Thursday, February 25, 2021

#road2reading Challenge - new graphic novels 2.25.21

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.

It's been a long time since I've had a #road2reading post!  And I have loads of books to share with you, just having trouble finding blogging time.  It's been quite the school year this year, right?  But here are some new graphic novels for younger readers that will be a big hit!

Beak & Ally #1 by Norm Feuti
Beak and Ally: Unlikely Friends
by Norm Feuti
This one will make you laugh out loud!  A bird and an alligator become friends, but take a little while to get there.  Perfect for readers who will grow into the Bird and Squirrel series.

Super Detectives by Cale Atkinson
Simon and Chester: Super Detectives!
by Cale Atkinson
Yay!  A new graphic novel by Cale Atkinson, featuring Simon the ghost and his human friend, Chester!  They've set up a detective agency... now they just need a case.
And it's going to be a series!

Shark and Bot
Shark and Bot
by Brian Yanish
A graphic novel chapter book and another set of unlikely friends.  Shark has just moved from Australia and meets Bot (short for robot...) who also has trouble making friends.  Can they make this friendship work?
I like that the story is broken into chapters.

* funny to note, the sequels for all the titles listed above will have to do with sleepovers/sleeping!

Banana Fox and the Secret Sour Society by James Kochalka
Banana Fox and the Secret Sour Society
by James Kochalka
This is going to appeal to your DogMan readers, although I think it lacks the cleverness of that series.  Another mystery/who-dunnit kind of book with a lot of zaniness.

And some sequels!

Pizza and Taco by Stephen Shaskan
Pizza and Taco: Best Party Ever!
by Stephen Shaskan
Pizza and Taco are bored again, so they decide to plan the best party ever!  Of course it doesn't go all to plan, but the good thing is they learn from it!

Bunbun & Bonbon by Jess Keating
BunBun and BonBon: Hoppy Go Lucky
by Jess Keating
Oh no, BunBun and BonBon have lost their luck!  Can some friends help them find it?
I kind of want to read this graphic novel out loud just so I can say the name of a new character - Rosie Stardrop Sparklepants :) :)

Hope there is a new graphic novel in here for you!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

What's Inside a Flower? and other books to teach with NGSS - 2.24.21

I really like finding books that can be used with the NGSS (science standards) that teachers can use to enhance their lessons.  Textbooks are dry and boring, and are often out of date.  These new picture books that are being published, are keeping up with the science kids need to learn.  They are more exciting and fun to read.  Here's a new one you'll want if you teach 1st-4th grade.

What's Inside a Flower? by Rachel Ignotofsky
What's Inside a Flower? And Other Questions About Science and Nature
by Rachel Ignotofsky
published by Crown Books for Young Readers

Here are just some of the topics this book covers:
  • parts of a flower
  • how flowers vary in colors, shapes, and sizes
  • how they are found in different environments
  • what helps a flower grow above and below ground
  • reproduction of a flower
  • how seeds travel
I can see teachers reading this cover to cover, but also doing a close reading on pages that pertain to a specific science lesson they are covering.

A great book to add to 1st-4th grade libraries!

If you're looking for more books about this subject, you might try:
Sprout, Seed, Sprout! by Annika Dunklee
Not a Bean by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Seeds Move! by Robin Page
A Seed is the Start by Melissa Stewart
Are We Pears Yet? by Miranda Paul
What Will Grow? by Jennifer Ward
Plants Can't Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch
Flowers Are Calling by Rita Gray
The Dandelion's Tale by Kevin Sheehan
If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay
Rooting for You by Susan Hood
Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam R. Schaefer
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston

Hope you found a new book to share with your young scientists!

Monday, February 22, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.22.21

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

Don't miss this gorgeously told middle grade novel featuring a quest all about hope.

Picture Books

Time for Kenny
Time for Kenny
by Brian Pinkney
A picture book, early reader.  This story is split into four sections that tell about Kenny's day.  The sections are split by a brightly colored page, but I wish it looked more like chapters to really signify to young readers they were moving on to a different section.  Adding this to my potential Mock Geisel list.

