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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer
Author and Illustrator: Fiona Robinson
Published August 2nd, 2016 by Abrams Books

Summary: Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.

Teaching Guide with Discussion Questions and Activities: 

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of ADA LOVELACE, the World’s First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.

Note about this guide and Ada’s Ideas

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician far ahead of her time. Because of this, much of the math included in Ada’s Ideas are quite complex. Because of this, Ada’s Ideas could be used for a wide range of students from early-elementary, focusing on Ada’s impact on math, to college, focusing on her use of complex math to write the first computer programs. Within this guide, you will find activities and discussion questions that primarily focus on its use in elementary and middle classrooms, but this does not limit it to these grade levels.

Vocabulary

These vocabulary words can be found throughout the book (in the order they are listed). Use these words as a starting point for a vocabulary study with Ada’s Ideas. Research shows that reading and discussing vocabulary within the context of reading is one of the most effective ways to learn vocabulary.

Despaired     |     Era     |    Defy     |    Reckless     |    Parallelogram     |    Influence     |    Steady     |    Whirred     |    Clanked     |    Newly Harnessed     |    Mechanical     |    Affectionate     |    Carrier Pigeon     |    Confined     |    Poetical expression     |    Aside     |    Eligible     |    Thrust     |     Regimented     |    Re-ignited     |    Potential     |    Orient     |    Corresponding     |    Loom     |    Thereby     |    Algorithm     |    Compute     |    Potential     |    Foresaw     |    Impact     |    Stunned     |    Envision

Activities: Use these activities to extend student learning with Ada’s Ideas.

Ana’s Parents

  • Ana’s parents are both well-renowned and intelligent; however, they are both very different.
  • Get to know George Byron
    • Have your students read the first stanza of “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron. Analyze the stanza with them and discuss: How is Lord Byron describing the subject of his poem? Does it fit your idea of “Romantic” as Lord Byron was considered a leading figure in the Romantic Movement of poetry.
      • She walks in beauty, like the night
        Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
        And all that’s best of dark and bright
        Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
        Thus mellowed to that tender light
        Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
  • Get to know Anne Isabella Byron
    • Lady Byron was wealthy and educated. She was tutored by a Cambridge University professor as a child and found she excelled at mathematics. Discuss with your students: How did Lady Byron’s fascination of mathematics influence Ana’s life? Do you think her life would have been the same if her mother had not been a mathematician herself?

Nature vs. Nurture

  • Discuss with your students the idea of nature vs. nurture.
  • Lord and Lady Byron worked hard to separate Lord Byron from Ada to try and limit her poetical and imaginative behavior; however, Ada still ended up with quite the imagination. What does this show us about nature vs. nurture? Was Ada’s mother able to change how she was going to grow up by separating her from her father, or did it not matter since she is biologically his daughter?
  • Have your students break into two sides and research the ideas of nature vs. nurture then debate whether a person’s DNA decides their development or if experiences and environment can change the development.
    • Extension: Move the debate to Ada’s situation instead of a generic debate about the idea.

Industrial Revolution

  • The Industrial Revolution was possible because of the engineers, scientists, and mathematicians who put theory into practice. These new exciting feats of engineering and science included the first reliable steam engine, the cotton gin, telegraph, dynamite, vaccines, telephone, light bulb, airplane, and automobile.
  • Individually, in partners, or in groups, assign a different Industrial Revolution invention and look at how it was created, how it changed the world, and how it changed science/math/engineering then present their findings to the class.
  • After learning more about the Industrial Revolution, tie it back to Ada Lovelace’s life by discussing if the class believes that Ada’s accomplishments could have happened during a different time in history.

Influence

  • Ada Lovelace’s findings are largely said to be the first computer program. Her programs, in conjunction with Babbage’s hardware, were a theory over a century before the first computers were invented in the United States and England. Even though she was not part of the actual invention and start of computer science, she influenced much of modern computer science. Use the information below as the starting point for a research paper/project or discussion.
  • Some of the ways Ada has influenced computer science are:
    • Mill made by Babbage’s son
      • Charles Babbage’s son made the part of the analytical engine called the mill which carried out numerical operations.
    • Alan Turing
      • Babbage and Lovelace’s analytical engine was the original “drum” computer though Turing is often portrayed as the inventor of the idea.
    • John Graham-Cumming
      • Graham-Cumming is a British programmer who is working to bring the analytical engine, known as Plan 28, to realization.
    • Some ways Ada has been commemorated:
      • ADA: a standardized computer language used by the US Department of Defense
        • A computer language that appeared for the first time in 1980 and is still used today.
      • Ada Lovelace Day
        • Ada Lovelace Day was founded in 2011 and aims to share female pioneers in STEM fields. Ada Lovelace Day is the second Tuesday of October.

Discussion Questions: Use these questions as whole class discussions, reading check-ins, or as writing prompts with Ada’s Ideas. The discussion questions are written as if they are being asked to a student.

  • Ada’s schedule as an 8-year-old was very intense. Compare and contrast your current schooling schedule to what Ada was expected to do daily.
    • How many hours did she spend on each subject? How long do you spend?
    • Do you feel like what was expected of her was too high of expectations or fair?
  • How did Ada’s contraction of measles change her life?
  • Why did the author choose to cover Ada’s comforter in geometric shapes on the page when she is suffering with measles?
  • Ada surrounded herself with some very intelligent and influential people including Mary Fairfax Somerville, nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society; Charles Dickens, one of the greatest novelist of the Victorian era; Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing; and Charles Babbage. How do you think having these historical figures as her friends helped influence her focus and trajectory in life?
  • The mentorship of Charles Babbage changed Ada’s life as well as the trajectory of computer science. How did Ada influence Charles’s work and vice versa? Do you think either could have accomplished what they did without each other?
    • Compare their work to modern technologies: Ada’s work ended up influencing the creations of ____, and Mr. Babbage’s work ended up influencing the creations of ____.
  • How did Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s loom influence Ada’s idea of the program for the Analytical Engine?
  • The author’s note about Bernoulli Numbers states that Ada chose them as “beautiful examples” of the complexity of the Analytical Engine. Elaborate on this statement: Why would Ada choose something so complicated as the first program she wrote for the Analytical Engine?
  • The illustrations of Ada’s Ideas are Japanese watercolor pieces cut out and rearranged at different depths to achieve 3-D artwork then photographed. How does this artwork fit Ada’s story? Would another type of illustrations have been able to capture Ada’s ideas and personality as well?

Common Core Standards: English Language Arts

Examples of English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Standards that can be met by extending Ada’s Ideas with the above discussion questions/activities.

  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2
    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3
    Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4
    Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5
    Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7
    Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9
    Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

  • Computational Thinking: Grades K-3, #4: The student will be able to recognize that software is created to control computer operations.
  • Computational Thinking: Grades K-6, #6: The student will be able to understand the connections between computer science and other fields.
  • Computational Thinking: Grades 6-9, #3: The student will be able to define an algorithm as a sequence of instructions that can be processed by a computer.
  • Computing Practice and Programming: Grades K-3, #5: The student will be able to identify jobs that use computing and technology.
  • Computing Practice and Programming: Grades 6-9, #7: The student will be able to identify interdisciplinary careers that are enhanced by computer science.
  • Computers and Communication Devices: Grades 6-9, #3: The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between hardware and software.
  • Computers and Communication Devices: Grade 6-9, #4: The student will be able to use developmentally appropriate, accurate terminology when communicating about technology.
  • Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts: Grade 6-9, #2: The student will be able to demonstrate the knowledge of changes in information technologies over time and the effects those changes have had on education, the workplace, and society.

Author/Illustrator

Fiona Robinson is originally from the north of England she now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is an author and illustrator of books for children including Whale Shines, What Animals Really Look Like, and Ada’s Ideas. What Animals Really Like received the 2012 Irma Black Award, and Bank Street named it one of the 2012 Best Children’s Books. She has been praised by Publishers Weekly for her “humor tinged with heart,” and her work has been honored by the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Her favorite things include drawing, reading, drinking tea and telling her stories to children. She doesn’t like loud noises or clapping and often reads newspapers and magazines back to front. When she was in elementary school her teachers called her Little Leonardo, and she’s forever thankful for their support and that of her fabulous family in England too.

Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11285007/Ada-Lovelace-paved-the-way-for-Alan-Turings-more-celebrated-codebreaking-a-century-before-he-was-born.html

http://findingada.com/

https://plus.maths.org/content/ada-lovelace-visions-today

The teaching guide can also be viewed at: https://www.scribd.com/document/341092371/Ada-s-Ideas-Teaching-Guide# or http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic-resources/teaching-guides/

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Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!
Created by Clay Swartz
Illustrated by Tom Booth
Published July 12th, 2016 by Workman Publishing Company

Summary: Who would rock the mic at karaoke night? Abraham “The Great Emancipator” Lincoln or Jane “Lady Persuasion” Austen? How about a hot dog eating contest between Harry “Mr. Magic” Houdini and Mary “Mother of Frankenstein” Shelley? What about a pie contest? A staring contest? And who has a better chance of sneaking into Area 51, Isaac “Gravity Guy” Newton or Sacagawea aka “The Pathfinder”?

In Who Wins?: History, you decide the winner in over 50 head-to-head challenges between 100 of history’s most illustrious characters. But choosing the victor isn’t arbitrary. Readers must justify their answers using each of the historical figures’ six 0-10 category rankings in bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness; as well as facts from short biographies.

As funny as it is informative, the book is uniquely formatted so readers can match up each and every character in any of the head-to-head battles. History has never been so much fun!

Review (from 10/26/16): Who Wins? is informative, funny, and so cleverly formatted that it is going to be a star in homes and classrooms. I love how the book gives each historical figure a nickname (either one they already were given, like Satchmo, or made up, like Gravity Guru for Isaac Newton) to add a bit of humor to the book; however, still makes sure to include a plethora of information about each figure including a bio then 3 little-known facts. Each head-to-head situation also helps guide your decision by giving some example questions to think about. Let’s look at a head-to-head, so you can really see how clever it is!

In My Classroom: Whenever I begin a debate unit, I always start with a mini-debate, and I wanted this year’s to include Who Wins? because I thought it was such an awesome class resource (and my students were slightly obsessed with the book). To start, I randomly picked a male and a female historical figure from each side of the Who Wins? book for each class. I didn’t choose the middle activity yet because I wanted my students to get to know their historical figures before I gave them the rest of the topic for the debate. For two days, the students researched their figures and tried to learn as much about them as possible. We talked about making sure to not just list dates but to get to know them as a person: their strengths, their weaknesses, their personality, their education, etc. Finally, on day three, I randomly revealed the rest of the debate topic and randomly put each class into two groups. We ended up with:

Who wins WRESTLEMANIA? Queen Elizabeth I or Genghis Khan?
Who wins LIVING IN 10,000 BC? Harriet Tubman or Ramses II?
Who wins CELEBRITY JEOPARDY? Nelson Mandela or Marie Curie?

Each group then made a Google Doc that they could collaborate on, and they focuses on preparing their argument, possible counterarguments, and rebuttals to the counter argument. They could research more now that they knew the topic, and I shared Who Wins? information with them as well (see photo above).

Then, after a couple of days of collaboration, we had our mini-debate. The most successful was the Queen Elizabeth I vs. Genghis Khan because they not only researched their historical figure, but they also researched Wrestlemania which allowed the debate go to a whole different level than my other two periods. The Nelson Mandela vs. Marie Curie debate had the opposite problem: they didn’t research Jeopardy at all which made for the debate never really having a clear winner because they were just debating who was smarter. The Ramses II vs. Harriet Tubman went well though the Harriet Tubman side never pulled out their best argument: she primarily lived on the run in the wilderness! In the end, Wrestlemania was a tie; Ramses II would survive better in 10,000 BC; and Marie Curie would win Jeopardy.

Some Students’ Collaborative Notes: Here are some examples of the collaborative notes some groups put together when preparing for the mini-debate. These are not examples of the initial research notes they took on their historical figures.

Genghis Khan

Harriet Tubman: 

Marie Curie:

Second Debate Using Who Wins?For our second debate, I did things a little bit differently. Instead of giving them the historical person first, for each class, I randomly chose the center tile (the topic) and we ended up with: Rap Battle, Ironman World Championship, and Summiting Everest. I then let the students, within their groups, go through their side of the book to find the person they wanted for their side of the debate.

They used their prior knowledge, the bios, and the stats for each person to try to pick the best for the debate. Our people ended up being:

Who Wins a Rap Battle: Muhammad Ali vs. Sojourner Truth?
Who Wins the Ironman World Championship: Jim Thorpe vs. Mildred Ella Didrikson?
Who Wins at Summiting Everest: Ernest Shackleton vs. Alexander the Great?

This time around, students were much more invested in their historical figure and with the topic already chosen, they could narrow down their research. Also, they realized how important it was to research the topic. Students also were given 2 extra days to research this time though given the same amount of time (2 days) to collaborate.

Once we got to the debates, I made a decision I was so happy about: Students were not allowed to have their iPads with them. They could have 1 Post-it note (front only) with any specifics that were tough to remember (years, prices, times, etc.), but that was it. And the debates went so much better! Students knew their stuff, and the debates were so intense, detailed, and close!

In the end, we’re still not sure who would be most successful at summiting Everest, Shackelton or Alexander the Great; Jim Thorpe is more likely to win the Ironman World Championship; and Muhammad Ali would win a rap battle vs. Sojourner Truth.

Final Assessment: As a final cumulative assessment, I asked my students to write me an argumentative paragraph stating why they felt their historical figure would be more successful than the other. Students were asked to have multiple reasons why with evidence to support their claim.

Examples from the Shackleton vs. Alexander the Great debate: 

Reflection: Using Who Wins?, I was able to create a standards-based unit that allowed students to not only debate, research, and read informational texts, but work collaboratively, think outside the box, and cite evidence to support their claims. I know the students learned from it as well, and they asked to do another, so I know they enjoyed it. They also now realize that learning just dates or facts about a person isn’t thorough research, it is important to know both sides of an argument so you can have a rebuttal, and that you need to research all aspects of a debate to ensure you are arguing for the right reasons. Overall, I call this a win!

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice
Author: Susanna Reich
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
Foreword by Peter Yarrow
Published March 21st, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Summary: Inspired by the rhythms of American folk music, this moving account of Pete Seeger’s life celebrates his legacy, showing kids of every generation that no cause is too small and no obstacle too large if, together, you stand up and sing!

Pete Seeger was born with music in his bones. Coming of age during the Great Depression, Pete saw poverty and adversity that would forever shape his worldview, but it wasn’t until he received his first banjo that he found his way to change the world. It was plucking banjo strings and singing folk songs that showed Pete how music had the incredible power to bring people together.

Using this gift throughout his life, Pete encouraged others to rally behind causes that mattered–fighting for Civil Rights, ending the Vietnam War, or cleaning up the Hudson River. For Pete, no challenge was too great, and what started out as a love for music turned into a lifetime of activism and change. His greatest talent–and greatest passion–would become an unforgettable part of American history.

Praise: 

“Gustavson’s mixed-media illustrations highlight Seeger’s modest upbringing and down-to-earth persona, pairing lushly illustrated scenes of him traveling and performing with rough, loose sketches . . . An intimate look at a pivotal American figure.” –  Publisher’s Weekly

“The ‘We Shall Overcome’ songwriter’s legacy spans decades, and this will surely help a new generation understand his fervor and still-relevant message.” –  Booklist

“Gustavson’s realistic art supports the admiring tone. . . . A solid introduction.” –  School Library Journal

Review: I grew up with parents who loved Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Van Morrison, and Neil Young, so I have definitely heard of Pete Seeger. I knew that he was influenced by Woody Guthrie just as Bob Dylan was (I once wrote a paper about Walt Whitman being the origin of American folk music because of his influence on Woody Guthrie). But I did not have any idea of Seeger’s influence on the social issues that I learned about in this picture book. Though Reich is clear in her Author’s Note that the picture book bio is just a snippit of his life, what she does cover shows me what an impact Seeger had in so many different social issues throughout his life. This story gave me hope. It showed me that music and people who care can definitely make a difference. That someone like Pete Seeger, someone of privilege, can join forces with the oppressed and fight against injustice. That music and poetry and words can make a difference.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Pete Seeger’s story intertwines with many parts of history that are taught. It would be interesting to read Pete’s story when studying the 60s and see how he was influential throughout the different social issues in the 60s. I think it would also be fascinating to listen to Pete’s music while reading the book and discussing how the poetry that he turned into music reflected the feelings of those fighting oppression during this time.

Discussion Questions: How did Pete use music to unite people fighting for a cause?; How is Pete’s use of folk music like Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of speeches and words to fight?; Why did Pete not enjoy fame?

Flagged Passages: “In 1955 Pete was called into court by some congressmen who didn’t think he was a loyal American. Pete refused to answer their questions in the way they wanted. The threat of prison would hang over his head for the next seven years.

