Thursday, August 13, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - Books that feature fantastical animals - 8.13.2020

Image result for summer reading

This summer I'll be sharing chapter books that are perfect for a range of readers.  
Stop by every Thursday and find a round up of books you'll want to use with your readers!

It's the last week for the Chapter Book Summer series.  I hope you were able to follow along and enjoyed finding new chapter books for your readers.  If you missed any of the posts, find the Chapter Book Summer Series 2020 link on the right side of the page!

Today we're looking at books that have some fantastical creatures inside the pages!

Megabat (Megabat #1)
written by Anna Humphrey
illustrated by Kass Reich
This would be a fun read aloud in a 1st or 2nd grade classroom.  It will be a favorite for kids who enjoy animal stories, especially stories that feature animals that talk to humans!
Daniel has just moved to a new house and has the attic bedroom.  There he finds a very sad bat.  This bat is separated from his family in Borneo.  Now, how to get him back??  With a bat that talks like Yoda and lots of Star Wars references, I can see readers gravitating towards this series.
The book has a trim size and lots of white space on the pages.  Illustrations give visual support and are on every other page.

The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande
The Unicorn Rescue Society
The Chupacabras of the Río Grande
by Adam Gidwitz and David Bowles
illustrated by Hatem Aly

The Madre de Aguas of Cuba
The Madre de Aguas of Cuba
by Adam Gidwitz and Emma Otheguy
illustrated by Hatem Aly

I hope you have already found this series.  It's a favorite of mine and I love how creator Adam Gidwitz collaborates with authors from the culture the mythological creature is from to ensure the right voice is telling the story.
The other thing about this series is how it can appeal to different readers.  A reader may enjoy the story for the exciting plot line.  In each book, Professor Fauna and his young Unicorn Rescue Society members, Uchenna and Elliot, and of course Jersey, their pet Jersey Devil, travel to a new location to find the mystery of a mythological creature.  The plot is exciting enough with trying to help the creature, but throw in the bad guys that always show up, the Schmoke Brothers, it's page-turning fun!  However, each book also has an underlying storyline that often has to do with a bigger problem.  Some kids won't pick up on it, others (usually older readers) will.  For example, in The Chupacabras of the Río Grande, the book takes place in Laredo, TX, which is a border town to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.  When the characters arrive, a wall is being constructed to separate, and keep out, the citizens of each town/country.  As we know, this is an ethical debate occurring today.  In The Madre de Aguas of Cuba, topics of slavery and water conservation are lightly pursued.
This series is so fun to read, it's one that I continue to read each sequel.  Although they make the most sense when reading in order, they don't have to be read that way.  Helpful when getting them from a library!
It seems like we're getting closer to finding the elusive unicorn!  I haven't seen an announcement for the next book, but I'll be waiting!

And with the start of school next week, summer is over for me.  I hope you found some new books in the Chapter Book Summer series for your readers!  Until next summer!

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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Beastly Bionics - 8.12.2020

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.

Let's say you're building something but you've come to a roadblock, what do you do?
Think about animals, of course!

You've heard of bullet trains, right?  Those sleek trains that travel super fast actually had a problem.  When going through tunnels, an air pocket would form around the front of the train.  As the train exited the tunnel going those ridiculous fast speeds, the air pocket would collapse, making a gigantic booming sound!  How did engineers fix this problem?  By looking at the beak of a kingfisher bird!  The streamlined beak was a perfect model for the bullet train.

Jennifer Swanson's latest book is full of other examples of how animals have helped solve problems, inspire new ideas, and give healthy solutions... just by being them!

Beastly Bionics:
Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions
Inspired by Nature
written by Jennifer Swanson
published by National Geographic Kids

Many grade levels study animal adaptations, as well as have a science standard about engineering.  This is the perfect book to have on hand to look at some real life examples.  We know rattlesnakes squeeze their prey, right?  How can we use that information to help us in real life?  Scientists found a way to use this information when using a robot to pick up fragile objects.  I bet everyone is familiar with LED lights, right?  Guess which flying friend helped engineers construct the perfect light?  Fireflies!  

