Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Classes began their regular library visits yesterday!

It was a great day in our Sommer Library!  We hosted classes from almost every grade level; fifteen classes in all.

Third through fifth grades had a quick library orientation lesson using Nearpod on the iPads. Mrs. Margocs was super-impressed with how well they shared equipment; we usually do one-to-one, but had our double classes pair up on the iPads so both groups could start checking out right away!

Our second graders listened to advice from the Shelf Elf on library manners:

The Shelf Elf  by Jackie Mims Hopkins, illustrated by Rebecca McKillip Thornburgh, is the reason we have Golden Shelf Elf Awards at our assemblies!

Our kindergarteners did a FANTASTIC job using their library manners yesterday!  We read Mrs. Margocs' favorite beginning-of-the-school-year-book, We're Going on a Book Hunt by Pat Miller, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott:

The students practiced using their shelf markers, and then chose and checked out their first books from our library!

Here's our book menu for the next couple of weeks:

We also have a new furniture addition this year--a recliner!

After reading this article about meditation for teachers, I'm thinking of calling this spot "The Seat of Mindfulness"; what do you think?

We'll be seeing another sixteen classes today!  We're off to a busy start in the Sommer Library.

Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

The students returned last week!  Some were smiling, some were sleepy.  I did hear reports that many were waiting to get into the library and check out some books, and they will get to do just that starting tomorrow!

I am working on finishing two books this week:

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath is on our Bluebonnet Nominee list.  

Sophie is a twelve-year-old transplant to the country, after inheriting a farm from her great uncle.  The first animal she encounters on the farm isn't your typical chicken!

This book is written mainly in letters from Sophie to her deceased grandmother and great-uncle, and to a poultry company--the latter's responses are unusual and mysterious, and I'm hoping I find out who's typing them by the end of the book.

I'm also still working on Ralph Fletcher's Breathing In, Breathing Out:  Keeping a Writer's Notebook.  It's not long at all--only 112 pages--but it's full of detail, information, and examples, so I'm finding myself reading just a chapter or two before setting it down and letting it sink in.  I'm inspired to start a writer's notebook of my own; at the very least, it will make me more observant and mindful of my surroundings.

It's Monday!  What's on your reading agenda for the week?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Welcome back to school, Sommer Stallions!

It was great to see your smiling and sleepy faces on the first day of school yesterday.  Thanks for the warm hugs!

This week, Mrs. Woodul and I are busy taking library/lunch card photos, finalizing the schedule, getting books and materials for your teachers, and preparing the library for you!  We will start our regular library visits next week:
  • Every class has a library time each week!
  • Kindergarteners will get read-aloud storytime every week, and can check out one book at a time.
  • First and second graders get storytime or a lesson every other week.  They can check out two books at a time.
  • Third and fourth graders get a lesson every other week, and can check out two books at a time.
  • Fifth graders get a lesson every other week, and can check out THREE books at a time!
Of course, if you are doing a special project for school, you can check out more books to help you with your research.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be learning about and practicing our library skills, to help you find the best books to read and keep our library a fun place to visit.

We are going to have fun in the library this year!  Looking forward to seeing you in the stacks soon!

--Mrs. Margocs

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I have failed in my mission to read all twenty of our Bluebonnet Award Nominees by the time the students return to school.  I only have two left, but one is Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, and with another 300 pages to go and back-to-school prep work still to do, I will have to allow myself more time to finish.

On a brighter note, I finished Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, the book I glowingly reviewed in my last post.  The ending was just as satisfying as the story; I love it when I can close a book, hold it in my hands for a moment and just enjoy the happiness that comes with a heartwarming conclusion.  I won't say any more, except that you need to get your hands on a copy soon.

I also read Ratscalibur: Chronicles of the Low Realm by Josh Lieb.

If you look closely at the cover, you will see a rat holding up a spork.  Ratscalibur... Excalibur... readers of Arthurian legend get the connection.  Joey is an unhappy boy, dragged from his familiar home to the city due to his mother's job.  A common theme, except that Joey gets bitten by a rat--and becomes a rat himself.  What follows is a tale of knights with tails, cats and crows with claws, and a kingdom in need of a hero.  Short chapters make this an easy read-aloud for a classroom teacher, or a good bedtime story to last over a week or two.

Our students return on Tuesday! I'm looking forward to hearing about their summer break and all the books they've read.  What books will you be sharing with your friends, colleagues, and students this week?

Monday, August 15, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I went back to work last Monday...and back to my school-year reading pace, which is that of a turtle.  Something about spending a lot of time reading on the computer--emails, financial statements, documents--eats into my reading stamina.  I will be working on that over the next few weeks, figuring out how to keep up my summertime reading pace for the rest of the year.

