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review 2017-03-29 00:17
BFG- Best Fictional Gift
The BFG - Roald Dahl,Quentin Blake

This well known book is a favorite of many- and I know why. Roald Dahl is an amazing author and his work really shows through this book. It tells the story of a young orphan named Sophie who meets the BFG- Big Friendly Giant. He is the only giant that isn't nasty or a children eater. Instead, he and Sophie come up with a plan to save future children from being eaten- by telling the Queen of England and having her lock the other mean giants up. This book is perfect for all sorts of activities in the classroom. A quick search of "BFG" on pinterest pulls up many fun activities that engage the children while allowing them to learn new things. One of the best ideas I saw was incorporating "The BFG" into STEM activities (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-BFG-by-Roald-Dahl-STEM-Challenge-2538071). Students are asked to dream up then construct a fork that the BFG could use to eat his food. This can be taken to the next level, though. Students could fictitiously design tools, utensils, and other important items for people with disabilities. Not only would this put their STEM minds to use, but would also get students to think about other people who don't necessarily have that easy of a life and that "simple" tasks can be hard for other people. 

 

Guided Reading: U

Grade Level Equivalent: 5.8

Lexile: 720L

 

Another Cute Idea:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/138345019782627706/

 

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review 2017-03-28 19:32
This Book is One in a Million!
If You Made a Million - David M. Schwartz,Steven Kellogg

I had this book when I was younger but lost it. After going to the thrift store and finding it again, I realized just how educational it was. I used to read it just because I thought it was a funny book. The book talks about money- money conversions, what you can buy with certain amounts of money, interest, loans, checks, saving v. spending, and general fun facts about money. The visuals help children learn and the pictures are well drawn and fun. If it could interest 2nd grade me, I feel like it could interest almost any kid. This is probably a book that I would keep in the math section in my classroom so that students can read it without any pressure to do so. I would also incorporate it into any lesson about money. I have been thinking about a money project idea for a long time and think that this book would go along great with it. I would have students create a store that "sells" products. Each student would have a role in the fake economy. It would be a hands on project that I believe kids would love but it would also teach them about money (which is crucial to being an adult) in a fun way that I hope would stick with them in the future. Every teacher needs this book! You can even incorporate it in younger grades by just reading the first few pages that talk about pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars.

 

A.R.- 4.1

Guided Reading- O

Lexile- AD 840L

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review 2017-03-28 19:17
It's the Bee's Knees!
There's a Frog in My Throat: 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me - Loreen Leedy,Pat Street

This is a fantastic book! I stumbled upon the book when at the thrift store. It has 440 "animal sayings" that explain the figurative language of similes, metaphors, idioms, and proverbs that adults say. These type of sayings like "to play cat and mouse" and "catty remarks" are sometimes difficult for children to understand, so this book is great for learning phrases. I even learned some myself! The kid friendly way the book portrays the information (with humorous and telling illustrations) is very helpful and well thought out. I believe that this would be a perfect book for ELLs as well! I would use this in my class for a study on figurative language. Because this book only includes animal related figurative language, I would have the students find more sayings (between 1 and 10 based on grade level) and do illustrations for most of the sayings like it is done in the book. I would then bind the pages to make a class book. I would make sure that no student used the same saying as another. Overall, this is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it to any teacher!

 

Guided Reading: P

Recommended for: Grades 2-6

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review 2017-03-26 18:17
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc - Jennifer Kincheloe

Set in 1907 Los Angeles, Anna Blanc is at the top of the social ladder. She has pretty French clothes, a handsome fiance, in vogue friends, and fancy makeup. Yet she longs for more. She secretly reads detective novels and desperately wants to have at least one murder mystery adventure before her life is sealed with a wedding. She comes up with a scheme to become an assistant police matron at the Los Angeles police department, assuming an alias (Anna Holmes) and a rough spun ugly uniform that doesn’t quite hide her lovely form. Pretty soon, Anna learns that this is more than just a fancy whim of hers; real people need her help and are affected by what she does or doesn’t do. However, if she’s discovered by either her father or her fiance, she stands to lose quite a bit. She has to choose between being an obedient daughter and fiance or catching a killer who is murdering prostitutes.

