Reading Along I-94: Hattie Big Sky, Part 3

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Each month Jen Vincent and I choose a book to discuss together. As we read the book we chat back and forth in a google document. We post the chat here at sharpread. This month our pick is Kirby Larson’s Hattie Big Sky. 

JEN: The ending to a book is so important to me. So much of my final thoughts about a book are based on the ending. If a book doesn’t end how I want it to end, I get mad. If a book doesn’t end how I want it to end, but I can appreciate and respect the ending the author picked, then I’m not mad. If a book ends exactly how I want it to end, then I’m happy. And if a book doesn’t end how I want it to end but the author comes up with something I wouldn’t have ever imagined but it’s awesome, then I’m super happy.

No matter what happens, the ending is important to me. I can’t love a book wholeheartedly if the end just doesn’t do it for me. I know I saw someone on Twitter say they weren’t in love with the end of Hattie Big Sky but I actually really like it. It kind of has a happy ending and it kind of doesn’t. I guess it depends on what you really hope for Hattie but also how realistic you are about the time period. Whether you are happy with how things turn out for Hattie or not, there is hope. When I think about The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which are set in a similar time period, I just think of depression and despair. Life was just really hard. I get that. But I feel like Hattie stands apart from those books because, while life isn’t easy, it’s worth living because there is hope.

COLBY: I also put a lot of value in the ending of a book. I’ve read lots of books that I felt won me over at the end and a few that left a sour taste in my mouth.

I can’t imagine Hattie having an unrealistic happy-go-lucky ending. Hattie’s story would have seemed unbelievable and corny if Charlie would have came in and swept her off of her feet in a “happily ever after” type of wrap up.

JEN: I have super-high, mega-romantic hopes for Hattie Ever After! Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.

I’m glad Hattie has hope in her life. It seems to come from the fact that she finds friends to share her troubles with. She shares the ups and downs with her uncle, Charlie, Perilee and the other great friends she makes in Montana. Having that support system seems to make all the difference for Hattie. This is just another lesson I think kids can take away from Hattie. Recognize who is on your side and who really cares about you…and then cherish those relationships because you may need them. And when you need them, you’re going to want them to be there for you.

COLBY: Hattie is very lucky to be able to surround herself with great people during her time in Montana. Can you imagine how different her story would have been if she were alone? Yikes!

Thinking about the how the support system Hattie has, and how that makes the difference for her, I can’t help but think about becoming part of the support system for my new fourth graders this fall. One of the best things about fall for me is building that sense of community with my students and earning their trusts.

JEN: A support system is so incredibly important. I’ve shared on my blog before the quote from Pathways to the Common Core about how having a support system in place makes all the difference when you are making a change. Hopefully your students love reading when they come to you…but if they don’t, they are going to find that community in your class and I’m sure they’ll find books that they love to read. I believe developing rapport with them and nurturing that sense of community in your class and a culture for literacy makes the biggest difference in the teaching you can do. I’m confident you’re students will recognize how sincere you are about earning their trust and valuing them as members of your class community. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

COLBY: It’s going to be a great year!

Meet The Teacher Night

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I just finished up meeting my incoming students at Meet The Teacher Night. It was the bomb. I loved watching my new readers walk into my classroom and see their faces light up when they saw a classroom filled with books. Talking books, authors, summer, and fourth grade with these eager learners was fantastic.

As I sit at my computer and reflect, I’m thinking about 5 book conversations I had with my incoming students.

1. Jennifer Holm

All the buzz was centered around Jenni’s visit to our school, which is only 15 days away. I loved seeing the shocked faces when they found out that Jenni really was coming. A lot of electricity was in the air.

 

2. The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

I had many former students come back and visit me during meet the teacher night. It was exciting to see how excited they were to tell me all about their summer reading. The only hard part of my night was telling my former students about Ivan’s passing. I had a girl that is stone cold when it comes to emotions tear up. It was touching to see how much they connected with the might silverback, Ivan.

3. Latasha and The Little Red Tornado

Latasha and the Little Red Tornado

I let the cat out of the bag tonight, when I let my students know that Michael Scotto would be coming back for another visit to our school in the winter. I even heard a few squeals when I told them about his next Latasha book.

