Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!

Today we have a few books to review, but dear readers, we must admit that our reading rate has slowed down a bit as we gear up for Back to SCHOOL.  <groans from the Boys>  Our reading time has been preempted by trips to office supply stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, and hair salons.  Plus, Mom has been moving her classroom this week, and it was a BIG job.  (She has TONS of books!)   So, despite her ever-present desire to read books, she was MOVING them instead...

On to the book reviews!

Here is our rating system, as written by P.J.:  
  • For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.

Hey this is P.J.!

Title:  Freak the Mighty
Author: Rodman Philbrick

Goodreads Summary: Two boys – a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny Einstein in leg braces – forge a unique friendship when they pair up to create one formidable human force.

What I think: I think that this was a good book.  It was one of those books that you don't think is capturing your interest, but you can't put it down. I thought that the main character wasn't somebody you could relate to, but you just felt like you knew him through the whole book. I chose this book because it could be read for my summer assignment under the category "Acceptance." I think it could go under that category because Max's school has to accept Freak the Mighty as one person.

Recommended for: Ages 11-15

Rock Rating:     4.5/ 5


This is C.J.!  Chuck Norris once cliff dived without a parachute, but never did it again because the world doesn't need another Grand Canyon... and this is book report time.
Title: No More Dead Dogs
Author: Gordon Korman

Goodreads Summary:  Here's one for every reader weary of being assigned novels in which the dog dies. For expressing his true views of "Old Shep, My Pal, " eighth-grade football hero Wallace Wallace earns a detention that takes him off the team and plunks him in the auditorium, where his English teacher is directing a theatrical version of "Old Shep, My Pal."

What I think: I haven't finished the book, yet but it's so good right now! Best book ever! The book is about a football jock named Wallace Wallace (both first name and last name same? kinda weird) who won't write a book report on a book called "Old Shep My Pal" (that book's about a dog who dies) and has to do detention at the auditorium where the drama club is doing a play about it. Later, Wallace starts tampering with the play making it "better."  I'm predicting that Wallace will quit football and join drama. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the No More Dead Dogs premere next week.


This week, Mom only read ONE book.  Click on the title to see the rating on Goodreads.  Here it is!  


Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart


Mom and C.J. also began a new read-aloud:


The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

(This one is going to take a while...)

Happy Reading, and Happy Back to School, everyone!!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The End is Near?

Oh no!  Please tell me it isn't true...

Summer... is almost... over.

In the interest of feeding my ever-present tendency towards denial, we took one last family beach vacation this week.   It was an absolutely lovely and necessary getaway for the whole family.   What better than to cap off an amazing summer with sand, waves, and boardwalk games?

The Boys buried themselves in the sand as I buried the reality that our summer reading days are numbered.  Yes, just one more week until Mom is back in the classroom, and less than two before we all are in full-force school mode.


Still, I am looking back to where we started this summer and reflecting on the progress that we have made together.  When we began this journey in June, my goal was simple.  The Boys need to discover a love for books that will carry them through to their adult lives.  Magical places and amazing people exist in books.  I want them to know that there are worlds beyond ours, especially beyond X-box and Minecraft.  Reading is fun.  Reading is important.

Our agreement for the summer was this:

1. We will read every day.
2. We will write every day about what we have read.
3. We can read anything that we choose to read.
4. We can read at any time of the day, and Mom will not give us a schedule. 

Did we maintain our agreement for the summer?  Well, not completely.
1.  Did we read every single day?  To be honest, no.  But did we read just about every day?  Yes, absolutely.  We definitely were in a regular reading groove this summer.
2.  Did we write every day about our reading?  No.  This was something that we adjusted as we went along.  Instead of daily writing, we had daily talks about our reading.  I would ask them how it was going, and we would do check-ins and discuss our reading.  We saved our writing for our reviews after we completed our books.
3.  Did we choose our books?  Yes, we absolutely chose what we wanted to read, and abandoned what we didn't like.  Read here for more about abandoning books.
4.  Did Mom back off?  Well, yes, and no.  Yes, I allowed flexibility in daily reading time.  Did I completely leave the schedule to the boys?  No, we still, even today, need a schedule planner to decide when reading will occur in our busy days.  And yes, I still nag.  Occasionally.  Mom is not perfect.

But most important, was our summer reading plan successful?

We will let our summer reading tallies speak for themselves:

P.J. = 8 books read
C.J.= 15 books read
Mom=  33 books read

SO FAR!

Though the end of summer is near, we are not quite finished with it yet!  Like she does with nearly-empty bottles of sunscreen, Mom will squeeze 
every last bit of summer (and reading) out of these last few precious days.

So, stay tuned for more summer reading reflections and recommendations!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/20


Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!


