Blog Tour: Gertie’s Leap To Greatness


Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

Gertie’s mission is to be the greatest fifth grader in the whole wide world! Gertie isn’t the fastest, the tallest or the smartest student but she has pure determination! Gertie never gives up! I love the journey that Gertie goes on to try and reach her grandiose goal. She is spunky. Gertie has gumption.


And Kate Beasley has me loving Gertie from the first line, “The bullfrog was only half dead, which was perfect.” You know from the first line that there is going to be a lot of mischief, trouble and laughter. Gertie and her two best friends are in for a lot of mishaps on their way to greatness which include zombie frogs, fancy haircuts, dramatic auditions, fancy chocolates….and lots and lots of Twinkies.

One thing for sure….Gertie is great! A great book for everyone to read! In fact, teachers should read this book aloud to their students. Go ahead….just take the leap!


Kathy Burnette and I at Bookbug in Kalamazoo

The awesome people at Macmillan asked me to nominate someone I think is great like Gertie. I nominated my friend Kathy Burnette. She received a copy of Gertie to celebrate her greatness.

Kathy has gumption just like Gertie. She is truly one of a kind. I love Kathy because she stretches my thinking. She goes above and beyond as a librarian, teacher, mother and friend. Kathy is quirky just like Gertie. She loves coffee and coffee mugs….but forget the hugs. I think to truly understand how great Kathy is you just need to listen to her powerful Nerdy Bookcast. Thanks for being you, Kathy!

Check Out More Great Gertie Posts!

Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Sharp Read

Nerdy Book Club

Watch. Connect. Read.

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Calling All Authors! Blog Tour For Write This Down


Write This Down by Claudia Mills

Write This Down will appeal to students that love to write. I know as a kid I loved to write stories and often dreamed of being a published writer just like Autumn. Claudia Mills does a wonderful job showing Autumn’s growth as a writer while she struggles with a change in family dynamics. Will Autumn become a published writer? And will her relationship with her brother and family strengthen or unravel in the process? Read Write This Down to find out!

Claudia Mills agreed to share some thoughts about writing craft from her new book Write This Down. Thank you Claudia for sharing your process!

First Person versus Third Person: Which Is Better for This Story?

by Claudia Mills

One of the most crucial decisions an author has to make in crafting a story is the choice of point of view. Should the story be told by an omniscient narrator who has a godlike ability to enter into any character’s head at will? Or by the main character, speaking directly to the reader in his or her own voice? Or in a third-person narrative that nonetheless stays throughout in the head of the protagonist, tracking his or her perceptions and emotions? Or even from multiple perspectives, switching back and forth from chapter to chapter?

I prefer to write in what writers call “third-person limited point of view”: a third-person narration that sticks closely inside the main character’s head. Of my 57 published books, 53 have been third-person books. I love third-person limited point of view because it has much of the directness and intimacy of first person, but allows for more sophisticated language than a child might be capable of. First-person narration can sometimes feel too generic: a bland, flat “every kid” way of speaking, or too much like an adult’s cutsey attempt to sound kidlike.

For Write This Down, however, I felt that I had to tell Autumn’s story in first person. After all, Autumn is a writer. I’ve written books about other girls who like to write, but Autumn is my most writerly writer: she defines herself as a writer, and the conflicts she faces as a writer seeking publication are what drive the story. So I felt that, as a writer, Autumn should get to narrate her own story, in her own way.

As I wrote, though, I discovered a danger I hadn’t realized about first-person writing. I started to fall in love with the sound of Autumn’s voice, adoring the access I suddenly had to every single one of her thoughts and feelings. I was on a first-person roll, luxuriating in being so fully and thoroughly inside my main character’s head. But the reader didn’t need to know every single one of Autumn’s thoughts and feelings. Who really wants to take up residence that claustrophobically inside someone else’s consciousness? When someone tells you every single thing she thinks and feels, she starts to sound pretty darned self-centered. Readers may react with the sentiment I saw once expressed on a T-shirt: “You must be mistaking me for someone who cares.”

The only solution: cut, cut, cut. Make sure that all thoughts and feelings expressed are directly relevant to the story, not mere witty, pleasant asides. Keep returning to what gives a story its needed momentum, not interior monologue, but action. Ruthlessly, I hacked a full ten pages out of the final draft just from cutting commentary of Autumn’s that went on too long.

I still love some of the bits that had to go, so I’ll share one of them here. Autumn, who has decided to win her brother’s respect and her crush’s love through her writing, ruminates on the famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” You can be the only people in the world who have a chance to read it!

