New-to-Me Favorite Bilingual Picture Books from Arte Público Press: Growing Up with Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda; Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer! by Larissa M. Mercado-López; The Little Doctor by Juan J. Guerra; Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Laura Lacámara; The Runaway Piggy by James Luna; Grandma’s Chocolate by Por Mara Price
I love bilignual picture books because it gives access to literature to our students who are still learning English. Books specifically from Arte Público Press also are so good at making sure a variety of kids are represented in their books which is so heartwarming because I know so many ESL students do not see themselves in books. Another positive of bilingual books is for learning Spanish also. I hope Trent gets into a dual language program for elementary school, so bilingual picture books will be perfect for him and his classmates. Here are some of my new-to-me favorite bilingual picture books from Arte Público Press!
Growing Up with Tamales | Los tamales de Ana
Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda
Illustrator: April Ward
Published May 31st, 2008
Summary: My name is Ana. Every year, my family makes tamales for Christmas. This year, I am six, so I get to mix the dough, which is made of cornmeal. My sister Lidia is eight, so she gets to spread the dough on the corn husk leaves. I wish I was eight, so that my hands would be big enough to spread the dough just right–not too thick and not too thin.
And so the years pass, and Ana turns eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen. But every year, big sister Lidia is always two years older. Ana envies her elder sibling and wishes she could do what Lidia does: put just the right amount of meat inside the tamales and roll them up; steam the tamales without scalding herself with the hot, hot steam; chop and cook the meat for the tamales without cutting or burning her hands.
When she turns eighteen, though, Ana knows she will keep making tamales and she will be able to do all of the steps herself in her very own factory. When Christmas comes around, Ana will deliver tamales to all of her customers around the world, in delivery trucks that say Ana’s Tamales. And maybe Ana will even let Lidia work for her.
Gwendolyn Zepeda’s rhythmic prose is combined with April Ward’s bright illustrations to create an affectionate and amusing story about sibling relationships that introduces an important Hispanic holiday tradition — making tamales!
A Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Title
ForeWord Book of the Year Awards Finalist
Tejas Star Book Award Finalist
My Thoughts: I love the focus on seeing ahead to the future in this book. Although Ana is a bit jealous of her older sister, she can look to the future and see that she is going to be able to accomplish everything her sister does, and she has such high ambitions even past what she knows is coming. I also loved the inclusion of family. Tamales are obviously a tradition and something that is important to Ana and her family so much that the process is passed down. It is always so touching to see a great family unit in a picture book.
Esteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! | Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés
Author: Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrator: Alex Pardo DeLange
Published May 31st, 2017
Summary: It’s a bird…it’s a plane..it’s Esteban de Luna!
With whimsical illustrations by Alex Pardo DeLange, Larissa M. Mercado-López’s first bilingual picture book, Esteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! | Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés, features a kind and compassionate boy who learns how to be a superhero in an unexpected way.
Esteban wears his green cape every day. He wears it to breakfast. He wears it to the park. He even wears it to the grocery story. The only problems is that it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t help him fly or become invisible. He decides to sell it.
Just then his mother tells him they’re going to the park, so Esteban puts his cape back on. At the park, he sees a baby doll on the swings. Suddenly a story blows in, and Esteban’s mom calls him to run home. If Esteban leaves the doll, it will get wet and dirty. So he wraps the doll in his cape and ties it back on. “Don’t worry, baby! I’ll save you!”
On the way home, he jumps over puddles and walks under awnings to keep the baby dry. At home, he wears the doll in his cape as he plays and does his chores. That night — with the baby clean and dry — the boy feels like a super hero. He will not sell his cape after all. “From now on, I am Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!”
This charming bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 will generate dialogue about what it means to be a boy while broadening the definition of masculinity to include tenderness and caring.
My Thoughts: Such a cute book! It does so much to promote imagination and play which always makes me so happy. I love that Esteban gets a baby in this book! So often boys are steered away from playing house or playing with dolls, but I really believe that pretending with dolls really builds caring and empathy with kids and we shouldn’t take that away from our boys.
