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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.

ReviewOh. 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.

Discussion Questions: 

  • 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?

Flagged Passages: 

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

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

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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.

Discussion Questions: 

  • 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?

Flagged Passages: 

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 AnimalsAwesome 8Animal Atlas, or the Animal Bites series    

Recommended For: 

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Giveaway!:

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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.

Twitter: @janekurtz

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

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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?

ReviewDon’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.

Discussion Questions: 

  • 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?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs!, Jane Yolen & Mark Teague “How Does a Dinosaur” series, PBS’s Dinosaur Train

Recommended For: 

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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

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**Thank you to POW! and Matt Forrest Esenwine for making this blog tour happen!**

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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 AlleyThe 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.

ReviewThis 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!

Discussion Questions: 

  • 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 AlleyEmily and the Spellstone by Michael RubensGuardians 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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My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella
Author: Jerry Mahoney
Illustrator: Aleksei Bitskoff
Published August 1st, 2017 by Stone Arch Books

Summary: Holden, what have you done?! It wasn’t enough to ruin Maddie’s report on Cinderella, but now you’ve somehow broken the ACTUAL fairy tale? The ugly stepsister is marrying the prince and there’s no happy ever after! You need to fix this and the only way seems to be by entering the story. But beware: if you can’t mend it, you can never return…

ReviewEveryone! You listening?!?! If you or any of your students are a fan of the Whatever After series, you need to get this for you/them. It is a perfect companion for them! But don’t think that this is just a duplicate of the series, it is similar yet also so different! First, Holden and Maddie already don’t work well together, so going into the fairy tale is not only about fixing the fairy tale but also about fixing their relationship. Second, the fracturing of fairy tales gets even more ridiculous than you can even imagine. Third, Holden and Maddie are in the fairy tales as characters, not as themselves. I will say that both this book and the Mlynowski series looks at the problems in fairy tales and how the stories could be better told to make everyone happy.

(I will say the only “issue” I had was I really don’t like the negative connotation around step-siblings, so calling a step-brother rotten really doesn’t help that idea; however, I do like how Maddie has to learn that her opinion on her stepbrother may not be correct.)

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: First and foremost, this book will be a hilarious read aloud and an independent reading books that will fall into so many hands. Additionally, in the backmatter of the book, the author includes a glossary including the harder vocabulary in the book, a think again section with three questions for readers to think about, and finally a section about how to write a ruined version of a favorite tale. All three of these activities help make the book even more useful in a classroom.

Discussion Questions: (From the “Think Again” section by the author)

  • Everyone has someone in their life like Holden, who’s unavoidable and hard to get along with. Who’s someone you’ve struggled to relate to, and what would you do if you had to work with him or her to “fix” a fairy tale?
  • There are details about the wicked stepsisters that weren’t in the original tale, such as Beautianna’s desire to go to art school. Think of a supporting character from one of your favorite books whom you wish you knew more about. Come up with your own ideas for his or her character traits, wants, and needs. You can even try to write the whole story from that character’s perspective.
  • What do you think of the questions Holden raises about Cinderella? Do you think he makes some good points, or would you be as annoyed with him as Maddie was? Pick another story you know well and try to imagine what Holden’s problems with that story might be.

Flagged Passages: “Maddie hadn’t seen her before, but she could tell this woman had plenty to be sad about, starting with her clothes. They were filthy, patched-up work clothes, and her hair was tied back with a rag. She sat in front of a pile of roses, and one by one, she plucked the thorns off each stem and placed them into a vase. Her hands were scratched and bruised from hours of performing this tedious, excruciating task. No wonder she was crying.

‘Do you need a tissue?’ Maddie asked her.

‘Tissue?’ the woman replied. ‘What’s a tissue?’ The woman turned her head and gazed at Maddie, confused.

Of course, Maddie thought. They don’t have tissues in fairy tales. They weren’t invented yet. While she wondered how to explain this, she had another realization. This wasn’t any ordinary, sad woman. She was kind and familiar, the most beautiful woman Maddie had ever seen. She had bright blue eyes and, underneath the rag on her head, hair that seemed to be made from pure gold.

‘Oh my gosh!’ Maddie exclaimed. ‘You’re–you’re Cinderella!’

‘You seem surprised to see me, Glamoremma,’ the young woman replied.” (p. 29-30)

Read This If You Love: Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski, It’s NOT Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk, Fractured fairy tales

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**Thank you so much to the author for providing a copy for review!**

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Granted
Author: John David Anderson
Published February 13th, 2018 from Walden Pond Press

Summary: From the author of beloved novels Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted comes a hilarious, heartfelt, and unforgettable novel about a fairy-in-training.

