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5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
Author: Mark Siegel & Alexis Siegel
Illustrator: Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun
Published May 2nd, 2017 by Random House for Young Readers

Summary: The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves and more to their worlds than meets the eye. . . .

  • The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.
  • A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
  • Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!

About the Authors and Illustrators: 

Mark Siegel has written and illustrated several award-winning picture books and graphic novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sailor Twain, or the Mermaid in the Hudson. He is also the founder and editorial director of First Second Books. He lives with his family in New York. Follow Mark on Tumblr at @marksiegel and the 5 Worlds team on Twitter at @5WorldsTeam.

Alexis Siegel is a writer and translator based in London, England. He has translated a number of bestselling graphic novels, including Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, Pénélope Bagleu’s Exquisite Corpse, and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (into French).

Xanthe Bouma is an illustrator based in Southern California. When not working on picture books, fashion illustration, and comics, Xanthe enjoys soaking up the beachside sun. Follow Xanthe on Tumblr at @yumbles and on Twitter at @xoxobouma.

Matt Rockefeller is an illustrator and comic book artist from Tucson, Arizona. His work has appeared in a variety of formats, including book covers, picture books, and animation. Matt lives in New York City. Follow him on Tumblr at @mrockefeller and on Twitter at @mcrockefeller.

Boya Sun is an illustrator and co-author of the graphic novel Chasma Knights. Originally from China, Boya has traveled from Canada to the United States and now resides in the charming city of Baltimore. Follow Boya on Tumblr at @boyasun and on Twitter at @boyaboyasun.

Critical Praise: 

“[A] dazzling interplanetary fantasy . . . that will easily appeal to fans of Naruto or Avatar: The Last Airbender.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“With sensitive writing, gorgeous artwork, and riveting plot, this is a series to keep an eye on.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“This stellar team has created a gorgeous and entrancing world like no other!”—Noelle Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Nimona

“Epic action, adventure, and mystery will draw you in, but the heartfelt characters and their seemingly impossible journey will keep you turning the pages.” —Lisa Yee, author of the DC Super Hero Girls™ series

Review: I am always amazed when I read a book and the concept is so unique and well-crafted that I am in awe of every page and cannot predict anything that is coming. The Sand Warrior did just that. The Siegels have created a whole new world (well, five worlds, and I do really appreciate them including a map of the world at the beginning of the book to help the reader navigate) as their setting which allows for infinite possibilities of story.  

In addition to the new, cool setting, the characters in the book are so interesting! Each of them have their own unique backstory (and I look forward to learning more about them in future books) and are just so different. Oona is living in her sister’s shadow and struggling to be what everyone expects of her. Jax is perfection on the field but hasn’t really had a chance to live. And An is hiding a terrible secret and has had a rough life. Each of these characters has a trait that a reader will connect to and even if they don’t, as you read you really want to know more about them.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: You know that reader that loves Doug TenNapel and Kazu Kibuishi but you have run out of things to recommend to them because they are so picky about their graphic novels? Well, they are going to love this one (and some of the others I listed below). This is a must buy for classroom (and school) libraries!

Discussion Questions: Would you have made the same decision Oona made?; Did you predict the twist about Jax?; What do you think is going to happen in book 2?

Behind the Scenes of 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior: 

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Read This If You Loved: Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, Bad Island by Doug TenNapel, Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence, The Time Museum by Matthew LouxRed’s Planet by Eddie PittmanSpace Dumplins by Craig Thompson, Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson

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**Thank you to Josh at Random House for providing a copy for review!**

 

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars
Author and Illustrator: Nathan Hale
Published March 29th, 2016 by Abrams Books

Summary: “Remember the Alamo!” That rallying cry has been a part of Texas lore for generations. But who were the ragtag group of adventurers behind the famous slogan, and how did they end up barricaded in a fort against a Mexican army? Who survived, who died, and how? This sixth book in the bestselling Hazardous Tales series tracks the Lone Star State’s bloody fight for independence from the Mexican government. It features the exploits of the notorious Jim Bowie, as well as Stephen Austin, Davy Crockett, and other settlers and soldiers who made the wild frontier of Texas their home—all told with the inimitable style and humor for which Nathan Hale is known.

Teaching Guide with Discussion Questions and Activities from Abrams by ME!, Kellee Moye: 

How to use this guide

  • For Alamo All-Stars, opportunities to have discussions and complete activities across different content areas are shared. In the “Fun Across the Curriculum” section, these activities and discussion questions are split into subject areas and are written as if they are being asked of a student.
  • At the end of the guide, Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards are listed that can be met when the books are extended using the activities and discussion questions.