(One question though that bothered me though: What about the poor kid that lost the baby?!?! They must be so sad!)
The Little Doctor | El doctorcito
Author: Juan J. Guerra
Illustrator: Victoria Castillo
Published April 4th, 2017
Summary: The doctor is in! A young boy’s visit to the clinic with his grandmother leads to a career aspiration.
In Juan Guerra’s engaging bilingual picture book, The Little Doctor | El doctorcito, a young Salvadoran boy dreams of becoming a doctor who speaks both English and Spanish so that patients like his beloved grandmother aren’t afraid to visit the doctor.
Salvador raced home from school to share exciting news with his abuela, he made an A+ on his science test! But at home, he learns that his grandmother needs his help. She is going to the doctor and wants her grandson to interpret for her. Abuela is nervous because she has never been to a doctor in the United States. In El Salvador, she either saw a curandera or drank té de manzanilla when she felt sick.
When he learns that none of the physicians speak Spanish, the boy realizes that he is completely responsible for making sure the doctor understand his grandmother — and that he understands his instructions! But in spite of his help, the visit does not go well. The doctor rushes in and out. He doesn’t listen to Abuela. And he tells Salvador that she should not eat so much Mexican food! Abuela is so upset that she threatens not to take the medicine the doctor prescribes! What can Salvador do to help her?
Paired with lovely, colorful illustrations by Victoria Castillo, this book for ages 4-8 will encourage kids to think about their own futures as well as the role their culture can play in helping the community.
My Thoughts: I love (yet am saddened–I’ll explain) that a Salvadoran doctor wrote compelled to write a book to show the hardships many kids face as their parents/grandparents use them as translators. It must be so hard for both parties: to be an adult and have no schooling or any way to learn English AND to be a kid who does know English and have to be an adult so young because of translating needs. I hated how mean the doctor was in the book, but I know that it really helped with the point of the book–more doctors for our immigrants are needed either ones who know Spanish or are sympathetic. And I’m so happy that Juan became a doctor–shows kids the lack of limits in the future no matter your heritage.
Dalia’s Wondrous Hair | El cabello maravilloso de Dalia
Author: Laura Lacámara
Published May 1st, 2014
Summary: Butterflies in your beehive?! A girl’s imagination grows into a garden in this bilingual picture book.
In Dalia’s Wondrous Hair | El cabello maravilloso de Dalia, author and illustrator Laura Lacámara delights children ages 4-9 with her vibrant illustrations and an imaginative story about a girl’s fanciful encounters with nature in this bilingual picture book.
One night, while Dalia slept safely wrapped in her mother’s cool silken sheets, her hair grew and grew. By the time the rooster crowed, her hair had “grown straight up to the sky, tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree.” Her mother was amazed and wondered what her daughter would do with her wondrous hair.
As Dalia looked at the flowers blooming in the garden, an idea sprouted inside her. She decorated her hair with leaves from the forest and mud from the marsh. Her mother was puzzled and could not imagine what she was. “Are you a leaf-crusted mud-tree?” she guessed incorrectly. That night, while Dalia slept safely cocooned in her mama’s sheets, something stired and unfolded. When the rooster crowed, the girl ran outside and everyone watched in awe as she carefully unwrapped her towering hair. Could it be? Is Dalia a…blossoming butterfly tree?!
In this whimsical bilingual picture book, Dalia’s hair becomes a magical force of nature, a life giving cocoon. Bonus features include a guide for how to create your own butterfly garden at home, as well as a bilingual glossary of select plant and animal species native to the island of Cuba.
Américas Award Commended Title
Named to the Tejas Star Reading List
My Thoughts: Whimsical is a perfect adjective for this book! Dalia is so free spirited and throughout much of the book, you have no idea why she is doing what she is doing. You are as puzzled as her mom. But the ending is beautiful and all of Dalia’s intentions are clear. Her hair really is wondrous!
