On my blog, I shared lots of education links in my Sunday Salon post. This week’s Celebration focused on dogs in pink sweaters, cat photos, time away from work, time at work, and slow-cooker pumpkin oatmeal. I wrote about the challenges of putting together the latest iteration of the college-level Children’s Literature course I teach. I reviewed Linda Rief’s Inside the Writer’s-Reader’s Notebook. And I shared a glimpse into my own old notebooks.
Works starts today, so #bookaday is probably over, at least until I get my courses and new routines figured out. But I thoroughly enjoyed my last week of totally free reading.
A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers is on my #MustReadin2014 list, so naturally the A.S. King book I decided to read this week was Reality Boy. But my teensy tiny little library got a copy of it and I couldn’t help snapping it up when I saw it. I didn’t love this book (it dragged for me in the last third or so of the story), but I did find it interesting, intense, memorable, and important, as all King’s books seem to be. This is a book about a boy who is very, very angry–and with good reason. He’s famous–really more infamous–for his bad behavior as a child when his family was featured on a “Nanny” reality t.v. show. He’s trying to make sense of the legacy of that show and also his place in his dysfunctional family. Looking forward to book talking this one in Adolescent Lit this week.
I read two superb Scientist in the Field books this week, which I’ll write more about for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday. I’ll be book talking both of these as well–and also trolling the Internet for photos of baby tapirs! Google baby tapirs–you won’t be sorry!
I reread Book Love for the 3rd or 4th time. Like the very best professional development books, this is one I can read again and again, also getting something new out of it and finding more ways to tweak my own practice. I’ve assigned this book to my Adolescent Lit course this semester, and I want to use many of Kittle’s strategies and techniques from the beginning of the semester so that students can experience as learners what happens in a reading workshop. This is going to be a new approach for most of them. We won’t begin reading the book together until perhaps the third week of the semester, and by then, they will already be steeped in the approach.
I finally read Caroline Starr Rose’s verse novel, May B., and I loved it. I was entirely surprised by the subject matter–girl struggling to survive on the prairie–because I had only glanced at the cover and somehow my eyes saw a girl staring at an ocean liner cruising the ocean. (Not sure what I thought that fence and those trees were.) So I thought it was a historical novel about the Titanic or something. If I had known Rose was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child and wrote the book from that inspiration, I would have read it when it was first published, because I was also obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I spent many happy hours as a child, imagining myself in the cover illustration of On the Banks of Plum Creek. I marvel every single day that I now live on the prairie in South Dakota! Anyway, Caroline Starr Rose manages to pull off a dramatic and suspenseful survival story as well as a beautiful ode to the prairie AND a poignant reflection on reading and learning. May B longs to be a teacher, but she’s dyslexic and struggles to read. A very good book that, yep, I’ll be book talking in Children’s Lit this week.
T. and I read a couple of Caldecotts this week:
The Village of Round and Square Houses was okay, not my favorite by any means, but there’s a volcano in it, and I hadn’t returned Eruption to the library yet. So after we finished the picture book, I was able to show my son photos of real volcanoes erupting and talk about the scientists profiled in the nonfiction book. I don’t think Eruption as a read-aloud would keep his attention right now or be comprehensible, but he was quite engaged looking through the pictures and hearing about volcanoes around the world.
Ted Lewin’s art is superb. We loved the pictures in Peppe the Lamplighter.
Captain Cat, written and illustrated by Inga Moore, was quite enjoyable. We have six indoor cats, and I don’t think my kids realize that most people would consider us crazy cat people. To them, it’s just normal to have cats draped all over every available surface. So I don’t think they saw anything particularly unusual about Captain Cat and his hordes of cats.
We read Moonshot, written and illustrated by Brian Floca, as part of KidLit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. My mom would NOT like this one, because it treats the moon landing as if it really happened. I am very embarrassed to admit that I find my mom’s moon landing conspiracy theories quite compelling, and so it was a struggle for me to answer “yes” when T. asked if this was a true story. But, thinking of my long-suffering husband and the many questions and conversations he would have to have with our children about the moon landing if I suggested that some people think it’s a hoax, I said “yes” as firmly as I could. Anyway, it’s a good book. I liked the art better in Locomotive, but I thought the writing was much better in Moonshot.
I Am the Book is a collection of poetry for children about reading and books, nicely illustrated by Yayo. I marked a couple to share in Children’s Lit this semester.
I’ve read Mr. Wuffles four or five times now, and this week “read” it to my older son. I think it gets a little bit better every time I read it! Also, I learned that I really suck at sharing wordless picture books with kids. I think I drove my son bonkers as I “narrated” the story. I didn’t really know what to do as we were looking at the book, so I kept up a running commentary on what I noticed happening in the pictures. When I finally thought to ask HIM a question, he snapped his answer–which showed me how annoyed he was at my “reading.” So I kept my mouth tightly shut for the rest of the book. But then I couldn’t figure out when to turn the pages! How in the world do my elementary teacher friends share wordless picture books in a way that preserves their delight and puts the discover and wonder in the hands of their students? Discovery #1 for me: SHUT UP!
I’m reading several really good books right now, including two from my #MustReadin2014 list that I hope to finish for next week. Hope everyone has a great week of reading!