Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites - book review - 9.14.21

Concept books used to be books - often board books - that would be all about a concept that is important for young readers to learn.  Alphabet and numeral books, books about colors and shapes, opposites and preposition words and phrases.  There weren't stories included in most of these books, usually they were more about the illustrations in order to make the concept be very clear.  However in recent years there has been a shift in these stories.  They are still usually very clear in teaching a concept, but as the reader goes through the book, a story emerges through the illustrations.

Cat and Dog by Tullio Corda
Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites
by Tullio Corda
published by Red Comet Press

In Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites, each layout has two words that are opposites (inside, outside and slow, fast).  However, as the reader goes through the story, we see there is more that is happening with our main characters - a dog and a cat.  It starts with introducing them as being awake (the cat) and asleep (the dog).  But as the brave cat wakes up the afraid dog, we see their personalities start to emerge.  The dog isn't thrilled with the cat's decision, but the cat clearly wants someone to play with it.  My favorite page shows the dog quite upset and the opposite side of the layout has the cat licking it's paw and the word is "unconcerned"!  But when the animals eventually go outside, it's the cat who gets a little scare and the dog that ends up the hero.  So even though the entire story is told in single or two word phrases, there is actually a story line within the illustrations that creates an actual plot line for the book. I also appreciated that the author didn't stick to typical opposite words, but has some unconventional ones inside, like the above example of "upset" and "unconcerned".  I'll let you discover some of the other fun ones!

If you are thinking about using this book in your classroom, be sure to check out this downloadable activity kit!

Check out this YouTube video of the author explaining more about this fun book!

Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for the review copy!

Happy - and definitely not sad - reading!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Once Upon a Camel blog tour - 9.01.21

A story about the power of story.  How telling a story can save a life.  How a story can pass time.  And how a story can make a difference.

Once Upon a Camel
written by Kathi Appelt
illustrated by Eric Rohmann
published by Atheneum
publishes 9.07.21

Summary (from Goodreads)
An old camel is out to save two baby kestrel chicks during a massive storm in the Texas desert.

Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion.

But those stories were from before. Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.

My thoughts
Usually when I start talking to kids about books I'll ask about their reading preferences.  It's funny how readers are often definite realistic fiction readers or fantasy readers.  Personally, I gravitate towards realistic fiction, but I can be a sucker for fantasy.  The kind of fantasy I don't usually pick up?  Animal stories.  Especially if the animal is narrating it.  However, there are a few that hold my interest.  I'll be adding Once Upon a Camel to that list.  In fact, I'll go as far as saying author Kathi Appelt is a queen at writing animal-narrated-fantasy stories.  I really think this one may be her best.  I love that it featured a camel as the main character, such a different character from what we typically see.  When the story first started and the haboob was coming, I really didn't understand how she was going to feature an entire story with this as the problem.  I love the way she wove Zada's past history into stories that literally helped the baby kestrels stay calm and survive.
The book is a trim size - it may seem like a long story, but because of the size of the book, you'll find you get through the book much faster than you may have thought.  I also loved seeing Appelt's humor come through in this story.  I laughed out loud several times!  The chapters are relatively short and despite it taking place in the past and in locations that are probably not as widely known, Appelt makes everything feel comfortable no matter what the background knowledge the reader comes to the book with.  I think this book would make an excellent read aloud.  Short chapters, action, heartwarming and touching story, with some humor... yes, kids are going to enjoy this one!
The story is also full of illustrations by the immensely talented, Erik Rohmann.  No surprise but his illustrations really made the story come to life!

Using it with novel study groups?
  • doing a closer look at settings?  Track how the setting affects the story.  What details did Appelt use to show this story takes place in the past?
  • study the cause/effect plot lines
  • there are three storylines to follow: Zada's current trek, Pard and Perlita's journey, and Zada's stories from the past.  How does the author keep them different?  How do the storylines intersect?
  • think about the concept of story.  What stories are told?  Why are they important?  How did the author use this concept within the story itself?
I am so excited to get this story into the hands of readers next week (Tues., Sept. 7th)!  I know readers are going to fall in love with Zada... they'll laugh with her and perhaps even shed a tear.  Make sure you have this one on your release radar!

