Thursday, January 23, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - digging into the stacks! 1.23.2020


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.



Those books that have been sitting in piles around your house....
Or maybe it's those books that are rarely on your shelves at school because they are well read so you just haven't had a chance to read them...

Whatever the case may be, here are some books that I am just finally getting around to reading!


Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess, #1)
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible
by Ursula Vernon
Just when you think you've heard all of the retakes on fairy tales, you get one that is different.  We've got a hamster princess retelling of Sleeping Beauty.  There are rats as villains and a twist on the whole prick-your-finger thing that leaves us with a wild and crazy princess.  Well, until she is 12 and the whole invincibility thing is over.
A humorous retelling with some clever new twists!
Readers will enjoy the trim size of this book, but with well over 200 pages, still feel cool that it's a "big" book.  The story does not lean away with some longer vocabulary so readers who have a handle at reading and decoding multisyllabic words will find the most success.  I think the sweet spot for this series is with 2nd-4th graders, but certain readers in a grade below and above will also enjoy.

Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors
Wedgie and Gizmo
written by Suzanne Selfors 
illustrated by Barbara Fisinger
This one has been on my bookshelves for awhile and is frequently checked out.  My friend and colleague has read it as a third grade read aloud and said the kids appreciate the humor.
It is a funny book with many laugh out loud moments.  Gizmo the guinea pig and Wedgie the corgi are pets who come to live together under the same rough as part of a newly blended family.  Just as the humans are learning to live together, so are the pets.  Gizmo, the evil-minded-plotting one is always trying to make sure he has the upper hand over Wedgie, the quickly-distracted-loveable dog.
With chapters told in alternating animal view points, this first book in a series is one to hand off to readers!

The Most Annoying Robots in the Universe by Russ Bolts
BOTS: The Most Annoying Robots in the Universe
written by Russ Bolts
illustrated by Jay Cooper
I found this series from Clare Landrigan on a Monday #IMWAYR post.  She recommended it for readers who enjoy the Ricky Ricotta series.  It is just a small step up from those books so once a reader finishes the 9 book series, they may be ready for this one.  
Told in small and large graphic novel frames with most of the text coming through dialogue.  Earth has sent a spaceship with cameras inside to see what is out in space.  When it gets to the end of the universe, the spaceship lands on an alien planet named Mecha Base One.  Here we meet Joe Bot and Rob Ot.  When the cameras disperse onto the planet, they program the cameras to follow them around all day.  This is a new kind of reality tv for humans as they eagerly watch the robots do nothing really important.  There is a robot girl named Tinny who desperately wants to get her hands on a camera.
We're left with a cliffhanger at the end, guess we need to tune in to the rest of the series!  So far there are 6 books in the series with 2 more releasing later in 2020.

The Monster Squad by Joe  McGee
Junior Monster Scouts: the Monster Squad
written by Joe McGee
illustrated by Ethan Long
Monsters are scary, right?  No, those are just stories!  These monsters - which includes a vampire, wolf, and a Frankenstein monster - are in training for Junior Monster Scouts and are trying to earn their patches.  Of course one of those patches a Howling Merit Badge, but it's a special talent that can help others, as you'll see in the story!
Coming in at under 100 pages, it's a quick read but is more sophisticated than meets the eye.  Readers will find there are a few problems in this first book of the series - the Junior Monster Scouts are trying to help a new friend find a lost kitten, a grouchy character has solved his problem of noisy rats in his basement by sending them to a village in search of cheese, but then the villagers go into a panic when their homes are infested with rats.  Sounds like these Junior Monster Scouts can be super helpful while earning badges helping other people. 
This series (2 are currently published, next one is coming in April) is perfect for readers who enjoy the Desmond Cole series or Inspector Flytrap books.


Have you read any books that have long been on TBR lists or in piles?  It feels good to finally read them and be able to talk to young readers about these stories!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - a science stack - 1.22.2020


Wednesdays 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.


This Wednesday I have a science stack for you!


Do Not Lick this Book by Idan Ben-Barak
Do not lick this book* - *it's full of germs
written by Idan Ben-Barak
illustrated by Julian Frost
photographs by Linnea Rundgren
The basic gist of the book is everything you touch as some kind of germ on it.  Kinda makes you want to live in a bubble.  But kids will love the close up photographs and the interactive part of the book.

Cells by Carolyn Fisher
Cells: An Owner's Handbook
by Carolyn Fisher
A quick, everything you need to know about cells.  I can see this being used in a middle school science class as an intro to cells!

Fungus Is Among Us!
Fungus is Among Us!
written by Joy Keller
illustrated by Erica Salcedo
Written in rhyme, readers discover that fungus really is all around us.  By the end of the book readers will either be totally grossed out or fascinated with finding fungi!  Interesting interview with a mycologist (a scientist who studies fungi) i the backmatter.

Now You Know What You Eat by Valorie Fisher
Now You Know What You Eat
by Valorie Fisher
This book is full of infographics that break down the ingredients that go into common foods Americans eat, as well as show where the ingredient came from.  A book that could entertain a reader for hours, and because of the infographics all levels of readers will be able to understand the information presented.


As much as we love picture book biographies, please remember to look at the nonfiction you have in your libraries to make sure there are expository nonfiction books for your readers, as well!

Monday, January 20, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.20.2020

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

Part 2 of animal nonfiction picture books here!

A new chapter book series and additions to a favorite.

Picture Books

At the Mountain's Base
At the Mountain's Base
written by Traci Sorell
illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
I read this book at ALA this summer and the more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed it.  It arrived at my house at the wrong time (when we were in Peru to watch my daughter swim in the Para Pan Am Games) and I just didn't get back to it until now.
A story about the feelings a family has when a loved one has left to help fight in a battle.  And while the family worries about their loved one, it's being together and sharing in story that allows the family to draw strength during this time.
I love how the illustrations add to the story.  The pilot that is off in battle is a female.  This ties in with the endpages where Sorell talks about the importance of Native women who have served in wars at different points in history.  I also liked seeing the different color threads that are shown figuratively as material that is being woven, as well as the threads of the family members' lives in the story.

Across the Bay
Across the Bay
by Carlos Aponte
First of all this book is beautifully illustrated.  I really loved the colors and the setting of Puerto Rico.  The brightly colored buildings and flora and fauna are captured so beautifully!
But, the story is a problem for me.  Young Carlitos is missing his father.  He does not get to see him, even though he lives across the bay, a ferry ride away.  Carlitos lives with his mother and grandmother, but really just wants to see his father.  He takes it upon himself to find his father and he gathers his money to pay for the ferry ride.  Once he arrives in the capital he talks to many people and shows them his father's pictures, hoping one of them will know his father.  Finally, towards the end, he sees a famous castle (formerly a fortress) and has high hopes his father will be there.  As he runs towards it, the readers sees the photo of his father fall out of his pocket.  Carlitos is very sad once he finds the photo to be missing, but a kind guard reminds him that a person lives forever within our memory.
The problem I have with this book is no one questions a little boy running around a capital city alone, all of the adults he speaks with answers his questions but never asks why he is by himself.  Carlitos gets to the capital by ferry and gets home by ferry.  All by himself.  Once he arrives home, he doesn't get into trouble and gets to go to the beach with his mom and grandmother.  I know him going on the quest by himself is not the point the author was making, but it's what stuck out....

If Pluto Was a Pea
If Pluto Was a Pea
written by Gabrielle Prendergast
illustrated by Rebecca Gerlings
Hmmm.  Questioning this book.  
The storyline follows two kids as they make comparisons amongst the planets.  
The constant is Pluto, which is always a pea.
Pluto the pea is then compared to other circular objects that become the other planets.
Interesting concept - take the known so the comparisons make sense to readers, but I have not been able to find if these size comparisons are accurate.  Maybe they are, but I really don't know.  Without backmatter or even information on the author's website, I'm not sure what the accuracy is.
And while there is brief mention of Pluto not being a planet, why is it the object that is always compared to the other planets?  It's pretty well known that Pluto is small, so I don't think that would hold up why it's the constant.