The Runaway Piggy | El conchinito fugitivo
Author: James Luna
Illustrator: Laura Lacámara
Published November 30th, 2010
Summary: In the classic tradition of The Gingerbread Man, James Luna’s piggy cookie leaps off the baking tray in Martha’s Panaderia and takes the reader on a mad dash through the barrio, past Lorenzo’s Auto Shop, Nita’s Beauty Salon, Leti’s Flower Shop, and Juana’s Thrift Shop. Each person the piggy encounters is greeted by his high laugh and the repeated refrain: “Chase me! Chase me down the street! But this is one piggy you won’t get to eat! I ran away from the others and I’ll run away from you!” The cochinito fugitivo avoids being eaten by the long line of people chasing him . . . until he meets a crafty little girl named Rosa!
Children and adults too will delight in the clever piggy’s escape from Martha’s Panaderia in this entertaining retelling of a familiar story set in a colorful Latino neighborhood. A recipe to make Mexican gingerbread pig cookies is included in both English and Spanish.
Named to the Tejas Star Book Award List
My Thoughts: What a fun retelling of The Gingerbread Man! I think this book a perfect pairing with a community unit in an early education classroom. While it is a fun story of chasing a piggy cookie, it also shows so many different aspects of Martha’s neighborhood and gives another type of community to see and learn about 🙂
Grandma’s Chocolate | El chocolate de abuelita
Author: Mara Price
Illustrator: Lisa Fields
Published November 30th, 2010
Summary: Abuela’s visits from Mexico are always exciting for young Sabrina, who can’t wait to see what’s in her grandmother’s suitcase. “Abuelita, do you want to play a game? Let’s pretend that I’m a princess,” Sabrina says. “Okay,” Abuela says, “but a Mayan princess should wear a beautiful dress called a huipil.” And she pulls out the traditional garment worn by Mayan and Aztec women.
Sabrina has lots of questions about her ancestors. With her grandmother’s help, Sabrina learns all about the cacao tree, which was first cultivated by Mexico’s indigenous tribes. Today, the seeds give us chocolate, but years ago they were used as money. And Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, liked to eat chocolate poured over bowls of snow !
Sabrina discovers that “chocolate is perfect for a Mayan princess.” And children will agree as they curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and this charming bilingual picture book that depicts a loving relationship and shares the history and customs of the native peoples of Mexico.
Winner, International Latino Book Award
Honor Book, Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
Winner, San Diego Book Award
Named to the Tejas Star Book Award List
My Thoughts: Anyone who has a grandmother visit knows the warmness that comes with her visit, and Sabrina’s visit with her grandmother from Mexico is no different. Through the visit, Sabrina asks many different questions about her ancestors and Mexico, and her grandmother tells her about cacao trees which have a huge history in Mexico. As grandmother’s visit ends, you feel as sad as Sabrina!
All Recommended For:
**Thank you to Eloisa from Arte Público for sharing these books with me!**
Here Comes Teacher Cat
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Claudia Rueda
Published: August 8, 2017 by Dial
Goodreads Summary: It’s back to school for the New York Times bestselling Cat when he steps in as a substitute teacher.
Cat is not pleased to be tapped as substitute teacher. Not only is it cutting […]
Here Comes Teacher Cat
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Claudia Rueda
Published: August 8, 2017 by Dial
Goodreads Summary: It’s back to school for the New York Times bestselling Cat when he steps in as a substitute teacher.
Cat is not pleased to be tapped as substitute teacher. Not only is it cutting into his naptime, but a roomful of kittens is a little, well, scary. At school, he’s faced with six adorable kittens and follows the lesson plan of music, building, and painting–only in pure, mischief-making Cat style. By the end, Cat has learned a thing or two about inspiring others by being himself. But even more heart-melting and humorous is what the kittens have learned from Cat.
Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is very funny. Every time my son and I read it together, he giggles wildly across the pages. Cat is very unhappy when he is asked to play the role of teacher for the day. He doesn’t want to have to deal with the kitties, and he just wants to nap. He gets pretty creative, though, and it makes for a wonderfully fun story. I really like this book because it is very easy to ask my son questions while reading it. For example, I will ask him “What is Teacher Cat doing now? How do you think he feels? What are the kitties doing?” It is also very easy to practice making predictions with this text.
