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Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale
Author: Corey Rosen Schwartz
Illustrator: Deborah Marcero
Published September 5th, 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Summary: Have you heard the story of Cinderella? Well, you don’t know the half of it.

Cinderella and her lesser-known twin, Tinderella, split everything right down the middle. They each do half the housework, half the mending, and half the mean step-sister tending. When the Prince throws a ball, their fairy godmother sends them both, and they dance the night away with the prince. But he simply can’t choose between Cin and Tin, and they are in need of some clever thinking and just a pinch of magic. The Prince agrees to share his kingdom half and half, and the fairy-godmother makes him a twin too, so they can all live happily ever after. Cin and the Prince rule the kingdom, while Tin and the Twin win all the kingdom’s math competitions. It truly is a happily ever half-ter.

Review: I am a huge fan of fairy tale retellings. I think they are a perfect way to bring attention to something, tell a unique story, or teach students because it is set in a basis of prior knowledge that most students already have thus allowing for a comfortable base to scaffold up from. With Twinderella, the story of Cinderella is used to teach about fractions and division while also telling a story of two sisters that find a way to make sure they can live happily ever half-ter.

Schwartz and Marcero are a perfect team to tell these twins’ story in a way that not only teaches but entertains. The balance was done so well between the math concepts and narrative. You learn how the twins make it all work, and you root for them to be happy.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: When I finished this book, I immediately texted my friend who teaches 2nd grade because I know that it is perfect for the classroom! It meets standards for second grade because of the focus on fairy tales and retellings and is a perfect introduction to easy fractions that they will begin looking at in 3rd grade.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is Twinderella different from the traditional Cinderella stories?
  • How did Tinderella make sure that everything was split equally between the two sisters?
  • What math concepts were taught in the story?
  • With the quadruplets, how would chores and such needed to be divided?

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Read This If You Love: Math, Fairy Tale Retellings

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**Thank you to Penguin Young Readers for providing a copy for review!**

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Nerdy Birdy
Author: Aaron Reynolds; Illustrator: Matt Davies
Published September 22, 2015 by Roaring Brook Press

GoodReads Summary: Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd.

One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle.

When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Ricki’s Review: I absolutely adored this book. I don’t usually review books that are more than a year old, but my love for this book, compelled me to write a review. The book is about a nerdy bird whose physical appearance makes him feel lonely. He meets other birds who share his physical appearance, and he finds comfort in this. But then a very, very different bird comes along (a vulture), and Nerdy Birdy is forced to consider his values and whether or not the nerdy bird club might be just as exclusive themselves. This book provided an avenue for an excellent discussion with my son. We talked about his class and about how some of his peers might feel left out. I’d love to use this book in an elementary school classroom.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a great book to read on the first day of school or at a time when students are leaving one or some students left out. It provides a great opportunity for critical discussions of cliques.

Discussion Questions: Why does Nerdy Birdy feel left out? How does he find solace in other birds that look like him?; How does the vulture differ from him? What does this teach him about friendship, groups, and personal appearances?

We Flagged: 

Image from: https://us.macmillan.com/nerdybirdy/aaronreynolds/9781626721272/

Read This If You Loved: Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt; Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob SheaThe Magic of Maxwell and His Tail by Maureen Stolar Kanefield

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You’re All Kinds of Wonderful
Author and Illustrator: Nancy Tillman
Published: October 3, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends

Summary: We’re not all the same. Thank goodness we’re not.
Life would be boring, and I mean… a lot.

And so, when we’re born, we’re supplied at the start 
with our own bells and whistles to set us apart.

Think of your bells as the things you do best
things tucked away in your own treasure chest.

Part of growing up is discovering–and embracing–what makes us unique. From different abilities to different personalities, we are all wonderfully made with our own bells and whistles.

My Review: I love Nancy Tillman. Her book On the Night You Were Born is a staple in our bedtime routine. She has a way with words that is simply magical. This book does not disappoint. When I read this book to my son, I paused at the end and looked at him, and he said, “Can we read it again?” It was a great book to talk about how we all have different talents and strengths. This is a lesson that can’t be iterated enough to children. Parents will love reading this book to their kids and discussing how that particular shines and offers something different and beautiful to the world.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask each student to illustrate a page for a book that shares what their talents or positive characteristics. All of the pages could be combined into a bound book.

Discussion Questions: Look through each page. What makes each of the children special? How are you special? What do you add to this world?

Flagged Passage: “We’re not all the same. Thank goodness we’re not. / Life would be boring, and I mean—a lot. / And so, when we’re born, we’re supplied at the start / with our own bells and whistles to set us apart.”

