Festival of the Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras: The Book for the Day of the Dead
Author: Luis San Vincente
Translator: John William Byrd, Bobby Byrd
Published September 1st, 2002 by Cinco Puntos Press
Goodreads Summary: On Mexico’s Day of the Dead, the skeletons jump for sheer joy. And no wonder: they’ve been cooped up the whole year and now they’re ready to party. Watch the calaveras shake, rattle, and roll as they celebrate the biggest event of the graveyard’s social calendar!
About the Author: The works of Mexico City artist Luis San Vicente have been exhibited in Mexico, Venezuela, Europe, and the United States. He has won UNESCO’s prestigious NOMA Encouragement Concours Prize for Illustration, and UNESCO honored his work (1997, 1998, and 1999) in their prestigious Youth and Children’s Catalog of Illustrations.
My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I first learned about the Day of the Dead when I lived in Texas. My father was the director Laguna Gloria, the art museum in Austin, and I saw some artwork from local Mexican-American artists that depicted the traditional skeleton seen in Day of the Dead art. My father then told me about the holiday and since then I have been quite intrigued with it. San Vicente’s story is a great introduction to the (kind of creepy) holiday, its history, and traditions. The text is in verse with a catchy rhythm and the illustrations are so lively AND it is bilingual. I loved seeing the text in Spanish and English. Then, the afterword further informs the readers about the holiday filling in any gaps left by the story.
Discussion Questions: What did you learn about Mexico’s Day of the Dead? How is it celebrated? What is its history? What food is eaten at the celebrations?
Oh, they want to catch me.
To that ugly skeleton…
They want to marry me.
Oh, me quieren atrapar.
Para esa fea esqueleto …
Ellos quieren que se case conmigo.”
Happy Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Day and Day of the Dead!
**Thank you to Cinco Puntos Press for providing a copy for review**
The Worst Witch Series
The Worst Witch #1
The Worst Witch Strikes Again #2
A Bad Spell for Worst Witch #3
The Worst Witch at Sea #4
The Worst Witch Saves the Day #5
The Worst Witch to the Rescue #6
By: Jill Murphy
Published by: Candlewick
Summary for Worst Witch #1: Mildred Hubble is a trainee witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy, and she’s making an awful mess of it. She’s always getting her spells wrong and she can’t even ride a broomstick without crashing it. Will she ever make a real witch?
Review: These books made me giggle. Mildred’s mistakes and misadventures as a witch are sure to entice young readers. I imagine beginning readers will fall in love with Mildred and her silly tales of woe. The illustrations make these excellent books for students who are just beginning to transition from picture books. Reading the books felt reminiscent of a Harry Potter series for younger readers, and they also reminded me of Amelia Bedelia. I adored these books and plan to read them to my son when he is older.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Students would have fun creating”To their own worst witch scenarios. What kinds of spells can they imagine that could go horribly wrong? I would love to read this series to young children around Halloween.
Discussion Questions: How does Mildred fail as a witch? Why do you think she is so unsuccessful?; How does Mildred show perseverance? Is she brave?
We Flagged: “To tell you the truth, Mildred was afraid of the dark, but don’t tell anyone. I mean, whoever heard of a witch who was scared of the dark” (p. 11)?
Read This If You Loved: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish
Because of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? posts, I find myself often with huge piles of picture books from the library that were highly recommended by fellow bloggers. I celebrate many of the nonfiction pictures books on Wednesdays, but I want to share some of the fiction picture books I have enjoyed. So, I decided to start series here on UR where I can pass on the love for these books sporadically as I read them. Here is a list of some great pictures books that I’ve read recently from my huge library pile (part 1!).
Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me
Author: Daniel Beaty
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Published December 17th, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Daniel Beaty’s def jam session brought to life with his beautiful words and some amazingly detailed and deep artwork. This is an important book as it deals with divorce/death/incarceration of a parent. This is one of those subjects that are not talked about in many picture books, but should be as millions of kids deal with it. Knock Knock is told from the point of view of a boy whose father doesn’t wake him up one morning and how he deals with the loss and continues to grow. Such a powerful book that will generate many conversations.
What Do You Do With An Idea?
Author: Kobi Yamada
Illustrator: Mae Besom
Published February 1st, 2014 by Compendium Inc.
What Do You Do With An Idea? is a book about the power of ideas and how you should nurture ideas and allow them to grow into whatever they are going to become. I love that it promotes creativity, imagination, and thinking as these are all things that are often pushed aside too often in the world of rushing and testing. This book would be a great companion to The Most Magnificent Thing and a read aloud of the two books would be a great basis for a unit.
