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A Place Inside of Me
Author: Zetta Elliot
Illustrator: Noa Denmon
Published: July 21, 2020 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)

Summary: In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.

There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.

Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketballuntil his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.

In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child’s experiences following a police shooting―through grief and protests, healing and community―with washes of color as vibrant as his words.

Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers―children and adults alike―talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.

My Review: Whew. This is a powerful text that is accessible to all ages. I could imagine reading this to a class of elementary schoolers, and I could imagine reading it aloud to a group of adults. The book is a poem that reads in layers. It offers a surface-level understanding for beginning readers and also offers a rich conception and application for more mature readers. Following a police shooting, the narrator feels a wealth of very real emotions, and each spread navigates the emotions with beautifully woven language and powerful images. I believe that Zetta Elliot is one of the greatest authors of our time, and I felt this book in my gut. It is a must read.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might use this text to unpack the many levels of emotions that students experience with events. One way to use this book is to ask students to pick a recent event and write a poem about the varied emotions they felt (or feel) regarding the event.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the author and illustrator depict the emotions within the text?
  • What nuances do you see in the different emotions?
  • How can we use this text to enact change in our community?

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Read This If You Love: I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, You Matter by Christian Robinson, I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët

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Leave It to Abigail!: The Revolutionary Life of Abigail Adams
Author: Barb Rosensock
Illustrator: Elizabeth Haddeley
Published: February 4th, 2020 by Little, Brown and Company

Summary: In this inspiring tribute, award-winning author Barb Rosenstock and New York Times bestselling artist Elizabeth Baddeley tell the true story of one of America’s greatest founding mothers: Abigail Adams.

Everyone knew Abigail was different.

Instead of keeping quiet, she blurted out questions. Instead of settling down with a wealthy minister, she married a poor country lawyer named John Adams. Instead of running from the Revolutionary War, she managed a farm and fed hungry soldiers. Instead of leaving the governing to men, she insisted they “Remember the Ladies.” Instead of fearing Europe’s kings and queens, she boldly crossed the sea to represent her new country. And when John become President of the United States, Abigail became First Lady, and a powerful advisor.

Leave it to Abigail–an extraordinary woman who surprised the world.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the official educators’ guide for Leave It to Abigail (created by me!):

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Fight of the Century here.

Barb Rosenstock also created two other resources for educators:
A Pinterest Board
A Text Set

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Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

 

Dear readers,

I have just come across this amazing book in the library and it is called The Crayon Man: the True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow! I read it the first time to my four-year-old sister, and we love it! I bet you would love it too. This book is recommended for ages 6-9 on Amazon but I think it is great for any age.

Edwin was an inventor in the late 1800’s. He loved colors and was the actual inventor of the Crayola crayon! This book talks about how he worked on his invention to make it perfect. His wife encouraged him and actually came up with the name! He had made gray, white and really black crayons but his wife and family kept telling him what he could do to make them better and one major idea was to make them in different colors. At the end the book even shows how Crayola Crayons are made today and lists different steps with photographs!

I love this book because of its beautiful illustrations. They bring amazing colors into the picture and really make me feel like I am there. Another reason I love this book is because it makes great read-alouds!!! When I read this to my preschool sister who is four she said “This book is amazing!” Another great thing about this book is that it is good for questions. For example, you can ask your students or children to name the colors in the Crayola crayon package or you can just enjoy reading it through and ask a question like “Who was your favorite character and why?” or something like “How do you think Edwin felt when he ran home to his wife with his new invention?”. One last reason why I love this book is you can make tons of crafts out of it! For example, I told my sister to draw a few things out of the book using crayons. Here is the final product!

**Thanks so much to Sofia for this awesome post! Victoria, your drawing ROCKS! We loved having you this week, too!**

 

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It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Anticipated Publication: October 27, 2020 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: Once again, the beleaguered storyteller tries to tell a traditional fairy tale, with little success. Red has some questions about her delivery to Grandma’s house, the wolf calls in sick, and more chaos ensues.