More about author Kathi Appelt:

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award Finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist for The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Some of her award-winning books include Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and Max Attacks to name just a few. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, visit her website at kathiappelt.com.

Find Kathi Appelt on Facebook and Pinterest!

Would you like to own a copy of this gorgeous story (the answer is yes!)?  Atheneum has generously donated a copy for giveaway (US addresses).  Fill out the form for your chance to win.  A winner will be selected on September 8th.

Monday, August 30, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.30.21

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

It was the last Chapter Book Summer series - books about cooking!  Make sure you enter the giveaway!

Don't miss any of the Chapter Book Summer 2021 series posts.  Catch them all here.

Picture Books

Twinkle Twinkle Little Kid
Twinkle Twinkle Little Kid
written by Drew Daywalt
illustrated by Molly Idle
We all know to make a wish upon the first star we see, but did you ever imagine a star making a wish on the first kid they see?  Find out what happens when a young boy and a star make a wish upon each other, but won't reveal their wishes.  Cute story with fun illustrations from Molly Idle!  Look for this one on Sept. 7th!

The Girl with Big, Big Questions
The Girl With Big, Big Questions
written by Britney Winn Lee
illustrated by Jacob Souva
This would be a great book to use when introducing a Wonder Wall at the beginning of the year.

Pride Puppy!
Pride Puppy!
written by Robin Stevenson
illustrated by Julie McLaughlin
An ABC book that cleverly tells the story by going through the alphabet.  A family is getting ready to go to a local Pride Parade and when they get there, their dog gets loose.  We see the puppy going through the parade and it's a mixture of chaos and celebration!  I like at the end of the book there are more words in alphabetical order that you are supposed to go back and find in the coordinating illustrations.

Shabbat Shalom!
Shabbat Shalom!
written by Douglas Florian
illustrated by Hannah Tolson
This board book tells in simple rhyming phrases about a family celebrating the Shabbat.

Moth & Butterfly: Ta Da!
Moth and Butterfly Ta-Da!
written by Dev Petty
illustrated by Ana Aranda
A compare and contrast about moths and butterflies in a narrative style that is accompanied by beautiful and bright illustrations by Ana Aranda.  I love the way Petty adds lots of facts into this story that will be a delight to read aloud.

Middle Grade

Not a Unicorn
Not a Unicorn
by Dana Middleton
I've seen a lot of books about self-identity and learning to like yourself, but this had a unique take on the subject.  
Jewel is in eighth grade, she enjoys being with her friends, and loves sharing a graphic novel series with her friend.  And she's a girl who has a unicorn horn.  And she doesn't like it.  She doesn't like the attention.  She doesn't like the accidents that have happened because of it.  The biggest positive is it comes with her own unicorn, Carmen.  Other people can't see Carmen, but she's there for Jewel.  Bottom line?  Jewel wants her horn gone.  She's even done some secret research to find a doctor who can remove it.  But will that come at a cost?
This story about self-identity will be enjoyed by readers 5th gr+ and I like that it takes a new spin on this concept.
Publishes Sept. 21st, thank you to the author for the review copy!

Born Behind Bars
Born Behind Bars
by Padma Venkatraman
I absolutely adore how this author crafts her stories and I will continue to always read what she writes!  I'm grateful she has given us another story that takes place in India (and readers of The Bridge Home will get a fun surprise) as it truly is a window for letting readers understand a different living experience.
This story follows Kabir who literally was born behind bars, since his mother is jailed due to false accusations.  It's the only life Kabir has known, and while not ideal, his loving mother has cared for him and taught him and given him all the support he has needed so far.  But when it is decided he is too old to live in the jail, Kabir must leave with an unknown uncle and live outside of the jail.  Unfortunately, the "uncle" is only using Kabir to see him, so he runs away before that can happen.  Kabir soon meets Rani, another child living on the streets of India.  She teaches Kabir how to manage living on the streets and to keep following your dreams.
With quick chapters, this book was hard for me to put down.  Another must have for middle school readers.
Publishes September 7th.

