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Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
Author: Marcy Campbell
Illustrator: Corinna Luyken
Published August 14th, 2018 by Dial Books

Summary: A classic in the making, this heartwarming story about empathy and imagination is one that families will treasure for years to come.

Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.

But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.

About the Creators:

 

Marcy Campbell lives in Ohio with her family and menagerie of rescued pets. Her writing for adults has been published widely in journals and magazines, including Salon. She grew up on a farm filled with cows, chickens, cats, and dogs, but she never had a horse. Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse is her debut picture book. You can visit her at www.marcycampbell.com.

Corinna Luyken grew up in different cities along the West Coast, and after studying at Middlebury College, she settled in Washington State, where she draws inspiration from nature, her family, and the human form. Her debut picture book, The Book of Mistakes, received four starred reviews and has been praised by Entertainment WeeklyThe Wall Street Journal, Nerdy Book Club, and more.

Kellee’s Review: 43.1 million Americans (as of 2016) live below the poverty line. Adrian Simcox represents one of those kids while Chloe represents too many peers. But what made this book for me was Chloe’s transformation. It wasn’t Adrian who needed to change! Adrian is a wonderful kid that too many people judge based on his circumstances when really it is all about who he is, and I am so thankful for Chloe finding the truth out in the end. This book will make kids rethink how they judge others and really does emote empathy and kindness. And I couldn’t review this book without giving a shout out to the beautiful illustrations. They are ART.

Ricki’s Review: I loved this book so much that I bought a copy for my son’s preschool teacher. I love that it can be read from a multitude of angles, and it provides so much fodder for classroom conversations. The illustrations are magical, the story is magical—everything about this book is magical. My son’s preschool teacher told me that the kids asked her to read it four times in a row. Although I am not sure if they spent time discussing poverty, I do know that those children (at the very least) received implicit messages about the truth of poverty and the power of imagination. I suspect this book will receive some major awards. It is one of my favorites of the year.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Read this book aloud and talk about it with kids. Period. The illustrations can also definitely be visually analyzed. First, if you didn’t notice, there is a horse hiding in many of the illustrations. Second, so much of the story is told in the illustrations–don’t forget to analyze them!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did Chloe judge Adrian without knowing him?
  • Why do you think Chloe cares so much about Adrian’s horse?
  • How did Chloe’s mom help her realize that she is not being compassionate?
  • How did the illustrator tell more of a story in the artwork?
  • Why do you believe the author wrote Adrian’s story?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët

Recommended For: 

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Don’t miss other stops on the blog tour: 

August 6 – Lost in Storyland
August 7 – The Readathon
August 8 – Happily Ever Elephants
August 9 – Read. Learn. Repeat
August 10 – Kid Lit Frenzy
August 13 – Here Wee Read
August 14 – DoodleMom
August 15 – Eastern Sunset Reads
August 16 – Critter Lit
August 17 – Unleashing Readers

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**Thank you to Friya at Penguin Young Readers for setting up the blog tour!**

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It’s Show and Tell, Dexter!
Author: Lindsay Ward
Published July 17th, 2018 by Two Lions

Summary: Dexter T. Rexter is going to school. But will anyone like him?

Tomorrow is the biggest event ever in Dexter’s life: his best friend, Jack, is taking him to school for Show and Tell Day! Dexter has been getting ready for weeks. But now he’s a little nervous. What if the other kids don’t like him? So Dexter decides to come up with a plan. He’ll wear a costume. Dinosaurs in bunny ears look good, right? He’ll recite state capitals starting with…uhaher. Then he realizes something. He can’t dance. He can’t recite things. He doesn’t have ANY skills. What’s a dino to do?

This comical, interactive tale of belonging, friendship, anticipation, and first-day-at-school jitters lets readers experience the excitement and nervousness along with Dexter—and even offer him a little advice along the way.

About the Author: 

Lindsay Ward is the author of the Dexter T. Rexter book Don’t Forget Dexter! Though she never got to bring an orange dinosaur to Show and Tell Day, she did once take all four albums of her sticker collection. She is also the author and illustrator of BrobariansHenry Finds His Word, and When Blue Met Egg. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play.

Most days you can find Lindsay with her family, writing and sketching at her home in Peninsula, Ohio. Learn more about her at www.LindsayMWard.com.

Praise: “Ward’s gentle art features cut-paper forms with residual pencil outlines, providing an ad hoc quality to the spreads. Readers prone to anxiety over big events should be tickled by the idea that a toy has concerns too.” —Publishers Weekly

“Ward’s illustrations, made with printmaking ink, colored pencil, and cut paper, wonderfully capture Dexter’s every emotion and over-the-top ideas.” —Kirkus Reviews

Review: Dexter is going to school, and he is feeling many things that so many kids feel about themselves when they are going to school, either for show and tell or on the first day of school. How is he going to make everyone at school like him? What he needs to realize is that he should be proud of who he is and not question himself.

