Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Back to School Blog Tour: Z Goes First!

Hello, hello! Thanks for stopping by!
Today I'm sharing a quirky alphabet story with you.

From the Book:

The letter Z is tired of being in last place—she wants to go first! So she and her best friend, Y, decide to move to the front of the alphabet. 

There are a lot of letters in the way! D blocks the path with his belly (too many doughnuts). I is too full of himself (“I am incredible”). And L, M, N, O, and P stick together like a brick wall. They all teach Z and Y that the full alphabet is lot more complicated than just ABC.

With Mike Perry’s eye-popping artwork and Sean Lamb’s clever twists on everyday letters, this new kind of alphabet book takes you on an unforgettable adventure all the way from A to Z and back again. 

My Thoughts:

Kids of various ages can enjoy this story. There are the vibrant technicolor illustrations to pull in all ages. The silly letter characters will delight the youngest reader, and the older reader will get a chuckle out of the playfulness of the story. Each letter has a personality carefully thought up. What will Q do with that tail, and which letter does Q want to pass a "Hello" on to?
What's so great about R and S and T? Why does E think so highly of himself? Which letters are in a tight little clique? Read on to uncover the truths about the personalities of the letters in the alphabet you thought you knew so well!

When you come to the end of this story you might just want to read it again!

Monday, September 10th Momma Braga

Tuesday, September 11th Babies to Bookworms

Wednesday, September 12th Bluestocking Thinking

Thursday, September 13th Paperback Princess

Friday, September 14th The Baby Bookworm

Saturday, September 15th Sweet Southern Home

Win A Copy!

Click HERE to enter! Good Luck!
Winner will be randomly selected Wednesday, September 19th.

Monday, September 10, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-10-18

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!

Books I've Recently Read:

Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo
Candlewick Press, September 2018
Nonfiction Informational
32 pages

A book like this longs to be placed face-out, on display, where it will catch the eye and interest of passers-by. The gorgeous linocut prints spread across two-pages, supporting factual information about birds that are well known and also birds that are lesser known. 
I'm always looking for quality nonfiction picture books to read aloud to my students, and this will certainly be put in the line-up (and also on display)!

See, how great is this image?

Night Job by Karen Hesse
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Candlewick Press, September 2018
32 pages

The cover pages reveal a young boy making and packing sandwiches, then leaving an apartment (or hotel room) under the darkening sky.
It's Friday night, and the boy gets to ride on the back of his father's motorcycle to his night job as a school custodian. Though the storyline is simple and sweet, I think it is deceptively so. Alone I read through this quickly, but I can hear comments from students swirling near my head. I look forward to reading it aloud to them in the coming days.
For kids that are interested in night job stories, this would pair nicely with The Night Worker, a favorite of my son's. In The Night Worker, a young boy is finally able to tag along with his father to a work site in the city. I love both of these stories!

The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar
Candlewick Press, October 2018
Realistic Fiction...or is it?
384 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Lindsay Eagar has a way with words. A way of making you feel and see what is happening in and around her characters. It feels magical to me, and I can appreciate what she is doing. This style of writing, explaining things in multiple ways, some literal, many figurative, can bog down a reader not wanting to get lost in the writing. I'd hand this story to a reader that isn't in a rush, one that wants to wander alongside Miranda, finding out who she is and what makes her so, in her own good time.

When we meet twelve-year-old Miranda Cho she is fed up with her mother's obsession and job as a cryptozoologist. Miranda is bitter and resentful. She is also a perfectionist that is trying desperately to control what she can in her own life. But what she doesn't see is that she is searching, believing, in something as elusive as her mother's Bigfoot. Miranda is searching for a connection with her father, the man that walked out of her life when she was five-years-old. 

This story is one of understanding what motivates people, what can catch them up and fascinate them, and a story of finding. Finding answers, finding questions, and finding out what makes us who we are, which can take the hardest searching of all.

Are you wondering if Bigfoot is real in the story? He's there on the cover, so is this a Bigfoot story? As hard as Miranda's mother Kat searches, there is no way that I will spoil whether or not her searching pays off. But I will remind you that Eagars  does like to mix a touch of fantasy and mystery and mystical possibility into her realistic writing. Have fun on the hunt!

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a great reading week!
And stop back on the 12th for a blog tour to celebrate The Z Goes First by Sean Lamb and Mike Perry. There will be a book to win!

Monday, August 20, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-20-18

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!

Books I've Recently Read: 

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement
by Stephanie Roth Sisson
Roaring Brook Press, August 2018
Nonfiction: Biography

This lovely picture book biography is told in a variety of techniques. Some pages tell the story in traditional picture book format, some are told through panels, and you will also find some nonfiction text features. 

