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Sports Illustrated Kids: The Baseball Fanbook
Everything You Need to Become a Hardball Know-It-All: Lingo, Trivia, Stats, Skills
Author: Gary Gramling
Published April 3rd, 2018 by Sport Illustrated

Summary: Everything You Need to Become a Hardball Know-It-All!

The next book in the Fanbook series from Sports Illustrated KidsThe Baseball Fanbook has all the nerdy-cool insider knowledge that fans ready for next-level, in-depth stats need to know to impress their friends, family, coaches, and any season ticket holders they may meet. Tailor-made for baseball fanatics ages 8 and up who know the basics of the sport they love, may play it, and are looking to become super fans, this new fanbook is filled with fun trivia, unique lingo, and illustrated behind-the-skills how-to’s. Chapters include Team Tidbits (salient baseball facts about every MLB team), Think Like a Manager (essential strategies to understand), He Reminds Me Of (compares current players to legendary greats of America’s favorite pastime), and much more!

ReviewAs the 2018 baseball season begins, I knew I had to share this book with you all because I love this resource! I saw the The Football Fanbook, and I was impressed by it, but I LOVE BASEBALL! So I am so happy that there is a baseball version now.

Now, please don’t stop here just because I say I love baseball, so you assume you have to love it also to like this book. One of the things I like about this series is that they are written for all levels of fans. Maybe you don’t get why people like baseball? Check out this book to learn why! Maybe you are a player but really want to learn more specifics about the MLB? Check out this book to find out more! Maybe you are a baseball fanatic that lives and breaths the sport? Check out this book to maybe learn some fun facts you don’t know or as just a fun and entertaining read. It really is written in ways that all types of readers will find something in it.

Although this book is aimed for kids in grade 3 and up, don’t let that make you think it doesn’t include detailed information–it does! Each chapter is focused and full of information and photographs. But at the same time, I will say that it isn’t so overwhelming that younger kids will be turned off either. I’ve used parts of it with Trent this year as the season begins, and as we get ready for him beginning t-ball.

I am also impressed by its text structure. It is set up to be a book that could be read in order or jumped around, which is what I think is the best structure for informational nonfiction books because it makes it so any type of reader can grab it and read it how they’d like. The chapter titles are: 1) Know These Numbers, 2) Obscure Facts, 3) Skills to Master, 4) Run a Team, 5) He Reminds Me Of…, 6) Team Tidbits, & 7) Talk to Talk, and they are pretty self explanatory about their content.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like other topic focused books, the best place for it will be in libraries and classrooms for students to read if they want to. Parts of it could be used for math statistics activities or for sports history lessons or for a research resource; however, primarily it is going to be in kids’ hands being read.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Who is your favorite player? Create your own “Reminds me of…” document.
  • How are statistics such as ERA, WHIP, and batting average determined in baseball?
  • How has the sport of baseball changed over time?
  • Using the “Run a Team” chapter, create your own team. First, create it with known players then work on making a team of players you create.
  • Who is your favorite team? What did they leave out of the team tidbits that you would have included?

Flagged Passages: 

“Chapter 3: Skills to Master

Whether you’re eager to snag an autograph or ready to perfect your slide into second, you need to know how to do things the right way — even eat sunflower seeds!”

“Chapter 5: He Reminds me of…

Your grandparents have déjà vu all over again when they see these modern players on the diamond. Which stars of today play like the stars of yesteryear?”

Read This If You Love: Baseball!, Sports history, Fun with numbers

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My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella
Author: Jerry Mahoney
Illustrator: Aleksei Bitskoff
Published August 1st, 2017 by Stone Arch Books

Summary: Holden, what have you done?! It wasn’t enough to ruin Maddie’s report on Cinderella, but now you’ve somehow broken the ACTUAL fairy tale? The ugly stepsister is marrying the prince and there’s no happy ever after! You need to fix this and the only way seems to be by entering the story. But beware: if you can’t mend it, you can never return…

ReviewEveryone! You listening?!?! If you or any of your students are a fan of the Whatever After series, you need to get this for you/them. It is a perfect companion for them! But don’t think that this is just a duplicate of the series, it is similar yet also so different! First, Holden and Maddie already don’t work well together, so going into the fairy tale is not only about fixing the fairy tale but also about fixing their relationship. Second, the fracturing of fairy tales gets even more ridiculous than you can even imagine. Third, Holden and Maddie are in the fairy tales as characters, not as themselves. I will say that both this book and the Mlynowski series looks at the problems in fairy tales and how the stories could be better told to make everyone happy.

(I will say the only “issue” I had was I really don’t like the negative connotation around step-siblings, so calling a step-brother rotten really doesn’t help that idea; however, I do like how Maddie has to learn that her opinion on her stepbrother may not be correct.)

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: First and foremost, this book will be a hilarious read aloud and an independent reading books that will fall into so many hands. Additionally, in the backmatter of the book, the author includes a glossary including the harder vocabulary in the book, a think again section with three questions for readers to think about, and finally a section about how to write a ruined version of a favorite tale. All three of these activities help make the book even more useful in a classroom.

Discussion Questions: (From the “Think Again” section by the author)

  • Everyone has someone in their life like Holden, who’s unavoidable and hard to get along with. Who’s someone you’ve struggled to relate to, and what would you do if you had to work with him or her to “fix” a fairy tale?
  • There are details about the wicked stepsisters that weren’t in the original tale, such as Beautianna’s desire to go to art school. Think of a supporting character from one of your favorite books whom you wish you knew more about. Come up with your own ideas for his or her character traits, wants, and needs. You can even try to write the whole story from that character’s perspective.
  • What do you think of the questions Holden raises about Cinderella? Do you think he makes some good points, or would you be as annoyed with him as Maddie was? Pick another story you know well and try to imagine what Holden’s problems with that story might be.

Flagged Passages: “Maddie hadn’t seen her before, but she could tell this woman had plenty to be sad about, starting with her clothes. They were filthy, patched-up work clothes, and her hair was tied back with a rag. She sat in front of a pile of roses, and one by one, she plucked the thorns off each stem and placed them into a vase. Her hands were scratched and bruised from hours of performing this tedious, excruciating task. No wonder she was crying.

‘Do you need a tissue?’ Maddie asked her.

‘Tissue?’ the woman replied. ‘What’s a tissue?’ The woman turned her head and gazed at Maddie, confused.

Of course, Maddie thought. They don’t have tissues in fairy tales. They weren’t invented yet. While she wondered how to explain this, she had another realization. This wasn’t any ordinary, sad woman. She was kind and familiar, the most beautiful woman Maddie had ever seen. She had bright blue eyes and, underneath the rag on her head, hair that seemed to be made from pure gold.

‘Oh my gosh!’ Maddie exclaimed. ‘You’re–you’re Cinderella!’

‘You seem surprised to see me, Glamoremma,’ the young woman replied.” (p. 29-30)

Read This If You Love: Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski, It’s NOT Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk, Fractured fairy tales

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**Thank you so much to the author for providing a copy for review!**

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Adventures in Science: Human Body
Author: Courtney Acampora
Published: December 12, 2017 by Silver Dolphin Books

Summary: Which part of the brain is in charge of creativity? What is the smallest human muscle? Take a trip inside the human body and discover the amazing systems that allow us to move, breathe, and speak. After reading about everything from the digestive tract to the cornea, kids can assemble their own plastic skeleton and view the systems of the body in a layered cardstock model. With 20 fact cards, 2 sticker sheets, and a double-sided poster, this interactive kit is a perfect primer for learning about how the human body works.

ReviewThis book kit is so much fun! It’s very cleverly designed to engage readers. It includes an informational book about the human body, a skeleton to build, flash cards, a sticker sheet that features the major bones of the human body, a sticker sheet that features the organs within the human body, and a double-sided poster with outlines to help readers stick the bone and organ stickers in the correct places. As we read the book, we did the activities and filled in the human body. What a powerful learning experience! I am crossing my fingers that this kit becomes a series. I would love to purchase a kit for space, geography, etc.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers could purchase five kits and divide their classes into five different groups to build the skeleton and affix the stickers onto the appropriate parts of the body. I sent a message to a few of my friends who homeschool their children. I think this kit will be a huge hit in their families.

Discussion Questions: What did you learn as you did the activities?; What parts of the human body do you find most interesting? Why?; How do the different parts of the body work together?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: Any nonfiction books about the human body; interactive books and kits

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**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review**

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Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System
Authors: Bethany Ehlmann with Jennifer Swanson
Published January 16, 2018 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: Take to the skies with Planetary Geologist Dr. E and her robot sidekick, Rover, to explore the solar system’s wildest, most astronomical geology–with comic book flair! This stellar book introduces kids to outer space through in-depth info and comic book adventure. Along the way, kids follow explorer Bethany Ehlmann, a member of the NASA Mars Rover Curiosity mission, and her lovable robo-dog, Rover, as they study and protect our amazing solar system. Dr. E’s conversational and funny explanations of the solar system and planetary geology will pull kids in like gravity. The pairing of fun, graphic novel side stories with science facts makes big concepts accessible and interesting to boys and girls of all levels, from STEM science fans to reluctant readers alike.

Review: This book is wild. I learned so much while reading it. I thought I knew a lot about space, but this book made me realize how much I didn’t know about it. My son is much too young for this book, but he loved looking at the pictures while I summarized the text on the pages. There are some fantastic photographs, and there are also digital representations of what things might look like. Most exciting, this book filled me with wonder. There are so many possibilities with space, and I am really excited about new discoveries and new information that will come in my lifetime and beyond. This is a must-read for space lovers and those who are curious about the world. I particularly appreciated the comics at the front of each chapter. They allowed me to better engage with the material that followed. Dr. E made me want to learn even more about space!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’d love to see this book used in literature circles. The National Geographic books are phenomenal, so teachers might collect books on various topics and allow students to form groups based on interest.

Discussion Questions: After reading about _____, what did you learn?; What do you still want to learn about space?

We Flagged: 

Image from Amazon.

Read This If You Loved: Any nonfiction book about space, for background knowledge when reading science fiction that takes place in space (e.g. Space Encyclopedia)

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review**

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Leaf Litter Critters
Author: Leslie Bulion
Illustrator: Robert Meganck
Published March 8th, 2018 by Peachtree Publishers

Summary: Have fun on this poetic tour through the leaf litter layer and dig into the fascinating facts about the tiny critters who live there. Nineteen poems in a variety of verse forms with accompanying science notes take readers on a decomposer safari through the “brown food web,” from bacteria through tardigrades and on to rove beetle predators with other busy recyclers in-between. 

Zooming into the thin layer of decaying leaves, plant parts, and soil beneath our feet, Leaf Litter Critters digs into fascinating information about the world of decomposers–from the common earthworm to the amazing tardigarde.

Written in various poetic forms, acclaimed science poet and award-winning author Leslie Bulion combines intriguing scientific details with fun wordplay to create a collection of nonfiction verses amusing for all readers. Vibrant and entertaining artwork by distinguished illustrator Rober Meganck adds to the humor of each poem.

Perfect for cross curricular learning, Leaf Litter Critters has extensive back matter, including both science notes about each critter and poetry notes about each poetic form, as well as a glossary, hands-on activities, and additional resources for curious readers to further their investigations. It’s also a great read-aloud for Earth Day and beyond.

* “The poems are expertly crafted in a variety of forms (identified in the backmatter). The language is lively and the imagery appropriate. With alliteration, internal rhymes, and careful rhythm, these will be a delight to read aloud and learn…. Meganck’s engaging digital drawings give each creature pop-eyes and attitude…. A delightful, memorable introduction to an unsung ecosystem.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Bulion stuffs her poems with scientific detail and puts even more into accompanying “science notes.” Meganck’s cartoons strike sillier notes…balancing all of the information Bulion provides with hefty doses of fun.” —Publishers Weekly

Review & Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I cannot wait to give this to my mentee who is a sixth grade science teacher who has a BS in biology–she is going to love this so much! And if I was an upper elementary teacher, I would love to use this text as a cross-curricular text during a poetry and biology unit. Not only did it teach me SO much about these amazing creatures that do weird and truly astonishing things, it goes through all the different types of poetry shared to ensure that the book isn’t just science nor poetry centered. I think the author did a beautiful job making sure that each spread had a wonderful poem and a deep science explanation just in case the poem doesn’t clarify anything. Additionally, the back matter includes investigative activities, a glossary, and more science information that would all be incredible assets to a classroom! I really cannot say enough how well the book is crafted for the purpose it was created for.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is each creature in the leaf litter layer important?
  • How did the illustrator use a pin to help you see the size of each critter on pages 54-55?
  • Write your own poem about one of the creatures that you learned about using whatever poetic style you choose.
  • How did the science notes on each page assist you in understanding the creature that was shared on each spread?
  • Which of the poetic forms/styles did you enjoy the most? Why?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Biology, Poetry, Science

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**Thank you to Elyse at Peachtree for providing a copy for review!!**

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Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Published October 3rd, 2017 by Chronicle

Summary: In this heartwarming sequel to Laurel Snyder’s beginning chapter book Charlie & Mouse, the two brothers enjoy a special visit from their grandpa, Grumpy. Follow along as they discuss being medium, pounce each other, sing the wrong songs, build blanket forts, and more. Paired with effervescent illustrations by Emily Hughes, this touching, funny celebration of imagination and bonding will enchant readers young and old.

View our post about Charlie and Grumpy book one (with teaching guide) here!

Activities include: 

Bedtime Songs

Grumpy doesn’t know the right bedtime song to sing for Charlie and Mouse, so he tries to guess. Using the clues he gave, we can assume he was talking about “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell, “Hush, Little Baby,” and possibly “Jump in the River” by Sinead O’Connor. Play these three songs for your students.

  • Which do you like the most? Why?
  • Which do you think would be the best bedtime song? Why?

After Grumpy guesses, Charlie sings the right bedtime song to Grumpy.

  • We don’t know what song Charlie sang, but what song would you have sung to Grumpy?

After gathering all of the bedtime songs discussed as a group, have students analyze the different songs (theirs and the three Grumpy mentioned) by having them (in groups or independently):

  • Identify rhyming words within the songs.
  • Does the author repeat any words? Why did the author choose to repeat these words?
  • How does the author supply rhythm in the song?

Infer

There are a few times in the book that the text doesn’t tell you what happened, but you can infer from the illustrations what occurred such as p. 17, p. 27, and p.37. Have students use the illustrations to see how each of these chapters concluded and have them write out what they see in the illustrations.

Rain

In the final chapter, it is raining while Charlie and Mouse say good-bye to Grumpy. Even though the rain seems to be happening because of the mood of the chapter, rain actually occurs because of the water cycle. After discussing the mood of the chapter (see discussion question), share the scientific reason for rain by sharing the water cycle. One activity that could be done to help students understand the water cycle is the “Simple Water Cycle in a Bag” experiment: http://www.rookieparenting.com/what-is-water-cycle/.

Discussion Questions include: 

  • The text never says that Grumpy is Charlie and Mouse’s grandfather, but you can infer he is. What clues from the text and illustration help you know that he is their grandfather?
  • In the final chapter, the author chose to have it be raining. Why does this type of weather make the most sense for this final chapter? What mood does it set for the chapter?
  • Using the clues throughout the book, how many days and nights did Grumpy stay with Charlie and Mouse? How did you know?

Teaching Guide Created by Me (Kellee): 

You can also access the teaching guide through Chronicle’s website here.

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Aliens Get the Sniffles Too
Author: Katy S. Duffield
Illustrator: K. G. Campbell
Published November 7, 2017 by Candlewick

Summary: Ahhh-flying-saucer-shooting-star-CHOO! Laughter is the best medicine when you’re a little alien feeling under the weather.

Little Alien is sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two scratchy throats, five ears that hurt, and three runny noses. Splatch! Sputter! Spurt! Luckily Mama and Daddy Alien have an arsenal of lunar decongestants and meteor showers on hand to make him feel a little better (not to mention a Milky Way milkshake to help the medicine go down). Even so, the family’s alien pooch, Mars Rover, can’t stand to see his little buddy feeling out of sorts. Can a loyal pup’s funny tricks finally coax a smile?

About the Author and Illustrator: Katy Duffield is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books for children. She lives in Florida with her husband. To learn more, and to download classroom resources, visit katyduffield.com. Twitter: @KatyDuffield

Check out Katy on Pinterest!
 
K. G. Campbell is the illustrator of Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and the author-illustrator of Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. He was born in Kenya, raised in Scotland, and now lives in southern California.

Ricki’s Review: This book has been a blessing in my house. Both of my kids have had colds for the past several weeks. It seems they catch cold after cold! We’ve been reading this book quite often and making connections with Little Alien. As a parent, I particularly appreciate that the end of the book allows me space to talk about how Little Alien got Mars Rover sick. Every time we read the book, we point to the part where Little Alien spreads his germs to Mars Rover. Then, we make the cause-effect relationship about what happens when we spread our germs. I know that teachers in elementary school will love this connect. We spend a lot of time talking with kids of all ages about spreading germs!

On a literary note, the author has some great plays on words. I chuckle every time that I read the book. Kids who are obsessed with space will adore this book and all of its space references.

Kellee’s Review: Whenever Trent is sick, he is so miserable, so Little Alien’s story of trying everything to feel better is going to be the perfect companion to my sweet boy when he is feeling under the weather. Just like Mars Rover will do anything to help make Little Alien feel better, I will as well, and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too! will be a perfect part of our feel better routine.

I loved the use of onomatopeoias in the book and mixed with the detailed, colorful, full page illustrations really brings Little Alien’s story to life.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teacher might group students in pairs and assign them a spread. Students might hunt for the references to space on the pages and look up to learn more about those aspects of space. For example, for the spread below, students might look up the word “lunar” and share it with the whole group. Then, the teacher might reread the entire text again and pause to allow students to share the word play of their assigned spread as they read the book aloud together.

Discussion Questions: How does Mars Rover feel when Little Alien gets sick? Have you ever felt that way when a friend or family member got sick?; How does Mars Rover get sick? Can you point to the specific page?; Which new words did you learn while reading this book? How are they connected to the story? How does the author create a theme around the concept of space?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Your Alien by Tammi Sauer,  Faraway Friends by Russ CoxBoy + Bot by Ame DyckmanLife on Mars by Jon Agee

Giveaway:  TWO giveaway opportunities!!

  1. One grand-prize winner will receive a out-of-this-world alien backpack with a signed copy of Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! along with tissue packs, toy mini aliens, and space pencils.
  2. Ten lucky runners-up will receive a copy of Aliens Get the Sniffles Too!
To enter, click here.

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**Thank you to Barbara from Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**

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