Saturday, August 25, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Have you ever gone to the zoo, watched the animals, and wondered what they would say if only they could talk?  Well here’s you chance!  The One and Only Ivan is the story of Ivan the gorilla, told by Ivan.  Ivan is a mighty silverback gorilla.  He was born in the wilds of Africa, captured as an infant, lived part of his early life in a human household, but was soon sent to live at the Big Top Mall.  This is where the story begins with Ivan, his friends Stella, a former circus elephant, and Bob, a stray dog that shares Ivan’s domain. Ivan has now lived at the mall for 27 years.

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla.  He doesn’t think much about his former life in the jungle.  His world consists mainly of his friends, Stella and Bob, his keeper Mack, and Julia, the daughter of the man who comes to clean the mall each night.  Ivan’s favorite past times are to watch TV and draw.  Ivan’s an artist.  The pictures he creates with crayons and paper are sold at the mall.  But Ivan’s world is about to change.

Attendance at the mall is dropping.  Mack needs to increase the attendance at the shows he does with the animals in order to bring in more money.  Suddenly Ruby, a baby elephant, arrives at the mall.  She quickly wins over both Stella and Ivan.  Like Ivan, Ruby was born in the wild but she still remembers her family and her capture.  Ruby loves listening to stories and sharing her own, but she doesn’t like performing in the shows.  Ivan begins to worry.  How can he help Ruby? Will Ruby spend the rest of her life in the mall like the other animals?  What will Mack do to her if she refuses to perform?  How can he help Ruby?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Book Trailer - Love That Dog

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

I brought this book home with me for the summer.  It's been on my "to read" list forever as Sharon Creech is one of my favorite authors.  The book did not disappoint!  In no way do I consider myself a poet, yet while reading this book I had an incredible urge to write in verse!  Below is my attempt at writing the book review this way:

Jack didn't want to write poems
Poems are for girls.
But his teacher
Miss Stretchberry
Likes poetry.
She reads the class
Jack doesn't understand.
He tries.
He writes in his notebook
Short sentences
His thoughts.
Miss Stretchberry thinks
Jack is a poet.
He'll let his teacher
Hang them up
But without his name.
Then Jack reads a poem
That is about to change his life.....

This book will be one of the mentor texts I use this year when we study poetry!

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Like This Cat by Emily Cheney Neville

I often share with my students that I enjoy reading because books can take you places.  It’s true.  Open a book and you can travel any where in the world, and still be snuggled up in your comfy chair in your living room.  This summer I’ve camped in the Everglades, (crashed an airboat in the process), escaped with Fadi and his family from war-torn Afghanistan to San Francisco, and experienced the heat of mid-summer in Mississippi with no pool to swim in!  All this and I never left the state!

In the Newbery Award winning book, It’s Like This Cat, I was able to travel back in time to visit New York City in the early 1960’s.  It’s a culture shock, but in a good way.  New York in the early 60’s is a big bustling city, but a much safer place for a kid to grow up in.  Dave Mitchell is 14 years old and lives in Manhattan with his mom and dad.  He’s your pretty typical teenager, likes to hang out with friends, frequently is at odds with his dad, but tries to keep his mom happy.  The story centers around Dave and “Cat”, a stray tom cat that Dave adopts to spite his father who thinks Dave should get a dog.  Gradually Dave and Cat form a strong bond as Cat leads Dave on new adventures and helps to bring important new people and relationships into his life.

Throughout the book the author uses language and some slang that may have been popular in the 60’s but is rarely, if ever, used today.  As I read the story I found it fun to compare lifestyles today to those of the early 60’s. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

How would you feel if on one of the hottest days of summer, your town shuts down the city pool until further notice? In the book I just finished reading,Glory Be, it’s 1964 and some of the residents of the small town of Hanging Moss, Mississippi are having difficulty accepting the integration of their town. The President has passed a law that makes it illegal to have “whites only” swimming pools, drinking fountains, libraries,etc. Glory, who’ll be turning 12 this summer, can’t understand what all the fuss is about, she just wants everyone to get along. But others, including the town council, the high school football star, and nosy Mrs. Simpson are determined to keep the town the same,even if they have to resort to violence!
Check out Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood!

Building Stories by Isabel Hill

Cities are filled with beautiful, old historic buildings.  According to Building Stories, "Buildings are like books with stories that last.  They tell us about our present and also our past."   This book is a picture walk through New York City, filled with photographs of historic buildings, highlighting their intricate details.  Through pictures, the reader is able to "read" the buildings and learn about the characters and story lines of each building's past.

Reading this book immediately made me think about going into the city to take photographs of building with unusual details.  Students could have fun writing stories about what they imagine to be the history of the buildings.  A great combination of history and art!