I wish I had waited to get Trent a library card, so I could read this to him before we went to get his first one! I love that idea of a bunch of cards waiting around to be assigned to their destiny. Little Card is such an excitable character who just wants to know what he was made for. Although the book is about a library card, he could definitely symbolize kids figuring out what they want to be when they grow up and the journey to getting there. I also love the illustrations that are full of character, light in tone but loud in their meaning....more
What I am always amazed by when I read a book by Jo Knowles is her ability to tell the truth about our world, and this book once again fits this description. Jo has a way of making her characters ones that are so real that you can imagine them walking into a school and know exactly which kids they’d hang out with. Noah and his friends could definitely be middle school students at my school. Her stories always seem to include a bit of humor (see: hairless cat on the cover) while never taking away from the seriousness of the book’s topic. The emotions, specifically pain or sadness, she portrays through her characters radiates out of the pages, so the reader can feel it. ...more
Ms. Bixby is one of those teachers that you read about and you want to be (if you are a teacher) or you want to have (if you are a student). As you can see from all the praise it has been receiving, John David Anderson wrote a home run book with this one. Our three main characters are diverse, funny, sweet, and stubborn, and Anderson’s voices for each are unique and alternate beautifully throughout the book. Though I must warn: This is a roller coaster book. You will laugh, smile, cry, get angry, and cringe. It is all there.
Ms. Bixby is described as a “Good One” in the book. A “Good One” is a teacher who “make[s] the torture otherwise known as school somewhat bearable. You know when you have one of the Good Ones because you find yourself actually paying attention in class, even if it’s not art class. They’re the teachers you actually want to go back and say hi to next year. The ones you don’t want to disappoint.” ...more
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton was perfection! This is the graphic novel equivalent of Elephant and Piggie and is a ladder to Phoebe and hNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton was perfection! This is the graphic novel equivalent of Elephant and Piggie and is a ladder to Phoebe and her Unicorn. Filled with laugh-out-loud moments as well as thoughtful moments covered in friendship and cuteness, Narwhal equals such a charming graphic novel for all ages....more
Trent is a big fan of monsters. He loves Monsters, Inc. and Don’t Push the Button!, so it is no surprise that he loves Nibbles. He fascinated with following Nibbles’ trail throughout all of the books and it became like a game of hide and seek for him. Not only is Trent a fan of Nibbles, I am as well. I loved the creativity of this book. The interactive and 3D aspects of it really bring the book to life, and I love that the author incorporates actual fairy tales in the books that Nibbles enjoys. Such a clever book that will keep readers come back over and over....more
Cici Reno is a refreshing addition to middle grade romance. As a middle school teacher, I am always happy when there is a romance novel that actually features middle school kids instead of high schoolers. The thinking and feelings differ so much between 6th and 9th grade that sometimes the YA romance novels are a bit mature for the middle schoolers that want to read about crushes and dating. And Cici Reno is a book that middle schoolers will flock to not only because of the romance but because of the humor, Cici’s true voice, and the story of friendship....more
This is a picture book like no other. It is a love story to words and teachers and imagination and creative writing and childhood and fables. Pamela Zagarenski soars in her writing and her illustrations. She writes lyrically and her prose is just so poetic. Her mixed media pieces of art are just so beautiful and full of what is in a child’s imagination. I also think this is a must get for the classroom because it introduces the idea of adding our own words to wordless picture books....more
I was first introduced to this series at Kid Lit Frenzy in June when Alyson shared these four biographies with us (along with an informative Q&A and a fun quiz), and as soon as I read her posts, I knew I had to get my hands on them. I am a huge fan of well-done biographies because I think they are an essential part of spreading history into a new generation’s memory. I am an even bigger fan of well-done biographies of strong women. While there has been a good chunk of biographical picture books lately about women, I am very happy to see that students will have longer biographies to explore strong women from history. I also really like that Krull’s series has a mix of contemporary and historical figures and is filled with diversity. Next Krull will be sharing Coretta Scott King and Mary Todd Lincoln’s life....more
I came into this book not knowing much about Paul Laurence Dunbar aside from knowing that the line “I know why the caged bird sings” was written by him which inspired Maya Angelou’s autobiography’s title; however, I didn’t know much else about his life or his poetry. Derby’s book does a fantastic job remedying that. Not only are you exposed to more than 20 of Dunbar’s poems, you are exposed to them in very specific ways as Derby tells Dunbar’s life story. Each poem’s inclusion is purposeful and perfectly timed. When finished, I wanted to read more of Dunbar’s poems and actually hear some of them being performed (his dialect poems are screaming to be read aloud). Qualls also does a brilliant job, as always, illustrating the tone of the text in beautiful black-and-white drawings.
