Guest Post: Classroom Uses for Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship by Theanne Griffith, Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers, and Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

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One of the assignments during my Spring Children’s Literature course at UCF was creating a mini-teaching guide for the books we read for book clubs. We started with picture books for practice then students created them in their book clubs each week.

Today, I am happy to share the classroom uses and discussion questions found by my UCF Elementary Education students about fantasy novels.

Dragons in a Bag
Author: Zetta Elliott
Published October 23rd, 2018 by Random House

Summary: Jax is left by his mom to an old lady by the name of Ma. Jax later finds out that Ma is a witch who has 3 dragon eggs that hatched. They need to return the eggs because they won’t survive in the regular world due to lack of magic. They go to portals through time that takes them to the time of dinosaurs. Along the way, Jax meets his grandfather who also knows magic, and has him return two of the dragons to the magic council but accidentally left one left behind so he returns to the regular world. He forces his mom and the witch to hash out their problems.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: When using fantasy in the classroom it is always a good way to spark your students’ creativity. This source could be used as a creative writing prompt to boost off their creativity of the story: Conduct an activity based upon the book like have them write a short story about what they would do if they were in Jax’s shoes and have them draw pictures of dragons, name them, and design the dragons how they would like them to be pictured.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What was Jax’s first impression of Ma?
  • How do you think Jax will return the last dragon to the magic council?
  • Who do agree with and why? Ma who wants to keep the world of magic separate or L. Roy who wants magic to come back to earth.
  • Why do you think Jax decided to open the window for the squirrel?
  • What were 2 things the dragons were not allowed to have?
  • When you first hear the word apprentice what comes to mind?  Did you have the same thinking as Jax?
  • How does the story tie in with real-life scenarios with the fantasy?
  • Who are the most influential character apart from Jax?
  • When do we see the change of events come in play throughout the story?
  • When reading the book your imagination goes wild,in what other circumstances does your mind go other places when reading this story?

Recommended For: 

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The Magnificent Makers: How to Test Friendship
Author: Theanne Griffith
Illustrator: Reggie Brown
Published May 19th, 2020 by Random House Children’s Books

Summary: Pablo, Violet and Deepak are three friends who get sucked into a telescope and must play science games to come back and play again. Deepak is the new kid who makes Pablo jealous with his presence. Throughout the book, the team works together and build their friendship to complete the games.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The book could be used as a classroom read-aloud over the course of a few days or a week.  Due to the science elements, this book would be a good way to start off science discussions in the classroom. For example, the second chapter includes the students learning about food chains. This book is perfect to make connections back to science.

Discussion Questions: 

  •   Why do you think Pablo was jealous of Deepak?
  •   What were some of the challenges they had and what did they have to do?
  •   Why do you think Pablo, Violet, and Deepak were chosen for the Maker’s Maze?
  •    What do you know about producers, consumers, decomposers, and scavengers?
  • What were your favorite aspects of science that you learned from the book?
  • What type of emotion did the characters experience in the book?
  • When Deepak arrived to class, what did Pablo notice about him?
  • How does Pablo overcome is jealous toward Deepak?
  • Toward the end of the book why did they relate their friendship to the ecosystems?

Recommended For: 

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Polly Diamond and the Magic Book
Author: Alice Kuipers
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published April 22nd, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Polly Diamond is a little girl who receives a magic book that lets her bring to life the things that she writes and draws. She has a little sister who she doesn’t like very much and a brother on the way. Polly loves to write, she writes lists and stories and anything that she thinks is worth writing. When she starts writing in her magic book she realizes that the book can talk back to her. She writes to her book and comes up with lists and stories to write. She realizes that whatever she writes in the book comes to life when she writes about making a ladder to paint her room and the books on the floor magically move to make a ladder. The book tells her that is what she’s for and Polly quickly learns she can do anything she writes. She makes herself invisible and her sister into a banana. But she realizes that the book is taking everything she says literally. When she writes about eating a club sandwich the book gives her two slices of bread with a bat in between because it took the definition of a club literally. She told the house to fix up the carpet and turn her room into an aquarium. But the carpet was on the ceiling and fish were swimming around her room. She then realizes that everything she wrote was crazy and tries to put the house back to normal because she can’t even recognize it anymore. She fixes it just in time for her parents to come home with her new baby brother. At the end of the story she gives the book a name, Spell. And looks forward to writing and drawing another day with her new book, and friend Spell.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Polly uses and explains words like metaphor, affixes, alliteration, and hyperbole.  This is a great opportunity to talk about these definitions, make lists of words and phrases that relate to these words, and do activities where the students use metaphors, alliteration, homophones, homonyms etc.  It seems like a useful book to have in a first grade classroom and use with a higher level reading small group or a second grade class.    It could also be used as a read aloud, again discussing the key words and their meanings, then practicing using those skills.  There is a lot of use of imagery in this book as well as understanding literal meaning and how words matter.

After reading the text, students can respond to the story by engaging in a free write activity after they finish the reading. As a teacher, we could set a timer for five minutes and ask the students to write continuously about their thoughts on the book, good or bad, and afterwards, go over it as a small group.

Discussion Questions:

  • Polly had many favorite words throughout the book, what are some of your favorite words and why?
  • Make a list of activities you would do to have a Super-Fantastic-Day.
  • In the book, Polly writes down what her dream bedroom would look like. If you could have your dream bedroom, what would it look like?
  • When Polly writes in the magic book, she learns that she needs to write clearly and use as much detail as possible. What are some important rules to follow when writing so people can understand your message clearly?
  • When Polly is playing hide-and-seek, why does she become invisible?
  • Imagine the turquoise notebook has changed your house like Polly’s. Please write a short story explaining what your home looks like in order to get it back to normal.
  • How does Polly feel having to share a room with her little sister when her brother is born?
  • If you had a magic notebook that could bring three things you wrote about to life, what 3 things would you write or draw and why?
  • Polly loves words with double letters like “Dizzy.” List 5 words you can think of that have double letters.
  • Polly loves alliteration.  That’s when  two or more words in a row begin with the same letter.  What alliterations can you think of?

Recommended For: 

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Sisters of the Neversea
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Published June 1st, 2021 by Heartdrum

Summary: This book is a tale about three children, Lily, Wendy, and Michael. Their parents, Mr. Darling and Ms. Florene Roberts-Darling are separating, splitting the family between two different locations.  The night before Wendy and Mr. Darling are supposed to leave, the children are visited by a boy named Peter Pan and Belle. Stories of pirates and merfolk persuade the children to follow Peter Pan and Belle off to a mystical land called Neverland.  Upon arriving the children are separated and discover once you arrive you can never leave.  The children meet merfolk, pirates, native children, the lost, and fairies in a desperate attempt to figure out how to get home.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be great for a read aloud, book club, or close reading because it involves a lot of higher level vocabulary than some students may currently be reading at and it has long sentences and dialogue which again, some children could struggle with. These classroom uses would allow for discussions.

Geography could also be tied in because students could illustrate and demonstrate caves and waterways the Merfolk might have dwelled in. They also could show their knowledge of what an island like Neverland might have, and include what trees they think the lost boys were living in.

And, of course, it could be looked at versus Peter Pan as it is a retelling.

Discussion Questions: 

  • If you were a character in this book, who would you be and why?
  • If you were to create a different ending, How would it go?
  • Why do you think Mr. Darling and Ms. Florene wanted to separate?
  • What was your favorite part of the book?
  • What were some challenges that the children had to face or overcome?
  • Why do you think Peter Pan and Belle appeared?
  • Why do you think it was hard for the lost boys to remember who they are?
  • Why do you think Peter Pan never wanted to grow up?
  • Why do you think Belle brought Peter Pan to the island?
  • Why do you think the crocodile made a TikTok sound?
  • Does this book remind you of any other children’s stories?  If so why?

Recommended For: 

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National Geographic Kids’ Mythical Beasts: 100 Fun Facts About Real Animals and the Myths They Inspire by Stephanie Warren Drimmer & Bling!: 100 Fun Facts About Gems by Emma Carlson Berne

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Mythical Beasts: 100 Fun Facts About Real Animals and the Myths They Inspire
Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Published January 4th, 2022 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Calling all fans of unicorns, dragons, sea monsters, and other mythical creatures! Discover 100 marvelous facts that add to the magic in this new reader for fluent readers.

Key features include:

  • Expert-vetted text appropriate for ages 7 to 9
  • Brilliant and eye-catching National Geographic images
  • 100 fun facts spread throughout the book
  • A fact roundup at the end of each book for kids to review what they’ve learned

Packed with weird-but-true facts and tons of info, this Level 3 reader explores animals that are mistaken for mythical creatures, critters that are almost too weird for reality, and other creatures with incredible abilities. Learn all about these amazing, unbelievable, and downright fantastical beasts!

About the Author: STEPHANIE WARREN DRIMMER writes books and magazine features for kids about everything from the strangest places in space, to the chemistry of cookies, to the mysteries of the human brain. Drimmer has a degree in science journalism from New York University, but she thinks she likes writing for kids because she’s secretly still one herself.

Bling!: 100 Fun Facts About Gems
Author: Emma Carlson Berne
Published January 4th, 2022 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Get ready to be dazzled by some of the shiniest, most colorful, useful—and even dangerous—rocks, minerals, and gems on the planet! In this Level 3 reader, discover fascinating facts about the incredible rocks and minerals under our feet and deep in Earth’s crust. Budding geologists will love reading about how rocks form, learning the names and features of the coolest rocks and minerals, and exploring rare and beautiful gemstones.

Key features include:

  • Expert-vetted text appropriate for ages 7 to 9
  • Brilliant and eye-catching National Geographic images
  • 100 fun facts sprinkled throughout the book*
  • A fact roundup at the end of each book for kids to review what they’ve learned

Packed with weird-but-true facts and tons of cool info, this Level 3 reader explores the incredible world of geology.

About the Author: EMMA CARLSON BERNE writes juvenile, middle grade, and YA fiction and nonfiction for both educational and trade publishers. She has worked on projects with Disney/Lucasfilm Press, American Girl Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Sterling Publishing, Capstone, Rosen, and Alloy Entertainment. Berne lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she is the writer-in-residence for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.


About the Series: This high-interest, educationally-vetted readers series features magnificent National Geographic images accompanied by text written by experienced, skilled children’s book authors. Each reader includes a glossary and interactive features in which kids get to use what they’ve learned in the book. Level 1 readers reinforce the content of the book with a kinesthetic learning activity. Level 2 readers feature slightly higher-level text and additional vocabulary words. Level 3 readers have more layers of information to challenge more proficient readers. For emerging readers, the Pre-reader level introduces vocabulary and concepts, and the Co-reader level provides a collaborative reading experience.

Review: I am such a fan of National Geographic Kids’ books. They do such a great job with engaging material that is perfect for the audience they are aimed for. With these Fact Reader Level 3 books, I really loved the mix of chapters with expository text mixed with text features that add to the text as well as fact lists that will make sure the reader leaves with fun facts to share. Everything that is shared in the books are so interesting and will definitely grab the readers attention. For example, in Bling!  we learn about rocks and minerals in space, different types of rocks, the oldest rocks, difference between rocks and minerals, and geology & archaeology information. Mythical Beasts includes mistaken identities, strange animals that are hard to believe, and animals with mythical powers. Both books are great nonfiction texts that are going to find so many early elementary readers!

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does the table of contents and index help you when reading a nonfiction book?
  • What text features did you notice throughout the book? How did they add to the book?
  • What facts did you learn from the book? What was your favorite fact you learned?
  • What else would you like to learn about the topics?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Geology, Archaeology, Animals, Mythology, Nonfiction

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters for providing copies for review!**

Kellee’s Favorite Books Read in 2021

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2021 is in the books, and I am here to celebrate my favorite books read during the year!

I’m excited for this post because I haven’t done one in a bit since I was on an award committee, but this year I can celebrate!

Here’s a summary of my year in books

Here are my favorites separated into picture books, middle grade, young adult, early readers, kid lit, older nonfiction, and graphic novels/manga!

  

And there they are! 

👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

I, obviously, recommend these books wholeheartedly, but they are just 50 of so many amazing books I read in 2021–check out my READ bookshelf on Goodreads to see these & more!

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Author Guest Post: “The Case for Graphic Novels and Chapter Books” by Dusti Bowling, Author of Aven Green Baking Machine

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“The Case for Graphic Novels and Chapter Books”

I have always been a huge reader. At some point during third grade, I discovered my love of stories and have never looked back. Third grade through sixth grade was such a formative time for me as I developed this lifelong love of reading, and some of the books I enjoyed the most were comic books or shorter stories with illustrations. I gobbled up as many Archie comics as I could, read all of The Far Side by Gary Larson, and shuddered in fear at the creepy illustrations in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I honestly couldn’t tell you if I’d be the reader and writer I am today without books like these, and now that my own children are of reading ages, I’ve actively encouraged them to read anything and everything they enjoy. Yes, that has meant a lot of graphic novels and illustrated books. It has also meant them reading the same books over and over and over again, just as I did when I was a kid.

The first thing my ten year old fell in love with was Diary of a Wimpy Kid. She was five when she picked up the first book, and I still remember her coming to me every minute or so to ask me to explain a word. Then she’d read the story again and come to me maybe every couple of minutes. Then she’d read it again. And again. After she’d read that first book probably about a dozen times, she no longer had to ask me to explain any of the words. It was through this rereading of the same book that she developed great reading fluency, confidence, and comprehension skills, and I’m very grateful to Jeff Kinney for teaching her how to read. Would she have naturally gone through this same process on her own with a book without pictures? Without the silly jokes and goofy humor that kept her so engaged? I doubt it.

Being homeschoolers, we’ve spent a lot of time at the library, and my ten year old has always gravitated toward the graphic novel section. We would frequently come home with stacks of graphic novels nearly as tall as she was, and she would read every single one of them. I would make a lot of recommendations, try to introduce her to other styles of books, play longer audiobooks for her, and suggest we try reading new books together, but all she wanted were graphic novels all the time, so I didn’t push it. She loved to read, and I never wanted to interfere with that in any way. After all, her love of reading has always been the end goal.

Then something interesting began happening after a few years of nonstop graphic novels—she decided on her own to try a great big book without illustrations called Wings of Fire, which she found in a little free library at a park. Did she get through it and enjoy it? Let’s just say she’s eagerly anticipating book fifteen right now. Would she have gotten to the point in her love of reading that she’d be willing to read fourteen lengthy books if I hadn’t always allowed her to read and reread the graphic novels she adores so much? Again, I doubt it.

Now that my six year old is reading, she loves my Aven Green chapter books. She brings the books to me over and over for help with the words and to show me the illustrations so we can laugh together (she seems to think I’ve never seen them before). She also loves Junie B. Jones, Puppy Place, Wedgie and Gizmo, and many other chapter books with illustrations. I know one day soon, she’ll probably also fall in love with graphic novels. She’ll probably want to read the same books over and over again (actually she already does that). And then, eventually, she’ll probably also be ready to pick up longer books. When that happens, I’ll be ready for it every step of the way.

Expected publication: August 17th, 2021 by Sterling Children’s Books

About the Book: Aven Green Baking Machine is the sequel to Aven Green Sleuthing Machine which Kellee reviewed in April.

Aven is an expert baker of cakes and cookies. She’s been baking with her mom for a really long time. Since she was born without arms, Aven cracks eggs and measures sugar and flour with her feet. Now, she has her eye on the prize: a beautiful blue ribbon for baking at the county fair. So she teams up with her friends Kayla, Emily, and Sujata. But It turns out they all have very different tastes and a lot of opinions about baking. Talk about a recipe for disaster!

About the Author: Dusti Bowling grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. She released her first middle grade novel in 2017 and hasn’t stopped writing since.

Dusti’s books have won the Reading the West Award, the Sakura Medal, a Golden Kite Honor, the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, and have been nominated for a Cybil and over thirty state awards. Her books are Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections and have been named best books of the year by the Chicago Public Library, Kirkus, Bank Street College of Education, A Mighty Girl, Shelf Awareness, and many more. Dusti currently lives in New River, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, a dozen tarantulas, a gopher snake named Burrito, a king snake name Death Noodle, and a cockatiel named Gandalf the Grey.

Thank you, Dusti, for this post that we definitely agree with! Like you said, “ove of reading has always been the end goal!”

Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too! by Maggie P. Chang

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Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too!
Author: Maggie P. Chang
Published: June 29, 2021 by Simon Spotlight

Summary: Meet spunky, funny, and friendly Geraldine Pu as she takes on a bully and makes a new friend in this first book in a new Level 3 Ready-to-Read Graphics series!

Geraldine Pu’s favorite part of school is lunch. She loves her lunch box, which she calls Biandang. She can’t wait to see what her grandmother, Amah, has packed inside it each day. Then one day, Geraldine gets stinky tofu…and an unexpected surprise. What will she do?

Ready-to-Read Graphics books give readers the perfect introduction to the graphic novel format with easy-to-follow panels, speech bubbles with accessible vocabulary, and sequential storytelling that is spot-on for beginning readers. There’s even a how-to guide for reading graphic novels at the beginning of each book.

Review: The highest form of praise: My 4-year-old son wanted to read this book again two nights in a row. We went camping on the third night, and he was allowed to pick one book to bring, and he picked this one. He really liked learning about all of the different foods, and he liked discussing bullying. The book is structured like a graphic novel, which is a really clever way to structure an early reader. All of the pictures really appealed to him, and he loved reading the progression of the story. The book is divided into chapters, but we read it from start to finish each night. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Reading this entire book in one sitting will be difficult for an early reader, so my son and I structured it that he read all of the left pages and I read all of the right pages. The next night, he wanted to switch. The third night, he read the entire thing by himself. Readers could also take it chapter by chapter (a chapter or two each night). This book offers great discussions about our practices that seem “different” than those of our peers and how these make us uniquely wonderful. It is also a great book to teach about bullying. I love how the lunch box is personified! It made the book even more fun to read! Those who know me know that I don’t like reading levels. In our house, we read books at all levels, and I just support as needed. That said, this book would be great in the early elementary school grades. Don’t limit it just there, though. My 4-year-old really enjoyed it!

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does Geraldine feel about the different foods she eats at lunch? How does this change?
  • How does Biandang feel? How does he act as a support?
  • What changes Geraldine’s mind at the end of the story?
  • How can you celebrate your own friends’ lunches, no matter how different they may seem?

Flagged Spread:

Read This If You Love: Graphic novels, books about feeling different, books about family

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**Thank you, Cassie, from Simon and Schuster, for sending a copy for review!**

Author Guest Post: “I Write About the Real World and Real Feelings… by Using Magic” by Corey Ann Haydu, Author of Hand-Me-Down Magic Series

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“I Write About the Real World and Real Feelings… by Using Magic”

I like to say that I write about myself without writing about myself, that I try to understand my feelings by writing about someone else’s very similar feelings.

And I use magic to do it.

I have never owned a second hand shop filled with cuckoo clocks and birdcages and patchwork purses and chandelier earrings. I have never participated in an end of the school year parade, and, regrettably, I didn’t have a cousin who lived in the apartment downstairs from me when I was growing up. And most of all, as much as I wish I could, I have never witnessed magic. At least not the kind that shows up in my books. Not the magic passed down through generations, not the kind of magic that the best friend cousins of my HAND-ME-DOWN MAGIC series encounter in book after book.

But. I did have a best friend growing up, and we did it get into fights. I did have family that I sometimes felt part of and sometimes felt confused about my place in. I did feel jealous when a friend had something I wanted, and I did feel scared when things didn’t feel entirely in my control. Some of those things—fighting with a friend, feeling jealous or scared or left out or uncertain about who you are—are a little bit scary. Uncomfortable. Hard to talk about, and harder still to write a whole book or series of books about. When I am feeling those hard and scary and uncomfortable feelings, for myself or for my characters, I know it’s time for magic.

When something feels hard to look at straight on, I introduce a bit of magic to help make it easier to understand. Because there’s a lot about the world I don’t understand! There’s a lot about my characters’ worlds that I don’t understand right away. I don’t know when I first start writing why a particular bag in a particular shop window could make someone feel like they would become the best version of themselves if only they had it over their shoulder. And I don’t know why someone else’s happiness can sometimes feel like a personal slight. Or why it is hard to share in that happiness sometimes. I don’t even really know how to solve those problems, or any of the strange and awkward and tricky and uncomfortable problems that arise simply from being a person in the world interacting with other people. But I do know that many of us think we aren’t supposed to talk about those messier parts of our hearts and friendships and lives. And I do know that if I add magic, the conversation becomes easier.

I don’t try to hide the truth in my books—that doesn’t feel fair to anyone—me or my readers or the characters I spend so much time writing and falling in love with. But I try to make the truth easier to understand, easier to look at straight on, easier to manage. Magic helps manage hard truths—big ones, sure, but small ones too, little moments where your heart hurts or you are blushing and wish you weren’t, or your best friend is making you mad or sad or uncomfortable and you don’t know why. Look! Look at me! Magic says in those hard moments in my books,  I’m here too! Maybe I can help? Maybe I can explain it? Or maybe I just make things a little lighter, a little prettier, a little more interesting than regular old life is.

Sometimes, I use magic to make a feeling bigger: what if Alma feels a little left out of her family life, not just because she hasn’t lived in the same home as them ever before, but also because the rest of them have a belief in magic that she just can’t seem to muster?

It’s an added layer to bulk up the feelings I want to discuss. A way to turn up the volume on the circumstances, so make sure they come through loud and clear.

Sometimes, I use magic to make the feeling easier: Someone I loved did something mean to me: maybe it was because of magic?

Mostly I use magic to make things easier to talk about: Life is confusing and big and hard to understand and not in our control and that is scary. But Del doesn’t want to say all of that. Or even think it. Del is scared of a crystal ball telling fortunes that come true in tricky ways. Let’s talk about that, and maybe it will show us some other things along the way.

Magic is sneaky. Maybe when we talk about Del’s fear of her crystal ball, we can start talking about other things that happen unexpectedly or other times we think something bad might be our fault. Magic lets a conversation evolve naturally, instead of going right to the center of things. Magic is a beautiful and fun and silly and shiny way in to the scary things.

It is easier to talk about the world—a world which is sometimes very challenging and uncomfortable and sometimes even a bit sad and lonely, especially lately—when there is a mix of the familiar and the mysterious. A mix of real life and magic. A combination of the things we understand and the things we never fully will. Magic, when done well, is the bridge between those two things.

Using a bit of magic to talk about the real world reminds me of an old fashioned radio dial. Magic can turn things up or down, it can cut through the static, it can help you search for the story you want to hear, it is a tool in the toolbox of a writer, and a reader, and a person in the world, when you are a bit lost and bit frightened and a bit unsure. I am those things pretty often. That’s why I use magic so much!

The truth is—I’m a writer and a reader and a parent and a person in the world, and I’m just as flummoxed as everyone else, about why things are the way they are or feel the way they feel. Magic helps me make sense of it all too, it gives me a little space and perspective, a new angle at which to look at my character’s circumstances. Which in turn helps me make sense of my own. I believe it can help make sense of things for young readers, too. Magic can bring order to the mess and can put a magnifying glass to the tiny tricky details. It can amplify what we need to look at more closely, a quiet what feels too scary to approach head on.

We all want to reach young people, we all want a way in. For me, magic is the way.

Maybe it can be for you too.

Hand-Me-Down Magic: Perfect Patchwork Purse
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Illustrator: Luisa Uribe
Published May 4, 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books

About the Book: Family magic saves the day for best-friend-cousins Del and Alma in the third Hand-Me-Down Magic book! With adorable illustrations and short, easy-to-read chapters, this series is perfect for fans of Ivy & Bean and Dory Fantasmagory.

Almaknew it the first time she saw it: The patchwork purse in the window of the Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe was magical. Special. Perfect. But when her friend Cassie spots the purse and buys it, what could Alma do but agree that the purse really did look just right on Cassie?

Del decides it’s up to her to bring some homespun magic back into Alma’s life, and she’s got just the plan to do it. After all, she is the EXPERT on magic!

All she needs is some glitter and lots and lots of glue . . . because she knows magic can always come from the most unexpected places, but most importantly, that best-friend-cousins never let each other down.

About the Author: Corey Ann Haydu is the author of EventownThe Someday Suitcase, and Rules for Stealing Stars and four acclaimed books for teens. She grew up in the Boston area, earned her MFA at the New School, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her dog Oscar. Find out more at www.coreyannhaydu.com.

Thank you, Corey, for sharing how you use magic to tackle what is real!

Trent’s Favorite Reads as a 6 Year Old

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This year, Trent and I read over 425 books together!!
(And that doesn’t even count the books he read at school, on his own on Epic, or on his own during our family reading time 😲)
You can checkout our Goodreads bookshelf to see all of the books we read.

I am so proud of this little reader I have in my household, and I am happy to share some of his favorite reads as a 6 year old. Here are the books he chose as his favorites when we scrolled through all of the books he’s read this year. [These books are in order of how we read them this year.] All of these books were chosen by Trent and the quote is why he likes it:

Leo: A Ghost Story

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

“I like that I don’t know why the girl sees him and everyone else does not. It is a mystery book.”

Dragons love tacos collection 2 books set by adam rubin

Dragons Love Tacos series by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

“It is really funny when they eat the tacos and go ACCCK with their fire. And in the other book it is funny that they have to time travel to find more tacos.”

Battle Bunny

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Matthew Myers

“When the authors wrote it they made it so a boy got it for his birthday and his grandma let him have it and it’s funny that he changed it into BATTLE BUNNY dun dun duuuuun!”

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series by Josh Funk, Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

“I like all of them. It is funny that there are different worlds: first, the freezer and the fridge and the other parts. And I like that it rhymes.”

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The Typewriter by Bill Thomson

“I like it because when they type a thing it comes to life. I like the illustrations because they are very good illustrations.”

We are in a Book! (Elephant & Piggie, #13)

We Are In a Book by Mo Willems

“It is funny that they talk to me. And they know they are in a book. And Gerald is like OH NO! PAGE 49! NOW 50! AND THE BOOK ENDS AT 53! It is really funny.”

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One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield, Illustrated by Thomas Flintham

“I like it because I like how the numbers count on and the fish get bigger and bigger and the biggest fish you cannot even see his eyes or whole body.”

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

“Brian is like TRY ONE OF MY FRUITS and then everyone else is like NO, WE PREFER BUTTS! In the end, they try the fruit and think it is pretty good, but say, ‘We still prefer butts.'”

Please Say Please!: Penguin's Guide to Manners

Please Say Please: Penguin’s Guide to Manners by Margery Cuyler, Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

“Because the Penguin wants everyone to have table manners. HIPPO, YOUR NAPKIN IS NOT A HAT. And when they all leave, the penguin says they all need to say, ‘Please open the door.'”

Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!, #6)

Harold and Hog Pretend for Real by Dan Santat

“They try to be Piggie and Gerald. And Piggie and Gerald try to be Harold and Hog. And I like how Harold and Hog look like old versions of Piggie and Gerald.”

The Bad Guys series (we’ve read 1-4) by Aaron Blabey

“I like the Piranha, Shark, and the Wolf. I like all the Bad Guys because they are pretty funny.”

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Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Adam Rex

“He brings a huge blue whale home! It’s so funny that he tries to take care of him, and he’s too big for the house.”

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Rules of the House by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Matt Myers

“I like it because the boy’s sister doesn’t do the rules. Like, the haunted house says don’t open the red door, and SHE OPENS THE RED DOOR.”

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot by Scott Magoon

“I like it because the Bigfoot is funny.”

I Really Like Slop! (Elephant & Piggie, #24)

I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems

“It is funny that Piggie makes slop and Gerald is like BLECK but he tries to pretend he loves it. But then Piggie says, ‘Have more since you like it.’ I actually like the whole series because it has a lot of kindness.”

Jack at the Zoo

Jack at the Zoo by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

“It is really funny that he gets replaced with the koala.”

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We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, Illustrated by Michaela Goade

“I like that the they’re trying to protect the water from the black snake pipe.”

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Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell, Illustrated by Rafael López

“I like that they makes the whole neighborhood become full of art.”

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Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima

“I like it because while she’s in her penguin outfit on her birthday, it’s funny that the penguins are trying to take her and that they think she’s the king of the penguins. It is just so funny.”

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Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

“I like that she is named after her great great grandmother and everyone else.”

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My Book (Not Yours) by Ben Sanders

“It’s funny because the sloth says it is his book but the fox takes over dun dun duuuun.”

The Box Turtle

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder

“Since he doesn’t have a shell, I am sad he lost himself and he lost his shell. Now he tried everything and tried a box. I am sad for him. I’m better at the end though.”

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Find Fergus by Mike Boldt

“It is funny that we have to find him. And in the end it is really hard to find to find all of the animals and you had to find certain stuff.”

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The Misadventures of Toni Macaroni in The Mad Scientist by Cetonia Weston Roy, Illustrated by Chasity Hampton

“Is there a second one out yet? I want to read another one.”

Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs

Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Bob Staake

“Well, there’s 1 good news and 2 bad news of it. Well, the first bad news is that I don’t like that everyone does the same thing: they go to sleep at the same time, they do the same thing at the same time, they think everything the same. I’m also sad that he doesn’t fit in. But I’m glad that he finds a home place.”

Nellie Nutgraf - The Double Best Reporter in History

Nellie Nutgraf series by Tom Angleberger, Illustrated by Gillian Reid

“Well, I like that it shows a bunch of history. It is kind of like a fake book, it didn’t happen in real life, but it has history in it that’s real.”

Lost on the Titanic (Out of Time Book 1)

Out of Time series by Jessica Rinker, Illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe

“I like it because it is also fictional history. It tells you about the Titanic. I liked that there was magic in it, too.”

Superbuns!

Superbuns by Diane Kredensor

“I like that she’s being kind.”

Where's My Turtle?

Where’s My Turtle? by Barbara Bottner, Illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes

“I like it because I like finding the turtle, like in the garden and in his room. It’s fun. I’m sad that the turtle is lost, but I like that he finds him.”

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My Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World by Malcolm Mitchell, Illustrated by Michael Robertson

“I like it because I like that he’s happy. I’m happy for him.”

I Am Not a Penguin: A Pangolin's Lament

I Am Not a Penguin: A Pangolin’s Lament by Liz Wong

“He’s a PANGOLIN! I like that they think he’s a penguin and then at the end a penguin comes, and everyone says FINALLY A PENGUIN.”

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This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis, Illustrated by Charles Santoso

“Well, I’m sad that he got blind, but I’m happy that he made a friend.”

The Way Home (Owly #1)

Owly: The Way Home by Andy Runton

“I like that he’s taking care of the blue jay guys, and I like wormy. Wormy is sometimes funny.”

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby (Super Diaper Baby, #1)

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby #1 by Dav Pilkey

“I like that he can talk on his first day alive, and he’s like, ‘Hey dudes!'”

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Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

“Fox says it has to be a quiet boat ride, but Chick keeps on saying stuff: CAN I BE THE CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP?! And it isn’t even a ship, it is a row boat! The one with the sunset is also very funny because Chick keeps asking things like: DO I NEED MY HAMMER?! and DO I NEED GOGGLES?! But he doesn’t need anything!”

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The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen

“It’s funny the two characters talk to each other and they came closer and closer and there’s an asteroid coming.”

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

“I like all of the characters like Ruby, Ivan, Mack, Julia, every body.”

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Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima

“You get confused the first time you read it. Because you think Spencer’s the boy but he’s actually a balloon, and the dog is Spencer, and the boy is the pet. It is very funny.”

Trent says, “Thank you for stopping by!”

Signature

Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First Three Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Three to Six Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Six to Nine Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday

Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Fourth Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as of His Fifth Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as of His 6th Birthday