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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!

Behind the Legend Series
The Loch Ness Monster
Big Food
Author: Erin Peabody
Illustrator: Victor Rivas
Published May 2nd, 2017 by little bee books

Series Summary: little bee books is thrilled to announce their brand-new nonfiction middle grade series! Behind the Legend is designed for readers ages 8-10 and asks that to decide what is fact and what is fiction. Each book analyzes legendary creatures throughout history using scientific problem solving. Readers evaluate the evidence of sightings, debunk hoaxes with scientific experiments, and read from sources to decide if the monster is made of myth, legend, or fact. Packed with interesting anecdotes, photos, sidebars, and illustrations, each title is a page-turning adventure that readers won’t want to put down.

Learn all about creatures and monsters throughout history and discover if they’re real or not in this new nonfiction series! Behind the Legend looks at creatures and monsters throughout history and analyzes them through a scientific, mythbusting lens, debating whether or not the sightings and evidence provided are adequate proof of their existence.

More books coming soon! Zombies and Werewolves coming in Summer 2017 and Unicorns and Dragons in Spring 2018.

The Loch Ness Monster Summary: In The Loch Ness Monster, readers learn about all the sightings and proof of it, from the famous photograph to the huge “footprints” found by the Loch. It also discusses other history about the monster, such as how Nessie became a major figure in popular culture, and other mythical beings that came from Scotland. Complete with engaging anecdotes, interesting sidebars, and fantastic illustrations, kids won’t want to put this book down!

Big Foot Summary: In Bigfoot, readers learn about all the sightings and proof of it, from the famous photograph and video to footprints and other evidence. It also discusses additional history about the monster, such as how Bigfoot became a major figure in popular culture, and how other versions of the creature (such as the Yeti) have been seen around the world. Complete with engaging anecdotes, interesting sidebars, and fantastic illustrations, kids won’t want to put this book down!

Review: On one of our recent Top Ten Tuesday posts, I shared that I am always looking for nonfiction books to keep my middle grade students reading nonfiction because it is so hard to talk them into reading it unless it really catches their interest. I think part of the reason is because there aren’t many transitional nonfiction books from picture books and shorter informational nonfiction books to longer works like books by Jim Murphy, Deborah Heiligman, and Candance Fleming (which are phenomenal, but many readers just don’t have the nonfiction stamina). I think the Behind the Legend series fits this need perfectly! They are slightly longer than the traditional children’s nonfiction book and the words outnumber the pictures though there are still many illustrations, big font, lots of white space, and short chapters.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Behind the Legend series’ texts will be perfect for not only reading aloud and discussing the truly interesting information within the book, I think the texts would be perfect mentor texts for writing an informational nonfiction text of the students’ own. The books do a wonderful job at looking at many different aspects of the legend and remaining unbiased.

Discussion Questions: Based on the information shared in the text, do you believe the legends are fact or fiction? Support your answer with evidence form the text.; How do legends such as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot become such cultural phenomenons?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Who Was? series, Legends

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**Thank you little bee books for providing copies for review!**

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The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Published: April 5, 2016 by Yearling

A Guest Review by Kelsey Iwanicki

Summary: The Fourteenth Goldfish follows the story of Ellie, an 11-year-old girl, who is currently struggling to find her passion, especially following the gradual drop off with her one and only friend, Brianna. However, everything changes when her mother brings home a quirky and crabby 13-year-old boy, Melvin. Ellie notices striking similarities between Melvin and her seventy-something year-old grandfather until he comes clean and tells her that they are in fact the same person. Melvin has worked on developing a drug to reverse the signs of aging, which has successfully worked on himself.

As Ellie and Melvin get closer, they also form an unlikely friendship with a goth student, Raj. Together they give Melvin advice about being a teenager, such as giving him acne medicine and hair elastics. They also help Melvin eventually, after a few failed attempts, steal the same compound that reversed his age. Melvin’s original plan was to steal the gene so he could share it with the world and receive the Nobel Peace Prize. However, Ellie persuaded him not to on the grounds of moral ethics and how scientific impacts can be both positive and negative. Due to this, Melvin flushes the compound down the drain and starts to tour the country. Thanks to her time with her grandfather, Ellie is able to discover his passion in science and also gain a few friends along the way, Raj and Momo.

