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Inspiring Stories

As a freelance business and technology writer I spent many years writing about the latest software or tech gadget. It was profitable and sometimes interesting work. But it wasn’t inspiring. It was a job. A job I needed to help support my family—my wife Alice and my two sons, Steven and Scott.

Then a funny thing happened. I became inspired by my sons to do something different. To try something new that has led me to completely change my career.

More specifically, I became inspired by my sons’ love of baseball and their desire to read mystery stories. Growing up, I wasn’t a great reader. I lagged behind classmates in learning to read, as did my first son, Steven. As parents, Alice and I tried all types of tricks to interest our kids on reading. But it wasn’t until they started reading Ron Roy’s A-TO-Z MYSTERIES that they both became hooked—and desperate for more mysteries. Fortunately for me, that happened at the same time they became enthralled with baseball: playing baseball, talking about baseball trading baseball cards, watching baseball. If it had anything to do with baseball, they were interested.

Since my sons loved baseball and mysteries, I looked around for children’s books that featured both sports and mysteries. But I didn’t find many that fit the bill. There were sports books and there were mystery books, but there weren’t many sports mysteries. That’s when I realized that there was something missing in the market—mysteries that were set in the dozens of really cool cities and ballparks around North America.

And like that, I had the inspiration for my BALLPARK MYSTERIES series of chapter books from Random House. The BALLPARK MYSTERIES are adventure/mystery books where the main characters (Kate and Mike) visit different major league ballparks to see a game, but end up solving a mystery. So far, they’ve been to fourteen of the thirty major league stadiums. The latest book in the series, CHRISTMAS IN COOPERSTOWN, is a Super Special that takes place at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

The BALLPARK MYSTERIES books are great for boys and girls in second, third, and fourth grades and are well-suited for reluctant readers. Though the books are set in ballparks, readers don’t have to like sports or even know about baseball to enjoy them. Readers learn a little bit about each team, stadium, or city, as well as some of the quirky things that make baseball so popular (like the super-secret rubbing mud that’s used on each major-league baseball).

If you can forgive the pun, I’m having a ball writing sports mystery books for children, and I’m thrilled that my sons inspired me to take a chance to try something completely new.

About the Author: DAVID A. KELLY is a former Little League right fielder. These days, he can often be found enjoying a game at a major-league park. He is also the author of the MVP series and Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse. For adults, he has written about travel and technology for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun Times, and many other publications. He lives near Boston’s Fenway Park with his family. For more information, visit davidakellybooks.com and find him on Twitter at @davidakelly.

The World Series Curse
Christmas in Cooperstown
Author: David A. Kelly
Published September, 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers

The World Series Curse Summary: It’s the BIGGEST baseball mystery yet—at the WORLD SERIES!

Red Sox versus Cubs. Game five. It looks like Mike and Kate are about to watch the Cubs win it all. But then someone starts messing with the team—ruining equipment, getting Cubs players in trouble, and even stirring up an old baseball curse. Now the Red Sox are coming back! Who will win the ultimate baseball trophy? And can Mike and Kate make sure it’s won fair and square?

Ballpark Mysteries are the all-star matchup of fun sleuthing and baseball action, perfect for readers of Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries and Matt Christopher’s sports books, and younger siblings of Mike Lupica fans. Each Ballpark Mystery also features Dugout Notes, with amazing baseball facts.

Christmas in Cooperstown Summary: Mike and Kate get the BEST Christmas present ever–a mystery at the Baseball Hall of Fame!

After volunteering to wrap presents for charity, Mike and Kate get a special thank-you: a sleepover at the Baseball Hall of Fame! But when they’re sneaking around the museum late at night, their flashlight reveals that one of the famous baseball cards on display is a fake! Can they find the real card, catch the crook, and get the presents to the charity’s Christmas party on time? It’s up to Mike and Kate to turn this Christmas mess into a Christmas miracle!

Ballpark Mysteries are the all-star matchup of fun sleuthing and baseball action, perfect for readers of Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries and Matt Christopher’s sports books, and younger siblings of Mike Lupica fans. Each Ballpark Mystery also features Dugout Notes, with amazing baseball facts.

