January 26, 2011

Slimy, Spiky, Smooth: What is Texture? Review

Slimy, Spiky, Smooth: What Is Texture? (Jane Brockets Clever Concepts)Slimy, Spiky, Smooth: What Is Texture? by Jane Brocket
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**Provided by NetGalley/Publisher for honest review**

I must say that Texture is a very hard subject to talk about sometimes, particularly with ESL/Second Language learners who have very little experience with vocabulary. Also my students also seem to have little back ground other than with simple texture vocabulary. Words like smooth, hard, and soft are easy to come up with but harder or more descriptive and juicy words are not as common (aha I used a texture word!)

I loved the bright colorful pictures in this book because they chose for the most part pictures that were easy to see the textures and used mostly everyday objects. They were also close up but you could still identify with what it was. I only had 2 complaints: with the butterfly they really couldn't tell why it was powdery from the picture and when they talked about the watermelon's skin and inside they only showed the outside of an unusual looking watermelon or at least angle of the shot (round watermelon with no stripes). Some kids may not have seen the inside of a watermelon before to know that it is juicy. However with both of these you can bring in additional pictures to supplement this. Not a major distraction or problem.

I also loved the vocabulary that described the textures and explain why it was that texture. Usually they gave 2 words too which was even better! Since it is very vocabulary rich I would use it as a read aloud for all levels and for individual reading on their own for possibly high 2nd grade or 3-5 grade.

I sure wished I had this book when I taught summer school to ESL/Bilingual Science students! I really had a hard time coming up with a book that had great pictures as well as vocabulary. This book will be highly recommended for that as well as any grade that talks about texture in science or writing!

January 22, 2011

Mustang Canyon Review

Mustang CanyonMustang Canyon by Jonathan London
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have had this book for about 5 years and I don't think I have read it or a student has chosen to read it (which is why I gave it a 3 not 4). I was without a chapter book so I choose this on Wednesday to read as our read aloud because a student in my class loves horses. I found out while reading that she already had the book!. I loved the illustrations and the calm colors that were used. The language the author used was actual horse terminology and we had to discuss what they meant (mare, stallion, foal, filly, colt, sorrel, paint, pinto). The kids understood the words with little redirecting by looking at the pictures and words around them. The really liked the story too. It may not be a hit with all of your students but mine loved it!

Hot Rod Hamster Review

Hot Rod Hamster!Hot Rod Hamster! by Cynthia Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this at the book fair at the beginning of the year because of the cute and funny pictures as well as the language in particular the adjectives that the hamster uses. The kids loved it and I did too. They got to choose how the hot rod was built and we discussed as a class why they chose that one. A sure reread every year and to use in grammar lessons. This could also be used for writing about a hot rod that they drew or made at home.

The Klondike Kid: Sailing for Gold Review

Sailing for GoldSailing for Gold by Deborah Hopkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I originally read this book a couple of years ago for my 3rd grades since we studied this in our Social Studies unit and they really liked it. I read again this year and while it wasn't as such a big hit the kids did like it. This seems pretty accurate and the pictures and language are not boring but exciting for kids to listen to. The idea that the boy lived by himself in a boarding school and worked was a topic for discussion in both grade levels. We talked alot about the vocabulary and why things were taking place since kids were asking questions about it particularly in 2nd because the didn't have much background knowledge about this time period. I would diffinitely use this as only a read aloud in 2nd and 3rd grade and allow your higher readers read it after the read aloud. It is also an A.R. test which our library has! I have not read the second or third book yet.

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The Deadly Sister Review

The Deadly SisterThe Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall I really liked this book. It kept me guessing and made me keep thinking did Maya do it? I just couldn't buy into that she did it by the way she was described. My next thoughts as I read was who did I think could do it? The suspect list was many. I liked how the story telling started and it just kept accerrating at a faster and faster pace. There were a few things that I didn't get with the story but once the person who did it was reveled some of it made sense. From the beginning I thought it may be this person but the clues were very minor. Like who was Caitlin? I figured out that it was a nickname/pyseudonym but for who? However I didn't get the ending all that much. I can't go into it because it would tell you who did it. I just didn't get the character's response at the end about being honest or lying.

