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  • NCTE 2019- Great Session!

    This week at NCTE, Meaghan Gulledge, a student in UWF’s Master’s in Reading Program, presented an engaging session related to the dialogic classroom. Here is a summary in her own words, of what works in getting ALL students reading. I especially love the innovative terms she uses, as she talks about “KINDLING” (books) and stacking these just right to provide the students with the background knowledge needed to conquer more challenging text throughout the school year (or, as she puts it, “starting the fire”).

    Fanning the Flames of Inquiry: The Transformative Power of a Dialogic Classroom

    By Meaghan Gulledge

    NCTE 2019 Presentation

    I believe that all children are learners… however, not every child believes that of themselves. How, as teachers, do we fire up our struggling learners? Kids who have not found success are often our most apathetic students. They come to third grade having already given up, just when accountability is at an all-time high.…

    So. Be. It

    by Sarah Weeks
    244 pages
    Reviewed by The Book Dealer

    “I would be lying if I said that given a choice, I wouldn’t rather know than not know. But there are some things you can just know for no good reason other than that you do, and then there are other things that no matter how badly you want to know them, you just can’t” (p.4).
    There is something so very sweet about a book that reminds us that FAMILY includes those people we choose, not just the people who are our blood relatives. Maybe it is because I am an adoptive mother of an amazing 12 (almost 13)-year-old, but this book just tugged at every heart string I have.
    The story starts with the reader meeting Heidi, a young lady whose mother only speaks 23 words. Nothing is clear to Heidi, due to her mother’s limitations as a mentally disabled woman.…

    Elvis and the Underdogs

    by Jenny Lee
    316 pages
    Reviewed by The Junior Book Dealer (Elena Elizabeth Hynes)

    “I keep thinking of what would make the coolest opening to my note. Dear Taisy? Nah, too boring. Dearest Taisy. No way, too girly, and it sounded like those black and white movies my mom sometimes watches. Yo, Taisy? That sounded cooler, but it didn’t sound like me at all. Yo, Yo, Taisy? No, that sounded like I was calling her a Yo-yo and what if she asked if I could Yo-yo and then I had to admit that I was not a good Yo-yoer at all.” (p. 161).
    Elvis and The Underdogs is a book that would be enjoyed by kids who like humor. Like the books by Lisa Graff, this book has very “real” characters even though it is fiction. Benji, the main character, is a ten year old that was born sickly to make him faint a lot.…


    by Sarah Guillory
    296 pages
    Reviewed by The Book Dealer

    I had the pleasure of meeting and introducing Sarah Guillory at the Louisiana State University YA Lit Conference this summer. I raced to find the book online, and once I began reading, I couldn’t stop.

    The story begins with Jenna Oliver, a girl who is dealing with the death of her beloved grandfather (Pops) and the subsequent downward spiral of her mother due to losing her father. Jenna feels the weight of guilt, as she was not with him at the time of his death; she was with a young man who charmed her into leaving the hospital to spend time with him.
    Now, Jenna doesn’t have time to get involved with one boy, let alone two. She is bound and determined to escape her small hometown of Solitude and make sure she doesn’t make the same mistakes as her mother.…

    Jake and Lily

    by Jerry Spinelli
    352 pages
    Reviewed by The Junior Book Dealer (Elena Elizabeth Hynes)

    “I kept looking at Ernie with his Daffy Duck T-shirt and his white smear of sunblock on his sunburned nose and his clumsiness and his never-ending cheeriness, and I realized he was the same as always. He fit the definition of a goober as perfectly as ever. He hadn’t changed at all. I had. Forget what I said a couple of pages ago: goobers do exist. They are what they are, which is pretty much what I thought they were. What Bump thinks they are. But Bump is missing the point: it is okay to be a goober. Beneath every goober is a kid. A person. Maybe he’s not what you would call a ‘regular.’ But so what? Is that a bad thing?” (Spinelli, p. 322)

    Jake and Lily is one of the best books I have read so far.…

    Flora and Ulysses

    by Kate DiCamillo
    261 pages
    Reviewed by The Junior Book Dealer (Elena Elizabeth Hynes)

    “She stood at the window and watched as the squirrel was vacuumed up.
    Poof. Fwump.
    ‘Holy Bagumba,’ said Flora.