I Dream of Popo
I Dream of Popo
written by Livia Blackburne
illustrated by Julia Kuo
A beautiful story about the love between generations.  It's an immigration story about learning new languages and gaining new traditions but remembering familiar words and customs.  

My Friend!
My Friend!
written by Taye Diggs
illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Another book about black joy!  Check your picture books that have black people in them - if they are all about civil rights and being suppressed, guess what?  Black people have joy too!  Make sure you have books that show this too!  This is a perfect one to add because it's a rhyming story about friendship and helping each other out.

The Sea Knows
The Sea Knows
written by Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis
illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
Perfect book for introducing the ocean biome!  Showing a wealth of opposites, readers are introduced to the many different facets of the sea.  Illustrated by the talented Stephanie Laberis, I loved the wide variety of colors that were used in the illustrations.

Bear Island
Bear Island
by Matthew Cordell
A beautiful book about grief and healing.  
I have read through this book a few times and I have fallen more and more in love with it.  Grieving is hard.  Especially when there are no words to fill this enormous hole.  But compassion can be found in different places along the way, even when we aren't looking for it.  Healing ebbs and flows and certainly takes its time.  All of this is magically captured by Cordell in this book.  It's a must have.

The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable
The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable
written by Bette Midler
photographs by Michiko Kakutani
illustrated by Joana Avillez
This one took me by surprise.  When you find celebrity authored books, I'm often a bit wary (although as I've found out, most of them are ghost written by authors we know and love).  But this one is perfect for today and it's based on an animal that became quite famous in the New York City area!  The story is about how before the smartphone, people communicated with each other when we were face to face.  But now, everyone just has their face stuck to their phones, we seem to be missing so many missed opportunities of actual communication.  Until, a fancy duck - a mandarin duck - came to NYC and reminded people to put their phones down and talk to each other.  Based on actual occurrences, this story reminds us to look at our surroundings, take them in, and not to lose sight of what's around us.

Middle Grade

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Ancestors Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
short stories written by Native American authors representing numerous tribes
edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Loved this collection of short stories for middle grade readers.  Each story is connected by an intertribal powwow that is being held in Ann Arbor, MI.  Tribes come from all over to participate in the powwow and dancing and sell merchandise and food.  Readers will meet a variety of kids and families.  Readers will learn new vocabulary from the different languages spoken by tribes.  Readers will gain an understanding of customs and traditions that are specific to tribes, but also things that are in common between them.  I always loved when an item or a character from one story was seen again in another story.  
Whether a reader approaches this book just a few stories at a time, or reads it cover to cover, the reader will walk away with understanding and appreciation for different tribes and their powwows.

by Lisa Fipps
This beautiful novel in verse is one of the most important books about self-image I have ever read.  
Ellie is the youngest child in her family.  She loves to swim and she has a way with words.  She is a kind friend who loves spending time just hanging out with a close friend.
Unfortunately what Ellie is known for is her size.  She's bullied at school.  People in public come up to her and let her know how large she is.  And worst yet, she's bullied at home by her mom and siblings.
But Ellie starts to see a therapist who makes Ellie think about herself in a new light.  There were so many sentences the therapist said that made me want to write them down and plaster them in social settings.
As I said on Twitter, I have a few books that I keep in my collection because they are life changing.  This is one I will keep because it is life affirming.  I hope every middle school child has the opportunity to read this one.

Currently Reading

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.
by David Levithan
Just starting this one!

Happy reading!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Brave in the Woods - book review 2.19.21

When I was young, I looked for those books that made me feel emotions deeply.  They ranged in emotions - sometimes I wanted a book that was so scary I had to keep reading or just read the ending first (yes, I'm one of those).  Sometimes I wanted a book that was going to make me cry, usually tears of heartache because of the death of a character.
I still search for those books today.  Maybe not the scary ones (I like sleeping at night), but those books that reach into my heart and make me feel an emotion so deeply, that it permeates my heart.  Sometimes it's a book that leaves me in tears, or has me shed them throughout the story.  Sometimes it's a book that makes my heart so happy I just want to hug it.  Sometimes it's a book that gives me so much hope that I don't ever want it to end.
This is one of those books.  I finished the book with hope and tears.