What About Will
What About Will
by Ellen Hopkins
This is Hopkins' second middle grade novel in verse and she continues to show that she is adept at writing not only powerful YA novels, but also important MG stories, as well.  
Trace's older brother, Will, had a brain injury due to a powerful hit during a football game.  It left him with depression, anger control issues, facial tics, and an inability to move his facial muscles.  Will is pulling away from Trace and the rest of his family, and is gaining friends from the wrong crowd.  Trace is worried about Will, especially when he seems to be stealing items and money.  But with an absent mom and a dad who seems to be more into his new girlfriend than his family, Trace ends up taking on too much by himself.
A very strong novel about a family dealing with a child addicted to drugs and dealing with an injury, this story is an important one for middle school readers.
Publishes September 14th.

Currently Reading

How to Find What You're Not Looking For
how to find what you're not looking for
by Veera Hiranandani
Looking forward to this middle grade story!

Wow, what a summer we had!  As soon as my daughter made the Tokyo Paralympic Team this past June, it was nothing but swim.  I'm surprised I read and blogged the amount that I did!  She had an amazing experience in Japan.  Her swim didn't go quite how she wanted it to go, but as a 16yo, she has a lot of swimming in front of her.  The experience and all that she learned will only help her grow.  Not too many people can say they made a Games Team, and I know she is proud of that!
Now it's fall and school has started.  And we're getting our kitchen and a lot of our first floor done!  Nothing like continued chaos!  I'll be taking a break from blogging in order to have time to get the daily things done at home.  I'll still be reading and posting some must-read books on Twitter and I'll be back to blogging later this fall.  I have some posts that will be going up later this week.  After that I'm hoping to have my new blogging site up and ready.  It's been tricky to get it changed over to the new platform!  I hope you'll follow me there!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - books for foodies! - 8.26.21

You've made it to the final Chapter Book Summer series post!  I hope you have found these posts to be helpful and you've found loads of chapter books for your readers this fall.
Today's focus is on food!  Maybe you should introduce these books after lunchtime!

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1  Farm Fresh Fun #2  A Passport to Pastries! #3  Cooking Club Chaos! #4
Phoebe G. Green series
written by Veera Hiranandani
illustrated by Christine Almeda
A series for young foodies!  In the first book, Phoebe can't help but drool at the foods her new friend Camille, who happens to be from France, brings to school.  Chickpeas, goat cheese, and... duck!  She makes it her mission to be invited over to Camille's house to try even more delicious food!
Each book in the series has something to do with food and it also shows the characters (third graders) going through some pretty typical problems that other readers will be able to connect with.  Whether it's friendship or telling the truth, readers will see themselves within the pages of the book... even if they haven't tried the fancy food!
Illustrations are featured throughout the chapters and the books are a trim size, coming in at just over 100 pages.  I have so many books about foodies and bakers and cooking, but this is the first chapter book series for these young gourmet readers!
for read aloud: grades 1-2
for independent reading: grades 2-3

Aven Green Baking Machine by Dusti Bowling
Aven Green Baking Machine
written by Dusti Bowling
illustrated by Gina Perry
This is the second Aven book this month and the second "Green" series of this post!  I just love her - she is such a real character!  I love her sassiness.  I love the way she says what she thinks.  I love the way she makes mistakes and learns from them.  
Aven has given up her detecting and switched to baking.  She is determined to win the baking competition at the county fair and she going to enter it with her three best friends.  They each decide to bake something and then choose one of the recipes for their entry.  But Aven won't keep her mind open to selecting anyone else's choice, just hers.  And she doesn't understand when not everyone agrees.  Her opinions continue to turn people away when she even upsets a classmate at recess over baking ideas.  But with some great advice from great-grandma, Aven learns to keep her mind open and be ok with trying some new experiences.
I love Gina Perry's illustrations and I know they will help give readers images that will support their understanding.  Quick chapters will keep readers turning the pages!
for read aloud:  grades 2-3
for independent reading: grades 2-4