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The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locket Hero
Author: Rachel Renee Russell
Published: June 7, 2016 by Aladdin

A Guest Review by Emily Baseler

GoodReads Summary: Max Crumbly is about to face the scariest place he’s ever been: South Ridge Middle School. There’s a lot that’s great about his new school, but there’s also one big problem—Doug, the school bully whose hobby is stuffing Max in his locker. If only Max could be like the hero in his favorite comics. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys. But that doesn’t mean Max won’t do his best to be the hero his school needs!

Review: This book is the beginning of a soon to be very popular series. I suggest you purchase a copy of this book for your classroom library while you still can. In June, the 2nd book will be released and I have a feeling it will not be available on the shelf for long. This book has a very similar style to the “Dairy of a Wimpy Kid” series which children across grade levels love. This book introduces relevant themes to a middle grade reader such as peer conflict, coping with bullying, pop culture, relationships, friendship, surviving middle school, and learning to laugh at yourself. This book was an easy ready and would be ideal for a more reluctant reader or to read for pleasure.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is one of the rare few written in second person. Max Crumbly, the narrator, is writing journal entries addressing the reader as “you.” “The Adventures of Max Crumbly” would be an interesting text to explore point of view with your students. You could also use the text to highlight the use of exclamation and variation of font. Additionally, the text could be a resource when reviewing the writing process. There are entire sentences scratched out, arrows redirecting the narrative, edits, revisions, and inclusions in the final text.

Discussion Questions: Is this style of writing something you think you would be able to create?; How does the point of view of the narrator impact your perceptions as a reader?; What value did the illustrations add to the text—if any?; Are there any themes or topics in which you can identify/connect with?

Book Trailer: 

Online Resource: http://maxcrumbly.com/

Read This If You Loved: Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell, Dairy of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

Recommended For:
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Thank you, Emily!

RickiSig

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“Thank You, Teachers!”

There are two types of people I like to spend time listening to and talking with.  First are teachers, particularly elementary school teachers, who have consistently been the most important influencers in my life.   This started with my mother who was a public school teacher in Dedham, Massachusetts.

My mother, showing a snake to third graders while she was pregnant with me. Not shown here was a future-famous student of my mom’s, mega-bestselling author, Anita Shreve!

Teachers were the real heroes and celebrities when I was growing up. Every spring when I was a kid my mother would invite our teachers over for lunch and it was a real thrill to be able to socialize outside of the classroom with my teachers and hear their stories.  It sounds old-fashioned and corny now but back then, it was one of the most significant days of the year and just one of the many ways I grew up with total respect and appreciation for teachers.

Decades later, as President of Scholastic Book Clubs, my job is to listen to teachers and partner with them in any way possible to help them get wonderful books into the hands of all students. I trace my career path directly back to those elementary school lunches.

The second category of people I like to spend time talking with are kids who aren’t great readers.  I enjoy most young people, but I particularly like to hear from kids who don’t like to read; those who say “I am just not a reader,” who can’t find a book they like, and thus become practically allergic to books and reading.  These kids don’t have the skills or the vocabulary or the confidence to keep up with complicated chapter books and they don’t want to be caught reading “baby books”. So they often get left behind or opt out.  I spend lots of time talking with many such kids when I visit classrooms around the country.   My interpretation of what I hear is that they need to connect with books that are funny, interesting, sometimes edgy, relatable, and easy enough for them to read and feel successful.

For years I thought about writing such a book myself but I had neither the self-confidence nor a specific idea.  One day, one phrase popped into my head: “Bob the Slob.”  It took me months to get over being self-conscious about actually sitting down to write (I would literally fall asleep from stress when I first sat down at my desk) but bit by bit, weekend by weekend, I pushed my self-doubt aside and kept at it.

Eventually, I developed that one phrase “Bob the Slob” into a rhyming chapter book about a family of slobs named Bob and a family of neat-niks named Tweet. These two families unwittingly move to the same place—Bonefish Street– and their not-so-friendly-neighborly adventures begin.

But the youngest in each family, Dean Bob and Lou Tweet, are not like the rest of their clans.  Dean Bob is fastidious and orderly; and Lou Tweet loves rock ‘n’ roll and never cleans her room.  They each struggle with their families’ extreme lifestyles and so it is lucky and wonderful when they meet each other and become best friends.