This was such a delightful book! I really enjoyed it. I thought it would be a bit intense, it being a murder mystery and historical fiction. The book does have those qualities, but the author took things a step further and threw in plenty of well-timed humor. First, Anna’s character is a strange yet compelling mix of innocence, curiosity, determination, and sleuthing ability. She’s had a mostly sheltered life so the salty atmosphere of the mostly male police force and the even saltier streets continuously fascinate her. She’s quick to learn, except when it comes to deciphering the reasons for the scowls she gets from certain coworkers.

There’s plenty of sexual innuendos throughout the story. Anna, being nearly completely innocent, misses the full meaning of most of them. Occasionally, another character will take a bit of pity on her and explain things. I also loved the hit and miss budding romance between her and fellow police officer Joe Singer. She first meets him when he’s dressed as a woman and very obviously drunk. Meanwhile, she has to be all proper when passing time with her fiance, Edgar. She wants him to be a little naughty and steal a kiss or two, but he’s all about being proper even when no one’s looking. I especially loved the arrow collar man advertisements and the interesting bit about how hysterical women are clinically treated. Funny and also a little window into the past.

As for the murder mystery, that had me guessing right up to the end. I felt like I had good company though as Anna was guessing up to the end as well. There was also a side mystery concerning a serial rapist that Anna helps close. These mysteries provide a backdrop to show how men and women were treated quite differently in the early 1900s, no matter their social status or skills. For instance, I didn’t realize that women could be arrested for smoking in public at that time. The humor keeps this from being a brow beating on social justice for women.

I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2. By the end of this book, Anna’s life has quite changed from where she started out. She’s a determined young lady but also still a bit prim, a bit focused on expensive girly things, and a bit innocent on how the majority of people live. I’m sure finding out how she handles a bit more first-hand knowledge will make a good story.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Moira Quirk did an excellent job with this book. She was perfect for Anna. I loved how she handled the humor and the innuendos. I would love to hear her blooper reel on this one! I also thought she did a great job with the regional accents, giving a stiff upper lip to the socialites and a more salty accent to masses.

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review 2017-03-26 18:05
Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald
Onions in the Stew - Betty MacDonald

Betty and her family had quite the time on Vashon Island, Washington State. With her second husband (Don MacDonald) and her two young girls (Joan and Anne), Betty experienced the joys and disappointments of living on an island. Set during WWII, this mostly autobiographical book recounts Betty’s life with wry humor and insight.

Once again, Betty has amused me. By now, after reading 4 books by her, I feel like Betty is somewhat of a friend. I really enjoyed this book from clamming to peaches to teen years to housecleaners. Living on Vashon Island, which was only connected to the mainland via ferries and personal boats, was quite a bit rougher than she and her family expected. There’s also the beauty of having an island house which is also captured well in this book.

The MacDonalds took over the house during an idyllic summer. There were plenty of clams on their personal beach, including geoduck clams. The downstairs practically-outdoor shower was perfect for rinsing off after time in the sea. The great big hearth would be quite wonderful in winter. Then the cold season sets in. The family comes to find out that having a nearly-outdoor shower is onerous to heat up in winter. The great big hearth is truly magnificent but you have to haul in the wood for it, usually driftwood from the beach. The reality settles in and yet the MacDonalds still find much to love about the island.

Betty does such a great job with the humor. She gently pokes fun at everyone and is a little more jabby when focusing the eye on herself. She praises her daughters abilities while also realistically portraying their teen-aged arguments and volatile mood swings. There are plenty of characters that appear through the several years this book covers. Some are helpful handymen, some good cooks, some terrible at child rearing, some are drunk and merry.

Onions in the Stew does a good job of showing the hardships or inconveniences (depending on your point of view) of island living. Betty doesn’t paint the entire experience as a ‘wonderful’ way of life. Nope. Using humor she gives us a slice of reality. That is the root of why I enjoy her books so much. While The Plague and I is still my favorite book by her, this one was quite good as well.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Heather Henderson is great as the voice of Betty MacDonald. She also did a great job with the voices of Joan and Anne even as they age throughout the book. I also enjoyed her male voices, including Don’s. Her Japanese accent was also good.

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