Review: What I liked most about this book was its quirkiness, mostly exemplified through Melvin. Although the relationship between Ellie and Melvin is untraditional, you can also get glimpses of a typical relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter is like, one that isn’t usually written about. The majority of characters are nontraditional, such as Raj, who is explicitly written as goth; Ellie, a girl scientist (although this is becoming more popular, usually boys are the ones in the STEM fields); and Melvin, as a grumpy 13-year-old.

What I didn’t like about the book was the build-up. Although they failed multiple times at stealing the compound, there was no suspense for when Melvin actually succeeded. Rather, he just came home one day with it. The climax actually was when Ellie had a self-realization that science has both positives and negatives, which honestly was kind of a let down because the plot had focused around getting the compound from the lab. Ultimately, it was a good theme because Ellie realizes there are good and bad things with any passion.

All in all, I did like the book, I think it could appeal to students who are interested in science and realistic fiction books.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book should definitely be included in a classroom library for independent reading because I think it would appeal for students because it is a little quirky and has some interesting characters. It could also prompt some interesting discussions for literature circles because students could discuss the ethics behind using a compound to reverse aging.

A teacher could also use it as a read aloud for a few reasons. It would be interesting to consider the other perspectives of characters such as Melvin or Melissa, Ellie’s mother. Additionally, they could talk about the character traits and what makes Melvin and Ellie such strong characters. Or, they could talk about science and ethics behind what scientists release.

Discussion Questions: If you had a compound that could reverse aging, would you take it? Why or why not?; If you discovered a compound that could reverse aging, would you deliver it to the public? Why or why not?; What do you think will happen to Ellie and Brianna’s friendship? Ellie and Momo’s?; What do you think the side affects are from taking the compound? / What do you think happened to Melvin?; Put yourself in Ellie’s shoes, how would you feel if your grandfather attended the same school as you?; What is the importance of the fourteenth goldfish?

Flagged Passage: “Average people just give up at the obstacles we face every day. Scientists fail again and again and again. Sometimes for our whole lives. But we don’t give up, because we want to solve the puzzle” (p. 47).

Read This If You Loved: El Deafo by Cece Bell; Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper; Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin; Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

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Thank you, Kelsey!

RickiSig

The Sweet Spot
Author: Stacy Barnett Mozer
Published March 25th, 2016 by Spellbound River Press

Summary: When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude’s holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.

All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. But the moment she arrives, miscommunication sets the week up for potential disaster. Placed at the bottom with the weaker players, she will have to work her way up to A league, not just to show Coach that she can be the best team player possible, but to prove to herself that she can hold a bat with the All-Star boys.

Review: I wish I was Sam. I love baseball, but like most girls, softball is really the only option. I right away had a direct connection with Sam because she was living a dream I had when I was younger. But I also know how hard it is to cross gender barriers. As a “tomboy” you are constantly questioned and made fun of, so to be so out in the spotlight, Sam definitely feels she needs to prove herself. As a female, there are so many moments in this book that seem too real and really made me angry: she is called emotional just because she is passionate, people act as if she is fragile and can’t take care of herself, and her talent is constantly questioned. And when she stands up for herself, she is told to take a joke or calm down. Even outside of the scenario of playing baseball, these are things that woman are going to here–from males and other females! 

But in addition to this too-real reflection of life, Sam’s story will hit home with anyone who has tried to do something that others thought they couldn’t. Or anyone who has been somewhere that they don’t fit in. Or anyone who has been underestimated in general.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to adding this title to any library for middle school students, I also envision Sweet Spot as a lit circle or book club title. It has so much to talk about, and it would definitely fit in with other books that have the big idea of an underdog. It could also definitely be paired with Zootopia!

Discussion Questions: What stereotypical statements do characters say to Sam throughout the book? How does she overcome these assumptions people made about her?; Sam is called emotional; however, if a boy was acting the same way as her, how would he described in the sports world? Why do you think there is a double standard?; How is Sam’s experience at baseball camp different than what she expected?; How does Mike grow throughout the book? How does Sam?

Flagged Passages: “Laughter and chants fill my ears as I step up to the plate.

