Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


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Book PREview – Invisible: The Graphic Novel

Invisible tells the story of five students at Conrad Middle School who are called to the principal’s office regarding their actions that led up to April 18. The principal and community member conducting the interview assume that the students don’t speak much English, just because of their names and little-known backgrounds. These students are otherwise invisible at school. 

As the interview progresses, the story reveals how these students met — as community service patrons working in the school cafeteria, gathering hours towards graduation. They don’t know each other. They assume the stereotypes one would expect in school: the brain, the jock, the tough one, the rich one, and the loner (“The Breakfast Club” reference). To the adults, they are just “the Spanish-speaking kids.” They perform their tasks without much thought of community, until they meet someone outside the school fence. Things advance quickly, and the students have to learn about each other and band together as the community service members they are. Can they be unexpected upstanding citizens, even as middle schoolers? “How can you be yourself when no one sees the real you?” 

Read this book to find out more about being invisible and how being seen as your true self is the greatest reward. 

The text includes English and Spanish, a welcome inclusion in this engaging graphic novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein. Recommended for ages 10 and up. You’re going to want to add this title to your middle school shelves in the fall. Publishing August 2022 by Scholastic Graphix. Thanks to the author and publisher for the early read.


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Slice of Life Story Challenge: March 6

Today is the first day of a new week. Wait! Does the new week start on Sunday or Monday? This is a long-debated issue — right up there with “Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?” I’ve been thinking about debates (for school) and how we frame them so that we can be seen as “correct” in the end. I remind students to “prove it” (cite evidence) and “make them agree with you” (persuasive techniques). (I realize I have not done that here, but since it’s Sunday, it’s still my day off, so I’m not research writing. HA!)

Monday is the first day of the week. Those who work Monday through Friday are apt to say that Monday is the first day (of the work week) and plan their schedules with Monday being the first day in their planners. According to https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/days/monday.html, Monday is considered the first day of the week on many European calendars, adding the fact that Monday means “moon”. There’s also the idea that “Blue Monday” is the day employees (reluctantly) return to work after the weekend.

Those who may use the same source as I did above might say that Sunday is the first day of the week because, in many cultures, Monday means “second day.” Many U.S. calendars still use the Gregorian approach, and Sunday remains the first day of the week.

I find myself starting the week with Monday because that’s when I reset – I start the week after a weekend off of work. It makes sense to me. I’m also a fan of the “Monday, Monday” song by the Mamas and Papas, where Mondays are “so good to me,” but also “cannot be trusted.” It seems that “manifest destiny” relates to Mondays being known as the “bad day” of the week, and hence, “Let’s get it over with.”

Which day starts YOUR week?


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Slice of Life Story Challenge: March 5

Well, it’s March 5 and I’ve already missed a day. That’s okay; I needed Friday night to unwind and watch Netflix with my husband. I brought home vege pizza with extra cheese from Starlite Pizza (the best local pizza). We found Viking: Valhalla and stayed up late, but it was a relaxing night.

Today it’s warmer than it’s been in a long time and it’s sunny! We plan to hang out at home and maybe go to Menard’s and “save big money” on items for the kitchen and bathroom remodels. I love that peaceful feeling of days off. I hope you find some time to kick back and take it easy, too.

Happy Weekend!


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Slice of Life Story Challenge: March 3

Fifty Minutes Left

Fifty minutes left –

What format can I use now?

A haiku is best.

Ordinary days are fine, but it’s hard to say how productive one has been with mundane tasks, even though completed. “How was your day?” It was fine. I’m waiting for the weekend to celebrate time off and date night with my husband.

Fifty minutes left. What can I still do?


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Slice of Life Story Challenge: March 2

“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” According to https://www.almanac.com/march-weather-forecast, this saying’s origins date back to 1670, but the weather is the opposite here this year. Mild, mid-40s and 50s, and not sunny, but not too cloudy, either. I hope that this March will guide a decent spring into the area. We need it!


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Slice of Life Story Challenge: March 1

It’s time for Two Writing Teachers’ March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I’m trying it again after being gone for (has it really been) three years! Wow, time flies!

It’s a typical Tuesday here: I ran to the grocery store on the way home to buy some Fat Tuesday treats. Wait! Stores – three grocery stores – the third store had a few boxes of savory sweets called Pączkis (a Polish filled donut). Yes! I’m on the way home to relax and enjoy dinner and fattening food.

Look at all that sugar!

Wait! As I walk through the back door, I hear Ashley yelling from the basement. Bloody nose! Come and see! (Uh, no thanks.) But, of course, I’m the mom so I run downstairs to see what’s up. Fifteen minutes later, the bleeding stopped and we got back to normal. I’m really not hungry now, but I cannot leave those Fat Tuesday treats now that I went to three stores to find them!

Yeah, typical Tuesday. Happy March, everyone! Thanks for letting me back in, friends! I’m excited to write in this space again.


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IMWAYR: End of February Reading

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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Physical Books: I spent time with some elementary library books last week so I could book talk with students. I read Franklin Endicott and the Third Key by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly. These books were perfect to talk about together because they both have main characters with anxiety and worries. Such good stories! I “sold” both books to 5th graders who were ready to read.