Want to win a copy of Aven Green Baking Machine?  Sterling Publishing has generously donated a copy for giveaway (open to US and Canada residents)!  Winner will be selected on September 2nd.

I hope you've been able to follow along on this Chapter Book Summer!  If you have missed any posts click here to find a roundup of them!  Throughout the year I post books similar to this and for even younger readers.  Follow along with the hashtag #road2reading.  

Thursday, August 19, 2021

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - Time for School - 8.19.21

While it may feel like summer out there, some of us have started back to school!  So this week I have chapter books that take place in school!

Twins vs. Triplets #1 by Jennifer Torres
Twins vs. Triplets: Back-To-School Blitz
written by Jennifer Torres
illustrated by Vanessa Flores
This is the first series from the Harper Chapters series I am featuring this week.  I really like the series, they are similar in length and complexity to series like Horrible Harry or The Magic Tree House, but feature a more diverse cast of characters.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of chapter numbers and after completion of the chapter, the number is colored in.  Just one way kids can celebrate the amount of reading they are doing.  At the end of each book, it celebrates reading in numbers - how many chapters, pages, and words the child read.  Finally, there are some ideas to continue the fun in the story.
This first book in the series introduces us to our narrator, David.  He is getting ready to start the third grade and he is super excited to join the Globetrotters, a geography club at school.  He's even found a way to make sure that he won't be in the same classroom as his archrivals that live on his street, twins Ash and Iris.  But little does anyone know, the twins are about to meet their match because triplets - Bird, Bennie, and Beckett - have moved in to a house on their street and things are about to get interesting!  Unfortunately they are in David's class and they do bother him, but what bothers the triplets the most is the territory the twins have covered at recess... the slide!
One thing I did not like is David's friend Edith is Asian and there are two illustrations drawn with her eyes being slanted in a line.  I was surprised with the illustrator's bio saying she is a strong advocate for representation, yet it lacks integrity with Asian representation.
for read aloud: grades 1-2
for independent reading: grades 1-4

The Great Escape by Alan Katz     The Zoo Switcheroo (S.O.S.: Society of Substitutes, #2)
S.O.S. Society of Substitutes series
written by Alan Katz
illustrated by Alex Lopez
The next series in the Harper Chapters line is written by an author I enjoy because of his great sense of humor!  In this series, Noah the part time classroom pet, part time evil pet mastermind is going to get quite a few laughs!  
Meet Milton Worthy, second grade student who is more focused on what he is forgetting to do than what is really going on.  And he misses some big things with Noah the ferret.  But never fear, Mrs. Worthy, Milton's mom, is here to be the substitute teacher.  Milton learns that Mrs. Worthy is actually part of the Society of Substitutes and they know about about Noah and his evil ways.  Whether they are chasing him around the school or a zoo, S.O.S. has it under control!
for read aloud: grades 2-3
for independent reading: grades 2-4