Discussion Questions: How does Teacher Cat change from the beginning to the end of the story?; How is he creative?; What does this story teach us?; Why did the author/illustrator choose to have Teacher Cat and the kitties hold up signs rather than speak?; Who is the narrator?
Reading by Brightly:
Read This if You Loved: Any of the Here Comes _____ Cat books by Deborah Underwood, Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw; One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis; If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky; I Haiku You by Betsy E. Snyder; Dogku by Andrew Clements
**Thank you to Penguin for providing a copy of this book for review!**
Author: Matt Forrest Esenwine
Illustrator: Fred Koehler
Published September 19th, 2017 by Boyds Mills Press
Summary: Flashlight Night is an ode to the power of imagination and the wonder of books. Three children use a flashlight to light a path around their backyard at night; in the flashlight’s beam another world looms. Our heroes encounter spooky woods, a fearsome tiger, a time-forgotten tomb, an Egyptian god, a sword-fighting pirate, and a giant squid. With ingenuity, they vanquish all, then return to their tree house–braver, closer, and wiser than before–to read the books that inspired their adventure.
“Delicious language . . . ingenious metamorphoses . . . a rousing read.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
About the Author: Matt Forrest Esenwine’s poetry has been published in Highlights™ as well as in anthologies selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Carol-Ann Hoyte, and J. Patrick Lewis. He lives with his family in Warner, New Hampshire. Visit mattforrest.com.
About the Illustrator: Fred Koehler is and author-illustrator. His debut picture book, How to Cheer Up Dad, received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and BCCB. Fred has a background in advertising and lives with his two spirited kids in Lakeland, Florida, where he loves boating, camping, and the great outdoors.
Review: Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine and Fred Koehler takes the reader on an adventure that truly illuminates the power of imagination. Esenwine’s poetic language is lyrical and filled with imagery and when accompanied with Koehler’s beautifully detailed pencil illustrations, the story comes to life.
I was so lucky to be able to spend some time with Fred at ALA and learn all about his adventures to find just the right inspiration for these illustrations. He went on some amazing adventures to Great Britain where he hiked and visited sites all to ensure that his illustrations were perfect for Matt’s story. He also showed us a time-lapse video of his pencil drawing one spread for the book. Yes, hand drawn with pencil. Beautiful and so impressive!
And this story is going to be loved by kids of all ages because of the fun adventures and parents will love the promotion of imagination. For example, this story made Trent want to go exploring, and Trent loves flashlights, so he loved the idea that a flashlight at night can bring about a how imaginative world!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to see what kids could come up with if given the opportunity to write about what their flashlight “showed them” when they go on an adventure around their house or outside. It would be a really fun activity for students to take and print photos of different places around their house and outside their house then write narratives about their adventures around these places and what is “actually there” if they explored with their flashlight.
Some other elements that could be discussed with Flashlight Night are: compare/contrast between what is there and what’s in their imagination and imagery/descriptive language including figurative language.
Discussion Questions: What are some different cultural influences you see in the adventures the kids went on?; What are the differences between reality and their imagination?; What descriptive language did the author use to help add imagery to the story?
Time Lapse Video of the Creation of One of Flashlight Night‘s Illustrations: It took Fred 30-35 hours per spread to create the amazing world the children explore throughout the book.
Read This If You Love: Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker, The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson, Noisy Night by Mac Barnett, Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth by Ellie Hattie, Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko, The Night Gardener by Terry Fan, My Pen by Christopher Myers, The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein, Lenny and Lucy by Philip C. Stead
Don’t miss the other stops on the blog tour!
Friday, 9/15 Jama’s Alphabet Soup
Monday 9/18 KitLit Exchange/The Loud Library Lady
Tuesday 9/19 Penny Klostermann Book Blog
Wednesday 9/20 Unleashing Readers
Thursday 9/21 KidLit Frenzy
Friday 9/22 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Monday 9/25 Librarian in Cute Shoes
Tuesday 9/26 Nerdy Book Club
**Thank you to Boyds Mills Press for having us be part of the blog tour!**
It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Anticipated Publication: September 19, 2017 by Two Lions
Goodreads Summary: A fresh take on a young Jack who is not keen on climbing any beanstalks and would much prefer to tell his own story.
