A Brief History of Life on Earth
Creator: Clémence Dupont
Published March 19th, 2019 by Prestel Junior
Summary: The story of life on earth unfolds in dramatic fashion in this amazing picture book that takes readers from 4.6 billion years ago to the present day.
It’s difficult to grasp the enormous changes life on Earth has undergone since it first came into existence, but this marvelously illustrated book makes learning about our planet’s fascinating history easy and entertaining. In an accordion style, the series of pages take readers through every major geological period, with bright artwork and detailed drawings. Opening on lava-filled oceans and smoking volcanoes, the book unfolds, era by era, to show how life evolved from tiny protozoa and crustaceans to dinosaurs and mammals.
Fully expanded to 8 meters (26 feet), this spectacular visual timeline is a very impressive panorama that reveals evolution in all its glory. Each page is brimming with illustrations that readers will turn to again and again. A celebration of life, this extraordinary and beautiful book illuminates the history of Earth for young readers in an unforgettable and delightful way.
About the Author: Clémence Dupont is an illustrator living in Strasbourg, France. This is her first book.
Review: This book is so beautiful, useful, and just plain neat! First, I love that it folds out (as does Trent!):
When folded out, it reaches 26 feet with one side showing the images created by the author for each of the time periods while the other side has a timeline which is to scale showing how long respectively each time period was.
This book is a work of art. How each time period stands alone yet also is part of the entire timeline when folded out is beautiful to see. Additionally, I adore the artist’s technique of art with rough edges and bright colors.
Each spread focuses on one time period and the life on Earth at the time with a brief write up in the bottom left corner; however, many of the organisms/animals/plants not mentioned in the paragraph are labeled allowing readers to jump into inquiry about them if they wish.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Did anyone else do the activity in elementary school where the teacher had the class convert the miles(?) between planets into centimeters then had the class create a to-scale solar system showing just how far apart the planets are? This book reminds me of that activity in that it shows the true expanse of time Earth has existed versus the very small time humans have. I would use this timeline to create a similar to-scale idea for students to show the history of life on Earth.
Also, as I stated above, each time period only has a brief write up and leaves much to research if one is interested.
- What surprised you about the history of life on Earth?
- What did the timeline on the back show you about the history of life on Earth?
- When did dinosaurs appear? When did the first human ancestor appear? (etc.)
- What animal surprised you that has been around a long time?
- What do you believe is the author’s purpose in creating the book in this structure?
- How did the Earth change from one period to the next? Take two periods and compare and contrast them.
Read This If You Love: Animals, Biology, Geology, Earth’s history
Anything Can Happen in Mrs. Whynot’s Room
Author: Jayne Peters
Illustrator: Traci Van Wagoner
Published October29,2014 by Puddle Duck Publishing
Summary: In Mrs. Whynot’s classroom writing is magical; pencils hover and clay characters come to life. But… everyone has something they find difficult and Marcy is no […]
Anything Can Happen in Mrs. Whynot’s Room
Author: Jayne Peters
Illustrator: Traci Van Wagoner
Published October29,2014 by Puddle Duck Publishing
Summary: In Mrs. Whynot’s classroom writing is magical; pencils hover and clay characters come to life. But… everyone has something they find difficult and Marcy is no exception. She would like to do ANYTHING but write. She has NOTHING to write about. By talking to her classmates, playing with words and listening to stories Marcy realizes she has lots of tales to tell.
Classroom Ideas Written By the Author:
To the reader, once a book has been published, writing can seem magical and easy. (Disclaimer: There is some magic in Anything Can Happen in Mrs. Whynot’s Room) However, writing is the product of many hours of thinking, talking, questioning, observing, reading, and imagining with a huge amount of perseverance, grit and love. These are some of the skills our students need to further their creative journey and their love of reading and writing.
