Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road

Written by Kate Klise
Illustrated by: M. Sarah Klise

The Klise sisters kicked off their 43 Old Cemetery Road series with this creative and unique mystery titled Dying to Meet You. The book introduces the three main characters of the series: I. B. Grumply - a children's book author, Seymore Hope - 11 year-old boy, and Olive C. Spence - the woman that built the home on 43 Old Cemetery Road (she died 97 years before the story opens). Together these three live in the old home; however, the living arrange is not a smooth one at all. One is self-centered and grumpy, one is abandoned, and one is a Ghost.

The book is composed of letters, notes, newspaper articles, and drawings which makes it so creative. I enjoyed it, and I am interested in the next title. However, I think I am more interesed in the format than the storyline.

Age level: 3rd through 5th grade

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Lion and the Mouse

Jerry Pinkney's retelling of The Lion and the Mouse is fantastic. Masterful watercolor paintings combined the most simple text will provide the reader with a truly aesthetic experience.

I have read this fable many times, but I have never experienced it like I did this version. This book has moved to the top of my list in regards to Pinkney's work.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let's Do Nothing

Tony Fucile's Let's Do Nothing is fantastic. This picture book tells the story of two friends that think they have done everything there is to do. They have played every board game, read every comic, played every sport ever invented, etc. Then it hits them that they can now just do nothing, but this turns out to be more difficult than they could ever imagine. Finally, Eureka, they discover that there is NO WAY to do nothing so they decide to do SOMETHING!

A fun read aloud for those of us that think there is nothing to do.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

The Dunderheads

I have been a big fan of Paul Fleischman for years. I love his out-of-the-box thinking and his radical change approach to many of his books. Well his newest book, The Dunderheads, may not be so much of a radical change style book, but it is a different style for him.

This quick read is about a class of students with some unusual talents. Together the students combine their talents to outwit their mean teacher, Miss Breakbone.

A fun read aloud with neat illustrations by David Roberts. For those of you that have elementary-aged children, the artwork will resemble that of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, although the latter does not compare to The Dunderheads.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Bird Poems

Although I am not a bird person, I really enjoyed Micheal Rosen's collection of bird haiku. The book includes soothing haiku poetry, short informational details and soft watercolor paintings of the various birds. Some birds included in this text are cardinals, owls, kingfisher, hummingbird, etc.

Bottom line, I loved it.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Higher! Higher!

I loved Leslie Patricelli's Higher! Higher! Throughout the book she uses the phrase Higher! Higher! along with some fantastic, simplistic, child-like acrylic paintings to tell this story. It's the classic demand of push me higher on the swing Daddy mixed with a young child's imagination that takes this story to new heights.

A fun read for the young child, but a text-to-self connection for many of us.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems from Beyond the Solar System

If you are looking for a out of this world book of poetry, then here it is...Jack Prelutsky's The Swamps of Sleethe. From nonsense words to crazy adventures, young space fans will enjoy this collection of wacky poems. Here are a few titles for you: "The Cold of Drifig Prime," "The Globulings of Wolvar Sprod," "The Monopods of Odgofod," etc. Not only do some titles play on words (when unscrambled), but Prelutsky also includes a pronunciation guide as well.

A fun book of poetry.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Our Children Can Soar

Michelle Cook created this wonderful story that celebrates history and how it has impacted today. Our Children can Soar can best be summed up by the subtitle on the front cover...A celebration of Rosa , Barak, and the pioneers of change.

The simple but powerful text is supported by outstanding illustrators such as Bryan Collier, E.B. Lewis, James Ransome, Leo & Diane Dillon, and more.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Book

Mordicai Gerstein's A Book is a creative and unique picture book. A young girl wakes up from her sleep when the reader opens the book. Throughout the story she searches for "her" story. Her parents each have a story and her brother has a story, but she doesn't know her own story. Via text-to-text (intertextual) connections, she visits various characters from other stories...all trying to help her find her story.