About the Creators: 

Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of many popular picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and the It’s Not a Fairytale books, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. He lives in New England with his family. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks and Instagram: @joshfunkbooks.

Edwardian Taylor is the illustrator of multiple children’s books, including Race!, written by Sue Fliess; the Toy Academy chapter books, written by Brian Lynch; and the It’s Not a Fairytale books, written by Josh Funk. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com.
Twitter: @edwardiantaylor
Instagram: edwardiantaylor
Tumblr: Edwardian Taylor

Review: With each book that comes out in this series, I have a long, intense internal debate. I ask myself, “But which one in the series is your favorite NOW?” And I simply cannot decide. Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor’s It’s Not a Fairytale books are the best picture book fairytale retellings that exist. I know that’s a bold statement, but it is the truth. If you’ve missed this series, you must order copies from your nearest bookstore. They are such beautiful, thoughtful texts, and they inspire amazing classroom opportunities and critical thinking.

When I pulled out It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood, I suspect the shrieks of joy from my children could be heard by passersby outside of my house. These books are so cherished in our home. I’ve had It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood about a week, and I think we’ve read it about fifteen times (no exaggeration). Similarly to the other books in the series, Red is smarter than the narrator, and she tells her own story and does so boldly. Readers will laugh aloud as they read it! It offers good critical discussions about the stories we hear and read. I loved it and can’t wait to read it (several times) tomorrow. Thanks so much to Josh and Edwardian for another great book in this series!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great to read as a Readers’ Theatre. Students could read different characters and the narrator aloud to create a powerful effect. Fairy tale retellings offer great opportunities for kids to tell counterstories to the narratives that are popular in society or the media, and teachers might ask students to write retellings and counterstories to those that are commonly told.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How would you describe Red?
  • How do the author and illustrator work together to create a story?
  • What aspects of the retelling are different from the traditional fairy tale? What does this make you think about when you consider the original fairy tale? How is the story improved in this retelling?

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Giveaway:

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Read This If You Loved:  It’s Not Hansel and Gretel by Josh Funk, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk; 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

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for providing copies for review and giveaway!**

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William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad
Author & Illustrator: Don Tate
Publication Date: November 1, 2020 by Peachtree Publishing Company

Summary: You might be familiar with Harriet Tubman and other key leaders of the Underground Railroad, but do you know about the Father of the Underground Railroad?

William Still’s parents escaped slavery but had to leave two of their children behind, a tragedy that haunted the family. As a young man, William went to work for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, where he raised money, planned rescues, and helped freedom seekers who had traveled north. And then one day, a strangely familiar man came into William’s office, searching for information about his long-lost family. Could it be?

Motivated by his own family’s experience, William began collecting the stories of thousands of other freedom seekers. As a result, he was able to reunite other families and build a remarkable source of information, including encounters with Harriet Tubman, Henry Box Brown, and William and Ellen Craft.

Don Tate brings to life the incredible, stranger-than-fiction true story of William Still’s life and work as a record keeper of enslaved people who had fled to freedom. Tate’s powerful words and artwork are sure to inspire readers in this first-ever picture book biography of the Father of the Underground Railroad.

About the Author: DON TATE is the award-winning illustrator of numerous books for children, including Carter Reads the Newspaper, and is the author and illustrator of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton for  which he won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. He is also the co-contributor to the Brown Bookshelf, a blog designed to raise awareness of African Americans writing for young readers. He lives in Austin, Texas. Visit his website at www.dontate.com.

Review: I think history education is one of the ways I was let down as a kid, so I adore when I learn about a piece of history or a historical figure that we should all know about but has been left out of “chosen” history.

William Still was a huge part of abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, and the history of freed enslaved Americans. Based on Don Tate’s story, I learned that his transcription of the oral history of freedom seekers is how we know about many of the stories that are shared including Harriet Tubman’s and Henry Brown’s.