Meanwhile the civil rights movement was picking up steam. On a trip to Tennessee in 1957, Pete introduced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the song ‘We Shall Overcome.’

‘That song really sticks with you, doesn’t it?’ Dr. King said.

‘We Shall Overcome’ spread throughout the country. In churches and community halls, at civil rights gatherings and protest marches, people stood arm in arm, their voices forming a bond of home and determination.”

“We Shall Overcome” by Pete Seeger

Read This If You Love: Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, When Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Blood Brothers by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil WallaceThe March Against Fear by Ann BausumBoycott Blues by Andrea Davis Pinkey

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

How the World Was

How the World Was: A California Childhood 
Author: Emmanuel Guibert; Translation: Kathryn Pulver
Published: July 15, 2014 by First Second

Summary: In 1994, French cartoonist Emmanuel Guibert befriended an American veteran named Alan Cope and began creating his new friend’s graphic biography. Alan’s War was the surprising and moving result: the story of Cope’s experiences as an American GI in France during World War II.

How the World Was is Emmanuel Guibert’s moving return to documenting the life of his friend. Cope died several years ago, as Guibert was just beginning work on this book, but Guibert has kept working to commit his friend’s story to paper. Cope grew up in California during the great depression, and this remarkable graphic novel details the little moments that make a young man’s life…while capturing the scope of America during the great depression.

A lyrical, touching portrait, How the World Was is a gift for a dear friend in the last moments of his life… and also a meditation on the birth of modern America.

Review: Many of you know Emmanuel Guibert’s graphic novel Alan’s War. Guibert is a French cartoonist who tells the true story of Alan Cope, an American GI in France in WWII. How the World Was: A California Childhood depicts Alan’s earlier childhood experiences, growing up during the Great Depression in California. The graphic novel is unlike others that I’ve read, and I really enjoy Guibert’s style. The chapters read like vignettes of Cope’s childhood; some of the scenes are graphic, and many are quite moving. This text would be excellent for close reading, and I don’t think readers even need to read it in its entirety to appreciate and understand each chapter.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I’d love to use this text in the classroom, and I would probably use a single chapter. (This would inspire readers to take the entire book out on their own, which is a style I love to use when I am teaching.) I was particularly moved by the end of the book, where Alan’s mother goes in for surgery. I’d love to do a close reading of this section to discuss author’s purpose and Alan’s identity development.

Discussion Questions: How does this graphic novel differ from others that you’ve read?; How is the author’s writing style similar to short vignettes? Why might he have chosen to write the book in this why? Is it effective for you, the reader?; What scenes stand out to you? Why might this be?

Flagged Passage: I’ve included a section that stands out to me. It is a bit peculiar to include in a graphic novel, but there is a lesson in the pages that follow. I imagine that censors would be horrified to see this page alone, but within the context of the chapter, it is a very important scene.

how the world was

Special thanks to http://goodokbad.com/index.php/reviews/how_the_world_was_review for sharing this scene in his reviews. It’s a good one.

Read This If You Love: The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert; Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert; The Stranger by Albert Camus; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

around-america-to-win-the-vote

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Hadley Hooper
Published August 2nd, 2016

Summary: The author of Mesmerized delivers another fascinating glimpse into history, this time the story of two brave suffragists on a trek across America to spread the word: Votes for Women!

In April 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set out from New York City in a little yellow car, embarking on a bumpy, muddy, unmapped journey ten thousand miles long. They took with them a teeny typewriter, a tiny sewing machine, a wee black kitten, and a message for Americans all across the country: Votes for Women! The women’s suffrage movement was in full swing, and Nell and Alice would not let anything keep them from spreading the word about equal voting rights for women. Braving blizzards, deserts, and naysayers—not to mention a whole lot of tires stuck in the mud—the two courageous friends made their way through the cities and towns of America to further their cause. One hundred years after Nell and Alice set off on their trip, Mara Rockliff revives their spirit in a lively and whimsical picture book, with exuberant illustrations by Hadley Hooper bringing their inspiring historical trek to life.

Review: I am posting this review specifically today because it is amazing to hear for these women’s journey when today a woman is running for president under a major political power. It is amazing that in 2016 we have made it this far, which is amazing, but we also have to remember how hard woman fought for women’s rights and that women’s equality isn’t here yet.