From the concept of the book, to the illustrations, to the mix of speech bubbles and traditional narrative, Gerstein has put together a fun read.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems is a fun collection poetry. Since we all make lists and most of us do this daily the book promotes a natural connection. Georgia Heard has collected a variety of list poems that readers will enjoy. Titles include: In My Desk, Lost & Finds, Things to Do If You Are A Pencil, Test Day, and many more. Poets include: Lee Bennet Hopkins, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Eileen Spinelli, Jane Yolen, and more.

After reading this collection, I would bet many young writers will want to create their own list poems.

Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie

My niece (an 8th grade teacher) recently recommended that I read the YA book titled Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. Although the novel was first printed in 2004, this was the first time I had heard of the book. Sadly, I wish I would have read this years ago, because I could have shared it with many of my students.

Super quick summary: The plot is about Steven (age 14) and how his world gets rocked when he discovers that his brother, Jeffrey (age 5) is diagnosed with Leukemia.

As I read the book I had a mix of emotions...from sadness to outward laughter. Sonnenblick did a great job making this book real for the readers. He took us through the day to day struggles that a middle school boy might go through while dealing with this difficult situation and other typical middle school trials.


Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children

I have always been intrigued by the the fairy tale "Hansel & Gretel". So recently I started collecting various versions of the story (primarily in picture book format)...please note that it is a very small collection, so feel free to send books my way.

About a week ago I was sent The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan. So off course I was very excited to receive this modern version of the tale to read and add to my collection. Here were some of my initial thoughts: great looking cover, creative title, & fantastic potential. I was anxious to get started.

However, it took me a little while to get into the book. Of course I understand that McGowan needed to set the stage for this story, but it just wasn't working for me. Although the book is only 176 page, it actually took me several days to finish it. I'm sure it is because it was not what I was expecting. The book did have some creative and interesting parts, but overall I found it very average. I am glad that I read it, but I do not think I will do much with it.

Keep Reading,

Dr. Quinn

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Q Formula

I have just come up with a new formula, titled the Q Formula: Beach + Book + ADD = not much being read. I have recently spent 9 days on the beach and only completed one book...Maximum Ride. I seem to look up every time there is a person, bird, wave, or whatever moving past me. Recently, I decided to not even take a book down to the beach...I guess we must all find ways to cope with our problems.
By the way, if you have seen Pixar's newest movie...UP, and you remember the part where Dug the talking dog loses focus during a conversation: "My master made me this collar. He is good and smart, and he made me this collar so that I may talk...squirrel." Then you have seen me on the beach. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxoWHeoYU3g, a media to self connection!

I guess I will just have to wait until I get back home and can read on my hammock.

Keep Reading (this goes for me as well),
Dr. Quinn

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Maximum Ride

I have had several students encourage me to read James Paterson's Maximum Ride. They have made comments such as...filled with action, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, quick read, kids will love it, similar to X-Men but kids 6-14 in age, short chapters. What they didn't tell me was that the book was over 400 pages. That is nothing compared to the recent Harry Potter books, but 400+ pages is a lot for someone with a short attention span like me.

I originally picked up the first book in the trilogy, Maximum Ride The Angel Experiment, several months ago. I started it and enjoyed it, but I would only read a little at a time...not a specific choice, rather it just seemed to happen that way. After several months I decided I must finish this book. So today I read 200+ pages while sitting on the beach in Seaside, FL. I can now say that I have completed the book, and I am glad I did.

I thought the book was all it was hyped up to be...(see above). I found it entertaining and an easy read...once I set my mind to completing it. I can't wait to pass it on to my 12 year old son.

Now that I have completed book one, will I complete the next two? Great question. To tell the truth I'm not a huge fan of books in a series; however, to get the complete story I probably need to read the next two.


Keep Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Anything but Typical

Nora Baskin's Anything but Typical is just what the title states...anything but typical. The story is told by the protagonist, Jason Blake, a 12 year old autistic boy. Through his words Jason shares his thoughts, feelings, and emotions. He gives the reader a glimpse of his world as he describes excitement, anxiety, love, frustration, embarrassment and so much more.