Don Tate’s book beautifully illustrates through his artwork and words the power of William Still and his impact on our history. We are lucky to have this book out in the world!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: 

Peachtree Publishing has provided a downloadable poster which I love!

https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/William-Still-and-His-Freedom-Stories_poster.pdf

Flagged Passages: 

Read an excerpt of the book here: https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/WilliamStillandHisFreedomStoriesExcerpt.pdf 

Read This If You Love: History, specifically the Civil War, Emancipation, Underground Railroad; Don Tate’s books

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**Thank you to Elyse at Peachtree for providing a copy for review!**

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Sometimes a Wall…
Author: Dianne White; Illustrator: Barroux
Published: October 15, 2020 by OwlKids

Summary: An afternoon in the playground introduces different kinds of walls: a brick wall to draw on with chalk, a water wall, and a climbing wall. What follows is a playful yet profound exploration of the many ways walls can divide us or bring us together. When one child is excluded from a game, another builds a castle to leave him out. When the builder declares the castle MINE, other kids feel alienated―but the builder becomes lonely, too, when the others have fun without him. The book ends with the optimism of a new start: friendship, forgiveness, and imagination give the wall new meaning.

Told with short, simple lines of playful, rhyming text and loose line illustrations by internationally known artist Barroux, this book sparks questions with empathy, insight, and charm. It’s a timely tool for inquiry-based and social-emotional learning, sharing the important message that walls can unite or divide, depending on the choices we make. 

“Rhyme, rhythm, and simple art—all including references to walls—show children expressing different emotions and behaviors… Mending walls for the nursery crowd.” –Kirkus Reviews

Review: My own children have been asking about walls. They hear about them in school (in preschool and first grade), and they come home with a lot of questions. This book offers such great fodder for conversations about walls. The wall in this book evolves, and it is up to the reader to interpret many aspects about the wall and its purpose. I love how this opens discussions for what walls might represent and how they might differ in various conceptions. For instance, the wall in this book might be described as a border wall or it might be describe attached to a metaphorical or ideological wall. This is a book that will make readers of all ages think. I read the book three times in a row (which is not often my approach) because I kept thinking about new applications of the text. This would make a phenomenal classroom text and would be great for critical thinking and discussions. I recommend it highly.

Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: I’d love to use this book to teach the concept of a metaphor. For me, the wall in this text can be used as a metaphor to talk about a lot of concepts (concrete and abstract).

The “Why” Behind the Book:

A Letter to Parents and Educators

A Letter to Young Readers

Discussion Guide:

Sometimes a Wall… Discussion Guide

A Lesson In 3 Movements:

• Intro to the Unit (PLEASE READ FIRST!)

• What’s Different About Reading Wordless/Nearly Wordless Picture Books?

• 1st Movement: TOGETHER (I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët)

 2nd Movement: APART (Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi)

• 3rd Movement: REGRET. NEW START? (Sometimes a Wall … by Dianne White, illustrated by Barroux)

Coloring Pages For Younger Students:

We Are Kind coloring page

Be Kind coloring page

Discussion Questions: 

  • What might the wall represent?
  • How does the wall evolve in the text?
  • What kinds of walls do you have in your life? Do they serve good or bad purposes (or both)?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët, Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi, The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

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Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote
Author: Barb Rosensock
Illustrator: Sarah Green
Published: February 25th, 2020 by Calkins Creek

Summary: The fight for women’s suffrage between women’s rights leader Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson is presented as a four-round boxing match in this nonfiction picture book.

When Woodrow Wilson was elected President, he didn’t know that he would be participating in one of the greatest fights of the century: the battle for women’s right to vote. The formidable Alice Paul led the women’s suffrage movement, and saw President Wilson’s election as an opportunity to win the vote to women. She battered her opponent with endless strategic arguments and carefully coordinated protests, calling for a new amendment granting women the right to vote. With a spirit and determination that never quit–even when peaceful protests were met with violence and even when many women were thrown in jail–Paul eventually convinced President Wilson to support her cause, changing the country forever.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the official educators’ guide for Fight of the Century (created by me!):

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Fight of the Century here.

Barb Rosenstock also created two other resources for educators:
A Pinterest Board
A Text Set

Recommended For: 

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