Flying the Dragon

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013 and a new year of reading!


I am thrilled to start off our year with a student book review by Kaito. He recently read Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dia Lorenzi and submitted this book report as soon as he returned from winter break.

Main Characters: Grandfather, Hiroshi and Skye.

Story Setting: The story takes place in Japan and America.

Story summary: Grandfather lives in America. Hiroshi lives in Japan. Grandfather and Hiroshi fly dragon kites. His grandfather is now sick, so the entire family has to move to America. Hiroshi has to hang-out with his cousin Skye.

Main Events: The main event is the kite battle in Washington, DC. Hiroshi and Skye battle the other competitors with their dragon kite.

1 opinion and 1 fact about the story: Dragon kites are real and legendary. I think dragon kites are fun to fly.

Thank you Kaito for sharing your ideas about this book. I read it too and thought it was pretty terrific. I learned a lot about the Japanese language, culture and kite flying from reading it.

This book is a chapter book and would be good for kids in grades 3rd and up. It is in the realistic fiction section of our library. The call number is F LOR  REALISTIC

You can also read about how the  illustrator Kelly Murphy created the cover for The Flying Dragon. Click on this link to take you to that interview.


Have you ever flown a kite before?

What do you like to do for fun with your grandparents?

Leave us a comment and let us know!


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Toppling by Sally Murphy

Do you love to play dominoes? Do you enjoy the clink, clink, clink as dominoes topple in black and white lines? If so, pick up a copy of Toppling by Sally Murphy. Josa donated a copy for our library and wrote the following book review!

John is the main character of this book. He is a boy with an unusual hobby–he likes to set up dominoes and tip th first one and watch them topple in complicated patterns. John’s goal is to win the world record of toppling. then something happens to make John’s world start to topple. His best friend Dominic gets very, very sick. This is a one-of-a-kind story about change, coping and friendship. This is a book for ages 8+ or anyone who wants a good read. It is illustrated very nicely.

I also just finished a book trailer for Toppling! You might recognize some of the actors for the trailer!



You can find Toppling by Sally Murphy in the realistic section of our library!

Here is the call number: F MUR Realistic


Have you every played the game dominoes?

What have you built using dominoes?

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Toppling by Sally Murphy

Do you love to play dominoes? Do you enjoy the clink, clink, clink as dominoes topple in black and white lines? If so, pick up a copy of Toppling by Sally Murphy. Josa donated a copy for our library and wrote the following book review!

John is the main character of this book. He is a boy with an unusual hobby–he likes to set up dominoes and tip th first one and watch them topple in complicated patterns. John’s goal is to win the world record of toppling. then something happens to make John’s world start to topple. His best friend Dominic gets very, very sick. This is a one-of-a-kind story about change, coping and friendship. This is a book for ages 8+ or anyone who wants a good read. It is illustrated very nicely.


You can find Toppling by Sally Murphy in the realistic section of our library!

Here is the call number: F  MUR  Realistic


Have you every played the game dominoes?

What have you built using dominoes?




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Wonder by RJ Palacio

It’s the first day of middle school. You don’t know anybody and you sit down in your seat and mind your own business.

Suddenly you hear whispers all around and when you look up, other kids quickly turn away, even though you know they’ve been staring at you.

Nobody will sit in the desks next to you. You are an island in the classroom. A lonely, isolated island.

This is Auggies’s life. A 5th grade boy who was born with horrible facial deformities. His parents have decided it’s time for him to give up homeschooling, and transition to public school. Wonder by RJ Palacio is his story and it’s your story.

How would you react if Auggie came into your classroom tomorrow? Will you stare? Will you try not to stare, but sneak glances when you think he’s not looking? Will you sit next to him at lunch?

Will you be his friend?

Wonder will make you think about yourself. It should be required reading for every student in 5th grade, not just because it’s a great book. Read it because it will make you think about what kind of person you really are on the inside. It will teach you about empathy. It will teach you about hope and friendship. It will teach you about life.

 Wonder by RJ Palacio is available in our library starting today. Here’s a preview book trailer by Mrs. Hembree.



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Read Aloud Tuesdays Resumes


“Mrs. Hembree, what’s the new read aloud book?”
“Are you starting today?”
“We’re going to choose it?”
“Wow, okay, I’ll be there! Still at noon, right? Still on Tuesdays?”