Fun Across the Curriculum

  • Language Arts
    • The title page and the cover show two different illustrations of the Alamo. Compare and contrast the illustrations. Using information from the text, when is the cover illustration from, and when is the title page illustration from?
    • Why would Alamo All-Star need two narrators, Nathan Hale and Vincente Guerrero, while all of the other Hazardous Tales books only needed Hale? How would the story have differed if only Hale had narrated the book? What about only Guerrero?
    • On page 10-11, Guerrero uses the metaphor of a set table to describe Texas in the 1820s. Why does he use this metaphor to describe the state of Texas at this time?
    • On page 18, Hale uses another metaphor of an explosive barrel to illustrate the situation Austin and his settlers were in. How does an explosive barrel and Austin’s situation relate to each other?
    • After researching cholera (science section), look at Hale’s personification of the disease on page 37. Why did he choose this creature to embody cholera?
    • Many different events and problems caused Santa Anna’s army to be able to easily defeat the Texans at the Battle of the Alamo. Create a cause/effect graphic organizer showing the correlation between different events leading up to the Battle of the Alamo and the fall of the Alamo.
      • For example:
    • Much of what happened at the Alamo during the infamous battle as well as stories about Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie have become an American legend. What is a legend? Why has some parts of the story of the Alamo become a legend and not a complete factual part of history?
    • Throughout the book, Hale includes direct quotes from primary sources. How do these quotes enhance the story? How are primary sources more reliable when sharing historical events than secondary sources?
  • History/Social Studies
    • The page of Texas on the end sheets shares the different battles during the Texas revolution. Using Alamo All-Stars, convert the map into a timeline by graphing each battle on the date/year they were fought.
    • Using the text feature on pages 10-11 that shared the 1820s Texas settlers, answer the following: how did each settler threaten each other? Why was Texas such a treacherous place at this time? Who was the rightful settler of Texas?
      • Then, split the class up into 8 groups and assign a group of settlers to each group of students. They then should research the group, and determine how they ended up in Texas, why they felt they deserved to stay in Texas, etc.
    • Page 12 defines a filibuster and gives an example of one. What other famous filibusters have happened in history? Use the Wikipedia article “Filibuster (military)” and its resources to learn about other filibuster expeditions. Unlike the James Long Expedition, were any successful?
    • Throughout the book, Mexico goes through different types of governments: a monarch (inferred from p. 16), a republic (mentioned on p. 17), and a despotic (mentioned on p. 40). Compare and contrast the similarities and differences of the different types of governments.
    • Page 88 shows one of the many flags that have flown over Texas. Using the Texas State Historical Information article “Flags of Texas” and the Flags of the World website, learn about all of the different flags that Texas has flown. Why have so many flown over Texas? Where does the phrase “six flags of Texas” come from?
    • On page 104, Santa Anna compares himself to Napoleon. How are the two men similar? How do they differ?
    • On page 113, Hale jokes, “Don’t feel bad. Everyone forgets about Goliad.” Why do you think the Battle of the Alamo is remembered by so many while the massacre at Goliad is not?
    • Why are Travis, Seguin, Bowie, and Crockett pictured on the front of Alamo All-Stars? Is this who you would consider the all-stars of the Alamo? If not, why not? If so, what did they do to deserve that title? Is there anyone else you would consider an Alamo all-star?
  • Science
    • Cholera killed tens of thousands in the summer of 1833 including Bowie’s wife and her family. What is cholera? How does it spread? Why did Bowie’s family try to travel north to escape it?
    • On page 47, Noah Smithwick was quotes sharing that one member of the Gonzales army had a nose bleed; however, he used scientific terms such as nasal appendage and sanguinary fluid. What do these terms mean?
  • Math
    • On page 31, Rezin Bowie mentions that they were outnumbered 14 to 1 during the battle. Using the illustrations and clues in the “Jim Bowie and the Lost Mine” section to determine how many men were on Bowie’s side and how many men they fought and defeated.
    • Santa Anna’s army outnumbered the Texans by a large amount. Using the information shared about the number of men in each side of the battle, determine an approximate ratio of the battle.
      • After you estimate using Alamo All-Stars, research the actual number of men at the battle and determine the ratio. How close was your estimate?
  • Foreign Language (Spanish and French)
    • Throughout the text, different Spanish words are used, many of which can be defined using context clues or connecting to the English language because they are cognates with a word you already know. Look through the book, and try to define all foreign language vocabulary. Some words throughout the book:
      • El Gran Libro Enorme de la Historia Mexicana (p. 6)
      • ejercito de las tres garantias (p. 9)
      • empresario (p. 12)
      • mucho (p. 16)
      • viva la revolución (p. 21)
      • fantástico (p. 31)
      • Dios y libertad (p. 36)
      • alcalde (p. 45)
      • fandangos (p. 72-84)
      • voy a firmarlo (p. 98)
      • mes amis (p. 103 | French)
        • Which words were easier to define? Why were they easier?
  • Music
    • At the Battle of the Alamo, both Santa Anna’s army and the Texas army played music (p. 91). Research to determine what music was played at the battle. Why would they play music while preparing for a battle?

