Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. I have long been a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson's writing, and I will literally read anything by her. This summer I discovered the third in her Seeds of America trilogy was coming out and I could hardly wait. Lovely, amazing, engaging, historically realistic, and oh so insightful, she did it again.

The story builds steadily from the start, much like a snowball growing and growing, gaining momentum, developing . Once Isabel finds her sister, she imagines all will be easier. But her sister seems to hate her, groveling mirrors what little work is available, and her friendship with Curzon continues to challenge her. The timely issues of discrimination of many and difficult living conditions throughout the Civil War repeat and lift the surviving hearts and souls of the characters. Such a difficult and beautiful story.

Thanks, Laurie Halse Anderson, for your generous work. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hurry Up, Henry by Jennifer Lanthier

A charming tale of a boy who always liked to go slow. His slow speed balances with one of his friends who likes to go fast, but mostly folks tell Henry to hurry up. 

When his birthday comes, his grandmother hatches an idea that turns Henry’s world a little bit and changes his idea of time. A lovely, simple, and perspective-offering read. Sweet illustrations that completely expand the text for young readers, this is a gentle new read for those of us who move too fast and those of us who simply need to slow down.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Moo by Sharon Creech

Just finished Moo with my class of fourth graders. I had started reading it by myself and then I landed this sweet teaching gig, so I figured I would read it with them as our read aloud. I am an ardent Creech fan and believed that most of these rural-living students would get the cow focus.

Boy, was I wrong! Most of them hadn't even spent time around a cow. And boy was I right! This book because a community builder in multiple ways, and we all, cow-schemas or not, found ways to enter the book, make sense of it, and connect it to our lives. The students loved it, I loved it, and I wonder what role it played in helping us grow readers in our class.

The main cow, Zora, is grumpy, stand-offish (can a cow be that?), and flat out stubborn at the start of the book. Like many characters, she changed over time but I won't tell you how. A brother and sister move with their parents out to farm-country Maine. Mom meets some rather stand-offish, grumpy woman at some medical office and offers her kids up to help with chores at the lady's farm. The chemistry between the kids and the lady repels each party, causing interesting conflicts, perspectives, and ironic moments. The ending is true Creech, and the story has some rich connections with her granddaughter.

This time it was not just me that loved a book---it was my 22 fourth graders as well!! Moo.