‘Is that a ponytail?’

‘Easy out!’

‘Go back to softball!’

I take a deep breath and clear my head. It’s not like I haven’t heard it all before.

The pitcher motions for the fielders to move in, then goes into his wind-up, making a big show of the ease at which he will strike me out. I bite my lip and focus.

The ball comes in. I judge the timing and location of my swing–then swing a bit lower.

‘Strike!’

I take a step back and pretend to be upset. The hooting gets louder, but this time it’s easy to ignore. Out on the mound the pitcher grins. He looks around, nods at his team, and I can almost hear the ‘told you sos.’ I may have to slam the next one right at his…

‘Time out!’

Uh, oh.

Coach Duncan storms out to the plate. I give him my best, what’s up? look. The way he glares at me, I know he isn’t buying it.

‘Sam, what was that?’

‘What do you mean, Coach?’

Coach’s bulky face reddens. A drop of sweat slides down his nose. Gross.

‘Do I need to remind you that it is the bottom of the eighth, the score is 0-0, and there are two outs? Stop fooling and play ball.’

‘Bout time you let me,’ I grumble. My batting average is better than the boys on my team. Yet even today, in the 13U Championships, he kept me warming the bench until I fielded last inning.

‘You know what I mean,’ he says. He moves to go back to the bench, then stops and comes closer so only I can hear his next words.

‘And Sam,’ he says. ‘Target this guy, and there’s no way I’ll recommend you for the travel team.'” (p. 1-2)

Read This If You Love: Baseball, Coming of Age Novels, Boy Who Saved Baseball by John Ritter, Ghost by Jason Reynolds, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

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And don’t miss out on book 2: The Perfect Trip

Published March 24th, 2017

Although I am not going to share the summary (SPOILERS!), I will tell you that it is a wonderful sequel to Sam’s story. Although the conflict is a bit different than the first, it really gives you more insight into Sam and Mike’s families and Sam’s struggle with proving herself.

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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!

Happy (almost) Earth Day!

Care For Our World
Author: Karen Robbins
Illustrator: Alexandra Ball
Originally Published: July 15th, 2012 by Compendium Publishing and Communications
App Release: March 1st, 2017 by Sunbreak Games, LLC

Book Summary: Get ready to meet some truly wonderful wild animals from every continent on Earth. As children turn the pages of this book, they’ll encounter dozens of playful creatures in their natural habitats and will learn about the importance of caring for all the plants, animals, and people that call planet Earth their home. A timely reminder of the responsibility every generation shares: to nurture and respect life in all its many forms.

App Information: Take an interactive journey around the world, discovering diverse environments and the animals that call them home, in this animated adaptation of the award-winning children’s book, Care for Our World. Additional creative activities are included, like Coloring Book pages, Creating custom habitats, and even Learning facts, sounds, and photo galleries in the Animal Encyclopedia.

“Care for our world, for you and for me, for all living things from mountain to sea.”

Author Karen Robbins’ delightful words and illustrator Alexandra Ball’s captivating images combine to inspire children to care for the earth they call home: a timely reminder of the responsibility every generation shares to nurture and respect life in all its many forms.

Features: 

• Listen to the animated story, with narration, music, and sounds.

• Touch characters to see and hear them react, and practice their words.

• Color select pages from the book
• Create custom habitats with select animals and backgrounds.
• Save images of your creations to the Gallery.

• Learn more with facts, sounds, and photos in the Animal Encyclopedia.

Recommended for ages 3-8

Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’m so impressed with so many of the book apps that are becoming available! As a 21st century mom and teacher, technology is just inevitable in our lives, so I want to make sure that whatever my son and my students interact with is the best out there and isn’t just a tech babysitter. Care For Our World fits this definition and is definitely an app that I am going to recommend to my mom friends and my elementary teacher friends.

The story by itself is a wonderful read aloud and discussion starter. It takes the two main characters around the world to visit different habitats and the animals that live there. The author’s theme is quite clear throughout: this is OUR world and we need to take care of it because we share it with some amazing animals. This theme makes it a perfect read aloud for Earth Day and many animal and Earth-centered activities and inquiry projects could stem from the story.