Read This If You Loved: On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman; Little Tree by Loren Long, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Say Hello by Jack Foreman, The Cloud by Hannah Cumming, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

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**Thank you to Kelsey at Macmillan for providing a copy of this book 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!

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue
Author: Patricia Newman
Photographer: Annie Crawley
Published October 1st, 2017 by Millbrook Press

Summary: Zoos take care of animals and welcome visitors of all ages, but that’s not all zoos do. Author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley bring readers behind the scenes at three zoos to meet scientists working to save endangered animals.

Meredith Bastian’s experiences studying wild orangutans help educate both zoo visitors and the zoo workers who care for captive orangutans. Jeff Baughman breeds black-footed ferrets and reintroduces them into the wild. And Rachel Santymire examines poop from black rhinoceroses at the zoo and in their natural habitat to benefit all black rhinos. Find out how zoo scientists are helping us learn more about these remarkable, at-risk species before it’s too late!

Visit the authors at http://www.patriciamnewman.com and https://www.anniecrawley.com/

ReviewPatricia Newman’s work always blows me away and Annie Crawley’s photos in Plastics, Ahoy! were breathtaking, so I was so happy to see that they had a new book coming out. In Zoo Scientists, a text is just as brilliantly done as Newman’s other works, she once again focuses on a topic that needs a spotlight. This time, we see how zoos are working towards saving endangered animals. Zoos are such important places when they are done correctly, so I loved this focus on three specific stories about how zoos are helping rhinos, orangutans, and black-footed ferrets. Each section tells us about a scientist at a different zoo, how they came to be where they are today, and how they help the species they work with. I loved the inclusion of each scientist’s story paying special attention to how they each became an expert. This makes Zoo Scientists perfect for looking at not only looking at endangered animals and zoos but how to reach your potential in a career making this book a must-get for classrooms that study any of these things.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teaching guides for all of Patricia’s books including the Zoo Scientist one coming soon can be found at http://www.patriciamnewman.com/teacher-guides/.

Rhino bookmarks!: http://www.patriciamnewman.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Bookmark.pdf

Pinterest board with activities and articles to supplement the reading of Zoo Scientists to the Rescuehttps://www.pinterest.com/newmanbooks/zoo-scientists-to-the-rescue/

Consider an Author for Earth Day visit! Consider an Authors for Earth Day visit in conjunction with Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Students research a list of five conservation nominees selected by Patricia Newman and then vote for their favorite. Newman writes a check to the winning organization. The mission? To empower young readers to shape the world around them!

Participate in the 30 Day #ProtectOurWorld Challenge! Here is the Orangutan example. Visit http://www.patriciamnewman.com/books/zoo-scientists-rescue/ to see the rhino and black-footed ferret posters.

Discussion Questions: Use any or all of these discussion questions to extend the learning with Zoo Scientists to the Rescue:

  • What steps did each scientist take to become an expert in their field?
  • Why are orangutans’ habitat being destroyed?
  • Why is the poaching of rhinos for their horns such a devastating action?
  • How did the expansion of our nation effect the black-footed ferret?
  • How did humans play a role in each of these animals’ endangered status?
  • What can you do to help these animals?
  • Visit some of the resources about other conservation stories in the end of the book and share what you learn.
  • What words did you learn from the book? (Check out the glossary!)

Flagged Passages: 

“A sign outside the orangutan enclosure at the National Zoo explains that the apes red coloring mimics shadows in the forest’s canopy. As little as 30 feet above the forest floor, orangutans essentially disappear, which is surprising given their bulk. Fully grown wild wild male orangutans can weigh up to 220 pounds and wild females can weight up to 120 pounds. Zoo orangutans tend to be between 50 to 100 pounds heavier because of their nutritious diet.”

“About 15 years ago, black-footed ferrets roamed the Great Plains from Canada to Mexico. The Lakota call them pispiza itopta sapa (black-faced prairie dog) and believe they are sacred. But in the late 1800s, settlers moving westward and travelers from across the Pacific Ocean unknowingly put the ferrets in danger.”

“Unfortunately, rhinos are no match for armed poachers, hunters who kill wild animals illegally for profit. Approximately 5,050 black rhinos remain in the world due to poaching and habitat loss. They are labeled critically endangered–one step from extinct in the wild, and only two steps from fully extinct. Lincoln Park Zoo hopes to play a role in saving them.”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Zoos, Animals, Learning about scientists, Science, Conservation efforts, Earth Day

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Make sure to visit the other stops on the Blog Tour!

