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bea garcia

Bea Garcia: My Life in Pictures
Author and Illustrator: Deborah Zemke
Published March 8th, 2016 by Dial Books

Summary: Bea Garcia is an artist. She draws anywhere and everywhere—but mostly in her own notebook.  When Bea’s first and only best friend Yvonne moves to Australia, not even drawing makes Bea feel better. And things only get worse when a loud, rambunctious boy moves in next door. He’s nothing at all like Yvonne! But with a little imagination and a whole lot of doodles, Bea Garcia might just make a new friend.

This first book in a brand-new chapter book series is a must-read for doodlers everywhere.

Review: I am loving learning more about early middle grade books, and Bea Garcia is going to be a protagonist that will be welcomed in this group of books. Bea will join forces with so many strong girls that 4th through 6th graders can read about. What I love about Bea’s story is that it is one that so many readers will relate to. She deals with losing a best friend and a bully moving into her classroom and neighborhood. She also has a supportive and real family that will reflect many families out there. Also, I loved Deborah Zemke’s illustrations throughout. They really brought Bea’s personality, dreams, and thoughts. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Bea’s story will be one that can be used to start so many discussions while being read aloud. It is a perfect story to discuss different types of people, bullying, friendship, school, etc.  Also, I think it would be interesting to discuss the addition of illustrations and even voice with students. One idea would be to read aloud part of the story without showing the illustrations and discuss how the illustrations help the story and how Bea’s voice is crafted.

Discussion Questions: Bea uses drawing to think through her emotions. What do you use to help think through your emotions?; What would have been a different way that Bea could have dealt with Bert?; Is there a time that you lost a best friend? How did you deal with it?; How would Bea’s story have been different without illustrations?

Flagged Passages: “We played together at recess and after school, on weekends and vacations, running back and forth in the backyards from my house to her house.

One winter day, we rolled a snowball from her yard to mine and back a hundred times until it was the biggest snowball in the world. Then we turned the snowball into a giant Snow Kitty.

I don’t think Sophie liked Snow Kitty.

When it was warm, we played in the crabapple tree that was just the right size for us to climb.

It was a magic tree.” (p. 20-21)

Bea Garcia Illustration

Read This If You Loved: Amelia’s Notebook series by Marissa Moss, Popularity Papers series by Amy Ignatow, Mackenzie Blue series by Tina Wells, Middle School series by Jenni L. Holm

Recommended For:

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**Thank you to Deborah for providing the book for review!**

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Dino Files 1

The Dino Files #1: A Mysterious Egg
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Mike Boldt
Published: January 19, 2016 by Random House Kids

Summary: What if a fossil in your backyard . . . came to life?!

Frank’s grandma is a famous paleontologist (that’s a dinosaur scientist). But she’s also an adult who makes up rules. Rules like: no digging for dinosaur bones when you have a sunburn. That means Frank is stuck playing inside with his annoying cousin, Samantha. But then Grandma finds a fossil of an egg! And when Frank and Sam sneak into the dino lab late at night, they find something even more amazing. . . .

The hilarious Dino Files chapter book series follows a nine-year-old dinosaur expert, his paleontologist grandparents, a cat named Saurus, and fossils that might not be so extinct!

About the Author: Stacy McAnulty is the author of several children’s books including Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; The Dino Files series, illustrated by Mike Boldt;  and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Stacy grew up outside of Albany, New York and received my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University at Buffalo. A career opportunity brought her to central North Carolina in 1998. She currently lives in Kernersville, NC with her husband, their three children and two dogs.

Also, Stacy offers FREE Skype interviews and signed bookmarks to any class reading The Dino Files!

Ricki’s Review: This is a hilariously fun series that is sure to be a hit in classrooms. I see it working best in grades 1-4. As a child, I was disappointed when my chapter books no longer had pictures, and this book is a great transitional book because it has the best of both worlds—a great story and pictures to go along with it! Frank reminds me of many kids. He is frustrated by all of the rules set out for him, and he just wants to have fun. He manages to sneak around a bit and something awesome happens with that dinosaur egg (I’ll let you guess)! I also want to put in a plug for the fact that Frank is a cat lover. My son loves cats, and I hate how books/shows always feature males as dog lovers and females as cat lovers. I loved Saurus the cat!

