Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jeremy Fink

I just started reading Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and I must say this is my kind of book! I love the "quirkiness" of Jeremy, his best friend Lizzie, and his surroundings (a chair covered in bottle caps?) Although I'm still in the beginning, I can already tell that Jeremy's life never has a dull moment! When I first read that Jeremy lost his father at age 8, I couldn't help but think of him as quite a resilient kid. I can only imagine how he will hold up after facing the mystery before him. As I find myself relating to Jeremy in a lot of ways, I'm not so sure if I'd be as strong as he shows himself to be so far.

As for Jeremy and Lizzie's friendship, this is a perfect example of how opposites attract! They certainly balance each other, and I love the way Wendy Mass describes their interactions- hilarious!

I'm certainly looking forward to the rest of the book. I'm wondering how on Earth he will open the box, the obstacles he'll have to face, if he'll be able to do it before his 13th birthday, and of course what his father's idea of the meaning of life is. I can't wait to check back with more thoughts...

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

I just started reading Wendy Mass’s Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. I am immediately drawn to the two main characters, Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy. Jeremy is great! Who can’t love a guy who names his fish Dog, Cat, Hamster, and Ferret? Told through Jeremy’s point of view, Mass writes, “All my fish are named after other animals because Mom won’t let me have real pets due to the fact that she is still mourning her childhood rabbit.” (p. 19). It’s clear from page one that Jeremy is a true worrier and afraid of a lot of things. “Honesty, I don’t see any reason to leave my neighborhood. Everything I could ever want or need is within a few blocks in any direction.” So how does Lizzy get him to do such crazy things? (p. 19)
And why do we often choose friends that are so different from ourselves? Lizzy is “a notorious troublemaker” with “a lot of opinions, usually negative.” (preface) She gets Jeremy to do all kinds of adventurous and crazy things. And here’s the best part: their friendship is so real! They are completely and utterly themselves with each other, accepting each other’s differences (aren’t we all different?), and always looking out for each other. I love when a book reminds the reader about true friendship. What makes their friendship so strong when they are so different? What defines a true friend? Could the answer be as simple as loyalty and unconditional love? And is that really so simple?
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is turning out to have so much more! Jeremy and Lizzy are facing a true mystery. Together they are on a search to find the four keys that will unlock the strange box that Jeremy has just received for his thirteenth birthday. Supposedly inside the box is the “meaning of life.” Something tells me that the search itself will unravel the true mysteries of life. And I, for one, can’t wait to find out the answers. I’ve got to go now; I have a great book to finish!
Mrs. K. Smith

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On a Related Note...

C.H.I.L.D., which sponsors the summer reading room at Verona Pool, is bringing author Jane Lovascio to the pool today, Wednesday, June 29. Lovascio is the creator of the Casey and Bella series, which feature two real dogs, Casey, the Jack Russell Terrier and Bella, a Yorkie. Each book in the Casey and Bella book series supports a special charity benefiting children or animals.
The visit, which is geared to kids in kindergarten through fourth grade, will run from 1 to 2:30 p.m. over by the book shed at the front of the pool. The first 25 children to arrive will get a free autographed book. Additional books will be on sale, and Lovascio will be signing her books.
  If you are free today, be sure to go and visit Casey and Bella.  

Also, if you are planning on going to the pool at all this summer, stop by the Reading Room to discuss some of the books you have been reading this summer.  The organizers are well-versed in the Buzz Books and the other books on the grade-level lists! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Among The Hidden

Happy summer, everyone! I just started reading Among the Hidden. After reading the first few chapters, I realized how much I take my own freedom for granted. What would I do if I were like Luke, the main character, and I had to be cooped up inside the house all day? Of course, I would enjoy reading, but I would miss so many other things. Imagine not being able to look out the window! What would I do without fresh air? Friends? Freedom to come and go as I please? An education? This is what life is like for Luke! I first read this novel ten years ago, and I vowed then to read the rest of The Shadow Children series, so I could follow Luke's story. Hopefully, I will be able to borrow these popular titles from the public library this summer. Fellow bloggers, join me in reading the whole series! Soon my son will be up from his nap, so I am signing off for now! -Mrs. Kleinknecht

Monday, June 27, 2011


"Maybe that was my mistake--even trying to understand. Garland was so simple--seven acres of land containing exactly one house, one barn, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, a pickup truck, and only one other person. Maybe in a place as complex as C Average Middle School, it was impossible to analyze every single thing that happened."  

from Schooled by Gordon Korman

Cap is a fish out of water. In the chapters he narrates, the reader can sense the longing he has to return to Garland--the world he knows. His adaptation strategy? To be himself. He's oblivious to the social "rules" of middle school, and just does his own thing. Sometimes it's not necessary to try to understand it all. You have to go with the flow. Cap Anderson is so Zen!

