Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - books for little foodies! 2.20.19

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.

Oh my, my nonfiction stacks have gotten OUT OF CONTROL!  I really need to read and post.  I'm hoping to have a month worth of new(er) nonfiction to share with you in the upcoming weeks.  Be sure to check back on Wednesdays, here's what's coming:
1.  books for little foodies! 

2.  picture book biographies featuring men
3.  picture book biographies featuring women, part 1
4.  picture book biographies featuring women, part 2
5.  celebrating baseball
6.  animal nonfiction books, part 1
7.  animal nonfiction books, part 2

For the small foodie in your life, there are some new nonfiction picture books to share!

Pancakes to Parathas by Alice B. McGinty
Pancakes to Parathas: Breakfast Around the World
written by Alice B. McGinty
illustrated by Tomoko Suzuki
Starting with Australia and ending in the United States, visit 12 different countries and see what the local breakfast fare is for children!  Each country has some really different selections, although kids will recognize some of the foods but it may be cooked with different spices or sides.  For each double layout, on the left side of the page is a basic  introduction of the food and where it is eaten.  There is also a small map of the country and the country's flag.  On the right side is the proper food name with a pronunciation guide.  The food is described in further detail as well as some information about when the children eat the food, how they may get to school, and how weekend food may be different than weekday food.
I appreciated seeing the differences celebrated and the similarities noted.  This would be a fun book to read and have conversations about.

Kids Cooking by George Ancona
Kids Cooking: Students Prepare and Eat Foods from Around the World
by George Ancona
This book details some cooking classes that are held for young children.  Parents are at the class, but the children do the majority of work.  Several classes are spotlighted and each class the young chefs are making a meal that has origins from other countries.  The book shares the different vegetables and spices that are used to create each dish.  The young children even cut the vegetables using butter knives!  The adults cook each meal and then everyone partakes in the eating!  
I loved the photographs and I think it will be powerful for young readers to see other kids making their meals!  I wish there had been headings to give a visual cue that a new meal was being talked about.  
Another fun book to have for your budding chefs!

Happy eating, I mean, reading!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Cover Reveal for How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk illus by Sara Palacios 2.18.19

I always love cover reveals!  Sometimes I know about a book that is going to be published but I'm not sure what the cover will look like just yet.  When I know a little about the book my mind starts thinking of possible cover ideas...  Luckily I made the right career choice because what the illustrators and the cover designers do - wow!  They come up with way better covers than what ends up in my mind.  

I am glad you stopped by today because I am so honored to be able to share with you the cover reveal for Josh Funk's upcoming How to Code a Rollercoaster book with illustrator Sara Palacios.  How to Code a Sandcastle is a huge hit in my classroom library and I've shared it for #classroombookaday in multiple classrooms and grade levels.  I'm excited to see more and more coding opportunities for all students and to see the push for more girls to explore this field.

Image result for how to code a sandcastle
How to Code a Sandcastle
written by Josh Funk
illustrated by Sara Palacios
published by Viking Books for Young Readers
available now

Now let's get to the good part, I know you didn't come by to see me ramble!  Josh Funk stopped by the blog to chat about How to Code a Rollercoaster, give us a sneak peek of the cover and chat about coding!

Mrs. Knott: Hi, Josh!

Josh Funk: Hey, Michele! Thanks for having me as a guest on Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook! I’ve been a big fan for years now!

MK: I'm grateful our friendship has expanded to burrito lunches now!  You've given me a lot of street cred with my students when I get to tell them I've had lunch with the great Josh Funk!  But let's get back to your books... Why did you decide to write a series of books about coding?

JF: Well, first off, I’m a software engineer. Yes, I write picture books, but I still have the full-time day job of writing code for a living. And for several years I had been trying to come up with a way to combine my day job and the world of picture books. While coding can be a relatively complex topic, some kids are learning coding as early as preschool.

There are loads of great fiction picture books with STEM-related topics that can certainly be used to get kids interested in the use of technology. And there are loads of resources out there to teach coding to elementary school children. It was my goal to combine the two - get kids excited about coding, but also learn some of the concepts and terminology along the way.

MK: So how did you land on a series focused on a girl and her robot as the way to do that?

