Chilly Da Vinci
Author and Illustrator: J. Rutland
Published by December 4, 2018 by NorthSouth Books
Goodreads Summary: While others do “penguin” things, Chilly da Vinci—self-declared inventor penguin, builds machines that don’t work…yet! Chilly ties into the popular “maker” movement with humor and imagination.
While others do “penguin” things, Chilly da Vinci—self-declared inventor penguin, builds machines that don’t work…yet!
Ricki’s Review: My son tells everyone that he is an engineer. He spends a lot of time drawing his inventions and then building them with blocks. Needless to say, he was thrilled about this book. Chilly is an inventor who builds machines that don’t work. This offers great opportunities for conversations about the revision process and the time and patience required for inventors to be successful. The book ties well with history and Da Vinci’s inventions. There is wonderful classroom potential with this book. The illustrations border realistic and fantastic, which makes for fun examinations across pages. This book will be a favorite in classrooms and it is quite inspiring. I am most excited about its interdisciplinary potential.
Kellee’s Review: The structure of this book is so interesting! It switches between the reality of Chilly’s situation and a narrative of possibilities and his imagination. This will lead to some amazing conversations and also gives an example of a different type of narrative. I also think that so much can be done with the different creations that Chilly makes looking at real inventions and the sketches and research of Leonardo da Vinci. On top of that, I love the message of Chilly’s journey! It is all about not giving up and never letting anyone tell you something isn’t doable. Oh, and he’s a super cute pengui
Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: Students might begin by investigating Da Vinci’s inventions and how they compare with those in the book. This offers a rich look into history. Then, students might draw out and design their own inventions. Working in small groups, they might try to build their inventions to experience and talk through the emotions that Chilly might be experiencing as he invents new creations!
- How do Chilly’s inventions compare with those of Da Vinci?
- What emotions and characteristics does Chilly display when his inventions don’t work?
- How does the author use personification to enhance the reading of this text?
- How might this book be different if Chilly was a person rather than a penguin? What does Chilly’s penguin character add to the story?
Read This If You Loved: Nonfiction books about Leonardo da Vinci, If Da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur by Amy Newbold, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
In honor of our favorite conferences—the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention followed by the ALAN (Assembly on Literature of Adolescents of NCTE) Workshop, we are doing a countdown over the next two weeks. Each day, we will feature a list that reflects the number of days left […]
In honor of our favorite conferences—the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention followed by the ALAN (Assembly on Literature of Adolescents of NCTE) Workshop, we are doing a countdown over the next two weeks. Each day, we will feature a list that reflects the number of days left until the conference! We can’t wait to see many of you there! If you can’t be there, make sure to follow #ncte18 and #alan18 on Twitter and other social media to participate in this amazing PD from your home.
1. Bob Books: Beginning Readers
Our boys LOVE these books. They feature stories that include predominantly three-letter (and some four-letter) words.
2. Bob Books: First Stories
These books are also a great help for our boys. They also feature short words, but each mini-book is a story.
Ricki: I’ll admit I never anticipated using workbooks with my kids. They don’t really align with my philosophy. But my son absolutely loves the map in this book and has so much fun doing it, and that makes me love it.
4. Flip-a-Word Book Series
Ricki: I am, admittedly, highly entertained by this series. They are fun for learning. My son used these when he was first learning to read.
5. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
6. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
7. One Lonely Fish: A Counting Book with Bite! by Andy Mansfield
Kellee: Trent has all three of these books memorized, but now that he is learning to read, he is making connections between the words he has memorized and the words on the pages.
Trent loves his magazines. He reads them in the car constantly and yells out the words he recognizes and sounds out other words.
Bone Soup: A Spooky Tasty Tale
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrator: Tom Knight
Published: July 24, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Goodreads Summary: Three little witches and a bunch of spooky characters come together to prepare a delicious batch of Bone Soup in this Halloween tale based on the beloved fable, Stone Soup. This just-scary-enough picture book comes with a recipe for Bone Soup—perfect for Halloween eating.
We’ve something usually good to eat!
One Halloween morning three witches are looking for a tasty treat and they find only a small bone in their cupboard. So they decide to go from door to door in their village to find just the right ingredients for their Bone Soup. No one in the village is convinced that soup can be made from a bone, until the littlest monster reveals just what the special ingredient should be.
