Posted tagged ‘History’

WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren

April 13, 2014



imgresI just read a great historical fiction book that I found touching and moving. WHAT THE MOON SAID is about an extremely likeable young girl and her family relocating from Chicago to a farm in Wisconsin during the Depression (1930’s) after Pa loses his job. Despite the harsh conditions – the farm is rundown, has no electricity or indoor plumbing – Esther loves the animals and responds to the adventure of living “pioneer style”.  Esther desperately wants her mother , a Russian immigrant who is very superstitious, seeing signs in everything from rings around the moon to the number of birds on the fence post, to show her some affection.  She wants her to be more like her best friend’s mother, but Ma is caught up in the grind of farm life. Through the course of the book, we see Esther respond to tough issues involving school, sickness, and a new best friend, yet she never loses hope or the willingness to try again. If you like the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, WHAT THE MOON SAID gives you the same feeling.  The past is brought to life as a charming, believable young girl deals with real life situations in ways that make you cheer for her.

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The Christmas Truce of World War I

December 16, 2013

Last year I discovered these three books about the famous Christmas truce that happened during World War I.  In varying degrees of illustration and text, all three books tell the amazing true story of the Christmas Eve in 1914 when the British and the Germans stopped fighting, sang Christmas carols together (in different languages),  exchanged small gifts and conversation, and even played a rousing game of football.  My fifth grade classes have truly had their eyes opened by this gem of a story, which gives us a glimpse of peace and humanity in the midst of the harsh, violent realities of war.

New Year, New Books!

September 12, 2013

Welcome back to another wonderful school year.  It is my 19th here at CPS, and it feels just as exciting to start a new year as it did 19 years ago.  Of course there are always plenty of new books to read and share, and  I will highlight a few of my favorites here.

water castleTHE WATER CASTLE by Megan Fraser Blakemore

When Ephraim’s dad suffers a stroke, his family moves back to the Water Castle, their ancestral home in MAINE.  There is  a legend that the Fountain of Youth exists on the grounds of the castle.   Follow Ephraim and his friends on their quest to find the amazing healing water.  This book combines history, science, mystery, and family secrets in a very exciting way.   If you are a fan of THE SECRET GARDEN, you may find some similarities in this book.

spy campSPY CAMP by Stuart Gibbs

Hurray!  A sequel to SPY SCHOOL!  These are two great books about 12-year-old Ben Ripley who receives a surprise visit one night from a famous spy, informing him that because of his amazing math skills he is needed at a special school for CIA spies-in-training.  The first book chronicles his first year at this school, full of dangerous and humorous situations.  The second book, SPY CAMP, finds our young hero at the summer camp run by the spy school.  He is the target of SPYDER, the enemy spy group, and he spends the summer trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, who are trying to recruit him to “the dark side”.  He receives help again from  Erica,  the smart and pretty top student at his school.

esacpe from...ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY by Chris Grabenstein

Do you like games and puzzles?  Full of library humor and positive vibes about reading and games, this book is a fun twist on CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.  Kyle, an avid games, and 11 other sixth graders win the chance to spend the night at their town’s brand new futuristic library, designed by the world’s most famous game maker, Mr. Lemoncello (who bears a striking resemblance to Willy Wonka).  The library, which takes up half a city block, has holographic projections, hover ladders to help you reach books that are on bookcases three stories in the air, an IMAX theatre, and an Electronic Learning Center.  The night the children spend there is full of amazing fun and games.  In the morning the doors remain locked, and the eccentric Mr. Lemoncello announces a twist no one was expecting:  the children must all use what they find IN the library to find their way OUT of the library. They will have to use their wits to decipher clues and solve riddles leading them to an alternate exit.

THE TEACHER’S FUNERAL by Richard Peck

May 30, 2013

FuneralI’m reading this book with two Literacy Groups now, and it is such a funny,  beautifully  written book.  It takes place in the early part of the 1900’s in the rural midwest.    Russell and his brother Lloyd find out on the last night of summer that the teacher of their one room schoolhouse  has died. For today’s children, that would be a very sad event,  but for these boys and the five other students in the tiny country school, they feel  like they’ve won the lottery.  Maybe school will be cancelled for good! But when they find out who the new teacher is, they almost wish that mean old  Miss Myrt Arbuckle wasn’t dead after all.   Once you get used to the author’s “down home” style and you figure out what all the old fashioned terms mean (privy, buggy whip, drawers, crick, etc.) you are in for a real treat as you go through the school year with Russell and his classmates.    The characters are so colorful,  you will find yourself laughing out loud. And you might even wish you went to their school!

LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE

December 6, 2012

little blogThe “little house” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder were my favorites when I was in grade school.  My best friend and I used to play in the woods behind our houses, pretending we were Laura and Mary.  When I saw this book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!  I read it last weekend and loved it.

Genevieve (Gen for short) and her family are spending the summer at Camp Frontier, with 4 other families.  They must give up their cell phones, ipods, and modern clothes and conveniences so that they can live an authentic 1890’s life.  That means eating only what they can grow (lots of beans!), using an outhouse, wearing heavy clothes and a bonnet in the sweltering heat, learning to milk a cow, and spending an entire day each Monday washing the family’s clothes in a tin washtub.    The entire family is a little overwhelmed with the changes.  Things start looking up for Gen when she becomes interested in the boy at the farm next door AND when she starts texting her friends back home on the cell phone she sneaked in to the Camp.  For older students who might wonder what it would be like to live in the “old days”, this is a fascinating, fun, and suspenseful  read.

KING ARTHUR

April 30, 2012

I have been reading King Arthur books in the library recently, because Crescent Park School is going to put on a production with the help of Children’s Stage Adventures the week of May 14. It has been fun to dive into these legendary tales again; I haven’t read them since my son was in elementary school. Both the boys and girls have enjoyed being transported to a time of chivalry, magic, nobility, and destiny.

Trouble River again!

February 17, 2012

My third grade literacy group just finished Trouble River by Betsy Byars, a historical fiction novel about Dewey and Grandma escaping the Indians on a raft that Dewey built. Grandma’s in her rocking chair as they shoot the rapids! As we did last year, we all made rafts and floated a Lego Grandma in the sink. Did they sink or float? Check out these smiles and you be the judge.