Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Looking at Differences 2.21.18

Artwork by Sarah S. Brannen ©2017
Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

I've rescheduled this post about 5 times because of other books and topics that came up.  Timely, since now I can say one of the books is a Sibert Honor Award winning book!

This topic is near and dear to my heart.  Being the parent of a child who has a physical disability opens your awareness to the topic in ways you never thought of before.  What I find so interesting is when I talk to my daughter about how she wants to be seen, how she wants to be treated, how she identifies, it's not always the answer I expect to receive. 

Not So Different by Shane Burcaw
Not So Different:
What You REALLY Want to Ask About Having a Disability
written by Shane Burcaw
photographs by Matt Carr
published by Roaring Brook Press

Shane was born with spinal muscular atrophy.  As a result, he looks different.  As he states in his book, his head is larger than the rest of his body.  His body is small because his muscles are slowly deteriorating as a result of SMA.  He uses a mechanical wheelchair to move and must rely on chest straps to keep him from leaning over and falling.  No doubt, this leads to a lot of stares and a lot of questions.  This book gives answers to many common questions people have.

Books like this are so important because as I've witnessed first hand with my daughter, once you answer questions, kids move past the differences they see and see the person inside.  For kids, that usually means they just move on to the playing part of life!

An important book to share with readers today.  This is a book that should not only be in libraries, it should be read aloud to every young reader.

Congratulations for being awarded the 2018 Sibert Honor Award!

What's the Difference? by Doyin Richards
What's the Difference?
Being Different is Amazing
by Doyin Richards
published by Feiwel and Friends

This is an interesting book.  At the beginning of the book there is a message from the author.  One statement stood out to me, "In order to make the world a better place, we need to educate our children about how beautiful diversity truly is."  I've been reading about the word "diversity" and I've been thinking about what it means.  I've been having conversations with others about this topic and I keep changing my own ideas and understanding as a result.

On the one hand, this book celebrates our differences and has a message about embracing them.  It talks about how our differences make us wonderful and looking at what is on the inside is just as important.

On the other hand, I don't know if the message of "what's the difference if your classmate has light skin and yours is a little darker?" is the right way to look at things.  I'd like to have some more conversations about this book and see how I would use it.

One of my favorite lines in the book is, "It's the same with your friends.  Listen to their stories."

Bottom line, I think when sharing this book with young readers, it carries a message that makes sense in their little world. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.19.18

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

I am so jealous of everyone who is on a February/Winter Break right now!  I'm happy to have an extra day this weekend with President's Day, but it's not a full week off.  I guess I'll just have to be happy being out of school in early June!  Hoping to get some extra reading done this weekend!

Last Week's Adventures

Have you seen this new biography about Lewis Carroll?  It's going to be a hit with readers!

A wrap up of our Mock Geisel unit!  If you've ever wondered about doing a Mock unit, take a look at this post!

A roundup of new books about kindness.

Picture Books

Noodleheads See the Future
Noodleheads See the Future
by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss
I'm trying to catch up on titles that won awards that I had not read.
This is one of the books I knew about but I had not read.
It's the kind of humor that young readers are going to laugh - silly enough to cause giggles from them, but perhaps not from the adults who are reading it.  In other words, perfect for young readers!  
I like that the chapters build upon each other to help young readers learn how to track a plot line over the course of a longer book.
I'm going to add it to my collection since I know it will be checked out frequently.  

Nobody's Duck
Nobody's Duck
by Mary Sullivan
Sullivan's 2017 book Frankie won our school's Mock Geisel, so I knew I needed to check out this book.  Predictable, yet fun, Duck finds a friend who brings Duck everywhere to see where Duck belongs.  The great turn of events happens at the end of the story!

Grace for Gus
Grace for Gus
by Harry Bliss
In this almost wordless early graphic novel, we meet young Grace, who seems to be quiet and perhaps in need of a friend.  She has bonded with the class guinea pig, Gus.  The class is trying to save up money to buy Gus a buddy.  Grace sneaks out of the house at night to do a variety of street jobs (play her violin, draw caricatures, dance on a subway) to make money to donate to the class fund.  
I enjoyed spotting the many cameos (minus one major one) and other hidden items within the graphic novel frames.  While young readers won't catch many of them, they will be lost within the story to care too much!

What Do You Do With a Chance?
What Do You Do With a Chance?
written by Kobi Yamada
illustrated by Mae Besom
I am pretty sure this is my favorite book in the "What Do You Do" series.  I think there is a lot you can talk about with young readers - older readers will understand the metaphor and have some personal schema to add to the conversation.  For young readers, it may be a new idea, one that will get them thinking about taking chances and trying new things!  
This is a must have for libraries!

