Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

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Living with Jackie Chan
Author: Jo Knowles
Expected Publication: September 10th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Summary: After fathering a baby, a teenager moves in with his karate-loving uncle and tries to come to terms with his guilt — and find a way to forgive.

This isn’t how Josh expected to spend senior year. He thought he’d be hanging out with his best friends, Dave and Caleb, driving around, partying, just like always. But here he is, miles from home — new school, new life, living with his Jackie-Chan-obsessed uncle, Larry, and trying to forget. But Josh can’t forget. So many things bring back memories of last year and the night that changed everything. Every day the pain, the shame, and the just not knowing are never far from his thoughts. Why is he such a loser? How could he have done what he did? He finds some moments of peace when he practices karate with Stella, the girl upstairs and his one real friend. As they move together through the katas, Josh feels connected in a way he has never felt before. He wonders if they could be more than friends, but Stella’s jealous boyfriend will make sure that doesn’t happen. And maybe it doesn’t matter. If Stella knew the truth, would she still think he was a True Karate Man? Readers first met Josh in Jumping Off Swings which told the story of four high school students and how one pregnancy changed all of their lives. In this companion book, they follow Josh as he tries to come to terms with what happened, and find a way to forgive.

Ricki’s Review: Jumping off Swings is a favorite in my classroom, so I was very excited to read this companion text. I always wondered what happened to Josh, and this novel shows the other side of the story. In many ways, Jo Knowles makes this story unpredictable for readers. When Josh meets Stella, the reader anticipates this novel will progress similarly to other novels with a budding romance. But instead, the two characters develop a deep, meaningful friendship that feels much more important than a love connection. Stella’s mother neglects her, and she submits to her boyfriend’s emotional abuse. In a way, she needs healing just as badly as Josh does. Larry, at first, seems to be a minor character with his goofy grin and karate moves, but as the story progresses, his depth of character is apparent. He isn’t a secondary character who plays second fiddle. Instead, he drives Josh’s healing process. There is so much to think about and discuss in regards to this text. It is beautifully written, and the characters will stick with me.

Kellee’s Review: I can’t say enough great things about this novel as it helped me out of my latest reading slump! I also think it is interesting because I read Jackie Chan before reading Jumping Off Swings, and I think that may have changed my perspective. It is interesting to think about how the different order of reading can change how you view a book. I went in with no expectations because I didn’t even know what had happened to Josh, so I think that the reveal of that secret was bigger for me than if I’d read it in the other order. Because I was naive about the past, I went in with no past feelings for Josh and really just hoping for the best for him. I found myself struggling with him and crying with him because his hurt was so deep. Though Stella and Larry enter his life, I didn’t think he’d let them in, but instead, they become a huge part in him healing. I really loved Living with Jackie Chan (as well as Jumping off Swings which I read immediately after finishing Jackie Chan). Jo Knowles always impresses me with her ability to tell tough stories in ways that makes it so that the reader can connect.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This is a great text to teach internal conflict. Josh has extremely low self-esteem and blames himself for his decisions. He goes through various stages of grief and tries a variety of coping mechanisms, many of which are unsuccessful. Teachers might have students research the stages of grief and various coping mechanisms that can be used with internal conflicts and relate them back to specific scenes from the text.

Discussion Questions: How does karate play an important role in Josh’s character development?; What stages of grief does Josh go through?; Do you think Josh is morally good? Do you think he should be judged for his mistakes?; Does Britt seem truly remorseful for the way he treats Stella? How does karate play a role in Stella’s character development?; By the end of the novel, is Josh a True Karate Man? Why or why not?

We Flagged: “A true karate man lifts those who have fallen, no matter how low. I can imagine him thinking this as he looks at me. That he’s going to e a true karate man and get me out of this mess. But he doesn’t know everything that happened. He doesn’t know what I did. He doesn’t know how low I’ve gone.”

Please note: The above quote is from the Advanced Reader E-Galley and did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Jumping off Swings by Jo Knowles, First Part Last by Angela Johnson, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

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**Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing us with the Advanced Reader Copies!**

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

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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!

salem

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Authors: Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrated by: Roger Roth
Published September 7th, 2004 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witnessed one of the saddest and most inexplicable chapters in American history. When a group of girls came down with a horrible, mysterious bout of illness, the town doctor looked in his medical books but failed to find a reasonable diagnosis. Pretty soon everyone in town was saying the same thing: The girls were ill because they were under a spell, the spell of witchcraft! And still, the question remains: Why did the hysteria occur? The townspeople had many things to worry about back then: smallpox, strife with the local Indians, a preacher demanding higher wages, and the division of land in the community. But did all of those problems justify a witch hunt?

Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to understand the hysteria! The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. This is an innovative history lesson that’s sure to keep kids thinking throughout.

Review: The mystery of the Salem Witch Trials is one that has haunted the United States for over 3oo years now and is one that students love to read about (and I do, too!). Most of my thoughts about this book are about how awesome this book is for the classroom. The Yolens seemed to have written it specifically for teachers to use.

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

Discussion Questions: What do you think happened in Salem? [Could be a wonderful debate or cooperative research presentation/paper in class. Have each students, after reading the different theories, decide which they believe is true. Then within their groups come up with evidence that supports the theory that they believe in.]

We Flagged: Narrative Nonfiction Section: One bitterly cold day in February, Betty and Abigail both fell ill, collapsing onto their small rope beds. They convulsed. They contorted. Their arms and legs jerked about. They shouted bizarre, unintelligible words. They crouched under chairs and cowered as if frightened. In other houses in Salem Village several of their friends began to act the same way.

Informational Nonfiction Section: The other sick girls in Salem village included Ann Punam Jr. (age 12), Mercy Lewis (age 19), Mary Walcott (age 16), Elizabeth Hubbard (age 17), and Mary Warren (age 20). Like Abigail, Elizabeth and Mercy were orphans; Mercy may have witnessed her parents being killed in an Indian attack three years earlier in Main. Mary Walcott had lost her mother when she was eight. Ann and Betty were daughters of landowners, but Marry Warren, Elizabeth, and Mercy were maidservants.

Vocabulary: Convulsed: shook violently, Contorted: Twisted into unusual shapes, Unintelligible: Impossible to understand” (p. 12-13)

Read This If You Loved: I Walk in Dread by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble, Witch Child by Celia Rees, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer and other nonfiction books about Salem

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Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (Kellee’s Review)

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Each Kindness
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Published October 2nd, 2012 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Summary: Each kindness makes the world a little better

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Maya is different–she wears hand-me-downs and plays with old-fashioned toys. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her gang, they reject her. Eventually, Maya plays alone, and then stops coming to school altogether. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.

This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down.

Review: When I read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson for the first time, it made me not only want to share it with everyone I knew, but also make me want to do something nice for others. This pushed me to think more carefully about how everything affects those around me. What I really love about this book is how it can be used in the classroom.

Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: Today, I wanted to share with you what I did with my classes when it came to sharing Each Kindness with them. First, I will say that it affected them as much as it affected me. After reading, we had a great conversation about how the book connected to their lives and what it meant to them. This conversation moved to how Chloe’s actions affected Maya including inferences of Maya’s feelings that were not shared in the book. The insight that my students had were very deep and I believe it made them look at some of the choices they make in their daily lives. We also discussed how Chloe could have changed things. How could she have made Maya feel welcome?  We made multi-flow maps showing the causes/effects of decisions.

Following this discussion, I had the students make an oath to do a kind act that day- something they normally wouldn’t do and recorded them on as a poster to share. Then the next day we shared the kindness we did. Only through discussions and books like this, that students will think more about their choices and how it affects those around them. Since this book read aloud and discussion, my students have brought up Each Kindness often and have made connections to their lives as well as other books. Each Kindness is a book that can make the world a better place, but only if it is shared.

Discussion Questions: What could Chloe have done differently to make Maya seem welcome?; How did Chloe’s (and her friend’s) behavior affect Maya?; What could you do differently to make someone feel kindness?

We Flagged: “This is what kindness does, Ms.Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”

Read This If You Loved: Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

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This is a great book to read during the first couple of weeks of school. 

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Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

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Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great
Author and Illustrator: Bob Shea
Published June 25th, 2013 by Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads Summary: Hi, I’m Goat.
Things were just fine around here until UNICORN showed up.
So what if he can fly?
Or make it rain cupcakes?
And turn stuff into gold?
Big deal.
I can do some cool stuff too, like…
Hey! What are you doing? Why are you opening the book?
He’s just going to tell you how great he is. Blah, blah, blah.
Go ahead. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Dopey Unicorn.

Review: Nothing can promote this book better than the book trailer – it is a must watch!

And the book trailer truly captures the essence of Unicorn. It is fun and colorful! However, the best part of the book is that after the fun story it does have a message that is so important and is a great read aloud for classrooms.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is a great one to read at the beginning of the school year. It promotes friendship and not judging others. It will be a great discussion starter about making new friends and starting the new year with a clean slate as well as self-esteem, being a good loser, and jealousy.

Discussion Questions: Is there someone you met that you judged at first and they turned out to be completely different?; Have you ever thought you were going to win something only to have someone beat you? How did this make you feel?

We Flagged: “Things are a lot different around here since that Unicorn moved in. I thought I was pretty cool when I rode my bike to school. Until that show-off went flying by!

Or the time I made marshmallow squares that almost came out right. He made it rain cupcakes!” (p. 4-8)

Check out Amazon’s Look Inside of Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great to see the illustrations.

Read This If You Loved: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci, Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems, Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown, Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

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Remember: Don’t judge a book by its flashy, colorful, magical cover.

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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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Into That Forest by Louis Nowra

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Title: Into That Forest
Author: Louis Nowra
Expected Publication: September 3th, 2013 by Amazon Children’s Publishing

Summary: Hannah and Becky are traveling down a river in Tasmania, Australia with Hannah’s parents when a storm erupts. Their boat overturns, and Hannah and Becky are left to survive in the wild. Two Tasmanian tigers are nearby, and because they’ve recently lost their pups, the tigers adopt Hannah and Becky as their own children. The two girls slowly adapt to the tigers’ ways, adopting their habits and forgetting words. It isn’t long before they become feral children, acting only as animals would.

Review: I have never read a book quite like this one. When I tried to compare it to other books I’ve read, I immediately thought of Endangered (Eliot Schrefer), which describes bonobos rather than tigers. With both books, I developed a fondness for the animals and their habits. Also, they both roped me into their beautiful settings and imagery. The only other books I could compare this to were those about abuse and neglect, as the children slowly developed animalistic ways, as abandoned children do.

The language is a bit peculiar at first, as Hannah is writing the story as an elderly woman, and she admits her language isn’t very good. I found myself slipping into the beautiful wording by the third or fourth page, and I didn’t find that it distracted my reading, and instead, it added to the experience. If I could change anything, I might alter the ending a bit, but perhaps, I am being too particular. I loved learning about the tigers’ lifestyle, and I was hooked to this survival story from the very first page. The sisterly bond that develops between Hannah and Becky is remarkable, and the story teaches themes of loyalty and companionship. Readers will be left pondering humanity and the differences between animals and humans.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Students may find the language to be a bit difficult to understand at first, so the teacher may need to provide some close readings at first. I suspect most students quickly adjust to the language and will no longer be distracted by the wording after the first few pages, and they will likely find that it adds a lot of color to the text. Teachers could have students select their favorite descriptions of the setting and imagery, as these elements are very well-developed and would serve as a great model for students. Upon completion of the text, students might research topics like Tasmania, feral children, and tigers. I was left wanting to learn more about the Tasmanian wilderness and lifestyle, and I imagine that students will also find this book to pique their curiosity.

Discussion Questions: What does it mean to be human? How do the girls lose their humanity?; What are some of the patterns of the tigers’ behavior that the girls adopt? Why is this necessary?; How do you imagine Hannah’s life today? How has this experience changed her?

We Flagged: “As the water boiled and foamed, we bounced along with me father, unable to steer the boat toward the shore. The river were so wild that all we could do were to cling on tight to the sides of the boat or each other as we were flung back and forward like puppets with no strings. The rain chucked down and we were soaked, so soggy it were like the rain were drilling through our skin into our marrow.”

“The more I looked at its black eyes, the more I seen kindness […] I knew it were saying to us, Come, I’ll take you home.”

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

Read This If You Loved: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick, Dog Boy by Eva Hornung, Second Nature by Alice Hoffman, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Children’s Publishing for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy!

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!

mona

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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