Wednesday, March 11, 2020

March Grades 3-4 Book Club: Orphan Island


For the March's Grades 3-4 Book Club, we read the book Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder. Cameron, Hunter, Luna, Lucy, Matt, Micah, and Mirah were present. Here's what we discussed. 


Discuss the meaning of the rhyme: “Nine on an island, orphans all/Any more, the sky might fall.” What does this rhyme mean to Deen? What does it mean to Jinny? What do you think might be the origin of this rhyme?

-If anyone decides to stay, bad things might happen
-The rhyme meant different things to different characters
-Abigail might have
-The person who created the island
-The person who came to the island first



Why does Jinny not want Deen to leave? Why does she try to make him stay? Discuss Deen’s comments when he says, “The island has rules for a reason” (p. 11) and “I might be ready . . . for something else” (p. 12).

-Because he was the first friend that she had on the island. She has known Deen the longest out of all of the kids.
-He might be bored of the island.
-He might to be adventurous.-



From the way Ess talks and from her behavior when she first comes to the island, can you guess how old she is? How does her language and behavior change through the course of the year she is Jinny’s “Care”?

-Maybe three
-She doesn't say "Mama" (asking for her) anymore, so maybe she's kind of getting over her mom
-By the end of the book, Ess is four (probably) and she is acting more grown-up



Discuss the three skills that each Elder must teach to the youngest child. Why is each of these skills so important and how do they help the children to live on the island? Why do you think Jinny has trouble teaching Ess the skills ?

-The skills are so important because they keep the kids alive.
-She can't remember how she learned them.
-She didn't want to teach Ess the skills because she might have been scared about having to leave the island.
-She might not have known anything to teach.



Is it Jinny’s job to keep Ess safe or, as Ben says, “to teach her to keep herself safe”? (p. 63). What is the difference? What does this difference in perspective tell us about Jinny and about Ben?

-To teach her to keep herself safe.
-They have differences in their personalities. 
-Jinny isn't lazy. She's afraid of failing in teaching Ess how to stay safe.



Discuss the importance of the scene when Jinny swims out in the ocean by herself. How does she change after that experience? What makes Oz say, “What is it with Elders? They always get so weird at the end, don’t they?” (p. 132). How does this compare to Jinny’s experience of Deen before he left the island?

-They're scared.
-They don't know where they're going.



What is the significance of the pile of shoes? How do Ess and Loo react differently when Jinny takes them to bury their shoes? What does she discover when Loo dismantles the shoe pile?

-It's a tradition of the island.
-You are supposed to forget all about your past and where you came from.



How do the other children respond to Jinny’s decision to stay? Describe the changes in the island after Jinny stays. How do these changes affect the lives of all the children?

-They're mad.
-They're hurt.
-The mist began to thin, the winds stopped blowing as much, it started snowing, the snakes got aggressive (and venomous). 



Consider the island from the point of view of different characters. For example, what does life on the island mean to Jinny and to Ben? What sets Jak and Oz apart from the others? How does Sam adapt to his first year without an Elder? How would the story be different if it were told from the point of view of any of the children other than Jinny?

-It's all I ever knew and I should ever need to know-Jinny
-Deen wanted to see the rest of the world
-I felt bad for Loo because he never really got to experience the island



Discuss the title of the book and how it relates to the children’s perception of themselves. How is Jinny affected by Ess’s apparent memories of her mama and Abigail’s letter to her Mommaloo? Do these thoughts contribute to her decision not to leave when the boat comes for her?

-She started to question who might be an orphan and who might not be.



Toward the end of the novel, Jinny calls into question the character of the people who live off the island: “Why would anyone send us to a place with snakes and not give us snake medicines, if there are such things? What kind of parents do we have that they shipped us off to a place like this?” (p. 257). How has Jinny’s attitude about the people who live off the island changed throughout the course of the novel?

-She always thought that she was an orphan and now she's not so sure.
-She is kind of shocked that people would send their children away.



