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Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

 

Dear readers,

If you are a dragon lover like my friend who recommended this book to me or love a kindhearted tale this would be your book: Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi! This book is recommended for ages 8-12.

Kenny is a little rabbit who always has his head stuck in a book. One day, Kenny’s father rushes into the kitchen all out of  breath. He tells his family to move out straight away but the Mom sits him down for dinner and then tells him to explain. The father says that a Dragon lives on the hill next to their farm and Kenny, the bookworm, obviously wants to see the dragon. The mom protests but the father says he can go but he has to be careful. Kenny quickly goes upstairs and covers himself in pots and pans like a knight and takes a benastary (a book of beasts) with him. Once Kenny gets up on the hill and sees the dragon he gets very scared. Once Kenny meets the dragon he becomes best friends with him. Kenny’s parents think that they should meet the dragon, whose name is Grahame, so they go over to Grahame’s house and have a cup of tea. Later Kenny goes to the village to meet his friend George who lends him books. Kenny discovers that George is assigned to kill Grahame! Will Kenny be able to explain to George that this monstrous but kind beast is his friend before it is too late?

I love this book so much because of its kindness and how it proves the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. It warms my heart when I see how the two companions work together to stop Grahame (the dragon) from getting hurt. I also love this book because of the cute pencil drawings and the great words that express the story. For example, this is how the book starts: ”Many years ago . . . Hold on, I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking a book about a dragon should start with “Once upon a time.” But this one doesn’t because frankly, I don’t really know what “Once upon a time” means.” Ha ha ha by now you must be laughing! Now you can see how the whole book is told in an exciting way. I hope this book captures your heart and your imagination. Either way HAVE FUN!!!

Discussion questions

  • If you were Kenny would you go up to a mountain that your father tells you has a dragon in it?
  • When Kenny decides to help his friend Grahame do you think that was the right thing to do? Why?
  • Which character is like you the most? What do you have in common?
  • Which of Kenny’s actions surprised you and why did they surprise you?

If this book got the action in you going or you just liked it then be sure to check out The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi. I have not read it yet but have watched the movie twice and can’t wait to get my hands on that book!

**We feel so lucky to have Sofia.**

 

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Sometimes a Wall…
Author: Dianne White; Illustrator: Barroux
Published: October 15, 2020 by OwlKids

Summary: An afternoon in the playground introduces different kinds of walls: a brick wall to draw on with chalk, a water wall, and a climbing wall. What follows is a playful yet profound exploration of the many ways walls can divide us or bring us together. When one child is excluded from a game, another builds a castle to leave him out. When the builder declares the castle MINE, other kids feel alienated―but the builder becomes lonely, too, when the others have fun without him. The book ends with the optimism of a new start: friendship, forgiveness, and imagination give the wall new meaning.

Told with short, simple lines of playful, rhyming text and loose line illustrations by internationally known artist Barroux, this book sparks questions with empathy, insight, and charm. It’s a timely tool for inquiry-based and social-emotional learning, sharing the important message that walls can unite or divide, depending on the choices we make. 

“Rhyme, rhythm, and simple art—all including references to walls—show children expressing different emotions and behaviors… Mending walls for the nursery crowd.” –Kirkus Reviews

Review: My own children have been asking about walls. They hear about them in school (in preschool and first grade), and they come home with a lot of questions. This book offers such great fodder for conversations about walls. The wall in this book evolves, and it is up to the reader to interpret many aspects about the wall and its purpose. I love how this opens discussions for what walls might represent and how they might differ in various conceptions. For instance, the wall in this book might be described as a border wall or it might be describe attached to a metaphorical or ideological wall. This is a book that will make readers of all ages think. I read the book three times in a row (which is not often my approach) because I kept thinking about new applications of the text. This would make a phenomenal classroom text and would be great for critical thinking and discussions. I recommend it highly.

Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: I’d love to use this book to teach the concept of a metaphor. For me, the wall in this text can be used as a metaphor to talk about a lot of concepts (concrete and abstract).

The “Why” Behind the Book:

A Letter to Parents and Educators

A Letter to Young Readers

Discussion Guide:

Sometimes a Wall… Discussion Guide

A Lesson In 3 Movements:

• Intro to the Unit (PLEASE READ FIRST!)

• What’s Different About Reading Wordless/Nearly Wordless Picture Books?

• 1st Movement: TOGETHER (I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët)

 2nd Movement: APART (Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi)

• 3rd Movement: REGRET. NEW START? (Sometimes a Wall … by Dianne White, illustrated by Barroux)

Coloring Pages For Younger Students:

We Are Kind coloring page

Be Kind coloring page

Discussion Questions: 

  • What might the wall represent?
  • How does the wall evolve in the text?
  • What kinds of walls do you have in your life? Do they serve good or bad purposes (or both)?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët, Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi, The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

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Sofia is an 8-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia will share her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

If you are looking for two books about kindness and bravery then these books would be those books. Drumroll please… The One and Only Ivan and the sequel The One and Only Bob by Kathrine Applegate!!! These books are totally recommended for read aloud! If you want any of these books for read aloud I would say they are appropriate for second grade and above. These books are recommended for ages 8-12 if you read them yourself.

The One and Only Ivan

Ivan is a big and kind gorilla. He lives at a mall owned by a person called Mack. Mack makes shows to attract more people to his mall and Ivan and some of his friends are in it. Ivan makes some friends at the mall like an old circus elephant named Stella, Julia who is Mack’s daughter and later on a young elephant named Ruby who was taken away from her family when she was very young. They are trapped in big cages made of glass so the people can see the animals when they walk past the cages. Mack is very harsh when the animals don’t follow his directions and sometimes he even takes out a whip! Will Ivan and his friends be able to escape Mack’s mall without being harmed?

The One and Only Bob

Bob is a dog. He got taken away from his mom when he was little. He got dropped off in the road and became a street dog searching through garbage cans for as much food as he could find.  When Bob meets Ivan in the first book they become best buddies and they also become friends with Ruby, the elephant that lives at the mall with Ivan. As you will know if you have read The One and Only Ivan Bob eventually goes to stay with Julia, Mack’s daughter. Bob visits his friends every day. But one time there is a big storm and Julia loses Bob in the middle of a monstrous flood! Will he make it out alive?

I love both of these books because they really make me feel like I am actually there and witnessing the event, like all good books do. I also love these books because they are a bit silly because the stories are told from an animal’s point of view. The animals say a lot of weird things about us because they don’t really understand our ways. For example, the book says “I have learned to understand human words over the years, but understanding human speech is not the same as understanding humans. Humans speak too much. They chatter like chimps, crowding the world with their noise even when they have nothing to say.” I am sure any reader would have fun with this so ENJOY!!!

If you loved these books then you might want to read Crenshaw By Katharine Applegate. Crenshaw is a cat. I have not read it yet but it sounds very interesting!

**Thank you, Sofia, for your continued brilliance. You inspire us!**

 

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Respect by Otis Redding, Illustrated by Rachel Moss
These Books Are Made for Walkin’ by Lee Hazelwood, Illustrated by Rachel Moss
Move the Crowd by Eric Barrier and William Griffin, Illustrated by Kirk Parrish
We Got the Beat by Charlotte Caffey, Illustrated by Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor

All Published October 6th, 2020 by Akashic Books

Respect Summary: Respect is a children’s picture book based on lyrics written and originally recorded by Otis Redding in 1965. Aretha Franklin’s iconic rendition of the song later peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1967. Redding’s lyrics continue to resonate with listeners today.

With lyrics by Otis Redding and illustrations by Rachel Moss, this irresistible book shows a young girl, her brother, and her parents conjuring as many positive futures for each other as they can dream. Packed with playful vignettes as they imagine a life full of possibility, Respect provides families an opportunity to explore themes of mutual respect—while revisiting one of the greatest songs ever written.

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ Summary: These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ is an adorable story of friendship and family set against the backdrop of Lee Hazlewood’s iconic song. While there have been numerous recordings over the past several decades, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” was originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra and released in early 1966 to instant success. A #1 Billboard hit in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia that was nominated for three GRAMMYs, Hazlewood’s song continues to be embraced to this day.

With lyrics by Lee Hazlewood and illustrations by Rachel Moss, this captivating picture book tells the story of a boy and his extremely attached and very jealous cat who must adapt to the introduction of a new family member—a puppy. The funny story line and delightful images are sure to have the entire family curled up and laughing together, pets included!

Move the Crowd Summary: Innovative illustrator Kirk Parrish brings the iconic song “Move the Crowd” to life for the first time as a children’s picture book. The lyrics to Eric B. and Rakim’s hit song provide the inspiration for this instant classic.

Follow along as Parrish pairs the lyrics with colorful illustrations about a boy being absorbed into his stereo and dropped into a colorless world where the music is dull and the people uninspired. The ensuing transformation he brings to the crowd with his music is one that the whole family can enjoy together.

We Got the Beat Summary: We Got the Beat is a children’s picture book based on the hit song by the 1980s new wave group the Go-Go’s. Consisting of five members, the all-female band rocked the nation with their charisma and musical genius. Their hit song “We Got the Beat” spent three weeks at #2 on the Billboard 100 and became their signature song. Says the New York Times: the Go-Go’s “taught a new generation the power of the girl gang.”

With lyrics by Go-Go’s member Charlotte Caffey and illustrations by Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor, this picture book tells the story of what it is like to live life dancing to the beat, while enjoying friends, nature, and the fun that surrounds you. We Got the Beat will make both parents and children get their groove on and show off their best dance moves.

Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: These four additions to this series are just as good as the original four; I hope the company keeps creating these as they are a great addition to picture books! Just like the first four, Trent is addicted to listening to these songs and following along in the picture book. I love hearing him in the other room put on the song knowing that he is falling in love with the music, the lyrics, and the book all at once!

There are so many different ways to use these picture books in the classroom. In my post about the first four in the series, I shared the idea to break students up into groups and listen to the songs that have LyricPop books then create their own picture book followed by a comparison/contrast with the LyricPop books. Also, I shared the idea to have students read the lyrics first without listening to the song and create a book. Then, after listening to the song, ask how they would change their book.

I also think that lyrics are a wonderful way to teach poetry which gives a great reason to include LyricPop books in secondary classrooms as well.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Would you have interpreted the lyrics the same way?
  • What interpretation of the lyrics surprised you?
  • If you read the book first then listened to the song, did the type of song it was surprise you?
  • What is the main theme of the song?
  • What poetic elements can you find in the lyrics of the song?

Read This If You Love: Music

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**Thank you to Akashic Books for providing copies of these books for review!**

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Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Author: Sandra Neil Wallace
Illustrator: Rebecca Gibbon
Published September 22, 2020 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

Summary: From acclaimed children’s book biographer Sandra Neil Wallace comes the inspiring and little-known story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the remarkable journalist who saved the Florida Everglades from development and ruin.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas didn’t intend to write about the Everglades but when she returned to Florida from World War I, she hardly recognized the place that was her home. The Florida that Marjory knew was rapidly disappearing—the rare orchids, magnificent birds, and massive trees disappearing with it.

Marjory couldn’t sit back and watch her home be destroyed—she had to do something. Thanks to Marjory, a part of the Everglades became a national park and the first park not created for sightseeing, but for the benefit of animals and plants. Without Marjory, the part of her home that she loved so much would have been destroyed instead of the protected wildlife reserve it has become today.