When I get home that afternoon, after Monday ballet with Kylee, I decide to look up the person who said the pen is mightier than the sword. I want to find out if he had ever done anything especially mighty with his pen, given how much he’s inspired me to do something extra-mighty with mine.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” was first said by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. A lot of other people had already said sort of the same thing, in different words. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Thomas Paine saying, “Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.” Both of those Thomases had uber-mighty pens. Jefferson used his pen to write the Declaration of Independence – it’s hard to find anything mightier than that. And Thomas Paine wrote this pamphlet called Common Sense that talked a lot of undecided people into siding against the British in the American Revolution. Still, Jefferson didn’t really say to Paine that the pen is mightier than the sword, more that the pen is the new sword. Bulwer-Lytton’s line is more quotable.

Here’s the really ironic and pitiful thing. Bulwer-Lytton is also the person who started one of his novels with the line “It was a dark and stormy night.” This is apparently a terrible first line, though to be honest, I don’t see what is so terrible about it. It gets copied a lot, but that doesn’t make it terrible. Anyway, some people think this line is so terrible that there is a whole contest – I’m not making this up – called the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, where people write terrible first lines on purpose to get prizes.

So the person who wrote that the pen is mightier than the sword is now mocked on an annual basis for how un-mighty his own pen was.

I love ironic things like that when they happen in the world.

I hate when they happen to me in my own life.

Thanks again Claudia for your insightful thoughts on writing craft. It was great to learn more about Autumn and this well known saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Make sure to check out the rest of the Blog Tour!

Calling All Authors! Blog Tour for WRITE THIS DOWN

September 27: Ruth at ruth ayers writes

September 28: Cindy at Charting By the Stars

September 29: Melanie at Two Writing Teachers

September 30: Niki at Daydream Reader

October 1: Kathy at The Brain Lair

October 2: Maria at Maria’s Mélange

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-26-16


Books I finished last week:


Write This Down by Claudia Mills (Out September 27, 2016)

This book is perfect for students who love to write. The main character Autumn would love to be a published writer. However, she has to make a hard choice between her passion for writing and her family.


Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrations by Renata Liwska (Out Nov. 1, 2016)

This book is adorable. I think students could totally relate to being impatient about the first snow coming just like Badger. I love the fun ways Badger’s friends try to help him get the snow to come. A great book to use to discuss the seasons and patience.



This Book is Out of Control! by Richard Byrne (Out Oct. 4, 2016)

I love reading This Book Just Ate My Dog and We’re in the Wrong Book to my students in the library. So when I heard This Book is Out of Control! was coming out I was excited. The students are going to love the third book in the series. Ben, Bella and their dog are back for another adventure. This time the remote doesn’t seem to be working for Ben and Bella’s toy. Or is it? Students will love this fun, interactive story!


Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan and Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

The USS New York is a special navy ship. Why? It all has to do with September 11, 2001! A wonderful nonfiction story about how wreckage from the World Trade Center was used in the making of a very important ship. A ship that will always remember.

So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-19-16


Books I finished last week:


I love this clever book. A great book to use for perspective and how we all see things differently.


If you love mysterious ghost books with a twist ending….this book is for you!

Dragon Masters

Students love the branches books. Dragon Masters is a great early reader series for students that love dragons and adventure.

Bad Kitty Meets the Baby

Sam and I have been enjoying this hilarious series!

I’m currently reading:



So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin


Prince Lev Lvov goes to live with his aunt at Falcon House. As he explores his family estate, he soon looks up to his heroic ancestors and longs to be like his grandfather. However, he soon realizes things are not as they seem. Prince Lev must battle a haunting force that threatens to tear his life apart. Will Prince Lev be victorious?


The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin is a great book for students that enjoy creepy, mysterious ghost stories. I loved the build up to the twist ending. I wanted to reread the book after the shocking ending. The illustrations add another layer of spooky to the story.  If you love ghost stories….this book is for you!

Check out Eugene Yelchin’s website to find out more about him and his books.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-29-16


Books I finished last week:

Inspector Flytrap

I’ve been looking forward to this early reader series ever since I heard about it from Tom Angleberger and CeCe Bell. I’m a huge fan of them both. Students will love the wacky characters! Will Nina the Goat eat all the clues? If so, how will Inspector Flytrap solve the case? This is a great first mystery series for younger students. I’m so happy that Tom and CeCe teamed up again! Keep the funny books coming!

Pirasaurs! is a great book for kids that love dinosaurs….and bonus…the dinosaurs are pirates! Let the fun begin! This book sails into stores this Tuesday, August 31st! I featured the quiz on my blog last Thursday. Click on the link below to find out: Which Pirasaur Are You?

I’m currently reading:

Dragon Masters

Bad Kitty Meets the Baby

So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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Which Pirasaur Are YOU?!

