Thursday, September 20, 2018

#road2reading Challenge - some Princess books - 9.20.18


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


This week I am spotlighting three chapter books for those gaining their independence with those books, and all of them feature princesses.  Each one takes a different perspective with princesses.  
I find this subject interesting.  I book talk these books to all readers.  I talk to all readers the same.  I tell them about the stories, why I like the characters.  I try to keep to the storyline and not influence any genders.  But it's still girls that flock to these books.  When I see boys pick them up, I'm happy to remind them these books have a great story inside them.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  I'll keep sharing.
Until then, check these stories out!

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale
The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare
written by Shannon Dale and Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This is the kind of princess story I like - one that turns what you may think about princesses in a different way.  We already know about Princess Magnolia and the Princess in Black.  We already know Princess Magnolia has some pretty great friends who are pretty tough, too.  This time the girls take on some STEM issues at their kingdoms' science fair, which just happens to have a monster.  Go monster-kicking-butt girls!

Absolutely Alfie and the Princess Wars by Sally Warner
Absolutely Alfie and the Princess Wars
written by Sally Warner
illustrated by Shearry Malone
The princesses in this story are the Halloween costume kind of princesses!  What is most important about this book is the message - what do you do when you've given your word to a friend but later you change your mind?  A dilemma many young readers will be able to relate to, this book, princesses or not, is one all kids will enjoy!


The Princess and the Absolutely Not a Princess (Miranda and Maude #1)
Miranda and Maude:  The Princess and the Absolutely NOT a Princess
written by Emma Wunsch
illustrated by Jessika Von Innerebner
Hmmmm.  Some things I enjoyed about this book.  There was an element of social justice.  The two girls used kindness to open their eyes and appreciate a new perspective.
But some things I didn't like.  This book really held up stereotypes of "princesses" - the princess ("real" princess this time) was stuck up, only liked frilly things, didn't like school, didn't seem to know much and really just liked nail polish.
There was also a lot of talk about test taking skills....
I will be interested in seeing what the intended audience of this book thinks.


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, September 19, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Spooked blog tour 9.19.19

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.


It seems like you can't pick up a newspaper, listen to a news feed on the radio or browse the internet or your social media sites without seeing and hearing "fake news".  Of course, our current president has made those two words even more famous and even more opposite of what they mean.  But what is fake news?  How do we teach students to be cautious of what they read and what they hear?  Why is this important?  Let's go back to 1938 and see what happens when people believe "fake news".



Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America
Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds
Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America
by Gail Jarrow
published by Calkins Creek


Goodreads summary:
Acclaimed author Gail Jarrow explores in riveting detail the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast from 1938, in this nonfiction title. Jarrow highlights the artists behind the broadcast, the broadcast itself, the aftermath, and the repercussions which remain relevant today.

On the night of October 30, 1938, thousands of Americans panicked when they believed that Martians had invaded Earth. What appeared to be breaking news about an alien invasion was, in fact, a radio drama based on H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players. Some listeners became angry once they realized they had been tricked, and the reaction to the broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. Archival photographs and images, as well as an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, and index round out this stellar nonfiction title.




My thoughts:
This was a fascinating read that really made me think about how we believe pieces of information.  It made me think of the game "Telephone".  How with every whisper the meaning of the intended message often changes.  And it made me think of conversations when the picture I create in my mind is different than what the speaker intended.  Or conversations with my 13 year old and how the words that come out of my mouth end up sounding very different in her mind.....

What would it have been like to be in your home, listening to the radio which was a form of not only entertainment but a way to connect you to places all over the nation.  I think about the people listening to the radio on October 30th, 1938.  Perhaps they were multitasking and not paying 100% attention.  Perhaps they put more value in the how authentic this particular radio show sounded.  Perhaps they were thinking of possibilities instead of questioning what was being heard.  

I loved how Gail included what was being said and the impossible timeline between reality and what the radio show said.  As the outsider, you can see the improbabilities of what happened but you can also see how people just believed, and didn't question.

I think this will be a fascinating text to use with students to talk about the importance of questioning facts and not taking them at face value.  The importance of looking at resources (and wow, Gail has added a terrific number of them in the backmatter).  The importance of understanding what "fake news" is and how to ascertain what is real.

I'm always interested in how the author came about their topic and their own background.  I'm thrilled to have author Gail Jarrow stop by and answer some questions!

1.  When you started writing this, did you realize how much it was going to relate to what is going on with "news" in current times?