Next Up: The Button Box by Bridget Hodder and illustrated by Fawzia Gilani-Williams (due April 1, 2022 from Kar-Ben Publishing). Thank you, Bridget for sharing this ARC. I will pass it along to my #booksojourn friends.

Libro.fm: For the fun of it, I’m listening to Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson and narrated by Talon David. It’s a publishing company/messy-manuscript/mystery rom-com and I’m enjoying it!

It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading?


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The Great Caper Caper (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #5) by Josh Funk — Cover Reveal!

Cover Reveal of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #5: The Great Caper Caper by Josh Funk & illustrated by Brendan Kearney

My family has followed the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series since the beginning (2015). My granddaughter and I were #TeamLadyPancake and my husband and daughters were #Team SirFrenchToast. Once, we had an incident with running out of maple syrup, but Josh Funk took that scenario to a whole new level in his first installment of the series. Now, all these years later, we still look to these characters to brighten our mornings!

Here’s a description of the newest book: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are back in a Las Veggies heist for the ages! Pancake and Toast awake one morning to near-darkness. Who could possibly have stolen the fridge light? And what if the fridge is—gasp—dark all the time? Not to worry; Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are on the case! Along with their friends, they assemble blueprints, collect supplies, and investigate. Will they bring the fridge back to its bright self, or will they have to live in semi-darkness . . . forever?

Josh: Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for having me over to chat!

Jennifer: We are excited to see what’s next in the series! When did you realize that Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast had more adventures coming?

Josh: As soon as I saw Brendan Kearney’s sketches for the very first book I knew I wanted to write more stories in this amazing world he’d created. I mean, all I gave him were the names “Lady Pancake” and “Sir French Toast” – he came up with all of the details from the strawberry hat and the whipped cream hair to the wafer crown and the chocolate mustache! I knew I had to explore more inside the fridge world!

Jennifer: I love the play on words/vocabulary with multiple meanings. How long did the book take to write?

Josh: Thanks! According to Google Docs, it took about two weeks to write the first draft – and then another three months to revise – and that’s before I even sent it off to my editor. We then continued to edit for another four months before sending it off to Brendan to begin illustrating. To be honest, in publishing, that’s actually pretty quick.

Jennifer: Well, it’s certainly a long time for us readers! Will we be seeing our favorite characters again in The Great Caper Caper? Are there new characters for us to meet?

Josh: Yes, and yes! In many ways, this book is a reunion of sorts for characters who’ve shown up throughout the series. As you probably know from any heist book or movie, you need a whole team to pull a caper – and Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast recruit not only Baron von Waffle, but characters major and minor from all four of the previous books (Of course, you don’t have to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one).

And the new character, Count Caper, is as despicable as capers get (I don’t like capers, btw – the food kind).

Josh: Thanks so much for hosting the cover reveal! Here it is…

The Great Caper Caper by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney is available for preorder from your favorite book retailers and releases on September 20th, 2022, published by Union Square Kids.

Josh Funk is a software engineer and the author of books like the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the ​It’s Not a Fairy Tale series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, Albie Newton, and coming soon: My Pet Feet (8/23/22), It’s Not the Three Little Pigs (10/25/22), and Dear Unicorn (fall 2023)! For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @joshfunkbooks.


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IMWAYR: I LOVE READING!

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I LOVE reading — and my Valentine’s gift to you is sharing my reading. What are YOU reading this week?

Physical Books: I picked up The Last Cuentista again. I would love to spend more time with this one this week.

Libro.fm: I finished Frankie & Bug! This cast of characters is the best I’ve read in a while – not only are Frankie and Bug lovely children, the rest of the “patchwork” family is wonderful, too. If you haven’t read this book yet, add it to your reading list soon.

NetGalley: I will finish Consider the Octopus this week. I love this! I cannot wait for you to travel with these 12-year-olds and learn more about the Pacific Ocean and its Great Garbage Patch. A case of mistaken identity, a girl who sneaks on the research ship, and more shenanigans…PLUS a call to save our environment…YES, please! (Coming April 5, 2022)


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IMWAYR: Award-Winning Reading, Plus Some!

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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After days of snow, I’m reading again instead of shoveling. I am grateful for the heat in my home and the love of my family. We took care of each other during the storm and subsequent freeze. I’m still reading…

Physical Books: The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. The Newbery Medalist this year actually started a little slowly for me. I’m not much into this genre, but I know I have to continue and I know I’m going to love it as I read on!

Listening (audio): My friend, Kwame Alexander, is reading aloud this week — Bedtime Stories for Black History Month — on Instagram Live, every night at 7:30 pm EST. I love listening to Kwame read! Today’s book was Wutaryoo by Nilah Magruder. What a lovely message – find yourself; find your own story!

NetGalley: I’m so bad about NetGalley! Sorry! I LOVE Consider the Octopus by Nora Raleigh Baskin and Gae Polisner! The characters, Jeremy JB (@gaepol) and Sidney (@MillySidner), have their own Twitter handles to make this experience even more fun!

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?