A Couch for Llama
A Couch for Llama
by Leah Gilbert 
This is one of those books that will probably be more fun to read out loud to young readers than reading it to yourself.
A family is ready for a new couch, and on the way home from the store, the new couch, that is on top of their Volkswagen Beetle, comes undone from the ties and slips off into a field where a llama lives.  The llama falls in love with the coach before the family comes to get it.
I think there will be giggles when reading it out loud.  I'll have to try this with a few audiences later this week!

Middle Grade

The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, #1)
The Serpent's Secret
by Sayantani DasGupta
Oh, I love this middle grade book and I'm so excited that it will be a series.  Another book about Indian mythology (also look for Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi) that is witty, laugh out loud funny and action packed.  I didn't want to put it down and know kids are going to love meeting Kiran.  I enjoyed learning about different mythology tales and characters.  This is a series I'll be returning to again and again.  
Although this book doesn't publish until Feb. 27th, it is available on Scholastic and I was able to pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble this past weekend!
Middle grade teachers and librarians, make sure you have copies of this one for your libraries!

Black Panther: The Young Prince
Black Panther: The Young Prince
by Ronald L. Smith
I flew through this book - not only because it is so good, but also because I wanted it read before I saw the movie this weekend!  Both are definitely worth your time!  
This Marvel character is definitely new to me - I am not as well read in regards to these characters and movies.  I need to change that!  I am glad this Marvel-Disney book leans toward middle grade - I am excited to share this with readers.

Currently Reading

In Sight of Stars
In Sight of Stars
by Gae Polisner
I love Gae's writing and I've heard some great things about this one.  I'm in the early stages of the book but I'm already drawn into the writing!

Looking forward to some President's Day reading today!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Spotlight Friday - books about kindness... and umbrellas 2.16.18

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

In a time where it is most needed, I'm glad for these books on kindness.  I also like to see umbrellas on the covers of these books!  Make sure you have a copy of these books! 

Be Kind
Be Kind
written by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Jen Hill
What I love about it:  I love that it talks about the small things we can do and how those small things can spread.  Kids get in their heads they have to do big things to make a difference.  

The Big Umbrella
The Big Umbrella
by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates
What I love about it:  words and phrases that I love and what to repeat - it likes to help, it doesn't matter, there is always room.

written by Matt de la Peña
illustrated by Loren Long
What I love about it:  I love that it shows there are many ways to love and find love.  It's real.

Don't miss this upcoming book:

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness
I Walk With Vanessa
by Kerascoeet
publishes April 24th

And these titles are important too:

Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee
Super Manny Stands Up by Kelly DiPucchio
Most People by Michael Leannah
Skin Again by Bell Hooks
Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson
Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Thursday, February 15, 2018

#road2reading Challenge - our Mock Geisel 2.15.18

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools 
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

This past week we held our annual celebration of books and reading!  Each November, our entire school turns into committees - kindergarteners and first graders become Mock Geisel committee members.... 2nd-4th graders become Mock Caldecott committee members.... and 4th graders volunteer to be Mock Newbery members!  For months, our committee members and their chairs (aka teachers....) read from a selected list of books.  We study criteria and have discussions.  Then we come together to vote.  In their own private voting spaces, each committee member votes for the book that they think upholds the criteria - although for Mock Geisel, we vote for our favorite favorites :)  

voting in a special booth!

students put their ballots in a special voting box and got an "I voted" sticker!

watching some Mock Geisel book trailers and videos

Finally, the big moment is when our entire school comes together for a celebration of all things books and reading!  As students walk in we have a video playing that recaps all of the books they've read for the Mocks.  Listen to this group of kinders and 1st graders clap along and point out their favorites!

Then it's time for the big reveal!  Here are our 2018 Meadowview School Mock Geisel selections!

We had 2 Honor books:

And the committee's choice for the Award:

Do you see our special award "stickers"?  They are designed by students and they are proudly displayed on our school's library copies for the years to come!  The students are also honored at our celebration.

What a great reason for our school to come together!  I wonder what books we'll be celebrating next year?

Do you work with readers who are starting their journey on the road to reading?  Join Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy and me every Thursday as we explore books and ideas to help readers have a successful start to independent picture book and chapter book reading. If you blog or have a Goodreads page, please link up with us!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Lewis Carroll biography 2.14.18

Artwork by Sarah S. Brannen ©2017
Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

Perhaps it's my fondness of "Alice in Wonderland" that makes me enjoy this book so much.  But in the hands of writer Kathleen Krull and illustrator Júlia Sardà, it's this biography of Lewis Carroll that has me enchanted.

