How I Heard About It: This novel came to via the publisher. The book hit the world on May 8th. I loved the cover the was excited to see what the story was about. What It Is About: What does an eleven-year-old do when her father is put behind bars and the mother is absent? Tash finds herself living with her uncle. She is also looked after by the elderly lady next door who she calls Captain Jackie. When her uncle needs to travel, and the Captain can't care for her, Tash has to spend a month at a summer camp. She isn't thrilled about this, but once at camp, find herself enjoying herself. Upon her return, Tash is upset to learn that Captain Jackie is "missing" and no one seems to know where she is. After some investigation that Tash and her uncle conduct, they learn that Jackie has taken a fall and is spending time in a rehabilitation center. The situation throws Tash for a loop and she works hard to put her life back into the order it was before she left for summer camp. What I Thought Of It: The story started without much background information. The first few chapters were also a collection of letters from each of the characters. This was a bit confusing, but once the "letters" were over, the plot fell into a rhythm and nice pace. I enjoyed the character of Tash. She was strong, unique, and determined. Captain Jackie added greatly to the story and was multi-faceted. There weren't any great big surprises, but was an easy and enjoyable read. Who Should Read It: I would recommend this novel to girls in grades four, five, and six. The story revolves mostly around Tash so I'm thinking female readers will relate to her story more than boys. Middle-school girls would also be readers to put this book into the hands of. Happy Reading!
*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.
*This is the last Monday of the school year. I have used this song for the last couple of years as a good-bye to my students. Not only is it a great message, but the writers LOVE the song and connect to it.
*Today is our THIRTY-FIRST 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.
How I Heard About It: While looking through my GoodReads list of books to be read, I came across this title. I don't remember adding it, but was ready to read a young-adult novel. I actually downloaded it via my Audible app and listen for the last couple of weeks while going to and from work. What It Is About: When Venus Black was about thirteen years old, she was arrested for the murder of her step-father. She refuses to talk about what happened and finds herself spending five years in a prison for young people. Venus left her mother and younger brother with special needs behind. Right around the time she was arrested, her brother Leo goes missing. It tears Venus apart, but there is nothing she can do from behind bars. Five years later, when Venus is released, she decides to begin a new life and put the past behind her. She is estranged from her mother and has no idea if Leo is alive or dead. She takes on a new name, new identity, and slowing begins to take her life back. As the days proceed on the outside, Venus' past slowly creeps back and she is confronted with both her mother and Leo. What I Thought Of It: An incredible audio story. I enjoyed it from the beginning to the very end and my attention never wavered. There were so many aspects of this work of fiction that I enjoyed. Mainly the characters were well written, realistic, and thought-provoking. The plot centered on the relationships that Venus had, but there was also a major sense of suspense as to what happened with Leo, his life, and if he would be reunited with his mother and sister. There were times when I was frustrated with the decisions that some of the characters made, but to me this is an excellent sign of tremendous writing.
Who Should Read It: I know this novel is billed for the "young-adult" reader, but I think the book could be read by both the young-adult and adult reader. The plot is engaging, pulls the reader in, and explores quite a few relational type issues. Happy Reading!
Wonder Wednesday - A "Retreat" away from the Classroom
*The last days of teaching are always a busy time, but it was wonderful to get out of the classroom and give myself some PD.
*This was my second day of Mindfulness Training that my district is offering.
*I have been implementing many Yoga Calm/Mindfulness concepts and activities throughout the school year. I have seen a definite move in the right direction.
*The students that we are getting at our school are coming with more and more needs and as educators we need to find ways to meet them where they are at. Taking time for thought, movement, and relaxation is so important.
*I came away with many new ideas and I can't wait to implement them in the remaining 15 days of fourth grade. It is even more exciting to think about the possibilities that I will start next fall with.
How I Heard About It: Many of my Twitter friends shared such positive thoughts about this novel that I put it on my last Amazon order and was thrilled when it arrived in the mail. I didn't know much about the story, but based on what my reading friends were saying, I was anticipating a great read. What It Is About: Natalie loves science. She loves her science teacher. She also loves her scientist mother. Recently her mother had a set-back at work and has retreated to her bedroom. Natalie and her father try to make the best of it, but the longer her mother remains distant, the more concerned Natalie becomes. She makes it her mission to win a science contest in which she will earn some money. With this money, she hopes to reunite her mother with her science passion and get their life back to normal. While at school Natalie not only has to deal with the science contest, but navigating rough waters with some of her friends. When he father takes her to a therapist, Natalie isn't sure why she has to open up about her "feelings" when her own mother doesn't. What I Thought Of It: A journey of emotional awareness for sure. I thought the story was strong and moved along at a wonderful pace. The chapters and sections were organized according to the scientific method which I found both interesting and unique. The character of Natalie was realistic and easy to relate to. I enjoyed that she showed both a strong independent side, and a side where she desperately needed both her mother and father. Most stories don't revolve around the topic of science, and I liked how this story did. I now want to have an egg-drop contest in my own class.
Who Should Read It: I'm thinking this novel would be best suited for readers at the end of fourth grade, fifth grade, and sixth grade. I can see it in the hands of female readers a bit more than male, but that isn't to say boys wouldn't enjoy the story. If you have a student that has dealt with a family member and depression, this would be the perfect novel to put in their hands. Happy Reading!