What I love about Dexter’s books is that he really does deal with some tough issues that many kids deal with throughout their childhood, but it is done in a super hilarious way with Dexter’s voice which is one of a kind. This makes for really fun read alouds with some great follow up discussions.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: What a fun book to read when you are introducing show and tell in elementary school! It will help kids realize that it doesn’t matter what they bring as long as it has a story and means something to you. Students will also love rereading this, so it definitely needs to be in libraries, both public, school, and classroom, also.

And check out the fun coloring sheet here!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why is Dexter so nervous about Show and Tell?
  • What lesson does Dexter’s story teach us about impressions and/or show and tell?
  • What tune do you think Dexter’s song is set to?
  • Why would Dexter feel like he needs to wear a costume? Or look different?
  • How does it end up in the end?
  • What toy would you bring to show and tell?

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Don’t Forget Dexter by Lindsay WardLily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen, Not Norman by Kelly Bennett, Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

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Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of both Dexter T. Rexter books–Don’t Forget Dexter! and It’s Show and Tell, Dexter!, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses).

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for setting up the blog tour!**

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Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Published May 8, 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Goodreads Summary: Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Ricki’s Review: I read this book in one sitting. I’ve been thinking about it almost daily since I’ve read it. It’s an unforgettable story about a girl’s courage to survive. I don’t know her age, and although I suspect that the book is targeted by marketing teams for middle graders, it is quite simply a must-read for everyone. The book provides layers upon layers of themes and issues to consider. It made me think about privilege, freedom, education, and bravery, in particular. Amal is inspiring, and I greatly admire her courage in the face of adversity. When I was reviewing this book on GoodReads, I noticed that every one of my reader friends rated the book highly, and I am not surprised. Amal’s story is one that will stick with all readers. 

This is an important book. This is a book that will make your heart race. This is a book that I will read again and again.

Kellee’s Review: This story affected me much in the way that Sold, A Long Walk to Water, Rickshaw Girl, or Queen of Water did. As we fight for so many injustices here in America, there are unimaginable things happening to humans in other places around the world. Often somewhere like Pakistan seems so far away, but then you read a story like Amal’s and you see that the gap between you and her is not that big and we all just want happiness in our life. Amal’s strive for knowledge and willingness to help others are traits that make her unforgettable mostly when paired with the bravery she shows throughout this book. Amal’s story will truly help readers look through windows (and possibly mirrors) and have to face the privilege we do have and the injustice others face. 

On top of the very important theme and amazing main character, the story of Amal Unbound is heartwarming as well as heartbreaking and heart wrenching. And there is a truly suspenseful part also! The story is definitely one that will keep kids reading while also doing all of what I said above.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers could use this book as a read aloud, close reading/analysis, lit circle/book club, or classroom library text. It is rare that Kellee and I designate a book with all of these categories, but it’s a very adaptable text. It might be interesting for teachers to use this book as a whole-class read but using book groups. The groups could select a theme to study (e.g. education) and read other fiction and nonfiction related to the theme. This might allow for rich discussion across groups where they share their findings and teach each other.

Discussion Questions: 

  • In what ways did Amal show courage? Did you agree with all of her actions?
  • What is the role of education in this book?
  • Which characters stood out to you? What made them three-dimensional?
  • What is the role of family in the text?
  • What do you think the author’s purpose(s) might be?

We Flagged: “If everyone decided nothing could change, nothing ever would.”

Read This If You Loved: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed, Sold by Patricia McCormick, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, The Queen of Water by Laura Resau, Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams, Diamonds in the Shadows by Caroline B. Cooney, Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples, So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba

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The Day You Begin
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: Rafael López
Publication Date: August 28th, 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Summary: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Kellee’s Review: A beautiful book about the power of differences while also acknowledging the challenges that feeling as if you don’t fit in cause. I loved that the story was not exactly narrative but instead of a snapshot into multiple kids’ lives to help show different examples of differences. We are all unique and that is what makes this book and our world beautiful!

Woodson’s lyrical language with Lopez’s collage and colorful illustration makes this book a piece of art that is going to bridge gaps, help students think about others, give readers a mirror and a window, and build empathy in all that read it.

