Blog Tour: Drifters by Kevin Emerson

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Drifters
Author: Kevin Emerson
Published May 10th, 2022 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: A mystery about a girl who sets out to find her missing best friend–and discovers her small town is hiding a dark, centuries-old secret.

Jovie is adrift. She’d been feeling alone ever since her best friend, Micah, left her behind for a new group of friends–but when Micah went missing last fall, Jovie felt truly lost.

Now, months later, the search parties have been called off, and the news alerts have dried up. There’s only Jovie, biking around Far Haven, Washington, putting up posters with Micah’s face on them, feeling like she’s the only one who remembers her friend at all.

This feeling may be far closer to the truth than Jovie knows. As strange storms beset Far Haven, she is shocked to discover that Micah isn’t just missing–she’s been forgotten completely by everyone in town. And Micah isn’t the only one: there are others, roaming the beaches, camped in the old bunkers, who have somehow been lost from the world.

When Jovie and her new friend Sylvan dig deeper, they learn that the town’s history is far stranger and more deadly than anyone knows. Something disastrous is heading for Far Haven, and Jovie and Sylvan soon realize that it is up to them to save not only Micah, but everyone else who has been lost to the world and set adrift–now, in the past, and in the future.

Praise: 

“An intricate sci-fi mystery for voracious readers who love an extraordinary adventure.” –Booklist

“A satisfying action plot, complete with a shady government agency and villainous beings, is effectively grounded in the emotional realism of the girls’ shifting friendships.” –Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

About the Author: Kevin Emerson is the author of Last Day on Mars and The Oceans Between Stars, as well as The Fellowship for Alien Detection, the Exile series, the Atlanteans series, the Oliver Nocturne series, and Carlos Is Gonna Get It. Kevin lives with his family in Seattle. You can visit him online at www.kevinemerson.net.

Review: This book is definitely an epic sci fi novel! I am so impressed with how Kevin Emerson weaved the plot together to take us, with Jovie and Sylvan, on a mysterious adventure which had twists and turns throughout leading me to never know what is going to happen. Usually with books with flashbacks or flash forwards, it is easy to make predictions, but with this books, it is more complicated and thus took longer for me to determine what was going on. Because of this, I just had to keep reading, so although the book is long, it keeps you turning pages to piece everything together and then find out what Jovie is going to do with the information. (And just wait for the conclusion!)

I also loved the deeper message within the story that one can never know what is going on with someone else and that we must do whatever we can to make sure one another does not feel like they do not matter or we may lose them.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What were signs that Jovie missed about Micah that may have saved her from drifting?
  • Why did Max feel like he needed to lie? How about Dr. Wells?
  • Why do you think the author chose to start the book with the letter from 1898?
  • How did the jumping around in time affect the reading of the book?
  • Why do you think the author chose to make the light look like a butterfly?
  • How had all the breaches over time affected Far Haven?
  • Why do you think Sylvan listened and believed Jovie when no one else would?
  • What does Micah and Jovie’s friendship teach us about being good friends?

And there are so many more questions I would ask readers, but they have spoilers, so I cannot share!

Flagged Passages: 

Part I: A Hole in the World

Chapter 1 – The Interview, Part 1
January 18, 2022

Picture a spark of light, like a firework shooting skyward in the moment before it explodes. This spark is traveling through the pure darkness of starless space. The only other lights are a few other distant sparks, headed in roughly the same direction.

As we move closer, we see that this single spark is actually a cluster of lights. And each of these lights is, in fact, an entire galaxy, a hundred billion fire diamonds of dazzling colors, from red to blue to white, spinning around a bright center.

Now picture a single blue dot orbiting a single white star. The dot is moving at sixty-seven thousand miles per hour in its orbit, and the star is moving at nearly five hundred thousand miles per hour around its galactic center. This galaxy is racing at one point three million miles per hour toward a mysterious presence—we call it the great attractor—that draws us, for reasons we cannot know, across the dark sea of space.

And yet.

Despite all that, it is possible, on this little blue dot, inside its blanket of atmosphere, in a tiny town huddled at the edge of a great ocean, in a small, crowded living room—

To feel like you are not moving at all. As if the universe itself has ground to a halt.

This was how fourteen-year-old Sylvan Reynolds felt on a winter night in 2022, in the town of Far Haven, on the coast of Washington State, as Dr. Wells began to speak.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with us again.”

