Currently viewing the category: "Inquiry"

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming
Author: J. Anderson Coats
Published February 28th, 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary: High-spirited young Jane is excited to be part of Mr. Mercer’s plan to bring Civil War widows and orphans to Washington Territory—but life out west isn’t at all what she expected.

Washington Territory is just the place for men of broad mind and sturdy constitution—and girls too, Jane figures, or Mr. Mercer wouldn’t have allowed her to come on his expedition to bring unmarried girls and Civil War widows out west.

Jane’s constitution is sturdy enough. She’s been taking care of her baby brother ever since Papa was killed in the war and her young stepmother had to start working long days at the mill. The problem, she fears, is her mind. It might not be suitably broad because she had to leave school to take care of little Jer. Still, a new life awaits in Washington Territory, and Jane plans to make the best of it.

Except Seattle doesn’t turn out to be quite as advertised. In this rough-and-tumble frontier town, Jane is going to need every bit of that broad mind and sturdy constitution—not to mention a good sense of humor and a stubborn streak a mile wide.

Review: I didn’t know much about the Washington Territory. I knew that it had to have been settled quite like Oregon (I’m the Oregon Trail generation!) or California, but I didn’t know about the boat expeditions, or any expeditions for that matter, to the territory. It was fascinating to read about Jane’s trip to Washington as well as the complicated family that she traveled with. Jane’s story is not only a look at the history of America and Washington State, it is also a story of the perception about the role of woman in towns and families. Ms. D, in Jane’s story, is such an interesting character. She, as a very young uneducated woman, married Jane’s father who died in the Civil War. Now she is still young and pretty but has a preteen stepdaughter and a toddler son, both things that make you less of an attractive new wife. Jane also has us look at the idea of woman on the frontier because she learns to step outside of the roles her stepmother wants her to have and expand into a well-rounded frontier girl. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: One thing I found disappointing was the lack of back matter in the book though I think this may be where the best classroom opportunity comes from. I assume that most young readers won’t know this time period and the west before it was America, so the reader themselves could use Jane’s story to jump start an inquiry look into the Washington Territory, the expeditions there (were they all in boats?!), and how life was different there than in the east.

Discussion Questions: How does Jane break the female mold in this story?; Why isn’t Ms. D as eligible as a wife as the other girls?; Why do Jane’s friends and Jane part ways a bit once they get to Washington?; Why is Jane’s paper book so important to her?; How did Mr. Mercer use propaganda to get young girls on his boat and also to get men in Washington to help pay for the expedition?; Did Miss Gower need Jane’s help or did she have another motive?

Flagged Passages: “It will need to be grand if it’s to fit the seven hundred unmarried girls and war widows Mr. Mercer plans to bring out west to teach in the schools of Washington Territory or to turn their hands to other useful employment.

Or, if you are Mrs. D, marry one of the many prosperous gentlemen bachelors pining for quality female society.

She’s pinned all her hopes on it. Mrs. D hated working in the Lowell mills. She hated leaving her kitchen and hearth and standing for fourteen hours a day before a loom, sneezing from all the dust and lint and not being able to sleep at night because of the ringing in her ears. She wants to be a wife again, to have someone else go out to work while she keeps house. If she has to go all the way to Washington Territory to do it, by golly, that’s what she’ll do.

After Mrs. D paid our passage, Mr. Mercer gave her a copy of a pamphlet he wrote about the advantages and charms of Washington Territory. She glanced at it once, rolled her eyes, then left it on her chair in teh dining room. I snatched it up and hid it in my secret carpetbag, and when she’s not around, I read it.

I’ve read every word hundreds of times. Even the big words I must puzzle over. Even the boring chapters on Lumber and Trade.” (p. 5-6)

Read This If You Loved: The Oregon Trail, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Very Nearly Honorable Society series by Caroline Carlson, The Chronicles of the Black Tulip series by Barry Wolverton, Rory’s Promise by Michaela MacColl, Hattie series by Kirby Larson, May Amelia series by Jennifer L. Holm

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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!

Famous Fails!: Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success!
Author: Crispin Boyer
Published October 25th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Summary: This fun book of quirky failures and famous flops will keep kids laughing while they learn the importance of messing up in order to get it right. Science, architecture, technology, entertainment — there are epic fails and hilarious goof-ups from every important field. Silly side features help to analyze the failures: “Lesson Learned,” “It Could be Worse!,” “Losing Combinations,” and a “Fail Scale” to help readers navigate the different kinds and scope of the mistakes made. The stories will include what went wrong, what went right, and what kids can learn from each failed attempt.

Review: I think one of the greatest lessons for children to learn is that failure doesn’t always equal failure. So many inventions and success began as what many would consider a failure when in actuality it was the beginning of a great thing. Giving up after a failure means you didn’t learn anything from it when failure is one of the best learning experiences. This text goes through hundreds of examples of famous people who failed or failures that became successes–wonderful stories for young people to read.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: As I read more and more of National Geographic’s new books like this one, Awesome 8, Book of Heroes/HeroinesReal or Fake?, and others, I’m coming to realize that these texts are made for project-based learning. These books make me question and inquire so many things within them. As I read, I find myself Googling and thinking and wanting to learn more–and I know they’ll do the same for kids.

Discussion Questions: Which famous inventions did you learn that was from a “failure?”; What famous person did you learn about that surprised you with their “failure?”; When is a time that you “failed” and stopped but now you wish you could go back and keep trying?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford, Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy, and other books about inventions; The Book of Heroes by Crispin Boyer & The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer; and other nonfiction texts about inventors, heroes, failures then successes, and history

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy 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!

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem
Author: Patricia Newman
Published by January 1st, 2017 by Millbrook Press

Summary: Marine biologist Brent Hughes didn’t think sea otters and sea grass had much in common. But his research at Elkhorn Slough, an estuary on Monterey Bay in northern California, revealed a new and surprising connection between the two. The scientist expected this estuary to be overrun with algae due to the fertilizer runoff from surrounding fields. But it wasn’t. Why?

Review: As someone who struggled with biology when in school, I love narrative nonfiction about nature because it helps me fill in education gaps. Sea Otter Heroes looks at trophic cascade (cause and effect relationships within a food chain) and how it affects an ecosystem–so interesting! This information along with the beautiful photographs make this book a scientific journey.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Patricia Newman’s books (Plastics, Ahoy! and Ebola included) are made for classrooms. This text includes not only the cause-effect relationship between otters and sea grass, but also has experiments, information about careers, a glossary, and an afterword about rethinking our relationship with nature giving the reader real ways they can make a difference. This book would be perfect to use in a life science unit or class.

Discussion Questions: What is the “critical link between” sea otters and flowering sea grass?; Finding the link was an accident, what was Brent Hughes studying when he found the connection? What was the proof that the connection existed?; How does the Elkhorn Slough exist?; What are Hughes’s 7 steps to think like a scientist? Observe nature and go through the 7 steps yourself.; What part did sea hares play in Brett Hughes’s experiment?; What is a trophic cascade?; How are what was discovered about the otters similar to the situations with wolves and sperm whales Newman shared?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Scientists in the Field books, National Geographic and Animal Planet books about animals 

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

book-of-heroines

The Book of Heroines: Tales of History’s Gutsiest Gals
Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Published November 8th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

book-of-heroes

The Book of Heroes: Tales of History’s Most Daring Guys
Author: Cristpin Boyer
Published November 8th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

The Book of Heroines Summary: Everybody needs a role model! Discover true stories of superstars, war heroes, world leaders, gusty gals, and everyday girls who changed the world.

From Sacagawea to Mother Teresa, Annie Oakley to Malala Yousafzai, these famous females hiked up their pants and petticoats or charged full-speed ahead to prove that girls are just as tough as boys…maybe even tougher. Complete with amazing images and a fun design, this is the book that every kid with a goal, hope, or dream will want to own.

The Book of Heroes Summary: Everybody needs a role model! Discover the true stories of superheroes, rebels, world leaders, action heroes, sports legends, and many more daring dudes, all of whom played their part to make their mark, make a contribution, and make the world a better place.

From Abraham Lincoln to Sitting Bull, Stephen Hawking to Galileo, these cool guys had the boldness, bravery, and brains to meet the challenges of their day. With a fun design, engaging text, and high-quality photographs, this is ultimate hero guide and keepsake for 21st century kids .

Review: As I’ve stated over and over, I am so impressed with all the new National Geographic Kids books that I have encountered over the last couple of years. With this text, I specifically found the way that the publisher/authors structure the texts makes them so thematic-based thus accessible and informative. The books also have something for everyone as so many different types of heroines/heroes are featured from scientists, historical heroes, political heroes, and more! I cannot wait to put these in my classroom and find out how to use them with students!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers will find this book irreplaceable! It has so much information to fit into so many different units, connect with so many different texts, and relates to so many parts of history. These texts could also be used as the basis of a inquiry project where students use these texts as previews and they choose a theme or a hero/heroine and complete a research/inquiry project around it or maybe even create a text set around the theme or the person.

Discussion Questions: Which heroine/hero do you think changed history the most?; If you were to take part in an inquiry project about one hero/heroine, who would you like to learn more about?; Why did the author/publisher choose to structure the text in the way they did? What other structures could they have chosen? Which do you feel would have had a bigger impact?

Flagged Passages: 

books-of-heroines-108-111-116-117-peace-heroines-page-001books-of-heroines-108-111-116-117-peace-heroines-page-002books-of-heroines-108-111-116-117-peace-heroines-page-003

Read This If You Love: Biographies, History, Women’s Rights, Science, Animals, Mythology

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing copies for review!**

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nfpb2017

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!

Also, I’d like to thank Sarah Brannen for making such a beautiful piece of artwork for our weekly nonfiction link up. It is perfect for illustrating why nonfiction is so important!

dining-with-dinosaurs

Dining with Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching
Author: Hannah Bonner
Published September 20th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Summary: Sure you know T-Rex was the meat-eating king and brontosaurus munched on leaves, but what else was on the dino dining menu during the Mesozoic era?

Meet the ‘vores: carnivores, piscivores, herbivores, insectivores, “trashivores,” “sunivores,” and omnivores like us.

Readers will be surprised and inspired to learn about dino diets and they’ll get to explore how scientists can tell which dinosaurs ate what just from looking at fossils!

Journey through artist and author Hannah Bonner’s whimsical world to learn how the dinosaurs and their contemporaries bit, chewed, and soaked up their food.

Review: Although the cover looks a bit silly, this text is to be taken seriously. Hannah Bonner does a wonderful job examining what different dinosaurs ate, the science behind what and why they ate what they did, how paleontologists know what dinos ate, and where all these dinosaurs fit in the grand scheme of things. Told in a unique structure that alternates between Hannah and a microraptor narrating and comic strip interviews with scientists, the text is not only informative but very entertaining.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is going to be the perfect text for a dinosaur unit in a classroom. It allows for so many different discussions including the different periods within the Mesozoic Era (and Cenozoic Era), connections between dinosaur diets and modern animals, types of scientists that study dinosaurs, different species of dinosaurs, and even text structure. Such a wide range of opportunities for classroom discussion (and even extension activities from the discussions). Additionally, the back matter of the text is filled to the brim with information and even an experiment.

Discussion Questions: What are some ways paleontologists can tell which dinosaurs ate what?; What modern animals fit into each of the ‘vore categories in the text?; Why did the author choose to include the comic strip interviews throughout the book?

Flagged Passages: 

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Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs 

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy 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!

natumi

Natumi Takes the Lead: The True Story of an Orphan Elephant Who Finds Family
Author: Gerry Ellis with Amy Novesky
Published November 8th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: After losing her mother, shy Natumi is rescued by a team from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an orphanage for baby elephants. At the shelter, Natumi hides behind keepers’ legs to watch the other elephants at the shelter. But soon, she meets several other orphans, and the eight of them play together in the surrounding bush.

As the babies become closer and more like a real family, they need a leader, someone they can trust. Can Natumi grow into this role?

Join the herd to find out what happens when they travel back into the wild. This sweet story, with its heartwarming photographs, explores the challenges and joys of family, love, and growing up, and is a perfect bedtime tale.

Review: In addition to being a story that teaches about elephants, Natumi’s story is one that will warm readers’ hearts. Her story is sad yet inspiring, heart breaking yet beautiful, and the reader gets to be there every step of the way. Gery Ellis’s photographs allow the reader to be right in the story and helps move this book past just a normal informational nonfiction text to literary nonfiction thus allowing it to cross boundaries in the classroom.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Since the text crosses the informational/literary boundaries, there are immense possibilities to how this text could be used in the classroom. When I finished, the two things that struck me right away were the theme of the story and the inquiry that this story could be a basis for. Natumi’s story definitely has a pretty solid theme that can tie into many other texts or even science discussions about animal behaviors. Also, the text talks about one animal in peril in the wild, and it could be a jumping off point for a science/language arts crossover project where students state find a problem in the wild and create information, much like the author’s note, that shows ways to help and learn more about the issue. In addition, there are opportunities for vocabulary development, mapping skills, prediction, cause/effect, and much more.

Discussion Questions: How did poachers change Natumi’s life forever? Why are there poachers in Africa?; Why are elephant orphanages needed? How could we help this problem?; How did Natumi become the leader of her family?

Flagged Passages: 

natumi-spread

Read This If You Love: Elephants, Learning about endangered animals, Africa 

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters for providing a copy for review!**

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NFPB2016

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!

supercars

Supercars
Published: March 2016 by Kane Miller Books

Kane Miller Summary of the Mean Machine Series: Sure to get your young car enthusiast revved up, the Mean Machines series is pedal-to-themetal, fast and furious fun … from the comfort and safety of your living room! Which customized car has a top speed of 252 mph? Which engine has a nitrous oxide injector? Which car’s nickname is the Black Bat? Which car has a plasma TV inside the truck?! Find out!

Ricki’s Review: My favorite aspect of this book (and the series) is that readers of all levels will enjoy it. My toddler absolutely loves the pictures and can’t get enough of them. This book has not left our house since we received it a few weeks ago. He says, “What’s this, Mama?” to every picture on every page. My husband has also enjoyed this book, and I love to watch the two of them engrossed in the pictures and text. This is a book that reminds me that there is so much that I don’t know about cars. I may not be able to pronounce some of the terms in the book, but I most certainly have fun trying! I suspect this book will remain on our couch for several more weeks (if not months), and I am quite all right with that. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This would be a great book to spark research projects. Teachers might give students a copy of one of the books in this series and ask them to research cars that would fit into the other texts of the series. They might also investigate why certain cars are included while others aren’t.

Discussion Questions: Which car is the fastest? Which is the largest? Which has the most power?; What differences do you see between the cars? What similarities do you see?; What makes these cars “super”?; Which car would you most want to own and why?

We Flagged a spread from the Performance Cars book, which looks similar to Supercars (but with different cars):

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Read This If You Love: Cars!

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