Curious, enthusiastic and genuine are words that immediately come to mind when I think about Maya Penn. At eight years old, she started her own companCurious, enthusiastic and genuine are words that immediately come to mind when I think about Maya Penn. At eight years old, she started her own company by selling headbands that she created. She's also really interested in animation, so she taught herself how to create her own films. In this inspirational self-help book, she shares about her own experiences to encourage other teens to develop their own passions and create plans to change the world.
Tweens and teens enjoy Maya's upbeat, casual tone as she starts by talking about her process. She encourages readers to use a dream board to brainstorm ideas and identify what creates sparks they might use to ignite their plans. I especially liked the way she helps kids understand different thinking styles and ways to keep yourself motivated.
The length and detail make this best suited for middle and high schoolers, although several fifth graders were drawn to it. I'd love to see some more of Maya's terrific ideas illustrated for the tween audience--much like an American Girl book. Hand this to creative teens and see what dreams they build, or recommend it to families as a great audiobook for summer listening. ...more
Sophie is a girl after my own heart--a steadfast friend, willing to stand up for what she believes in. Above all else, she loves books and the storiesSophie is a girl after my own heart--a steadfast friend, willing to stand up for what she believes in. Above all else, she loves books and the stories they hold. Sophie works as a bookmender in her father's shop, caring for old books, helping to make sure they can share their stories with more of the town's citizens. But the town is turning on Sophie and her father: the Inquisitor is leading a movement to banish all nonsense from their town, and calling for all citizens to bring their storybooks to the great Pyre to be burned. Sophie is thrust into the role of protecting the magical Book of Who when Peter Nimble rescues her from arrest by Inquisitor Prigg and presents her with this amazing book.
Sophie's mother died protecting the Book of Who, and now Sophie must protect it from Inquisitor Prigg's prying grasp. She is joined by Peter and his trusty companion Sir Tode, as they uncover the mystery of the books of the Four Questions: Who, What, Where and When. While this new book is definitely a companion to Auxier's Peter Nimble and His Fantasic Eyes (my review here), Sophie Quire stands alone very well--Auxier tells her own story, and Peter plays a supporting role.
Children who love escaping into an adventure will definitely enjoy this--think of fans of Adam Gidwitz's Grimm series, or Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. I especially love how Auxier's characters are layered and developed, letting these characters live on in my mind. Good is tainted by hubris, greed or fear. Evil has roots in old wounds and competition. You have to understand someone's backstory to see where they're coming from. Even stories themselves can come alive in the hands of the right reader....more
Baseball fans love comparing stats to get a handle on how their favorite teams and players are doing. Braun introduces kids to the math behind the staBaseball fans love comparing stats to get a handle on how their favorite teams and players are doing. Braun introduces kids to the math behind the stats with this clear, high-interest introduction covering everything from basic batting averages to slugging and fielding percentages. ...more
Love the detailed content and the clear design that make this perfect for upper elementary baseball fans. Highly recommended (disclaimer: I am not a bLove the detailed content and the clear design that make this perfect for upper elementary baseball fans. Highly recommended (disclaimer: I am not a baseball fan at all, so I'm trusting the editors made good sports choices)...more
Love this from the author's note "Well, there goes my story, I thought. But, again, Audie had other ideas. She nudged her way to the front of my mindLove this from the author's note "Well, there goes my story, I thought. But, again, Audie had other ideas. She nudged her way to the front of my mind and asked my favorite writer’s question: What if? What if Dorothy had been kidnapped? Who might have done such a deed? And why?"...more
This worked particularly well as a read aloud, hooking students with a high-interest topic. I especially liked the chapter on the mountain lions. It sThis worked particularly well as a read aloud, hooking students with a high-interest topic. I especially liked the chapter on the mountain lions. It starts out telling an episode in Santa Monica and then looks more critically at what brings lions to urban areas (cause-effect structure) and then how we can take steps to solve this problem (problem-solution structure).
Loved the student engagement (calls of "that's messed up" when the lion was shot) and the way I could model my own engagement (being so interested I started looking up newspaper articles on this topic)....more
Sophie has only one wish for her birthday, One True Desire. A giraffe. With determination, whimsy and flair, she sets about persuading her mother, fatSophie has only one wish for her birthday, One True Desire. A giraffe. With determination, whimsy and flair, she sets about persuading her mother, father, uncle and grandmother. A joyful story showing the power of the word please....more
Laura Shovan's novel in verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is full of distinct voices that prompt us to think about different studentsLaura Shovan's novel in verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is full of distinct voices that prompt us to think about different students' unique perspectives. It's one my students are enthusiastically recommending to one another.
Through these short poems, Shovan captures the distinct, unique voices of each student. The class is diverse in many ways--racially, ethnically, economically, and more. At first, I wondered if I would really get to know the different students since each page focused on a different child; however, as the story developed, I really did get a sense of each individual as well as the class as a whole. Shovan creates eighteen distinctive individuals--with personalities and backgrounds that we can relate to and envision. And these experiences shape how each individual reacts to the year.
Instead of focusing on the classic players you may remember, this book looks at the new stars--wondering who will be the superstars of tomorrow. YoungInstead of focusing on the classic players you may remember, this book looks at the new stars--wondering who will be the superstars of tomorrow. Young fans will like the trading cardlike layout which features one large action photo, a short description of the player's playing history and achievements, and a quick "Did You Know?" fact in bold print. Pair this with Side by Side Basketball Stars, also from Sports Illustrated Kids but with more challenging text, and encourage students to debate which stars are the greatest players--backing up their arguments with facts and reasons. ...more
The path to peace is never easy--it's full of anger, turmoil and resistance. Hiawatha starts telling his tell by recounting how his family was killedThe path to peace is never easy--it's full of anger, turmoil and resistance. Hiawatha starts telling his tell by recounting how his family was killed in battle. Afterward, he could only think of taking revenge. But one morning, a man paddled across the water in a white stone canoe. The Peacemaker said to Hiawatha, in a halting voice,
"I-I-I know of your pain. I know of your loss. I carry a message of healing. I h-h-have come to tell you of the Great Law: Fighting among our people must stop. We must come together as one body, one mind, and one heart. Peace, power and righteousness shall be the new way."
Robbie Robertson, who is of Mohawk and Cayuga heritage, first heard this story as a young boy visiting his relatives at Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario, Canada. In his author's note, he recounts the day they journeyed through "the bush" to a longhouse and heard a respected Elder tell the story of the Great Peacemaker and his disciple, Hiawatha. Now Robertson, with the aid of his son, comes full circle to becomes the storyteller.
Young readers, especially in 4th through 7th grades, will grasp the difficulties Hiawatha faced, first battling his own rage and anger at his enemies, and later as he brought the Peacemaker's message to warring tribes. Healing can only be achieved by forgiveness and trust. Hiawatha was passionate and convincing delivering his message to the Seneca and others:
"We will all perish if we continue this violence. A change must come, and the time is now. Alone, we will be broken," I said, "but together we are more powerful than the greatest warrior."
Students will be able to see how this transformed the Iroquois nations to form the united league that eventually became the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. I think it would be fascinating for students to also apply these themes to conflicts we face today, whether in our local communities or in world politics.
David Shannon's illustrations are powerful, evocative and stunning. Although you may know him for his humorous No, David!, his picture book The Rough-Face Girl (with Rafe Martin) remains one of my all-time favorite folktales. In Hiawatha and the Peacemaker, he conveys both the heroic and mythological nature of the two main figures--but he also lets readers feel the anguish that results from the conflict and the power struggles. I found this interview with David Shannon at TeachingBooks very interesting....more