Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Books for your Sports collections - 3.31.21

One section of nonfiction that kids flock to is anything about sports.  Whether it's a how-to book, biography, or history of, if it's sports related, kids will want to read it.  Here are some new books you'll want to add to collections for your young readers!


Flying High by Michelle Meadows
Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles
written by Michelle Meadows
illustrated by Ebony Glenn
This picture book biography told in rhyme, gives readers a quick introduction to Biles' early years.  Readers learn how Biles and her younger sister were adopted by her grandfather and his wife.  They raised her and helped her entry into the world of gymnastics.  It was a chance encounter that introduced her to classes, even though she had been practicing for it for a long time by constantly moving and tumbling throughout her day!  We also see the dedication to the sport, which older readers are already well aware of!  With gorgeous illustrations from Ebony Glenn, and as we enter into an Olympics summer, I am sure we'll have a lot of readers asking for books about the gymnastics GOAT, Simone Biles.

Breaking the Ice by Angie Bullaro
Breaking the Ice: The True Story of teh First Woman to Play in the National Hockey League
written by Angie Bullaro
illustrated by C.F. Payne
This is the story of Manon Rheaume who broke many barriers as the first female to ever play in the National Hockey League.  At a very young age, her father needed a goalie to play in a game for a team he coached.  Manon's older brothers and Manon convinced their father she was the goalie who could get it done.  When she was younger, it was easier to not give her gender away as she went on an played in more leagues.  She continued to practice and play, but eventually it became more widely known that there was a girl goalie.  That girl goalie also was successfully saving and stopping so many goals, that bigger league coaches took notice of her.  As she continued playing, she eventually caught the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who let her have a chance at the team camp.  She survived cut after cut, eventually playing in a preseason game - the first NHL game a female ever played in.
Lots of great information in the backmatter, including a letter from Manon.

Swish! by Suzanne Slade
Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters
written by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Don Tate
I think at one point, when I was in elementary school, we went and saw the Globetrotters live.  Their skills and showboating, while different than straight up basketball, was electric and made the sport fun and different to watch.
This story follows the start of the Globetrotters.  Trying to play basketball during a time when black players weren't allowed was tricky.  They had to have something a little extra to get the attention of the people in charge.  It took awhile, but they finally did.  But along the way, the Globetrotters showed that basketball can be played in many different places with a lot of showmanship and heart.
Don't miss the backmatter which connects these earlier days of the team, to the one that is more commonly known today.

I also took a look at a couple of books in the series "Game Day".

Dive In       Match Point
The books are written by David Sabino and illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey.  
The books are written in a narrative form of writing with a person explaining how another character is getting ready to play a specific sport.  Rules of the game are explained and some technical information may be given.  Each book has a glossary at the start of the book and additional facts at the end.
Unfortunately, I started with the book that I have a lot of knowledge about, which is swimming.  The first thing I noticed was in the glossary.  One of the terms is a "tumble turn" which after the description says it is also referred to as a "flip turn".  This is the second time I've seen the phrase "tumble turn".  The first time was in another sporting book, but the author was from a different country.  I've watched a lot of world championships and the Olympics.  I've been a swimmer and am currently a swim parent.  And I've never heard it referred to as a tumble turn.  I checked to see if the author lived in another country and no, Sabino lives in the USA.  So not sure where he got wind of that term.  But then, the major inaccuracy is when he goes on to write about a character doing a 200 fly event.  He explains that when the swimmer reached the wall, she did a tumble turn.  Well.  If you do that in a swim meet, it will get your promptly disqualified.  Butterfly and breaststroke event turns are completed with an open turn - meaning both hands must reach the wall simultaneously and on the same plane.  Every swimmer knows this, so this is an inaccuracy that is hard to excuse.  There were some other descriptions of the people who work a meet that I found surprising.  Sabino talks about a timekeeper.  We usually call them timers, but ok, we'll go with timekeeper.   But then he talks about how one of the jobs as a timekeeper is to check the records and see if a swim breaks a record.  Definitely not something a timer would do.  
So knowing how many things that were inaccurate in that book, I would take the other books in the series with a grain of salt.  When I read Match Point after, while it sounded good, since I don't play the game of tennis, I am not sure what is correct and what isn't.
I think this is a series that should be a bit more fact-checked by experts in that field.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.29.21

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

Be sure to check out these chapter books that celebrate some black boy joy!

