Boys are Dogs by Leslie Margolis

What a fun book!

Poor Annabelle comes home from camp and is forced to move 30 miles away from her home and best friends in North Hollywood. She and her mom are moving in with Ted, aka Dweeble, her mother’s boyfriend. For the first time, Annabelle will be going to a public middle school- with boys!

Starting at a new school, especially one so different from her old school, isn’t easy for Anna. And the absolute worst part of the new school? THE BOYS! They are immature, cruel, and just plain awful. While she is making friends with a great group of girls, the boys in her classes make school absolutely miserable.

When her mom and Ted bribe Annabelle with a new puppy, she is put in charge of training him. While reading the puppy training book her mom bought her, Annabelle realizes that boys and dogs have a lot in common. When she starts using some of the dog training techniques on the boys in her class, they work! Maybe boys and dogs do have a lot in common…

Boys Are Dogs was so cute! I loved the premise and I think the girls in my class are going to love it even more. It’s especially fitting after watching some of my 6th grade girls interact with the 6th grade boys at our end of the year dance last night. Maybe the dog training tips will come in handy. ;) If nothing else, this is a great girl power book and a reminder that boys in middle school aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. It was great to read a book for middle school girls that doesn’t romanticize middle school boys. I spend all day with middle schoolers and this was one of the most accurate portrayals of 6th grade boys that I have read. I was hysterically laughing at the descriptions of the boys at lunch- arm farts, corn dog eating contests, and mixing/drinking random concoctions. Pick this one up for your middle school library ASAP!

Hot Books in My Classroom

Welcome to the latest installment of “Hot Books in My Classroom”.  For those of you who may be reading this for the first time, HBIMC is a feature I run every month or so, highlighting the books that are currently the most popular in my 6th grade classroom.  Every class is different, every year is different, and every month is different.  But one thing always stays the same- my students’ enthusiasm for reading!

We recently finished our Holocaust unit in Language Arts.  During the unit, my students worked in book clubs reading books about different aspects of WWII and the Holocaust.  One of the most popular choices was the verse novel T4 a novel by Ann Clare LeZotte.  Although we finished the unit, this one hasn’t been back on my shelf yet.  The combination of the subject matter (Hitler’s Action T4 program, which dictates that doctors euthanize the mentally ill and the disabled as “unfit to live.”) and the simple verse format attract my dormant and underground readers alike.  

For the last year I have been on the lookout for a novel similar to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but with a female protagonist.  While the girls in my class read and love Diary of a Wimpy Kid they always ask for another book like it, but “with a girl!”  Well, this month I found not one, but two perfect read-alikes. Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone by Margie Palatini was an ARC I picked up at a publisher’s preview last year. One of my students found it on the bookshelf before spring break, read it over a few nights, and hasn’t stopped raving since. She passed it on to a friend, who did the same. Every day or so I see our classroom copy on someone else’s desk! And when they aren’t reading Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone they are laughing and giggling over Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell. Even more similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life is told in a journal format complete with illustrations and comics.  The girls in my class are already asking for a sequel.

Then there’s Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek. The fever surrounding Skeleton Creek reminds me a lot of the fever that surrounded Diary of a Wimpy Kid when the first book came out. My students are constantly discussing the book and videos. When any one student sits at the computer to watch a video I can see the other students in the room leaning back in their chairs and discretely watching behind their classmate’s head. The only problem? They inevitably scream and jump into the air when something scary happens. It makes me laugh every time!

And in the area of non-fiction, DK Eyewitness books are always popular in my classes. This year, many of my boys are very interested in WWI, WWII, and the armed forces. Right now, a few of my boys are reading Soldier.  They are experts on weapons, let me tell you!  

Finally, one of my more dormant readers can not put Nancy Werlin’s The Rules of Survival down. She begs for independent reading time each day and every morning brags to me about what page she is on. She is a realistic fiction fan but has a very hard time finding books that hook her. The Rules of Survival had her from the first page. Needless to say, I am thrilled. I’ve already bought Killer’s Cousin by Werlin for her to read next. I love when a student finds an author and book they love!

 

Those are some of the most popular books in my classroom.  What are your kids reading?

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