Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Big Day for Baseball (Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne)


I'm a big fan of the Magic Treehouse series for the age of kids that I teach. This one is particularly relevant for us because we read the story of Jackie Robinson every year as part of the anthology we use. This tells the story of Jackie Robinson's first game and would be a great preamble to reading Teammates.

Goodreads says:

Meet Jackie Robinson and solve a mystery in the #1 bestselling Magic Tree House chapter book series! 

PLAY BALL! Jack and Annie aren't great baseball players . . . yet! Then Morgan the librarian gives them magical baseball caps that will make them experts. They just need to wear the caps to a special ballgame in Brooklyn, New York. The magic tree house whisks them back to 1947!

When they arrive, Jack and Annie find out that they will be batboys in the game--not ballplayers. What exactly does Morgan want them to learn? And what's so special about thisgame? They only have nine innings to find out!

Discover history, mystery, humor, and baseball in this one-of-a-kind adventure in Mary Pope Osborne's New York Timesbestselling Magic Tree House series lauded by parents and teachers as books that encourage reading.

Magic Tree House books, with fiction and nonfiction titles, are perfect for parents and teachers using the Core Curriculum. With a blend of magic, adventure, history, science, danger, and cuteness, the topics range from kid pleasers (pirates, the Titanic,pandas) to curriculum perfect (rain forest, American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln) to seasonal shoo-ins (Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving). There is truly something for everyone here!

Have more fun with Jack and Annie on the Magic Tree House website at!

Monday, February 12, 2018


This week I'm finishing up Once We Were Brothers.

I have meant to read A Big Day for Baseball for a while. It finally came in at the library:

Our book club is going to read Crenshaw this month. I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I haven't been doing a lot of reading because I'm working hard to get caught up on marking and to get ready for Learning Conferences. If somehow the clock fairies find some extra time for me, this is what I want to read this week:

Actually, I gave up on reading this one. I'm going to listen to the book. I'm irritated that my book club picked it when it isn't even a true story. Not going to invest that much time in it.


I love this one. Serious 9 year old hilarity.


Still working on The Ripple Effect. I read it before I go to sleep. Unfortunately, lately, that takes about 4 minutes.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Witness Wore Red (Rebecca Musser)


This book totally has me rubber-necking. I am horrified by it - but I couldn't stop reading it. 

What those men do in that cult is the same as sex trafficking. What a sad disaster. I'm amazed that they can talk women into this lifestyle.

Goodreads says:

Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family's polygamous lifestyle from the "dangerous" outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she became the nineteenth wife of her people's prophet: 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs, Warren's father. Finally sickened by the abuse she suffered and saw around her, she pulled off a daring escape and sought to build a new life and family.

The church, however, had a way of pulling her back in-and by 2007, Rebecca had no choice but to take the witness stand against the new prophet of the FLDS in order to protect her little sisters and other young girls from being forced to marry at shockingly young ages. The following year, Rebecca and the rest of the world watched as a team of Texas Rangers raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a stronghold of the FLDS. Rebecca's subsequent testimony would reveal the horrific secrets taking place behind closed doors of the temple, sending their leaders to prison for years, and Warren Jeffs for life.

THE WITNESS WORE RED is a gripping account of one woman's struggle to escape the perverse embrace of religious fanaticism and sexual slavery, and a courageous story of hope and transformation.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Willow's Smile (Lana Button)


Willow has a hard time smiling. We discussed some of the reasons some people might not wear a smile....they might be blue, they might have someone they're sad about, they might have been hurt physically or emotionally, or they might be shy. The book never really says why but it does seem to teach a lesson: when you're feeling down, if you do something for someone else, it might lift the other person up as well as yourself.

Goodreads says:

“Sometimes Willow smiled without even trying. But sometimes when she wished she could and knew she should, her smile slipped straight off her face.” So when her teacher tells the class that Picture Day is coming, shy Willow starts to worry. What if she isn't able to smile for the camera? How can she have her picture taken without smiling? But then on Picture Day, Willow gets the opportunity to watch the other children being photographed. She sees that all of her friends' expressions are unique, and perfect in their own way. And by the time it's her turn, she's realized that she doesn't need to worry about smiling for her picture. She just needs to be herself. 

In this sweet picture book, author Lana Button has created a relatable and reassuring story that offers children a terrific model for how to deal with a difficult experience in a socially and emotionally competent way. The simple illustrations by Tania Howells beautifully capture the story's focus through the range of emotions so clearly expressed by Willow and her classmates. This book provides opportunities for character lessons on self-respect, empathy and resilience. It would work for a classroom introduction to the annual ritual of Picture Day as well, a subject not often covered yet very significant to young children. It could also lead to a conversation about why we take pictures and what makes a great picture, and to activities such as making a class photo album.


It's Monday! Here's what I'm reading this week:

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is my husband's favorite book. Everytime I'm mulling over what the next book choices should be he tells me why we should read this book. This month we are!


I didn't quite finish my book club book last month, so I really need to get that read this week:

Next month's book is Three Cups of Tea. I'm really tossed about this one. Do the people in my book club know the story is not true? I read this before. I'm not sure I want to read it again - so I'm going with the audio book to make it easy:

I gave up on this one. We started out on the wrong foot with his subtitle: Give yourself the gift of done. My mom always said done was not proper. You were supposed to say 'finished'. Done is for cooking. Not sure if that's true - but I can't get past it after hearing this mantra so much growing up. I should have probably given it more time, but I didn't like the first couple chapters about cutting your goals in half:


Friday, January 19, 2018

Crickwing (Janell Cannon)


I love these books by Janell Cannon! Verdi and Stellaluna are both beautiful books.

The vocabulary in the books is quite challenging - but it works.

Goodreads says:

Artistic flair and the spirit of cooperation save the day!
Crickwing never set out to be a bully. All he wants is to create his art in peace. But it's not easy being different--a cockroach with a cricked wing and a flair for sculpture is a ready target for the bigger creatures in the forest. Crickwing just wants to even the score, and leafcutter ants are so easy to pick on. ...
Big mistake. INobody/I angers the leafcutter queen and gets away with it.
In this epic adventure beneath the foliage, Crickwing and the leafcutter ants go head-to-head. Then a swarm of ferocious army ants threatens, and suddenly everyone is in danger. Crickwing has to do something, but what? He's an artist, not a fighter. What the leafcutters need is a hero. Or, maybe, a cockroach with a really clever idea...
About the Author: Janell Cannon's picture books have won many awards and are beloved around the world. Before she became a full-time creator of books for children, she designed and produced summer reading programs at her local public library. Born and raised in Minnesota, Ms. Cannon now lives in Southern California.