I did laugh at one of the animals mentioned because I can't believe this animal inspires anything other than annoyance - the Canadian Goose!  However, scientists studied their flight formations to think of ways of using drones in a more precise flight fashion!

Luckily for us, author Jennifer Swanson stopped by to answer a few questions!

I know the words "bionic" and "mimic", but I've never put them together!  Tell us more about biomimicry.

Biomimicry is the science of studying nature (animals  and plants) and then mimicking its most innovative and helpful attributes to create something that will help humans. In a nutshell, it is inventing using nature as your inspiration. Need to solve a problem? You don't have to invent something from scratch, take a look at how nature may solve the same problem. It's possible that there is something in how nature handles this issue that you could use to solve the same problem you have. Cool, isn't it? 

I loved how you divided the information on each page into categories - some include "Design Dilemma", "Building Bionics", and "Helpful Additions".  I can imagine this helped frame some of the writing, but did it also help organize your research?

Yes, in a way. I tend to write about pretty technical topics, which means that I have to come up with unique and creative ways to present the material so that kids (of all ages) will understand it. For that, I like to break things down into smaller bits of information. I also found that if you set up a pattern of how you are explaining things, then it's easier for people to understand if you change the topic, or in this case the biomimicry example. The pattern of showing the same bits of information in different examples makes it easier to follow the complex robotics that it took to make all of these creations.

I think this book will make a great addition in makerspace places.  What ideas could you give teachers and librarians to connect the book and makerspace?

My tag for this book is, "Get Outside and Get Inventing!" The idea that could be used for makerspaces is to get kids thinking creatively about animals and plants. In this time of covid, it can be difficult to get groups of kids together to work on one project. So, instead, use the ideas in this book-- biomimicry-- to encourage kids to go outside, or look outside their window. Or even look at other books, or some of their cool animal toys. Have them ask themselves, "What awesome thing does this animal have or do that could be helpful to humans?" Is it a long tail or trunk that grasps things? Is it the ability to be very sticky and keep things stuck together? Is it that it can change colors and hide? The next question is, "How would you make that using robotics?" Kids can draw their creations, make them out of paper, cardboard, modeling clay, or even robot parts if they have them. I did a fun talk about this on School Library Journal's Instagram Live Here:

Can you tell us a secret about creating the book?  I love finding out things from an author that we might never know about the book!

The secret of this book is that about 80% or more of these inventions are not completed. Many of them may become reality one day and others may only just end up being cool ideas. This is a bit strange for a book to do, but I felt it was very important to do a book about this just the same. I wanted to give kids a peek inside the real life research and technology that is taking place NOW. That is the exciting part about technology. The imagining, the thinking, the trial and error. It's all a process and one that is really exciting to see. I'm hoping that kids will read this book and get inspired to come up with their own designs. And then, maybe they will create them! Or they will realize that their idea doesn't quite work the way they want it, so they'll have to change their design. That is the secret to this book--how curiosity leads to invention! 

Which invention-animal pair did you find the most fascinating?

Honestly, I loved them all. If I have to pick one, though I'd say the poison dart frog. The fact that it keeps its poison hidden beneath the top layer of its skin and only has it come out when it is attacked, is just COOL! To use this idea to help de-ice airplanes in flight? Brilliant! I love how engineers and scientists think. 

Thank you for stopping by, Jen!  
Be sure to find a copy of this book for your future engineers and scientists.  There is so much to explore!

More about author Jennifer Swanson:
Science Rocks! And so, do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 40 nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology.  Jennifer’s love of STEM began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. A huge science geek, Jennifer encourages kids (of all ages) to engage their curiosity and DISCOVER the Science all around them! You can learn more about her and book her for speaking engagements and school visits at

Monday, August 10, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.10.2020

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

Chapter books that will take you away in some out of this world adventures here!

