Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work; it may work the same or in different ways. In the end, they're all kids - they all need to be exposed to many lives, cultures, history, and experiences as possible. 

Dog Driven
By: Terry Lynn Johnson

For fans of: Any of Terry's other stories. Hatchet. Dan Gemeinhart. 

First Line(s): "Whoever's behind me is coming fast."

The author: 
Terry Lynn Johnson writes middle grade adventures based on her experiences living in northern Ontario, Canada. She might have fallen through ice a time or two, been dragged by a dog team, blown up a wood stove, been attacked by a sloth (slowly), nearly drowned on a portage, and chased a bear with a chainsaw. She owned eighteen sled dogs, but now owns one border collie who is almost smart enough to type out her own adventures.

The Book: 
When you’re running, you can’t look too far ahead. You can’t look behind. You can only focus on the now.
Ever since her vision started deteriorating, fourteen-year-old McKenna Barney has felt out of place in the world. Out of place at home and school and even on the trail with her dogs.
Now, to help her younger sister with her own ongoing battle with eye disease, McKenna finds herself at the head of her team of eight sled dogs in a race she’s not sure she can even see, let alone win. For three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, bitterly cold nights and frequent snow squalls, McKenna faces both the Canadian wilderness and her terrifying weakness.
But she hides the truth from everyone, including her toughest rival, Guy, despite their budding alliance. Will McKenna risk her survival as well as that of her team to keep her secret?
Read it for + Teaching Points: 
This is an action packed adventure with themes of surviving, trust, perseverance, integrity, all while speaking to those who have vision impairment. 

Johnson shared actual accounts from dog sledding years ago that would make for a great paired article idea for NF and fiction together. 

Pixie Pushes On
By:Tamara Bundy

For fans of: 

First Line: :"Daddy burned all Charlotte's bedding and blankets the day they took her away."

The book: 
A young girl learns bittersweet life lessons on the family farm after her sister gets polio, in this poignant and funny novel set in the heartland in the 1940s.

Pixie's defenses are up, and it's no wonder. She's been uprooted, the chickens seem to have it in for her, and now her beloved sister, Charlotte, has been stricken with polio and whisked away into quarantine. So it's not surprising Pixie lashes out. But her habit of making snap judgements--and giving her classmates nicknames like "Rotten Ricky" and "Big-Mouth Berta"--hasn't won her any friends. At least life on the farm is getting better with the delivery of its newest resident--a runt baby lamb. Raising Buster takes patience and understanding--and this slowing down helps Pixie put things in better perspective. So too does paying attention to her neighbors, and finding that with the war on she's not the only one missing someone. As Pixie pushes past her own pain to become a bigger person, she's finally able to make friends; and to laugh about the fact that it is in places where she least expected it.

"Pixie is full of heart! A laugh-out-loud book that also wades into poignant life lessons. A must read!"--Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of Fish in a Tree

"Pixie has bad luck--and is bad luck if you ask her. But she also has grit and gumption, so when her bad luck doesn't let go, she opens her eyes and her heart wider. Her world changes when she changes how she looks at her world. I loved Pixie and her story--a story filled with humor, hope, and everyday heroes."--Lynn Plourde, author of Maxi's Secrets

Review from my friend Sandy: “... the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”
Pixie Pushes On is a story of friendship, family, and hope.
Pixie is struggling with the death of her mother and then her sister catches polio and is hospitalized. Not only that but she has been moved to a school town and school where she knows no one.

Along Pixie’s journey she learns to get to know others before judging them and to give herself a little grace. She is a protagonist that you will fall in love with and be rooting for.

Review from my friend Katie: Thank you so much to Tamara Bundy and Penguin Kids for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group!

This historical fiction set during World War Two stole my heart. Prudence (Pixie) has endured a lot at her young age. Her Momma passed on from sickness, so she, her sister Charlotte and her Daddy moved to her grandparents’ farm. There, Charlotte is stricken with polio and must be sent to a hospital, and Pixie believes it’s all her fault.

Not only is she coping with that, but her neighbor Rotten Ricky, her teacher Miss Meany Beany, and classmate Big-Mouth Berta seem to have it out for her too.

Life on the farm begins to look up when she and Charlotte start exchanging letters. And her daddy brings home a baby lamb named Buster for Pixie to raise. Taking care of Buster requires persistence and dedication, and also helps Pixie realize that those around her are hurting, too.

I absolutely loved all the characters in this story. Pixie, her family, and friends will stick with me for a long time!

With themes of family, friendship and persistence,
this is a must add to school and classroom libraries when it publishes in January of 2020.

The author: Ever since I was a little girl in Columbus, Ohio, (that's me with the pigtails!), the power of "the right word at the right time" amazed me. 
One summer, when I was eight, my dad won a stuffed toy for me at the Ohio State Fair. He asked me to pick from the selection of teddy bears and unicorns displayed before us. I remember his look of confusion as I pointed to a giant stuffed pencil with the words, "I'm a Big Time Writer" on it. 
"Don't you want one of the animal ones?" dad asked. 
But I knew the stuffed pencil was for me because my biggest dream was to be a writer one day.

Read it for +Teaching Points: 
Historical fiction! 
The study of polio and diseases from the early days. 
Teachable moments for behaviors of kids - empathy, understanding, kindness - all of the above to truly help students understand what others are experiencing. 

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