Sylvan sat on one of the couches. Dr. Wells sat directly across from him, in a chair from the dining table, her tablet balanced on her knees. Her assistant stood behind her, tapping his phone.

“Sure.” Sylvan glanced at his parents over on the other couch. His mother, Beverly, smiled supportively, but her eyes darted with worry. His father, Greg, sat with his arms crossed, glowering at the visitors.

“I’d like to revisit the events surrounding the disappearance of Jovie Williams,” Dr. Wells said. “Now, as I’m sure you know, what we’re discussing here is very sensitive. We do need to have your word that—”

Read This If You Love: Sci-fi, Time travel, X-Files, Stranger Things

Recommended For: 

Stop by the other blog tour stops!

5/9/22 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
5/10/22 Bluestocking Thinking @bluesockgirl
5/11/22 Charlotte’s Library @charlotteslibrary
5/13/22 Maria’s Mélange @mariaselke
5/16/22 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read
5/23/22 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers @grgenius
5/27/22 A Library Mama @alibrarymama
5/31/22 Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders

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

Lettuce Get in Trouble by Linda Kuo, Illustrated by Mariana Rio

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Lettuce Get In Trouble
Author: Linda Kuo
Illustrator: Mariana Rio
Co-Authors: Cynthia Benjamin & Paula Rees
Published May 17th, 2022 by Center for Design Books

Summary: Sara Little Turnbull was a designer, an observer, a mentor, and not afraid to cause a little trouble while making the world a better place. As a global traveler, she made connections between people and found wonder in the everyday objects they hold dear.

As a very petite female designer in the world of large men, Sara used her unique perspective and curiosity to design a wide range of revolutionary products–from facemasks to cookware to astronaut suits–and to encourage others to see the world through new eyes. Sara was a mentor to designers of all ages and in Lettuce Get in Trouble, she helps children understand the basics of design: observing the world around them, asking questions, and trying out new things. One day, the Ministry of Food asks Sara Little to convince the children to eat more vegetables. Instead of offering a stern lecture, however, Sara Little brings her young friends to her Little Lab to explore the colors and shapes of food and why we eat anything at all. Together they design a grand event, inviting children to gather, play, and design tasty new creations.

Sara Little Trouble Maker Series Information: New Children’s Picture Book Series Introduces Young Readers to the Basics of Design by asking “Why?”

Lettuce Get in Trouble is the first volume in the Sara Little Trouble Maker series from Center for Design Books—a children’s picture book that teaches the basics of design in a way that is easy for young readers to understand. Inspired by a little-known but influential designer, Sara Little, Lettuce Get in Trouble helps children learn to problem-solve by observing the world around them, asking great questions, and trying out new things.

“Sara wears many hats and one tiny upside-down clock on her black turtleneck. She is always asking a lot of questions.”

Why?

In Lettuce Get in Trouble, we meet Sara Little, a troublemaker of the best sort; she asks great questions starting with Why? Sara looks at the world a little differently than other adults—by doing so, interesting problems and the need for design solutions come her way. This first story focuses on Sara’s design influence with new foods and is set in her beloved city of New York. One day, the Ministry of Food asks Sara Little to convince the children to eat more vegetables. Instead of offering a stern lecture, Sara brings her young friends to her Little Lab to explore the colors and shapes of food and why we eat anything at all. Together, they plan a grand event, inviting children from around the world to design fresh, tasty creations. “The children will cook, and we shall allow them to play with their food!” says Sara. Will the leader of the Ministry of Food be happy? Will the children learn to love veggies?

“Good design solves problems and also makes the world more beautiful and fun.”

Through experimentation, discovery, and planning, Sara teaches children that “good design solves problems and also makes the world more beautiful and fun.” In Lettuce Get in Trouble, the children—and designers of all ages—learn to make their world a better place by being curious, ‘taking the time to see’ and not being afraid to cause a little trouble.

“When you take the time to see, the wonders become commonplace, and the commonplace become wonders.”

About the Real Little Sara: Sara Little (1917-2015) was a designer, teacher, and observer not afraid to cause a little trouble while developing innovative solutions to fulfill our basic needs. As a global traveler, she made connections between people and found wonder in the everyday objects, tools, and rituals their cultures hold dear. As a very petite female designer in the world of large men, Sara used her unique perspective and curiosity to design a wide range of revolutionary products—from medical masks which inspired the N95 to cookware to astronaut’s spacesuits—and encouraged others to see the world through new eyes. This first story reflects Sara’s influence on the American lifestyle by promoting casual dining with buffets and finger foods.

About the Creators: 

Linda Kuo designs products for children and loves creative storytelling. She has a BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York and an MFA from Stanford University, where Sara Little mentored her. Sara often said, “Design is to create order.” Linda practices Sara’s teaching in all her projects as the Design Director at Pottery Barn Kids & Teen, headquartered in San Francisco, and serves as a board member of the Center for Design.

Mariana Rio is an award-winning illustrator and educator in Porto, Portugal. She graduated in Communication Design from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. With over a decade of experience, she is happy to spend her days creating characters and visual narratives for publishing houses and institutions worldwide. Her illustrations have been featured in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair exhibitions. Mariana is always eager to learn, and she found Sara Little’s legacy a huge inspiration. Find more at: www.marianario.com

The Sara Little [Turnbull] Center for Design Institute is a non-profit (501c3) in Seattle, WA, with a mission to educate and enhance the public’s knowledge of design and further the education of under served women and girls. Profit from the book series will support that work.

Review: Lettuce Get in Trouble is such a great inquiry book! It shows the importance of asking questions, asking more questions, pushing boundaries, and never letting someone judge you by their assumptions.

I found the collage-esque and colorful illustrations mixed with the multi-format of the picture book just so much fun to read and as unique as its subject. It also has such a quick pace that could have been detrimental but instead kept the reader wanting to move forward to see what Sara is going to tackle next.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I think the first thing I would do with this book is start with the WHY and have students come up with their own questions then find answers. Use Sara Little’s inquiry to inspire their own inquiry. There are also other mentor opportunities such as answering Sara’s questions and having students write a letter that they would have written to Sara.

Also, there is so much to learn about Sara Little Turnbull. She changed our world yet is too unknown. Students can use this book/series as a jumping off point to learning about her career and inventions. After reading the book, students could be grouped and each group assigned one of her designs/inventions to research and share.

Learn more about Sara Little at The Center for Design, the Sara Little Troublemaker website, or this Fortune article about her for Women’s History Month.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What did Sara do differently than others at the Ministry of Food?
  • What traits does Sara have that made her such a great designer and thinker?
  • What did Sara’s mom do to help her become the inquisitive thinker she was?
  • What questions do you have like Sara?
  • How did Sara think about food differently than others?
  • Why did the Center for Design decide to start a series inspired by Sara Little?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nontraditional picture book biographies

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Claire McKinney PR for providing a copy for review!**

Endlessly Ever After: Pick Your Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Dan Santat

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Endlessly Ever After: Pick Your Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings!
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Published

Summary: This funny, original choose-your-path picture book of fractured fairy tales will charm any young fan of the genre, putting the power of storytelling right in the reader’s hands!

Grab your basket and your coat. Put on some walking shoes.
Turn the page and begin: Which story will you choose?

Award-winning creators Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat transform a crowd of classic tales into an ever-changing, fascinating, laugh-out-loud choose-your-path picture book, in which you may find a sleeping maiden, waste away in a sticky licorice cage, discover the gold at the end of a wild goose chase, or maybe (just maybe) save yourself―and the day!

GIVES YOUNG READERS THE POWER OF CHOICE: Where do you want to take the story next? Choice and autonomy are essential concepts for children to learn at a young age, and this choose-your-path picture book puts the decision-making power right in their hands.

FUNNY TWISTS ON CLASSIC FAIRY TALES: “The Three Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and more—characters and settings from these classic fairy tales take on hilarious new life in a brand-new story, just right for the youngest fairy tale fans.

TEACHES STORYTELLING BY EXAMPLE: This playful picture book offers young readers the chance to build their own narratives out of the decisions they make each step of the way, powerfully illustrating how a story is created and how it proceeds from beginning to middle to end. Both a teaching tool and an exciting adventure in its own right, this book is a great resource for learning storytelling.

FABULOUS AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR TEAM: Laurel Snyder is the author of the Geisel Award–winning Charlie & Mouse early chapter book series. Her books have earned numerous starred reviews and Best Book designations, and her middle grade novel Orphan Island was longlisted for the National Book Award. Acclaimed artist Dan Santat has illustrated over 50 books for children, earning a Caldecott Medal for his picture book The Adventures of Beekle and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Drawn Together.

Perfect for:

  • Teachers and librarians
  • Lovers of fairy tales and fairy tale retellings
  • Readers who enjoy choose-your-path stories
  • Parents and caregivers seeking a story that will continue to surprise and delight, even after the 100th time through
  • Gift-givers looking for a beautiful present that can be read again and again
  • Anyone who appreciates clever, hilarious takes on classic fairy tales

Praise:

“Invoking myriad fairy tale scenarios throughout a cascading choose-one’s-path format, Snyder (the Charlie and Mouse series) builds a fairy story with logic gates. . . . Santat (The Aquanaut) romps lushly through this fairy tale universe, giving the folklore mainstays . . . an exaggerated, kinetic quality. . . . Readers accustomed to video game–style endings won’t be bothered by Rosie’s many demises; turning the page resumes the action and leads to more choices, and employing frenetic action right through to the end—er, ends.”
Publishers Weekly

“Grab your favorite outerwear (cozy coat or riding hood?) and your sense of adventure because Snyder and Santat have created a fun-filled fairy-tale mashup that puts kids in the driver’s seat. . . . [Endlessly Ever After’s] interactive nature, large trim size, and bold, full-bleed illustrations make it an excellent candidate for group sharing. There is also a fractured-fairy tale aspect to the stories featured, which ensures there are surprises around every corner. A highly entertaining read, full of possibilities.”
Booklist Reviews

“Multiple reader options give the woodsy road to Grandma’s house any number of surprise twists and diversions. . . . Some choices are hard but not this one: Pick it up!”
Kirkus Reviews

“[G]et comfortable; kids will insist on multiple readings . . . The humorously grim text is well matched with amusing illustrations that keep even the darker story elements lighthearted . . . Both text and art are endlessly clever.”
The Horn Book Magazine

About the Creators: 

Laurel Snyder is the author of many children’s books, including Swan, Hungry Jim, and Charlie & Mouse, which won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. A graduate of the Iowa Writers? Workshop, Laurel teaches creative writing at Hamline University and lives with her family in Atlanta, GA.

Dan Santat is a Caldecott-Medal-winning author-illustrator of many children’s books. An honors graduate of ArtCenter College of Design, in Pasadena, he is also the creator of the Disney animated hit The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and various pets.

Review: Jim and I were just telling Trent about Choose Your Own Adventure books when this arrived, so I was very excited to see this book arrive, and it does not disappoint. If anything, it blew my description of the original series out of the water because of its cleverness, humor, suspense, fairy tale fracturing, and brilliant illustrations.

Snyder and Santat were the perfect team for this book! Snyder’s writing is lyrical and has amazing rhythm which makes the book a delight to read aloud. She also adds perfect twists to well known stories, giving them a new life! I was always so impressed at an author who can craft a book with multiple paths because the actual text structure must be so complicated, and there is no room for flaws; Snyder shows that she has the chops for this! Santat’s art brings it to life through modernized illustrations of our favorite fairy tale characters as well as some new characters, and as always his art is brilliantly crafted and just so much fun to look at!

All in all, a must pick up for any person who reads aloud to students–these 85 pages of adventure will reel them in!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to some reading analyses that will work perfectly with the text (prediction, cause/effect relationships, etc.), I would also love to see students work to create their own choose your own adventure stories. It gives them a chance to problem solve how to structure the story in addition to write the story. Chronicle’s activity kit has a great start for this activity.

Activity Kit: 

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does Endlessly Ever After compare to the original fairy tales?
  • What other fairy tale would you have liked to see get twisted in?
  • Were there any indications of the effects of your decisions before you chose what Rosie should do?
  • Before choosing the next page, predict what you think is going to happen.
  • How did the choice of illustrator add to the experience of reading the book?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Choose Your Own Adventure books, Fractured Fairy Tales

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Chronicle Books for providing a copy for review!!**

Educators’ Guide for Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers: A Story Inspired by Loujain Alhathloul by Lina AlHathloul & Uma Mishra-Newbery, Illustrated by Rebecca Green

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Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers
Authors: Lina AlHathloul & Uma Mishra-Newbery
Illustrator: Rebecca Green
Published: February 8, 2022 by Astra Publishing

Summary: A courageous girl follows her dream of learning to fly in this beautifully illustrated story inspired by imprisoned human rights activist Loujain AlHathloul.

Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined that some day, she too will learn to do it–especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying will she be able to see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain’s impossible dream becomes reality–inspiring other girls to dare to learn to fly. Inspired by co-author Lina al-Hathloul’s sister, formerly imprisoned Saudi women’s rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain al-Hathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving. This gorgeously illustrated story is lyrical and moving.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I co-created for Astra Publishing for Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers on Astra Publishing’s page.

Recommended For: 

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Wave by Diana Farid, Illustrated by Kris Goto

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Wave
Author: Diana Farid
Illustrator: Kris Goto
Published March 29th, 2022 by Cameron Kids

Summary: A coming-of-age novel in verse set in 1980s Southern California, about a Persian American girl who rides the waves, falls, and finds her way back to the shore.

Thirteen-year-old Ava loves to surf and to sing. Singing and reading Rumi poems settle her mild OCD, and catching waves with her best friend, Phoenix, lets her fit in—her olive skin looks tan, not foreign. But then Ava has to spend the summer before ninth grade volunteering at the hospital, to follow in her single mother’s footsteps to become a doctor. And when Phoenix’s past lymphoma surges back, not even surfing, singing, or poetry can keep them afloat, threatening Ava’s hold on the one place and the one person that make her feel like she belongs. With ocean-like rhythm and lyricism, Wave is about a girl who rides the waves, tumbles, and finds her way back to the shore.

Praise: 

“Processing her feelings through music empowers Ava and gives her a new understanding of home and the connections she shares with others. Raw and powerful, this free verse novel honestly explores issues of identity, culture, grief, and hope… Rich, layered, and heart-rending.”―Kirkus Reviews

“Farid’s poetry rides the page like a wave, charting the ups and downs of Ava’s emotions. . .The verse format makes this text extremely accessible, and readers will be delighted to find elements of Ava’s Persian heritage and 1980s childhood also woven throughout.” ―School Library Journal

“Farid brings her expertise as an MD to Ava’s story, simplifying the complexity of lymphoma while packing an emotional punch with the musical references that Ava uses to cope.” ―Booklist

About the Creators: 

Diana Farid is the author of When You Breathe, published by Cameron Kids. She is a poet and a physician at Stanford University. She lives in the Bay Area.

Honolulu-based fine artist Kris Goto was born in Japan. She spent most of her adolescence in Hong Kong and New Zealand, where she became inspired by the outside world and a passion for manga.

Review: This book is actually hard for me to write about because it is just so beautiful in all the right ways. It is full of so many emotions, beautiful writing, important topics, characterization, and 80s references. The author’s inclusion of such a specific setting and pop culture references could have easily turned off a reader, but Farid seamlessly blends it into Ava’s story to where it is all part of one amazing package. A package that includes a lot but that is because a 14 year old Persian girl growing up in California would have dealt with a lot: identity, self-love vs. loathing, immigrant experience, expectations, friendship, hobbies, school, racism, family… and on top of that Ava has Phoenix’s and (my favorite character) Room 509’s health to think about, her own broken leg, surfing, music, and a single parent. Add to all of this plot poetry that is robust in its rhythm and variety in a way that makes reading the book an experience, a wonderful reading experience.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to all of the reading discussion that can happen with this book, it is also a wonderful poetry writing mentor text. Each poem has its own format, personality, mood, tone, etc. so students have so many choices about which they would want to be inspired by. Goto’s illustrations show how art can add to poems as well, so students could create their own drawings to accompany their poems. Also, with the inclusion of music, students could turn their poems into songs.

Students could also make their own mix tapes for different characters in the book using Ava’s and Phoenix’s as examples. Students could then explain why they chose the songs they did for the characters.

The inclusion of Rumi’s poetry could also lead to a poetry study of his poetry which could include historical instruction as well.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did the author format __[poem]__ the way she did?
  • How did music influence Ava’s time during this point in her life?
  • How do you think Ava’s summer would have been different if she hadn’t broken her leg?
  • How did Phoenix and Ava’s friendship change over time? What caused their friendship to evolve?
  • Why does Ava blow up at Phoenix and Naz at the beach?
  • How does Room 509 play a part in Ava’s summer? What do you think the purpose of this character is?
  • How did Ava’s mother’s decision to leave Iran to go to medical school transform her life?
  • Farid included instances of racism in the book. Why is it important that she includes these? What does it show us about our country?
  • Do you believe Ava has OCD? What parts in the story show you this?
  • How does Ava both embrace her Persian culture but also resent the pressure it holds?
  • The author included Farsi throughout the book. Why is this translanguaging important to include when telling Ava’s story.
  • Find an example of when Farid captured the rhythm of the ocean in her poetry.

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar, Starfish by Lisa Fipps, Benbee and the Teacher Griefer by KA Holt, Open Mic edited by Mitali Perkins

Recommended For: 

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

National Geographic Kids: Kamala Harris by Tonya K. Grant and Stacey Abrams by Melissa H. Mwai

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Kamala Harris by Tonya K. Grant and Stacey Abrams by Melissa H. Mwai
Published January 4, 2022 by National Geographic Kids

Summary of Kamala Harris: Explore one of the most powerful and highest-ranking female figures in American history with this biography of Vice President Kamala Harris in this Level 2 reader.

On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris made history. That day, she became the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected as Vice President of the United States. Young readers will learn about Harris’s childhood, her early career, and her journey that led to winning the vice presidency. This early reader also explores how Harris devoted her life to helping others, from serving as the Attorney General of California, to being elected as a U.S. Senator, to working alongside President Joe Biden on the campaign trail and in the White House.

The level 2 text provides accessible, yet wide-ranging information for independent readers. Explore Harris’s life, achievements, and the challenges she faced along the way to becoming a barrier-breaking leader and an inspiration to young people everywhere.

Key features include:

  • Expert-vetted text appropriate for ages 5 to 8
  • Engaging and brilliant historical images sourced by National Geographic
  • Fun approach to high-interest biographies

About the series: This high-interest, educationally-vetted readers series features magnificent National Geographic images accompanied by text written by experienced, skilled children’s book authors. Each reader includes a glossary and interactive features in which kids get to use what they’ve learned in the book. Level 1 readers reinforce the content of the book with a kinesthetic learning activity. Level 2 readers feature slightly higher-level text and additional vocabulary words. Level 3 readers have more layers of information to challenge more proficient readers. For emerging readers, the Pre-reader level introduces vocabulary and concepts, and the Co-reader level provides a collaborative reading experience.

Praise for National Geographic Readers:

“Reliable in format and solid in execution, this series works well to introduce children of varying
levels of reading comfort to nonfiction and research formats.”
―Maggie Reagan, Booklist

Complete your collection with these popular National Geographic Biography Readers:

  • National Geographic Readers: Stacey Abrams (Level 2)
  • National Geographic Readers: Harriet Tubman (Level 2)
  • National Geographic Readers: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Level 3)
  • National Geographic Readers: Barack Obama (Level 2)

Summary of Stacey Abrams: Learn about the voting rights advocate and politician Stacey Abrams and her groundbreaking achievements in this appealing Level 2 reader. Young readers will find out about Abram’s childhood and her early career as a city attorney and as minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. The reader also explores her run in Georgia as the first Black woman to be nominated by a major party for governor, and how losing
that race inspired her to devote her life to making elections and the voting process more equitable for everyone.

The level 2 text provides accessible, yet wide-ranging information for independent readers. Explore Abrams’s life, achievements, and the challenges she faced along the way to leading the fight against voter suppression and becoming a champion for change.

Key features include:
*Expert-vetted text appropriate for ages 5 to 8
*Engaging and brilliant historical images sourced by National Geographic
*Fun approach to high-interest biographies

About the series: This high-interest, educationally-vetted readers series features magnificent National Geographic images accompanied by text written by experienced, skilled children’s book authors. Each reader includes a glossary and interactive features in which kids get to use what they’ve learned in the book. Level 1 readers reinforce the content of the book with a kinesthetic learning activity. Level 2 readers feature slightly higher-level text and additional vocabulary words. Level 3 readers have more layers of information to challenge more proficient readers. For emerging readers, the Pre-reader level introduces vocabulary and concepts, and the Co-reader level provides a collaborative reading experience.

Praise for National Geographic Readers:

“Reliable in format and solid in execution, this series works well to introduce children of varying
levels of reading comfort to nonfiction and research formats.”
―Maggie Reagan, Booklist

Complete your collection with these popular National Geographic Biography Readers:

  • National Geographic Readers: Kamala Harris (Level 2)
  • National Geographic Readers: Harriet Tubman (Level 2)
  • National Geographic Readers: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Level 3)
  • National Geographic Readers: Barack Obama (Level 2)

Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for NavigationThese two books about trailblazing women are so inspiring. I read both books with my sons, and they were very inspired. These books beg to be shared. Teachers might set up learning stations for students. Each table could read a different National Geographic Kids book to learn about a different biography. Then, students might jigsaw to share key moments in the individuals’ lives. After reading this book with my sons, I asked them how the lives of Harris and Abrams could be used to inspire their own lives. They had some great answers. Every classroom needs to have a copy of these early readers.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What are some of the key moments in Harris’ and Abrams’ lives?
  • How do the text features build on your understandings?
  • How do Harris and Abrams inspire you?

Read This If You Love: Biographies; Informational Texts; Texts about Inspiring People

Recommended For: 

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Gender Swapped Fairy Tales by Karrie Fransman & Jonathan Plackett

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Gender Swapped Fairy Tales
Creators: Karrie Fransman & Jonathan Plackett
Published October 19, 2021 by Faber & Faber

Summary: Discover a collection of fairy tales unlike the ones you’ve read before . . .

Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, a King sat at a window and sewed. As he sewed and gazed out onto the landscape, he pricked his finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell onto the snow outside.

People have been telling fairy tales to their children for hundreds of years. And for almost as long, people have been rewriting those fairy tales – to help their children imagine a world where they are the heroes. Karrie and Jon were reading their child these stories when they hit upon a dilemma, something previous versions of these stories were missing, and so they decided to make one vital change . . .

They haven’t rewritten the stories in this book. They haven’t reimagined endings, or reinvented characters. What they have done is switch all the genders.

It might not sound like that much of a change, but you’ll be dazzled by the world this swap creates – and amazed by the new characters you’re about to discover.

Hear from the Creators: 

Review: This one does some really wonderful things. I love how it pushes the reader to reexamine assumptions we have around the social construct of gender. The author of an article in The Guardian about the book said it best about what truly made this book for me:

Plainly, the core audience is the malleable young mind, a child at the age of such innocence that they haven’t yet internalised the gender prejudice all around them, and who will head into the world thinking of women as adventurers and men as very much in touch with their emotions. But more fascinating – particularly if your children are too old and cynical for such an enterprise – is to read it yourself for what jars, what surprises, what seems implausible, what repels.

While in life I have no problem with a female chief executive, for some reason I can’t get my head around a lady miller. Dads who cook? Sure, I had one of those myself. Yet when “One day [Little Red Riding Hood’s] father, having made some custards, said to him …” I couldn’t even concentrate on the instruction (which is “take these to your grandfather”, obviously) for the din of my interior monologue, saying: “DADS DON’T COOK CUSTARD”.

The obvious and persistent bias – and I wonder whether, also, the most life-defining – is the beauty standard, the fact that a woman is judged by her appearance in a way a man is not, that her ugliness or beauty both inform the world’s view of her and become the whole of her, excluding all other traits. It’s revealed in a fact as simple as “beauty” functioning as a noun where “handsome” does not. How could a handsome man contract into “a handsome”? How would we know how daring he also was? “The Sleeping Handsome in the Wood”, “Handsome and the Beast”, all ram home, with a light, rueful humour, the timeless message to a woman in fiction: be beautiful, or be evil, or go home.

Also, I do want to note that the authors do a great job in their introduction explaining how they wanted to swap the “two dominant gender constructs to disrupt the binary” and that there is definitely a multitude of genders and that their book is not disputing that.

My one downfall for the book is that even though the authors tried really hard to make this as mathematical as possible and with no bias on their part, it still shown through in some ways: why does Rapunzel have to have a long beard instead of long hair? Why does the big bad wolf have on lipstick and heels just because she’s female? I would have loved to see gender norms pushed even more.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: What a fun classroom experience this book would be! Students can take their favorite traditional literature and gender swap it to see how it changes assumptions.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did changing the gendering words in the book push your thinking while reading?
  • What stereotypes were pushed in the book just by switching the words?
  • How did the illustrations add to the story?
  • Do you think the authors should have changed other aspects of the stories as well?
  • What purpose did the authors hope to meet by changing these stories in this way?

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Read This If You Love: Fairy Tales

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**Thank you to Katie Halata for providing a copy for review!**