Picture Books

Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story: A Monarch Butterfly Story
Hello, Little One
written by Zeena M. Pliska
illustrated by Fiona Halliday
This is such a beautiful butterfly.  Told by a young caterpillar who meets a beautiful butterfly.  The caterpillar is envious of the way the butterfly can fly off and see so many wonderful sights - all the caterpillar can see is green, green leaves of the milkweed plant it is on.  However, over time, both the caterpillar and butterfly change and move on to new journeys.  
Yes, it's a life cycle story, but I love the voices this one gives to the story.

Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Like the Moon Loves the Sky
written by Hena Khan
illustrated by Saffa Khan
Beautiful story about the wishes from a mother to her child, with a special Muslim blessing, "inshallah".  Don't miss the author's note at the beginning of the story.

A Little Space for Me
A Little Space for Me
by Jennifer Gray Olson
This might be just the book to read this fall to let readers know that it's ok to feel like sometime you just want a little space to yourself.
A young girl feels overwhelmed in her house - too many people, too loud, too messy.  She needs to find some space to think and breathe and dream.

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
written by Zetta Elliott
illustrated by Noa Denmon
I wonder when Zetta Elliott wrote this poem?  We know it takes awhile for books to be published so you can't help but wonder when was this written?  Because it's timely now, or is it too late now?  For how long have we needed this book?  For how long are we going to need this book?
I can't imagine what it feels like to be a Black child right now.  The many feelings that are probably buried within them, not being comfortable to be on display.  This book is going to speak to many.  Make sure this is a book you have and read this school year.

Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper
Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper
by Miri Leshem-Pelly
This might be a fun book to use at the start of the school year, especially for everyone who is starting remote.  I have seen a lot of discussions on social media about "rules" for remote learning.  Just like in this story, the characters come together to figure out their rules.
Penny is a brightly colored drawn girl, but she lives on a plain piece of paper.  She goes to visit other kinds of papers - newspaper, graph paper, wrapping paper, coloring book pages - but learns they all have rules to follow.  She gets an idea to invite them to her plain piece of paper and form their own rules.
Publishes Aug. 25th

Huddle Up! Cuddle Up!
Huddle Up! Cuddle Up!
written by Bethany Hegedus
illustrated by Mike Deas
A new bedtime story for the football families out there!  
No boring ready for bedtime routines with this family - it's all about making the final touchdown (getting into bed).  With unnecessary "ruff"ness from the dog, a field goal kick with slippers, and getting rid of helmet heads in the bath, this book will delight football fanatics!
Publishes Aug. 25th

Graphic Novel

by Kayla Miller
This is the third graphic novel in the "Olive" series and it may be my favorite.  Without take a good look at the cover, I thought it was going to be about acting... when it's about getting actively involved in school issues.  
There is an election coming up for two grade level representatives for the student council.  Olive decides to get actively involved when she sees things that are happening at school that she wants to change.  The first is when she finds out there were kids who did not get to attend the grade level field trip because they could not afford the cost.
But, Olive is running against some of her friends in this election.  How can she stay friends and make  difference at school?

Middle Grade

In Your Shoes
In Your Shoes
by Donna Gephart
I've seen so many positive reviews of this story.  Although I've owned it since its release day, I have put off reading it.  I made sure to add it to my mustread list for this year.
The main story is good.  Flawed characters that you can't help but feel for.  I really enjoyed Tate, the blue-haired body builder girl!  Randall has severe asthma but that doesn't stop him from wise cracking every chance he gets.  Amy and Miles both have personal losses that made me tear up.  I enjoyed reading about their friendship and even their middle school romances.
But.  And this is why I put off reading this book for so long.  One of the characters, Amy, has a limb length discrepancy and wears a shoe lift.  For those of you who don't know me or have maybe just recently found my blog, my 15yo daughter has a limb length discrepancy.  So we have a very intimate understanding of this physical disability.  She has gone through four limb lengthening procedures and many other minor ones in between.  When she goes through a limb lengthening, we stay in West Palm Beach, FL for 3-4 months.  We're usually there with many other families who are going through their own limb deformity surgeries.  We've seen many reasons why a person may have a limb length discrepancy.  But in our experience, we've never seen someone who has that and is hoping the short bone grows and catches up to the other one... which is what the character says.  Amy has a 2cm (about 1in.) discrepancy.  She's very self conscious about this.  She sometimes wears a shoe lift, sometimes she wears an insert inside her shoe.  Friends, my daughter has a 7 inch shoe lift.  It was harder for me to have too much sympathy for her when the kids I've seen go through a lot of work, a lot of pain, to get to a 1in discrepancy....  Speaking of lifts, there is an exact science, and math, to figure out the size of the lift and it's difficult to find a place to make them.  Usually it's done through medical personal.  At the end of the book Miles gives Amy a pair of bowling shoes and adds a lift to it.  That part was so unrealistic, I laughed out loud.
There are more things I noticed but I'm going to stop.  Here's the thing.  I'm not sure why the author gave the character this physical disability.  It was not needed in the story, this character already had quite a few other things going on.  If you don't really understand the disability, why even add it?  Of course, my experience and the experiences of the people I know, can be different.  Maybe the author knows someone who had Amy's kind of experience.  For me, there were just so many things that seemed off, it distracted me from the story.  Nor would I want another reader to read this and think they understand limb length discrepancies after reading Amy's story.

