The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

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The Day the Crayons Quit
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Published June 27th, 2013 by Philomel

Goodreads Summary: Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me 

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

Review: Told through letters, this story of revolt reminds me a bit of Toy Story in that when I finished, I felt like I needed to get out my crayons and use each one and let them know they are loved. This is probably one of my favorite picture books this year (maybe in general) because it promotes so much that I believe in: art, imagination, and caring. This book would be a great addition to Dot Day activities (Sept. 15, 2013).

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Automatically, after reading, I saw that the best way to use this book in the classroom is to first use it to promote imagination. Too many kids aren’t told to use their imagination often any more.

Also, I would use the inanimate object point of views to have students participate in a RAFT writing activity which helps students think about different perspectives. RAFT stands for R: Role, A: Audience, F: Format, T: Topic. In the book, Drew Daywalt was writing as a crayon (R) to their owner (A) in a letter (F) about their use (T). The students could pick their own toy and write a letter to themselves about their use.  So many possibilities!

Discussion Questions: What toy do you use at home more than others? What would this toy say to you? What about a toy you don’t use?; Draw a picture of a zoo or ocean scene, but use your imagination when it comes to size, color, and placement.

We Flagged: “Dear Duncan, It has been great being your FAVORITE color this PAST year. And the year before. And the YEAR before THAT! I have really enjoyed all those oceans, lakes, rivers, raindrops, rain clouds, and clear skies. but the BAD NEWS is that I am so short and stubby, I can’t even see over the railing in the crayon box anymore! I need a break! Your very stubby friend, Blue Crayon”

Read This If You Loved: Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp, The Dot and Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds, Chalk by Bill Thomson, Art & Max by David Weisner, Not a… series by Antoinette Portis, Art by Patrick McDonnell, Perfect Square by Michael Hall, Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

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I think we should all get out some crayons today and color; enjoy your crayons, but make sure to use imagination and don’t show favoritism! 

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Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp

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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!

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Who Stole Mona Lisa?
Author: Ruthie Knapp
Illustrated by: Jill McElmurry
Published by September 1st, 2010 by Bloombury USA Childrens

Goodreads Summary: She has a legendary smile, and millions come to see her every day. Some say she is the most famous painting in the world. Who is she? Why, the Mona Lisa, of course! But did you know that she was once stolen from her wall at the Louvre? Who took her? Why? Where was she hidden? How was she found? Someone call the police!

Narrated by the lady of the enigmatic smile herself—and brought to life with gorgeous paintings that take the reader from da Vinci’s renaissance right up to the present day—this is a stylishly whimsical account of the glorious, wonderful, sometimes dangerous life of the best recognized painting of all time. Discover the secrets behind her mysterious smile, and hear for yourself the amazing true story of her kidnapping.

Review: How fascinating! First, let me tell you a little bit about my background. My father has a BA in Art History and an MFA in Museumology. These studies led him to become an executive director of art museums (he is currently directing the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, TN) thus impacting my life greatly. My entire childhood has been surrounded by the arts (my mother is a photographer as well). This has made art history something that I am very interested in which then made this book so fascinating for me and I believe it will be incredibly fascinating for all readers.

Mona Lisa is probably the most famous painting of all time, but many, including me, do not know her history. She is more of a mystery that we all are enthralled with than a piece of artwork that is talked about in history class; however, Ruthie Knapp’s book shows us that Mona Lisa’s history is a lot more interesting than we probably thought. And what I think makes this book one that will draw in all sorts of readers is the way she tells the story. The story is told from Mona Lisa’s point of view which makes it more of a caper, mystery type story instead of just informational nonfiction.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: As soon as I read this book, I saw how I could use it in the classroom. Seeing things from different points of view and perspectives is something that, as a teacher, I am always trying to help my students achieve. This book, since it is told from Mona Lisa’s point of view, is a perfect example of seeing a situation from a different point of view. After reading Who Stole Mona Lisa? I would start a discussion on how others in the story might have viewed the situation. How would the director of the Louvre have told the story differently? How about Vincenzo Perugia? Parisians? All of these people would have viewed the loss of Mona Lisa differently. These thoughts then could be transferred to anything. Maybe have students choose a historical event and think about it from a different person’s point of view: Babe Ruth’s huge “called” home run from the pitchers point of view, atomic bombings of Japan from a Japanese citizen’s point of view, an event in a book from a different character’s point of view, etc. The options are infinite.

Discussion Questions: How would the director of the Louvre have told the story differently? How about Vincenzo Perugia? Parisians?; Look up other stolen pieces of art. What happened to them?

We Flagged: “Leonardo da Vinci is the artist who painted me. It took him four years! Leonardo loved me. He looked at me while he ate past. He would not travel without me. He said I was his masterpiece. I was famous because Leonardo was famous. Fans jammed his studio to watch him paint.” (p. 10-11)

“The man with the mustache loved me too. He said I reminded him of someone special. He looked at me at every meal: over apples, eggs, and trout; cake and prunes and piglet snout. He looked at me on rainy days, on snowy days, and during summer squalls. He looked at me when he bathed. He looked at me when he shaved. He looked at me for TWO years. I was tired of the man with the mustache. I missed my wall. I missed people staring. I missed children looking sideways and upside down. (p. 24-25)

Read This If You Loved: Nonfiction books about Leonardo da Vinci or Mona Lisa, any books told from inanimate objects’ points of view, Seen Art?  by Jon Sciezska, Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork

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Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets by Kathleen Krull

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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!\

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Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets
Author: Kathleen Krull
Paintings by: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Published August 23rd, 2011 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: Sesame Street and The Muppet Show introduced Jim Henson’s Muppets to the world, making Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, and Big Bird household names. But even as a child in rural Mississippi, listening to the radio and putting on comedy shows for his family, Jim recognized the power of laughter to bring people together. On Sesame Street, Jim’s Muppets transformed children’s television by making learning fun for kids everywhere. A visionary, Jim always believed that puppets could reach a wider audience. In 1976, he proved it, drawing millions of family viewers to The Muppet Show. With his feature film The Dark Crystal and his Star Wars characters—including Yoda—Jim continued to push the boundaries of what was possible in puppetry until his death in 1990 at the age of 53.

Kathleen Krull, recipient of the Children’s Book Guild 2011 Non-fiction Award and many other accolades, once again does what she does so well—illuminating the life of an important figure in history, art, and culture with her informative but approachable writing style.

Review: I love Jim Henson. I remember when he passed away and I was devastated. I thought that Sesame Street was dead too, but Jim Henson’s influence is stronger than death. He has continued to live through his show, characters, and legacy. Kathleen Krull does an amazing job of sharing with the reader what made Jim Henson who he was and how he became (I believe) the most influential person when it came to children and children’s entertainment in the 20th century.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: Jim’s story is a great story to tell children, because like many successful creative persons, he was passionate and went for what he enjoyed, was good at, and was his passion. Jim also will be someone that many students will connect with as he was quiet, smart, not athletic, in school plays, a reader, a story teller, and fascinated with TV.  There are more students like Jim than unlike him and they need to hear about those like them who were successful.

This book would also be a great way to incorporate the CCSS’s diverse media and formats by showing clips of Jim Henson’s work as they are discussed in the book. For example, Jim got his very own TV show when he was in college, Sam and Friends, and clips of this show are on You Tube.

Discussion Questions: How has television changed since Jim Henson got his first TV?; How did not listening to what others thought influence Jim Henson’s decisions in life? If he listened to others, what would be different?

We Flagged: “Puppets struck some people as babyish, but Jim really wanted to go on TV. Now! He checked out books from the library and joined his high school’s puppet club as a way to learn how to make them.” (p. 16)

“He practiced for hours in front of a mirror, trying to get his puppets’ movements and expressions just right, voicing silly and witty thoughts he normally kept to himself.” (p. 18)

Read This If You Loved: Before You Leap by Kermit the Frog, Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub, On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan by Jane Yolen, Sandy’s Circus: A Story about Alexander Calder by Tanya Lee Stone

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Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!: Sidekicked by John David Anderson

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We are so happy to be hosting a stop on the Sidekicked blog tour! Walden Pond Press is such a fantastic publisher and we love being able to partake in the hype of their equally wonderful titles. Make sure that, after you stop by our tour stop, you visit the other stops: SIDEKICKED: The Superhero Blog Tour.

Today, for our blog tour stop, I (Kellee) will be reviewing Sidekicked and we’ll also be hosting a giveaway!

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Sidekicked
Author: John David Anderson
Published June 25th, 2013 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: Andrew Bean was born with amazing abilities to sense things (hear, see, taste, touch and smell) better than anyone else on the planet. No wonder that he was recruited to be part of H.E.R.O. program at the middle school: an extracurricular “club” to prep students with super-powers to become the city’s superhero’s sidekicks.  Andrew, along with five other extraordinary middle schoolers including Andrew’s best friend Jenna, join Mr. Martin three times a week to work on their powers and to prepare to be the best sidekick possible. Andrew’s only problem is that his superhero is MIA not even showing up to save him when he is hanging over a pool of acid. However, Andrew’s problem seems like nothing when supervillains escape from high security prison and begin rampaging their town–throwing the sidekicks right in the middle of a super-big problem.

My Review: What a super fun book! I love the concept of H.E.R.O. and how starting in middle school sidekicks are trained to be help to their superhero–talk about career track! This concepts lends to a great story because not only do you have the sidekicks/superhero aspect of the story, but you also are throwing these kids in the middle of middle school- major drama!

Right in the middle of this drama and action is Andrew. What a funny kid! I love his voice and his story. He is a perfect protagonist for this novel (I cannot even imagine the story being told from any of the other sidekick’s POV). He is a bit nerdy, a sweet boy, pretty sarcastic, friends with the the star sidekick, and has some seriously awesome powers (even if they aren’t physical). The nerdy/sweet/sarcastic part gives us a pretty snarky, fun narrator that many people will connect with. Being friends with the star sidekick gives us some insight into her life which is pretty darn exciting and also adds the strong female and a tiny bit of romance. Finally, his type of superpowers lends to the story being told because the whole book is about Andrew figuring out his spot in the mess around him and that includes empowering his superpowers.

OH, and just you wait for the last quarter. Holy plot twist Batman! I was very shocked about part of what transpires at the end and I think you and our students will be as well.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is definitely for all middle school classroom libraries! It will find great readership from all types of readers: Alex Rider fans to action/adventure fans to powerful female character fans. All you need to booktalk it, get it into a couple of students’ hands, and it will never be on the shelf. The book would also be great as a read aloud because it is fun and would lend to some great predictions and some discussions about right vs. wrong as well as the choices the characters make. It has humor and action enough to draw in an entire class!

Discussion Questions: Which of the sidekicks’ superpowers would you rather have? Why?; Which of the superheroes would you rather be a sidekick for?; Some superheroes think that they do not need a sidekick- what are your feelings? Is 2 better than 1?; Jenna asks (in Ch. 16) a pretty tough question- what makes someone a good person? After reading Ch. 16, discuss this question.

We Flagged: “It’s Tuesday. It’s Tuesday and I’m in costume, but just barely. That is to say that I have my mask and outfit on, so nobody knows who I am. Or almost nobody at least. Which pretty much sums up my life as a whole. It’s Tuesday, which means it is sloppy joe day in the cafeteria, which is bad enough, but that’s not the worth thing that can happen to you. It’s Tuesday- middle of September, only a month into the new school year- and I’m hovering over Justicia community poo, which two weeks ago was still filled with a dozen drowning bugs and the farewell tinkle from the last toddler to be dragged streaming out of it. Today it is filled with acid. Seriously. Acid.” (p. 9)

Read This If You Love: Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series by William Boniface, Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy series by David Steinberg, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Mal and Chad series by Stephen McCranie

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I know you all want to read this book- it is so good!

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

Tom T’s Hat Rack by Michele Spry

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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

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