Read-Aloud Tuesday! Oct 28

Welcome!  It’s my third year of reading aloud in my son’s Montessori classroom (ages 3-6), and the second year of blogging about the books we share.

It’s almost Halloween, which means some special, spooky stories!  Plus a special wind-themed story, as it’s been very, VERY windy!


Click Clack Boo: a tricky treat by Doreen Cronin

Farmer Brown doesn’t like Halloween – not the creepy sounds, not the trick-or-treaters, nothing.    When he hears unexpected sounds outside, he huddles down in bed and hides – until a quack, quack, quackle noise draws his attention.  The gang of animals, including clever Duck, is back in this sequel geared for young readers.  Be sure to read Click Clack Moo: cows that type, too!  Share with ages 2-6.


Dog and Bear: tricks and treats by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

In three short stories, best friends Dog and Bear prepare for Halloween: they shop for costumes, welcome trick-or-treaters, and do their own trick-or-treating.  Each story is perfectly pitched to the audience: Bear mistakes his reflection for himself, Dog misunderstands what “Trick or Treat?” really means, and their costume choices are identical.  Every Dog and Bear book is welcomed by kids, and it’s one of our favorite series in our home.  Share with ages 4-7.


Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Jasper Rabbit’s done it: he’s been eating tons of free carrots from Crackenhopper Field, and now they’re following him!   These creepy carrots are in his house, in his bedroom…but no one else can see them?  What’s a rabbit to do?  With one of the more clever endings I’ve seen in a picture book, this one garnered rave reviews from the students.  Peter Brown’s black/white/orange illustrations are spot-on and add to the dramatic, creepy tone.  Highly recommended.  Share with ages 3+.


Windblown by Édouard Manceau

What happens when seven shapes – pictured on the cover – are arranged?  They form a chicken, or a bird, or a fish!  Each animal believes he is the true owner of the shapes, but it’s the powerful wind that’s blown them together and that leave the shapes, disassembled, so the reader may continue the creation.  This minimalist title would go great with a printed set of Manceau’s shapes for readers to engage with after the story.  Share with ages 3-8.


Review: Skink No Surrender

skink no surrender

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

7 word summary: Runaway? Abduction? Richard will find out.

Realistic fiction, Mystery.  Stand-alone novel.  Share with ages 12+.  © 2014.

Malley’s run off…again.  But Richard knows his cousin’s tricks, knows her signals.  When Malley makes a check-in phone call, assuring Richard she’s safe, he picks up on cryptic clues – clues that lead him to believe that she’s being held against her will.  With the unlikely assistance of Skink, the eccentric ex-governor of Florida, the boys work to decipher environmentally-themed clues to locate and rescue Malley from an internet predator.  Funny, fresh, and fast-paced, this is a standout among realistic fiction that highlights the dangers of the internet along with the plight of environmental issues in Florida.  Skink is one character you’d want to call your friend.  Highly recommended.

AND: Skink No Surrender is on the longlist for the 2014 National Book Award!

Library Lessons: Week of Oct 20 – author study, cornell notes, no power!

Week 8 started off as expected, then got wild.  Wednesday: Taught 4th grade.  Typical day.  Thursday: Taught 4th grade, 2nd grade, K.  Early-morning school evacuation due to electrical fire.  No power all day, no network access, no circulation.  Still have classes to teach, though! Friday: Taught 2nd grade, K.  Power on, but discover 3 min before class that the SmartBoard is blown…as are the tech lessons.  No sub for a K teacher, so classes are at 33 students each.


The library without power.  How helpful of Mother Nature to provide such abundant natural light!  New books are on each table, ready for little hands.

No power = no circulation, but no worries: students browsed our new books!

Kindergarten: Author / Illustrator study with Arthur Howard.  Stories: Mr Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog, Mr Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Howard.  Two books, as ½ of a class had already heard the planned story.  Introduced the I Can Read section.

Thinking questions: Mr Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog – What advice would you give to Mr Putter to help get Zeke to behave?  If you were Mr Putter and Mrs Teabury asks if Zeke was a good lollipup, how would you reply? Mr Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup – What is Mr Putter’s problem?  How could he solve it?  (at the end) How did Mr Putter solve his problem?

2nd grade: Oh, the best laid plans…

We were to access PebbleGo Animals as a class to work on Claim Evidence Reasoning using question stems inspired by Memoirs of a Hamster.  But…no power, no SmartBoard = no whole-group access.