A text set that celebrates the water cycle!

Picture Books

Zonia's Rain Forest
Zonia's Rain Forest
by Juana Martinez-Neal
This is a book that I 100% will be in the minority for my rating.  I did not love it, but I had high expectations for it.   It's gorgeous.  The illustrations are beautiful.  I love that it's about Martinez-Neal's native Peru.  But the story stopped short - I felt like there was much more to be said but it just ended.
Zonia lives in the Peruvian rainforest and has a special relationship with the native animals.  We see her bonding and spending time with her animal friends.  But then she sees a part of the forest that has been chopped down.  She doesn't understand it but her mother explains that the forest is speaking to Zonia and Zonia immediately understands that she must answer.  And then the story is over.
Young readers will understand the message and what Zonia will do.  I'm not sure how the story "should" have ended (in my own opinion) without it becoming didactic, but I felt surprised it was just done.
Lots of great information about the setting and the Asháninka people (an Indigenous group living in the Peruvian Amazon) in the backmatter.
This book publishes March 30th.  Thank you to Candlewick for the advanced review copy.

The Lost Package
The Lost Package
written by Richard Ho
illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Partly a thank you letter to the USPS, but also a fun story of how a lost item can unite people.   
As the book opens, we see an empty box that is being boxed and addressed (complete with pictures on the box) and finally, mailed.  But on the way to the airport, the truck hits a pothole and the package flies off the truck and becomes, you guessed it, lost.  If not for a careful eye of a dog and a young boy, the package might have remained lost.  There's a surprise as to where the package is going!
I appreciated the additional information about the author's family in the author's note.

Sunday Funday in Koreatown
Sunday Funday in Koreatown
by Aram Kim
Yoomi is back in a new story.  It's Sunday, which means Funday for Yoomi and her father, but nothing seems to be going right.  Will her day be saved?  This one reminded me of Oge Mora's Saturday.
I loved the setting of Koreatown (K-town) and seeing the written language and items to buy.  Readers will enjoy seeing the different foods that are mentioned.  I particularly enjoyed seeing a cover of favorite book!  Don't miss the author's note that tells even more about the stores.
This was my first Yoomi story, but there are two others that I will find!

If Dominican Were a Color
If Dominican Were a Color
written by Sili Recio
illustrated by Brianna McCarthy
A story about identity and being proud of who you are.  The author compares the many colors of a location to an identity.  Important author's note about colorism and how that has sparked its own racism.
A mentor text to use to write identity pieces based upon the colors that are important to the writer's life.

Feel the Fog
Feel the Fog
by April Pulley Sayre
Add this book to your list for Poetry Month!  It will be a perfect time to share it with young readers since we often see fog in that weird cold/warm weather we get in spring.
A beautiful poem accompanied by breathtaking photos, this book will be perfect to read year round!
A favorite line, "It swallows the distant."

Looking for Smile
Looking for Smile
written by Ellen Tarlow
illustrated by Lauren Stringer
A book about emotions, moods, and mental health.
Bear and Smile are always together, until one day Smile is not there.  Bear look everywhere, including all of their favorite places, but Smile does not come.  Eventually, a bird friend helps Bear with a song and Smile eventually returns.
This is a deceptive book.  On the one hand, even though it reads for a young audience, I think this is a book that older readers will get "what it's really about" and it could be a good starter for a mental health conversation.  I do think younger readers can use this to have a good conversation about feelings.  

Middle Grade

Abby, Tried and True
Abby, Tried and True
by Donna Gephart
This is one of my favorites of Gephart's.  I think what makes the difference with this story is that it is an #ownvoices story.  In the author's note Gephart tells the reader that she is a cancer survivor and there are parts of the story that are from her own experiences.
When we first meet Abby, she is saying goodbye to her best friend and neighbor, Cat.  Cat and her mom are moving to Israel.  Abby is nervous to start school without her BFF since she has always relied on Cat to be the person who speaks for the two of them.  Without her, Abby is an extreme introvert.  The first few times she meets her new neighbor, Conrad, the interactions don't go well, which is a shame because he is very cute.  And things keep getting harder, both at school and home.  Abby lives with her moms and older brother, Paul.  When Paul returns home from summer camp, he's in pain and knows something is wrong.  He is diagnosed with testicular cancer and has to have surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy.  All of this affects Abby as she tries to be strong and helpful.  Luckily, she ends up having a close friendship with Conrad, that blossoms into a very sweet romance.  With help of her friends and her close family, Abby grows as a character and does her best to help Paul.  I love that Abby is Jewish and Jewish customs, traditions, and the Hebrew language are used throughout the story.  There is not much Jewish representation in middle grade stories, so glad to have this one!
I flew through this book and had a hard time putting it down.  A great book for middle school libraries!