Please rank this book from 1-5, with 5 being the best.
-One 1 (because it had a sad cliffhanger ending)
-Two 2
-One 3
-Two 5


For Book Club in April, we will be reading Framed by James Ponti.

Get to know the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists all because of his Theory of All Small Things in this hilarious start to a brand-new middle grade mystery series.

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL.

Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?
Book Club will be meeting on Wednesday, April 8 at 3:00 p.m. Books will be available behind the Circulation Desk within the next few days. As always, snacks and good conversation will be provided at Book Club!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

April Grades 3-4 Book Club Suggestions



The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf

There used to be an empty chair at the back of Mrs. Khan's classroom, but on the third Tuesday of the school year a new kid fills it: nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee.

The whole class is curious about this new boy--he doesn't seem to smile, and he doesn't talk much. But after learning that Ahmet fled a Very Real War and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates bands together to concoct the Greatest Idea in the World--a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.






Framed by James Ponti

Get to know the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists all because of his Theory of All Small Things in this hilarious start to a brand-new middle grade mystery series.

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL.

Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?






Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
Louie doesn't have the best luck when it comes to nurturing small creatures. So when his father brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey, he's determined to save him. He names him Winslow. Taking care of him helps Louie feel closer to his brother, Gus, who is far, far away in the army.
Everyone worries that Winslow won't survive, especially Louie’s quirky new friend, Nora, who has experienced loss of her own. But as Louie's bond with Winslow grows, surprising and life-altering events prove that this fragile donkey is stronger than anyone could have imagined.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

February Grades 3-4 Book Club: Matilda


For the February's Grades 3-4 Book Club, we read the book Matilda by Roald Dahl. Here's what we discussed, aided by some discussion questions on Schmoop.com.

Are the books Mrs. Phelps gives to Matilda appropriate for a five-year-old to read? What would you add to this list? What would you remove?

-Matilda
-The Wild Robot



How would you react if the Trunchbull wandered into one of your classrooms?

-Try to act nicely and think hard about everything I said to her. But that might not help at all.



Look back at a few of the different pranks played in the book. Are they realistic? Could any of them really work? And which one's your favorite?

-They are somewhat realistic. They might not work.
-I liked the peroxiding of the hair prank.




Could anyone besides Bruce Bogtrotter eat an entire chocolate cake?

-No.



Who is the meanest character in the book? How are they mean? The nicest? What makes them nice?

-Mrs. Truchbull. She's really mean and uses her power over the kids.
-Miss Honey was the nicest because she was really gentle with the kids.





Do you think there's too much violence in Matilda, compared to other kids' books? Is the amount of violence appropriate for most readers' age level?

-It depends on who the reader's parents are. But for the most part, I didn't think it was too violent.



If you had powers like Matilda's, what would you do with them? Suppose you could move just one thing with your mind. What would it be?

-It's hard to decide.



Do you think Miss Honey's explanation about why Matilda starts losing her special abilities at the end of the book makes sense?

-Yes.



At what point in the book did you figure out the connection between Miss Honey and the Trunchbull?

-Once the author noted it.



Do you think any of Matilda's pranks are mean spirited? Or are they totally deserved?
-The pranks weren't necessarily deserved and the glue prank was a little mean.




Do you think events like those in the book could ever happen? Why or why not?

-No. All of it seemed a little bit too much. The magical powers are not very realistic. Plus the fact that Matilda was so smart without any help from her parents didn't seem realistic.




Would you call the end of the book a happy one? Why or why not?

-I would call it happy for Matilda. It was good for her because her parents were mean and didn't care about her.
-I think she was probably sad that her parents left her so easily without looking back.




Please rank this book from 1-5, with 5 being the best.
-4
-3.5

For Book Club in March, we will be reading Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

"On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts.
And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.
Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been.
But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?"