This book not only can be used to share information about Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and his poetry, but it also includes fascinating information about what it was like to live after the Emancipation Proclamation then after Plessy v. Ferguson.
First, in an English classroom, this text truly puts Dunbar’s poems in a perspective which will allow more depth when analyzing. The way Derby set up the narrative of Dunbar’s life around his poems helps the reader understand the underlying meaning of his poetry even better than they would with a cold read.
Also, cross-curricularly while studying Dunbar’s poems, during history, a tie-in to this tumultuous time period would be easy and effective. The time period that Dunbar lived in is not often discussed as it is a time after slavery but before segregation that many students may not know about....more
All American Boys was a choice for our Faculty Book Club, and it was a perfect book to discuss with a bunch of educators. All American Boys is a book that is going to be a classic because it highlights modern history in a thoughtful and truthful way. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone to read. It is a perfect jumping off point to discuss race relations, Black Lives Matter, and We Need Diverse Books. The way the book is set up, with two voices, will help readers have permission to talk about what is happening in our country, the Civil Rights movement and its tie into modern times, and the racial tension currently happening in our country....more
It is not fair to compare this book to The One and Only Ivan. The only similarity is that they are both beautifully written and put a very special issue in the spotlight. Like Ivan made you think about animal’s imprisonment, Crenshaw makes you think about homelessness; however, it is more than that. This book made me think about so many things. First, this book shows the speed and brutality of homelessness. It can affect anyone and can come from no where. There is an extended scene from Jackson’s past that made me want to jump into the book to give him a hug and help his family in anyway I could. Second, this book looks at how much children sometimes have to deal with because of their home situation. Jackson had such anxiety and pressure on him because he felt like he had to be a grown up (specifically for his sister). Finally, the book looks at friendship–both of the imaginary and real kind–and how important they are. And specifically how the magic of both kinds are something you need to hold onto....more
Jennifer L. Holm does such a wonderful job in Sunny Side Up mixing a really tough situation with a very humorous story. It is the perfect balance. It isn’t over the top, because that would demean the serious topic, but it isn’t too serious either. And you can tell this is a story from Jennifer’s heart because the story is crafted so thoughtful with well-timed humor and well-timed conflict....more
This was a super tough book to read. Colby was surrounded by some of the most terrible "good" people I've ever met in a book. And the situation just kThis was a super tough book to read. Colby was surrounded by some of the most terrible "good" people I've ever met in a book. And the situation just kept getting worse and worse. I felt so bad for Colby. Thank goodness for a few shining stars. I also liked the tie in of The Scarlet Letter....more
I love how this book teaches a lesson about the importance of getting away from electronics without seeming preaching. The gorilla is entertaining, and it’d be fun to predict what he is going to do next to try to get the boy’s attention. I also think the book will make kids get mad at the boy then will need help realizing that they may be doing the same thing on a daily basis. The use of only two words is also going to be a big conversation starter as well. Look! would also be a good first book to introduce the idea of theme. What is this book trying to teach the reader? I am big fan of books that promote reading, and this one is a great addition to those out there!...more
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan‘s Willow Chance is one of the most amazing young woman I’ve ever encountered in a book. She is brilliant and somehow changes the lives of every person she encounters. And she is not the only well-crafted character in the book–everyone in the book is important and very well developed. This is a wonderful middle grade book that I now know why so many people love it....more