Ricki’s Review: This book is hysterical. My four-year-old and I love reading it. (I am not entirely sure he understands that it is a fairy tale retelling, but he still adores it.) Every night, it is the first book he picks to read together. The book has an unnamed narrator who insists on telling the traditional “Jack and the Beanstalk” story. Jack has other plans, though. He and the giant decide that they don’t want to follow the traditions of the story. As you can see below in the flagged spread, Jack pushes back on the tale. I laugh every time I read this. My favorite part is the appears of Cindy (Cinderella), who invites Jack to her ball. Josh Funk is an incredible author, and I will read anything that he writes. This is a fantastic book for teachers to use in their classrooms.
Kellee’s Review: Trent loves the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. They must read it at his school because he knew the whole story, and I think it is hilarious that he argues with me about what is happening in the book. We’ve talked about how this is a different Jack story but he, like the narrator, just really wants Jack to do what he is supposed to. I love the way that Josh Funk has broken the 4th wall and has the narrator talk to the characters; it is such a unique way to twist the fairy tale and makes it so hilarious. I look forward to reading this to Trent and students for many years.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Most obviously, this book would be great to kick off a unit on writing fairy tale retellings. It teaches students to break the mold and repurpose stories to add humor and intrigue. It would also be fun to pair this story with other fairy tale retellings to ask students: What did the authors do to revision the stories? How are they successful?
Check out a book trailer, collector’s cards, and more at https://www.joshfunkbooks.com/
Discussion Questions: How does Jack break our expectations?; How are Jack and the Giant different from the narrator? Who did you find yourself rooting for?; How does the author add humor to the story?; How is the text structured to help the reader follow both the narrator and Jack?; What other fairy tales could you retell?
Read This If You Loved: 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
About the Author and Illustrator:
**Special Thanks to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for Providing Copies to Review*
Things That Surprise You
Author: Jennifer Maschari
Published August 22nd, 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Summary: Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice.
But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.
Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She want to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?
Things That Surprise You is a beautifully layered novel about navigating the often shifting bonds of family and friendship, and learning how to put the pieces back together when things fall apart.
About the Author: Jennifer Maschari is a classroom teacher and the author of THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE and THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. She is hard at work on her next middle grade novel with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. Jennifer lives in Ohio with her husband and stinky (yet noble) English bulldogs, Oliver and Hank. To learn more, visit http://jenmaschari.com/.
Review: Things that Surprise You is a perfect starting middle school book because it really shows the truth of how that transition is a turning point in kids’ lives. As a middle school teacher, I see students all start coming into their own or getting pushed by peer pressure to be something they’re not. It is such a tough time in a kids’ life; a book like this will surely make them feel less alone during the turbulent time.
There are other two minor plot lines/characters that I felt were really well done. First, I think the inclusion of Emily’s sister’s eating disorder was done tastefully and was not added in just to make the book an issues book. Although this story didn’t take center stage, it was dealt with in a way that was respectful yet also brought light to anorexia. The struggles that Emily’s sister, family, and Emily face during this time is realistic because so many middle schoolers are facing adversity at home and when starting middle school. I also really enjoyed Emily’s teacher. I think her ability to make students feel like her classroom is a home for them and that she is there for them was honorable, and I hope that I can be just a tiny bit like her.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: A curriculum guide has been created by the publisher that includes discussion questions and activities that meet Common Core standards.
Discussion Questions: What do you think surprised Emily the most about middle school and was the most impactful?; What is the theme of this book? What is the author trying to tell us about middle school?; Do you have a book series that you love as much as Emily loves her unicorn books? What series is it? Why do you love it?; What do you think was the hardest for Emily in middle school?; Hazel changed a lot throughout the book. How would you compare/contrast Hazel from the beginning to the end of the book?; Mina’s eating disorder is one of the main conflicts of the book. Do you feel hopeful about Mina going forward?
