I like a good mystery and THIS is a good mystery.
Candice's grandmother had been fired years before for trying to solve the mystery (she had a whole tennis court dug up!) and now that Candice and her mother have moved to the same town, Candice is determined to finish what her grandmother started. She quickly enlists her new friend Brandon and they work through all of the clues. Along the way, they learn about the segregation and racism of the past, and of the present. Some of the events are tough to read about. Did people really treat each other that way? Do they still? We know the answer is yes, but it can still be hard to read.
This book is inspiring, First, even though they face some pretty serious problems, Candice and Brandon stick together and persist. Also, there are many examples of people coming together to help each other out.
Read this book if you like Historical Fiction or Mysteries, or if you just like stories of persistence.
We don't have a copy in our class yet, but the Pollard Memorial Library has it. (And I'll get it for school as soon as I can.)
Learn more about the author Varian Johnson and his other books at his WEBSITE.
I wasn't sure I'd like this book. To be honest, I picked it up because it was small and I wanted something short to read over the holiday break.
Am I glad I picked this book up. I read it all in one day!
The story begins the night before the Great San Francisco earthquake and fire. The main characters are two boys, Henry who lives in San Francisco with his parents and Chin who's father Ah Sing works for Henry's family. When the earthquake hits early the next morning, Chin and Ah Sing are in a neighborhood called Chinatown and Henry's family is in their home in another part of the city. Because the two boys are not together, we get a look at how the tragedy played out in two different ways.
I had always heard of the Great Fire that destroyed most of San Francisco, but I never read much about it. Even though this story is fiction, and Henry and Chin and their families are from the author's imagination, the facts of the fire are real. Yep learned all he could about the history of the Great Fire so his description of the destruction are accurate. I like when authors can use their research to create fiction. Hearing about the tragedy through the lives of well-developed characters can help us understand the reality better.
I also learned a lot about how the Chinese people were treated at the time. It was incredibly unfair how decisions were made about who could stay in certain parts of the city. There was a lot of discrimination against Chinese people in the early 1900s. This book makes me want to learn more about the thousands of Chinese immigrants that made California their home.
If you like to read exciting books, try The Earth Dragon Awakes. There is a lot of action, from start to finish. You can find this book in the HISTORICAL FICTION section of our classroom library.
There are many reasons I liked this book:
At this time of year I think of my Dad more than usual. Maybe because his birthday is this month (he would have been 86) or maybe because the fall was his favorite time of year (it's mine, too).
Anyway, the old man on the cover of this book drew me right in. I knew from reading the blurb on the back that the story would have some sadness, so I got a box of tissues and found a snuggly place to read all by myself.
Billy is even older than my Dad would be. He no longer works on the farm, but he lives there with his family, including his young grandson, Jake. Jake and Billy are the "kindred should" from the title. That means they are alike in the way they think about the world and the way they express their feelings.
The story gives a look at the relationship between Jake, who is only ten, and his 90 year old grandfather. I liked reading about their long walks and conversations. And, when a dog called Lucy shows up, she just adds to the relationship (even though sometimes Jake was a little jealous).
In the story, the whole family works together to do something nice for Billy. It turns out, it was something nice for the whole family, too.
There is some sadness in the book (and, yes, I cried) but there is mostly beauty - the beauty of seeing into the relationship of two kindred souls.
This short book can be found in the REALISTIC FICTION section of our classroom library.
Over the extra long Labor Day weekend, I had a TON of homework I needed to work on, but I just couldn't put this book down; I had to find out how it would end.
This book was suggested by a blog writer I follow. She said it was a fun story of an unusual friendship and the bravery that kids show to help out their friends. I often ask friends for suggestions of good books. I knew the authors and the illustrator and have enjoyed their work in the past, so I figured I'd like this, too. Looking for books from writers that you like is another great way to find good things to read.
Bob is a mysterious creature who lives in the closet of a bedroom in Livy's grandmother's house in Australia. Livy lives in Massachusetts (like us) and hadn't been for a visit to Australia in 5 years. Five years is a long time when your friend tells you to wait for her in the closet. But, when she left Australia, Livy was only 5 years old so she probably thought she would be right back. Bob kept himself occupied with his imagination. Livy, on the other hand, forgot all about Bob.
Now that Livy is back she is determined to help Bob get home, wherever that might be. They keep finding small clues, but since Livy weirdly forgets about Bob whenever she leaves him, it's hard to stay focused on the task.
This is a funny book, with a little bit of mystery and some interesting magic. We have one copy in the FANTASY BOOK section of our Room 204 library.
I want to hide a book.
That probably sounds weird, but when you read The Book Scavenger, you'll understand.
Tomorrow I leave for a trip with my family to San Francisco, California, so I thought it would be fun to read a book set in that city. Even if I wasn't traveling, this would have been a great book to start out my summer reading. It has mystery, friendship, and tons of references to great books.
Emily's family has a goal to live in all 50 states and the book starts out with their move to SanFrancisco. Emily is not thrilled with the move, but she is excited to be in the same city as her hero, Garrison Griswold, also known as the "Willy Wonka of book publishing." Griswold runs the online game Book Scavenger and regularly starts up games centered around books and stories. When Emily finds a copy of an Edgar Allen Poe story in the BART (San Francisco's subway system, like the T in Boston) she is sure she has stumbled upon Griswold's newest game.