My Review: We received this book earlier in the month, and we’ve read it dozens and dozens of times. I was very excited about it and have held it in my pocket for Halloween! If you enjoy spooky, fun tales, this book is for you. I find myself walking around repeating, “It’s bone soup! Soup from the bone!” and “Piff-Poof!” The text is quite catchy, and it’s a highly entertaining read-aloud. This is a book that parents and teachers will find extra fun for their classrooms and homes. I recommend adding Bone Soup to your Halloween collection!
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Students might take a trip outdoors and gather their own materials for bone soup. For instance, a stick could be imagined as the bone from a pirate. Grass might be the hair from a goblin. Then, they can take their materials inside and craft their own class story together.
- How do the sister witches interact?
- How do they build their bone soup? What do they add to it?
- What creative things would you add to your own bone soup?
Read This If You Loved: Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson, Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, Dragon’s Halloween by Dav Pilkey, Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex, Monster Mash (Babymouse #9) by Jennifer L. Holm, Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt; Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
“And They Lived Happily Ever After”
In the author talk I give to middle grade students, I like to ask why most books have happy endings. The typical answer I get is, “The good guy always wins, everyone knows that!” But then I challenge them to ask themselves why that is. Why is it that when Harry Potter faces off against Voldemort in the epic final wand battle, Voldemort is the one who gets blasted away and not Harry? Voldemort is, after all, the most powerful dark lord in all of Potterdom history and Harry is just a wizard boy. The answer I believe lies in the deeper reasoning behind why authors write books and the close relationship that develops between the reader and the hero/heroine in the story.
To simplify the general structure of a story involves a Main Character who encounters some kind of Problem (conflict) early on and the remainder of the book is about the Main Character taking steps, forward and backward, to solve the Problem. So, a book can be labelled as Character-Problem-Solution. There are of course many other elements but for simplicity, let’s focus on those three elements to see how they lead to happy-ever-after’s.
Beginning with the Main Character, it is important to keep in mind that when an author creates the central character, he or she is typically designed to appeal to the ideal reader. The character must be someone the reader can easily identify with and connect to, otherwise they are unlikely to turn the pages and continue reading. Harry Potter was written for kids so JK Rowling introduces him starting at age eight. Readers of Harry Potter reported feeling sorry for the mistreated boy who lived under the stairs and wanting to learn more about his fate. Suzanne Collins created an instant connection to her ideal teenaged reader by having Katniss Everdeen share on the very first page of the novel The Hunger Games that she not only disliked the family cat, Buttercup, but wished she had drowned it as a kitten. That kind of ugly internal thought can immediately reassure an angsty teen that this character is like them, filled with flaws, and not some hero sitting high on a perch. This allows an important connection to take place between the reader and the character. In my book The Red Sun, 12-year-old Sam Baron has a problem with his temper, and every time he loses it, things get worse, which is instantly relatable for those pre-teens struggling with emotions.
Next, the main character encounters a Problem. The bigger the problem, the bigger the character must rise up to be in order to defeat or solve the problem. Harry had a singular problem throughout the entire series—Voldemort wanted Harry dead. Had Voldemort been a clerk at the local wand store, it would have been a minor bump in the road, but Voldemort was the most powerful wizard lord in all of Potterdom, and as he grows in power, so too must Harry in order to survive. Katniss Everdeen has a huge problem—it’s not a fight to the draw, it’s a fight to the death in the Hunger Games, and the odds of her surviving are extremely low. Sam Baron also has a big problem-his temper has triggered an ancient curse that affects the sun, arguably one of the most powerful objects in our universe, and every time Sam loses his temper, another red vein appears across the face of the sun, poisoning the land, until.…everyone….is….going…..to…..die… because face it, if everyone was going to get a bad sunburn, the stakes wouldn’t be as high and the reader’s emotions wouldn’t be as charged.
As the pages fly by, the Main Character attempts to solve the Problem—sometimes stumbling, sometimes making progress, but along the way, a magical thing takes place. If someone were to ask you to read their mind, you could guess at what they were thinking, but they could always lie and say you were wrong. We don’t always tell the truth about what we’re thinking. But all that changes when we read a book. We are invited into the point of view of the character and so we know exactly what they are thinking—if they are scared, cold, angry, in pain, lying, or filled with remorse. Every single emotion or thought they have, ugly or not, is shared with the reader so that they know this character inside and out. If the author has done their job right and created a character the reader connects with, and then takes them on an intimate journey of sharing the adventures together, it makes sense that upon arriving at the grand finale, the reader is going to be rooting for that Main Character to win the day. And while there is no law that states the author must deliver on this promise, I believe that authors don’t write books to rip out the hearts of their readers, but rather, they write books to deliver hope, that if Harry can defeat Voldemort, I can win my battles. If Katniss can survive the Hunger Games, maybe I can survive high school. If Sam can defeat the curse hanging over his head, maybe I can defeat the cloud of doubt hanging over mine. If in the end, the Main Character fails to solve their Problem, we leave our reader with a depressingly familiar message—life isn’t fair—and things don’t always work out. We read books to escape, to have an adventure, to feel something powerful, but in the end, we want to cling to our beliefs that there is good to be found, and hope abounds.