About the Author: Sandra Neil Wallace hopes that her stories inspire readers as much as they inspire her. Her book The Teachers March! How Selma’s Teachers Changed History was written with her husband, Rich Wallace, and has received three starred reviews to date. Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery received the Orbis Pictus Book Award, was an ALA Notable Book and a Booklist Top 10 Biography for Youth. Formerly, Sandra was an ESPN reporter and was the first woman to host an NHL broadcast. She continues to break barriers as co-founder of DailyGoodNH.org and lives with her family in New Hampshire. To learn more, and to download free activity kits and other resources, visit  SandraNeilWallace.com.

Facebook: Sandra Neil Wallace
Twitter: @SandraNWallace
On Instagram: @sandraneilwallace

Praise:Marjory Saves the Everglades will inspire children of today and tomorrow to be persistent and follow their dreams to create a better world. Sandra Neil Wallace captures Marjory’s passionate commitment to justice for our natural world and all of its inhabitants.”

Review: Marjory Stoneman Douglas is such a special person to us Floridians, even before the tragedy at the school named for her. Marjory changed the course of history here in Florida helping establish our very own ecosystem where amazing wildlife live. We’ll forever be grateful for her, and I am so happy for this beautiful biography commemorating her life and teaching even me more than I knew about her.

Wallace did a fantastic job choosing which parts of Douglas’s amazing life to share, going through much of her life without overloading the narrative, while also showing how important the Everglades are.

The illustrations are perfect because they are so detailed and engulf you when reading about the Everglades. Also, they are so colorful bringing to life all of the amazing wildlife!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This picture book biography will be perfect for older elementary and secondary classrooms! I would love to see it being used when speaking about humans/women who made a difference or wetlands, so it’ll be a perfect cross-curricular read hitting science, social studies, and reading.

There truly is so much that can be done with this picture book. While reading, I found many differen sections I could stop and do a lesson about an aspect: transportation over time, women’s right history, onomatopoeias, article writing, women in military, women during WWII, expansion of the USA, poaching, National Park history, swamp vs. Everglades, animals of the Everglades, effects of pollution, Friends of the Everglades, and more!

The back matter of the book also offers great opportunities to diving deeper including articles to learn more about Marjory and a mentor text timeline.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did Marjory’s persistence show that anyone can do anything they put their mind to?
  • How did Marjory change the world?
  • How can we keep the Everglades safe?
  • What birds and wildlife live in the Everglades that live no where else?
  • How is the Everglades unique?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe Marjory?
  • Before saving the Everglades, what else did Marjory do that she should be honored for?

Book Trailer:

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Read This If You Love: Picture book biographies, Enviornmental-focused picture books

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review and Simon & Schuster for providing a copy for giveaway!**

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Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten
Author: Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrator: Hiroe Nakata
Published July 14, 2020 by Two Lions

Summary: Clover Kitty does NOT want to go to kittygarten! Although she might like a friend to play with, kittygarten feels overwhelming for a sensory-sensitive kitty like Clover. And when she arrives, it is exactly as she fears: her classroom is too loud, the lights are too bright, and everyone comes too close. So Clover throws a fit…and decides to quit kittygarten. But when a classmate comes to check on her, she begins to reconsider. Maybe it’s time for Clover to give kittygarten another chance.…

Laura Purdie Salas is an award-winning author of more than 125 books for children, including her recent books Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations, illustrated by Micha Archer, and Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons, illustrated by Mercè López. Her books have received such honors as Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books for Children, IRA Teachers’ Choice, the Minnesota Book Award, and NCTE Notable book. Laura went to kindergarten in Florida and now lives in Minnesota. She hates crowds and knows a good friend makes everything better. Learn more about the author at www.laurasalas.com. Twitter: @LauraPSalas
Facebook: @LauraPSalas

Hiroe Nakata grew up in Japan and moved to the United States when she was sixteen. She is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. Artwork from her first picture book, Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate, was chosen for the prestigious Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Since then, she has illustrated numerous books for children, including her recent titles, Baby Builders, written by Elissa Haden Guest, Baby’s Blessings, written by Lesléa Newman, and One More Hug, written by Inside Edition’s national correspondent Megan Alexander. Hiroe vividly remembers her daughter’s struggles in kindergarten and is happy to report that, at fourteen, her daughter excels in school and plays in the school band.
Instagram: @hiroenakata

“Young readers will identify with Clover’s feelings about starting school or any new adventure… A perfect story to share at the beginning of the school year.” —School Library Journal

“Salas shapes a read-aloud that will spark conversation with first-timers who are sensitive to stimulus, while Nakata humorously conveys the resolute feline’s emotions in expressive watercolor images.” —Publishers Weekly

Ricki’s Review: This book is so charming. It is the perfect back-to-school book for cat-loving kids (and non-cat-loving kids, too!). I read this book to my 3yo and 6yo who are entering preschool and first grade, and the book brought both of them joy. The book brought back memories for me—I was also a kid who faked sick because I didn’t enjoy school when I was in elementary school. Clover’s actions likely replicate those of millions of kids, and the book offers opportunities for conversations with kids about pushing forward despite discomfort. There’s so much to love about this book. The illustrations made me smile, and they beautifully portray the emotions of the characters. The language flows well, which makes for a very enjoyable read-aloud. Literary elements are packed within the pages, which makes this book very teachable. We’ll be rereading this one often, and we will definitely pull it out the evening before school begins!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I highly recommend this one for the first, second, and third day jitters. Students will be captivated by the story, and they’ll find much to love in the animals of the book. Clover won my heart, and I know she’ll be popular among kids, too. Teachers might also point out the personification and the figurative language as they read. Check out the book trailer, activity sheets, and more at https://laurasalas.com/clover/.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does Clover feel on the first day? The second day?
  • How do Clover’s emotions shift in different moments of the story?
  • Have you ever felt this way about a new situation? What did you do? What can you learn from Clover?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn; Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney; Stella Luna by Janell Cannon; In My Heart by Mackenzie Porter; Back to School Books; Cats

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

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The Blue Giant
Author & Illustrator: Katie Cottle
Published May 26th, 2020 by Pavilion Books Ltd.

Summary: A poignant and timely picture book introducing children to the issue of ocean pollution, with ideas to help the world become a better, cleaner place.

Coral and her mom are enjoying a break at the seaside. Until a creature emerges from the waves! It’s a giant. A blue giant. It is made of water, fish, and sea plants and has a stirring plea to help clean up the ocean.

Coral and her mom agree to help, donning their scuba-diving outfits and setting off to sea. But they can’t do it alone…can they?

This stunning follow-up to Katie Cottle’s debut picture book The Green Giant is another entertaining and beautiful eco-tale from the 2017 winner of the Batsford Prize. It introduces children to the issues of pollution, waste management, and the oceans, with suggestions of lifestyle changes to help clean up our seas.

About the Author: Katie Cottle is an illustrator and printmaker living and working in Bristol, U.K. Her work is often informed by the marks and colors created through traditional lithography. She also works digitally, using an iPad, and occasionally paints with gouache. The Blue Giant is her second book, following on from The Green Giant.

Review: Katie Cottle has caught onto something big with the format of this and her Green Giant book: it truly brings our environment to life and shows the harm that we are doing to it. The anthropomorphism of the ocean makes it even easier to connect to it as an entity as it shows how we are hurting it, and it shows what Meera DOES to try to reverse the effects we’ve caused.

In addition to the theme and story, I also really liked the illustrations. The author’s use of line is used expertly to show movement, and I loved all of the colors to really bring the story to life.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is perfect for any discussion of water pollution and the environment. It shows a problem, a potential soultion, and hope for the future. It also specifically talks about single-use plastics which may be a new topic for many students.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What is something you can do to help the ocean?
  • What does Meera do to help the ocean?
  • How does our actions effect the ocean?
  • What is an animal that is effected by our pollution?
  • What is a single-use plastic that you use that you could replace?
  • What was the author’s purpose in writing this book?
  • Why did the author give the ocean a voice in the book?

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Read This If You Love: Learning about the environment

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**Thank you to Media Master Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

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