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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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Quack and Daisy Quack and Daisy: Beyond the Meadow
Author and Illustrator: Aileen Stewart
Published September, 2015 & April, 2016 by Tate Publishing, Children’s Division

Quack and Daisy Summary: Quack the Duckling and Daisy the Kitten meet for the first time in the meadow and instantly become the best of friends.

Can two such unlikely friends stay friends when everyone else tells them it’s impossible? Will Daisy’s failure to swim and Quack’s inability to catch a mouse cause them to give up on each other? Or will their friendship survive? Find out in this fun new adventure!

Quack and Daisy: Beyond the Meadow Summary: Quack the duckling and Daisy the kitten are best friends who spend most days playing in the meadow. One day, Quack decides to tell Daisy a secret. She tells her of Mama Duck’s ominous warnings to not go beyond the meadow. Will the two friends heed Mama’s words about the dangers beyond the meadow, or will their curiosity get the better of them?

Review: Quack and Daisy’s story looks at friendship as something that completes you and makes you happy instead of something that others mandate and define. I think this is such an important lesson for young readers because too often they have to be friends with who their parents or siblings or other friends say they should be friends with. But Quack and Daisy ignore all that and find happiness with each other. Their story isn’t just one big lesson though–it is a story of a friendship and an adventure that two friends have. I also really love Aileen Stewart’s illustrations. They are so colorful and friendly and really brings the story to life.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Quack and Daisy are a great opportunity to discuss comparing and contrasting. Daisy and Quck are so different on the surface, but if you look deep down, they are both adventurous, curious, and kind. If you check out the activity guide on the author’s website (http://aileenw4bobbyg.tripod.com/webonmediacontents/Workbook.pdf) it contains and similarities/differences activity. The guide also includes an activity about the meadow and a maze.

Something I think is really special is that each of these books comes with a complimentary audiobook. This is a wonderful resource for teachers to use with students in a reading station or as a whole class read.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How are Quack and Daisy similar? Different?
  • Everyone said the two friends shouldn’t be friends–do you agree or disagree? Explain.
  • Why did Quack’s and Daisy’s parents not want them to go beyond the meadow?
  • Quack and Daisy feel like they can only be their true selves and friends in the meadow–is this how is should be? Explain.
  • How did Daisy use problem solving to save Quack?

Flagged Passages: 

“The two friends headed through the meadow. As they reached the edge of the pond, Quack’s bother, Puddles, swam up. He looked at Daisy and frowned. ‘Who’s that?’

‘This is my friend Daisy. She lives in the red barn on the hill.’

Puddles continued to frown. ‘You can’t be friends with her. She’s not a duck. I bet she can’t even swim.'”

Read This If You Love: Little Elliott by Mike Curato, Hattie and Hudson by Chris Van Dusen, The Monster Next Door by David Soman, and other stories with unlikely friends

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Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Rohan Daniel Eason
Published September 5th, 2017

Summary: Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor.

There once was a frozen forest so cold, you could feel it through the soles of your boots. It was a strange place where some kisses broke enchantments and others began them. Many said witches lived there — some with cold hearts, others with hot ovens and ugly appetites — and also dwarves in tiny houses made of stones. In this icy wood, a stepmother might eat a girl’s heart to restore her own beauty, while a woodcutter might become stupid with grief at the death of his donkey. Here a princess with too many dresses grows spiteful out of loneliness, while a mistreated girl who is kind to a crone finds pearls dropping from her mouth whenever she speaks. With empathy and an ear for emotion, Emily Jenkins retells seven fairy tales in contemporary language that reveals both the pathos and humor of some of our most beloved stories. Charming illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason add whimsical details that enhance every new reading.

Discussion Questions include: 

  • “Snow White”
    • At the beginning of the story, dwarves are included with witches and sprites, making them feel villainous. How is this
      different from the seven dwarves we meet later in the story? Do they fit the negative connotation or are they different
      from what the villagers assume?
  • “The Frog Prince”
    • After the frog leaves, Crystal is looking for him. Why does she miss his company? How is his company different from those of her ladies-in-waiting and family?
  • “Red Riding Hood”
    • What information that Red shared does the wolf use to his advantage? Do you think he would have successfully been
      able to get into Grandmother’s house without this information?
  • Author’s Note
    • Emily Jenkins explains her intention behind rewriting these stories in the simple way that she did. How did she adhere
      to the traditional stories while also putting her own spin on them?
  • Entire book
    • Consider the names of the characters throughout the book. How does each name give a clue to the character’s
      personality or looks?

Discussion Guide Created by Me (Kellee): 

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

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We’re so excited to be partnered with Disney-Hyperion to bring you this review and giveaway of Bruce’s Big Move! 

Bruce’s Big Move
Author & Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins
Published September 27th, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

Summary: After the events of Hotel Bruce, our favorite curmudgeonly bear shares his home with not only his four geese, but three rowdy mice besides! Fed up with their shenanigans, Bruce sets off to find a rodent-free household. But as usual, nothing goes quite according to plan…

A hilarious sequel for fans of the previous Bruce books, as well as a standalone discovery for new readers, Bruce’s next reluctant adventure is sure to keep kids giggling.

About the Author: Ryan T. Higgins (ryanthiggins.com) is an author and illustrator who likes the outdoors and cheese sandwiches. He is NOT a grumpy old black bear, but he DOES like making books about one—starting with the best-selling Mother Bruce, which received the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor. He lives in Maine with his wife and kids… and too many pets.

LEARN MORE
Visit books.disney.com
Follow Disney-Hyperion on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
#BrucesBigMove #FollowBruce

Kellee’s Review: Bruce is back and still a curmudgeon. Following the events in Mother Bruce where he becomes the mother to 4 geese and Hotel Bruce when 3 mice move in, Bruce decides enough is enough and wants to get away from the rodents once and for all, and he is willing to go to the extreme (moving) to get away. 

One of my favorite things about the Bruce books are the character’s expressions! Bruces’ stories are one only half told in the words, the rest can be found in the illustrations. The illustrations are so expressive and detailed giving each character a personality without it having to be explained.

And just like in the first two Bruce books, there is a definite message in the end! What do you think will make Bruce happy?

Ricki’s Review: I can’t decide whether I like the words or the illustrations more in this book. They are both hysterical! I absolutely adore Bruce. He makes me smile. Ryan T. Higgins is incredibly talented—I will read anything he writes!

Kellee is spot on. Bruce’s facial expressions make me laugh and laugh. I wish I captured my 4-year-old reading this book. He kept laughing and pointing to the pictures. I like the Bruce books because Higgins incorporates clear messages for readers, and he masterfully creates books that make great classroom read alouds!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Use Bruce’s Big Move, and the other Bruce books, as read alouds to discuss illustrations’ purpose in stories, theme, and characterization with students. Alternatively, consider asking students to create their own Bruce fanfiction!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why does Bruce want to get rid of the rodents?
  • On each page, look at the characters’ expressions and discuss what clues they give the reader about the character.
  • What do you think will make Bruce happy?; Did you predict the ending of the book?
  • What do you think the author’s message was at the end of the book?

Flagged Passages: 

“Bruce wished there was a way to get rid of the pesky rodents. But there wasn’t.”

Realtor Ryan help his bear friend Bruce find the perfect rodent-free home: 

Read This If You Love: The first two books in the Bruce series, You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown, This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, Be Quiet by Ryan T. Higgins, Here Comes Teacher Cat by Deborah Underwood, Nibbles by Emma Yarlett

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Disney-Hyperion is partnering with us for a Whole Lotta Bruce GIVEAWAY!
One (1) winner receives:
Copies of Bruce’s Big Move, Hotel Bruce, and Mother Bruce
Branded tote bag and stickers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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**Thank you to Alex at Big Honcho Media for providing copies for review!**

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Landscape with Invisible Hand
Author: M. T. Anderson
Published: September 12, 2017 by Candlewick

Summary: National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization.

When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem “classic” Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice – to give the vuvv what they want.

Review: 

  • Futuristic, dark satire that is an unusual, intelligent social commentary
  • Forces readers to think deeply about their personal, social, and political lives
  • Somewhat non-linear story with an interesting layout: each chapter has a title that corresponds with the artwork created by the main character
  • Stylistically, Anderson chooses every word with intention. The text is a 149-page novella that features chapters that can be taught instructionally as vignettes.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:  Teachers might ask students to begin by looking closely at the text for short passages that they find particularly interesting or inspiring. Students might write a one-pager that a) unpacks the passage they chose, and b) examines the passage through the lens of a topic that they find particularly interesting and relevant. For example, they might connect a passage to the following topics which are relevant in the text:

Art

Automation

Capitalism

Classism

Economy

Entrepreneurship

Existentialism

Extraterrestrial Life

Health Care

Immigration

Love

Politics

Poverty

Sickness

Nostalgia

Unemployment

After the students have written several one-pagers and explored a variety of topics, they might select one topic that interests them most. They can research scholarship about the topic and look across the entire text for relevant passages.

Sample research paper topics:

Examining economic disparities and classism within Landscape with Invisible Hand

Finding the soul: M.T. Anderson’s treatment of love and art in Landscape with Invisible Hand

Discussion Questions: Do you think M. T. Anderson had a purpose for writing this text?; What kind of social commentary does this text offer?; What does it tell us about love? Society? Humanity?; How does Anderson use art to enhance the story?; How is the text structured? How does this enhance your reading?

Flagged Passage: “We are tiny figures, faceless, pointing at wonders, provided for scale, no lives of our own, surveying the landscape that has engulfed us all.”

Read This If You Loved: Feed by M. T. Anderson; Books by Scott Westerfeld; The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

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Nerdy Birdy
Author: Aaron Reynolds; Illustrator: Matt Davies
Published September 22, 2015 by Roaring Brook Press

GoodReads Summary: Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd.

One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle.

When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Ricki’s Review: I absolutely adored this book. I don’t usually review books that are more than a year old, but my love for this book, compelled me to write a review. The book is about a nerdy bird whose physical appearance makes him feel lonely. He meets other birds who share his physical appearance, and he finds comfort in this. But then a very, very different bird comes along (a vulture), and Nerdy Birdy is forced to consider his values and whether or not the nerdy bird club might be just as exclusive themselves. This book provided an avenue for an excellent discussion with my son. We talked about his class and about how some of his peers might feel left out. I’d love to use this book in an elementary school classroom.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a great book to read on the first day of school or at a time when students are leaving one or some students left out. It provides a great opportunity for critical discussions of cliques.

Discussion Questions: Why does Nerdy Birdy feel left out? How does he find solace in other birds that look like him?; How does the vulture differ from him? What does this teach him about friendship, groups, and personal appearances?

We Flagged: 

Image from: https://us.macmillan.com/nerdybirdy/aaronreynolds/9781626721272/

Read This If You Loved: Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt; Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob SheaThe Magic of Maxwell and His Tail by Maureen Stolar Kanefield

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