With her new friend James, and sometimes with her big brother Matthew (when he is not making new films about his favorite band, Flush) Emily works through clues to try to figure out the game and find the prize. The problem is, Griswold was attacked and is in critical condition in the hospital, someone on the Book Scavenger website is giving cryptic clues, a couple of goons keeps chasing them, and an antique book dealer claims that the book Emily found is actually his.
Throughout the adventure, Emily has to learn how to be a real friend which means sometimes putting James' needs above the game. I like this book because the relationship between the two kids is realistic. Since her family moved around so often, Emily is not used to having a close friend and she makes some mistakes that hurt his feelings.
I also love the mystery. The kids work through the hidden clues through trial and error and trial again. They don't give up and with each attempt, they learn something more that gets them close to the final solution.
If you like mysteries, you will like this book. It's a great read for a fourth grader!
And maybe we should start our own 4th grade Book Scavenger game. . .
GENRE: Mystery / Realistic Ficiton
This book is available in the Room 204 library and through the Pollard Memorial Library
The picture of a kid giving a fist pump with a pigeon on his head drew me to this book. I love great cover art, and this image is instantly captivating. What could possibly be going on here?
What's going on is Teddy, one of seven kids in his tight-knit family, finds a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records and becomes determined to break a record of his own. But that's hard to do when his brother, nicknamed The Destructor, is constantly messing things up and his five older sisters seem to always get in the way. And to top it all off, the new girl at school, Viva, has dropped in on his life-long friendship with Lonnie. AND, the grumpy old man next door hires him to help take care of his pigeons even though he seems to think that Teddy can't do anything right.
This story is about relationships - the bond between brothers and sisters (even annoying ones) and changing friendships - and how we succeed because of all the people in our lives.
I could really relate to Teddy's frustrations with his crowded house - I have 9 brothers and sisters, so I know how that feels. I also connected with his reluctance to let in a new friend. A new friend can sometimes feel like they are stealing your old friend, or changing the way you have always done things. These characters really help us learn about getting along with others.
I also like that we learn a little more about perseverance. Teddy is amazing at sticking to his goal, no matter how hard it gets.
And best of all, the book is funny. You will love the characters and all the trouble they get into.
You can find this book in the Realistic Fiction section of our classroom library.
Empathy is an important skill. When we can "walk in someone else's shoes" and really try to understand what they are thinking and feeling, we have the opportunity to act in kindness. In this book we are reminded that some people are weird, I mean really different from ourselves. Since Caitlin is the narrator, we immediately get the chance to see her point of view and so her behaviors stop seeming so odd.
Caitlin has a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. For her, things like reading and drawing come easily, but making friends does not. Her teacher, Mrs. Brooks, is working with Caitlin to help her understand what friends do. That seems odd, since we mostly know how to make friends and how to talk and act with our friends - it comes naturally. But for Caitlin, its the toughest subject at school. Recess and group projects are particularly difficult.
Reading the story with Caitlin as the narrator made me start thinking about all the people at our school who are different in one way or another. I sometimes wish they had a narrator to explain their thinking.
In addition to all her difficulty making friends and understanding emotions, Caitlin has just experienced a tremendous emotional loss. She and her Dad are devastated, but they don't really know how to help one another. At least not at first. As the story moves forward we see that Caitlin really does have empathy, she just doesn't always respond in the traditional way. We learn that her Dad, though he makes mistakes, is trying to do what's best for her. And we start to see how people we thought were mean and thoughtless were just trying to respond to the emotions around them. When we take the time to carefully observe and listen to others, we can respond with empathy and kindness.
This book was tough to read. There is a connection to school shootings and a lot of sadness. But, it was worth every tear I shed. If you want a book that will help you understand people better, I highly recommend Mockingbird.
We do not yet have this book in our class library, but it is available through the public library system.
Bat is an unusual name for a boy.
It's not really his name. His full name is Bixby Alexander Tam. He's called Bat for a few different reasons. First, that's what his initials spell out - B. A. T. But also, Bat has some unusual quirks. He has sensitive ears and loud noises often bother him (he has a special pair of earmuffs to help soften the sounds of the world around him). And sometimes, when he's excited, he flaps his arms a little (which the kids at school think is weird and funny).
Bat is autistic.
The story revolves around the unusual arrival of a baby skunk into their lives.
Bat's Mom is a veterinarian. When a skunk was hit by a car, Bat's Mom was unable to save her, but she was able to save this one kit. Since the kit was newborn, it would not be able to survive on its own. Bat's family agrees to care for the animal until the wild animal rescue center is able to take it.
The trouble is, Bat falls immediately in love with the skunk. He reads about skunks and even contacts a world famous skunk expert to prove to his mother that he can care for the kit better than the wildlife center.
We don't exactly know what happens with the kit in the end, but as the story goes along we see how Bat and his sister care for each other even though they also annoy each other, how parents try to support each of their kids and give them what they need, and how a new friendship can be made.
This is REALISTIC FICTION so everything that happens in the book could happen in real life, even though the author made up the story. The chapters are short so its an easy book to read when you just have a little time (like during Independent Reading at school).
You can find this book in our classroom library, on the Realistic Fiction shelves.
Mrs. L. A.
I love books and I wanted to share some of my favorites, and some new titles with you. Hope you find a book you love, too.