Monday, February 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.20.17

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

A beautiful and timeless picture book - This house, once by Deborah Freedman

Two new books that are featured at the Scholastic Book Fair!

February is Black History Month - some amazing picture book biographies to share!

Using nonfiction picture books with your readers who are on the #road2reading?

Picture Books

You Don't Want a Unicorn!
You Don't Want a Unicorn by Ame Dyckman
5/5 stars
I laughed out loud when I read this at NCTE.  I laughed out loud when I read it to my 11yo.  I laughed out loud when I gave it to my colleague to read and I kept asking what part she was on.  It's actually kind of dangerous since I'm recovering from walking pneumonia and whenever I laugh, I cough.  
Go ahead.  You try and read this book without laughing.

The Green Umbrella
The Green Umbrella by Jackie AzĂșa Kramer
4/5 stars
An imagination is a wonderful thing.  But the thing about imaginations is they are all different.  In this sweet book, a green umbrella is something different for each character but the question is, can they use it together?

Watersong by Tim McCanna
4/5 stars
Unique story - told through onomatopoeia and beautiful illustrations that tell the details of the story.  This would be a great text to use with Sara Pennypacker's Pax.  

If I Had a Little Dream
If I Had a Little Dream by Nina Laden
5/5 stars
This is one of those books that may be more loved by the adults reading it than the young readers.  I think it can be used as a mentor text, a book that inspires writing, a book to share with a loved one. 

Informational Texts

Mae Jemison
You Should Meet: Mae Jemison by Laurie Calkhoven
4/5 stars
I like that this series is featuring people who are still alive.  So often we read about people who did some pretty fantastic things, but we're reading about them after they are no longer with us.  
And Mae is a fellow Chicagoan - definitely someone I want to know more about!

Middle Grade

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers (Stinkbomb and Ketchup Face)
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty

4/5 stars
And another you will laugh out loud book!  A short, but complex book - there is an unnamed narrator that breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the reader letting you know some of what is going to happen.  Then the characters themselves know they are in the story, so while they don't speak to the reader, there is an understanding that they are characters in a book.  And then there are multiple problems because each time the characters go to figure out a solution, another problem arises.  There is a lot of tongue in cheek humor, slapstick comedy and play on words in this book.  I think it would be a fun and quick read aloud to do with a class.

Bubbles by Abby Cooper
4/5 stars
Loved this middle grade read!  Unfortunately it doesn't come out until July, but make sure it is on your list!  I have a blog post about this book coming out closer to the release date.

Currently Reading

The Serpent King
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Day off tomorrow, looking forward to time to read and getting other things done!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Spotlight Friday: This house, once 2.17.18

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!

Sharing the newest book by the amazing Deborah Freedman today.

This House, Once by Deborah Freedman
This house, once
by Deborah Freedman
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
February 28th

I'm already a big fan of Freedman's work:

The Story of Fish and Snail     By Mouse and Frog     Shy

I think this one is her most brilliant to date.  Gorgeous, simple and timeless.

Goodreads summary:
Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

Before there was this house,
there were stones,
and mud,
and a colossal oak tree—
three hugs around
and as high as the blue.

What was your home, once?

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

What a gorgeous book to talk about:

  • families
  • where we come from
  • our homes, and what makes them a home
  • our family memories
  • how nature provides for us
Be sure to check this book out on February 28th.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

reviews of 2 new books at the Book Fair 2.16.17

A couple of new books are being featured as part of our February Scholastic Book Fair.  Here are some books you may want to pick up:

Making Bombs for Hitler
Making Bombs for Hitler
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Goodreads summary:
In Stolen Child, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch introduced readers to Larissa, a victim of Hitler’s largely unknown Lebensborn program. In this companion novel, readers will learn the fate of Lida, her sister, who was also kidnapped by the Germans and forced into slave labour — an Osterbeiter.

In addition to her other tasks, Lida's small hands make her the perfect candidate to handle delicate munitions work, so she is sent to a factory that makes bombs. The gruelling work and conditions leave her severely malnourished and emotionally traumatized, but overriding all of this is her concern and determination to find out what happened to her vulnerable younger sister.

With rumours of the Allies turning the tide in the war, Lida and her friends conspire to sabotage the bombs to help block the Nazis’ war effort. When her work camp is finally liberated, she is able to begin her search to learn the fate of her sister.

In this exceptional novel Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch delivers a powerful story of hope and courage in the face of incredible odds.

My quick thoughts:
Seeing as this book was placed in our book fair, which should be the elementary selection, I wanted to check it out since the title itself is a little harsh for elementary readers.  Our main character is being taken to a Nazi war camp in the first chapter and the atrocities of war are seen immediately - lice, harsh living conditions, a bucket available for the multitudes to relieve themselves in a public place/no privacy, a bucket of turnip soup with no utensils, untended wounds, death of young characters.  We follow Lida as she works to survive at this camp and others, her resilience truly tested.  
The plight of Ukrainian people is only recently coming to light, so this is a time period that needs to be taught and discussed.  Due to the more graphic nature, this is not a book I would place in the hands of a 3rd or 4th grader.  I recommend it for mature 5th-7th grade readers.

The Harlem Charade
The Harlem Charade
by Natasha Tarpley

Goodreads summary:

Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved
neighborhood will ever be the same . . .

In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.

My quick thoughts:
This is a well thought mystery that continuously puts pieces together, but it's not until the end do you realize how everything comes together.  It's also a story of unlikely friendship - 3 kids come together under these strange circumstances and end up forming a friendship, that probably never would have happened otherwise.  Throw in some great history of Harlem and the amazing culture that has come from that area, and you even get a little history lesson. 
Readers do need to be able to follow multiple story lines and be able to put old and new information together in order for the story to make sense.  Even though it is a complex story, the need to solve the mystery will keep the pages turning!

Have fun shopping at your book fair!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - picture book biographies for Black History Month 2.15.17

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.

February is Black History Month.  Here are some new picture book biographies that would be perfect to share this month.

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
by Walter Dean Myers
illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim
Preaching to the Chickens: The story of young John Lewis
by Jamari Asim
illustrated by E.B. Lewis

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne
by Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe
by Deborah Blumenthal
illustrated by Laura Freeman

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - early NF series 2.14.17

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.

It's no secret that Alyson Beecher and I have a shared love for nonfiction books.  I find nonfiction to be a surprise - I'm surprised at the new learning I find, I'm surprised at how the information reels me into the book, I'm surprised at how the authors craft their words.

But finding nonfiction for our early readers can be a challenge.  Here are a few series I have found that support those readers on the #road2reading.  These books have:
  • great photographs to support the text
  • carefully introduced text - text features that support new words (bold text, definitions supplied, glossaries)
  • sentences that are short, but help readers construct new understanding
Here are a few series that I recommend for young readers:

Seedling series
Product Details     Product Details     Product Details

Discover My World series (often found in Scholastic flyers)

Product Details     Image result for discovering my world melvin and gilda berger     Image result for discovering my world melvin and gilda berger

Ready to Read series
Product Details     Product Details

Check out Alyson's post and find more books to include in your nonfiction section for young readers.

Join us in our #road2reading Challenge!

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.13.17

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 weekend had me down and out for the count with walking pneumonia, so missed out on posting last Monday.  Catching up now!

Last Weeks' Adventures

Did you follow the #nf10for10 on Friday?  Here are 10 science books I recommend having in your library!

Make sure you check out Caroline Starr Rose's new book - Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine.  Check out the post, Caroline talks about reluctant readers.

A fun book that infuses nonfiction information into the story - The Polar Bear.

Looking for some transitional chapter books?  Some new ones that should be on your radar.

Teach or work with young readers?  A list to inspire book love with our youngest readers!

Picture Books

Ballet Cat What's Your Favorite Favorite? (Ballet Cat, #3)
What's Your Favorite Favorite? by Bob Shea

3/5 stars
I've been a huge fan of the Ballet Cat books since its beginning.  While this one is still silly and will make a fun read aloud, it's not quite as humorous as the first two.

Love Is
Love Is by Diane Adams
4/5 stars
This would make a very sweet graduation gift for a mother to give their child.  Captures the feeling of taking care of someone, through good times and tough, and then having to be brave when it's time to let them go and explore the world!

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast by Cynthia Rylant
4/5 stars
With the upcoming Disney live-action movie being released, I thought this book would be some sort of retelling.  Instead it surprised me because it contains parts of the fairy tale that I've never heard before.  Sounding more traditional, this version will leave you with a few surprises!  Love the illustrations by Meg Park (from the Anna, Banana series).

The Storm Whale in Winter
The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies
3/5 stars
The stars of The Storm Whale are back and showing us that friendship does prevail.  
Characters remind me of Tim and Sam from Cale Atkinson's To the Sea.

A Bus Called Heaven

A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham
3/5 stars
I love that the conflict was decided over a game of foosball.
Bob Graham stories always have an interesting plot line that is resolved in ways that are unexpected.

Plant the Tiny Seed
Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson
3/5 stars
While I like her other interactive books a bit better (Tap the Magic Tree and Touch the Brightest Star), I still like the magic these books install within its young readers.  Kids love seeing the change that happens from page to page.  I like how there is some back matter with this book, giving the reader some additional information about growing zinnias.

Graphic Novels

Bird & Squirrel On Fire
Bird and Squirrel on Fire by James Burks
5/5 stars
This series will always be near and dear to my heart because there was a school year where Bird and Squirrel got a lot of kids reading.  This book is going to hook them even more, no matter what their age is.  I'm pretty sure I laughed out loud on every page.  I hope when you read this book you give the characters voices in your head.  This book would actually make a great read aloud on your doc cam!

Transitional Chapter Books

Sticks & Stones (Upside-Down Magic, #2)
Upside Down Magic: Sticks and Stones by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins
4/5 stars
I really love this series for the readers I work with - students in 3rd and 4th grades.  Great length, fun stories - they are easy to get in the hands of readers.  Now that we know our cast of Upside Down Magic kids, our story delves into the problems they have trying to fit in at their school.

Middle Grade

Chains (Seeds of America, #1)
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
5/5 stars
This was my first #mustreadin2017 read!  It's as good as everyone says.  If you haven't read it, you must get it in your hands!  There has not been as much light shed on slavery during the time of the Revolutionary War, and from what I can tell, Laurie Halse Anderson did some wonderful research and it seemed to me, kept a great historical voice throughout the novel.  I'm looking forward to reading the next two. 

Young Adult

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
5/5 stars
Oh my gosh... can I give 10 stars??  So so so good.
Mystery, intrigue, action, fantasy and holy cow graphic uh hem, romance, scenes.  Not sure how this is young adult.
The back and forth of the story.  So much going on.  I can't believe 624 pages kept my attention, but it did!  I can't believe I have to wait until May for book 3.  If you have not started this series, do yourself a favor.  Start now.

Currently Reading

The Harlem Charade
The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley

Bubbles by Abby Cooper

Happy reading! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

#nf10for10 2.10.17

Thank you to Cathy Mere (@cathymere) at Reflect & Refine 
Mandy Robek (@mandyrobek) at Enjoy and Embrace Learning
for this wonderful day of nonfiction picture book sharing!
Be sure to follow #nf10for10 to get lots of new nonfiction picture book ideas.

Here are my posts from past years. 
2016 #nf10for10 - it's all about the series
2015 #nf10for10 - nf can be interesting!
2014 #nf10for10 - themes in nonfiction

This year I am collecting my recent top 10 science books.  I find myself drawn to picture book biographies and I'm trying to make sure I vary my nonfiction reading.  Interestingly enough as I made this list, I realize my favorite science books often concentrate on animals.  As I try and find books that fit our school's NGSS units, I'll keep trying to find a variety of science books to use with young readers.

Best in Snow
Best in Snow
by April Pulley Sayre

If You Were the Moon
If You Were the Moon
by Laura Purdie Salas

Super Gear
Super Gear
by Jennifer Swanson

Plants Can't Sit Still
Plants Can't Sit Still
by Rebecca E. Hirsch

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics
Animals by the Numbers
by Steve Jenkins

Pink Is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals (World of Weird Animals)
Pink is for Blobfish
by Jess Keating

Giant Squid
Giant Squid 
by Candace Fleming

Coyote Moon
Coyote Moon
by Maria Gianferrari

The Great Leopard Rescue: Saving the Amur Leopards
The Great Leopard Rescue
by Sandra Markle

Every Day Birds
Every Day Birds 
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

If you're interested in other science lists be sure to check out Melissa Stewart's post where she has lists for science, STEM and other nonfiction collections you'll want to check out.  Click here for the post.

Are there some science books on here you haven't read yet?  By including books like these in your classroom library, you'll show students the importance of nonfiction reading and help encourage a love of scientific learning!

Happy nonfiction reading!