Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fall 2012 #Read-a-Thon Update One and Two

Good morning,

It's time for one of my favorite fall events:  A time to sit wrapped in a blanket with coffee, tea, or hot apple cider by my side as I read.  It's Read-A-Thon Time!

This time, I'll be both reading and presenting a mini-challenge starting in just minutes.

So, expect a few extra posts within the next few hours.

Happy reading to all!

Introductory Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I'm reading in Tiffin, OH.  I moved here a couple of months ago and am really enjoying my new town.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Mostly, I'm looking forward to making progress in the book's I've been reading for awhile.  With a new job, it's been difficult to find the time to read.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Hot carmel apple cider!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm a teacher, blogger, writer and--most importantly today--a reader.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I've been participating for several years now.  I feel like I have a pretty good routine:  Mix in some shorter books (like picturebooks and graphic novels) to stay motivated; participate in mini-challenges to give myself a break and to enjoy the community; and read, read, READ.

Update Two:  Hello again,

Despite my initial post, I've had a bit of a slow reading start.

After making sure that my mini-challenge hosting was going smoothly, I read the newspaper and tackled breakfast.

From there, I ventured outside (while listening to an audiobook of The Family Fang!) to the last farmer's market of the season.  It was slim pickings and my ears were freezing, but I did make good on my promise to drink hot caramel apple cider.

Since then, I've been going through Right Behind You by Gail Giles.  I'm enjoying it, but it is a bit of an intense read (following the events of a boy released from a psych ward years after burning another child and causing his death), so I may be taking a break from that soon and picking up something a little lighter.

Happy reading to all!

Challenge Closed: #READ-A-THON Mini-Challenge: Recreate the Cover (9 AM to Noon Eastern)

Choosing among the readings that you're tackling for this readathon, recreate (or improve!) one of the book covers, magazine covers, or ads.

This challenge may involve you posing for a photo in a quickly assembled period costume (completed with a bed sheet toga!), it may involve sketches, finger paint, the careful positioning of stuffed animals, recruiting friends and loved ones to model, or creating an image on a website like fotoflexer.

Get up, move, think artistically and re-create the cover of a book you're reading or plan to read.  Most importantly, have fun.

Post your version of the new and improved cover beside a photo of the book's original cover on your blog or other personal website by noon (EST) and leave a link to your post in the comments to this challenge.

One winner will be chosen to receive an online, ten-dollar, gift card to Barnes and Noble,, or another book-providing website of his or her choosing.

Update:  This challenge is now closed!  Thank you to everyone who entered!  It was such a difficult decision among the readers who took the time to create covers, that I wound up using a random number generator to choose the winner.

The ten-dollar giftcard will go to Avid Reader.  You can see the recreated book cover here.

Thank you to everyone who participated!  You created some wonderful book covers!!!!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

REVIEW: Lulu and the Brontosaurus (Read this one aloud to anyone who will listen)

Viorst, J.  (2010).  Lulu and the Brontosaurus.  New York:  Atheneum.

115 pages.

One of my co-workers came a couple of weeks ago and had praised this book.   She'd read it aloud to second graders and had been impressed by Lulu's ability to hold the students' attention with its unlikely birthday wish, spunky protagonist, funny illustrations, short chapters with partial numbers (chapter eight and one half, anyone?), awesome multiple ends (in the style of the movie Clue, one of my childhood favorites).

I've since bought the second book, Lulu Walks the Dog.

Appetizer:  Lulu is spoiled.  She gets everything she wants.  But as her birthday approaches and she demands receiving a real Brontosaurus, it seems her parents will no longer be able to provide Lulu's every desire.

So, Lulu leaves.  She journeys deep into the forest in search of a Brontosaurus.  There she finds dangerous beasts and perhaps even what she desires most.  For better or for worse.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how present the author/narrator is, discussing the writing process:  "I'm the person writing this story, I get to choose what I write, and I'm writing about a girl and a BRONTOSAURUS" (p. 1).  As with many meta-narrative (or stories that are aware of themselves as being stories), this book could spur young writers to put pen/marker/pencil/crayon to paper.

Lane Smith's illustrations are, as usual, wonderful.  As you can see along the left margin, they add a lot of humor to the story.
Although an early chapter book to read aloud solely for fun with first or second graders, I'd actually consider using Lulu and the Brontosaurus with third or fourth graders and pairing it with some mini-lessons on characterization.

No spoilers here, but Lulu faces a conflict that causes her to grow and change as a character.  She then faces situations similar to before she changes and the reader can see the impact of how she has grown.

Dinner Conversation:

"There once was a girl named Lulu, and she was a pain.  She wasn't a pain in the knee.  She was a pain--a very big pain--in the b u t t." (p. 3)

"Two weeks before Lulu's birthday, she announced to her mom and her dad that she wanted a brontosaurus for her b-day present.  What did she say?  What?  A brontosaurus?  Yes, she wanted a brontosaurus for a pet  At first Lulu's mom and her dad just thought she was making a little joke.  And then they saw--oh, horrors!--that she was serious.  (p. 7)

"On...the day before Lulu's birthday, right after lunch, Lulu said to her mom and her dad, "Okay then, foo on you."  (She had terrible manners.)  "If you aren't going to get me a brontosaurus, I'm going out and getting one for myself." (p. 15)

"I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, gonna get a bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurus for a pet.  I'm gonna, gonna get a bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurus for a pet." (p. 44)

"She also woke to the sight of something so huge, so enormous, so utterly gigantic that she thought--no, she was sure--that she was still dreaming.  It looked like a mountain, except this mountain had legs, a very long neck, and a very small head.  It was (as I'm sure you've already figured out) the brontosaurus that Lulu had been searched for." (p. 47)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Banned Book Week!

This is one of my favorite weeks to discuss books with my students.  

Talking about book challenges and bannings is a great way to get my students thinking.

I plan to show them the Bookmans' Read-Out.  Watch and enjoy.


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