September 3rd, 2012

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Be sure to visit Teach.Mentor.Texts, Jen and Kellee are the host of this wonderful meme.

This will be my first post of the 2012-2013 school year. I have read, thought about and tinkered with the idea of how I could implement this idea into my classroom. I’m going to model it here with by explaining the book I’m currently reading and review the past week’s picture books I read in my classroom.




For my current read, I’m reading Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

Last week’s picture book list included: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, Smokey Night by Eve Bunting. The chapter read aloud we are using in our classroom right now is Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford.

What are you Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

June 12th, 2012

Amulet, Volume 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Amulet, Vol. 1: The StonekeeperMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the start of what should be a fun summer as I start to read every Graphic Novel I can get my hands on. Boy, did I start off with a great one that I hope my students will find as entertaining as I did.

Amulet, Volume 1: The Stonekeeper starts off with a car going over a cliff and Nevin and Emily loose their father because his legs were stuck under the sterling wheel. Their mother wants to start all over and relocates all three of them to her Great Grandfather’s house. The house, in the middle of no where, needs to be cleaned upon arrival. As Emily and Nevin start cleaning, they wonder off to a room in the upstairs. This is where it gets really interesting.

Emily starts to read a book(my favorite type of people, readers) and discovers a necklace that had a medallion on the end of it. Like any girl, she wants to wear this new, antique piece of jewelery. Little does she know that this is a special medallion that will give her special powers.

As the family is cleaning the house, they start to hear a noise in the basement. They become curious and start walking down flights of steps to find the source of this noise. I don’t want to give away anymore. I hope that will read Amulet, The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

June 10th, 2012

Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets by Eric Luper

Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake CadetsMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever broken something that wasn’t yours and quickly tried to figure out how to fix it or replace it? Well then, you can connect with Jeremy Bender. Eric Luper’s book Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets will keep you laughing throughout this wonderful story.

Jeremy and Slater(Jeremy’s best friend) spill all kinds of liquid in Jeremy’s dad’s antique boat engine. In order to fix their mess up before dad finds out, they need a way to raise/win/find $450.00. The problem will be solved once they win the annual Windjammer boat race. Five Hundred dollars goes to the winning boat but like all great stories there is a problem. You must be a member of the Cupcake Cadets which is an exclusive girls only club according to Handbook Rule Number…

Do you see where this book is going? If you are predicting that Jeremy and Slater are going to dress up as Cadets and try and win the money, you are correct. If you are going predict that they will eventually get caught, you are correct. If you want to read to find out about all the boys adventure as girls, then this is a great book for you.

I loved Jeremy Bender vs. The Cupcake Cadets. The boys pulling off this stunt was something I would have never thought of doing when I was in 6th grade. I enjoyed the plot, the villain’s role and the way the boat was fixed. Go visit your local library, bookstore or teacher’s library if you think this book is for you.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

May 24th, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only IvanMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is on my top 5 list as a book everyone should read. Told through the point of view of Ivan, a silver back gorilla who is caged up in a visiting mall for over twenty-five years.

The other animals within the visiting mall and Ivan help each other get through the shows and treatment the owner provides/doesn’t provide these wild animals as they share stories, jokes and talk about their lives as young animals in the wildlife. The maintenance man, George and his daughter Julia see the true potential Ivan has in his paintings. Did I mention the stray dog, Bob who enjoys sleeping on Ivan’s stomach each night? Ruby, the baby elephant who joins the crew a later on the book. And Aunt Stella, another elephant who is the mother of the animals. She is the backbone of the crew that is facing hard times.

I was able to visualize the story as it unfolded each and every page. I was rooting for the animals to be freed and treated the way zoo animals should be treated. I was able to connect to Ivan when he admitted to being a “gifted eater.”

If you are in need of a great book, The One and Only Ivan is one for you. Visit your local library or independent bookseller to find out Ivan’s special talent and how it is all discovered.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

May 11th, 2012

Charlie Joe Jacksons Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not ReadingCharlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading has been passed around my classroom all year. I was finally able to get my hands on the book before another student grabbed it off my shelf. Boy, I wish I would have read it before any of the other students.
Charlie Joe will do anything not to read a book. He will pay friends, his sister and anyone else who that is willing to except his offer. After a few years of working out a deal with his close friend, his friend turns Charlie in and is grounded by his parents. The worry becomes larger as his sister (whom he gets along with) reminds Charlie of his end of year position paper. This requires students to read a few books that deal with the same topic, write a paper and deliver a speech.
Told through Charlie’s point of view, his personality comes out on every page. He speaks to the reader about ways to get around not reading in school. The book includes twenty-five tips to getting out of reading. The chapters are short (students love that).  Readers can connect to the students in the book. And it will make you laugh out loud at least once every fifteen pages.
I highly suggest you need to read this book prior to middle school so you know what lies ahead. Charlie Joe Jackson, written by Tommy Greenwald is an instant favorite on my shelf. I can’t wait for the second book to come out in August.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

April 22nd, 2012

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz

BluefishMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

Travis and Velveeta are two students who don’t care much about school. Neither one of them has done homework in sometime and don’t see why they really need to do it. Only to find about that each other are similar when it comes to issues stemming outside of school. But, both will not share with each other what these things are that are bothering them during the school day.

