Smithsonian Exploration Station: Solar System
Summary: Take a trip into the stratosphere with Smithsonian Exploration Station: Space! With informative text and full-color photographs, young astronomers will learn about the intricate makeup of our solar system as well as distant galaxies and constellations. The 56-page fact book combined with […]
Smithsonian Exploration Station: Solar System
Summary: Take a trip into the stratosphere with Smithsonian Exploration Station: Space! With informative text and full-color photographs, young astronomers will learn about the intricate makeup of our solar system as well as distant galaxies and constellations. The 56-page fact book combined with the sticker sheet, space figurines to play with, and the glow-in-the-dark stars make this space experience interactive and engaging.
Includes a 56-page fact book, 30 stickers, 22 glow-in-the-dark stars, and 2 figurines (astronaut and rocket).
Review: I love book kits. There is something about them that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. My almost 5-year-old loves them just as much. Opening the box is like opening a world of fun. We were thrilled to receive this kit, and it didn’t disappoint. My son played with the rocket and astronaut figurines as we read the book together. The rocket and astronaut touched every page of the book! After we read about each part of the solar system, he affixed the appropriate sticker on his poster. He’s very much looking forward to sticking the glow in the dark stars on his ceiling! Parents will love these kits. The interactive learning component is wonderful. I intend to purchase several other kits from this company!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might purchase 1-2 kits each of the Smithsonian Exploration Station series. These include the Human Body, World Atlas, and Human Body. They can be found here. Students can select the kit that is most interesting to them and engage in an inquiry unit on the topic. These kids would be very fun to use in small groups!
- What did you learn as you did the activities?;
- What parts of solar system do you find most interesting? Why?;
- How do the different parts of the solar system together?
The full-sized poster! Notice the grayed out planets. The stickers match these and make for a great interactive reading experience!
Read This If You Loved: Any nonfiction books about the solar system; interactive books and kits (like this one about the human body)
**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review**
Gods and Heroes
Author: Korwin Briggs
Published August 21, 2018 by Workman
GoodReads Summary: Meet the Original Superheroes.
Before there was Batman, Wonder Woman, or Black Panther…there was Indra, Hindu king of gods, who battled a fearsome snake to save the world from drought. Athena, the powerful Greek goddess of wisdom who could decide the fate of battles before they even began. Okuninushi, the Japanese hero who defeated eighty brothers to become king and then traded it all for a chance at immortality.
Featuring more than 70 characters from 23 cultures around the world, this A-to-Z encyclopedia of mythology is a who’s who of powerful gods and goddesses, warriors and kings, enchanted creatures and earthshaking giants whose stories have been passed down since the beginning of time—and are now given fresh life for a new generation of young readers.
Plus, You’ll Learn All About:
Dragons: The Hydra, St. George’s Dragon, and the Australian Rainbow Snake
Giants: Grendel, Balor of the Evuil Eye, Polyphemus, and the Purusha with the thousand heads
Monsters: Manticore, Sphinx, Minotaur, Thunderbird, and Echidne, mother of the Nemean lion that nearly killed Heracles
Underworlds: Travel to Hades, Valhalla, and the Elysian Fields
Review: I always enjoy Workman books. The offer nonfiction information in a way that is fun and engaging. My four-year-old loved this book (even though most of it was a bit over his head). I’d recommend this book for the targeted audience (grades 3-7), but I think younger and older kids would really enjoy it (I know I did!). There are a diverse set of gods and heroes within this story, and they don’t originate from one culture, which I liked a lot. My son seemed to love the Greek/Roman gods the most, so those are the ones that we’ve read so far. We read about a different god/hero each night, and we’ve been going strong for about two weeks. We look forward to reading these stories each night. It makes for a fantastic bedtime routine.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask each student to pick a different god or hero and present it to the class. I’d encourage students to choose a god/hero that interests them, and I think this onus would help students get excited about their presentations!
