Thursday, August 6, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - books that are out of this world! 8.06.2020

Image result for summer reading

This summer I'll be sharing chapter books that are perfect for a range of readers.  
Stop by every Thursday and find a round up of books you'll want to use with your readers!

It's fun traveling to out of this world places.  Or having our reality have a piece of fantasy embedded in it.  These books let kids' imaginations travel to some different places or realities!

The Rewindable Clock #2 by Aaron Starmer
Locker 37: The Rewindable Clock
written by Aaron Starmer
illustrated by Courtney La Forest
This is the second book in the series, although you can certainly jump in at any point and understand the plot.
In this second book, Keisha desperately needs to visit Locker 37.  This locker is for fourth graders only and it's the giver of solutions.  It might not be the solution you are looking for, but it's a solution that is guaranteed to work.  Keisha needs to visit the locker because she has forgotten her homework, which is something new for her.  She ends up finding a clock, but not just any clock, a clock that allows her to rewind small amounts of time.  Of course, no time travel is without limitations, cautions, and warnings.  Keisha figures out something new each time she uses it, but all the time travel adds up to extra time awake.  Will Keisha finally figure out how to solve her problem and maybe help others out as she goes?
It's a fun storyline, but with going back and forth and the consequences that incur, there is a lot to track.  I would pass this series off to a mature reader who can follow plot lines and twists and turns.  I am looking forward to finding the first book in the series and reading more!

Teeny Weenies by David Lubar
Teeny Weenies: Freestyle Frenzy and Other Stories
written by David Lubar
illustrated by Bill Mayer
You may be familiar with Lubar's series The Weenies.  I was not, so I had to do a little digging about them.  Each book in the series is full of short stories that have a bit of a scare to them.  The characters all appear to be... maybe hot dogs?  Not sure if that's how I'm supposed to envision them or if it's just a take on the phrase, "don't be a weenie"... as in don't be so scared.  Well, the Teeny Weenie series takes it down just a little.  Each chapter book has short stories (each chapter is its own story, about 12 chapters in a book) that have just a little teeny fright in them.  I did not find them scary, but adds just a bit of a shock and the unbelievable, to each story.  I did find a few of them laugh out loud funny.  I had a hard time trying to visualize the characters as hot dogs, and stuck with human kids.  That visualization does not go with the illustrations, but it worked better for me!
I like that the chapters are short stories.  Kids can be reading a chapter book and they don't have to carry the story from beginning to end.  It's also ok to skip around while reading, even if that means not going all the way to the end.  Each chapter has its own closure so if a reader is still working on stamina, they are ok to not finish the book.
I have a few in the series and I'm looking forward to introducing the series to kids this school year.

Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power by Jennifer Hamburg
Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power
written by Jennifer Hamburg
illustrated by Jenn Harney
Hazy is a regular third-grade student, who along with BFF Elizabeth, is going to be making cupcakes for the school's upcoming carnival.  But while staring at her fridge (and by that I mean staring at the school menu that is posted on the fridge), Hazy gets a weird tingling in her hands and she feels hot and cold all over.  Next thing she knows, she has a vision of flying peas!  Dismissing it quickly, it's not until the next day when she's in the school cafeteria and a boy starts a food fight with, you guessed it, peas!  After a second vision comes true, Hazy and Elizabeth start thinking she has "tomorrow power" - she sees an event that will happen on the following day.  Can she use this power to help?  Where does she get the power?  Why does she have it?  Lots of questions and of course, a great set-up for book two!
It's a fun story and quick to read (170pgs).  With small illustrations on every page, it's a quick page-turner.  I think kids will enjoy meeting Hazy!

As our minds start turning to this next school year, I'm sure we all need a little out of this world reading to escape into!  Hope these are some new ones to add to your library!

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 independent reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Monday, August 3, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.03.2020

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.

Last Week's Adventures

Chapter books that are mysteries here

Chapter books with dogs and cats here

A roundup of books with characters that have a disability here.  

This new middle grade book is a must have, must read.  I loved the way the author brought together friendship, sports, and comics.  Read about Dan Unmasked here.

