Monday, June 29, 2015

Dear Mr. Blueberry

Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James
   Illustrated by Simon James
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Published: 1991
ISBN: 9780547010342
Personal Copy

I thought that since I had done Dear Hank Williams, that I would do another book that was written as letters. These have responses though...

This is such a sweet exchange between Emily and Mr. Blueberry. I love how the Mr. Blueberry tries to guide Emily into understanding about whales...and the fact that one could not live in her pond!

Emily is persistent, but Mr. Blueberry wins out in the end...or does he. Emily goes to the ocean, which is where Mr. Blueberry tells her that whales live, and Arthur (the whale) is there.

I love this story for the response factor, but also because Emily does not allow Mr. Blueberry to make her not believe in Arthur.

Teacher Resources:

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant
   Illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Publisher: Voyager Books
Published: 1998
ISBN: 9780152024802
Personal Copy

What a beautiful example of - I think - what our lives should be. The scarecrow is completely happy in his life and what occurs everyday around him. And as he goes through his day, what I love the most is that he is looking up!

The scarecrow is beloved by the animals that come near him. And if you look carefully, he always has a smile on his face. 

Read this beautiful book to just learn how to smile and enjoy the everyday things in life!

Teacher Resources:

Google book activity

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Relatives Came

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
   Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Published: 1985
ISBN: 9780689717383
Personal Copy

Since I finished reading Dear Hank Williams, I wanted to keep working on my Cynthia Rylant collection. So here is the next book...

Oh what a fun story about relatives coming to visit...and all that hugging.

And eating...

And time to just enjoy each other's company...

But they leave after weeks and weeks...and they were missed...and the relatives missed their family too.

Cynthia Rylant crafts another beautiful story!

Teacher Resources:

Good for teaching - Voice, adjectives, Text-to-Self Connections

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Hank Williams - I FINISHED!

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
Jacket Art by Amy Bates
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780805080223
Personal Copy

WOW! Even though it may seem like it took me a long time to read this book, it really didn't. I read it on three different days and finished.

Kimberley Willis Holt has a way of drawing you into her stories like no other middle grade author I have read. 

Tate P. Ellerbee is anything but static as a character. As she writes to Hank Williams, she reveals so much of what is going on inside of her. She does not want to lie to her pen pal!

Set in one of my favorite places - Louisiana - Tate decides to make Hank Williams her pen pal. The whole book is her letters to him, but what powerful letters they become as the book progresses. She tells him of her mother who sings, her brother who loves to race cars on his bike, and her Aunt Patty Cake and Uncle Jolly who she lives with.

It is a book you will definitely have to read. You will enjoy her highs and lows as she grows emotionally in this wonderful book!

Teacher Resources:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

An Angel for Solomon Singer

An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Peter Catalanotto
Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: 1992
ISBN: 9780531070826

Personal Copy

I decided that I would keep with one of my favorite authors today - Cynthia Rylant.

An Angel for Solomon Singer tells the story of Solomon who is lonely. He doesn't have anything he can love because at his hotel where he lives, he cannot have them. He wanders the streets of New York and is still lonely - for home - Indiana.

But one night, he wanders into the Westway Cafe. Angel, the waiter, is kind and smiles at Solomon. The menu promises that your dreams can come true. So each night Solomon orders his food...and one of his dreams - but not out loud. 

Soon, Solomon begins to notice all the things in New York that he can connect to his home in Indiana...and he is no longer lonely.

What a beautiful story not only for children, but for people of all ages!

Teacher Resources:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

When I Was Young in the Mountains

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Diane Goode
Publisher: Puffin Unicorn
Published: 1982
ISBN: 978140548754
Personal Copy

Cynthia Rylant has such a wonderful way with words. Her books have always captivated my students and myself.

As I reread this book for my blog, it reminded me of my grandfather's cottage and how I could use her book as a wonderful mentor text to craft my own story.

Grandparents are the central character, which creates the extended family for students...or students who are being raised by grandparents. It is a remembrance of the mountains and the very special place it holds in the narrator's heart. 

From dinnertime...

To the johnny-house...

The Crawford's store...

Getting water for bath time...

And finally to never wanting to go anywhere else!

The story brought back so many memories of my childhood...Thank you Cynthia!

Teacher Resources:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dear Hank Williams

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
Jacket Art by Amy Bates
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780805080223
Personal Copy

To say I was excited would have been an understatement. I have been waiting for Kimberly to write a new middle grade book...and voila! Here it is.

Oh how I enjoy reading her books. She captures the essence of her characters so well.

I haven't finished reading it yet, but I wanted to post that it is out! Go get it!!
There will be more to come...

Teacher Resources:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant by Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Michael Foreman
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 2003
ISBN: 9780007111923
Personal Copy

Well, I was absent again for a week. A project came up to work on, and it has kicked my butt! Have you ever tried to find reading passages on a certain grade level on Project Gutenberg??? Not fun...Then try to pair up tow passages. It is almost impossible. Oh well, I am almost finished with what I am doing. Whew!

Okay, so Gentle Giant. What a beautiful story that teaches us that we should never ever judge anyone. Or bully them.

There is beauty in the story, in the pictures, just everything about the story.

A giant man - big, strong, frightening - lives on an island and goes across the lake to work for the people in the town. But they are cruel to him...even after he saves a girl from the village.

This simple, yet touching story is a must have for everyone.

Teacher Resources:

Have students rewrite the story from the point of view of a character in the book.

Have a class discussion about bullying and how this book touches on bullying.