So let’s start with the first hurdle. Everyone, at one time or another, struggles with capturing ideas to write about. Mrs. Whynot, in Anything Can Happen in Mrs. Whynot’s Room, generates excitement and urges her students to think differently. She encourages discussion and creativity when she hands each student a hunk of clay that can be molded into any character they’d like. She wants them to write about everyday things and to use their imagination. Students learn they have full control over their story and that anything can happen as long as they can convince their reader. Mrs. Whynot gives some good advice when she says, “Write about what you know! Write about what you do! But most importantly, write about what you love!”
Read Aloud: Discussion Questions
Look at the cover
- Who are the author and illustrator?
- What do you notice?
- What do you think the book will be about?
- What characters would you expect to find in the story?
- Do you think Mrs. Whynot’s name was chosen for a reason?
Read the back cover
Synopsis: In Mrs. Whynot’s classroom writing is magical; pencils hover and clay characters come to life. But… everyone has something they find difficult and Marcy is no exception. She would like to do ANYTHING but write. She has NOTHING to write about. By talking to her classmates, playing with words and listening to stories, Marcy realizes she has lots of tales to tell.
- What do you know now?
- What is one thing you find difficult?
- Page 4: Look at the door. It says “Imagination Required”. What does that mean?
- Page 4: Why did the author use the word trudged? If she used skipped, walked, ran, plodded, etc… would they mean the same thing? Discuss the importance of using verbs that carry the message you want as an author.
- Page 15: What do you think the grayed illustration represents? (Could she be imagining herself restless and tired as she tries to come up with an idea? Could she be thinking that her ideas are so boring, everyone has fallen asleep?
- Page 29: “She bounced up to the whiteboard and whirled around to face the class.” Discuss how Marcy is feeling now. What words did the author use to help you understand how she feels?
- Page 32: Talk about the gray bubble. (Do you think she is continuing her story that she shared with the class?)
- Was the title an appropriate one? Why or why not? What would you call the book if it was your story?
- Can anyone make connections to Marcy? (Text to self, text to text or text to world)
- Make a list like the one below with the students as you discuss all of the things Marcy did to help her become more comfortable and confident writing:
- Molding a clay character
- Talking about and listening to ideas
- Creating an authority list
- Making an “All About Me” collage
- Getting ideas from other stories and changing them to suit your writing
- Becoming a word sleuth
- Carrying a writer’s notebook everywhere so that you can write down ideas
- Have students:
- create an “authority list” in their writer’s notebook listing all of the things they know about or like
- create an “All About Me” collage to jumpstart their ideas
- keep lists of interesting words as they are reading or listening to others. Interesting verbs can be especially useful.
- Talk about their writing ideas and tell lots of oral stories
- Teach students to “Show Don’t Tell” when they write. When we read we often need to infer (read between the lines) so when we write we need to show the reader what is happening instead of telling them.
Example: (Page 12) Marcy gulped, her hands began to sweat, and she stammered, “But I can’t write.” How is Marcy feeling? Nervous? Afraid? Unconfident? That’s way more interesting than if I just said: Marcy was nervous. “But I can’t write,” she said.
- Page 24: We hear the beginning of Larissa’s story. Challenge students to finish it. I would love to hear about the mischief Herman gets himself into
- Pages 31-32: Finish Marcy’s story for her. Figure out what the promise was her dad made to the witch and write about it.
- Traci Van Wagoner did an amazing job illustrating Anything Can Happen in Mrs. Whynot’s Room. Learn more about her: https://tracivanwagoner.blogspot.com/ https://www.tracivanwagoner.com/
- Have students mold their own clay characters and use them in their next story.
About the Author: Jayne Peters is an elementary school teacher/ literacy mentor who has taught in Nova Scotia for twenty-five years. As a child she loved sneaking up on tadpoles, late night reading under the covers and spending time at the cottage. Today, she loves watercolor painting, sunny days and country music. She currently lives in a house filled with red heads, loves molasses on “Grampy’s” homemade bread and wants the covers to stay neatly tucked in at night. When she isn’t teaching, reading or writing you will find her practicing yoga and spending quality time with her family. She is the author of Messy Jessy, Messy Jessy Get’s Active and Whispering Wings (available both in French and English). Jayne lives in Lantz, Nova Scotia, with her husband and their three children. Visit her website at http://puddleduckpublishing.com
About the Illustrator: Illustrator Traci Van Wagoner holds degrees in illustration from Utah State University and in toy design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. A longtime member of SCBWI, Van Wagoner has illustrated many children’s books, and her work appears in magazines, newsletters, and on toys and games. When not painting, she is designing and developing games with her husband at Imagine That! Design, gardening on her roof, or walking her dog in the BIG city. Her motto is live, laugh, and learn.
Thank you, Jayne, for your great classroom ideas with your book!
Tiger Days: A Book of Feelings
Author: M.H. Clark; Illustrator: Anna Hurley
Published: February 5, 2019 by Compendium
Summary: From tiger fierce to snail slow, there are lots of ways to feel and be. A walk through the menagerie of Tiger Days helps young readers see all the feelings they have and the ways those feelings change. Through playful rhymes and colorful illustrations, this spirited book gives children new tools to understand the range of their emotions and express themselves to family, teachers, and friends.
Ricki’s Review: Compendium books always make me smile, and this book was no different. I have a two-year-old, and we talk a lot about feelings. I think this one will be particularly helpful in our discussions because he loves animals. The metaphor of animals as a way to express feelings is brilliant. We are going to keep this book nearby at all times, so I can say things like, “Are you having a Bull Day today?” For older kids, the book offers an accessible way to consider metaphor.
Kellee’s Review: Everyone has different moods each day. I, for example, have a mood calendar in my classroom that I use to show my students how I am feeling because, you know what? Some days are tiger days for me too. But as an adult, it is easy(ish) for me to identify how I am feeling, but kids have to be taught to understand feelings and emotions, and Tiger Days is a perfect foundation to start this conversation. (And P.S. LOVE the fuzzy cover!)
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might use this book to introduce the idea of the metaphor. Older elementary school students could then create their own “Book of _________” using a metaphor. For instance, they might consider creating books like, “Color Days: A Book of Passions” and use colors as a metaphor for different types and levels of passion. It would require some scaffolding and careful planning, but it allows students to apply the concept of the metaphor to the world. Younger students might extend the book, instead, and create their own animal pages to create a classroom book of feelings.
- Which animal page was your favorite, and why?
- If you could add one more animal to the book, which one would you pick? What feeling would it represent?
- Which animal day are you having today, and why?
Read This If You Loved: The Color Monster by Anna Llenas; The Feelings Book by Todd Parr; In My Heart by Jo Witek
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Published December 4, 2018 by Running Press
Summary:From award-winning author Stacy McAnulty comes a sweet story about love and what it’s really all about.
What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids will find love everywhere in this delightful book. It can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in your lunchbox, or a family singing together on a car trip, and it isn’t always what you expect!
With delightful illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff and sweetly simple prose by award-winning author Stacy McAnulty, thisis the perfect book to teach children what love means, why it’s important, and how they can spread the love in their daily lives.
My Review: This is a very heart-warming book. I received it on Valentine’s Day, and my kids and I have read it dozens of times. It would make a wonderful gift to a friend or family member because it offers many angles for the power of love. This book offers a lot of teaching potential as students explore abstract concepts and the idea of the metaphor. One thing, in particular, that I like about this book is that it resists the commercialization of love. As readers might see in the spread below, “love needs special presents” but those presents are homemade or expressed with kindness. This is a very touching book, and I think readers will find joy in it.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’d love to have students take an abstract concept (hope, grief, etc.) and create their own books to parallel this one. It would require a lot of brain power and would help students explore the idea of metaphors in their writing. I might even offer poetry that does this (e.g. “Hope is a thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson).
- What is love? Who do you love?
- How do you express your love?
- Write your own page to add to this book. How does it fit in with the other pages?
Read This If You Love: Love. And who doesn’t?