Another reason why I posted this today is to remind people to vote. All election days are our opportunity to choose our futures. We are not powerless; voting gives us power and a voice. Please vote and remind all those close and dear to you to vote as well.

Now to the book. I loved reading Nell and Alice’s adventure. These are woman that are truly role models because they did something so unexpected and unacceptable at the time to fight for something they believe in a peaceful and intelligent manner. Mara Rockliff, along with Hooper’s busy yet muted and beautiful illustrations, tell us their story in an engaging way that will definitely make the reader think about so much.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to reading Nell and Alice’s story in conjunction to history lessons about suffragists and this time in history or as a lit circle text with other books about strong woman or people making a difference, Michele Knott had an idea that I thought would be fascinating: compare and contrast the way that politics has changed in 100 years. How has tactics changed? How has technology changed the delivery and reception of politics?

Discussion Questions: What obstacles did Nell and Alice face that they would not have faced if they were traveling 10,000 miles in 2016? How would their journey have been different if it was 2016? Do you think face-to-face works better than some of the use of technology that we see nowadays?; Do you think Nell and Alice made a difference?

Flagged Passages: 

around-america-spread

Read This If You Loved: The First Step by Susan E. Goodman, Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang, Hillary Rodham Clinton by Michelle Markel, Brave Girl by Michelle Markel or any book about a strong female of history; Sit-In by Andrea Davis Pinkney or any book about how people made a difference for what they knew was right

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

who-wins

Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!
Created by Clay Swartz
Illustrated by Tom Booth
Published July 12th, 2016 by Workman Publishing Company

Summary: Who would rock the mic at karaoke night? Abraham “The Great Emancipator” Lincoln or Jane “Lady Persuasion” Austen? How about a hot dog eating contest between Harry “Mr. Magic” Houdini and Mary “Mother of Frankenstein” Shelley? What about a pie contest? A staring contest? And who has a better chance of sneaking into Area 51, Isaac “Gravity Guy” Newton or Sacagawea aka “The Pathfinder”?

In Who Wins?: History, you decide the winner in over 50 head-to-head challenges between 100 of history’s most illustrious characters. But choosing the victor isn’t arbitrary. Readers must justify their answers using each of the historical figures’ six 0-10 category rankings in bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness; as well as facts from short biographies.

As funny as it is informative, the book is uniquely formatted so readers can match up each and every character in any of the head-to-head battles. History has never been so much fun!

Kellee’s Review: Who Wins? is informative, funny, and so cleverly formatted that it is going to be a star in homes and classrooms. I love how the book gives each historical figure a nickname (either one they already were given, like Satchmo, or made up, like Gravity Guru for Isaac Newton) to add a bit of humor to the book; however, still makes sure to include a plethora of information about each figure including a bio then 3 little-known facts. Each head-to-head situation also helps guide your decision by giving some example questions to think about. Let’s look at a head-to-head, so you can really see how clever it is!

William Wallace “Braveheart” vs. Isaac Newton “Gravity Guru”
Who Wins Living in the Wild, Wild West?

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Ricki’s Review: What a clever concept! This spiral-bound book will be a staple for car rides. I could also see it being a great book for fast finishers in the classroom. The book consists of three columns that are split. So, for example, I randomly flipped to three pages (one of each column). At the far right, there is a short summary of Louis Armstrong’s biography and picture. Then, in the middle, the column I flipped to is the “talent show” and asks “Who is the most well-rounded? Who has the most experience entertaining?” Then on the far right, I flipped to Abraham Lincoln. While this one seems like a clear winner for Louis Armstrong, I think we could conceivably argue for either person for the two questions. I’ll be hanging on to this book. It will be a great book to give to my kids in the backseat. Fun family debates are the best!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Are you an elementary school teacher or a social studies teacher or a language arts teacher? Then buy this. It is a perfect bell work or paper prompts or discussion starter or debate topic creator or whatever else you can think of!

Discussion Questions: Who wins?

Read This If You Love: History, Historical Figures, Debates 

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Estelle at Workman’s for providing copies for review!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

antsy-adams

Antsy Adams: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature
Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Illustrator: Christy Hale
Published September 6th, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.

Goodreads Summary: You may be familiar with Adams’s iconic black-and-white nature photographs. But do you know about the artist who created these images?

As a child, Ansel Adams just couldn’t sit still. He felt trapped indoors and never walked anywhere–he ran. Even when he sat, his feet danced. But in nature, Ansel felt right at home. He fell in love with the gusting gales of the Golden Gate, the quiet whisper of Lobos Creek, the icy white of Yosemite Valley, and countless other remarkable natural sights.

From his early days in San Francisco to the height of his glory nationwide, this book chronicles a restless boy’s path to becoming an iconic nature photographer.

Cindy Jenson-Elliott photo

About the Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott is the author of 17 books, a teacher and environmental educator. She teaches writing workshops through her small business Words to Go (www.wordstogosd.com) You can see her work on her website at www.cindyjensonelliott.com.

Kellee’s Review: As a child of a museum director and a photographer, Ansel Adams has been a name that I’ve known since I was quite young. He was one of the first artists whose work I could identify on my own. I was fascinated by his photographs–almost spooky in their lights and shadows but beautiful to where you cannot take your eyes off of them.

I loved learning about Ansel as a child. His story rang true as a teacher especially because there are so many kids like Ansel who are not made for the traditional setting of school yet are brilliant and should be educated a bit differently than the norm. Cindy Jenson-Elliott and Christy Hale do a very good job at showing and telling how Ansel viewed the world. With detailed illustrations, onomatopoeias, and a rhythmic texts, Ansel’s story is told in such an authentic way that really takes the reader into his brilliant mind.

Ricki’s Review: I’ve heard the name Ansel Adams, but I never connected it to the beautiful photography. I am so glad to have read this book because it made me aware of an important man that I didn’t know much about! As a mom of a son that is always itching to go outdoors, this was a great book to read to him. He felt very connected to Ansel! It also taught him all of the lessons he learns while he is outside! It is great to learn about who this man was as a child and what his life was like when he was growing up. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ansel’s story fits into art, history, and language arts. Ansel Adams is a very significant artist of the 20th century and his story could be told within the context of art history or American history. The historical aspect in addition to the imagery, figurative language, and rhythm makes this text perfect for the classroom.

Discussion Questions: How did Ansel’s life change after his dad pulled him out of school? How did this choice affect the rest of his life?; How did Ansel’s personality differ from what the school expected of him?; Who do you think had the biggest influence on Ansel’s life?; Ansel was able to do what he loved for a living. What do you love to do? How could you make a living doing it?

Author Guest Post: I really enjoyed working on this book, partly because I loved the character, but also because I spend a lot of time in the places Ansel Adams haunted. I went to Yosemite for the first time at the same age as Ansel Adams went. And each year, my family treks up to the High Sierra to camp and explore.

I also loved deeply immersing myself in his life and discovering so many things I had not realized: that he explored nearby nature — not far away and exotic locales — as a child, and that forged his connection with the natural world;  that he did commercial work to make a living for his family (so affirming for artists and writers who have to do the same thing!); that he was a concert pianist.

Sometimes when you deeply research a life in order to write a biography, you fall a little bit in love with your subject. Though this was my first biography, from what I understand from other biographers, that’s a common experience. I also understand that many biographers, after spending a few years with someone, fall out of love as they discover all the dimensions of a personality. That didn’t happen for me with Ansel Adams. Reading about the person, seeing where he lived and what he valued throughout his life, and particularly through reading autobiography, I felt such admiration and respect. In a well-written autobiography, you get into a state where you feel like you are experiencing a person’s essence. Reading Ansel Adams’s autobiography was like that for me — his poetic word choices, the way he described the world he lived in and his experience in that world, I had the feeling of standing beside him and seeing his world through his eyes. I wanted to carry that essence into my picture book about Ansel Adams. I wanted young readers to feel what Ansel Adams must have felt making a connection with nature in quiet Lobos Creek behind his house, or meeting his beloved Yosemite for the first time. I wanted the experience of reading Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature, to be visceral. I hope that through my words and Christy Hale’s collage art, that people experience the world through a beautiful set of eyes.

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(Yosemite photographs to see the beauty and precision of Christy Hale’s artwork)

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Read This If You Love: Art/photography, The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, The Museum by Susan Verde, Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, Photos Framed by Ruth ThomsonThe Sky Painter by Margarita Engle, On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Cindy and Morgan at Macmillan for providing copies for review!**

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