    Flora Buckman is a self-proclaimed cynic. She dreams of having a superhero in her life like the ones she reads about in her comics. One day, that dream comes true when a squirrel gets vacuumed up in Tootie Tickman’s new Ulysses 3000 vacuum. Flora performs CPR on the small rodent in order to keep him alive, and what happens next is unbelievable.
    Suddenly, the squirrel was very hungry. Not only was he hungry, but he understood Flora. The story gets better and better as more characters are introduced. We learn that Flora’s mother and father are divorcing, and the Tickman’s have a visiting great nephew named William Spiver who also has his share of problems, including his “temporary blindness.”
    Ulysses brings all these characters together with his poetry and incredible powers.…

    A Certain October

    by Angela Johnson
    158 pages
    Reviewed by The Book Dealer

    Scotty’s life has been turned upside down by an accident that lands her autistic brother Keone in the hospital and leaves a classmate dead. How is a teen supposed to deal with such life issues when what should be on her mind is Homecoming and a surprising budding romance.


    Angela Johnson once again creates characters that are real. You laugh. You cry. You feel like you are part of the story. This tale of dealing with trauma, as well as the strong relationships that help Scotty through troubling times is a treasure. With a host of minor characters that are her friends, this book is one that makes the reader reflect on the importance of friendships and family.

    Notes to Teachers: mild language and reference to intimate relationships
    Suggestions for Possible Concepts: Family, Friends, Dealing with Grief, Struggles and Perseverance

    The Complete Robot

    by Isaac Asimov
    244 pages
    Reviewed by Dr. Russ Yocum
    Grade 4

    The Complete Robot is the most complete anthology of Isaac Asimov’s short-stories set in his “robot universe.” Though most of the stories originally appeared in various science fiction magazines or other collected volumes between 1941 and 1977, it is convenient to have them all in one edition. With ever-increasing advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and computing power, these stories are just as relevant (if not more so) today than when they first saw print.


    In these collected stories, readers will get to know some recurring characters (Powell, Donovan, and Dr. Susan Calvin – – all employees of US Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation) as well as a variety of robots. Some of the robots are little more than computers or factory-like machines intended for one specific purpose; other robots can learn and adapt. Asimov coined the term “robotics” and with his “Three Laws of Robotics” that appear in many of his robot universe stories has had a lasting influence on modern computing and robotics: “1.…

    Million-Dollar Throw

    by Mike Lupica
    244 pages
    Reviewed by Tommy Jennings
    Grade 4

    “And the deal, as I recall, went something like this: This isn’t a job for you. It’s an adventure,” she said.

    “I am almost sure you stole that from somebody.”


    Nate Brodie and Abby McCall have been life-long best friends. Nate, a kid with a golden arm, is a great quarterback and the biggest Tom Brady fan you’ll ever meet. Abby is just good at everything.

    Shortly after his 13th birthday, Nate, his mom, and his best friend Abby McCall make a trip to SportStuff, where Nate is finally able to buy the limited edition autographed Brady football for which he’s been saving $500.00 Abby looks at a poster and finds there is a contest to throw a ball into a twenty-inch target from the 30 yard line.
    It’s a one-in-a-million chance, but Nate wins the contest and a shot at the big money.…


    by Patrick Carman
    261 pages
    Reviewed by McKayla G.

    “This is the weirdest hotel ever,” said Remi.
    “That’s what you said about the last one.”
    “Yeah, but this time I really mean it.”
    They arrived at the opening of a narrow tunnel, which would require getting down on their knees. A creepy, slurping sound came from inside.
    “No way,” said Remi. Not gonna happen. Whatever’s in there is going to eat my face off.”
    “For crying out loud, Remi,” said Leo, sitting down in front of the opening and patting the ground. “Come on, sit down. Let’s just take a break and get back in the game.”
    Remi sat on the far side of Leo, away from the opening, and a spider the size of a tennis ball drifted down in front of his face. Remi was having some trouble breathing until Leo batted it away with his hand, and it went scurrying into the dark.…

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