Everyone who wishes upon a star, or a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for. But even so, there is someone out there who hears it.

In a magical land called the Haven lives a young fairy named Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets. Ophela is no ordinary fairy—she is a Granter: one of the select fairies whose job it is to venture out into the world and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day.

It’s the work of the Granters that generates the magic that allows the fairies to do what they do, and to keep the Haven hidden and safe. But with worldwide magic levels at an all-time low, this is not as easy as it sounds. On a typical day, only a small fraction of the millions of potential wishes gets granted.

Today, however, is anything but typical. Because today, Ophelia is going to get her very first wish-granting assignment.

And she’s about to discover that figuring out how to truly give someone what they want takes much more than a handful of fairy dust.

About the Author: John David Anderson is the author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, 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 www.johndavidanderson.org.

ReviewJohn David Anderson never ceases to amaze me. I have read all but one of his books, and I am learning that I cannot even guess what he’s going to tackle next; although, I can assume he is going to do it well!

But I will be honest, I would not have guessed that his newest would be about a super sweet, determined, and a bit quirky fairy named Ophelia Fidgets. But yes, Ophelia is our phenomenal fairy protagonist who every reader will immediately love. She is a perfectionist but also does things her own way–she just has very high standards for her own way. She also has a silly sidekick in both Charlie, a fellow granting fairy, and Sam, a homeless dog, and I must say that Anderson does one of the best dog voices I’ve ever read, I could hear it while I read.

Other than the characters, I think there were two other things that this novel did exceptionally well: world building and making the reader think about priorities. Everywhere Ophelia went, Anderson described enough to make sure that we could visualize it, but he also ensured that he didn’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. He also did a truly fantastic job at setting up the fairy world and all the rules within it to where the reader understood Ophelia’s task, her job, etc. Also, through Ophelia’s journey to grant the wish she’s been assigned, Anderson gets the reader to look at wishing and what is truly important in the world.

Lastly, I loved that in the backmatter of the book, Anderson acknowledges the long history of fairies, including Tinkerbell!, and reminds readers to keep reading about them.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like all of Anderson’s books, I know this one will find readers on my shelves. This book is perfect for fans of fairy, animal, or quirky adventure books. And it will also be a wonderful read aloud! Even if you don’t have enough time to read the entire book, the first chapter and synopsis will truly suck readers in.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does Sam teach Ophelia?
  • Why does Ophelia make the choice she does make when granting the wish?
  • Do you agree with Ophelia or Squint when it comes to wish granting?
  • Do you believe that Charlie deserved the punishment he received?
  • What character traits does Ophelia possess that led her on not giving up?
  • How does Granted allude to other fairy tales you know? How does it break fairy stereotypes often found in other fairy tales?

Flagged Passages: “The last time you blew out your birthday candles, what did you wish for?

Did you blot them all out on the first breath? It doesn’t count otherwise. Also, do not let your brother or sister help you; at best they will waste your wish. At worst they will steal it for themselves.

Same for dandelions–the one breathe rule–or else the wish won’t fly. It’s harder than you think, getting all those seeds off in one huff. Harder than candles on a cake. If you can’t manage it, though, don’t worry. There are a dozen more ways to make a wish. A quarter flipped into a fountain. A penny dropped down a well. Some might tell you that bigger coins make stronger wishes, but that’s simply not true. A silver dollar or even a gold doubloon doesn’t increase the chances you’ll get what you want. Your dollar is better spent on gumballs or ice cream; use a nickel instead. Wishes aren’t for sale to the highest bidder.” (p. 1-2)

And my favorite passage:

“‘Humans are bad,’ [Sam] agreed.

Ophelia stopped fidgeting with her petal and looked over at Sam. Of course he would think so. And she couldn’t blame him. Not after how he’d been treated. She leaned into him, nestling in his fur.

‘Maybe they’re not all bad,’ she amended. ‘They just lose sight of what’s important sometimes, worrying so much about what they don’t have that they forget what they’ve already got.’

‘Like home,’ Sam said.” (p. 207)

Read This If You Love: Tinker Bell, Folk lore about fairies, Wishapick by M.M. Allen, Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black, Seekers by Erin Hunter, Mez’s Magic by Eliot Schrefer

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**Thank you to Danielle at Blue Slip Media for setting up the blog tour!**

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