Book Club will be meeting on Wednesday, March 11 at 3:00 p.m. Books will be available behind the Circulation Desk within the next few days. As always, snacks and good conversation will be provided at Book Club!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

March Grades 3-4 Book Club Suggestions

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?





Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder


On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts.
And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.
Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been.
But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?


The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy DeKeyser

Nick wants to change his life. For twelve years, he’s done what his hard-working, immigrant parents want him to do. Now he’s looking for his own American dream and he thinks he’s found it. The local baseball team is having a batboy contest, and Nick wants to win.

But the contest is on a Saturday—the day Nick has to work in his father’s shop. There’s one other tiny—well, not so tiny—problem. A 2,000-pound rhinoceros named Tank. Nick and his friends play ball in the city zoo—and Tank lives just beyond the right field fence. Nick’s experience getting the ball out of Tank’s pen has left him frozen with fear whenever a fly ball comes his way. How’s a lousy fielder going to win the contest?

Nick practices every day with his best friend, Ace, and a new girl who has an impressive throwing arm! But that’s not enough—to get to the contest, Nick has to lie to his parents and blackmail his uncle. All while dodging the school bully, who’s determined to win even by playing dirty. Nick will need to keep his eye on the ball in this fast, funny story about a game that can throw you some curveballs—just like life!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

January Grades 3-4 Book Club: El Deafo


For the January Grades 3-4 Book Club, we read the book El Deafo by Cece Bell. Lucy, Matt, Micah, and Rileigh were present. Here's what we discussed.



When did Cece lose her hearing? After losing her hearing, why does she talk differently?  

-When she was four.
-Because if she can't hear as well as she used to




What are the pros and cons of the Phonic Ear? Overall, was the Phonic Ear something positive or negative for Cece? 

-She can hear people in the bathroom

-She can hear the toilet paper
-Cece can hear better
-One of the cons is that people might make fun of her



Have you ever felt as if you were in a bubble of loneliness like Cece? When
was it? What did you do to help pop your bubble? Would you rather have a friend like Laura or be in a loneliness bubble? 
-Once I get to a new place, I stay to myself. I don't share a bunch with others until I feel comfortable and open up.

We talked more about people being unkind and there being unwanted drama.

What are some misconceptions about deafness that other people have throughout El Deafo? 

-That they are different in a bad way
-I think that this makes the person unique
-They talk to Cece very slowly (and strangely)
-They will use sign language, assuming that she knows it

How does Cece’s view of the Phonic Ear change throughout the book? 

-At first, she thought that she wouldn't get used to it. And then she thought it was awesome. 

-In the beginning, she hid the Phonic Ear under her clothes.



In her author’s note, Cece Bell writes that being different turned out to be a strength. She says, “Our differences are our superpowers.” Could you give examples of how a difference could become a superpower?

-Having a different language than most everyone else, so that I could communicate with someone else and no one would know what we're saying.

-Someone with only one arm would have to find other ways to do things.



Please rank this book from 1-5, with 5 being the best.

-Two 3s

-One 4
-One 5


Here's a short interview with the author, Cece Bell, explaining the story behind the story and some great words of advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnj5STG0SZo



For Book Club in February, we will be reading Matilda by Roald Dahl.


"Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she's just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It'll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!"

Book Club will be meeting on Wednesday, February 12 at 3:00 p.m. Books will be available behind the Circulation Desk within the next few days. As always, snacks and good conversation will be provided at Book Club!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

February Grades 3-4 Book Club Suggestions

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true.



Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she's just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It'll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!



Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.

Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

December Grades 3-4 Book Club: Red




For December's Book Club, we read Red by Liesl Shurtliff. Lucy, Micah, Mira, and Rileigh were present for Book Club. We used a Brightly.com Book Club guide to keep our discussion on track.


Although this story focuses on Red, the author refers to many other fairy tales. How many did you recognize?

