Today is a very special book birthday. Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness is now on bookstore shelves. This is Kate’s debut novel and we are so excited to have her coming to our school on the book’s birthday thanks to MacMillan and Avid Bookshop.
About the Book
How would you feel if your mom lived just a few streets away yet had no interest in seeing you or talking to you? That’s Gertie Reece Foy’s situation. It doesn’t matter, though, because she has a plan, and Gertie never gives up on a plan. Gertie is a firecracker of a girl. She takes matters into her own hands and makes a plan to be the best 5th grader in the entire universe. She thinks that if she gives the best summer speech and become the best 5th grader in the universe, her mom will realize that Gertie is so awesome that she doesn’t need a mother anyway or possibly even come back into her life. Gertie has something standing in her way: a new girl named Mary Sue. Both of them have what it takes to be standout students, but their battle for the top results in even more struggles for Gertie to deal with. This is a book filled with friendship, school and family challenges, and summer adventures. You’ll be laughing out loud, cheering Gertie on, and crying along with her too.
Gertie is a character that I just want to hang out with. She is full of wit and adventure and can take just about any situation and make the best out of it. She does all of this even with a gloomy situation hanging over her. I think about my role in education and how a student like Gertie might slide by unnoticed as having a challenge to deal with. She isn’t one to reach out for help because she thinks she has to handle it all herself. How do I recognize those students? What opportunities can I give to students that allows them to shine and be the star that they are? I love how even the stern Mrs. Stebbins recognized the potential in Gertie and gave her a moment to shine.
I’ve been reading the first two chapters of Gertie to our 3rd-5th graders, and it is pure magic to read aloud. Reading aloud is a sure way to see how a book connects with multiple readers. It only took a few sentences into the book to have readers hanging on every word, laughing at the opening scenes in Aunt Rae’s kitchen, and begging to go on to the next chapter. I know this book will become a favorite of many of our students.
Going Above and Beyond
This book made all of my students think about people from their lives that are always giving their all. Together, we thought about the many “great” people in our lives. Students in 3rd-5th grade were able to write down their great person on a Gertie’s Leap to Greatness card and we displayed them in our library windows.
I have so many great people in my life: family who are always there for me, volunteers who give their all to keep our library program running smoothly, and librarians who push me to be a better librarian.
One of those many librarians that I look up to is Nikki Robertson. She is the picture of perseverance, determination, and never giving up. She is 100% awesome, not from concentrate just like Gertie Reece Foy. I can’t really comprehensively name all of the things that Nikki does, but here are a few:
- Co-founder of EdCamp Atlanta
- Member of the EdSpeakers Group http://www.edspeakers.com/nikkidrobertson.html
- Champion and producer TL News Night, a monthly internet program highlighting libraries
- Moderator of #tlchat on Twitter
- Nominee for numerous awards including Edublogs and Bammy Awards
- Presenter at national and international conferences including ISTE and AASL
What stands out to me about Nikki is her willingness to go above and beyond for the good of all educators and students, not just herself. Here’s an example.
Recently, Google Hangouts on Air transitioned to Youtube Live. Many people in education use this tool and were really worried about how the changes would affect them. Nikki jumped right in to figure out the new tool. She shared her frustrations, reached out to other people for ideas, and ultimately figured out how to easily use Youtube Live just like Hangouts on Air. She could have kept all of this new knowledge to herself, but instead she made a step by step visual tutorial on how to easily setup Youtube Live, and it saved me from agonizing over it another second. I immediately used it to teach my BTV crew how to setup the new way of doing our morning broadcasts as well as assisted a fellow friend in a Youtube Live event we were doing for Dot Day.
Nikki also goes above and beyond for her students. Her high school library is buzzing with activity and it’s all about giving the students a voice. Nikki designed custom Snapchat filters for her library and had students and herself immediately having fun in the library and embracing the power of social media. Her makerspace is a bustling place where she empowers her students to deeply explore specialized topics in making. She engages her students with creative interactive displays such as inviting students to spell out the word “hope” and share what hope means to them. She does a personal shopper program to put the right books in the right readers’ hands. All of these things are in addition to the fully packed schedule of classes that she teaches. The list just goes on and on. The bottom line is that Nikki Robertson never gives up on any mission she starts for her students, teachers, and network just like Gerite Reece Foy.
Get the Book
Who do you know that goes above and beyond? I invite you to leave a comment, share on social media, or do your own blog post. Be sure to get yourself a copy of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness at your local indie bookshop. You can always order a copy from our local store, Avid Bookshop.
Leap with Gertie
While you’re at it, when you get your copy of Gertie, take a picture of yourself leaping with the book and post it to social media with the tag #leapwithgertie Take a look at Kate & Cassie Beasley leaping along with students from our school.