The jest of the storyline is that Jason is an excellent communicator when it comes to writing stories. He often posts his work on a storyboard computer site. As a part of these postings, he connects with another writer from a different state. As part of a reward for not getting sent home from school for behavior, Jason's mother takes him to the storyboard convention where he will have the opportunity to meet his distant friend. Of course this is easier said than done because she is NT (neurological typical) and he is anything but typical. Ultimately Jason learns to except who he is..., "This is who I am. This is me."

I believe that Baskin did an excellent job of sharing Jason's thoughts with the reader. This book had some strong intertextual connections to Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral and Cynthia Lord's Rules...two other books that I enjoyed.

I highly recommend this book for upper elementary.

Keep reading,
Dr. Quinn

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Wednesday Wars

I may have just found a new favorite book. I know that many of you have already read this Newbery Honor Book, but I just picked it up for the first time.

If you haven't read Gary Schmidt's book, then here is a quick summary. Holling HoodHood tells about his 7th grade school year (1968-67)...each chapter is a month. He starts by sharing how his English teacher, Mrs. Baker hates him, and why they will be spending every Wednesday afternoon together. Throughout the year Mrs. Baker challenges Holling to read various Shakespeare plays. Holling's year is filled with real-life adventures and interesting happenings.

I love it when I come across a book where I feel like I am right there in the story, and with all my personal connections to the book I truly felt like I was Holling. Here is a shortlist of these personal connections: I missed school to go to an MLB opening day game (Reds not Yankees); I ran cross country; I didn't have a great relationship with my father (home builder not architect); one of my sisters ran away; our sixth grade class had a camp out; I am a Jesse Owens fan; I am all about teacher-student relationships, etc.

Gary Schmidt, great job!

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Read Aloud in the DR

This is a video of me reading Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus to Miss Brewer's class in the Dominican Republic. Miss Brewer and Miss Jantzen, both Taylor graduates and current teachers at Jarabaocoa Christian, do a great job sharing literature with their students.

As always, I love the chance to read to children. Thanks Miss Brewer for recording this read aloud.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

One Year of Blogging

It has been one year since I started this blog. Hopefully each of you have found some helpful information during your visits and possibly found some new favorites. It has been fun to do this, but I feel bad when I have long intervals between posts. Thanks for your patience and for putting up with my spelling errors.

Here are a few stats from the year:
Total Postings...73
Most Postings in a Month...Dec. (9)
Least Postings in a Month...Aug, Feb, Apr (2)
Most Frequent Label...Picturebooks (30)

Rating System
5 Star books...(7)
4.5 Star books...(2)
4 Star books...(9)
3.5 Star books...(9)
2 Star books...(6)
2.5 Star books...(4)
2 Star books...(2)
1.5 Star books...(0)
1 Star Books...(1)

Country Totals (37)
1. United States (US) 1,106
2. Dominican Republic (DO) 22
3. Canada (CA) 17
4. France (FR) 11
5. United Kingdom (GB) 10
6. Germany (DE) 8
7. Australia (AU) 5
8. China (CN) 5
9. Mexico (MX) 4
10. Greece (GR), Poland (PL), New Zealand (NZ), Italy (IT), Philippines (PH) 3

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scaredy Squirrel at Night

If you haven't read the original Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt, then I highly recommend that you do. Believe it or not, Scaredy Squirrel is ready for another adventure...night.

In this book, Scaredy Squirrel worries about bad dreams and the creatures that might be in those bad dreams...ghosts, dragons, polka-dot-monsters, etc. So he decides to make a plan so he can stay up all night; however, he will have to deal with side effects such as energy loss, moodiness, hallucinations, etc. As you can imagine, it will be an adventurous night for Scaredy Squirrel.

Once again, Watt stays consistent with her usual layout and strong illustrations.