-Goldilocks and the Three Bears
-Three Little Pigs
-Sleeping Beauty
-Snow White
-Rumpelstiltskin



Red is both fascinated by and scared of her magic abilities. Why? Share examples of the effects of using magic in Red.

-She almost killed her grandmother.
-She did a spell that made roses go up her nose.
-She made her path through the woods, which worked out well for her.


Granny tells Red that fear, not magic, is what causes trouble. Do you agree? How did fear affect Red? When have you been afraid? How have you dealt with your fears?

-Magic causes trouble because you never know what you'll get.
-Magic doesn't cause trouble; fear can take over your mind and affect your magic.
-It's the fear that is taking over her magic. She's not controlling it; her fear is.
-I confront my fears and breathe deeply.
-I was afraid of the dark but I grew out of it.
-You talk to your fears and tell them not to scare you.


Who is Goldie? What do you know about her from the story? How are she and Red similar and different?

-They're different. One has a mother who is kind of selfish.
-Both have color names.
-They both have something that they own that is the color of their name: Goldie's golden hair and Red's red cloak
-Goldie is an obnoxious Goldilocks
-She's annoying and obnoxious.
-She just wants her mother to like her.


Things are never quite what they seem in this story — beautiful water sprites are dangerous, witches are good, and wolves are more helpful than dangerous. Why do you think the author wrote these characters this way?

-Because everything is misunderstood.
-Everything has a backstory.
-So that a character could do something new.
-So that the reader's expectations would be turned around.


At one point, Red remembers that “Granny said there were always at least two sides to any story, if not a dozen” (page 133). What does that mean? How does that idea play out in the book?

-Because not everything is simple.
-The wolves and witches are nice while the beautiful people are bad.
-The Big Bad Wolf became the Big Good Wolf, which was unexpected and shows more than one side to the story.


Red makes some unlikely friendships throughout her journey. Discuss and compare her friendships with Goldie, Wolf, and Borlen.

-In the beginning, Red is annoyed by Goldie. But then she realizes that they had a connection. And by the end, they are friends.
-She had a special connection with Wolf through the spell. 
-Borlen and Red had a good connection because Red was able to overlook that Borlen is a monster.


Goldie encourages Red to use her magic by saying “Some mistakes need to be made. Sometimes we have to fall down before we can stand up” (page 64). Do you agree? Why is practice important? Are there things you are good at because you practice?

-Practice is important because you might not become good at something.
-You aren't just going to wake up in fifth grade and know stuff.
-Sports because I practice (and I like it).
-Sports because I practice.
-I am so so so good at basketball because my dad is basketball coach.


The concept of death is woven throughout this book. The Well Witch, Red, the Beast, and the Huntsman are all afraid of death. The dwarves and Granny, however, seem more accepting of their fates. What does Red learn about death during her journey with Goldie? What did you learn? What do you think of the choices some characters made to try to avoid death?

-Death eventually comes to get you.
-It's a bad choice to try to become immortal.
-Death is like playing a game of tag. Sometimes it tags other people but at some point it will tag you.
-Death is part of the circle of life. You are born, you grow up and you die.


“Life is like a story. It doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t end” (page 197). What did Beast mean by that? What did you think of Red’s ending?

-It's like the circle of life. 
-You leave the earth but you can still watch your loved ones.
-I liked the ending of Red because it's nice how Goldie came to visit her and her grandma was still alive and her parents came back.


Please rate this book from 1-5, with 5 being the best:

-Three 3s
-One 4


For January's Book Club, we will be reading El Deafo by Cece Bell. We will be meeting on Wednesday, January 8 at 3:00 p.m. 

"The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her "superpower."-summary

Copies of the book will be available at the Circulation Desk. Please be sure to sign up for book club so that Miss Lisa can buy enough snacks!

March Grades 3-4 Book Club: Orphan Island

For the March's Grades 3-4 Book Club, we read the book Orphan Island  by Laurel Snyder. Cameron, Hunter, Luna, Lucy, Matt, Mic...