Monday, March 27, 2017

Walking and Listening to Ghost

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Simon and Schuster Audio
  • ISBN 9781508230472
  • Narrator: Guy Lockhart

The first few sentences of this book had me hooked. I mean who doesn't love random Guinness World Records?! Luckily for me, Castle a.k.a Ghost is obsessed with Guinness and shares a handful of these fascinating facts throughout the book. Everyday after school Castle does the exact same thing, he buys sunflower seeds, sits and eats them at the bus stop across the gym, watching people workout. But one day something else catches his eyes. There is a track team practice going on. Convinced that he can run faster than one of the boys, Castle jumps into the practice and has an impressive run. Coach wants him to join the team, but there's catch. Castle has to stay out of trouble at school, which is a lot easier said than done. Castle looks forward to his afternoons with Coach and the team, finding friendships, a place where he feels like he belongs and discovering that he is not the only one who has been through some rough times. 

I loved Guy Lockhart's narration of this book. It was so incredibly honest. You could hear every emotion in his voice, joy, anger, disappointment, desperation and sadness. He sucked me into the story and had me caring about every character, their story and what was going on in their lives. Loved!

A picture I took as I was walking across campus to start my walk one day.

Our Hearts Are Like A Zoo Too!

As The Explorers and I were getting ready for our Skype visit with Michael Hall (read all about it here) we shared the book My Heart is Like a Zoo. We fell in love with all the heart animals that he had created and decided to create our own heart animals.
We explored hearts of all sizes, colors, tried cutting them in half, rearranging them and making various animals before settling on our favorites. The animals turned out amazing and were all so incredibly different that just had to find a way to share them with others.
The kids got out their iPads and began to take photographs of their heart art. Those pictures were put into Explain Everything. They had to think of how they wanted to describe their animals, just like Michael Hall had done in his book and then add that text to their pictures. Recording their descriptions was next.  It took them a little while to record them as this was their first time using microphones on their headphones to record. After a few takes, we were done! You can watch the final product here.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Explorers Meet Micheal Hall (Via Skype That Is!)

The Explorers had been waiting for weeks to meet author/illustrator Michael Hall. They love his books, the bright colors, the shapes and had even created their own pictures inspired by his book, My Heart is Like A Zoo (more to come on that!)
Since we had so much fun creating our own heart animals, we wanted to know what his favorite heart animal that he had made was. He told us that it was a crocodile but it didn't make it into the book. He also made a skunk and giraffe which didn't make it into the book either. He shared that he wrote the book Perfect Square for his daughter. He hadn't started off writing a book for her, it just turned out that way.
The kids were dying to know what books he read to his kids when they were younger. His answer is below.
He also shared that he wrote a song when he was in kindergarten. It was about a cowboy.
Since he only had 2 lines of the song, we decided to help him write some more. The kids thought he should add, "I ride a horse, Yee-Haw!" to the song. He wrote our suggestions down to add to it. It is sure to become a hit now!
The kids were super curious to see what his next book would be so we had to ask for a sneak peek. It is called Little i and will be out in September. We got to see one of the first covers of the book. The final cover is top secret! Here is a page from Little i.
Lastly, we had to ask, "In Hawaii, we love to eat shave ice. If you could eat shave ice with any author, who would it be?" The answer? Ezra Jack Keats. He loves The Snowy Day because the snow is made of so many beautiful colors.
Thank you so much for meeting with us Michael. We loved getting to know you, ask questions of you and meet your French Bulldog, Wilson.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Geckos and Sea Stars Meet Matt Tavares (Via Skype That Is!)

The Geckos and Sea Stars were super excited to meet Matt Tavares since we had been talking about biographies and had been looking closely at the ones he had done on various baseball players.
They were beside themselves though when he said,  "It's 10* degrees here today." We then had to share with him how hot, sunny, sticky and voggy it is here. Some of the kids were ready to join him in the cold.

Matt shared with us that he is proudest of his book Zachary's Ball. It started off as a senior project and he spent an entire year working on it. Once he was done he decided to try and have it published. They had him re-work it and he spent another 6 months on it. He shared that for some of his books he writes 20 drafts! We wondered how long it took him to make hi illustrations and paintings because they are so amazing.  

The Red Sox are his favorite team. Growing up outside of Boston they are just a part of who he is and he loved going to games as a kid with his dad. The kids love his baseball biographies and wanted to know more about them. They were especially curious to find out  how he decides which players to write about. You can watch his answer below.
The kids were dying to know who the next player he was going to write about would be. It turns out he doesn't have anyone in mind! 
Matt did share that he has always wanted to do a biography about Jackie Robinson, but hasn't discovered something out about him that others haven't already written about. 

