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Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic
Author: Catherine J. Manning
Illustrator: Melanie Demmer
Published: September 14, 2021 by Workman

Summary: There is magic inside you if you only dare to look.

Dragons are the heroes we need.
They have fires in their bellies, wisdom in their eyes, and hearts big enough to welcome one and all. And now you can be one, too!
In this ingenious book filled with hands-on activities, quests and quizzes, exciting stories, and charming illustrations every young reader will discover firsthand how to slay their fears and find their inner power.
How, in other words, to Be the Dragon, filled with courage, kindness, insight, compassion, positivity, and so much more.
And that is something to roar about!

ReviewRemember how you used to fill out endless surveys as a kid to test out who you were as a person? Mostly As? You are a hero. Mostly Bs? You are a warrior. Mostly Cs? You are a princess Mostly Ds? You are a knight. Now, imagine you had one of these books sooner. Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic is an incredibly clever book that guides kids through quizzes to get to know themselves, crafts and projects to explore their inner magic, and lots of great stories to engage them along the way. Both my 7-year-old and 4-year-old sons were hooked. I caught one of them reading the book in the corner and doing the quizzes on his own because he couldn’t wait until we read it again. This book is very well done and will bring such joy to so many kids.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is easily integrated into classrooms. The quizzes and projects make it a no-brainer as a classroom text.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which quiz was your favorite?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • Which of the nine keys taught you the most?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Quizzes/Surveys; Dragons; Interactive Books

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Ilana at Workman for providing a copy for review**

 
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The Beatryce Prophecy
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publishing September 28th, 2021 by Candlewick Press

Summary: From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall comes a fantastical meditation on fate, love, and the power of words to spell the world.

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all–for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories–powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves–ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her–a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone–will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything. With its timeless themes, unforgettable cast, and magical medieval setting, Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for Candlewick Press for The Beatryce Prophecy:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about The Beatryce Prophecy on Candlewick’s page.

Recommended For: 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!

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Tuesday: Review & Giveaway!: How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio

Thursday: Spooky Sleuth & Solve by Victor Escandell

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Point-of-View Flip as a Way into Creative Writing” by Shirley Reva Vernick, Author of Ripped Away

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

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Kellee

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: First, I must applaud the brilliance of the audiobook. The narrator does a fantastic job, and I am so glad that I chose to listen to it! And this brilliance on top of the intricate world and complex characters that Adeyemi created equals a fantastical read that all fantasy fans should pick up!
  • Haikyu Vol 1 by Haruichi Furudate: Haikyu ended up being way more character driven than I thought it was going to be which was a pleasant surprise as I was worried it was going to be less enjoyable for someone who is not a volleyball fanatic, but no, it was a fun read, and I can see why it is so popular!
  • Fairy Tale Battle Royale Vol 1 by Soraho Ina: I found this manga at my library and it seemed right up my alley, and boy, was I right! Mix of action, tale retellings, alternate worlds, and weird zombie characters?! Um, yes please!
  • Go Wild! Sea Turtles by Jill Esbaum and Go Wild! Pandas by Margie Markarian: These were both perfect nonfiction books for Trent as sea turtles and pandas are two of his favorite animals! I really liked how the books were structured with each spread focusing on a different element of the animals life. We will definitely get more from this series!
  • Fussy Flamingo by Shelly Vaughan James: This is the final SSYRA, Jr. book that Trent had to read, and he liked it so much that after reading it he wanted to read it to me. Lola is such a fun little flamingo who embodies what a lot of kids have: curiosity and rebellion! Lots of fun!
  • Ben Y and the Ghost in the Machine by K.A. Holt: This is the second book in the The Kids Under the Stairs series. The first book was from Ben B’s point of view and now this is from Ben Y’s point of view. I love Holt’s novel-in-verse style–it adds such a lyrical element to the story. And her style mixed with the relatable stories that Holt tells (this one is about Ben mourning the loss of her brother while also figuring out their identity, place in school, and friendship) equals really great reads!
  • Marty by Rachel Noble: I loved this extended metaphor about inclusion, identity, and friendship. Marty’s story makes me sad that so many feel like outsiders in their community and world, but I hope, like Marty, they all find a friend and a place to call their own.
  • The Perfect Fit by Naomi James: I love so much about this book! First, it is about fitting in and how fitting in doesn’t always mean everyone is the same (and actually that we’re all better when we’re surrounded by differences). Also, it is a great math book as it looks at shapes and patterns. Math AND SEL?! What a wonderful combo for an elementary classroom!

