I NEED YOUR HELP!

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Right now I am transitioning into a new school and grade (no more middle grades) and have just found out that I will not be given a classroom library for my students!! I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed. So I’ve created a classroom project request at DonorsChoose.org, an award-winning charity.

I’m asking for donations of any size to help my kids. For the next four days, any donation you make to my project will be doubled (up to $100). If you know anyone who is passionate about education, please pass this along. Your donation will brighten my students’ school year, and you’ll get photos and thank yous from our class.

Here’s my classroom request:

http://www.donorschoose.org/project/whats-a-classroom-without-a-classroom-l/1258425/?rf=email-system-2014-07-teacher_promo_expiring-teacher_2386946&challengeid=20425590/

To have your donation matched dollar for dollar, enter the promo code INSPIRE on the payment screen. This awesome match offer lasts through July 25.

My students and I greatly appreciate your support.

Jamee

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Holes

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Holes

Author: Louis Sachar

Lexile: 660

Grade Level: 5-8

I’ve heard it before, “I’m the most unlucky kid in the world”. You must have not met Stanley Yelnat. Stanley’s a good kid, his family are good people, but they just can’t escape the curse that’s been haunting their family for decades! Somehow, Stanley’s bad luck now brings him to Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre, and for something that he didn’t do! Green Lake has it’s quirks. First off, he’s asked to dig five feet wide by five feet deep holes and report whatever he finds inside. Somehow this is character building, but in reality, leads to much, much more. You’ll laugh and gasp with Stanley while reading this book, that’s a fact.

What I Liked: For every action, there is a reaction in this novel. Everything is interconnected in surprising, yet meaningful ways. Although, the truth is, Stanley really is unlucky, he does find some luck at Green Lake. He finds new friends, a little respect, and a few life lessons. I also loved the real world topics this book covers: racism, family, and working up to your potential.

What Could Have Been Better: Although I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, there were a few too many coincidences for me. At first they got me excited; however, after the fourth one in a row, I started to lose interest.

Who Should Read This Book: If you’re going through a rough time, have ever blamed your family for the way things are, or just have a free Sunday, pick up this book. You’ll learn a lot without even realizing it.

Quest for the Lost Treasure

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Quest for the Lost Treasure

Author: Gerry Gaston

Age Level: 3-8

Take control of your reading with this graphic novel. It’s up to you to find the treasures that the pirates stole from your village! Make the right choices so that you can get to the treasure before the pirates are lost forever! Climb trees, enter caves, and choose the right island and before you know it, you’ll be the village hero!

What I Liked:This entire book is interactive and puts the reader in charge of the story. The graphics are bright and engaging and the plot keeps the reader’s attention. The writing is large and simple, keeping the reader focused on the text right along with the graphics.

What Could Have Been Better: I would have liked more options for readers. This book let’s readers be creative, Id love for it to allow them to be even more. Also, it seemed as though some of options malfunctioned. I would choose one option and end up at another. Other options simply didn’t work.

Who Should Read This Book: This is the perfect graphic novel for those young readers who love technology, gaming, etc. reading is disguised as a game, a win win in my book. This book can be read multiple times with different end results as well, perfect for those who get bored with books easily.

A Pixie Called Pudding

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A Pixie Called Pudding

Author: Travis Flynn

Lexile: 700

Age Level: 10-13

Pudding is not your average pixie. Yes, she goes to school, has a tight group of friends, and enjoys hanging out by the beach, but one thing makes her way different. She loves science. In a world filled with magic, the people of Luinia never saw a reason to focus on science. Because of this shared belief, many of the adults frown upon her work. Even one of her friends proves to be jealous and tries to sabotage her. I bet you’ll never guess what happens.

What I Liked: Pudding is a great lead character. She’s quirky, does her own thing, and isn’t always the center of attention the way that most characters tend to be. Although she makes a lot of HUGE mistakes, she takes everything as it comes and never falls into a negative attitude (there’s enough of that to go around from another character). I also liked the length of this book. It was a quick read; but one filled with deep thoughts, connections, and inferences.

What Could Have Been Better: I know some authors like to throw in an antagonist (evil character), but Nemesis was just too harsh! I hated that Pudding stayed her friend after everything Nemesis did and said to her and her friends. I hope Pudding comes to her senses in the next book!

Who Should Read This Book: This one is definitely girl focused, although the cover persuaded me otherwise. Although there’s science, adventure, and action, it’s still “girly” to me. If you like a little fantasy in your reading, pick up this book.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L. Frank Baum

Grade Level: 3-6

Lexile: 1000L (in my opinion, 600L)

Dorothy lives the simple life in Kansas, where her only real entertainment is her dog, Toto. But, when a twister comes and takes her to a far away land, all she wants is to find a way back home. Her landing causes quite a bit of attention, even the Good Witch of the North appears and shows her in the right direction towards the Great and Powerful Oz, the only person who may have a solution for Dorothy. Even with the Good Witch’s help, finding her way to Oz is not an easy task. Luckily she meets some unlikely companions who also want to see Oz for a brain, a heart, and courage. Together, they find their way, and might even discover exactly what they are looking for.