We got to see proofs of his new book that is coming out in September called Red and Lulu. It is about two cardinals in New York City. The pictures are just beautiful. The kids were excited that they were getting a sneak peek and were shouting out the names of the New York sites that they were seeing. He then showed us a draft of a book he is currently working on. We saw how he prints out the story and then does some quick sketches on the sides about what he thinks he might draw. Super cool.

What does he like to do in his spare time? He loves to spend time hanging out with his daughters, playing basketball, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, getting outside, drawing and painting.  
Finally, we had to ask, "In Hawaii we love to eat shave ice. If you could eat shave ice with any author or illustrator who would it be?" Chris Van Allsburg! He has never met him and has been spending a lot of time recently looking to his books for inspiration.
Thank you for spending time with us Matt. We had a great time learning with you. We can't wait for the quesadilla's your wife promised to make us to arrive in the mail!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March Bulletin Boards

Cut, Craft, Glue, Create...Imagine
It is amazing how many different arts and crafts books there are in the library and what a wide variety of supplies kids can use to create with.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! May you find your pot of gold!
Leprechaun O'Greg is ready to celebrate!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Walking and Listening to "Nothing But Trouble"

Nothing But Trouble  by Jacqueline Davies
Harper Audio
6 hours, 17 minutes
ISBN: 9780062369888

Narrated by Brittney Pressley

The first day of school is one that the middle schoolers in Odawahaka will never forget. They arrive to find their lockers filled with tennis balls, toy race cars zipping through the halls, and balloons falling from the ceiling with cheese and messages attached saying "Roar!" Maggie sits back and watches all that is going on, feeling quite proud of the hack she has pulled off. Maggie is following in her father's footsteps, who has passed away before she was born, and using his hackers notebooks to pull of the hacks. Maggie has always worked alone, but that changes when she meets Lena. New to Odawahaka, Lena quickly (way too quickly and assertive for me) inserts herself into Maggie's life and joins in on the hacks. Each of the hacks is being attributed to "the mouse," but will the girls take their hacks too far?

I enjoyed Brittney Pressley's narration. She kept the story moving along, had distinct character voices and I enjoyed the shear "over it" voice she used for Mrs. Dornbusch

I was super excited to read this book since I enjoyed The Lemonade War series by Jacqueline Davies. I loved the hacks/pranks that Maggie and Lena pulled off and the thought, planning and problem solving that were behind them. I loved that the whole town was hooked on a sugary drink called Moxie. But I felt that there were certain issues in the book that were skirted over and that kids would have benefitted from having these issues really explored and brought into the spotlight. One of those issues is changing friendships and how friends who were once by your side are no longer there and the feelings associated with that. Another is Maggie's mother drinking problem and Lena's mother's absence. While both are hinted at, I felt that they were really discussed. 
Will kids really notice that these issues aren't really delved into? No. 
Is this going to stop me from recommending the book to kids? Absolutely not. 
It just feels like a missed opportunity.

I took this photo as I walking and listening.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Walking and Listening to "The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary"

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan
Recorded Books
3 hours, 24 minutes
Narrators:  Jonathan Todd RossKevin R. FreeJessica AlmasyJill FrutkinCherise BootheRachel BotchanStina NielsenRamon De Ocampo

The timing of my listening to this book could not have been better. I was just about to start talking to my fourth graders about novels in verse/poetic fiction when I began listening to this book, not even knowing that it fell into this category. I loved it and couldn't wait to share it with my students.

Miss Hill's eighteen fifth graders spend the year writing poetry to be placed in the school's time capsule at the end of the year. Their poems will be all that remains of Emerson Elementary as it is scheduled to be torn down at the end of the year. As the students write their poems, we get to know them, begin to care about them as we learn their ups and downs and see them grow as people. I loved the diversity of the students, not only their in home lives,  but also their cultural and religious differences. With such diverse group of students, not only can listeners make connections with and see themselves in the students but also build empathy for others. I also loved the nod to Prince and Let's Go Crazy. The author's poetry note at the end helps explain the various types of poems throughout the book, which poems model that type of poem and also tips on how to write that type of poem. I thought it  was genius to include this in the book.

Favorite Chapter Title: One Seat, Two Seats, We All Have New Seats

I visited someplace I never had before in my walking this week. I could see humpback whales spouting off in the distance.