When I decided on this subject, the "fake news" issue hasn't broken through to the extent it has now.  The timing worked out for me, but I actually came to this topic for a more general reason.  My science training - as well as living with an academic for decades - turned me into a skeptic.  I think young readers need to develop some skepticism in order to navigate their lives successfully.  This led me to find a hoax that illustrated what happens when people aren't skeptical enough.  How do they act when they readily believe and are influenced by media?  I picked the War of the Worlds broadcast because it had the elements of a good story - fascinating creative people, a still-famous science fiction novel, and a surprising audience reaction.

2.  What is the research process like for your books?

Before I settle on a subject, I check the availability of primary sources, excellent images, and secondary sources such as recent academic books and papers.  When I'm ready to start research, I already have this roadmap.  As I go along, I find additional resources in the bibliographies of materials I'm using.  Fortunately, I have access to Cornell University's outstanding library, which almost always has the book I want.  To access primary sources, I travel to archives.  For example, for SPOOKED!, I visited the University of Michigan and the National Archives to read letters that radio listeners wrote to Orson Welles and the Federal Communication Commission.  I locate experts on the topic to broaden my understanding, to clarify information, and to answer lingering questions.

3.  And similarly, what is your organization process like for your longer books?  I can only imagine the notes you must keep!

Everyone has a personal method that works.  Mine is low-tech, but it helps me to organize my thoughts and to keep track of the mountain of information.  It allows me to spread paper out on the floor and cut it apart and reorganize, if necessary.
When I was a student, I never used notecards, and I don't like taking notes electronically.  Writing it out by hand helps to solidify the information in my mind better than typing does.  (I learned this from trial and error, but, in fact, there is research that confirms the cognitive advantage of note-taking by hand.)  I write on notebook-sized paper.  If I've printed out an article, I underline and jot notes directly on the copy.
As I take notes, I keep track of the source and page number of every fact and direct quotation, carrying the citation over to my first draft.  I work with a chapter outline, and I indicate in my notes where the information will go.  This helps me to write the first draft.

4.  What do you hope your audience walks away with after reading your books?

I don't intend my work to be didactic, but each book does have a theme or two, which I hope the reader catches.  For SPOOKED!, one is:  Don't believe everything you read, hear, and see.  I also hope a book kindles curiosity to learn more about the topic.  That's why I include "More to Explore" in the back matter.  If one of my books leads a young person to read more nonfiction books, I'd be delighted.

5.  What books/authors inspired you when you were a middle school/high school reader?

In 8th grade, I won second place in the science fair, and the prize was the book Giants of Medicine.  I really loved reading the biographies of those scientists.  (Sometimes it's better not to come in first.)
During my teen years, my mother subscribed to American Heritage, and the articles fascinated me.  Who knows?  Perhaps these reading experiences still influence me as I write about history, science, and the history of science.

6.  Do you think you write the books you were looking for at that age?

It's more likely that I'm writing books on topics and in a style that I think would have appealed to my own children, the middle grade students I once taught, and my young acquaintances today. 


Thank you again, Gail!

Be sure to stop by the author stops on the SPOOKED! blog tour:


Wednesday, 9/12 KidLit Frenzy
Thursday, 9/13 Deborah Kalb Books
Monday, 9/17 Ms. Yingling Reads
Tuesday, 9/18 Middle Grade Minded
Wednesday, 9/19 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Thursday, 9/20 Middle Grade Book Village (with guest post by Gail Jarrow)
Friday, 9/21 Always in the Middle 



Even more lucky, publisher Boyds Mill has generously donated a copy of Spooked! for a giveaway to one lucky reader (US and Canada only).  Enter by Tuesday, Sept. 25th for your chance to win!





Monday, September 17, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9.17.18

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.


Last Week's Adventures

Build your nonfiction stacks with these new books and soon to be published books!

Some new early readers for your primary readers.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Maria Gianferrari's upcoming Operation Rescue Dog.  A sweet story about a girl giving a rescue dog a forever home!

Picture Books

Good Rosie!
Good Rosie!
written by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Harry Bliss
A sweet story about making friends.  Although the characters are dogs, the lessons can certainly transcend to humans!

The Rough Patch
The Rough Patch
by Brian Lies
This story will definitely pull at your heart strings.  A fox does everything with his faithful and loyal dog... until they don't.  It's a tears-inducing page seeing the fox bent over his best friend who is laying still in his dog bed.  The feelings of grief and anger and sadness are witnessed and the reader feels the emotions through the page.  
I think this is a very realistic portrayal of grief.  Definitely a book to have on hand for when a reader needs it most.

Loretta's Gift
Loretta's Gift
written by Pat Zietlow Miller 
illustrated by Alea Marley
Add this to your list of gift books.  
A new baby arrives and his cousin dotes over him, but she feels like she needs to give him a gift, like everyone else has.  She learns that the gift of her time and love and affection are just what he needs.
Would be a good gift for a soon to be older sibling, as well.

Middle Grade

The Last (Endling #1)
The Endling:  The Last
by Katherine Applegate
I hope you had a chance to read my initial dilemma with this book.  Here it is if you would like to read more about my struggle with DRCs.
I really really ended up liking this book.  It's so different from the Applegate novels we've come to love.  Sometimes you have to forget what you love about an author to appreciate the something different they've done.
A fantastic quest book, but readers have to learn about new species, which can be confusing.  An unlikely group of friends come together to help a friend, who is an endling - the last of her species.  What follows is a quest, where each person learns a bit more about themselves and each change a bit, probably for the better.
This book certainly set itself up for book two, which I am not anxiously awaiting!

Currently Reading

Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
by Meg Medina
I am loving this story but especially because it takes place in my home #2 - West Palm Beach and it's surrounding areas.  I love recognizing streets and places Merci visits.  
Have you ever had a book whose setting you love??

It was a slow middle grade reading week for me and I think this week will be another one.  What did you read this week?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Spotlight Friday - Operation Rescue Dog blog tour and giveaway 9.14.18


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!


Dog stories tend to be a hit with young readers.  There is something so innocent about the love between a child and a dog.  Thanks to the news, getting dogs through places/people that specifically host rescue dogs has become a popular way of obtaining a new pet.  Author Maria Gianferrari and illustrator Luisa Uribe have come together and captured the sights, smells and all the feels of getting a rescue pup!


Operation Rescue Dog
written by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Luisa Uribe
published by little bee books
September 18th 


Operation Rescue Dog is the story of Alma.  When we first meet our young main character, we find her and her grandmother getting ready to go on a journey to get a rescue dog.  It will be a surprise for Alma's mother who is currently deployed in Iraq.  On the next spread, we meet Lulu, the young dog who was abandoned on the side of the road.  While the reader can guess that Alma and Lulu will eventually unite, it's the anticipation we hold while reading the rest of the pages that keeps us going!  I love how Maria uses such descriptive language to put us into the story - take a look at these pages!




We are constantly using our senses as we read this book as Maria invites us to smell the air, feel a hug and taste the words of a favorite book!  

One of my favorite parts was seeing the Rescue Truck - this surprised me since I always thought a place to get rescue animals would involve a building!  Isn't this the best illustration - I love seeing the dogs interacting with people who may be giving them forever homes!





I know this book will live in the hearts of young readers everywhere.  Should this story move readers, Maria gives lots of suggestions for how to help rescue dogs in the backmatter of the book.  I also love that some of the ideas help get families involved who want to help these animals, even if they can't give a forever home.  

More about author, Maria Gianferrari:


Maria Gianferrari loves dogs, especially her rescue dog, Becca. She loves them so much that all of her fiction picture books published thus far contain a dog main character! As an animal lover, Maria has been rescuing creatures unofficially all her life. Her most recent rescue was a five-lined skink stranded in her cellar. She lives in Leesburg, Virginia with Becca, her scientist husband and artist daughter.  



Thanks to Maria and her publisher, little bee, we have a giveaway!  One reader will win a personalized copy of the book (US only).  Enter for your chance to win - you'll be so happy to have this book!  Enter by Thursday, Sept. 20th for your chance to win.  Winner will be notified on Friday, Sept. 21st.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

#road2reading Challenge - an early reader stack 9.13.18


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


My stacks have gotten out of control lately.  Here's a stack of early readers to share!


Kick It, Mo! by David A. Adler
Kick It, Mo!
written by David A. Adler
illustrated by Sam Ricks
Keep these sports books featuring Mo and his diverse cast of teammates coming!  Featuring sight words and pictures that support the text, another win for Mo!
Publishes Sept. 18th

Friends Forever by Derek Anderson     
Croc and Ally:  Friends Forever and Fun, Fun, Fun!
by Derek Anderson
I'm liking this new early chapter book series.  Predictable story lines, sight words, and supported illustrations/text make this series perfect for readers who are beginning their reading independence.  

Barkus Dog Dreams by Patricia MacLachlan
Barkus: Dog Dreams
written by Patricia MacLachlan
illustrated by Marc Boutavant
This is one of those series I have to remind myself that I am not the target audience.  I find the stories sometimes confusing and not interesting, but because there are dogs, it remains a popular series.  I liked the first book more than this one, I am interested in finding out what young readers think of this one.

Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair by Kate Messner
Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair
written by Kate Messner
illustrated by Heather Ross
Our two favorite mice are back and this time they are working on class projects for the science fair.  Everyone has a project and Fergus and Zeke get to BE Lucy's project.  While it is fun at first, they both agree they don't want to BE the project they want to be the ones DOING the project.  They figure out a way to do both, but will it work?


And a nonfiction reader.....

Lin-Manuel Miranda by Laurie Calkhoven
You Should Meet: Lin-Manuel Miranda
written by Laurie Calkhoven
illustrated by Alyssa Petersen
Yeah, I couldn't help myself, had to buy this one :)
I even learned a few more things about this amazing musical man - I really can't wait to find out what he does next!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday My Stacks - What I'm reading, what is coming! 9.12.18

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.


Time for a What's in My Nonfiction Picture Books Stack post!

No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
written by Kathleen Krull
illustrated by Nancy Zhang
One of my favorite books on the current IL Bluestem list is I Dissent, another picture book biography about this amazing woman.  I like this one just as much and appreciate that there is common information between the two books and while they are written in a similar style (longer narrative, repeating phrases), there is also some new information for the reader.

Look at Me!: How to Attract Attention in the Animal World
Look at Me! How to Attract Attention in the Animal World
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
This team never disappoints - their books about the animal world are always fascinating and the illustrations by Jenkins are always a standout.  
This book focuses on the animal adaptations it has in order to either attract a mate or defend itself against predators.  Perfect book to use when discussing animal adaptations.  

Cute as an Axolotl by Jess Keating
Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the World's Most Adorable Animals
written by Jess Keating
illustrated by David DeGrand
Another addition to "The World of Weird Animals" series and this time Jess is focusing on all the little adorable animals out there!  I love that two of the animals are featured in our intervention series - kids love seeing connections in books!  
A little part at the end I really like - Jess challenges readers to make their own adorable animal, but then name what traits make them so cute.  I like the idea of naming the traits, I think that could have some great classroom extensions!

Who Eats Orange?
Who Eats Orange?
written by Dianne White
illustrated by Robin Page
Following the format of repeating a pattern over several pages and then throwing in something that doesn't belong, young readers will enjoy getting a chance to agree or disagree with the information the author puts in front of them.  A color concept book that is taken farther by showing colors of foods different animals eat. My only complaint is sometimes the food is unknown and in order to figure out what it is, you have to look up in the backmatter by the habitat the animal lives in to find the information and the food it is eating.  Can be a bit time consuming for a younger reader to wait for that info.

Someday Is Now by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins
written by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
illustrated by Jade Johnson
The story of Clara Luper, a teacher in Oklahoma City who inspired her students to take action against unfair segregation laws in the south.  
A book that makes you want to stand up and take action, this book will inspire young readers to think about what they can do NOW to make change in their communities.
Additional information in the backmatter including an author's note, steps to nonviolent resistance and a glossary.


Here are some upcoming September releases you may want to be on the lookout for - they all publish later this month.

She Made a Monster by Lynn Fulton
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
written by Lynn Fulton
illustrated by Felicita Sala
You probably already know the story Frankenstein, but do you know the story of how it came to be?

Lovely Beasts by Kate Gardner
Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth
written by Kate Gardner
illustrated by Heidi Smith
One of my new favorite animal books - on a double layout is a gorgeous charcoal pencil drawing of a very fierce looking animal and on the opposite side an adjective that corresponds with the animal.  For example "fierce" is next to the drawing of a gorilla.  But turn that page and you read the word "papa" and it goes on to explain ways gorillas take care of their young in very gentle ways.  

Through the Window by Barb Rosenstock
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art
written by Barb Rosenstock 
illustrated by Mary Grandpré
This author-illustrator team is back again sharing about another artist's life, this time Marc Chagall.  I appreciated the text even more after reading the author notes.



I've also read some books that are more historical fiction than nonfiction.  But they are all based on actual events/people and have some great stories to tell.


Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band by Michael James Mahin
Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band
written by Michael Mahin
illustrated by Don Tate
I had never heard of this kind of music or this band made up of mostly homeless children.  Taking place in 1895 New Orleans, Mahin tells the story of Stalebread Charlie, a homeless orphan who is doing his best to earn some money on the streets of New Orleans.  Jazz music is just beginning and Stalebread Charlie picks up pieces of it with other music.  He made his own instruments from things they found in the street and with other orphans, played their music around New Orleans. 
Not much is known for sure about Stalebread Charlie and his gang, so much of this story is put together by the author and what he imagined had happened.  Don't miss reading the author's note to students so they understand what is known and what is fictionalized.
Interesting story!

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968
written by Alice Faye Duncan
illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
I was so fortunate to hear both the author and the illustrator talk about this book this summer at a tea in New Orleans for ALA, hosted by the publisher, Boyds Mill Press.  There is always something magical hearing the author read words from their book.
This story gives us a look at the Sanitation Strike in Memphis in 1968 from the eyes of a child.  Reading about the events that lead up to Martin Luther King's assassination is both heartbreaking and powerful.  Hearing it from a child's perspective is important for our young readers.  Definitely an important read to have when doing any kind of civil rights discussions.

Monday, September 10, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9.10.18

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.


Today's post is going to wrap up two weeks of reading.  I was too sick last Monday to get this post up and running!  I rarely get that sick so I allowed myself a week off from blogging to relax a bit more.  Ready to roll this week!

Last Week's Adventures

Looking for some books about other cultures?  Two new ones you want to know about here.

I love this new book from Melissa Stewart.  Ideas for how to use it as a reading/writing, science and SEL mentor text here.

Visiting some new places and cultures in this #road2reading post!

Picture Books

Always Anjali
Always Anjali
written by Sheetal Sheth
illustrated by Jessica Blank
I am so grateful my friend, Kristen Picone, told me about this book.  There is so much to love and appreciate about this book.
As a one "L" Michele, I've always had a tough time finding anything with my name spelled "correctly" on it.  If I wanted something preprinted, I'd have to become Michelle.  But as my friend, Aliza Warner has written about - names are important!  I've always been aware of this and it's something I am careful about to this day.  I try to always spell names correctly.  I try to always say names correctly.  And even though remembering names and pronouncing every single one correctly can be hard for me, I will continue to work at it because I understand the importance.
Anjali faces something similar.  She is looking for her name on personalized bicycle license plates.  Her friends Mary and Courtney find theirs quickly.  But here's where Anjali's experience is different from mine.  Not only can she not find her name, she is bullied because of her name.  Multiple times and multiple people laugh and make fun of her because her name is "different".  It's through a loving interaction with her mother that Anjali learns the importance and background of her name and it gives her the strength to face the bullies.
Pair with Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal.

The Wall in the Middle of the Book
The Wall in the Middle of the Book
by Jon Agee
This book is going to generate some very interesting conversations about:  perspective, fears and possibilities.
The wall in the middle of the book (yay, we get to talk about the gutter of the book!) is supposed to be protecting one side from the other.  However, what side needs protection?
Publishes Oct. 2nd.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
Sir Simon: Super Scarer
by Cale Atkinson
While you might pull this book out for Halloween time, it's really a story you can share at any time!  Meet Simon, he's a ghost that has just been assigned to a new house.  He figures he has it made when he notices an old person moving in - they are way easier than kids!  But it's to Simon's surprise when he finds a child in the house.  Luckily for him, he tricks the boy into doing his ghostly chores.  Don't look now, but this may just be a sweet story about friendship!

Stumpkin
Stumpkin
by Lucy Ruth Cummins
A Halloween story that can be told year round because of its positive central message - you don't have to change, be yourself!  I like that the message doesn't hit you over the head with its positivity - gently unfolds in this lovely story.

The Dreamer
The Dreamer
by Il Sung Na
This book has a great message about determination and growth mindset.  A pig (interesting choice of an animal for this story) admires birds and decides he wants to fly like them.  He tries different ways and ends up enlisting help from friends.  The great thing is he finally figures out what he needs to do to fly.  But then everyone starts building things to fly and that's when the story goes wrong for me.  I guess it's good to show that inventions can help the greater good.... just seemed like this story went on for too long.  In my opinion.....

I'm New Here
I'm New Here
by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Just finding this book because it's counterpart, Someone New, has recently published.  I'm glad I found this one because I think it will be great to have not only because we have students that will see themselves within the pages, it also is a good reminder for classmates to new students to approach things from the other perspective!

Nonfiction/Fiction Book Pairing

Super Manny Cleans Up!
Super Manny Cleans Up!
written by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement
Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement
by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Both of these books feature characters (one real, one fictionalized) who are upstanders in their communities, who despite being very shy and nervous, fight for a cleaner environment.  Share at any point but definitely have these around in April for Earth Day!

Graphic Novels

Illegal
Illegal
by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
illustrated by Giovanni Rigano
Very powerful book about the refugee experience, this time highlighting the movement from Northern Africa to Europe.
Every time I read a book like this it helps me understand what is happening in other parts of the world that I really do not know enough about.  I'm grateful for books like these and that they are getting into the hands of kids who are going to be, what I really hope, a kinder generation that is going to be more understanding due to the kidlit they are reading today.

Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens
Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens
by John Patrick Green
From the author of Hippopotamister comes a new series about kittens who just can't be taken seriously for their profession - construction!  Even though they definitely the best "man", errr person, errr animal - for the job, they aren't hired because all anyone sees them as are cute kittens.  
Hmm, I wonder if kids will see the theme of this book or the underlying message.... 
Looking forward to more in this series!

Middle Grade

Blended
Blended
by Sharon Draper
I always love anything Draper writes!  This one didn't have as many lines that stuck to me as some of her previous books, but I think the topic is so important, it's going to stick to a lot of kids anyway!
Isabella is "blended" no matter how you look at it.  She has two blended families since both her mother and father are divorced and are in new relationships, and her racial identity is blended since her mom is white and her dad is black.  She's also seeing first hand the racial tensions that are so prevalent in our society today.  
Draper takes on very current topics and brings them to a middle grade audience.  Where other books like Ghost Boys, Dear Martin, and The Hate You Give are for upper middle grade, YA audiences, this one is perfect for middle grade.
Publishes Oct. 30th.
DRC from Edelweiss.

After Zero
After Zero 
by Christina Collins
Elise is a character that will stay on your mind and your heart long after you close the pages of the book.  The readers sees Elise's quick progression into mutism and how intense it becomes.  She starts counting the number of words she speaks in a day and is quick to celebrate when she can get to zero.  The causes of Elise's mutism are many and varied - we see her bullied by multiple people, lose friends, and she lives with her mom who borders on being emotionally abusive.  We don't know the cause of Elise's mom's behavior which leaves us a mystery to solve.
I wish the ending had been just a bit more drawn out.  The resolution comes quickly and I wish we had gotten to see a bit more how it came together.
I think readers will fall in love with Elise and hold so much hope for her!

Bounders
Bounders
by Monica Tesler
This was another #mustreadin2018 book for me!  I had preordered this based on the advice from people I trust but just hadn't picked it up yet.  Well, I already bought books 2 and 3 and book 4 (which publishes later this year) is in my cart! 
This is a really fun science fiction series and fills a gap for some of my readers.  Kids who enjoyed Countdown Conspiracy or Chronicle of the Dark Star series by Kevin Emerson will really enjoy this series.

My Father’s Words
My Father's Words
by Patricia Maclachlan
Thanks to Jason Lewis for sending me this one!  
As all MacLachlan novels are, this one is straight to the point in as little words as needed.  This one cuts straight to the heart and I imagine will be a very important read for someone.  The children in this story have just lost their father to an accident.  They are both trying to find their way through grief and find healing.
This book publishes Oct. 2nd.

Currently Reading

The Last (Endling #1)
The Endling:  The Last
by Katherine Applegate
I first started reading this book as an e-reader.  I've spoken before about how sometimes it's really hard for me to fall into a book when I read it electronically.  This book is a perfect example.  I think I got about 35% into it and really did not like it.  Since it was Katherine Applegate, I knew it was more likely I was having a bad reading experience because it was electronic, so I stopped, waiting for the physical copy.
I'm so glad I did because I am having a much better time with this story reading the actual copy.  One of the reasons is because it can be confusing - there are many made up animal species and I had to go back and reread sections/descriptions.  I find going back and rereading hard to do in an e-reader.  I also love there is a map on the endpages of the book.  I've referred to it several times.
I'm also really excited because I've been looking for a solid fantasy book to add to my Mock Newbery, and I think I found it!

Hope you're getting back into the school routine and are finding some time for reading too!