Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thank You, Erin Soderberg for an Amazing Skype Visit!!

Last week, we had the opportunity to Skype with author Erin Soderberg. Erin is the author of The Quirks: Welcome to Normal and The Quirks in Circus Quirkus--the first two books in a series that is quite popular in our classroom this year!  


The kids were VERY excited about this Skype visit. Our last Skype (another highlight of the year!) was with author Barbara O'Connor. We had read her book How to Steal a Dog aloud so everyone in the class had read the book together. But The Quirks was different. I read the first book in the series over winter break and knew immediately that my students would love it. I handed it to a student who handed it to another student. Within a week, there were so many kids that wanted to read the book that we asked our librarian to order more. He ordered 5 and a group of kids had their first book club around the book. I bought 2 copies of the 2nd book in the series and that began to circulate.   By the time we had the Skype visit, almost all of the students had read at least one of the books.  

This book took on a life of its own in the classroom. Usually, when I find a book like this, I decide to read it aloud. And I may have, had it been earlier in the school year. But this series was one that my kids LOVED to read on their own. They loved the story and the characters. They loved that it was the buzz in the room. And they loved that they could read something independently that seemed a little bit harder and longer than the books they were comfortable with. For many of my students, this book gave them confidence to stretch themselves as readers. It helped them see how much they'd grown.  This book didn't make its way around the classroom because I shared it. Instead, the students owned this one--that's what makes it such a perfect book for 8 and 9 year olds.

In February, I wrote about this series as a MUST HAVE for 3rd and 4th grades. If you don't know The Quirks books, there are 2 in the series. Both focus on a family, called The Quirks.  The Quirks are anything but normal.  They are quite..quirky. Each family member has some kind of quirk or power but they try to hide these from the rest of the world as they often get them into trouble.  Such a perfect mix of real life and fantasy--no wonder kids love it.

There is also a lot of fun in the books--fun magic. Two of my favorite shows growing up were I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched and the magic in these books reminded me a bit of those shows--very fun magic that I so wished I could do when I was younger!  

Author Erin Soderberg was amazing during our Skype visit. She had the kids engaged in the first 30 seconds with her enthusiasm and personality. She talked to us a bit and let us in on a few secrets about the Quirks. That was fun! Then we asked questions.



Before the Skype, we brainstormed questions for Erin.  I loved listening to their questions.  The thoughtfulness of each question made me happy and it became clear how well the kids knew the story and the characters. I also loved how clear it was that they understood authors. During the creation of the list, they kept talking and saying things like "I wonder why she decided to..." . They so understand authors as decision-makers and many of their questions focused on that part of the process.



It was a great day and we can't WAIT until the 3rd book in the series comes out in January 2015.  My students are already begging to read it first even though they will be in 4th grade next year.  They are VERY excited about this upcoming book!

Again, this book is one of my favorite new series for middle grade readers.  I'm so glad that there are more books coming! 

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