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NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book 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!

Although many elementary students enjoy and love nonfiction, this love tapers off when students get to middle school. Very few of my students read nonfiction at all. However, there is a wonderful thing happening that is helping increase the amount of nonfiction read in my school: memoir and informational nonfiction graphic novels. Here are some that I have read that my students and/or I have truly enjoyed.
(Clicking on any cover will take you to the Goodreads page or my review.)

Children’s/Middle Grade

deafo around the world primates

deadspy ironclad donner treaties

media dust bowl jay z

FC_BC_9780545132060.pdf sisters sharks dinosaursGN

Middle Grade/YA

dumbest 911 annefrank beirut


fist feynman dahmer maus

Hope you and your students enjoy some nonfiction graphic novels!


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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: Top New Series We Hope To Start At Some Point 

These series look so good! We hope we get to read them at some point.


I saw Kellee’s list before I wrote mine, and I thought, “Oh. Yes, she should read those.” Kellee, I recommend Legend as your first series to start on your list! It is one of my favorites. Like Kellee, I am excluding series I need to finish. These are the series I have yet to begin.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling


Okay, it is time for everyone to freak out. I’ve never read this series. I am not sure why. I fell asleep during the first movie, so maybe it isn’t for me?

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer


I really, really want to read this series. I haven’t started it yet, but I hope to soon.

3. The Diviners by Libba Bray


Libba is an incredibly talented writer, so I am sure this series is as great as I’ve heard it is!

4. Heist Society by Ally Carter

heist society

I’ve never read an Ally Carter book, but I’ve always wanted to check them out because they are so wildly popular.

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time

I read this book when I was much younger and don’t remember anything about it. I’d like to reread it as an adult.


This list could be 25 series long, but I kept it at 5. There are so many out there I want to read! (And this isn’t even including all the series I’ve started and need to finish!)

1. Legend by Marie Lu


Everyone who has read this series loves it. I look forward to getting to it.

2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

raven boys

Maggie Stiefvater writes some of the most unique books, and I always try to read what she writes.

3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld


The Uglies series by Westerfeld is one of my favorites, and Leviathan fascinates me.

4. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

pretty little

I love the show and the premise, so I assume the books will be very good.

5. The Selection by Kiera Cass


This series is hugely popular with my students, and I am intrigued by the fairy tale-esque idea. (However, it does remind me of Princess Academy.)

Which series haven’t you started but hope to? 

RickiSig and Signature

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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 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.

Congratulations to
for winning a copy of Julie Sternberg’s 
book Friendship Over!!!!

Last Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday deafo

Code Name 711--cover Double Vision front cover Double Vision The Alias Men hi-res cover

captain1 captain11

Tuesday: Top Ten Places We Want To Visit (After Reading a Book)

Thursday: Guest Post “Five Ways to Bring MG Books into the Classroom” by Fleur Bradley, author of Double Vision and signed hardcover giveaway!

Giveaway open until Wednesday night!!!

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

 Last Week’s Journeys

Kellee: Well, my ambitious goals of reading were defeated by another bout of ear infections and work for school. Such is life! I did get to finish one graphic novel I got from Top Shelf Productions on Netgalley called Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimble Witch which was a Coraline-esque tone/mood with a mix of Wizard of Oz and Miyazaki. The illustrations were a bit messy, but in a purposeful way that made everything feel urgent. I am looking forward to the sequel.

Trent and I did some rereading including revisiting David Smells by David Shannon and Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. We also read Up Close by Gay Wegerif and Kiss, Kiss Good Night by Ken Kesbitt for the first time. Up Close is a unique way to talk about shapes, colors, and animals. I’m sure it will be a favorite. Kiss, Kiss is a sweet book that is a great bedtime story.

Ricki: Henry and Trent are both in the sick club. My poor guy has been sick all week, and we had to make a few trips to the doctor’s office. But we read! I finished a very well-written, comprehensive book called Holocaust: A Concise History by Doris L. Bergen. I read it in preparation for a Teaching the Holocaust Workshop I am attending this Wednesday. It is an integrated workshop for secondary history and English teachers.