Readers will meet a curious young nature lover, and will follow her as she grows into a courageous advocate for our natural world.

Will make a great read aloud!

The Sinking of the Vasa: A shipwreck of Titanic proportions by Russell Freedman
illustrated by William Low
Goodwin Books (Henry Holt), August 2018

How wonderful to read and travel the world, to read and skip through time. Are you familiar with the Vasa? The massive warship built for the Swedish Navy in the early 1600s? It seems like Freedman isn't keeping any secrets with a title like this, but there is so much to learn in this book. From the gorgeous detail, the impressive size, the maiden voyage and the folks on board, to centuries later when underwater salvage is possible. 
Another fabulous read aloud.

When Paul Met Artie: The story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri
illustrated by David Litchfield
Candlewick Press, March 2018
Nonfiction: Biography

Oh my, how I love this book! Told in poetic narrative, each page titled after a Simon and Garfunkel song, we follow S & G from fourth grade to present day.
My parents had many of the duo's music, and the memory of playing those tapes tickled my brain while I read. I almost had to pause to play a song. I certainly had to play some after finishing the book!
The illustrations are folksy and are simply perfection. The story is readable enough for students as young as third grade to easily enjoy, yet deep enough to process and dissect with older students.
I will be sharing this with my students for sure. Perhaps it will propel us into talks about dreams, talents, and fears. And of course, there will be music. Lots of music.

Hazelnut Days by Zaü
illustrated by Emmanuel Bourdier
Mine Edition, May 2018
Realistic Fiction: Father incarcerated

Mine Edition books describes themselves as publishing: "Beautifully crafted picture books that open the door to the world-created by authors and illustrators from around the globe." Pretty excellent.
It isn't until the final page that we see the young boy's father is with him during visitation in prison. The boy describes his father through the story, in positives and negatives, the balance we all find within. The pictures and colors reflect well the tone of the story.
Depending where you live, it might not be rare to have students in your midst that are dealing with a similar life experience. There must be such an internal struggle when someone you love is incarcerated. If you do not work with children that might see themselves in this story, share it anyway. Talk about it. Make it not shameful. Look at the young boy on the cover, his openness, his hope, he is not to be shamed for his father's path.

The next two could be used hand in hand:

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies
illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
Candlewick Press, September 2018
Published in association with Help Refugees
Marwan's Journey by Patricia de Arias
illustrated by Laura Borràs
Mine Edition, May 2018

Two stories of children fleeing war-torn countries. Would we have thought years ago that we would be building classroom libraries with titles like this? Would we have thought that people around us would be so loving and open to sheltering refugees? Would we have thought that on the other side of us people would be so fearful or hateful? Whether we thought it or not, we're here, and it's books like this that help us navigate these times, these topics, these realities.
I find myself saying again that the illustrations are perfectly matched to the stories. 

On Another Note:

The Treasure of Mad Doc Magee by Elinor Teele
Walden Pond Press, August 2018

*Blog tour coming soon! Stay tuned for post and GIVEAWAY!*
Don't you just love Walden Pond Press?!

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Candlewick Press, September 2018
544 pages

There are wonderful, wonderful parts of reviewing books. Mainly, the books, right? Right. But then there is the reality that I am often reading books that I might not have chosen on my own. Case in point, this title. I mostly likely would not have chosen this book on my own if not offered a copy. And even as I began reading, and even as I kept reading, I thought that this book was not quite to my liking. But then this happened: I finished it last night and now I miss these weirdos!
A story of two enemy people, the elves and the goblins, both writing history to favor themselves. Both peoples painting the other to be worse, to be wrong.
When the elfin nation plots to send a deadly gift to the ruler of the goblins, a wild story of betrayal, hope, loyalty, and scholarly studies, takes off.
It'd be weirder and funnier if it wasn't 100% truth. Because even though we're reading about elves and goblins, we are reading about people, and the way we separate and wonder about, and fear the unfamiliar.

I'm Currently Reading:

There we go, that's more like it ;)

Thanks for stopping by!
Happy reading!

Monday, August 6, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8-6-18

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!

This coming school year will be the year I really accomplish the Book a Day Challenge. Because of this, you'll notice more picture book reviews from time to time.

Books I Read this Week:

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Harry Bliss
Candlewick Press, September 2018
36 pages

Oh, you can imagine my delight at opening this book mail!
This picture book is told through panels, try imagining zooming in on a graphic novel until the frames are large. That's what this resembles.
At first the simple text tricked me into thinking this would be a simple story. But slowly some bigger themes began creeping in. Loneliness, companionship, fear, friendship, they all show themselves in this beautiful story that is actually anything but simple.
I think the style of illustration is a perfect match to the story's tone.
This will be a must read for me in September.

(Instagram: bluestockingthinking)

Little Sid: The Tiny Prince Who Became Buddha by Ian Lendler
Illustrated by Xanthe Bouma
First Second, 2018
34 pages

From the jacket flap: "...Little Sid weaves traditional Buddhist fables into a classic new tale of mindfulness, the meaning of life, and an awakening that is as profound today as it was 2,500 years ago."

Even though he is surrounded with all the material things he could ever desire, Little Sid is lacking the love and attention of his parents. In order to feel fulfilled Little Sid leaves the castle to find happiness, which he ultimately returns home with.

I am no expert on Buddhist fables, so I cannot make claims to be, but I will be sharing this one with my third graders in September!

(Instagram: bluestockingthinking)

Littles and How they Grow by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by AG Ford
Doubleday Books, 2018
28 pages

This is one of the most adorable books EVER! So cute I can barely stand keeping it to myself. This will now be my go to baby shower gift, especially if it's a second baby, I can just see the new big brother or sister eating this up! My 4-year-old wanted multiple readings of this sweet rhyming text!
I love the style of illustration, but beyond that I also love the variety of children and families and situations. 
The feedings, the baby-wearing, the boppy pillow, it brings me right back!

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Candlewick Press, September 2018
368 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 4-7

You're going to fall in love with Merci, she's the kind of girl we want to be friends with. 
But this story also hurts to read.
It hurt to read about this family knowing that there are real prejudices they need to adapt to.
It happens when Merci's older brother begins driving, and her parents remind him of how to act if he is ever pulled over.
It happens at the private school Merci attends, the school she has the brains to attend, but not the funds. While she completes extra community service to maintain her enrollment, she also feels as though it could be ripped away if she makes any ripples.
The hurt also surrounds Lolo, Merci's grandfather whose Alzheimer's is progressing. The depiction of Lolo was so well done, as it is hard and confusing and sad and frustrating to watch, just like it is in reality.
I knew my grandfather was gone the Christmas he opened his presents and then looked at me and asked if I wanted them back, and then told me to take any animals out of the barn that I wanted. They didn't live on a farm. There was no barn, no animals. It's a sad and horrible thing to watch.
And even for kids that can't relate to any of that, at the core this is a friendship story with a classic mean girl, a boy, and plenty of mishaps. 
I found it enjoyable from cover to cover.

I'm Currently Reading:

Have a great reading week!
Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, July 30, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7-30-18

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 became a Bookstagrammer today. I'm finding it to be a lot of fun. A totally new way to share the book love. In browsing other accounts I've found that some Bookstagrammers are amazingly talented at creating works of art around the books before snapping pictures. Do not expect to find that on my account ;)
You can find me by searching: bluestockingthinking or A Bluestocking, Thinking

Books I Read this Week:

A Perilous Journey of Danger & Mayhem: A Dastardly Plot by Christopher Healy
Walden Pond Press, September 2018
384 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

I'm going to save the bulk of my review for an upcoming blog tour. I will give you this though: Christopher Healy wrote some badass female characters in the Hero's Guide series, and he's kept that going strong here! You'll meet a series of new courageous, out of the box females. Stay tuned.

Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand by Kat Shepherd
Imprint, June 2018
199 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

After several heavier texts I pulled Babysitting Nightmares from the shelf, looking for a little fun. With a diverse cast of characters, this series starter will appeal to many different readers. 
You'll have to trudge through a bit too many descriptions of clothing, hair, skin, accessories, etc. than I find naturally flowed, but maybe preteen girls devour that sort of thing, and I've just forgotten!
The action slinks in slow and creepy in this one, when a window is mysteriously found open in the baby's room. An odd shaped hand print on the sill and the idea of a creature being in the room with an innocent and helpless babe sent chills down my spine. Might be the mom in me.
Things kick up a notch when the baby begins exhibiting strange behavior, leading the girls to research what could be wrong. When all signs point to changeling, the girls will risk everything to get the true baby safely back home. I can't wait to creep some kids out with this one!

Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera
Candlewick Press, March 2018
144 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

What fun! I'm so glad my wide awake in the middle of the night brain chose this one from the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of the United States.
When you open this book you should expect to be taken by the hand and pulled quickly into a world of fast paced, write it as you think it, poetry. The coolest part, cooler than learning about Herrera throughout the book (which was pretty darn cool) is that he urges you to join in on the fun! As a teacher I felt the ideas literally buzzing around my head. How I would read particular sections, where the students would write, how the experience would shake off some of the fear of making writing perfect. Mostly poetry, autobiographical pages here and there, a dash of odd, and a sprinkle of wild. Really, what are you waiting for?

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

The winner of my The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery ARC is Danielle H. 
Book is heading her way tomorrow!