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Pug & Pig: Trick-or-Treat
Author: Sue Lowell Gallion; Illustrator: Joyce Wan
Published: July 25, 2017 by Beach Lane Books

Summary: Pug and Pig are back for a heartwarming Halloween adventure in this adorable picture book that’s perfect for pet lovers of all ages.

Halloween night has come to Pug and Pig’s house, and the darling duo is sporting matching costumes. The costumes are cozy. They glow in the dark. And they have masks! There’s only one problem—Pug hates wearing his. So he decides to rip it up and stay home. But Halloween just isn’t any fun for Pig without Pug! Can Pug find a way to be a good friend and get back into the Halloween spirit?

Ricki’s Review: This is a phenomenal second installment in the Pug & Pig series! I really enjoy the personalities of these two characters, and I can’t help but smile as I read the stories. In this book, Pug decides that he doesn’t enjoy wearing his Halloween costume. Pig isn’t too pleased with this. Together, they devise a clever solution! Early readers will absolutely adore this charming story. It would make for a great Halloween read aloud! We’ll be bringing our copy to my son’s preschool to use as a read aloud this week!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to make connections with the book. They could discuss whether or not they’ve had a time where they haven’t wanted to participate in an activity. Or perhaps, they didn’t care about something that their friends cared deeply about. Students might talk through these conflicts and problem solve by suggesting different ways they might approach the situations.

Be sure to download the fun activity kit, complete with masks, cupcake toppers, a coloring sheet, and more! (The link also takes you to a Common Core-aligned discussion guide.)

Discussion Questions: Why does Pug want to stay home? How does this make Pig feel?; Have you ever wanted to stay home when your friends or family wanted to do something? What did you do? What are some other ways you could have acted?; What are some other costumes that Pug and Pig could have been for Halloween?

Flagged Passage: 

Read This If You Loved: Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion; Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey; Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

Giveaway!:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author: Sue Lowell Gallion is the author of Pug Meets Pig and Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat (Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books). She has two grown-up kids, one grandson, and a black lab mix named Tucker, who all provide writing inspiration. As a printer’s daughter, she has a life-long love of type, paper, and the aroma of ink. She lives in Kansas City, KS. Visit Sue at suegallion.com, follow @SueLGallion on Twitter, and check out her kids’ book recommendations at Goodreads.

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Thank you, Barbara from Blue Slip Media, for sending 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!

Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: David Litchfield
Published October 24th, 2017

Summary: “Hi, I’m Earth! But you can call me Planet Awesome.”

Prepare to learn all about Earth from the point-of-view of Earth herself! In this funny yet informative book, filled to the brim with kid-friendly facts, readers will discover key moments in Earth’s life, from her childhood more than four billion years ago all the way up to present day. Beloved children’s book author Stacy McAnulty helps Earth tell her story, and award-winning illustrator David Litchfield brings the words to life. The book includes back matter with even more interesting tidbits.

ReviewWow! This book went above and beyond my expectations! Think of it as Earth’s humorous autobiography. The voice that Stacy McAnulty gave Earth is perfect, and you learn things too! Although the book is silly and is told from Earth’s point of view, it is still a book that should be taken seriously because the knowledge it (and the back matter) holds is tremendous. It goes through the history of Earth is a truthful yet understandable way. Kids will leave the book knowing more than they did before but also really interested in learning more. Stacy McAnulty’s narrative with David Litchfield’s cartoonish illustrations lends itself to the perfect picture book for entertainment and information. Just check out the flagged passages to see why I say this is a must-get book!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: When Earth’s history is first introduced in elementary school, Earth! would be the perfect introduction book because it goes over the entire history in a way that students will pay attention to but also without dumbing down any of the information.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did the author use text features throughout the book?
  • How did the author’s use of an unconventional narrator help you understand the history of Earth better?
  • What humorous parts of the book were your favorite? Why?
  • Using the ruler visual within the book, how much of Earth’s history have human’s inhabited? What else do you learn from this visual?
  • Read the back matter of the book. What else did Stacy McAnulty teach you in the back of the book?
  • What is something new you learned about Earth or the solar system in Earth!?
  • Would you classify the book as fiction or non-fiction? Why?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Science, Space, Picture books with humorous narrators like It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh FunkNothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Kelsey at MacMillan for setting up the blog tour for Earth!**

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We’re so excited to be partnered with Disney-Hyperion to bring you this review and giveaway of Bruce’s Big Move! 

Bruce’s Big Move
Author & Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins
Published September 27th, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

Summary: After the events of Hotel Bruce, our favorite curmudgeonly bear shares his home with not only his four geese, but three rowdy mice besides! Fed up with their shenanigans, Bruce sets off to find a rodent-free household. But as usual, nothing goes quite according to plan…

A hilarious sequel for fans of the previous Bruce books, as well as a standalone discovery for new readers, Bruce’s next reluctant adventure is sure to keep kids giggling.

About the Author: Ryan T. Higgins (ryanthiggins.com) is an author and illustrator who likes the outdoors and cheese sandwiches. He is NOT a grumpy old black bear, but he DOES like making books about one—starting with the best-selling Mother Bruce, which received the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor. He lives in Maine with his wife and kids… and too many pets.

LEARN MORE
Visit books.disney.com
Follow Disney-Hyperion on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
#BrucesBigMove #FollowBruce

Kellee’s Review: Bruce is back and still a curmudgeon. Following the events in Mother Bruce where he becomes the mother to 4 geese and Hotel Bruce when 3 mice move in, Bruce decides enough is enough and wants to get away from the rodents once and for all, and he is willing to go to the extreme (moving) to get away. 

One of my favorite things about the Bruce books are the character’s expressions! Bruces’ stories are one only half told in the words, the rest can be found in the illustrations. The illustrations are so expressive and detailed giving each character a personality without it having to be explained.

And just like in the first two Bruce books, there is a definite message in the end! What do you think will make Bruce happy?

Ricki’s Review: I can’t decide whether I like the words or the illustrations more in this book. They are both hysterical! I absolutely adore Bruce. He makes me smile. Ryan T. Higgins is incredibly talented—I will read anything he writes!

Kellee is spot on. Bruce’s facial expressions make me laugh and laugh. I wish I captured my 4-year-old reading this book. He kept laughing and pointing to the pictures. I like the Bruce books because Higgins incorporates clear messages for readers, and he masterfully creates books that make great classroom read alouds!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Use Bruce’s Big Move, and the other Bruce books, as read alouds to discuss illustrations’ purpose in stories, theme, and characterization with students. Alternatively, consider asking students to create their own Bruce fanfiction!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why does Bruce want to get rid of the rodents?
  • On each page, look at the characters’ expressions and discuss what clues they give the reader about the character.
  • What do you think will make Bruce happy?; Did you predict the ending of the book?
  • What do you think the author’s message was at the end of the book?

Flagged Passages: 

“Bruce wished there was a way to get rid of the pesky rodents. But there wasn’t.”

Realtor Ryan help his bear friend Bruce find the perfect rodent-free home: 

Read This If You Love: The first two books in the Bruce series, You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown, This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, Be Quiet by Ryan T. Higgins, Here Comes Teacher Cat by Deborah Underwood, Nibbles by Emma Yarlett

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Disney-Hyperion is partnering with us for a Whole Lotta Bruce GIVEAWAY!
One (1) winner receives:
Copies of Bruce’s Big Move, Hotel Bruce, and Mother Bruce
Branded tote bag and stickers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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**Thank you to Alex at Big Honcho Media for providing copies for review!**

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Landscape with Invisible Hand
Author: M. T. Anderson
Published: September 12, 2017 by Candlewick

Summary: National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization.

When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem “classic” Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice – to give the vuvv what they want.

Review: 

  • Futuristic, dark satire that is an unusual, intelligent social commentary
  • Forces readers to think deeply about their personal, social, and political lives
  • Somewhat non-linear story with an interesting layout: each chapter has a title that corresponds with the artwork created by the main character
  • Stylistically, Anderson chooses every word with intention. The text is a 149-page novella that features chapters that can be taught instructionally as vignettes.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:  Teachers might ask students to begin by looking closely at the text for short passages that they find particularly interesting or inspiring. Students might write a one-pager that a) unpacks the passage they chose, and b) examines the passage through the lens of a topic that they find particularly interesting and relevant. For example, they might connect a passage to the following topics which are relevant in the text:

Art

Automation

Capitalism

Classism

Economy

Entrepreneurship

Existentialism

Extraterrestrial Life

Health Care

Immigration

Love

Politics

Poverty

Sickness

Nostalgia

Unemployment

After the students have written several one-pagers and explored a variety of topics, they might select one topic that interests them most. They can research scholarship about the topic and look across the entire text for relevant passages.

Sample research paper topics:

Examining economic disparities and classism within Landscape with Invisible Hand

Finding the soul: M.T. Anderson’s treatment of love and art in Landscape with Invisible Hand

Discussion Questions: Do you think M. T. Anderson had a purpose for writing this text?; What kind of social commentary does this text offer?; What does it tell us about love? Society? Humanity?; How does Anderson use art to enhance the story?; How is the text structured? How does this enhance your reading?

Flagged Passage: “We are tiny figures, faceless, pointing at wonders, provided for scale, no lives of our own, surveying the landscape that has engulfed us all.”

Read This If You Loved: Feed by M. T. Anderson; Books by Scott Westerfeld; The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

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Thank you, Candlewick!

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Nerdy Birdy
Author: Aaron Reynolds; Illustrator: Matt Davies
Published September 22, 2015 by Roaring Brook Press

GoodReads Summary: Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd.

One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle.

When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Ricki’s Review: I absolutely adored this book. I don’t usually review books that are more than a year old, but my love for this book, compelled me to write a review. The book is about a nerdy bird whose physical appearance makes him feel lonely. He meets other birds who share his physical appearance, and he finds comfort in this. But then a very, very different bird comes along (a vulture), and Nerdy Birdy is forced to consider his values and whether or not the nerdy bird club might be just as exclusive themselves. This book provided an avenue for an excellent discussion with my son. We talked about his class and about how some of his peers might feel left out. I’d love to use this book in an elementary school classroom.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a great book to read on the first day of school or at a time when students are leaving one or some students left out. It provides a great opportunity for critical discussions of cliques.

Discussion Questions: Why does Nerdy Birdy feel left out? How does he find solace in other birds that look like him?; How does the vulture differ from him? What does this teach him about friendship, groups, and personal appearances?

We Flagged: 

Image from: https://us.macmillan.com/nerdybirdy/aaronreynolds/9781626721272/

Read This If You Loved: Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt; Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob SheaThe Magic of Maxwell and His Tail by Maureen Stolar Kanefield

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Here Comes Teacher Cat
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Claudia Rueda
Published: August 8, 2017 by Dial

Goodreads Summary: It’s back to school for the New York Times bestselling Cat when he steps in as a substitute teacher.

Cat is not pleased to be tapped as substitute teacher. Not only is it cutting into his naptime, but a roomful of kittens is a little, well, scary. At school, he’s faced with six adorable kittens and follows the lesson plan of music, building, and painting–only in pure, mischief-making Cat style. By the end, Cat has learned a thing or two about inspiring others by being himself. But even more heart-melting and humorous is what the kittens have learned from Cat.

Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is very funny. Every time my son and I read it together, he giggles wildly across the pages. Cat is very unhappy when he is asked to play the role of teacher for the day. He doesn’t want to have to deal with the kitties, and he just wants to nap. He gets pretty creative, though, and it makes for a wonderfully fun story. I really like this book because it is very easy to ask my son questions while reading it. For example, I will ask him “What is Teacher Cat doing now? How do you think he feels? What are the kitties doing?” It is also very easy to practice making predictions with this text.

Discussion Questions: How does Teacher Cat change from the beginning to the end of the story?; How is he creative?; What does this story teach us?; Why did the author/illustrator choose to have Teacher Cat and the kitties hold up signs rather than speak?; Who is the narrator?

Reading by Brightly: 

Read This if You Loved: Any of the Here Comes _____ Cat books by Deborah Underwood, Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw; One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis; If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky; I Haiku You by Betsy E. Snyder; Dogku by Andrew Clements

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**Thank you to Penguin for providing a copy of this book for review!**

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It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Anticipated Publication: September 19, 2017 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: A fresh take on a young Jack who is not keen on climbing any beanstalks and would much prefer to tell his own story.

Ricki’s Review: This book is hysterical. My four-year-old and I love reading it. (I am not entirely sure he understands that it is a fairy tale retelling, but he still adores it.) Every night, it is the first book he picks to read together. The book has an unnamed narrator who insists on telling the traditional “Jack and the Beanstalk” story. Jack has other plans, though. He and the giant decide that they don’t want to follow the traditions of the story. As you can see below in the flagged spread, Jack pushes back on the tale. I laugh every time I read this. My favorite part is the appears of Cindy (Cinderella), who invites Jack to her ball. Josh Funk is an incredible author, and I will read anything that he writes. This is a fantastic book for teachers to use in their classrooms.

Kellee’s Review: Trent loves the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. They must read it at his school because he knew the whole story, and I think it is hilarious that he argues with me about what is happening in the book. We’ve talked about how this is a different Jack story but he, like the narrator, just really wants Jack to do what he is supposed to. I love the way that Josh Funk has broken the 4th wall and has the narrator talk to the characters; it is such a unique way to twist the fairy tale and makes it so hilarious. I look forward to reading this to Trent and students for many years.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Most obviously, this book would be great to kick off a unit on writing fairy tale retellings. It teaches students to break the mold and repurpose stories to add humor and intrigue. It would also be fun to pair this story with other fairy tale retellings to ask students: What did the authors do to revision the stories? How are they successful?

Check out a book trailer, collector’s cards, and more at https://www.joshfunkbooks.com/stuff-for-kids

Discussion Questions: How does Jack break our expectations?; How are Jack and the Giant different from the narrator? Who did you find yourself rooting for?; How does the author add humor to the story?; How is the text structured to help the reader follow both the narrator and Jack?; What other fairy tales could you retell?

Flagged Spreads: 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read This If You Loved: Dear Dragon by Josh Funk; Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk; Whose Story is This, Anyway? by Mike Flaherty; Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett; A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Recommended For: 

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About the Author and Illustrator:

Like Jack, Josh Funk loves telling his own stories. He is the author of the popular picture books Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and itssequel, The Case of the Stinky Stench, illustrated by Brendan Kearney; Dear Dragon, illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo; and the upcoming How to Code a Sandcastle illustrated by Sara Palacios in partnership with Girls Who Code. Josh lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com, and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.
Edwardian Taylor currently works as a visual development artist and character designer for TV and animation feature film. His work can also be seen in mobile games, films, and commercials. He is the illustrator of the picture book Race!, written by Sue Fliess. Edwardian lives in Texas with his partner, their three dogs, and seven chickens. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @edwardiantaylor.

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**Special Thanks to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for Providing Copies to Review*

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