Three Keys (Front Desk #2)
Three Keys
by Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang is on fire.  I've read her two published books, now this one, and they are all equally amazing.  The way she writes about a subject that is close to her heart, and is able to bring it to life in a fictionalized story that is so so so well done.
Three Keys continues Mia's story (although if you hadn't read Front Desk it could be understood on its own) and the what it was like being an immigrant in California in the mid-1990s.  That's when an extremely racist man was running for governor, along with a Proposition that would be voted on in the election.  Prop 187 would make it unlawful for "illegal" immigrant children to attend public school.  Mia and her friends learn how to be activists and fight not only against this law but other important events that happen in the story.
I wondered where the title came from and it takes awhile to learn.  I'm not going to write it here, I want you to find out the meaning on your own.  I'll just say, I love it!
Preorder multiple copies - if you have kids who read Front Desk, you'll need many books!  Publishes Sept. 15th.

Currently Reading

Letters from Cuba
Letters From Cuba
written by Ruth Behar

How to Be an Antiracist
How to be an Antiracist
by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

Today is #PB10for10 Day!  Here is my post.  Be sure to follow the hashtag on social media!

I return to school next week.  With this year being radically different from any other year, I'm giving myself the grace to say it's ok to take a blogging break.  I assume I will return at some point in September, but we'll see how it all goes!  Stay well, reading friends!

Picture Book 10 for 10 Day - Books for Starting the School Year With New Routines - 8.10.2020

Thank you Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine 
and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning 
for organizing this day.

I can’t believe it’s time for Picture Book 10 for 10 Day (#PB10for10)!  It’s always such a fun day to celebrate picture books and the many ways we can use them with young readers.

This school year is going to start differently than any other year - both in the years I’ve been teaching (starting year 25!) and the years I was a student.  Some of us will be distance learning.  Some will be starting the year with a hybrid approach.  And some schools will be full of students but may have other rules and regulations in place that are new.  No matter how the year is starting, there are always books that can help you and students have conversations about what is happening.  So this year, I’m sharing books to use when starting the school year with different routines.

If I Built a School

If I Built a School

by Chris Van Dusen

This book has ideas for many different ways to construct a school.  What Fall 2020 is telling us... school is going to look very different than it has in the past!  This is a different first day of school discussion - what does your “school” look like compared to your fellow classmates?  

I Am Every Good Thing

I Am Every Good Thing

written by Derrick Barnes

illustrated by Gordon C. James

This is the year to celebrate some positive identity!  It is the start of a new year and new possibilities.  Let your students know that they are worthy, they are appreciated, you’re happy they are there, and that you see them.

Your Name Is a Song

Your Name is a Song

written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Another book about positive identity. Celebrate what makes each child unique and the special ideas they bring to a class.

Don't miss this video that has author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, pronouncing each individual name in the story.