Brave in the Woods by Tracy Holczer
Brave in the Woods
by Tracy Holczer
published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Juni's older brother, Connor, has gone missing from his position in the army in Afghanistan.  While many people around Juni are certain he has died, Juni is holding out hope.  And she knows if she completes a quest, one that may also help eliminate the curse from the Grimms fairy tales that seem to be plaguing her family, Connor will return to her.  Juni enlists the help of her two very best friends and Connor's best friend.  They set out on this quest that has stops along the way to meet a witch and find places that Juni's grandmother has laid out for her.  Anya, her grandmother, has given Juni some information about the curse, in an old journal that Juni is meant to read and then add her own story in.  This journal fills in the pieces and helps Juni understand her family's past, particularly Anya's.  Helping her along the way is an antler bone that she wears around her neck.  Juni was born with severe asthma and Connor was able to save her at her birth.  She was born outside and was not breathing.  Connor ran with her to get her the medical attention she needed and a buck ran alongside them in the woods.  From that day, Connor and Juni looked at bucks as a miraculous creature that was special to the two of them.  Juni seems to feel Connor with this special bone.  As Juni and her friends set out on her quest to get Connor's army dog back to her family, and find a witch to help her with a spell to bring a lost item home, and find places that will help her understand Anya's story, it's actually Juni who finds peace within herself and the hope she needs to move on.
I love how Holczer has many important moving parts to this story and how they all connect with Juni.  It's a story about hope and family and friendship.  A story about grieving and finding your own way to move on.  A story about believing that your very last hope can come true.
This is the story I would have wanted to read as a child and a story I wanted to read now.  Recommended for grades 4-7.
Be sure to read Tracy's Nerdy Book Club post about how all of these pieces of the story came to be.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Leaf Detective blog tour - 2.17.21

I am very excited to be sharing this book that celebrates a woman scientist, someone who paved the way for discoveries, conservation, and global knowledge about the rainforests.

The Leaf Detective:
How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
written by Heather Lang
illustrated by Jana Christy
published by Calkins Creek

Goodreads summary:
Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg's perseverance and creativity allowed her to achieve this goal, but when this fantastic ecosystem started to disappear, Meg needed to act quickly.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head. The colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. As a scientist, Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies-- and to be the first scientist to do so. But she encountered challenge after challenge. Male teachers would not let her into their classrooms, the high canopy was difficult to get to, and worst of all, people were logging and clearing the forests. Meg never gave up or gave in. She studied, invented, and persevered, not only creating a future for herself as a scientist, but making sure that the rainforests had a future as well. Working closely with Meg Lowman, author Heather Lang and artist Jana Christy beautifully capture Meg's world in the treetops.

What you want to know:
Meg Lowman is an amazing scientist  and I really enjoyed learning about her work in rainforests around the world.  The book absolutely comes to life in both the words and illustrations.  This is a mentor text for writing because of the way Lang selected words that makes the rainforest setting jump out of the book and come to life.  Check out some of these descriptions:
  • burst into the world and unfurled
  • wrapped herself in nature, like a soft blanket
  • stuck like sap to her passion
  • the jungle's music danced all around her
Just gorgeous!  And the illustrations by Jana Christy capture the essence of the story!  Christy used lush greens and earth tones when in the rainforest and more vibrant colors when the setting is out of the rainforest.

Throughout the story, Lang uses quotes from Lowman.  My favorite, "We had already been to the moon and back and nobody had been to the top of a tree."  That was so interesting to know!

I also enjoyed the additional facts that are spread throughout the book.  Not on every page, so the reader could be intentional how they are read - whether you read them in addition to the page or go back and enjoy them later are choices a reader has.