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**Thank you to Patricia Newman for asking me to be part of the blog tour!**

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Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing
Author: Leda Schubert
Illustrator: Raúl Colón
Published June 13th, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press

Summary: 

Listen.
There was nobody like Pete Seeger.
Wherever he went, he got people singing.
With his head thrown back
and his Adam s apple bouncing,
picking his long-necked banjo
or strumming his twelve-string guitar,
Pete sang old songs,
new songs,
new words to old songs,
and songs he made up.

In this tribute to legendary musician and activist Pete Seeger, author Leda Schubert highlights major musical events in Mr. Seeger’s life as well important moments of his fight against social injustice. From singing sold-out concerts to courageously standing against the McCarthy-era finger-pointing, Pete Seeger’s life is celebrated in this book.

Praise for Listen

★“Schubert and Colón ably demonstrate one of their book’s final assertions: ‘there really was nobody like Pete Seeger.’”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“A rousing tribute to a singular musician and activist who ‘walked the talk.’” —Publishers Weekly

“This inspiring picture book biography about one of America’s greatest folk heroes is sure to get a new generation of children singing.” —School Library Journal

“An inspiring and heartfelt tribute to, as Schubert calls him, a ‘true American hero.’” —Horn Book

About the Creators: 

Leda Schubert holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults and was a core faculty member until 2012. She is the author of many award-winning titles, including The Princess of Borscht, Ballet of the Elephants, and Monsieur Marceau, winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. Leda lives in Plainfield, Vermont, with her husband and two dogs. To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide, visit ledaschubert.com.

Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including Draw!; the New York Times-bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

Kellee’s Review: Schubert’s narrative of Seeger’s life is so lyrical and poetic–it is a song accompanied by beautifully textured, light illustrations that bring the biography to life. I can tell that Schubert is a fan of Seeger because she told his story with gentleness and love honoring a man that is truly an American hero.

The more I read about Pete Seeger, the more I am intrigued. I have heard about Pete Seeger my whole life, but it wasn’t until I read Stand Up and Sing by Susanna Reich that I truly learned about HIM outside of just knowing his music. I truly wish that Pete Seeger was still around to help us in our current time. His story has shown me that one person can make a difference, that good can win and be honored, and that music can bring people together. I loved learning even more about Seeger through Schubert’s picture book.

Ricki’s Review: Like Kellee, I didn’t know a lot about Pete Seeger until I read this book. I love reading texts that teach me more about a person. I didn’t realize that he traveled with Woody Guthrie! Too cool! Pete Seeger was a social activist, and his songs urge us to take action. This book will encourage readers to learn more about the singers that they listen to.

The author and illustrator bring great life to this book. It is very clear that they were inspired by his music, and the book truly comes alive. This is a book that teaches kids about an important man in our history and the power of music. It also reveals a lot of information about American History. I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation & Discussion Questions: A fabulous curriculum guide can be found here created by Leigh Courtney, Ph.D. and includes discussion questions and activities.

Example discussion questions:

  • Pete Seeger said, “Participation. That’s what’s gonna save the human race.” What do you think that means?
  • Pete Seeger found himself in trouble with the government at one point in his life. Which group questioned him? Why were they interested in him?
  • Encourage students to study the illustrations in Listen paying particular attention to the drawings of people in the story. Discuss what the people’s actions and expressions tell you about Pete Seeger’s impact on those who listened to his music.
  • Many view Pete Seeger as an American hero. Discuss why people might regard Seeger as an important figure in American history. Read aloud President Obama’s statement about Pete Seeger, made upon the musician’s death, found in the final timeline entry at the back of the book.

Some examples of activities include cause and effect, research, vocabulary, and some fun music activities.

Resources: Leda Schubert provides some great links to recordings and videos of Pete Seeger here.

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Stand Up and Sing! by Suanna ReichWhen Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing the book for review!**

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All My Friends Are Fast Asleep
Author: David Weinston; Illustrator: Magali Le Huche
Published September 5, 2017 by FSG

Summary: After tossing and turning in his bed, a little boy embarks on a nighttime quest to find a cozy place to rest. He visits one animal friend after another, from a lark in its nest to a mole in its hole. But while all the animals he meets are happily dozing off, this tuckered-out wanderer remains wide-awake–until he finally finds the perfect spot to lay his head.

From David Weinstone, the popular children’s musician and creator of the Music for Aardvarks program, comes All My Friends Are Fast Asleep, a rhythmic, cheerily illustrated bedtime story sure to smooth the way to sleep for young insomniacs everywhere.