JF: The truth is, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series wasn't my first attempt at writing a book about code. It was actually my third and a half (I’ll explain the half).

My first attempt was a sort of Alice in Wonderland / Tron mashup where a brother and sister were sucked into a computer and they needed to find a way home. They met a pointer named Arnie and a pair of witches named Iffie and Elsie (I was probably writing this around the time of the first Frozen movie), and there were loads of inside jokes and by the time I got to the plot I was already on the 40th page of the picture book, and it was way too complicated and frankly, none of my critique partners could understand it.

For that half attempt - I had always been a fan of the Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table series, which takes a world that kids are likely familiar with (King Arthur) and teaches a relatively complex topic (geometry). So I thought, maybe I’ll take Greek Mythology, which more and more kids are familiar with nowadays and turn that into a picture book about coding. After enough research, I realized why there are almost no picture books about Greek Myths: there is far too much violence and adult romance for the picture book aged audience (although I love D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths if you’re looking for something).

The next attempt was a book about an amusement park - I think I called it Hello World’s Fair - about a girl and her brother who went through an amusement park and used the games and rides to talk discuss coding concepts. It was closer, but it was still too complicated.

And finally Jess Keating suggested to me that I write a ‘How-to’ book. Keep it simple. Actually build something - after all, when writing code, you are constructing a program. And that’s when it clicked. Take a kid-friendly activity (like building a Sandcastle) and look at it through the lens of a coder. In How to Code a Sandcastle, Pearl and Pascal using sequences, loops, and if-then-else’s (or conditionals) to build a sandcastle.

MK: And today we’re here to reveal the cover of the second book in the series. Can you tell us a little about How to Code a Rollercoaster?

JF: Here’s what the publisher says:

Pearl and Pascal take their coding adventures to the amusement park in this follow up picture book from our Girls Who Code program!

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, are enjoying a day out at the amusement park. Spinning teacups, ice cream, and of course: rollercoasters! Through the use of code, Pearl and Pascal can keep track of their ride tokens and calculate when the line is short enough to get a spot on the biggest ride of them all--the Python Coaster. Variables, if-then-else sequences, and a hunt for a secret hidden code make this a humorous, code-tastic day at the amusement park!

In short, the focus of this book is the concept of variables. But we still use sequences, loops, and if-then-else’s here, too. The idea is to build upon what was learned in the first book, but still be able to read this book independently.

But for all you writers out there, young and not-so-young - no writing is ever wasted. I was able to reuse a lot that Hello World’s Fair when writing How to Code a Rollercoaster. Maybe not a huge amount of the text, but the fact that I’d already thought about two characters going through an amusement park gave me a huge head start when putting it together.

MK: What was it like working with Girls Who Code?

JF: It’s been great. They didn’t come into the project until the very end, though. I wrote all of those early drafts and even all of How to Code a Sandcastle prior to connecting with them. When I sent it to my editor at Penguin (she edited one of my earlier books, Dear Dragon), she mentioned that Penguin was about announce a partnership with Girls Who Code, and would I have interest in it being a part of their program. As they didn’t have any picture books planned in the program, I was thrilled to be invited to partner with such an amazing organization with a worthwhile mission.

As I look around my day job office, and even thinking back to my days in college, there has always been a dearth of women in computer science in my lifetime. That’s why my main character was always a girl - and she was always named Pearl - both because PERL is a coding language, and my paternal grandmother’s name was Pearl.

It’s also been great having Girls Who Code there to fact check everything further to make this book as scientifically accurate as possible.

MK: And before we get to the big reveal, what do you think of Sara Palacios’s illustrations?

JF: Brilliant! Sara Palacios’s art is better than I could have ever hoped. Her portrayal of Pearl and Pascal and everyone else in the world is fantastic. I so want to go to an amusement park she designs! It’s even been suggested to me that Ada Puglace needs her own spin-off. (Ada and her potty habits play a large role in the plot of How to Code a Sandcastle).

MK: And without further ado, here is the cover for How to Code a Rollercoaster:

How to Code a Rollercoaster will be available on 9.24.19
and is available for preorder at:
Indiebound    B&N    Amazon
And you can mark it Want to Read on Goodreads here.