I think that when Gordon Korman illustrates Cap's difficulties in adapting to a new culture, he reminds us that adaptation is challenging for everyone...teenagers and adults.  In some ways, it's easier for kids. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ready to Roll!!

As of Monday, June 27th, the Buzz Book discussions will begin at HBWReads!  More and more students are signing up to write for us and we will be bringing them on board next week.  We are really looking forward to some great discussions and thinking from all of you.  
Find this photo at

Even if you are not writing for us, or even if you are not a student, we want to hear from you.  To leave a comment, just go to the space below that says "Post a Comment" and do just that.  Respond to what we write, agree with us or disagree with us, add to what we say, or take us in a new direction.  We love comments!

If you are stuck for how to begin your comment, try these to help you:
  • This made me think about…….
  • I wonder why…….
  • Your writing made me form an opinion about…….
  • This post is relevant because…….
  • Your writing made me think that we should…….
  • I wish I understood why…….
  • This is important because…….
  • Another thing to consider is……. 
  • I can relate to this…….
  • I discovered…….
  • I don’t understand…….
  • I was reminded that…….
  • I found myself wondering…….
  • This makes me think of…….

Friday, June 17, 2011


In looking at our summer reading program, the community, the administrators, the media specialists and teachers in each of the buildings suggested that changes be made to the program to truly reflect our aims for our young readers.

As a district, we are passionate advocates of reading. The changes you will see implemented reflect input from many community members, teachers, administrators, and students. Our goal is to foster a love of reading, to capitalize on the instinctive curiosity of children, and to create a community of readers within our schools.

In addition to the break from the routine and rigor of the classroom to recharge and renew, we feel it is important for children to continue to work on their reading skills during the summer months. If given appropriate guidance and suggestions in this area, students can maintain a healthy level of independent reading, especially with your support.

Summer Reading Guidelines

We have come up with the guidelines for summer reading.  This will also go home with your child shortly and be posted on the HBW website.

For every grade we have come up with a suggested list to help guide students in their choice for summer reading.  Within that list, we have selected a "Buzz Book" that we will feature on the grade pages above.  Staff and students will be writing about that book, and others, periodically throughout the summer on this page.   We invite you to check back often and add your comments to their writing and add your own opinion about the "Buzz Books."

For 5th  and 6th Grade:
Students are required to read one of any of the following:
  • novel
  • non-fiction
  • graphic novel
  • magazine
and when they return to class in September, their assessment will be to design an advertisement or flyer that will be used to "sell" the book to other students during the school year.  These will be displayed throughout the building and throughout the Media Center during the school year.  To help them choose a book, we've created a "suggested" list to choose from.  You can find that list at either the 5th or 6th grade page.  

For 7th and 8th Grade:
Students are required to read two of any of the following:

  • novel
  • non-fiction
  • graphic novel
  • magazine
and when they return to class in September, their assessment will be to create a brochure that will be used to persuade their classmates to read what they read.  These will be used throughout the year to help students self-select books for free reading.   To help them choose a book, we've created a "suggested" list to choose from.  You can find that list at either the 7th or 8th grade page.


Do you like to read? Do you like to write? Do you like to write about what you read? Then you just may be the perfect blogger! Fill out the following form or email Mr. Patrick Higgins at to find out how you can contribute to the HBW Reads Blog!

All applicants must be students of Verona Public Schools. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2011.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Be Sure To Vote For Your Favorite Book!

Check out my poll below and cast your vote! - Mrs. Kleinknecht

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie

Are you looking for a good laugh? Do you wonder what high school might be like? Then read Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar, the author who visited last year and had the audience sitting on the edge of their seats.

Check out this student's book trailer on youtube.

Can't wait to hear what you think of the book!

-Mrs. Kleinknecht

Above: Author David Lubar

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Just wanted to say that I read Jeremy Fink and The Meaning of Life this weekend, and I loved it! Being a parent gave me a new perspective that I did not have the first time that I read the book. Come to the book fair, pick up your own copy of the book, pour yourself a glass of lemonade, find an air-conditioned room, put your feet up, and treat yourself to an amazing book!