The Cat Who Went to Heaven
By: Elizabeth Coatsworth
1931 Newbery Medal
Jen Vincent is challenging and giving readers permission to reread in April. She calling it: It’s A-OK to Reread in April. Brilliant. I often put pressure on myself to read everything, and I rarely slow down and reread my favorites.
I am taking Jen’s challenge, and our weekly book club together will feature us discussing the books that we are rereading together. I can’t wait to do some rereading!
April has five Sunday’s so we have an extra week of rereading. Yay!
Reading Along I-94 April Rereading Discussions
April 2: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
April 9 and April 16: Charlotte’s Web By: E.B. White
April 23: Marty McGuire By: Kate Messner
April 30: Cloudette By: Tom Lichtenheld
My class has come to love celebrating the release of books by their favorite authors. Today we are celebrating the release of Jarrett J. Krosoczka new book, Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes by attending Jarrett’s virtual storytime.
We also decided to give Jarrett his own tub in our classroom library.
Happy Book Birthday, Lunch Lady!
Lunch Lady will be forever hanging out on the top of our bookshelf with Babymouse.
Three Books I Loved Last Week
The Greatest Skating Race
By: Louise Borden
Mily and the Macy’s Parade
By: Shana Corey
By: Cynthia Lord
My Favorite Book of the Week
Boy + Bot
By: Ame Dyckman
This Weeks Reading Adventures
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
By: Elizabeth Lewis
JEN: This month we are doing Reading Along I-94 a totally new, different way! As I read Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani, I dogeared pages with quotes that I really loved. (I know, I dogeared the pages – but it was an ARC and it felt good.) At the Anderson’s Breakfast, I gave Colby the book with a hand-written letter explaining that his challenge this month is to try and figure out which line or sentence or group of sentences on the page made me dogear the page.
WEEK 4 -
JEN: We’re coming to the end of discussing Same Sun Here. I’m sad because I love this book. It has been fun seeing if you can guess my favorite quotes! So far you are six for six…let’s see how you finish up!
COLBY: p. 250 “My parents work so hard. I want to get a good job and get them a house in New Jersey. I said that to Kiku and he said, “We’ll work hard, too, and then we’ll take care of them.” We shook hands on it and I felt very grown-up. I was thirteen years old, sitting under the GW Bridge, in New York City, with my brother, who trusted me with his secrets. Sometimes Kiku can be mean, but mostly he is sweeter than a big bag of gummy bears.” -Meena
JEN: Okay, I’ll give it to you! The line I loved was: “Sometimes Kiku can be mean, but mostly he is sweeter than a big bag of gummy bears.” –Meena
I love this description. It’s such a simple simile but she mixes in some alliteration and who doesn’t love gummy bears? Right? It reminds me of the beginning when she talks about her brother. Both lines just seem to emanate her love for him.
COLBY: I love gummy bears.
I think it would be cool to be so close to your siblings like Meena. I have lots of siblings, but I’ve never been super close to them.
JEN: I have a sister who is five years younger than me and a half-brother who didn’t grow up with me. We don’t talk to each other very often, but when it comes down to it they are still my siblings. My sister got married in October and after she got dressed and was waiting for the ceremony to start, we were hanging out in a back room for brides. My brother drove down from Wisconsin that afternoon and came right to the church. I had been pretty composed all day but when my brother walked in and we were all together for the first time that day, my sister and I both started bawling. Even though we aren’t the kind of siblings who talk on the phone everyday, they are still an important part of my life.
COLBY: p. 253 “The opposite of this is that Ms. Stidham told me she was real proud of me, though. She asked me to stay after class one day and I thought I might be in trouble for something, but then she looked at me like I was a grown-up and she said, “River, I want you to know that I’m proud to know you.” I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say a word, although I guess I should’ve said thanks or something. Then she held out a little purple paperback book. “Here,” she said, and shoved it into my hands. “This book is about doing the right thing, too. It’s my favorite.”
I looked down at the cover. To Kill a Mockingbird.”
JEN: “…Ms. Stidham told me she was real proud of me, though. She asked me to stay after class one day and I thought I might be in trouble for something, but then she looked at me like I was a grown-up and she said, ‘River, I want you to know that I’m proud to know you.’ I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say a word, although I guess I should’ve said thanks or something. Then she held out a little purple paperback book. ‘Here,’ she said, and shoved it into my hands. ‘This book is about doing the right thing, too. It’s my favorite.’
I looked down at the cover. To Kill a Mockingbird.
‘I want you to have it,’ she said, and I swear it was like there were little tears in her eyes. But then she straightened herself up and said, ‘Go on, then,’ and turned me by the shoulders and walked me to the door. I finally managed to say thank you.” – River
Right again! Ugh. this part just had me so emotional. A teacher, a student, a book. Such a powerful moment. It’s like she can’t tell him what she wants to say but the book explains it all. I love that she says, “‘…I’m proud to know you.’” She doesn’t say I’m proud OF you, she says I’m proud to know you. It resonates differently with me than if she had said I’m proud of you. Lots of people say that but it seems so different that she says she proud just to know him. Like knowing him makes her better. Like he is so important, it has nothing to do with her but everything with him and how he can influence people. Love it.
