July 20, 2012

Fiction Friday: Chapter 6

Welcome back to another Fiction Friday!

Can you believe we are already in week 6?  Thank you to everyone who has linked up to share lesson ideas and reviews of books. I have gotten so many new ideas from y'all! Thank you and and keep 'em coming!

I started the summer with 18 books on my Battle of the Books reading list, and I've read 10 of those. If I keep up my current pace, I will actually finish all 18 by the time school starts! Whoo-hoo!!  That will feel like such a great accomplishment!

This week, I started with a little fantasy and time travel...

The Magic Half centers around Miri, the middle child between two sets of twins.  Being the middle child is always tough, but being sandwiched between two sets of twins is even more challenging. After a scuffle with her brothers, Miri is sent to her room where she discovers a piece of glass from a broken pair of glasses.  She looks through it, and is magically transported back in time.  In the past, she meets Molly, the girl who lived in her house (and room) seventy years earlier. Miri figures out that she is supposed to save Molly from her terrible life.  Miri must come up with plan to return to the future with Molly, while not to disrupting history so much that it changes the future.

Honestly, it took my almost a week to finish reading this book. I had a really hard time getting into the story. I'm not quite sure what it was, maybe the part about being a fairy?!?  That seemed a bit out of place and unnecessary. I think maybe I just didn't buy into that.  I don't know, but I persevered. I told myself the same thing I tell my students sometimes when I know the book will get better, "Why not give it 100 pages?" So I kept reading and (luckily) it did get better!

Once Miri got back to her present time and started working out a plan to save Molly, the book did pick up. The story became much more interesting and I was easily able to finish the book. I liked Miri very much as a character.  She was smart and witty and so thoughtful about things.  I thought Barrows did a great job capturing her family dynamic and creating an urgency to save Molly.

The reviews on Amazon are very positive and it seems that children really enjoyed the book.  (Which is perfect, because it WAS written for them.) I'm curious to see what my class thinks about this one in the upcoming year.  It wasn't my favorite, but maybe I'm just not the right target audience.  I think girls, grades 4-6, would enjoy the novel and the magic and mystery surrounding this time travel adventure.

Has anyone else read it?  What were your thoughts? Please comment and share!

Next, I was looking for a little adventure, so I read...

Night of the Howling Dogs is based on the true story of a boy scout troop camping at Halape (a remote spot under a volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii) in 1975 when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit and was followed by a 300 foot tsunami that rose 50 feet above sea level. I know, yikes?!?

Although the novel is based on the scout troop and true geological events, the story is completely fictional.  Dylan's adventure begins with his scout troop hiking out to Halape and get settled in camp.  There is a new edition to his troop, Louie Domingo, who is making life much more difficult for Dylan.  There is a secret between them that continues to build tension until... boom...the earth begins to quake. Suddenly, survival is the only that that matters.  During the hours following the quake and tsunami, Dylan learns the true meaning of leadership and that maybe, just maybe, that Louie isn't so bad.

Wow! I mean... WOW! This was an action packed incredible read.  I couldn't put it down and even woke up early one morning to finish it. (5 am early) If you enjoyed reading Hatchet, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, or other survival stories, you will LOVE this book. 

This is a picture of Halape after the tsunami.  The coconut grove shown is frequently mentioned in the book.  Click the picture to go to the USGS website for more information about the ground movement during the earthquake and before and after pictures.

The chapters were short and fast paced making it easy to devour.  This would make a great read aloud for 3rd through 5th grade.  The kids would be absolutely captivated and begging you to keep reading, just be prepared for all those Hawaiian words that will pop up.

I looked around online because I thought the reading level would be much higher on this book but most websites say ages 8 and up. I was surprised because there is some pretty dense vocabulary throughout the book, which would make it a more difficult read for students with limited vocabulary exposure. I'd say a 4th  or higher for independent readers, but younger readers could read and LOVE this book if it was read with them. I would highly recommend this book!

Well, that's it for today.  What books for kids have you read this week that you could share?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, recommendations, lesson ideas, and more. (I even want to know about duds...that's important information too!)
Join the fun and link up with your own children's literature post. Please remember to grab my linky party button and link back to me, so everyone can join the fun.  Also,  make sure to link directly to your post, not just your homepage.  Thanks y'all and as always... HAPPY READING!


  1. I'm getting so many good ideas for books to read this year! I love your blog! I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award, come by to pick it up!

    Teaching Special Kids

  2. I agree with the whole fairy thing. I just can't get into that either! What a fun link up. I could get some great ideas from them. I am your newest follower. Stop by and visit!
    Reading Toward the Stars

  3. Night of the Howling Dogs looks amazing. I've learned about so many books I've never heard of from this linky. So happy you started it!:)
    iTeach 1:1

    1. Night of the Howling Dogs is amazing. You have to check it out! I've learned about all kinds of new books too. Thanks for linking up!!

  4. I read The Magic Half (myself) last summer because it was on last year's SSYRA list but the book didn't make the cut as one of the books that I chose to read to my class. I agree that it starts out too slow! I did have several girls in my class read the book and they said that they thought it was good but they didn't suggest it as a read aloud (if that tells you anything). Night of the Howling Dogs looks good, I've never heard of that one. If I ever finish my must read list I will definitely have to see about reading it. Thanks for hosting Fiction Friday!!!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits


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