Here is their system, as written by P.J.:  
  • For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.
P.J. is still working on his summer Language Arts Project and has chosen to read this book.  Next week he will have his review.  Mom has already read it, and you can find the link to her review at the bottom of today's blog.

Title:  Freak the Mighty
Author: Rodman Philbrick
Goodreads Summary: Two boys – a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny Einstein in leg braces – forge a unique friendship when they pair up to create one formidable human force.

Review to come!  Stay tuned!






Hey this is C.J. Uranus is the gaseous planet and this is book report time!

Title:  Phineas L. MacGuire... Blasts Off!
Author:  Frances O'Roark Dowell
Goodreads Summary: Houston,we have a problem! Phineas L. MacGuire (a.k.a. Mac) is less than up-to-date on planetary happenings. (Marsquakes? Who knew?) If he's going to be the best scientist in the fourth grade, Mac has to set his sights pretty high. To outer space, actually. But Space Camp is expensive. Where is he going to find enough money for a week on Mars (or a pretty close simulation thereof)?

Houston, we have another problem: a gigantic, slobbery dog named Lemon Drop. Mac can earn the money he needs by walking Mrs. McClosky's yellow Lab, but first he needs to survive the walks and the slobber! Good thing Mac is a scientific genius with friends like Ben and Aretha. Together the three of them discover that Lemon Drop is no ordinary dog -- that Lab is a real-life Lab-oratory.

What I think: I think this was a moderate book. It had had its ups and downs. The best part was when Mac started walking a dog to get enough money for a space camp. I would have liked it better if it had more science experiments to do and if the characters made more sense and if it was more funny.
Recommended for: ages 9-12

Rock Rating:2/5

Even though he wished that there had been more of them, C.J. was inspired to try some of the science experiments that are outlined at the end of the book.  Here are a few pictures of his process and results.


The purpose of this experiment is to replicate conditions on Mars, and see which substances might produce the right conditions for life on the planet.  As you can see on the right, yeast is full of life!






Mom had her last week of reading for the #SummerThrowdown challenge reading for #TeamTeacher.  Her final tally of books for the 4-week challenge <drum roll> 13 books!!!  That's approximately 3 books per week, and not too shabby!  Here are this week's books.  Click on the title to link to the Goodreads reviews:





My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian



Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick




Pearl by Jo Knowles

As an aside, Mom has already completed her goal of reading 50 books in 2012!  To date, she has read 53.  Time to increase her goal, because there are still four full reading months left in 2012!  Whoo hoo!  What do you think... 60?  70?  Hmm...


Enjoy the last days of Summer, and Happy Reading, eveyone!!

Mom and the Boys



Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/13



Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!

The boys are really rockin' this week with their reading!  One of the Boys even has TWO books to review today.  Here is their system, as written by P.J.:  
  • For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.
BREAKING NEWS!!!!!  C.J. is now an Origami Yoda Super Folder!  Enjoy C.J.'s original origami creations in this quick teaser video below!  But beware, the audio is a bit off (because of Mom's editing).  


C.J. enjoyed making the origami video so much, that he decided to try a Vlog (video blog) review of the book, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger today!  Say Vvvvllllogggg.... It's a very fun word to say.




C.J. Gives The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger 4.5 out of 5 rocks!  
StoooookY!

C.J. also finished reading Vordak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Scott Seegert and Vordak T. Incomprehensible this week!  TWO BOOKS in ONE WEEK!!  Yippee!!

  His Rating: 3 out of 5 rocks.


While C.J. has been rocking and rolling with his reading lately, Mom is sad to say that P.J. has hit a bit of a bump in the road.  The dreaded SUMMER READING PROJECT is due on the first day of school (which is coming up sooner than we'd all like!)

<dramatic music> 
Dun Dun DUNNNNN.....!! 



This entire summer, our focus has been to increase intrinsic (self) motivation for reading.  The impending DUE DATE has halted all of P.J.'s momentum.  You will recall, Mom IS a teacher, a Reading Specialist, in fact.  Mom  respects her fellow colleagues, and would never utter a negative word against assignments or teachers or school at all.  

Never.  

However, after reading his entry below, a sad tear came to Mom's eyes.

Hey this is P.J. and here is my report.
I have been reading some Sherlock Holmes books for my summer assignment and I haven't really decided whether or not I like the Sherlock Holmes books yet, but the thing I wanted to talk about is summer assignments. I will speak for the kids right now.  Most of us like to just spend our summers chilling out and when school starts again we just go back to that routine. Although, the teachers and adults think that we need to keep our memories refreshed so we don't go back to school with big blanks in our head about what to do. So my opinion on summer assignments is that we might not like them but they are necessary.

