Thursday, November 15, 2018

November Grades 3-4 Book Club: Stef Soto, Taco Queen

For November's Book Club, we read Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres. Hunter was present. Here's some of what we talked about.

Has your family ever saved up money for a special trip or project? 

Stef thought it was easier to draw her thoughts than to write about them. How do you best express your thoughts? Do you do this easily?
-I like to keep a lot of my thoughts to myself. I sometimes find it hard to express myself to people.

Stef and Amanda are best friends. What was unusual about how they met? How did you meet one of your friends? What made you realize that you thought of each other as friends?
-Stef broke Amanda's arm! I met one of my friends at school. He helped me a lot. We keep moving away from each other. We'll always be friends. We Facetime. We will probably go back to the same class/school at some point. 

Stef felt like her parents “hovered” and never let her feel any independence. Give evidence of this. How do the grownupin your family treat you? Give an example.
-A bit. Since I'm the youngest. But they are not nearly as bad as Stef's parents.

Stef really wanted to go to the concert. How do you feel about Stef’s parents not letting her go? Have you ever wanted to go or do something that your grownups didn’t want you to do? How did you try to change their minds? Were you successful?
-Sad. They probably shouldn't have let her go, though, because concerts are crowded and they wouldn't notice if she got kidnapped. I'm sometimes successful in changing their minds. 

Stef’s family usually ate breakfast together on Sunday mornings at Suzy’s. What does your family do together every week? Explain.
-Sometimes we go to breakfast at Slice of Heaven on Sundays.

Here's where we ran out of time (we went on a few tangents) but here were other things that we could have talked about:

Stef helped Papi with the family taco truck business. How would you feel working with your family in a business? What do you think Stef liked least about working with her dad?

When Stef was in the commissary and she had time to look at all the food trucks, she thought that the trucks were just like canvases. Do you pay attention to the designs painted on trucks? Why or why not? Do you remember a favorite design?

Papi sometimes struggled to understand English. Have you lived in a country where you didn’t speak the main language? If yes, how was that? If no, would you be willing to move to a country where you had to learn a new language? Explain.

How would you respond to this writing prompt from Stef’s teacher – “Imagine that you can time travel, but your parents don’t believe you. How would you convince them?”

If you were in a club that wanted to raise money, what project or projects would you suggest? What part would you want to help with – making signs, asking for donations, or creating blurbs for morning announcements or something else? Do you have a special talent in one of these areas? Explain.

Respond to another one of Stef’s teacher’s writing prompts – “If you had to live inside a book for two weeks, which book would you choose?” Explain.

At first Stef didn’t want to talk to the City Council on behalf of the food trucks, but she did. How much do you think her speech influenced the Council’s decisions?

How do you think Stef handled the situation when her classmates assumed she knew Viviana Vega well enough to get her to perform at their school dance?

Stef describes her two friends’ anger – “Amanda boils over and cools right back down. Arthur’s different. His anger is more like a slow, steady simmer”. How does your anger compare with these two descriptions? Explain.

Julia and Stef used to be best friends but then things changed and they both blamed each other. Have you ever had a best friend who then became someone else’s best friend? What did it feel like? Was the situation like how Julia treated Stef?

How well do you think you would you fit in with Stef’s family and friends? Give examples to support your answer.

When Julia and Stef arrived at the art supplies fundraiser dance, everything was going wrong – no electricity, no power, no food. Julia tried to call her mom and then stomped off screaming. Stef stayed and devised another option. If you had been at the dance, how would you have responded to the disaster?

Stef wanted her Papi to sell his food truck and get a different job. Were you surprised then that she persuaded Julia to help her paint the truck? Why do you think she did that?

-Good food. Sometimes it was free. And she realized that they all worked very hard on buying and then keeping Tia Perla.

For December's Book Club, we will be reading Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. 
"An old red oak tree tells how he and his crow friend, Bongo, help their human neighbors get along after a threat against an immigrant family is carved into the tree's trunk."-summary
Please be sure to register for Book Club and pick up your library copy of the book at the Circulation Desk!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

December Grades 3-4 Book Club Suggestions

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background—and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all. 
Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October Grades 3-4 Book Club: Bat and the Waiting Game

For October's Grades 3-4 Book Club, we read Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold. This is a sequel to A Boy Called Bat, which we read for last month's book club. Hunter, Isaac and Mark were present for today's discussion. Here's a little of what we talked about.

