Thursday, October 31, 2013

Auggie's favorite holiday...

Happy Halloween

"I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks." - August Pullman, Wonder

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

find our place

About two or three years ago I read Katherine Applegate's book, Home Of The Brave, and loved it. The other day, I saw that it had come out in paperback. I loved the new cover, so I picked up a copy to read again.

Upon reading this book a second time, I may have loved it even more.  The story is written in verse, which I love, and it works beautifully.

 We begin our slow, strange herding down the
edge of the highway,
followed by a police car.
The red, white and blue lights
remind me of the American flag.
I feel like the President.
Kek is a Sudanese boy who saw his father and brother killed in Africa. He finds himself as a refugee in Minnesota where he is sent to live with his aunt and wait for word on the fate of his mother.

This story would be a wonderful read-aloud and provides a great opportunity for discussion.

Be sure not to miss the Author's Note at the end of the book.
Somewhere, sometime, as your glorious and complicated life unfolds, you are going to find yourself putting dishes in a washing machine.
I'm speaking metaphorically, of course. You won't make the same mistakes Kek makes in Home of the Brave, because your mistakes will be uniquely and wonderfully your own.
But you will make them, I promise you. Lots of them. Someday, you will find yourself adrift in a place where you feel you don't belong, with people who don't understand who you are. You'll feel alone and lost. And you'll be absolutely certain that you will never, ever belong to the world again.
You don't have to be a refugee to feel lost. It happens because we are human, and because life has a way of changing the rules when we're not looking. But if you're lucky, someone will reach out a hand when you're most alone and say, "I've been lost, too. Let me help you find your way home."

Fiction, it's been said, makes immigrants of us all. But it's just as true that fiction helps us find our place in the world. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer

The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations - Official Documentary Trailer from freckless productions on Vimeo.

"The Phantom Tollbooth at 50: Beyond Expectations” is a documentary that playfully explores the creation, creators, lasting impact and enduring relevance of one of the most universally beloved children’s books of our time. Through interviews, animation and archival materials, the documentary traces the friendship between author Norton Juster and Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Jules Feiffer, and the wit and wisdom of the novel over half a century. (Tollbooth celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2011)

My favorite quote from Tollbooth:

“You may not see it now," said the Princess of Pure Reason, looking knowingly at Milo's puzzled face, "but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way. Why, when a housefly flaps his wings, a breeze goes round the world; when a speck of dust falls to the ground, the entire planet weighs a little more; and when you stamp your foot, the earth moves slightly off its course. Whenever you laugh, gladness spreads like the ripples in the pond; and whenever you're sad, no one anywhere can be really happy. And it's much the same thing with knowledge, for whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer.” 

Monday, October 7, 2013

fortunately for readers...

I love to read. Yet, I know when some kids talk about reading, 'love' is not the word they use when describing books. Some kids have trouble connecting with books independently. 

But... I have found two books that will spark the enthusiasm of even the most reluctant of readers: Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman and Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.

First, Fortunately The Milk...

Neil Gaiman could write about anything and make it amazing. So, a trip to the corner market for milk becomes an incredible adventure where anything, absolutely anything, can happen.

Fortunately The Milk is hilarious and wacky and wonderful, and elementary students will love it. It would be an awesome read-aloud. The predictions of "what will happen next" would be pure fun.

How do you suppose piranhas are involved? Well, you'll have to read Fortunately The Milk to find out. Enjoy the laughs!

Next, Flora & Ulysses...

Kate DiCamillo is a super story teller. By combining elements of comics, graphic novels, and chapter books in Flora and Ulysses, she is original and inventive. The fun style of the book will grab upper elementary readers, and the wonderful vocabulary makes this book as smart as it is fun.

Flora is a self-proclaimed cynic and Ulysses is a superhero squirrel. How does a squirrel become a superhero? Well, you'll find out in the first few pages.

This book would be a wonderful read-aloud. It is full of quirky characters and delightful vocabulary.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

the thing undone

Awesome opening paragraph:
"What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. The boy possesses uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and daring, and the ancient ghost ... well, let it only be said that his intentions were good."

I just read far far away by Tom McNeal. It's a macabre, dark, suspenseful fairy tale.  I loved it. 

Jacob Grimm, from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, died but never moved on. He's stuck in the Zwischenraum... the space between life and what comes after.

Jeremy Johnson Johnson is a teenage boy in the village of Never Better. He can hear voices.

Ginger Boultinghouse is a beautiful, witty, popular, daredevil of a girl. She's attracted to the quirky and unusual qualities of Jeremy... or is it the Prince Cake enchantment? Only time will tell.

If you like fairy tales... Read this book.
If you like adventure... Read this book.
If you like to be scared... Read this book.
If you like a good romance... Read this book.

I have so many favorite parts of this book. It is so well written and I underlined so much...  here's my favorite bits just in the first 50 pages...

"In the old tales, kindness is the purest form of heroism. Find the character who meets the world with a big heart and an open hand and you have found your hero or heroine."

"Ginger said, 'My grandfather says there's no point in traveling. He says all that happens when you go far, far away is that you discover you've brought yourself along.'"

"Every day a child steps away from the parent by the littlest distance, perhaps just the width of a mouse-whisker, but every day it happens, and the days go by, one after another after another."