 

4. J.K. Rowling Bobble Head Book

Who Is J.K. Rowling?

I met a fourth grader tonight that is obsessed with two things when it comes to books: Harry Potter and bobble-head biographies (a student term- not my own). You should have seen this little reader’s face when I showed her my brand new copy of the J.K. Rowling bobble head book. Her face was priceless. I kind of felt like a magician.

5. Bigger Than A Bread Box 

Bigger than a Bread Box

My goal is to keep Bigger Than a Bread Box a secret in my classroom. Last year my plan to read it aloud was destroyed when nearly my entire class read it aloud. This year I thought that I would be able to quietly tuck it in the back of a tub until it was time to read it aloud. That worked for about 5 minutes. A former student was visiting and showing a couple of new readers what books to read, when he came accross Bread Box. He looked to his friend and said, “You must read this book. You will love it, and you will probably get to meet Ms. Snyder this year. She is super nice.”

The cat is out of the bag.

 

I hope everyone that has started school is off to a rockin’ start. I can’t wait for September 4th to roll around so that I can get to reading with my new readers.

 

 

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Blog-A-Bration! Ivy + Bean: Break the Fossil Record

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A couple of things that most young readers have an interest in: dinosaurs and world records. I was the same way. As a young reader growing up in the tiny town of Parma, Michigan, I can remember wearing out copies of The Guinness Book of World Records (I was always fascinated by the world’s tallest and shortest people), and I can remember reading and reading every dinosaur book in both our town and school library. I am finding today that the young readers I meet each year in my classroom are also giant fans of dinosaurs and world records.

Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record (Ivy and Bean, #3)

Annie Barrows has combine these two loves of mine in Ivy + Bean: Break the Fossil Record. The first time reading this book I kept thinking about how much I would have loved this book when I was a young reader. As I read Ivy + Bean: Break the Fossil Record I could picture myself in Miss Frey’s third grade classroom sharing this book with her.

If you are having a difficult time thinking about how to get your young readers started in the Ivy + Bean series, I suggest you start with book three. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that combines the awesomeness of dinosaur bones and world records?

Chronicle Books is giving away a copy of Ivy + Bean (book 2) as well as three sets of Ivy + Bean mini-notes. How cool is that?
Rules for the Giveaway
1. The giveaway will run from August 29 to 11:59 PM on September 1.
2. You must be at least 13.
3. Please pay it forward.

The winner of the giveaway will be entered to win the grand prize giveaway from Chronicle Books.

A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows
1 Ivy and Bean Paper Doll Play Set
1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers

Coquette Maman
In the Pages
Kid Lit Frenzy
Media Darlings
One Page to the Next
Roundtable Reviews for Kids
Ruth Ayres Writes
Sharpread
The Children’s Book Review
The Family That Reads Together
The O.W.L.
There’s A Book
Van Meter Library Voice
Watch. Connect. Read.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Schu!

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I am a better teacher because I collaborate with Mr. Schu. I have become a better person as the result of his friendship.

I could go on and on about the awesomeness that is Mr. Schu, but I don’t want to get all teary eyed. In honor of the birthday of the Kind of Kid Lit, I am giving away a couple of books that Mr. Schu is a big fan of.

Happy Birthday Mr. Schu!

Book 1: Babymouse for President

Book 2: Squish 3

Rules for Giveaway:
1. The giveaway will run from August 28 to 11:59 PM on September 1.

2. You must be at least 13.

3. Please pay it forward.

The Newbery Challenge: The 50s

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Mr. Schu and I have read every single Newbery Medal book this year from 1921-1959. I can’t believe that we are moving into the 60s. Books published in the 60s just feel less ancient that reading a book that was published in the 50s. In my opinion the Newbery books have gotten better each decade. The 50s, I felt, were a billion times better than the 40s. I can’t wait to see what the 60s have to offer.

Here are my favorites from the 50s.

My favorite Mr. Schu Video has to be his video for the book Rifles for Watie. Getting the opportunity to recieve a guided tour of his world famous library was amazing. Thanks for sharing Mr. Schu!

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My favorite video that I recorded in the 50s is without a doubt Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. The reason: Nerdy Book Club friends “perform” guest book talks in the video. Sharing my thoughts on Newbery books and book talking books is fun, but doing it with book loving friends is rad.

