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If you want to fight this censorship, visit ALA’s Banned Books Week Get Involved site for help on how to fight!

Thank you Emma from invaluable for providing this Infographic to kick off Banned Books Week!

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Journey of the Pale Bear
Author: Susan Fletcher
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018 by McElderry Books

Summary: The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.

Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?

About the Author: SUSAN FLETCHER is the acclaimed author of the Dragon Chronicles as well as the award-winning Alphabet of Dreams, Shadow Spinner, Walk Across the Sea, and Falcon in the Glass. Ms. Fletcher lives in Bryan, Texas. To read about the fascinating story behind the inspiration for Journey of the Pale Bear, visit her website, SusanFletcher.com

Praise: ★”A stupendous coming-of-age tale stuffed with adventure and laced with deeper questions.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review: When I first read about this book it sounded pretty good, enough for me to pick it up, but it was SO GOOD! Like so good that even though it was a school week, I read it in 2 days!

First, it takes place in a time period that is hardly ever in books which is fascinating. I found myself looking up some of the history that was mentioned in the book, but the author did a great job of making sure that not knowing about the details of the time period wouldn’t effect the reading experience.

Second, it looks at animal treatment and truly makes you think about how an animal feels when it is put in captivity. Although told only in a realistic manner, the animal is such an integral part of the story that its behaviors are shared in detail allowing it to become a full character within the book.

Third, did you know there used to be a menagerie in the Tower of London? Me neither! But that took me down a suck hole of Google research. So fascinating!

Fourth, wow! The adventure is EPIC: sailing, bullies, pirates, shipwrecks, storms. It never stops!

So in review: Fascinating, thought-provoking, curious, and action-packed. All in all, a book I truly recommend and enjoyed.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The main home for this book will be in libraries; however, I can definitely see portions of it being used in classrooms.

  • First, I could see it being used during a history lesson to discuss the politics and war shared in the book.
  • Second, there are so many scenes that could be pulled out as mentor texts for writing. I’ll share some of my favorites below.
  • Third, I would love to see some creative writing done from the bear’s point of view.
  • Fourth, it is a fascinating look at animal treatment and how it has (and has not) changed over the years.

But in the end, it belongs in kids’ hands! Get it there!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did Arthur agree to take care of the bear?
  • What examples throughout the book show that the bear loved and trusted Arthur?
  • What does the whole story of a polar bear being sent from Norway to England show you about the respect of animals during the time period of the novel?
  • How did Arthur’s involvement make the bear’s life better?
  • Do you believe that the doctor cared about Arthur as he said he did? Explain.
  • How did Arthur earn the respect of the sailors on the ship?

Flagged Passages: 

“Its eyes, small and dark, were alert, curious, aware. I felt the faint stirring of its breath against my cheeks. I drew in the rich, ripe scent of bear until I seemed to sink down below the surface of it, drowning. From somewhere far away I heard Hauk and the lantern boy arguing, but the sounds fell away behind the throbbing in my ears and the thrill of the running-hum in my limbs.

The bear rumbled deep in its throat.

I rose to my feet, stepped back, and felt the iron bars press cold against me. I kept my eyes fixed on the pale, wide face, as if the force of my gaze could prevent the bear from lunging at me with its enormous paws or raking me with is claws–claws that I could see out of the corner of my eyes, massive claws, claws from a nightmare of monsters.” (Chapter 3)

“Before we saw the bear, we heard her—a heavy rhythmic read, a thump, a clang. Beyond the reek of fish, I sniffed out the feral musk of her.

We crept through the dark warehouse–the doctor, the captain, and I–until I made out a large, pale, moving form in the deep gloom ahead. The doctor motioned us to stop, and we watched from behind a stack of crates and bales. The bear was as tall as a pony, longer than a caribou, and as wide as two bulls. Back and forth she paced in her cage, and back and forth again, her head swinging side to side on her long neck, the convex bow of her snout lending her an air of nobility. The bear-smell now filled the air, and the stench of dung as well. A surge of fear rose up in me, turning my bones and sinews to liquid.” (Chapter 6)

Read This If You Love: Seekers by Erin Hunter, The Vanishing Islands by Barry WolvertonPirates! by Celia Rees, The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review and McElderry Books for providing a copy for giveaway!**

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Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World
Author: Gary Golio
Illustrator: Rudy Gutierrez
Published: September 4, 2018 by Henry Holt

Summary: Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio’s Sound of the Heart, Song of the World, featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez,the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Carlos Santana Shaman CD cover.

Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change.

From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.

My Review: I absolutely loved this book. My son and I had so much fun reading it, and then he asked to listen to some of Carlos Santana’s music. A few days later, we heard a Carlos Santana song on the radio, and my husband excitedly reminded my son about the book. It feels good to connect him with such a powerful man in our history. He shaped music in powerful ways. The book is beautifully written. I liked how it focused predominantly on Santana’s childhood. This kept my son’s interest and helped him connect with Santana. The art flows beautifully and looks like visual music on the page.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to use this book in literature circles with kids. Students could each read a picture book about a famous person in our history of music (see some of the options below). They could share out to their peers and play a clip from the music. These interdisciplinary activities would make for a warm, powerful learning environment.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Describe Carlos Santana’s childhood.
  • What inspired Santana?
  • What was Santana’s relationship with his parents? How do you think this may have shaped his life? What did working beside his father teach him about himself?
  • Describe Santana’s journey into music. What influenced him?

Flagged Passage: Check out the beautiful interiors on the book’s Macmillan page.

Read This If You Love: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda SchubertStand Up and Sing! by Susanna ReichWhen Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Madison at Macmillan for providing the book for review!**

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Eavesdropping on Elephants: How Listening Helps Conservation
Author: Patricia Newman
Published August 1st, 2018 by Millbrook Press

Summary: Deep in the Central African Republic, forest elephants trumpet and rumble along with the forest’s symphony. And scientists are listening.

Scientist Katy Payne started Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project to learn more about how forest elephants communicate and what they’re saying. But the project soon grew to be about so much more.

Poaching, logging, mining, and increasing human populations threaten the survival of forest elephants. Katy and other members of the Elephant Listening Project’s team knew they needed to do something to protect these majestic animals. By eavesdropping on elephants, the Elephant Listening Project is doing its part to save Africa’s forest elephants and preserve the music in the forest.

About the Author: Patricia Newman has a passion for uncovering fascinating aspects about our world and crafting books that lead children on an adventure of discovery. She gravitates toward stories about animals and conservation science and enjoys sharing her excitement with readers. Books include Sibert Honor title Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem; Junior Library Guild Selection Eavesdropping on Elephants; Bank Street College Best Book Zoo Scientists to the Rescue; Booklist Editor’s Choice Ebola: Fears and Facts; and Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She frequently speaks at schools, libraries, and conferences about writing and conservation. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Praise: 

“…this book does an excellent job of transporting readers and providing a clear, multifaceted picture of African forest elephants…The more you listen to wildlife, the more your mind opens up to new ideas about why the world is a place worth saving… VERDICT: A great pick for middle school nonfiction collections.” —School Library Journal

“Fascinating for earnest conservationists.” —Kirkus Reviews

Review: I am never disappointed when I read a Patricia Newman book. Each of her books are filled with fascinating information told in a way that will make any reader feel the passion that Newman obviously feels about her topics.

Her newest, Eavesdropping on Elephants, takes it to a whole new level! Not only does the book still include informational and narrative nonfiction, sidebars, glossaries, and classroom connections all well-researched and interesting, but it also includes QR codes (or links if you do not have a QR reader) to actually see and/or hear the elephants that are being discussed in the book. This really makes the book come to life in a way that I haven’t seen before.

Like all of her books, by the end I wanted to talk to people about what I read, wanted to go make a difference, and wanted to keep learning. If this isn’t a testament to how good her nonfiction is then I don’t know what is.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: “Consider an Authors for Earth Day visit in conjunction with Eavesdropping on Elephants. Students research a list of five conservation nominees selected by Patricia Newman and then vote for their favorite. Newman writes a check to the winning organization. The mission? To empower young readers to shape the world around them!”  –https://www.patriciamnewman.com/books/eavesdropping-on-elephants/ 

Research, reading, and writing activities for the classroom in conjunction with Eavesdropping on Elephants can be found on Patricia Newman’s Elephants Pinterest Board!

I, personally, am going to use Newman’s texts in my passion project research unit this year. I’m going to use her texts to show mentor texts of a nonfiction picture book and students are going to make their own nonfiction book or video. I also hope to have my lunch book club read Newman’s books as one of their month choices.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the videos/recordings help with the understanding of the book?
  • What is a keystone species? And how are the forest elephants a keystone species of their habitat?
  • What is the difference between ultrasound and infrasound? What does this have to do with elephants?
  • What figurative journey did Katy take to finally make it to Africa to study elephants in the wild?
  • What did the scientists learn by listening to the elephants?
  • Why are elephants’ ears the shape that they are?
  • How is what Katy did with elephant sounds similar to a dictionary?
  • How are humans a threat to forest elephants?
  • What did Teagan Yardley do when she learned about these threats?

Book Trailer: 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nonfiction about animals, Nonfiction titles by Patricia Newman

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Lerner Publishing and Patricia for providing a copy for review!**

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Complexity in Young Adult Literature

In Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Text, Complex Lives by Jennifer Buehler, Chapter 2 looks at Young Adult Literature and Text Complexity and gives 8 different elements to think about to help analyze the complexity of a text:

Examples of complexity in The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Published January 7th, 2014

ALAN Walden Award Finalist 2015
National Book Award Longlist 2014
School Library Journal Best Young Adult Book of 2014

Summary: For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Other questions that could be asked while reading to find complexity in YAL
(Examples from Teacher Reading with YA Literature, Buehler 36-37)

  • Language: Are the sentences artfully constructed? Are the words carefully chosen? Does the author incorporate figurative language or poetic expression? Can we hear voice in the writing?
  • Structure: How is it built in terms of form and structure? How do other elements such as titles and subtitles, vignettes and interludes, shifts between past and present, or multiple points of view work together to service the whole?
  • Other Stylistic Elements: Are there other distinct elements in the text?
  • Character: What is there to explore in terms of the character’s thoughts and feelings; conflicts and contradictions; struggles, growth, and change?
  • Setting: How does the author bring us into the world of the story? What details help us to see, hear, and imagine this place?
  • Literary Devices: How does the author use literary or cultural allusions, intertextual references, dialogue, internal monologue, metaphor and symbolism, magical realism, or repetition to build meaning?
  • Topics and themes: What questions does the book ask? What ideas does it explore? What is at stake for teen readers in this book?
  • How the book is put together: How effective is the interplay between plot layers and thematic layers?

Discussion Questions/Writing Prompts for The Impossible Knife of Memory

Complexity can also be increased by the characteristics of the reader (such as motivation, knowledge, and experiences) and task variables (such as purpose and the complexity generated by the task assigned and the questions posed). Here are some examples of discussion questions or writing prompts that could be used in classrooms or with independent readers who are reading The Impossible Knife of Memory.

  • Hayley classifies all people into two categories: freaks & zombies. What does Hayley’s idea of the world show us about her outlook on life?
  • How does Laurie Halse Anderson use the idea of THEN and NOW throughout the novel to build on the theme that memories are a very complex part of life?
  • Drowning is a motif throughout the novel.
  • How does Laurie Halse Anderson show the reader that Hayley’s father is suffering and found addiction without using those words?
  • How did the inclusion of Hayley’s romantic relationship with Finn help move along the story and Hayley’s transformation? Do you feel that Hayley’s story arc would have been the same without Finn in the story?
  • How was the setting an integral part of the story? How did Hayley returning to her deceased grandmother’s home propel the story?
  • .Trish is one of the most complex characters in the book because there are many different Trishes shared with us throughout the story: Trish then, Trish now in reality, and Trish now in Hayley’s mind. How did Laurie Halse Anderson develop each of these different characters to show the reader a full picture of Trish?

This complexity information and activities can be found as a PDF on Laurie Halse Anderson’s website or my SlideShare.

To learn more about complexity in young adult literature, please read Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Text, Complex Lives by Jennifer Buehler!

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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.

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Tuesday: Teaching Tuesday: Using Dialogue Journals with High Schoolers

Wednesday: What If Everybody Said That? by Ellen Javernick

Thursday: King Ben and Sir Rhino by Eric Sallier

Friday: Alice’s Magic Garden by Henry Herz

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

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Kellee

I am loving the little bookworm Trent is right now! We’ve been reading a a couple of chapters of a chapter books and one or two picture books each night! And he wishes we could do more! I adore this! And I am so amazed at his memory for story, too. We can now have conversations about the books we’re reading, make predictions while reading, and even do a little bit of literary analysis! I won’t share everything we read each week, but I’ll share any new books that we read.

  • We need to get the next book in this series by Alexa Pearl! I love Sasha’s story as she learns how she fits into the world.
  • Life on Mars by Jon Agee is such a great sci-fi picture book, and we had some great conversation about the martian.
  • Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner was very foreign for my Floridian son, so he had a lot of questions and loved it!
  • Ella and Owen: The Dave of AAAAH! DOOM! by Jaden Kent was a fun adventure about two silly dragon siblings who work together to survive!

I read:

  • Cosmic Conundrum by Cara Bartek, Ph.D. is the first in a series about Serafina Sterling, a super brilliant 6th grader that mixes sciences and middle school!
  • Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez was a book that I immediately went to school to talk to my students about because I knew MANY of them would connect with her. Stella doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere because her family is fluent in Spanish and lived in Mexico while her peers are fluent in English and much louder than her. She is a sweet girl that struggles in both English and Spanish–will she be able to find her voice?

Ricki

I am excited to share that I have a book under contract with a publisher that I’ve long admired! I can’t wait to share more, but I spent most of my week working on details for the book! 🙂

I REREAD Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz for the twelve time (maybe more). I am teaching it tomorrow, and it is one of my favorite books to teach. It offers so much to discuss, and my students always love it.

Henry and I also dipped into some older books that were given to us by a neighbor. They were about forty years old. I am not going to post the titles here, but it has been really interesting to see how books have changed in the last forty years. The implicit bias was a bit disturbing, but it offered some great moments for critical discussions about gender roles and the representations of people of color. I got so irritated with one that it is currently in my recycling bin. I’ll probably take it out in the morning. That wasn’t the best idea, I know.

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Kellee

 

  • I am loving A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem: A Dastardly Plot by Christopher Healy! Just go read the summary of it; you’re going to want to read it, too!
  • I am about half way through The Young Elites audiobook, and it is returning in 3 days–I have a feeling I’ll be finishing it the traditional way. The Young Elites reminds me of the Embassy Row series mixed with Graceling series.
  • With Trent, we’re reading the second book in the Ella and Owen series. He loves these two dragons!

Ricki

I am still reading and loving Sadie. I am sorry that I have been lost in some academic work lately that I’ve fallen behind on the good stuff. But this book is amazing!

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Tuesday: Teaching Tuesday: Complexity in Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wednesday: Eavesdropping on Elephants by Patricia Newman

Thursday: Carlos Santana by Gary Golio

Friday: Review and Giveaway!: Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher

Sunday: 15 Banned Books and Their Reasons for Censorship by Emma from Invaluable

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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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Alice’s Magic Garden: Before the Rabbit Hole…
Author: Henry Herz
Illustrator: Natalie Hoopes
Published September 1st, 2018 by Familius

Summary: Curiouser and curiouser!

In this imaginative prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice finds herself at a gray, dreary boarding school that is decidedly up the rabbit hole. From the relentless clocks to the beastly students, Alice’s world is void of color and cheer–until Alice finds a secret garden and begins tending its wilting inhabitants. When Alice’s love touches an ordinary caterpillar, a lorry bird, and a white rabbit, magical things will happen–and that, as you know, is just the beginning of the story. Filled with literary allusions and clever nods to its classic roots, Alice’s Magic Garden is a delightful prequel that begs an escape to the whimsy of Wonderland.

Review: I love when I find a twist on a classic story that is new and fresh! Herz’s story about how Alice’s garden came to be is so unique and definitely different than I’d ever heard or read before. While it holds true to the magic and silliness of Carroll’s original, it also adds a nice lesson in the vein of kindness and happiness which will lead to some great discussions as well.

I’m also a huge fan of the illustrations. I loved how color was used to show the shift in Alice’s surroundings and the way the illustrator separated the real from the strange. Additionally, I truly loved the style of the artwork which, in my opinion, was a perfect style for the story: classic with a bit of whimsy.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Use Alice’s Magic Garden as a mentor text for an imaginative prequel and ask students to create their own picture book as a prequel for a book they’ve read, a class novel, or a book club selection.

Also the story has some wonderful word choice that students can look at and discuss why the specific words were chosen.

Lastly, Alice’s could be used with secondary classes if the classic text is being read to look at allusions.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why does the illustrator go from grayscale to color drawings?
  • What allusions to the original story do you see in the picture book?
  • How did kindness save the day?
  • How is Alice different than the other girls in her boarding school?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Fractured fairy tales or other retellings, “Jabberwocky” and other poems by Lewis Carroll

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Familius for providing a copy for review!**

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