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Author: John David Anderson
Published May 2nd, 2017 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: From John David Anderson, author of the acclaimed Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, comes a humorous, poignant, and original contemporary story about bullying, broken friendships, and the failures of communication between kids. In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.

When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.

In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.

Critical Praise: 

“Written with understated humor and fine-tuned perception, Frost’s first-person narrative offers a riveting story as well as an uncomfortably realistic picture of middle school social dynamics.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Anderson dives into the world of middle school with a clear sense of how it works and what it needs. Kids, and the rest of the world, need more books like this one.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Anderson captures the tumultuous joys and pains of middle school with honesty, creating characters with whom readers will find common ground and insight. Words have lingering and persistent power, Anderson makes clear, but so does standing up for others and making one’s voice heard.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Acute observations about social media and school life and a smart, engaging narrator make this a journey well worth taking. Readers might even want some Post-it notes to mark the good parts.” — The Horn Book

About the Author: John David Anderson is the author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Sidekicked, Minion, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at

Review: First, I must start with stating my awe with Mr. Anderson. I have read four of his five books and each is stellar. But what really makes him stand out as an exemplar author to me is that he has tackled three different genres in his five books and each one was just as good as the others. Ms. Bixby and Posted are realistic fiction, Sidekicked and Minion are superhero sci-fi, and Dungeoneers is high fantasy. How impressive! Now onto my review of Posted

There are books that I read that just feel true to me, and Posted fits that. As a middle school teacher, I could picture all of the characters as true middle school students and know that so many readers will connect with someone in the book. Although some of the adults in the book fit a typecast of teachers (they are probably pretty realistic representations of how middle schoolers see some teachers though), they were needed to propel the story. And Mr. Sword is anything but a stereotype and one of those teachers that I just love in books because he cares! I also felt that the bullying represented is, sadly, probably a pretty true representation. Middle school really is all about finding your tribe. So many kids are trying to find their identity and are influenced by so much which sometimes leads to mean kids; however, there are really awesome middle schoolers as well which you can also see in this book. I love these middle schoolers (Frost, Rose, Wolf, Deedee, and even Bench), and I know you and any kid you share this book with will as well. 

What I think makes this book stand out, though, is the theme that words can hurt. They are powerful and can change lives. They can be used for good or evil.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Much of what Mr. Sword does in his class is easily transferable to a classroom. Throughout the book, he is teaching Julius Caesar so quotes/discussions throughout could definitely be used in conjunction with a Julius Caesar lesson. I, personally, love his aphorism activity. It reminded me a bit of the precept activity in Wonder (and they could easily work together if you do a precept activity). Mr. Sword has students create their ow aphorism to share with their students. I think this, like Mr. Sword says, helps students realize that “all of us have something meaningful to share.” Frost also talks about poetry throughout the book, his poetry and Robert Frost, and these sections could be used to inspire students when it comes to poetry.

Discussion Questions: Have you ever had a nickname? Did you like it or not? Out of all the nicknames, one seems to be more negative than the others–which one is it? Do you think the character likes his nickname?; Do you think Deedee started the war? Should he blame himself?; Do you agree with what Wolf’s parents decided?; How did Rose change everything? Do you think everything would have changed without her moving to the school?

Flagged Passages: “Words accumulate. And once they’re free, there’s no taking them back.

You can do an awful lot of damage with a handful of words. You can destroy friendships. You can end a marriage. You can start a war. Some words can break you to pieces.

But that’s not all. Words can be beautiful. They can make you feel things you’ve never felt before. Gather enough of them and sometimes they can stick those same pieces back together.” (p. 342)


Read This If You Loved: Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Zack De La Cruz by Jeff AndersonFish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly HuntWarp Speed by Lisa Yee, Schooled by Gordon Korman, Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, Loser by Jerry Spinelli

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Don’t miss out on any blog tour stops!

April 17           Librarian’s Quest

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April 18           Nerdy Book Club

April 19           For Those About to Mock

April 20           Teach Mentor Texts

April 21           Unleashing Readers

April 22           Next Best Book

April 23           Bluestocking Thinking

April 24           Litcoach Lou

Book Monsters

April 25           Kirsti Call

April 26           Educate-Empower-Inspire-Teach

April 27           The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Ms Yingling Reads

April 28           Maria’s Mélange 

Novel Novice

April 29           The Hiding Spot

April 30           This Kid Reviews Books



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Henry and the Chalk Dragon
Author: Jennifer Trafton
Illustrator: Benjamin Schipper
Published April 4th, 2017 by Rabbit Room Press

Summary: In the town of Squashbuckle, just about anything can happen, and when Henry Penwhistle draws a mighty Chalk Dragon on his door, the dragon does what Henry least expects–it runs away. Now Henry’s art is out in the world for everyone to see, and it’s causing trouble for him and his schoolmates, Oscar and Jade. If they don’t stop it, the entire town could be doomed! To vanquish the threat of a rampaging Chalk Dragon, Sir Henry Penwhistle, Knight of La Muncha Elementary School, is going to have to do more than just catch his art–he’s going to have to let his imagination run wild. And THAT takes bravery.

About the Author: Jennifer Trafton is the author of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (Dial, 2010) which received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and was a nominee for Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award and the National Homeschool Book Award. Henry and the Chalk Dragon arose from her lifelong love of drawing and her personal quest for the courage to be an artist. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in addition to pursuing her love of art and illustration, she teaches writing classes, workshops, and summer camps in a variety of schools, libraries, and homeschool groups in the Nashville area, as well as online classes to kids around the world. To learn more, and to download free materials, visit

Critical Praise: 

★“A delicious face-off between forces of conformity and creativity run amok, spiced with offbeat names as well as insights expressed with eloquent simplicity.” —Booklist (starred review)
★“A perfect title to hand to young readers looking for laughs along with a wild and crazy adventure.”
                                                                                —School Library Journal (starred review)

Review: I love any book that promotes imagination, and it isn’t too often that you find a novel that is all about keeping your imagination. Henry’s story is a Pleasantville one–he lives in a boring town and takes boring classes, but when he closes his door, his imagination goes wild. It is when his imaginative Chalk Dragon escapes and wrecks havoc on his school does the power of an imagination really start to show. 

On a side note, and only some of you will understand this, but the cover of Henry and the Chalk Dragon is matte and SO SOFT!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Along with a read aloud, the text gives lots of opportunities to discuss imagination, art, and creative writing. Also, chunking the text to fit the most opportune times will lead to some great writing and art prompts.

Discussion Questions: How did the principal end up the way he is? How do we know that he was not that way when he was younger?; Was Henry’s class/school doing the best thing to promote Vegetable Week?; Which adults understand Henry and his imagination? Which hinder him?; How does the power of Henry’s imagination cause havoc on the school? How does it save the school?; What does Henry’s chalk dragon coming to life symbolize in the grand scheme of things?; What is the lesson that the author is trying to teach us about imagination and growing up?

Flagged Passages: “Henry recognized the curve of those horns and the arrow-tipped tail. He recognized every sharp green flick of scaly skin, every zigzag of the bony spines running down the creature’s back. It was his dragon. Just as he had imagined it. Just as he had drawn it. Here it was, standing in front of him! There was something brand new in the world, and he had put it there!

There is a kind of fear that squeezes your heart with an icy hand and freezes you into a popsicle. But there is another kind of fear that is thrilling and hot, that makes your fingers tingle and your toes tickle each other inside your shoes until you want to leap over the Empire State Building. Henry was afraid with this kind of fear, and it felt good.

The dragon stared back at him–up and down, from his sneakers to his shiny helmet. It did not look afraid of Henry. It spread its wings proudly. It stretched its scaly neck as high as it would go. Its mouth widened slowly into a dragonish grin.