COLBY: Your thoughts make me think of the book Choice Words by Peter Johnston. It is all about how our word choice affects our students. He talks about saying things like, “You should be proud of yourself,” instead of, “I’m proud of you.” It’s amazing how switching up one or two words can have such a huge impact on kids.
JEN: I read an article that talked about being careful of telling kids they are smart even. If they are always told they are smart, then when they can’t do something right away they will feel like they are dumb and won’t have that sense of feeling that if they try again or harder or in a different way that they will ever get it. I talk to kids about making good choices or good thinking skills instead of complimenting them for being smart.
COLBY: p. 262 “She said there are so many Americans-legal, illegal, citizens, not citizens-who love America and, also, the country they or their ancestors come from. I asked her is felt that way about China and she said, ‘That’s what it means to be an American. To be free to love who and what you want, and to keep a lot in your heart at once.’”
JEN: Wahoo! You got them all right! “’That’s what it means to be an American. To be free to love who and what you want, and to keep a lot in your heart at once.’” – Meena (Mai)
How amazing is the idea of love and our heart? You know the saying, “I love you with all my heart.” That’s pretty amazing. I know now that I have kids I feel like I am capable of more and more love every day. I love them more and more every day. Love is exponential. It’s amazing.
Can you just try to imagine everything inside your heart? It’s a pretty mind-blowing image if you ask me.
Colby: It is very mind blowing:)
JEN: Do you ever think of friends from childhood and think of how close you were and how they shaped your life but how they are just memories now? It makes me sad sometimes, especially with some close friends I haven’t kept in touch with. But it’s like they are in my heart. I’m reading Far From You by Lisa Schroeder and the main character’s mom died but told her she is always with her. In the book, the girl thinks of her mom as an angel who watches over her but I guess that could mean she’s always in her heart. Love is such an interesting emotion.
Hitty: Her First Hundred Years
By: Rachel Field
1930 Newbery Medal
Be sure to check out what Mr. Schu has to say about Hitty at: Watch.Connect.Read
I had not idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up to read the Newbery Medals books with Mr. Schu and company. I’m happy to be out of the 20s. I’m hoping that the books get a little better each decade.
My thoughts on the books of the 20s.
The highlight of the 20s was, without a doubt, filming the Shen of the Sea video with Mr. Schu at the Anderson’s Children’s Literature Breakfast
My Favorite Mr. Schu #nerdbery video.
I had a lot of fun filming my video for Smoky the Cowhorse
The 20s in pictures (I have no idea what happened to my Smoky the Cowhorse picture).
This month we are doing Reading Along I-94 a totally new, different way! As I read Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani, I dogeared pages with quotes that I really loved. (I know, I dogeared the pages – but it was an ARC and it felt good.) At the Anderson’s Breakfast, I gave Colby the book with a hand-written letter explaining that his challenge this month is to try and figure out which line or sentence or group of sentences on the page made me dogear the page.
To follow along, read the book and see if there are any quotes that stick out to you. Here are the pages to look for quotes: 2, 77, 87, 145, 189, 206, 250, 253, 262. Of course, I think it would be great if you shared your own favorite quotes as we go along!
COLBY: p. 145
“One time when I got a bad grade at school, Dadi told me how much it hurt that she was not able to go to school as a child. All her brothers were allowed to go but because she was a girl, her father said she didn’t need to learn. She went with her mother into the forest, and worked. She used to try to read her brother’s books, but she could not understand them.” -Meena
“Once when Dadi was pregnant with my uncle, a man cheated her out of 300 rupees. The man took her money and gave her a piece of paper. He said it was a prescription that would make her baby strong. But when she brought the paper to the pharmacy, they said it wasn’t real. All the paper said was, “This woman is stupid.” Dadi had kept the paper all those years and she showed it to me. She said she was cheated because she could not read or write. She said she did not want something like that to happen to me. I have never gotten a bad grade since she told me that.” -Meena
JEN: Both are great quotes…but the second one is the one I copied down. Ding ding ding ding! In one paragraph, Neela Vaswani made me feel like I had been punched in the stomach. How horrible is that man to take Dadi’s money? And then how horrible do you think Dadi felt when she found out she had been tricked? It reminds me of my spelling bee catastrophe. It’s just such a horrible feeling.
This story is a perfect example of why it’s important to tell stories. We need to hear what other people have been through. We need to know where we have come from and what we can do to make the world a better place. We need to learn from each other’s mistakes.
Meena also realizes never to take her education for granted. There are lots of kids today who take things for granted – lots of adults, too. I try to be thankful for everything I have, good or bad, every day. Even something like a messy kitchen – I’m lucky to have a kitchen with dishes and food that needs to be cleaned up.
COLBY: I really like learning/reading about moments in people’s lives that are turning points. Hearing this story was a turning point for Meena. I think reading a book like R.J. Palacio’s Wonder will cause many readers to think deeply about the way they view and treat others.