Kellee’s Review: I plowed through this and the sequel because I loved the premise and the characters so much! I love that Frank and Sam represent such different types of kids within each of them and between each of them; I think so many readers will relate to their personalities. I also really liked how dinosaurs are introduced throughout the book without making the book didactical in any way. Instead it is educational and funny! This series is a wonderful introduction to early chapter books also because it is very engaging and will appeal to all kinds of readers. 

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is a great jump start to researching about dinosaurs! I know a lot of early elementary schools have a big dinosaur unit, and I think this book would appeal to readers of all ages. The book might also work well for a fossil unit, too! It would be interesting to investigate whether it would be possible to hatch a fossilized dino egg. Then, the class could have a discussion about whether this book might be considered realistic fiction or fantasy. Further activities and information is available at: www.thedinofiles.com.

Discussion Questions: What good choices does Frank make? What bad choices does he make? What are the outcomes of his choices?; What words would you use to describe Frank? How is he different or similar to you?; What rules is Frank forced to follow? Do you think these rules are fair?; How do the illustrations enhance your reading experience?

Flagged Passage: “I need to be at that dig site! Instead, I’m stuck inside the museum with PopPop. The good thing is I got my own name tag. Finally.”

Read This If You Loved: Dinosaur Cove by Rex Stone; Dinosaur Trouble by Dick King Smith; Dinosaur Pox by Jeremy Strong

Recommended For:

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Check Out the Other Books in the Series!:
dino files 2 dino files 3

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**Thank you to Stacy for providing copies for review!!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

coyote moon

Coyote Moon
Author: Maria Gianferrari
Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline
Published July 19th, 2016 by Roaring Brook Press

Summary: A howl in the night.
A watchful eye in the darkness.
A flutter of movement among the trees.

In the dark of the night, a mother coyote stalks prey to feed her hungry pups. Her hunt takes her through a suburban town, where she encounters a mouse, a rabbit, a flock of angry geese, and finally an unsuspecting turkey on the library lawn


Perhaps Coyote’s family won’t go hungry today.

About the Author: Maria writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books from her sunny, book-lined study in northern Virginia, with dog, Becca as her muse. Maria’s debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder, was released in July 2015 (HMH Books for Young Readers); a companion book, Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, was released in mid-June. Her debut nonfiction book, Coyote Moon, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, will be published by Roaring Brook Press in July and is a Junior Library Guild Selection. In October, Aladdin Books for Young Readers will publish another fiction title, Officer Katz & Houndini: A Tale of Two Tails, illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou. Maria has five additional books forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Boyds Mills Press and GP Putnam’s Sons. To learn more about Maria, visit her at mariagianferrari.com on Facebook or Instagram.

Kellee’s Review: I love how this piece of narrative nonfiction is told. Although it is in third person (for most of the book), it gets the reader into the head of the coyote. It takes the reader on her nightly hunt for survival, and the suspense of the hunt is palpable. In addition to the fantastic way the story is told, the realistic and beautiful illustrations bring everything to life.

Ricki’s Review: The beautiful cover of this book reflects the mysterious, dark illustrations that will surely lure readers. I loved how the book is written in the narrative nonfiction style. I was learning about coyotes but enjoying this information through a captivating story. This is a book that will most certainly appeal to students. I can imagine a group of kids, listening to this book with wide eyes. I think it will inspire them to want to know even more about this majestic creature.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are a few different ways that this text could be considered in the classroom. First, it is an interesting text to discuss point of view choices specifically because this book is told in third AND Second point of view. Also, this book could be the jumping off point for a student who wants to learn more about coyotes. Finally, Coyote Moon would be a perfect writing mentor text. Students could research their own animal then tell their animal’s story in a very detailed and similar way or with a different point of view choice.

Discussion Questions: How do the young coyotes survive while their mother is away?; What are some survival techniques that the prey use to escape from the coyote’s grasp?; What writing choices did the author make to help the reader become more involved in the story?; What point of view is the text in?; Is this text nonfiction or fiction?;

Flagged Passages: 

Coyote Moon Spread

From http://us.macmillan.com/coyotemoon-1/mariagianferrari

Read This If You Loved: Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth by Jim ArnoskyFlight of the Honey Bee by Raymond HuberWhen Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. JohnsonEye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins,

Recommended For: 

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Don’t miss out on the other stops on the COYOTE MOON blog tour!

FRI 7/15:                   Pragmatic Mom
MON 7/18:                 Nonfiction Detectives
TUES 7/19:                Debtastic Reads
WED 7/20:                 Kid Lit Frenzy
THURS 7/21:              Librarian’s Quest
FRI 7/22:                   Kidlit411
MON 7/25:                 The Reading Zone
TUES 7/26:                Bartography
WED 7/27:                 Unleashing Readers

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**Thank you to Maria for providing copies for review!
And thank you to Roaring Book Press for providing a copy for giveaway!**

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top ten tuesday

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: Ten Things Books Have Made Us Want To Learn More About

These books sent us on a researching rampage!


1. Immigration 

Inspired after reading The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

the secret side of empty

After reading this book, I realized how much I didn’t know about undocumented immigrants and their struggles. Since then, I’ve read a few other books and scoured the internet to read more about policy.

2. Lesser Known Stories from WWII

Inspired by Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins and Peter Steehuis

Hidden Like Anne Frank between shades

These two books made me aware that there are common war stories, and I have begun to actively seek out other stories that may have been just as common but not popularized in literature.

3. Disability’s Portrayal in Society and Literature

Inspired by: Wonder by R. J. Palacio


While I read this book several years ago (when it came out), I still think that it was the turning point that I began to research disability more often. It opened my eyes to a world I was not aware enough of, and for that, I am very grateful.

4. Cultural Literacy (and why I don’t advocate for this theory)

Inspired by: Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

cultural literacy

I respect the passion and the position that Hirsch has, but after reading this book, I decided it was not a philosophy for me (see the post linked above for more about this). I like how he made me think critically and research this topic further. It was interesting to learn more about why scholars support it.

5. Better Ways to Teach for Social Action

Inspired by: Black Ants and Buddhists by Mary Cowhey

black ants

In her book, Cowhey critiques the typical ways that teachers think they are moving their students toward social action. She says it is not enough to do a recycling program. At first, I thought this was critical (and I still feel that a recycling program is helpful!). Then, I began to consider—How can we do more than this?


I focused on nonfiction texts that I had read that caused me to jump on Google as soon as I was done reading them (or even while reading them!).

1. The Mary Celeste

Inspired by Unsolved Mysteries in History: The Mary Celeste by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple


I am overall fascinated with unsolved mysteries. I am a person that likes to get answers, so an unsolved mystery is so baffling to me that I must go learn everything about it. And in addition, this is a mystery from history that is still not solved. Although there are four books in the series (Salem, Roanoke, and the Wolf Girls), this was the one that really got me reading. If you don’t know about the Mary Celeste mystery, grab this book and then get Googling!

2. Synesthesia

Inspired by The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock and The Girl Who Heard Colors by Marie Harris

noisy girl who heard

I am a fan of Kandinsky’s work, but I had not known where his style or change in art movement came from, so I was very interested in learning about it; however, I didn’t know that synesthesia would be the answer! What a fascinating neurological phenomenon! After sharing how interested I was in it, a friend recommended Harris’s book, and I love how she shows the reader about the phenomena.

3. Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Inspired by Plastics Ahoy! by Patricia Newman


I try to live a Green lifestyle, and environmental issues is one of my top three issues when I am looking at politics, but I had not realized how bad the pollution had gotten. This book put that in perspective, and I found myself looking to talk to everyone about this.

4. The Family Romanov 

Inspired by The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

family romanov

I remember when the movie “Anastasia” came out, I became a bit obsessed with the story of the missing princess, so when Fleming wrote The Family Romanov, I knew I was going to have to read it. First, I must say that “Anastasia” was way off of the true story (I rewatched it after reading the book), but there are still mysteries and horrors revolving the Romanov family. During and after reading, I found myself reading more information about events mentioned in Fleming’s book and looking for photographs of places, people, and events.

5. Civil Rights Movement

Inspired by many amazing books about the Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Text Set Ladder

Reading about this tumultuous and important time in history helps me understand the story, history, and plight of my fellow Americans. I am always interested in learning more about this part of history because I believe it will help us in our modern situations.

What have you inspired to learn more about?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 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!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, 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.


Last Week’s Posts

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

top ten tuesday ocean animals my friend maggie

journey quest return Packing Evil

Tuesday: Ten Books Set Outside the United States

Wednesday: National Geographic Kids Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue by Johnna Rizzo

Thursday: My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison

Friday: Review and Giveaway!: Journey Trilogy by Aaron Backer

GIVEAWAY open until Thursday!!

Sunday: Author Guest Post!: “Teaching Was a Lot More Than Following a Lesson Plan” by P. E. Yudkoff, Author of Packing Evil


 Last Week’s Journeys

I have had a reading-tastic two weeks! One of the things I love the most about vacations are the amount of reading time I get!

Dino Files 1 dino files 2 bea garcia

On the plane to DC, I was able to read these three chapter books, and I am looking forward to reviewing them this week 🙂

thunder boy jr Night Gardener PB Flora and the Peacock This is not a picture book! robo-sauce secret pizza party the day the crayons came home the book with no pictures frankencrayon super jumbo thank you book

Once I was in DC, while Jim was at his conference, I went to Kramerbooks & Afterwords which is not only a very lovely independent book store, but it is a bar and restaurant as well. While there, I chatted with patrons and workers and read the above picture books. All ones that I had been looking forward to reading for a while. All of them were so good!

I loved to finally read the sequels of Red and The Day the Crayons Quit. They were both very different than the first ones. Almost more fun than philosophical, but both are definitely 5 star reads.

The Book with no Pictures and This is not a Picture Book would be perfect read aloud and discussion companions.

Both Flora and the Peacocks and The Night Gardener are so visually beautiful! While Thunder Boy, Jr. is so thought provoking.

Adam Rubin is quickly becoming a favorite silly picture book author, and Robo-Sauce and Secret Pizza Party are just as much fun as Dragons Love Tacos. Super Jumbo is another fun one to add to the list! All three have good messages also.

Finally, I had the guts to pick up The Thank You Book. The final Elephant & Piggie book. I am so sad that E&P are over. They are perfect picture books, and the finale was the perfect final book for them.

still a work in progress Where are you going baby Lincoln juana emma g

I also was able to read these 4 books while there. These were four very different books, but all good in their own right:

Jo Knowles’s Still a Work in Progress is a perfect addition to middle grade realistic fiction! I will definitely be reviewing this one further for you all.

Both Where are You Going Baby Lincoln? may be my favorite Deckawoo Drive books. Baby Lincoln has been a secondary character who hasn’t yet been able to share her voice; however, DiCamillo changes that with this book when she finally stands up to Eugenia and goes on a journey. A Necessary Journey.

Juana & Lucas is a early chapter book that takes place in Columbia and is a wonderful diverse addition.

Emma G Loves Boyz is going to be loved in my classroom library. It is a book written for my boy-obsessed middle school girls.

lucy & andy risking exposure pirate pig through the woods

On the plane from DC to Orlando then the 10 hour drive to Baton Rouge (to visit my parents), I finished these four books. Wow. I don’t know if I could find four different books to read in less than 24 hours:

Lucy & Andy Neanderthal is an interesting new graphic novel by Jeffrey Brown, the author of Jedi Academy. It is a mix of humorous Neanderthal adventures with scientific facts about Neanderthals.

Risking Exposure is one that I cannot wait to review and share more about. It is an interesting and different look at Hitler Youth.

The Pirate Pig is another fun early chapter book with a, as the title suggests, a pirate pig. Julie, the pig, can find treasure and is in danger of being kidnapped by those that want to take advantage of her.

Through the Woods is a weirdly, creepy, odd yet beautiful horror, short story graphic novel anthology. Fans of Scary Stories will enjoy these.

this little president another monster at the end monster at the end of this book disney storytime disney story central

While we were in Baton Rouge, we couldn’t bring all of Trent’s books (and for some reason he has not wanted to read the ones he did decide to bring), so thankfully iPads have some really great book apps. Trent loves The Monster at the End of this Book and Another Monster at the End of This Book apps (they are interactive and Grover/Grover & Elmo read to you) and the Disney book apes (Storytime & Story Central).

SUMMER final cover image (2)

In Baton Rouge, I had a lot less time to read as we were quite busy and Trent was clinging to me like a marsupial (that is what I get for going away fro 5 days), so I only finished The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days is our faculty book club’s second summer selection, and it is a perfect summer read! I love the message of good winning in the end! This book will be a great read for middle schoolers, especially those trying to fit in or deciding how to proceed as a teenager.


My husband is preparing the house for the new baby this week (bolting furniture, painting, etc.). So I am whisking the toddler away with relatives and won’t have internet access this Sunday or Monday. I hope to have some good updates for you!


This Week’s Expeditions

I brought a huge bag of books with me to Baton Rouge to read, and since I didn’t get to any of them, I am going to choose one from there.

Be Light like a Bird

I did start Be Light Like a Bird which is a book of grief. I hope it gets happier or at least has some closure because it is super sad and a mess right now.


On a positive note, Henry and I have reached Chapter Six of The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I am in utter disbelief that he is allowing me to read a chapter book to him each night and am crossing my fingers that we can make it until the end! I’d appreciate any suggestions of similar chapter books (a couple of pictures here and there and consistently short, 4-5 page chapters). I would love to keep the chapter book trend going after we finish this one! I am hoping for a book that isn’t an early/easy reader but is similar to The Tale of Despereaux.


Upcoming Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday coyote moon Dino Files 1 bea garcia

Tuesday: Ten Things Books Have Made Us Want To Learn More About

Wednesday: Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway!: Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari

Thursday: The Dino Files: A Mysterious Egg by Stacy McAnulty

Friday: Bea Garcia: My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke

Sunday: Author Guest Post!

 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!

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“Teaching Was a Lot More Than Following a Lesson Plan”

My experience as a teacher only spans forty-five minutes. In the spring of my senior year of high school at the end of a long, lazy lunch period I heard my named called in that firm voice of Mr. Hutchins that made everything he said sound like a command. He asked if I were free during the next period “to help him out.” As I said, everything he ever said to me sounded like an order, and this time was no different. So, I was free regardless of the fact I was going to meet up with friends.

The help I was to render was to take charge of a 7th grade English class. The teacher had been called away for reasons that were never disclosed to me, and I was instructed to follow the day’s lesson plan and keep the students in their seats. From the tone of Mr. Hutchins’ voice I gathered that keeping my charges in their seats was of paramount importance. “Just follow the lesson plan. Have them read the story, then go through the discussion points. And take attendance.” He handed me a folder. Inside, a dozen mimeographed sheets (in fast fading blue ink), and one typed page with ten or so questions.

Introductions were simple. I told the class who I was. They each told me their name.

Taking attendance was easy. I passed around a sheet of paper for them to sign.

Then it all went downhill.

I handed out the mimeographed story about a boy rushing through his chores so he could go to the county fair. Somewhere along the way he didn’t latch a gate and a cow (or maybe it was a goat) wandered out and devoured the neighbor’s garden. His time at the fair is ruined by a run-in with a bully, but fortune smiles on the boy when he learns that none other than the bully is blamed for the unlatched gate. Of course, the boy takes responsibility for the roaming cow and transforms the bully into a friend.

I asked the class to read the story. Within seconds one kid calls out he’s already read it, half the class groans and ask why they have to read anything since their “real” teacher isn’t there, and the other half is silent, either staring out the window or at the floor.

I wouldn’t call the next forty minutes a nightmare. Tiring, exasperating, difficult, chaotic all come to mind now. Even so, I did give it the old high school try and blundered on with the lesson plan. (I must admit I quickly gave up on keeping them in their seats. Two boys ended up perching on the heating registers.)

It quickly became apparent that the interest level, reading skill level, conversational skill level, and wakefulness level were as varied as the number of kids in the class. Nothing I could do or say could keep the entire class focused on the lesson plan. The only one who was learning anything related to English class was me: I now fully grasped the meaning of the idiom herding cats.

Despairing how I was going to get through the entire period, and nervous that Mr. Hutchins might pop in, I finally caught a break when one boy loudly called out that the protagonist was an idiot for letting the bully off the hook. I asked if anyone else agreed. They all answered in the affirmative. Even the silent ones! This was a straw I had to grasp. Remembering a long ago assignment (I think it was 6th grade with Mr. Cain.), I proposed we write a different ending to the story. To my surprise they liked this idea and after some discussion it was resolved that we would reverse much of the story. I wrote a sentence on the chalk board and invited a boy up to rewrite it, changing verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs as he saw fit.

Of course, the class was noisy, and a bit disorderly, as students took turns rewriting sentences with the help of their classmates. But they were engaged. I think we got through four or five sentences. I did have one moment of actual teaching when I pulled off the shelf a Roget’s Thesaurus and instructed the boys how to navigate it to find antonyms.

After class I returned the folder with the attendance sheet to Mr. Hutchins. He thanked me. I should have thanked him. Even though I had already been a student for more than a dozen years, I learned that day that teaching was a lot more than following a lesson plan.

About the Author: P. E. Yudkoff is the author of The Kylxon Chronicles. When he is not writing he is often tinkering with animation or creating designs for 3D printing. Away from the computer Yudkoff enjoys a good hands-on building project or a leisurely walk with the family dog, Josie. Visit his website at: peyudkoff.com

Packing Evil

Packing Evil

About the Book: Thirteen-year-old Pack’s world is turned upside down when he discovers an old pair of shoes that magically makes him very smart. But Pack begins to suspect there’s more to the shoes than increased brainpower. Soon, voices pop into his head offering all kinds of advice. Some of it helpful and some of it very dangerous, but none explaining what they’re doing in his head. When a neighbor mysteriously disappears, suspecting foul play Pack and his best friend, Sydney, start to investigate. Pack’s new skills and power come in handy, but soon the magic reveals a vile side. Sydney fears the changes she sees in her friend as he strays down a villainous path. But Sydney’s a tough girl, and she’s not giving up her best buddy to a ratty pair of weird, old shoes without a fight!

Giveaway for Packing Evil!: http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2016/07/packing-evil-book-one-in-the-kylxon-chronicles-book-giveaway.html/

Book Trailer:

Thank you, P. E., for this post! We had a lot of fun reading about your teaching experience!

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journey quest return

Journey Trilogy
Author and Illustrator: Aaron Becker
Journey Published August 6th, 2013
Quest Published August 26th, 2014
Return Published August 2nd, 2016
By Candlewick Press

Journey Summary: Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

Journey Review: This book is very hard to explain the magic of it. Lorna (@notforlunch) described it the best, I think: “a wonderful mashup of a David Wiesner book and Harold and the Purple Crayon.” I think this is perfect. It has the illustration beauty and magic of a wordless David Wiesner picture book and it is about creativity (and a crayon) like Harold. The beauty of the castle she visited also reminded me of Cathedral by David Macaulay. This book is just full of amazing!

Originally published at: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1765 (10/5/2013)

Quest Summary: A king emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two children sheltering from the rain. No sooner does he push a map and some strange objects into their hands than he is captured by hostile forces that whisk him back through the enchanted door. Just like that, the children are caught up in a quest to rescue the king and his kingdom from darkness, while illuminating the farthest reaches of their imagination. Colored markers in hand, they make their own way through the portal, under the sea, through a tropical paradise, over a perilous bridge, and high in the air with the help of a winged friend. Journey lovers will be thrilled to follow its characters on a new adventure threaded with familiar elements, while new fans will be swept into a visually captivating story that is even richer and more exhilarating than the first.

Quest Review: Quest is a beautiful continuation of Journey. Aaron Becker starts where the first book left off, but Quest is as unique as Journey was. The kids we met in the first book are swept into an adventure to save a king who has armed them with the tools to save the kingdom. I read this book over and over again because there are so many different little nuances in this adventure that promotes creativity, imagination, and teamwork. To be honest, I almost like Quest better than journey because the kids work together.

First published at: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=4666 (11/12/2014)

Return Summary: Welcome the much-anticipated finale of Caldecott Honoree Aaron Becker’s wordless trilogy—a spectacular, emotionally satisfying story that brings its adventurer home.

Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm of kings and emperors, castles and canals, exotic creatures and enchanting landscapes. This time, it will take something truly powerful to persuade her to return home, as a gripping backstory is revealed that will hold readers in its thrall. Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker delivers a suspenseful and moving climax to his wordless trilogy, an epic that began with the award-winning Journey and continued with the celebrated follow-up Quest.

Return Review: You will adore the conclusion to the trilogy. Becker does an amazing job of tying the beginning of Journey to the end of Return. To think that all the books happened in a day! The girl had quite an amazing journey, quest, and return in only one day! It is amazing what can go on when magic is involved. I don’t want to give away much else about the finale, but I will say it is as much a must read as the first two. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In my classroom, the first thing I would do is project the book and just have the students read it with me. No talking; just looking. Then we’d go back and discuss what is going on in the book, talk about some of the smaller parts of the illustrations, relive the journey. If I wanted to include a writing activity, we could add words to the book (although, I think this book’s illustrations stand alone). We could also discuss what we’d do if we had a magic crayon. I think this book would be a great addition to Dot Day and discussing creativity. Finally, I think a discussion of observing your surroundings would be appropriate as what the girl wanted the most was right in front of her at the beginning of the book. (From 10/5/13 post)

Additionally, this trilogy would be a wonderful mentor text to discuss narrative elements because Becker has given us a perfect plot arc filled with conflict, suspense, and resolution. It would also be interesting to talk to students about characterization in a wordless picture book because the characters still have very evident traits though it is through illustration and actions that we have to determine them. Although, I would be careful in taking the magic away from these books. I don’t want to analyze and dig into them too much because they are beautiful pieces of art that should be enjoyed first and foremost.

Journey Trilogy Activity Kit: https://www.scribd.com/document/312916399/Aaron-Becker-s-The-Journey-Trilogy-Activity-Kit

 Q&A with Aaron Becker: https://www.scribd.com/document/132634414/Journey-by-Aaron-Becker-Q-A-with-the-Creator

Discussion Questions: What would you do with a magic crayon?; Why did the girl have to turn to a magical land instead of remaining at home?; Were you surprised about who finally saved the day?; What is happening on the final page of Return? How do you feel about this resolution to the story?; How did the story progress through each book?

Return Book Trailer:

Journey Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxUs41jB4Ts

Quest Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO774UmBjQc

Read This If You Loved: Shy by Deborah Freedman, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, The Typewriter by Bill Thomson The Whisper by Pamela ZagarenskiFloat by Daniel Miyares, Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac BarnettHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Blackout by John Rocco, David Weisner wordless picture books, Cathedral by David Macaulay, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Henri Mouse by George Mendoza, Chalk by Bill Thomson, Art & Max by David Weisner, Weslandia by Paul Fleishman, Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis

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**Thank you to Raquel at Candlewick for providing copies for review and giveaway!!**

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