Flagged Passages: “While Hazel and I wait, we bench dance to the music from the jukebox. It’s a lot like car dancing but a little more restrained since you’re in public and everything. She does the squid, a move she made up where you wiggle your arms on either side of your body. I do the turtle, where you bob your head forward and backward. Hazel’s snort-laughing and I practically have tears coming out of my eyes, when I hear a noise behind me. Hazel stops dancing. I turn my head to look, but not so fast that I miss Hazel taking the purple horn off her head and hiding it below the table. I blink once and then again Confused.
‘Hazel!’ the voice cried but it sound like ‘Heyyyyzel’ the way she draws it out.
Three girls wearing the same field hockey shirt Hazel was before crowd around the booth.” (p. 18-19)
Read This If You Love: The Real Us by Tommy Greenwald, Hundred Percent by Karen Romano Young, Truth or Dare by Barbara Dee, Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles, The Secret Hum of Daisy by Tracy Holczer, Georgia Rules by Nanci Turner Stevenson, Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
One lucky winner will receive a copy of THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU (U.S. addresses).
**Thank you Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!!**
Giant Pumpkin Suite
Author: Melanie Heuiser Hill
Published September 12th, 2017 by Candlewick Press
Summary: Who are you, if you can’t be what you always expected? A moving coming-of-age tale of prodigy and community, unlikely friendship and growing things.
Twelve-year-old Rose Brutigan has grown seven inches in the last eight months. She’s always been different from her twin brother, Thomas, but now she towers over him in too many ways. The gap in their interests continues to widen as well. Musically talented Rose is focused on winning the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition, while happy-go-lucky Thomas has taken up the challenge of growing a giant pumpkin in the yard of their elderly neighbor, Mr. Pickering. But when a serious accident changes the course of the summer, Rose is forced to grow and change in ways she never could have imagined. Along the way there’s tap dancing and classic musicals, mail-order worms and neighborhood-sourced compost, fresh-squeezed lemonade, the Minnesota State Fair — and an eclectic cast of local characters that readers will fall in love with.
Review: I must be honest as I start this review. I love the cello. I started playing at 11, went to a music school of choice in high school, and minored in music in college. And I believe that the Bach Cello Suites are some of the most beautiful pieces of music in existence. All of these facts may have made me a bit biased when it came to Giant Pumpkin Suite.
Rose is one special young lady. She is a prodigy of the cello and academics. She is taking college courses and has skipped grades and is in high school at age 12. And at the beginning of the book because of all of these things, she has lost what it is like to be a child. The only child-like thing she does in the first 50 pages or so is read Charlotte’s Web, which is her favorite book. Everything else in her life is structured and serious. But then something happens and everything changes. This is where the pumpkin comes in.
Rose truly transforms in this novel in a way that is believable yet amazing. The girl at the end of the novel seems so far away from the young lady you meet at the beginning, but as a reader, I loved the transformation. Rose is one amazing character who really finds who she is because of all the people in her world who truly do care for her.
Speaking of the other people, I loved the supporting cast in the novel. Hill did a great job making sure every character in the novel had their own personality and story and each played such an important part. I felt like I was part of the neighborhood by the time I was done with the book. And it isn’t only Rose that grows throughout the book. I loved seeing how Thomas, Jane, and other characters really found themselves throughout the book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I am interested to hear what students think of this book! I had it in my book speed dating in my classroom, and students seemed to love the cover and synopsis. I personally think that fans of the books listed below are going to love Rose’s story, so please put this book in your libraries 🙂
Discussion Questions: How did Rose change from the beginning to the end of the book?; Who do you think made the biggest impact on Rose?; How did the pumpkin affect the whole neighborhood?; Why did the bowl from Japan mean so much to Rose?; How do you think the story would have been different if the accident didn’t happen?
Flagged Passages: From Chapter 1:
“It was all so clever. Bach was a musical genius, but he didn’t even stop with beautiful music. He had all these jokes and numerical riddles running in the notes — forward, backward, and upside down, sometimes. Two of her favorite things in one package: math and music! Oh, how she loved Bach.”