Old Rock (Is Not Boring)
Old Rock (is not boring) 
by Deb Pilutti
I love this book!  I read it as an F&G and I love the actual copy even more.  It is perfect to talk about the dangers of making assumptions.  It should lead to a great conversation.  Be sure to find this one on Feb. 4th.

Grace Goes to Washington
Grace Goes to Washington
written by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I think the idea of the branches of government and checks and balances can be hard to grasp for young readers.  Anytime you can make a hard to grasp concept become familiar is helpful and going to be more meaningful.  In this book, Grace and her fellow Student Council members are voting on how to spend funds they raised for the school.  By comparing familiar school positions to the branches of government, readers get a better idea of how an unfamiliar idea might look.

Middle Grade

Clean Getaway
Clean Getaway
by Nic Stone
I am so glad Nic Stone is moving into the middle grade arena too.  Hoping she continues to write for this grade level again.
Scoobs and G'ma are on a quest across some of the Southern states.  Along the way, G'ma revisits some of the important Civil Rights-era locations that were important to her - a white woman - and her husband - a black male - who were married in the 1960s.  While they are on their quest, Scoobs learns a lot about his history, but also who his grandmother is.  Scoobs learns his perceptions of people might be different at first glance.
I really like that this book takes place in the present time so young readers today can relate what they learn about the 1960s to their life today.

The Line Tender
The Line Tender
by Kate Allen
What a debut.  As I sit back and reflect it's hard to put into words exactly how I feel.  I could tell you the story, but what sticks with you is how this book makes you feel and think.  It's about death.  It's about living after a loved one dies.  It's about what brings us back into life and living life.  It's about the people we surround ourselves with and holding onto a line with, and for, each each other.

Currently Reading

Becoming
Becoming
by Michelle Obama
This book was a Christmas present over a year ago.  I'm sad it took over a year to get to read.  To ensure I got to it this year I added it to my #mustread list.


Hope you get to enjoy some reading time on this long weekend!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - some new and some familiar friends - 1.16.2020


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'm sharing some new additions to a favorite series and introducing a new to me series!


January has brought us four new Yasmin books.  I adore the Yasmin stories.  They have have helped fill a much needed hole.  I'm always looking for books to give those young readers who are wanting to read chapter books - just the beginning kind of chapter books - but they still need supports from illustrations and predictable storylines and decodable text.  Think about readers who are ready to read Henry and Mudge books.  While those are still fun to read, I find today's readers are looking for a more updates series.  Yasmin books are perfect for these readers.  They each have three chapters.  There is one big problem for Yasmin to solve and the problems are very kid-friendly/realistic problems.  I love that there is backmatter with conversation starters, an introduction to some of the Urdu words used within the story, information that connects American readers to the subject and Pakistan (Yasmin's culture), and a maker idea that ties into the storyline.
Plus, Hatem Aly's illustrations... I always find his work so appealing to kids!

Here is a little bit more about the newest books:


Yasmin the Friend by Saadia Faruqi
Yasmin the Friend
Yasmin is having a playdate with her friends but they each have a different idea of what to play.  How can Yasmin get everyone playing together?

Yasmin the Soccer Star by Saadia Faruqi
Yasmin the Soccer Star
Yasmin is new to soccer but it looks like her other friends have been playing it for awhile.  Rather than keep her on the sidelines, Coach knows just where to have Yasmin play!

Yasmin the Gardener by Saadia Faruqi
Yasmin the Gardner
Yasmin has to problem solve to help her newly planted flowers bloom and grow.

Yasmin the Writer by Saadia Faruqi
Yasmin the Writer
Uh-oh, Yasmin has writer's block!  Yasmin has to write about her hero and she is having trouble thinking of a person who is her own hero.  Maybe she's looking too far away!


Not too long ago I was introduced to the Ana and Andrew series from someone on Twitter.  It looked like it would fit the Yasmin readers so I knew I needed to check it out!
Happy to say that this is a series that is definitely needed and one I highly recommend.  Just a bit more complex than Yasmin in terms of length, it also has similar scaffolds such as having illustrations on every page and decodable text.  This series has four chapters in each book, so it's starting to stretch stamina for the Yasmin readers.  Sometimes the setting is familiar (at their house/school in Washington D.C., but sometimes the reader is introduced to a new location such as when the kids visit their grandparents in Savannah, Georgia, or when they visit family in Trinidad!  Even Washington D.C. sites like the National Museum of African American History and Culture are explored.
With bright illustrations from Sharon Sordo, this series will appeal to readers visual sense!
I really enjoyed these first four books and was excited to see there are four more already published.  I immediately ordered them - can't wait to have more of these books for readers!

A Snowy Day by Christine  Platt
A Snowy Day
The siblings get their wish for a snowy day.  Each enjoys something a little different and have stories to share when they come back for the best tradition - hot chocolate!

A Day at the Museum by Christine Platt
A Day at the Museum
Ana and Andrew explore the most recent museum in the Smithsonian collection!

Summer in Savannah by Christine  Platt
Summer in Savannah
Ana and Andrew learn more about African American history when they visit their grandparents in Georgia.

Dancing at Carnival by Christine  Platt
Dancing at Carnival
The kids visit family in Trinidad and get to celebrate Carnival!


I'm so happy these series exist.  So many great books for readers who are looking to grow their stamina and independence.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - animal books - 1.15.2020


Wednesdays 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.


Starting the New Year with some animal books.  These are always favorites of young readers.  Today is part 2!


Amazing Animals by Peter David Scott
Amazing Animals
by Peter David Scott
This book is absolutely gorgeous.  I picked it up years ago but it got buried in a pile and I'm just now reading it!  The illustrations are what readers will pour over.  This is a large picture book, measuring a bit larger than others and each 2-page layout has one animal with the illustration stretching across both pages.  There is one sentence that accompanies the layout with a basic fact.  If that piece of information is not enough for you, then check the backmatter where additional info is given!  I'm predicting this book to be pretty popular.

Even More Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown
Even More Lesser Spotted Animals
by Martin Brown
The follow up to the successful Lesser Spotted Animals (grades 3-5 in IL - it's on our current Bluestem Awards list) is just as funny and insightful as you would expect it to be.  Nothing wrong with laughing while you're learning!  A book that can be read cover to cover or just flipped through, readers will enjoy getting to know these perhaps unfamiliar animals.

Big Cats by Nic Bishop
Big Cats
by Nic Bishop
I think this is the most stunning Nic Bishop book... of course I think big cats are some of the most elegant creatures out there, but still!  Packed with information that is delivered in a way that makes you appreciate their hunting routines.

Welcome Home by Lisa Mundorff
Welcome Home: Where Nature's Most Creative Creatures Dwell
by Lisa Mundorff
I would classify this book as informational fiction.  I think a better title would be "Creature's Homes Reimagined"!  The first 2-page spread tells young readers the name of an animal's home.  It just so happens that most of these home names are also names that fit in a human home, such as den, couch, lodge.  The following layout shows the animal in a home that is reimagined to be more humanized.  So we see a beaver living in their lodge on the first page (in a dam by the water), followed by beavers living in what appears to be a ski lodge.  

Homes in the Wild by Lita Judge
Homes in the Wild: Where Baby Animals and Their Parents Live
by Lita Judge
I love Judge's book.  They are organized in a way that makes sense to young readers which makes the book easier to read and for the readers to talk about!  
Animal babies and their parents make homes all over, but there is always a purpose for that home.  Often for survival and protection!  
Additional information about the animals is located in the backmatter.

Beehive by Jorey Hurley
beehive
by Jorey Hurley
I like how this book can be read in different ways.  Each page has just one word describing the action that is happening on the page.  I think this can open up lots of conversation between readers.  How can they use the word and the illustrations to describe their learning?  What do they know?  What do they wonder?  
The author's note has additional information and can be read aloud as you go back and flip through the pages.  Confirm what you knew.  Answer an unknown question.  What do you want to learn more about?


I'm excited for these books to be in our library.  Lots of readers for these books!

Monday, January 13, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.13.2020

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

Be sure to check out these animal nonfiction picture books.

A big roundup of books for kg-5th gr readers.  Check out this list!


Picture Books

16 Words: William Carlos Williams & "the Red Wheelbarrow"
16 Words: William Carlos Williams and "The Red Wheelbarrow"
written by Lisa Rogers
illustrated by Chuck Groenink
When I first picked up this book, I assumed it was a picture book biography about the poet, William Carlos Williams.  Once I read the book, I discovered it was what the author imagined could have possibly inspired the author to write one of his most famous poems, "The Red Wheelbarrow".  I was happy to see that the book was catalogued in the fiction picture book section of the library, not with the biographies.  
This is a beautiful picture book about the poet, who I did not know was a doctor who wrote his famous poems in between patients and writing prescriptions and other work!  While the author admits we do not know what really inspired Dr. Williams to write this particular poem, it could have been because of his known friendship with Mr. Thaddeus Marshall.  Mr. Marshall used his red wheelbarrow to bring his garden-grown vegetables around the neighborhood to sell.
Great book to use to show inspiration for writing can be found anywhere.

It's a Field Trip, Busy Bus!
It's a Field Trip, Busy Bus!
written by Jody Jensen Shaffer
illustrated by Claire Messer
This book is way more than a field trip story, it's a book you'll want for your Social Emotional Learning collection for young readers to talk about the feeling of jealousy.  Also great to use to talk about how everyone has qualities that make them special.

Sweep
Sweep
written by Louise Greig
illustrated by Julia Sardà
This book is almost a wonderful one to use to talk about feeling angry.  The main character of our story is shown through the beautiful illustrations by Julia Sardà as having an accident and it ends up making him feel very upset.  Those feelings grow until he is so angry, he doesn't stop to see the world around him.  But then a gust of wind comes and he realizes how beautiful everything really is and that's the end.  He doesn't apologize for the mess he's created.  He doesn't have a self-understanding of what he did.  And that's where I think the book went wrong.  Would be an interesting conversation to have with readers.

Little Tigers
LIttle Tigers
by Jo Weaver
I love Weaver's charcoal drawings in her other books and this one about tigers, a favorite animal of mine.... loved it.
A mama tiger and her two cubs are on the move because human have gotten too close to their den.  Finding a home is tricky because what makes a home a good one for some animals, does not make it a good home for tigers.
In a note at the end Weaver reminds us that bengal tigers are considered an endangered species because much of their natural habitat in India is being taken over by humans or in danger because of poachers.

Middle Grade

Seven Clues to Home
Seven Clues to Home
by Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin
I'm sorry everyone, because this book doesn't publish until June 9, but you really really need to preorder it.
My heart is still inside this book.  My pre-teen heart is still inside this book.  With universal themes of friendship and who you love, and grief and growing, it's a book that will hit home with everyone.  
Home is also an important idea in this book - who is your home?  where is your home?  is a home more than a family?
Written in alternate voices between our two main characters, Joy and Lukas, and written in two different time periods, takes us on a scavenger hunt.  One story line tells us how the scavenger hunt unfolded and one perspective, and the other story line has us follow the character on the scavenger hunt.  Meanwhile the reader is putting both pieces of the story together and while you know you're in for heartache by the end of the story, it also will put your heart back together in the other story line.
I don't want to say too much, because you just need to find out for yourself.
Just go preorder.