What If…? Then We…: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Possibilities
Author: Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Illustrator: Fred Koehler
Published February 19th, 2019 by Boyds Mills Press
Summary: Two polar bear friends have a thrilling adventure as they imagine solutions to a variety of possible situations; their story will show readers how to create their own tales in response to the question “What if…?” in this ingenious picture book.
“What if . . . we got lost far, far, far away, and couldn’t find our way home? Then we would become the bravest explorers in the world.” So begin the adventures of two intrepid polar bears. Traveling on a ship imagined from an iceberg, the bears encounter magnificent sights and scary situations. When a city made of crayons melts, the bears use pencils to create a beautiful gray world. When all the words in the universe disappear, the bears invent their own language. When something really big and really scary happens, they whistle and hold hands until it’s not as big or scary anymore. And when they find their way back home, they’re ready to imagine a thousand more possibilities.
This companion title to the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book One Day, The End. is ultimately a book about imagination, friendship, and finding possibilities in the smallest moments.
Review: Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Fred Koehler are a super team! I love so many of their books without each other and their books together are only that much more special. Their imagination will take readers on adventures through places they’ve only dreamt of and will help them realize that their imagination can take them anywhere they can dream of. This newest book by the duo not only promotes imagination but also grit, courage, resilience, and friendship. These two polar bear cubs go on a fantastical adventure which will leave the readers wanting to know what is going to happen next. This book is full of possibilities in story that will be adored by so many readers!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: WRITING MENTOR TEXT ALERT! Two ideas: 1) Have students write and illustrate their own “What If…? Then We…” stories. 2) Have students illustrate the words in the original text showing what else the words could mean.
- What if? Then We!
- What other adventures could this story have been telling?
Read This If You Love: One Day, The End by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; Super Jumbo by Fred Koehler; Penguin books by Salina Yoon
Don’t miss the other Blog Tour stops:
Monday, 2/11 Simply 7 Interview
Tuesday, 2/12 Storymamas
Wednesday, 2/13 Librarian in Cute Shoes
Thursday, 2/14 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Friday, 2/15 Miss Marple’s Musings
Monday, 2/18 Bridget and the Books
Tuesday, 2/19 Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
Thursday, 2/21 KidLit Frenzy
Friday, 2/22 Unleashing Readers
Book Seed Studio
**Thank you to Boyds Mills for providing books for review and giveaway!**
It’s Not Hansel and Gretel
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Anticipated Publication: March 1, 2019 by Two Lions
Goodreads Summary: In the fairytale mashup, Hansel and Gretel talk back to the narrator, refusing to play their roles.
About the Creators:
Like Hansel and Gretel, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and recently; How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios; and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.
Edwardian Taylor has worked as a visual development artist and character designer in the game and animation industry. He illustrated the picture book Race!, written by Sue Fliess and the chapter book Toy Academy: Some Assembly Required, written by Brian Lynch. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter @edwardiantaylor.
Ricki’s Review: When I brought this home, my sons squealed. My two-year-old ran into his room to grab It’s Not Jack in the Beanstalk to prove that he saw comparisons between the two books. We’ve had this book for a couple of weeks, and I’ve read it numerous times. It’s very fun to read aloud, and the story offers so much for teachers and classrooms (see below). The book makes me laugh, and I love the addition of adult humor to keep me as entertained as my children. When I teach my college course of Teaching Reading, we talk about picture books that are transferable to secondary classrooms, as well. This picture book would serve as a great mentor text within middle and high school classrooms. It is wonderfully conceived and cleverly written.
Kellee’s Review: As a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, I love when authors come up with a new and unique concept around the tales that we all know and love, and Josh Funk has done just that again taking the hilarity of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk to a whole new level! The addition of a second character to interact with the narrator made the humor double the fun. And don’t think that this is just a normal Hansel and Gretel story with a twist, it is a Gretel and Hansel story with a twist! I love that Josh Funk could take something we know and love and still surprise us–that shows talent and a book that is going to be loved for a long time!
