Monday, April 29, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.29.19

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

Who is ready for some new nonfiction picture books about animals?  Your readers are!  Check these out!

Some new early reader books that have new books in their series.

Picture Books

I Have an Idea!
I Have an Idea!
by Hervé Tullet
I have long loved Mr. Tullet's interactive books.  They are some of the first books I use with readers - they love the interactive part and it provides a wonderful and positive reading experience.
This book is different, it is not interactive, but, if you're familiar with Tullet's other books, you'll see pieces of them in here. 
This is a perfect book to use at the beginning of the year when you're launching your writer's workshop time and want to talk about the struggle and joy of finding ideas.
Publishes May 7th.

Up the Mountain Path
Up the Mountain Path
by Marianne Dubuc
Oh, this sweet little book.  Mrs. Badger always climbs the mountain by her house every Sunday.  Except this one Sunday, she has a new explorer with her.  Mrs. Badger passes along her wisdom to Lulu the cat.  And so we see, kindness begets kindness.  Powerful lesson in this quiet book.

Carl and the Meaning of Life
Carl and the Meaning of Life
by Deborah Freedman
Definitely a book you'll want in your Earth Day rotation, but it's also perfect for some big discussions - how are we all connected?  what is our job here on Earth?  why do we do the things we do, or for whom do we do them for?  
As always, Deborah Freedman packs a deep punch in a story that doesn't waste any words.  Oh, and gorgeous illustrations too!

The Panda Problem
The Panda Problem
written by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by Hannah Marks
Yes to all of this.  You just need this book.
Characters that break the 4th wall?  Check.  Narrators that talk to the character?  Check.  Story that will make you laugh out loud?  Check.  Book that you can use to work on fluency and expression?  Check.
Yup.  Go find this one.

by Andrea Zuill
Here's another must have.  Had to go buy this one since I had checked it out from the library.  Love the message of appreciating who you are and not changing to fit in.  This is a book I feel like I need to share right now.  End of the year things get testy, this would be a great one to pull out.

Gondra's Treasure
Gondra's Treasure
written by Linda Sue Park
illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
The newest picture book by Park, this book looks at different dragon lore that comes from the west and the east.  The dragons are depicted as a mom and dad dragon and their child has traits from both.  The curious child asks many questions about how dragons are depicted in the east and the west and how it sits with her.  While the differences in dragons is named, I felt like this can also be a discussion that many children have with parents - traits they get from mom and traits they get from dad.

The Gift of Ramadan
The Gift of Ramadan
written by Rabaiah York Lumbard
illustrated by Laura Horton
A book about the some of the special traditions of Ramadan that is aimed for the younger crowd.  
Young Sophia is getting ready to celebrate the special time of Ramadan with her family and wants to have the special feeling she'll get knowing she is fasting as the adults do during this time.  However, it's hard for a little one to fast from sunup to sundown and Sophia gets down on herself when she succumbs to her hunger.  
This book is a good window for young readers who don't celebrate, as they learn more about the traditions of the holiday.  A great mirror book for young readers who do celebrate!  Don't miss the author's note in the back of the book!

Informational Texts

Saving Fiona: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Baby Hippo
Saving Fiona: The Story of the World's Most Famous Baby Hippo
by Thane Maynard
Oh, your animal lovers are going to love this one!  It's such a sweet, feel-good, heartprint story.  Fiona is the premature hippo born in the Cincinnati Zoo in January of 2017.  This is the story how the zoo and community nursed this preemie to health.  

Middle Grade

Song for a Whale
Song for a Whale
by Lynne Cherry
I really loved how Cherry brought together the similarities of a Deaf girl and a whale who sings in a frequency that is too high for other whales to hear.  
Iris is Deaf and other than her grandparents, the rest of her family is hearing.  She has recently lost her grandfather and he was one of the few people who understood her and knew what it was like to be living in a world that didn't always accept you.
Blue 55 is a whale who sings its song at 55 hertz, a higher frequency than other whales.  As a result, Blue 55 often swims through the ocean alone, finding company for no more than a day or so.
Iris decides that she needs to help Blue 55.  She does find a way and creates a song just for him.  She decides she needs to be there when Blue 55 hears it for the first time.  When her family disagrees, Iris finds another way.
I loved how headstrong and determined Iris was.  So often people think of someone with a disability as being weak and needing assistance.  Iris is a great model of how a disability is someone who finds a new way to get things done!

Revenge of the Teacher's Pets
Revenge of the Teacher's Pets
by Jennifer Ziegler
I have really enjoyed getting to know the Brewster Triplets.  This is supposedly the last book in the series - I feel like I know them so well and I'm sad to see them grow up without more books :)
Each of the triplets has their own personalities and so far it's been ok to put aside what one of them wants for the sake of the other two.  But now they are in seventh grade and they are each learning to be independent, but it's hard to let go.  
If you have not checked out this series yet, make sure you add it to your list.  These strong girls are wonderful role models for middle grade readers!

All the Greys on Greene Street
All the Greys on Greene Street
written by Laura Tucker
illustrations by Kelly Murphy
Shoot, this is a hard one to review.  This was my workout book, meaning I read it while on the recumbent bike at the gym.  Rarely I would have 30 minutes to read, mostly it was in chunks of 3-7 minutes at a time (the recumbent bike is always the last few minutes of my workout.... only on holidays and vacations do I get extended time!).  What all of this means is I read it over a period of weeks in short bursts of time.  It was a choppy read and it felt like that.  I had trouble getting into it.  I even binge read the last 100 pages to see if I could fall into it more, but this was a book that really dragged for me.  I'll be interested in seeing what kids think of it.
It's an art mystery, it's a story that has you opening your heart to the MC because her parents are absent for one reason or another.  It's a story that has great friendship.
It publishes June 4th.  When you read it, come back and tell me your thoughts.  I'm looking forward to seeing if this is a book I need to come back and read in a smaller amount of time or if you had trouble with it too!

Currently Reading

The Lost Boy's Gift
The Lost Boy's Gift
by Kimberly Willis Holt
Just starting this one, excited to read it!

Hope you're able to carve some time to read!  With the craziness of life, it always centers me to find some time to read!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

#road2reading Challenge - sequels for early readers - 4.25.19

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've got some sequels for the early readers!  

Mr. Monkey Takes a Hike by Jeff Mack
Mr. Monkey Takes a Hike
by Jeff Mack
I am really enjoying this series!  I actually put one of the first books on our Mock Geisel list this past year and I think this one could also fit the criteria.  It has a repeating pattern and words, enjoyable plot line and many sight words.  This is a book I will use with younger readers because it is so engaging and with it part of a series, it's perfect to hook readers!
In this third installment, Mr. Monkey is hooked on video games.  He runs, ducks, climbs, swings, falls and loses over and over.  This is equally fun and frustrating for Mr. Monkey.  But then the video game becomes real life as a bird takes his controller.  Out in nature, Mr. Monkey runs, ducks, climbs, swings, falls and loses his controller over and over.  Frustrating, right?  Along the way, he does get inspired by the nature he sees, but not enough to get him away from that tv for too long!

King & Kayla and the Case of Found Fred by Dori Hillestad Butler
King and Kayla and the Case of Found Fred
written by Dori Hillestad Butler
illustrated by Nancy Meyers
If you're not familiar with this series, you'll want to change that!  After all, two of the books have won Geisel Honors!
The dynamic detective duo are back and on the case.  This time they are trying to help a lost dog, Fred, find his owners.  King interprets for us so the reader knows what is going on in the story, but poor Kayla has to do her best to understand and interpret doggie barks to figure things out!
Fans of the series will definitely enjoy this next book!

Charlie & Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder
Charlie and Mouse Even Better
written by Laurel Snyder
illustrated by Emily Hughes
This series just continues to get better with each book.  I really liked how this book has chapters that connect, but could stand alone.  There were connecting threads through each one, but if you have a reader who is having trouble retaining information throughout a book, the reader can read each chapter on its own.
In the first chapter of the book, Charlie and Mouse are having fun with mom as they challenge her to make all sorts of different pancake shapes.  It is decided that mom is the best!  The rest of the story the family prepares to celebrate Mom's birthday.  Readers will laugh at the present the boys decide to give her!  The last chapter connects the thread of mom being the best, even when she can make herself even better!

Looking forward to one of these sequels?  Readers will be excited for all of them!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - animal books, part 2 - 4.24.19

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 - Yogi Berra blog tour
6.  animal nonfiction books, part 1
7.  animal nonfiction books, part 2
8.  the world around us, part 1
9.  the world around us, part 2

The Frog Book
The Frog Book
written by Steve Jenkins
illustrated by Robin Page
The dynamic duo is back, this time filling our minds with frog facts.!  As always, part of their book is amazing, the other part has me fascinating and yelling "gross" learning some of the amazing information.  I like the way this one was organized, makes it easy for research!  Each page has a heading giving a blanket statement, what the reader will learn about in that layout.

Almost Gone by Steve Jenkins
Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals
by Steve Jenkins
Another Jenkins book, this one has been around for awhile (published in 2006).  This would be a good book to use to cross-check for newer/updated information.  Are these animals still on endangered lists or not, or have they been put on an extinction list?

Dolphins! by Laurence Pringle
Dolphins! Strange and Wonderful
written by Laurence Pringle
illustrated by Meryl Henderson
The more I learn about dolphins, the more I am surprised at some of their habits!  This is a thorough book all about dolphins, one I can see students reading, not only for enjoyment, but for research purposes.  Includes a variety of text features and backmatter, including an index.

A Place for Turtles
A Place for Turtles
written by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Higgins Bond
I really love this series from Melissa.  Great to show problem-solution text structure.  These books really give kids (and adults!) something to think about because she shows some really practical ways kids can help the animals.  I also really like how the endpages of each book shows some of the different animals and maps showing where they can be found.
* note:  this is the cover from an earlier edition.  Peachtree and Melissa Stewart have been updating the books in the series with new and recent information.

Heads and Tails by John Canty
Heads and Tails
by John Canty
Definitely a book you want if you teach young children!  It's fun, it's interactive - you'll definitely get some giggles as you read it.  On each page is a riddle and the picture clue is an animal's tail.  The illustration of the tail goes right up to the page turn so it invites the reader to turn the page and... find the answer and the rest of the animal's body including the head (hence the title's name...).

My animal books are definitely a favorite section in my classroom library.  Excited to add these to the collection!

Monday, April 22, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.22.19

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

Come along for the Superlative Birds blog tour!

Celebrate National Poetry Month with these books.

Picture Books

High Five
High Five
written by Adam Rubin
illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
When the collaborators of the Dragons Love Tacos series get together, you know you're in for a fun read.  This interactive book has the reader practice their high fives with different animals in a competition.  It's a hands down (yup, see what I did there) fun read aloud!  And this book features such pretty glossy paper I just can't get enough of it :)

How to Two
How to Two
by David Soman
A number concept book that is so much more than a counting book.  Each page adds another child but it shows how adding more people adds more fun.  A great book to talk early on about including others in play.

We're Going on a Treasure Hunt
We're Going on a Treasure Hunt
written by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by Jay Fleck
This one will be a hit with young readers and it will be perfect to read on Talk Like a Pirate Day!

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
written by Jamie L. B. Deenihan
illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Oh yes, this is a needed book.  
You know that moment when your child gets a gift they really don't want and you're just hoping they react the way you want them to?
And you know how sometimes you get a gift from grandma that doesn't make sense but in the long run you discover it was the perfect idea?
A young girl makes a really long birthday wish list just to get a lemon tree.  But after some time and taking care of it, the girl learns a valuable lesson.

Elbert, the Curious Clock Tower Bear
Elbert The Curious Clock Tower Bear
by Andrew Prahin
Oh this book was so sweet!  Elbert is a curious bear and because of that he has trouble conforming to the boring rules he must follow in his job.  He goes off on his own to lose his curiosity only to find the big world out there gives him more things to be curious about!  So many ways to use this book in a primary classroom.

A Little Chicken
A Little Chicken
written by Tammi Sauer
illustrated by Dan Taylor
A silly book that will be well enjoyed by young readers.  Dot has to push through her fears in order to save her little sister-egg!

by Nathan Clement
Perfect for young readers - a book about flying on an airplane, readers will learn basic vocabulary as a family of three travels on a plane.

Informational Texts

Power Up
Power Up: Your Incredible, Spectacular, Supercharged Body
written by Seth Fishman
illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
From the duo that brought us A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, this book about energy and your body is a great new book for your science nonfiction collection.  I love finding new science books, an area that is lacking in my collection.

Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon
Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon
written by Kim Chaffee
illustrated by Ellen Rooney
Last Monday was Marathon Monday in Boston.  It's an historic race and so prestigious to get in and run it.  I thought it was only appropriate to read this book last Monday.  
Kathrine Switzer was the registered woman to run and complete the Boston Marathon.  Literally fighting off opposers as she ran, she kept to her goal and finished the 26.2 miles.  
As a former marathoner, I know the determination and mental game you play when endurance running.  I have so much awe for these runners and love reading about their determination.  
I really enjoyed Annette Pimentel's Girl Running which is about Bobbi Gibb, the first female to run the Boston Marathon, however, she was not legally registered.  I think sharing both of these books is a great spotlight on women who question rules that intentionally keep a group of people out.

Martin & Anne, The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank
Martin and Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank
written by Nancy Churnin
illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
Churnin always produces fascinating picture book biographies, this one being no different!  She takes a look at MLK and Anne Frank, who have a lot more in common than I ever stopped and thought about.  It helps to have some background of the two to really understand the connections, but it's not necessary.

When Rain Falls
When Rain Falls
written by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Constance R. Bergum
Ever wonder what happens in different environments to the native animals when it starts to rain?  Stewart shares different animal adaptations that keep animals dry when in rains.  This would go along great with studies looking at different biomes.

Graphic Novel

Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths
Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths
by Graham Annable
If you haven't met Peter and Ernesto, fix that today!  They are lovable sloths, one a bit more adventurous than the other.  This time, they both have to be ready for an adventure because a hurricane has just hit their tree and they are not on the lookout for a new tree with their fellow sloths.  As with any adventure with these two, the unexpected always leaves them with a new funny story!

Middle Grade

Because of the Rabbit
Because of the Rabbit
by Cynthia Lord
I feel like everything Cynthia Lord writes has these nuggets of truth that just sit in my heart.  This book was no exception.  Emma is going to school for the first time in fifth grade.  She's always been homeschool but now is the time for change.  Of course it doesn't go the way she planned.  But to help ease the pain, she's fostering a bunny that her game warden father saved.  Emma didn't plan for the bunny to worm his way into her heart so quickly.  
I think readers are going to fall in love with this quick read.  Books this length (under 200 pages) are so needed.  Many readers need books that aren't overwhelming in length as they build their own reading stamina.  Lord is fantastic at picking every right word, not wasting anything, and writing a book that makes you continue thinking about it long after you close the (under 200 pages) book!

The Doughnut Fix (The Doughnut Fix #1)
The Doughnut Fix
by Jessie Janowitz
I got this from the library some time ago but never had a chance to read it.  I remember seeing a write up of it and it sounded humorous.  Thanks to the Cartwheel Book Awards, I finally got to it, and yes, it was very humorous.  I'm glad it was chosen to be on the list because it is such a kid appealing book.
Tristan has just moved out of New York City into a small town.  The only thing that sounds good about this town is the doughnuts... and even that turns out to be nonexistant.  As a way to keep him busy until he is allowed to start school, he figures out how to put together a business plan and start selling doughnuts.  Along the way, he makes friends and learns this little town might not be so bad.  Predictable, yet the humor and fun made me excited for the upcoming book 2!

Currently Reading

Song for a Whale
Song for a Whale
by Lynne Kelly
I'm more than halfway through this book and I'm really enjoying it.

Lots more on deck!  MG and picture books are in the stack for this upcoming week!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Spotlight Friday - new Poetry books, part 3 - 4.19.19

I've been celebrating National Poetry Month at the Book Nook.  If you've missed a post here's part 1 and part 2.  Today is the final post in the series.  Hope you've had a chance to read some books with your students.  Were you able to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day yesterday?  If not, take some time and share some poetry the rest of the month!

Blooming Beneath the Sun by Christine Rossetti
Blooming Beneath the Sun
poems by Christina Rossetti
art by Ashley Bryan
Artist Ashley Bryan has chosen some of his favorite poems by Christina Rossetti and illustrates them with cut paper.  Loved reading the illustrator's note at the very beginning of the book where Bryan shares he used his mother's sewing scissors to create the cut paper artwork, saying "her hand in mine."  Beautiful. 

The Day the Universe Exploded My Head by Allan Wolf
The Day the Universe Exploded My Head
poems by Allan Wolf
illustrated by Anna Raff
I love books like these.  They have such a place within a curriculum.  The way it plays with words and plays with poetry.  And in case you're wondering more about the format, Wolf includes notes about the poems at the end of the book.  But then within each poem, there are nuggets of knowledge - full of information about space (of course, the reader will have to be a bit selective in understanding what is true and what may be some fictional information...), this collection would be so fun to use during a science unit.  I hope libraries purchase this one, I think it will be a fan favorite!

Lion of the Sky by Laura Purdie Salas
Lion of the Sky: Haiku for all Seasons
poems by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Mercè López
This is the third poetry book of Salas this year and another one that is a must have for me (disclaimer, I own all three, but they are all so good!).  As she explains in the back of the book, these are Riddle-Kus - haikus that are riddles.  Separated by season, kids will love guessing the answer, and if you really have trouble, the answers are located in the back of the book!  With beautiful, soft illustrations from López, this book is one to share every year!

Like a Lizard by April Pulley Sayre
Like a Lizard
written by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
This is a book for your language mentor text collection - put it with books you use when talking about similes or verbs.  Gorgeous language!  Another one that is full of knowledge within the poems.  Studying reptiles?  You'll want to read this one.  Not only is the poem fun, but you'll see lots of different lizards in the illustrations.  Each lizard is labeled and is featured in unique settings.  At the end of the book, Sayre includes information about each lizard.

If I Was the Sunshine by Julie Fogliano
if i was the sunshine
written by Julie Fogliano
illustrated by Loren Long
Oh, this book is just beautiful!  As I mentioned in an earlier post, sometimes a poem can be an entire book.  A book does not have to be a collection of poems, it can be one longer one that is stretched and illustrated as an entire story.  This is one of them.  Fogliano looks at connections between things in nature.  I think this is also a beautiful look at perspective.  Two things are compared (example, flower and nose) and then each say what they would call each other (sniff, rose).  Accompanies by Long's gorgeous artwork, this was a book I took my time with.

Home Run, Touchdown, Basket, Goal!: Sports Poems for Little Athletes
Home Run, Touchdown, Basket, Goal! Sports Poems for Little Athletes
by Leo Landry
This one will be a homerun with young readers.  Fun, rhyming poems that center around sports.  Geared for a younger reader, the rhymes are fun but perhaps a bit clunky in some areas.  I'm glad to have some sports poetry to share with readers.

I hope these posts have helped you find some new poetry books to share with readers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Superlative Birds blog tour - 4.17.19

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.

Last year I had the pleasure in sharing Leslie Bulion's Leaf Litter Critters with you.  Check it out here.  Today, I get to share her latest:

Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion
Superlative Birds
written by Leslie Bulion
illustrated by Robert Meganck
published by Peachtree Publishers

Dive into the most and least birds in this book as you discover all the superlatives in a bird's world.  Author Leslie Bulion and illustrator Robert Meganck have collaborated to create a book that will boggle you with information and leave you with many different reading and sharing opportunities as you go through this book.  From endpage to endpage, every reader will find fascinating information and crazy facts about the birds in the world around us!

Want to share it for the gorgeous poetry about these amazing creatures?
Every poem is different - a different bird, different superlative, and different poetic form.  I love how they each fit so perfectly for the bird it is describing.

Want to share it as you talk about superlatives during a language lesson?
Who doesn't love being the best or most or greatest at something?  Some fun superlatives in this book include "biggest loudmouth", "most gruesome prey collection", and "smelliest"!

Want to talk about creative ways author and illustrators keep readers entertained when putting a book together?
Don't miss the chickadee that finds its way on every layout, imparting extra information about the featured bird.  Sometimes the information is about the bird, sometimes it's about how the bird relates to other animals in our world.  A reader could just go through the book reading the quotes from the chickadee and learn a lot of information!
There is even one layout that uses a QR code.  It's a beautiful song that accompanies the poem.  More about that in a minute!

Want to share it during science when researching the world around us?
For every layout, Bulion has added a science note that gives further information about the bird.  While the accompanying poem may contain some facts, a reader will go to the science note to dive deeper into the bird's world.
I also liked how Bulion connected these creatures to the harm we are putting into our environment.  For every conscious move we make to keeping our Earth clean, we're adding to the longevity of these amazing creatures!

Does the information fascinate you?  Looking to see how an author includes even more information in their book?  Don't miss the backmatter!
The backmatter includes a glossary, notes about the poetic forms of each poem, where to find more information if you are interested in birding and acknowledgements from the author.

I hope you have lots of time to share this book, in fact I can see it being read over a spread of days.  As you can see, there is so much to take time and read and share.

Today author Leslie Buillon stopped by to answer some questions about Superlative Birds.  Thanks for stopping by, Leslie!