Please use one word to describe your first impression of Bat at the beginning of this book:


Who was your favorite character in Bat and the Waiting Game? Least favorite? Why?:

-Lawrence was my favorite from A Boy Called Bat.
-I liked the skunk the most (Thor). 
-I disliked Israel the most.
-I disliked Cornelia. She was just going along with Janie at that point.

What's your favorite scene of the story?:

-When the skunk sprayed the auditorium. The face that Janie made was great.
-Ditto. It was really funny.
-When Bat was working with the clay.
-I liked the scene with Babycakes.

Have you ever felt like Bat did when he first visited Israel's house: anxious about all of the new sights, tastes and sounds? How did you deal with your feelings?:

-Breathe in, breathe out.
-If I started to do something new, I'd feel like trying it.

Would you have been able to forgive Bat if you were Janie and Bat and Thor ruined your school play?:

-Yes, because I don't like school plays.
-If I was forced to be in a play, I would hope this would happen.

Bat often has to wait for things, ie. his mother's decision about Thor, for Israel to get to school, for Janie's play to be over so things can go back to "normal." Do you think all of this waiting teaches Bat about patience and other people's feelings?:

-That waiting is annoying.
-He also had to wait at the baseball game. He learned about baseball.
-It was a lesson in that LIFE IS WAITING.
-He learned about being nicer to people.

How does Bat change by the end of the story? Is he a different person than when it started?:

-He learned to be patient. Don't do stupid stuff (like bringing a skunk to a play).

Do you think that there was a message in this book, beyond the story it told? What might the message be?:

-Be nice and patient.
-To be understanding of people different from you.

Please use one word to describe your last impression of Bat:


What did you think about the ending of the book? Do you think there will be a sequel?: 

-Yes, because it ends with the play at home. There's a bunch of stuff they still need to tell us about.

There is a sequel! Will you be reading it?:

-I'm kind of done with his story.

Quote from Book Club today: What do you think that is? A rug wall???

For November's Book Club, we will be reading Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres: 

"Seventh grader Estefania "Stef" Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family's taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It's no fun being known as the "Taco Queen" at school. But just when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family's livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck's unlikely champion. In this fun and multicultural middle grade novel, Stef will discover what matters the most, and ultimately embrace an identity that even includes old Tia Perla."--Publisher's website.

We will meet on Wednesday, November 14 at 3:00 p.m. Please be sure to register for book club at the Circulation Desk and pick up your copy of November's book!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

November Grades 3-4 Book Club Suggestions

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself.

The Real McCoys by Matthew Swanson

Elementary school detective Moxie McCoy looks for a missing school mascot and a new best friend, with the help of her annoying little brother.

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres

Estefania "Stef" Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family's taco truck. She wants nothing more than for Papi to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be a distant memory. Then maybe everyone at school will stop seeing her as the Taco Queen.

But when her family's livelihood is threatened, and it looks like her wish will finally come true, Stef surprises everyone (including herself) by becoming the truck's unlikely champion. In this fun and heartfelt novel, Stef will discover what matters most and ultimately embrace an identity that even includes old Tia Perla.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September Grades 3-4 Book Club: A Boy Called Bat

For September's Book Club, we read A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold. Gavin, Hunter, Isaac, Mark, Mira and Will were present. This is some of what we discussed, based on suggestions from the author's publisher. We filled out worksheets with pictures and words for answers and talked about our favorite things quite a bit. 

A Favorite Room                                               
Bat’s room was his favorite place in the whole world. In his room, Bat felt completely comfortable. (PAGE 6)
Write about or draw a room where you are completely comfortable.