I didn't finish a book last week, but I did make headway on another Bluebonnet nominee--Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley.

I love the byline on the back cover:  "You have to believe it to see it."  There are themes of wonder and faith in this story, the premise that to live fully, there must be some willingness to let go of what you believe to be true in order to experience magic.  It's the difference you experience when you go to the movies; you can spend your time trying to figure out how they did every special effect, looking for mistakes in the filmmaking, or just sit back and suspend your disbelief to enjoy the show.  For two hours, you are in another galaxy far, far away...Or in this case, you have stumbled onto a magical circus that appears out of nowhere, and can only be seen by those who believe in its existence.  

I had the pleasure of meeting Cassie Beasley at the "Speed Dating the Bluebonnets" session of our Texas Library Association conference this spring.  She was so excited about the success of Circus Mirandus, her debut novel.  She talked about her penchant for fantasy, and how Chintzy, the parrot in her book, is based on her own parrot, who will say inappropriate things (like "liver!") during Skype visits.  Ms. Beasley lives with her sister, also a writer but who prefers realistic fiction; her recent book is Gertie's Leap to Greatness.

It's Monday, and I'm planning on finishing Circus Mirandus by Wednesday!  What's your reading plan this week?

Monday, August 8, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Slow reader that I am (and scanner--working on four books at once), I completed only one book this week:

The Fog Diver, by Joel Ross, is an adventure set in a steampunk future of our planet.  Earth has been overtaken by a fog made of nanites--microscopic robots--run amok after they were programmed to rid the Earth of pollution.  No one can survive exposure to the Fog without getting sick--except for Chess, who was born in the Fog and bears its mark in his eye.  He was rescued by Mrs. E., who takes in other children in dire situations and teaches them skills to survive in the slums.

Ross has created a futuristic world where people are ranked by where they live.  The richest reside on the Rooftop mountain high above the Fog, while the slums are mere platforms, floating just above the mist, held aloft by balloons and ruled by slumlords.  There is a place of hope, though; Port Oro, another mountain community founded by those who are against the power-hungry Rooftop Lord Kodoc.  

Mrs. E. has become Fogsick, and her crew is desperate to save her.  Port Oro may hold the cure--but how are a bunch of raggedy slum kids going to get her there?

No spoilers...but I'm already adding the sequel to my fall shopping list for the library.

It's Monday, and I'm back to work today!  Hoping to finish the last four Bluebonnet Nominee books before the students return in a few weeks.  What's in your reading pile?

Monday, August 1, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Oh, these harried last days of summer break!  I am feeling the time crunch as I look at my summer to-read pile.  In an act of desperation, I've been reading four books at once, hopping from one to another as I feel the need to take a break from what is currently in my hands.
Two books I have finished, both Bluebonnet Award nominees:  

The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell.  I approached this book with some reservations, thinking it might be a repeated plot of another Bluebonnet nominee from years past--but I was wrong.  (I'll get to that later). "The Terrible Two" refers to Miles, the new kid in town and known prankster at his former school, and Niles, the school helper/ known "kiss-up" to the anxiety-driven principal.  I don't want to give too much away, because I loved the twists and turns in this book.  It was a fast-paced, short read.  The wacky antics of the principal and jokes about cows made me laugh out loud.  The subplot of finding a true friend in middle school while forming one's individual identity is a classic theme.

That other book I mentioned?  Pickle:  The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker would be a great book pairing to discuss two different takes on the same subject of school pranks.

My second book of the week is Woof:  A Bowser and Birdie Novel, by Spencer Quinn.  To be honest, I've never been a "dog book" lover, having been emotionally scarred by Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller as a child.   The last few "dog books" from our Bluebonnet Committee have changed my views (mainly because the dog is alive and happy at the end of the novels).  

Woof  is a mystery, narrated by Birdie's recently adopted stray, Bowser.  Birdie lives with her grandmother in a small town in Louisiana.  Her father is deceased, and her mother is working on an oil rig off the coast of Africa. Bowser becomes Birdie's confidante and supporter as she tries to solve the mystery of her grandfather's stolen prize marlin. Serious and sometimes dangerous events in the story are punctuated with scattered and optimistic thoughts from Bowser, who is a great judge of character and completely dedicated to his new owner.  Knowing that Bowser was there to save the day made the "scary parts" less so.  I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series; I can anticipate students requesting them right away!

Getting back to my reading pile this afternoon.  What have you read this week?