Amina's Song
Amina's Song
Hena Khan
I was so glad to be back with Amina and her friends and family.  I loved Amina's Voice and this book has so much of the same feeling.  This time Khan explores what it is like when you feel like you are part of two places.  
Amina has spent a month in Pakistan with her family and has grown to love the country and culture.  It's time to return home and Amina has very mixed feelings.  While she's glad to be home, she also feels like a part of her wants to stay in Pakistan.  Once she returns home, her friends don't have the same interest in her travels and Amina feels that a part of her identity is left out.
Amina is also exploring a part of her identity that she has kept somewhat hidden.  She has a beautiful singing voice, and except for one other time, has not shared it with many.  She enjoys being a part of the chorus, but could she actually enjoy being a soloist?  Helping her explore this side is a new friend, Nico.  She enjoys spending time with him but everyone around her thinks there's more to it than a new friendship.  In a time when boy-girl relationships are new, Amina has to navigate what this friendship means.
Definite purchase for 4th-6th grade libraries.

The House That Wasn't There
The House That Wasn't There
by Elana K. Arnold    
A story about family, identity, and coincidences.  Alder and Oak have recently become next door neighbors.  However, after a tree removal incident, their mothers dislike each other, which makes the two kids off to a rocky start.  However, after a series of coincidences, the two start talking and find more to like about each other than they thought would be possible.
There is a magical element to this story that gave me pause.  It's the only thing I did not like about the story, and I think it would have been stronger without it.  I will be interested in seeing what young readers think about this.  Arnold wrote a Nerdy Book Club post that explained why she included this piece.  Interesting to note, but again, still want to see what young readers think!
Early digital review copy from Edelweiss.

Currently Reading

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
Amari and the Night Brothers
by B.B. Alston
This has been on my list to read for awhile now.  I was hooked after 2 pages!

A Promised Land
A Promised Land
by Barack Obama
I also got my March #mustreadin2021 portion of the book completed.  As I mentioned last month, the majority of the book I skim through because I find it so boring.  But there are parts that fascinate me.  I'll be glad when I'm done with the book, but also glad that I will have read all of it.  I will read part two when that publishes.

I'm jealous of everyone starting Spring Break.  I was happy to get quite a bit done during my break, and I'm sad for that productivity to end!  But at least I have some great books I'll be passing on to readers :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

#road2reading Challenge - Celebrating Black Boy Joy! - 3.18.21

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.

Here are some new(er) chapter books that celebrate black joy!

J.D. and the Great Barber Battle by J Dillard
J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
written by J. Dillard
illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts
J.D. is starting third grade and finally gets to have his first haircut!  While he has enjoyed his time with his mom while she does his cornrows, he's been dreaming about what he is going to do with his first haircut.  Maybe a fade?  Maybe a high Afro, kind of like Steph Curry?  He knows his family can't afford the local neighborhood barber, so it will be up to his mom.  But when she's done, J.D. ends up with a hair cut he wants to cover up with a hat!  J.D.'s talents lie in his art and he figures out a way to not only shape his own hair, but also do some stylish finishes on his friends'.  Soon, the local barber finds himself losing business since he can't do such stylish designs.  Will they figure out a way to work together?
Coming in at 126 pages and with illustrations throughout the book, this is a perfect chapter book for readers who are looking for something a little longer.  This one looks to be an upcoming series, so I'm looking forward to more adventures with J.D.!