-"A room with a bunk bed and a dresser are ideal."
-"My bedroom is my favorite room."
-Someone drew a picture of their favorite room.
-"My bedroom: dressers, drawers, beds"
-A room with yellow walls, a tie-dye rug and a beanbag chair are what I hope for in a room

What are your six favorite things in your favorite room? Make a list or draw pictures of your favorite things.
[Bat’s room had] a roll-down bamboo window shade and a fine closet full of shelves and a pullout trundle in case someday a friend came to spend the night. It had a ceiling fan and a reading lamp and a rug with a picture of a train track printed on it. (PAGE 9)

-A 4K TV
-TV, XBox, toys, chairs, blankets
-Tarantula, Lego Death Star, Lego Executor, Lego Star Destroyer, Lego AT-AT, ATTE

A Classroom Pal                                                               

Image result for a boy called bat picturesBat’s teacher Mr. Grayson has an “open-door Babycakes policy” in his classroom. What does that mean? How does Bat feel about Babycakes?

-That the kids can go to Babycakes to hug and get comforted by the rabbit.
-Bat loves Babycakes because he often needs to get away from the other kids and be by himself.

Bat’s Five Senses 

We talked about things that Bat liked and didn't like, including his intolerance of loud noises. This brought about a discussion of Asperger's and experiences that the kids have had with it. 

Figures of Speech and What They Mean
People sometimes use expressions that they do not mean to be taken literally. These are called “figures of speech.” Because Bat takes most things people say literally, he can have trouble understanding the meaning of figures of speech. For example, in the passage below, Mr. Grayson says “I’m all ears,” when what he means is “I’m paying all my attention to you.”

“Mr. Grayson,” Bat said. “I need your help.” Mr. Grayson put the cap on his pen and set it down. “I’m all ears,” he said. That was a funny expression, and for a second Bat pictured Mr. Grayson made entirely of ears, with ears for eyes and an ear for a nose and two tiny rows of little ears for teeth. (PAGE 98)

This brought about a trading of other funny figures of speech, such as "letting the cat out of the bag" and "I've got my eyes on you."

Exploring Interests                                                             
An old lady, old like a grandmother, sat on the bench in the waiting room. She held a box on her lap. Bat stopped in front of her. “What kind of animal do you have in that box?” “It’s my cat, Pickles,” the lady said. “He’s not feeling one hundred percent.” “What are his symptoms?” Bat asked. “Are you the veterinarian?” the lady asked. “No,” said Bat. “Not yet.” (PAGE 106)

What is Bat’s main interest and his career goal?

-To become a veterinarian. 
-He reads lots of animal encyclopedias in order to learn more.

Describe your main interest and a career that you might pursue. What's the name of a book or a genre that you might read in order to help you attain this goal?
-Sniper: I once interviewed a sniper. I'd read more books about it.
-Military Pilot: WWII books.
-Baker or artist: Cookbooks!
-Chef or miner: Cookbooks and science books.
-Navy Pilot: WWI and WWII books.
Invent a new car/start a car company: I'd read books about people who started companies.

Please rate this book from 1-5, with 1 being a book you did not like at all and 5 being one of the best books you read:
Three 3s
Two 4s
One 5

For October's Book Club, we will be reading the sequel to A Boy Called Bat, Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold.

"When Bat's older sister Janie gets a part in the school play, and can't watch him after school, it means some pretty big changes. For one, someone else will have to take care of the skunk kit in the afternoons."

We will meet on Wednesday, October 10 at 3:00 p.m. Please be sure to pick up a library copy of the book at the Circulation Desk (and to register for Book Club). 

October Grades 3-4 Book Club Suggestions

Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold

"For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life is pretty great. He’s the caretaker of the best baby skunk in the world—even Janie, his older sister, is warming up to Thor.
When Janie gets a part in the school play and can’t watch Bat after school, it means some pretty big changes. Someone else has to take care of the skunk kit in the afternoons, Janie is having sleepovers with her new friends, and Bat wants everything to go back to normal.
He just has to make it to the night of Janie’s performance. . . ."

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

It's been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy's grandmother in Australia. Now that she's back, Livy has the feeling she's forgotten something really, really important about Gran's house.
It turns out she's right.
Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn't forget Livy, or her promise. He's been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can't remember who--or what--he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it's time to keep that promise.
Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.-catalog summary

Grump by Leisl Shurtliff

Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed "Grump") has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind.
     At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .
     When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He's bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn't stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He'll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that's enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.-catalog summary

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January Grades 3-4 Book Club: Paper Things

For January's Book Club, we read Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Abigail, Alba, Amelia, Ava, Claire, Finley and Lauren were present. This is some of what we discussed, based on suggestions from Candlewick Press.