Ricki’s Review: I love books that feature a different animal on each page. This book is different from others that I’ve read because it explores the different ways in which animals sleep. My son enjoyed reading this with me, and he demonstrated each of the animal’s ways of sleeping. It was very fun and interactive. The illustrations are simply lovely. They pop off the page and lure the reader to want to turn the page to see which animal is next. We had a lot of fun with this book—we enjoyed stopping on each page to discuss the animal together.

Kellee’s Review: One of Trent’s favorite board books is A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na which has a little owl that ventures out to visit other animals and they are all sleeping. We talk about the differences between all of the different animals and how different they sleep. All My Friends are Fast Asleep elevates this conversation and will be a great ladder up from the board book. In this book, the young protagonist is having trouble sleeping, so he goes and visits animals to try to sleep how they are to see if it’ll help. In the end, he realizes that the best way to sleep is in his bed, but we, as the reader, in the end have learned about many different animals’ sleeping habits. Additionally, the book ends with guitar chords to accompany the book to turn it into a song–how much fun!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to pick one animal in the book and research other aspects of that animal’s life. Or, students could find other animals in the wild and draw additional pages of this book. They could compile those pages into a sequel!

Visit www.allmyfriendsarefastasleepbook.com for a free download of David Weinstone’s musical version of the text!

Discussion Questions: Which is your favorite animal page? Why? How is this animal different from all of the other animals in the book?; Why does the boy end up in his bed at the end of the night? What other animals could he have found?

We Flagged: “It’s time for bed and overhead / the moon has risen high / but I can’t seem to fall asleep, / no matter how I try.”

Read This If You Loved: Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise BrownGoodnight Songs by Margaret Wise BrownA Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na, I’m Not Sleepy by Jonathan Allen, Hoot & Honk Just Can’t Sleep by Leslie Helakoski 

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**Thank you to Kelsey from Macmillan for sharing these books with us!**

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Here are two amazing picture books to read to celebrate the start of fall!

One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count with Me!
Author: John Micklos, Jr.
Illustrator: Clive McFarland
Published September 5th, 2017 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Summary: This playful counting book shares the colorful highlights of the four seasons in charming illustrations.

Count your way through the seasons! In spring, the tree’s leaves appear, one by one. By summer, there’s a glorious canopy. And when autumn winds blow, leaves fly from the tree, one after another, leading us into winter. There’s a world of activity to spy in and around this beautiful tree as the wild creatures, and one little boy, celebrate the cycles of nature. As little ones count leaves, look for animals, and enjoy the changing seasonal landscape, bouncy rhymes and bold illustrations make learning to count easy–corresponding numerals reinforcing the learning fun.

My Thoughts: I think Micklos was quite clever in incorporating nature/seasons and counting into one book. This allows it to be used for multiple purposes in a classroom. Also, rarely do counting books count backwards, so I think it is nice that the book counts to ten and back. I also was impressed with how this non-narrative picture book told such a cute story of a young boy, his tree, and the animals that live in the tree. And the illustrations are so fun! I love the style of art. It is colorful, collage-looking, and just so friendly looking. I know this is a book that teachers, parents, and kids are going to definitely love!

Flagged Passages: 


Autumn: A Pop-Up Book
Author and Illustrator: David A. Carter
Published August 29th, 2017 by Harry N. Abrams

Summary: Just in time for autumn, David A. Carter delivers the third book in his pop-up book series about the seasons. Each spread has a brief verse and depicts flora and fauna commonly found during the fall. Pictures of turkeys, wheat, pumpkins, sage, and more are labeled with simple text, making the book easy for young readers to understand and enjoy.

David A. Carter is an American author and illustrator. He is best known for his pop-up books for both children and adults. David Carter’s Bugs series has sold more than six million copies. He lives in Auburn, California. Visit Carter at cartermultimedia.us.com.

My Thoughts: I am fascinated by pop-up books, and David A. Carter may be one of the best I’ve ever witnessed. Check out his website or search his name on You Tube to see some of his brilliant work. And I know that kids love his work because one of Trent’s favorite books right now is Spot the Dot by Carter, so I know he is going to love Autumn also. Carter’s work is so intricate and detailed, and Autumn specifically includes so many different components to check out–it is a piece of art.

Flagged Passages: I could not find a professional photo of the book, so please forgive my amateur pop-up book photography, but I knew you needed to see a spread from this beautiful book. The pumpkins, leaves, and vines are all pop-up.

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