Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading 9-2-2013

Greetings Readers,

It's the Back to School Edition! I am cross-posting this edition with my post to the Maine Reading Association's post which is joining the It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Folks!

Thanks to Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting this great book sharing post each Monday.


I have read and bought a ton of books this summer so it was hard to decide which ones to choose for my post this week. I have limited it to one picture book, one chapter book and one professional book however because it is “Back To School Week” and we are all super busy!


Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Joy Ang is a gem! First off, it is absolutely hysterical! I dare you to read this book without bursting out laughing! A baby is born with a mustache and the parents are concerned whether they will have a child with a “good guy” mustache or a “bad guy” mustache. All the nurse can offer up is, “Well, it all depends . . .” The parents are quickly relieved to find out that Baby Billy is a good guy and his pretend play is that of cowboy and cop. But as he grows older the mustache curls and , yup, his mustache takes a turn for the worse and it becomes a bad guy mustache. Baby Billy turns to a life of crime, ending up in jail - (his crib!) There is much tongue-in-cheek fun with vocabulary as well as a theme to teach even the youngest children here, about choices in life, so this book works on many levels. It is a must have in your home or classroom!

Check out Bridget Heos’s Mustache Baby activity page here:

My chapter book selection is Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. Let me start by saying I have NOT read her previous 2011 Newbery Medal Winner Moon Over Manifest. I heard and read reviews by many that preferred this book or have compared the two and felt they were similar. Since I have nothing to compare Navigating Early to, I can, perhaps, give an unbiased review of this sophomore book of Vanderpool’s. I loved it!!
This story takes place at the end of World War ll. Jack Baker’s father has just returned from the war and his mother has died unexpectedly. He is being moved from his only home in Kansas to a boarding school in Maine so his dad can take a job at the Portsmouth Shipyard. I loved this book immediately because of the home references. It makes you feel like you are close to these characters. One of the first scenes is a very vivid description of Jack’s first sight of the ocean - we can all imagine his amazement.
Jack feels lost here in Maine and alone at the boarding school. He is a sensitive boy and his mother understood him - not his distant father. He comes from land-locked Kansas and is thrown into an environment that has sculling as part of the curriculum.
He soon meets Early Auden, another sensitive soul who has specific classical music that he listens to on specific types of days, Billie Holiday for rainy days, and reads the number Pi as a story.
Together they set out on a magnificent adventure along the Appalachian Trail in search of a great Black Bear during a school vacation. No one knows they have left and they encounter pirates, secrets and strange characters along the way. But truly this is a story of friendship and acceptance and Vanderpool weaves all these various elements into a mesmerizing tale that will entrance readers.
I think this would be a wonderful read aloud and great for our upper elementary and middle school readers.

Read about how Clare came to Maine to research for this book here:

5 Questions for Clare Vanderpool at ReadingTodayOnline.

And finally for my professional book review: If you liked Tanny McGregor’s debut professional book, Comprehension Connections, then you’re going to love her second book, Genre Connections: Lessons to Launch Literary and Nonfiction Texts. If you are familiar with her first book, it is set up in a very similar style. Tanny believes that children need concrete experiences with books before they are given texts to read. With that in mind, she has, what she refers to, as “launching series” for each comprehension strategy in her first book and for each genre in her second.
The first lesson is a concrete experience that connects readers to the genre. I have not used the lessons from Genre Connections with students in the classroom yet but I can tell you that the ones from the first book were extremely successful with students and teachers alike. I did a workshop with teachers from 3rd, 4th and 5th grades around her first book and they loved it. I did some of the concrete experience lessons with both teachers and students and they were very well received.
From the concrete experience, McGregor then takes the students to a sensory experience with the genre, connecting them to it through art and music. This is a great way to really immerse the students, using all their senses, and really hitting all learners - auditory, visual, kinesthetic - something we are not always very good at doing. Only then does she introduce the genre and start to dig into the the text.
At this point, children are much more aware of what it is all about and what it is they are being asked to do - and they have had fun doing it - imagine that? :-)

                      Indie Bookstores

Last but not least, I would like to give a shout out to a couple of wonderful indie book stores that I discovered on an over night to Belfast, Maine this past weekend. Independent bookstores will not survive without our patronage and they often have wonderful ambience, fantastic owners and lovely book offerings. This was what I found at not one but two bookstores in the quaint, tiny town in the down east coast of Maine.

The first bookstore I came upon was Left Bank Books at 109 Church Street. It is a lovely little store and I made my way straight to the nook  that had a wonderful assortment of children’s books. I made myself comfortable in the velvet chairs and started reading! I found more than I could afford (of course) but guess what? They give a 25% discount to teachers so I put a stack on the counter to purchase. I found a great series for beginner readers that I had never seen before and chatted with the owner. Well-behaved dogs are even allowed inside. If you are even close to Belfast, you need to make a detour over here, just to stop by this delightful indie bookstore! I know I’ll be coming back . . .
As I made my way closer to the oceanfront, I couldn’t believe it but I found another indie bookstore and this one was for children exclusively.

BellaBooks, located at 135 High Street,  is on one side of the street, but tucked across the street and down a set of steps is an adorable couple of rooms, entitled, BabyBella, and it is entirely children’s books. The books are already discounted and if you live in the area, for $10.00, you can purchase a membership, and get an even bigger discount! The owner has a great selection, and once again, I started piling the books on the counter. We talked for a while, and he gave me a members’ discount on some of the books. What a sweetheart !Again, this bookstore is worth the trip and it is a hidden gem. Can you imagine, TWO independent bookstores in one little town?
Belfast is a wonderful little town and two bookstores makes it a destination vacation!

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