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story

The Arabic Quilt

written by Aya Khalil

illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

Each of our students will be approaching this year differently than in the past. Some may have experienced trauma or stress since they were last inside a school. Teachers should be respectful and understanding of each student's identity and background. Read this book and let students share about who they are to whatever extent they are comfortable with, even if this just means listening to others for now.

Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper

Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper

by Miri Leshem-Pelly

As we think about how we want this school year to look like, please include your students in the discussion, especially when talking about norms and expectations of the class. Please think about what you know about your students and what you learn from your interactions with them in the first few weeks of school. As you have these discussions, remember which voices you hear, and which ones are quiet. This book is a reminder that not all rules work for everyone. Decide together what is fair for this class.

A Little Space for Me

A Little Space for Me

by Jennifer Gray Olson

After you've been in class for a week or two, you may want to talk about taking some grace. There comes a time when an individual says, "I need a break." How do we say that? When do we need to do that? What does it look like? Just like the young girl in the story, we all need to find a space to just be.

It Is (Not) Perfect

It Is (Not) Perfect

written by Anna Kang

illustrated by Christopher Weyant

This is the year to admit, things are not going to be perfect and that is ok. Just like the characters learn, sometimes we can find a new idea, a new possibility, when we take some steps back and reevaluate. And sometimes, with help from our peers, we can achieve something completely different.

Happy Right Now

Happy Right Now

written by Julie Berry

illustrated by Holly Hatam

The rest of the books focus on mindset. This year is really going to need a growth mindset!

In this book, we see a situation that is initially perceived as negative, until the character thinks about the situation in a positive way. I like that this book also mentions that sometimes things don't go the way we planned and it makes us sad, and it's ok to have those feelings too.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

written by Kat Zhang

illustrated by Charlene Chua

Have you ever tried to make/create/do something and you know how you want it to end up, but it ends up very different than how you planned? Welcome to 2020! This year is not working out how we had at all planned, but we pivot, and try something new! Perfect book for growth mindset!



written by Minh Lê

illustrated by Dan Santat

This book has it all - being content, getting upset when things don't go your way, figuring out something amazing, sharing it with others. This year is going to have us experiencing so many emotions, but let's experience it together and lift each other to new heights!

Regardless of where you are teaching this fall, I wish everyone a happy new school year and hope for many positive new experiences for you and your students.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - books that are out of this world! 8.06.2020

Image result for summer reading

This summer I'll be sharing chapter books that are perfect for a range of readers.  
Stop by every Thursday and find a round up of books you'll want to use with your readers!

It's fun traveling to out of this world places.  Or having our reality have a piece of fantasy embedded in it.  These books let kids' imaginations travel to some different places or realities!

The Rewindable Clock #2 by Aaron Starmer
Locker 37: The Rewindable Clock
written by Aaron Starmer
illustrated by Courtney La Forest
This is the second book in the series, although you can certainly jump in at any point and understand the plot.
In this second book, Keisha desperately needs to visit Locker 37.  This locker is for fourth graders only and it's the giver of solutions.  It might not be the solution you are looking for, but it's a solution that is guaranteed to work.  Keisha needs to visit the locker because she has forgotten her homework, which is something new for her.  She ends up finding a clock, but not just any clock, a clock that allows her to rewind small amounts of time.  Of course, no time travel is without limitations, cautions, and warnings.  Keisha figures out something new each time she uses it, but all the time travel adds up to extra time awake.  Will Keisha finally figure out how to solve her problem and maybe help others out as she goes?
It's a fun storyline, but with going back and forth and the consequences that incur, there is a lot to track.  I would pass this series off to a mature reader who can follow plot lines and twists and turns.  I am looking forward to finding the first book in the series and reading more!

