Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

On of the things I like best about reading is the opportunity to be transported to faraway places. Through books I have been able to travel the world while forgetting the stresses of everyday life that too often bog us down and threaten to dull the imagination.

Half a Chance provides the unique experience of being able to travel to a small New Hampshire town, a vacation community nestled among majestic mountains on the edge of a pristine lake. Lucy and her family have recently relocated to this community in an effort to escape the rat race of big city life in Boston.  Unfortunately for Lucy, this just feels like another one of her family’s many moves due mostly to her dad’s career as a photographer.  Instead of being excited about the move and new possibilities, Lucy is more afraid of being the new girl yet again.  As if that wasn’t stressful enough, her dad is scheduled to leave just days after they arrive at the new house. He’ll be gone most of the summer on a photography shoot, adding to Lucy’s feeling of loneliness.

However, Lucy quickly makes friends with the family in the cabin next door and learns something about fresh starts:

“That’s the thing with new beginnings – sometimes, they’re more than just starting over again.  Sometimes they change things.”

Through her friendship with Nate and grandma Lilah, Lucy learns her photography has the ability to record moments, tell stories and most importantly help others.

There are so many important messages in this book: family, friendship, change, and memories.  Cynthia Lord does an incredible job of weaving together the plight of the loons and grandma Lilah’s uncertain future.  As I think back to the story I’m also seeing connections between Lucy’s feelings during her father’s absence and her fear over losing Nate’s friendship.

“It’s hard to think of anything being gone forever.  Most things that go come back again, even if they’re a little different when they return.  But not always, and when something has gone forever, it can hurt so much you start wondering if it would’ve been easier if you’d never had it at all.”

This is truly a book that needs to be read and discussed. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mock Newbery Meeting!

Today our Mock Newbery club held one of its bimonthly meetings for December.  I didn’t have to ask twice when I told the kids it’s alright to bring their lunches to my classroom.  Seventeen happy, excited students brought their bag lunches, hot lunches, milk, snacks, and most importantly, their 2014 Newbery contender books to my classroom so they could eat and discuss the great stories they been reading for the past two weeks.  This has got to be the highlight to my week, listening to my students eagerly discuss the books that made them laugh, cry and shudder in fear, all the while ensuring their classmates that, “this is a book you have to read!”  What truly made this moment memorable was that I have been reading the books right along with the students.  I was able to share in their excitement.  I fell in love with the Beedle in A Snicker of Magic. (“Can we please start our own Beedle club?”)  I cried at the gym when I read A Million Ways Home, and I got fighting mad during the eagle scene in Half a Chance.  Some of us have decided to try writing verse after reading Brown Girl Dreaming and The Crossover, while we all fell in love with Jackson Greene and his band of conspirators in The Great Greene Heist.  Finally The Fourteen Goldfish has captured many hearts and has students looking at their grandparents in a whole new light.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mock Newbery Review: What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren

It's Lola's turn to interview Emily about the Newbery contender What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren.

Jordan's Book Chat: Rules by Cynthia Lord

Jordan, interviewed by Mayse, shares her thoughts on the novel Rules.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Just finished reading The Crossover by Kwame Alexander for our Mock Newbery Club.  What an incredible book!  Within pages I was completely pulled into this story of two brothers, their love of basketball, family and the challenges of growing up.  Of course, as with most verse novels, once I finished reading I felt the need to write my review in verse:

What is it about this book
That called to me
Pulled me to pick it up
Dared me to read its story
When I’m supposed to be grading
Yet another test?

There’s a basketball player
On the cover
Not my typical inspiration
But peek inside
See the verse?
The poet’s Josh Bell
(Filthy McNasty to friends and family)
He has a way with words
That can make basketball
Sound like ballet.

Josh and his twin, JB
Love basketball
It’s their life, their passion
Until Miss Sweet Tea
Steals a heart.
How does Josh feel
Angry? Jealous? Hurt?

What is it about this book
That captures your heart
Fills you with despair
Yet leaves you hopeful
For the strength of family
In the end
To conquer

The Fourteenth Goldfish with Lola and Emily!

Lola and Emily put their spin on a book chat for The Fourteenth Goldfish!

Cody reviews Rules by Cynthia Lord

Cody shares his favorite moments in Rules, a must read for all!

Logan's Book Chat: Pinballs by Betsy Byars

Logan shares his review of a good "old-fashioned" book, Pinballs!