Gage leaves his home and takes Ari with him. What personality traits lead him to make this decision? Do you think he is a good brother?

-I think he's a good brother. When he was leaving, he was confident that he could get a better life. He was confident and brave.
-I think he was a bad brother because he didn't give Ari a chance to decide.
-I think that Gage is very independent because he doesn't to be with Janna. He kind of pulls Ari into it but he gives her time to decide.
-She wants to stay with Janna and Gage didn't give her a chance to decide.

Which scenes best show Ari’s strengths as a person? Which scenes shed light on her weaknesses? Did the experience of homelessness change her? If so, how?

-She's really brave when she spoke to the reporter during crazy hat day. She hadn't even told her best friend yet.
-I think she's brave when she keeps on going and she doesn't go back to Janna right away.
-She's really brave in trusting her brother. She didn't know if she was going to ever get a home again.
-It was hard for her not to be clean and the other girls were teasing her. 
-She was weak when she saw Keisha at the soup kitchen and pretended that she wasn't there. She was too embarrassed by her circumstances.

Discuss Ari and Sasha’s friendship. Do you think they will remain best friends? Why or why not?  

-I think that they don't remain best friends. Keisha takes over Ari's spot.
-They aren't going to remain friends. Ari will realise that Sasha is not the friend to have if she dumps her so quickly.

Both family traditions and school traditions are important to Ari. What traditions are important to you? Why?

-Pajama night on Christmas Eve. It's important because it's fun and special. 
-I was born in Spain. We go to Spain every winter break. There's a tradition there that you eat grapes during the countdown to midnight. I love doing that with my family.
-On Christmas, we always open a package from our relatives in Kentucky. I get a B&N gift card and a Hallmark ornament. It's like getting to see my grandparents again.

Ari says, “Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this theory that when each person is born, he or she is given an imaginary sack with the same number of happy moments, same number of horrible-news moments, same number of please-let-me-die-now embarrassments” (105). What do you think of this theory? Support your argument.

-I think it's a good theory to think. You're thinking on the bright side. Her life has been so terrible and now her life will have to be upbeat.
-I disagree. She said at the end that she has horrible news moments. She was looking at the bad side of things.
-I also disagree. It depends on the person's life. 

Why doesn’t Ari tell others that she and Gage are struggling? What would you have done in her situation?

-I think she doesn't tell others. She's embarrassed of what others might think. No one will feel bad for her. They will just walk away from her. If I was in that situation, I might tell my teacher. I might not.
-I agree.
-I think she's not telling because people might feel too bad for her. I would only tell my best friend if that happened to me and tell her not to tell anyone else. 
-I would have told my friends part of the truth. I would have told white lies to excuse why I was acting the way I was. 
-I think she's embarrassed to tell other people. She used to be pretty popular and the teachers liked her. I think I would have told my friends and asked them to help me a bit. 

Daniel creates a bucket list. What things would you like to do before you leave your current school?

-I move all the time so I don't care.
-I would find another school.
-I move all the time.
-I would make a bucket list for college. I would publish books and go to all of the states.
-I want to fling mashed potatoes on the ceiling in the cafeteria. And I want to put ice under my feet and slide all the way down the hallway. I want to sleep in the school.

For February's Book Club, we will be reading Fortune Falls by Jenny Goebel. 

In Fortune Falls, where superstitions are real, and all children must pass regular "luck tests" to see if they are worthy, ill-fortuned Sadie has always been deemed as unlucky, and shunted aside for her luckier younger brother--but when she finds an unusually intelligent black cat named Jinx, her fortunes begin to change for the better.

We will meet on Wednesday, February 14 at 3:00 p.m. Please be sure to pick up a library copy of the book at the Circulation Desk (and to register for Book Club). 

November Grades 3-4 Book Club: Stef Soto, Taco Queen

For November's Book Club, we read Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres. Hunter was present. Here's some of what we talked a...