Discussion Guide for The Lilies by Quinn Diacon-Furtado

Share

The Lilies
Author: Quinn Diacon-Furtado
Published: April 30th, 2024 by HarperTeen

Summary: One of Us Is Lying meets A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder in this don’t-dare-to-look-away dark academia thriller that explores how secrets can rot an institution–and the people who uphold it–from the inside out.

Everyone wants to be a Lily.

At Archwell Academy, it’s the ticket to a successful future. But like every secret society, there is something much darker beneath the surface … sometimes girls disappear.

When four Archwell students find themselves trapped in a time loop, they must relive their worst memories, untangling the Lilies’ moldering roots and unraveling the secrets at the core of their school … before they destroy their futures forever.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the discussion guide I created for Cake Creative:

You can also access the educators’ guide here.

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall

Kellee Signature

Else B. in the Sea: The Woman Who Painted the Wonders of the Deep by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Melodie Stacey

Share

Else B. in the Sea: The Woman Who Painted the Wonders of the Deep
Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrator: Melodie Stacey
Published June 4th, 2024 by Cameron Kids

Summary: Else B. in the Sea is a poetic picture book biography about a daring and pioneering woman artist that combines themes of art and science from author Jeanne Walker Harvey and illustrator Melodie Stacey.

Else Bostelmann donned a red swimsuit and a copper diving helmet and, with paints and brushes in hand, descended into the choppy turquoise sea off the coast of Bermuda. It was 1930, and few had ventured deep into the sea before. She discovered a fairyland six fathoms below the surface—fantastic coral castles, glittering sunbeams, swaying sea plumes, and slender purple sea fans. And fish! Flashy silverfish, puckering blue parrotfish, iridescent jellyfish.

Else painted under the sea! She painted what she saw with her own eyes, and, back on land, she painted the never-before-seen deep-sea creatures described by world-renowned scientist William Beebe on his momentous 1930s bathysphere expeditions for the New York Zoological Society’s Department of Tropical Research. It was a daring and glamorous adventure and a dream come true for Else B., who shared this new, unfathomable world with humankind.

About the Creators: 

Jeanne Walker Harvey is the author of many picture books, including Boats on the Bay, as well as the well-received picture book biographies Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas (winner of the 2022 Northern California Book Awards – Children’s Literature Younger Readers and Jane Addams Children’s Book Award finalist), Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, and Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines (a NSTA Best STEM Book of the Year). She lives in Sonoma, California. For free downloadable activities and more, visit her website,  jeanneharvey.com.

Melodie Stacey is a fine artist and illustrator whose work can be found in the picture book Beautiful Useful Things: What William Morris Made. She lives in Brighton, UK.

Instagram
Jeanne Walker Harvey: @jeannewharvey
Melodie Stacey: @melodiestacey
Cameron Kids/ABRAMS Kids: @cameron_kids and @abramskids
Blue Slip Media: @blue_slip_media

Twitter/X
Jeanne Walker Harvey: @JeanneWHarvey
Melodie Stacey: @Melodiestacey
Cameron Kids/ABRAMS Kids: @abramskids
Blue Slip Media: @blueslipper & @barbfisch

Pinterest
Jeanne Walker Harvey: @JeanneWalkerHarvey

Review: I love learning about new people (to me) from history that expand my knowledge of the world. Else is such a cool character and to know she is a real person makes it even more intriguing and amazing. Else is definitely a person whose story should have already been told, and I am so glad that Harvey and Stacey are telling it now.

Like Harvey has done in all of her picture book biographies that I’ve read by her, she expertly mixes narrative and nonfiction to ensure the book not only teaches the reader about the person but also entertains and keeps attention along the way. This is so important to ensure that readers will gravitate towards hearing this story with a side effect of learning about an amazing person, in this case Else.

Stacey’s illustrations take Harvey’s words and make them sing off the page with illustrations that range from full page to small additions, keeping the eyes from ever wanting to stop exploring the art, just like Else explored the sea.

Tools for Navigation: There is so much to do in conjunction with this book in the classroom! After reading the book aloud, I would then make sure to read the author’s note and dive deeper into:

  • Deep sea creatures and what has changed in our knowledge of them since Else’s time.
  • How color changes when light is removed, including the underwater color spectrums.
  • Why women scientists were excluded normally during Else’s time and how including them affected how others viewed the expeditions that Else was part of.
  • How paint and salt water interact and trying to paint under water!
  • Other woman who took first steps that need to have their story told.
  • The science behind bioluminescence.
  • The math of the ocean.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do you think Else’s childhood and roadblocks early in her life affect her?
  • What does Else’s idea to practice painting the “ocean firsthand” and “descending as far as she could by herself” tell you about the type of person Else was? How about her ability to learn to paint underwater?
  • How has scuba gear changed over time?
  • Why did William Beebe have to kill animals to allow them to be studied/painted? What are your thoughts on this?
  • How did Else’s paintings of Beebe’s discoveries give “people a way to escape their worries”?
  • Why do you think Harvey wanted to tell Else’s story?

Flagged Spreads: 

Read This If You Love: Picture book biographies, Science, Ocean creatures

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall  

Signature

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

Educators’ Guide for Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Share

Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year
Author: Andrea Beaty
Illustrator: David Roberts
Published: November 7, 2023 by Abrams

Summary: Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year is a moving story starring the Questioneers’ teacher that’s all about kindness, learning to face your fears, and the profound difference that one brilliant educator can make in a child’s life, from author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts, the #1 New York Times bestselling creators of Aaron Slater, Illustrator and Ada Twist, Scientist !

Lila Greer is full of worries. Even the smallest things—from cabbages to cardboard—fill her with dread and what-if s. So when her family makes a big change—moving to a new town—the worry and what-if s only grow. What if things go wrong? What if no one likes her?

At first, Lila feels right to be worried. In her new home, everything is strange. The new kids, the new smells. Lila feels alone and invisible. But there’s one person who sees Lila’s teacher, Ms. Kern. Through some creativity, blackboard erasers, and—most of all—kindness, Ms. Kern finds a way to make Lila feel welcome and open to new experiences. A lesson that will resonate with Lila long after second grade.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the educators’ guide I created for Abrams for Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year:

You can also access the educators’ guide here.

You can learn more about Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year on Abrams’s page.

Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall

Kellee Signature

The Dinosaur in the Garden by Deb Pilutti

Share

The Dinosaur in the Garden
Author & Illustrator: Deb Pilutti
Published May 21st, 2024 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Summary: After waiting millions of years, a T Rex thinks a curious girl might just find the clues he left behind, making his story part of hers.

It’s been millions of years since this dinosaur has been so excited. There’s a girl—a curious girl—exploring the land right where he used to live!

Will she be the one to find the clues he left millions of years ago?

Could she be the one to bring his story back to life?!

This lyrical picture book captures the vastness of geologic time while also showing how close the traces of the distant past can be—as long as we are curious enough to look.

Praise: “The author of 2020’s clever and engaging Old Rock (Is Not Boring) tackles the theme of geologic time from another angle. . . [The book] ends with an enticing invitation to join in dinosaur research and study. . . An engaging suggestion that hints of the past are there for the finding, if we will but look.” —Kirkus

About the Author: Deb Pilutti wrote and illustrated Old Rock (is not boring)Ten Rules of Being a SuperheroBear and Squirrel Are Friends, and The Secrets of Ninja School, and illustrated Idea Jar by Adam Lehrhaupt. Deb lives with her husband and their border collie, Wilson, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @dpilutti.

Review: Deb Pilutti, like she did in Old Rock, does a great job giving voice to things that may not usually be heard. I think we often hear from dinosaurs living in their own time, but not often do we hear from a dinosaur from the past; this is how the creator takes her book to the next level–this isn’t just another dino book! She also is great at creating really entertaining picture books with a scientific element, and although the messages of the book are clear, she does this without turning the book into a didactic narrative. Another really fun read by Deb Pilutti!

Tools for Navigation: This is a wonderful interdisciplinary text! It will make a great read aloud and will lend itself to amazing visual literacy analysis, but it also is a jumping off point for a lesson about dinosaurs!

First, I would use the book to have students look at different characteristics of the dinosaurs introduced and why the characteristics are what they are.

Second, I would have the students see if all of the dinos included are from the same time period and make a timeline of when they lived.

Third, I would change the conversation to talking about fossils and paleontology, utilizing some of the author’s notes in the back. (Also, it would be fun to look at if there are any fossils that have been found in your area!)

Fourth, I would would use our unnamed protagonist to start a conversation about what each student wants to be when they grow up (and maybe have them find a book connected to that career).

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does the creator show you in the images when the dinosaur is alive versus when it is not?
  • What other clues do you pick up in the images that aren’t in the words?
  • Which dinosaur in the book is your favorite?
  • How are the dinosaurs the same? Different?
  • How did the dinosaurs become extinct?
  • How did the fossil in her backyard influence our protagonist?

Flagged Spreads: 

Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs, science

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall 

Signature

**Thank you to Aubrey at Penguin Young Readers for providing a copy for review!**

Review with Educators’ Guide for The Incredible Octopus by Erin Spencer

Share

The Incredible Octopus: Meet the Eight-Armed Wonder of the Sea
Author: Erin Spencer
Published: April 16th, 2024 by Storey Publishing

Summary: Packed with mesmerizing undersea photography, this book invites kids to explore the fascinating behavior and intelligence of this remarkable creature of the deep.

The Incredible Octopus combines amazing photos with in-depth facts to get kids aged 7 and up excited about octopuses and the underwater world in which they live. Readers are introduced to the fascinating biology of the octopus, from its 3 hearts and 9 brains to suction cups and how they work, and learn all about what it’s like to be an octopus: how they use camouflage and ink, what they eat, and how they reproduce (nests and eggs!). The book also explores the  intelligence and playfulness of this animal—and, of course, the famous stories of octopuses who escaped their tanks. Readers will meet 13 different species of octopuses and find out what makes them unique, from the most venomous and best disguised to the deepest and coldest. They’ll also get a glimpse into exciting octopus research, technology inspired by octopuses, and ways to help conserve our oceans.

About the Author: Erin Spencer is the author of The Incredible Octopus​ and The World of Coral Reefs. She is a marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer whose articles, photos, and videos of marine life have been featured in National Geographic, PBS, CBS Sunday Morning, and in publications of Ocean Conservancy. She is an avid public speaker and has presented to National Geographic, the World Bank, MCON, and TEDx, as well as many school groups. Originally from Maryland, she now lives in South Florida where she studies great hammerhead sharks and their prey for her PhD.

Review: The octopus is truly incredible, and this book is a fantastic introduction to everything about these amazing animals. The book really does touch on a little bit of everything you’d want to know about octopuses with a text structure that makes sense: going from the biology of the octopus to their life, specific examples, and people & octopuses. I also think the author was very smart with their writing as well–while much of it is traditional informational nonfiction, the author included narrative elements, text features, and interviews to make the reading interesting in a whole other way.

I learned so much about octopuses, and they really are fascinating. I was sitting at my son’s karate dojo while I read, and I kept sharing facts with my husband and friend because I just was blown away by so many things in the book. I think a nonfiction book making me want to share things is one of the greatest compliments you can give!

This nonfiction book is a great one to read from front to back but is also one that can be perused by your nonfiction skimmers.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy this curriculum guide from the publisher.

You can also access the educators’ guide here.

Flagged Spreads: 

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall

Kellee Signature

Educators’ Guide for Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon

Share

Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions
Author: Navdeep Singh Dhillon
Published: February 8th, 2022 by Dial Books

Summary: For fans of Sandhya Menon and Adam Silvera, a prom-night romantic-comedy romp about a Sikh teen’s search for love and identity

Sunny G’s brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. Decision number one was a big one: He stopped wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shaved his beard. He doesn’t look like a Sikh anymore. He doesn’t look like himself anymore. Even his cosplay doesn’t look right without his beard.

Sunny debuts his new look at prom, which he’s stuck going to alone. He’s skipping the big fandom party—the one where he’d normally be in full cosplay, up on stage playing bass with his band and his best friend, Ngozi—in favor of the Very Important Prom Experience. An experience that’s starting to look like a bust.

Enter Mindii Vang, a girl with a penchant for making rash decisions of her own, starting with stealing Sunny’s notebook. When Sunny chases after her, prom turns into an all-night adventure—a night full of rash, wonderful, romantic, stupid, life-changing decisions.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the educators’ guide I created for Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions:

You can also access the educators’ guide here.

You can learn more about Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions, including a play list!, on the author’s webpage.

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall

Kellee Signature

The Mystery of Locked Rooms by Lindsay Currie

Share

The Mystery of Locked Rooms
Author: Lindsay Currie
Published April 2nd, 2024 by Sourcebooks Young Readers

Summary: Crack the codes. Find the treasure. Escape the house.

From the acclaimed author of Scritch Scratch and What Lives in the Woods comes a action-packed adventure novel about three friends who team up to find a hidden treasure in an abandoned 1950’s funhouse. Twelve-year-old Sarah Greene wants nothing more from her seventh-grade year than to beat the hardest escape room left in her town with her best friends, West, and Hannah. But when a foreclosure notice shows up on Sarah’s front door, everything changes. Since her father became ill two years ago, things have been bad, but not lose your house bad…until now.  Sarah feels helpless until the day Hannah mentions a treasure rumored to be hidden in the walls of an abandoned funhouse.

According to legend, Hans, Stefan, and Karl Stein were orphaned at eight years old and lived with different families until they were able to reunite as adults. Their dream was to build the most epic funhouse in existence. They wanted their experience to be more than mirror mazes and optical illusions, so they not only created elaborate riddles and secret passages, but they also claimed to have hidden a treasure inside the funhouse.

Once in, Sarah, West, and Hannah realize the house is unlike any escape room they’ve attempted. There are challenges, yes, but they feel personal. Like the triplets knew who would get in. It seems impossible, but so does everything about the house. As soon as they’re in she immediately worries that attempting the funhouse is a bad idea but Sarah has no choice but to continue, since her future is at stake.

It’s not all action-adventure—the story also has a lot of heart. Foreclosure is looming for Sarah’s family home, due to the chronic health challenges faced by her father and the strain that has placed on family finances. This is the catalyst for Sarah’s quest to find the rumored Triplet Treasure. Kirkus praised this as a “moving metaphor… Sarah’s enthusiasm for escape rooms becomes a means of tackling the unsolvable puzzle that has left her parent confined to his own escapable room” and goes on to say, “this topic is treated with a gentle touch.”

Praise: 

“A riddling, sporting adventure and a story of true friendship.” — Kirkus Reviews

“In this page-turning thriller, Currie (It Found Us) builds suspense via high-stakes brain teasers in dark rooms and periods of isolation as the Deltas endeavor to solve the biggest, most dangerous series of escape rooms they’ve ever faced.” – Publishers Weekly

“This page-turner with touching character moments makes a fun read for anyone who enjoys puzzle solving, escape rooms, and books centered around the power of friendship.” – Booklist

“With highly likable characters, authentic dialogue, and tension-building action, this exciting and engaging story will grab the attention of many readers who will not put it down until the end. Highly recommended” — School Library Journal

About the Author: LINDSAY CURRIE lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and three kids. She loves coffee, Halloween, Disney World and things that go bump in the night! She is the author of Scritch Scratch, What Lives in the Woods, The Girl in White, and The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street. Visit her online at lindsaycurrie.com

Review: Do you like escape rooms? Or reading about people escaping escape rooms? Or puzzle books (think Lemencello or Vermeer or Liar’s Society)? Then this is the perfect book for you!

The suspense was palpable throughout the book. Each room the trio encountered was so tricky and because of a choice they make, it could truly be a life or death decision, which makes it hard to put the books down.

I am so impressed with Lindsay Currie’s creation of the puzzles and tricks throughout. They are all so unique and hard to figure out which makes the character’s journey the reader’s journey also.

Tools for Navigation: This book is going to be loved by middle graders who want to read The Inheritance Game or other books in that vein but aren’t ready yet. A perfect ladder before entering the YA realm of mysteries.

Oh! And Lindsay has made such a fun addition to her website all about The Deltas: https://www.lindsaycurrie.com/who-deltas (I’m also sure there will be an educators’ guide on there eventually).

Extension: This would be a great opportunity for students to make their own escape room!

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Mysteries, Escape rooms

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Signature

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