Monday, April 11, 2016

Mouse Scouts by Sarah Dillard

I have a confession before I share any more about this book, I was a Girl Scout until my freshman year in high school and then I've been a troop leader for 13 years with one or two of my girls at a time, in various roles.  So, just the front cover of this book tugs at my heart.  

Mouse Scouts by Sarah Dillard is cute story about a scouting troop made up of mice.  The mice just bridge from one level of scouting to another and now have a new scout leader, Miss Poppy.  Miss Poppy isn't as warm and fuzzy as their initial leader, she goes by the handbook a bit more.  Violet and Tigerlily are the main characters and best friends.  The whole troop is excited to earn their merit badges and begin with a badge about gardening.  I found the mice approach to gardening quite interesting and practical given their physical size.  If you garden, you can imagine the problems that might arise.  As each problem arises, I was happy to read the mice were positive and cooperation helped them solve their gardening struggles.  

This book may not catch the eye of boy readers in my classroom but each year I seem to have a cluster of girls who participate in scouting that will find this book enjoyable.  I do love the transitional reader format; picture support, larger font, appropriate white space, ten chapters and an epilogue.  In between several chapters, the reader discovers pages that resemble a Scout handbook which just made me chuckle because they mirror many of my own experiences.  I thought for my readers it was a great way to weave in nonfiction reading in a fantasy book.  There are three books total and I can't wait to see how my students respond to this classroom library addition.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Lost! A Dog Called Bear! by Wendy Orr

I love dog stories and I hadn't heard of the Rainbow Street Shelter series but I am so glad I recently stumbled upon this first title.  Lost! A Dog Called Bear! by Wendy Orr tugs at the readers heart, encourages the reader to hope for the characters, and is filled with literacy language that will make readers stop and think.  I was reading along, enjoying the literary language, and imaging the excitement my second grade readers as they figure out the intended literary language messages when something felt familiar to me.  I read the author blurb on the back and instantly knew why this book felt familiar.  Wendy Orr wrote Nim's Island, another favorite book of mine to read to third graders.  

Logan lives in the country on a farm and loves it all.  Riding in the back of a pickup truck with his dog Bear, racing the wind, and watching Bear chase sheep.  Things change for Logan when his parents decide to get a divorce and he moves to the city with his mom.  Bear comes with him but gets lost on the journey there when they stopped for a rest.  Hannah is another character in the story that parallels with Logan's and then they cross into each others.  A dog shelter is an important piece of the setting and I have to stop here so I don't give away too many important details.  I want you to read this one or find the dog loving student in your classroom to share it with.

Here are a few literary examples to give you a feel of the rich writing Wendy Orr shares with readers-

"Logan felt like the turkey's wishbone being pulled apart after Thanksgiving dinner."

"...a sparkle of hope flickered through his black thoughts."

"Suddenly, the grumpiness dissolved like a Popsicle on the sidewalk."

A friend asked me if this was a sad story when I sent a tweet out I had just finished it and it is not.