I definitely recommend this fun book.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Chicken Cheeks

Let me just get to the bottom line, Chicken Cheeks is a funny book kids will enjoy; however, I'm not sure that parents will find it appropriate...although I'm okay with it. This comical book shares various names for the posterior end of various animals.

The storyline is about a bear who wants to get some honey, but he is not tall enough. So the bear gets some help from various animals. Animal are stacked on top of each other until they reach the honey.

The author is comedian Michael Ian Black and the Illustrator is Kevin Hawkes. Black's word choice is creative (i.e., duck-billed platypus gluteus maximus, polar bear derriere), and Hawkes illustrations humorous.

Recommendation: I say yes, butt not for everyone!

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

The End

A Friend

We all need friends and sometimes we need certain friends for certain situations. This is the premise of Anette Bley's picture book titled A Friend.

This book will encourage students to think about all their friends and what makes each friend so special.

Bley's illustration formatting is very clever and often changes (i.e., part of an illustration may be on one page, while the completion of the illustration is on the next page).

Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for the elementary classroom. Although the text is simple and more appealing to younger students, the underpinning of the story will impact all ages.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Living Sunlight

If you are looking for a good picture book about photosynthesis, then take a look at Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm.

This book has strong information and wonderful illustrations to accompany the simple text. More detailed information about photosynthesis can be found at the end of the book. A winner all around.

Happy Reading,
Dr, Quinn

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cruise Control

Less than a year ago I read Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral (see December 17)...The story is
about Shawn McDaniel a 14 year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy which limits him from any voluntary movement and the whole thing is told from Shawn's point of view.

Yesterday I just completed Cruise Control, a companion book to Stuck in Neutral. In this book, Paul McDaniel, Shawn's older brother, tell his side of the story. Paul is a hard and bitter young man who is especially angry at his father for abandoning the McDaniel family. Throughout the book, Paul deals with his anger via sports, fighting, and alcohol...primarily through sports. Paul has a change of heart near the end of the book, but readers will have to see what happens.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. I thought that Trueman did a fantastic job of showing Paul's anger throughout the book. However, I had one big problem with the ending. As a high school coach for many years and someone who has been around sports his whole life, I found the state title basketball game much too unbelievable. Persoanlly the ending turned me off.

Rating: (due to the ending)

Happy reading,
Dr. Quinn

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dork Diaries: Tales of a Not-So- Fabulous Life

Rachel Russell's Dork Diaries is an entertaining read for upper elementary and middle school students. Many readers will easily connect with the protagonist Nikki Maxwell. Nikki is an eighth grade girl going through all kinds of typical middle school scenarios; however, her biggest problem is MacKenzie Hollister...the most popular girl in eighth grade.

Russell does a great job of integrating current pop culture into the book...current musical artists and YA authors, tattoos, TV shows, and more.

The storyline here is be yourself, a universal theme that many teenagers need to hear over and over.

Fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series will also enjoy this book.

Personally, I found it a fun read, and the illustrations complimented the text well. I would recommend this book.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Friday, June 5, 2009


Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath is a book that both late bloomers and procrastinators will be able to connect. The protagonist is Danny, a fire breathing dragon; however Danny has not matured enough to breathe fire. Danny also hasn't matured enough to complete his homework on time. After earning an "F" on a science paper, Danny decides to do some firsthand research for his "Ocean" report. Both Danny and his best friend meet up with Danny's uncle, a sea serpent, to explore the sea. During this exploration the two youngsters run into a little trouble.

Vernon mixes cartoons, illustrations, and narrative to tell this story. This book would fit under the radical change category. It is a light read that will appeal to 3rd and 4th graders.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Day-Glo Brothers

Several weeks ago, I received a box of books to review for the NCBLA. To my surprise, one book initially stood apart from all the others...The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob & Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand New Colors written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tony Persiani. When I first saw the cover, I immediately went back to my childhood days and remembered how excited I was to get anything fluorescent (i.e., crayons, black light posters, super balls, etc). With this in mind, off course I had to read this book first from my box of books.