Discussion Questions: Which heroine/hero did you enjoy the most? Why?; Did you notice any similarities across cultural heroes? Differences? Which hero would you want to learn more about?
Read This If You Love: Mythology, Gods, Heroes, History
**Thank you to Diana at Workman for providing a copy for review!**
A Perilous Journey of Danger & Mayhem: A Dastardly Plot
Author: Christopher Healy
Published September 25th, 2018
Summary: It is 1883—the Age of Invention! A time when great men like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Nicola Tesla, and George Eastman work to turn the country into a mechanical-electrical-
Unless, of course, you’re a woman.
Molly Pepper, daughter of brilliant but unknown inventor Cassandra Pepper, lives with her mother in New York. By day, they make ends meet running a small pickle shop; but by night, they toil and dream of Cassandra shattering the glass ceiling of the Inventors Guild and taking her place among the most famous inventors in America. In an attempt to find a way to exhibit Cassandra’s work at the 1883 World’s Fair, they break into the Inventors Guild—and discover a mysterious and dastardly plot to destroy New York. The evidence points to the involvement of one of the world’s most famous inventors, and now it’s up to Molly, Cassandra, and a shop hand named Emmett Lee to uncover the truth—even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.
Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed Hero’s Guide series, returns with the first book in a rip-roaring adventure about the inventors history remembers—and more than a few that it’s forgotten.
About the Author: Christopher Healy is the author of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, as well as its two sequels, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle and The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw. Before becoming a writer, he worked as an actor, an ad copywriter, a toy store display designer, a fact-checker, a dishwasher, a journalist, a costume shop clothing stitcher, a children’s entertainment reviewer, and a haunted house zombie. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and a dog named Duncan. You can visit him online at www.christopherhealy.com
“A zany, rollicking series opener.”– Kirkus Reviews
“Plot twists and banter hit at breakneck speeds in this heartfelt yet tongue-in-cheek look at the tumultuous Age of Invention, and its focus on two often marginalized groups—immigrants and women—allows for relevant social commentary.”– Publishers Weekly
“Healy has created a steampunk-inspired alternative history featuring some of the greatest minds in invention (including a number of women) in this series opener. A solid choice for adventurous readers.”– Booklist
“Christopher Healy, author of the Hero’s Guide series knows how to tell a good story. He’s done it again with the adventures of a determined girl named Molly Pepper.”– Brightly
Review: This is the exact book the world needed! Our traditionally told history is lacking in all things diversity because it was told by bias individuals who left out people who made huge differences despite their gender or race. I love that Christopher Healy was able to take this fact, show the ridiculousness of lack of great female minds being included in history and create this book filled with humor, adventure, heart, and a bit of history. He also includes prejudice against immigrants in the story in a way that will make any reader realize how undeserving these humans just looking for a life are of this prejudice.
Now starting my review that way may make you think that the book is preachy or boring, but it is anything but. Right from the beginning, you want to see if Cassandra and her brilliant inventions will ever be acknowledged and if they are going to be able to stop New York from being destroyed. Now throw in deceit from men the Peppers and Emmett trust, inventions of all sorts, a gang of men trying to kill whomever get in their way, and a group of brilliant women who won’t let anything stop them, and you will get this crazy adventure of Molly’s and Emmett’s.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Although the book is fiction, much of what is included is shrouded in fact. The author includes “What’s Real and Not…” in the back matter which allows for inquiry into the historical elements of the story. This also allows teachers to see what parts of the story include more fact than fiction and different aspects could be pulled out when learning about the different historical elements.
- What part of the books were historical and what parts were fiction?
- Would you consider the book historical fiction or science fiction or steam punk?
- What invention would you want to make?
- Research Edison. Do you think he deserves as much recognition as he gets?
- Research the World’s Fair. Why do we not have them anymore?
- Which deceitful events in the story surprised you? Were your predictions correct?
- How did meeting Emmett and the MOI change Molly’s life trajectory?
