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Wake Up, Color Pup
Author and Illustrator: Taia Morley
Published March 12, 2019 by Random House

GoodReads Summary: A beautiful picture book about a little pup’s colorful journey through the range of his emotions!

A bright yellow bird promises to bring adventure to sleepy Pup’s gray world. As Pup follows his new friend on a walk, each discovery ignites a new feeling and corresponding color, until Pup is saturated with them. But when a storm comes, Pup’s color is drained as fear sweeps through him. Only his curious yellow friend remains bright, and encourages him to keep his chin up, play, and carry on!

This is a remarkably simple and resonant examination of exploration and resilience, and introduces the idea of abstract association.

My Review: I loved the concept behind this book! The puppy is an energetic, spritely character, and he bounces through life and experiences a range of emotions. With each emotion, the page is lit up with color. The story is very sweet, and the rhymes flow  well. My two-year-old loves reading this book and is drawn to the colorful pages. It is a great way to practice colors together. If you aren’t convinced that you need to check out this book, I recommend you check out the page spreads featured below. They are really quite captivating.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Kids would have fun creating their own color-engaged stories. They might find a different metaphor than emotions and demonstrate how colors shift through the metaphor.

Discussion Questions: Which color page was your favorite, and why?; How does the author and illustrator demonstrate emotions through color?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Dogs; Photography

About the Author: Taia Morley has worked as a toy and game designer and is an illustrator whose work appears in books and magazines. Her books include My New Big-Kid Bed and some titles in the HarperCollins Let’s Read and Find Out series. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide for her latest book, visit taiamorley.com.

Twitter: @taiamorley

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

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You Are Never Alone
Author: Elin Kelsey
Illustrator: Soyeon Kim
Published April 15th, 2019 by Owl Kids

Summary: You Are Never Alone is a picture book that explores how humans are inextricably connected to nature.

Drawing examples from the clouds and the cosmos, the seafloor and the surface of our skin, it explores how we are always surrounded and supported by nature. Whether it’s gravity holding us tight; our lungs breathing oxygen synthesized by plants; the countless microorganisms that build our immunity; or the whales whose waste fertilizes the plankton that feed the fish we eat: nature touches every aspect of how we live.

Using lyrical text grounded in current science alongside detailed diorama art, this informational picture book presents the idea that we thrive through connections to the land and sea and sky, and togetherness is key to nature. It encourages inquiry-based learning, inviting readers to wonder, ask questions, observe the natural world, and engage with big ideas.

About the Creators:

Elin Kelsey, PhD, is an award-winning author and a leading spokesperson for hope and the environment. In 2014, she co-created #OceanOptimism, a Twitter campaign to crowd-source and share ocean conservation successes which has reached 90 million users to date. She frequently works on projects with the Monterey Bay AquariumStanford University and the University of Victoria and is passionate about engaging kids in hopeful, science-based, environmental solutions.

Soyeon Kim is a Toronto-based, Korean-born artist who specializes in fine sketching and painting techniques to create three-dimensional dioramas. She is a graduate of the Visual Arts and Education programs at York University.

Praise for Elin Kelsey & Soyeon Kim:

“Both important and breathtakingly beautiful.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred, on You Are Never Alone

“The depth of the images and the surprising facts work together to create a lovely connection between the readers and the natural world.” –The Boston Globe on Wild Ideas

“Demands to be read and reread, studied and examined, and thoroughly digested. It is perfect for sparking adult and child conversations about our place in the universe. A remarkable achievement.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred, on You Are Stardust

“This is a work that will be read and examined again and again, with something new to be discovered at every turn. Profound and entirely wonderful.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred, on Wild Ideas

Review: What a beautiful representation of how humans and nature intertwine with each other. Often, when we speak of our impact on our planet and the planet’s impact on us, we focus on very huge ideas that may seem so far away for kids, but You Are Never Alone shows the small things that have a large impact.

The mix of beautiful art and research-based science make for a picture book that covers such a wide range of opportunities for classroom discussions and educational activities including themes, poetic verse, science, and diorama art.

Educators’ Guide:  

Flagged Passages: 

Behind the Scenes: 

Soyeon talks about the process of creating the diorama artwork in the book.

Elin explains the scientific research behind three of the poetic lines in the book.

Read This If You Love: The Perfect Tree by Chloe Bonfield; Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliot; Thank You, Earth by April Pulley Sayre; Over and Under Snow (and its companions) by Kate Messner

Recommended For: 

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I am in the struggle zone, and I’d love your help. Next semester, I am teaching a co-taught college course with a history professor. Students will be examining several social movements and forms of collective action. The history professor is in charge of the historical background and currency of each social movement, and I am in charge of the stories within the movement. Students will then go on to explore a different social movement of their choosing and read a YA text that relates to the movement. I am VERY excited. 

For three weeks, we will be considering the #metoo movement. For whatever reason, I seem to read more books related to issues of race, immigration, sexuality, etc. than books about sexual assault. I’ve created a list of the books I am considering, and admittedly, I’ve only read half of them. Now that I know it is a weak spot, I am going to fix it. However, I’d love your help in narrowing this list to the books that you recommend that I read first. 

 

These are the books that I’ve read and plan to include because they offer a lot of opportunities for discussion:

  1. McCullough, J. (2018). Blood water paint. New York, NY: Dutton.
  2. Reed, A. (2017). The nowhere girls. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

(Also, excerpts from Kelly Jensen’s Here We Are.)

 

I need to decide on three more titles. Listed below are the books that I want to read in the next three weeks to see if they will work well within a discussion of the social movement. I am looking for books that are very well-written and that will give much fodder for discussion:

  1. Anderson, L. H. (2019). Shout. New York, NY: Penguin.
  2. Blake, A. H. (2018). Girl made of stars. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  3. Hartzler, A. (2015). What we saw. New York, NY: HarperTeen
  4. Kiely, B. (2018). Tradition. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
  5. Mathieu, J. (2017). Moxie. New York, NY: Roaring Brook.
  6. Russo, M. (2016). If I was your girl. New York, NY: Flatiron.

I have all of these books on my nightstand, so access isn’t an issue. I plan to read them all within the next couple of months, but I’d love your advice of which I should read first! If I am missing a great book, please let me know. I’d like it to be a book published within the last 3-4 years because students tend to have read books older than that range.

Feel free to message me if commenting isn’t your jam. 😉 Thank you in advance!

 
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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

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CONGRATULATIONS
Laura M.
for winning the Yogi giveaway!

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Tuesday: Student-Created Interactive Timeline on the Struggle for Equal Rights in America

Wednesday: A Brief History of Life on Earth by Clémence Dupont

Friday: Blog Tour with Review and Educators’ Guide!: Bat and the End of Everything by Elana K. Arnold

Sunday: Author Guest Post!: “Fostering Kindness and Empathy Through Literature” by Amalie Jahn, Author of The Next To Last Mistake

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

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Kellee

  • I’ll be reviewing As She Fades by Abbi Glines for ALAN Picks, but let me tell you one thing–the twist–whoa!
  • The Kidnapped series by Gordon Korman was everything I’d want in a series titled Kidnapped. Twists, turns, suspense, surprises, fear, relief… all the best suspenseful emotions!
  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus will probably be as popular as her first novel, One of Us is Lying as it keeps the reader guessing just like the first! I will say that the resolution did surprise me, so that is a plus!
  • Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson was one of those books that you want to throw at the end of it because it is so good yet so heartbreaking and messed up at the same time.
  • I have a student who devoured Joan Bauer novels in the fall, so I promised her I’d read some of her favorites. I started with Close to Famous and WHOA! Not what I was expecting based on the cover. It is a story about abuse, small town exploitation, chasing your dreams, reading disability, & more.

  • I just love me some Frog and Toad, and so does Trent. I’ll have to see if we can find another audio to listen to.
  • Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment by Zoe Persico shows that science and art go hand-in-hand and neither is better than the other. On top of the message, I adored the illustrations! Look at these:

Ricki

This week, I read On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. I promptly went into my course syllabus for next semester and swapped out another book to include this one. There are so many things that I love about this book. In particular, I really liked how this book tackled the issues of violence against and the assumptions stereotypically made of black females. There are only a few other recent books that tackle these issues, and they are critically important. There are so many other phenomenal aspects of this book. I am sensing a longer blog post…

My students and I read the third edition of Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescescents’ Lives (Edited by Donna E. Alvermann & Kathleen Hinchman). We loved the variety within the book, and each chapter led to rich conversations. The book tackles so many issues that made us think about reforming the practices within literacy classrooms. This book is great for starting conversations and inspiring change.

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Kellee

  • Reading: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel
  • Listening: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer
  • Reading with Trent: Dog Man Brawl of the Wild by Dav Pilkey
  • Listening with Trent: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Ricki

A few months ago, I started Sadie on my Kindle. I got distracted and forgot to go back to it. I just started the audio, and I am loving it. I think I prefer the audio to the Kindle book for this one.

Stop by tomorrow if you have read several #metoo YA texts. I’d love your advice for my course!

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Tuesday: #metoo Literature Circle Books

Wednesday: You Are Never Alone by Elin Kelsey

Thursday: Wake Up, Color Pup by Taia Morley

Sunday: Author Guest Post!: “Why Mix Fantasy and History?” by Angie Smibert, Author of Bone’s Gift and Lingering Echoes

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Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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“Fostering Kindness and Empathy Through Literature”

Kindness, at its very essence, is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Of course, these are all qualities we should all strive to exhibit, but as much as we’d like to think that kindness is something inherent in our society, quite the opposite is true.

Many studies suggest human nature drives us to be competitive instead of kind. It makes sense, since ultimately our very existence is tied to one simple goal: survival based on competition for resources. Our planet has a finite number of these life-sustaining resources so it seems obvious that, as a species, we would do whatever was necessary to make sure we secure enough of those resources for our own survival.

Unfortunately, kindness is actually quite counterintuitive to that.

Because let’s face it, if there are only three apples but four hungry people, what would compel anyone to share with someone else?

The answer, of course, is empathy.

Those people who recognize their own hunger in others are more inclined to share than those who don’t.

Although we are driven to survive through competition, we are also wired to empathize with one another. Empathy is a learned behavior, though the capacity for it is inborn. Think about empathy as an innate ability that needs to be developed. This quality is what ultimately gives us our humanity, but empathetic responses don’t just happen spontaneously. They need to be fostered, and because they aren’t necessarily our ‘go-to’ reaction, this is especially true for those of us who are wired for self-preservation.

Research shows people who value friendships, their social connections, and are embedded in their networks are more likely to display empathy than those who consider themselves outsiders. There’s a caveat to this, of course, and it’s that these empathetic people are inclined to reserve their kindness for the friends who are most like they are. While they show great consideration for the friends they understand, there’s often a limit when it comes to extending that kindness to those they see as “other.”

I believe, if we want to encourage empathy, the first step is to stop dwelling upon these differences and focus instead on those things in life which makes us the same.  In essence, we need to embrace the common human experience.

Love, loss, friendship, fear … these are all things every human experiences in life.  When we realize that, regardless of age, color, religion, or socioeconomic status, we are all far more alike than we are different and begin to celebrate those things that bind us instead of belaboring the minutia tearing us apart, we’ll be able to achieve our purpose in life – which is to care for one another and to be kind. 

This begins with feeling vested in the lives of other people.  When we focus on our differences, it’s difficult to experience empathy.  However, when we realize just how tethered to one another we truly are, we can begin to see through the veil which separates us and imagine other people’s lives as mirrors of our own.

I firmly believe that simple exposure to other people’s stories through literature will inevitably foster empathy and the capacity for kindness. Because, let’s face it, we all tend to be kindest to people who are most like we are, but if we can see ourselves in people who are different from us and understand that most human experiences are largely universal, we’ll start choosing kindness over competitiveness in our everyday lives. Books are tremendous tools in our arsenal for fostering kindness among the diversity of our world.

Books give us the opportunity to experience life through other people’s stories which often promotes understanding. When we spend 300 pages getting to know a person and their story, we’re more inclined to imagine ourselves in their shoes and empathize with them.

The empathy we develop through reading will inevitably breed kindness in the real world. The connections established inside the stories make it easier to identify and honor the fundamental truths behind our differences.

And when we understand and embrace our differences, kindness becomes our default setting.

About the Author: “Masterful character development and story lines woven with the common threads of human experience make Amalie’s novels relatable to both young and old alike. Her ideas are born from the passions of her own heart which she uses to share her vision of the world with her readers.”

​USA Today Bestselling author Amalie Jahn is the recipient of the Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for her debut novel, The Clay Lion. Her latest novel, The Next to Last Mistake, is a character-driven YA contemporary about cows, the power of female friendships, and finding your place in the world. She is a contributing blogger to the Huffington Post and Southern Writers Magazine, as well as a finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards. A TED speaker, human rights advocate, and active promoter of kindness, she lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children, and three extremely overfed cats. 

About the Book: The Next to Last Mistake speaks to the beauty and richness that fills life when we cross race and culture to find common ground, forge new friendships, and challenge our own world view. Amalie’s novel speaks to a deep need in today’s America and will inspire young readers to reexamine the relationships in their lives.

Tess Goodwin’s life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated. Although she chooses to spend most of her free time playing chess with her best friend Zander, the farm-boy from next door, her skills as a bovine midwife and tractor mechanic ensure that she fits in with the other kids at West Hancock High. But when her veteran father reenlists in the Army, moving her family halfway across the country to North Carolina, Tess is forced out of her comfort zone into a world she knows nothing about.

When Leonetta Jackson is assigned as her mentor, she becomes Tess’s unexpected guide through the winding labyrinth of cultural disparities between them, sparking a tentative friendship and challenging Tess to confront her reluctant nature. As the pieces move across the board of her upended life, will Tess find the acceptance she so desperately desires?

Thank you to Amalie for this post that truly embodies much of what we believe about how reading can help change the world!

 

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Bat and the End of Everything (Bat #3)
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Published March 26th, 2019 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) has been the caretaker for Thor, the best skunk kit in the world… but the last day of third grade is quickly approaching, and Thor is almost ready to be released into the wild.

The end of school also means that Bat has to say good-bye to his favorite teacher, and he worries about the summer care of Babycakes, their adorable class pet. Not only that, but his best friend is leaving for a long vacation in Canada.

Summer promises good things, too, like working with his mom at the vet clinic and hanging out with his sister, Janie. But Bat can’t help but feel that everything is coming to an end.

National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold returns with the third story starring an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum.

About the Author: Elana K. Arnold grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet—a gorgeous mare named Rainbow—and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens, including Damsel a Michael Prinz Honor Book, and What Girls are Made of, a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.

Praise for Previous Titles in the Series:

“Comfortably familiar and quietly groundbreaking, this introduction to Bat should charm readers, who will likely look forward to more opportunities to explore life from Bat’s particular point of view.” -Kirkus Review, Bat #1

“A winsome blend of humor and heart, vibrant characters, and laugh-out-loud dialogue, Arnold’s narrative also gracefully explores life through the eyes of a boy on the autism spectrum.” -Booklist, Bat #2

Review: Bat is dealing with the school year ending and while everyone else is excited, Bat knows that the end of the school year means the end of his time with Thor, Babycakes, Mr. Grayson, and even his best friend for the summer. For a kid that struggles with change, this is a mighty big change that he is going to have to deal with (the book begins with 4 days until summer begins). A transitional period like this can be hard for any kid, and Bat’s struggles with these changes is one that many a kid will connect with.

And although Bat’s stories are primarily character-driven, Arnold does a great job giving Bat hiccups along the way to move along his story.

But do you know what my favorite thing is about Arnold’s writing in Bat? Her imagery. Bat is so in tune with his senses and Arnold does a great job writing about what Bat is hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting which allows readers to be drawn into Bat’s world and also help understand Bat’s point of view.

I am a pretty big fan of Bat’s books–I love their quiet strength and the compassion within the pages. And this book really is everything I wanted from the final book in the series. If you don’t listen to anything else I say in this review, just go pick up the first Bat book and sit down and get ready for a purely enjoyable read.

Educators’ Guide: 

 

Flagged Passages: Chapter One: An Offer

How do you say good-bye to a friend?

That’s what Bixby Alexander Tam (known to everyone as Bat) was thinking about, sitting with Babycakes, the class rabbit, in the pen at the back of Mr. Grayson’s class. It was the first Monday in June. In four days, the school year would end, and Bat would have to say good-bye.”

Chapter Two: A Perfect Plan

Soon the classroom was full of noise and color and smells and movement as Bat’s classmates poured inside.

Mei, who sat in the desk to the right of Bat’s, smelled like strawberries today.

‘You smell like strawberries,’ Bat said.

‘I got a new shampoo,’ Mei said, smiling. ‘Do you like it?’

‘Yes,’ said Bat.

‘Thank you,’ said Mei, which was a weird thing to do–to thank someone for liking something.

But Bat knew that what he’d said made Mei happy. ‘You’re welcome.’

All around him, kids were laughing and unzipping their backpacks and scraping back their chairs and tapping their pencils. It was the last week of school, after all. Everyone was excited.

Well, almost everyone. Bat was not excited.”

Read This If You Love: Rules by Cynthia Lord; Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper; The Categorical Universe of Candace McPhee by Barry Jonsberg; Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin; How to Speak Dolphin by Ginny Rorby; Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina; Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez; Wonder by RJ Palacio

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall  

Don’t Miss the Other Blog Tour Stops! 

March 26             Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub

March 27             Kirsti Call @kirsticall

March 30             Read Now Sleep Later @frootjoos

April 1                   Bluestocking Thinking @bluesockgirl

April 2                   The Book Monsters @thebookmonster

April 3                   Educate*Empower*Inspire…Teach @melissaguerrette

April 4                   Librarian’s Quest @loveofxena

April 5                   Novel Novice  @novelnovice

                                Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders

                                Lit Coach Lou @litcoachlou

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy of the text for review!!**

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A Brief History of Life on Earth
Creator: Clémence Dupont
Published March 19th, 2019 by Prestel Junior

Summary: The story of life on earth unfolds in dramatic fashion in this amazing picture book that takes readers from 4.6 billion years ago to the present day.

It’s difficult to grasp the enormous changes life on Earth has undergone since it first came into existence, but this marvelously illustrated book makes learning about our planet’s fascinating history easy and entertaining. In an accordion style, the series of pages take readers through every major geological period, with bright artwork and detailed drawings. Opening on lava-filled oceans and smoking volcanoes, the book unfolds, era by era, to show how life evolved from tiny protozoa and crustaceans to dinosaurs and mammals.

Fully expanded to 8 meters (26 feet), this spectacular visual timeline is a very impressive panorama that reveals evolution in all its glory. Each page is brimming with illustrations that readers will turn to again and again. A celebration of life, this extraordinary and beautiful book illuminates the history of Earth for young readers in an unforgettable and delightful way.

About the Author: Clémence Dupont is an illustrator living in Strasbourg, France. This is her first book.

Review: This book is so beautiful, useful, and just plain neat! First, I love that it folds out (as does Trent!):

When folded out, it reaches 26 feet with one side showing the images created by the author for each of the time periods while the other side has a timeline which is to scale showing how long respectively each time period was.

This book is a work of art. How each time period stands alone yet also is part of the entire timeline when folded out is beautiful to see. Additionally, I adore the artist’s technique of art with rough edges and bright colors.

Each spread focuses on one time period and the life on Earth at the time with a brief write up in the bottom left corner; however, many of the organisms/animals/plants not mentioned in the paragraph are labeled allowing readers to jump into inquiry about them if they wish.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Did anyone else do the activity in elementary school where the teacher had the class convert the miles(?) between planets into centimeters then had the class create a to-scale solar system showing just how far apart the planets are? This book reminds me of that activity in that it shows the true expanse of time Earth has existed versus the very small time humans have. I would use this timeline to create a similar to-scale idea for students to show the history of life on Earth.

Also, as I stated above, each time period only has a brief write up and leaves much to research if one is interested.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What surprised you about the history of life on Earth?
  • What did the timeline on the back show you about the history of life on Earth?
  • When did dinosaurs appear? When did the first human ancestor appear? (etc.)
  • What animal surprised you that has been around a long time?
  • What do you believe is the author’s purpose in creating the book in this structure?
  • How did the Earth change from one period to the next? Take two periods and compare and contrast them.

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Animals, Biology, Geology, Earth’s history

Recommended For: 

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