Shhhh...  Secretly Mom wonders, are they necessary, really?  Hmmm...
Now, the good news is this:  P.J. has a list of books that he may choose to read for his project.  He thought he'd like Sherlock Holmes, because he loved the movies with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law playing the roles of Holmes and Watson (so did Mom!)  In this rare instance, however, the books are not winning over the movie version for P.J.  So, we will keep looking...


Here are Mom's reads for the week.  Click on the book titles to read Mom's Goodreads reviews:


The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger  (Of Course!)


Disappearing Act by Sid Fleischman

In progress:

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian (read-aloud to C.J.)


The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Happy Reading to All! 

Mom and the Boys

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Swap BASH!

 SCORE 1 FOR MOM!

In an earlier post, I detailed my brilliant, creative, and very exciting idea of hosting a party to celebrate books and reading with the Boys and their Friends.  If you had been following along at the time, you will recall that the idea was not received with quite the enthusiasm that Mom had hoped.  (Read this to refresh your memory.  Then come back.)

Well...

This week, my vision, my insight, my amazing Mom awesomeness materialized into reality with our first ever Summer Book Swap BASH!  As you can see, the Boys and I had a few books at our house to swap.





OK, so maybe it is more than a few, but if purchasing books is my greatest vice, then commit me.  


As we sorted out "swapping books" from "keeping books," the Boys and I took a lovely trip down memory lane.  Remembering our conversation that day still makes me a little weepy, but warm and fuzzy at the same time.
"Mom!  Remember when we read Katy and the Big Snow?  I loved that book."
"Mom, look!  If the Dinosaurs Came Back!  That dentist is in a precarious situation.  Heh heh.  Or maybe he is a little too trusting of that T-Rex."  More laughter.
"Hey, we can't swap that one, it's one of my all-time favorites!"

Looking back over our reading lives together, I could feel something big.  Momentum was beginning to take hold.  It was a force that I think has always been inside them, but at that moment it exploded and radiated outward throughout the afternoon.  

Passion.  
For Books and Reading.  

Reading Books!

I almost burst when their friends arrived, ready to trade.  The Boys were in charge.  They were Boss.  (Not bossy, but Boss, as in cool and awesome- it's a word that they recently taught me.)


Who is better to recommend books than fellow reader friends?


We had many satisfied customers.

Better than getting new books to read, though, was the opportunity that the Boys had to talk about their reading lives with their friends.  While swapping books, our conversations were lively and animated, and we all became more than just friends who read.  We became a reading community.

They are already asking when we will do it again.

Score 1 for ALL of us!


Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/6/12


Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!

The boys are really rockin' this week with their reading!  They each have at least one book to review today.  Here is their system, as written by P.J.:  
For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.

Hello this is C.J!  Big powdered wigs look funny, and this is book report time.

Title: Horton Halfpott: Or, the Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset

Author:  Tom Angleberger

Goodreads* summary:  "Tom Angleberger's latest, loopiest middle-grade novel begins when M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it's never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of "the Loosening," the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can't tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this silly romp of a mystery."

What I think:  I think it was a pretty good book. It was about a kitchen boy named Horton Halfpot who gets involved in a mystery with his friends (Blight, Blemish, and Bump) and has to find out who stole M'Lady Luggertucks lump!  My mom read this book aloud to me because it helped me understand the book a lot more than me just reading it silently You need  to read the book to find out what else happens.
If you are around the age of 11- 14, then you'll like this book!



Rock Rating:4/5
Great!





By the way, Tom Angleberger's book, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee comes out TOMORROW!  I am extremely looking forward to Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angleberger because I read the other two books in that series, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back and they were AMAZE-TACULAR!  (That is a word that I just copyrighted.  All right.)












The Force is strong with these books.











Hey this is P.J. and this is my review. 


Title: Dreadnought (H.I.V.E. #4)

Author: Mark Walden

Goodreads** Summary: "Otto is on the run from US security forces - the least of his problems in a desperate race to rescue his kidnapped friends and thwart a supremely dangerous renegade faction of the world's most powerful villains."

What I think: I thought it was a good book and it made you feel like you were part of the story. This book was the fourth book in the H.I.V.E. series and I think that I will take a break before reading the last book because this book just felt a little stale.  That is probably because I have read all of the books in a row, so I think I will read some other books for now. I will definitely come back to the H.I.V.E. series, though.  If you liked this book I think you would also like the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson series.



I give this book 4/5 rocks.
Great!

Finally, here are Mom's books for this week.  You can read my reviews by clicking on the book titles to link to Goodreads.

For younger readers:

Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry


Babymouse: Rock Star by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm


Babymouse: The Musical by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm


Dog Days by David Lubar


For more mature readers:

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine



The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner


GO #TEAMTEACHER !!



Her
*"Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; Or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9470915-horton-halfpott>.

**"Dreadnought (H.I.V.E. #4)." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6275767-dreadnought>.