I thought that this book was such a great way to talk about the start of our country. It has fun infographics and illustrations that hold the attention that goes along with chronological information....more
This book isn’t completely nonfiction as it is told from the point of view of the puffin, but I love that it includes some very important information about puffins vs. penguins. As someone who loves penguins (and puffins), I love that someone is finally addressing the confusion between the two. This would be a very fun book to pair with Neversink....more
Wow. I often worry about reading a book that has a lot of hype around it because I fear that I will not love it as much as others do. I should not have been worried about this book. It is beautiful. As Ricki said, I found myself rereading portions of the text just because of how well the verse flowed. By the end of this book, you will wish that you were Woodson’s friend and that you you could write as well as her. The stories she tells are so true and heartfelt that you live her life along with her through the pages. You experience with her the hardship of growing up in the 1960s and 70s during the Civil Rights movement; the challenge of religion and finding the truth in it; the loss, addition, and conflict of family and everything that comes with these changes; and trying to find an identity as a person, sister, daughter, student and a writer. It is only a truly powerful, well-written book that can make you feel all of these elements....more
Alice was an original reality star! She was followed all across the world doing things she wasn’t suppose to do, and the public loved her! I did not know about Alice Roosevelt, so it was so much fun to learn about her shenanigans and true independent spirit....more
My Review: I knew of Emerson’s work, but I didn’t know much about him. This picture book is a perfect introduction into learning about Emerson as a man. And you know what? If this picture paints his personality correctly, he was a wonderful man. He was an intellectual, but also cared about everyone around him. He wanted to listen and learn and be the best neighbor, friend, husband, father, writer, thinker, etc. he could be. Kerley does a great job of showing and sharing with us Emerson’s life.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Since the book is about Emerson, my first thought would be to look at some of Emerson’s work and discuss his life and work including the quotes that are shared throughout the book. Journaling is also a theme throughout the book. Have students start a journal which they think about the world and other thoughts they have throughout the day. Finally, using Barbara Kerley’s website, students could look at how to write a extraordinary biography then pick their own historic person to write about.
However, the author’s afterword gives another suggestion. Use Emerson’s love of life to make your life the best it can be! Have students exam their lives (using the questions in the afterword), and talk about how to live a fulfilling life....more
This is a humorous look at the myth (truth?) that President Taft got stuck in a bathtub when he was president. I will say that I never think making fun of someone’s weight is funny, but I don’t think that is really what the author is poking fun at (though some of the illustrations are very revealing of his overweightness). Throughout the book, he is trying to figure out how to get out and comes up with some crazy ideas calling in his vice president, secretary of state, secretary of war, etc. Each time, they cannot get him out of the bath. In the end, it is his wife that comes up with the idea that removes him....more
Everyone has heard of Brown v. Board of Education, but Sylvia’s case is the predecessor of desegregation in the United States. After Sylvia and her siblings are denied entry into the school they are zoned for, even though they are American, and are sent to the “Mexican school,” Syvlia’s father goes on a mission which leads him all the way to the California Court of Appeals to ensure that his children get the best education possible. I loved that through all of the trials of the Mendez family, they never lost their dignity and grace. They are truly an inspiration This is a book that every teacher and child should read because the Mendez family should be a household name, and it looks at equal accessibility to education which is still relevant today....more
I love the visual arts. Growing up with a father that ran an art museum, going to visit museums and learning about art was part of my life. Throughout all of this exploration, I found that I loved modern art more than any other: Seurat, Rauschenberg, Picasso, etc. Kandinsky is one of the artists whose art I really enjoyed. This book let me see into Kandinsky’s mind, and see how abstract art came to be through his synesthesia. Fascinating!...more
Steve Jenkins just has a way of making nonfiction more interesting than other authors, and this book is no different than his others. This book takes different animals and shows the different ways they protect themselves: from squirting ink to camouflage. The illustrations are done in Steve Jenkins’s paper-cut style and are done as well as his other books. The text, though simple, is full of information and definitely makes the reader want to learn more.
This book can definitely be used in reading and science class. It is a good introduction to animal defenses and animal adaptations. It can lead to inquiry and research of each of these animals. It would be a great first research project for students to choose one of the animals and learn more about them. It is also a good introduction to cause and effect. What causes _____ to need to defend themselves? What is the effect of ____ being attacked?...more
Rhythm. Onomatopoeias. (Well-researched) History. Gorgeous (and historically accurate) illustrations. Lyrical narrative. Unique point of view. This book has everything.
YOU (second person POV!) are a passenger on a train cross America with your family in 1869. Throughout the book, you will encounter many different landmarks, experience things on a train very few had at this time in history, and learn about the intricacies of the train. So fascinating! And all told in rich, beautiful language. It is hard to even share much more about the book because it is such an experience....more
I was blown away with how fascinating the author made something that we walk by every day and ignore. The text itself is quite lyrical and has the amazing illustrations with it; however, I found the goodies in the research in the afterword. It was very interesting for me to learn that these plants, which we treat like pests, are actually so very useful. I second much of what Ricki says about the figurative language. I love seeing these elements being used in a nonfiction book! Overall, this is a nonfiction book that should be shared with kids and will definitely start some major discussions....more
Ruth Elder joins the group of amazing women who have eye-opening picture books about them and how they changed history. (I love this trend!) More and more brilliant and brave women from history are getting recognition through their story being told. Ruth Elder was America’s sweetheart daredevil, and through her crazy feats showed America that woman were brave too. Although Amelia Earhart beat her in her mission to cross the Atlantic, she never stopped pushing herself and the women around her. I would love to see a unit about amazing women in history that uses the slew of beautiful picture books about these woman. One idea would be splitting up kids into groups, having them each read about one of the picture books, maybe doing some extra research, and then sharing with the other groups what they learned. It’d be a great way to give these women the spotlight they deserve....more
At my school, I am an adviser of Future Problem Solvers which is a club that looks at futuristic issues and, by using the 6-step creative problem solving process, tries to come up with an action plan to solve the futuristic problems. One of our past competitions had the topic of “Ocean Soup,” and my students and I did research about the state of our ocean. It was at that time that I became aware of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and was disgusted by it. I am so glad that this book exists now, because just like I didn’t know about the issue, my students didn’t either, until we began researching. This nonfiction picture book takes the reader through a mission with scientists to study the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and by making it a mission instead of just a book of facts will help engage readers in the problem that we are facing now....more
My Review: This book was fascinating! I love learning about strong woman who changed the course of history and did so when no one thought they could. Like Jane Goodall, Kate Sessions love of nature and learning started at a very young age, and she let this desire to learn drive her to become an amazing woman. She is an inspiration and one that many people probably do not even know about.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I can picture this book being used so many different ways in the classroom! It is perfect just for a read aloud and discussion. It has some beautiful descriptive and figurative language that could be discussed. It could also be read in lit circles where each group gets a different strong female who changed the world and then they could each present and share on their woman. AND it has very unique science facts and information that help it cross seamlessly into science. Just a fantastic book for the classroom....more
My Review: I love that Tanya Lee Stone chose to write about a women in history that changed our world in a big way, but has not get the credit for it. It is amazing to think that one young lady was brave enough to be the first to try to get into medical school to help pave the way for millions of woman doctors today. Although I realize there has to be a first for everything when overcoming prejudice and inequality, it is not often that you hear about who this one person was and how s/he had to do it alone, but that is how it was for Elizabeth Blackwell. No one had tried to jump over the barrier, but she did. This is such an inspirational story and such a big part of history–it should be shared with everyone. And what tops off the book is the vibrant, colorful, playful illustrations that will draw the reader in even more.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: A couple of interesting themes that can definitely pulled out of this story is resilience (she never gave up after all of the rejections), the power of friendship (she has never considered being a doctor until a friend suggested it), and selflessness (just read the author’s note about the rest of Elizabeth’s life at the end). All three of these would lead to phenomenal discussions and can be connected to other historical figures and fiction texts....more
My Review: Marvin’s story reminds me of why I build relationships with students and help them find who they are and what books they will like. Marvin is forced to play certain music and he hated it. He never understood why he had to “play music by composers with funny names, like Wolfgang and Ludwig,” but he loved his own kind of music. Being forced to play the other music was making him not want to play piano anymore–this is exactly what we do to kids with books!
Overall, I loved the book and think it is a great read to promote following dreams and passions–a great read aloud!...more
Ever since I read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, I’ve loved learning about this scary time in American history (also, the danger hasn’t ceased just because it happens less often). This book does a beautiful job of taking this time in history and laying it out for the reader so that it is very easy to understand. It includes background about the geographical area, information about the Depression, and then takes you through the Dust Bowl all the way to modern days. So interesting!
Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: First, this book will make a great companion to Out of the Dust. I think many readers struggle with Hesse’s book because they don’t have the background knowledge needed to understand the book and Don Brown’s book gives all the background needed. The Great America Dust Bowl can also be used as a resource when teaching the Dust Bowl, the depression, or agriculture....more
I must admit–I am not a fan of frogs. They actually scare me quite a bit. They are so sporadic and unpredictable–one even jumped on my head at a party once! However, animals of all kind fascinate me and this is a book full of amazing facts about these slimy, jumpy creatures. The book is set up so that it is easy to navigate with quick interesting facts about 11 different frogs (& toads) with extra information in the back. I also liked the information given in the back about the trouble that frogs are in because of human activity. I think this book would be a great asset in any science classroom studying biology or ecology (would also be wonderful in a reading class or even a geography lesson because of the different places the frogs came from). Another wonderful way this book could be used in a reading class is because of all of the onomatopoeias within the book. I would love to hear the actual sounds of the frogs and then see the onomatopoeia that the author chose....more
I learned so much reading this book. My friend Amanda actually read it first and kept yelling out the facts because they are just so interesting; obviously students would find them interesting as well. On top of it just being interesting, this book is a little book of gold! It is a perfect combination of reading, math, and science! Also, the illustrations are just so well done! Throughout the book, scientific facts about animals are shared with the reader (all with numbers) and then in the end of the book Lola Schaefer also shares with the reader even more information about the animals, how to find an average, and other math facts. And not once does the book even feel a bit boring–it is a perfect read aloud and cross-curricular text....more
I own many of the Amelia Rules series, but I had not read them before; however, when I got Jimmy Gownley’s memoir graphic novel, I knew I had to read it. I am always looking for ways to get my students to read more nonfiction and a graphic novel autobiography (like Smile) is definitely one of the ways to get them more interested in nonfiction. And, like Smile, Jimmy’s story is one that students will definitely connect with and, hopefully, enjoy. It deals with not only Jimmy’s journey of writing his graphic novel but also many the transition to high school and first love....more
My Review and Teachers' Tools for Navigation: This book is so full of information! It is almost more of a browsing or researching book because it is just so much. I will say the information is easy to understand (Aguilar constructed the book almost like a journey which makes it easier to follow) the the photographs and scientifically accurate illustrations are some of the best I’ve ever seen. In my time of reading this book, I learned so much and can definitely see how it would be a huge asset to a classroom (science or language arts)....more