On Tuesday, the Read Aloud Club Kids chose Bigger Than a Bread Box as their next choice for me to read during our read aloud recesses.

Bigger Than a Bread Box is the story of 12 year old Rebecca who is forced to move to her grandmother’s house in Atlanta with her mom and little brother while her mom tries to figure out her marriage. Dad is back in Baltimore along with all of her friends and everything she’s ever known.

Rebecca is angry, confused and alone when she finds a magic box in the attic of her grandmother’s house. A box that delivers her wishes. Like better jeans, and a new watch and new tennis shoes. She gets everything she wants, except her dad. Is having stuff enough to make Rebecca feel happy again? We will read Bigger Than a Bread Box to find out!

Watch the book trailer by Lily, age 12 who made the trailer with a Canon SD 1300 Digital Elph camera and iMovie.


But wait there’s more!

The kindergarten-3rd grade students are starting Read Aloud Tuesdays too! From 12:30-12:55, Mrs. Hembree will be reading a chapter book to the younger students. We have something for everyone in the cold, wet, wintery months!


The men and older boys always go on a Dragonquest each year, but Darek is still too young to go. When they come back with a Great Blue, the largest and fiercest of all the dragons, Darek discovers a baby dragonling in the Great Blue’s pouch. He decides to take the dragonling back to the fearsome Valley of the Dragons.

Dragonling is a moving and adventureful fantasy story, perfect for younger readers. It is my personal favorite for introducing readers to the fantasy genre.

So, remember, come on Tuesdays to the library for your chance to get out of the rainy, cold outside and into a world of books!


What would you wish for if you had a magic bread box?

What is the best book you’ve ever heard?



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New Year 2012 = New Books!

Custom Glitter Text


 The Bulldog Readers wish you lots of reading happiness!

What better way to launch a new year of reading than with new books? The first group of books was purchased with funds from Reading with Rover.

 Reading with Rover donated $250 to our school toward purchasing books for reading. It was their way of thanking Mrs. Daly and myself for our commitment to Reading with Rover with our dogs Jett, Silas and Reese. I spent my portion of the money on new library books!




I couldn’t forget our older readers, so they got a new stack of books too!


Who knows? Maybe one of these will become the next Newbery Award winner for 2011!

Have you read any of these new books already?
Which one do you want to check out?
Do you have any suggestions for us to buy?
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A Sweet Papaya Ending


Where have you been on Tuesdays at noon?

We have been in the library for Read Aloud Tuesdays!

Since early November, the intermediate students and I have been reading Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai. We come in, take our shoes off, find a comfy place to sit and relax for 30 minutes of reading time.


This book is told in verse and relates the story of Ha, a 10 year old Vietnamese girl who is forced to flee her beloved Vietnam when Saigon falls at the end of the Vietnam War.

With her father off at war and not heard from, the family decides the best thing they can do to survive is leave for America.

They end up in Alabama, where Ha and her family slowly adjust to life in a very different country, where she is treated with open hostility from the other children at school and neighbors near them.

Her poems are achingly true to life and capture the anguish of leaving home, learning a new language and the anger she feels during this transition time.

 As each week passed, we often stopped and spontaneously discussed historical references and questions we had.  Questions were free flowing and the answers weren’t always easy to explain or understand, as any question about war can be. Still Thannha helped us appreciate the beauty of her Vietnamese homeland…and of papaya!

Ha’s love of papaya was woven through the novel like a golden thread. Since most of us had never tasted or even seen a papaya, we had some for our last reading.

I have never bought or cut up papaya before, so it was a completely new experience for me! The inside has lots of round brown seeds. It almost looks like caviar! Then the fruit is a reddish-orange color and sweet. Our papaya wasn’t completely ripe, so it probably didn’t taste as wonderful as it should. Still, we had fun trying it out to see why Ha liked it so much!

It was a sweet and fitting ending to a very special book! Now we have a new decision to make.  What should our next Read Aloud Tuesday book be? If you have an opinion, leave a comment and let me know!


What do you think about Read Aloud Tuesdays?
Do you like tropical fruit like papaya or mango or kiwi?
What book should we read next?
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Hometown Author Returns to her Roots

Mrs. Hovis remembers her. Mrs. Stoghill remembers hearing her name. Mrs. Stanphill was her cooperating teacher and taught her her how to teach when she was just entering the profession 24 years ago!