One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll by Kathleen Krull
One Fun Day With Lewis Carroll:
A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice
written by Kathleen Krull
illustrated by Júlia Sardà
published by HMH

Whenever I read a biography that is meant for young readers, I think about what part of it is going to appeal to them.  It seems like so many biographies written today are written about historical figures that we know as adults, but don't have much meaning for kids today.  So how do we entice them to read it?  With Lewis Carroll, all you have to do is mention "Alice in Wonderland" and young readers will have a better idea about who they are going to read about.  Thanks to Johnny Depp's appearance in the newer live-action movies, our young readers are more than ever familiar with Alice and her journey to Wonderland.

When I think about Alice's adventures, I remember the fun with words that occurred.  She uses such interesting words and phrases when she arrives in Wonderland or through the looking glass.

In One Fun Day With Lewis Carroll, Krull deftly weaves these words into the narrative of Lewis Carroll, giving us an idea of who he was like as a person.  Readers will get a glimpse of the origin of these wonderful tales, who inspired them, and how some of the words were woven into the story.

By the second layout I knew I had seen Sardà's work recently in a newly favorited book.  I looked it up and my eye was correct - she is the illustrator of Natalie Lloyd's The Problim Children.  Her whimsical and colorful work go along perfectly with Krull's narrative.

A few additional parts stood out to me in this book - the endpages and backmatter.  On the endpages, there is a rolling list of words and phrases that most likely originated from Carroll - jabberwocky, un-birthday, much of a muchness.  In the backmatter, Krull gives further definition to the words and prints them in a specific color that tells us which Carroll book or poem they debut in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this picture book biography and think young readers will enjoy spending time with it as well.  What a fun addition to a library!

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.12.18

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

I have not chosen a One Little Word for a few years now.  I find that the word I need most changes month to month, week to week, day to day.  But one word that I've thought about a lot lately is Balance.  I'm pretty sure I do not do a good job of balancing my life.  It gets way too stressful at times, to the point where is makes me not feel well - in the head, mind and spirit.  I got a cold a couple of weeks ago and I'm positive it was from being run down.  
I am on my state's reading committee for one of our awards.  I love having a say in the kind of books we are encouraging the children in the state of IL to read, but it's definitely a commitment.  As we were getting close to our big meeting, I had many books I needed to read, and not much time.  Rather than stress about it, I made the decision to not blog for a week so I could get the reading done.  It was the right decision to make, and I know I will have to make more in the future.  But I didn't feel as much stress, nor did my family, and that's a good thing!
But, onto this week!  As I write this post, it's Sunday, there is snow on the ground, and I'm in a warm house binge reading some picture books.  It's a good day.

Last Two Weeks Adventures!
Did you see these posts?  Some books you may want to have on your radar!

If you are a 4th-6th grade teacher, you'll want copies of Arlo Finch on hand!

Lots of great books coming out in February.  Open up your library browser to get your hold lists ready while reading this post!

If you are a kg-2nd grade teacher, you'll want these early readers on hand!

Some nonfiction picture books you will want to know.

Onto this week's reading!

Picture Books

The Perfect Pillow
The Perfect Pillow
written by Eric Pinder
illustrated by Chris Sheban
Sweet book - I imagine this being a great bedtime story selection.

by Elizabeth Rose Stanton
Sweet ode to the middle child!

Festival of Colors
Festival of Colors
written by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal
illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Gorgeous picture book, one I am adding to my collection!  An important book to have so children who celebrate this vibrant holiday can see a familiar tradition in a book.  The author's note is quick and to the point - a good length for the readers of this book.

Nope: A Tale of First Flight
by Drew Sheneman
Told in just a minimal amount of words, a young bird has unfounded fears about its first flight.  Mama Bird gives her young one some tough love and of course the bird faces its fears and finds out flying is pretty special after all!  Readers will enjoy the graphic novel-like frames in this story.

Tiny and the Big Dig
Tiny and the Big Dig
written by Sherri Duskey Rinker
illustrated by Matt Myers
Great for the young crowd - this little dog shows you can do anything you want when you put your mind to it!  Fun rhyming story.

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind
Kate, Who Tamed the Wind
written by Liz Garton Scanlon
illustrated by Lee White
This book surprised me.  Ended up being a book I'll want to share when we talk about conservation or on Earth Day or Arbor Day...  I liked how once we get to the problem, the solution ends up being something that helps in many ways.

