Tag Archives: Bluebonnet

A Couple of Bluebonnets


Walls with WallsWalls within Walls by Maureen Sherry is on the Texas Bluebonnet list for 2013-2014.  It’s the story of a family who has moved from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side of Manhattan because of dad’s new job.  The Smithfork kids have trouble adjusting to their new life, but soon find themselves knee-deep in a decades old mystery.  The mystery stems from the wishes of previous building owner.  A wealthy businessman from the 1930s, Mr. Post was a lover of poetry and puzzles.  His will was never found when he died in 1937, and his vast fortune remained hidden until Brid, CJ, and Patrick move in and begin to piece clues together.

If you’ve read the Chasing Vermeer series from Blue Balliet or the The Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart,  I think you’ll like Walls within Walls.  The story is about a group of kids, in this case siblings, finding themselves in a situation and taking the initiative to find answers.  And like the Chasing Vermeer booksthe author did a great job of weaving poetry, history, and architecture into the story line.  I can definitely see where some kids would read this book and become highly interested in any of the details Sherry used to build the plot.  And while the action focuses on solving the mystery, the subplot is about a family adjusting to a recent move to a new neighborhood.


Looking at LincolnAnother Bluebonnet I read this week is Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman.  This biography of Lincoln is told from the perspective of a young girl who comes to the realization that Lincoln’s likeness is all around us.  One she realizes this, she progresses through a simple timeline of his life.  Obviously, Kalman focuses on the major milestones, but she also interjects fun facts such as Lincoln’s love of apples and vanilla cake.  One feature I really liked about this book is the author’s use of fonts.  The biography, which is told in third person, is written with a typical typewriter font.  But when the young girl starts to share her thoughts and ask questions,  the font changes to one that resembles a handwritten font.  The illustrations were fabulous as well. I’m always intrigued by artwork that shows so much detail, yet at first glance seems really broad and general.  I’m not really sure if my words make sense, but take a peek at the book and I think you’ll see what I mean.



38 Great Academic Language BuildersJefferson's SonsIt’s not a Bluebonnet, but currently I’m listening to Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  I just started it, but I’m pretty hooked already.  The audiobook is about 10 hours long, so hopefully in another week or so I’ll be able to share my thoughts with you.

I also just started 38 Great Academic Language Builders by John Seidlitz and Kathleen Kenfield. I have about 10 professional books I want to read this summer and I thought this was a good one to start with.  I’m hoping to find great strategies I can incorporate into my professional development sessions I’m offering over the next couple of months.





What I Read The Week of January 7, 2013


Duck! Rabbit!

What I read this week:

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Amy Krouse Rosenthal never disappoints! Whether it’s children’s literature or an adult read, I’ve always enjoyed her work. Duck! Rabbit! is all about perspective as the two narrators argue whether they’re looking at a rabbit or a duck. It would be a wonderful way to introduce the idea of perspective to students. If you’re familiar with Draw Starts/Jump Starts, this would also be a great way to introduce that critical thinking activity.

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Mélanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend (Scaredy Squirrel)

My favorite line in this Scaredy Squirrel adventure is “This was not a part of the plan!” For  gifted learners, especially those who struggle with anxiety, this is a common thought. But     Scaredy Squirrel once again proves to use that sometimes that best laid plans may go awry. And when they do, things can still turn out alright. In fact, sometimes, the end result is even better than what we originally hoped for.

There are several Scaredy Squirrel books and I love all of them. The illustrations, which   include maps and labeled graphics, always make me laugh. Mélanie Watt does a fabulous job of adding humor to the serious topic of anxiety, providing us with great books we can share with our children and students to help them work through their worries and fears.

Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Mélanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel at Night

Like any Scaredy Squirrel adventure, this one delivers a smile and a giggle to you. The illustrations are so wonderful; the colors are bold and the simple graphics with labels add humor to the story line. I think any Scaredy Squirrel book is great for all ages of kids. After all, most kids have fears, although some are more extreme than others. Seeing Scaredy Squirrel face his fears and understanding that bad things don’t always happen can be a great way for a child to work through his or her own anxieties and fears. I’m sure many kids will find common ground with Scaredy in this particular fear of nighttime.

Under the Mambo Moon

Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango

Under the Mambo Moon allows readers to enter the world of Latin American culture through a variety of poems.  Because of the variety of poetry used, there were times when I forgot I was even reading a book of poems.  Julia Durango does a wonderful job of introducing her readers to the different dances and musical instruments of Latin America.

Darth Paper Strikes Back (Origami Yoda #2) by Tom Angleberger

Darth Paper Strikes Back (Origami Yoda #2)

I can’t say enough good things about this great series.  The humor is fantastic and right on par with the intended audience.  I think I liked this one even more than the first because there is a focus on students taking the initiative to problem solve and work together to achieve a solution.  And the underlying message about perceptions we may have of people who are different from us is given the spotlight near the end of the book.  Although the characters in the book are not ever really labeled with particular needs, any educator worth her salt will know each of these kids.  I can’t wait to read the third in the series, but I think I’m going to wait until I can find the audiobook.  It’s just fabulous to not take the time to listen to all of the characters, especially Origami Yoda.


Oops, I had an unplanned Friday afternoon read, About Average by Andrew Clements.

About Average by Andrew ClementsI really don’t think you can ever go wrong with anything written by Andrew Clements. I was first introduced to him via Frindle about 14 years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. Because his characters are so real and natural, I think most kids can easily connect with them. And the readability makes his books great choices for reluctant readers.

About Average is the story of a 6th grade girl who doesn’t really see herself as anything special. She considers herself to be great at a couple of unimportant things and okay at a lot of things, but she stinks at just too many things to ever rise above being average. The fact that Jordan feels this way makes this an absolute must for any kid who feels sub par. In the end, Jordan goes through a life-changing experience and realizes that she might not be as average as she thinks she is. Despite the serious topics approached in this quick read, Andrew Clements handles them with the appropriate amount of humor.


Next Week I Hope to Read:

About Average by Andrew Clements

Boot & Shine by Marla Frazee

From the Good Mountain by James Rumford

Underground by Denise Fleming

A few Caldecotts

Finish The Sisters’ Grimm Fairy Tale

Start Wonderstruck

And I should probably start a professional book on my list as well.  We’ll see.


Other Books I Read This Week:

GreenGeorge Flies SouthBarnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World

The Bear in the Book

Cecil the Pet Glacier