I had some additional questions that author Heather Lang has graciously agreed to answer!  Thank you for stopping by, Heather!

- How do you find the subjects for your picture book biographies?  I feel like I am meeting someone new, but also someone I should have already known about!  I'm grateful you're giving them a spotlight!


There are too many trailblazing women who have been forgotten, overlooked, or ignored by history. It’s always such an honor to write about them! When choosing someone to write about, I must feel a strong connection to the topic as well as the person. That connection might come from a passion, a fear, or a fascination. In the case of this book, I’m extremely concerned about the ongoing destruction of our natural world, especially our rainforests. I knew I wanted to write a biography that was also a science book about the rainforest, so I went looking for a rainforest scientist. Some online reading and a trip to the library led me to Dr. Meg Lowman—an incredible biologist, educator, conservationist, and a very special person.

- This book was full of amazing descriptions that really brought the rainforest to life.  How do you decide what tone to take in your writing?


The tone for my books usually evolves organically during my research and writing process, while I’m deciding how to focus the book and what themes I want to develop. For The Leaf Detective, I was lucky enough to interview Meg early in the process and go on a life-changing trip to the Amazon rainforest with her. Meg’s love, respect, and deep appreciation for trees was contagious. And with her as my guide, I experienced first-hand what she means when she says, “We are part of our ecosystem, not outside it.” I found myself in awe of trees and Meg’s passion and determination. I think the tone of my writing and lyrical voice reflect those feelings and revelations.


- You talk in your author's note how you decided to shape Meg's story.  What are other ways you've decided what information ends up in the book, and what doesn't?


I struggle a lot with what to include in my books and often include way too much in early drafts. I frequently evaluate whether a scene or information moves the story forward or helps develop character or serves the themes in the book. And as I grow as a writer, I’m finding that cutting those favorite lines and scenes isn’t as difficult, because I can see how eliminating them serves the book as a whole.


- Tell us something that you wished could have been in the book but didn't make it!


As you might imagine, Meg has had many exciting moments during her life as a field biologist! I wish I could have included this scary moment . . . While doing field research on giant stinging trees, Meg was busy looking up when she felt something moving on the ground around her feet. She realized she’d almost stepped on a deadly venomous brown snake. Suddenly Meg noticed it wasn’t just one snake—the ground was swarming with snakes! She’d stepped into a nesting area. Very carefully she managed to tiptoe her way out. Phew!


- If Meg could go with you on school visits, what do you think she would tell students?


I have no doubt students would be transformed by Meg’s passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm! She would inspire students interested in STEM fields, especially girls, to follow their dreams. She’d teach them about the many magical things trees do for our world—from providing oxygen, food, water, and medicine to cleaning our air. She’d show them how we are all interconnected and inspire them to help save trees, because every person can make a difference.


Students can “meet” Meg and learn some cool information about the rainforest and her journey by watching a series of short videos I took of Meg when we were in the Amazon. Check out FUN FACTS FROM THE FIELD WITH THE LEAF DETECTIVE on my website at

Grateful that you were able to stop by, Heather!

More about author Heather Lang:
Heather Lang loves to write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her award-winning picture book biographies include Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine. See more of her work at 

More about illustrator Jana Christy:
Jana Christy currently lives in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. She is the illustrator of various titles, including I'm the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up. Visit

Praise for The Leaf Detective:
Kirkus Reviews has described the book as "an intricate and satisfying portrait of a dedicated woman scientist, innovator, and activist", and the BCCB says the book provides coverage that showcases the "vigor and daring that boosted Lowman into the canopy...and the global activism that now leads her to propose and develop sustainable commercial uses for protected rainforests."

Read more about this book on the other stops of the blog tour:

Would you like to add this book to your library?  Boyds Mills and Kane has graciously donated a copy for giveaway!  Enter by Wednesday, Feb. 24th for your chance to win (U.S. addresses only).