Who do they remember? Ann Haywood Leal, author of Also Known as Harper and A Finders Keeper’s Place.


Ann Haywood Leal autographs her latest book.

Mrs. Leal grew up in the Seattle area. Home was Auburn, Washington and Lake Tapps was her summer playground. She visited the 5th and 6th grade Bulldog Readers this week when she came home to the west coast to visit and promote her latest book A Finders Keeper’s Place. She shared photos and stories of her childhood and route to literary success.

Like most authors, she didn’t achieve success easily.After writing her first book in elementary school, she sent it off to a publishing house, when Judy Blume, her idol urged her to in a letter. The rejection letter she received soon after was one of many she received over the years, but it never keep her from writing.

One of my favorite stories Ann told was how she found a special manuscript box which was filled with stories and ideas written by a family member who had long since passed away.  This woman lived her life raising a family on a dairy farm, but spent her spare moments writing adventure stories. Some of her ideas were on paper, and many others were written on whatever scrap of paper she had available to her. The back of a dairy receipt or ripped slip of paper–each held a handwritten sentence, paragraph or idea for a story forming in her imagination.

Ann realized she was not the first author in her family. She was also very lucky to have a family who believed in her talent from a very young age.  Her mother kept her notes and her stories as a little girl- even her apology notes with misspelled words and cross outs from when she got in trouble!

Now Ann is a published author and teacher. She teaches first grade in Connecticut and writes as much she can, which can’t be easy when you have two full-time jobs!  She has a support group of writer friends who help her with every step and paragraph along the way. These are women who are not afraid to say, “No Ann, Harper wouldn’t say that or do that. Fix it!”

FindersKeepersAnd fix it, she does. Bringing a manuscript from A Finders Keeper’s Place, Ann showed the kids what it’s like to get her novel back from her publisher. Marks in one color from one person, marks in a different color from an editor. Sticky notes that are not allowed to be removed from a page. These are the realities of revising for an author.

But where do the ideas come from? How does a woman who teaches first grade and lives a middle-class life write realistic fiction novels about the harsh realities of homelessness or the cruelty of mental illness? Ann’s novels are not cutesy books about love-torn teenagers. Her novels are real. Perhaps too real for some readers.

Yet when everything is awful and the pain seems too cutting, Ann brings a sliver of hope into her books. She finds a way to introduce the idea that while maybe life right now may be really, really bad—it’s a moment in time. There is always hope. The possibility for things to get better, change and improve is always there.

Still where do those ideas come from? 

Some come from her life. We all have our realities of life that others may not know about. Other ideas come from newspaper articles,  places she’s been or seen. Take a fenced in and abandoned local swimming pool filled with algae covered rain water –a place she has seen–and twist and turn it. Suddenly it’s the place Harper discovers with her new friends in Also Known as Harper.harper

Go to the grocery store and see a young boy outside of the store staring at a station wagon pulling away with his family inside, while leaving him on the sidewalk, and you have a scene from A Finders Keeper’s Place.  Her books are the sum of her experiences, with a mixture of fiction thrown in.

So, readers and would be writers, what is her lesson to you? Save everything! Don’t throw away your first stories or silly notes you wrote. Save your doodles and beginning attempts at drawing. They are your beginning. They are the first rungs of your writing ladder.

 Someday, perhaps, you will look back at them, like Ann has done and be able to say, “I knew when I was in elementary school that I would be a writer, just like Ann Haywood Leal.”

Ann’s books are best for readers ages 9 and up.

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February Student Book Reviews

February Book Reviews on PhotoPeach


Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda – Review by Julius

This is a magical and mysterious book about wizards and sorcerers. There are two boys that are best friends and one happens to be the king of all the land. The king’s best friend, Jarred is accused of trying to kill the king. He is banished from the palace and has to survive in the poor town of Del.

            Suddenly he finds out that there has been a great darkness that has been attacking Del for a long time. His son and his partner in crime have to set out and find the stones that complete the belt of light and defeat the shadow lord. CAN THEY SURVIVE?