I found Kristy Caldwell, an illustrator on the SCBWI website and together we have been working on developing these characters and the world they live in and creating a series of funny, rhyming, fully illustrated chapter books geared for those kids who aren’t such great readers and have trouble finding something they want to read. Needless to say, we were thrilled when Meet the Bobs and Tweets was chosen by kids for the ILA Children’s Choices 2017 Reading List.

There are several themes that are important to me that run through these books: that kids can find creative and successful ways to navigate the nutty worlds of their families; that you can be best friends—like Dean and Lou—with someone who is very different from you; and that wonderful, creative teachers like Lou and Dean’s teacher, Ms. Pat, can make all the difference in a child’s life.

In Perfecto Pet Show, the second book in the series (pub date: June 27) readers meet Ms. Pat, Lou and Dean’s pet—and children’s literature—loving teacher.  Ms. Pat brings her pets to school, (her cat, Donald Crews; Mandy, her hamster; her Piglet named Pippi along with a few others) to announce her idea for a Kid-Pet Talent Show.  Like many great teachers I know, Ms. Pat is excited to find new ways to help her students express their creativity. Lou and Dean are dubious, and they dread the embarrassment of having their families come to school.  But Ms. Pat prevails and the Kid-Pet Talent Show is, as the Bobs would say very loudly and in unison:  PERFECTO!

Ms. Pat, the kids and their pets after a very successful Kid-Pet Talent Show!
(Illustration by Kristy Caldwell)

Ms. Pat is the latest in a long line of wonderful teachers in my life.  I am scheduled to go back to my elementary school alma mater, the John Ward School in Newton, MA and meet with students and share the Bobs and Tweets books with them. I will explain to them that my much of my inspiration for Ms. Pat came eons ago from teachers I had when I was sitting in the very classrooms they are in now.

I will also ask the students to fill out a very short survey letting me know whether they are a Bob or a Tweet—and why. We have been sending out surveys about these books to kids from the beginning and the answers we get are wonderful and inspiring, and are helping to shape future books in the series.

I recently surveyed a classroom of kids and received heartwarming responses like this one:

And even ideas for my next book!

And some that make me smile and keep me humble.

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers who are part of my family, my education, my career, and my own children’s books!  And to all the kids I have met and hope to meet in the future. You all inspire me.  I hope you will enjoy the Bobs and Tweets as much as I do!

Xx
Pepper

To learn more about the books, see Kellee’s review of the first two books of the series!

“Short chapters and funny, rhyming text will help engage young readers…The flat, colorful illustrations are full of humorous details that add to the story.” Children’s Literature
“Caldwell’s energetic, full-color, Sunday-comics illustrations are satisfyingly chaotic.” Kirkus
“Colorful and appealing!” School Library Journal

About Pepper Springfield 

Pepper Springfield was born and raised in Massachusetts. She loves rock ‘n’ roll, chocolate, reading, and crossword puzzles. Illustrator Kristy Caldwell received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts and lives in New York City.

Thank you Pepper for the guest post and Larissa at Claire McKinney PR for setting us up together!

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The Explorers: The Door in the Alley
Author: Adrienne Kress
Published April 25th, 2017 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary: The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is filled with adventure and danger. There are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, famous explorers, a risk-averse boy, and a girl on a mission. Not to mention secrets not meant for the faint of heart. But if you are feeling bold, or maybe even a little italic, and if you enjoy derring-dos (and doing dares), this just might be the story for you.

Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that starts with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

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 her love of both writing and performing. She also has a cat named Atticus, who unfortunately despises teeny hats. Look for her online at AdrienneKress.com, and follow her on Twitter at @AdrienneKress.

Review: I love when narrators break the fourth wall if it is done well, and you’ll learn really early on that it is done well in The Explorers. This hilarious narrator takes us on this adventure with Sebastian, a character that very logical people will relate to, and Evie, a character that people who are bored unless they are on an adventure, will relate to that is filled with more action, adventure, and danger than I thought would come out of this little book. But don’t worry, the narrator keeps it light with funny chapter titles and footnotes. All of this combines to make a book that I loved quite a bit because it is just the perfect balance of adventure, humor, friendship, and mystery. Although, I must warn you about the cliffhanger–WHOA! I’m still recovering. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Door in the Alley has many opportunities to be a mentor text including discussing footnotes and breaking the fourth wall. Not many books use either of these yet The Door in the Alley uses both quite well. Discussing these will also lead to a perfect conversation about voice. Normally voice is saved for first person books but because we have a narrator that although not a character in the story definitely has a voice, it would be interesting to talk to students about how that worked in this book.

Discussion Questions: What do you think is going to happen in the next book?; Why do you think the author chose to have the narrator break the fourth wall and speak with you, the reader?; Sebastian and Evie are quite opposites, and normally they would seem like an odd pairing; however, they seem to work perfectly together–what do you think each of them brings out in the other?; Evie is searching for her grandfather because he is in trouble, but what is she truly searching for?; What do you think Sebastian’s parents are thinking right about now?!

Flagged Passages: “In all the confusion, with the pig and the teeny hat and the zigzag man, he had completely forgotten about the thing he had been trying to forget about. In one way, it meant he had done an excellent job at avoiding it up until now; on the other, it meant hat his guard had been down. For, sure enough, the man had turned down an alley. The only alley that existed on the street. That connect to another street. And there was only one thing down that alley.

Sebastian approached it with caution, his expression slowly morphing into one the pig had been wearing all the time. Terror. He stood at the end of the dark passageway and peeked his head around the corner only to see the man standing right by the door. And right under the sign that read…

The Explorers Society.” (p. 18-19)

Read This If You Loved: The Wig in the Window by Kristen KittscherFRAMED by James PontiLoot by Jude Watson, Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford, and other mysteries where kids have to solve a problem because adults won’t listen to them

Recommended For:

  litcirclesbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Visit the Other Stops on the Blog Tour: 

Date Blog URL
24-Apr Live To Read http://livetoread-krystal.blogspot.com/
25-Apr Imagination Soup http://imaginationsoup.net
26-Apr Mom and More http://momandmore.com
27-Apr Pandora’s Books www.pandorasbooks.org
28-Apr Mommy Ramblings http://www.mommyramblings.org
1-May The Lovely Books http://thelovelybooksbookblog.blogspot.com
2-May Batch of Books http://www.batchofbooks.com
3-May Oh, for the Hook of a Book! www.hookofabook.wordpress.com
4-May To Read, or Not To Read http://www.toreadornottoread.net
5-May Grandma’s Cookie Jar http://www.grandmascookiejar.net/
8-May Good Reads with Ronna www.goodreadswithronna.com
9-May Geo Librarian http://geolibrarian.blogspot.ca/
10-May Life By Candlelight http://lifebycandlelight.blogspot.com/
11-May Jumpin Beans http://jumpin-beans.blogspot.com/
12-May Always in the Middle https://gpattridge.com/
15-May Librarians Quest www.librariansquest.blogspot.com
16-May The Book Wars http://thebookwars.ca/
17-May Middle Grade Mafioso http://middlegrademafioso.blogspot.com/
18-May Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile http://www.hopelessbibliophile.com
19-May Tween You & Me http://tweenlibrarian.blogspot.com/
22-May Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
23-May Mundie Moms http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com 
24-May The Write Path http://www.dorinewhite.blogspot.com/
25-May foodiebibliophile.com www.foodiebibliophile.com
26-May Beach Bound Books http://www.beachboundbooks.com/
29-May Middle Grade Ninja http://www.middlegradeninja.com/
30-May Night Owl Reviews https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5
31-May Cracking the Cover http://www.crackingthecover.com 
1-Jun Jenni Enzor http://jennienzor.blogspot.com/
2-Jun Literary Hoots http://www.literaryhoots.com/
5-Jun From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/
6-Jun The Winged Pen http://thewingedpen.com/
7-Jun Operation Awesome https://operationawesome6.blogspot.com/
8-Jun Leeanna.me www.leeanna.me
9-Jun Bloggin’ ’bout Books http://www.blogginboutbooks.com
12-Jun YA Books Central http://www.yabookscentral.com/
13-Jun Ms. Yingling Reads http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
14-Jun MGMinded blog http://middlegrademinded.blogspot.com/
15-Jun Smack Dab in the Middle http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com/
16-Jun Swoony Boys Podcast www.swoonyboyspodcast.com
19-Jun Book Foolery http://bookfoolery.blogspot.com/
20-Jun Unleashing Readers http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
21-Jun Kit Lit Reviews https://kid-lit-reviews.com/
22-Jun The O.W.L. http://owlforya.blogspot.com

**Thank you to Josh at Random House Children’s Books for providing a copy for review and hosting the blog tour!**

 
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Henry and the Chalk Dragon
Author: Jennifer Trafton
Illustrator: Benjamin Schipper
Published April 4th, 2017 by Rabbit Room Press

Summary: In the town of Squashbuckle, just about anything can happen, and when Henry Penwhistle draws a mighty Chalk Dragon on his door, the dragon does what Henry least expects–it runs away. Now Henry’s art is out in the world for everyone to see, and it’s causing trouble for him and his schoolmates, Oscar and Jade. If they don’t stop it, the entire town could be doomed! To vanquish the threat of a rampaging Chalk Dragon, Sir Henry Penwhistle, Knight of La Muncha Elementary School, is going to have to do more than just catch his art–he’s going to have to let his imagination run wild. And THAT takes bravery.

About the Author: Jennifer Trafton is the author of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (Dial, 2010) which received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and was a nominee for Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award and the National Homeschool Book Award. Henry and the Chalk Dragon arose from her lifelong love of drawing and her personal quest for the courage to be an artist. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in addition to pursuing her love of art and illustration, she teaches writing classes, workshops, and summer camps in a variety of schools, libraries, and homeschool groups in the Nashville area, as well as online classes to kids around the world. To learn more, and to download free materials, visit jennifertrafton.com.

Critical Praise: 

★“A delicious face-off between forces of conformity and creativity run amok, spiced with offbeat names as well as insights expressed with eloquent simplicity.” —Booklist (starred review)
★“A perfect title to hand to young readers looking for laughs along with a wild and crazy adventure.”
                                                                                —School Library Journal (starred review)

Review: I love any book that promotes imagination, and it isn’t too often that you find a novel that is all about keeping your imagination. Henry’s story is a Pleasantville one–he lives in a boring town and takes boring classes, but when he closes his door, his imagination goes wild. It is when his imaginative Chalk Dragon escapes and wrecks havoc on his school does the power of an imagination really start to show. 

On a side note, and only some of you will understand this, but the cover of Henry and the Chalk Dragon is matte and SO SOFT!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Along with a read aloud, the text gives lots of opportunities to discuss imagination, art, and creative writing. Also, chunking the text to fit the most opportune times will lead to some great writing and art prompts.

Discussion Questions: How did the principal end up the way he is? How do we know that he was not that way when he was younger?; Was Henry’s class/school doing the best thing to promote Vegetable Week?; Which adults understand Henry and his imagination? Which hinder him?; How does the power of Henry’s imagination cause havoc on the school? How does it save the school?; What does Henry’s chalk dragon coming to life symbolize in the grand scheme of things?; What is the lesson that the author is trying to teach us about imagination and growing up?

Flagged Passages: “Henry recognized the curve of those horns and the arrow-tipped tail. He recognized every sharp green flick of scaly skin, every zigzag of the bony spines running down the creature’s back. It was his dragon. Just as he had imagined it. Just as he had drawn it. Here it was, standing in front of him! There was something brand new in the world, and he had put it there!

There is a kind of fear that squeezes your heart with an icy hand and freezes you into a popsicle. But there is another kind of fear that is thrilling and hot, that makes your fingers tingle and your toes tickle each other inside your shoes until you want to leap over the Empire State Building. Henry was afraid with this kind of fear, and it felt good.

The dragon stared back at him–up and down, from his sneakers to his shiny helmet. It did not look afraid of Henry. It spread its wings proudly. It stretched its scaly neck as high as it would go. Its mouth widened slowly into a dragonish grin.

How long had Henry been waiting for this moment? Here he was, in his shiny suit of armor, with a sword in his hand. And here was a real live dragon–a dragon who could knock the house down with a few flicks of its tail, who could eat his mother for breakfast, who could send a ball of fire bouncing down the street. He knew exactly what he had to do.” (p. 32-33)

Read This If You Loved: The Journey Trilogy by Aaron BeckerHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Other picture books that spark imagination

Recommended For:

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

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A Boy Called Bat
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Published March 14th, 2017 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

Critical Praise: 

“Delightful, endearing, and utterly relatable, Bat Tam is destined to be a dear and necessary friend for young readers. I adore him and his story.” — Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy

“Written in third person, this engaging and insightful story makes readers intimately aware of what Bat is thinking and how he perceives the events and people in his life. With empathy and humor, Arnold delves into Bat’s relationships with his divorced parents, older sister, teachers, and classmates.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Comfortably familiar and quietly groundbreaking, this introduction to Bat should charm readers, who will likely look forward to more opportunities to explore life from Bat’s particular point of view.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Brimming with quietly tender moments, subtle humor, and authentically rendered family dynamics, Arnold’s story, the first in a new series, offers a nonprescriptive and deeply heartfelt glimpse into the life of a boy on the autism spectrum.” — Booklist

About the Author: Elana K. Arnold grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet—a gorgeous mare named Rainbow—and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.

Review: A Boy Called Bat is one of those quiet yet impactful books that will find a special place in many hearts. The story is about Bat’s Asperger’s and his parent’s divorce without it being about that at all. The main character, Bat, is one of those special characters that as I was reading about him I knew that readers getting to know him will make them grow as people and that their empathy to fellow kids who may seem different will grow as well.

Bat’s story will not only appeal to our readers that love stories that promote empathy and understanding of others, Bat and his skunk, Thor, will definitely appeal to our readers who love animals. Bat’s mother is a veterinarian and Bat is 99.9% sure he is going to be as well. There are many animal references throughout the book, so these will all draw in readers who love animals. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to an amazing read aloud opportunity, I can definitely see the text being part of lit circles. Bat himself is unique, but he and his story remind me of so many other characters who I love and I wish all students would read about: Auggie from Wonder; Melody from Out of my Mind; David from Rules; Candice from The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee; Rose from Rain, Reign; and Adam from How to Speak Dolphin. All of these texts are must reads! I picture all of these texts with their extraordinary characters being part of lit circles with a focus on disabilities/disorders and empathy.

Discussion Questions: How did Thor help Bat grow emotionally? What changes did you see within him and his actions since getting Thor?; What persuasive techniques did Bat use throughout the book to work to try to get his mom to agree to let him keep Thor?; What makes Mr. Grayson a good teacher in general? A good teacher for Bat?

Teaching Guide: 

Flagged Passages: “‘Bat’ was what almost everyone called Bixby Alxander Tam, for a couple of reasons: first, because the initials of his name — B, A, and T– spelled Bat.

But there were maybe other reasons. Bat’s sensitive hearing, for one. He didn’t like loud sounds. What was so unusual about that? And if Janei’s old earmuffs happened to make an outstanding muffling device, was it that funny if he liked to wear them?

There was also the way he sometimes flapped his hands, when he was nervous or excited or thinking about something interesting. Some of the kids at school seemed to think that was hilarious. And, of course, bats have wings, which they flap.

So between the initials and the earmuffs and the hand flapping, the nickname had stuck.

And truthfully, Bat didn’t mind. Animals were his very favorite thing.” (p. 2-3)

Read This If You Loved: Any of the lit circle books I listed above

Recommended For:

  litcirclesbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall 

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Don’t miss out on the other stops on the blog tour!

March 1 Read, Write, Reflect
March 2 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
March 3 Bluestocking Thinking
March 6 The Official Tumblr of Walden Media
March 7 For Those About to Mock
March 8 Maria’s Melange
March 9 Novel Novice
March 10 Unleashing Readers
March 13 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
March 13 Mundie Kids
March 14 All the Wonders
March 15 Teach Mentor Texts
March 19 Nerdy Book Club
March 20 LibLaura5
March 22 Book Monsters
March 27 Librarian’s Quest
March 29 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
March 30 Lit Coach Lou

**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review!**

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