JEN: I agree. I can’t imagine someone reading Wonder and not being moved by the story. When I booktalked it to two classes last week and described Auggie, there were gasps and comments when I explained that he says he looks like ET or Darth Sidious. It was interesting how they reacted and I explained to them to remember that he is a real person and the same as them on the inside. I hope that after they read the book, they would think about how they respond to seeing someone like Auggie or anyone who is different.
COLBY: p. 189
“They were all surprised that we are best friends but we haven’t ever met. Ms. Beldsoe said that’s what happens when you find a ‘kindred spirit.’” -Meena
JEN: Right again! Sometimes, when I try to explain the relationships I have developed with people I have met through Twitter, people just don’t understand. One time, I explained that I felt I had found “like-minded” people on Twitter…but the person I was talking to suggested that it’s better to spend time with people who don’t think like you and who stretch your thinking. So “like-minded” isn’t the word I really wanted. I really think I have found people who share a similar passion for books and literacy. I love Meena’s term – that I have found kindred spirits.
COLBY: I think that finding “like-minded” people on Twitter has helped push me as a reading teacher. My students benefit from the conversations and relationships that I have because of Twitter.
JEN: I totally agree but I like Meen’a term better. I love that eveyone I know on Twitter has a different perspective on the books that I’m reading. Look at how different-minded we were about I Want My Hat Back but how we were able to talk about it and stretch our minds. I feel like I have found kindred spirits in Twitter friends. We share the same excitement and love of reading and writing and working with students but we are all unique at the same time.
COLBY: p. 206
“So then I thought about what it meant, to be watching something so historic. The first black person to become president. If he could overcome the odds, then so could a hillbilly, or an Indian, or anybody. And it made me feel like anything was possible. People are always saying how you can be anything you want in America, but I had never really believed it, or even thought that much about it. But when Obama was sworn in, I DID believe it. And I think that’s why everyone had those tears in their eyes, because they knew that, too. I’ll never forget that moment.” -River
JEN: I love that this book becomes recent historical fiction. I think there are lots of kids who will remember when Obama was sworn in, and if they don’t, they will be able to relive the event through this book. I’m glad this is already in a book. Sometimes I feel like it takes forever for something historical to pop up in historical fiction so I’m glad this book is already talking about Obama being sworn in.
I actually really liked the paragraph before this, too:
“Nobody said a word the entire time, but when Obama was sworn in, I heard someone let out a little weeping sound and I looked around and there was Dr. Patel. I hadn’t even known he was there. He had tears in his eyes. So then I looked at every single person and MOST of them had tears in their eyes. Mark’s mom kept her hand over her mouth like she was amazed. This little old woman sitting in a plastic waiting room chair beside me dotted a wad of Kleenex to her eyes. It was the strangest thing.” -River
Doesn’t it just seem like time is standing still? I love it. Do you remember where you were when President Obama was sworn in? I was teaching at one of my middle schools and the TVs were on in all the rooms. I got to watch it with a 7th grade class I had been working with.
COLBY: I was teaching fourth graders when Obama was sworn in. We watched it together as a class. I’m not sure many of them understood the significance, but I’m glad that they got an opportunity to watch it live.
I too, am happy to see Obama’s inauguration already in a book like it is in Same Sun Here. My fourth graders were only first graders when Obama was sworn in. I’m guessing they don’t remember it at all. So often, we don’t think of history as being something that happened in our lives, we think of it as something that happened before our time.
JEN: One of my 3rd graders was reading a Guinness Book of World Records book and he found a page that had a picture of Obama being sworn in. The heading explained that he was the first African-American president. I’m glad our kids will grow up with the sense that it’s normal for an African-American person to be president. It’s interesting to already see how their perspective on things might be different just because of how times are different.
You are a rockstar at finding quotes! Overall, you are six for six. I love this book. What’s crazy is I don’t think we have given that much about the plot of the story away. This book is about Meena and River’s lives but also about friends and how we build relationships at the same time. Awesomeness.
Review: HERE COME THE GIRL SCOUTS!
There is something special about a day that includes an author Skype. I can see it in my readers’ eyes as they walk down the hallway at 8:30 in the morning. They know that today is going to be special. Morning chatter is focused around questions for the author, and students will rush into the classroom and try to reread the author’s books while they try to avoid doing their morning math. The energy rubs off on their teacher. I’m always super excited to invite an author into our classroom, and introduce them to my readers.
Today we will be Skyping with the lovely and talented Shana Corey. We have been studying and falling in love with her picture books: Players in Pigtails, Here Come the Girl Scouts!, and The Mermaid Queen. We’ve read her author notes, studied her website, and discussed, at length, what we are hoping to take away from our visit.
My students fell in love with Ms. Corey after reading Here Come the Girl Scouts!. When I told the class that Ms. Corey is Jenni Holm’s editor they flipped out. In case you haven’t read my blog before, my class loves Jennifer Holm… a lot.
We are prepared.
We are excited.
We are nervous.
Welcome to our classroom Ms. Corey. My class knows that you are a reader, and they will welcome you with open arms.
Three Books I Loved Last Week
Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
The Money Tree by Sarah Stewart and David Small
My Favorite Book of the Week
Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner
This Weeks Reading Adventure
The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth