Lone Stars by Mike Lupica Blog Tour

I turned over this blog tour to 5 of my fifth grade boys who read and will be reviewing the book from their point of view. We live in a town right outside San Antonio, so I felt that this would be an awesome opportunity for them to be able to read and make those connections to where the setting is in Lone Stars. 

Boys easy summary: This story is about Coach Coop and Clay and their football season. It discusses the tragic times that they are going through in their season and the things that truly do happen between teammates and coaches. 

Q: How does this book relate to your life as a young football player in Texas? 
Boys: Coming back from losing and winning games. Even as fifth graders we are taught to never give up. So, when in the story they never lose, but are down a lot, they portray to never give up, which is how we are in our own games as well.

Q: What are you thoughts on concussions in football?
Boys: Overall, we know that they are really bad and they damage you brain. Right now, there is only one of us out 5 who are able to play tackle football. We would say that the injuries are exactly why our parents decided that we are not able to play tackle football until middle school.
At first whenever David got blindsided we all thought that he had a neck injury and he wouldn't be back, but the team still won even though he suffered with a concussion.

Q: Have you had any positive role models as coaches? What impact have they had on you as fifth graders?
Boys: Yes. As coaches they have taught us more than what we have learned on the field, just like Coach Coop, we have learned respect, responsibility, hard work, and perseverance.

Q: Favorite part of this book?
A: Getting to go to the Cowboys game and how that feels to be able to watch your idols. Also, the fact that it is set in San Antonio and all of us know all of the locations that they were talking about. Being able to relate to the parts of the story made it even more interesting.

Q: Least favorite part of the book?
A: When he gets a concussion, and knowing the effects that the concussion had on him and the team through the rest of the story.

We really wish that Mike Lupica would make another book that follows Lone Stars after the Thanksgiving game that they got to attend. Even though the book left us with some few questions, we recommend this story for any boy OR girl who plays sports. To read about athletes in school and what they go through is a great opportunity for any young middle grade student to be able to relate to.

Goodreads Summary:

An uplifting story about role models, football, and tackling fear set in the heart of Friday Night Lights country--from the bestselling author of HeatTravel Team, and Fantasy League

Clay is a quarterback's dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there's no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father.

But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach--lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay's season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time--during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.

In Lone Stars, #1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica demonstrates once again that there is no children's sports novelist today who can match his ability to weave a story of vivid sports action and heartfelt emotion. A touching story that proves life is bigger than a game. 

Praise for Lone Stars

"Lupica has crafted another fine sports story for the middle school reader."--VOYA 


During class this week, my students and I will revisit the reading goals we set for the first quarter. One of my goals was to read a graphic novel.  This is a format I struggle with because I'm distracted by the pictures and tend to skim over the words. However, when Michele Knott introduced me to Rollergirl, by Victoria Jamieson at NErDCampMI, I knew I'd read every graphic novel she wrote...and I'm almost done her newest. Since I have four students clamoring over it, I know I need to finish it tonight! 

Be sure to check out Colby Sharp's VLOG about The Creativity Project-Amber managed to snag an elusive ARC!

If you're looking for an action-packed middle-grade read, check out The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste, our most recent author spotlighted! 


Book Review - The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

Image result for the care and feeding of a pet black hole by michelle
Hi, Readers!
Today you get a review from one of the best reviewers out there a fourth-grade student! Ellis and I read The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas last week and we wrote down some of our thoughts. Enjoy!

What is this story about? 
  • Ellis’ answer: It is about a girl named Stella Rodriguez and a black hole follows her home. She finds out that it can get rid of bad memories. And changes her mind of how bad she thought they were and tries to get them back. Will she get them? Who knows... read the book to find out!
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is about a young girl named Stella. Stella is grieving the loss of her father and the story is told in the second person as if Stella is talking to her father. Stella and her father have a close connection and often bonded over science. Especially anything that had to do with space. One day, Stella unexpectedly comes home with something unique - a stray pet black hole! Stella tries to tame the pet black hole and ends up losing something special (actually many special things) in the black hole. How will she get them back? What happens if she goes in the black hole? Eventually, Stella and her little brother Cosmo end up falling in the black hole to try and retrieve what was lost. This is the story of what Stella discovers about herself and her own personal black hole that has been plaguing her since the death of her father.

  • Have you ever had a similar experience to the main character in the book?
    • Ellis’ answer: No I have not had any big losses in my family like her. But, I have had a dog die ): so kind of yes, kind of no but I did cry but that day we were writing a story about a pet we have and I got tears in my eyes but did not cry. So I say kind of.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: Fortunately, I have not had a loss like Stella did when her father passed away. I cannot imagine how difficult that would be, especially for someone young! Growing up, my grandmother (father’s mother) passed away when I was in 6th grade and I had a hard time accepting that death. It’s hard to deal with the fact that you will not be able to see, touch or hear that loved one again in your own lifetime.

  • Would you do anything differently if you were the main character?
    • Ellis’ answer: Yes I would I would probably not go into the black hole (aka Larry) in the first place. And not bring the black hole into my house. Too scary, for me. And if my dad died I would want to keep everything that I did with him.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I am a scaredy cat, so I would probably NOT go into the black hole either! I was really amazed at how calm Stella seemed when she was in the black hole! However, if she didn’t go into the black hole, the book would not have been as good!

  • What did the main character learn?
    • Ellis’ answer: Some things are more important than you think.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I agree with Ellis I think the main character learned that the decisions we make when we are thinking irrationally can be a huge mistake. In her grief, she threw away special memories into the black hole and realized that they were irreplaceable to more than just her.

  • Were you sad when the book ended? Why or why not?
    • Ellis’ answer: I was sad but in a good way.  Was happy for her to see her dad well in her memory and how they were saying jokes together and when they saw their mom and how they gave her a big hug for being a good mom(: (: (:.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I was kind of sad. I liked the ending, but I wanted to spend more time with Stella, Cosmo and even Larry!

  • What did you learn from reading this book?
    • Ellis’ answer: Respect all memories like their treasure.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I learned quite a few facts about space, black holes, NASA, and stars! I didn’t learn everything from the book, but a few times when the book would mention a certain topic, I would Google it because I was curious to learn more! I even ordered a non-fiction book on black holes for the classroom. I can’t wait to read it!

  • What do you think will happen to the characters after the end of the book? What are they doing now?
    • Ellis’ answer:  I think Stella and Cosmo are playing together in their backyard with Sagan. Or maybe just talking to their mom about how they want a cat now. Ha ha!
    • Mrs.Kuehler’s answer: I think that Stella is working hard in school, especially science. I hope she is planning to go to college and someday work for NASA! I think that Cosmo is playing with Storm Neptunian and is probably a big fan of Star Wars!

  • Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?  
    • Ellis’ answer: Yes, I would recommend this book to others because it is funny, daring and all out just plain old good. I mean, man this book is good awesome!
    • Mrs.Kuehler’s answer: Absolutely!! I loved that this book was kind of science fiction because that is a reading gap for me. I’m not normally a big fan of science fiction but I LOVED this book so much! I have already recommended it to so many people!
Definitely check out this book if you like an adventure story and/or space stories! Let us know if you do!

Rise of the Jumbies - Author Spotlight

Welcome to Teachers Who Read - we are students of Mrs. Thomas's class who have a love  of reading and want others to know about our favorite authors! 

Tell us about your most recent book.
Rise of the Jumbies is the sequel to The Jumbies. This time, when children begin to go missing on Corinne's Caribbean island she decides to take on a water jumbie--Mama D'Leau--to help her find them. But Mama D'Leau's help comes at a price, and Corinne finds herself on an adventure very far from home. In this story, readers are introduced to more jumbies, as well as some familiar mythical creatures: mermaids! Corinne works with the mermaids and her friends to complete Mama D'Leau's task. It turns out to be much more difficult than any of them realize.  

When did you decide you wanted to be an author? 
Probably since I was three and my mother handed me a huge illustrated copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales. It was so gorgeous, and I liked the stories so much. I tried to rewrite several Snow White stories to make the endings better. That's when I realized I might like to write my own stories. 

What were your middle grade years like? 4th, 5th grade? Did you enjoy reading or writing? 
I grew up in Trinidad & Tobago, which goes by the British system, so 4th grade would have been what we called Standard 5. That's actually a tough year for kids because there's a national exam that all the kids take and every kid is ranked publicly. The results come out in the newspaper with your name, your rank, and what school you'll go to next. The better your results, the better school you'll get into. It's very intense. I don't recall what my rank was, but I got into my first choice school, so that was great.

I loved reading and writing in those years. I read a British series called The Naughtiest Girl in School. 

When did you realize you were a writer?
 I think I always thought I was a writer, but I didn't really start taking it seriously until I was out of college.

Do you have any plans for continuing The Jumbies?
 We've been talking about doing a third one. At first I didn't think I could because I had such a big ending for the second one that I didn't know how I could continue the story. But I spent a month in Trinidad over the summer, and some ideas started to come to me. I might have a new story. But it's still too early to tell for sure.

In your words, how would you sell The Jumbies and Rise to students who are unfamiliar with the Caribbean? (We are from Texas!)
Kids who like action and adventure will like this series. There are cliffhangers with people hanging off of actual cliffs! Plus kids who love monsters and mythology will enjoy learning about the mythology of the Caribbean and the monsters we have in our stories. The series is fast paced with lots of adventure and monsters, but still has heart. At its core it's a series about love of family and friendship. 

Without giving away the plot to others, can you talk a little bit about the theme/lesson(s) that Corinne encounters throughout both books? How is this relatable to real life?
Corinne's story is really about not judging others you don't know. Corinne and the jumbies have very different languages and cultures, but they share the same island, and at their core, they want the same things. 

What was your favorite book as a child? What's your favorite middle grade book currently (aside from your own)? 
The Naughtiest Girl series for sure. Right now, my favorite MG is Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon. 

If you could recommend any books to us as 4/5th graders, what would it be? 
I'd recommend all of Kelly's books, as well as York by Laura Ruby. 

Last question, any advice as young readers and writers?
Good writers read a lot, and they read widely. That mean  they don't only read one type of book. There is a lot to learn from reading all kinds of different books.
Good writers also aren't afraid to rewrite things. Nothing comes out perfectly the first time.

Thank you so much for writing books that interest us to traditional folklore – we look forward to more from Tracey Baptiste!

Affiliate link to Amazon

The Jumbies, the 2015 novel by Trinidadian-American author Tracey Baptiste, introduced middle-grade readers to those titular creatures of Caribbean folklore. Celebrated as “spellbinding”(Parents) and “endlessly addictive and hypnotic” (Essence), the book garnered remarkable praise from national media like the Washington Post, pop culture websites, and more.

Now the jumbies return in an enchanting sequel that can also be read as a standalone adventure: Rise of the Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers, September 19, ages 8–12). In this rich, colorful story, Corinne and her friends team up with Mama D’Leau, the fearsome jumbie of the sea, and her mermaids to rescue some missing children. Baptiste ingeniously blends a spooky, otherworldly fantasy with an engaging and accessible lesson on the legacy of the Transatlantic slave trade.

“In Rise of the Jumbies,” says Baptiste, “I take my characters back across the ocean to the storytellers who probably invented jumbies, in West Africa. Were stories of the Ghanaian goddess Mami Wata brought on slave ships to become the Caribbean jumbie Mama D’Leau? What else did the enslaved bring across the ocean? Which stories turned and changed with the tides? And more importantly, what was lost in them?”

Fans of action-packed adventures with folkloric roots like Natalie Lloyds’s A Snicker of Magic and Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon will be entranced by Rise of the Jumbies. I’m beyond thrilled to share this important book with the world, and I’d love to work with you to do so. Please see the full description below, along with previous praise and author info, and let me know if you might like to schedule an interview with Tracey Baptiste or if you already have plans for review. Need another ARC? Just ask.

* * *
About Rise of the Jumbies
Corinne La Mer defeated the malicious jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t quite returned to normal, now that everyone knows Corinne is half jumbie. When local children go missing from their Caribbean Island home, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. On the journey, Corinne and her friends also learn about the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade through engaging, accessible storytelling. With its action-packed narrative, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbies will appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
* * *

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):
Corinne La Mer has settled back into island life after her fight with the jumbie Severine (The Jumbies, 2015), but no sooner does normalcy arrive than it leaves again when an earthquake rocks the island and her friend Laurent goes missing. Other children start to disappear, and Corinne's only clue leads her to the water. With steadfast friends Malik, Bouki, and Dru, she sets out to uncover what mysterious force has taken the children and defeat it. She makes a bargain with the water jumbie Mama D'Leau for help, but even with a supernatural boost, Corinne will need all of her strengths to defeat the mysterious kidnapper and save her friends. Baptiste's colorful, rich Caribbean characters return triumphantly in this sequel, and the mythos of the island continues to expand. Baptiste deepens what could be a light and charming undersea adventure with ties to African religions and the historical legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. As other young children of the African diaspora sort out their feelings about and relationships with slavery, so do Corinne and her loyal friends. While other tales may address it with a casual aside or scrub out the grimiest bits, leaving history in a shiny, tidy package removed from reality, Baptiste allows her characters to find and create ways to grapple with uncomfortable truths. A stirring and mystical tale sure to keep readers thinking past the final page. (Fantasy. 8-12)
* * *

About Tracey Baptiste
Raised in Trinidad until she was a teenager, Tracey Baptiste is a former educator-turned-editor, with positions at McGraw-Hill and Scholastic. She earned a master’s in education at New York University and is on the faculty at Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program. She lives in New Jersey.
* * *

Previous Praise for The Jumbies

“Endlessly addictive and hypnotic.”

“Tracey Baptiste scares up new audiences to learn about jumbies . . . She builds a fairy tale about a brave girl and her adventures among Caribbean creatures.”
Washington Post

“This spellbinding adaptation of a Haitian folktale is just scary enough.”

The Jumbies starts off with a chase and leaves the reader wanting more, in a very good way.”

“A scary but cheerful tale that draws on Caribbean folk traditions. A great update on the ‘town under supernatural attack’ story, with a marvelous setting.”
Baltimore Sun

“While this book is set in the real world of Trinidad, the story’s magical realism, rooted in Caribbean folklore, lifts it into an otherworldly realm . . . The Jumbies combines the right amount of fairy-tale magic, atmosphere, friendship and bravery.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A slightly different take on a familiar genre [and] a very awesome example of a strong female . . .”
KQED Radio (San Francisco NPR)

“Baptiste’s story, based on a Haitian folktale, is action-packed and original with an appealing cast of characters.”
The Horn Book Guide

“This is a well written tale full of action with enough scary elements to satisfy fans of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimmor Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms.”
School Library Journal

“This girl’s got guts. Even as she wanders the mystery-shrouded forest full of creepy-crawlies from Haitian folklore and faces up to the frightening newcomer to her village, Corrine La Mer brings badassery and wisdom beyond her years. Launching brave kids into the world of the horror novel, and leading them through it with lyrical prose, author Tracey Baptiste knows just how to seize kids’ attention.”
Foreword Reviews

“It’s refreshing to see a fantasy with its roots outside Europe . . . this is a book worth reading simply for its originality.”
Kirkus Reviews

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Hardcover $16.95
On sale date: 09-19-2017
Category: Children
Pages: 272
Trim size: 5.5 X 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-61620-665-9
Brooke Csuka, Publicist
Algonquin Books & Algonquin Young Readers
Phone: 919-913-3868

Lone Stars by Mike Lupica

Image result for lone stars mike lupicaSynopsis from Goodreads: Clay is a quarterback's dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there's no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father. But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach--lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay's season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time--during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.

In Lone Stars, #1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica demonstrates once again that there is no child
ren's sports novelist today who can match his ability to weave a story of vivid sports action and heartfelt emotion. A touching story that proves life is bigger than a game. 

My thoughts: Confession time ... Mike Lupica is an author I recommend to sports lovers all. the. time. but ... I had not read a single book by him. I know Lupica is a fantastic sports writer and he lives in New York City (and he's pretty liberal, too, which I like) but I'm just not a sports girl. I don't hate sports. I actually really, really enjoy a good sports story. Sports movies are among my favorites. Movies like Miracle and We Are Marshall are some of my favorite movies of all time. However, I don't think I'm really watching them for the sports. I'm watching them (or sometimes reading the book) for the inspirational story of overcoming a hardship. 
Mike Lupica's newest novel for middle-grade readers, Lone Stars, is PERFECT for those football fans in your classroom. Bonus points if they're Dallas Cowboys fans. In Lone Stars, Lupica's main character talks about the Cowboys a lot and if you're an avid fan, the trivia will leave you tickled, I'm sure! 
In this book, the reader learns a lot about recent brain research and, specifically, the damage that repeated concussions and other brain trauma caused by rough sports like football can have on individuals. I thought this was very interesting and eye-opening! I hope that kids learn a thing too about the severity of a concussion! 
Definitely, pick this book up for your sports lovers and to add to your collection of Mike Lupica novels. I have had many students read these over and over!



We're back with IMWAYR! 

During the school year, I'm guilty of binge reading. My weeknights are filled with chauffeuring kids from one place to the next, with little time to read in between- though I'm always carrying a book just in case!  Does anyone else find themselves playing catch-up on Sundays?
Over the weekend, I managed to finish two books-Avalanche, a Survivor Series installment, and In Some Other Life, a parallel universe novel by Jessica Brody. I loved them both!





All's Faire in MIddle School - Review

Image result for all's faire in middle school cover
Good morrow*, my friends! Victoria Jamieson hath done it again! I know so many adults and students that LOVE Roller Girl and I know they will be so excited to pick up this new graphic novel from the same author. Recently released and in paperback, this is a very accessible book for upper middle grades this fall. Students in middle school will appreciate and relate to Imogen’s struggles. To her friends and family, Imogen is called Impy and not everyone at her new school knows that her family works at the local Renaissance Faire. Impy herself is training to be a squire, which is like a knight and is something she is very proud of.

However, she quickly finds out that things she overlooked in the past, such as her family’s quirky ways, their small apartment they call home and her thrift store clothes are not considered cool by her new middle school friends. Impy desperately wants to fit in and will do almost anything. Even something she knows is wrong.

This book is impossible to put down and was one that was easily read in one sitting. I loved learning about life at a Renaissance Fair and getting a blast back to middle school. Jamieson nails the middle school voice and I know kids in grades 6th and up will enjoy this one!

*”Good morrow” means “good day” in Renaissance Faire language! 


August Reads - Cassie