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King and the Dragonflies
Author: Kacen Callender
Published: February 4, 2020 by Scholastic

GoodReads Summary: Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy—that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.

Ricki’s Review: I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, and it is still on my mind. My goodness, it is beautifully written. I think I’ve recommended it about fifteen times to friends, colleagues, and students in the past two weeks. I don’t want to give away any spoilers in the review, so I’ll just say that this book shares powerful perspectives of friendship and of family. It also offers complex discussions of racism and homophobia—intersections and analysis. I am adopting this text for class use in the Fall, and I am really looking forward to discussing it with others.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to select one aspect of the text that they want to explore in depth. I can think of many (but won’t name them because they are spoilers). Then, students might group according to interests and develop text sets to expand their understandings and think about the topics they choose from multiple perspectives.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does Kingston learn in this text? What does he unlearn?
  • How does Kingston navigate his grief? How do his family members navigate their grief?
  • What did you learn from this text?

Flagged Passage: “Secrets are best kept hidden, because sometimes people aren’t ready to hear the truth. And that’s okay, King, he said, Because you don’t need other people to know the truth also. Just as long as you got that truth in you.”

Read This If You Loved:  Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender; Fighting Words by 

Recommended For:

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Aven Green, Sleuthing Machine
Author: Dusti Bowling
Illustrator: Gina Perry
Published April 13th, 2021 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: Third-grader Aven Green has been solving mysteries for a whole month—cracking such cases as The Mystery of the Cranky Mom. But can this perceptive detective solve two cases at the same time? First her teacher’s lunch bag disappears. Then Aven’s great-grandma’s dog goes missing. Fortunately, since Aven was born without arms, all the “arm” cells went to her super-powered brain instead. (That’s her theory.) This hilarious chapter book showcases a new side to Dusti Bowling’s unforgettable protagonist.

About the Creators:

DUSTI BOWLING is the award-winning, bestselling author of Insignificant Events in the Life of a CactusMomentous Events in the Life of a Cactus24 Hours in NowhereThe Canyon’s Edge, and the forthcoming Across the Desert and Aven Green chapter book series. Dusti currently lives in New River, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, a dozen tarantulas, a gopher snake named Burrito, a king snake name Death Noodle, and a cockatiel named Gandalf the Grey.

Gina Perry graduated from Syracuse University, worked as a compositor in animation, then an art director for a stationery manufacturer, before discovering her true passion—writing and illustrating children’s books. She lives with her family in NH.

Praise:

“[Bowling] infuses her writing with humor and empathy.” —School Library Journal (starred) 

“A fun series opener with a feisty protagonist who’ll keep readers on their toes.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Unapologetically smart and refreshingly confident in her abilities, this super-sleuth extraordinaire is a joy to tag along with.” —Booklist

“Aven’s candid voice ensures that this chapter book series starter will draw a young audience.” —Publishers Weekly

Review: I am so happy that Aven is now starring in chapter books. Her voice is one of my favorites in middle grade literature because it is full of truth and humor. Her voice is just as strong in this chapter book as it was in Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus, just a bit younger.

In addition to Aven’s voice, the story is a compelling one! I’m a fan of mysteries, and this is a fun kid lit mystery. Also, the cast of characters are wonderful! I am a huge fan of Aven’s friends.

And I cannot wait until August when Aven Green, Baking Machine comes out!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to see Aven Green read in classrooms! It would be such a fun book to read together as a class! The class could even keep track of all of the clues and see if they can figure out the mystery!

There are also opportunities in the book to talk about acronyms and word play!

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did Aven keep track of her clues?
  • What type of materials does Aven need to be a good detective?
  • How did Aven help Sujata with acclimating with the new school?
  • What are your slumber party traditions?
  • What is a time you have heard a word incorrectly like Emily heard hen droids?
  • Have you ever lost something? How did you work to find it?
  • If you were going to do a report on a country

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Magnificent Makers series by Theanne Griffith; King and Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler; The Misadventures of Toni Macaroni in The Mad Scientists by Cetonia Weston-Roy; The Misadventures of Salem Hyde series by Frank Cammuso; Meena series by Karla Manternach; Questioneers series by Andrea Beaty; Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi; A Boy Called Bat series by Elana K. Arnold

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Sterling for providing a copy for review!**

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!

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Tuesday: Blog Tour with Giveaway, Educators’ Guide, and Review!: The House That Wasn’t There by Elana K. Arnold

Saturday: Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: Game, Set, Sisters! by Jay Leslie, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

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

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Kellee

Sunday we celebrated Easter and the day got away from me, so I’m sorry to miss out on today’s IMWAYR. I’ll update next week!

Happy reading this week! 🎉

To see what I’ve been up to, check out my 2021 Goodreads Challenge page or my read bookshelf on Goodreads.

Ricki

I finished reading Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. I really loved this book and am glad that it has been used in so many classrooms. It offers a complex view of mental health, and I find myself pausing in the day, remembering the text, and pondering aspects of it. I suspect most readers have gotten to this one, but if you haven’t (it was published in 2018), I recommend it highly.

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Ricki

I am really enjoying Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez.

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Tuesday: Aven Green, Sleuthing Machine by Dusti Bowling

Thursday: King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Sunday: Author Lori Alexander Introduces A Sporting Chance: How Paralympics Founder Ludwig Guttman Saved Lives with Sports and its Teaching Guide

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

 

Dear readers,

This book is called Game Set Sisters by Jay Leslie. While reading this book about the Williams sisters I read things that I have never heard about, even though I have read one or two biographies on them. For example the fact that there were originally five Williams sisters! This book told me so much about the Williams sisters and really made me feel the sisters, meaning I knew what they felt and what they were going through. I loved that the author just didn’t focus on their successes but also on their downfalls like when their sister was shot. Also I need to say that the illustrator was amazing! This might just be the best picture book I have ever read in my whole life! The illustrator, Ebony Glenn has done an astonishing job showing the Williams sisters and family! Her pictures are part of what helped me be there!

This book is recommended for ages 6-10!

Originally there were five Williams sisters. Serena was the youngest of all of them. Venus was the second youngest. When they were young all five of them went every day to the tennis court with their dad. When the sisters grew older they all stopped playing until only Venus and Serena were left. Since they did not go to any fancy tennis training club they came up with ways to make them stronger. Finally they went to their first tournament together. But for the finals they had to play against each other! If you want to know who wins and what effect the victory has on the sisters, you have got to read this!

I love this book because of the illustrations! As I mentioned before the illustrator did the best job ever! I also love this book because of all of the information that I got from it. I love how it mixed the information in and you don’t exactly know that you are learning. For example I read it with my kindergartener sister and she loved the illustrations and learned a lot! I love this book because the author did such a great job in talking about the Williams family. She knows so many things about the family and writes very nicely and emotionally! I hope that you enjoy this read as much as I do!

**Thanks so much to Sofia for this review! We agree that this book is amazing!**

 

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The House That Wasn’t There
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Published March 30th, 2021 by Walden Pond Books

Summary: Alder has always lived in his cozy little house in Southern California. And for as long as he can remember, the old, reliable, comforting walnut tree has stood between his house and the one next door. That is, until a new family—with a particularly annoying girl his age—moves into the neighboring house and, without warning, cuts the tree down.

Oak doesn’t understand why her family had to move to Southern California. She has to attend a new school, find new friends, and live in a new house that isn’t even ready—her mother had to cut down a tree on their property line in order to make room for a second floor. And now a strange boy next door won’t stop staring at her, like she did something wrong moving here in the first place.

As Oak and Alder start school together, they can’t imagine ever becoming friends. But the two of them soon discover a series of connections between them—mysterious, possibly even magical puzzles they can’t put together.

At least not without each other’s help.

Award-winning author Elana K. Arnold returns with an unforgettable story of the strange, wondrous threads that run between all of us, whether we know they’re there or not.

About the Author: Elana K. Arnold is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets.

Praise for The House That Wasn’t There:

“In this luminous story full of mystery and magic, Elana K. Arnold weaves a shimmering tapestry about the lovely and surprising ways we’re connected to each other. Heart-healing, hopeful, and wonderfully inventive, this beautiful novel by a master storyteller is not to be missed.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan

“Told through alternating perspectives that offer clearly rendered details, this compassionate novel gives a unique twist to familiar situations—feeling lonely, adjusting to new environments, forging new bonds—while inviting readers to open their imaginations to all sorts of wonderful possibilities.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The author enriches her sparely told story with hints of magic, song lyrics, good choices that key sudden sea changes in several relationships, and the small background details that make settings and backstories seem real. A low-key marvel rich in surprises, small fuzzy creatures, and friendships old and new.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review: I love what Elana K. Arnold can do with a story! She is brilliant when it comes to weaving in secondary stories that often have way more impact than the reader realizes and for building secondary characters that leave a lasting impression.

In The House That Wasn’t There, I was struck with this talent again as I followed Alder’s and Oak’s life as they collide suddenly at the beginning of 6th grade and how their school project, a walnut tree, a dead possum, and adopted kittens all intertwine to help tell their story. The reader at times will wonder why certain things are happening or why something is being mentioned and then BAM it is revealed. It is quite fun to read! And with a bit of magical realism thrown in just for fun, a seemingly “normal” story becomes an extraordinary one!

It was also quite interesting how Arnold set up the chapters, alternating between Alder and Oak but in 3rd person. It helped keep the POV clear while also showing the reader a bit more about each of the character’s lives.

And finally: A shout out to Beck for not being what was expected; Faith for having a name, being a part of the story instead of the background, and being wonderful; and Mr. Rivera for being an innovative teacher that promotes collaboration, cross-curricular activities, and outside of the box thinking!

Educators’ Guide: 

Flagged Passages: Preview the first two chapters from the publisher: READ A SAMPLE

Read This If You Love: A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon by Karen Romano YoungBrave in the Woods by Tracy HolczerQuintessence by Jess Redman, Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor, This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews, The Trouble with Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra

Recommended For: 

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Don’t Miss the Other Stops on the Blog Tour!

March 28 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
March 29 YAYOMG @yayomgofficial
March 30 Unleashing Readers @UnleashReaders
March 31 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read
April 2 Maria’s Mélange @mariaselke
April 7 Bluestocking Thinking @BlueSockGirl
April 10 A Library Mama @librarymama
April 12 Storymamas @storymamas

Giveaway!

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!

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Tuesday: Stop Asian Hate: Anti-Racist Strategies

Thursday: Encounter by Brittany Luby, Illustrated by Michaela Goade

Thursday: Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer

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

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Kellee

First, I finished my #BitAboutBooks Winter Challenge  which I shared on my #MustReadin2021 post, and I am excited to take on the Spring one! You can learn more about the Bit About Books Spring Challenge here.

Now onto what I have been reading lately! I haven’t updated since before Spring Break, so this is a few weeks of reading:

  • Trent and I are listening to the Captain Underpants books at bedtime, and we finished book 3. Now onto book 4!
  • As you can tell, I am enjoying the Promised Neverland series still 😊
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani is a spectacular book! I now understand all the raving! It is so heartbreaking and informative and beautiful. Just so much in one package!
  • When I mentioned to a few of my students that I hadn’t read anything by Leigh Bardugo and I was thinking about reading the Shadow and Bone trilogy, they kind of freaked out on me and said I HAD to read it, so I figured I would jump in with two feet over spring break, and I am glad that I did. I understand the appeal of this high fantasy trilogy, and I look forward to recommending them to more readers and to reading more within the universe.
  • Trent and I had not watched the Mac’s Book Club Show in a while, so we hopped on and saw that we missed the newest Jack book, Jack Gets Zapped, so we remedied that! I think this Jack one might be my favorite. Since I didn’t really like the first couple but they are definitely growing on me, I think of the beginning of them as the pilot 😂
  • Titan Clash by Sigmund Brouwer was recommended to me by a student who has worked very hard with me this year to find the love of reading (and we’re getting there!), and he though I would enjoy the book. Good mystery! I can see why the Orca Sports books are popular.
  • My First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang, illustrated by Huỳnh Kim Liên is a BEAUTIFUL picture book! Those illustrations are exquisite! And I loved the story about the protagonist’s first day and the importance of water in that journey.
  • Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen was recommended to me by a student last year, and I finally read it (yay! I was so excited to message her and let her know!). It is a fun spy mystery which I now know some readers I can recommend it to!
  • Primer by Jennifer Muro & Thomas Krajewski, illustrated by Gretel Lusky is a fun graphic novel about a superhero-by-mistake that saves the day.
  • Bindu’s Bindi’s by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Parvati Pillai has multiple purposes. First, it is such a sweet story of Bindu and her Nani. I love their bond over everything, including bindis. It is also an important story about being proud of who you and your culture are. The bindi represents this in the story. Those two purposes together made for a wonderful story to share with kids!

To learn more about any of these books, check out my 2021 Goodreads Challenge page  or my read bookshelf on Goodreads.

Ricki

Game, Set, Sisters!: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Jay Leslie tells the remarkable story of this power duo. I didn’t know much about the Williams sisters, and I was really grateful to learn more. My kids were engrossed in the book!


In Trillions of Trees by Kurt Cyrus, readers will be planting trillions of trees–anywhere they can find a space for them! This is a perfect book that is just in time for Earth Day!

What the Road Said by Cleo Wade is a beautifully instructive book with advice for the road to life. It reads quietly and powerfully.

After my kids read Something’s Wrong by Jory John, they wanted to share it with others. It is silly and fun. It teaches readers about what it means to be a good, supportive friend. As a bonus, there are lots of silly pictures of animals in their underwear!

As I was reading Almost American Girl by Robin Ha, I found myself scribbling notes. This graphic novel will knock your socks off. It is so beautifully done. I will be using this one in my college class next semester.

I wish every teenager (and adult) would read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki. This book belongs in every classroom. It offers so much insight into the toxicity of relationships. It’s so, so good. I will read this one again and again.

My 4-year-old son loved reading Smell My Foot! by Cece Bell aloud to me. It is a silly book that makes reading fun and accessible. This one is great for early readers.

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Kellee

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Reading: Promised Neverland #15 It Doesn’t Take a Genius by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Listening: Apple by Eric Gansworth

Listening with Trent: Captain Underpants #4 by Dav Pilkey

Ricki

Listening: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Listening with 7yo: Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (This one is a biiiit too old for him, but we are both loving it.)

Listening with 4yo: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (His request)

Reading in Print: Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

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Tuesday: Blog Tour with Giveaway, Educators’ Guide, and Review!: The House That Wasn’t There by Elana K. Arnold

Saturday: Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: Game, Set, Sisters! by Jay Leslie, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

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

Dear readers,

Let me introduce you to my new best friend, A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer! I read this book with my mom for a “book battle“ in which we see who can finish their book first and actually have read it! I chose this book, a 500 something paged book and my mom read a 200 something paged book! I was so surprised when I finished my book first! This book pulled me in right from the start and I could not put it down! This book is recommended for ages 8-12!

Magic is strictly forbidden in the place and time this book takes place. The punishment for use of it is death. Madame Weatherbury is a very powerful fairy and wants to change that law. At the beginning of the book Madame Weatherbury is allowed to take two magical kids, one named Brystal from the Southern Kingdom. The world is split up in five sections, the Northern Kingdom, the Eastern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom, the Western Kingdom and the In-Between.

Here is a map that shows the world back then. It is in the beginning of the book. Brystal is a kid in the Southern Kingdom, her father is a judge and her oldest brother is one too. Brystal’s second oldest brother is going to be taking a big test to become a judge too, soon. Brystal likes to stay up late and read books! Unfortunately, reading books is a crime, at least for girls. One time her mother catches her doing it! She gives Brystal a warning and takes all of her books but doesn’t tell her father anything because he hates Brystal as is. Brystal is expected to do chores like washing the dishes, cooking food and setting the table.

Just then Brystal’s biggest brother, Brooke, enters the dining room. He sends Barry, her second-oldest brother, a mean comment and then sits down at the table. After his butt hits the chair they all hear some commotion on the front of the house and they all stand up assuming it is father. They stand up because everybody always stands up to the judge in the courtroom and he expects that he is welcomed the same way at home. As they sit back down Brooke tests Barry in mental flashcards and gives him the wrong answer even when Barry says the right one! Brystal can’t stand her older brother lying to Barry so she yells out all of the correct answers and tells Brooke to stop telling him the incorrect answer. Her father is surprised and asks her in a stern voice how she knows all of that. Do you think that he will get really mad because then her mother tells him about the books that she was reading or do you think he will calm down after a while? And even better yet, it gets even better!

When I was reading this book I thought it would never end and I loved the idea! I also love this book because this book propelled me through its pages! It has so much detail and excitement in it! The author, I must say, did a beautiful job pushing the story along. So far this is my favorite read of 2021! It is of course a bit too early in the year to say that, BUT STILL! I also loved this book because the characters were so relatable and had many good and bad characteristics. During this book I noticed some changes in character and Brystal changed in a way I would have never imagined. I really enjoyed this book and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do! (I just figured out this is a series and the second book is called A Tale of Witchcraft by Chris Colfer! Also a third is coming out in September. It is called A Tale of Sorcery by Chris Colfer! I am really excited to read the second book in the series!!!)

**Thanks so much to Sofia for this review! We love that you not only beat your mom, but you found a new best friend!**

 

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