“At age twelve (and two weeks and three days), Rose was almost a foot and a half taller and four grades ahead of her twin. Thomas had been sick a lot in first grade and had been held back, while she’d skipped a grade a couple of times and had started high school this past fall. She was left-handed; Thomas was right-handed. She loved to read; Thomas hated it. She went to university for math, but Thomas had never passed his multiplication tables. Nearly everyone had forgotten they were twins. Except Mr. Pickering, who seldom mentioned it. And Calamity Jane. Who mentioned it all the time.”
Read This If You Love: Vanished by James Ponti, The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood, Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Audition and Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy, A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw
Author: Todd Calgi Gallicano
Published August 29th, 2017 by Delacorte Press
Summary: A new action adventure series set in our famous national parks! Enter the world of the Department of Mythical Wildlife, where our protagonist, Sam London, is tasked with protecting legendary animals that secretly live amongst our treasured wildlife.
Haunted by a dream of a mythical gryphon, Sam London uncovers an ancient secret that will change the way he sees the world forever. Recruited by Dr. Vance Vantana, an eccentric zoologist and park ranger sent by the government, Sam is whisked away on an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the globe. Along this journey, Sam learns an incredible truth: mythical creatures are real and living among us in our national parks. A special department in the U.S. government ensures that their existence remains hidden.
But Sam’s dream is an omen that the secret may now be in danger. Someone seeks the power to expose these creatures and overthrow humankind–and that power can only be found in a magical talisman known as the gryphon’s claw.
“A fun-filled start to a series that is sure to keep lovers of Rick Riordan running to the shelves.”-SLJ
“A death-defying, globe-spanning adventure, packed with creatures out of folklore and myth….[Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw is] a solid series opener and debut for Gallicano, who stocks his story with engaging characters, human, and otherwise.”-Publishers Weekly
Review: I could not stop raving about this book as I read it! I tweeted about it, talked to everyone I saw about it, and even mentioned in a couple of IMWAYR posts. You know why? Because it is so much fun, the plot is so well-crafted, and finally my fans of Riordan’s mythological adventures are going to finally have a book that they’re going to love has much as his books. However, I don’t want you to think this is a Riordan copy-cat. It is a totally unique adventure with mythical creatures. I loved the combination of mythologies from different cultures, humor!, the new explanation of mythical creatures living with us yet hidden among us, and the inclusion of national parks in Sam’s story.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw will be a perfect new addition to mythology units in middle school to share along side Percy Jackson and other Riordan words. Gallicano even included a glossary of the mythical creatures that will be a wonderful asset to classrooms. However, I feel that primarily the book will be found in students’ hands.
Discussion Questions: What do you think the cliffhanger means?; What character traits does Sam posess that helped him in his adventures?; Which mythical creature would scare you the most? Which mythical creature would you want to have in your house? Which mythical creature would you want to hang out with?; Do you think Phylassos did the right thing in hiding his identity? About getting Sam London involved in the adventure?; Discuss Chriscanis and his journey in the book.; How did Sam’s story fit the Hero’s Journey?
Flagged Passages: “The flapping of the creature’s massive wings sent up a swirling column of dust that blanketed the plateau and rose hundreds of feet into the air. In Death Valley, these whirlwinds of dirt were often called sand augers — twisting, dust-filled tornados that fed off the desert floor as they moved across the landscape. Sam had forgotten about this part of the dream and closed his eyes and covered his mouth a moment too late. When he heard the wings slow and felt the haze begin to settle, he cautiously opened his eyes. They instantly stung from the dissipating cloud of dust, and he coughed as particles of desert sand forced their way into his throat. But it was all suddenly worth it–the stinging, the coughing, the lying, the possible grounding for eternity–for what he saw standing before him was truly extraordinary. Phylassos had returned.”
Read This If You Love: Mythology, Mythical Creatures, Adventure
**Thank you to Random House Children’s Books for providing a copy for review!**
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