Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?! 3-27-17

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!

I love March because A. My birthday, and B. Because it's supposed to turn lamb-like by the time it winds up. Well, I did have a birthday this month, but my the month is remaining a bit too lion-like. Come on spring, just come on!
To cheer myself up I'm sharing some books with you!

Books I Read this Week:

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schiltz
Illustrated by Brian Floca
Candlewick Press, 2017
74 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

Princess Cora has it bad. Cora's days are tightly scheduled with bathing (Nanny's thrice-a-day demand), reading (dull books chosen by her mother), and by incessant workouts run by her father (mainly involving a jump rope).  When Cora wishes for a dog to become her companion, she is granted a pet that is very much not an adorable yellow puppy. 
But maybe this crocodile could turn out to be ok. He volunteers to dress up like Cora to fool (and set straight) her nanny and parents. Of course this plan is doomed. But while it is unfurling, Cora is outside experiencing a day of her own making.
Delightful illustrations bring this thoughtful and silly story to life.

Shackles from the Deep: Tracing the Past of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy by Michael H. Cottman
National Geographic, 2017
127 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

Get your hands on this book. Read it, and then tell other people about it.
Even though I felt a bit like an intruder at times, reading something that was at times so sacred and personal, I'm glad to have intruded. My mind was stimulated with images and thoughts throughout the reading of this book. The Henrietta Marie was a slave ship that now rests below the ocean, and has been viewed and researched by black scuba divers. The impact of this is deep. 

At one point early in the book the author explains how small insignificant glass beads were used to trade for human lives. When I read this passage near the end of the book it stuck with me:
"...I ran my hands through the grains of sand and plucked tiny blue, yellow, and purple beads from the ocean floor."

Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence
First Second, 2017
Science Fiction/Graphic Novel
187 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

When Avani is accidentally transported to space by an alien named Mabel, she is in for an eye opening adventure!
Avani doesn't fit in with the girls in her new school, and the Flower Scouts are not her kind of girls. Too much talk about boys and make-up, and no one interested in rodeos or barrel racing (except the girl she overlooks, but more on her in the next book I assume).
Avani becomes friends with some Star Scouts, works hard at earning badges, and proves her strength of character.
Also, fits the bill for diverse books!

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Reading Aloud to my 4th Graders:

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Matylda, Bright & Tender Blog Tour

Welcome to the next stop on the Matylda, Bright & Tender Blog Tour!

Here you will not only learn about this new release, but you will also have the chance to enter to win a copy! This giveaway is graciously provided by Candlewick Press.

224 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 3+

From the publisher:
Sussy and Guy are best friends, fourth-graders who share their silliest thoughts and deepest hopes. One afternoon, the two of them decide they must have something of their very own to love. After a trip to the pet store, they bring home a spotted lizard, the one with the ancient face and starfish toes, and they name her Matylda (with a y so it’s all her own). With Guy leading the way, they feed her and give her an origin story fit for a warrior lizard. A few weeks later, on a simple bike ride, there is a terrible accident. As hard as it is, Sussy is sure she can hold on to Guy if she can find a way to love Matylda enough. But in a startling turn of events, Sussy reconsiders what it means to grieve and heal and hope and go on, for her own sake and Matylda’s. By turns both devastating and buoyant, this story is a brave one, showing how far we can justify going for a real and true friend.
In a courageous debut novel, Holly M. McGhee explores the loss that shakes one girl’s world — and the unexpected consequences of the things we do for love.

From me:
 As I had previously posted, when I finished this book I sat for a while. I sat holding the book tightly closed, staring at the leopard gecko, the bright yellow and the dark spots. My eyes read the title, Matylda, Bright & Tender, over and over again. I think I was unsure of where to go next. What do I say about a book that holds such fierce and loyal love, but also holds such deep, deep pain within?

Really the depth of this book is so strong that there isn't much I can say that feels "enough".

What I can say is, this book will be devoured by the readers that love heart-wrenching stories. 

The grief Sussy experiences is a grief that comes from being faced with a world without her most loyal and comfortable friend. Sussy had a rare friendship. One that many young people might not ever find. But with that rare and beautiful friendship comes a pain just as rare and extraordinary when it is lost.

IF you are willing to go on this journey with Sussy, you will be glad to make it out on the other side with her.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 3-22-17

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.
I noticed years back that my classroom library was heavy on fiction. Since noticing the imbalance of fiction to nonfiction, I've remained on the lookout for engaging and diverse nonfiction titles. Here are some recent finds!

There are certainly strong links that could be made between these books, though I didn't set out to choose a particular set of stories. They are all illustrated in strong and appealing ways, though each in their own.

Roaring Brook Press, 2010
36 pages

Born to former slaves, Jack, Arthur John Johnson, had a childhood that shaped him into the fighting champion he was to become. After being targeted by bullies Jack was urged to fight back. 
In lyrical lines that sometimes sooth, sometimes stir up a laugh, and sometimes make you feel like you're bouncing around the fighting ring, readers learn of Jack's journey to the top. 
Lines of color stop Jack from being a world champion fighter, until someone will agree to fight him.
Excellent read aloud!