Ricki’s Review: A great many kids and adults will find solace in the text. The writing and illustrations are stunning. Every once in a while, a book comes around like this one. It is simply magical. I don’t often purchase bound copies of my F&Gs, but I knew I needed to pre-order this one after I read it. It is a great book for teachers to read on the first day. The emotional impact is powerful. Everyone has felt excluded at some time or another, and this book digs deeply into that emotion and pushes readers to analyze that feeling and push through it to find strength and resolve. I am having a difficult time conveying the power of this book. I promise you will love it.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Building classroom community around kindness and empathy is essential in building a safe, trusting environment for our students, and this text will be a perfect addition to any text set you have that focuses on these topics. In addition to these social-emotional impacts, the text allows for talks of theme, mood, and author’s intent.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What is one way that you feel very different than most people around you? How could people support you? How could you support others who feel different?
  • What examples of people’s differences did Woodson highlight in the story?
  • What was the mood for the first large portion of the text?
  • What is the theme of the book?
  • Why do you think the author felt compelled to write this book?
  • Why are differences important in our community? Nation? Classroom?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Each Kindness by Jacqueline WoodsonI Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët, Normal Norman by Tara LazarAdrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers, Pink is for Boys by Rob PearlmanCome with Me by Holly McGhee, We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio

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You Choose: A New Story Every Time–What Will YOU CHOOSE?
Author: Pippa Goodhart
Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
Published: January 1, 2012 by Kane Miller Books

Goodreads Summary: A book with a different ending—every time!

If you could do anything, what would you choose? Imagine you could go anywhere, with anyone and do anything. Where would you live? Where would you sleep? Who would be your friends? What games would you play? Go on . . . You choose! With the help of witty illustrations, and a whole range of scenarios to choose from, this highly original book has a different ending every time and makes choosing, and reading, fun.

My Review: About a year ago, I received the book Just Imagine for review. At least once a week, my son has asked me to read this book. There is so much to look at, and he gets so excited each time he reads it. I emailed the publisher (a year later) to thank her again for sending this book for review. We donate many of the books that I receive for review, but I simply cannot let this one go. Fast forward a few weeks, and I was thrilled to see that she sent You Choose as a thank you for my email. This book has received a bit more positive press, and I suspect many readers have it in their collections, but if you don’t own it, I recommend it highly.

We took You Choose on vacation with us a couple of weeks ago, and we read it every night. My four-year-old holds up the book, and my husband, my younger son, and I select our jobs, houses, outfits, hats, etc. from each spread. I can’t get enough of this book. It makes reading incredibly fun, and it’s started a wonderful tradition in our house.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Just Imagine and You Choose would make wonderful texts for creative writing units and courses. Students often struggle to get started, and paging through these books is would make for wonderful story starters. I intend to use these books in my Teaching Composition course.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What did you choose? Why?
  • What did you NOT choose? Why?
  • Which page was your favorite? Why was the spread most interesting to you?
  • Did you notice any trends or patterns with your choices?

My family reading the book: 

Read This If You Loved: Just Imagine by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart; Choose Your Own Journey by Susie Brooks and Tracy Cottingham; Story Path: Choose a Path, Tell a Story by Madalena Matoso; Where’s Will? by Tilly; I Want to Be… books by Ruby Brown

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**Thank you to Lynn for sending me this book!**

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Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries
Authors: Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson
Published June 26th, 2018

Summary: Unbelievable TRUTHS about outrageous people, places and events—with a few outright LIES hiding among them. Can you tell the fakes from the facts?

Did you know that a young girl once saved an entire beach community from a devastating tsunami thanks to something she learned in her fourth-grade geography lesson? Or that there is a person alive today who generates her own magnetic field? Or how about the fact that Benjamin Franklin once challenged the Royal Academy of Brussels to devise a way to make farts smell good?

Welcome to Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries! You know the game: Every story in this book is strange and astounding, but one out of every three is an outright lie.

Can you guess which stories are the facts and which are the fakes? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable! Don’t be fooled by the photos that accompany each story—it’s going to take all your smarts and some clever research to root out the alternative facts.

From a train that transported dead people to antique photos of real fairies to a dog who was elected mayor, the stories in this book will amaze you! Just don’t believe everything you read. . . .

About the Authors:

  

Ammi-Joan Paquette loves caves, hates mushy bananas, and is ambivalent about capybaras. She is the author of the novels The Train of Lost Things, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl as well as the Princess Juniper series and many more. She is also the recipient of a PEN/New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award honor. Joan lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing with her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.