Picture Books

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
written by Aya Khalil
illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan
A beautiful story about a young girl who has moved to a new town and struggles to fit in with her Egyptian American heritage.  A teacher that helps bridge home and school, and classmates who learn something new, this book will be a welcome addition to talk about immigration, heritage, family traditions.

Heart on Pluto
Heart on Pluto
written by Karl Jones
illustrated by Andrew J. Ross
An early reading story about Pluto and the New Horizons explorer.  New Horizons was sent to explore Pluto and its planets.  This story is told in the voice of New Horizons and gives some quick information to readers about its trip.  
Perfect for preK-2nd gr readers.

Luci Soars
Luci Soars
by Lulu Delacre
This book keeps growing on me.  It's a metaphor about a child who is different and lets that difference define her... at first.  
Young Luci does not have a shadow.  At the beginning, she didn't know, nor did others.  But eventually she figures it out.  She develops coping mechanisms so others do not notice.  When she's finally brave enough to let others see her difference, they make fun of her.  She asks herself some big questions and allows her to see new, positive things about herself.
Big ideas, which will work well with older readers because picture books are for everyone!

The Ocean Calls
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story
written by Tina Cho
illustrated by Jess X. Snow
A story that celebrates the haenyeo tradition from South Korea.  The haenyeos are women in South Korea who dive for treasures that are sold in marketplaces.  The money is divided up amongst the women based upon their skill level and productivity.  This information come from the fascinating backmatter included in the book.
The story is about young Danyeon, who wants to become a haenyeo like her Grandmother.  She goes out to the sea with her Grandmother, but has some anxieties about going into the water.  Her Grandmother is a gentle teacher and Danyeon has some small successes in the story.

Every Little Letter
Every Little Letter
written by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz
The letters all live behind their walls and don't mix with anyone else.  The little (lower case letters) are bored and start to explore.  They figure out by mixing with other letters, they make words that make life way more interesting!  Of course the adult (upper case) letters are against this change and it's up to the kids to show change can be good.

Things That Go Away
Things That Go Away
by Beatrice Alemagna
This book should win an award for its use of vellum paper :)
Listing many things that go away - dust (although it always comes back), tears, a small wound, but one thing that always stays.  You have to infer a bit here, but with the hug you see a parent give their child, you can assume it's love.
You may want to put it in your SEL collection to talk about when it feels like the bad things won't go away, or when things feel heavy.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
by Anastasia Higginbotham
A really important book to read to children and discuss it as you go through it.  These conversations may change the future and allow the younger generation understand how to dismantle racist policies and white supremacy. 

I'm Not a Girl: A Transgender Story
I'm Not a Girl
written by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi
illustrated by Dana Simpson
Co-authored by a young transgender boy, this #ownvoices picture book features Hannah, a character who doesn't understand why people don't see who he is - a boy.
There are so many emotions readers can see as we read Hannah's story:
  • frustration when his parents insist on picking out clothes that don't feel right
  • sadness when Hannah explains he understands that girls are special and cool, but he just isn't a girl
  • freedom when other kids assume Hannah is a boy and plays with him
  • relief when his parents understand and love him for who he is
Fantastic resources in the backmatter.  A must-add to your LGBTQIA collections.

Middle Grade

My Life in the Fish Tank
My Life in the Fish Tank
by Barbara Dee
It's written by Barbara Dee, which means you are getting a realistic fiction, middle grade story about a topic that probably carries a stigma (usually with adults), and probably needs to be talked about more.
This one focuses around mental health.  Zinny's older brother, Gabriel, who is away at college, has been admitted to the hospital because of a car accident.  As horrible as a car accident is, there is more to this event.  It's the beginning of his bipolar diagnosis and the beginning of her family trying to cope with this diagnosis.  Everyone deals with it in a different way, which leaves Zinny feeling confused and upset.
Dee handles the topic very well, creating situations that will feel realistic to readers.  Hand this one to readers of Kate Messner's The Seventh Wish.
Publishes September 15th.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Canyon's Edge
The Canyon's Edge
by Dusti Bowling
This book is so uniquely written - parts in verse, parts in prose - that in itself makes it so entertaining to read.  
A survival story that keeps you gripped.  I'm glad much of it is in verse because I needed to read it quickly to find out what happens!  And I read an e-galley so I couldn't just flip to the end to see what happens :)
Great middle school read, especially one that will keep readers reading until the very last word!
Publishes Sept. 8th.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

Adult Novel

The Vanishing Half
The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
This book really is as good as everyone is saying.  Earlier this year I read Genesis Begins Again and it was the first time I read a book about colorism in the Black community - the varying skin degrees in the black community.  This book is also about that, but it's about a set of twins, who are so light, that one "passes over" and identifies as a white person.  The twins lead separate lives until decades later, their lives intertwine in a way neither had expected.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin Diangelo
Third time is the charm - that's how many times I checked the book out and then finally got around to reading it.  And it wasn't until the third time that I actually owned the book.  Important because it is now full of post it notes that I know I'll be going back and reading over and over.
I appreciate this book because it points out and makes known faults that I can own up to in my own racism.  And it's not something you can say, "oh I get it now" because they are things you have to actively work on over and over again.  
There are some great lists that help you stop and check your privileges and help you think critically about behaviors.  I will refer to these lists time and time again because they really need to be internalized.  I have a long way to go before I fully understand situations, my behavior and part in them, and ways to address it all.
I've read this book but I need to react to this book.  Looking forward to some future conversations with others who have read this.
I also am aware that this book was written by a white author.  While I think she brought a white perspective to this book that is helpful when reaching a white audience, I also understand that when talking about this subject, I need to be listening to authors of color.  I have several books I am reading next that are written by Black authors that I am looking forward to learning more from.
Karen Yingling also brought this article to my attention.  I appreciate that it gives another view of this book and I think it's important we listen to this perspective as well.  

Currently Reading

In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Happy August (how did it get to be August??) Reading!

Friday, July 31, 2020

review - Dan Unmasked by Chris Negron 7.31.2020

Every year the 4th graders at my school discover the book The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish.  All it takes is for one reader to discover it and then it passes quickly from hand to hand.  Suddenly, every 4th grader that comes into my classroom library is asking for the book and we end up with a long hold list.  We're always prepared with multiple copies of that book and our school library has some too.  There's something about the bond of friendship being broken, not by a fight, but the unimaginable, that captures young readers attention.  We try and make childhood a happy time for our kids and students, even when we, as adults, are dealing with things and trying to figure it all out.  By diving into a book that allows kids to feel such deep feelings, it captures readers attention and they want to feel more.  
Of course, many young readers want an escape from reality, and need something else to consume their waking time.  Something they can put new trust in and maybe escape into that new reality for awhile.  Maybe it's a book, or a new storyline.
Well, I have a new book for these readers.

Dan Unmasked
written by Chris Negron
published by Harper

Dan is a comic and baseball-loving kind of guy, and he's managed to put both of those things together.  He plays on a baseball team with his best friend, Nate, who he is so close with, he feels like they have a friendship telepathy going.  Which works real well when Nate is pitching and Dan is playing shortstop, they both know what each other is thinking and give each other a secret sign of touching their nose.  And Dan has everyone excited about the Captain Nexus comic series.  In fact, when a new episode is published, they all get the comic book and get together for a group read.  There are strict rules to follow, but there is a definite camaraderie when everyone is reading the same thing!
But then, the unthinkable happens.
At an indoor practice when doing a drill that requires a lot of concentration, Dan talks to Nate about what will happen next in the comic and Nate is struck in the back of his head with a fast moving ball.  Nate goes unconscious and does not wake up.  Next thing he knows, Dan is visiting Nate in the hospital where he is in a coma, and doesn't know when... if... he'll wake up.
Dan has to go back to his regular life and his baseball team is about ready to start a very important tournament.  How is he supposed to concentrate when his best friend is not on the mound, and he knows it's his fault?
What happens in the rest of the book is a touching side of humanity and surprises.
Dan learns he can trust other people.  His teammates come together and support each other even when they are taken far out of their comfort zone.  Dan has always felt like he was in competition for Nate's attention with Nate's younger brother, Ollie, but now Dan works side by side with Ollie to help bring back Nate.  And Dan's father, who has grown more absent because of a busy work schedule, becomes more available for his son.  
Dan also learns that sometimes the best lessons can come from the pages of a book, or in this case, a comic book.  Dan is confident that the key to waking up his best friend lie in the pages of a book.  Dan, Ollie, and a new friend, create a new storyline using the characters from the Captain Nexus comic, and add Nate into the story.  Dan and his friends think by reading the story to Nate it will help him find a way to wake up from his coma.  But when writing proves to be harder than thought, will the Captain Nexus writer be able to help them in time?

I loved how everything came together.  Between baseball, writing the comic, the relationships between Dan and the friends and his life, and Dan and the adults in his life, and the love of the comic itself, it's amazing how fluid the storyline became.  Kids who are looking for a heartfelt story (like The Ethan I Was Before) will love this one.  I think the way author Chris Negron was able to also include the sports and comic line made it an even stronger story.  This is a must add for 4th grade and up libraries.

More about author Chris Negron:
Chris Negron grew up outside Buffalo, NY, where he spent a huge chunk of his childhood collecting comic books and loving sports. But it was the hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons in friends’ basements that first gave him the dream of one day writing his own stories. That dream kept him company through college at Yale University and years of programming computers for big companies. Dan Unmasked is his debut novel, and he now lives outside Atlanta with his wife, Mary. Visit him at
Find Chris on Instagram or on Twitter

Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for the review copy.

Would you like to win a copy of Dan Unmasked for your library?  Thanks to HarperCollins, you have the opportunity to win a copy!  Enter by August 6th for your change (US addresses only).

Thursday, July 30, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - Cats and Dogs - 7.30.2020

Image result for summer reading

This summer I'll be sharing chapter books that are perfect for a range of readers.  
Stop by every Thursday and find a round up of books you'll want to use with your readers!

Kids love books that have animals as the main characters.  Here is a roundup of some new dogs and cats as the main character books.

Dear Beast by Dori Hillestad Butler
Dear Beast
written by Dori Hillestad Butler
illustrated by Kevan Atteberry
From the author that gave us the King and Kayla series, we have a new set of animal books coming our way.
Dear Beast is written almost entirely in letters, mostly between a cat and a dog.  Simon, the cat, lives with Andy and his mom.  Baxter, the dog, has been newly adopted by Andy and his dad.  Since Simon was there first, he's having a real hard time sharing Andy, even though he doesn't even live in the same house as Baxter since Andy's parents are divorced.  Simon does what he can to cut Baxter down, even tries to get other animals involved.  However, the other animals can see all of the good things about Baxter and what he is doing for Andy, so they are not as willing to help Simon out.
What I liked about this book is Simon does eventually apologize and help find Baxter when he's gone missing.  It seems like lately I've read too many books where the character has seen the error of their ways but does not change behavior and/or apologize.
This book is the first in the series with the second book coming to us next winter.

Snazzy Cat Capers by Deanna Kent
Snazzy Cat Capers series
written by Deanna Kent
illustrated by Neil Hooson
This series is more clever than I originally gave it credit to be.  We meet Ophelia.  She's part of the Furry Feline Burglary Institute (FFBI).  They are famous for cat burglaring - stealing items, enjoying them for a little bit, and then returning them.  The organization often puts contents together to keep their kitties on their feet and Ophelia and her cousin, Pierre, are top competitors.  As if that's not enough, there is also the CCIA - Central Canine Intelligence Agency - who are after the clever kitties and want to stop their capers.
In the first book, Ophelia is off on her quest to obtain the Himalayan diamond before Pierre, when the organization sends her a new partner who is an inventor.  The problem?  Ophelia likes to work alone.  Will she be able to accept help in order to accomplish her mission?
This series is clever and fun.  I enjoyed Ophelia, who can be a snippy kitty, and her sidekick, Oscar, grows on you.  The mystery and adventure was quick and fun and will keep readers' attention.  The series does not shy away from some advanced vocabulary.  Some of these words are going to go right over the heads of very sharp readers, some will pick them up.  Just something to know about the series before passing it along to your readers.
There are two books published and the third will be heading our way this September.