Make sure you find a copy of The Leaf Detective to share with your readers!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Dragon titles! - 2.12.21

 A very popular series with readers is the "Wings of Fire" series.  Kids love reading books with dragons, and I have discovered I don't have too many dragon books.  Once the kids finish "Wings of Fire" (and they've gone through both the prose books and graphic novels), they are at a standstill as what to read next.  Here are some suggestions I have found!

The Coldfire Curse by Jordan Quinn
Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly: The Coldfire Curse
by Jordan Quinn
I'm really excited for this graphic novel series - books one and two just recently published.  It's a novel adaptation (from the UK), but unlike the other books I'm covering this week, the characters are all dragons.  
Here's a post that tells more about the series.

Dragon Mountain, Volume 1 by Katie Tsang
Dragon Mountain
by Katie and Kevin Tsang
The first in a trilogy, this MG is perfect for 3rd-5th grade readers.  A perfect size - only 250ish pages and a trim size book - this book will be well loved by readers who are looking to go on an adventure with a dragon.  Featuring 4 kids and 4 dragons, readers will have a hard time putting this adventure down.  Each of the 4 kids have come to a youth camp in the mountains of China to be surrounded by the culture and language of China.  What they don't realize is they are the 4 perfect hearts to open Dragon Mountain.  After bonding with a dragon, they agree to help protect the human and dragon world from the Great One (dragon) and her army of nox-wings.  Twists and turns keep you reading until the very end and leave you with wanting book to publish NOW (but we have to wait until Sept. 7th, 2021 for Dragon Legend, book 2).  The dragons in this story do have a talking part, despite humans also being characters.  This is a definite add to libraries!

The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
The Dragon Warrior
by Katie Zhao
This one is based upon Chinese mythology, where dragons are revered and are very important to warriors.  
Faryn is a member of the Jade Society in San Francisco's Chinatown.  She has been trained as a warrior, she just wasn't so sure she would actually have to fight so soon.  Her younger brother and her live with their aging grandfather.  Their mother died very young and their father never returned from a quest.  Faryn and her brother, Alex, are looked upon poorly by other members of the Jade Society because of the family's status.  But when Faryn is shown to be the Heaven Breaker and is deemed to go on a quest to prove her worthiness to the gods, she ends up getting help from unexpected people.
The dragons in this story are minor parts, other than one human who turns into a dragon in certain scenes.  For readers who are looking for stories ABOUT dragons, this one my interest them or it simply might not be enough dragons!  
The story is rich in Chinese culture and mythological gods and was tricky at times to follow.  There is a glossary in the back that gives some help, but other times I was having to research to figure certain people and words out.  The book ends with a cliff hanger and it's exciting enough I am planning on reading book 2.
Hand this one off to readers who like the Rick Riordan books, especially his newer imprint stories that feature mythological stories from other cultures.

Dragon Ops by Mari Mancusi
Dragon Ops
by Mari Mancusi
This book is perfect for gamers and dragon enthusiasts!  Heavier on the gaming side than dragons, but with all of the adventure, this is one exciting ride!  Siblings Lilli and Ian are traveling with their uncle and cousin Derek to an island that is getting ready to open as an immersive experience of their favorite video game.  LIlli and Ian can't wait to get started but Derek, not a gamer, is less than willing.  As soon as they put their goggles on and get in the game, things change.  Derek is taken by a rogue dragon and now Lilli and Ian have a quest that must be completed.  Unable to remove themselves from the game, Derek and Lilli must become actual gamers defeated dragons and other creatures in order to win the game.
This book was nonstop adventure!  They were constantly fighting battles and figuring out their next steps while completing mini-quests.  Gamers will enjoy the little name drops of gaming trivia and I enjoyed the name drops of Disney Parks references! (this series originally published with Disney Hyperion, but has since switched to Little Brown)  Out of all the titles covered in this post, this book is the longest (377 pgs), so will make a good ladder book for Wings of Fire readers.
Book 2 publishes June 8th!