Holiday House, 2014
32 pages

Have students loving Roller Girl? Hand them this story about the history of the sport, as it focuses on two of the early stars in this rough sport. Not only is this an interesting looking into roller derby and female athletes, but tells how roller derby (and other indoor sports) and TV had a relationship that benefitted both parties.
Another excellent read aloud.

Holiday House, 2017
36 pages

Tells the story of Gertrude Ederle swimming the English Channel in 1926. The first woman to swim the channel, while also beating the record held by the fastest male to swim the channel!
Again, not only an interesting look at a strong female athlete in American history, but also a look at how the field of athletics was gaining in popularity at the time.
And yes, an excellent read aloud.

Orchard Books, 2016
32 pages

A story of strength. Anthony and Douglass were brought together through similar feelings of inequality, but more so through their fierce passion to shift the balance of unequal rights.
Short, but packed with huge meaning. 
You guessed right, this would make for an excellent read aloud.

I was reminded of:
in which Anthony sits down with Tubman for tea, not Douglass. This story is an imagined meeting of the two great minds. The two stories might make for interesting comparison.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3-13-17

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!

I didn't get too much accomplished as far as completing books goes, but I did work on a video in defense of children's lit, so that counts as something!
Scroll down for videos.

Books I've Recently Read:

Rain by Sam Usher
Templar Books, imprint of Candlewick Press, 2016

First off, this cover. The rain drops and title are textured in the most delightful way. There is absolutely no passing this book up once it is in your hands.
Feel the pain of a little boy longing to go play in the rain-one who is full of wonderful ideas on what to do on a rainy day.
Then prepare to be delighted when his granddad takes him on a fabulous rainy day adventure.
I've not been familiar with Sam Usher's work until now. The illustrations gave me warm fuzzy feelings because they so remind me of Quentin Blake's work.

I'm Currently Reading:

(Hence not having much finished...It was poor judgement to begin so many books around the same time!

I'm Reading Aloud to My 4th Graders:

This video was recently making the rounds on social media.

Here's my response.

Cheers to book love!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Boy Called Bat: Blog Tour & Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to be part of a blog tour for another Walden Pond winner! A Boy Called Bat is going to be a title we all become familiar with, as it has an important place in libraries of all kinds: home, school, public and classroom.

In a time when we are fervently working to provide children with stories filled with diversity, Bat arrives to broaden some perspectives while reminding others that their experience is not entirely unique. This story about Bixby Alexander Tam, an autistic third grader, is a window book, and a mirror book. Some will look in and watch and learn. Others will see their life, their experiences, reflected back. This matters.

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold
With pictures by Charles Santoso
Walden Pond Press, 2017 (3/14/17)
Realistic Fiction
208 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

Why this will appeal to young readers: 
Animals-children have a love of animals, we know this. The desire Bat has to raise the baby skunk is one kids will identify with. What kid doesn't want to raise a baby animal?
The cover-Bold, simple, clean. This cover doesn't work too hard at appealing to one type of reader over another.
It's real-Bat feels real. The interactions between he and his family also feel real. Nothing here is forced, there is no agenda.
Readability-Short chapters, illustrations sprinkled throughout, and generous white space will make this chunky book feel accessible to readers that hesitate at lengthy stories.

And once kids are lured in by the animal aspect, the cover, the realness and the readability, there won't be any trouble keeping them. It's hard not to fall in love with Bat and his mission.

From the publisher:
     For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some of them not so good. Today, though, is a good surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a stray baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wildanimal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk just might make a pretty terrific pet. Written by acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and filled with drawings by Charles Santoso, A Boy Called Bat is a story of first friendship—the first book in a new series starring an authentic, unforgettable autistic character.

Enter for a chance to win a copy!
Contest closes Sunday, March 5th at 10:00pm eastern time.

Really  want to win a copy of the book? Check out these stops on the blog tour!

March 2 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust - Beth Shaum

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: 3-1-17

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.
I noticed years back that my classroom library was heavy on fiction. Since noticing the imbalance of fiction to nonfiction, I've remained on the lookout for engaging and diverse nonfiction titles. Here are some recent finds!

The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books, 2017
40 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

My lovely librarian handed this to me with a: You must read this! We were both moved by the simplicity in which this heavy topic was told. How much of a contradiction there was in the innocence and in the seriousness. A purposeful contradiction. How the illustrations so perfectly portray the setting, and how the final pages of darkness will evoke deep feelings.
No matter how old your students are, this would be a fantastic read aloud. It will surely spark much conversation around the Manhattan Project.

Ada Lovelace Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley, 
illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Simon & Schuster, 2016
40 pages

I was excited to dive into this story, but soon found myself feeling as though it wasn't quite right. I was left wondering what ever came of Ada's first projects (did she build and test her wings, there were certainly many illustrations of what Ada dreamed the wings would do). Also, I predict young readers having little background knowledge to support their understanding of all the other famous scientists, authors, thinkers, etc. of the time, of which there are many mentions. And finally, when saying Ada was the first computer programmer, there are billboards for modern day movies, games and technologies. Now that will confuse some kids!

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
36 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

My goodness, I had no knowledge of how Louis Braille lost his sight, and finding out how (and when) broke my heart! What an amazing young man. A sure win for reading aloud.