Journey by Aaron Becker

Share

journey

Journey
Author and Illustrator: Aaron Becker
Published August 6th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

My Review: This book is very hard to explain the magic of it. Lorna (@notforlunch) described it the best, I think: “a wonderful mashup of a David Wiesner book and Harold and the Purple Crayon.” I think this is perfect. It has the illustration beauty and magic of a wordless David Wiesner picture book and it is about creativity (and a crayon) like Harold. The beauty of the castle she visted also reminded me of Cathedral by David Macaulay. This book is just full of amazing! (You know it is good if it is a topic of #SharpSchu book club!)

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This was a bit hard for me. I can envision how this book would be used in the middle grades, but I was blanking on ideas for primary. I know this book needs to be shared, but how?

In my classroom, the first thing I would do is project the book and just have the students read it with me. No talking; just looking. Then we’d go back and discuss what is going on in the book, talk about some of the smaller parts of the illustrations, relive the journey. If I wanted to include a writing activity, we could add words to the book (although, I think this book’s illustrations stand alone). We could also discuss what we’d do if we had a magic crayon. I think this book would be a great addition to Dot Day and discussing creativity. Finally, I think a discussion of observing your surroundings would be appropriate as what the girl wanted the most was right in front of her at the beginning of the book.

Discussion Questions: What would you do with a magic crayon?; What was your favorite part of the journey?; Two parts remind me of Where the Wild Things Are, can you figure out which parts?; What do you think the girl’s name is?; Aaron Becker grew up in many different parts of the world including Japan. Can you find influences of Japan in this story? What about some of the other places he lived?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Blackout by John Rocco, David Weisner wordless picture books, Cathedral by David Macaulay, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Henri Mouse by George Mendoza, Chalk by Bill Thomson, Art & Max by David Weisner, Weslandia by Paul Fleishman, Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis

Recommended For: 

closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall

I put “Read Aloud” although this book is wordless; however, I know it needs to be shared with students. How would you share this book with your students in a read aloud fashion? 

Signature

The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

Share

NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

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

wolf

The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Authors: Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrator: Roger Roth
Published August 1st, 2000 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In 1920 a missionary brought two young girls to an orphanage in India. The girls didn’t know how to talk, walk, or eat from a plate. Some people thought the girls had been abandoned by their parents. Some people said the girls were brought up by wolves in the wild. Still others thought that the missionary who ran the orphanage made up the story about the girls. No one knows for sure.

Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to figure out the fate of the wolf girls of Midnapore. The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. Read carefully and check your clues. You might be the first to solve a puzzle that has baffled people for years.

My Review: This story was fascinating as I had never heard of the wolf girls and came in with no prior knowledge about the mystery. It was so much fun to be full on submerged in the mystery and following the clues that are given throughout the “case notebook”.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is set up just like the Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History and could be used the same way in the classroom: This book promotes studying history, inquiry, and vocabulary. The book begins with an introduction to a young girl who enjoys unsolved mysteries from history and then the book is set up like her case notebook. Each page of the case notebook includes a narrative nonfiction section, an informational nonfiction section where facts about the story are explained even more in detail, and then there are vocabulary words from the two sections defined for the reader. Finally, in the back of the book the different theories about what could be the answer to the unsolved mystery are shared and briefly discussed. The set up of this book leads to infinite possibilities of being used in the classroom. Students could debate, write research papers, could do their very own case notebook about a different mystery, etc. Another option is to get all of the Unsolved Mystery from History books and have students get into lit circle groups and have each group read a different mystery then research and share.

What I like particularly about this one is that there is so much to debate as there aren’t many clues given throughout the story. Many of the eye witnesses are unreliable and there aren’t many facts shared throughout the book. I think this book would lead to a great discussion about primary and secondary sources as well as reliability.

Discussion Questions: Which theory do you believe about the wolf girls?; Do you think a journal written a year after an incident is reliable?; Many of the scientific facts and theories shared are from the 18th and 19th century, are these facts still what science believes?; Why do you think the missionary’s wife never spoke of the wolf girls?; Why do you think that Singh’s accounts were different than his daughter’s?; Singh said he did not want to exploit the girls yet he let people come to see her – is this exploitation? Do you think what he did was wrong?

We Flagged: Narrative nonfiction “After nursing the two girls back to health, the Reverend Singh loaded them into the cart and drove them for eight days to his orphanage in Midnapore. But the wolf girls were so weak and emaciated, they could not move about, so at first no one outside of the orphanage saw them. Singh wrote in his journal, ‘They were accepted simply as neglected children.’

Informational Nonfiction Singh wrote in his journal that the girls were mud-covered, with scratches, scars, and fleas. The heels of their hands were callused from running on all fours. Their ears trembled like a dog’s when they were excited. Their brows were bushy and long. Each had arms almost reaching their knees. Their teeth were close-set, uneven, with fine, sharp edges, the canines longer and more pointed than is usual in humans. However, Singh took no scientific measurements and invited no scientists to examine the girls. He took photographs that were fuzzy and indistinct. Years later, his own daughter, when interviewed, did not remember the distinctive teeth or exceptional ears or terrifically bushy brows.

Vocabulary Emaciated: thin and feeble due to disease or poor food; Neglected: not take proper care of” (p. 20-21)

Read This If You Loved: Yolen’s other Unsolved Mystery from History books

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall

closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall

What mystery from history do you wish Jane Yolen had written about? 

Signature

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Share

17347389

The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: September 17th, 2013 by Scholastic Press

Summary: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Review: This sequel will not disappoint lovers of The Raven Boys. The book is written in multiple points of view, but in my opinion, Ronan’s perspective is the highlight of this installment of the series. He is tormented by terrible nightmares and his harrowing past. Each of the characters is further developed from the first novel, and I loved the new advancements. Additionally, readers are introduced to two, incredibly complex characters, The Gray Man and Kavinsky, who offer dark perspectives and are essential to the unfolding of the story. I loved the new characters and the intricacy of this story. I will admit that I missed the central focus on Blue and her household of psychics (as in The Raven Boys), but Blue certainly plays a strong role in this book. The psychics were my favorite part of the first book in the series. Stiefvater does a brilliant job in the development of Ronan’s story which adds an interesting twist to this book. I also enjoyed how she wove several, different plot threads. This book kept me guessing, and it is quite unpredictable, which made it a pleasure to read.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: It would be hard for teachers to introduce this text as a whole-class reading if students haven’t read the first book in the series. That said, teachers could set the context of the story and show samples of the darker passages from Ronan’s perspective to teach imagery and mood. If a small group chose it as a literature circle text, students would enjoy comparing and contrasting the author’s purposes and characterization between the two books in the series. This would show students how important it is to build characterization both within a story and across books in a sequel as a plot advances.

Discussion Questions: How do the purpose and direction of this book differ from the first book in the series?; How does Stiefvater develop her characters further from the first book?; In what ways does Ronan struggle to negotiate with his past?; How does Adam cope with his obstacles and circumstances? Do you agree with his approach?

We Flagged: “Sometimes, some rare times, a secret stays undiscovered because it is something too big for the mind to hold. It is too strange, too vast, too terrifying to contemplate” (Prologue).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The e-book (a galley) did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, White Cat by Holly Black

Recommended For:

    classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

026F3FBCC8C3913BD3A4D3F6920340D5

**Thank you to NetGalley and Scholastic for providing the Advanced Reader Copy for review!**

Review and Interview!: Star Challengers: Moonbase Crisis by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson

Share

moonbase

June Scobee Rodgers presents
Star Challengers: Moonbase Crisis
Authors: Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson
Published October 22nd, 2010 by Catalyst Game Labs

Goodreads Summary: After an exhilarating space simulation field trip at the local Challenger Center, a group of students are hand-picked by the mysterious Commander Zota for a special adventure: to travel to the future and a real moonbase in trouble, where they will learn skills to save the human race.

My Review: Since I live in Florida, I am right in the middle of the NASA debate. Some feel that the science behind NASA and space exploration is not worth the money where others completely disagree. There are others who are somewhere in the middle, not knowing. To me, losing the space program is terrifying and the authors of this book take the same stance as me.

Moonbase Crisis is a book written by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson but it is presented by June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of a commander on the Challenger, and endorsed by many NASA legends such as Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. It is also a direct endorsement for Challenger Centers which are centers across the US that teach kids about space and hope to inspire them by letting them experience simulated space missions. That is where this book begins.

JJ and Dylan Wren are invited to a special space simulation after going on a field trip to the Challenger Center. When they arrive the find out that they are 2 of 4 young people chosen to be part of this mission. They are taught how to use actual communication devices and even put on real space suits. Then Commander Zota, the man who invited them, asks them to step into a room and next thing they know they find themselves on a Moonbase. In the future.

Then on top of all of this, it is a pretty good story with some major suspense. I look forward to the 2nd book as this was obviously an exposition for more to come.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: Throughout this book, science is definitely a main topic. It is sprinkled throughout discussing astronomy, botanical sciences, chemistry, and more I am sure. Though the book is science fiction, the science within in pure fact. The book shows a future where science and space exploration are not priorities and hopes to promote science by showing how important it is.

My father gave me this book as a gift and was kind enough to connect me with Ms. June Scobee Rodgers who helped make this book happen. Ms. Scobee Rodgers is the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and has spent her life making sure his legacy and NASA continue for years to come. I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to interview her about the Star Challengers series and the Challenger Center programs:

Kellee: After the Challenger tragedy, yourself and other family members of lost Challenger astronauts opened the Challenger Center to honor them. Why was it decided to use their memory to focus on the education of children?

Ms. Scobee Rodgers: The Challenger 51-L mission soon became the “Teacher in Space” mission. The teacher Christa McAuliffe and I had a great deal in common as teachers. My husband Dick Scobee the Commander had always been mission oriented.  So after we lost the “mission” the other family members of the shuttle crew joined with me to create an opportunity to reach the students and teachers around the globe still waiting for their lessons from the beloved school teacher who died along with my husband.

Kellee: What is your goal when it comes to the Challenger Centers?

JSR: Our board of directors and staff as well as all the Challenger Learning Centers all want to continue to reach students to inspire them with the importance of STEM education and the pursuit of careers with a tremendous shortage in those fields.

Kellee: How did the Star Challengers books come about?

JSR: Introduced through a mutual friend to famous author Kevin Anderson and his wife Rebecca, we explored opportunities to tell the Challenger story and STEM education with real science fiction that would both entertain and teach as well as inspire our youth across the country.

Kellee: As an educator and advocate for children’s education, what do you say to those who don’t believe that NASA and space exploration is beneficial for the future?

JSR: The largest concerns facing us as citizens right now are jobs and the economy. Job and economy growth is the direct outcome of new businesses, products and processes which since the end of World War II were created from our focus and investments in technology, engineering, research and science. And that can only happen when you have a citizenry and workforce with the talent to perform this vital role. Since 50% of all potential future scientists, engineers, technicians and similar key workforce tend to decide by the early age of 10-13 years that they either cannot do it or do not want to, we need to continue to expand our efforts to inspire and engage all of them. Even if they choose not to enter those fields. We need a STEM literate citizenry to ensure we hold the correct values for our society.

Kellee: What do you hope comes from the publication of the Star Challenger books?

JSR: I hope to inspire a whole new generation of “Star Challengers” – young people like our main characters who want to make a difference for our planet and who will reach for the stars no matter their circumstances.

Kellee: How do you hope they are used in the classroom? With children?

JSR: Students are now creating book reports and reading the books for pleasure. It would be terrific if the books could be made available in classroom sets to allow for classroom discussion.

Kellee: I loved Moon Base Crisis and cannot wait to read the second one- how many books are planned in the series?

JSR: The second book is titled Space Station Crisis, and the third is Asteroid Crisis. We need students to write the follow on books.  For example, Mars City Crisis is waiting to be written by an enterprising young person.

 **Thank you so much to Ms. Scobee Rodgers for taking part in this interview!**
Links to information about the Challenger Centers and NASA For Educators:

 

Discussion Questions: 

  • Currently, there is a search for a young writer to write Mars City Crisis for the Star Challengers series- what would you make the book about?
  • If you had the chance to go live on the space station, would you? 

We Flagged: “Also,” the commander pointed out, “the Moon is near a quarter of a million miles from Earth, while the speed of our signal – the speed of light – is a mere 186,282 miles per second. Therefore it takes 1.3 seconds for a message to travel from Earth to the Moon, which will produce a noticeable lag when you talk to anyone at Moonbase Magellan.” (p. 26)

“Zota continued as if he hadn’t heard. “Because of the Moon’s lack of atmosphere, walking on its surface will be like stepping out into a hard vacuum  Your spacesuit maintains your body’s integrity. If your suit fails, your tissues explode and freeze. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?” The cadets shook their heads.” (p. 37)

Read This If You Loved: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, The Softwire by PJ Haarsma, C.H.A.O.S. by Jon S. Lewis, Nonfiction books about space

Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall

 I think this book is a great resource for the classroom;
I hope you fill find a way to use it!

Signature

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel

Share

NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

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

brave

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Published January 22nd, 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Summary: Clara and her family immigrated to New York. They were searching for the American dream. When her father could not find a job, Clara quit school and became a garment worker to support her family. The conditions at her factory were appalling: low wages, unfair rules, and locks on the door. After discussions between the workers, Clara helps urge the girls to fight for their rights.

Review: I am sucker for this biographical picture book for two reasons: 1) I had not known about the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 before and I love learning about new historical moments. I know that it interested me (as I know it would for kids), because after I read the additional information about the garment industry I was on the internet searching for more information. 2) Clara is such a great example of girl power! AND she is a historical figure that shows girls (and boys) that girls can stand up for themselves when they are not being treated well (in real life). I love that she overcame so much to not only stand up for her rights, but also to get an education and take care of her family. What an amazing person to learn about.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The main way that I would use this book is as a read aloud. It will definitely cause a great discussion and may push students to do further research. It would also be a perfect read aloud for a unit on women’s rights, immigration, overcoming obstacles, girl power, labor laws, or the early 1900s to help make connections to history. 

Discussion Questions: Do you think that Clara continuing her education helped her in being able to fight for her labor rights?; Clara made a tough decision between continuing school during the day or working. Do you agree or disagree with her decision? Why or why not? How did her decision affect her life?; What caused the garment workers to strike?

We Flagged: “But Clara is uncrushable. She wants to read, she wants to learn! At the end of her shift, though her eyes hurt from straining in the gaslight and her back hurts from hunching over the sewing machine, she walks to the library. She fills her empty stomach with a single glass of milk and goes to school at night. When she gets home in the late evening, she sleeps only a few hours before rising again.” (p. 12-13)

To see a preview of the illustrations, visit Amazon’s “Look Inside” for Brave Girl.

Read This If You Loved: Here Comes the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey, The Price of Freedom by Dennis Brindell Fradin, Boycott Blues by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson

Recommended for: 

readaloudbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Who is a female historical figure who shows as much girl power as Clara that you believe should be talked about more?

Signature

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Share

more than this

More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Expected Publication September 10th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Readers are thrown into the action right from the beginning of this book. Seth is drowning–he is dying. When he wakes up, he is naked, alone, and unfamiliar with his surroundings. Seth knows he has died, but he isn’t sure where he is. In his distant memories, he remembers the English town that he is in, but he moved away after an enormous tragedy in his childhood, so why has he returned? The town looks very different from the way he remembers it–as if no one has lived there in over a decade. Seth sets out to try to discover where he is. He hopes he isn’t alone, the world hasn’t ended, and he hasn’t arrived in his personal Hell.

Review: At the beginning of my reading, I felt the same feelings as I felt with The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I was bewildered, confused, and very curious about where the book was headed. Patrick Ness phenomenally reveals details so slowly that it makes it very difficult to put this one down. It is highly unpredictable and extremely engaging. This book evades the typical features that would lock it into one genre–it is a thriller, an adventure, and a, frankly, an incredibly thoughtful work of science fiction. More Than This teaches readers about loyalty, resilience, hope, and bravery, amongst other messages that I can’t express without revealing details of the plot. Dive into this one–it will send you to a world that will make you ponder elements of life you may not have ever considered before.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This is one of the best books that I’ve read that can be used for helping students make predictions. Teachers can use the whole book or excerpts of the text, and students would love predicting plot details, grounded in the evidence the plot provides. Like all of Ness’s writing, this book experiments with language and sentence structure, and students could examine how Ness uses language to advance the plot and overall meaning of the book. 

Discussion Questions: How does Ness reveal plot details as a way to engage his audience? Is he effective?; Where is Seth? What might Ness be telling us about the world we live in?; In the beginning of the book, Seth wonders if he has woken up in his personal Hell. Where would your personal Hell be?; What memories shape who you are as a person? Have you learned from them? How?

We Flagged: “There’s an unreality under all the dust, all the weeds. Ground that seems solid but that might give way any moment” (p. 51).

“A book, he thinks at one point, rubbing his eyes, tired from so much focused reading. It’s a world all on its own, too. […] A world made of words, Seth thinks, where you live for a while” (p. 143).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. They may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Maze Runner by James Dashner, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Recommended For:

litcirclesbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

026F3FBCC8C3913BD3A4D3F6920340D5

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy!

Any Patrick Ness fans out there? Have you read this one or pre-ordered it?

What are your favorite science fiction books?

Tom T’s Hat Rack by Michele Spry

Share

tom t

Tom T’s Hat Rack
Author: Michele Spry
Illustrator: Peggy A. Guest
Published January 2, 2013 by Spry Publishing

Summary: After Mr. T’s bout of cancer, he has decided that he wants to help make other people’s journeys during their chemo and radiation a bit easier. To do this, he asks his young friend Shelby to help him make a special project. Shelby Summers is one of those young people who understands the golden rule- she is good to all around her because she knows that is the right thing to do. This book shares with us the story of Mr. T and Shelby building their gift for others and what it is like to pay it forward.

My Review: This book’s purpose is more than just a narrative. The author, in her letter to me that came with the book, shared how she hopes the book would inspire others to pay it forward. “This simple act of kindness towards others is so simple to do and encourage others to do.” Too many children are growing up without thinking about this important aspect of humanity. Tom T’s Hat Rack is a great platform for starting that conversation.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: In the back of the book, the author has laid out ways for students to pay it forward just like Mr. T and Shelby. First, there is a brainstorming page to consider how the reader could help his or her community. Then the author’s page shares with the reader the story behind the book (Michele’s inspiration was a friend of hers that was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was still positive and upbeat during his treatment). Finally, the hat rack plans are included so that the readers could make a hat rack for their community just like Mr. T and Shelby. I think that this is an important book because of what it teaches and the conversations that it’ll start. It’ll be perfect for a read aloud or book club in middle elementary grades. You could even combine it with the amazing picture books I’ll list below to make a kindness unit.

Discussion Questions: What can you do to help others in your community? List some ways you can help – big or small – it doesn’t matter as long as you are doing something positive to help others. (p. 91)

We Flagged: “Tonight, Mr. T talked about how he wanted to have Shelby help him with a little project. After going through these tough health issues with his cancer, he decided to do something positive to benefit others. He knew with Shelby’s caring heart, and vision to help people, he and Shelby would be able to accomplish this idea over summer break.” (p. 22)

Read this if you loved: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

Recommended for: 

litcirclesbuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall

Signature

**Thank you to Michele Spry for providing a copy for review**