How long had Henry been waiting for this moment? Here he was, in his shiny suit of armor, with a sword in his hand. And here was a real live dragon–a dragon who could knock the house down with a few flicks of its tail, who could eat his mother for breakfast, who could send a ball of fire bouncing down the street. He knew exactly what he had to do.” (p. 32-33)

Read This If You Loved: The Journey Trilogy by Aaron BeckerHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Other picture books that spark imagination

Recommended For:



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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

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It has officially been 2 years since we launched Unleashing Readers!!

To celebrate our blogiversary, we thought it’d be fun to do some revisiting. Today we are going to visit with each other to learn more about our literary, educational, professional, and parental journeys! We each came up with a handful of questions, and we cannot wait to see how the other responds to them!


1. How has your job changed since you have become a reading coach?

The main goal of my job has not changed at all. I still work with students to help them find the books that they are going to connect with. The difference is found in the specifics. I no longer am teaching intensive reading (struggling readers). I coach and work with the other three reading teachers in my school. Each of those teacher’s students are allowed to come visit my classroom library where I try to work with each student who comes in to find the best book for them. In addition to continuing our struggling readers’ literacy growth, I am in charge of helping my reading teachers with instruction, interventions, and data analysis. Because of every course having an end-of-course exam, I am not able to do pull-out intervention anymore, so instead I work with the teachers to ensure interventions are being implemented in the classroom. 

In addition to coaching, I am still teaching my yearbook class, coaching Future Problem Solvers, and they added an advanced reading class for me last year. 

2. What are you aspirations for the next year of the blog?

I would really like to work on our Navigating Literary Elements pages and try to add even more than we did this week. I think it is so important for teachers to have a go-to place to help them decide which texts will best suit their needs.  I think it is essential to really flesh out these pages to make our blog even more of a resource for teachers. 

3. What is one special reading moment you’ve had with Trent?

Trent loves books! I am so glad that I began reading to him as early as I did because he knows how special books are. 

One of my favorite memories includes the book Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton. If you don’t know it, go listen to it here for free 🙂 

This is one of Trent’s go-to books (if you follow the blog, you know that he has a handful of favorites, and it is really tough to get him to read anything else; however, he loves those books so much!). We have read/sang this book probably a hundred times already.  One day, Trent grabbed it just as he usually does, but this time he began turning pages himself, pausing, and saying, “Bob, Bob, Bob” and other words/sounds as he read to himself. It was magical, so cute, and just wonderful. His first independent book of choice!

One of Trent's many times reading Fifteen Animals.

One of Trent’s many times reading Fifteen Animals.

4. What is your favorite teaching memory?

This one is the one that stumped me. I have so many amazing memories! I am going to share two recent wonderful things then probably my favorite collective teaching activity (this answer is going to be long!).  

My advanced reading class this year was not a class that students chose to be in. It ended up with 8 students who had no where else to be (plus 4 that did ask to be put in after the year started). This can make for quite a tough go of it because some of the students would have rather been in any other class next to a class where they were going to be forced to read. There was one student in particular that fought me most of the year. He is so smart, but didn’t always choose to work to his ability. He also was one of the few students (since I’ve started being an advocate for independent reading) who I could not get to read or grow a love of reading. He was tough. But then two things happened. 1) The Crossover; 2) A yearbook message. In May, he read The Crossover and he said to me that he now understood why people read independently. He connected so much with Josh and couldn’t stop talking about the book. Then, at the end of the school year, this student wrote in my yearbook one of the nicest messages that I’ve gotten. With the way we butted head, I would have never assumed that by the end of the year he would appreciate it. He thanked me for never giving up on him. 

