Friday, April 22, 2022

Kid Scientist series - 4.22.22

Calling all future scientists!  Would you like to know more about the scientific world?  There is a new series that is letting young readers dive (or dig) into the science fields!

Marine Biologists on a Dive by Sue Fliess     Archaeologists on a Dig by Sue Fliess
Kid Scientist series
Marine Biologists on a Dive
Archaeologists on a Dig
written by Sue Fliess
illustrated by Mia Powell
published by Albert Whitman

In the first two books of the Kid Scientist series, young readers get to explore the field of marine biology and archeology.  So whether you want to dig or dive, author Sue Fliess and illustrator Mia Powell have you covered!

Both texts feature fictional scientist teams that are in the field for a specific purpose.  In the marine book, the scientists are studying a whale pod.  Each diver has a specific task they are working on and studying.  Some studies include whale sounds and communications, others are behaviors of the whales in the pod, and the health of the food the pod is eating.  Animal conservation is also mentioned because the biologists even help a young whale that has been entangled in a fishing net.

The archaeologist book has readers visiting one of the world's biggest religious temples, Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  Sam's team is looking for artifacts to learn more about the people and history from that time period.  The author shows us step by step the process archaeologists take when searching for artifacts in an area, and then what happens once items are discovered.  I loved learning about a process scientists use to figure out how old an artifact is by using a machine that uses thermoluminescence lighting.  A piece of the artifact is crushed and added to the machine.  It is heated up and based upon the amount of light it gives off, the machine can calculate how old it is.  So cool!

I like that each book mentions the scientific method.  Readers get a feel for how scientists might use it in that field of study.  The steps of the scientific method are included in the backmatter.  And speaking of backmatter, each book has even more information about the scientific fields at the end of the book.  Between additional sources, a deeper explanation of that particular scientist, and how to become a scientist in that field, readers will leave with a new sense of understanding of that scientific career!

These texts are perfect for a read aloud and will absolutely inspire some young scientists in your classroom!

Would you like to add a copy of these books to your library?  Publisher Albert Whitman has generously donated a copy of each book for giveaway!  Enter by Friday, April 29th for your chance to win (US residents).

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Being a Dog - a review - 4.19.22

Want a story that will draw readers in?  Just find a good dog story!  But this new dog story is more than just that.  It's a love letter to dogs and the way that they go through life, just BE-ing!  It's a book about mindfulness and reminding ourselves that it's important to just BE.

Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness
Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness
written by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Pete Oswald
published by HarperCollins

The story opens up with the reminder that dogs just live their lives.  They go through their day just being a dog.  Whether it's stretching, or eating, or playing, they go through their day, enjoying it.  Whether it's nice weather or wet weather or snowy weather.  As we go through the book, readers understand that dogs have emotions too and when they feel them, they show them.  Especially when they are happy.  Sometimes they use their whole body to show that!  

What a beautiful metaphor to talk through with young readers.  Think about the mindfulness in the life of a dog and how can that be important to their own lives?  How can they just BE and what lessons can we learn from the dogs in the story?  It's a powerful idea when you dig deep and think about it.  I know I definitely need reminders to BE instead of always thinking about the next things on my list!

I really love the mindfulness ideas included in the backmatter.  Tips to help us be mindful, no matter what the season is!  Dogs don't worry about the seasons, they find ways to just BE any time of year!  

Now, this book could not just be written by anyone, it has to be someone who has had many dogs to love.  Someone who knows just how dogs can BE and loves their dog for those reasons.  I asked author Maria Gianferrari to tell us more about one of her beloved dogs, Becca.  Thanks for stopping by, Maria!  Take it away!

My late, very beloved and much missed rescue dog, Becca, was the inspiration for Being a Dog and for all of my canine “tails.” The Penny & Jelly books were based on her bond with our daughter, Anya—Becca was like her dog sister, since Anya’s an only child. I call this the “best friends” photo (Anya was 6, and Becca was 1). Becca’s initial separation anxiety led to the structure of Hello Goodbye Dog, and Operation Rescue Dog was loosely based on her own transportation rescue story.

Becca was my furry, faithful friend and writing companion. I am so grateful to have had her as a family member for almost 14 years. Not surprisingly, when Becca died in November 2019, I was devastated and deeply depressed for a couple of months. I couldn’t work, and I cried all the time—her absence was so present and palpable. When I finally sat down to write again, I wanted to feel all of the joy and calm and love that I felt in her presence. I got to thinking about how dogs live in the moment, and what we as humans can learn from that.

I love the Ted Lasso quote, “Living in the moment is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” Writing
Being a Dog, being present, reliving those times, helped me to find joy again. I think of the book as Becca’s gift to me, because it was one of those rare books that wrote itself and flowed out, and that doesn’t happen very often. But when we’re open to things, magic happens.

And now I get to “be a dog” with our new rescue mutt, Maple.

Thank you, Maria, for sharing this very special story!

More about author Maria Gianferrari:
Maria Gianferrari is a community scientist, self-taught naturalist, and bird nerd who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English. She is the author of narrative nonfiction picture books which celebrate urban ecosystems, the natural world and our wild neighbors. She also writes engaging expository nonfiction. And as a lover of dogs, Maria’s fiction picture books star dogs as main characters and explore the human-canine bond. She writes from her light-filled, book-lined study in Massachusetts with rescue dog, Maple at her side.