Simon B. Rhymin' by Dwayne Reed
Simon B. Rhymin'
written by Dwayne Reed
illustrated by Robert Paul Jr.
Librarians take note - this book will be a great one to have in audiobook format!  Full of raps and rhymes, I think listening to the beat will be so engaging for young readers!
Young Simon thinks in rhymes and loves to spin a beat... in his head!  Saying them out loud requires nerve that he just doesn't have.  Simon is starting fifth grade and has a teacher that also can rap some rhymes, but this teacher also assigns an oral report on the first day of school!  Simon needs to find something he cares about in his hometown to share with his classmates... and get over his fear of public speaking all within the first week of school!
I like that there is emphasis on finding something you care about to research and discuss - shows young readers that they can be change-makers no matter how young they are!
This one is longer - 226 pages - but with illustrations sprinkled here and there, it's a good one to hand to older readers who want something longer but with some supports, or younger readers who are very fluent and read through stories quickly.

Hockey Night in Kenya by Danson Mutinda
Hockey Night in Kenya
written by Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters
illustrated by Claudia Davila
I appreciated the author's note at the beginning of the story that explains how the authors are patrons of an orphanage in a community that is about 68 miles outside of Nairobi in Kenya.  Mr. Mutinda goes on to explain more about the demographics of the community and the people who live in the orphanage.  It's important background to help with understanding of the story, especially for young readers.
This is the story of Kitoo, who is a young boy in the orphanage.  Kitoo has a positive attitude about many things and loves reading.  A teacher gives him a book about sports that teaches him about hockey.  He learns from others in his community that there is a local rollerblade hockey team that plays at a park.  While visiting the park and watching the men play, Kitoo is able to get bits and pieces of old rollerblades that he is able to piece together to practice back at the orphanage.  It becomes  a passion for him!  Eventually, he is surprised with a trip to the city to try actual ice hockey.  
A quick read, 91 pages, but I love that it exposes young readers to a different location yet still shows the love of sports as a common thread!

So happy to see these stories and I know young readers will enjoy them, too!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - text set for water cycle - 3.17.21

A nonfiction picture book text set for the water cycle!

Drop by Emily Kate Moon
Drop: An Adventure Through the Water Cycle
by Emily Kate Moon
Take a ride with Drop as we see her move through the three states of water in  the water cycle.  Young readers will see how water is moved around our planet and exist in its many forms.  Also shown is how different each state can look.  For example, with water - Drop may be found in different bodies of water like an ocean or a river, or even under ground or inside a plant.  
The endpages show the water cycle and how water can move in and out and reverse through the different stages.
Author/illustrator, Emily Kate Moon used India ink and actual water from a dropper to create some of the water scenes in the book.  Giving the book texture and a liquid-like feel, readers will enjoy seeing how Drop moves and flows on each page!

When Cloud Became a Cloud
When Cloud Became a Cloud
by Rob Hodgson
I like the organization of this one - it's split up into chapters that gives a quick explanation of the many stages the water cycle goes through.  From droplets in a lake, to being a cloud, to being precipitation, all of the stages are given a quick explanation in one of the 9 chapters.  There is even a chapter dedicated to rainbows!  With the different sections, young readers will help get a visual on the different stages.

More water cycle stories:
Water Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas
Water is Water by Miranda Paul
Ice Boy  by David Ezra Stein
Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis
The Three Water Drop Brothers by Lee Eun-Lee (publishes March 23)

As always, happy nonfiction reading!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.15.21

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.

Picture Books

Don't Hug Doug (He Doesn't Like It)
Don't Hug Doug (He Doesn't Like It)
written by Carrie Finison
illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
I've heard about this book but just finally got my hands on it!  Really good book about consent and not just assuming people like being touched.  For some people, they are huggers and it's a natural inclination that everyone wants to be hugged, but it's just not true.  Including for little learners.  Before a hug, ask!

There is a Rainbow
There is a Rainbow
written by Theresa Trinder
illustrated by Grant Snider
Written during the pandemic, this book reminds us that on the other side of things is another perspective.  
While I liked the idea, I'm wondering how young readers will understand this.  I'm guessing it's a metaphor that is going to go over their heads.
I loved the bright illustrations, rendered in colored pencil.  They give a youthful feel to the book and the bright colors make you think of a brighter tomorrow.

How to Catch a Clover Thief
How to Catch a Clover Thief
by Elise Parsley
This might be a fun book to read this week!  Doesn't have anything to do with St. Patrick's Day, but it does feature a pesky little creature who keeps making mischief after a special, green plant!