About the Author: Alane Adams is an author, former professor, literacy advocate and founder of Rise Up Foundation. She is the author of the Legends of Orkney fantasy mythology series for tweens and The Coal Thief, The Egg Thief, and The Santa Thief picture books for early-grade readers. Her newest books, The Blue Witch, first in The Witches of Orkney series (a prequel trilogy for middle grade readers) and The Circus Thief, a picture book for young readers, will be published by SparkPress in Fall 2018. Alane travels the country each year, visiting hundreds of students, bringing a fun and inspirational program to motivate readers. She welcomes the chance to come to your school. Learn more about Alane Adams and request a free school visit at www.alaneadams.com.
The Blue Witch
Published October 23rd, 2018 by SparkPress
About the Book: Before Sam Baron broke Odin’s curse on the witches to become the first son born to a witch and the hero of the Legends of Orkney series, his mother was a young witchling growing up in the Tarkana Witch Academy. In this first book of the prequel series, the Witches of Orkney, nine-year-old Abigail Tarkana is determined to grow up to be the greatest witch of all, even greater than her evil ancestor Catriona. Unfortunately, she is about to fail Spectacular Spells class because her witch magic hasn’t come in yet. Even worse, her nemesis, Endera, is making life miserable by trying to get her kicked out.
When her new friend Hugo’s life is put in danger by a stampeding sneevil, a desperate Abigail manages to call up her magic―only to find out it’s unlike any other witchling’s at the Tarkana Witch Academy! As mysteries deepen around her magic and just who her true parents are, Abigail becomes trapped in a race against time to undo one of her spells before she is kicked out of the coven forever!
Rich in Norse mythology, The Blue Witch is the first of a fast-paced young reader series filled with magical spells, mysterious beasts, and witch-hungry spiders!
The Circus Thief
Illustrator: Lauren Gallegos
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018 by Spark Press
About the Book: The circus is in town, and Georgie has his heart set on going. When Papa agrees to take him and his friend Harley, the boys marvel at the amazing elephants and clowns. But the best act of all is the amazing Roxie, a trained horse who can do all sorts of tricks. When Georgie is invited to ride on her back, he discovers it’s her last show―Roxie is going to be sent to the work farm! When Roxie bolts with Georgie on her back, Papa must come to his rescue.
The Circus Thief is a heartwarming tale of boyhood set in 1920s Pennsylvania.
Thank you, Alane, for this hopeful and insightful post!
Sun! One in a Billion
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Stevie Lewis
Published October 23, 2018
Summary: From the author of Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years comes a new picture book about space—
this time starring our Sun!
Meet Sun: He’s a star! And not just any star—he’s one in a billion. He lights up our solar system and makes life possible. With characteristic humor and charm, Stacy McAnulty channels the voice of Sun in this next celestial “autobiography.” Rich with kid-friendly facts and beautifully illustrated, this is an equally charming and irresistible companion to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years.
Ricki’s Review: This is my new favorite book about space. (And I have read a lot of books about space.) The author perfectly balances factual information and appeal. The illustrations pop off of the page, and the planets, sun, etc. are personified. I feel very lucky to have received this book for review. I am quite excited to read it to my son tomorrow night. I think I smiled throughout my entire reading of the book. If you are interested in space, get this book. It includes facts that were new to me, and the back matter offers a wealth of information for readers who want to delve deeper.
Kellee’s Review: The humor that Stacy McAnulty adds to her books about space really add to the engagement factor (for both the reader and listener); the Sun’s attitude in this one actually made me laugh out loud while reading, but I also learned some pretty cool facts while reading. I know that this book is going to be in our rotation because Trent wants to be an astronaut, and this one was an instant hit! I am so glad that there are amazing space books out there that add something new to the conversation and go about the information in a new and funny way! I really hope that this series continues because I’d love to see the personalities of all of the other parts of our solar system (and maybe some cool space objects from other systems!).
