Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Published August 1, 2018 by Two Lions
Goodreads Summary: Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself.
Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.
Ricki’s Review: I love this author-illustrator team. Every book that they’ve written has been brilliant. This book offers readers a glimpse inside the mind of the lesser-known characters in life. It forces us to think about who we are overlooking and who deserves more praise. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and the lives of those who are close to us, and we often forget to consider those who feel distant to us. My son and I talked about this together, and he said there are some kids at school that he doesn’t talk with often. I asked him what this book taught him, and he said that it reminded him to talk with more friends in his class and to be kind. With a valuable message and a powerful punch, this book is sure to become a favorite in classrooms.
Kellee’s Review: There are times in all of our lives that we question our purpose. Someone louder, prettier, more aggressive, or different than you may get recognition where you don’t even though you feel you deserve it. But it is all about valuing yourself and showing others that value, but we don’t need others to tell us our worth. That is what Eraser teaches us. When we finished, Trent said that Pencil learned that she needed help and Eraser learned she IS important. If that isn’t a message that I want my son to learn, I don’t know what is. Oh, and it is quite funny sometimes, and like Kang & Weyant’s other books, it is told in dialogue only so the illustrations play a big part in the telling of the story.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might give students a list of the names of all of the students in their class. The students might look through this list and ask themselves, “Who do I talk to often? Who could I get to know more? Do I show every person on this list that they matter?” This activity connects well with the theme of the book and reminds students to support others in their world.
- How does Eraser’s feelings change throughout the book? What causes these changes?
- How do the other school supplies act toward Eraser? Does this remind you of any instances in your life?
- What is the message of the book? What does it teach us?
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**
It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!
Author: Jody Jensen Shaffer; Illustrator: Claire Messer
Published: July 3, 2018 by Beach Lane Books
Goodreads Summary: It’s the first day of school! But is Busy Bus ready? Find out in this darling picture book that showcases the excitement and worries little ones experience as they prepare for their first day.
Today is the very first day of school! Busy Bus is excited, but he also has some first-day jitters. Will the children like him? Will he be homesick? What if he gets lost?! Luckily, bus driver Ben knows just what to do to make sure that the school year gets off to a great start.
My Review: We have had so much fun with this book in our household. I read the book aloud, and my two sons act out the pages. Parents can substitute their children’s names for the bus driver to add a layer of fun! Almost all of the bus books that exist feature busses with children already on them. I loved the concept of this book—the bus is preparing for the first day of school and is very nervous the children won’t like him. This book is a must-have for bus-loving children, and it would make for a great first day of kindergarten read-aloud.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Children would have great fun re-envisioning this book with other vehicles and inanimate objects. For example, what might the classroom be feeling before the first day of school? Children could create their own books of their imaginations.
- How does the bus prepare for the children?
- What is he worried about?
- How does the bus driver help him with his jitters?
- What other things might be nervous for the first day of school?
Read This If You Loved: Dump Truck Duck by Megan E. Bryant, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Demolition by Sally Sutton, Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle, Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres
Don’t miss out on other stops on the tour!
**Thank you to Jody for providing a copy for review!**
Hazardous Tales: Raid of No Return
Author and Illustrator: Nathan Hale
Published November 7th, 2017 by Abrams Books
Summary: A top secret mission needs volunteers.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States joined World War II. And soon after that, young pilots were recruited fro a very secret – and very dangerous – raid on Japan. No one in the armed forced had done anything like this raid before, and none of the volunteers expected to escape with their lives. But this was a war unlike any other before, which called for creative thinking as well as bravery.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, gruesome, and TRUE stories of American history. Read them all – if you dare!
About the Author: Nathan Hale is the #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. He also wrote and illustrated the graphic novel One Trick Pony. Hale lives in Provo, Utah. Learn more at hazardoustales.com.
Praise: “Harrowing and no detail is left out . . . Hale’s tendency to incorporate character commentary, infographics, and fun facts will draw readers. Give this title to readers interested in action-packed graphic novels.” — School Library Journal
Review: The Hazardous Tales series is the series I use when kids say that nonfiction is boring AND when teachers say that graphic novels aren’t complex because this series, and this book, is complex, interesting, well crafted, funny, and just everything you’d want from any book, much less a nonfiction graphic novel.
And I am so happy to have a World War II Tale because so many students ask for it, and this is a new story for me, so I know it’ll be new for my students as well. Also, I think this specific mission will lead to many discussions because the idea of volunteering for a deadly mission is something that so many of my students struggle to understand because it isn’t something that they need to even consider, so to look at these men’s decision-making and willingness to fight for their country.
Hazardous Tales tip: I recommend starting with the first book, One Dead Spy, then you can read any of the others in any order.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’ve written in the past how I would incorporate this series as well as written a teaching guide for the first six books, but I wanted to allow another voice to share the brilliance of Hazardous Tales, so today my colleague, Kaleigh Gill who teaches 8th grade U.S. history, who started reading the series this summer and has read almost the whole series! I wanted to let her share why she loves the series and how she pictures it being part of her classroom:
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales opens up a world of American stories that are often overlooked. With multiple books focusing on big topics, like the Revolution, Civil War, Alamo and Westward Expansion, Hale is able to give students (and teachers!) an engaging and realistic depiction of the experiences of American heroes and villains. With his humorous and relatable characters, he is able to connect with young readers on an unprecedented level in regards to nonfiction novels.
One of my favorite attributes of Hale’s series is the way he inserts side stories filled with background information and informative detail on corresponding events and individuals. He has the ability to make these often dull stories, come alive with his animated and entertaining illustrations. His stories are sure to captivate readers of all ages and interests.
Every history teacher in the United States should read this series! Even if you feel you wouldn’t have enough time to teach the entire book, it would be a great visual to provide students when discussing certain topics or figures. Some excerpts in this series would only take about 5-10 minutes to read aloud and discuss with your students, but would definitely leave a lasting impact! This series has even inspired me to design lessons based around historical texts for young readers and has also ignited my love of history again. Leaving these books to simply sit in my classroom library, would be a huge waste for my curriculum and more importantly, my students. Not only will it give insight into little known stories of America’s major events to enhance instruction, but it will intrigue students to dive deeper into historical texts that they would typically overlook.
- Why did these soldiers volunteer for a mission they knew nothing about and that they knew was very dangerous?
- Why do you think the part of World War II in the South Pacific isn’t spoken about as much as the European front?
- How did the planes have to be changed up to be successful for the mission? Why?
- Trying reading the book the way it was written then switch it up and read one plane’s story at a time–which way did you enjoy better?
- How did this mission change the course of the war against Japan?
Read This If You Love: History, Graphic Novels, Other Hazardous Tales books
I Say OOH You Say AAH
Author: John Kane
Published February 8th, 2018 by Templar Publishing
Summary: “There’s something very important that I need you to remember. When I say Ooh, you say Aah. Let’s try it.”
In this interactive picture book, young readers help to tell the story by responding to simple verbal or visual cues. This hilarious book is perfect for reading aloud and is fun for the whole family.
Review: Oh. My. Goodness! I wish you all could have been in my house the first time we read this book! Trent thinks it is the funniest thing in the world! I mean, you have to yell, say underpants, and pat your head–all because a book told you to! It is a kid’s dream! And honestly, it cracked me up, too! Anytime you see a child so engaged and interacting with a book that they are laughing and cheering then immediately ask for it to be read again and says he has to show is Daddy, you know the book is a win. I foresee lots of AAHing and Underpants-ing in our future!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: What a wonderful read aloud! It is like a “Simon says” book, so it really looks at doing what is instructed and also what effects of your actions may be. If you are a parent, teacher, librarian, or book seller who reads to young kids, go get this one now and find some kids to make laugh.
- When do you say AAH?
- What do you do if I say OOH?
- When do you say underpants?
- What do you do if you see an ant?
- Why do you pat your head?
- What do you do if you see the color red?
- Why are you waving?
- What do you do when I turn the page?
Read This If You Love: Interactive picture books such as Hervé Tullet’s books, Bill Cotter’s Larry books, Warning: Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt, The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak, The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!**
What Do They Do With All That Poo?
Author: Jane Kurtz; Illustrator: Allison Black
Published: June 19, 2018 by Beach Lane Books
Goodreads Summary: Find out what happens to all of the poo at the zoo in this funny and factual picture book!
There are so many different kinds of animals at the zoo, and they each make lots and lots (and sometimes LOTS!) of poo. So what do zoos do with all of that poo? This zany, fact-filled romp explores zoo poo, from cube-shaped wombat poo to white hyena scat, and all of the places it ends up, including in science labs and elephant-poo paper—even backyard gardens!