I was cheering for both Travis and Velveeta as I read Bluefish by Pat Schmatz. You want everything to work out for each of these characters. You want Travis to be able to figure out the reading thing. While you want Velveeta to be able to overcome her mother and all her problems.

This book is written for a late sixth, maybe seventh grader. There is mild language and a few mentions of  drugs. A great book for those that are in middle school and are trying to find about about who they are where they might want to do in life.

Happy Reading

Mr. Wittmer

April 17th, 2012

because of mr. terupt by ROB BUYEA

Because of Mr. TeruptMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mr. Terupt is a new 5th grade teacher at school. The book is told through the eyes of seven students and the events that take place in their classroom. Like all classrooms, this class has the female bully, the overweight child, the athlete, the move-in, the quiet one,  and class clown.

Mr. Terupt holds meetings to find out more about the students, asks the students to find dollar words that follow a value for each letter to equal a dollar and makes the students realize how important each and everyone one of them means to him. He does this in a way that makes the students think more about how to solve a problem without him helping the whole way.

There is also the outside of school stories that the reader learns to love and follow as the book moves forward. As a teacher, I felt myself connecting to students in my classroom and myself as I plowed through this book. This is a great book for anyone who would love to see what life is like in another 5th grade classroom and realize that others might think just like you.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

March 16th, 2012

Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jeffery

The Pocket and the Pendant (Max Quick, #1)My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me by Mrs. Susan Dee, 5th grade language arts teacher in the snowy state of Maine. Our classes connected on World Read Aloud Day and we both did some book talks. This book came up and I immediately ordered it from Amazon.

My students are in the middle of PSSAs which gave me time to do nothing but walk around and read and keep an eye on those that need to have eyes on them. I just finished this book because it was mind boggling. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a twist was thrown into the mix. Students in middle grades will need to read this book by Mark Jeffrey.

Thanks to Mrs. Dee who has also shipped my students a second copy of this book. She said that students would be passing it around. I just handed it to one of boys who will talk it up as he is reading it to get others excited. Below is a summary of the book that I found on

Max Quick is a pickpocket, a vagabond, an orphan, and a thief. Even so, nothing about him seems particularly special . . . until one day when time mysteriously stops. Suddenly, nearly everyone in the world is frozen in time—except for Max.

Now Max must journey across America to find the source of the Time-stop. Along the way, he meets others who aren’t suspended in time, like Casey, a girl who’s never been on her own until now. Together, as they search for the cause of this disaster, Max and his companions encounter ancient mysteries, magic books, and clues to the riddle of stopped time. But relentless and mysterious villains are hot on Max’s heels and will do everything in their power to prevent Max from ending the Time-stop. And the closer Max gets to the answers, the more it seems that his own true identity is not what he once believed. Racing against a clock that no longer ticks, Max must embrace his past to save his future—and the world—from being altered forever.

March 13th, 2012

Hidden by Helen Frost

HiddenMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wren’s mother does something that many mothers/fathers used to do all the time, leave their children in the car while they ran into a store. This was the case with eight-year old Wren Abbott.

The car becomes stolen with Wren in the back and the driver not realizing that she is in the back. For three days, Wren hides in the man’s garage. You will need to read the rest of the story to find out what happens to Wren and how pieces of the puzzle are put together.

There is a twist to the whole book. Before reading this novel by Helen Foster, read page 145. This will help you understand the puzzle within this wonderful book.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

March 11th, 2012

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My last few books I had read seemed to be in the historical fiction genre. I felt I was in a bit of a reading rut and needed a change. Thanks to the monthly #titletalk via twitter, I took a hard look at the classroom library. After much thinking, I found and enjoyed greatly The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens.
I wish I would have discovered and read this book when I ordered last spring. Three children, Kate, Michael and Emma are orphans and are sent from one orphanage to another due to behavior issues. The finally land in an orphanage where they are the only three in the place on Cambridge Falls. Their journey finds them going back in time looking for their parents. Kate is the oldest of the three and is the only one who has any memories of their parents.
I felt as if I this book kept me on the edge of the my seat at each turn of the page. This reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson, in that there was magic being used throughout the book. I would recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy and needs a great book to practice visualization, predicting or any other reading strategy good readers use.
I’m anxious to see when John Stephens publishes the second book on what I am thinking will be a wonderful trilogy.

Happy Reading,

Mr. Wittmer

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