So Which Pirasaur Are You?!

Wait! You don’t know what a pirasaur is….

Well, it is a Pirate Dinosaur of course! And Pirasaurs are taking over the high seas on Tuesday, August 30, 2016!

You MUST own this picture book! Students are going to love Pirasaurs! by Josh Funk and Illustrated by Michael H. Slack! This book has adventure, swashbuckling and deck swabbing! And did I mention the dinosaurs are pirates?! You can’t get more fun than that! The perfect book to read aloud for International Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19th! And it goes perfectly with the Scholastic Pirate Book Fair theme this Fall!

So what are you waiting for?!

Take the Quiz: Which Pirasaur are YOU? Click on the link to find out!!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-22-16


Books I finished last week:

nine, ten 2

A powerful book that brought me back to that day fifteen years ago. The author does a wonderful job weaving four different stories/perspectives together. I think this is an important book for students to understand what happened on September 11, 2001 and how it changed us all.

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

I love this book for growing readers. Students need someone who will just enjoy listening to them read. The last time I was at my public library they had a dog there with his owner and children were reading to him. The kids absolutely loved it!

My son and I finished this book last week:

Bad Kitty vs Uncle Murray

That Bad Kitty is so bad…..and funny! My son really enjoyed Bad Kitty and is excited to read the next book in the series.

So what have you enjoyed reading recently?

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Hey A.J., It’s Saturday! Blog Tour

I’m excited to share my review of  Hey A.J., It’s Saturday! by Martellus Bennett. Make sure to check out all the blog stops for fun giveaways and more information about this creative book!

Book Summary: 

A.J. Is an imaginative girl who finds another world that is strangely right downstairs in her kitchen. So strange there’s already a feast, breakfast being served by creatures and beasts.

Oh! What is going on in this kitchen of hers? Pancakes! Waffles! Scrambled eggs! And a Jamaican Giraffe?

Breakfast will never be the same. Ever!

My Review:

The illustrations in the book are lively and fun! A.J. has quite an imagination when it comes to breakfast time. I think students will love this book! They will be able to relate to A.J.’s love of animals, breakfast food and most of all Saturdays! I think students will want to write their own imaginative stories about what animals can do on a Saturday. 

About the Author Martellus Bennett:

Martellus aka The Black Unicorn is a BIG dreamer. He lives in a magical house with his wife Siggi and daughter Jett where everything comes to life when it gets dark or there’s food on the table ( which is pretty much all the time). He’s usually a bit overwhelmed by all of the creatures bouncing around knocking things over in his head and in his house, but that’s nothing a creative ninja can’t handle. Marty received his PhD in awesomeness from the highly prestigious Orange Dinosaur University where his focus was coloring outside of the lines and making stuff with his creative and funny bones. The A.J series is inspired by his daughter Austyn Jett (A.J.) and their adventures together.

Oh yea, he’s a Pro Bowl Tight End for your favorite NFL team.

Check out the Hey A.J. It’s Saturday website:

Find author Marty Bennett on social media: Twitter Instagram

Order Hey A.J., It’s Saturday! at the Hey A.J Shop.

And find the app on iTunes and the Google Play Store.

Check Out More Blog Tour Stops

Jen at Teach Mentor Texts – 8/16

Niki at Daydream Reader – 8/17

Michele at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook – 8/18

Jessica at Little Lake County – 8/19

Linda at Teacher Dance – 8/20

Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers – 9/4

Enter to Win: Hey A.J. Kids-Sized T-Shirt and Bookmarks!

Giveaway Ends 8-20-16

Thanks to The Imagination Agency for sending me this title
and providing a prize pack for one winner from my site!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-15-16


Books I finished last week:

Finding Perfect

I finished Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz (out October 18, 2016).  I highly recommend this book. Molly is a girl struggling to keep it all together after her mother leaves her family behind for a job far from home. I felt the stress and anxiety Molly felt as her inner voice and outer world start falling apart. I’m looking forward to adding this book to the school library in October.

School's First Day

This is the book you need to read on the first day of school! In fact, School’s First Day of School made me tear up a bit at the end. This book is sweet, funny and will tug at your heart strings. A perfect read aloud for the first day to calm the most jittery child….or teacher.

The Not So Quiet Library

I just love Zachariah Ohora’s illustrations! The Not So Quiet Library is full of humor! I can’t wait to share it as one of my first read aloud books this school year! I know kids are going to love it! I’m sure my library isn’t going to be quiet either. There will be much loud laughter instead! And I’m okay with that.

I’m currently reading:

nine, ten 2

My son and I are currently reading:

Bad Kitty vs Uncle Murray

So what are you reading this week?

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