Barton does a fantastic job taking the reader through the life and times of the Switzer brothers. He shares how these two brothers experimented and problem-solved to created fluorescent paint and how that paint has been used to enhance magic shows, theater costumes, Christmas displays, road signs, and more.

Persiani's retro illustrations are "highlighted" with various day-glo colors. Even the end pages use these electric colors to support this fun and informative book.

I definitely recommend this book.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

P.S. If you would like to read an interview of Chris Barton click on this link to Lewis Harris' blog.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen: The Potato Chip Puzzle

I have just finished my first Winston Breen book and was happily satisfied. I believe upper elementary readers will enjoy this puzzling and interactive book as well. This book has a familiar format for those of you who enjoyed The Westing Game. I also noticed some similarities to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and some reviews, which I agree with, compare it to Encyclopedia Brown books. The bottom line is that this book is fun and creative.

Summary: Winston Breen is just finishing his 8th grade year when he solves a puzzle for his school's principal. By solving the puzzle Winston's school is invited to participate in a puzzle adventure set up by Dmitri Simon, President of Simon Snack Foods. Winston's school along with several other will all compete in an all day adventure with the winning school receiving $50,000 for their school. Of course the adventure is filled with tricky puzzles which the reader has the opportunity to solve, but there are also other problems to solve along the way. Let me just say there is a cheater in the competition!

I recommend this read for 4-6 grade students.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Subway Ride

"Step down below to see the world." This is a line from a new picture book titled Subway Ride, written by Heather Lynn Miller & illustrated by Sue Rama. Subway Ride takes the reader to 10 different subways around the world. Each page has a simple rhyme and fantastic illustrations. Rama's illustrations are digital collages of watercolor. At the conclusion of the story, specific information about each subway is provided.

I recommend this picturebook for k-1.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Amiri & Odette: A Love Story

The folktale of Swan Lake is retold as a poem by Walter Dean Myers and set in an urban environment. This creative poem combined with the fantabulous (yes I said fantabulous) artwork by Javaka Steptoe make a wonderful book.

Personally, I am not very familiar with Swan Lake, but I must say that I enjoyed this version. Since it was quite new to me, I must admit that I was engaged with the text and loved the trickery by the antagonist. In my opinion Myers did a wonderful job of transforming the story to the Swan Lake Projects.

Steptoe's collages are brilliant! He used slabs of asphalt as his canvas highlighted with acrylic paints and various materials such as 14k jewelry, candy wrappers, newspapers, and more. I truly cannot say enough good things about these paintings.

I highly recommend this book for upper elementary or even middle school.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

This historical fiction novel by Rodman Philbrick will take the reader on a wild adventure with Homer P. Figg (age 12) as he seeks to find his 17 year old brother who has been sold into the Civil War as a soldier. Homer's adventures begin and end in Maine, but he has various stops at New York City, Gettysburg, and other places along the way.

As I read this book, I couldn't help but make several connections with other books...Elijah of Buxton and The Whipping Boy. Homer's various adventures reminds me of the adventures Elijah had in his book. Both books were filled with smaller stories that all lead up to the overall exploit. In regards to The Whipping Boy (a book I haven't read for years), Homer's wit and resourcefulness remind me of Jemmy (the whipping boy), and how he escaped from thieves and dangerous situations.

At the end of the book Philbrick provides the reader with a section titled "Some Additional Civil War Facts, Opinions, Slang & Definitions, to be Argued, Debated, & Cogitated Upon."

A positive way to give young readers a fun adventure with the Civil War, and a strong example of reading across the curriculum.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You Are the First Kid on Mars

Before I start the blog entry for this book, I must apologize to my readers. I have not posted since early April. However, school is out and I am ready to roll. I have a couple of books that I want to enter this next week, and after that I hope to get more NCBLA books to review.