Laxmi's Mooch
Laxmi's Mooch
written by Shelly Anand
illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
A story that celebrates who we are!  While playing with friends, Laxmi is told to pretend to be a cat since she already has dark whiskers above her mouth.  Laxmi is embarrassed about her mooch (Hindi for mustache) until her mom helps her understand that the hair on our body is something to be proud of and should be celebrated.  Laxmi thinks of the mighty tiger and its whiskers and takes control of the game played with friends and decides to play tiger, instead of cat.  Once she celebrates her mooch as part of her, other friends catch on and also want a mooch.  
A story that readers will relate to or a story that will explain so readers understand, all of the things that make up who we are can be celebrated!

My Day with the Panye
My Day With the Panye
written by Tami Charles
illustrated by Sara Palacios
Set in the author's husband's homeland of Haiti, this story follows a young girl who is going to town with her mother.  The story explains the Haitian tradition of walking and balancing a panye (basket) on your head to carry all of your purchases/necessities.  The mother passes along wisdom to her daughter as she learns the lesson of taking things slow and finding your balance.

Shy Willow
Shy Willow
by Cat Min
I loved this shy, sweet story that shows when you have empathy for someone, you can make wonderful things happen.  It's an imaginative tale about a shy bunny who helps someone with a wish for their mother.  Beautifully rendered, I find more to love with each read.

More Than Fluff
More Than Fluff
by Madeline Valentine
Another good book about consent!

Middle Grade

Life in the Balance
Life in the Balance
by Jen Petro-Roy
It is hard, as a child, to handle adult problems.  It's enough to handle regular kid problems.  Veronica has enough of those.  Tryouts for the All-Star softball team are coming up.  It's a traveling team and will come with its own challenges.  And honestly, Veronica doesn't know if she wants to do that, or choir because singing is something she really enjoys too.  But on top of all that, she has an adult size problem.  Her mom is an alcoholic and has finally admitted she needs help.  She's going away to rehab, but what does that mean for Veronica?  To not have her mom there?  Does she tell her friends and teammates about her mom?  And her mom was supposed to help her with softball tryouts.  It's a lot to process and understand, especially for a kid.
Jen Petro-Roy absolutely nails the voice of a middle schooler trying to figure all of this out.  This book will be so important for many readers.

Breathing Underwater
Breathing Underwater 
by Sarah Allen
An important story about mental health for middle grade readers (note: some mature language prick, freakin').  This story follows two sisters, Ruth, who has diagnosed depression, and younger sister, Olivia, as they go on a cross-country RV trip with an aunt and uncle.  For Olivia, this trip is meant to recreate some of the happy memories the sisters had before Ruth's depression takes over.  Seen from Olivia's perspective, readers will get an understanding of how depression affects siblings and the depths of a sibling's love.
Publishes March 31st.
Review copy from Netgalley.

Young Adult

When You Look Like Us
When You Look Like Us
by Pamela N. Harris
Another important book to get into the hands of young readers.  When I first read The Hate U Give, it was eye opening for me as a white person to understand the systemic racism that exists within some officers of the law.  This book is another one that shows that people pass immediate judgement based on skin color.  I really liked meeting the main character, Jay.  His character flaws are ones that are relatable to readers.  You'll root for Jay and love meeting his sweet grandmother, Mimi.  
I'm looking forward to reading more from this debut author.

Chlorine Sky
Chlorine Sky
by Mahogany L. Browne
A novel in verse that is about friendship, this fast reading novel will be devoured in one sitting - at least it was for me!  I love that it centered around friendship, and while yes, a guy does come into play, it really was about that tricky time as a teen when friendships can be solid one day, and the next day it's like you never knew them.

Currently Reading

Abby, Tried and True
Abby, Tried and True
by Donna Gephart

Spring Break is next week.  Another year without traveling - this time planned, not last-minute cancelled!  Hoping for warmer weather to read outside!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Studying our past - Once Upon Another Time book review - 3.05.21

In Illinois, all grades Kg-4th have standards that introduce students to history.  The youngest learners talk about comparing life in the past to life today, and the people who have made important contributions in the past that lead to us celebrating them today.  Older learners talk about how the decisions people and groups in the past made an effect on our land today.  Here is a new book that will be a perfect introduction story and poem to this area of study.