This year also marked my third year of students graduating from high school. This graduating class is especially special because many of the students who graduated were in my class all three years of middle school (and many others for one or two years). I know a lot of the seniors. These students graduating also meant I could become Facebook friends with them! Many of these students are ones that I want to be in touch with for the rest of our lives, so as soon as they requested, I accepted. Last Monday, on my birthday, these new students wrote well wishes on my wall, but one stood out in particular: “Happy birthday to the greatest teacher I’ve ever had!!! Hope you have a wonderful day Mrs. Moye 😊” Wow! A student who graduated from an IB high school just said I was the greatest teacher she ever had. That really blew me away (and made me tear up). 

As for my favorite classroom memory, I love having students Skype with Eliot Schrefer and/or interview Ginny Rorby. This blows students’ minds because most of them have never interacted with an author. I think it is so important to have students learn about the process of writing, background for the books, and have a chance to ask questions that they have about the book. This is an experience unlike any they had have before. (Interviewing Ginny in addition to our Center for Great Apes field trip really is a special thing as well.)

Skyping this year and two years ago: 20150330_122700 

Phone interview two years ago: IMG_20130531_132742

5. What is one book that is special to you?


By far the most special book to me is The Giver. I remember reading it when I was 12 and having my mind blown. The Giver made me realize how lucky we were to have art, love, music, family, books, memories, etc. I looked at the world differently. These things weren’t something I should take for granted–they are something we are blessed to have as part of our life because it can be taken away by the snap of a government official’s finger.  Even now, as an adult, I cherish each of the things that Jonas didn’t have will all my heart. 


1. Can you tell us a bit about your doctorate program and what point you are at?

I am in the Curriculum and Instruction Department, and my focus is English Education. My long-term goal is to teach preservice teachers and conduct research in English Education. I am particularly interested in young adult literature and multicultural education. I just took my comprehensive exams and have moved from being a doctoral student to a PhD Candidate. Technically, this means that the doctoral student doesn’t need to take more classes, but I love taking classes, so I am going to enroll in at least two more courses. As long as my dissertation proposal passes, this upcoming year, I will be out in schools conducting my dissertation research. The following year, I hope to write up my research and defend my dissertation. If any bloggers/readers are interested in learning more about doctoral research, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It has been a really fun, life-altering ride for me. I absolutely love it. 

2. What teacher inspired you the most?

This is a two-part answer for me. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but my 8th grade language arts teacher (Mr. Goffin) urged me to teach English language arts instead of mathematics (my initial plan). He always pushed me to do my best in school, and I am forever grateful that he steered me in the English language arts direction.

My current doctoral advisor (Wendy Glenn) has this magic about her. She makes her students want to be incredible teachers. We always joked that we should buy bracelets that say “What Would Wendy Do?” When I was teaching high school, I often heard her voice in the back of my head. Specifically, she guided me to become more involved in the professional/research/service realm, and eventually, she planted the seed that I should consider going back to school for my doctoral degree. If you’ve met her at NCTE, ALAN, or elsewhere, you will know what I mean when I say that she has this way about her that makes people want to do better and be better.

3. What is one special reading moment you’ve had with Henry?

Before Henry was born, I was reading books to my belly. I ached for him to enjoy reading. Thank goodness, it seems he loves reading as much as my husband and I do. One of my favorite moments was before he was crawling. He barrel rolled across the living room floor because he wanted to be closer to the bookshelf to pull down a book to read. He is 18 months old now. Every day (multiple times a day), he walks up to me and holds out a book. I pull him into my lap, and we read together, and nothing else in the world seems to matter. 


4. What is a funny thing that Henry does?

Just one? That boy has me laughing all day long. When we eat dinner, he loves to “cheers” everyone’s glasses. If we are out at a restaurant, he holds out his sippy cup to people at other tables and often gets them to cheers glasses with him. He is a social butterfly. He learned how to kiss this week, and he can’t walk by our shiny fridge without kissing his reflection with a loud, “MWAH!”

5. What is a favorite book memory from childhood?

I know I did read books as a young child, but I don’t remember them at all. I most remember sitting on my grandfather’s lap as he blew smoke rings and told us Native American myths. He had a ruddy complexion and his red cheeks always stood out to me. That man wasn’t a people person, but he loved to tell stories. He was most happy when he was out at sea. My upper elementary school memories consist of me hiding books under the table and sneaking to my bedroom to read because I didn’t want to be social.

Make sure to check back tomorrow and Friday as we revisit two of our most popular posts and put a new spin on them!

Signature andRickiSig



This has been a wonderful week filled with celebrations, reflections, and goals!

Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Posts in the First Year of Unleashing Readers

We look back at the past year and share our ten (+1) favorite posts.

Wednesday: Why Do We Blog?

Joined with our blogging friends, we tell why we love blogging.

Thursday: What We’ve Learned This Year

Reflecting on our first year, we share what we have learned about ourselves and blogging.

Friday: New Year’s Resolutions

What’s next?! We detail our plans for the upcoming year.

Please visit our anniversary posts and celebrate with us!

RickiSig andSignature



 After writing our Bookish Bucket List as one of our Top Ten Tuesday, we learned about Love At First Book’s 50 Bookish Things You Must Do Before You Die . We immediately knew we had to participate. Yesterday, Ricki posted her list of 25 items on her bookish bucket list, and below you can find my (Kellee’s) list. You can also see other lists by checking out Love At First Book.

1. Read a bunch of classics I’ve never read
2. Continue to read at least 200 books a year
3. Get back to 100 novels a year
4. Finish the series I’ve started
5. Continue to read to my son (hopefully) daily
6. Continue keeping up with what my students like and what they may like to read
7. Continue going to NCTE

8. Continue going to ALAN

9. Throw my son a book themed birthday party that I plan myself
10.Visit Wizarding World of Harry Potter

11. Visit Hemingway’s house in the Keys

12. Participate in World Book Night

13. Bring Little Free Library to around my home

14. Read Roald Dahl books aloud to Trent
15. Go to BEA

16. Go to ALA Midwinter to see awards

17. Go to National Book Festival

18. Move my reviews onto Amazon
19. Have a library in my future home
20. Visit Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

21. Host a blog tour
22. Host an in-person book club
23. Get blog business cards
24. Get a book published
25. Finish by TBR (haha!)

Here’s to trying to finish my list! *fingers crossed*




 After writing our Bookish Bucket List as one of our Top Ten Tuesday, we learned about Love At First Book’s 50 Bookish Things You Must Do Before You Die . We immediately knew we had to participate. Today, I will post 25 items on my bookish bucket list, and tomorrow, Kellee will post her list! You can also see other lists by checking out Love At First Book.

1. Read all of John Steinbeck’s books. He is my favorite classic author.

2. Visit The Steinbeck House restaurant. Eat and be merry!


3. Read all of the books that match the movies in my Netflix queue. Then, I can actually watch them instead of having them linger in the queue.

4. Continue to attend the ALAN Workshop until I am physically unable to do so (e.g. on my deathbed).


5. Go on a  road trip around the country, visiting all of the major famous author’s houses. Attend every tour.

6. Clear out my TBR list. Ha. Ha. Ha. Imagine?

7. Visit my old high school to thank my teachers for helping me love to read.

8. Get Henry (my son) a library card.

9. Sign up for the mommy-baby reading sessions at our library.

10. Read every Shakespeare play.

11. Try to read at least one NYT bestseller book a month.

12. Read more middle grade books.

13. Finish my YA novel and submit it to be published.

14. Be asked by Amazon to be a Vine member.

15. Attend the ALA Youth Media Awards.

16. Write a children’s book.

17. Host a bookish party!

18.Participate in BookCrossing.

19.Write more thank-you notes to authors.

20. Spend more time spreading the word of the blog!

21. Finish color-coding my bookshelves (three down, one to go!)

22. Have my students over for a book-giving party.

23. Name all of my children after great authors.

24. Host more book giveaways on the blog.

25. Become much more active on Twitter. The bookish crowd is awesome!