And I'll add one picture book!

Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang
Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon
written by Kat Zhang
illustrated by Charlene Chua
I love the Amy Wu books for the themes and lessons it quietly teaches readers.  In this story, Amy and her friends are invited to create a dragon after reading a variety of dragon books during story time.  Amy's dragon is a little different than her friends' and they question the validity of her dragon.  Some readers may realize Amy drew an eastern-style dragon, one that does not have wings and has a longer body.  Amy and her friends go back to her house and her grandmother tells stories of dragons that are a bit different than the ones that are typically told in the United States.  Amy remembers that she has part of a dragon costume in the attic.  She gets an idea to use the existing costume and add on to the dragon and bring it to school.  Amy's dragon ends up being a mix of eastern and western style dragons.
I love in the backmatter there is additional information about the differences of western and eastern dragons.

This summer I covered these dragon stories.  They are quicker stories, perfect for readers who will be reading the Wings of Fire series in another year or so.

Dragons in a Bag (Dragons in a Bag #1)
by Zetta Elliott

The Dragon Thief (Dragons in a Bag, #2)
by Zetta Elliott

I have not read the Anya and the Dragon series by Sofiya Pasternack or Ellen Oh's The Dragon Egg's Princess yet.  If I should add them to my reading list, let me know!

Hope you found a new book for your dragon readers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - 2.10.21

I always enjoy finding new nonfiction books about the animal kingdom.  They are favorites of young readers and several grade levels study animal adaptations and habitats, which makes these perfect curriculum titles too!  Here are some more recent titles.

Eye by Eye by Sara   Levine
Eye by Eye: Comparing How Animals See
written by Sara Levine
illustrated by T.S Spookytooth
I love the books this author/illustrator pair have published and this one will be up there with my favorites.
For readers who enjoy Sandra Markle's "What If" series, but are looking for a little less text, this book is perfect.  Featuring human children with animals' eyes, Levine does a great job explaining the differences in eyes and the purpose of different eyes, readers will have a whole new understanding of animals and the way they see.  

Crossings by Katy S. Duffield
Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals
written by Katy S. Duffield
illustrated by Mike Orodán
I can see why this one was getting a lot of attention at the end of last year.  It is a fascinating read, and one that I can see inspiring some maker ideas!  As more and more construction goes up, humans continue to encroach upon animal territory.  While that in itself is an issue, at least some animal-minded people are helping engineers think of ways to make sure animals can continue to live as safely as possible in that environment.  With roads crossing through and cutting up animal passages, this book details some of the structures that have been put in place to make sure animals can safely get from one side of the road to another.

The Beak Book by Robin Page
The Beak Book
by Robin Page
I'm always excited to see a new book by Robin Page.  She chooses the best text structures for her nonfiction writing that really makes it easy to understand her stories.  In her latest book, Page focuses specifically on the beaks of birds and the purpose for their shape and what they use it for.
Put this in your animal adaptations pile!

Cougar Crossing by Meeg Pincus
Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood's Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife
written by Meeg PIncus
illustrated by Alexander Vidal
This is a perfect companion to Crossings.  P-22 is a cougar that was living in the Santa Monica Mountains, a national park in CA.  Struggling to find territory, P-22 struck out on his own - however, this meant going through Hollywood and crossing 27 lanes of busy traffic!  P-22 managed to do that, but then was in an even smaller territory than before.  While trying to find food and shelter, P-22 did things that caught the attention of the public including sleeping in a crawl space of a house and breaking into a zoo and eating a koala!  People learned of his plight and wanted to help.  Fundraisers helped raise funds that will go for a construction of an animal overpass that will help other animals find places to live.
The book is told not only by the narrator, but also by two animal experts that followed P-22's journey and helped him along the way.

Glad to have more animal stories for our readers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

New and Upcoming Graphic Novels - 2.09.21

I'm always on the lookout for new graphic novels because readers just can't get enough of them!  Here are a few new and upcoming ones you'll want to have in your libraries.

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen A.F. Venable
Katie the Catsitter
written by Colleen AF Venable
illustrated by Stephanie Yue
This is going to be such a fun series!  I wish I had known ahead of time this was a superhero story.  I didn't understand that at first and it threw off my understanding just a bit.
Katie and her mom live in New York City in an apartment building.  The city has super heroes that help out local law enforcement, and make sure the super-villains don't cause any trouble.  Katie's best friends are heading off to summer camp, but Katie's mom just doesn't have enough money to send Katie.  But, if Katie works and can pay for a good part of it, then maybe they can make it work.  Katie puts up a sign in their apartment building advertising that she'll work small jobs for cash.  She ends up getting a nightly catsitting job for an upstairs neighbor, Madeline.  Eventually, Katie starts putting some clues together and makes the guess that Madeline is actually a villain, the Mousetress.  But she can't quit her job now, she needs this cash to get to camp because as the summer goes on, her BFF is writing her less and less from camp.  Is she forgetting all about her?
I like how this superhero story also had a very realistic friendship thread running through the storyline too.  Once I had a better understanding of the setting and the superheros, I really enjoyed the story and can't wait to read more adventures.  
This graphic novel is going to be well loved by readers.  

Hilo Book 7: Gina---The Girl Who Broke the World
HiLo: Gina the Girl Who Broke the World
by Judd Winick
Full disclosure: rarely do I read all the graphic novels in a series.  GNs are so popular, that I just hand them out to the kids as soon as they come in.  I usually read the first book in the series, maybe the second one, and then that's it.  But this series... I always read them before I hand the book out.  Which also means I have to read the book as soon as I get it because everyone wants to read it!  
This is the seventh book in the series and I love it as much as the first one.  No, probably more because I'm so invested with the characters now.  This one gets emotional because the characters are still grieving over the loss of a friend.  I love that Winick adds the grief element to the book.  That doesn't seem to happen all the time in books that are typically found to be humorous.
This book starts up right where the last one left off.  Gina has some magical powers and she is still coming to terms with them.  She doesn't know if she wants the responsibility that comes with being magical.  And she fears what could happen if she loses a battle.  HiLo is now human and is coming to terms with everything that means (including bodily functions, which will go over very well with readers!).
There are battles and bad guys, there are moments you'll laugh out loud, and moments you may shed a tear.  I'm so glad to see there will be a book 8, even if that means we need to wait.

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd
written by Megan Wagner Lloyd
illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter
So many kids are going to relate with this one!  Maggie loves animals and she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.  She's the oldest sibling in her family with younger, twin brothers and a new sibling on the way.  Maggie feels if only she could have a dog, she would have something that was special just to her.  She's ecstatic when she gets her wish, but while she's at the rescue, she has a severe allergic reaction to the dogs, requiring a trip to the doctor.  After visiting with an allergist, Maggie finds out she's allergic to anything with feather or fur.  It's devastating to Maggie and made worse by the fact that her school district borders have changed and she has to go to a new school.  
Things start to get better for Maggie when she meets the girl who recently moved in next door.  Although a school year older than Maggie, she proves to be a true friend and the girls become close.  But that "true" friendship is tested when her new friend gets a puppy, after Maggie telling her she is allergic.
Fans of the Raina Telgemeier stories and Shannon Hale's and LeUyen Pham's Best Friends series will absolutely love this one.
This one publishes March 2nd, but it's already through Scholastic Book Club!

Warning - be sure to have multiple copies of all these books.  They are going to be very popular with readers.

Monday, February 8, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 2.08.21

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

Had to take a week off.  Not enough reading time either week and not much to post.  Trying to make up for it this week!  This week will be full of posts, be sure to check back!

Celebrated some nonfiction pictures books about writers and words.

A 2021 MG that you'll want to read - The In-Between.