            There are many reasons why I liked this book. Here are a few; this book has a lot of adventure and fantasy, and I love adventure and fantasy. Also, this book reminded me of Harry Potter because it has that whole wizards and wands defeating the darkness effect.

Another reason why I love this book is that it was very suspenseful. Throughout the book, I was so scared to turn the page because you didn`t want something horrid to happen to the characters, but yet you didn`t want to stop because you were also dying to know what happens next.   

  This is a quite easy read and is fairly short. I really recommend this book to any age, although you have to be a fantasy and adventure lover because this book contains a lot of it.  Even so, you should still give this book a go because I am betting you will like it.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow -Review by Blake

 This is a great, fun filled book about Winston, but please calls him Marcus. He is only 17 years old, but he has figured out how the system works and he works the system; a smart, fast and wise, networked world.  He has no trouble outwitting his high school surveillance systems.  His whole world changes when he and his friends skip school and get caught in the after math of a terrorist attack in downtown San Francisco.  He is captured by the Dept. of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret asylum.  Read the book to find out the rest!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney – Review by Elliott

This is about a kid named Greg who is having a hard time in middle school. He is trying to fit in with all the so called popular kids. He also just lost his best friend, but deep inside they still want to be friends. They are both trying to find new friends, but keep ending up together somehow. You will be taken on a long and funny ride with Greg as you experience his life and his friends. Be sure to read the other books first, as this is number 5 in the series. If you like really funny books, this one is for you!

Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman  by Dave Pilkey- Review by Mark

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action because it is funny and it has a lot of fighting in it.  It is really interesting because the teacher turned into a villain and had hands coming out of her hair!!  The author gives a lot of details in the story; for example when they were about to go to sleep and they heard something in the bushes and it turned out to be the Wedgie Woman! She took them and made a portrait of George and Harold so the other children would not notice that they are not there.  The author makes the story interesting and you do not want to do anything until you finish it.

Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis – Review by Devon

      Have you ever felt so lonely, that you want to rip the despicable out of everybody you never met? Well I could tell you, not the best idea…. But don’t try to explain this to Buddy….. I MEAN BUD!

 Bud is not too bright, which means that his imagination can lead to some drastic things, but cause some great adventures… Would you try to escape from a foster family with a boy who sticks pencils up your nose and makes your nose drip in the puddles of blood, when they lock you outside the house in a scary dark shed?  I guess not, but Bud can’t stop himself.   He’s pretty smart which greatly adds to the adventures of Bud Cosweld on the lam!

 This book is amazing… a perfect book for anybody who wants to read an amazing story they can’t put down.  This book is my favorite!

Eldest by Christopher Paolini–Review by Moses

 Eldest, the second book of the Inheritance series is a timeless fantasy! After the death of Durza (Gallbatorix’s right hand man) and the victory for the Varden, Eragon suffers from a fatal scar from the duel with Durza in the first book. Too make matters worse Adjaid, king of the Varden and Murtagh dies, Eragon mourns for them. Meanwhile Gallbatorix is planning something to avenge his defeat. I recommend Eldest for older readers because of violence. I really enjoy this book, Check it out today!

Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan -Review by Jack

           “Look, I don’t want to be a half blood.” This is what Percy Jackson said before he started his long journey. He did not know the gods were tangling him in a mystery of the stolen lightning bolt. One that no simple person would have imagined. He could see what no normal person could see. Percy never wanted to be a half-blood. He just was.  

This book is about his big adventure to unlock the mystery of Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. Only Percy and his two friends are on the journey. All the Greek gods think he stole it, except his father. Percy was set to have an adventure he never asked for. One a half blood had to face, even though Percy never asked to be a half blood, or have a marvelous adventure. It was hard enough with the mystery of his father’s disappearance and his mom’s terrifying boyfriend.   

If you like the Greek gods, or want to read about a half blood’s exclusive adventure, this is the book for you. I recommend this book to everyone.

Bella The Bunny Fairy by Daisy Meadows- Review by Diana

Bella is a fairy that had a bunny until Jack Frost took the magical bunny. Rachel and Kristy are both best friends they also are friends to the fairies. The setting is in Rachel’s cousins house at Easter.  The pets found a hole in the castle wall, so they escaped to the human world. Will the friends rescue the bunny or will the goblins take the bunny back to the castle?  Read this book to find out.

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