Henry is obsessed with Goodnight Moon. When his father or I try to read him a different book, he fusses. The second we take out Goodnight Moon, his whole body relaxes and he giggles. So we read it every night. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading to him as he crawls around the room—he will only sit in my lap for Goodnight Moon. I want to expand his reading list a bit, so chasing him with a book is necessary. We enjoyed Brian Patten’s Can I Come Too? and Alex Latimer’s Pig and Small. Both were charming picture books. I also read an early chapter book to him, Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. I scheduled a blog post about Worst Witch for October 30—just in time for Halloween!

This Week’s Expeditions

Kellee: I am currently in the middle of two books: An Army of Frogs by Trevor Pryce and Joel Naftali in preparation for my NCTE panel with him on teaching graphic novels and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, and I hope to finish them both. I also want to revisit all of the Walden books. Additionally, I still have that huge library picture book pile LOOMING at me from the other side of the living room. I need to spend some time with them. Finally, I will be rereading the Matt Tavares biography picture books I read a couple of weeks ago as I am writing a teaching guide for them this week. BUSY week ahead!

Ricki: I just started Regina Brooks’ Writing Great Books for Young Adults. I am enjoying it thus far and will keep you posted when I have read more! I am still reading Rosenblatt’s book. It is great, but I had to finish my Holocaust book in preparation for the Workshop I described earlier. Can I pause the day and just read, please?

Upcoming Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday NF PB 2014

bramble1 bramble2 bramble3 shadowenigma

Tuesday: Top Series We Want To Start

Wednesday: Nonfiction Graphic Novels List

Thursday: Bramble and Maggie blog tour with a giveaway and a Q&A with author Jessie Haas

Friday: Author Guest Post from Teresa Flavin, author of The Shadow Lantern

 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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Captain Underpants series
Author: Dav Pilkey
#1: Adventures of Captain Underpants published September 1st, 1997 by Scholastic, Inc.
#11: Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 published August 26th, 2014 by Scholastic Inc.

Goodreads Summary #1: Pilkey plays with words and pictures, providing great entertainment. The story is immediately engaging – two fourth-grade boys who write comic books and love to pull pranks find themselves in big trouble. Mean Mr. Krupp, their principal, videotapes George and Harold setting up their stunts and threatens to expose them. The boys’ luck changes when they send for a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation.

Goodreads Summary #11: When the Incredible Robo-Plunger defeated the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, George and Harold thought their toilet troubles were over. Unfortunately, their porcelain problems were only beginning . . . Just when you thought it was safe to flush . . . The Turbo Toilet 2000 strikes back! The carnivorous commode known for devouring everything in its path has built up a real appetite . . . for REVENGE! Join Captain Underpants for another epic showdown of Wedgie Power vs. Potty Power as our tighty-whitey-wearing superhero GOES TO ELEVEN!

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ever since I started teaching I have had Captain Underpants fans in my classroom. Readers (especially boys though, like all books, it is not exclusive) love these books. When I started teaching intensive reading, my students loved that I read so much but were astonished that I had never read a Captain Underpants book. So, during the summer of 2012, I read the entire series that was out at the time.  And suprsingly, I am happy I did. I enjoyed the books so much, and I found many different ways that I could use in the series in classroom. As I read I not only enjoyed the stories (well most of them; the booger one was quite gross), but I kept notes on different ways each book could be a mentor text.  I know that students already love the books so I would love to be able to use them in the classroom. I think that part of what makes Pilkey’s humor work is that he never talks down to his reader. The humor is intelligent and witty, and he makes sure to have his books be as entertaining as possible to keep the reader’s attention.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Some of my favorite things that are addressed in the series are spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and puns. The spelling is not directly addressed; however, Harold and George misspell a lot of words and it would be good to use to talk about phonics and spelling.  Also, each book begins with an anagram which is great word play.  The grammar is sporadic only showing up in some books, but the vocabulary is in all of them.  Some vocabulary I found was billowing, narratively convenient, fizzled, improbability, jubilant, mock, scurried, and merciless and that is just in book 3! Also the puns in each book are really quite clever (check out p. 34 in #11 and any of the flip-o-ramas to see what I mean). Each book also has some great alliteration (#11, p. 29, 27, 208)- each title alone has alliteration in them. There are also allusions and onomatopoeias!

Additionally, I love the set up of the novels. They are a great mix of novel, graphic novel, comics, and picture books. It is a great transition between picture books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I especially like the flip-o-ramas. They are unique to the Captain Underpants books and I think it puts a great interactive and kinesthetic feel to the books.

One thing I do not understand is why these books are challenged. Yes, they have some potty humor. Yes, the adults aren’t the best representation of teachers. Yes, it is silly. But they are harmless and actually have some really great qualities to them.

Discussion Questions: In the first Captain Underpants, Harold and George brainstorm a superhero including his name and then create a comic based on their superhero. With a partner, brainstorm a name for a superhero and then complete a story to go along with your superhero. To expand it even more, complete a comic for your superhero.; In #11 novel, time travel plays a large part of in the plot. What event could you go back in time to try to change?; In some of the Captain Underpants books, there are grammar, convention, and spelling mistakes. Why do you think Dav Pilkey makes the choice to use incorrect grammar? What mistakes idd you find?; In #11, Harold and George end up being cloned (kind of). What would you do if there were two of you?

We Flagged (#11): 

Read These If You Loved: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce, Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tommy Greenwald, The Adventures of Ook & Gluk and Super Diaper Baby series by Dav Pilkey, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight, Knights of the Lunch Table series by Frank Cammuso 

Recommended For: 

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Double Vision front coverCode Name 711--coverDouble Vision The Alias Men hi-res cover

Today, F.T. Bradley, author of the Double Vision trilogy, joins us with a wonderful post for middle grade teachers. Last year, Ricki reviewed (and loved) the second book in the series, Double Vision: Code Name 711We strongly encourage you to check out the entire series and are excited to announce that the third book, Double Vision: The Alias Men, went on sale this week! Please join us in welcoming F.T. Bradley to the blog today. She is offering a phenomenal giveaway to one lucky winner: all three books in the series—signed in hardcover!


   F.T. Bradley--photo

Five Ways to Bring MG into the Classroom

By F.T. Bradley

Reading is good for kids—we all know this. But trying to find ways to bring books into an already over-tasked classroom can be more than a challenge. Every year, I visit several school and library conventions, where I talk about ways to reach reluctant readers. Let’s face it: every classroom has a good portion of kids who would anything to avoid opening another book. So how do you bring middle-grade books into the classroom without boring your students? Here are a few ways to keep reading fresh in the classroom:

1. Find a Theme

Is your class or grade covering a certain period in history? Chances are, there are a host of MG titles that cover it. Math, science, art—authors love to use curriculum as a jumping off point in their fiction. When looking for titles, start by casting a wide net, including non-fiction (reluctant readers are easier to hook with those books), and graphic novels, too. For middle-school teachers, this can be an opportunity to collaborate with other teachers across subjects. A library visit, or a simple Google search can be a good start to find titles, but also look at book review sites like Goodreads, where reviewers often have top-ten lists of like-themed books. Author websites (like mine) sometimes have links and resources too, so don’t forget to browse the web.

2. Host a Book Club

You don’t have to be Oprah to host a book club. It can be small scale, like a class-wide joint read, or an after school club or even an elective for middle-schoolers. One school librarian told me she hosted a book club during lunch once a week—what a great idea! If you’re looking for a more challenging approach to group reading, try reading a non-fiction and fiction title on the same topic or historical period at the same time. How is the fiction title holding up against reality? Another fun challenge: reading a classic title like A Wrinkle in Time, and comparing it to its graphic novel counterpart. Or comparing the book with the movie—a great way to show that books connect to popular entertainment. To start your book club, look for more accessible options (so all kids will be interested, even those who read less), and increase the challenge as you go. 

3. Host a Review Blog or Website

Kids are already expected to write book reports—why not have them write reviews, too? This can be a school or classroom blog, where you post reviews written by kids. You can even post them to other review sites, or on your local bookstore website (if they’re interested—could be a great start to collaboration). Publishers (and sometimes authors) may even be willing to donate a copy of a book in exchange for a review, especially if you post reviews regularly. Just be sure to protect kids’ privacy as you post the reviews.

4. Rewrite the Story

Have you ever read a book with the class, only to be disappointed with the ending? Or maybe it wasn’t the ending you expected—or maybe it was too cliché? Rewrite the end with the class! This can be a great writing assignment—not only does this teach writing and editing skills, it shows kids that stories aren’t set in stone. (Note: this was not my idea, but shared by a Mississippi teacher and her class, who loved this exercise). Other ideas: writing short stories, like fan fiction, featuring the other characters in a book. How does the story change if written from a different perspective? Or: write letters as two characters in conflict with each other. If you’re working with a non-fiction title, consider having kids write fictional stories featuring some of the facts in the book. Or vice-versa: research any facts in the fiction title you’re reading—did the author stay close to the truth?

5. Host a (Virtual) Author Visit

Nothing makes a book, and the profession of writing, come to life more than a visit from a real author. Kids will never forget that day. To find available authors in your area, look at professional organizations’ websites, like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can also ask your local library, or your independent bookstore—staff often know who lives locally, and who does great presentations. Don’t have access to local authors or funds to bring authors to your school? Try a Skype visit instead! These virtual visits are often free, and require nothing more than a computer/tablet with a webcam and a (free) Skype account. To find authors who Skype for free (like me), visit author Kate Messner’s website for a list. For non-fiction tie-ins, Skype in the Classroom offers lessons that run the gamut when it comes to curriculum, and even connects classrooms across the globe.   When I host the session on reaching reluctant readers (using these ideas and more) at library and teacher conventions, I get my best tips, book recommendations, and out-of-the-box ideas from teachers and librarians themselves.

How about you? Do you have any ideas or tips to share?

Follow along with the Double Vision: The Alias Men blog tour:

Oct. 6-10: The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow features Double Vision: The Alias Men with a review, author interview, plus a GIVEAWAY..!

Oct. 13: Linc hangs out at the great Erik’s blog, This Kid Reviews Books. Linc talks about spy techniques he picked up on his Pandora missions. And there’s another GIVEAWAY

Oct. 14: Double Vision: The Alias Men is released! Have a virtual party at the YA Sleuth blog…! And follow F.T. on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor for more kid spy fun.

Oct. 16: F.T. Bradley gives you Five Ways to Bring MG into The Classroom at the Unleashing Readers blog, plus a GIVEAWAY.

Oct. 17: Linc is interviewed by Lizzy, Fairday and Marcus over at The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog. A fun post!

Oct. 20: Buried in Books lets F.T. Bradley talk about the Double Vision trilogy…

Oct. 20: Also this day, the fabulous Ms. Yingling reviews Double Vision: The Alias Men on her blog for Marvelous MG Monday…

Oct. 21: Another favorite blog, YA Book Nerd, hosts F.T. Bradley and the Double Vision trilogy, plus a GIVEAWAY

Oct. 21: F.T. Bradley hangs out at Sleuths, Spies and Alibis

Oct. 24: F.T. Bradley gives tips for parents of reluctant readers, Seven Ways to Get Your Kid to Read, at Pragmatic Mom’s blog, plus a GIVEAWAY!

Oct. 25: At the Nerdy Book Club, find F.T. Bradley’s top 10 books for reluctant readers…

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NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book 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!


El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Published September 2nd, 2014 by Abrams

Publisher Summary: Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making
new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic-novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes
things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and fi nd the friend she’s longed for.

Author: Cece Bell has written and illustrated several books for children, including the Geisel Honor book Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover. She lives in Virginia with her husband, author Tom Angleberger.

My Review: There are times that you read a book and when you are done, you just know that it is a special book. El Deafo is one of those books. As you all know, I am a huge fan of Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby, and one of the reasons I am is because it looks at disabilities in a positive light and shows that a disability is not an end, but just a change. El Deafo is another novel that does this. Although Cece, like Joey in Hurt Go Happy, finds herself deaf at a young age, we see her overcome this blow and turn it into a superpower. But this book is about more than deafness; it is about being a kid, about growing up, about friendship, about ackwardness, about school, about crushes, about family, about life. This book is truth.

Teachers’ Tools For Navigation: There is so much you can do with this graphic novel. Many activities can be found in the teaching guide that I wrote for Abrams. This book is perfect for independent reading, for lit circles  with other graphic novel memoirs, for jigsawing, for read alouds, and for looking deeply into the text.

(Also, and I didn’t want to harp on this because they are both such unique books, but this book will be loved by the readers of Smile. They both look at such an important part of life.)

Discussion Questions: Language Arts:  Cece uses many different kinds of clues to help her lip-read. (pages 30–31) What are the 4 types of clues? How do they help with lip-reading? In what other ways can these clues be helpful?; On page 60, Cece shares an analogy of her friendship with Laura. She feels like a baited fish that is caught on Laura’s hook. What analogies could we make to
describe Cece’s friendship with Ginny? Martha? Emma?; Science: What is meningitis? How can it cause deafness?;  What is an audiologist? What would you have to study to become one?; History/Social Studies: Many deaf and hard of hearing individuals have made history, including Helen Keller, William Ellsworth Hoy, and Juliette Gordon Low. Research these or other deaf or hard of
hearing individuals throughout history and today. How did being deaf affect their lives? What were their accomplishments?

We Flagged: 

**From Cece Bell’s blog**

Read This If You Loved: Smile and Sister by Raina Telgemeier, The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Grownley, I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached, Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci

Recommended For: 

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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 Places We Want To Visit (After Reading Books)

Books can transport you, but these are the places we’d actually like to go to.


Some of the places I wanted to visit in our book vacation post were Europe, Africa, Salinas (California), the Seven Kingdoms, and Pullman’s multiverse. I can most certainly think of five more. :)

1. The back of my wardrobe

C.S. Lewis created magic in the back of his wardrobe, so I want to see if I can go exploring in mine.

2. An old-fashioned locomotive

Brian Floca’s Locomotive is an incredible picture book that shows the complexity of steam engines. I want to visit one and explore.

3. Arches National Park

Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire was one of the best books I read in college. The way Abbey captures the beauty of this park in his nonfiction text will make you want to go there to see it for yourself.

4.  Midnight Gulch

If you haven’t read Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic, I recommend you drop everything and read it. It is the most spindiddly, magical books I have ever read.

5. America (Road Trip Style)

From Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck to Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, books always seem to make me want to go on a road trip across America. Anyone want to join me on a book-themed road trip? Kellee?


I touched on the real places I would love to visit based on the setting of a book on our book vacation post, so I thought today I’d post about fictional places I would like to visit.

1. Hogwarts (and Diagon Alley)

I don’t think I need to elaborate. It’d be so cool!

2. Rabbit Island from Rabbit Island by Jake Parker in Explorer: The Lost Islands edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Well, first: talking rabbits. Second, in the end they have such a great society. Third, the island is beautiful. Fourth, robots!

3. Kingdoms in Hero’s Guide books by Christopher Healy

I would love to visit the fractured fairy tale world of Healy’s. Although there are some trolls, witches, etc., many of the towns would be so much fun to visit.

4. Under water society (without all the issues) in Dark Life by Kat Falls

How amazing would it be to live underwater?!

5. Airships from Matt Cruse series by Kenneth Oppel 

In Oppel’s books, airships are like cruise ships in the sky. I would love to be able to go fly in one of them.

Where would you love to visit? 

RickiSig and Signature