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My favorite Newbery Medal winning book of the 1950s was The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I was captivated by Elizabeth George Speare’s story. It is a book that I think kids today can fall in love with. From the mysterious witch, to the love interest, to the beach babe moving from Barbados to the Northeast region of the United States, this book has it all.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Reading Along I-94, Hattie Big Sky: Part 2

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Each month Jen Vincent and I choose a book to discuss together. As we read the book we chat back and forth in a google document. We post the chat here at sharpread. This month our pick is Kirby Larson’s Hattie Big Sky. 

JEN: I am in love with the characters Kirby Larson brings to life in Hattie Big Sky. Can I just tell you that I am so angry with Traft Martin? So angry. I haven’t been this angry I don’t think since…well, I guess since the dad from Gae Polisner’s The Pull of Gravity. But before that, it was this guy named Markham Reynolds from The Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anny Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Oh, how I loathe Markham Reynolds. His is a literary name I will never ever forget. I think Traft Martin is on his way to being another character I will not soon erase from my memory.

COLBY: Traft is not someone that many readers are going to fall in love with. I think Kirby does an amazing job of creating characters that we fall in love with and characters that we despise. I guess what I would say is that Kirby creates characters that are real. They have real hopes and real dreams, and like in the real world some characters are real jerks.

JEN: I agree that they are definitely real. I feel like I just can’t put my finger on it. I’m not sure what makes it so easy to fall in love with them. I’m almost thinking when you say real, it’s like it’s so easy to believe they are real. They are believable and their experiences are relatable even if they are living almost one hundred years ago. I shake my head in awe.

COLBY: If some were to say to me, “Say, Mr. Sharp, why do you think Hattie Big Sky is so awesome?” The first thing I would do, if I had the book handy, would be to read them this passage. FYI: prepare for goosebumps.

In November, the three years would be up on Uncle Chester’s claim. On my claim. And I would have everything checked off, everything accomplished. I would step into 1919 a new person-not Hattie Here-and-There, reliant on relatives to giver her a roof and board, but Hattie Inez Brooks. Hattie Big Sky, I added with a touch of romance. Hattie Home-of-Her Own.

I can picture a room full of librarians huddled together in a room at ALA Mid Winter reading that passage aloud to each other, and thinking about how deserving this book was of a Newbery Honor.

JEN: What I see in that passage is someone with hopes and dreams. In the end, isn’t that what we all want? Not that we always keep sight of this every minute of every day, but we all have our hopes and dreams. A dream to feel that you have carved a place in this world. A little niche that’s all yours and that you can be proud of. A little place that you can call home. There is definitely something to be said about owning something – whether it’s a house, a piece of land, a book, a notebook, a painting. To know that it’s yours or your fulfilled something is an awesome feeling.

I think about this in terms of students going back to school and teachers developing that culture of respect and rapport. How do we help students feel at home and feel as though they belong and as though they have worth in the classroom? Sharing a book with a student, having confidence in kids enough to trust them to borrow books from the classroom library, giving kids a writer’s notebook to call their own, asking kids to share their writing and giving them in-the-moment, honest feedback can nourish that feeling of feeling part of something big and feeling proud to be part of it. It’s worth it. It was worth it to Hattie, too.

COLBY: It is a great passage for back to school. It makes me think about creating a culture in my classroom where students are not afraid to dream and think big. I want my students to be like Hattie. I want them to shoot for the stars and want to do things that might seem a little bit crazy. Hattie proving up a claim in Montana is nuts, but she goes for it. I LOVE that about Hattie.

JEN: Yes! It might be nuts and she might have so many things against her, but she does it anyway. There is a country song about this, about just doing it no matter what the odds are against you. Just as I was typing this, my youngest son ask me to help him get Play-Doh out of a bucket and he said it was too hard. I stopped and told him it was okay, that we could do it. I showed him how and that we could at least try. Life isn’t always easy but if we really want to make our hopes and dreams come true, we probably have to try. There will be bumps along the way but hopefully they are worth it and we learn from them so we get to our hopes and dreams in the end. And if we don’t, at least we can know we did our best.

This actually makes me think of teaching – how we strive to have the best year every year and how things won’t be exactly perfect every single day, but we do our best and can be proud of that!