JF: Thanks so much for having me and revealing the cover! I hope you have a fantastic rest of the school year and I look forward to the Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook App coming next fall!

MK: Fall of 2025 maybe. Thanks for stopping by, Josh!

More about Josh:
Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as books - such as the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series (including The Case of the Stinky Stench and Mission Defrostable), How to Code a Sandcastle (and the upcoming sequel How to Code a Rollercoaster), It's Not Jack and the Beanstalk, Dear Dragon, Albie Newton, Pirasaurs!, Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude (in conjunction with the New York Public Library), and the forthcoming It's Not Hansel and Gretel, It's Not Little Red Riding Hood, and more coming soon!
Since the fall of 2015, Josh has visited (or virtually visited) over 300 schools, classrooms, and libraries. Josh is a board member of The Writers' Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes manuscripts.

Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.
For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at and on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.18.19

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 book you'll want for your writing mentor text collection - don't miss What If...? Then We...

Picture Books

The Very Impatient Caterpillar
The Very Impatient Caterpillar
by Ross Burach
A hilarious look at one caterpillar who is trying to go through metamorphosis.  However, he's not the most patient of caterpillars, especially when being in a chrysalis requires you to be quiet and calm for two weeks!  Definitely a silly read aloud.
Look for it next week - Feb. 26th!

The Croaky Pokey!
The Croaky Pokey!
by Ethan Long
This is definitely one you want in your prek/Kg library!  A story that can be memorized since it's probably a favorite song, it's one that young readers will be able to practice following along with the print and reading.  The humor in it will keep readers coming back for more!

Red Sky at Night
Red Sky at Night
by Elly MacKay
This is a must have if you do any kind of weather unit.  Each page features a weather saying that you may or may not have heard of before.  However, within the illustrations is another story of two children and their father? grandfather? who are going out on a fishing excursion.  What happens to them matches the weather that is referred to in the saying.  I absolutely love Elly MacKay's illustrations - her paper and ink illustrations that are made into miniature scenes are a delight to look at.  Really enjoyed the inclusion of the factual information for each weather saying in the back matter.

The North Star
The North Star
by Peter H. Reynolds
This is a book I had not read by Reynolds and it was recommended to me to use with theme.  I can see why - it absolutely resonated with me as an adult.  Thinking about the journey we are on and thinking about what is important and slowing life down.  I'm wondering what age of readers really understand the idea this book explores.  I'm looking forward to using it with elementary age readers soon.

Lubna and Pebble
Lubna and Pebble
written by Wendy Meddour
illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
I really did not know what to expect with this one... but let me tell you after reading it I just want to put my arms around it and hug it.  It's such a beautiful story.  It's an immigration and refugee story but at its heart it's about friendship and empathy.  So many beautiful conversations should happen after reading this story.
Publishes March 5th.

Graphic Novels

Narwhal's Otter Friend (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #4)
Narwhal's Otter Friend
by Ben Clanton
The fourth book in the series does not disappoint.  I only wish they were being published even faster - readers can't get enough of this series!

Middle Grade

Missing Mike
Missing Mike
by Shari Green
I had read her award winning Macy McMillan a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with Green's words.  Knew this would be one I wanted to get to very soon!  
Another novel in verse and a hard one to stop reading - you'll want to see Mike the dog and his owner, Cara be reunited after forest fires require their family to evacuate their home.

Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2)
Game of Stars
by Sayantani DasGupta
I so hope you read the first adventure with Kiranmala and her adventure to the Kingdom Beyond.  Full of humor and Bengali mythology and folklore, this series needs to be in every library.
Kiranmala is back in the Kingdom Beyond - this time as a participant in a game show where the stakes are high (just saving the lives of her friends, no big deal, right?).  
I am so glad we are getting stories that originate in many different cultures to share with readers.  The first book in this series has been a huge hit with readers and I can't wait to share book 2 with them.  It publishes Feb. 26th but is available through Scholastic Book Club now!

Currently Reading

Operation Frog Effect
Operation Frog Effect
by Sarah Scheerger
I am about halfway through this one and definitely see the kid appeal in this one - just add it to your preorder list (Feb. 26th) now!

Happy reading this week!