July 3, 2015

Fiction Friday: Chapter 4

Happy Friday my reading friends! 

Welcome back to the 4th installment of Fiction Friday 2015.


I have to say, I feel like I'm cruising this year. I have been a reading machine and I love it! There are so many great books out there, it's hard to put even a small dent in the stack I want to read, but I'm on my way.

This week I read...

Zane and the Hurricane
by Rodman Philbrick

This is the book I was talking about last week. I was so impressed with the story, the quality of writing, and the honest yet thoughtful way the story was told. Seriously...such a good book and it addressed some tough issues! Great for 4th and 5th graders!

Zane Dupree lives in New Hampshire with his mother. Feeling it is important for Zane to know his family on his father's side and hear about his father's childhood, his mother encourages him to go visit Miss Trissy, the woman who raised his father in New Orleans. Zane is willing to go but if and only if he can bring along Bandit, his beloved dog.

Zane's timing in New Orleans couldn't be worse. He arrives just days before Tropical Storm Katrina crosses Florida and turns into a category 5 hurricane. Desperate to get out of the city, Miss Trissy and Zane pile into a church van to fight the traffic out during evacuation when suddenly Bandit freaks out, jumps out of the car, and makes a run for it across the highway. And Zane follows him! They end up all alone back at Miss Trissy's house when the storm hits full force, flooding the house and forcing Zane to go into survival mode. The rest of the story follows Zane and Bandit as they navigate a ravaged city and survive the days after the storm and the flood.

The book is written with incredible description that helps the reader understand the true devastation and horror that came in the days after the flood. Philbrick also does a beautiful job of addressing racial tension in the city and captures the culture, flavor, and heart of New Orleans.

I would recommend this book to 4th graders (selective group) and up. It opens the door for some powerful discussions in the classroom.

Book Information:
  • 192 pages
  • Historical Fiction/Survival Story
  • Topics: Prejudice & Tolerance
  • 860 lexile
  • Guided Reading Level - V
  • Grade Level Equivalent - 5.0

I also read...
Always Abigail
by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Okay, truth on this one.  I wasn't thrilled to read it at first. It just not my kind of book because it's soooo girly and I'm just not that girly. I wasn't sure I could handle it, but the book was filled with so much heart and truth about being a girl in 6th grade, it completely won me over!

Abigail is in 6th grade and devastated that her year has NOT turned out how she thought. She didn't get put into the same classroom as AllyCam (Alli and Cami), her two best friends, and she's an alternate for the pom-pom squad! Abigail is feeling left out and hating everything about 6th grade, including her English teacher Miss Hendrick and her stupid friendly-letter assignment. Matters only get worse, when her friendly letter assignment partner turns out to be the biggest outcast in 6th grade - Gabby! The story continues with Abigail getting to know her friendly letter partner and unintentionally finding a true friend.

The unique aspect of this novel is that it is written exclusively in lists. It's pretty remarkable how the entire story is told a dairy list format. Abagail's inner monologue clearly reflects the struggles of a 6th grade girl and her struggle to choose the right path.  How do you stand up for someone that is being bullied?  What do you do about the guilt you carry around when don't? What if taking a stand it makes you the next target? Is it all worth it to be popular?  How do you stay true to yourself, stand up for what you believe in, and redefine your friendships in middle school?

I was genuinely surprised by this book. I really enjoyed it! I think many girls in 5th and 6th grade would relate to Abigail. And hopefully they will find the courage to follow in Abagail's footsteps.  I would recommend this book for 4th graders and up.  Great story for those going into middle school or those already there.

Book Information:
  • 320 pages
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Topics: Bullying/Adolescent Issues/Friendship
  • 790 lexile

And finally I read...

Dexter the Tough
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Margaret Peterson Haddix is one of my favorite authors. She wrote the Shadow Children series which I loved. Have you read it?  Fantastic! So... when I saw Dexter the Tough at Half Price Books one day I just knew I had to read it. 

http://www.amazon.com/Dexter-Tough-Margaret-Peterson-Haddix/dp/1416911707Dexter is tough. On his first day at his new school, he beats up a kid in the bathroom and then writes a story about it in class. He hates his new school, his new teacher, his new principal, the janitor, and everyone and everything else at his new school and his new life at his grandmother's house. He misses his parents, is worried about his father, and wants life to go back to normal. Is he bully or is he just trying to navigate an awful lot of changes in his life?

As Dexter's story unfolds the reader uncovers why Dexter is so angry and Dexter figures out that things may not always be what they seem. Just like the reason for his own anger, people act one way for many reasons, and often those are reasons we cannot see.

This is a great middle grade novel (3-5) for teaching the 7 Habits and starting a discussion on bullying and empathy. Dexter is reactive in the beginning of the story and looks at the world through a lens of anger and hurt. As the story progress, Dexter must seek first to understand, then be understood to work through his own anger and forgive himself for his actions.  He's a likable, believable, honest character, who children will root for from page one!

Book Information:
  • 142 pages
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Topics: Bullying
  • 690 lexile
  • Guided Reading Level - Q
  • Grade Level Equivalent - 4.4

So many great books this week! I didn't start out with a theme in mind, but I sort of ended up reading all books about friendship, bullying, empathy, and overcoming personal challenges and obstacles.

What have you been reading lately?  What was your favorite read aloud from the year? What children's books do you just LOVE?  Link up and/or comment below to join the fun with Fiction Friday as we continue our celebration of children's literature! 


  1. I had forgotten about Dexter! I read it a few years ago and like it a lot, but it was completely off my radar. I'm going to put it on my TBR list for a re-read. Thanks!

    Math is Elementary

  2. I also loved Zane and the Hurricane. I wanted to include it in my read aloud last year but not enough time for all of the great books I wanted to read! A few of my read alouds were Chains, One for the Murphys, Breaking Stalin's Nose and Out of my Mind..

  3. I'm a teacher in your same school district that was just moved to 4th grade for next year. I decided a good way to start getting ready was to read all the books on the BOB list. I haven't started Zane and the Hurricane yet, but I loved the books I've read so far. Capture the Flag was a quick and fun read. The Lost Planet is nonstop action. I just started A Snicker of Magic which has so many beautiful phrases and sentences. I may read that one aloud to demonstrate the value of good word choice.
    Enjoy your summer reading!

    1. Hooray! Welcome to 4th grade. It's my favorite! I haven't gotten to those yet, but I'm looking forward to them, especially after your recommendation. Hope we get to work together this year. Thanks for stopping by and please stay in touch!!

  4. I've heard great things about Zane and the Hurricane. I'm reading Rain Reign which also features a hurricane. Maybe I'll link up next Friday to chat about it. :-)


    1. What is Rain Reign?!? I am sooo intrigued by the name. I hope you link up so we can learn all about it! Thanks for stopping by.


Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!