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit your lovely Book Nook, Mrs. Knott, and for your interesting questions about bird poetry process, bird book illustration and bird-related singing!

1.  I loved seeing all of the birds you selected, some were new to me and some were familiar!  How did you pick out the birds to include in the book?  And, how did you determine some of the superlatives?

            Ah yes, the dilemma—who’s in? who’s out?—is a BIG question. The short answer: the superlatives determined the birds!
            Superlative Birds explores signature characteristics we associate with birds such as song, flocking, beaks, and migration, to name just a few. So those characteristics helped me choose the superlatives. But even that’s tricky because you can come up with several different superlatives for each characteristic. Take beaks, for example: I could have included the bird with the longest beak, the heaviest beak, the smallest, the pointiest, or even the knobbiest beak!
            I curated the final assemblage of birds based on strong scientific evidence for their superlative “record,” with an eye to geographic and habitat variety. I wanted to present an informative, entertaining and worldwide cast of avian characters.
            You noticed that I also balanced familiar birds such as the turkey vulture with lesser-known birds like the Arctic tern and truly oddball birds such as the (phew) hoatzin. I hope readers enjoy meeting remarkable new feathered friends, as well as discovering surprising and remarkable attributes in birds they may already know.

2.  What was the writing process like for this book?  There must have been so much organization between the poem, the bird quotes, and the science information!

            Soooo much organization! My writing started with wide, foundational reading about birds. I added hands-on, experiential research, spending a week at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. And in the life-long joy department, I’ve become an eager birder both here in Connecticut and in my travels. I record my birding data on Cornell’s ebird citizen science database.
            I created a preliminary list of birds and their superlatives, then did more in-depth research on each. I juggled and winnowed until I had the depth and breadth I wanted. As with all of my poetry collections, I thought a lot about how poetic form might relate to particular poem subjects.
            Once I began writing I was fairly methodical: poem, narrative science note, poetry note. Repeat, bird by bird (insert homage to Anne Lamott here). The process of distilling each complex science concept into the spare elegance of a poem raised many questions for me as I worked. I contacted researchers with specific questions and shared my poems and narrative notes. I wanted to be sure the nuance of each word and phrase conveyed accurate science. I planned a few ideas for back matter, then the manuscript went off to my editor, and eventually on to the art director and illustrator. Whew!

3.  The text and illustrations work together so seamlessly.  Were you able to communicate with illustrator Robert Meganck?

           Collaborating with Robert Meganck on Superlative Birds was a hoot (pun intended)! We worked on Leaf Litter Critters (Peachtree, 2018) together, too. When we’re in the thick of it we’ll email back and forth, several times in a day. You would not believe how much fine-tuning went into those chatty chickadee word bubbles!
            Robert always had another great idea to try, then—zip zip—my inbox would ding with his new work. His sketches and notes raised interesting questions that sent me back down the research rabbit hole, often highlighting something readers would want to know. The work is fun and challenging, whether we’re figuring out how to show relative sizes of our superlative birds or counting fingers and toes on frogs. On that note, I hope readers will stay tuned for Amphibian Acrobats coming March 1, 2020!

4.  I love the QR code for the song!  Tell us more about how that came to be.

      Ah, Mrs. Knott, you are giving me the opportunity for a proud mama moment here. I’m thrilled you asked about my daughter…er…I mean the QR code!
      Most of my collections include a poem based on the rhythm and rhyme pattern of a song. This is one of my favorite ways to model writing science poetry with students. But if I’ve chosen a song few readers will know, many could miss the fun of singing along. Enter the QR code. 
      “Arctic Terns the World ‘Round” is based on a beautiful old sea chantey, “White Wings.” When you scan the QR code you hear my daughter, Julia Hirsch, an actress and singer, who recorded the song for us in her home studio. Peachtree Publishing hosts the QR code link and—voila!—readers can listen and sing along.

More about author, Leslie Builon:  
Leslie Bulion has written poetry since the fourth grade. In addition to her other science poetry collections, Hey There, Stink Bug!; At the Sea Floor Café; Random Body Parts; and Leaf Litter Critters, Leslie has written several novels for young readers. She and her husband Rubin lice in Connecticut, where she often steps into her boots to meander through favorite birding spots, collecting data and photos along the way. Visit her website at

This is a book I have no doubt you'll want to add to your libraries.  Whether you're using it for a read aloud, research, a mentor text or just for a good read, it's a book to share!