Be sure to find your copy of this special book today! Want to try your luck and win a copy? Maria and HarperCollins are generously giving away a copy of the book to a blog reader (US residents only). Enter below and a winner will be selected on Tuesday, April 26th.

Monday, April 18, 2022

A book for Earth Day! 4.18.22

 While Friday may be Earth Day, it's really something we should be thinking about everyday!  Here's a perfect book for your celebration:

Be Thankful for Trees by Harriet Ziefert
Be Thankful for Trees:
A tribute to the many and surprising ways trees relate to our lives
written by Harriet Ziefert
illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald
published by Red Comet Press

Author Harriet Ziefert tells us many reasons why we should be thankful for trees - a tree is food, is comfort, is recreation, and so much more!  Divided up by the reasons we should be thankful and some great examples for each one, this story is told in a rhyming format.  I love that there is minimal text on each page, usually just an example per page (two per layout) which makes it a great read aloud and it's accessible to all readers.  The examples are wonderful springboards for further conversation, such as, did you ever think about how trees give us music since it makes so many musical instruments?  Or, maybe talk about the surprise when we figure out that trees give us so many recreation objects, like baseball bats or paper kites!  By the end of the book readers understand that while trees help us so much with our everyday lives, we also need to remember to conserve this valuable resource!

Looking for more Earth Day stories?  Click here for more posts and more books!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

This is a School blog tour - 4.06.22

If you were writing a love letter about all that a school can be, what would you include?  I imagine learning would be a central part.  Maybe a welcoming community?  How about the people that fill it?  If you're looking for that book, look no further, because AUTHOR John Schu has written it for us!

This Is a School
written by John Schu
illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison
published by Candlewick Press

This timeless book is an ode to all the things we hope and want our schools to be.  This book invites readers in to a beautiful setting where learners are welcomed, encouraged, and supported.  The illustrations by Veronica Miller Jamison are filled with bright and inviting colors.  

This school community is one we all want to be a part of and belong to.  Mr. Schu has captured the emotions, hopes, and dreams all of us have for our learning communities!

The phrase "we learn" is a repeated phrase in the story, but I love that the word "learn" encompasses more than just facts and information.  It's about learning to be a friend and empathetic person.  It's about the interpersonal skills we gain in conversation with each other at school.  It's about helping each other grow and learn!

Of course, as many of you know, this book is such a special one for so many of us because it's written by our very own, Mr. Schu!  We all know John Schu as a champion of books, authors, illustrators, and creators everywhere.  It's so exciting to see his name on this book and celebrate it with him.  I'm very excited to welcome Mr. Schu and talk more about This Is a School!  Welcome, John!

Hi, Mrs. Knott! Thank you for all you do to help connect readers with stories. I’m grateful for your kind comments about This Is a School.

When did this book first take shape in your mind?

I wrote This Is a School, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison, after I wrote This Is a Story, illustrated by Lauren Castillo, even though This Is a Story comes out next year. This Is a Story is an ode to the power and importance of story. This Is a School is my love letter to students, homeroom teachers, school librarians, reading specialists, guidance counselors, custodians, social workers, principals, art teachers, school secretaries, music teachers, coaches, school nurses, volunteers, helpers, and everyone who helps make school a place of connection. The book took shape in 2019 as I reflected on the life-changing experiences I had in schools as a teacher, as a teacher-librarian, as a student, and as the former of Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs.

I love the line, "Some people see what we're good at, and that helps us to know it, too."  I bet there has been an influential person for you since you've been on your author journey - either when you were young and just beginning to craft your stories to now.  Tell us about someone who has influenced you and helped you see what you're good at!

Oh, thank you so much for asking this question, Michele! The first name that popped into my mind was Dr. Mary Margaret Reed, my fifth-grade teacher. I write about her in The Creativity Project, edited by Colby Sharp.

This book feels so timeless!  I can see teachers and librarians reading this to children year after year.  As this book goes out into the world, what are your hopes for it?

Thank you for your confidence in the story. It means so much to my heart! I hope it makes people smile. I hope they pore over Veronica’s beautiful and colorful illustrations. I hope they feel seen. I hope it helps facilitate meaningful conversations.

I love so many of the words used to describe a school.  Which word did you really make sure you included and explored in this book?

You’re asking so many amazing questions that I’ve never been asked before! Thank you for opening up this space to me. There are two words I had to include in This is a School: HEAL and LIBRARIANS. I think librarians can help heal hurts through the stories they add to their collections. Through the stories they booktalk. Through the stories they introduce to students’ hearts. In The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life, I write: Books can be the perfect prescriptions that let us know we’re going to be OK. We give students access to these lifelines and leave room for the magic.

Veronica Miller Jamison's artwork is fantastic and makes your words come to life!  The bright colors just invited you into the school!  And I loved watching the same children learn and explore and grow on each page!  I'm going to take a "Mr. Schu" prompt from your amazing blog and have you respond to "Veronica Miller Jamison's illustrations...."

Yes! Yes! Yes! Veronica’s artwork is fantastic! Her art is magnificent! She brings such energy and love to every page. 

Yay! I get to finish one of your sentences. Thank you! 

Veronica Miller Jamison’s illustrations make my heart smile.

Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Schu!

Thank you, Mrs. Knott! I hope we see each other one day soon!

Have you see the book trailer yet?  Be sure to share it with your young readers!

Candlewick Press has generously offered two copies of This Is a School for giveaway!  Enter by Friday, April 15th for your chance to win (U.S. residents)!