"Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them."
- Arnold Lobel


Every Tuesday is Book Review Day, where I review and recommend a children's book.

Every Wednesday is Wise Owl Wednesday, where you can butter up your brain with some children's literature facts - history, milestones, trivia ... stop by here to learn a little something about the amazing world of books for the young!

Every Thursday is Literacy Tip Day, where I offer literacy suggestions for your children based upon my teaching and parenting experience.

Keep cozy this fall with a good book!

18 September 2010

What My Child Is Reading :: September 18, 2010 :: Giraffes, Paris, Zero, and Planting Apple Trees!

I came across this wonderful meme, "What My Child Is Reading," over at the sensational, Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns! Take a minute to peek inside this wonderful blog ... I know that I am super-thrilled to have found it!

Here are our latest picks:

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed
Written by Jodie Shepherd
Illustrated by Masumi Furukawa

Publisher's Summary:  This is a story about a real boy who loved eating apples, planting apple seeds, and growing apple trees.  This is a story about Johnny Appleseed!

Zero Is The Leaves On The Tree

Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree
Written by Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Shino Arihara

Summary from the School Library Journal:  "Zero is...the sound of snowflakes landing on your mitten. 0 sounds." "Zero is...the kites in the sky once the wind stops blowing. 0 kites." Using these and other evocative examples from children's everyday experiences throughout the seasons, Franco explores the concept of zero.  The gouache illustrations are done in soft, muted tones and have a naive charm that will have substantial child appeal. Most of the scenes are set outdoors, clearly depicting and emphasizing the book's link to the passing seasons. While the idea is a simple one, the presentation is such that it could easily be used to encourage youngsters to think of ways they could use any of their five senses to experience having zero of something.

A Giraffe Goes to Paris

A Giraffe Goes to Paris
Written by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris
Illustrated by Jon Cannell

Publisher's Summary:  Imagine a giraffe who can sail from Alexandria, Egypt, to Marseille, France, in a boat with a special hole cut for her neck.  Imagine a giraffe who can walk 500 miles from Marseille to Paris in forty-one days, wearing stylish boots and a cape.  ... Imagine Belle, a gift from the pasha of Egypt to the king of France in 1827, a giraffe who made history.

What have your children been reading lately??? I would love to know!!!

16 September 2010

BBAW :: Forgotten Treasure

From the BBAW site: “Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!”

And my choice is ...

Chasing Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer
Written by Blue Balliett
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
Copyright 2004
Published by Scholastic Inc.

Publisher's Summary:  On a warm October night in Chicago, three deliveries were made in the same neighborhood.  A plump tangerine moon had just risen over Lake Michigan.  The doorbell had been rung at each place, and an envelope left propped outside ... The same letter went out to all three:

Dear Friend:
I would like your help in identifying a crime that is now centuries old.  This crime has wronged one of the world's greatest painters.  As those in positions of authority are not brave enough to correct this error, I have taken it upon myself to reveal the truth.  I have chosen you because of your discriminating eye, your intelligence, and your ability to think outside of convention. ... Although you may never meet, the three of you will work together in ways none of us can predict.
If you show this to the authorities, you will most certainly be placing your life in danger...

The letter was not signed, and it had no return address.

Mary Elizabeth's Musings:  How can that summary possibly make a single, living soul pass up the opportunity to read this book??? Doesn't that letter make you ready to read this book cover to cover in one sitting??
Well, when I first picked up Chasing Vermeer as a fifth-grade teacher several years ago, I was completely spellbound! Filled with mystery, suspense, art history, mathematics, and the great city of Chicago as its setting, I would have to say that this book did not receive the type of recognition I felt it deserved. 
Ms. Balliett's literary style flows as beautifully as the story line.  She takes a seemingly complicated plot along with enormous character development, and successfully weaves it into a unique and extremely satisfying reading experience.

