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Vanished!: A T.O.A.S.T Mystery
Author: James Ponti
Published August 22nd, 2017 by Aladdin

Summary: Florian Bates—the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists—must uncover the truth behind a series of middle school pranks that may or may not involve the daughter of the President of the United States in this hilarious second novel in the T.O.A.S.T. Mystery series.

Middle school is hard. Solving cases for the FBI is even harder. Doing both at the same time— well that’s just crazy. But that doesn’t stop Florian Bates!

After helping the FBI solve an art theft at the National Gallery and uncovering a DC spy ring, Florian’s finding life at Alice Deal Middle School a little boring. But that’s all about to change! His FBI handler, Marcus, has a job for him! Is it a bank robbery? Counterfeit ring? International espionage? Actually it’s middle school pranks…

Sounds pretty ordinary except that the pranks are happening at a prestigious private school attended by the President’s daughter who may—or may not—be involved. So Florian and Margaret are going undercover to see if they can use their TOAST skills to figure out what’s going on before the media gets hold of the story.

However, once the crime-solving pair arrive at the school, they discover that there’s a lot more than a few pranks going on and the conspiracy of silence reaches all the way to the top. Then a student vanishes in the middle of a concert at the Kennedy Center and things take a sinister turn!

Can Florian and Margaret save the day? Or are they about to get toasted?

Here is my review for FRAMED the first of the T.O.A.S.T. Mysteries 🙂 

Review: Like Framed!, Vanished! is a crazy adventure of a mystery with twists and turns that make the reader struggle to solve the mystery before Florian does! Once again Ponti’s mystery is easy to follow yet complicated enough to make it so that the reader doesn’t figure everything out before the end (which I think is the best kind of mysteries!).

What I love about this mystery, is that it teaches us more about the characters while also putting them in a whole new setting and mystery. I really enjoyed how different the two mysteries were and how Florian and Margaret’s character development really grew. Anyone who loves Framed! is going to be so happy with the sequel.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like Framed!, I think it would be so much fun to play some mystery games with TOAST. And just liked Framed! dealt with art, this mystery includes classical music which can be explored along with it being introduced in the story.

Discussion Questions: Who did you think the prankster was?; Did the solution to the mystery surprise you?; What foreshadowing clues were there to show who the villain was?; What part of Florian and Margaret’s time in school is most realistic to the real experience?; How does Margaret help Florian face his bullies?

Flagged Passages: (When the headmaster doubts that Florian and Margaret can help, they put TOAST on display.)

“‘You have nothing to worry about, Dr. Putney,’ I assured him. ‘W’re discreet. We’ll approach it the same way you approached your church mission. Just like when you went to Brazil and adapted to their customs, we’re guests and will respect the customs and traditions unique to Chatham while we do our work.’

Marcus shot me a wink.

‘Y-y-yes,’ he stammered, trying to make sesne of what I’d just said. ‘But how did you know that?’

‘How did I know what?’ I asked. That you went on a mission? Or that it was to Brazil?’

‘Both,’ he replied.

‘TOAST,’ I said.

‘Toast?’

‘The Theory of All Small Things.’ answered Margaret. ‘The idea is that little details often give away much bigger pieces of information than you think. When you add them up, you have an indisputable truth. That’s how we’re going to find who’s responsible for the pranks. Florian and I are going to use TOAST.’

He looked back and forth at us like we were speaking a foreign language. ‘What little details could possibly tell you that I took a mission to Brazil?’

‘On the wall beside your desk are your college diplomas,’ I explained. ‘They’re from Bringham Young University. Over ninety-eight percent of the students at BYU are Mormon. And roughly a third of all Mormon men go on a mission.’

‘Okay, but that means two-thirds don’t,’ he said as a challenge. ‘What makes you think I did?’

‘You’re featured in the welcome video not only as a headmaster but also as a graduate of Chatham Day,’ I replied. ‘But there’s a six-year gap from your high school graduation until the date you received your bachelor’s. That’s four years of college with two years left over for your mission.’

‘As to Brazil,’ Margaret said, picking up without missing a beat, ‘that was easy. There’s a picture of you on the far bookcase when you were about twenty years old. You’re standing in front of the giant Christ the Redeemer statue, which is in Rio. There’s also a picture of your family on your desk. It looks like a vacation shot and it in you’re wearing a yellow-and-green jersey. Anyone who plays soccer knows it’s the jersey of the Brazilian national team. I’m guessing you became a fan while you lived there and you’ve continued ever since.’

He sat for a moment flabbergasted, unsure what to say.” (p. 32-34)

Read This If You Love: Mysteries like FRAMED! by James PontiWig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher, Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon
Authors: Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee
Illustrator: Susanna Chapman
Published June 15th, 2017 by Compendium Inc.

Summary: “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set—she had to be a part of it. She trained hard, journeying across America to run on all kinds of terrain. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi.

In 1966, the world believed it was impossible for a woman to run the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibb was determined to prove them wrong. She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.

This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. Created in collaboration with Bobbi Gibb and the perfect gift for would-be runners, kids of all ages, and everyone out there with a love of sport.

ReviewRecently I was introduced to what happened to Kathrine Switzer in the 1967 Boston Marathon as it was the 50th anniversary. I thought she was the first woman to run the marathon (and officials attempted to stop her as she ran the race), but this story of Bobbi Gibb showed that the first woman stepped up the year before. Bobbi Gibb is such an inspiration. She trained and trained for the marathon, went against her parents’ wishes, and did something no one had ever done before. Gibb’s story combined with the beautiful lyricism of the text and freeness of the painted illustrations makes Gibb’s story run right into your heart.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Yet another HERstory that needs to be shared with students as it is a part of history that is left out. Gibb’s story can be added to other women’s rights texts to build a lit circle or jigsaw activity where students learn and share about the struggles and victories of women throughout time.

Additionally, the back matter of The Girl Who Ran has a beautiful timeline that can be used to teach this text feature.

Discussion Questions: What is the theme of Bobbi Gibb’s story?; What is the purpose of the timeline in the back matter?; How did the repetition of “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” add to the story of the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon?; What does the act of Bobbi’s mom taking her to the marathon show about her?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and other books about amazing woman in history

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**Thank you to Angeline at Compendium for providing a copy for review!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Scanorama Series
Amazing Animals
Dinosaurs
Deadly Predators
Author: Anna Claybourne
Published September 13th, 2016 by Silver Dolphin Books

Summary: Slide the scanner across the page to discover what lies under the skin of the world’s most fascinating creatures! In Scanorama: Amazing Animals, readers will meet a variety of species from across the animal kingdom and learn about their astounding feats of strength, speed, and endurance. The five movable sliders transform the illustrated animals—including an anaconda, a thorny devil, and a blue whale—to reveal their skeletons, creating a virtual X-ray on the page. Captivating facts, photographs, and illustrations provide even more details on each animal, and interactive flaps to lift enhance the scan-tastic educational experience.

Scanorama: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures gives young readers the feel of working as a lab technician as they study dinosaurs and other amazing prehistoric animals. Five movable sliders transform illustrated creatures—such as the deadly T. rex, the armored Ankylosaurus, and the massive Argentinosaurus—into virtual X-ray scans, revealing their fossilized skeletons. Detailed text, photographs, and illustrations provide insights into how each animal survived in the prehistoric world, and even more facts can be found under the interactive flaps throughout the book.

On the pages of Scanorama: Deadly Predators, kids are treated to a virtual X-ray tour featuring some of the world’s most dangerous animals. Five movable sliders transform illustrated animals into full-body scans that reveal their skeletons and show how they have come to rule their habitats. Featured animals include a tiger, a scorpion, and a great white shark; each animal is covered in detail through informative text, photographs, and illustrations. To learn about even more deadly creatures, readers can lift the flaps and discover what is hiding in wait, ready to pounce on its next victim!

ReviewThese books are so cool! The author has moved nonfiction texts to another level by actual letting the reader see another level of the animals: their bones! The interactive aspect of the scanning makes the book fun, but it is also clever how it reveals the bones of the animal that is being highlighted. In addition to the scanning aspect, there is tons of information about the book’s topic!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: These books are made for the classroom. The immense amount of information, and their ability to keep the information fun and the reader entertained makes them perfect for independent activities as well as whole group.

Discussion Questions: What does the scanorama show you that other books don’t?; What other scanorama books would you be interested in seeing?; What careers would the scanorama books prepare you to be successful in?; What topic in the books would you be interested in learning more about?; What animals/dinosaurs had similar bone structures? Different bone structures?; What do predators have in common?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Science, Animals, Dinosaurs

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

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Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide
Author and Illustrator: Emma Yarlett
Published 2017 by Kane Miller Publishing

Summary: NIBBLES, the book-eating MONSTER, has chomped his way into this book of DINOSAURS! Has he bitten off more than he can chew?!

What was a very serious book about very serious dinosaurs is suddenly interrupted by a hole – a nibbled hole – in the book. Who would do something like that?

Little ones will love trying to find the culprit – Nibbles – hiding among their favorite, easily recognizable dinosaurs. Is he an herbivore? A carnivore? Or … a bookivore?

Emma Yarlett’s Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide is packed with flaps, folds, facts and die cuts, plus one very naughty monster and an ending to make Houdini proud. But has Nibbles bitten off more than he can chew?

Themes include humor and science.

Review: We love Nibbles. We have a stuffed Nibbles and have read the first one so many times (and it is one of my husband’s favorite picture books–he says it is so unique.) I am probably majorly biased when it comes to this review because OF COURSE we loved this one also. I mean, listen to this: 

What is so interesting about this new book is that it takes the concept of Nibbles (a book eating monster) and takes him on a time-traveling adventure to the age of the dinosaurs using his eating/transporting powers. It is funny and educational. Just as the first one combined Nibbles’s antics with fairy tales, this one combined Nibbles with dinosaurs education!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: What I love more about this one than the first one is that it has a cross-curricular component to it with the inclusion of dinosaurs and specific information about the dinosaurs. This allows the book to be used in reading, writing, and science lessons. I also think it’d be so much fun to have students write their own Nibbles story with him eating into a different topic than dinosaurs.

Discussion Questions: Which dinosaur was the scariest that Nibbles faced? The least scary?; What new information did you learn about dinosaurs?; What were the similarities and differences between the different dinosaurs Nibbles encountered?; What were the consequences of Nibbles jumping back in time?; If you were Nibbles, what book would you Nibble into? Where in time would you jump to?

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Message from the Author about Creativity: 

Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs, Humor, Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, Nibbles: The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

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**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!!**

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Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
Author: Stephanie Roth Sisson
Published: October 14, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

A Guest Review by Brittany Brown

Summary: A curious boy living in a small city apartment finds the world astonishing. He wants to know about light bulbs, inch worms, and rocket ships. Carl sets out on a journey to find answers, but finds bigger, even more powerful questions. Through his research and studies, Carl eventually earns the title of Dr. Carl Sagan and spends his life seeking knowledge and understanding about the universe. This young

boy’s contributions to science and education have inspired many children everywhere to question the world around them. His story will resonate every child who has ever wondered “how” or “why” or spent an evening looking up at the night sky.

Review: I am constantly looking for books which will inspire my students and get them excited about learning. This book, which is brought to life with beautiful illustrations and the great mysteries of the universe, did that for myself as an adult, too. After reading it, everyday life is once again imbued with the magic and novelty it had in childhood. In Sagan’s eyes, there is no phenomenon too mundane to investigate. The curiosity which most adults leave behind drove Sagan to be the lifelong learner that all teachers hope to foster in their students. Reading this book shows that science is all around us, that we all belong here in the universe, and that in everyone there is a scientist. I absolutely loved reading this book, and as a new teacher building my classroom library, this is the first one which I will be purchasing multiple copies of to share with my students.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This story would pair well with any science or biography unit. It would also serve as a great example of narrative nonfiction.

The most obvious use for this story is in a science unit. I would love to use this book to open up a discussion at the beginning of a unit on the solar system. Not only would it generate excitement, it would also begin to build some vocabulary and background knowledge. It would make the information in the unit more personal and relevant to kids, and would be a great launching point to encourage students to come up with their own questions about how the world works.

This book is also a wonderful book to use for mini lessons in writing. Using this book as an example, a teacher could lead a discussion on how to choose which life events to include in a biography, how to sequence and organize it, and how to incorporate quotes from a historical figure into a writing piece. It also shows how to include facts and achievements in an engaging way, and how to demonstrate a person’s impact on history.

Finally, this book would also be a superb example of narrative nonfiction. Despite containing lots of scientific facts, it reads like a storybook and the illustrations do much of the talking. Students will be captivated with the descriptive narration, and discussions could explore their experiences as readers or how they may be able to attempt this style in their writing.

Discussion Questions: What are your big mystery questions? Where would you go to try to find answers to them? What character traits helped Carl on his journey? What impact did he have on the world? Who does he remind you of?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: What Do You Do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada, I Wonder by Annaka Harris, You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey, On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Edros by Deborah Heiligman, Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, a Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh

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Thank you, Brittany!

RickiSig

nfpb2017

Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

If you haven’t noticed, nonfiction texts have really been stepping up their game recently! Some of my favorites from from Animal Planet and Time, Inc., so I wanted to share some new series that are coming from them. 

Animal Planet Chapter Books

Book #1: Sharks
Book #2: Dinosaurs
Book #3: Bugs
Book #4: Snakes

Summary: Engaging narrative nonfiction is paired with tried-and-true kid-friendly subjects in a popular chapter book series from Animal Planet and Time Inc. Books. All books in the series feature plentiful full-color photographs, illustrations, and a kid-friendly design. Sidebars such as “Meet the Scientists,” “In Your News Feed,” and “Fact File” pages highlight interesting aspects of each creature profiled and keep readers up to date on the most current research. Packed with information for thrill seekers and animal lovers alike, these are the perfect books for new readers who are ready to take a deeper dive into their favorite subject.

A companion fiction series, Animal Planet Adventures, is also available.

Animal Planet Adventures

Book #1: Dolphin Rescue by Catherine Nichols
Book #2: Farm Friends Escape! by Gail Herman

Summary: Animal Planet Adventure chapter books present fiction and nonfiction within a familiar narrative format to bring the best of the animal world to young readers. Perfect for reluctant, challenged, and newly fluent readers, the new series combines fun animal mysteries with cool nonfiction sidebars that relate directly to the stories. Each book contains 100 full-color illustrations and photographs.

Animal Planet Adventures Curriculum Guide

Animal Planet Animal Bites

Animals on the Move
Baby Animals
*Newest titles!*

Farm Animals
Wild Animals
*Reviewed October 5th, 2016*

Ocean Animals
Polar Animals
*Reviewed April 27th, 2016*

Summary: The Animal Bites series provides emerging readers with the perfect bite-sized guide to the animal world. Each book contains more than 200 striking photographs, easy-to-understand graphics, and maps. Fun “Just Like Me” call-outs show the ways in which animals are similar to young readers–sharks rely on their senses of sight and scent to learn about their world, for example, just like kids do. “Info bits” boxes highlight quick facts about a species’ home, size, and classification. Each book contains a glossary, a page of resource where kids can go to learn more about animals, and a great list of activities to try, from making a bird feeder to moving like a baby rabbit or tern chick.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of Reach Out. Act. Respond. (R.O.A.R.), Animals Planet’s initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

A couple of weeks ago at ALA, my friend Michele Knott of Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook, was kind enough to show me some of her favorite nonfiction picture book biographies published in 2017, and I am so happy to share them with you all.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
Author and Illustrator: Cynthia Levinson
Published January 17th, 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary: Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

My Thoughts: This book was a perfect picture book companion while I was reading the March trilogy by John Lewis, and reading it and the trilogy made me realize I need to update my Civil Rights text set with all of the amazing titles I’ve read recently, including this one. Audrey Faye Hendricks’s story is a story of a young girl that was so gutsy and stood up for what she believed in– equality because she wanted to be able to do whatever she put her mind to when she grew up. This story also gave another angle to the Civil Rights Movement showing the inclusiveness of all aspects of the Black community in the fight for equal rights.

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Author and Illustrator: Michelle Markel
Published April 4th, 2017 by Chronicle Books

Summary: A picture book biography about John Newbery pioneering author and publisher for whom the prestigious Newbery medal is named and the revolution in children s books that he led This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children s books John Newbery himself While most children s books in the 18th century contained lessons and rules John Newbery imagined them overflowing with entertaining stories science and games. He believed that every book should be made for the reader’s enjoyment Newbery for whom the prestigious Newbery Medal is named became a celebrated author and publisher changing the world of children’s books forever This book about his life and legacy is as full of energy and delight as any young reader could wish.

My Thoughts: This was the perfect book for me to read after attending ALA and the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet because, although I knew Newbery was a children’s book publisher, I didn’t know much at all about him or his life. Markel’s biography of him is a perfect introduction! Newbery knew that children needed books that were made specifically for them, a philosophy that we all know is correct and true! I loved how Newbery fought the norms of society and put his money where his mouth is and opened a children’s bookstore which led to the world of children’s books we have today! No wonder the Newbery was named after him!

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
Author: Jess Keating
Illustrator: Marta Álvarez Miguéns
Published June 6th, 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary: At 9 years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie’s wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname “Shark Lady.”

My Thoughts: I had not heard of Eugenia Clark until I read Heather Lang’s Swimming with Sharks and now with Shark Lady we have a second amazing biography about her! I am so glad that she is getting the attention that her amazing story and career deserves! I love that her story shows that inquiry from a young age can lead to a successful and fulfilling career. It also teaches us that nature is something we need to keep questioning and learning from because assumptions are how beautiful things in nature get misunderstood.


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