Ricki’s Review: It brings me great joy to review this book. Really. This book is on our nightly reading list, and my son laughs and laughs as we look at all of the different types of poo. I’ll admit that I don’t like poop jokes and don’t find poop to be very funny. But this book is really funny and wildly entertaining. My son’s preschool teacher has recycled panda poo paper, and he learned from this book that this recycling process is made possible by a panda’s diet (see the first spread featured below). He was thrilled to share this scientific tidbit during his morning meeting. This book spurs curiosity. My son asks a lot of questions wen we read it, and we do a lot of comparing and contrasting across pages. I’ll admit that we’ve had great fun selecting which poo is the most interesting to us. I loved that one of the animals (no spoilers here) has cube-shaped poo! This book is sure to be a favorite in classrooms. Get ready to learn science in an entertaining way!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Mary Cowhey’s Black Ants and Buddhists is one of the most beloved elementary school professional development texts. In the book, Cowhey describes a moment in her teaching career when a student wondered aloud about where the poo goes after he flushes the toilet. Cowhey set up an exploratory learning unit based on this question. What Do They Do with All That Poo? follows this spirit (with a focus on zoos and animals).
Teachers might ask students to go home and return to class with an inquiry question about the world. Then, they might (as a whole class, in groups, individually) explore their question(s) and design a picture book or picture books to reflect their new learning.
- What did you learn? What do they do with all that poo?
- Which animal poo was the most interesting to you?
- Select one animal. What is one interesting fact about the animal’s poo (beyond the shape)?
- Which animals weren’t featured in the book? What is their poo like?
Read This If You Loved: Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer; Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals by Charles Ghigna; Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating; Animal Planet & National Geographic nonfiction such as Real or Fake?, Ocean Animals, Awesome 8, Animal Atlas, or the Animal Bites series
About the Author: Jane Kurtz was born in Portland, Oregon (where she now lives), but when she was two years old, her parents decided to move to Ethiopia, where she spent most of her childhood. Jane speaks about being an author at schools and conferences—in all but eleven of the United States, so far, and such places as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, France, Germany, Romania, Russia, Oman, England, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Japan. She helped start Ethiopia Reads (EthiopiaReads.org), a nonprofit that is planting libraries for children and printing some of the first easy-reader books in local languages in Ethiopia. She is the author of many books for children, including Water Hole Waiting and River Friendly River Wild, winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite award for picture book text. To learn more, visit her website: janekurtz.com.
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
Don’t Ask a Dinosaur
Author: Deborah Bruss & Matt Forrest Esenwine
Illustrator: Louie Chin
Published April 17th by POW!
Summary: Don’t Ask a Dinosaur is about a party that goes wildly awry when a pack of dinosaurs with very unique physical attributes attempt to help set up.
“Don’t ask Deinocheirus to set the forks and spoons,” because his hands were enormous, “Therizinosaurus cannot blow up balloons,” because he had very long claws. In the end they find the one thing everyone can help do is to blow out the candles on the cake…but will it create yet another mess?
Review: Don’t ask a dinosaur what he thinks about this book! Unless he says it is awesome, funny, and informative. Then ask him, and trust his answer.
I was introduced to Esenwine’s work when I read Flashlight Night, and I was immediately impressed with his work–he just had a way with words! While this picture book is quite different, it is not going to let Esenwine fans down. It for sure didn’t let Trent down; he already has had us read this multiple times with different questions each time we read. He also thinks it is hilarious, finding something silly each time he reads.
I also loved the book for a couple other specific reasons. First, I loved that the story included some pretty unknown dinosaurs to help the readers get introduced to them in a fun way. Esenwine and Bruss also did a fantastic job with their rhyming using syllable count to make it even more rhythmic than it would be without. And the addition of phonetic spellings of the dinosaur names was a nice touch to help with the pronunciation for the adult reader and for the child as they learn about the dinosaurs.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: On the surface, this text will be a way to introduce a bunch of different types of dinosaurs in a fun, rhyming text; however, this can just be a jumping off point for either a creative writing activity or a science activity (or both!). Because of Esenwine & Bruss’s specific syllables and rhyming, it would be quite challenging and fun to ask students to pick dinosaurs and try to think of other things that they may not be good at and ask them to write their own mini-dino poems. Or students can take the dinosaurs that are introduced in the book and research them to find out what they really wouldn’t be able to do in real life.
- Why did the certain dino get chosen for each activity?
- What dinosaur was new to you?
- If you could have one dinosaur at your birthday party, what dinosaur would you pick? What would you make sure not to have it do?
- How does the phonetic spelling of the dinosaur names help with the rhythm of the text?
- What is going on in the background, in the illustrations, as the narrator helps you see what dinosaurs shouldn’t do?
Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs!, Jane Yolen & Mark Teague “How Does a Dinosaur” series, PBS’s Dinosaur Train
Make sure to stop by other stops on the Dinosaur Tour!
April 6: Michelle H. Barnes (Interview w/month-long writing prompt)
April 8: Kate Narita (Trailer & activity sheet spotlight)
April 11: Deborah Kalb (Interview w/Matt Forrest Esenwine & Deborah Bruss)
April 13: Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme (Interview w/Louie Chin)
April 16: KidLit Exchange (Blog post re: process of illustration)
April 17: Momma’s Bacon
April 18: Bonnie Ferrante
April 19: Brenda Harsham
April 25: Bonnie Ferrante (Interview)
May 2: Unleashing Readers
**Thank you to POW! and Matt Forrest Esenwine for making this blog tour happen!**
The Reckless Rescue (Th Explorers #2)
Author: Adrienne Kress
Published April 24th, 2018 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Summary: More mystery, more bravery, more danger, and one amazingly reckless rescue await in the second book in the Explorers series! The perfect read for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society!
Reader! Your attention is greatly needed. We have left things unresolved! What began as your average story of a boy stumbling upon a pig in a teeny hat and a secret international explorers society has turned into an adventure of epic proportions.
* The bad news: The boy (Sebastian) has been kidnapped by a trio of troublesome thugs.
* The good news: His new friend Evie has promised to rescue him!
* The bad news: Sebastian has been taken halfway around the world.
* The good news: Evie has famous explorer and former Filipendulous Five member Catherine Lind at her side!
* The bad news: There’s still the whole matter of Evie’s grandfather (and the leader of the Filipendulous Five) somewhere out there in grave danger.
* The good news: Pursuing Sebastian will lead Evie and Catherine to another member of the Filipendulous Five, who might be able to help!
This missive is a call to action and an invitation to join in mystery, bravery, and danger. There will be new people to meet, new places to see, and some dancing along the way. And one amazingly reckless rescue.
About the Author: Adrienne Kress is a writer and an actress born and raised in Toronto. She is the daughter of two high school English teachers, and credits them with inspiring her love of both writing and performing. She also has a cat named Atticus, who unfortunately despises teeny hats. She is the author of The Explorers: The Door in the Alley, The Explorers: The Reckless Rescue,and The Explorers: The Quest for the Kid. To find out more about Adrienne, visit AdrienneKress.com and follow @AdrienneKress on Twitter and Instagram.
Review: This book starts RIGHT up where the first left off–like, actually! Mid-sentence! And I’m so glad because the cliffhanger in the first one was so intense! But here we are, right where we left off: Sebastian is kidnapped, and Evie has to figure out how to save him (hence the title…). Like the first book, I found that the snarky narrator, silly footnotes, and ridiculous situations was humor that is right up my alley, causing many laugh out loud moments, but let’s not forget that the story is also a nerve-racking adventure story also! Other than the humor and adventure, I also really like the characters in this story. Evie and Sebastian complement each other so well, and we really get to see them shine in this book as individuals since they are separated.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This series would be a perfect mentor text when teaching dramatic irony, breaking the 4th wall, and footnotes. Even reading the first chapter will cover these three literary elements and will also get a lot of kids excited to read the story. Because the other place this book belongs is in libraries and classrooms–it is going to be a big hit with adventure and humor fans!
- How does the narration style the author chose change the tone of the story?
- Why do you think the author chose to include footnotes in the story?
- How does the author use dramatic irony to keep the reader reading?
- What is the “Lost Boys” K-Pop group an allusion to?
- How do Sebastian and Evie complement each other?
- How did some good or bad things in the story end up being the opposite of what you thought?
Flagged Passages: “Chapter 1: In which we resume our story.
There is a difference between fact and opinion. It’s hard to tell sometimes because opinions like to dress up as facts, and their costumes have gotten quite impressive lately.¹ There is a way, however, to easily tell the difference between them. You have to weigh them. Because, you see, facts have more substance. So they’re heavier. This is how one can know for a fact, for example, that being kidnapped for your brain is scary. Because when this fact is placed on the scale, man, does it ever tip the balance.
There are other facts one can be certain of. Like that private jets are cool. That traveling long distances get boring. And that not knowing where you are going or what’s going to happen to you is exhaustingly stressful.
And if you don’t believe me, just ask Sebastian, who is sitting in his seat and staring out the window of the private jet, feeling precisely all of those things.
It is odd to feed bored. Not that feeling bored is a rare or weird feeling. It’s a very common part of life, after all. But it just felt strange to feel bored in his particular situation. He should have been feeling terrified, possibly even a little excited. And he knew this because he’d felt those things initially when he’d been snatched out of the Explorers Society headquarters and held captive in a helicopter. But that felt like forever ago now.
¹I once saw an opinion wearing the most spectacular curly mustache that distracted me so much, I totally let him into my head, even though I found his footwear suspicious.”
Read This If You Love: The first Explorers book: The Door in the Alley, Emily and the Spellstone by Michael Rubens, Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano, Cucumber Quest series by Gigi D.G., Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
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