So: student choice read-alouds!  We sat in the front of the library, near the natural light, where the New Books display is kept.  I read aloud for 30 minutes, then gave students either (a) browsing time or (b) check-out time, depending on the day.  Students chose: The Adventures of Beekle: an unimaginary friend by Dan Santat and Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta

Beekle inspired some great discussion, and Nighttime Ninja was perfect for a dark school day!

4th grade:  Week 2 of Cornell Notes / Native American mini-unit. Goal: in groups, highlight important words and phrases from one page of Kids Discover magazine article.  One lesson I modeled this with the doc camera (power!), another day I explained to the best of my ability (no power).  As needed, I assisted groups.

Interestingly, the W class didn’t finish and requested more time next week.  The Th class – with no power! – were successful in completing the assignment and earned a Free Storytime Week next week.

Highlighting important words and phrases!  Nice work!

Highlighting important words and phrases! Nice work!

Review: The Iron Trial


The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

7 word summary: Will Cal’s untapped magical powers cause chaos?

Fantasy.  First in the Magisterium series.  Share with ages 10-16. ©2014.

Most kids would want to attend a school to learn to harness magical powers.  Not Callum Hunt.  His dad’s expressly forbidden magic – and Cal agrees: it’s magic, after all, that killed his mom, magic that’s caused his leg to be mangled beyond medical repair.  But at the test for entry into the Magisterium, Cal fails to fail and is placed with the top students for his first year – The Iron Year – of training. Can Cal cause enough trouble to be kicked out of the Magisterium…and is that what he really wants? Fast-paced with an unimaginable twist of an ending, bestselling authors Black and Clare are at the top of their game in this seamlessly written fantasy.

Review: Half a World Away


Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata

7 word summary: Jaden’s adopted…why’re his parents adopting again?

Realistic fiction.  Stand-alone novel.  Share with ages 9-13.

Newbery medalist and National Book Award winning author Kadohata serves up a realistic story that hasn’t been told before.  Jaden, a handful at best, is travelling with his adoptive parents to Kazakhstan to adopt another child, a baby.  Thinking it’s because they don’t love him due to his difficult behaviors – which include setting stuffed animals on fire and repeated lying – he’s convinced they will abandon him and love the baby more.  Halfway around the world, the adoption hits a major snag, and it’s at the orphanage that Jaden connects with another human on a deeply profound level for the first time in his life.  An honest portrayal of the challenges of adoption from both a child and adult perspective with an almost too-neat ending.

Babymouse: Diorama Star!

Last week, J-girl had a school project: create a diorama…about anything.  Sigh.  Because anyone who knows a 2nd grader knows that “anything” means too many options – which means no work gets done.  Ideas were suggested: restaurant, bookshop, kitchen, bedroom, spooky house.  None were eagerly received…until we hit on Babymouse.  babymouse-4

J-girl LOVES the Babymouse graphic novels.  Throw in some Rock Star – because Techie Rocker has a guitar (or two or six) around the house and music makes our world go ’round –  and her diorama idea was cemented.  One supply run, along with in the stash of scrapbook and craft supplies in our house, and she was off.  Final result: rock-star awesome!WP_20141020_001-edit

Seeing how proud J-girl was of her effort made this project totally worthwhile.  And while we still don’t know the purpose of the diorama(!!!), tying it to a book and character that she loves will certainly make her first shoe box project one to remember.

BIG thanks to Babymouse (and Jenni & Matt Holm) for writing great books and being an awesome project inspiration!

Review: Lulu’s Mysterious Mission


Lulu’s Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst

7 word review: Lulu’s met her match: the new babysitter.

Realistic fantasy.  Third in a series (reads well as a stand-alone).  Share with ages 5-10.

Lulu, that difficult, impossible, pain in the b-u-t-t- little girl is back.  Her parents are off on a trip and – horrors! – are leaving her behind with a babysitter.  Lulu is not at all pleased, and decides to be as naughty as possible to force her parents to come home early.  That’s until she meets Sonia Sofia Solinsky, the terrifying adult chosen to look after Lulu.  Each of Lulu’s disaster-filled plans are foiled by Ms. S’s, who reveals that she is a super-spy and will teach Lulu the tricks of the trade in return for complete obedience.  Spying is what Lulu wants to learn most…but can she quell her fit-throwing episodes?  Quirky illustrations, lush white space, and large font keep the pages turning in this gem from Viorst.  Recommended.