To learn more about any of these books, check out my 2021 Goodreads Challenge page  or my read bookshelf on Goodreads.

Ricki

Last week, I forgot to share that I read Spooky Sleuth & Solve by Victor Escandell! You can click the link for my full review!

I also read the young adult book Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann. This was a great graphic novel that was all about friendship, feminism, and periods. Yes, the graphic novel used red, black, and white as the colors, and the entire book explored what it is like to be in high school and have your period. It is very difficult to describe this book, but I loved a dad’s review about how it really helped him understand what his daughters might be going through! We need more books like this in the world. It will be appreciated by so many!

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Kellee

Reading: Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Listening: Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Trent reading during family reading time: HiLo #7: Gina, the Girl Who Broke the World by Judd Winick

Jim reading during family reading time: Fables #9: Sons of Empire by Bill Willingham

Ricki

I am keeping up with the reading that my grad YAL class is doing. We are reading Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams soon, so I am reading it!

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Tuesday: Teaching Guide for The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo

Thursday: Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic by Catherine J. Manning, Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

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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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“Point-of-View Flip as a Way into Creative Writing”

I’m a big fan of the “point-of-view flip” activity for young writers. That’s where students are asked to retell an existing story (or scene or chapter) from a POV other than the one presented in the original. This exercise can be done with a short and simple tale like The Three Little Pigs (e.g., the wolf’s first-person POV) or with more advanced texts. I like this literary workout because, besides being just plain fun, it can help writers grow their skills. Here’s my thinking:

It’s hard to write creatively, from blank, on demand. That’s why I always hated assignments like, “Write a story from this week’s spelling words.” It’s why I’ve never gone to writers’ retreats, where I’d be put up for a random week not of my own choosing and expected to produce. I can no sooner schedule my creative juices than I can schedule the rain. I suspect that many students feel the same way.

With the POV flip exercise, students don’t have to pull characters or plots out of thin air. Those elements are already there, freeing students to focus on the craft of show-not-tell, dialogue, pacing, etc.

POV flipping shows writers how much hinges on POV when telling a story. After publishing four novels and several short stories, I’m more certain than ever that POV is among the most pivotal—and challenging—determinations to make in the writing process.

Take, for instance, my new upper-MG/early-YA novel, Ripped Away, which is set in Victorian London during the Jack the Ripper spree. I wrote my first draft in the third-person perspective of a boy growing up in London during that time. Something wasn’t right though. This POV didn’t feel immediate enough, intimate enough. So I rewrote the book in the first-person POV of that same character. It was an improvement, but I still wasn’t satisfied. Something was missing.

Eventually, I understood that the book wanted a narrator with a modern voice and contemporary sensibilities, because that’s how the tale would best resonate with readers. So I re-wrote it again, and that’s how Ripped Away became a time-travel fantasy.

When I think about how different the book would be if told from yet a different viewpoint—that of another character, or several other characters, or even an omniscient narrator—I see that Ripped Away could have been many stories. It took time and effort to discover the best POV for the story I wanted to tell, and it was well worth the investment. If students get the chance to experiment with viewpoint through the POV flip exercise, I think it will help them choose the right POV when they do create their own original text.

The flip activity keys students into POV in their reading. You can’t play around with viewpoint in your writing without it seeping into your awareness of what you read. I know several readers who actually use POV as a guide to selecting their leisure reading. Some insist on female first-person POV, others on third-person limited, yet others on multiple points of view. My own daughter goes for first-person stories that are told from the distance of time—an older adult looking back on his or her youth. I, for one, am drawn to the first-person peripheral narrator, like The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway. Throw in a dash of unreliability, and I’m hooked. I also like books that skillfully mix it up—part first-person, part third-person, and a sprinkling of second-person for added intensity.

So who knows? Maybe we can get kids to read more by guiding them to stories with the POV they prefer. And kids who read more—anyone who reads more—will be a better writer for it.

Coming February, 2022

About the Book: Ripped Away is based on the real experiences of Jewish immigrants to London during the Jack the Ripper spree, when xenophobia ran high.

In the story, a fortune teller reveals that classmates Abe and Mitzy may be able to save someone’s life…and then she sweeps them to the slums of Victorian London in the middle of the Jack the Ripper spree. To get back home, they’ll have to figure out how the fortune teller’s prophecy is connected to one of history’s most notorious criminal cases. They’ll also have to survive the outpouring of hate toward Jewish refugees that the Ripper murders triggered.

Vernick’s purpose in writing Ripped Away is to illuminate this episode in history, as well as to inspire readers to contemplate possible responses to intolerance. National Jewish Book Award-winning author Anne Blankman calls Ripped Away “an engrossing adventure. From the moment Abe and Mitzy are swept back in time to the infamous Jack the Ripper, readers will clamor to find out what happens next.”

Book Trailer: 

About the Author: Shirley Reva Vernick is the author of four novels for young readers. The Blood Lie is an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Readers pick and a Sydney Taylor Book Award honoree. Remember  Dippy won the Dolly Gray Literature Award from the Council for Exceptional Children. The Black Butterfly is a Junior Library Guild selection. Ripped Away will be released February 8, 2022 by Regal House Publishing.

Shirley is a graduate of Cornell University and an alumna of the Radcliffe Writing Seminars. When not creating stories, she mentors incarcerated individuals with their writing via the Prisoner Express program.

Please see www.shirleyrevavernick.com for more.

Thank you, Shirley, for your wonderful creative writing activity and for sharing your book–we cannot wait until it is published!

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Sleuth & Solve: Spooky: Decode Mind-Twisting Mysteries Inspired by Classic Creepy Characters: What Will You Find?
Published: August 24, 2021 by Chronicle

Summary: Test your wits in this creepy collection of horror-themed mini-mysteries, a follow-up to Sleuth & Solve!

How does one boy discover the lair of Frankenstein’s monster? What is the identity of the werewolf who torments an isolated village? And how do two sisters escape the vengeful Loch Ness Monster?

Welcome to the world of Sleuth & Solve: Spooky, where creepy clues are hidden in every detail and clever twists put your wits to the test. These mind-bending mini-mysteries inspired by classic creepy characters feature familiar fiends as well as terrifying new tales of ghosts, witches, and more! Solving this suite of spooky puzzles takes keen observation, strong logic, and lots of creative thinking. Play solo or with friends, collecting points as you crack each compelling case, decode the solution using a clever cryptograph, and reveal whose sleuthing skills reign supreme!

SCARY STORIES ARE IRRESISTIBLE: From monster-themed birthday parties to Dungeons & Dragons, Stranger Things, and Monsters, Inc., it’s clear that readers of all ages have a perennial predilection for all things monstrous and scary. These tales are perfect for reading alone or together, under the covers or in the dark, around the crackling of a campfire . . . as long as you can crack the case before it’s too late. BOO!

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD MYSTERY: From Encyclopedia Brown to Sherlock Holmes to Clue, mysteries transfix, engage, and entertain! Following the previous two books in the Sleuth & Solve series, this latest smart, age-appropriate take on mysteries for kids will quickly become a family favorite.

A-GAME-IN-A-BOOK: This engaging narrative formula incorporates both a game (players earn points for discerning each answer) and an opportunity to decrypt and decode the clever solutions to each puzzle, adding opportunities for interactivity and upping the stakes of the reading experience.

REINFORCES LOGICAL REASONING SKILLS: These clever mysteries are solved by way of deduction, inference, and logical reasoning, all of which are critical thinking skills crucial to young readers’ intellectual development both in and outside of the classroom.

IDEAL FOR RELUCTANT READERS: With a comic-esque style, unique narrative approach, quirky scenarios, and a compelling mystery/”scary stories” theme, this book packs loads of reluctant reader appeal.

ReviewThis is a great book for elementary and middle schoolers (or kids/adults of all ages!). I did it with my sons, and they both had a great time decoding the riddles and figuring out the puzzles. We spread out the reading of this book across many days, and we did a section each day. It made for a delightful, connected experience. This is a book that offers so many things at once. It includes a mystery that begs to be solved and a really neat cryptograph (that kids can write secret messages outside of the reading of the book!). The author offers advice for making the reading even spookier (reading at night with a flashlight!). After reading this one, we want to check out the other Sleuth & Solve stories!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a fantastic book to have at a table in the classroom for fast finishers. Kids will be engrossed in decoding the riddles! They don’t need to read/decode them all at once, so this offers many opportunities for working on these while waiting for peers to finish working.

Discussion Questions: Which was your favorite riddle to solve? Who was your favorite character? Which story was your favorite? What creative text features did the author use in this book?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Spooky stories; Activity Books; Brain-teasers; Decoding; Riddles

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Eva at Chronicle for providing a copy for review**

 
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Bow to Win a Slime War
Author: Mae Respicio
Published September 14th, 2021 by Wendy Lamb Books

Summary: Two kids face off in an epic battle to see who can sell the most slime, while navigating sticky situations with friends and family.

Alex Manalo and his dad have just moved back to Sacramento to help out with their extended family’s struggling Filipino market. While Alex likes helping in the store, his true passion is making slime! He comes up with his own recipes and plays with ingredients, colors, and different bumpy or sparkly bits, which make his slime truly special. A new friend encourages Alex to sell his creations at school, which leads to a sell-off battle with a girl who previously had a slime-opoly. Winner gets bragging rights and the right to be the only slime game in town.

But Alex’s dad thinks Alex should be focused more on traditional boy pastimes and less on slime. As the new soccer coach, Dad gets Alex to join the team. Even though he hates sports, Alex gives in.

Alex is battling on multiple fronts–with his new friends at school, and with his dad at home. It will be a sticky race to the finish to see who oozes out on top.

Praise:

“Oozing with fun.” —Kirkus Reviews

★ “A well-written story of family and friendship. Slime aficionados and newbies alike will enjoy the recipes for slime at the beginning of each chapter. Highly recommended.” —SLJ, starred review

About the Author: Mae Respicio writes novels full of hope and heart. Her debut, The House That Lou Built, received the Asian/Pacific American Library Association Honor Award in Children’s Literature and was an NPR Best Book of the Year. Mae lives with her husband and two sons in the Bay Area suburban wild, where they love hiking, hanging at the beach, and some good old-fashioned family slime time. Visit her online at maerespicio.com.

Review: Happy book birthday!!!!

How to Win a Slime War is definitely about slime, but it is about so much more.

It is about family. Alex and his dad have a lot of changes happening in their life and they are figuring out how to deal with it all. The kid characters aren’t the only characters that need to grow and change.

It is about friendship. Alex is starting at a new school, which means leaving his best friend, so he has to figure out how to fit into a new place. It is so much fun to meet all of his new friends with him and navigate the new environment.

It is about passion. And also about how passions of kids are not always what the parent wants it to be.

It is about entrepreneurship. Alex wants to be a business owner when he grows up and is already talking about it. He has been to conferences and has so many great ideas.

It is because of all of these different aspects that I found the book so engaging and a book that many people will find connection with Alex and his story.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will find the most success in classroom, school, and public libraries in the hands of students; however, I could definitely see a teacher using aspects in their classroom: both the slime science aspect and the business/entrepreneurship.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did each character grow and change throughout the book?
  • Why was Alex so hesitant about the changes in the Manalo Market? How did Alex and his father end up combining some of the new ideas with honoring Lolo & Lola’s market?
  • How was Meadow more than what meets the eye?
  • How did Alex’s science teacher add extra engagement to her classroom?
  • How do you feel about schools banning things that have become popular?
  • How does Alex use what he has learned about business when it comes to selling slime?
  • Alex got really good at soccer but decided not to keep playing. Why did he make that choice, even after becoming successful? Is there anything you have been good at but you ended up not liking?

Flagged Passages: Chapter 1

The world has plenty of twelve-year-olds who’ve accomplished amazing things, like:

Hoisting 308 pounds in one clean lift.
Inventing a braille printer from a Lego set.
Making millions of dollars from candy that’s good for your teeth.

I wish I could add myself to this list, but I can barely lift a fifty-pound bag of rice, when I play with Legos I usually lose the pieces, and when it comes to candy–especially my favorite kind, with an edible wrapper–I’d rather eat it than sell it.

I do have one hobby I’m not bad at: Making slime.

I’m stellar at slime challenges. This morning my best friend, Raj, and I are doing one final face-off before my dad and I move from San Jose to Sacramento. It’s our way of saying goodbye.

I lay out the ingredients, a couple of bowls, and some fat wooden stirring sticks. Raj sets my laptop on the kitchen counter, raises the volume, and cues up a video: Slime Time Soraya’s 30-Second Challenge!

He rubs his hands together. “I’ve been waiting the whole week for this!”

We’ve done all her challenges except this one, which we’ve been saving for a special occasion.

“Okay, Slime Squad!” Slime Time Soraya says on-screen. “Today we make . . . classic slime! Your goal: mix as fast as you can.”

“Challenge accepted!” Raj says back.

“Who makes good slime in thirty seconds?” I say. “Art takes much longer than that.”

Raj smiles slyly. “You’re not the only one with skills, Alex.”

Read This If You Love: Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung JeongMe and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Hello From Renn Lake by Michele Weber Hurwitz, Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin YunRescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!

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Tuesday: Review and Giveaway!: Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt

Thursday: It Fell From the Sky by The Fan Brothers

Saturday: Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Tech Timeout, a Playwriting Lesson” by Joy Jones, Author of Jayla Jumps In

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

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Kellee

This week the Moye house was hit with a bug that knocked all three of us on our butts (luckily not COVID!), so there was a lot more lazying around and sleeping than reading, but I did get to read 3 new-to-me books!

  • Hurricane by John Rocco focuses more on the community of people needed to restore an area after a hurricane than it focuses on the hurricane itself. As a Floridian, I both loved and disliked this decision. I loved it because it is true. After hurricanes it really takes so many people to get a community up and running and everyone must work together and help each other. Selflessly. However, on the other hand, I felt like the power of a direct hit of a hurricane was downplayed a bit. But it is definitely a book I’d recommend, for the story and obviously for the art.
  • Lala’s Words by Gracey Zhang is about how kind words plant a seed that can sprout and turn into something incredible. The message is something that I love very much. I did question the motive of the mom at points, you’ll understand if/when you read, and I would love to learn more about Lala’s mom and the quick shift she made.
  • While waiting in line for our COVID test, Trent and I listened to I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 which is the first time we’ve talked about Pearl Harbor together before. He knows some about World War II because I’ve mentioned the hate the drove it, but we had not really delved into details of the war. Once again, Lauren Tarshis does a wonderful job sharing the history along with an interesting story, and we both enjoyed reading it.

To learn more about any of these books, check out my 2021 Goodreads Challenge page  or my read bookshelf on Goodreads.

Ricki

I’ve been reading two theory books all week. Admittedly, it’s slowwww. But I am learning a lot and thinking about how I might apply the theory to my teaching!

My almost 5yo and I just finished reading Jop and Blip Wanna Know by Jim Benton. He read the left-hand page on each spread, and I read the right-hand page on each spread. It was really cute, and the author snuck in all sorts of facts that were intriguing!

Hurricane by John Rocco tells the story of a boy who is caught in a hurricane. The next day, the dock is ruined, and he is very focused on wanting it to get fixed. He quickly realizes there are other priorities in his neighborhood first. I liked this book a lot, and I particularly loved the inside covers, which gave more information about hurricanes and docks.

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Kellee

Not much has changed 🙂

   

Reading: Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo & How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio

Listening: The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Trent reading during family reading time: HiLo Vol 5: Then Everything Went Wrong by Judd Winick

Jim reading during family reading time: Fables Vol 7: Arabian Nights (And Days) by Bill Willingham

Ricki

The boys and I are reading Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection. I read this many years ago, and I am happy to be reading it again with my kids. If you haven’t checked this graphic collection, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s so dang good.

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Tuesday: How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio

Thursday: Spooky Sleuth & Solve by Victor Escandell

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Point-of-View Flip as a Way into Creative Writing” by Shirley Reva Vernick, Author of Ripped Away

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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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