- Other than for entertainment, why do you think the author chose to write this story?
Read This If You Love: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele, Explorers: Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress
Don’t miss out on the other blog tour stops!
|24-Sep||Novel Novice Post by Christopher Healy||https://novelnovice.com/|
|25-Sep||A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust||http://www.foodiebibliophile.com/|
|27-Sep||Teach Mentor Texts||http://www.teachmentortexts.com|
|28-Sep||Novel Novice Review||https://novelnovice.com/|
|1-Oct||The Flashlight Reader||http://www.theflashlightreader.com/|
|2-Oct||Nerdy Book Club||https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/|
|3-Oct||Novel Novice Q and A with Chris||https://novelnovice.com/|
**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing copies for review and giveaway!**
Journey of the Pale Bear
Author: Susan Fletcher
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018 by McElderry Books
Summary: The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.
Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?
About the Author: SUSAN FLETCHER is the acclaimed author of the Dragon Chronicles as well as the award-winning Alphabet of Dreams, Shadow Spinner, Walk Across the Sea, and Falcon in the Glass. Ms. Fletcher lives in Bryan, Texas. To read about the fascinating story behind the inspiration for Journey of the Pale Bear, visit her website, SusanFletcher.com
Praise: ★”A stupendous coming-of-age tale stuffed with adventure and laced with deeper questions.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Review: When I first read about this book it sounded pretty good, enough for me to pick it up, but it was SO GOOD! Like so good that even though it was a school week, I read it in 2 days!
First, it takes place in a time period that is hardly ever in books which is fascinating. I found myself looking up some of the history that was mentioned in the book, but the author did a great job of making sure that not knowing about the details of the time period wouldn’t effect the reading experience.
Second, it looks at animal treatment and truly makes you think about how an animal feels when it is put in captivity. Although told only in a realistic manner, the animal is such an integral part of the story that its behaviors are shared in detail allowing it to become a full character within the book.
Third, did you know there used to be a menagerie in the Tower of London? Me neither! But that took me down a suck hole of Google research. So fascinating!
Fourth, wow! The adventure is EPIC: sailing, bullies, pirates, shipwrecks, storms. It never stops!
So in review: Fascinating, thought-provoking, curious, and action-packed. All in all, a book I truly recommend and enjoyed.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The main home for this book will be in libraries; however, I can definitely see portions of it being used in classrooms.
- First, I could see it being used during a history lesson to discuss the politics and war shared in the book.
- Second, there are so many scenes that could be pulled out as mentor texts for writing. I’ll share some of my favorites below.
- Third, I would love to see some creative writing done from the bear’s point of view.
- Fourth, it is a fascinating look at animal treatment and how it has (and has not) changed over the years.
But in the end, it belongs in kids’ hands! Get it there!
- Why did Arthur agree to take care of the bear?
- What examples throughout the book show that the bear loved and trusted Arthur?
- What does the whole story of a polar bear being sent from Norway to England show you about the respect of animals during the time period of the novel?
- How did Arthur’s involvement make the bear’s life better?
- Do you believe that the doctor cared about Arthur as he said he did? Explain.
- How did Arthur earn the respect of the sailors on the ship?
“Its eyes, small and dark, were alert, curious, aware. I felt the faint stirring of its breath against my cheeks. I drew in the rich, ripe scent of bear until I seemed to sink down below the surface of it, drowning. From somewhere far away I heard Hauk and the lantern boy arguing, but the sounds fell away behind the throbbing in my ears and the thrill of the running-hum in my limbs.
The bear rumbled deep in its throat.
I rose to my feet, stepped back, and felt the iron bars press cold against me. I kept my eyes fixed on the pale, wide face, as if the force of my gaze could prevent the bear from lunging at me with its enormous paws or raking me with is claws–claws that I could see out of the corner of my eyes, massive claws, claws from a nightmare of monsters.” (Chapter 3)
“Before we saw the bear, we heard her—a heavy rhythmic read, a thump, a clang. Beyond the reek of fish, I sniffed out the feral musk of her.
We crept through the dark warehouse–the doctor, the captain, and I–until I made out a large, pale, moving form in the deep gloom ahead. The doctor motioned us to stop, and we watched from behind a stack of crates and bales. The bear was as tall as a pony, longer than a caribou, and as wide as two bulls. Back and forth she paced in her cage, and back and forth again, her head swinging side to side on her long neck, the convex bow of her snout lending her an air of nobility. The bear-smell now filled the air, and the stench of dung as well. A surge of fear rose up in me, turning my bones and sinews to liquid.” (Chapter 6)
Read This If You Love: Seekers by Erin Hunter, The Vanishing Islands by Barry Wolverton, Pirates! by Celia Rees, The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review and McElderry Books for providing a copy for giveaway!**
Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World
Author: Gary Golio
Illustrator: Rudy Gutierrez
Published: September 4, 2018 by Henry Holt
Summary: Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio’s Sound of the Heart, Song of the World, featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez,the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Carlos Santana Shaman CD cover.
Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change.
From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.
My Review: I absolutely loved this book. My son and I had so much fun reading it, and then he asked to listen to some of Carlos Santana’s music. A few days later, we heard a Carlos Santana song on the radio, and my husband excitedly reminded my son about the book. It feels good to connect him with such a powerful man in our history. He shaped music in powerful ways. The book is beautifully written. I liked how it focused predominantly on Santana’s childhood. This kept my son’s interest and helped him connect with Santana. The art flows beautifully and looks like visual music on the page.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to use this book in literature circles with kids. Students could each read a picture book about a famous person in our history of music (see some of the options below). They could share out to their peers and play a clip from the music. These interdisciplinary activities would make for a warm, powerful learning environment.
- Describe Carlos Santana’s childhood.
- What inspired Santana?
- What was Santana’s relationship with his parents? How do you think this may have shaped his life? What did working beside his father teach him about himself?
- Describe Santana’s journey into music. What influenced him?
Flagged Passage: Check out the beautiful interiors on the book’s Macmillan page.
Read This If You Love: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert; Stand Up and Sing! by Susanna Reich, When Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio
**Thank you to Madison at Macmillan for providing the book for review!**
Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood
Authors: James Baldwin and Yoran Cazac
Published August 27, 2018 by Duke University Press
Summary: Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a “Little Man” with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.
Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.
Ricki’s Review: When I was asked to review this book, I jumped at the opportunity. I am a huge fan of James Baldwin’s work, and I was completely unaware that this book existed! It lived up to my high expectations. The illustrations are beautiful, and the message is powerful. It is harshly realistic and difficult to read, and the book cuts deeply. It will serve as both windows and mirrors for children. This book took me to 1970s Harlem, and I am grateful for the experience. It is a must-read for fans of Baldwin, for those with interest in historical perspectives, and for those seeking a compelling story that will endure.
Kellee’s Review: In the 1970s, Harlem was a different place. TJ is 4 and roams with his friends, and we get to see his community from his point of view. Even the plot felt like his point of view as the story is very focused on events and is almost liked different episodes of his life. Although TJ is quite young, the story is anything but immature. TJ is an active participant in his community: the good and the bad. Mixed with Cazac’s slightly abstract, colorful and emotion-filled art, Baldwin’s story is overall a fascinating historical look at Harlem in the 1970s.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is certainly written for younger children, but high schoolers would also find value in a close examination of the text. We’d love to pair this book with some of Baldwin’s texts for adults. High schoolers would have rich conversations if they examined Little Man, Little Man through the lens of some of Baldwin’s other works.
- This is a book that has been reprinted from several decades ago. How does the book feel different from other picture books?
- What did you learn about 1970s Harlem?
- What did you notice about the phrasing of the book? How does this support your reading?
- What is the mood of the text?
- What lessons did you learn?
Flagged Passage: “Music all up and down this street, TJ runs it every day” (p. 2-3).
Book Trailer (Tejan [the character “TJ” is modeled after him] narrates it!):
Read This If You Love: Books by James Baldwin, Matt de la Peña, Coe Booth, Nikki Grimes, or Jacqueline Woodson
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**
Hazardous Tales: Raid of No Return
Author and Illustrator: Nathan Hale
Published November 7th, 2017 by Abrams Books
Summary: A top secret mission needs volunteers.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States joined World War II. And soon after that, young pilots were recruited fro a very secret – and very dangerous – raid on Japan. No one in the armed forced had done anything like this raid before, and none of the volunteers expected to escape with their lives. But this was a war unlike any other before, which called for creative thinking as well as bravery.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, gruesome, and TRUE stories of American history. Read them all – if you dare!
About the Author: Nathan Hale is the #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. He also wrote and illustrated the graphic novel One Trick Pony. Hale lives in Provo, Utah. Learn more at hazardoustales.com.
Praise: “Harrowing and no detail is left out . . . Hale’s tendency to incorporate character commentary, infographics, and fun facts will draw readers. Give this title to readers interested in action-packed graphic novels.” — School Library Journal
Review: The Hazardous Tales series is the series I use when kids say that nonfiction is boring AND when teachers say that graphic novels aren’t complex because this series, and this book, is complex, interesting, well crafted, funny, and just everything you’d want from any book, much less a nonfiction graphic novel.
And I am so happy to have a World War II Tale because so many students ask for it, and this is a new story for me, so I know it’ll be new for my students as well. Also, I think this specific mission will lead to many discussions because the idea of volunteering for a deadly mission is something that so many of my students struggle to understand because it isn’t something that they need to even consider, so to look at these men’s decision-making and willingness to fight for their country.
Hazardous Tales tip: I recommend starting with the first book, One Dead Spy, then you can read any of the others in any order.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’ve written in the past how I would incorporate this series as well as written a teaching guide for the first six books, but I wanted to allow another voice to share the brilliance of Hazardous Tales, so today my colleague, Kaleigh Gill who teaches 8th grade U.S. history, who started reading the series this summer and has read almost the whole series! I wanted to let her share why she loves the series and how she pictures it being part of her classroom:
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales opens up a world of American stories that are often overlooked. With multiple books focusing on big topics, like the Revolution, Civil War, Alamo and Westward Expansion, Hale is able to give students (and teachers!) an engaging and realistic depiction of the experiences of American heroes and villains. With his humorous and relatable characters, he is able to connect with young readers on an unprecedented level in regards to nonfiction novels.
One of my favorite attributes of Hale’s series is the way he inserts side stories filled with background information and informative detail on corresponding events and individuals. He has the ability to make these often dull stories, come alive with his animated and entertaining illustrations. His stories are sure to captivate readers of all ages and interests.
Every history teacher in the United States should read this series! Even if you feel you wouldn’t have enough time to teach the entire book, it would be a great visual to provide students when discussing certain topics or figures. Some excerpts in this series would only take about 5-10 minutes to read aloud and discuss with your students, but would definitely leave a lasting impact! This series has even inspired me to design lessons based around historical texts for young readers and has also ignited my love of history again. Leaving these books to simply sit in my classroom library, would be a huge waste for my curriculum and more importantly, my students. Not only will it give insight into little known stories of America’s major events to enhance instruction, but it will intrigue students to dive deeper into historical texts that they would typically overlook.
- Why did these soldiers volunteer for a mission they knew nothing about and that they knew was very dangerous?
- Why do you think the part of World War II in the South Pacific isn’t spoken about as much as the European front?
- How did the planes have to be changed up to be successful for the mission? Why?
- Trying reading the book the way it was written then switch it up and read one plane’s story at a time–which way did you enjoy better?
- How did this mission change the course of the war against Japan?
Read This If You Love: History, Graphic Novels, Other Hazardous Tales books
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