The app takes the book to a whole new level. Everything wonderful about the book is still there, but now the story is interactive! First, it reads to you. On each page, you can also click on the plants and animals and the narrator will tell you what they are. You can also click on each word, and it’ll read it to you. This is perfect for kids learning to read! The viewer, when finished with the book, can now go explore more about some of the animals in the story by going to the Animal Encyclopedia where you can hear the sounds the animals make, learn about their behaviors, and see photos of them. Lastly, kids will have a blast coloring different scenes from the book or creating their own habitat (all artwork can be saved in a gallery to view later). The app is fun and informative–a perfect mix for the type of app I’m always trying to find for my son.

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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!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

And don’t forget to celebrate EARTH DAY on the 22nd!

Animal Ark
Created by and Photographer: Joel Sartore
Poet: Kwame Alexander
Published February 14th, 2017 by National Geographic Society

About the Book: National Geographic Kids proudly announces the release of Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, a picture book for children ages 4-8 written by Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander and featuring photographs by acclaimed National Geographic Fellow and photographer Joel Sartore. Animal Ark pairs Alexander’s uplifting poetry and prose with more than 100 of Sartore’s most compelling images of the world’s species to create a book for children that highlights the importance of conservation and the beauty of the animal kingdom.

Animal Ark is inspired by the National Geographic Photo Ark, a multiyear effort with Sartore and the National Geographic Society to document every species in captivity—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations. To date, Sartore has completed portraits of more than 6,000 species, photographed on either a plain black or white background. No matter its size, each animal is treated with the same amount of affection and respect. The results are portraits that are not just stunningly beautiful, but also intimate and moving.

The companion adult book, National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals (National Geographic Books)—with a foreword by Harrison Ford—also showcases Sartore’s animal portraits: from tiny to mammoth, from the Florida grasshopper sparrow to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. In 2017, National Geographic Photo Ark exhibitions are opening at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo, and the Cincinnati Zoo. Learn more at NatGeoPhotoArk.org and join the conversation on social media with #SaveTogether.

About Joel Sartore: Joel Sartore is a photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow, regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark.  In addition to the work he has done for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon magazine, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, the Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  His next book for adults, National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals  will be released in March 2017.

About Kwame Alexander: Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times bestselling author of 21 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children. His other recent works include Booked, Surf’s Up, and He Said, She Said. He is the founder of Book-in-a-Day, a student-run publishing program that has created more than 3,000 student authors in 75 schools; and LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy project that builds libraries, trains teachers, and empowers children through literature. In 2015, Kwame served as Bank Street College of Education’s first writer-in-residence.

Book Trailer: 

My Review: I am in love with all of these animals! Do you see how cute they are?!?! And I love the message that Joel Sartore, National Geographic Kids, and Kwame Alexander are spreading with this text: “At its heart, the Photo Ark was born out of necessity… I  started to see that people weren’t paying much attention to the fate of all the others species we share this planet with. Without action, and soon, I worried that many animals could go extinct. The Photo Ark is my answer to this. By introducing the entire world to thoughts of photographs of [animals], I hope we can get everyone following, liking, tweeting, and even talking about this wondrous world of ours.” -Joel Sartore. I care deeply for all living things, and I have the same fear that Sartore has–that too many people are so caught up in their own little worlds that they aren’t focusing on the big world around us. The continual denial of climate change, the recent possible elimination of many of the EPA’s environmental protections, and so many other things makes the possibilities of us ruining our Earth even closer to reality 🙁

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Animal Ark has writing and science opportunities for the classroom. First, the theme of the book works beautifully within a science unit about endangered animals. Mix the text with the website What is Missing? by Maya Lin, and there are so many opportunities to discuss conservation and sustainability. Kwame Alexander’s poetry also gives an opportunity for poetry writing. In the Author’s Note, National Geographic shares information about haiku. Although all of Kwame’s poetry does not fit the traditional haiku format and we wouldn’t recommend it for a haiku mentor text, it shows how poets can take a traditional format and embrace yet manipulate it for their purpose.

Discussion Questions: Which animal would you like to learn more about?; What can humans do to help save these animals?; What is the theme of Animal Ark? What is the author/photographer trying to teach us?

Flagged Passages: 

Photography Outtakes!

Read This If You Love: National Geographic texts about animals, Poetry anthologies about nature including Water is Water by Miranda Paul, Books about making a difference like Dare to Dream…Change the World by Jill Corcoran & Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thomson

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing copes 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!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book
Authors: Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong
Illustrator: Franzi Paetzold
Published January 11th, 2017 by Pomelo Books

Summary: Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book is a story in poems and a writing journal designed to help kids think about social change. It contains 12 PowerPack sets featuring Ameera, David, Jack, and Jenna, a diverse group of kids working together to make an impact in their community. Sylvia Vardell’s inventive PowerPlay activities make it easy for writers to get inspired, while her Power2You writing prompts extend learning. Vardell also created extensive back matter resources for young readers, writers, and activists.

Praise: “This interactive book and the abundance of resources provided will motivate students to take action through words and ideas to make their world a better place—a must have for today’s classrooms.” —Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, Authors of Mentor Texts

“I absolutely love this book! The invitations are inspiring and offer opportunities to think about the world and respond both personally and critically.” —Mary Napoli, Associate Professor of Reading, Penn State Harrisburg

“This book will allow all sorts of emotions and thoughts to bubble forth, including difficult and painful ones . . . and that will be a source of healing.” —Ed Spicer, Educator and literacy expert

“Really glad and excited that this book will be in the hands of young people.” —Jeana Hrepich, Core Faculty, Antioch University Seattle

This book is a Children’s Book Council “Hot Off the Press” selection for January 2017 and the second Poetry Friday Power Book. The first book in that series, You Just Wait: A Poetry Friday Power Book, is a 2017 NCTE Poetry Notable.

About the Authors: Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book features the work of the dynamic team of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, plus 12 poets: Ibtisam Barakat, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Robyn Hood Black, David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Kate Coombs, David L. Harrison, Renée M. LaTulippe, Naomi Shihab Nye, Margaret Simon, Eileen Spinelli, and Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrations by Franzi Paetzold.

Sylvia M. Vardell is Professor at Texas Woman’s University and teaches courses in children’s and young adult literature. She has published five books on literature, as well as over 25 book chapters and 100 journal articles. Her current work focuses on poetry for young people, including a regular blog, PoetryforChildren.blogspot.com, since 2006.

Janet Wong is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who became a children’s poet. Her work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other shows. She is the author of 30 books for children and teens on chess, creative recycling, yoga, superstitions, driving, and more.

Together, Vardell and Wong are the creative forces behind The Poetry Friday Anthology series.

About the Book (from the authors): Why is this a “Poetry Friday Power Book”? Because we believe in the power of poetry to express our deepest feelings, and our most powerful experiences, and to inspire us to use our words to create change in teh world. Plus, we want you to discover the power of poetry in your own thinking and writing with the PowerPlay prewriting and Power2You writing prompts that pull you into poetry and inspire you to get your own ideas on paper–creatively, whimsically, powerfully, and immediately–right now in this book…

This book offers you several choices for reading, thinking, writing, and responding. Overall, it’s a story in poems, but all of this is also organized in PowerPack groups that help you get a “behind the scenes” look at how poems work and how poets write and think. In each of these PowerPack groups, you’ll find five things:

-PowerPlay activity
-Anchor poem (from an outside source)
-Response poem
-Mentor poem
-Power2You writing prompt

Have fun reading and thinking about poetry and learning about how poetry uses just a few words but says so much and can inspire us to take action. Ready? Let’s “power up” and get started!

Review: I have an interesting relationship with poetry. I overall love it. I love writing it, and I love reading it, but I really have trouble with the analyzing aspect. It is in this very serious analyzing step that kids get afraid of poetry, but I think books like Here We Go help students learn to love poetry instead of being afraid of it while still teaching about the beauty and importance of poetry.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Here We Go is a book that is made for classroom use! There are 12 PowerPacks, each with a different anchor poem and focus. Some PowerPacks work on rhyming, some work on format, and others focus on inspiration. There are so many different ways these PowerPacks could be organized to be used in the classroom! They can be daily during a poetry unit or weekly for half of the school year–whatever works best in your classroom, but this book is begging to be in children’s hands as an inspiration for our future poets.