This author has several books out and I will have to check them out!
**For parents there is some very mature subject matter in regards to drugs, alcohol, relationships, and crime. You may want to preview this book before they read it**

January 12, 2011

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach

Scaredy Squirrel at the BeachScaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Mélanie Watt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OMG I LOVE Scaredy Squirrel! A writing teacher read the first book for a writing lesson and it is soooooo funny! Needless to say there is many spinoffs and this is the second one I have read. I am looking forward to reading the others!

This one deals with Scaredy not liking the beach but wanting the experience so he gets stuff to set up a pretend one in his yard to act like he is at the beach. But he doesn't have the sound of the beach so he goes to the beach to get a shell. Well just like the other book it shows you all the things that Scaredy is afraid of and how he goes about trying to get around his fears. Needless to say Scaredy learns a lesson.

Some of the humor younger students may not get but older students and adults will laugh. The pictures are great however they are a little busy on some pages.

If you haven't read at least one of these books go check them out!

Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp

Buster Goes to Cowboy CampBuster Goes to Cowboy Camp by Denise Fleming
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw this sitting on top a shelf when checking out books at the library yesterday and just had to check it out since my theme is cowboys/western in my classroom. I really liked the glossary on the back of the book for cowboy terminology. I will have to read this at the beginning of the year to get us into the "theme" of our class.

I really liked the "mini" headings or chapters to get younger students ready for chapters. I loved the progression of missing "brown shoes" (owners) and not liking camp to liking camp at the end. There is also a lot to talk about as far as inferencing goes. Like who is brown shoes, pink slippers, who is in the picture of the wanted sign and why did he want that person/animal? Loved the bulldog named Snarkle (lol) he was funny and the kids liked him too.

I didn't really care for all of the pictures. For the most part they are good but there are several that were a little muddy and dark looking. The media used I think was okay but sometimes too dark a color. Also sometimes the wording is very basic and stilted. I think this is due to the age the book is geared to. Despite this I think it would be good for the beginning of the year.

Babymouse: Puppy Love

Babymouse: Puppy Love (Babymouse)Babymouse: Puppy Love by Jennifer L. Holm
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was searching the school library for graphic novels and saw this among the ones left. I have really wanted to get my hands on one of these to see if my students in 2nd grade would like them and whether it would be appropriate content. Well I read it while the students checked out books and the kids gathered around while I read it and laughed out loud several times. So there was definite interest even by the boys.

The pictures are cute in white and pink and the words for the most part I think are appropriate for 2nd grade and above. Some of the features like Baby Mouse talking to the narrator and some inferences may be beyond early 2nd graders I think mid year 2nd graders should have no problems.

My favorite chuckle was the animals hiding under the bed too funny! I also liked the talking back and forth between the narrator and Baby Mouse which is not a common thing in the graphic novels I have read so far. Pretty unique and a good example of adding voice to writing.

Overall I will definitely look into purchasing at least the Puppy Love volume of Babymouse and look into the other volumes as well!

Before I Fall

Before I FallBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really thought this book was thought provoking and did like it but I just couldn't give it a higher mark.

I liked Sam's progression from the beginning to the end and while I didn't agree with her choices they made since for a teenager to make. The growth that Sam makes isn't too over the top and I soo wanted the book to end differently than it did but I understand why it ended that way. I really didn't care for any of the characters except for Kent who I thought was adorable. There was also an ICK factor for me in this book. This is the second book that I have read that has a teenager get into a relationship/encounter with a teacher. While realistically this does happen I just don't like to see it or read it in books. The other book a House of Night book stopped me from reading the rest of the series. I am not a prude I read a wide selection of books but being a teacher it is just a hot button for me.

For parents there is mature subject matter that middle and high school students would normally have access to so please be aware for younger readers.

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January 09, 2011

Cryer's Cross Trailer

Really creepy looking. I heard about this for a while. Still interested in getting it after seeing this!

Clarity by Kim Harrington - Scholastic Book Trailer

Another book trailer of a book that I really want to read.

New Year New Books!

Ok here is a great slideshow showing you some great books coming out by new authors. Alot of this are on my tbr pile so when I read them I will let you know what I think!