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Lemur Dreamer
Author and Illustrator: Courtney Dicmas
Published February 1st, 2015 by Kane Miller

Summary: All the residents of 32 Pebbly Lane lead mostly unextraordinary lives…Except for Louis the Lemur. He’s a sleepwalker! After his night-time antics cause mischief, his friends decide to follow him one night, with hilarious consequences. This is the crazy, colorful, wonderful new title from the artist of Harold Finds a Voice, nominated for the 2014 Waterstones Prize.

ReviewLouis the Lemur has the best friends! When they notice that poor Louis’s sleepwalking is getting worse, they know that they have to help him be safe, so they stay with Louis as he walks to keep him safe–what a great ode to friendship. I loved Dicmas’s expressive illustrations and how each of the secondary animals were not forgotten in the detailing. These characters combined with the funny sequential plot makes for a fantastic read aloud.

Now, I do think that sleepwalking is being used as entertainment in the story which can be a bit problematic if dealing with kids who do sleepwalk; however, I think it used in a thoughtful way because Louis is never demonized for his sleepwalking. Instead, the book is entertaining while also starting a conversation about something that kids often deal with and never find in conversations. It would also be good to read with siblings dealing with others sleepwalking.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to discussion sleepwalking and on a less serious note, Louis’s story has great cause and effect as well as problem and solution moments. I also loved hearing about what Louis was dreaming about then going back and looking at his sleepwalking path and matching the actual to the dream.

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think Louis is dreaming about as he is sleepwalking? Did his actual dream match your prediction? How does is dream match the actuality while he was sleepwalking?
  • Find events in the book that were caused by another and complete a cause and effect map.
  • What traits do Louis’s neighbors have that show that they are good friends?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Leaping Lemmings by John BriggsMoon by Alison OliverPandamonia by Chris OwensInky’s Great Escape by Casey Lyall

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**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!**

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The Moment is Your Life (And So Is This One)
Author: Mariam Gates; Illustrator: Libby VanderPloeg
Published May 22, 2018 by Dial

Book Summary: Don’t just do something, be here.

The key to happiness is being able to find comfort in this moment, here and now. When you are completely present and not distracted by regrets, worries, and plans, even for a little while, you begin to feel more confident and can deal more easily with everything you experience. This is mindfulness: paying attention to this very moment, on purpose and without judgment–simply being present with curiosity.

This engaging guide, packed with simple exercises and endearing full-color artwork, provides a handy starting point for bringing mindfulness into your daily life. Chapters on meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing explain the benefits of these practices, and you are free to pick and choose what to try. There are quick exercises throughout, and a more extensive tool kit at the end of each chapter. The final chapter offers satisfying five-day challenges that map out ways to pull all of the book’s mindfulness techniques together in your day-to-day life.

With the appeal of a workbook or guided journal, and full of examples relevant to tweens and teens today, this book will be your trusted companion as you begin the valuable, stress-relieving work of being still with skill.

About the Author: Mariam Gates has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and has been teaching children for more than twenty years. The founder of Kid Power Yoga, she now devotes herself to training children and adults in yoga and mindfulness. She is the author of the picture books Meditate with MeGood Night Yoga, and Good Morning Yoga. She lives with her husband, Rolf Gates, and their two children in Santa Cruz, California.

Mariam Gates

About the Author: Libby VanderPloeg is an illustrator and designer living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan, on the edge of the Great Lakes, and since then, she has lived in Grand Rapids, Chicago, New York, and Stockholm. She’s created book covers and editorial illustrations for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Design*Sponge, among others, and as well as a line of cards and prints that she sells via her Etsy shop and in stores.

