Hilda and the Midnight Giants by Luke Pearson

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Hilda and the Midnight Giant
Author: Luke Pearson
Published April 17th, 2012 by Nobrow Press

Goodreads Summary: In Hilda and the Midnight Giant, our protagonist finds her world turned upside down as she faces the prospect of leaving her snow-capped birthplace for the hum of the megalopolis, where her mother (an architect) has been offered a prestigious job. During Hilda’s daily one-and-a-half hour trek to school she looks for ways to stall her mother’s decision. She conspires with the beings of the mystical Blue Forest to delay the inevitable. Will they help or hinder her? More importantly, who is this mysterious Midnight Giant?

This is the first part of the Hildafolk series, a series that follows Hilda on her many adventures and travels through the magical fjords and enchanted mountains of her birthplace as she unravels the mysteries of the supernatural world that surrounds her.

My Review: When Hilda and the Midnight Giant was in Mr. Schu and Scope’s Top 20 of 2012 and I hadn’t heard of it, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Graphic novels are the most loved format in my classroom and I try to keep as up to date about them as I can. I went straight to my bookstore, ordered it, and waited patiently. When it arrived, I delved right in. On my first read, I just found the story odd and didn’t find myself connecting to the story at all. I knew then and there that I needed to reread at a later date to see if my perspective changed. Like Penny Kittle says in Book Love, “Rereading is an opportunity to see more. On the first time through a novel I am trying to figure out who is who and what is happening. I’m too engaged in understanding to analyze the book well. ON a second time through, I see the whole and then the parts differently.” And this was no exception with my reread of Hilda.

Hilda reminds me a bit of Coraline- she is independent, a bit quirky and loves rainwear. And just like Coraline, she has a fantastical world surrounding her and she doesn’t even know it.  It took this second time for me to realize the magic within this story: the connection between Hilda’s and the Giant’s story, the love of the Giants, the magical world of Elves, and the fascinating Woffs.

I read one review that said Hilda’s fantastical world reminded them of Miyazaki’s work and though I didn’t see it the first time (I think I was just caught up in the oddness), I definitely saw it the second time. The Woffs reminded me most of him- silent creatures that play a small yet important role in the story.

In the end, I am so glad that I reread Hilda so I could get the full magical experience and I definitely recommend it.

Teachers Tools for Navigation: There are many special things about this book and although I think it will find its best home in classroom libraries, it can definitely be used for a mentor text as well. It is a great text to share about world building and also to learn about graphic novels and paneling. It can also be used to practice predicting as Hilda is filled with unexpectedness throughout.

Discussion Questions: Is there something that you viewed differently after reading/seeing it for the second time like I did with Hilda? If not, try rereading a story that you didn’t like; see if your perspective changes.

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Explorer edited by Kazu Kibuishi, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

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Guys Read: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka

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Guys Read: Other Worlds
Edited by Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by Greg Ruth
Published September 17th, 2013 by Walden Pond Press

Goodreads Summary: Other Worlds, the fourth volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read anthology series for tween boys, features ten thrilling new tales of science fiction and fantasy from some of the biggest names in children’s literature.

Prepare yourself for ten trips into the unknown, as ten of your favorite writers—Rick Riordan, who has written an all-new and exclusive Percy Jackson tale, Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame, Newbery medalist Rebecca Stead, Shannon Hale, D. J. MacHale, Eric Nylund, Kenneth Oppel, Neal Shusterman, Shaun Tan, and none other than the late Ray Bradbury—spin tales of fantasy and science fiction the likes of which you have never imagined.

Compiled by National Ambassador for Children’s Literature (and Secret Ambassador for the Intergalactic Alliance) Jon Scieszka, Guys Read: Other Worlds is sure to boldly take you where no reader has gone before.

My Review: This was such an amazing short story anthology. Usually when you read a collection of short stories there are a few winners and a bunch of losers, but with this one there are a tone of winners and a couple runners-up.

Let’s talk about how awesome it is to read a new Ray Bradbury story and a phenomenal story at that. It is an amazing story about survival, life, and love. It is such an interesting concept (a world where you only live 8 days) and is executed so well (you wouldn’t expect any less from Bradbury). And it is just one of the amazing stories. The amazing list of authors in this book would impress anyone: Rick Riordan, Shannon Hale, DJ Machale, Tom Angleberger, Neal Shusterman, Rebecca Stead, Shaun Tan, Kenneth Oppel, Eric Nylund, and Ray Bradbury. I also love the variety of stories. There are fantasy and science fiction stories – Percy Jackson right next to a story about aliens – and there are serious and funny stories – Tom Angleberger’s hilarious Rise of the Roboshoes alongside The Klack Bros. Museum by Kenneth Oppel.

Even though I don’t want to pick favorites, I would say if you are going to pick and choose go with the stories by Hale, Angleberger, Shusterman, Tan, Oppel, and Bradbury.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: I think this book would be the best as a read aloud or in the classroom library. They are just great stories and need to be shared.

Discussion Questions: After reading ___[story title]___, why do you think it was chosen to be included in Other Worlds?; What do you think is the theme of The Dirt on our Shoes by Neal Shusterman?; Which of the stories were your favorite?; In Rise of the RoboShoes what could beat the Roboshoes?; Using the illustrations and story from A Day in the Life write a narrative about the boy.

We Flagged: “All fiction and storytelling is answering that “what if…” questions. But science fiction and fantasy go a step further: They bend the rules of reality. They get to imagine the “What if” in completely other worlds.

And that is why good science fiction and fantasy stories can be so mind-expandingly fun.” (from Scieszka’s intro, p. vii-viii)

Read This If You Loved: Any of the authors who contributed or Fantasy/Science Fiction in general

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review!**

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

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Battling Boy
Author and Illustrator: Paul Pope
Expected publication October 8th, 2013 by First Second

Goodreads Summary: The adventure begins in the new graphic novel by comics legend Paul Pope.

Monsters roam through Arcopolis, swallowing children into the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is a match for them – the genius vigilante Haggard West.

Unfortunately, Haggard West is dead.

Arcopolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself.

IT’S TIME TO MEET AN ELECTRIFYING NEW HERO.

My Review: I am always impressed when an author can not only make an entire new world, but also new mythology. That is exactly what Paul Pope does in his new graphic novel (will be a series).  Arcopolis is a terrifying apocalyptic-esque town where you cannot walk around at night and you are always being watched by monsters. The setting is what makes this story really able to happen.

When reading, I could tell that Paul Pope is a “comic mastermind” because this story is set up very much like a traditional comic (good vs. evil, superheroes); however, there is a new twist on it because our hero is an underdog. This makes the reader root for him even more.

Warning: Cliffhanger ending! Battling Boy better be the first in a series, because I am dying to know what happens!

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book will be loved in middle and high school classroom libraries. Pure comic book fans will love it, fantasy fans will love it, and adventure fans will love it.

Discussion Questions: Battling Boy lets the town believe he did something that he really didn’t – was this the right choice?; How do you think Aurora will play a part in the adventure?; Do you think Battling Boy is going to be able to save Arcopolis?

We Flagged: “The public ceremony of mourning for Haggard West was scheduled for one day… It was extended to three. The private funeral followed. A somber affair by necessity closed-casket.. and it rained. The tomb of the fallen hero. She stood under the umbrella wearing her public face… She learned long ago the special responsbilities of being a hero’s daughter… She wouldn’t allow herself to cry in public. Waves of faces in the rain.” (p. 52-53)

Check out Previews World’s Sneak Peek of Battling Boy to see some of the epic artwork.

Read This If You Loved: Amulet (series) by Kazu Kibuishi, Olympians (series) by George O’Connor, Foiled (series) by Jane Yolen, The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen
[These are adult graphic novels, but very similar feeling with mythology and epic stories] Sandman (series) by Neil Gaiman, Fables (series) by Bill Willingham, The Book of Magic by Neil Gaiman

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Waluk by Emilio Ruiz

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Waluk
Author: Emilio Ruiz
Illustrator: Ana Miralles
Expected publication November 1st, 2013 by Delcourt

Goodreads Summary: Young Waluk is all alone. His mother has abandoned him, as is the way of polar bears, and now he must fend for himself. But he doesn’t know much about the world—and unfortunately, his Arctic world is changing quickly. The ice is melting, and food is hard to find.

Luckily, Waluk meets Manitok, a wise old bear with missing teeth and a bad sense of smell. Manitok knows many survival tricks, and he teaches Waluk about seals, foxes, changing seasons, and—when Manitok is caught in a trap—human beings. Has Waluk learned enough from his friend to find a way to save him?

My Review: I’m always a big fan of books that books that tell a great story, but also teaches the reader something – Waluk fits this description.

I love that this story is told in a graphic novel because it allows us to see what Waluk is experiencing. I think this is really important because many readers will not be familiar with the setting and animals.

Additionally, there are nonfiction aspects where global warming and human impact on polar bears is discussed even with a bibliography in the end for students who want to learn more.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: I would love to read this graphic novel aloud to my class just to discuss with them the environmental aspects of the book. I think the story really brings global warming and the threat polar bears feel to life. Also, the story would be a great way to discuss point of view/perspective since the story is told from Waluk’s point of view.

Discussion Questions: How is global warming threatening polar bears?; What type of character traits must Waluk have to be willing to go save Manitok?

We Flagged: Manitok “If you want to be like the great Nanook, you’ll have to feed on seal blubber and whale fat.”
Waluk “Sure. Like it’s that easy. The seals laugh at me. Not even the puny lemmings are afraid of me.”
Manitok “Nah, that’s no problem, Buddy. I’m Manitok! Descended from the legend of the great whit bears. I know how to hunt anything.”
Waluk “Really?”
Manitok “Of course! Seals, walruses, belugas, lemmings, razorbills, humans–”
Waluk “Then why are you so thin?”
Manitok “Well, it’s age… see, I’m not as good as I used to be. Frankly, it’s been a while since I’ve gorged on sea lion – taken him down with my fangs, ya know, like it’s no big deal.” (p. 18)

Read This If You Loved: Seekers (series) by Erin Hunter, Nonfiction books about global warming or polar bears, Neversink by Barry Wolverton, [For further POV discussions] Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

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**Thank you to Netgalley and Lerner Publishing Group (Graphic Universe) for providing the e-galley!**

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

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Feynman
Author: Jim Ottaviani
Art by: Leland Myrick
Coloring by: Hilary Sycamore
Published August 30th, 2011 by First Second

Goodreads Summary: Richard Feynman: physicist . . . Nobel winner . . . bestselling author . . . safe-cracker. In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death. Anyone who ever wanted to know more about Richard P. Feynman, quantum electrodynamics, the fine art of the bongo drums, the outrageously obscure nation of Tuva, or the development and popularization of the field of physics in the United States need look no further than this rich and joyful work.

Review: This book definitely showed me that I have HUGE gaps in knowledge in history, science, and math. Reading this book was so challenging for me – probably one of the hardest books I’ve read in a very, very long time. It took me 10 days because most days I didn’t read much because I’d find myself rereading or going online to research or just overwhelmed by the little bit I read. Makes me feel for our struggling readers who are given text that are too hard for them and not given scaffolding. If anyone ever tells you that graphic novels are not complex or challenging texts, hand them this book.

Now, all of this is saying things about myself, not about the book. The book itself was fascinating. I learned so much! I’ll be honest. Physics is still so over my head and most of the physics stuff talked about in the book (and that I researched) just didn’t make sense to me; however, this book also includes a great story of Feynman’s life and history about the atomic bomb, NASA, and the Nobel Prize. All of which I did truly enjoy and learn something from. It was also quite funny at times- Feynman was a character!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I cannot wait to show this text to the physical science teachers at my school. It is a great text to show content area teachers that there are wonderful texts out there that can be used in the classroom. This book then can expand to even more instruction on Feynman and all of his physics. You can even view Feynman’s lectures online!!

Discussion Questions: When Feynman was working on the atomic bomb, some of his colleagues felt that it was a devastating invention while others continued working on it without thinking of the destruction it would cause. How do you feel about the construction of the atomic bomb? Were the use/construction of them justified?; After watching one of Feynman’s lectures, why was he better at explaining physics than other lecturers?

We Flagged: “But then a miracle occurred. And it’s occurred again and again in my life, and it’s very lucky for me. The moment I start to think about physics and concentrate on what I’m explaining, I’m completely immune to being nervous. No worries about the audience and the personalities. I was calm, everything was good. My talk wasn’t good because I wasn’t used to giving lectures, but there was no nervousness until I sat down. Einstein appreciated that things might be different from his famous theory of relativity – very nice, and very interesting. Pauli had more objections, but Wheeler kept his promise and answered all of them.” (p. 48-49)

Read This If You Loved: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman! and other books by Richard P. Feynman On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne, Who Was Albert Einstein? by Jess M. Brallier, Nonfiction physics books

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Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

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Tommysaurus Rex
Author and Illustrator: Doug TenNapel
Published May 28th, 2013 by GRAPHIX

Summary: After Ely’s dog Tommy dies from being hit by a car, Ely’s father allows him to take a trip to visit his grandfather’s farm. His father hopes this trip will help him overcome his grief as well as give him some sense of responsibility. However, everything goes awry when Ely accidentally comes across a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ely all of a sudden finds him self with a new goal- cleaning up the T-Rex’s mess and proving he is harmless.

My Review: Doug TenNapel is one of the most popular authors in my classroom. All of his graphic novels fly off my shelves and never spend much time back there once they are returned. The biggest draw of his graphic novels are they are so unique, action-packed, funny, smart, colorful, and very well done. Tommysaurus Rex is no different. This story is one that will make so many students want to read it and I know that each reader will be telling a friend about it. Just like his other graphic novels, this one is so much fun!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I think the best use for this graphic novel is getting it into students’ hands and letting them read it. It will find its home on middle school shelves and will be eaten up by readers. Although, another option would be to use it with book clubs as it would be quite popular, I see it more as a classroom library purchase.

Discussion Questions: Have you ever lost a pet? How can you connect with how Ely was feeling?; Ely had trouble with bullies when he got to his grandfather’s farm. How could he have dealt with them differently? Have you ever been bullied? How did you deal with the situation?

We Flagged: “Come out and play with me. You must be scared… knowing that you’re probably the only one like you in the whole world…Well, Rex, you’re in luck, I’m right here with you.” (p. 41-42)

To see a preview of the graphic novel, visit Amazon to Click to Look Inside.

Read This If You Loved: Bad Island, Ghostopolis, or Cardboard by Doug TenNapel, Mal and Chad (series) by Stephen McCranie, Jellaby (series) by Kean Soo, Sidekicks by Dan Santat

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Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book). Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

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Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas
Author: Jim Ottaviani
Illustrator: Maris Wicks
Published June 11th, 2013 by First Second

Summary: Three woman in the 1960s and 1970s took part in primatology research that would change the way that we think about primates. Three woman who took a chance and researched potentially dangerous animals in their wild habitats. Three woman who took risks when many did not believe that woman should be part of the sciences. Primates tells the stories of Jane Goodall, a researcher of chimps, Dian Fossey, a gorilla expert, and Birute Galdikas, an orangutan researcher, and how their lives overlap and differ.

My Review: I may be bias, but this is one of my favorite nonfiction graphic novels ever. Bias because I am a huge ape advocate and am fascinated by them. These creatures are amazing; their intelligence is so remarkable that it is hard to even fathom. The reason why I loved this book is because it takes you through the research of three groundbreaking woman scientists and what they learned about the three completely different apes. It makes sure to show how each ape is different and spectacular as well as how each lady’s research made an impact.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I think that this book is a great introduction to apes and would be a perfect read aloud before book talking other books such as Endangered (about a different ape that isn’t mentioned in Primates), Hurt Go HappyHalf Brother, and other nonfiction like Chimpanzees I LoveMe…Jane, and Gorillas in the Mist.  Check out my Nerdy Book Club Post: Top Ten Ape Books (which I would definitely add this one to) to see what other books you could connect Primates too.

Discussion Questions: How do the apes that Jane, Dian, and Birute study similar? Different?; How did Dr. Leaky play a part in all three women’s research?; Which ape is your favorite? Why?

We Flagged: Part 1: But in my dreams, I did bigger things Ever since I was a very young girl I had Africa in my blood so to speak. Sometimes my mother Vanne might have hoped I’d get over it, but even as I grew older I never did. “I do wish you’d read something… else, on occasion” “But I do! I just finished Dr. Dolittle.” “Yes, for the… How many times is that?” “Seven, Mummy.” “Well you’ll never get into a top school if that’s all you study.” “I shan’t be going to college – I want to live with wild animals when I grow up!”” (p. 3)

Also check out the School Library Journal Blog’s interview with Jim Ottaviani to see some of the artwork.

Read This If You Loved: Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey, Any nonfiction book about apes including Chimpanzees I Love by Jane Goodall, Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby, Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, Little Beauty by Anthony Browne, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

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What is your favorite ape book?
Have you read Primates yet? What did you think?

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