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to pick one fact in the book that makes them want to learn more about the world. They could look, for example, into a planet, or into the history of Earth. This inspires student-centered inquiry about a topic of choice!
- How is the text structured in ways that are engaging and interesting?
- What new facts did you learn?
- Which page was your favorite, and why?
- Did this book inspire you to want to learn more about any topics or information?
Read This If You Love: Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty; Science, Space, Picture books with humorous narrators like It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk & Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex
**Thank you to Kelsey at Macmillan for setting up the blog tour for Sun!**
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo that Changed the World
Author: James Gladstone
Illustrator: Christy Lundy
Published October 15th, 2018 by OwlKids
Summary: 1968 was a year of unrest: many nations were at war. People marched for peace, fairness, and freedom. At the same time, the Apollo 8 crew was about to go farther into space than anyone had gone before–to the moon.
As they surveyed the moon’s surface, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 looked up just when Earth was rising out of the darkness of space. They saw the whole planet–no countries, no borders. The photograph they took, Earthrise, had a profound effect when published widely back on Earth, galvanizing the environmental movement, changing the way people saw our single, fragile home planet, and sparking hope during a year of unrest.
This important and timely picture book is publishing to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, telling the story behind the photograph, both inside the spaceship and back on Earth. Text includes dialogue pulled from NASA’s Apollo 8 transcript, drawing readers into the moment Earth was first photographed in color from space. An author’s note at the end explains more about the photograph, the Apollo 8 mission, and how Earthrise went on to inspire Earth Day.
About the Author: JAMES GLADSTONE is an editor and author of books for children. His great fondness for planet Earth inspired him to write Earthrise. James is also the author of When Planet Earth Was New and Turtle Pond. James lives in Toronto, Ontario.
About the Illustrator: CHRISTY LUNDY enjoys exploring the relationship between characters and their environment in her work. She designs locations and creates background paintings for children’s animated shows, as well as doing editorial illustrations for a wide variety of clients. Earthrise is her first children’s book.
Praise: A Junior Library Guild Selection, 2018; Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Review: My son wants to be an astronaut, so I have read many space books; however, I never tire of them because there is just so much to learn about when it comes to our space history, space future, and space in general. I, of course, had seen the Earthrise photograph, but I did not know its story nor did I know about the importance of Apollo 8, so I enjoyed learning about the voyage (and going on a bit of a Google spiral after learning more). Gladstone did a great job incorporating the mission with life on Earth in 1968 as well as getting specific about the mission but without getting so specific that readers will be lost. I also am a huge fan of Lundy’s illustrations which are purposeful in their use of line and color and have a huge impact on the book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are many photographs that can be used in conjunction with the picture book including the original Earthrise and photographs of the astronauts, the rocket, and 1968.
This year is the 50th anniversary, so it would be fantastic to introduce students to this mission as many may not know it, and Earthrise is a perfect way to introduce it, and there are many aspects of the text that can be applied to standards in addition to its ability to be a perfect read aloud.
- How did the image taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft effect civilians when they saw it?
- How was this different than the live feed that was sent earlier in the mission?
- Based on the book, what has changed over the last 50 years?
- Saturn V and Apollo 8 took off together–how was the rocket/space craft set up?
- The author seems to have two purposes in writing this story–what do you think they are?
- How did the images back on Earth help tell the story of the Apollo 8 mission?
Read This If You Love: Space, Learning about History, Astronauts, Photography/Art Impact
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
Author: Traci Sorell
Illustrator: Frané Lessac
Published September 4, 2018 by Charlesbridge Publishing
Summary: A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to […]
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
Author: Traci Sorell
Illustrator: Frané Lessac
Published September 4, 2018 by Charlesbridge Publishing
Summary: A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
Appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah
Review: This beautiful book makes for a wonderful read-aloud. I loved the repetition and the different things to be grateful for. The images are captivating, and I found myself slowing down as I read and turned each page. The seasons shift through the text, which offers great opportunities for discussion. Indigenous people are often perceived to be people of the past, but this book demonstrates that they are living, breathing people. The culture is very much alive. I’ll be gifting this book to several friends with young children.
Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: Students might list the different things that they are grateful for and draw accompanying pictures. It offers great opportunities for discussing how Native people still exists and are not relics of the past, reserved for discussions on Thanksgiving day.
We Flagged: “…while we collect buckbrush and honeysuckle to weave baskets.”
Read This If You Loved: The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz; Dreamers by Yuyi Morales; The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
**Thank you, Donna, from Charlesbridge Publishing for sending a copy for review!**
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