The Nian Monster
The Nian Monster
written by Andrea Wang
illustrated by Alina Chau
This book was brought to my attention by Debbi Michiko Florence on World Read Aloud Day.  A tale about some of the traditions from Chinese New Year, the beautiful colors and folktale-like story was delightful to read.

Peep and Egg: I'm Not Using the Potty
Peep and Egg: I'm Not Using the Potty
written by Laura Gehl
illustrated by Joyce Wan
Oh my goodness, how my students love this series - and I'm talking kids in 4th grade, too!  I told them about this one in the fall when I'm Not Taking a Bath was first published, they are going to be so happy on our read aloud Friday!  Don't miss this series, it is so fun to read out loud to kids!

The Boy and the Blue Moon
The Boy and the Blue Moon
written by Sara O'Leary
illustrated by Ashley Crowley
Sara O'Leary always writes such quiet and peaceful books.  They make me feel serene after reading one!
I wish I had this book when we had the blue moon a couple of weeks back!
Don't miss taking a peek under the cover of this beautiful book!

Vincent Comes Home
Vincent Comes Home
by Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley
Good book to use to start the discussion on what our perceptions of home and family are.  Jessixa always has books that start amazing discussions!  
First time this husband and wife have teamed up for a picture book!

Middle Grade

The Oceans between Stars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #2)
The Oceans Between Stars
by Kevin Emmerson
This is a science fiction series you absolutely need for your middle grade readers.  It really is full of science and space information, but the story!  The story!  The adventure and suspense is amazing (I was going to say out of this world, but that just seemed like such a bad pun....).  This is the second book in the series, it publishes tomorrow, and I'm already dying for book 3!  Seriously, make sure this series is in your library!

Young Adult

Love, Hate & Other Filters
Love, Hate, and Other Filters
by Samira Ahmed
Oh my goodness, I loved this book!  I devoured it in about 36 hours, it was so hard to put down.  An #ownvoices book, Ahmed does a fantastic job giving us a window, or for other readers, a mirror, into what it is like living in white American for a Muslim-Indian-American teenager.
I think it's so important to have books like this, written by authors who represent that culture/heritage/race for kids today.  I can only imagine how they can help the conversations teenagers are having and the way they will impact our future.

Currently Reading

The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, #1)
The Serpent's Secret: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond
by Sayantani DasGupta
I've had to put this book on hold for so long because of so many commitments!  I am more than 1/3 of the way done and I can tell you I love this book so much!  It's smart, funny and clever.  Kids are going to love the character of Kiran.  I'm so glad to know this is already going to be a series.  I cannot wait to get this book into the hands of readers!  Make sure you preorder it (Feb. 27th publication date) or order it in this month's Scholastic catalog!

Can you believe it's Awards Monday?  Because of the time difference, I will have to watch the replay of the awards instead of watching them live.  It is bothering me big time, but I know in the grand scheme of things, it'll be ok!  Looking forward to finding more books to read!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, a review 2.06.18

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
by John August
published by Roaring Book Press
February 6th

Goodreads Summary:
The first book in a spellbinding fantasy adventure series so believable you may wonder if it's happening in your own backyard.

As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest. Only his bed remained, and the frame of his window, through which he saw the girl. The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves.

She looked off to her right. Someone was coming. Her words came in an urgent whisper: "If I can see you, they can see you. You're in danger. Be careful, Arlo Finch.”

Arlo Finch is a newcomer to Pine Mountain, Colorado, a tiny town of mystery and magic, but he's already attracted the attention of dark and ancient forces. At first he thinks these increasingly strange and frightening occurrences are just part of being in Rangers, the mountain scouting troop where he learns how to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods. But soon Arlo finds himself at the center of a dangerous adventure, where he faces obstacles that test the foundations of the Ranger's Vow: Loyalty, Bravery, Kindness, and Truth.

Why you want to know this book:
I know you have readers who love to read on the edge of their seat.  They want to find books that they fall into and can't pull themselves out of.  These readers have a hard time "finding a good place to stop" because bottom line, there is no place to stop - you just have to keep turning the page!
It took me a bit to fall into this book - the story takes just a bit to set up.  You learn about Arlo's family and what brings him to Pine Mountain.  You meet Arlo's new friends and learn about the group he's going to join - the Rangers, a mountain scouting group.  As the background of the story gets set up, there are some weird occurrences - Arlo sees a ghost dog and talks to the reflection of a girl in his window.  Once the background is set up, then the action really starts.  And that's when my bedtime got stretched just a bit!

Give this book to:
  • readers who love suspense and action
  • readers who enjoy fantasy
  • kids who enjoy being part of a group such as Boy/Girl Scouts
  • fans of Harry Potter and Fablehaven series