June 29, 2012

Fiction Friday: Chapter 3


Welcome back to another fun and fabulous Fiction Friday.
Remember, you can link up any day of the week, not just Friday.
 I just enjoy the alliteration. :)

This week, for a little realistic fiction, I read...

Extra Credit 
by Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements set the standard for a good school story and his more recent novel, Extra Credit, does not disappoint. The story centers around Abby a sixth grader that likes everything about school except the work. Um...I can think of a few kids in my class that might feel the same way.  It's not that she can't do the work, she just doesn't want to. In fact, her grades are so low that she is in danger of not passing 6th grade.  Desperate to pass, Abby starts an extra credit pen pal project. Zoom in on Sadeed, her pen pal, who lives across the world in Afganistan.  Because his village is very traditional, the elders believe it would be improper for a young boy to write to a girl, so Sadeed helps his younger sister "write the letters" to send to America. Letters cross oceans and cultures until one day it becomes too dangerous to continue.

Just like all Andrew Clements novels, Extra Credit is extra good. The story started out a bit slow (for me), but I was soon captivated by the two different worlds and the two very different but likable characters.  I found their friendship refreshing and heartfelt and I was genuinely disappointed when they couldn't write to each other anymore.  It would be a great read aloud or book club read as it lends itself well to discussions and further research.  I would recommend this book for 4th and 5th graders.

Then, to spice things up, I read...

Aliens on Vacation 
by Clete Barrett Smith
Bluebonnet Nominee 2012-2013

Aliens on Vacation is the first book in The Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast series.   The story follows Scrub, a 6th almost 7th grader, who goes to stay with his grandmother in Washington state. Disappointed to be so far away from home, Scrub arrives at the International Bed and Breakfast ready for the worst summer of his life.  However, there is something different about this motel and the guests that arrive there.  Soon, Grandma lets Scrub in on the most important secret on Earth: Aliens vacation on Earth and this is where they stay.  Scrub must help his grandmother protect the secret of the bed and breakfast, which can be very challenging with a nosy sheriff and glowing aliens running around. 

Words I would use to describe this book are entertaining, creative, and lots of fun!  I purely just enjoyed reading it. The chapters were short and fast paced. It was easy to sit down and devour a chunk of the book.  Scrub's honest narration throughout the story was refreshing. He's a middle schooler, just trying to make the best choices and not always achieving it. Scrub learns about more than just aliens over the summer, he learns how to find his voice and stand up for those he cares about.  You will be rooting for him all the way!  The description of the aliens would make this a fun book to read aloud and have the kids draw what they visualize. Great book for upper elementary 4th through 6th grade.

On a quick personal note, I enjoyed loved all the Seattle/Pacific Northwest references.  I f you are from Western Washington, you will too! The author actually lives in Belligham and he casually mentions everything from several Native American tribes, to TV stations, to landmarks like Mount Baker! I was just waiting for him to say something about Western Washington University which is where I went to college!! It was fun to read a book and catch all the references, plus I was able to really visualize the setting.  For those not familiar with Bellingham, here are a couple of pictures to help you visualize. Hehe.

This is Bellingham.  Mount Baker is in the background 
and that is Bellingham Bay in the front. Beautiful, right?
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This is Whatcom Falls and this is exactly what I imagined the forest would look like in the story 
(even though they are technically a little further North on the Nooksack River.)
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So, what have you been reading this week, last week, or in the middle of the school year?  I'd love to hear about more children's books that you've loved, your children have loved, or your students have loved.  Both chapter and picture books welcome.  

 Link up and let's celebrate 
more great children's lit! 

Please remember to grab my linky button and link back to this post, so others can join the celebration too!

15 comments:

  1. I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Stop by to get it.
    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack
    Ideabackpack@gmail.com

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  2. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Andrew Clements and Extra Credit is one of my favorites. It was one of the books selected for the Childrens Book Awards for my state and we use that list for our districts Battle of the Books competition. I really enjoyed the way he developed the dual story lines between Abby and Sadeed. I want to write a lesson plan on this book and integrate writing and maybe do a pen pal project with my 5th graders this year. I really like your Friday Linky post and I promise wit join in one of these Fridays. In the mean time, I am collecting great ideas for books to add to my class library --I am going to pick up a copy of Aliens on Vacation and check it out!!

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    1. Extra Credit is on our Battle of the Books list this year too! I love your idea for a lesson plan around this book. There is so much you can do with this story. Please share whatever you come up with!! I'm thinking about reading this book aloud at the beginning of the year. Interested in being classroom pen pals?

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  3. I read Extra Credit last summer, and I really liked it because I had an international pen pal when I was a kid! I did think the ending was a little abrupt but other than that, I liked it. :)

    Thanks for hosting this fun linky!! Now I have something else to write about during the week, haha.

    Marvelous Multiagers!

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    1. The book made me want an international pen pal...totally cool!! :)
      Thanks for linking up this week. Happy to help with the mid-week writer's block. Hehe.

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  4. Hi Amanda,
    I went to WWU too!!! But I graduated ages ago in 1997! I share your love of books that take place in the Pacific NW and own both books in your post. I hadn't gotten around to reading Aliens on Vacation, but I will now! Thanks so much for the post. And just so you know, we had two days of summer, but now it is a little grey, misty and cool outside. A Seattle summer, for sure!

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    1. Go Vikings! I'm so excited that you are a fellow WWU alum. I've heard summer hasn't quite pulled through up there yet, but when it does it will be beautiful! Wish I could send you some of our Texas heat. We have some to spare. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I linked up again this week with more SSYRA books. It's too funny we both read Aliens on Vacation this week! I also read Extra Credit but last year because it was on last year's list. Thanks so much for hosting this every week!!! I am super excited to learn about new books and this is the perfect venue for that. You're toad-ally awesome!!!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits
    www.mrscorbitt.blogspot.com

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  6. Amanda-
    I will keep you posted on my lesson plan for the book. I have been looking for a class set of the books. I have not seen them on the Scholastic site or I would use my points to purchase them. I would totally love to have my class be classroom pen pals with yours....We can chat ab0out it as the summer goes on and put together a plan.

    Thanks,
    Patti

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  7. These posts will help me with my upcoming adventure - teaching ELA. Thanks for sharing and I can't wait to read your past posts.

    Stop by my blog and explore.

    Patti
    On The Road To Success

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  8. I have loved Andrew Clements books since I started reading Frindle with my 3rd graders in literature circles. I'll check out Extra Credit. I haven't read that one yet. A book that I just read and enjoyed was A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. It follows a non-traditional take on Grimm's fairy tales with Hansel and Gretel as the main characters. Slow start, but once it got going, it was great. I always enjoy your posts! Thanks for the good book recs!
    Aloha,
    Megan

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  9. I have loved Andrew Clements books since I started reading Frindle with my 3rd graders in literature circles. I'll check out Extra Credit. I haven't read that one yet. A book that I just read and enjoyed was A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. It follows a non-traditional take on Grimm's fairy tales with Hansel and Gretel as the main characters. Slow start, but once it got going, it was great. I always enjoy your posts! Thanks for the good book recs!
    Aloha,
    Megan

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  10. I have loved Andrew Clements books since I started reading Frindle with my 3rd graders in literature circles. I'll check out Extra Credit. I haven't read that one yet. A book that I just read and enjoyed was A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. It follows a non-traditional take on Grimm's fairy tales with Hansel and Gretel as the main characters. Slow start, but once it got going, it was great. I always enjoy your posts! Thanks for the good book recs!
    Aloha,
    Megan

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!