Geeger the Robot Goes to School by Jarrett Lerner     Lost and Found: Geeger the Robot
Geeger the Robot series
Geeger the Robot Goes to School and Lost and Found
by Jarrett Lerner
This is part of Simon and Schuster's Quix lineup, which I have reviewed other series from this line as part of Chapter Book Summer.  This series has a couple of more chapters than the other books, but still includes larger font, a decent amount of white space, and lots of illustrations.  It also has a cast of characters at the beginning of the book, a glossary and discussion questions at the end of the book.  The series keeps the same, familiar characters and has a plot line that is easy for young readers to follow.
The first book in the series has Geeger going to school for the first time.  Because he is a robot that needs to eat a lot of food (which we learn in the first book is old, moldy food that he is able to recycle for energy for the town), the first lesson he has to learn is you don't eat everything!  This translates to needing to stop and think about your actions before doing them!
The second book is a reintroduction to Geeger.  The nice thing is if this is the first Geeger book a reader picks up, they'll be fine to read it out of order.  In fact, there are not numbers on the spines, so those of us who have issues with reading books in order even when you don't have to, won't get as caught up in that problem :)  The new problem in this book is the class pet has gone missing.  We see Geeger continuing to grow some (human) social emotional skills because he saves some moldy bananas to feed to the class hamster, however, the hamster disappears right after Geeger feeds him.  Could Geeger have eaten Fudge the Hamster???
Lucky for us we have even more Geeger coming our way!  At least two more books are publishing this fall and late winter!
for read aloud: grades 1-2
for independent reading: grades 1-3

Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School by Emily Jenkins
Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School
written by Emily Jenkins
illustrated by Pete Oswald
I thought this was a picture book so I was really surprised when I picked it up from the library and it was a sizable chapter book!  It's larger in size (wider) and longer, coming in at 226 pages.  It's full of colored illustrations, on almost every page.
The story is written in diary format, yet it's also broken up in to chapters.  The plot takes us through the first 100 days of school.  Experiences will be very familiar to school-age readers.  There are some positive things - talking about why we call it Indigenous Peoples' Day instead of Columbus Day, they have a Storybook Costume parade instead of dressing up for Halloween to be cognizant of classmates who don't take part in the holiday.  The discussion of families and how they are different and they don't all look the same happens at the beginning of the school year.  Common fears and problems that occur in school are explored.  
There was one thing that bothered me.  One character keeps snapping the waistband of the main character and threatening to pull his pants down.  Eventually the main character uses his voice and tells him to stop.  I was bothered that an adult was not aware that this was taking place over and over.  While I am sure this is also a realistic situation, since it happened over and over, I wish an adult had found out.  This would be a part of the story that I would discuss with readers and make sure they understand the importance of telling an adult when that happens.
for read aloud: grades 2-3
for independent reading: grades 1-3

Like what you see here?  Be sure to stop by every Thursday for more chapter book suggestions!  If you want to see all of the posts in the series, click on "Chapter Book Summer Series 2021 under the "Labels" section, located on the right side of the blog.  See you again next week!

Monday, August 16, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.16.21

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

Last week was the annual Picture Book 10 for 10 day.  Here are 10 (+1) books about identity!

Hard to believe the Chapter Book Summer series will be coming to an end soon!  Don't miss these chapter books about dogs!

Picture Books

What Are Your Words?: A Book About Pronouns
What Are Your Words?: A Book About Pronouns
written by Katherine Locke
illustrated by Anne Passchier
These books are needed so readers hear these experiences being told in stories.  I do think there needed to be a bit more explanation, especially for readers who are just starting to understand that pronouns are something we identify with instead of are assigned to us.  I have to imagine it's a challenge to explain it without it sounding like an explanation! 

When Lola Visits
When Lola Visits
written by Michelle Sterling
illustrated by Aaron Asis
Celebrating Lola's visit and the many special things they do together before the end of summer and start of the next thing.  It's celebrating those special moments together, but also feeling those sad and empty feelings when a loved one leaves.  This story captures the high and lows and how life continues to move on.

This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth
This Very Tree
by Sean Rubin
There are a few books that are being published about the "Survivor Tree".  I like that this book recognizes the tragedy of 9.11, but doesn't dwell on the terror of it for young readers.  It focuses on the story of this tree and what it represents to the survivors, the people of New York, and America.  Something else that is unique is that it's narrated by the tree.

Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree
Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree
written by Ann Magee
illustrated by Nicole Wong
Another story about this important tree.  While the story is essentially the same, the illustrations show a comparison of the tree changing and growing with a young girl.  The girl is first shown on 9/11 as a young girl, but as the tree grows, the girl does as well.  

Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality
Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality
written by Susan Hughes
illustrated by Nicole Miles
Add this book to your changemaker list.  A story about how a kid started making a difference.  Twins Victor and Linesi have different places to be during the day.  While Victor attends school, preparing himself to have a job in his future, his twin Linesi does not get to attend school, as she must do the tedious work of getting water for their family.  Inspired by his teacher talking about gender equality, Victor stands up in order to make a difference.

Flip! How the Frisbee Took Flight
Flip! How the Frisbee Took Flight
written by Margaret Muirhead
illustrated by Adam Gustavson
We all know about the frisbee, but where did it start?  While there isn't a definite answer, Muirhead focuses in on one person, in particular - Fred Morrison, in California!  Fred got his start by flipping a popcorn tin to his girlfriend after a Thanksgiving dinner!  They moved on to pie tins eventually, and it caught on quickly!  But did it start somewhere else first?  On the east coast, kids were buying pies from someone named Joseph P. Frisbie and using the empty pie tins to flip to one another.  And of course there's the famous Greek statue featuring a man getting ready to throw a disc.  
This fun book makes you see where some of the origins of this popular toy started!

My Two Border Towns
My Two Border Towns
written by David Bowles
illustrated by Erika Meza
This is such a powerful story.  Told from the perspective of a young boy, he goes between two towns that are on either side of the US/Mexico border.  The young boy is happy to see people on both sides, in towns that seem almost mirror images of each other.  But on return, the boy and his father stop on a bridge and he gives necessary items to a family that is stuck in between - a family that is seeking refuge from the United States but is unable to get in.  
This beautiful story paints a realistic picture from a child's view of living in a United States border town, while having the freedom to visit back and forth.
Publishes Sept. 14th.  Thank you to Penguin for the advanced review copy.

Middle Grade

by John David Anderson
A different genre for Anderson as he pens his first science fiction novel!  I read this one as an e-galley, and I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had a physical copy.  When I read digitally, it's in smaller segments spread out over a couple of weeks.  This was a novel I wish I could have had longer time periods to read, especially since it is lengthy (close to 400 pages, which is a fairly typical amount for Anderson).  This story has a lot of adventure - I mean, there are space pirates - a lot of heart, and a great moral dilemma.  You won't get everything answered as there looks to be a sequel.  I really enjoyed reading his Nerdy post about this one.  I recommend this one to 5th grade and up because of some mild language (again, if you've read Anderson's previous books you won't be surprised) and the length.  
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins for the e-galley.

Young Adult

This Is My America
This Is My America
by Kim Johnson
Wow, powerful book.  When I read Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give, it helped me understand that racial injustices for a Black person are not easily solved.  There are so many parts that a Black person deals with that I, as a white person, never never understood.  For me, you're wrong (shooting someone) and you should go to jail.  That is so not the case (as we see time after time after time...) and it helped shed light for me.  The same goes for this novel, except we're digging more into the justice system when fingers are pointed to a Black person for committing a crime.  Too often decisions are made before there is any evidence.  Loosely based on Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative, this book is brilliantly told from a teenage girl who is doing her best to help her father, and now her brother, escape from a system that wants to put Black people away.

Adult Novel

The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me
by Laura Dave
This one was good!  I thought it was well thought out and the plot keeps you turning the page.  It's not one that I could guess what was going to happen - in fact I had several incorrect guesses because it didn't fall back on typical cliches that you see in mysteries.  I thought it had a smart ending that I certainly did not see coming.  It was a real page turner for me, I finished it in 2 days, which is really fast for me these days!

Currently Reading

Once Upon a Camel
Once Upon a Camel
by Kathi Appelt
Appelt is so good at animal stories.

Thank you to all the well wishes for my daughter.  It was such a stressful week making sure she was ready to go.  She landed in Tokyo and is settling in at training camp!  It's going to be a busy two weeks!

Thursday, August 12, 2021

#road2reading Challenge - Chapter Book Summer series - books for kids who love dogs - 8.12.21

It's the dog days of summer, so might as well do a roundup of dog books for our chapter book readers!  Here are some new books that are sure to delight canine lovers!

Mitzy's Homecoming by Allison Gutknecht
Pet Pals: Mitzy's Homecoming
written by Allison Gutknecht
illustrated by Anja Grote
The first book in the series focuses on four friends that live in an animal shelter.  Each has its own quirk and backstory.  In this first book, we meet Mitzy, a toy poodle, who is enthusiastic over everything.  When she is brought home for a weekend trial, readers will be surprised with the outcome.
This is part of Simon and Schuster's Quix chapter book series.  Like other books in this line, the chapter books start with a list of characters.  It's helpful for readers to have a little bit of information before starting the story.  There are the usual six chapters and a glossary at the end of the story.  Also included are questions that can be used for discussion afterwards.  I don't see too many readers stopping at the questions but they are perfect to use if grownups are reading along with their young one and are looking for ways to continue the conversation.  Most pages have large illustrations that break up the word amount, as well as large font and a lot of white space on the pages.
for read aloud: grades kg-1
for independent reading: grades 1-3

I Am Sammy, Trusted Guide, 3 by Catherine Stier
A Dog's Day: I Am Sammy, Trusted Guide
written by Catherine Stier
illustrated by Francesca Rosa
This is a series I am going to have to check out the other books, I really liked this one!
Each book is about a different dog who is doing some kind of work.  This book was about Sammy who is a seeing eye dog.  The books are told from the perspective of the dog, which is always a hit for readers.  Sammy is the service dog for Jessie, who has a visual impairment.  They haven't been working together for too long and are still gaining each other's trust.  By the end of the book, Sammy graduates from guide dog school - yay!  Readers will gain quite a bit of information about what a guide dog does for its human when they are out and about.  I also like how there is discussion about what happens when the dog is wearing their working vest and when a person wants to pet or play with them.  This helps teach the reader about what to do when they see a dog working.
Something else that I liked about this book is the human was a college student.  While the readability of this series is around a second/third grade level, older students who are working on stamina will like that there is not a young character in the story.  The book does have illustrations throughout.  
for read aloud: grades 1-3
for independent reading: grades 2-5

Dog Diaries by James Patterson
Dog Diaries
written by James Patterson and Steven Butler
illustrated by Richard Watson
This is one of those books that I can tell kids will enjoy, but it was not my cup of tea!  And that's ok, I'm not the targeted audience.  This series is told from the perspective of Junior, the recently adopted dog of Rafe.  Junior is an easily excited, lovable dog.  He has trouble following the rules, often because he doesn't quite understand them.  Like other doggie-perspective books, Junior's view of things are often silly and funny and will get giggles from the audience.
The book is written in diary entries.  There is one big problem that happens that leaves Junior needing doggy obedience school, with the evil Mrs. Stricker.  Of course that doesn't go well, but Junior and Rafe come up with a possible solution that may get them out of the mess AND keep Junior from going back to the shelter.
This book has short chapters and a large font.  It's a hybrid story, so illustrations are on pretty much every page.  Sometimes it's a full layout, sometimes they are sprinkled through the writing.  Currently, there are 5 books in the series with the next one publishing next Spring.
for read aloud: grades 3-4
for independent reading: grades 2-5

Like what you see here?  Be sure to stop by every Thursday for more chapter book suggestions!  If you want to see all of the posts in the series, click on "Chapter Book Summer Series 2021 under the "Labels" section, located on the right side of the blog.  See you again next week!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Picture Book 10 for 10 Day - books about identity - 8.10.21

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

It's that time of year again!  The time where you'll spend all day looking at blogs and noticing how educators and librarians and book fiends have put collections together.  And then thinking about how that would fit into something you teach during the year.  And then before you know it you have a long list of books to either purchase or find from the library!  It's a good kind of day!

