Spirit Hunters Book Review

Wow. Talk about scary. This book is like Poltergeist for kids. Harper moves to an old house that is rumored to be haunted. Her little brother becomes possessed by a spirit and only Harper can help. Little does she know that she has more help and more power than meets the eye! Great book but pretty scary!! I recommend for ages 11 and up and for kids who do not get nightmares easily.

From Amazon

A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely.

The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

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Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls Book Review

This book was action-packed and fun to read. Little did Abigail know the new school she was attending was a front for a spy organization. Along with her friends, Abby is thrown into the spy world and discovers there is more to her mother than she ever dreamed. I recommend this book for ages 9 and up.

From Amazon

A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut that’s perfect for fans of Stu Gibbs. 

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. 

But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

The Bridge Home Book Review

This book captured my attention so much that I finished if in one day. The MC tells the story in such a beautiful, caring way it make it easy to read and fall into her life as a homeless, runaway child living on the streets. I couldn’t believe the lengths the children had to go through to make money and some of the creepy adults they had to deal with. Luckily, they also met some caring adults along the way. This book is a Global Read Aloud selection fall of 2019. I highly recommend it for grades four and up. A must have in classroom and school libraries.

From Amazon

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

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!

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?