Side note: I was lucky enough to receive two copies of this book, so I shared one with Trent’s classroom, and I have been told it is the book he picks up each day! Here is a picture of him reading it to a classmate by using visual cues.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book offers so many opportunities for students. To support writing, students might use this book to retell a fairy tale of their own or as a mentor text to add humor to their work. To support reading and speaking, this book would be wonderful to use for readers’ theater! And just for fun, teachers might turn this book into a scavenger hunt! Every page has a plethora of well-known characters, and they are fun to find!
Discussion Questions: What story does the narrator want to tell? How does it get interrupted?; There are two parallel sides to this story. Which did you believe? Do you think that the parents really lost Hansel and Gretel? Why or why not?; How do the author and illustrator add humor to the story?
Read This If You Loved: 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
**Thank you go Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for providing copies for review and giveaway!**
HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY, TRENT!
I cannot believe my boy is five and will be entering elementary school next year. He is everything anyone would want in a kid including kind, respectful, empathetic, and smart. And not to mention, a kid who loves books!
According to Goodreads, where I try to keep as accurate as possible statistics on what Trent reads with us, he read 146 books in this year taking his total to 577 books in his life time!
Today, I am going to share with you his current favorite reads and his reasons why he loves them. He chose these books for me to include and the reasons why are in his own words:
“They have fliporamas! They show us cool stuff. Petey lets everyone go in their underpants. Dog Man is funny!”
“I like how Nibbles chomps stuff. I like that he gets away.”
“I like how Pooh talks, and he finds a balloon. Eeyore is my favorite. I like how Eeyore talks and sits. Bei Bei (Trent’s stuffed Panda) sits like him, too.”
“It is funny. Bob’s tongue gets stuck on Pluto. Pluto is cold and has a lot of ice. It’s the smallest planet and is in our solar system, but his new name is dwarf planet. Beep is an alien.”
“Pete makes a robot who is his friend robot Pete. Robot Pete does whatever Pete says to do. And Pete loves bananas though he ate a rotten one, so his mom tries to give him every food that there is.”
“I like about Dragons Love Tacos that they eat so much tacos. If there is salsa in the tacos, they will spit fire all over the place. It makes me scared, but I like it because it is cool.”
“The kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk. The kitten is sad because he can’t find milk. But the book ends okay when he goes to his house. The kitten is cute.”
“I want to be an astronaut when I grow up and study space, so I like these two books because they help me learn about space.”
“I like how they build a new bridge and everyone helps. Everyone has a job in Tinyville Town.”
“Grandpa promised to take the grandchildren to the park, but he lost some things, and I like finding things for him.”
“He tries to find life on planet Mars. He found a flower, but he didn’t see the big cat person. I want to go to Mars.”
“I like how they go in a cave. They are dragons. I want to get the third book to see what it’s about. I think they’re going to find their mom and dad.”
“I like how they honk. I like how they count.”
“I like how he misses friends when he is on the moon, and I like how he puts his flag on the moon. And I like how he runs on the moon. I like penguins. And I like astronauts.”
“I like how Jo sees that her dad is sick, so she tries to help him. She thinks the ocean has monsters, but it doesn’t. It has beautiful things and some islands.”
“I like how Bruce goes BRUGH, and Bruce always says bad things to the other animals, but Bruce isn’t bad. I like Be Quiet because I think is funny and I think the other one is funny too because the dinosaur eats her classmates.”
“I like how we slide the things over to see the animals. I like that I can read it by myself.”
“I like how they do different things like how they have a lemonade stand and how they get their things stuck in the tree and use a ladder to get their stuff. Everyone tries to get Little Duck’s kite. But all of their things get stuck in the tree. Even the ladder got stuck in the tree, too. I think they are good stories.”
“I like how the Pigeon doesn’t do what he’s supposed to like take a bath. The Pigeon is grumpy which is funny.”
“I like how I know how to read them!”
Happy birthday and happy reading, Trent!
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