Monday, October 8, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10-8-18

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:

Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher
McElderry Books, October 2018
Historical Fiction
304 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

I can't think of many books I've read that are set in the 13th century, and I'm sure many young readers will say the same! This story is based on records of an actual polar (pale) bear that was sent as a gift from King Haakon IV of Norway to King Henry III of England around the year 1251. Fletcher has imagined how the bear traveled from Norway to England, and who it was that cared for her. In her story she puts a young boy in this role. A young boy that is also far from home, and away from all he knows. 

One of the most interesting pieces of history written into this story is in the last few pages. Which means I want to tell you, but feel that I shouldn't.
Readers will be captivated by this bear's journey, and will want to read on and on to discover her fate. Young Arthur will steal hearts as he searches for a birthright that may no longer be his.

H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg, illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
Penny Candy Books, 2018
40 pages
Recommended for all!

When a woman named Any emailed me asking if I'd be interested in sharing a book of haiku on my blog I was of course interested. The more we corresponded, the more I learned how special this book is. The poems were written by Amy's mother, who passed in 1996. On the day of the funeral Amy made a pact with her brother and sister-in-law to publish a book of their mother's writing.
I'm so glad they tackled this project, one poem at a time. The result is a wonderful collection for us all to enjoy. Amy included a note to readers, followed by an essay written by Sydell. In those pages readers will be welcomed into the book, and be encouraged to write their own poetry. I especially love the reminder that the strict 5-7-5 that haiku often follow in America, is not a golden rule to this Japanese art form. Let no boundaries hold your words back!
I love the lively illustrations found in this collection. 
A perfect addition to a classroom library!
Please visit this link to read more about Sydell and the story behind this book.

Potato Pants by Laurie Keller
Christy Ottaviano Books, October 2018
40 pages
Recommended for pant and potato lovers everywhere.

Do you love The Scrambled States of America as much as I do?! If so, you will be delighted to see that the creator of that hilarious book is back with potatoes wanting pants!
This spud on the cover desperately wants a pair of pants, but when an eggplant he is trying to avoid is in the shop he vacates quickly. We've all been there...
Anyway, in an attempt to not be seen by the eggplant he was ATTACKED *pushed* by the day before, the potato laments over not being able to get into the store to get his PANTS before they are sold out! Are you feeling the stress yet? This is a serious problem!
With a lot of laughs, and a good amount of self-talk around solving his problem, readers will get a kick out of this story!

Link to the blog tour below!

Nominations are open! Head to the Cybils site to nominate your favorites in 2018 children's lit!

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Perilous Journey of Danger & Mayhem *Blog Tour and Giveaway!*

Welcome loyal blog readers, newcomers, and people who accidentally clicked a link and ended up here! I am happy to share with you the final stop on the blog tour for Christopher Healy's latest book: A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem!
Here you will find info about the book, a few of my thoughts, an educator's guide, a sample of the audio book, a video from the illustrator, AND a chance to win a signed copy! Whew, let's get to it!
Coming in at nearly 400 pages, this story is one you can really sink yourself into!
In this alternative historical fiction story I found myself stretching to many new "what ifs".
What if the power-houses of history were not as gifted or upstanding as we think they are?
What if women had been given half a chance to show what they are capable of?
And what if Molly Pepper and her new friend Emmet Lee were really all that were standing between life as we know it, and the unveiling of a dastardly plot that would rewrite history?

This is a book for the reader that wants to question, wants to imagine, wants to laugh, and wants to find answers. 
In these pages you will do more than risk life and limb to stop an evil plan, you will also slow down and dig deeply into what it means to love your parents, miss your parents, feel let down by your parents, and to feel like a let down to your parents. There is so much here.
(These might be words on our radar at present)

Molly Pepper is much more clever and brave than I'll ever be, so I thoroughly enjoyed running by her side in this story!

Blog Tour Stops:

24-SepNovel Novice  Post by Christopher Healy
25-SepA Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
26-SepUnleashing Readers
27-SepTeach Mentor Texts
28-SepNovel Novice  Review
29-SepMaria’s Melange
1-OctThe Flashlight Reader
2-OctNerdy Book Club
3-OctBook Monsters
3-OctNovel Novice Q and A with Chris
4-OctBluestocking Thinking
Links copied from Unleashing Readers
Thanks for stopping by!

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!