Once Upon Another Time by Charles Ghigna
Once Upon Another Time
written by Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine
illustrated by Andres F. Landazabal
published by Beaming Books

The authors have written a beautiful poem that makes us think back to a different time on our planet.  Not a specific time period, but one from a time different than now.  Perhaps as far back as dinosaurs, but maybe not.  Maybe a time when things were slower, but the wind and the sun and the living things around us were still growing.  This book is like taking in a big gulp of fresh air that leaves us thinking a little clearer and easier.  The book invites us to think back to what was before, and perhaps, what was before that is still here now.  

This is a perfect text to use when talking about our past.  It invites readers to think and ponder without giving them a specific time period or place.  It can be used in grades kg-4th grade to open up a discussion of the past.  It would be interesting to have students talk about what are some of the things that connect to the past that are mentioned in the book.

Some other books you may want to include as a text set:
Old Rock (is not boring) by Deb Pilutti
A Chip Off the Old Block written by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Want to add a copy of Once Upon Another Time to your library!  Enter for a chance to win - Beaming Books has generously donated a copy for a giveaway!  Entries will be accepted until the evening of March 12th (US residents only).  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Code Breaker, Spy Hunter review - 3.03.21

There are a few things I expect to see when I open a Laurie Wallmark authored book.  I expect to read about a woman who made powerful advances in the STEM world, often before the men around her.  It's usually a woman I had not heard of before, often because only males were celebrated at that time.  I also expect to see quotes from the featured woman, instead of made up lines of dialogue.  This is important because it is authentic text that is verified by source quotes in the back of the book.  I also expect to hear an inspiring story that helps me learn more about the way women have made their mark in history.
This books is no exception.

Code Breaker, Spy Hunter
How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars
written by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by Brooke Smart
published by Abrams Books for Young Readers

Goodreads summary
Decode the story of Elizebeth Friedman, the cryptologist who took down gangsters and Nazi spies

In this picture book biography, young readers will learn all about Elizebeth Friedman (1892–1980), a brilliant American code breaker who smashed Nazi spy rings, took down gangsters, and created the CIA's first cryptology unit. Her story came to light when her secret papers were finally declassified in 2015. From thwarting notorious rumrunners with only paper and pencil to “counter-spying into the minds and activities of” Nazis, Elizebeth held a pivotal role in the early days of US cryptology. No code was too challenging for her to crack, and Elizebeth’s work undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. Extensive back matter includes explanations of codes and ciphers, further information on cryptology, a bibliography, a timeline of Elizebeth’s life, plus secret messages for young readers to decode.

Using with readers
This is a fascinating story that celebrates a woman in the STEM world.  I love that more and more stories are celebrating the brilliant work women have contributed to our country for many many years.  It's also important to note that Wallmark made sure to show that this was a woman who was a working mother.  She made important contributions to our country, while raising children.  Such an important person to highlight!
Readers will also be so curious about codebreaking and ciphers.  I love that the backmatter pays special attention to this.  Wallmark explains about different codes and ciphers which will encourage readers to create some of their own.  There is even one in the backmatter to try.  But this is a book about history?  What does cryptography look like today?  A full page in the backmatter explains how all of this is still relevant today.
No doubt you will have readers who want to explore more.  Be sure to point them to the Code Breaker, Spy Hunter book page, where you'll find a trailer, cool activity sheets, and more!

More about author Laurie Wallmark and illustrator Brooke Smart:

Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark has written picture-book biographies of women in STEM fields ranging from computer science to mathematics, astronomy to code breaking. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, been chosen as Junior Library Guild Selections, and received awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book, Cook Prize Honor, and Parents’; Choice Gold Medal. She is a former software engineer and computer science professor. She lives in Ringoes, New Jersey. You can find her at lauriewallmark.com

On Twitter: @lauriewallmark

Facebook: @lauriewallmarkauthor

Instagram: @lauriewallmark

Brooke Smart loves telling stories through her illustrations, especially stories about brave women from history. She has always loved to read, and growing up she could be found nightly falling asleep with a book on her chest. Illustrating books as a professional artist is a lifelong dream come true. She is living the busy, tired, happy, wonderful dream in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, their three kids, and their naughty cat named Sunshine. Learn more about her at brooke-smart.com.

Instagram: @bookesmartillustration

Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media and Abrams for the review copy.

Would you like a copy of Code Breaker, Spy Hunter for your library?  Abrams Books for Young Readers has kindly donated a copy for giveaway (US addresses only)!  Enter by Wednesday, March 10th!