Today's entry is about a new book by Patrick O'Brien, You Are the First Kid on Mars. This book is an information book that mixes a narrative storyline with non fiction information about Mars. The storyline takes a young boy from Earth to Mars where he lives with his family for a while and then back to Earth. Integrated into the story are bulleted facts to provide the reader with specific information about space travel, Mars, and more. The end of the book supplies the reader with "More Information About Mars". I also feel that O'Brien's painting truly support the text.

Since this is a NCBLA (Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts) book, I will not rate it, but I will say that I highly recommend it for 3rd and 4th graders.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Here is a photo of my youngest reading this book on our hammock.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tales from Outer Suburia

If you haven't experienced a book by Shaun Tan, be sure to do so. Last year I was introduced to his work via The Arrival, a graphic novel. The illustrations were fantastic. I was amazed at the storyline and creativity.

Today I introduced myself to his newest text, Tales from Outer Suburbia. Once again Tan's illustrations are fantastic. However, this book is composed of a collection of short stories...all from outer suburbia. Let's just say these stories are definitely out there, wow! If I were to use one word to describe the collection of tales, it would be...Random. These tales are just simply bizarre, creative, but bizarre. My two favorite tales are "Grandpa's Story" and "Alert, but Not Alarmed."

Again the illustrations are superb. From the front cover, to the table of contents, to the endpages, Tan fills the pages with creative illustrations and formatting.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, April 2, 2009

DR Read Alouds

While in the Dominican Republic I had the opportunity see two recent Taylor graduates. Both are teaching in Jarabacoa Christian School. Brooke teaches 5th grade, and Natalie teaches 4th grade. Both requested that I read my two new dinosaur books (Dinosaur Versus Bedtime & I'm Bad). I wasn't real sure how this would go with upper elementary students, but let's just say some of the students laughed so hard they fell over. After I read these books, the classes asked me to read one of the pigeon books by Mo Williems. Of course I had to say yes. For those of you that have heard me read before, you can imagine that my voice was nearly gone at the completion of our time together. Below are a variety of photos from the two read alouds.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dominican Republic

Tomorrow I will be leaving for an eight day mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I will be accompanied by 18 Taylor students, 2 teenage girls (one is my daughter) , and my co-leader. During our trip we hope to serve and help out any way we can. All of us will stay at Students International's base in Jarabacoa. Each day we will separate to various sites (education, sports, medical, social works, special education, art, dental, & social work). I will be housed at the sport's site where I will play baseball, lead a running clinic, and share my faith to 110 8-20 year olds. The last day I will put on a 2k race and distribute shirts the 110 Dominican boys. As a team we will also do two evenings of outreach (singing, drama, & testimony) in local villages.

One day I hope to take 10 of our elementary education majors to two of the Christian schools in Jarabacoa. We will take tours and see two recent TU grads (Natalie & Brooke). I am hoping for an opportunity to read out loud to both of their classes. TU also has two recent grads teaching in Santiago (Christie & Dave). Sorry you two, we will not have time to tour your school, but feel free to see us at the base.

When I return I hope to get to work on the NBLA list, and keep my blog updated better.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

I have just finished Jeff Kinney's last installment of the Wimpy Kid series. It was entertaining and like his previous diarys, I laughed out loud at times. However, I felt like I had been there and done that. The novelty of the format and the storyline seemed to wear off a little. Although, I do think Kinney writes about topics in which many readers will connect or at least be entertained.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Friday, March 6, 2009

Two Fun Read Alouds

Today I had the privilege to read to a first grade class and two third grade classes. Those of you that have had me as a professor know how much I love to read stories out loud. So you can imagine how happy I was to be in multiple elementary classrooms today.

Since I had been in these classrooms before, I asked them what they wanted me to read. Interestingly, both grade levels chose Dinosaur Versus Bedtime and I'm Bad. Personally, I love both books as read alouds because I can add a lot of energy to them, but I was a little surprised that the third graders wanted these as repeats. I would have thought they would want something a little more mature. After a quick informal survey with a few students, they said, "It's all about the voices." I tried to persuade them to let me read some new books to them, but they wanted the comfort of those books they enjoy. This was true in the first grade as well, because they chose the two dinosuar mentioned books above and two Pigeon books by Mo Willems.