Laurie Ann Thompson loves capybaras, hates caves, and is ambivalent about mushy bananas. She is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books, including Emmanuel’s Dream,  a picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book and a CCBC Choice, among other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family, and you can visit her online at www.lauriethompson.com

Unleashing Readers review of Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=13591 

ReviewI just love this series for so many reasons! First, it is just so interesting! Even the “lies” include true stories with information switched out to make it not true. There are quizzes and tidbits of information. There is so much to read about and just take in. I am so in awe with the authors who truly find unknown information that is fascinating and will keep kids (and adults!) reading. Also, I think it is so important to teach students/kids (and adults!) how to determine if information being given to us is valid and reliable. Third, I think the authors do a fantastic job including a wide variety of topics to give students who may have different interests interested. And with two books in the series now focusing on two different focuses, it makes it so even more readers will find something they want to learn about. And lastly, I am so glad that the authors are making nonfiction fun! Too many of my students don’t like nonfiction because they find it “boring.” This book is anything but boring.

Teaching Guide:

Flagged Passages: 

Part 1: Hazy Histories

History. Some people think of it as nothing more than a whole bunch of names and events and dates to be memorized. But history is so much more than that. History is people, history is stories, history is fascinating! 

In this section, we’ll spin some amazing tales from ancient history right up to the present day. All of them are remarkable, but remember–one of the stories in each chapter is fake.

Prepare yourself to experience history in a way that you never have before.

Let’s get started!

Chapter 2: Over 1,00 Years Ago

Read This If You Love: Unsolved Mysteries from History series by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple: The Mary Celeste, Roanoke, The Wolf Girlsand The Salem Witch Trials; History’s Mysteries from National Geographic; History; Nonfiction mysteries

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Blog Tour Stops: 

DATE BLOG
6/19 Library Lions Roar
6/20 Geo Librarian
6/21 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
6/21 Roadmap to Reality: Helping Kids Find Their Way in a World of Fake News
6/26 The Official Tumblr of Walden Media
6/26 Bluestocking Thinking
6/27 Unleashing Readers
6/27 Nerdy Book Club
6/27 Writers Rumpus
6/28 The Book Monsters
6/29 Pragmatic Mom

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Pink Is for Boys
Author: Robb Pearlman
Illustrator: Eda Kaban
Published: June 5, 2018 by Running Press

Goodreads Summary: An empowering and educational picture book that proves colors are for everyone, regardless of gender.

Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.

Parents and kids will delight in Robb Pearlman’s sweet, simple script, as well as its powerful message: life is not color-coded.

Ricki’s Review: I have two sons. I very much appreciate all of the wonderful girl-empowering books that have been published recently. I am constantly shooting up my fist and shouting “Hooray!” when these books are published. But as a mom, I appreciate even more the opportunities to tell my son, “Yes, it’s okay that your favorite color is ‘rainbow,'” “No, boys are not necessarily better at fixing things” (I’ll secretly admit that this one is actually true in our house—my husband is an engineer), or “Yes, it’s okay if your favorite Disney song is ‘Let It Go,’ even when you are the only boy in your class who thinks this.” (I should backtrack here and say that Moana is far better than Frozen.)

I have one more anecdote. The day after I read this book to my son, I went to a birthday party with my sons. My 19-month-old crashed into a boy who was about 2 and half. My kid, who is oddly resilient, popped right up, but the other boy cried. His dad said, “You need to man up. Boys don’t cry.” This kind of stuff has to end. It’s only with the publication of books like these that we will be able to defy these gender norms that drive me bonkers. Pink is for boys.

The basic (but well-conceived) drawings of this book make it shine. The point is clear—and younger readers will easily make sense of it. The characters are drawn as simple sketches and are understated. This makes the message all the more powerful. 

Kellee’s Review: My son loves all the colors. Except, according to him, pink and purple. Where did this come from?! In my house, all colors are wonderful colors and girls and boys can like and do whatever they want, but he must have been told by someone ‘out there’ that pink and purple are girl colors, and Trent, wanting to be accepted, now felt he couldn’t like these colors. I try to counteract this notion in my house, but it is ‘out there’ that minds need to shift or I am fighting a battle so much bigger than I may be able to handle. When will we [general societal we] stop saying “You throw like a girl” as an insult or “Man up” as a way to tell kids to not cry?! I can teach my son to be a feminist, but until things like those stated above change, society will always be pushing against what I am teaching him at home. 

Within the text, in addition to promoting the brilliance and beauty of all colors, I also truly appreciated how the characters were diverse in all aspects of the word and that the author purposefully rotated between girls and boys & boys and girls to show that neither deserves to go first.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book makes us itch to teach young kids. We would ask students to create their own versions (or posters) of this book. For example, they might create books called Crying is For Boys or Dirt is for Girls. As a secondary teacher, this book would be a great discussion starter about gender prejudice and assumptions in society.

Discussion Questions: How does the illustrator use simplistic drawings to better convey the meaning of the text?; How does the author convey the message implicitly and explicitly?

Flagged Passage:

Read This If You Loved: Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, The Boy In the Dress by Michael Walliams, The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein

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**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters for providing copies for review!**

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