Chasing Vermeer was the first book in a series of amazing art mysteries! As you might have guessed, I highly recommend the other two books that have followed:

Wright 3The Calder Game

Have you read one or more books in this series? Did you enjoy them as much as I did?

14 September 2010

Book Blogger Appreciation Week :: Interview Swap with Aaron from "Coffee for the Brain"

BBAW 2010

.: Meet Aaron from the blog, Coffee for the Brain :.

1. How long have you been blogging? What was the reason you began blogging?

a.  I began blogging full time at the beginning of the school year, last year. I tested things out 2 years ago when I taught social studies and we were blogging back and forth with a school in Australia. I then took on a new job as a talented and gifted teacher and used the blog to stay in contact with the students in my building. I used to do book talks for sixth grade all the time and the blog has been my way to continue to review books for kids when I don’t have time in my schedule to book talk.

2. What do enjoy most about blogging? Least?

a.  I love having an outlet to express my nerdiness. I have let my guard down and have made a fool of myself in several of my videos that I make for the students. Many teachers use my videos as an activity during homeroom. I present challenges and different opportunities for people to try out. I have formed some good relationships with some fellow bloggers as well as students in my building that I would never have a chance to meet without the blog.

b.  My least favorite thing is keeping up on the blog. I try to post every day and there are times when that is next to impossible or there just is not anything worthy to post. I also hate it when I think I have some brilliant idea and it flat lines on the blog and nothing comes out it.

3. Your blog title, "Coffee for the Brain," is so cool! How did you come up with it?

a.  Well, to be honest I don’t remember. I am known as Coffeechug at school. I was given that name back when I taught sixth grade by some students. I used that as my Roman Emperor name for a simulation and it has stuck and spread throughout my building. I drink coffee all day and am known for my massive thermos of Starbucks coffee. I tried to come up with a clever name implementing coffee and somehow, someway the title came to me. I wish I had a cool story to share, but I don’t.

4. What is your favorite book? How did this become your favorite book?

a.  Of all time I would have to say, “Catcher in the Rye”. That is one of the few books that I have read multiple times. I don’t usually read books more than once as I feel there is so much great literature out there that I don’t have to time to read books again. However, I usually read this one every year. I think this book is my favorite because I remember buying it at a bookstore in high school during one of those pivotal adolescent moments we all go through. I was really trying to find myself as is Caulden in the novel. I was able to relate to him on so many levels back then. I don’t find it as engaging of a read anymore as I don’t connect quite the same way, but the nostalgia of the book for me always brings me back to reading it every fall. Some of my most recent favorite reads have to be Countdown by Deborah Wiles, Compound by S.A. Bodeen, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and anything by John Green and Kurt Vonnegut. These books have yet to leave my top reading lists of all time no matter how many books I read each year.

5. Tell us a bit about your "offline" self - something we might not know just from your blog. (This can be a hobby, something about family life, etc...)

a.  Great question! I should have used this myself. I played college basketball where I met my wife and how I ended up living in Iowa. I am from Indiana so I love Notre Dame football and Indiana basketball. I am training for several races to run this fall. I help run a Lego Robotics team that hopefully will make it to state this year. I have two children, 5 year old boy and 3 year old girl so being a parent of a kindergartner I have realizing is a lot of work. I am never satisfied with my current self so I am always setting new goals and challenges to tackle (competitive nature owns me!). I cannot read books that are creased or torn. When I buy a book it has to be in perfect shape. If a page gets crinkled I am not able to read it anymore. I am also a huge Dave Matthews Band fan. I have seen them in concert over 14 times and own literally thousands of bootleg concerts and own every single album released by them. I attend music concerts like no other usually getting in around 12 shows or more every year.

6.  Describe yourself using seven adjectives or less!

a.  Nerdy, tech-savvy, laid back, determined, caffeinated, zany.

Thanks, Aaron! Don't forget to visit his blog - it's full of all kinds of fun ... and caffeine for your brain, of course!

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