Teeny Weenies by David Lubar
Teeny Weenies: Freestyle Frenzy and Other Stories
written by David Lubar
illustrated by Bill Mayer
You may be familiar with Lubar's series The Weenies.  I was not, so I had to do a little digging about them.  Each book in the series is full of short stories that have a bit of a scare to them.  The characters all appear to be... maybe hot dogs?  Not sure if that's how I'm supposed to envision them or if it's just a take on the phrase, "don't be a weenie"... as in don't be so scared.  Well, the Teeny Weenie series takes it down just a little.  Each chapter book has short stories (each chapter is its own story, about 12 chapters in a book) that have just a little teeny fright in them.  I did not find them scary, but adds just a bit of a shock and the unbelievable, to each story.  I did find a few of them laugh out loud funny.  I had a hard time trying to visualize the characters as hot dogs, and stuck with human kids.  That visualization does not go with the illustrations, but it worked better for me!
I like that the chapters are short stories.  Kids can be reading a chapter book and they don't have to carry the story from beginning to end.  It's also ok to skip around while reading, even if that means not going all the way to the end.  Each chapter has its own closure so if a reader is still working on stamina, they are ok to not finish the book.
I have a few in the series and I'm looking forward to introducing the series to kids this school year.

Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power by Jennifer Hamburg
Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power
written by Jennifer Hamburg
illustrated by Jenn Harney
Hazy is a regular third-grade student, who along with BFF Elizabeth, is going to be making cupcakes for the school's upcoming carnival.  But while staring at her fridge (and by that I mean staring at the school menu that is posted on the fridge), Hazy gets a weird tingling in her hands and she feels hot and cold all over.  Next thing she knows, she has a vision of flying peas!  Dismissing it quickly, it's not until the next day when she's in the school cafeteria and a boy starts a food fight with, you guessed it, peas!  After a second vision comes true, Hazy and Elizabeth start thinking she has "tomorrow power" - she sees an event that will happen on the following day.  Can she use this power to help?  Where does she get the power?  Why does she have it?  Lots of questions and of course, a great set-up for book two!
It's a fun story and quick to read (170pgs).  With small illustrations on every page, it's a quick page-turner.  I think kids will enjoy meeting Hazy!

As our minds start turning to this next school year, I'm sure we all need a little out of this world reading to escape into!  Hope these are some new ones to add to your library!

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.

Monday, August 3, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.03.2020

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

Chapter books that are mysteries here

Chapter books with dogs and cats here

A roundup of books with characters that have a disability here.  

This new middle grade book is a must have, must read.  I loved the way the author brought together friendship, sports, and comics.  Read about Dan Unmasked here.

Picture Books

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
written by Aya Khalil
illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan
A beautiful story about a young girl who has moved to a new town and struggles to fit in with her Egyptian American heritage.  A teacher that helps bridge home and school, and classmates who learn something new, this book will be a welcome addition to talk about immigration, heritage, family traditions.

Heart on Pluto
Heart on Pluto
written by Karl Jones
illustrated by Andrew J. Ross
An early reading story about Pluto and the New Horizons explorer.  New Horizons was sent to explore Pluto and its planets.  This story is told in the voice of New Horizons and gives some quick information to readers about its trip.  
Perfect for preK-2nd gr readers.

Luci Soars
Luci Soars
by Lulu Delacre
This book keeps growing on me.  It's a metaphor about a child who is different and lets that difference define her... at first.  
Young Luci does not have a shadow.  At the beginning, she didn't know, nor did others.  But eventually she figures it out.  She develops coping mechanisms so others do not notice.  When she's finally brave enough to let others see her difference, they make fun of her.  She asks herself some big questions and allows her to see new, positive things about herself.
Big ideas, which will work well with older readers because picture books are for everyone!

The Ocean Calls
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story
written by Tina Cho
illustrated by Jess X. Snow
A story that celebrates the haenyeo tradition from South Korea.  The haenyeos are women in South Korea who dive for treasures that are sold in marketplaces.  The money is divided up amongst the women based upon their skill level and productivity.  This information come from the fascinating backmatter included in the book.
The story is about young Danyeon, who wants to become a haenyeo like her Grandmother.  She goes out to the sea with her Grandmother, but has some anxieties about going into the water.  Her Grandmother is a gentle teacher and Danyeon has some small successes in the story.

Every Little Letter
Every Little Letter
written by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz
The letters all live behind their walls and don't mix with anyone else.  The little (lower case letters) are bored and start to explore.  They figure out by mixing with other letters, they make words that make life way more interesting!  Of course the adult (upper case) letters are against this change and it's up to the kids to show change can be good.