Picture Books

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World
My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World
written by Malcolm Mitchell
illustrated by Michael Robertson
This book is very important.  It celebrates two things I talk about with kids and adults.  Sometimes, it takes finding the right book for a reader to be welcomed into the reading journey.  But sometimes, no matter how many books you show a reader, sometimes it's more than that.  Sometimes it's hard to get on the road to reading because there are just too many skills that have to be mastered.  And mastering them, especially when they don't come easy, is hard work.  
Young Henley is still trying to figure out reading.  He can't find a favorite book, no matter how hard he tries or asks for help.  Until finally, he realizes the right book is inside of him.
This book is going to be very relatable to some readers.

The Little Butterfly That Could
The Little Butterfly That Could
by Ross Burach
I really liked the first book our butterfly main character was featured in - The Very Impatient Caterpillar.  It made me laugh out loud and I know kids who can relate to that impatient caterpillar.  I know I'll also have kids that can relate to this butterfly who is working very hard on improving stamina and believing in one's self.  Perfect for character traits and author's message lessons.
Publishes April 6th, but it's already available in the Scholastic Book Clubs!

Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello
Sharuko: Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello
written by Monica Brown
illustrated by Eiisa Chavarri
I've heard some buzz about this book, starting in November with the NCTE book awards.  Tello, or Sharuko (means brave in the Peruvian Indigenous language Quechua), has always been interested in exploring and finding burial grounds and caves in the area he grew up, just outside of Lima, Peru.  As he grew, this fascination stayed with him as he went to universities and studied in their libraries.  He made amazing discoveries about the ancient Peruvian citizens that explained more than what their modern day information was saying.
I traveled to Lima in 2019 and wish I had visited some of the places mentioned in this story.

Hurry Up!: A Book About Slowing Down
Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down
written by Kate Dopirak
illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
I'm pretty sure this book was written about me.  I'm sure many others can relate to this too.
I don't know what it means to slow down, and I know usually many other families are feeling this too.  Perhaps being in quarantine at some point helped slow you down.  As a teacher, I think I ended up hurrying even more so because I had to learn so many new ways of doing things.
But summer time... that's my slow down time.  So many things shown in this book are outside and remind me of my slow down time.  Looking forward to it again.  When is your slow down time?

Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, and the Helpers All Around Us
Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, and the Helpers All Around Us
written by Emerson Weber
illustrated by Jacklyn Sinquett
This is about young Emerson, who in one quick decision, positively impacted many people.  Emerson loves to write letters.  Everyday letters were picked up by her mail carrier and new letters were brought to her.  Emerson realized this and decided he needed a letter that said thank you for his daily work.  That one small letter of thanks ended up reaching many other people in that field.
I think the message would be a good one to share with young readers about how one small act of kindness really does have a much larger effect.
I am making the guess that this happened during the early days of the pandemic.  There are some characters wearing masks in the illustrations.  Not a book about the pandemic, but something that could have been an effect of it!

Middle Grade

Red, White, and Whole
Red, White, and Whole
by Rajani LaRocca
A novel in verse that was certainly written from the heart.  This book surprised me because I knew it was going to be about the feeling of being from one culture that has very specific traditions, and trying to merge it with being an American and fitting in where you live.  That part was done so well!  However it ended up packing an emotional punch that I did not know was coming.  It really made you feel and understand the importance of your parents and their desires vs your own desires.  It's always hard to figure it out!  
A story that is perfect for upper middle grade readers and I really enjoyed the novel in verse format!

The Year I Flew Away
The Year I Flew Away
by Marie Arnold
This is another book that has the theme of trying to fit into the American culture because that is where you live, but hold on to your own roots.  Bullying was almost present in this story which made the main character try even harder to blend in, rather than be proud and stand out.  It also has witches and wishes and magic.  At first I wasn't too sure about the magic, but it really worked with the storyline.

Currently Reading

Brave in the Woods
Brave in the Woods
by Tracy Holczer
Just starting this one this week!

Hope you have a good reading week!  It's extremely cold in the midwest so staying inside to read is a great option!