The Fashion Kitty Collection by Charise Mericle Harper
The Fashion Kitty Collection
by Charise Mericle Harper
Another kitty story that was funnier than I thought it would be.  
It's a hybrid format, written in prose but lots of illustrations on every page.  This collection gives us two stories - Fashion Kitty and Fashion Kitty versus the Fashion Queen.
We meet Kiki and her family, all regular cats except they own a pet mouse... since they are vegetarian cats... and Kiki and her sister have quite the fashion sense.  All is normal until Kiki's birthday.  When she goes to make a wish, the shelf above her falls and all of the magazines fall on Kiki's head, knocking her out.  When she wakes up, she's not Kiki anymore, but.... Fashion Kitty!  She has super hearing that lets her know when someone is about to make a fashion faux pas.  She always helps the person and sometimes helps others learn a lesson too.
Cute stories and lots of illustrations will keep kids reading this series.  Hand it to your readers who love Owl Diaries.

Happy Cat and Dog reading!

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 independent reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act - 7.24.2020

Sunday will be the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  It protects those with disabilities from discrimination by state, local, and national governments.  Like all laws, it didn't come easy and many people had to fight for it to become a reality.

Earlier this summer I covered two books that celebrate some landmark events for people with disabilities.  You can find the post here.

All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything
written by Annette Bay Pimentel
illustrated by Nabi H. Ali

Be sure to find this picture book to learn more about 
how the Americans With Disabilities Act came to be.

A Sporting Chance: How Paralympics Founder Ludwig Guttmann Saved Lives with Sports
A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games
written by Lori Alexander
illustrated by Allan Drummond

This middle grade nonfiction book explains 
the beginnings of the Paralympic Games.

As the parent of a child with a physical disability, it is so important for readers to see themselves within the pages of stories.  It has meant a lot to her to see kids who have challenges they are working through.  What is interesting is how she sees able-readers react to these stories.  A word that she, and others in the disabled community despise, is the word inspiring.  Often after reading books that have a disabled character, a reader may say that character is so inspiring.  To the disabled community, this is an ableist view.  No one calls an abled person inspiring for doing what they always do in a day.  So why is it when a disabled person does this, with or without a challenge, it becomes inspiring.  I find myself thinking about that more - is the inspiration of the character because they are doing something amazing or because they are doing something the able body reader does as well?  Something to think about as you read these stories!

Today I have a roundup of books that feature characters with a disability.  When we talk about representation matters, please remember that includes having a wide range of books that feature a disabled character.  In today's roundup, I have fiction picture books and middle grade.  Another great place to find a list of books is the Schneider Family Book Award page.  This Award is given to a book that features an excellent portrayal of the disability experience.

Picture Books - Disability in KidLit titles

Can I Play Too?
Can I Play Too?
written by Samantha Cotterill

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
Just Ask
written by Sonia Sotomayor
illustrated by Rafael López

Unstoppable Me
Unstoppable Me
written by Susan Verde
illustrated by Andrew Joyner

A Friend for Henry
A Friend for Henry
written by Jenn Bailey
illustrated by Mika Song

Benji, the Bad Day, and Me
Benji, the Bad Day, and Me
written by Sally J. Pla
illustrated by Ken Min

Middle Grade - Disability in KidLit titles

Lila and Hadley
Lila and Hadley
by Kody Keplinger

by Rob Harrell

The Truth According to Blue
The Truth According to Blue
by Eve Yohalem

Tornado Brain
Tornado Brain 
by Cat Patrick

Bouncing Back
Bouncing Back
by Scott Ostler

What Stars Are Made of
What Stars Are Made Of
by Sarah Allen

Charlie & Frog (A Castle-on-the-Hudson Mystery)
Charlie and Frog
by Karen Kane

Planet Earth Is Blue
Planet Earth is Blue
by Nicole Panteleakos

Roll with It
Roll With It
by Jamie Sumner

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
by Shari Green

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
by Dusti Bowling

How to Disappear Completely
How to Disappear Completely
by Ali Standish

by Alyson Gerber

The Spinner of Dreams
Spinner of Dreams
by K.A. Reynolds

Song for a Whale
Song of a Whale 
by Lynne Kelly

The War That Saved My Life (The War That Saved My Life, #1)
The War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

After Zero
After Zero
by Christina Collins

The Brave
The Brave
by James Bird

Would you like to read All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel or a A Sporting Chance by Lori Alexander?  The authors are hosting a giveaway.  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway