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 Princess Protection Program by Alex London

Share

The Princess Protection Program
Author: Alex London
Published February 13th, 2024 by Greenwillow Books

Summary: Every fairy tale ends with its characters living happily ever after, right? A valiant prince quests long and hard to reach the castle where the sleeping princess lies. And with a kiss, he will awaken her.

But what if the princess does NOT think a kiss from a stranger is a very pleasant way to wake up? Yuck!

When Rosamund flees her prince, a Door of Opportunity opens, and she steps through to the Home Educational Academy (the HEA for short). Rosamund has found the Princess Protection Program, where fugitive fairy tale princesses escape unwanted affections, untimely ends, and all the other perils of their stories.

But as Rosamund adjusts to life in the real world and makes her first real friends (Rana, who left her story after an incident with a frog; Sirena, a former mermaid; Cindy and Charlie, who didn’t want to get married after just one dance; and others), she has more and more questions. Does anyone ever graduate from the HEA? Why doesn’t anyone seem to remember former students? Is the kindly fairy headmistress all she appears to be? Is anyone? And the most important question of all: Can Rosamund change her story?

Acclaimed and bestselling author Alex London weaves together several beloved fairy tales in this fast-paced, funny, and slyly subversive adventure about finding your place in the world and taking control of your own story. The daring escapes, sinister monsters, familiar friends, and surprise twists will keep even reluctant readers glued to the pages. The Princess Protection Program is for fans of the Never Afters and the Descendants series, The School for Good and Evil, and the Fairly True.

About the Author: Alex London is the acclaimed author of more than thirty books for children and teens. His middle grade novels include The Princess Protection Program, Search & Rescue, Dog Tags, and two titles in the 39 Clues series. For young adults, he’s the author of the cyberpunk duology Proxy and the epic fantasy series Black Wings Beating, which were both named to numerous best-of-the-year lists. He has been a journalist and human rights researcher reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, a young adult librarian with the New York Public Library, and a snorkel salesman. He lives with his husband, daughter, and hound dog in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit him at calexanderlondon.com.

Instagram:
Blue Slip Media: @blue_slip_media
Greenwillow/Harper: @harperkids
Alex London: alexander_london

Facebook:
Blue Slip Media: @blue-slip-media
Greenwillow/Harper: HarperKidsBooks

Twitter/X:
Blue Slip Media: @blueslipper & @barbfisch
Greenwillow/Harper: HarperKids
Alex London: @ca_london

Review: I am such a fan of twists on fairy tales, especially when they are unique and like none I’ve read before, and The Princess Protection Program fits this! The idea of princesses being able to leave to our world and automatically go to a school with a fairy godmother protecting them from monsters that are trying to eat them to return to their tales is the perfect new twist for fairy tales. I loved getting to know all of the princesses (and Charlie!) and learning about everything with them. The characters are what make the beginning of the book, but then the twist of the story happens and it breaks the plot open and also adds in so much chaos at the end of the book that the end just speeds by as the conclusion nears. Fans of the books I listed below will definitely love this one!

Tools for Navigation: This book is filled with allusions and allegory; there is so much to unpack! Rosamund’s journey also fits the Hero’s Journey!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why would the princesses want to leave their story?
  • Which princess do you think had the worst fate in their story?
  • What other princesses/characters can you think of that might have wanted to leave their story if they had a chance?
  • Why do the professors not like all of Rosamund’s questions?
  • Were any of the princesses different than what you expected reading their fairy tales?
  • Did you see the twist coming?

Flagged Passages: Chapter One: Beauty Awakened

Once upon a time, there was a young princess, as kind and curious as she was clever, who a witch cursed into a deep and endless sleep. Her castle sat silent in a clearing at the center of a deep, dark wood for a hundred winters and a hundred springs. Around it the forest teemed with poisonous flowers and enchanted thorns. The castle would have sat like that for a hundred more winters and a hundred more springs, had not the prince, as valiant as he was brave, found it at last.

He hacked his way past the poisonous flowers and the enchanted thorns. He dodged hungry shadows and fearsome beasts, fought cursed fungus, and forded a river of nightmares. He even outwitted a witch’s riddle, which, much to his surprise, wasn’t all that tricky.

If you don’t keep me, I break. What am I?

“Um, a promise?” he’d answered.

“Are you certain?” the witch cackled at him. “If you answer wrong, you shall never escape these woods!”

He puffed out his chest.

“I am certain, witch!” he bellowed. The witch shrieked, then vanished in a puff of green smoke. Beyond her, the thorned vines parted to show his way to the castle in the clearing.

He had expected all this to be harder. It was his destiny, after all, and destiny should not be so easy.

Inside, the castle was still. Golden light streaked through stained glass windows. He made his way to the chapel, where he would find his princess. He had been promised this princess in visions and dreams, and even by his very own fairy godmother. The princess would be his one true love from the moment he first laid eyes on her until his last, dying day.

He really hoped she was pretty.

And there she was, the cursed Princess Rosamund, asleep in a bed that stood upon a dais surrounded by wildflowers and an abundance of soothing lavender. She was drenched in golden light, as lovely as the day she’d fallen into that deep sleep one hundred years ago.

“A true beauty,” he whispered to himself, relieved. “Sleeping perfection.”

He knelt before the dais and said a quiet thanks, for he was a polite prince, and grateful that all his dreams were coming true.

Then he rose, stepped up beside the bed, and stood over the sleeping princess, whose story he had been told since childhood: a witch had cursed her father’s kingdom to perish and her to sleep until she was awoken by a kiss of the truehearted.

Well, this prince knew his heart was true.

“My entire life has led me here,” he told the sleeping princess. “I swear to you, I shall love you better than the moon loves the sunset, better than boats love the rising tide, better than a flower loves the . . . err . . . um . . . something? Not dew. Bees, maybe? Err . . .”

He’d forgotten his oath, even though he’d practiced it for the entire quest. Then again, it was not his words that mattered, but the truth in his heart and the passion in his kiss. The oaths were just for posterity, a word

he didn’t really understand anyway. Posterity didn’t have chapped lips and body odor from all that questing. The prince did.

With no further ado, he pressed his lips to the sleeping princess’s and held them there with his eyes closed for a count of three, which was how long his squire had told him a real kiss was meant to last. The prince had never kissed anyone before, not even the squire who’d suggested they practice. He wished he had practiced now. He didn’t know if he was doing kissing right at all.

He opened first one eye and then the other.

To his delight, the princess had opened her eyes, both of them, and was staring up at him with a look of deep passion.

Or was that surprise?

“Fear not, princess,” he told her softly. “It is I, Prince Percy the Valiant, and it is my destiny to wake you and marry you and love you for the rest of our blessed lives.”

Her eyes narrowed. Her forehead furrowed.

“Am I not all you dreamed of these hundred years?” he asked her, his confidence faltering. He had not considered that she might not think him pretty.

“Um,” she said, which was not the most inspiring first word of their life together, but she had been asleep for a long time.

He leaned back, giving her space as the color returned to her cheeks, the focus to her eyes. He could give her a moment to come to her senses. He himself was a beast first thing in the morning, as she would surely learn in the course of their marriage.

To his surprise, she sat bolt upright. Like an unbroken mare kicking out at a new rider, she shoved him off her bed and sent him tumbling from the dais. He nearly fell over onto his princely posterior, which was not at all the first impression he preferred to make.

“Princess!” he called as she leapt in bare feet down to the chapel floor. The wildflowers around her withered as the magic faded.

She looked him up and down, brow still furrowed.

Then she ran.

Read This If You Love: Fairy Tale Reform School by Jen Calonita, Disney Twisted Tales, Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, Books by Jessica Day George, Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall 

Signature

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

Speck: An Itty-Bitty Epic by Margaux Meganck

Share

Speck: An Itty-Bitty Epic
Author & Illustrator: Margaux Meganck
Published

Summary: Everything and everyone has a place in the universe, but for a little speck, lost at sea, it will take an extraordinary journey to find it.

Deep in a tide pool, too small to see,
Thousands of tiny specks go forth.
Each one searching
for a place to stay, and grow, and thrive…

The little speck does not know what it is, only that it wishes to find out. And so it embarks on a journey across the sea. From sun-flecked surf to darkest depths, past schools of fish, storm-tossed ships and hungry eels…. Until, at last, it finds exactly what it was looking a place to belong.

In vivid watercolor paintings, Margaux Meganck brings this tale to life, seamlessly shifting perspective to show how even the tiniest creatures—every barnacle, every child, every star in the sky—contributes to something greater than itself.

 “A poignant, reflective story that’s every bit as relevant to children as it is to adults. . . . Deeply moving.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)

About the Author: Margaux Meganck spends her days dodging raindrops and drawing from her imagination in beautiful Portland, Oregon. Her author-illustrator debut, People are Wild, received two starred reviews and was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. Her illustration work has earned multiple accolades. Speck is the second book she has both written and illustrated. To learn more, visit margauxmeganck.com.

Instagram:
Margaux Meganck: @margauxmeganck
Knopf/Random House Children’s Books: @randomhousekids
Blue Slip Media: @blue_slip_media

Facebook:
Margaux Meganck: N/A
Random House Children’s Books: Random House Children’s Books
Blue Slip Media: @blue-slip-media

Twitter/X:
Margaux Meganck: @Margaux Meganck
Random House Children’s Books: @randomhousekids
Blue Slip Media: @blueslipper & @barbfisch

Review: This beautiful book is two fold. First, it is a fantastic ocean journey of a speck as it carried along the current and through the ocean, past so many creatures, and to its forever home. The journey is told in poetic verse that will be a great read aloud. Second, it is a story about being lost and figuring out where you fit in the best. Meganck brilliantly combined these two purposes. And the illustrations are another level of the book. They complement the lyrical tale of the speck’s journey, showing the reader all of the sea creatures and ecosystems within the ocean. This is a wonderful book.

Tools for Navigation: Because this book has a science and an social emotional learning aspect, it would be a wonderful inclusion into a classroom or library program because it can lead to all sorts of conversations including journeying into the ocean (pair with other ocean books, listed below) and then move to the theme and how the speck’s journey is an extended metaphor for our life.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What creatures did the speck encounter along its journey?
  • Why do you think the author titled the book an “epic?”
  • What lesson can you take from the speck into your life?
  • Based on where the speck ended up, what sea creature was it?
  • What other specks are there in the sea?
  • How is the speck’s journey similar to life?

Flagged Spreads: 

Read This If You Love: Puff: All About Air by Emily Kate Moon, Whale Fall: Exploring Ocean-Floor Ecosystem by Melissa Stewart, Kind by Jess McGeachin, In the Night Garden by Carin Berger, The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey by Jason Chin, Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Signature

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

The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants by Philip Bunting

Share

The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants
Author & Illustrator: Philip Bunting
Published March 19th, 2024 by Crown Books for Young Readers

Summary: Take a peek under the rock, and discover what we can learn from the world of the ant, in this delightful blend of nonfiction and inspirational humor by author-illustrator Philip Bunting!

There are ten quadrillion ants in the world, and yet I bet you never thought they could teach you anything. But these tiny creatures can do big things when they work together–just like people!

With his signature humor and graphic illustrations, Philip Bunting delivers facts, laughs, and heart all in this special book that teaches that the answers to many of life’s biggest questions can be found in your own back yard (once you’re ready to look).

★ “This overview of ants combines cleverly designed graphics and a funny text to convey major concepts about the familiar insects.” —The Horn Book, starred review

About the Author: Philip Bunting is an author and illustrator whose work deliberately encourages playful interaction between the reader and child, allowing his books to create a platform for genuine intergenerational engagement and fun. Philip’s books have been translated into multiple languages and published in over thirty countries around the world. Since his first book was published in 2017, Philip has received multiple accolades, including Honors from the Children’s Book Council of Australia and making the list for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2018. He lives with his young family on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Visit his website: philipbunting.com.

Instagram:
Philip Bunting: @philip.bunting
Random House Children’s Books: @randomhousekids
Blue Slip Media: @blue_slip_media

Facebook:
Philip Bunting: N/A
Random House Children’s Books: Random House Children’s Books
Blue Slip Media: @blue-slip-media 

Twitter/X:
Philip Bunting: N/A
Random House Children’s Books: @randomhousekids
Blue Slip Media: @blueslipper & @barbfisch

Review: This book is a joy! Anyone who has read a book by Philip Bunting knows that his work excels at bringing play into the reading to make the book a bit silly, interactive, and full of informational magic. The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants is the same. I loved the little jokes throughout the book that will definitely get readers giggling, the illustrations are just so playful and perfect for the book, and I learned so much about ants! It definitely is a multi-purpose book, for pleasure and for learning, which will be a winning read aloud!

For more about the book and to hear from the author, visit his interview, “Using Well-Placed ‘Humour’ as a Trojan Horse for Information,” on Fuse 8.

Tools for Navigation: There is so much in this book that is PERFECT for science which makes it an amazing cross-curricular tool. My first though is I think it would be awesome to see students use this book as a mentor text to create their own book about another insect which would include research, science, creative writing, and visual art.

The vocabulary in this book is wonderful as well, both when it comes to science and just tier 2 words such as nuptials, mandibles, reproduces, fragrant, and more.

Oh, and math, there is something here for you too! When looking at the number of ants, it compares human vs. ant weight which would be a fantastic math problem!

Discussion Questions: 

  • If there are ten quadrillion ants in the world and 8 billion people in the world, and they weigh about the same, how much do each set weigh?
  • Do you think the queen is the most important ant in the colony?
  • Why are ants so important for the world?
  • What can we learn from ants?

Flagged Spreads: 

Read This If You Love: Informational books with humor

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall 

Signature

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

There’s No Such Thing As Vegetables by Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi

Share

There’s No Such Thing As Vegetables
Author: Kyle Lukoff
Illustrator: Andrea Tsurumi
Published February 27th, 2024 by Henry Holt and Co.

Summary: A hilarious new picture book that exposes vegetables for what they truly are—leaves, roots, flowers, and stalks—by National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honor winner Kyle Lukoff, perfect for fans of the Our Universe series.

Chester plans to have a salad for lunch, but in order to do that, he’ll need vegetables. So, off he goes to the community garden, except he quickly learns that he won’t be dressing a salad anytime soon. Instead, the vegetables start dressing him down. According to them, “vegetables” don’t exist!

I know what you are thinking: What the bell pepper? Vegetables are totally real! But here’s the thing: Kale is just a leaf, broccoli is a flower, potatoes are roots, and celery…well, stalks. Thanks to a lively, sassy cast of talking “veggies,” Chester learns a valuable lesson about categories and how they shape our understanding of the world.

With a slyly informative text and illustrations that will crack readers up, the schooling in There’s No Such Thing As Vegetables will be easy to digest and is a total treat.

About the Creators: 

Kyle Lukoff is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, Too Bright to See, the Stonewall Award winner When Aidan Became a Brother, among other titles for young readers. While becoming a writer, he worked as a bookseller and school librarian. He lives in Philadelphia, and hopes you’re having a nice day. (kylelukoff.com)

Andrea Tsurumi(they/them) is an author, illustrator and cartoonist originally from New York who now lives with their spouse and dog in Philadelphia. A gigantic text and image nerd, they studied sequential storytelling for an English BA at Harvard and an illustration MFA at the School of Visual Arts. While working in publishing for several years, they dove into their two big loves: indie comics and children’s books. Their first book, Accident! was an NPR Great Read and their second book, Crab Cake, won the Vermont Red Clover Book Award. When they’re not inventing croissant-based animals, they like reading about ordinary and ridiculous history. (andreatsurumi.com)

Review: This book IS slyly informative, and I love it! What seems at the surface like a silly book about vegetables setting a young child straight about their really identities is actually a look into scientific classification. The book definitely will bring the giggles while also getting kids thinking about what makes something what it is called. This book is a must have for classrooms and libraries as it is a great read aloud and will move perfectly into an educational discussion, especially when the author’s note is added to the read aloud.

Tools for Navigation: This book is perfect for talking about classifications–both scientific and social. I can imagine it being used in a life science class mostly because they could start with the vegetable extended example and expand from there. Though within the book, the vegetables also share money, countries, and words as examples of social constructed categories, so these would be fascinating to extend into math/economics, history/geography, and language arts.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Are there vegetables?
  • Who decides what something is classified as?
  • Why are fruits real but not vegetables?
  • How would you define a vegetable? Do you think Chester’s definition is correct?
  • What other things are classified certain ways but you aren’t sure why?

Flagged Spreads: 

Read This If You Love: Humorous picture books that also educate

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Signature

**Thank you to Nicole Banholzer PR for providing a copy for review!**

Educators’ Guide for The Partition Project by Saadia Faruqi

Share

The Partition Project
Author: Saadia Faruqi
Published: February 27th, 2024 by Quill Tree Books

Summary: When her grandmother comes off the airplane in Houston from Pakistan, Mahnoor knows that having Dadi move in is going to disrupt everything about her life. She doesn’t have time to be Dadi’s unofficial babysitter—her journalism teacher has announced that their big assignment will be to film a documentary, which feels more like storytelling than what Maha would call “journalism”.

As Dadi starts to settle into life in Houston and Maha scrambles for a subject for her documentary, the two of them start talking. About Dadi’s childhood in northern India—and about the Partition that forced her to leave her home and relocate to the newly created Pakistan. As details of Dadi’s life are revealed, Dadi’s personal story feels a lot more like the breaking news that Maha loves so much. And before she knows it, she has the subject of her documentary.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the educators’ guide I created for the author:

You can also access the educators’ guide here.

You can learn more about The Partition Project on Saadia Faruqi’s website.

Flagged Passage: View an excerpt HERE.

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall

Kellee Signature