Review: I wish I’d had this book as a pre-teen/early adolescent. It would have truly helped me as I struggled with a lot of emotions that made me frustrated, unsure, and overwhelmed. This is a book that has a very expansive age range. I’d give it to a reader between the ages of 8 and 14, but it can be read and appreciated by people of all ages. After I was done reading it, I gifted it to a preservice teacher student who is very passionate about infusing mindfulness in the classroom. We spent a lot of time talking about how she might infuse this book into her student teaching with targeted read alouds. I loved Gates’ picture books (see Good Morning Yoga), and this book was no different. It’s thoughtfully crafted and incredibly relevant to young people. I particularly appreciated the action steps within the text. This provided me with concrete steps for infusing mindfulness into my life.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: As a classroom teacher, I would use this book as an initiation each day. It’s always very difficult to get students into the learning mindset. They come in with baggage and also with a lot of energy (positive and negative). This book serves as a reset and allows students to be mindful of their bodies and minds. It also allows students to destress to prepare for the classroom learning.

Discussion Questions: How do the author and illustrator work together to effectively present the material?; What is the author’s purpose? How does she effectively convey this purpose?; Which sections felt most relevant to your life?; What are the key takeaways that emerged from this book? How will you employ the strategies in this book directly into your life?

Flagged Pages:

 

Read This If You Loved: 

Good Night Yoga (2)

Recommended For: 

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Follow All the Stops on the Tour: 

WEEK ONE

May 15 – Little Flower Yoga – Review

May 16 – Crossroad Reviews – Review

May 17 – Alissa Yoga – Review

May 18 – Whitney Davis Yoga – Review

WEEK TWO

May 21 – Prose and Khan – Review + Favorite Yoga Poses with Pictures

May 22 –  Librariel Book Reviews – Favorite Yoga Poses + Review

May 23 – Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust – Review

May 24 – Unleashing Readers – Review

RickiSig

**Thank you to Friya at Penguin for sending this book for review!**

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Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: James E. Ransome
Published January 2nd, 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Summary: You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall.
You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience.

Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King. 

Praise: 

“While the book is accessible as an inspiring primer on social justice and taking action, it also challenges more sophisticated readers to make connections between the art, the text, Dr. King’s life, the civil rights movement at large, and the continuing struggle to affect change . . .This book is sure to spark discussion and empower readers of all ages.” –  Starred review, School Library Journal

“Thoughtful paintings of moving scenes are paired with brief, motivational reflections that evoke all the sentiment and fervor of the American civil rights movement.” –  Foreword Review

“The book manages to make essential lessons in civic responsibility accessible to the very young reader.” –  Booklist

“The historical scenes, painted in Ransome’s signature thick, saturated style, are infused with a powerful sense of narrative.” –  Publishers Weekly

“The use of rich, realistic paintings with pencil detailing for King’s life contrasts with the brighter, simpler drawings for the contemporary children, giving a physical reminder that his work is ongoing.” –  School Library Connection

ReviewI am so happy that a book like this exists! It makes a beautiful connection between King’s history and how the same concepts can (and should!) drive us today. The book is very young kid friendly and is a great scaffold to talk about Dr. King or about kindness; however, it could also be used with older kids to infer and go deeper into the lyrical language Weatherford uses. I also loved how Ransome’s illustrations changed between King’s biography and the more contemporary school narrative.

P.S. As a teacher and a person who believes in kindness and equity and acceptance and friendship, I am so happy to see conversations like this happening so freely now! My students and I speak about injustice and prejudice and equity so often now when it would have been a stigma just a few years ago to even mention race or other social justice issues. It is important to talk about race in a non-prejudicial way with children to allow them to learn and grown and reflect. Sadly, it has been through horrific injustices that has gotten us to this point, but hopefully with our future generations having these types of conversations starting at such a young age, these injustices will stop.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Have students look at each school spread (or split up the spreads between groups of students) and ask them to connect the ideals happening in the spread with something that King spoke about. This idea can also be used with the King spreads because it does not explicitly state what historical event each spread is representing, so students could look through King’s story and try to match each illustration and words with an event in his life.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What was Dr. King’s dream?
  • What are some ways you can fulfill this dream?
  • Although he was speaking of a much larger issue than a classroom, how can King’s ideals be transferred to how we treat each other in the classroom?
  • What events of King’s life were portrayed in the illustrations?
  • What other ways could you BE A KING?
  • Why do you believe the author wrote this story?
  • What is the author trying to teach the reader?
  • How did the author structure the story to reach her purpose and theme?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Stories of MLK, Jr.’s life, Books (historical fiction or nonfiction) about the Civil Rights MovementEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson,

Recommended For: 

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Teaching is hard. I don’t pretend that I am an expert. I operate under Tom Newkirk’s idea that each year, we should change at least 5% of our teaching, and after several years, these changes are exponential. I am always trying to do better and be better. In the section below, I share a few of the things that I learned as a beginning teacher. However, I want to emphasize that I am always learning and growing.

*Let me start by saying that I learned many of the items below in my teacher preparation program. Many of them didn’t quite sink in until I had been teaching for at least a few months.*

1. Initiation and Closure are very important.

Getting students into the mood of your class is important to frame their thinking. Further, I learned quickly that closing class quickly with the homework assignment isn’t enough. Students will leave class unsure of what they learned. I dedicate at least five minutes (ten to fifteen, if possible) to frame and close class and ask students, “So What?” I try to make this as student-centered as possible.

2. Learning Targets (or Objectives) are critical. Posting them is helpful.

I try to start and end each class by asking a student to read the learning targets posted on the board aloud. This allows me to talk about the day’s objective and how we will meet (or how we met) it.

3. Every Learning Target (or Objective) should have a matching assessment.

Even if it means walking around and informally checking in with students, I learned that it is important to measure whether the students met the learning target by providing an (SMALL) assessment each day. Often, this came in the form of an exit slip or an artifact that emerged from classwork.

4. Differentiation is Easier than We Imagine It To Be

Differentiation seems scary. I imagined this dark day where I was creating 5 forms of every test and assignment. But differentiation is really about student-centeredness. It’s allowing students choice in process and product, it’s allowing students to choose texts that match their learning needs and interests, it’s grouping students purposefully, it’s creating a classroom environment that supports individualized learning.

5. When We Need To Get Students’ Attention, Talking Louder Is Not the Answer

I respect students’ voices. If a student is talking, I ask students to stop talking and listen. The same goes for me. If I am giving directions, it is important to wait until everyone is focused. Everyone should respect those who are speaking (and hopefully, this isn’t me, most of the time!).

6. Write Everything on the Board

Directions, homework, etc. Working with a co-teacher, I learned that if I am saying it out loud, it helps students to have it written on the board, too. This is particularly helpful for students with special needs and for students who are emergent bilinguals.

7. Ask for Help

I always tell students, “If you feel it, steal it. (And cite it.)” Teaching is about sharing, so we learn and grow together. Ask colleagues for ideas and search the internet. Adapt ideas to become your own.

8. Take Home a Few Papers at a Time

If you take them all, they will likely remain in your teacher bag. Taking home small chunks makes grading feel less overwhelming.

9. Stagger Your Assignments

Don’t assign the same due date for all of the essays and projects for all of your classes.

10. Ask for Student Feedback

And be open-minded to their criticism. This is how I grow.

11. Find Your Personal Learning Community Online and Find the Positive Energy within Your School

Find your people. Feed off of each other’s positive energy. Ignore the negativity within your school.

12. Keep a Drawer of Happy Things

If a lesson doesn’t go well, open the drawer and eat the chocolate and read the thank you notes from students.

13. Be Flexible

As much as I may have loved my pre-planned lesson plan, I often have to adapt it to fit students’ needs. I learned that it was important to pay close attention to them and adapt the lesson as it occurred.

14. Student-Centered Learning

While I might want to do a unit on a theme, my students might not be interested. As I learn from them, I try to shape unit themes and topics to meet their interests.

15. Learn About Students

I start the year by asking students about themselves, and I ask them to share dialogic journals to stay connected with them and show them how much I value their voices and learning needs. In my calendar, I make notes about their sports games or activities, so I am reminded to ask them how it went. I care deeply about my students, and I try to remind them of this through my attention to their lives.

 

What did you learn as a beginning teacher?

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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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Last Week’s Posts

  

Tuesday: A Secret About Close Reading

Wednesday: I Am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer

Thursday: Guest Review: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

Friday: How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk

Sunday: Author Q&A with Lynn Brunelle, Author of Turn This Book Into a Beehive!

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

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 Last Week’s Journeys

Kellee

These last couple of weeks have been so busy (why is the end of the school year always so busy?!?!), but I was very happy to still be able to get some reading in:

  • My in-class book clubs wrapped up this week, so I finished Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers with my students. The ending definitely caused a great discussion!
  • Chasing King’s Killer by James L. Swanson was just as good as Chasing Lincoln’s Killer! I have been learning so much about history from these books. Such sad history, but definitely history we all need to know.
  • On Friday, we had a virtual author visit with Mitali Perkins, so I read Rickshaw Girl and Tiger Boy by her (as well as her short story in Open Mic, Funny Girl, and her essay from Teaching Tolerance). I am so glad that Mitali agreed to talk with us because I hadn’t read any of her books, and now I want to read them all!
  • Sandra Markle’s nonfiction books are always so interesting because they show aspects of animals that so many of us don’t think about. This newest one looks at weird migration of snowy owls as far south as Florida!

With Trent in the car, we read/listened to:

  • Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride by Kate DiCamillo which was our first journey into a book with less illustrations, and I was so proud of how much of the story Trent still comprehended!
  • A Big Quiet House by Heather Forest is a Yiddish folktale that looks at perspective of happiness–great conversation starter!
 Ricki

I love Pablo Cartaya. I was lucky to work with him on a piece for The ALAN Review, and I have so much respect for his professionalism and his incredibly wise insight. I have an inkling that he is going to become one of the most popular middle grade authors. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish is wonderful. It features a very tall, large eighth grader who is both a threat and a target. After he gets suspended, he, his mom, and his brother decide to go to Puerto Rico to try to regroup themselves. Marcus is determined to find and speak with his father who he hasn’t seen in ten years. There are so many wonderful themes in this book, but I loved the ways in which it explores family. (Also, I love how Pablo Cartaya always infuses themes of economics in his books).

I was lucky to receive a copy of Sarah J. Donovan’s Alone Together. Sarah’s writing shows that she has a firm grasp on adolescence. The book is a beautiful book in verse. I found myself thinking about the characters long after I had closed the text. Sadie lives in a Catholic household, and quite frankly, her life is a mess. She is the only one of the eleven people in her family to sit at the breakfast table, and one of the few siblings who hasn’t left. She is the peacemaker and is sick of the empty fridge and bad choices that others seem to make for her. I think that Sadie has a life that many young people will relate to. She is left wondering about the ways in which people exist alone together. This is a great read, and I will be using it (in part and in whole) in my classes.

I loved Hedgehog Needs a Hug by Jen Betton. I was surprised to see that it didn’t have a higher rating on GoodReads. It’s about a hedgehog who wakes up and feels down. He really, really needs a hug, and the other animals are clearly avoiding him because he is prickly. The book doesn’t say this, so it was fun to ask my son why he thought they were avoiding him. Then he meets skunk, and skunk needs a hug (but of course, skunk is stinky). This is a great book to teach kids about some of the ways in which they might unintentionally be hurting people.

Atlas of Imaginary Places by Mia Cassany may be one of the most beautiful books that I have ever seen. The artistry is stunning. My son’s favorite page is the one that features a city on top of a whale. The myth is that the sleeping whale will wake up as soon as everyone is asleep–but the city never sleeps. I’ve read this book several times, and I just can’t get enough of it. It is truly a stunning text. I’d love to use this in an art class. It’s quite inspiring. I intend to do a full review of this one on June 7 because I need to highlight it even more!

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This Week’s Expeditions
Kellee

  • A Possibility of Whales is Karen Rivers newest, and I have students who adored The Girl in the Well is Me, so I look forward to reading and sharing this one.
  • How could I not start Harbor Me as soon as I received it?!
  • The last Swanson audiobook on Hoopla is “The President Has Been Shot!,” and I started it earlier this week.

Additionally, I found some fun graphic novels and picture books on Netgalley I hope to get to!

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S., so I will be taking next Monday off, so I hope you all have a wonderful two weeks, and I’ll see you on June 4th after my last day of school!

Ricki

I went a little bit nuts this week. I am desperately trying to make decisions for my syllabus next semester, so I started about 15 books and read the first 50 pages. All are recently published YAL. I won’t share them all now, but I am hoping to finish them in the upcoming weeks.

I started listening to Children of Blood and Bone yesterday, and it is really, really, really good. As in–I am going to lose sleep over this one. 🙂

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Upcoming Week’s Posts

    

Tuesday: Things I Wish I’d Known as a Beginning Teacher

Wednesday: Be a King by Carole Boston Weatherford

Thursday: Blog Tour with Review!: This Moment is Your Life (and so is this one) by Mariam Gates

Friday: Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmas

Sunday: Author Guest Post with Teaching Tools! by Matthew Brenden Wood, Author of The Space Race: How the Cold War Put Humans on the Moon

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 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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Turn This Book Into a Beehive! And 19 Other Experiments and Activities That Explore the Amazing World of Bees
Author: Lynn Brunelle
Illustrator: Anna-Maria Jung
Published April 3rd, 2018 by Workman Publishing

Summary: What a promise! Actually, promises. First, here’s a book that teaches kids all about the fascinating world of bees. Second, fun exercises, activities, and illustrations engage the imagination and offer a deeper understanding of bee life and bee behavior. Third, by following a few simple steps including removing the book’s cover and taping it together, readers can transform the book into an actual living home for backyard bees. Fourth, added all together,Turn This Book Into a Beehive! lets kids make a difference in the world—building a home where bees can thrive is one small but critical step in reversing the alarming trend of dwindling bee populations.

Turn This Book Into a Beehive!introduces kids to the amazing mason bee, a non-aggressive, non-stinging super-pollinator that does the work of over 100 honeybees. Mason bees usually live in hollow reeds or holes in wood, but here’s how to make a home just for them: Tear out the perforated paper—each illustrated as a different room in a house—roll the sheets into tubes, enclose the tubes using the book’s cover, and hang the structure outside. The bees will arrive, pack mud into the tubes, and begin pollinating all the plants in your backyard.

Twenty experiments and activities reveal even more about bees—how to smell like a bee, understand the role of flowers and pollen, learn how bees communicate with each other through “dance,” and more. It’s the real buzz on bees, delivered in the most ingenious and interactive way.

About the Author: Lynn Brunelle is a four-time Emmy Award–winning writer for Bill Nye the Science Guy and author of over 45 books, including the bestselling Pop Bottle Science and Camp Out! She is a regular contributor to KING-TV’s New Day Northwest as a family science guru and NPR’s Science Friday.

Q&A with Author, Lynn Brunelle:

Unleashing Readers: How did you research and learn more about the mason bee?

Lynn Brunelle: First I went to garden stores and asked around about bees.

I learned that honeybees and social bees were only 2% of the bees on the world. 98% of the bees are solitary wild bees that do amazing work as pollinators. I saw some of the houses these garden centers were selling to attract these bees. Then I went online and did some digging. All honeybees are domesticated and were brought here by colonists. In fact honeybees have been domesticated for a loooooooong time! There are images of beekeepers carved into caves, chiseled into Egyptian art, painted on Greek pottery and minted into Roman coins.

The solitary bees like mason bees are native bees and they’re amazing pollinators. I found experts as well. I contacted the USDA mason bee lab in Utah and spoke with bee people from around the country. It was so interesting and really exciting to learn so much.

Then I made my prototype of a book-turned-hive and stuck it out in my garden. Mason bees came! It worked; my garden has never been so productive!!

UR: How did you generate the activities within the book?

LB: My favorite thing is to make big concepts accessible to people of all ages, especially kids. And I think using laughter and hands-on fun is a great way for kids to really understand a concept. So when I was writing all of the amazing things about bees, I was always keeping in mind what kind of hands-on activity I could share for kids to really absorb the content. The fact that bees are positively charged and flowers are negatively charged and that makes pollen leap to a bee is FANTASTIC! And you can show that with a balloon and confetti. The fact that bees are amazing smellers is a perfect lead-in for getting kids to tune into their own sense of smell.

UR: Which activity is your favorite?

LB: It’s the actual making of the mason bee home that I love. Turning the book into a hive and watching as things unfold in the garden.

With mason bees, every girl’s a queen—like a single mom she finds the house—usually a hollow reed or stem or any tube—even paper ones in an inside out book cover!!! She gathers food, makes a pile of food, lays an egg on top of the food pile and then gathers mud to spackle a wall. In a good hollow tube, she can make 6-10 little rooms with an egg and a food supply in each one.

UR: What’s something else we might learn about you, either as a writer or as a person?

LB: I love my job! I get to learn about new things and share them every day. I love the outdoors. My family and I love hiking through the woods with the dogs, kayaking on the water and paddle boarding in the summer. We enjoy camping and exploring. I have a happy garden, I make jewelry and fused glass and am learning how to weld. My sons and I play the ukulele. They are teaching me to tell the difference between rap artists and I play the trombone. I make a great hummus and am getting better at rolling sushi with the help of my patient husband.

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Thank you to Lynn Brunelle and Workman Press for this interview!

 

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How to Code a Sandcastle
(How to Code with Pearl and Pascal #1)
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Foreword by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code
Published May 15th, 2018 by Viking

Summary: From the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code comes this lively and funny story introducing kids to computer coding concepts.

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, need to build a sandcastle before summer vacation is over, and they’re going to do it using code. Pearl breaks the big we-need-a-sandcastle problem into smaller steps, then uses conditionals, loops, and other basic coding concepts to tell Pascal exactly what to do. But building a sandcastle isn’t as easy as it sounds when surfboards, mischievous dogs, and coding mishaps get in the way! Just when it looks like the sandcastle might never work, Pearl uses her coding skills to save the day and create something even better: a gorgeous sandcastle kingdom!

Kellee’s Review:  Through books like the Secret Coders series, Two Naomis, and now How to Code a Sandcastle, I’ve slowly begun to learn more and more about coding, and I find it fascinating! If I was a kid now, I would be so excited to have books like these to introduce me to coding. How to Code a Sandcastle is special because it takes coding, which is a tool that is primarily not taught until middle school or later, and makes it accessible to younger kids helping them build their coding vocabulary and knowledge at a young age. My son at age 4 now knows a basic idea of what coding is which is such a great foundation! Bravo Josh and Brava Sara for producing such an essential and gosh-darn funny book for kids.

Ricki’s Review: Josh Funk does it again and again and again. He creates highly engaging books that are so teachable! This is my first book in the Girls Who Code series, and it most certainly won’t be my last. It makes coding quite fun and offers an engaging introduction to children. I don’t know anything about coding, and I had fun learning the vocabulary with my son. After we read the book, we went through again and reviewed all of the new words that we learned about coding. The educational value of this book is very high—it is a great first dive into STEM, it could be used to teach step-by-step instructional writing, and it’s an incredible and hilarious read-aloud! Thanks for this wonderful new text for our classrooms, Josh!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like we shared above, How to Code a Sancastle is a wonderful foundation for learning about coding and would be an awesome read aloud in an elementary classroom as students are first being introduced to coding maybe on the “Day of Code” or before a computer course. It has a lot of introductory vocabulary and ideas that won’t overwhelm young children but will instead make them curious. Alternatively, it is also a great example of step-by-step instructional writing mixed with a hilarious narrative, so it would be a great mentor text for these writings.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did Pearl feel she needed to bring Pascal to build a sandcastle?
  • How did Pearl fix mistakes when she made them when coding Pascal?
  • What cause and effect relationships do you see in the story?
  • What problem and solution relationships do you see in the story?
  • How did the author include step-by-step instructions within the narrative while also keeping the story going?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Secret Coders series by Gene Luen Yang, Girls Who Code books, The coding references in Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Twenty Yawns by Jane SmileyOn Gull Beach by Jane Yolen

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