This year I am thinking more and more about identity.  It's honestly a big topic, not one that 10 books (or you know, plus one...) can even begin to fully explore.  But I'm thinking these 10 (+1) books will be important to use, whether it's at the beginning of the year or throughout the year.  These books explore all of those parts that make up our identity.  From our behavior to our likes and dislikes to the people that influence us.  It's about our names and how they are a big part of who we are.  It's about gender and accepting ourselves and others.  And sometimes, we may have to look at our identity in a new way, a new perspective.  Sometimes something we didn't like, or appreciate, about our identity can change.

Titles and authors:
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Thao by Thao Lam
Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima
Fred Gets Dressed by Peter Brown
What I Am by Divya Srinivasan
Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy
Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker
Watercress by Andrea Wang
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

If you would like to see the other 10 for 10 roundups from my blog, click here.
Be sure to follow along using the hashtag #PB10for10!
Have fun!

Monday, August 9, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.09.21

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

Do you ever talk about  being a changemaker in your classroom?  Some books you'll want to have!

Some chapter books that are real mysteries for readers who are starting to read chapter books!

A new professional read that will have you thinking about your nonfiction units all year long.  And there's a giveaway!

Picture Books

Kiyoshi's Walk
Kiyoshi's Walk
written by Mark Karlins
illustrated by Nicole Wong
This would be good to use as a mentor text for writing - how do you get your ideas?  While this focuses on poetry, all writing can be discussed.  Kiyoshi goes for a walk with his grandfather and is taught how his grandfather gets his ideas to write his beautiful haikus.

Halal Hot Dogs
Halal Hot Dogs
written by Susannah Aziz
illustrated by Parwinder Singh
A story that celebrates the traditions of a Muslim child (the author is Palestinian-American Muslim, so I'm assuming the same, although it does not specifically mention) and his family.  Lots of traditional foods are mentioned and there is a glossary at the end that gives more specifics about the food.

We Became Jaguars
We Became Jaguars
written by Dave Eggers
illustrated by Woodrow White
Oooh, I loved this one.  A story about a young boy and his grandmother who go on an imaginative journey as jaguars.  It was lyrical and beautiful and fun!

written by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul
illustrated by Esteli Meza
The concept of peace can be a tricky one for younger readers.  The comparisons the authors give will help make the idea a bit more concrete.  The authors have a note at the end that talks about how while peace is often thought of between humans, but peace has a direct correlation with animals and nature, which we see throughout this book.  Beautiful.

My Voice Is a Trumpet
My Voice is a Trumpet
written by Jimmie Allen
illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson
Written by country music artist, Jimmie Allen, this book talks about the many ways someone can use their voice to do good.  While there is quick mention that sometimes voices can be quiet, it really focuses on the importance of using your voice to create change and do good.

Young Adult

by Yamile Saied Méndez
This was on my #mustread list and I'm glad I finally got to it.  I loved the message of girl power, feeling strong about yourself, and not succumbing  to toxic masculinity.  Great messages for girls today.


The Plot
The Plot
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
I bought this one earlier this summer because it was touted as amazing and you won't believe the twist.  
Yeah, I guessed the twist well in advance.
I had a hard time getting into this one and I kept waiting for it to get to where I wouldn't be able to put it down.  It never happened.  By the time it picked up at all, I knew who the bad guy was, just needed to get to the end.
I'm in the minority about this one, but it reminded me why I don't love adult reads.  I have a few more to go in my pile too...

Currently Reading

The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me
by Laura Dave
This one gripped me from the beginning!  I want to read it quickly to find out what happens!

I apologize for not commenting on blogs last week and I'm sure this week will be iffy too.  My daughter leaves for Tokyo this coming weekend and things have been crazy around the house!  Lots of Games preparation here!