This novel is filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, and bumps and bruises. But, what you really find, is that lasting friendships form out of the most outrageous of situations.

What I Liked: Being an avid fan of the movie, I was expecting to know all of the scenes, narration, etc. Boy was I wrong! Plenty of scenes were taken out, others were added, characters were missing, new places existed. I could go on and on! And to tell the truth, I loved that they were so different. If you’ve read the book, you need to see the movie, and if you saw the movie, you need to read the book. No spoilers either way.

What Could Have Been Better: Although the story line is easy to follow and each character has distinct characteristics, I felt as though they weren’t as developed as well as they could have. I relied on my knowledge of the movie to give the characters greater depth, something first time viewers of the Wizard of Oz cannot fall back on.

Who Should Read This Book: if you’re between 8-14 read it. Just do it.

Nikki Powergloves: A Hero Is Born

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Nikki Powergloves: A Hero Is Born

Author: Kevin Estes

Grade Level: 2-5

Lexile: 400

Nikki is bummed when she finds out her best friend, Spencer, is going away for the summer with his dad. She has nothing to do and no one to do it with. Right when she thinks she’s doomed, she finds a Beaverpine, or correctly known as a Weeble, in a clearing in a forest. When her curiosity gets the best of her and she follows it into the woods, she’s introduced to the Weeble, who has a special gift for her, a treasure chest! Inside the chest are gloves, but not ordinary gloves, power-filled gloves. When she puts them on she possesses special powers, such as flying, becoming invisible, and stopping time.

Once she realizes what she’s been given, she rushes home to call Spencer, who just happens to be coming home early. Together, they discover the powers of the gloves and help the people of Cragglyville along the way. Don’t be mistaken, everything is not rainbows and butterflies. With every hero comes a villain. Nikki Powergloves’ villain just happens to be Jimmy Power…. See what Jimmy is capable of as this book unfolds.

What I Liked: This book has awesome written all over it. First off, Nikki is an all around good person. She’s loyal to her best friend, listens to her parents, and loves her dog. She’s your typical nine year old with a treasure chest of special powers. Second, once she’s received these powers she doesn’t turn into an instant pro. Instead she makes mistakes and learns from them. Third, she stands up for what is right. She doesn’t go to the dark side just to be like the other “power kids”. She follows her morals and sticks with Spencer, even though he doesn’t have super powers.

What Could Have Been Better: I know it isn’t a big deal, but I hated her costume! It took away from my enjoyment of this book. There’s no way people weren’t able to recognize her with only a braid covering her eyes! She didn’t like the idea of a fancy superhero costume, but at least make yourself unrecognizable! Silly, I know, but it kept frustrating me while reading!

Who Should Read This Book: Perfect for all middle elementary students. Although the main character is a girl, Spencer plays the best sidekick I’ve read in quite a long time, making this book five stars for both boys and girls. It’s for those that like a fantasy novel, but one that we believe might really happen one day. Anyone who’s ever sat bored over summer vacation, or even over a weekend for that matter, wishing something exciting would happen, will connect with this book….and I bet you’ll continue with the rest of the series too!

Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure

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Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure

Author: Becca C. Smith

Grade Level: 4-6

Lexile: 600

Alexis isn’t exactly the average 21st century kid. Instead of worrying about her next play date, she’s had to focus on where her family’s next meal is coming from. Don’t get me wrong, her parents love her, they do, but her dad’s obsession with discovering the secret treasure of Atlantis has gotten in the way of paying the bills. Desperate for money, her parents decide to become lab rats for the summer and leave Alexis with her Great Aunt Mae, an aunt she’s never met, in the middle of nowhere Virginia. What could be worse?!

A lot actually. Aunt Mae turns out to be great, and Alexis even makes a new best friend, Olivia. AND they even set out to find Beale’s treasure! Best summer ever, right? Not exactly. Turns out the Woodmore’s, who basically run the whole town, have been hunting for this treasure for three generations and they’re not exactly going to let two “runts” steal it from them. Follow Alexis and Olivia through all of the ups and downs (literally) towards finding the hidden treasure.

What I Liked: Although I consider this book highly fictional; I really enjoyed all of the real world components tied into it. Families really do struggle for money and therefore do crazy things. People really do get shooed out of hospitals when they don’t have insurance. People really do put the ones they love first regardless of the circumstances. And best friends really do have the power to find a secret treasure when they put their heads together.

What Could Have Been Better: Things get a little too crazy at the end of this book. Or at least I hope nothing of the sorts would ever come close to happening. The rest of the book is believable, but in the end too many out of this world things happen in literally every paragraph. Oh yea, by the way, there’s going to be sequel….but the hook to it is just too extreme! I’m not saying the sequel doesn’t have potential, I’m just saying, jeesh! It could have happened a little more subtly!

Who Should Read This Book: If you like twists and turns, this books for you. You need to REALLY like them because something new happens after every page! This book’s also for those who enjoy a good underdog novel. Also for those who believe that kids have what it takes to do things better than adults. If you fall into any of these categories grab your friends and start reading! There’s plenty to talk about within every chapter.