Discussion Questions: What inspires you to write?; What is your favorite season? Why?; What are your favorite rhyming words?; How can you use your daily life to inspire you as a poet?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Writing poetry; Any poetry anthology including Out of Wonders by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth and When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

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Henry and the Chalk Dragon
Author: Jennifer Trafton
Illustrator: Benjamin Schipper
Published April 4th, 2017 by Rabbit Room Press

Summary: In the town of Squashbuckle, just about anything can happen, and when Henry Penwhistle draws a mighty Chalk Dragon on his door, the dragon does what Henry least expects–it runs away. Now Henry’s art is out in the world for everyone to see, and it’s causing trouble for him and his schoolmates, Oscar and Jade. If they don’t stop it, the entire town could be doomed! To vanquish the threat of a rampaging Chalk Dragon, Sir Henry Penwhistle, Knight of La Muncha Elementary School, is going to have to do more than just catch his art–he’s going to have to let his imagination run wild. And THAT takes bravery.

About the Author: Jennifer Trafton is the author of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (Dial, 2010) which received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and was a nominee for Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award and the National Homeschool Book Award. Henry and the Chalk Dragon arose from her lifelong love of drawing and her personal quest for the courage to be an artist. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in addition to pursuing her love of art and illustration, she teaches writing classes, workshops, and summer camps in a variety of schools, libraries, and homeschool groups in the Nashville area, as well as online classes to kids around the world. To learn more, and to download free materials, visit jennifertrafton.com.

Critical Praise: 

★“A delicious face-off between forces of conformity and creativity run amok, spiced with offbeat names as well as insights expressed with eloquent simplicity.” —Booklist (starred review)
★“A perfect title to hand to young readers looking for laughs along with a wild and crazy adventure.”
                                                                                —School Library Journal (starred review)

Review: I love any book that promotes imagination, and it isn’t too often that you find a novel that is all about keeping your imagination. Henry’s story is a Pleasantville one–he lives in a boring town and takes boring classes, but when he closes his door, his imagination goes wild. It is when his imaginative Chalk Dragon escapes and wrecks havoc on his school does the power of an imagination really start to show. 

On a side note, and only some of you will understand this, but the cover of Henry and the Chalk Dragon is matte and SO SOFT!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Along with a read aloud, the text gives lots of opportunities to discuss imagination, art, and creative writing. Also, chunking the text to fit the most opportune times will lead to some great writing and art prompts.

Discussion Questions: How did the principal end up the way he is? How do we know that he was not that way when he was younger?; Was Henry’s class/school doing the best thing to promote Vegetable Week?; Which adults understand Henry and his imagination? Which hinder him?; How does the power of Henry’s imagination cause havoc on the school? How does it save the school?; What does Henry’s chalk dragon coming to life symbolize in the grand scheme of things?; What is the lesson that the author is trying to teach us about imagination and growing up?

Flagged Passages: “Henry recognized the curve of those horns and the arrow-tipped tail. He recognized every sharp green flick of scaly skin, every zigzag of the bony spines running down the creature’s back. It was his dragon. Just as he had imagined it. Just as he had drawn it. Here it was, standing in front of him! There was something brand new in the world, and he had put it there!

There is a kind of fear that squeezes your heart with an icy hand and freezes you into a popsicle. But there is another kind of fear that is thrilling and hot, that makes your fingers tingle and your toes tickle each other inside your shoes until you want to leap over the Empire State Building. Henry was afraid with this kind of fear, and it felt good.

The dragon stared back at him–up and down, from his sneakers to his shiny helmet. It did not look afraid of Henry. It spread its wings proudly. It stretched its scaly neck as high as it would go. Its mouth widened slowly into a dragonish grin.

How long had Henry been waiting for this moment? Here he was, in his shiny suit of armor, with a sword in his hand. And here was a real live dragon–a dragon who could knock the house down with a few flicks of its tail, who could eat his mother for breakfast, who could send a ball of fire bouncing down the street. He knew exactly what he had to do.” (p. 32-33)

Read This If You Loved: The Journey Trilogy by Aaron BeckerHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Other picture books that spark imagination

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Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

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