Sunday, November 19, 2017

Christmas Picture Books!

What a delight to open a box full of Christmas books! I was truly zipped right back to childhood as I poured through the pages of these books. I look forward to sharing these books with my students, my own children, and anyone else looking for new holiday titles!
Do you have a special way of displaying your holiday books? As a child my mother had wrapped the top and bottom of a large sturdy box and it held our Christmas books. I remember being so excited to see that box each year. The magic never faded. I was gifted a lovely painted wooden crate for my family's holiday books. I hold such fondness to my childhood memory that I also plan to recreate it for my own children. Luckily I have a book collection habit, so we will more than fill both book storage options! 

If you're looking to keep building your holiday book collection, check out these new offerings from Candlewick Press. Then, enter below for a chance to win one!

My 3 year old is obsessed with the original edition of this story. He is going to flip when he sees this special edition! 

Matt Tavares is from Maine, which means that from time to time our paths cross...when I hunt him down for book signings. Tavares' artwork is stunning, always, so I couldn't have been more exited to find out that he was working on a Christmas book!
Red and Lulu, a pair of cardinals, live happily in a large pine tree in the suburbs, until their tree is eyed for a special purpose. Problems arise when Red and Lulu become separated. 

I first thought this was an Elf on the Shelf story, but it is not. This one I'd recommend for the crowd under 7. A young girl wakes up on Christmas Eve, hears noises downstairs, and creeps down to investigate.

Adorable board book with moving parts. I had fun sharing this one with my 3 year old!

Follows the story of a fairy learning to be a Christmas fairy. Things don't go so smoothly for this little fairy.

Perhaps my new favorite of the year! From picking the tree to decorating the tree, what's not to love? One of the most exciting parts of preparing for Christmas is depicted in vintage inspired illustrations that I just love!

If you are a fan of this series I know you'll be excited to get your hands on this one! Bear has agreed to have a Christmas party but he's never had one before. His idea of what happens at the party might just differ from Mouse's ideas.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!
And stay tuned for more holiday books!

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-13-17

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Today I'm sharing a few picture books I've recently read and enjoyed, as well as a novel I've been meaning to share out on. 

Peachtree, 2017

A sweet story about a class saying goodbye to a retiring teacher. The book takes readers through the end of the year pack-up, with less excitement of summer vacation, and more permanence, as the children work through the idea of not seeing Mrs. McBee at school next year.

Tundra Books, 2017

When I read this little story about a puzzle piece looking to find a place to fit, someplace wild and exciting, I liked it. When I read it out loud to my students, I loved it. A book that all us can relate to, because at one point or another, we have not fit in the way we wanted.

Boyds Mills Press, 2017

Such fun! It was fun to read this one aloud, watching and listening to the children's reactions. What is imagined and what is real dance together on the page for an exciting and joy-inducing experience!

Inspired by Carrie at There's a Book for That, I have been displaying our book-a-day choices and giving the students some voice in their favorites. I love how Carrie is extending her choices into weekly themes with lessons/take-aways and student reflection.
Here are our choices from last week:

Candlewick Press, 2017
464 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

My thoughts: I couldn't wait to open this book and dive into its pages. The cover and write-up certainly intrigued me. Then the setting pulled me in deeper. There's something I can't resist about a dark and depressing orphanage. I am interested to see where this book goes as it transforms into a film because the book felt a little wild to me once the characters escaped the home. The twists and turns and layers of characters, many of which come and go just when you need them, didn't flow as I expected.

I would love to hear your thoughts. And to help me hear your thoughts I'm opening up a drawing for my advanced reader copy.

Drawing will close Sunday evening.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

*Dragonfly Song* Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
Pajama Press, 2017
Release date: 10-27-17

Weeks ago I was contacted out of the blue to be a part of this blog tour. I didn't know anything about Dragonfly Song, aside from the author's name, which is one of the reasons I didn't hesitate at all to tke part. Wendy Orr brought Nim's Island to us, which has been loved by many of my students. Knowing how much I enjoyed Nim's story, I was excited to read Wendy's newest title. 

It was nothing I expected.

That's not entirely true...I did expect to enjoy it.

But I didn't expect how tightly it would hold me throughout the entire story. Small and fragile Aissa, cast about at the will of so many adults, tormented and bullied by the people surrounding her, and yet, she never hardened. She strengthened, but never hardened. Which makes you root for her with every single turn of the page.

The bull dancers, what frightening and beautiful art is this? Children being sacrificed for the safety of the island...until one can out-dance the bull and free their people from this annual ritual. Obviously Aissa gets called to be a bull dancer, the cover depicts as much. But when? I waited and waited for this turn, and continued to be surprised by the direction of the story.

I love the gentleness and the vulnerability in this story. I also love the hope, the knowing that there is more in store for Aissa. And I love Aissa's sense of good and her perseverance. My goodness, she certainly perseveres.

This is a book to give readers that love being absorbed in another world. Readers that don't need flashy events on every page, readers that can wait. It is so worth the wait.

Summary from Publisher:

The whispers say it’s not true that the Lady’s firstborn died at birth. They say it’s worse—the baby was born with an extra thumb dangling from each wrist. If she’s not perfect, she can never follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Nobody but the old wise-woman knows what truly happened to Aissa, the firstborn daughter of the priestess. If they saw the half-moon scars on the servant girl’s wrists they would find it out, but who would look twice at lowly, mute No-Name? Then the soldiers of Crete come to the island, demanding children as tribute for their god-king’s bull dances as they do every year. Aissa is determined to seize this chance to fight for her own worth and change her destiny once and for all.