Emily’s Blue Period
Author: Cathleen Daly
Illustrator: Lisa Brown
Published June 17th, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
Emily’s Blue Period is actually a early chapter book that is about a much deeper topic than the cover/title makes it seem. Emily’s parents are divorced, and she is dealing with the emotions and frustration with her new separated life. These are feelings that so many children go through each year, and Cathleen Daly truly delves into this subject in a thoughtful and deep way. Additionally, I adore the inclusion of Picasso into the text as I felt it added an extra element to the text.
This Is A Moose
Author: Richard T. Morris
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Published May 6th, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This book actually made me laugh out loud. The poor duck director just wants to do a documentary on a moose, but the moose is definitely not cooperating. He wants more to life, and he is NOT acting like he should! And neither is the chipmunk. Or the giraffe (why is a giraffe there?!). Or anyone! What is a duck supposed to do?!?!
This book is going to be an amazing read aloud, and I am a huge fan of the end.
My Teacher Is A Monster
Author: Peter Brown
Published July 1st, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This book was very different than I thought it was going to be, and I am not going to give away what it is truly about because I want you to be able to discover it with you. Like always Peter Brown gives us a thoughtful, funny, well-done book that is going to be loved by kids.
The Mermaid and the Shoe
Author: K.G. Campbell
Published April 1st, 2014 by Kids Can Press
I adored K.G. Campbell’s illustrations in Flora and Ulysses, and he did not disappoint with The Mermaid and the Shoe. This book is about discovery and being different. Minnow is not like her sisters (all whom are perfect), and she just hasn’t figured out what she excels at yet; however, through some adventures, she finds out what she truly is good at. Minnow is a great role model for kids. She doesn’t let comments or other people’s judgments from being who she is.
What picture books should I add to my pile next?
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.
Today’s Topic: Top Ten Characters Who We Would Want To Be For Halloween
These characters would be a blast to be for Halloween!
1. The Giving Tree from The Giving Tree
Throughout the night, I could get shorter and shorter.
2. The Giver from The Giver
I can rock a pretty sweet beard.
3. Lyra from The Golden Compass
Henry could be my daemon.
4. Fire from Fire
Can you imagine how cool my hair would be?
5. The Girl on the Cover of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
She is just really neat. Maybe I could figure out a way to levitate?
I love the idea of family costumes, so these are the ones that I think would be the most fun to dress up as a family:
1. Cat and the Hat and Thing 1 & 2
I know it is kind of cliche, but they are a fun trio!
2. Elephant and Piggie
This is only a duo, so we’d have to figure out which parent wouldn’t dress up (or we could be the Pigeon!), but I would love to represent some Mo Willems!
3. Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Owl, or Roo
We are big Pooh fans here in the Moye house, so I know we’d all love to dress up as Pooh characters.
4. Harry Potter, Hermoine, and Ron
And my husband has red hair already!
5. Crayons from The Day the Crayons Quit
Love this book, love crayons, and would be fun to dress as them. I wonder which crayon will be Trent’s favorite!
Who would you love to dress up as?
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!
It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.
We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
for winning the set of hardcover copies of the Double Vision series!
Last Week’s Posts
**Click on any picture/link to view the post**
Last Week’s Journeys
Kellee: I had a wonderful reading week. I finished This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki and An Army of Frogs: Frogs versus Scorpions by Trevor Pryce and Joel Naftali. I really wanted to love This One Summer. I love coming-of-age stories, and I love graphic novels (and I love so many of First Second Books’ books); however, I just felt like this one was missing something. I did like it, but I wanted to love it. The artwork was fabulous though! And the blue really added a special tone to it. Well done, but I just didn’t connect to it the way I wanted to. In the world of anthropomorphic books, Trevor Pryce’s and Joel Naftali’s Army of Frogs is definitely holding its own. This action-packed adventure about Darel, a not-so-ordinary frog, and the war he finds himself in the middle of is going to be a huge hit for fans of Warriors, Seekers, Guardians of Ga’hoole, Wolves of the Beyond, Silverwing, and Redwall. What does make this series stand out even more, though, is the AMAZING illustrations! You should read it for the story, but you HAVE to read it for the illustrations.
Additionally, I did read a ton of picture books that I got from the library after IMWAYR friends praised them. Reading all of these picture books has prompted a start to a new “series” that I’ll have randomly–“From My (Huge) Library Pile.” Since so many of them are so good, I want to be able to share them with you. My first “From My (Huge) Library Pile” post will be this week, and I already have 2 others planned.
Trent and I mostly did rereads this week; however, we did read Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt (recommended by Alyson) which is a wonderful book about different types of books in all different places. I specifically liked that there were babies in the illustrations showing books in babies’ lives.
Ricki: I finished Rosenblatt’s Literature as Exploration. I couldn’t stop highlighting! I always type up all of my highlights (because I am a little bit obsessive), and I will be doing a lot of typing. She just gets it. I think any reader of this blog would love the book. Rosenblatt is the reader response guru. She validates what I believe about teaching reading.
Henry’s grandparents and aunt bought him several adorable puppet books, like this one. We were all laughing hysterically this week as Henry kept grabbing the puppets. I also loved The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail by Maureen Stoler Kanefield. It has a fantastic moral and teaches children to make the most of their unique qualities. I rarely review picture books, but I will definitely be reviewing this one in the upcoming weeks. I want to read it a few more times first.
This Week’s Expeditions
Kellee: I started Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome this weekend, and I am so happy to be back in Mira’s world. I adored the first one, so I am very much looking forward to reading the 2nd and 3rd book of the series. I also have some graphic novel e-galleys from First Second Books that I plan on reading soon. Additionally, I am still rereading my Walden books in preparation for ALAN.
Ricki: For professional development, I am reading Mingshui Cai’s Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Reflections on Critical Issues. I am also planning to read Suzanne Myers’ Stone Cove Island, a YA book that will be released next month. Of course, Henry and I will find some new picture books to read. It depends on his mood. (Don’t tell anyone, but I am planning his first birthday party, which will be Goodnight Moon-themed! I’ve been working on the decorations all weekend. I figure that my blog readers won’t tell the guests.)
Upcoming Week’s Posts
Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who We Would Love To Be For Halloween
Thursday: The Worst Witch review and giveaway of the ENTIRE series
So, what are you reading?
Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!
The Shadow Lantern
Author: Teresa Flavin
Published July 22nd, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Publisher’s Summary: It’s Halloween at the Blackhope Tower and the spirits are rising… When a mysterious oil lantern and a box of painted slides appear at Blackhope Tower, Sunni and Blaise are drawn back to the place where their adventures first began. When they discover that the slides conceal secrets about artist-magician Fausto Corvo, the pair find themselves once again caught up in a deadly pursuit. An old enemy is still tracking Corvo and will stop at nothing to find him. Sunni and Blaise must fight to protect Corvo’s secrets and rid themselves of Soranzo’s evil threat once and for all.
Sunni and Blaise face their most dangerous challenge yet in their third and final adventure.
The Shadow Lantern is the third book in The Blackhope Enigma trilogy.
Book 1’s Publisher’s Summary: For centuries, Blackhope Tower has been shrouded in intrigue, centering on a labyrinth and painting in the Mariner’s Chamber. When fourteen-year-old Sunni Forrest visits the tower and sees her stepbrother, Dean, disappear, seemingly into the painting itself, she must find him and risk being drawn into the heart of the Blackhope enigma. This action-packed debut follows Dean, Sunni, and her friend Blaise on a journey to the heart of an age-old mystery.
An ancient painting, a magical labyrinth, and skeletons found in a locked room.
Scribd Chapter Sampler: http://www.scribd.com/doc/
About the Author: Teresa Flavin was born in New York and studied art in Boston and at Syracuse University. After moving to Glasgow, Scotland, she was awarded the Scottish Arts Council New Writers Bursary. She has illustrated a number of picture books. Her first novel, The Blackhope Enigma, was nominated for a Cybil Award. Teresa Flavin lives in Scotland.
Today we are lucky enough to have Teresa here at Unleashing Readers to talk to us about her process:
I’m a planner, pure and simple. Once an idea for a story has taken hold in my head, I make notes, create mind maps and get the bones of it down on paper. At the same time, I don’t want to have every scene mapped out so tightly the story can’t breathe and evolve in an unexpected and interesting way – which it inevitably does!
I look forward to previously unplanned characters showing up on the page wanting a piece of the action. And because I find so much inspiration in history, and do a fair amount of research, I often stumble on a nugget of information that can move my story in exciting and serendipitous ways. For example, when I learned that the development of some artists’ paint pigments was tied up with alchemy, I saw what a great element it could bring to the second story in the trilogy, The Crimson Shard.
Before I get too far with a new story I share a short synopsis with my agent because she’s great at asking tough questions that test the bones of my idea. I revise that synopsis until we both consider it viable, knowing that the story will change a lot. When I look back over old versions of my synopses I am astonished at how much the stories evolved before I even started writing them.
Once I know roughly where a story is going, I write it from start to finish. I am not good at skipping around and writing scenes out of order. That would feel like fast-forwarding the film and missing important links in the middle. I admire authors who can work in a non-linear way but I prefer my own method. I like how a story unfolds, how one scene influences the next.
If I’m on a deadline, I write to a daily word count, breaking the story down into manageable chunks. Some days are definitely more productive than others! I revise my finished manuscript at least two or three times on the recommendations of my editors. I am infinitely grateful to all of them because they read with clarity when I am too close to the story. Though I am the writer, I see my books as team efforts, with my editors inspiring me to make the best story I can.
People often ask me whether I read other children’s books while I’m writing my own and what books influenced my trilogy. I tend to avoid reading children’s fiction while I am creating my own, but I do read adult non-fiction such as history books. If I read any fiction, it’s for grown-ups and generally quite different from the kind of fantasy books I write.
Before I started writing for young people, I read very little children’s or young adult fiction. I think that my writing is probably influenced most by the books I enjoyed as a kid, from The Chronicles of Narnia to Sherlock Holmes to Ray Bradbury stories like The Illustrated Man. If it was a colorful, atmospheric adventure, I was hooked. If my own trilogy can intrigue young readers as fully as any of the books I loved, my mission is accomplished.
Many thanks to Unleashing Readers for hosting me!
And thank you Teresa! We loved hearing about your process!
Today, you can also win your very own copy of The Shadow Lantern:
Thank you so much to Teresa Flavin and Candlewick Press for the guest post and hosting the giveaway!
Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl
Published March 27th, 2012 by Candlewick Press
Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take
Published April 23, 2013 by Candlewick Press
Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season
Published August 12th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Author: Jessie Haas
Illustrator: Alison Friend
Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl Goodreads Summary: Come along for a spirited ride as Bramble – a horse with interesting “little ways”- and her devoted girl, Maggie, make their debut in this inviting early reader.
Maggie wants a pony to ride and take care of, and to prepare she’s been reading a big book on horse care. Meanwhile, Bramble is bored with giving riding lessons and walking in circles. She’s looking for just the right person to take her away from her routine. Is it a perfect match? Maggie loves Bramble as soon as she sees her, but there are some things Bramble has to be sure of. Will Maggie let Bramble venture into new places? Will she protect Bramble from strange objects in the yard? Will she, most importantly, know when Bramble needs her undivided attention? This charming and funny early reader is an ideal match for young animal lovers and anyone who has ever longed for a friend who truly understands.
Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take Goodreads Summary: Maggie and her mischievous horse, Bramble, are back for another spirited romp through the ins and outs of friendship.
Maggie loves introducing her new horse, Bramble, to the neighborhood, the beach, and the backyard. Bramble has fun too, once she is cajoled into participating by a well-timed carrot or two. But when Maggie has to go to school, Bramble is bored and lonely and gets into some trouble with Mr. Dingle next door. A misbehaving hen and a midnight visitor finally help to turn Bramble into a good neighbor. This charming and funny early reader flows at just the right pace for kids who are learning that others don’t always do exactly what you want, but that friends find a way to give and take.
Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season Goodreads Summary: Bramble, a persnickety but lovable horse, and Maggie, her patient owner, build an even stronger friendship as they brave the surprises of autumn.
In their third adventure, Bramble and Maggie explore a new season together — fall! Leaves crunch underfoot. Acorns ping off rooftops. It all makes Bramble feel wonderfully spooky. But Bramble’s frisky-pretend-scary gait makes Maggie jumpy, and soon Bramble really is nervous. There are alarming new sights and sounds everywhere, like Mr. Dingle’s scarecrow. When Maggie takes a fall, will she want to get back in the saddle? And when Halloween comes, can Maggie trust Bramble to brave the tricks and lead them both safely to the treats?
Kellee’s Review: There is a very specific time in a kid’s life where they are ready to begin reading longer books, but not ready to tackle chapter books yet. This is where Bramble and Maggie fits. These early chapter books will are perfect texts to help lead kids to longer chapter books. The work well for their targeted age level in that they never speak down to readers and have excellently paced stories that hold readers’ attention and will help them feel successful. On top of all this, the Bramble and Maggie stories are just so sweet! I love all the different adventures they go on and the lessons they learn like overcoming fear, conquering loneliness, and gaining responsibility. Readers will adore these books.
Ricki’s Review: Kellee hit the nail on the head. As I was reading, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I have these books available to me when I was transitioning to chapter books?” I remember being devastated that my books no longer had pictures in them, and I resisted the longer texts for this reason. This series is engaging, educative, and fun! The words repeat in ways that will help students learn the vocabulary, particularly the more difficult words that relate to horses. Each book delivers a strong message, and the bond between Bramble and Maggie is one which will connect with readers. When I think about these books, I will always remember Maggie dragging her sleeping bag to the stable to sleep beside Bramble. I can’t wait to share these books with my pre-service elementary school teachers. They will have a special place in classrooms.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Readers would be wise to explore how Haas develops theme in these texts. Each individual book has a different theme, and the content beautifully incorporates the messages. These books would be great models for students to learn about implicit versus explicit themes.
Discussion Questions: What lessons has Maggie learned since she has gotten Bramble? What lessons has Bramble learned since he’s met Maggie?; How has Bramble changed since he went to live with Maggie?; In what ways does the author show the bond of friendship throughout the books?
We Flagged: “Bramble lowered her head. Maggie gave her a carrot, and Bramble took it. She let Maggie put on the bridle. This was better. Give and take” (p. 9 of Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take)
Read This If You Loved: The Franklin School Friends series by Claudia Mills, The Pony Mysteries series by Jeanne Betancourt, and The Pony Scout series by Catherine Hapka
Q & A with Jessie Haas
What inspired you to write this series? What inspired you to write about a horse?
I was inspired by two things in writing the Bramble and Maggie books. First, I had a story rejected by Candlewick, but with a request attached. The editor had girls who loved horses and horse books and had read some of mine and they noticed that they were always checked out of the public library. So Candlewick asked if I would like to write a couple of books for beginning readers.
At the time I had just gotten a new horse, Robin. She has a somewhat prickly personality, which I think inspired Bramble’s name, and the way horses and people mesh with each other was on my mind. Of course, I knew my version of events, but I’m always aware that horses have their own points of view, so the story would need to be told from both Bramble’s and Maggie’s perspectives.
What was it like to work with an illustrator? What does the process look like?
Like most authors, I don’t actually “work with” the illustrator. The editor and I work until we have a solid draft. Then the text is sent to the illustrator and she sends sketches. When the editor and I see them, it becomes obvious where we need to add or drop words (usually drop) to make space on the page. A lot of times, the art is telling the story already, and that makes some of the words unnecessary.
Alison Friend lives in England, so we did have one big change she needed to make in the first book. The wonderful picture at the beginning of Chapter Two, with Maggie and her family in the car, had the steering wheel on the right, as in British cars. I must admit, it took me a few times looking at the pictures to spot that. The pencil sketches are always funny and energetic, but the magic happens when Alison begins to paint, and it is always tremendously exciting to see the finished pages. And I got to see the original art for Spooky Season, which was thrilling. I think Spooky Season is one of the most beautiful books I have ever had published.
How do you envision your texts being taught in classrooms? Do you have any suggestions for our viewers who are teachers?
I’m usually stumped by that question. Now, though, I have a great new curriculum guide (it’s a free download on my website) I love some of the ideas there. Spooky Season, the newest book, explores the theme of fear—how we pretend to be afraid (for fun), how we scare ourselves (for fun), and how we sometimes get really scared—and that’s not fun! Bramble is truly afraid of some Halloween decorations like Mr. Dingle’s scarecrow—until she finds out it’s good to eat
Maggie runs into the situation every horseman faces sooner or later. You fall off, and you know you’re supposed to get right back on, or the fear will grow and you might not be able to. That’s easier said than done, of course. But Bramble takes care of Maggie the way good horses do, and Maggie has the experience that I remember from my own life as my very first time confronting and overcoming fear. These are great discussions to have around Halloween.
For Give and Take, the discussion is more about a truly basic issue in children’s—indeed, everyone’s—lives: power. Bramble feels that no one should be the boss all of the time. There should be some give and take. As well as story sequencing discussions, this is a chance for children to talk about—and draw—a time in their own lives when they learned to share, and give a little.
And Horse Meets Girl has a wonderful activity where children are encouraged to imagine, describe and draw their ideal pet. I also love the idea of Maggie needing a babysitter for Bramble, which could be a springboard for kids writing their own stories. The curriculum guide was created for me by Blue Slip Media, working with an educational consultant who’s also an elementary school teacher, and it’s keyed to Common Core curriculum standards—so it’s educationally sound as well as fun.
Jessie Haas has always loved horses and has written more than thirty books, most of them about horses, including the first two books ab out Bramble and Maggie. She says, “Horses love pretending to be scared, just like us, and fall is the perfect season for that. Why do they call it fall?” Jessie Haas lives in Vermont with her husband, writer Michael J. Daley; her horse; two cats; a dog; and a hen. For more information, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit her website: http://www.
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