two "feet" forward and gives it her all.  When she starts school she realizes how difficult it is to be the new kid and especially the new kid without arms.  As she navigate her way around school, she meets Connor who is suffering from Tourette's Syndrome.  The two of them form a special friendship knowing how difficult it is to fit in.  They also include Zion who is an "outcast" because of his appearance.  As the three of them get to know each other, they find a room at Stagecoach Pass Theme Park where her parents are working.  In this room are "secrets" from the past that relate to the Stagecoach Pass and to Aven.  They work together to fit the "clues" together to fill in the "missing" pieces.  Aven, Connor, and Zion support, encourage, and rely on each other to find out who they truly are and what they are capable.  

What I Thought Of It:  This was my first summer book from my #bookexpedition group and what a book to start with.  Knowing nothing of the story, I was completely taken in by Aven, her parents, and of course her two newest friends.  There were so many laugh out loud and tears in the eyes moments sprinkled throughout the pages.  Aven, Connor, and Zion were three of the most lovable and memorable characters I have ever read about.  There were so many times as I was reading that I thought I wanted to personally know these kids and/or have them in my own class.  I also appreciated how the created two of the most awesome parents that supported their daughter no matter what and taught her she can reach the stars if she wants to.  I was just in awe of the writing and how real the characters, events, and relationships were.  I can not wait to share with incredible story with my fourth graders during the 2017/2018 school year.    

Who Should Read It:  All readers should experience the magic of this story.  I know every single one will LOVE it as much as I did.  It is the perfect novel to share with fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.  I'm thinking of doing it as a read aloud to my whole class, but may also use it for a "Breakfast with Books" book club selection.  There are so many incredible "life lessons" presented in the book that would provide for the most deep and profound discussions.  Of course if you are an adult that enjoys strong middle-grade novels, then this is definitely the book for you.  Look for it in September of 2017.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

How I Heard About It:  This book has actually been in my pile to be read since #NCTE16 back in November.  I attended a special publisher's party and there were ARC's of this title.  They even had cocktails named after the book.  Once I got back to "reality", the book got buried.  I'm so glad it is summer and have now have time to read all the titles I've been dying to read.  

What It Is About:  Bixby Alexander Tam is a young boy who happens to be on the autism spectrum.  He prefers to go by the name Bat (Bixby Alexander Tam).  Bat enjoys his life, but doesn't enjoy some of the surprises that come along his way.  His mother is a veterinarian.  One day she comes home from the "office" and surprises Bat with a house guest.  It isn't a puppy.  It isn't a kitten.  It isn't even a fish.  Bat's mother has brought home a baby skunk which is called a Kit.  Bat is overcome with joy and love toward this little "wild" animal.  He even names the baby skunk Thor.  He tries to convince his mother that the skunk must become his pet.  She tries to tell him that this type of animal must live in the wild.  Bat disagrees.  He sets out to find a way to keep this animal as part of their family.  

What I Thought Of It:  When I first got the ARC last November I was intrigued by the cover and the title.  I had also read Far From Fair and loved that story.  This story did not disappoint.  I read it in about one sitting and enjoyed everything about it.  I enjoyed getting to know Bat and found him to be a delightful character.  It was fun and interesting to read about a pet skunk.  The characters that surrounded Bat were fun, lively, and important to the story.  This is definitely a book/series that will be appealing to young readers.  

Who Should Read It:  As I said on Twitter earlier today, this is the perfect novel for third and fourth graders.  The chapters are short and would be perfect for readers in these grades.  The book includes illustrations which I believe is important to young readers.  The novel could be used for independent reading and/or would make for a terrific read aloud in grades two, three, five, and even five.  I loved it and will be using it with my fourth graders in the coming school year.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4+ STARS out of 5 Stars

Monday, June 12, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (6/12/17)

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to their site...
Books I Read this Past Week...

York by Laura Ruby

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

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

*Young-Adult Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

*Novel Published for Adults (4 STARS out of 5 Stars)

Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

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

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

*My Young-Adult Novel

Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst

*My Professional Book

Swing Sideways by Nancy Turner Steveson

*My Middle-Grade Novel (Audio)

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

How I Heard About It:  Two of my favorite novels published for adults are A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell She's Sorry.  I was excited to learn that he was releasing a new novel this past spring.  Being the end of the school year, I didn't get to it as soon as I had hoped, but once I got into it the last couple of days, I couldn't put it down. 

What It Is About:  Hockey is everything.  At least it is everything in Bear Town.  Bear Town is a small town located in the middle of a forest.  There isn't much to do in this town, but everyone knows how important hockey is not only to the young men that play, but all of the community members.  The team is made up of a variety of members who all come from different backgrounds and family life.  After a win in the semi-finals which will send the team to the "Juniors Finals", there is a tragedy which involves the general manager's daughter.  This event tears the small town apart dividing them into two halves with opposite view points.  At the center of this "debate" is one young female and the star hockey player.  The supporting cast of characters seem to either "side" with the female while others stand by the hockey player.  Life for everyone in this tiny hockey village will never be the same and many of them learn what is truly important in life.  

What I Thought Of It:  Fredrik Backman is quite the talented writer.  Each of each novels is so different from the others.  After reading previews that this story centered around hockey, I knew it was going to stand apart from his earlier stories.  When I first started I was a bit confused because there is quite an array of characters.  I actually got to a point where I wrote down the characters and what each of their "roles" was.  The more I read, the more I began to know them all.  This time around, the writing style was different.  The story consisted of short passages centering on the various people.  As the reader, you got a glimpse of each person and how the story affected them.  I did have a few favorite characters and they warmed my heart with the decisions they made throughout the story.  As I got to the final third of the book, I literally could not be the book down.  There was a such a powerful ending that it almost made me want to start over and read it again.  

Who Should Read It:   Everyone should read this novel because I know they will love it.  Even if you don't normally read novels published for adults, you need to give this one a try.  If you have read the previous Backman novels, then you must read his newest release.  If you have any background and/or history with hockey, then you should experience the story.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars