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“Shadow & Bone: Readers vs. Non-Readers”
by Amy Calvo, Rising 10th Grader & Kellee’s Student 2017-2020

Shadow and Bone, a popular young adult trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, was recently adapted by Netflix into its own 8-episode series. Netflix decided to mix  Six of Crows, the best-selling duology of Bardugo’s, into the plot line.. It wasn’t only fans of the original trilogy and duology excited for the upcoming television series, many people outside of the book world were eager to see the show after the trailer was released on February 26th, 2021. When the show came out a month later, there were many mixed reviews. The show has remained in Netflix’s Top Ten with a 7.5 out of 10 stars from IMDB and a 86% from Rotten Tomatoes. But there was a question many critics prompted: would the show be as enjoyable for non-readers? Would the adaptation fall short in the eyes of fans of the original series? 

We sat down with Paola Mendez, a fan of the show who has never read the books and got her insight on the question. 

“I am very satisfied with the show,” Mendez said. “It was fun, action-packed, and emotional.” 

She touches on different aspects of the show that impacted her: the characters, the fantasy version of racism displayed in the show, etc. Although Mendez admits the magic system became muddled and confusing, her enjoyment far outweighed the cons. When asked if she would consider reading the original Shadow and Bone trilogy, she explains: 

“I’ve heard many people say the show is better than the books [so] I’m a bit scared that the books wouldn’t live up to the show I’ve come to love.” 

To answer the question if readers or non-readers preferred the show better, we asked Duda Guedes and Estela Rivera to add perspective. Both of the young girls enjoyed the trilogy and duology and were excited to speak on the adaptation. When asked what fell short in the adaption, both agreed that Kaz Brekker, one of the many ruthless characters, was made “too soft”. But their opinions varied on how satisfying the show actually was as a whole. 

“I am satisfied with the show,” Guedes answered. “I feel like they managed to blend new elements…and make something that feels really familiar but is still a new adventure.” 

Rivera on the other hand admits that although she was satisfied to a certain extent, many of the differences from the page to the screen didn’t work for her. She uses character changes, abandoned plot points, and more to explain her quails with the series. 

“I feel since I have been a huge fan of the books, the fact that a lot of things were adapted differently didn’t resonate with me at all,” Rivera ends with. 

All in all, through the differing opinions, it seems readers and non-readers liked the show for what it was. Even through the changes or confusion, they all agreed the show adapted as well as it could. 

“It’s similar to getting a new book in the same universe,” Duda Guedes said. “The differences [are what] keep you on the edge of your seat.” 

Have you read or seen Shadow and Bone? Where do you fall in this discussion?

Thank you so much, Amy, for sharing your article with us and looking into how the show was received by readers versus non-readers of the series!

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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

Recommended For: 


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

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Pink Is for Boys
Author: Robb Pearlman
Illustrator: Eda Kaban
Published: June 5, 2018 by Running Press

Goodreads Summary: An empowering and educational picture book that proves colors are for everyone, regardless of gender.

Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.

Parents and kids will delight in Robb Pearlman’s sweet, simple script, as well as its powerful message: life is not color-coded.

Ricki’s Review: I have two sons. I very much appreciate all of the wonderful girl-empowering books that have been published recently. I am constantly shooting up my fist and shouting “Hooray!” when these books are published. But as a mom, I appreciate even more the opportunities to tell my son, “Yes, it’s okay that your favorite color is ‘rainbow,'” “No, boys are not necessarily better at fixing things” (I’ll secretly admit that this one is actually true in our house—my husband is an engineer), or “Yes, it’s okay if your favorite Disney song is ‘Let It Go,’ even when you are the only boy in your class who thinks this.” (I should backtrack here and say that Moana is far better than Frozen.)

I have one more anecdote. The day after I read this book to my son, I went to a birthday party with my sons. My 19-month-old crashed into a boy who was about 2 and half. My kid, who is oddly resilient, popped right up, but the other boy cried. His dad said, “You need to man up. Boys don’t cry.” This kind of stuff has to end. It’s only with the publication of books like these that we will be able to defy these gender norms that drive me bonkers. Pink is for boys.

The basic (but well-conceived) drawings of this book make it shine. The point is clear—and younger readers will easily make sense of it. The characters are drawn as simple sketches and are understated. This makes the message all the more powerful. 

Kellee’s Review: My son loves all the colors. Except, according to him, pink and purple. Where did this come from?! In my house, all colors are wonderful colors and girls and boys can like and do whatever they want, but he must have been told by someone ‘out there’ that pink and purple are girl colors, and Trent, wanting to be accepted, now felt he couldn’t like these colors. I try to counteract this notion in my house, but it is ‘out there’ that minds need to shift or I am fighting a battle so much bigger than I may be able to handle. When will we [general societal we] stop saying “You throw like a girl” as an insult or “Man up” as a way to tell kids to not cry?! I can teach my son to be a feminist, but until things like those stated above change, society will always be pushing against what I am teaching him at home. 

Within the text, in addition to promoting the brilliance and beauty of all colors, I also truly appreciated how the characters were diverse in all aspects of the word and that the author purposefully rotated between girls and boys & boys and girls to show that neither deserves to go first.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book makes us itch to teach young kids. We would ask students to create their own versions (or posters) of this book. For example, they might create books called Crying is For Boys or Dirt is for Girls. As a secondary teacher, this book would be a great discussion starter about gender prejudice and assumptions in society.

Discussion Questions: How does the illustrator use simplistic drawings to better convey the meaning of the text?; How does the author convey the message implicitly and explicitly?

Flagged Passage:

Read This If You Loved: Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, The Boy In the Dress by Michael Walliams, The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein

Recommended For: 

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

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Ellie Engineer
Author: Jackson Pearce
Published January 16th, 2018 by Bloomsbury USA

Summary: Ellie loves to build. She’s always engineering new creations with the help of her imagination and her best friend Kit. Unfortunately, with Kit’s birthday just around the corner, the French-braiding machine Ellie built turns out to be more of a hair-knotting machine. What’s Ellie going to do? Luckily, the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about Kit’s surprise – it must be the dog she’s always wanted! Ellie is struck with inspiration: she’ll build Kit the best doghouse ever! The project quickly becomes more than just a present for Kit – it builds a bridge between Ellie and those bothersome neighbor boys, as well as the other handy girls in her class.

Designed to look like Ellie’s notepad, with pencil-on-graph-paper illustrations of her projects interspersed throughout the book, Ellie, Engineer inspires creative and crafty girls to get hands-on with their imagination. Ellie’s projects range from the simple (using a glass against a wall to amplify sounds), to the practical (the doghouse), to the fantastical (a bedroom security system featuring spikes) – encouraging readers to start small but think big. Ellie’s parents support her engineering experiments, with important safety tips sprinkled throughout, and her relationship with Kit is a glowing example of positive female friendship. They share their hobbies – Ellie likes to get her hands dirty, while Kit prefers ballet – reminding readers that there’s no wrong way to be a girl. Ellie’s hand-drawn tool guide at the end explains basic tools in accessible terms, rounding out this fun and funny adventure, and giving girls everything they need to be their own Ellie!

About the Author: Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters RedSweetlyFathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).

ReviewI so often hear stories from women my age that share that they loved science or nature or math when they were younger but that they were steered away from that those interests in little ways that they don’t even remember, but they do remember just not loving science anymore. This is exactly the scenario that has raised awareness in the need for STEM or STEAM books, programs, and role models for young girls. Ellie Bell is a perfect girl for this mission! Ellie wants to be an engineer when she grows up and even has her own workshop where her parents give her free reign to work on projects (with the safer tools–power tools require supervision). Pearce has even set up Ellie Engineer to include drawings and plans for Ellie’s projects to show readers how Ellie goes from an idea to a project. And Ellie’s story is one that all readers will connect with as well, so it is a win-win in narrative and STEM!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Books like Ellie need to first be found more in classrooms and libraries. That is step one! After that, I think that using Ellie’s process for keeping track of her projects and how she brainstorms and plans could be an amazing exemplar for a classroom of students who are embarking on project-based learning.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which of Ellie’s projects would you build?
  • How has the way Ellie’s parents parented helped Ellie become the engineer she is?
  • How did Ellie’s assumptions about the boys in her neighborhood stop her from seeing their real personalities?
  • What does Toby teach us in the story? The Presidents? Kit?
  • Compare and contrast Kit’s mom and Ellie’s mom.

Flagged Passages: 

Ellie’s plan for building her friend a dog house:

Read This If You Love: Ellie Ultra by Gina Bellisario; Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina; Bea Garcia by Deborah Zemke; Cody and the Fountain of Happiness and Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe by Tricia Springstubb; Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins; The Trouble With Ants by Claudia Mills;Lola series by Christine Pakkala; Salem Hyde series by Frank Cammuso; Here’s Hank series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver; Bramble and Maggie series by Jessie HaasFlora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo; Eleanor series by Julie Sternberg

Recommended For: 


**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters and to Bloomsbury for providing a copy for review!**

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Story Path: Choose a Path, Tell a Story
Author/Illustrator: Madalena Matoso
Published March, 2017 by Kane Miller EDC Publishing

Summary: Where you go, whom you meet, what you do next — it’s all up to you…

Travel along the story path and discover an enchanted world where princess battle with hairy monsters and vampire cats zoom through the galaxy on silver unicorns!

This innovative picture book allows you to choose your own characters, settings, and plots at every turn. With quirky illustrations by the award-winning Madalena Matoso, this is an imaginative storytelling experience for children of all ages.

Review: I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was younger because it made you part of the story to an extent that other books didn’t because you get to be the actual creator of the plot. Story Path does just this but for a younger audience! The author set up the book in a very friendly way that gives lots of options but also is easy to follow. On each page, the story continues with a beginning of a sentence like “One day, they were riding along on their…” and the reader then gets to pick from a set of illustrations. This spread includes options like a two-headed dragon, rocket ship, horse, boat, or an elephant. Then after the choice is made, the author included guiding questions to ask the reader like “What did you choose? What noise did it make? How fast was it? Where were they going?” This helps add even more to the story that the reader is creating. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could take narrative writing to a new level in the early elementary classroom! As students are first learning how to write stories, Story Path can help guide the writers through characters, setting, and plot yet each writer would have a different story.

Discussion Questions: What story did you create? Why did you pick what you did? What can you add to your story?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Choose Your Own Adventure books, Journey trilogy by Aaron BeckerHenri Mouse by George Mendoza

Recommended For:


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

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Penguin Random House Audio Urges Americans to Listen to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence This Fourth of July

The publisher will offer a free audio stream of both founding documents June 27‒July 31

NEW YORK, NY (June 23, 2017) – We can all agree that the Fourth of July is America’s most patriotic holiday, but how much do we really know about what we’re celebrating? Recent surveys indicate that most Americans lack basic civics knowledge—only 25% of U.S. adults can name all three branches of government, and more than 30% are unable to name even a single branch. This is a significant decline over previous years, according to a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The common foundation laid out in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is precisely what unites us as Americans.In this divisive political climate, where debates about checks and balances saturate our daily news cycle, it is crucial that we all understand for ourselves how our government works.

To encourage all Americans to read and appreciate our founding documents, Penguin Random House Audio is joining with award-winning authors and like-minded partner organizations, including PEN America and the National Coalition Against Censorship, to stream audio recordings of both the U.S. Constitution, narrated by Boyd Gaines, and the Declaration of Independence, narrated by Frank Langella, under the banner “We the People Listen.”

On Tuesday June 27, numerous partner organizations and bestselling authors will support this inclusive campaign by sharing a link to the audio stream, using #WeThePeopleListen.

“For many of us, it’s been years, if at all, since we’ve read the Constitution or the Declaration,” says Amanda D’Acierno, SVP and Publisher, Penguin Random House Audio. “Taking a little time this early summer to listen to these talented narrators bring the text alive is something we all need to do as we celebrate Independence Day this year.”

Listeners can stream the recording of both the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence until July 31

About the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 as an act of rebellion, the Declaration of Independence powerfully expresses the political principles of an emerging nation. As justification for severing ties with England, the Declaration of Independence presented a list of grievances against the King and declared the colonies to be sovereign states.

About the U.S. Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.…

Ratified in 1788, the U.S. Constitution remains a shining example of patriotism and compromise. In outlining the power of the three branches of government and establishing the rights of all Americans, the Constitution united the thirteen independent states and set forth the official viewpoint of a newly unified nation. Its most significant and insightful feature is that it can always be amended.

About Penguin Random House Audio:

As the premier publisher in the audiobook industry, Penguin Random House Audio is dedicated to producing top-quality fiction and nonfiction audiobooks written and read by the best in the business, including books by bestselling authors John Grisham, Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, Kathryn Stockett, Khaled Hosseini, J.K. Rowling, and Rick Riordan, as well as Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Our audiobooks have won 14 Grammy® Awards, 74 Audie® Awards, and 17 Odyssey Awards and Honors. Random House Audio, and its sister imprints Penguin Audio, Listening Library and Books on Tape, are a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

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One Word from Sophia

One Word from Sophia
Author: Jim Averbeck
Illustrator: Yasmeen Ismail
Published June 16th, 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: Sophia tries varied techniques to get the giraffe she wants more than anything in this playfully illustrated story about the nuances of negotiation.

Sophia has one true desire for her birthday. But she has Four Big Problems in the way: Mom, Dad, Uncle Conrad…and Grand-mama.

Will her presentations, proposals, and pie charts convince them otherwise?

Turns out, all it takes is one word.

Ricki’s Review: As teachers, we are always asking students to expand their ideas and add detail. To be perfectly honest, I never taught brevity, and this is reflected in my constant battle to stay under word counts! This text will open up valuable conversations about how we can use a variety of methods to persuade our audience. Sometimes, being direct and brief is the best route. It might be confusing to kids who constantly hear the opposite, so I would work with students to analyze this text. I loved the way the author integrated great vocabulary words. Along with those words (which he defined), there are other great words for students to grapple with. I would read this text with my students to help them with the language. I had a lot of fun reading this text, and I think kids will love it, too.

Kellee’s Review: This is a book that adults will find funny and kids will connect with because they all want something. I enjoyed the introduction to the cast of characters and how Sophia changed her speech depending on who she was speaking to. It shows the importance of audience when speaking or writing. I also loved the way that each character had a very set personality which was showed in their behaviors, words, and looks.

I really love the artwork of One Word. The crazy lines and paints mixed with pencil really add character to the book. I liked the facial expressions, as well. This really added to the characterization within the book.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might consider using this book to introduce a persuasive writing book or to teach a lesson about audience. The students can discuss the different ways they might persuade their audience and how they have to consider what is and isn’t appropriate for the task.

Discussion Questions: Why must we always consider our audience when we write? In what ways does Sophia try to persuade her audience? What works in the end, and why?; Which method would have worked best to persuade you?


Blog Tour Stops:
10/19/2015 – Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
10/20/2015 – Jennifer at Reederama
10/21/2015 – Franki and Mary Lee at Two Reading Teachers
10/22/2015 – Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers
10/23/2015 – Crystal at Reading Through Life
10/24/2015 – Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy
Jim Averbeck’s Website:
Jim Averbeck on Twitter:
Yasmeen Ismail’s Website:
Yasmeen Ismail on Twitter:
Simon and Schuster: One Word From Sophia
Simon and Schuster Kids on Twitter:

Read This If You Loved: I Wanna Iguanna by Karen Kaufman Orloff, Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book by Richard Scarry, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Recommended For:



**Thank you to Jen Vincent for hosting the blog tour and to Atheneum Books for providing copies for review!**

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