“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Favourite Read Alouds of the Year Linky Party and Blog Hop

Every year I carefully choose the books I will read aloud to my class.  Some are old favourites like "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "A Wrinkle In Time" while others I have come across more recently.   You can read more about my other favourite read alouds HERE.   If you have a great read aloud to share, grab the button from above (make sure it links back to this original post), add it to your post, link up and join the best of end of year party yet!

Last year I read my class the book "Chasing Vermeer" by Blue Balliett with Illustrations by Brett Helquist.  My class seemed to like it, as it is a mystery involving two sixth graders who are very intelligent, and ART.  My class last year loved ART of any sort, so they gobbled up the story and were satisfied when I was finished reading it aloud to them.  I enjoyed it too and wanted to revisit it this year.  I thought I would do a better job reading it aloud as I knew the story better.  

My class this year, loves MATH and SCIENCE.  They are great artists but they don't seem as keen on art as my class last year was.  I wondered if they would enjoy the story as much as my previous class.  They LOVE IT.  One of the main characters, Calder Pillay, is obsessed with pentominoes and puzzles.  He carries around a set of these interesting puzzle pieces in his pocket at all times, and they help him think and make connections.

A set of pentominoes shown as letters of the alphabet.

A pentomino is a polyomino composed of five (Ancient Greek πέντε/ pénte) congruent squares, connected along their edges (orthogonal connections). There are 12 different free pentominoes, named after the letters of the Latin alphabet they resemble. Each of the twelve pentominoes can be tiled to fill the plane. In addition, each chiral pentomino can be tiled without using its reflection. (source: Wikipedia)

The novel takes place in Hyde Park, Chicago near the University of Chicago.  It  follows two sixth graders, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee. When a famous Johannes Vermeer painting is stolen  Calder and Petra work together to try to recover it.  Along the way we meet the eccentric teacher Ms. Hussey, the imperious neighbour Mrs. Sharpe and a variety of other interesting Hyde Park characters.  

Eventually, the thief publishes advertisements in the local newspaper, explaining that he will only give the painting back if the community at large can discover which paintings under Vermeer's name were really painted by him.  Petra, Calder, and the rest of the characters in the novel then examine the concept of  art more closely. The two amateur sleuths do a lot of research into coincidence and chance along the way, with the discovery of a book entitled Lo! by Charles Fort.

The novel was written for Balliett's classroom intended to deal with real-world issues. Balliett values children's ideas and wrote the book specifically to highlight that. Chasing Vermeer has won several awards, including the Edgar and the Agatha.  the sequel entitled The Wright 3 was published, followed by The Calder Game in 2008. (source: Wikipedia)

My class LOVED Chasing Vermeer!  They were on the edge of their seats each day, waiting to hear what would happen next as the mystery unfolded.  Much of what I was reading aloud sounded as if it could happen right there in our very own classroom.  I do know my students think I am a bit eccentric and odd much like the teacher in the novel, Ms. Hussey.  They loved the story so much, and I loved seeing their reaction to it, so I had to read them the sequel, The Wright Three.  I could not for the life of me find a copy in print, so I downloaded it on my Kobo ereader and started reading it to the class right away.  We are about half way through and the story is as captivating as the previous novel.  It chronicles how Calder, Petra, and Tommy are attempting to save a house called the Robie House in their neighbourhood.  So far the story has introduced 3-D pentominoes, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Robie House, Fibonacci numbers, The Invisible Man, and mysterious occurrences.
(source: Wikipedia) 

We cannot wait to find out what happens next!

It turns out there is a third book in the series!  I wonder if we will have time to read it...

It might just have to wait until next year!

What was your favourite read aloud this year?  Be sure to grab the button from the top of the post (right click and "save image as" then upload to your own blog and add the URL from this post as a link to the button)  and add your link below!

If you would like to get the code to add your post to the blog hop, click below and choose the appropriate code for your platform.
get the InLinkz code.

I did a quick search on TpT for products related to "Chasing Vermeer" and there are lots of great ideas in case you decide you want to turn your read aloud into something more.  Click HERE to go to TpT.

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  1. I read Chasing Vermeer with my students last year. They loved it! They had a hard time keeping up with the characters, but after we made a flow chart they followed it better. Great mystery! Thanks for joining my link up, too. :)

    Caffeine and Lesson Plans

  2. Mandy,
    The pleasure is mine! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and to leave a comment. The flow chart idea is great! I wish I had time to read all three books to my class this year, but hopefully some of them will read the last one over the summer!
    Happy Sunday!

  3. I just linked up--thanks for the invite to add my February "Great Picture Books to Read Aloud" post! I can't wait to see other great book recommendations from your linky. I am your newest follower!
    Swersty’s Swap Shop

  4. Yeah! The first link! The books you have on your blog look like such great reads! I could tell you put a lot of work and heart into that post! Thanks for sharing and for becoming a new follower:)

  5. My son & I really enjoyed Chasing Vermeer & The Wright 3. The later was a fun way to introduce the concept of architecture/engineering to him as I read is when he was 10 (he remembered the book 3 years later on a visit to Chicago too). Love the linky and will be back to visit and see what other read-alouds are recommended as I structure our summer reading lists - thanks!

  6. Totally awesome blog post Jacquie! So many of my old favourites and lots of new ones for me to read too! I LOVE BOOKS! Reading Blue Balliett's books has made me want to visit Chicago and go to Hyde Park! Thanks for linking up! Has your son read the third book in the series?

  7. My students love these books--I have them in my classroom library and they have been a hit with my higher level students :)

    I'll have to add The Calder Game to the collection! Thanks for sharing!!

    teaching,life,and everything in between

    1. I am amazed at how many people have read these books! I just think they are so great, and that the author is a teacher is even more inspirational! Thanks for linking up your post and thanks for becoming a new follower! I hope you come back and find things you can use.

  8. Hi~I just found your blog on Caffeine and Lesson Plans' grade level page! I am always so excited when I find other upper grade teacher bloggers. :) I'm Brandee, your newest follower and I will definitely link up with a favorite read aloud later this week. :) Thanks for hosting such a great party. ;) Come over and see me when you get a chance.
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  9. HI Brandee! Thanks for stopping by! I am glad to meet another teacher of upper elementary. I look forward to reading your post about your favourite read aloud. The linky is open for a year! Have a great, I'm off to visit your blog right now!

  10. We read Chasing Vermeer several years ago...I had completely forgotten about the character who likes puzzles! I need to reread that now!
    The Puzzle Den

  11. Les,
    The sequels are just as good. I am about to finish the WRIGHT 3 today! The kids and I loved it. I highly suggest the whole series!