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If you like Hattie Big Sky as much as Jen and I do, I hope you’ll join the Hattie Big Sky book club chat on Twitter September 5.

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Ivy + Bean and the Ghost that had to Go

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Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go (Ivy and Bean, #2)

I love the second installment in the Ivy + Bean series: Ivy + Bean and the Ghost that had to Go. In book 2 Ivy + Bean are faced with a dilemma: a ghost is in the school bathroom. Ivy and Bean must find a way to take care of the ghost. It doesn’t matter that their teacher Ms. Aruba-Tate doesn’t believe them. They know that the ghost is real and it is up to them to take care of the problem.

The reason that I love book 2 is because of Ivy. I feel as though her character really shines in this book. Ivy doesn’t get in trouble, she doesn’t talk out of turn, and she isn’t the type of person you would expect to believe that a ghost exists in the school bathroom. Nonetheless, Ivy not only knows that a ghost exists in the in the school bathroom, she knows that it is her job to help expel the ghost.

I think young readers will find Ivy +Bean and the Ghost that had to Go exciting, funny, and engaging. I know that I did. I’m excited to share the entire Ivy + Bean series with my fourth graders when school starts after Labor Day.

Chronicle Books is giving away a copy of Ivy + Bean (book 2) as well as three sets of Ivy + Bean mini-notes. How cool is that?
Rules for the Giveaway
 
1. The giveaway will run from August 17 to 11:59 PM on August 25.
2. You must be at least 13.
3. Please pay it forward.

The winner of the giveaway will be entered to win the grand prize giveaway from Chronicle Books. 

A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean Paper Doll Play Set
Ivy and Bean Button Factory
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz 
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers

Cool Kel Gilligan Limited Edition Stuff

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Next week is Mr. Schu’s birthday. One think that we all probably know about Mr. Schu is that he is an avid supporter of independent bookstores. When I saw that Dan Santat was running a special promotion for his new book that supported his local indie, I immediately thought of Mr. Schu. I hope you will all join me in celebrating the release of Dan’s book and the birthday of Mr. Schu by buying Dan’s book through the link below.

Happy reading everyone!

From Dan’s website:

THE KEL GILLIGAN LIMITED EDITION SET

Hi Folks,

So, here I am, once again trying to convince you all to support local independent bookstores, such as, in this case, one of my favorite local independent bookstores, Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop in La Verne, CA. My previous experiment with my graphic novel, Sidekicks, went so well I thought it would be nice to do it again!

THE SCOOP:

I believe in supporting the growth of small business and feel that independent bookstores are a valuable part of our publishing ecosystem. Many websites can offer you books at a huge discount (upwards of 30%) and I am hoping to close that gap by offering you other valuable incentives that you can’t find anywhere else online or at major bookstores. If you purchase the book through my site, I will then take that money and use it to support a local business. In exchange, you will not only be owning a special one of a kind item, you will have also helped to keep a store in business in an industry that is slowly trying to transition to an electronic market.

I don’t know for sure if eBooks will be the way of the future, but I know that if small businesses die, then we will all find ourselves surrounded by a city full of empty lots, and I strongly feel that’s bad for a community.

Thank you.

*For a more verbose explanation go HERE.

THE OFFER:

This exclusive offer is valid until SEPTEMBER 15th! Please share and repost! Thanks!

*FIRST 20 ORDERS GETS A LIMITED EDITION KEL GILLIGAN POSTER (12×20 inches)

 

DAREDEVIL PACK 1:    $17

  • One copy of Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show signed by Michael Buckley and Dan S.

DAREDEVIL PACK 2:     $40

  • One copy of Kel GIlligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show signed by Michael Buckley and Dan S.
  • Four Limited Edition Vinyl Sticker Set
  • One Limited Edition Kel Gilligan T-Shirt (email dsantat@gmail.com for shirt size)

DAREDEVIL PACK 2:     $65

  • One copy of Kel GIlligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show signed by Michael Buckley and Dan S.
  • Four Limited Edition Vinyl Sticker Set
  • One Limited Edition Kel Gilligan T-Shirt (email dsantat@gmail.com for shirt size)
  • One ORIGINAL 6×4 inch ink drawing of Kel Gilligan by Dan Santat (Each is unique!)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW