Student Voices: Favorite Reads from Derrick T., Gavin Z., Kyan V., Leticia R., and Reed R.

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Favorite Reads

Ten Favorite Fantasy Series by Derrick T., 7th grade

The Fantasy Genre, defined by Britanica.com as “imaginative fiction dependent for effect on strangeness of setting (such as other worlds or times) and of characters (such as supernatural or unnatural beings)”, is my favorite genre of books. I enjoy when an author immerses you in a completely different world, sometimes literally, and these are some of my favorite series in this genre.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians]: A Series Review – greenish bookshelf

Percy finds out he is the son of the ancient Greek god Poseidon! He and his fellow half-bloods (half mortal, half god) go on many quests to save the world from evil mythological creatures.

Curse Workers by Holly Black

Book Review: The Curse Workers Series by Holly Black - The Night Bookmobile

In a world where workers can “curse” someone with a touch, Cassel is the only person in his family without the gift. But something strange is happening, and Cassel must unravel the conspiracy around his life, and the life of someone whose death is his fault.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) (Artemis Fowl, 1): Colfer, Eoin:  9781368036986: Amazon.com: Books

Artemis Fowl is not just a genius, he makes other geniuses seem inept by comparison. And he just discovered a whole world underneath our feet: one full of magic.

Magisterium by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Magisterium Series 5-Book Set: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare: Books:  Amazon.com

Everyone wants to be a magician. Except for Call. His dad has warned him about the danger of magic his whole life, and how he MUST not get into the mages school, the Magisterium. But Call fails at failing, and now must face the dangers of his new school.

Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

The Ranger's Apprentice Series (Complete 12 Book Set) : John Flanagan:  0680474137794: Books - Amazon

Will is an orphan. At his choosing ceremony where he picks his profession, he is denied by all the craftmasters. Except one named Halt.  He is a mysterious ranger, a group of skilled archers who are rumored to dabble in sorcery, and will teach Will how to be a ranger. But being a ranger comes with many risks. Will Will survive?

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

Home - Leigh Bardugo | Author

Alina has never been special. But one day when her friend is in mortal danger, she discovers a new ability that might patch the literal tear in her country. But not everything is as it seems, she soon finds herself in the middle of an evil scheme that’s been in place for over 500 years.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini Collection The Inheritance Cycle Series 4 Books Set  Eldest | eBay

When Eragon finds a blue stone in the forest, he thinks it might mean a little money for his family. He certainly doesn’t think it will be a dragon egg! But after Saphira hatches he is dragged into a plot to save the kingdom from the evil king.

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series 1 - 6 Books Collection  Set by Michael Scott (Alchemyst, Magician, Sorceress, Necromancer, Warlock  & Enchantress): Michael Scott, The Enchantress By Michael Scott  978-0552562577,

Sophie and Josh live normal lives until they discover that Nicholas Flamel is Josh’s boss. And now they are in danger, and Josh and Sophie are magicians! The three of them then go on to stop the Dark Elders from taking over the world.

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

Kingdom Keepers Book Review – R.E. KLINZING

When Finn falls asleep, he becomes a hologram at Disney World! He and the other kingdom keepers must protect the parks from the evil overtakers.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Why Harry Potter Books are Great for School-Aged Readers - Speech Therapy  Centres of Canada

Harry Potter lives with his mean aunt, uncle, and cousin. On his eleventh birthday, a literal giant tells him he is a wizard. Throughout the series he, along with new friends, has to fight his parents murderer, the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

Top Six Sports Books for Kids by Kyan V., 7th grade

These days, there are many sportsbooks to choose from. It can be hard to choose because of a great deal of different genres and sports. This blog post lists my top 6 favorite sportsbooks, fiction, and nonfiction, for kids. Remember the list is not in order! I have read these books and highly recommend them, especially if you love sports!

Pele, The King of Soccer by Eddy Simon and illustrated by Vincent Brascglia

Pelé: The King of Soccer: Simon, Eddy, Brascaglia, Vincent: 9781626727557:  Amazon.com: Books

This book is a perfectly illustrated graphic novel that captures Pele’s crazy life from a young boy to a world champion. It dives into Pele’s childhood and how he became what he is today. I love this book because it proves to everyone that you can come from nothing and still be one of the best soccer players to ever live. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover (The Crossover Series): Alexander, Kwame, Anyabwile, Dawud:  9780544107717: Amazon.com: Books

This book is exceptionally unique because of how it is structured. It’s composed of lots of short stanzas. In a way, it’s almost like a 200-page poem. This book is amazing because it shows how one can change their life with their actions. This book is not only teaching you about basketball, but also life lessons for the future.

Year in Sports 2022 by James Buckley Jr.

Scholastic Year in Sports 2022: Buckley Jr., James: 9781338770254:  Amazon.com: Books

A new book in this series comes out every year. They are action packed, full with statistics and fun facts about every sport you can name. This is one of those books you can read for hours at a tie and read the whole thing 5 times and it would still be interesting.

The Football Fanbook by Gary Gramling

The Football Fanbook (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book): Everything You Need  to Become a Gridiron Know-It-All - Kindle edition by Gramling, Gary, The  Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids. Children Kindle eBooks @

This book is all about football. Everything you could think of about football. This book has fun facts, formations, playbooks, records, strategies, comparisons, and more. I love this book because you can discover so many new things about the amazing sport of football. By the way, there is also a Baseball Fanbook as well.

The United States of Sports by Bill Syken

The United States of Sports: An Atlas of Teams, Stats, Stars, and Facts for  Every State in America (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book): The Editors of  Sports Illustrated Kids, Syken, Bill: 9781547800001:

This book goes state by state and shows you where their sports teams are located, statistics, rivalries, fan favorites, mascots, and the state’s trophy shelf. It also includes college teams. This book goes through all 50 states. I love this book because you can learn about other states, and dive deep into your state’s sports programs.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost (1) (Track): Reynolds, Jason: 9781481450157: Amazon.com: Books

This book is good because everyone can relate to it in one way or another. Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is trying to overcome some difficult challenges in his childhood. With the help of his mentor, Coach Brody he overcomes these difficulties through running track at an elite level.

Thank you for reading my top 6 sports books for kids. I highly recommend reading all of these books! Some of them are so underrated. See you next time — bye!

My Favorite Book Series by Gavin Z., 8th grade

Randoms by David Liss

Randoms (3 book series) Kindle Edition

Very interesting and unique. I haven’t read many books that include leveling systems and skill trees like a video game.

The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris D’Lacey

Chris d'Lacey on Twitter: "Nice cover refresh for The Last Dragon  Chronicles. Hrrr! https://t.co/98t75vtRY2" / Twitter

These books focus on dragons but what’s most interesting is the clay dragons that come to life in this series.

Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland

Wings of Fire: The Complete Collection Series Set (Book 1-15) NEW Paperback  2022 | eBay

Takes place in a different world with 3 moons. They tell the story from the dragons perspective, and interestingly treat humans as “pets.”

The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories Complete Hardcover Gift Set: Colfer, Chris:  9780316556828: Amazon.com: Books

In this series, a pair of twins travel across the fairy tale world and meet many childhood favorites like Jack and the Beanstalk or Cinderella. 

A Tale of Magic series by Chris Colfer

A Tale of Magic... Collection by Christopher Colfer | Little, Brown Books  for Young Readers

Taking place in the same world as the Land of Stories, this series happens before that series. Kind of like a prequel but still has really interesting new characters that didn’t appear in the land of stories. 

Favorite Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels by Leticia R., 6th grade

Dawn and the Impossible Three

Dawn and the Impossible Three: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #5):  Full-Color Edition (5) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix): Martin, Ann M.,  Galligan, Gale: 9781338067118: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her frst big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for any baby-sitter.

My opinion: I really enjoyed reading this book. I could really relate to the book! I have felt what Dawn has felt where she was new and was just trying to find a friend. It was really fun reading this book! And I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys graphic novels, and drama books.

Boy-Crazy Stacey

Boy-Crazy Stacey: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #7) (7) (The  Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels): Martin, Ann M., Galligan, Gale:  9781338304510: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Stacey and Mary Anne are baby-sitting for the Pike family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore. Things are great in Sea City: There’s a gorgeous house right on the beach, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand… and the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

My opinion: I loved reading this book because I felt how Mary Anne felt, shes feels like she has so much things to do and so much responsibility and I have felt that way as well. Being stressed constantly could even ruin friendships and relationships.

Claudia and the New Girl

Claudia and the New Girl: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #9) (9)  (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix): Martin, Ann M., Epstein, Gabriela:  9781338304572: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: The Baby-sitters are sick of Ashley, and they think Claudia’s a traitor. Claudia’s got to decide: either the Baby-sitter’s Club or the new girl – one of them has got to go.

My opinion: I enjoyed this book because I could relate to it and learn from it. When I started reading this book, I liked it, but after I got to the middle, I realized that it was trying to show the reader a life lesson; it was that you can always have more than one friend.

Logan Likes Marry Anne

Logan Likes Mary Anne!: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #8) (8) (The  Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels): Martin, Ann M., Galligan, Gale:  9781338304541: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: It’s the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn’t know what to expect from the eighth grade, she’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn’t expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook.

My opinion: I thought that this book was so realistic because everyone goes through this when they go into a new school or any new place everyone feels scared and doesn’t know what to expect. And I think that is a very good book anyone could relate to.

Kristy’s Great Idea

Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #1) (Revised  edition): Full-Color Edition (1) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix):  Telgemeier, Raina, Martin, Ann M., Telgemeier, Raina: 0000545813875:  Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun—and make tons of money.

My opinion: I thought this book was super fun because it was explaining how things started and showed the reader the very beginning of things. I think that everybody should read this book first not because its the first book but because it’s descriptive of how things started.

Ten Favorite History Books I’ve Read by Reed R., 7th grade

Today I will be talking about my top ten favorite history books I’ve read. I’m a big fan of history books, and I have read many. I’m into wars and past conflicts. My favorite types of historic books are biographies and expeditions.

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and  Won the Revolutionary War: Thomas B. Allen: 9781426300417 -  Christianbook.com

I love this book because it emphasizes the tough times within the Revolutionary War. I also like how this book talks about the spy work the United States did on Britain. That was one of the ways the United States won the war. I also like how this book talks about how a good leader George Washington was, like how courageous and brave he was. He was also very confident.

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story: Wallace, Sandra Neil,  Wallace, Rich: 9781629794280: Amazon.com: Books

The reason I chose this book is because I wanted to learn more about the North Pole expeditions. One of the main reasons I like this book is because it gives detail about the crew members’ lives aboard the expedition and how they chose to take the expedition. I like this book because it puts into perspective how we didn’t know what was at the top of our planet and this expedition helps the world learn more about the north pole. It’s amazing how brave these men were because the food they ate was disgusting. It was so cold that all the sled dogs died. When you think about it today the only ships that really go up to the north pole are those big icebreakers that have thick metal hulls and these guys were doing it in a wooden boat. 

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Lincoln's Grave Robbers: Sheinkin, Steve: 9780545405720: Amazon.com: Books

No one talks about how Lincoln’s grave was robbed, and I feel that there should be more known about it. I like how it shows the backstory to the grave robbers and why they’re robbing the grave. I like how they introduce the Secret Service because this was around the time that the Secret Service was first getting started and this was one of their big investigations. I like how this book makes the investigation intense like it’s coming down to the wire. 

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Amazon.com: Chasing Lincoln's Killer: 9780439903547: Swanson, James L.:  Books

I love the way the book keeps the chasing aspect through the whole book. I also like the way it feels the climax is going on the whole time in the book, like it never ends until the end. I find it so interesting how John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor and a “good guy” and was so friendly and everything, and how trusting society was back then, like how the president didn’t have very much security and how they just had a little dinky wood fence that would be in someone’s backyard but now there’s a huge metal fence.

The Great Fire by Jim Murphy

Another event that I’m fascinated about is the Chicago fire. It amazes me how Chicago was one of the most developing cities in the midwest and then all of a sudden it just turns into smoldering ashes. I like how the author uses first hand accounts to tell the story and the people that were in the event’s experience. Most of the books that I’ve read about tragic events usually don’t talk about how the city came back but in this book it talks about the people of Chicago and how they powered through. This book really shows how coming together can cause things to get better. 

Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography by Louise Borden

Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography: Borden, Louise: 9781629796741:  Amazon.com: Books

This is probably one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. I’m kinda biased because I love to ski, and I love the snow in general. I have always been into special ops military books and the idea that not many people know about what’s going on. This book is all of that. I like how the book emphasizes the secret operations in the alps and how they were behind enemy lines. Around this time the invention of camouflage was just starting to be used in the military. They used the camouflage in the alps and within their platoon. 

Black and White Airmen: Their True History by John Fleischman

Black And White Airmen: Their True History: Fleischman, John:  9780618562978: Amazon.com: Books

I like how in some of the most racist times in our country’s history the airmen came together to fight in the war. I like how we came together as a country and fought in Europe, for people’s freedom. Its pretty amazing how brave the airmen were because they were practically flying a tin can at 15,000 ft. I like how this book follows both of the characters’ paths in their life and when they meet. 

All Quiet on the Western Front (All Quiet on the Western Front/The Road Back #1) by Erich Maria Remarque

Amazon.com: All Quiet on the Western Front: A Novel: 9780449213940: Erich  Maria Remarque, A W. Wheen: Books

There aren’t very many books I’ve seen that are about the German school boys POV. I think this book is eye opening for me but the things described in this book are unbelievable. These boys go into WWI and see all of the terrible things that are happening. I think if you want to see more of the gorey side of WWI this is the book for you. One of the reasons I chose this book is because I think WWI needs to be more talked about. 

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson: Kennedy, Kostya: 9781250274045:  Amazon.com: Books

I am a baseball fan, and this book is a biography about Jackie Robinson and how he overcame the challenge of African American people not being allowed to play baseball. I like how this book emphasizes his legacy even after his death in 1972. I also like how this book included the death threats and letters written to him about how if he played baseball bad things would happen.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

This is one of my favorite books of all time. This book includes all the little details about the people that got its illness and the super disgusting practices they used at the time. I like how the author uses first hand accounts to portray the yellow fever. I wish we would talk more about the yellow fever in school and just in general as it is one of the most important events in our history that is just forgotten.


Thank you so much to my student voices today and for sharing their favorite reads!

Guest Review: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca, Illustrated by Daniel Rieley

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Guest Reviewer: Bree, UCF Elementary Education Student

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Author: Julia Finley Mosca
Illustrator: Daniel Rieley
Published March 5th, 2017 by The Innovation Press

Summary: Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

About the Author: Julia Finley Mosca is a copywriter and former journalist who spent more than a decade in Hollywood crafting messages for money. After working with such recognizable brands as Entertainment Tonight, Yahoo!, American Greetings, and JibJab, she landed her most rewarding job yet―mom to one ferociously curious and spunky little girl. The Amazing Scientists series marks Mosca’s debut into the magical world of children’s books.

Review: A picture-book biography in verse introduces Dr. Temple Grandin, a major spokesperson for autism spectrum disorder.

The author employs easy, accessible language and simple rhyme to describe Grandin’s life, including her original misdiagnosis, the doctors’ advice to “send her away,” her mother’s advocacy, her learning to speak, the “new” diagnosis of autism, frustration with her classmates, her first visit to her aunt’s farm that led to her career as an animal specialist, her understanding of her talents, and the importance of her visual memory. The narrative goes on to describe her high school teacher’s support of her interest in science, her first invention (the “squeeze machine,” a self-calming device based on close-quartered enclosures for livestock), her work in treating cattle humanely, her efforts within the autism community, and the public recognition of her unique talents. The author speaks directly and inclusively: “Being DIFFERENT might just / be what makes you so NEAT!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures  is a great mentor text for teaching students important reading comprehension strategies, writing skills, and grammar concepts. All of our book companions come with activities that relate to these subject areas. Check out just some of the skills included in our book companion!

  • Practice identifying character traits that describe Temple.
  • Practice making personal connections to the book.
  • Integrate expository writing by asking students to write explanations for events that happened in the book.
  • Allow students to get creative by writing their own version of the book.
  • Use examples from the book to teach a lesson on action verbs and adjectives.
  • Teach a lesson on contractions.
  • Have a class discussion about diversity.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How will you use your talents and uniqueness to make the world better?
  • What do you think it was like to be the victim of teasing for being herself in school?
  • What skills would you like to develop that you are already interested in or good at?
  • What did you learn from The Girl Who Thought in Pictures or how did she inspire you?

Flagged Passages: 

“So here is the lesson: Feeling odd or off beat? Being DIFFERENT might just be what makes you so NEAT! Don’t let doubt hold you back, not one minute more. Stand tall, and like Temple… March right through that door!”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Inclusion, Diversity, and above all autism and neurodiversity!

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Bree, for your review!

Guest Review: All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimental, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali

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Guest Reviewer: Alicia, UCF Elementary Education Student

All the Way to the Top
Author: Annette Bay Pimental
Foreword by Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins
Illustrator: Nabi H. Ali
Published March 10th, 2020 by Sourcebooks Explore

Summary: This is the story of a little girl who just wanted to go, even when others tried to stop her.

Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change―even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. Like going to school, or eating lunch in the cafeteria.

Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! Then the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress. And to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them.

And, without her wheelchair, she climbed.

ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!

Praise: 

“A powerful, empowering story!” – Washington Parent

“A necessary testament to the power of children’s voices.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Clear, accessible prose accompanied by Ali’s creamily textured digital illustrations…a jumping-off point for conversations.” –Publishers Weekly

“Pimentel’s compelling, present-tense narrative gives the story great immediacy, helping children connect with Jennifer’s reactions to physical barriers and social injustice…Still an activist, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins offers a thought-provoking foreword to this inspiring picture book.” –Booklist

“Pimentel offers a great look at a young activist creating change and a better understanding of the importance of the ADA.” –School Library Journal

About the Creators: 

Annette Bay Pimentel has published two picture book biographies: Mountain Chef (Charlesbridge, 2016) about a Chinese American who helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service which won the Carter G. Woodson Award, and Girl, Running (Nancy Paulson, 2018) about the first female to run the Boston Marathon, which was a JLG pick and received a starred review.

​Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins joined the disability rights movement at the age of six and has been a passionate advocate ever since. In 1990, she received the Americans With Disabilities Act Award. She earned her B.S. in Family and Human Development. She really wants to help children with disabilities.She lives in Colorado with her mother , and her service dog Mya.

​Nabi H. Ali is an illustrator of Tamil descent based in Orange County, California. He really likes to be part of things that bring inclusivity into art and media. His hobbies include painting, researching South Asian culture, and writing poetry.

Review: This story is about a young girl named Jennifer. She suffers from Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair. The story follows her as she first struggles to go around town when the sidewalks don’t have ramps, to get into the school where there is only stairs, and the teachers say she can’t come in–all because she is in a wheelchair. She learns to find her voice and works in groups to fight for equality. She goes to multiple protests around the states to fight for the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). When Congress denies the act, there is a rally in Washington, D.C. and because of the stairs, protestors in wheelchairs could get into the House; the older protesters left their chairs and climbed the stairs. When Jennifer tried, she was told she was too young and couldn’t do it. This did not stop her; she did it anyway. The bill was passed soon after.

I love this book so much as it shows students that everyone can do anything, and it’s something that they all should read about everyone regardless of how they look. One of my favorite things is that this book is based on a true story and in the back of the book it goes into more details as to why the ADA was such an important thing. It also has a timeline and milestones for legislation for those with disabilities.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be fantastic to use in the classroom in multiple ways:

Of course you can use it with history. This will teach students about important events with in our countries history. Teach them about how much the ADA changed the lives of many people.

This will also be used to teach students about inclusion and diversity and they are important tools to have in life. Making sure everyone feels included is not only good it’s important.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did Jennifer’s family let her protest?
  • Why was the ADA so important for Jennifer and her family?
  • How does the adaptation of the ADA impact the lives of those that needed it?
  • Why do you feel Jennifer wanted to climb the steps?
  • Why did it take them climbing the steps to actually pass the ADA?
  • How does the Illustrations paint the picture of how Jennifer struggled to feel included?
  • What is one thing you can do to make sure inclusion is part of your life?

Flagged Passages: 

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Alicia, for your 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!**

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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Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson by Sandra Nickel, Illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia

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Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson
Author: Sandra Nickel
Illustrator: Helena Perez Garcia
Published March 8, 2022 by Abrams

Summary: An inspiring picture book about the meteorologist whose discoveries helped us understand how weather works. When Joanne Simpson (1923-2010) was a girl, she sailed her boat beneath the puffy white clouds of Cape Cod. As a pilot, she flew her plane so high, its wings almost touched them. And when World War II began and Joanne moved to the University of Chicago, a professor asked her to teach Air Force officers about those very clouds and the weather-changing winds.

As soon as the war ended, Joanne decided to seriously study the clouds she had grown to love so much. Her professors laughed. They told her to go home. They told her she was no longer needed. They told her, “No woman ever got a doctorate in meteorology. And no woman ever will.”

But Joanne was stubborn. She sold her boat. She flew her last flight. She saved her money so that she could study clouds. She worked so hard and discovered so much that—despite what the professors said—she received a doctorate in meteorology. She was the first woman in the world to do so.

Breaking Through the Clouds tells the story of a trailblazing scientist whose discoveries about clouds and how they work changed everything we know about weather today.

Praise: “An energetic, compassionate examination of a determined researcher who left her mark on the field of atmospheric sciences.” — Publishers Weekly

About the Author: Sandra Nickel says that story ideas are everywhere; you just have to reach out and grab them.  She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, was awarded a Christopher Award and was a Golden Kite Award finalist. Sandra lives in Chexbres, Switzerland, where she blogs about children’s book writers and illustrators at whatwason.com. To learn more, visit https://sandranickel.com/.

Twitter:  @senickel
Facebook: @sandranickelbooks
Instagram: @sandranickelbooks

Review: I love learning about the women in our history that have broken through barriers to make it so we are where we are today with women’s rights, and there are so many and so many wonderful stories to tell–I am always so happy when I find a new one, and this one is a gem! Joanne Simpson is so kick butt! She not only broke barriers, she smashed them, jumped in a plane, and then broke through the clouds (hence the title!). It was so wonderful learning about her and how she stuck it to the men and showed what a phenomenal person she was.

Nickel does a fantastic job balancing Simpson’s story as a meteorologist with her story of the sexism she faced during her education and working. We learn about how she used the traits that others saw as negative, like stubbornness and focus, to take the world by storm. Along with the colorful, page-filling illustrations, this book is beautiful, educational, and inspiring.

Curriculum Guide with Activities and Discussion Questions:

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Picture book biographies, especially about science, weather, or women’s history

Recommended For: 

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

Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Loveis Wise

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Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas
Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrator: Loveis Wise
Published February 22, 2022 by HarperCollins

Summary: Celebrate the life-changing power of art in this inspiring and stunningly illustrated picture book biography of American artist Alma Thomas.

Meet an incredible woman who broke down barriers throughout her whole life and is now known as one of the most preeminent painters of the 20th century. Told from the point of view of young Alma Thomas, readers can follow along as she grows into her discovery of the life-changing power of art.

As a child in Georgia, Alma Thomas loved to spend time outside, soaking up the colors around her. And her parents filled their home with color and creativity despite the racial injustices they faced. After the family moved to Washington DC, Alma shared her passion for art by teaching children. When she was almost seventy years old, she focused on her own artwork, inspired by nature and space travel.

In this celebration of art and the power of imagination, Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise tell the incredible true story of Alma Thomas, the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York City and to have her work chosen for the White House collection. With her bold and vibrant abstract paintings, Alma set the world ablaze with color.

Ablaze with Color includes extensive backmatter with photos, an author’s and illustrator’s note, a timeline, and a list of sources and resources, which will be a great tool for parents, educators, and librarians. Perfect for Women’s History Month and Black History Month units.

Praise: 

* “This charming biography…is a must for art and biography shelves.” — Booklist (STARRED review)

* “Superb picture-book biography… Harvey’s poetic text is imagistic and deftly paced; Wise’s digital artwork is boldly, fittingly colorful.” — Horn Book (STARRED review)

* “An inspiring introduction for artists and appreciators” — School Library Journal (STARRED review)

About the Creators: 

Jeanne Walker Harvey has had many jobs, ranging from working as a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney for high-tech companies to a writer of magazine articles to a teacher of Language Arts and writing workshops at a public middle school. She has also been a longtime docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Just like Alma Thomas, Jeanne believes that art brings us joy. Her other picture books include Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines and My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey. Jeanne studied literature and psychology at Stanford University. She lives in Northern California. Visit her online at www.jeanneharvey.com.

Twitter: @JeanneWHarvey
Pinterest: @JeanneWalkerHarvey

Loveis Wise is a nonbinary illustrator and designer from Washington, DC, now based in Los Angeles. They have collaborated and imagined with clients such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, HarperCollins, Google, Disney Hyperion, and Adobe, to name a few. Their work often speaks to themes of joy, mindfulness, and liberation. For more information visit: loveiswise.com.

Instagram: @loveiswiseillu

Review: I am a sucker for amazing picture book biographies, anything celebrating women, and any book sharing the love of art, so this book has my heart. Alma Thomas is a phenomenal artist, and I didn’t know about her life until reading Ablaze with Color. I am so glad that Jeanne Walker Harvey told us Alma’s story, and her narrative is so lyrical and beautifully written. Combined with Wise’s vibrant and Thomas-inspired artwork, the book packs into it not only the story of Thomas as an artist, but also her story of resilience against the inequity and racism she faced on her way to becoming a world-renowned artist and the first Black woman to be hung in the White House. A stellar book!

Educators’ Guide: 

Flagged Passages: 

View the below spreads, a book trailer, and more at https://www.jeanneharvey.com/ablaze-with-color.

Read This If You Love: Art, Picture Book Biographies

Recommended For: 

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