Monday, March 1, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.01.21

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

Some books about flowers, seeds, and growing that match up well with the NGSS standards.

New graphic novels for our young readers!

Picture Books

Sharing a Smile
Sharing a Smile
written by Nicki Kramar
illustrated by Ashley Evans
I like finding books that help explain parts of our "new" normal to young readers.  Masks are something that can make littles nervous.  This story helps normalize them as a grandfather helps his granddaughter become more comfortable with them.  The little girl is even able to help spread some kindness around with masks.
The only problem I had with this book are the eyes of the Asian characters.  The are always more slanted than everyone else's.  In their close up page, it looks like they are closed and have a slanted line, but so does the grandfather.  It seemed to be a strange decision to me.

We Love Fishing!
We Love Fishing!
written by Ariel Bernstein
illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
I always love a good, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek kind of book and this one fits in perfectly.  Bear, Porcupine, and Otter love fishing and everything that goes with it, as the pages tell over and over.  Unfortunately they have a friend, Squirrel, who does not feel the same way.  So of course when they give Squirrel a look at the fish they caught and it somehow ends up in the sea, they really aren't too pleased.  But Squirrel tries to help the best way he can - by taking them out to dinner!  This one made me chuckle.

Big Feelings
Big Feelings
written by Alexandra Penfold
illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
From the duo that gave us All Are Welcome, they are back with another title for your SEL collection!  This one names all of the different feelings we may have, especially when trying something new.  I appreciate how the text and illustrations work together to show the emotions, without bogging down the text and making it feel too preachy.  I love the illustrations even more in this one, they alone give me all the feels!

Outside, Inside
Outside, Inside
by LeUyen Pham
I understand why this book is so hard to find right now!  I've had it ordered for months, and it still hasn't arrived.  Luckily my school library was able to get it and I snatched it as soon as I saw it!  
LeUyen Pham beautifully captures the confusion and all the emotions last spring brought.  It's interesting to read this book and remember all that happened.  Looking at where we are now, I'm glad we are finding new ways to safely exist within this time that allows us to do certain things safely.  I wish I could say that everyone, everywhere followed these things, but at least I can try and control what happens around me.  I think this book will help give words to readers that will help them continue to process the past year and even the next year to come.

Ten Beautiful Things
Ten Beautiful Things
written by Molly Beth Griffin
illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
Too often we stop to notice the beauty of the things around us.  Not the materialistic things, but those things that are found in nature.  Lily is moving to Gram's house and is nervous during her travels.  Gram challenges her to find ten beautiful things.

Becoming a Good Creature
Becoming a Good Creature
written by Sy Montgomery
illustrated by Rebecca Green
A book about how if we listen to the creatures around us, there are many lessons about life and living to be learned.

Middle Grade

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
by David Levithan
I am so glad Levithan has written a middle grade novel!  I know readers are going to love reading his words and story.  This one is perfect for many reasons.  I love the length (213 pgs) and I love the gripping story. 
Aidan has disappeared without a trace.  No one knows where he is gone, least of all his brother (younger by a year), Lucas.  When Aidan suddenly shows up in the attic and Lucas finds him, Aidan has a very interesting tale to tell.  He went to another land through an old dresser in the attic.  While the story sounds fantastical, Aidan has returned with a blue leaf in his hair.
Things start to spiral out of control since this isn't a story anyone particularly wants to explain a disappearance.  Adults deal with it one way (not believing the story), while Aidan and Lucas each try to grapple with telling and believing each other, while kids at school alter between making fun of Aidan and wanting the real story.
With quick chapters, it's easy to say "just one more chapter" until you find yourself staying up way too late to read!
Quick disclosure - there is a Santa and tooth fairy reveal.  Since I work with 3rd and 4th graders, it's always good to know that info.

#mustread update

A Promised Land
A Promised Land
by Barack Obama
I finished parts 3 and 4 this weekend, which was my Feb. must read goal.  It's interesting to know some of the things that happened during certain policy and global meetings, but, I'm not going to lie, those parts bore me!  I love reading what Obama was thinking during some of these things and I really love learning the more personal sides of his life.  I guess this reaffirms the fact I am never going into politics!

Currently Reading

When You Look Like Us
When You Look Like Us
by Pamela N. Harris
I've heard some great things about this YA novel.  Starting it tonight!

Happy reading week!