SLJ Battle of the Books!

SLJ’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books starts tomorrow and I can not wait!  I’ve been dying for it to start because I am a March Madness junkie.  Something that combines my love of kids books and the Madness?  Perfect!  And there is even a People’s Choice Poll!  So go vote for your favorite among the 16 contenders here and check out the standings here.  Don’t let your favorite book be left out in the cold. 🙂


No Post Today!

To everyone celebrating a holiday this weekend, enjoy!  I will be spending time with family, eating lots of hard-boiled eggs, and just relaxing!  Hopefully you will be doing the same.  🙂

cimg0110Our eggs a few years ago.  🙂

Books I Added to My Wishlist This Week

Over the past few days I have added a bunch of books to my wishlist, thanks to reviews from around the kidlitosphere.  Here are just a few of them.

  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly: This one is getting some Newbery buzz so I immediately added it to my wishlist. Plus, the main character is a budding naturalist. 🙂


  • Boys Are Dogs by Leslie Margoli: I am always on the lookout for tween-friendly romances and this one seems perfect! Jen recommended it and I loved her review. I really think my 6th grade girls will eat this one up. Romance schmomance!


  • Hunger: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant: I just finished Gone and can not wait to read the next book in the series!


  • The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo : I love Kate DiCamillo and when I found out she will have a new middle grade novel next fall, I was thrilled! It’s already on my wishlist and I am really, really hoping to find an ARC before then!


  • One of the Survivors by Susan Shaw: This is the story of a young boy who survives a school fire that kills many of his classmates. Focusing on his struggle to move forward, the novel sounds great!


  • Change-up: Mystery at the World Series by Joh Feinstein- I am so excited that John Feinstein has written another book in this series! I love sports mysteries and the first few books are a huge hit in my classroom every year.


Of course, there are so many more books on the horizon that I can’t wait to get my hands on! What are you looking forward to reading in the upcoming months? Any new books that I should know about?

Gone by Michael Grant

How did this one slip under my radar for so long?!  

One minute, Sam is sitting in class zoning out like a normal teenager.  The next minute, his teacher and some of his classmates have disappeared.  Just POOF!  There one minute, gone the next.  Within minutes, Sam and his friends learn that everyone fifteen and older in Perdido Beach is gone, without a trace.  Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, Gone is a fast-paced page-turner that you won’t want to put down.

What happened to all of the adults?  Cars are left running, stoves are still on, and young babies are left alone.  Could it have something to do with the nuclear power station in town? Nobody can figure out what is happening as panic starts to set in. Most of the kids begin to wander Perdido Beach, looking for someone to take charge; Sam is an obvious choice (he once saved a bus full of kids) but he doesn’t want to take the lead. He is afraid his strange “powers” may have started all of this and he doesn’t want anyone to find out. His friend, Astrid, is aware that her autistic brother, Little Pete, also has special powers, but she is reluctant to let anyone know.  But when the students from Coates Academy, the school on the outskirts of town for “troubled” kids, including Caine, their ringleader, come down to the town they set themselves up as the new rulers of the FAYZ, as they now call Perdido Beach.  

As Sam, Astrid, Little Pete, Quinn, and Edilio work together to survive they discover things are even weirder than they first thought- they discover they are living within a ten-mile radius around the nuclear power plant that is bounded by a barrier they cannot see any end to, see through, or even touch without harming themselves.  And that’s not strangest thing in the FAYZ.  There are talking coyotes, seagulls with talons, and flying snakes.  Not to mention the strange “powers” that more and more kids seem to be developing.

I couldn’t put this one down.  Thank goodness there is a sequel coming out this summer!  I can’t wait to find out how the kids continue to react and adapt in the FAYZ.  


Check out this awesome book trailer for Gone .

Spring Break!

I am officially on spring break!  I can’t wait to rest, recharge, and read.  🙂

If you are on spring break, what are you planning to read over the next few days?

This I Believe

Today I presented my classes with a challenge/contest.  I told them that I was so proud of their efforts during the Slice of Life Challenge that I wanted to give them another opportunity to show off their writing.  On a voluntary basis a few of them will be meeting with me and drafting personal essays for NPR’s This I Believe program.  

What is This I Believe?

This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. These short statements of belief, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here and featured on public radio in the United States, as well as in regular broadcasts on NPR. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

NPR has some great curriculum resources on their site and examples of various essays.  I can’t wait to get started with my kids after break!

A Mirror to Nature: Poems about Reflection by Jane Yolen

A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection is Jane Yolen’s newest poetry book. The photographs in the book are absolutely stunning and are taken by Yolen’s son, Jason Stemple.

Each poem is based on a picture taken by Stemple and each picture is of a reflection in nature: seven wood storks with seven reflections, a frog sitting atop a floating bottle, a solitary cockle made less alone by its reflection. The poems are brief but powerful, describing the scene in each picture and digging deeper. One of my personal favorites is the frog on the the bottle, which Yolen points out is not biodegradable- yet the frog doesn’t know the difference between it and a log.

This is a gorgeous book, with full-page, full-color photographs. I shared it with my class today as a mentor for our observation door poetry and it was a big hit. The pictures drew a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” and the poems brought out laughs and sighs of agreement. A great book to share with students of all ages, this is a must-have for your poetry collection! It is also a great book to use for science/language arts connections, as each photograph is accompanied by a brief caption giving more information.