The teaching guide, along with the other books in the series, can also be viewed at: https://www.scribd.com/document/326377929/NathanHale6-TeachingGuide or http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic-resources/teaching-guides/

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The Time Museum
Author: Matthew Loux
Published February 21st, 2017 by First Second

Summary: The internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!

Review: Delia’s life changes drastically when she learns the truth about her uncle and his career running the Time Museum. Unlike any museum that she’s ever been too, the Time Museum curates directly from historical periods by traveling through time. Because of her love of science and high intelligence, Delia is chosen not to only spend some time at the Time Museum but also to compete with five others for a coveted internship! This competition includes challenges that take them to different points in time and a task they have to compete. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Loux’s adventure-packed though humorous sci-fi novel will find a wide range of readers because it hits on so many different genres and is so well done. This is definitely a book to pick up for your graphic novel, sci-fi, and adventure fans! (Oh, and as a teacher, I mus say I love the theme!)

Discussion Questions: If you found the Time Museum, what time period would you want to visit?; Which of the characters have traits that are most similar to you?; What are the dangers of time travel? Do you think it’s worth it?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, HiLo by Judd Winick

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In 2016, I am so proud of myself that I read 291 books! My goal was 250, so I surpassed it–YAY! Last year I finished 288, but I was able to keep track of first reads of so many picture books that I have now read over and over again and wasn’t able to put as 2016 books because I wanted to keep their original date on Goodreads, so I am considering this year a much better reading year.

Today, I want to share with you 60 favorites (broken up into 5 categories) from the 291 that I read in 2016. If you haven’t read any of these, put them on your TBR now!!!!!
*These are books I read in 2016, not books that were published (only) in 2016
**In no particular order
***I included links to Unleashing Readers reviews if I wrote one

My 15 Favorite Fiction Picture Books I Read in 2016

hug-machine one-day shy A Child of Books Rosie Revere

ada twist iggy peck pirasaurs the day the crayons came home thank you book

a piece of home return we found a hat dear dragon nibbles

Reviews: 
Shy by Deborah Freedman
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Pirasaurs! by Josh Funk
A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts
Return by Aaron Becker
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Dear Dragon by Josh Funk
Nibbles: The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

My 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2016

giant-squid adas-violin antsy-adams Dorothea's Eyes radiant-child

i-dissent hillary rodham clinton some-writer Enchanted Air loving-vs-virginia

Reviews:
Antsy Ansel by Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock
Hillary Rodham Clinton by Michelle Markel

My 5 Favorite Graphic Novels I Read in 2016

hilo-3 outside-circle Nameless City narwhal alamo

My 20 Favorite Middle Grade Novels I Read in 2016

orbiting-jupiter perry-t-cook seventh-wish ghost charmed-children

some-kind-of-happiness counting-thyme echo upside-down-magic cloud-and-wallfish

SUMMER final cover image (2) still a work in progress moo ms bixby masterminds

war that saved far-from-fair sophie quire honest truth raymie

Reviews: 
Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

My 10 Favorite Young Adult Novels I Read in 2016

honestly-ben last-true-love-story more happy than not rescued salt to the sea

all american boys mexican darkest-corners great-american all fall down

Reviews: 
Rescued by Eliot Schrefer
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

This year was a phenomenal reading year; I hope yours was too! Here’s to another year full of books and stories!

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

How the World Was

How the World Was: A California Childhood 
Author: Emmanuel Guibert; Translation: Kathryn Pulver
Published: July 15, 2014 by First Second

Summary: In 1994, French cartoonist Emmanuel Guibert befriended an American veteran named Alan Cope and began creating his new friend’s graphic biography. Alan’s War was the surprising and moving result: the story of Cope’s experiences as an American GI in France during World War II.

How the World Was is Emmanuel Guibert’s moving return to documenting the life of his friend. Cope died several years ago, as Guibert was just beginning work on this book, but Guibert has kept working to commit his friend’s story to paper. Cope grew up in California during the great depression, and this remarkable graphic novel details the little moments that make a young man’s life…while capturing the scope of America during the great depression.

A lyrical, touching portrait, How the World Was is a gift for a dear friend in the last moments of his life… and also a meditation on the birth of modern America.

Review: Many of you know Emmanuel Guibert’s graphic novel Alan’s War. Guibert is a French cartoonist who tells the true story of Alan Cope, an American GI in France in WWII. How the World Was: A California Childhood depicts Alan’s earlier childhood experiences, growing up during the Great Depression in California. The graphic novel is unlike others that I’ve read, and I really enjoy Guibert’s style. The chapters read like vignettes of Cope’s childhood; some of the scenes are graphic, and many are quite moving. This text would be excellent for close reading, and I don’t think readers even need to read it in its entirety to appreciate and understand each chapter.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I’d love to use this text in the classroom, and I would probably use a single chapter. (This would inspire readers to take the entire book out on their own, which is a style I love to use when I am teaching.) I was particularly moved by the end of the book, where Alan’s mother goes in for surgery. I’d love to do a close reading of this section to discuss author’s purpose and Alan’s identity development.

Discussion Questions: How does this graphic novel differ from others that you’ve read?; How is the author’s writing style similar to short vignettes? Why might he have chosen to write the book in this why? Is it effective for you, the reader?; What scenes stand out to you? Why might this be?

Flagged Passage: I’ve included a section that stands out to me. It is a bit peculiar to include in a graphic novel, but there is a lesson in the pages that follow. I imagine that censors would be horrified to see this page alone, but within the context of the chapter, it is a very important scene.

how the world was

Special thanks to http://goodokbad.com/index.php/reviews/how_the_world_was_review for sharing this scene in his reviews. It’s a good one.

Read This If You Love: The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert; Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert; The Stranger by Albert Camus; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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Red’s Planet: A World Away From Home
Author and Illustrator: Eddie Pittman
Published April 19th, 2016 by Amulet Books

Summary: Red, a quirky, headstrong 10-year-old, longs to live in her own perfect paradise far away from her annoying foster family. But when a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her, Red finds herself farther away than she could have possibly imagined—across the galaxy and aboard an enormous spaceship owned by the Aquilari, an ancient creature with a taste for rare and unusual treasures. Before Red can be discovered as a stowaway, the great ship crashes on a small deserted planet, leaving her marooned with a menagerie of misfit aliens. With her newfound friend, a small gray alien named Tawee, Red must find a way to survive the hostile castaways, evade the ravenous wildlife, and contend with Goose, the planet’s grumpy, felinoid custodian. Surely this can’t be the paradise she’s looking for.

Teaching Guide: 

Pittman’s new graphic novel series will be a big hit with adventure and sci-fi lovers!

The teaching guide can also be viewed here.

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Musnet: The Mouse of Money
Author and Illustrator: K. Kickliy
Published August 2nd, 2016 by ODOD Books

Summary: Musnet: The Mouse of Monet is a delightful new children’s graphic novel by Kickliy, set in Giverny, France in the mid 19th Century. The eponymous boy mouse travels the countryside searching for work and happens upon Monet’s garden. There, he takes a job with a brilliant squirrel artist, and in the process is inspired to paint as well. Will Musnet commit to painting in the classical manner, or in the thrilling new style of the human impressionists? Which way will his brush sway?

Set in the midst of one of the great moments in the history of art, Musnet is a bildungsroman of an aspiring young artist, a mouse with his eye on the new impressionistic style that was taking the world by storm. Kickliy’s fluid ink and watercolors evoke the magic of the period and a French countryside just bursting with color. And Musnet and Monet’s paintings within this story are actually mini-oil paintings of Kickliy’s.

The first in a series, Musnet: the Mouse of Monet is the mysterious artist Kickliy’s first foray into the world of children’s literature, and will include a traveling gallery showing of the art within the book itself. Uncivilized Books is proud to launch its new children’s imprint, Odod Books, with this brilliant examination of impressionism and the artistic urge that will enrapture children of all ages.

Review: I love when books include art history in them because it makes me feel at home since I grew up in art museums as a museum director’s daughter. Musnet is no different. As soon as I realized that Musnet had ended up in Monet’s famous garden, I was fascinated with Musnet’s story and his journey to becoming an artist. Kickliy’s artwork pays perfect homage to Monet’s work and is a beautiful backdrop to Musnet’s story. I look forward to reading the second in the series. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Musnet’s story would be a perfect book to incorporate in a art classroom. Throughout art education, different famous artists are studied, and while studying Monet, I could definitely see the teacher using this text as a read aloud and a discussion starter (see discussion questions below).

Discussion Questions: Why would the author choose Monet as the artist for Musnet to find?; How is Kickliy’s art similar to Monet’s?; Do you think Musnet has found his forever home? Explain.

Flagged Passages: 

musnet-spread

Read This If You Loved: Mira’s Diary by Marissa Moss, The Museum by Susan Verde, Babymouse series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Redwall by Brian Jacques

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**Thank you Uncivilized Books for providing a copy for review!**

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