Sweet Farts by: Raymond Bean

I am playing around with the idea of getting a little assistance from my students with how I celebrate books here on sharpread. This is my first go at it. I’m excited to see how it will evolve.


The following is a short interview that I had with an amazing fourth grader in my class. My words are in purple, one of our school colors, and his are in black.

Sweet Farts #1

By: Raymond Bean

Why did you choose to read Sweet Farts?

I read the back of the book which is what I always do before I decide to read a book. The back of the book was funny, so I decided to give the book a try. I’m reading Sweet Farts #2 now.

Could you give me a quick book talk of Sweet Farts?

I love Sweet Farts by Raymond Bean. It is about Keith Emerson and his fart problems. Keith is being blamed for Anthony’s farts. They call him S.B.D. (silent but deadly). His science fair is coming up, so he wants to make farts smell better. You should read this book to find out if he can make farts smell better.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was where Keith dropped his sister Emma on her head, onto a hard tile floor.


A big thanks to author Raymond Bean for sending a copy for the class to enjoy.



I Need a Librarian – I Need Your Help

I love my school. I love my school district. We do a lot of great things, and I am excited about the direction we are headed.

My biggest concern that we have at the district level is that we do not have librarians. We might have a half time one at the middle or high school (I’m not exactly sure), but our elementary libraries are staffed by secretaries that are in charge of running one elementary library in the morning and one in the afternoon. Part of their half day in my building is spent working in the office, so she is not even in the library half time. Thankfully, the one in my building,does an amazing job with what she does and what she has (I do not believe that she even has a budget).

I see the amazing things librarians are doing across the country, and I am jealous. I want that for my students. Every chance I get, I bring up getting a librarian. My principal and I talk about it weekly, I bring it up to our literacy coordinator monthly, and I mention it to our director of curriculum any chance that I get.

My good friend librarian, Mr. Schu Tweeted this link over the weekend: http://www.slj.com/2012/10/librarians/slj-summit-2012-full-time-school-librarians-boost-student-test-scores-in-reading-writing-says-pa-report/

I read the article and immediately emailed it to a whole bunch of people in my district (not the first librarian email I have sent). My director of curriculum responded with genuine interest.

He wanted to know the following: I’m thinking we’ll need to identify specifically what these librarians do that has such a significant impact on student learning/achievement. 

This is where I need your help. I would like to flood him with: comments from this blog post, links of the amazing things you all are doing, research, comments on how librarians support teachers, Anything and everything that can help me convince a school district that a librarian is something that we desperately need.

Thank you for your help. Please share this post with anyone you think could help.

Halfway to Perfect by Nikki Grimes

Halfway to Perfect

A Dyamonde Daniel Book

By; Nikki Grimes

Illustrated By: R. Gregory Christie

A couple of days ago I sat down to read Halfway to Perfect. I was expecting to read a nice little chapter book by Coretta Scott King award winner Nikki Grimes. I was very surprised with what I found in the book. The issues that came up in this book are not issues that I expect to find in a chapter book. A middle grade novel yes, but not a chapter book.

Dyamonde Daniel is a spunky leading character that I fell for right away. Her good pals Free and  Damaris provde readers with a well rounded trio that I think many young readers will connect with. I was reading along when I realized: holy smokes, I’m reading about third graders that are dealing with the early stages of eating disorders. Damaris is very concerned with her weight as she starts to hear other students in her class get teased about how they look. She starts to do things like pass on her chicken nuggets and suck in her stomach when the mean girls are around.

It makes me very very sad to think that students this young are having to deal with these issues, and I struggled a bit to accept that these issues were appropriate for young readers, but in the end I think this is an important and well-written book that I will be purchasing for my classroom library.

The One and Only Choice

I often  imagine a group of 16 knowledgeable librarians sitting in a room in Seattle talking about which 2012 book is most distinguished. I’m just going to come out and say it: no matter how many times I run this scenario through my head, it always ends with them selecting The One and Only Ivan. I’ve read what the Heavy Medal Blog has to say about the book, and I’m sorry, they could not be more wrong. I can only hope that the committee does not make the same mistake. Please understand that I am not saying that other amazing books were not published in 2012, I just think Ivan has risen to the top.

When making statements in class, my students are expected to back them up with evidence. If we are describing characters they must back up the character trait they are assigning a character, with evidence from the text. It wouldn’t be fair for me to make these statements about Ivan without backing them up with some evidence from this distinguished novel.

I’m going to just focus on 3 pages of the book. I hope my little post can shine a little bit of light as to why I think this book is one of the 10 greatest middle grade novels ever written.


I am writing this blog post on a school day in which I read a section of Ivan aloud to my students. I will focus on pages 34-36, the chapter is titled: bob. In this chapter we learn some background information about Bob.

If you’d like to picture the read aloud, please imagine 25 fourth graders sitting in a circle on the carpet facing each other as we read. I am sitting in the circle with them.

From the fourth paragraph on page 34:

I’ve tried to share my food with Bob, but he is a picky eater and says he prefers to hunt for himself.

This line of text comes directly after we learn that Bob eats food out of the trash and laps up spilled lemonade. My fourth graders were all smiles when I read this line and we had a handful of chuckles.

A few paragraphs later (page 35):

Bob’s tail makes me dizzy and confused. It has meanings within meanings, like human words. “I am sad,” but my teeth are still sharp.”

Gorillas don’t have any use for tails. Our feelings are uncomplicated. Our rumps are unadorned.

We are now at a point of the read aloud where nearly everyone is laughing and smiling. I can see them picturing Bob and his different “tail moods.”

I pause. The class focuses. They don’t know it yet, but Ms. Applegate is about to punch them in the stomach.

Bottom of page 35:

Bob used to have three brothers and two sisters. Humans tossed them out of a truck onto the freeway when they were a few weeks old. Bob rolled into a ditch.

The other did not.

Twenty-five shocked faces. Silence. Some students are looking around to see how their friends are reacting. A few students close their eyes to take it in alone. Most students just stare with broken-hearted eyes at the carpet in front of them.

This is one of those moments that as a teacher you don’t know what to say. You could take a conversation in so many different directions. We talked a little bit about what happened but not much. They didn’t need to talk about it with me. I could tell that they wanted to be left alone with their thoughts.

As my class begins to come back to me, I continue reading. The bottom of page 36 is just one example of why I think that this book is just crazy awesome.

Bottom of page 36:

I dreamed that I’d eaten a furry doughnut, and when I woke in the dark, I discovered a tiny puppy snoring ont top of my belly.

It had been so long since I’d felt the comfort of another’s warmth that I wasn’t sure what to do. Not that I hadn’t had visitors. Mack had been in my domain, of course, and many other keepers. I’d seen my share of rats zip past, and the occasional wayward sparrow had fluttered in through a hole in my ceiling.

But they never stayed long.

I didn’t move all night, for fear of waking Bob.

As I finish the chapter many of my close to tears students are now smiling. You can tell that their heart is a little bruised, but they’ve found hope in Bob and Ivan’s first encounter.


I’m not sure that I’ve been able to capture the magic that Ivan is creating in my classroom. The emotions that my students felt and experienced in 3 pages moved them in ways that not many book can. These motions were not pulled out of them by a classroom conversation, they were natural powerful emotions that came from this distinguished and beautiful book.

I just felt like I needed to write about Ivan. Thanks for reading.


Reading Along I-94: Mitchell Is Moving

Each week my good pal Jen Vincent and I chat back and forth in a Google Document about a book we are reading or a book we have read. This week we talked about Mitchell is Moving by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.

Mitchell Is Moving

JEN: MITCHELL IS MOVING IS ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS! I adore Mitchell and Margo’s sweet story of friendship. I think I discovered this book in 2nd grade but I can’t officially remember. What I do remember is loving it and reading it over and over again.

COLBY: I have never heard of Mitchell is Moving. It is always fun to learn about the books that my friends enjoyed as young readers.

JEN: In Mitchell is Moving, Mitchell decides he wants to move two weeks away. When I think of how far away places are, I definitely think in time distance. I’m about 40 minutes from O’Hare airport or 15 minutes from Great America. My brother lives in Wisconsin where things are super far away down long country roads, and he describes everything in terms of mileage. I like that Mitchell thinks in time distance but that he says two weeks away. He’s just so funny.

COLBY: I remember you asking me once if I thought in minutes or miles when it comes to how far away something is. I’m glad that I live in a place where we think in miles and not time. Can’t imagine living in a place where it takes more than 10 minutes to travel 10 miles.

JEN: I love how Margo freaks out when she finds out that Mitchell wants to move away. It’s really hard when a friend moves away. I can see wanting to do anything in my power to make that person stay. Margo really shows Mitchell how much she cares. I love the picture with all the different ways she’ll make him stay.

COLBY: I think when friends move away it is hard. We have a rather large Japanese population at my school because of a factory in our town. Japanese families often come and work at the plant for 2-4 years before heading back to Japan. I hear students talk all the time about their friends that had to move back to Japan.

JEN: You still live in the town you grew up in, right? I’m pretty close, in the same county, but a couple of towns over from where I grew up. The furthest away I got from home was when I was in college. Even then, I was only an hour and a half away (I have absolutely no idea how many miles that is!).

COLBY: I live in the town next to the town I grew up in. My parents have lived in the same house their whole marriage. I cannot imagine living far away. This book made me think about how far two weeks away would be if my wife and I got in a car and started driving. We could probably make it to somewhere in South America in two weeks. That is really far away.

JEN: I’m so glad Mitchell and Margo are able to stay friends. It’s great to have at least one best friend in your life. On Tuesday, I volunteered at the Scholastic Book Fair at my son’s school. He goes to kindergarten with my cousin’s son. Her and I both volunteered at the same time so we could catch up and visit. My cousin, Silvia, and I have always been close. She’s the kind of friend who totally understands me. If we haven’t seen each other in a while, we can pick up from where we left off so easily.

COLBY: I grew up in a very small town (one blinking light-zero stop lights). I never had to experience a close friend moving away. I don’t think I would have handled it very well.

JEN: I’m definitely a believer in the old Girl Scouts song, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” 

COLBY: That sounds like a fun song. I will have to Google it.

JEN: I was just thinking about how funny it would be to make gingerbread houses and little clay dinosaurs and to make a little Margo and Mitchell scene. In high school, I took an art class and we learned about a technique called batik. You take hot wax and make a design or drawing on fabric. Then you die your fabric. Afterwards, you iron the fabric and the wax comes out of the fabric. Where the wax was, the fabric stays the original color but everything around it is dyed. It’s a really nice style. When I was in that class, I made a batik with Mitchell that I made into a pillow. I wish I knew where that pillow was! It kind of looked like this owl onesie I found on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/listing/111084690/batik-owl-tie-dye-onsie-18-months?ref=sr_gallery_24&ga_search_query=owl+batik&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all) …except mine was Mitchell.

I love celebrating books by taking the artwork and creating something new. It was fun to wear my pointy red had when I met Jon Klassen and for Katherine (http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/) to give him little bear and rabbit ornaments. It was such a moment of art inspiring art. I love it.

COLBY: Did you know that I lost my red hat that you gave me at NCTE last year? I got home and couldn’t find it. So sad:(

Dog Gone by: Leeza Hernandez

Each and every night I read a stack of picture books to my two-year old daughter when I put her to bed. For the longest time we have had two mainstays, Pouch! by David Ezra Stein and My Dad is the Best Playground by Luciana Navarro Powell. These mainstays are books that we read without fail each night. I try to throw in a couple of other books to mix it up, but we always read those books. Sometimes I try to walk out of the room without reading one of them. That doesn’t go well. As I begin to walk down the stairs, I hear her yelling, “Pouch! Playground! DADDY, wait!”

Dog Gone

About five weeks ago a third book was added to our nightly routine: Dog Gone by Leeza Hernandez. Dog Gone started as one of the books I mix in, and it quickly became a mainstay. This beautifully plotted book, written with rhyme, has become a favorite for the littlest and biggest Sharp. My favorite part of reading Dog Gone is at the end when the puppy and boy and embrace. Each time I read that page my daughter and I lock eyes and say, “awwww…”

I hope other readers out there are able to enjoy and appreciate this book as much as my family.

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? 10/22/2012

Be sure to visit Teach.Mentor.Texts, Jen and Kellee are the host of this wonderful meme.

Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover

By: Cece Bell

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm

By: Robert O’Brian

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Julie of the Wolves

By: Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Nighttime Ninja

By: Barbara DeCosta

Illustrated By: Ed Young

Nighttime Ninja

Fifty Cents and a Dream

By: Jabari Asim

Illustrated By: Bryan Collier

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington