Children's Literature Review: Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm

Jennifer Holm is a three time Newberry Award winner.  She has received Newberry Honor Awards for  Our Only May Amelia (2000), Penny from Heaven (2007), and Turtle in Paradise (2011).  In collaboration with her brother, Matthew Holm, Jennifer is also the author of the ever so popular Babymouse graphic novels series. 

Synopsis:  Turtle in Paradise is set in Key West during the Depression.  Eleven year old Turtle is sent to Key West to live with relatives she has never met when her mother gets a housekeeping job for a lady who does not like kids.  Florida is like a new, strange land for Turtle and she has to adapt to many new things:  heat, scorpions, mischievous boy cousins, and a crazy grandmother.  As Turtle learns to adapt to this new place she begins to learn more about herself and her family roots.

Turtle in Paradise is a historical novel that allows readers to understand the time during the Depression within a specific area.  Holm's research is obvious and adds depth to this gem of a novel.  
Recommended for Grades 3-5. 
Click here to purchase:  Amazon

What's Next:  Holm is currently working on a new graphic novel series entitled Squish.  The trailer for this series is included below: 



 How many of you hated grammar growing up (or still hate grammar for that matter)?  I didn't actually appreciate grammar until my second year of teaching when I was assigned to be the 4th grade writing teacher.  My first thought was, "Oh no, I have to teach grammar."  Over time though, I began to appreciate grammar but I never really think my students enjoyed it as much as I did.  You have to admit, grammar is basically learning a bunch of rules and then figuring out how to apply them.  How exciting can that get?  

Then I thought, "Grammar could be exciting if it could be taught using a game and or some type of technology."  That is when I discovered GrammaropolisGrammaropolis is a place where students can learn about the different parts of speech, watch videos and listen to songs to help explain different rules, and play games using the different skills learned.  

Suggestions for using Grammaropolis:  

1.  Don't let Grammaropolis do all of the teaching.  Introduce your students to the basic terms before ever sending them to the site.  The terms on the site will only confuse them if you have given them no background knowledge.

2.  Use Grammaropolis as a whole classroom experience before setting your students loose.  Talk with them about the different characters (each character is a different part of speech) and watch the introductory video with them.  Explain how to play each of the games as well.  

3.  Allow students to play the games, but also make sure they know how to look back at each character's description if they need help remembering information about each part of speech.

4.  Suggested Activity:  There is an online grammar book for students to read.  Have them read the book and then pick out the different grammar rules that are explained in the book.

Word Sort, one of the games within Grammaropolis, is also available as an app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. ($1.99)


Glogster EDU

What is a Glog?
A Glog (not to be confused with a blog) is an interactive poster or web page that includes multimedia elements such as: text, audio, video, images, graphics, drawings, and data.  

What is Glogster EDU?
Glogster EDU is a way for educators to use and manage student Glogs within the classroom.  Educators can register and then create student profiles (50 with the free version and 200 with the premium version) to manage student Glogs.  Teachers can place students within groups or have students work individually on projects.  

Why use Glogster?
Glogster is a great way to engage students in current technology.  Using Glogster, students will learn to manipulate background images and text, embed audio and video files,  and create data and images to include in their projects.  Instead of having students create poster board projects or Power Point presentations, why not have them create an interactive Glog?  

How can I use Glogs in my classroom? 
(click on each to see an example)

1)  Book report poster
2)  Science Projects
3)  History Projects
4)  Biography Posters
5)  Math Posters


Adolescent Lit. Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Ilsa J. Bick at the American Library Association's 2011 Conference this past June.  Ashes is not due to release until September of this year, but Bick generously gave out a number of uncorrected proofs to many of the attendees at the conference. Bick is a child psychologist and a writer of short stories, novellas, and novels.   I have to say that Ashes hasn't even been officially released and I am already pining for the second book in the trilogy.    

Synopsis:  Alex, a seventeen year old traipsing through the wilderness as she ventures to spread her parent's remains in Lake Superior, discovers a lot more than she bargained for. Told from her point of view, Ashes, tells the story of Alex and those she encounters in the Waucamaw Wilderness of Michigan.  Four days into her trip, Alex is suddenly struck with an excruciating pain which she initially believes to be caused by the brain tumor that has been slowly killing her.  She starts to believe otherwise when she discovers that those around have had the same experience and some are even dead. Her journey after the "zap" brings new discoveries as she travels with two other survivors (Tom: a war veteran and Ellie: an 8 year old whose grandfather died after the zap) and they deduce that the "zap" must have been some sort of EMP (electromagnetic pulse) explosion.  They also discover that the "zap" has caused most teenagers to turn zombie like and go on killing sprees. 

Tom, Ellie and Alex must fight for survival in a new world and the adventures only begin with these characters.  Warning:  This book is full of blood and guts and even some cannibalism.   But, it is a page turner with suspense around every corner and definitely one of the best books I have read in a while (I would rate it up there with The Hunger Games).   

What's Next:  The second book in the Ashes Trilogy, Shadows, has no current release date.  I will post an update when Bick sets a release date.  In the meantime, her book Draw the Dark also looks very interesting.  Tip:  You can always read the first chapter via Kindle App for free.  

Update:  I just got word from Bick (via Twitter) that Shadows is due out in Fall 2012.   

Recommended for Grades 9-12.
Click here to preorder/purchase: Amazon