Lyrically written and refreshingly unpredictable, Dragonfly Song is a compelling Bronze Age fantasy that suggests a fascinating origin for the legend of the Minotaur and his dark tribute.

Tour Stops:

Unleashing Readers, Activity Guide and Discussion Questions, 10/22
YA and Kids Book Central, Book Playlist, 10/23
Log Cabin Library, Guest Post, 10/24
The Children’s Book Review, Character Interview, 10/25
Bluestocking Thinking, Review, 10/26
Charlotte’s Library, Interview, 10/27
A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust, Interview, 10/28
Writers’ Rumpus, Guest Post, 10/29

More information about Dragonfly Song:
More information about Wendy Orr:

YA and Kids Book Central posted a playlist for the novel (loved that post!), and it was fun to explore. If you only click two links, check out the first one, the song Wendy Orr heard and knew she had to write a book for. And the last one, what Wendy imagines the beauty of the snake song would sound like.
If you don't have time to head there now, here are those two, my favorites:
Sigur Ros

Loreena McKennitt

Ok, I lied, here is one more favorite from that playlist!

I will be playing this as my students enter the classroom tomorrow! 
Listening to this song, while imagining and remembering scenes of bull dancing, is at once a beautiful and thrilling and also a sad and terrifying experience.

****Update!!! The winner of the giveaway will have an enamel dragonfly pin included in their book prize! How fun!!****

Contest closes Friday, November 3rd, before I go to bed!
Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Science Comics Blog Tour!

Welcome to the 2nd stop on the Science Comics Worldwide Blog Tour! Sounds impressive, right?!
Well it should, because this book series is one of a kind! High interest science topics written in an engaging and accessible format, coupled with exciting and captivating artwork, it's a sure win. Check out all the titles in this series, published by the go-to for graphic novels of all types, First Second.

I am excited to be the 2nd stop on the tour, and even more excited to bring you an author interview with MK Reed, author of Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers.

I first reviewed this book here on Monday, April 18, 2016.

For more stops on the tour, visit:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

*Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat* Review and Giveaway!

They're back! And they've come a long way from the day Pig first moved in to Pug's home!
In this latest edition the pair find themselves at odds, not with each other, but with their feelings about Halloween. Can you guess who loves it?
When Pug feels smushed and squashed in his costume, he shreds it all over the yard. Phew, that feels better. But look how sad Pig is now that she has no one to celebrate Halloween with. Luckily Pug comes up with a plan that both feel happy about.

There is a 3 year old in my house that loves this duo!
Click the image below so you can have some fun with Pug & Pig, too!

And wait, there's more! Blue Slip media is giving away a copy! Enter below to win.
Open to U.S. addresses only. Contest closes Friday, October 13th.

For an extra number in the drawing, comment with your favorite Halloween costume from your childhood!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cybils Nominations in Fiction Picture Books and Board Books (10-4-17)

Welcome to my first round of judging for the Cybils! I will be sharing *short* reviews/thoughts of some of the books that are nominated for the award in my category: Fiction Picture Books and Board Books. Though I may love many books, only a few will be added to my short list, which I cannot share-how secretive and exciting!

Fiction Picture Books:

So sweet. A simply put story about love and loss between cats. Reminds me of The Grannyman by Judy Schachner.

I will be reading this to the 3rd graders! It would be fun to read as text only, letting kids imagine the fierce barbarians, and to then read it with the pictures after. 

This would be a sweet addition to an Easter basket! Sweet little book about eggs hatching. For the younger end.

For younger readers and listeners. I probably won't read this one to the 3rd graders. It would be fun to tie in with Dot Day though, since it celebrates all things round. 

Cute and silly, repetitive, which is good for small listeners, not so good for me. I enjoyed the illustrations and am NOT being silly or snide when I say that I also like the paper it is printed on. Texture is important in a book, and this one has nice texture.

Oh my goodness. Go get a copy to read! So funny, so adorable, but also so important! I will be reading this aloud to the 3rd graders this week!

Ok, this is too fun (and funny) not to read aloud. I will certainly have to test this one on the 3rd graders!

Board Book:

Adorable! Brought a smile to my face for sure. I look forward to reading this to my 3 year old, as he will probably find the silly surprise shapes to be hilarious!

Monday, August 28, 2017

*Henry Whiskers* Blog Tour

I am delighted to be sharing with you a new series, perfect for our younger readers!

Henry Whiskers is a new mouse character for kids to go on adventures with. Though we have fallen in love with other small rodents, we have never hung out with one in such a cool setting!

Henry and his family live in Queen Mary's dollhouse in Windsor Castle. Here, take a peek:

This setting reminds me of the Thorne Rooms which exist in Chicago and also in the fictional pages The Sixty-Eight Rooms.

The mouse and the setting will be enough to hook your readers, then pacing of these little adventures and the cast of characters will surely keep them hooked.

It gets better, I have the chance to give away a set of the first two books!
Good luck, and share the love! You sharing this post spreads awareness of this new series. As a 3rd and 4th grade teacher I have always been on the lookout for books that are not only accessible to kids, but exciting and engaging for them to experience.
Good Luck! 
Winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, September 8th.