Max and the Midknights
Max and the Midknights
by Lincoln Peirce
I bought this one as soon as it came out thinking it would be a quick read that I could get out to my readers.  It was a quick read, I just needed to read it, ha!
Most people know the author because of his Big Nate series.  This is a different foray - one into the middle ages, but what stays the same is the humor.  I laughed out loud many times with this one!  
This should be a big hit with readers in 3rd-5th grade.

Currently Reading

The Line Tender
The Line Tender
by Kate Allen
I've had this book in my pile since before it published!  So far it's a story that has already touched my heart!


Happy Winter Reading!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

#road2reading Challenge 1.09.2020


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.


Happy 2020!  I have some end of the year 2019 books to share with you.  This post is a binge of reading and I'll split them up into skills readers have a handle on:


* Readers who have a sight word vocabulary, can use phonics strategies to decode words, but still rely on picture clues *

My First Puppy by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
My First Puppy
written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
photographs by Jill Wachter
It's a puppy book... right there it's a winner for young readers!  Perfect for kids relying on sight words and picture clues.  In the back are more caring for your puppy tips.  This section has a bit more challenging vocabulary but could be the section an adult provides assistance when reading.


* Readers who are using more advanced phonics skills to decode words, have control over sight words, and use context to help figure out unknown words *


Snail and Worm All Day by Tina Kugler
Snail and Worm All Day
by Tina Kügler
This is the third book in the series and it does not disappoint.  Readers enjoy the silly tales of Snail and Worm.  There is some inferring readers have to do as the jokes are not literally explained, but readers will use the story to help them figure out what is not explicitly being said.  Episodic stories told in three chapters, readers will laugh at Snail as he joyously expresses himself or switches moods and is scared.  Worm, as our practical character, always saves the day in the most practical way.  I like that the conversations are in different colored fonts so young readers can keep track of who is doing the talking. 

The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle by Shannon Hale
The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle
written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I really enjoyed this one because it made me laugh and I think kids will laugh too.  Gross smells?  Monsters that need to take a bath?  Just plain silliness!
This book is more advanced than Snail and Worm because it is longer, a lot more text on the pages, and now there is vocabulary that is more difficult to decode.  However, there are still illustrations on all of the pages.  This gives some context to what is happening in the print.  It also allows readers to work on stamina because it is longer but still has visual support.

* Readers who are ready for longer chapter books, that are between 100-150 pages, and are no longer reliant on illustrations on every page *


Bad Bella by Ali Standish
Bad Bella
by Ali Standish
I love books that are written from the dog's perspective (hello Fenway and Hattie!).  It would be so fun to know what is going on in their heads, but until that happens, we have these wonderful books to help us know otherwise!
Bella is the story of a rescue.  In the very beginning of the book, Bella is trying hard to be loved by her family but too many things go wrong and the family brings her to the pound.  The father drops her off saying "this is not our dog".  What an interesting concept, one to be explored by readers and by Bella.  We see this resonate with Bella for a long time, even after she is adopted by a new, loving family.
Coming in at under 150 pages, this book is perfect for readers who are working on reading stamina.  I can see this fit with readers from 2nd-5th grade!
I loved author Ali Standish's note at the end of the book telling us about the real Bella!

Dory Fantasmagory: Tiny Tough
Dory Fantasmagory Tiny Tough
by Abby Hanlon
I absolutely adore Dory and everything that happens to her - real or imagined.  
I feel like this book gets back to the roots of Dory stories, those that are full of her imagination and characters that make us laugh.  
And this book has Tub Town.  This was a bath toy from the 1980s that had suction cups on the back so you hung the whole thing on the bathtub wall.  It had multiple rooms and levels and little people and boats.... so much imaginative play would happen with this toy!


Whether you teach kg or 5th grade, I bet there is a book on this list for your readers!