Things That Go Away
Things That Go Away
by Beatrice Alemagna
This book should win an award for its use of vellum paper :)
Listing many things that go away - dust (although it always comes back), tears, a small wound, but one thing that always stays.  You have to infer a bit here, but with the hug you see a parent give their child, you can assume it's love.
You may want to put it in your SEL collection to talk about when it feels like the bad things won't go away, or when things feel heavy.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
by Anastasia Higginbotham
A really important book to read to children and discuss it as you go through it.  These conversations may change the future and allow the younger generation understand how to dismantle racist policies and white supremacy. 

I'm Not a Girl: A Transgender Story
I'm Not a Girl
written by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi
illustrated by Dana Simpson
Co-authored by a young transgender boy, this #ownvoices picture book features Hannah, a character who doesn't understand why people don't see who he is - a boy.
There are so many emotions readers can see as we read Hannah's story:
  • frustration when his parents insist on picking out clothes that don't feel right
  • sadness when Hannah explains he understands that girls are special and cool, but he just isn't a girl
  • freedom when other kids assume Hannah is a boy and plays with him
  • relief when his parents understand and love him for who he is
Fantastic resources in the backmatter.  A must-add to your LGBTQIA collections.

Middle Grade

My Life in the Fish Tank
My Life in the Fish Tank
by Barbara Dee
It's written by Barbara Dee, which means you are getting a realistic fiction, middle grade story about a topic that probably carries a stigma (usually with adults), and probably needs to be talked about more.
This one focuses around mental health.  Zinny's older brother, Gabriel, who is away at college, has been admitted to the hospital because of a car accident.  As horrible as a car accident is, there is more to this event.  It's the beginning of his bipolar diagnosis and the beginning of her family trying to cope with this diagnosis.  Everyone deals with it in a different way, which leaves Zinny feeling confused and upset.
Dee handles the topic very well, creating situations that will feel realistic to readers.  Hand this one to readers of Kate Messner's The Seventh Wish.
Publishes September 15th.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Canyon's Edge
The Canyon's Edge
by Dusti Bowling
This book is so uniquely written - parts in verse, parts in prose - that in itself makes it so entertaining to read.  
A survival story that keeps you gripped.  I'm glad much of it is in verse because I needed to read it quickly to find out what happens!  And I read an e-galley so I couldn't just flip to the end to see what happens :)
Great middle school read, especially one that will keep readers reading until the very last word!
Publishes Sept. 8th.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

Adult Novel

The Vanishing Half
The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
This book really is as good as everyone is saying.  Earlier this year I read Genesis Begins Again and it was the first time I read a book about colorism in the Black community - the varying skin degrees in the black community.  This book is also about that, but it's about a set of twins, who are so light, that one "passes over" and identifies as a white person.  The twins lead separate lives until decades later, their lives intertwine in a way neither had expected.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin Diangelo
Third time is the charm - that's how many times I checked the book out and then finally got around to reading it.  And it wasn't until the third time that I actually owned the book.  Important because it is now full of post it notes that I know I'll be going back and reading over and over.
I appreciate this book because it points out and makes known faults that I can own up to in my own racism.  And it's not something you can say, "oh I get it now" because they are things you have to actively work on over and over again.  
There are some great lists that help you stop and check your privileges and help you think critically about behaviors.  I will refer to these lists time and time again because they really need to be internalized.  I have a long way to go before I fully understand situations, my behavior and part in them, and ways to address it all.
I've read this book but I need to react to this book.  Looking forward to some future conversations with others who have read this.
I also am aware that this book was written by a white author.  While I think she brought a white perspective to this book that is helpful when reaching a white audience, I also understand that when talking about this subject, I need to be listening to authors of color.  I have several books I am reading next that are written by Black authors that I am looking forward to learning more from.
Karen Yingling also brought this article to my attention.  I appreciate that it gives another view of this book and I think it's important we listen to this perspective as well.  

Currently Reading

In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Happy August (how did it get to be August??) Reading!