Here is the bottom line: I love to read out loud; students love read alouds with dynamic voices; & if you haven't read either of the dinosaur books, you need to do so.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Little Word Catcher

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and the word you are about to say seems to have completely left your mind? Imagine that this begins to happen more and more frequently. How might it impact those around you? In The Little Word Catcher by Danielle Simard (Author) Genevieve Cote(Illustrator) young Elisa is worried because her grandmother is forgetting words more and more often.

This recently translated book is written and illustrated wonderfully. I love the connection between the grandmother and the granddaughter, and I especially appreciate the manner in which the two "share" words.

A gentle look at some early stages of Alzheimer’s

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Don't Give Up on Those Non-Readers

Imagine the following elementary or middle school student... a nice, polite, and respectful child filled with energy and creativity. He likes school, but he is just not real strong at it. He has average grades but weak literacy skills. However the student has a love for books. The youngster enjoys getting books at the library and of course ordering them through mail order book clubs (Scholastic). He has great intentions to read these books, but after reading for the smallest amount of time his mind is elsewhere. The book is put down with only sporadic and feeble attempts to complete the task at later times.

This was me, and it wasn't until I was a junior in high school that I actually completed my first chapter book. I was a late bloomer academically. Sometimes I think about the alternative route that I could have taken if I would have let my lack of academic skill guide my life. Fortunately there were various stakeholders in my life that keep challenging me to reach my potential. These stakeholders range from my grandfather (the original Dr. Quinn) to my parents and my teachers (many of them) to my college professors (especially Dr. Pat Scharer from The Ohio State University). However, I must give a shout out to the one that knew my path and helped place these stakeholders in my life, and that is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Right now I see my youngest son following step for step in my path. This great kid is so creative and has such a fun demeanor about him. However, his literacy skills are identical to mine at that age. I hear him read out loud or practice his spelling words and I just laugh, because I get it. I know exactly what he is thinking and how he is processing it. Each night I see him pick up a book to read just before bed, and then I peek in and see the book on the floor and a Lego magazine in his hand or an action figure rescuing some stuffed animal in his bed.

As an educator, I have many goals, but one is that I can help prepare pre-service teachers motivate and support all their students. For anyone who actually reads my blog, I challenge you to support and be patient with those individuals that struggle in school. God has a plan for them, and you may play a large role in that plan.

By the way you should see how many spelling errors I have when I first type a blog entry. I am able to catch a lot, but I also know there are some that I just cannot see... so thanks for your patience with me as well!

The photo above is part of a promotional for Taylor University put together by the admissions team. Click on it to find out a little more about me.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sorry & Rating System

It has been nearly a month since my last entry, and I am sorry for that. My excuse is that I am teaching an overload this semester with one brand new class (so most of my reading has been for that class), I am co-leading a trip to the Dominican Republic in late March, and I have just started a new running club on campus. I know that everybody is busy, but I just had to use that as an excuse. Bottom line...I have been lazy with my reading.

However...I just picked up Jeff Kinney's newest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The last Straw. I hope to read this in the next day or two, so I will post after I complete it.

Some texts for Notable Books in the Language Arts have started to arrive at my office. So as I read what I consider worthwhile texts, I''ll post them on the blog. To be fair I may not use my current rating system. However, if I come across a fantastic new book, I'll still give it some type of shout out. Otherwise, most books I post for a while will able be considered good reads.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Great Honor

I have just agreed to a three year term to be on the review board for the Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts. This a yearly list compiled by a seven-member committee selected by the Children’s Literature Assembly, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English. The list identifies 30 exemplary works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written for children, grades K-8. I will be examining between 800-1,000 books per year.

I'm not sure how it will impact this blog, but I have to think my readers/students will be introduced to a lot of new books for the next three years.

Happy Reading,
Dr. Quinn