Tag Archives: fantasy

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.





A Tangle of Knots


A Tanglle of KnotsA Tangle of Knots was a fun, easy whimsical read. The premise is that everyone has a Talent. Some people find their Talent early in life and others discover their Talent far into adulthood. And a few, the Fair, never discover their Talent. This is one of those books where there are a few stories going on and from the beginning I was constantly wondering how the different stories were related. To me, this is really a great example of why it’s so important to get kids to be engaged in their reading. If you read A Tangle of Knots without truly engaging in the different stories, it’s just a random collection of stories and it’s not nearly as enjoyable. That being said, this book isn’t for everyone. It will require attention and commitment.

This book is about family and fitting in.  A Tangle of Knots is also about finding your way in the world.  It’s adventure and fantasy with a touch of mystery.  I think it would appeal to both boys and girls.  Even though the main character is a girl, there are so many unique characters that most kids will find someone to connect with.  It would definitely make a fun read aloud and I think could make for some really interesting class discussions.  I would be interested in hearing from teachers of gifted learners about what their students think of this novel.

As someone whose career is based on the needs of gifted and talented students, I had to really think about this premise. There is always the debate about why gifted programs aren’t even necessary; after all, doesn’t everyone have a gift or a talent? And of course, to many, gifted education is considered elitist. Both of these are actually highly perpetuated myths. Gifted learners, like second language learners and students with disabilities, require a special set of learning circumstances because of who they are and how they learn. In some places, I would say that gifted education is elitist because of how students are identified and served. Done correctly, though, gifted identification and services should cut across all cultures, languages, and economic levels, thus removing that label.  I don’t think the author is using the term Talent to mean the same thing as when we say Gifted and Talented. When we talk about a student who needs Gifted and Talented services, we’re talking about someone who learns in a different way. They can typically look at something from multiple perspectives, they may learn more quickly, and can think more abstractly and complexly. I think Lisa Graff’s perspective is that everyone has a skill that they embrace and are particularly good at. In some cases, they may be quite passionate about it. And sometimes those talents are obvious, but sometimes it is our circumstances which lead us to our passions.