Book Review: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Image from images.macmillan.com

Dan. You are breaking my heart and filling it up, all at the same time. How is that possible?! I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. Coyote Sunrise is the next #mglit #mustread of #2019

Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, lost their family five years ago and have been on the road ever since. When Coyote finds out a park is being ripped up in their hometown, she comes up with a plan to get Rodeo take her across the country without him knowing. Along they way, they pick up passengers that impact their lives for the better.

You will not want to put this one down. It showcases the best in human beings and toys with your emotions. Dan has a way with the written word. He makes it so easy to read. Almost like you are reading your favorite dessert. I would not be surprised if Coyote is nominated for a Newbery!

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Two Middle-Grade Books I Highly Recommend

I have been going through a reading slump lately with school starting back up. Fortunately, with traveling to Stanford for health reasons, I had a lot of time to read. Here are two books I highly recommend.

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

I cannot explain how much I loved this book. Kids who come from different walks of life get to know each other and realize they have more in common than different. It is what every teacher wishes to see in their classrooms. Acceptance and understanding. This book would be a PERFECT read aloud for ages 10 and up. Everyone should read it. I can just imagine the deep classroom discussions this book could lead to.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House:

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen

This book was action-packed. Jennifer Nielsen is one of my favorite middle-grade authors. You know you are getting a book that will keep you wanting to read well past your bedtime. Kids love her books because they can learn about history in a way that relates to them. You will not regret purchasing any of her books!

Synopsis from Google Books:

Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference.

THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS Book Review

I received an ebook copy of THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS via netgalley. Boy am I glad I read this book. It is a must have in the middle-grade classroom and school libraries. The main character, Zoey, allows children who live in poverty to see themselves in a book. Something they may have never experienced before. It is well-written. The characters are likable. All the praise this book has received so far is right on. You must pre-order this book. I am getting a copy for our elementary school library and recommending it to our intermediate-grade teachers.

From Amazon
Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.
Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend―they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.
Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?
This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.

There is a First Time for Everything

I have been thinking, for some time now, to start my own blog. It is a scary, an extremely scary, thought. I always struggled with writing, putting my thoughts into words. It never sounded the way I wanted it to sound. I felt the full message I was trying to get across was not there. Then I thought about mJan29 006y students who struggle everyday with putting their thoughts onto paper. I challenge them and expect them to write in every subject area, including writing their own blog post. But I never challenge myself to be a better writer.

If I am going to be the best teacher for my students, I need to learn right along with them, right? Why not blog and reflect on my teaching? Why not open myself up to criticism, feedback, just like I expect of my students?  When talking about education reform, Grant Wiggins said in his new post today, “Implementation Version 1.0 is LIKELY to fail. We won’t get this right, most likely until Version 3.5. So, let’s fail early and often (as they say at IDEO) and work to get it right as quickly as possible, based on feedback and advice.” I am taking this to heart. I will fail. I will fail early and often. This is how I will become the teacher my students need me to be. I’m all in! Are you?