Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger

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Crankee Doodle
Author: Tom Angelberger
Illustrator: Cece Bell
Published June 4th, 2013 by Clarion Books

Goodreads Summary: “Yankee Doodle went to town / a-riding on a pony / stuck a feather in his hat / and called it macaroni.” Many know the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but few understand it. This unapologetically silly picture book reveals that the legendary ride to town (and the whole macaroni thing) was all suggested by Mr. Doodle’s overeager pony. This just makes Mr. Doodle cranky: “I do not want macaroni. I do not want a feather. I do not want any other clothing, any other pasta, or any other parts of a bird. I do not want anything that they have in town!” A historical note ends this colorful, comical take on a nonsensical old song.

My Review: Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell are a match made in heaven (good think they found each other)! This book is funny from page one and will definitely get the reader giggling.  The hilarious story line mixed with the colorful, exaggerated, silly illustrations make the reader purely engaged in the book.  This book will definitely make the reader sing “Yankee Doodle” and want to read the book again.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: What I love about this book is that it’ll be a perfect read aloud, but it also connects to history by having a historical note in the back. Who wrote “Yankee Doodle”? No one knows, but what a great conversation started and a way to introduce Colonial America.

In the story, the word macaroni is also discussed. Macaroni used to mean fancy, but now it obviously doesn’t. What a way to begin a discussion of how words change meaning over time. There are TONS of words that have changed their meaning.  Going over this and giving would really start a great discussion and could lead to some amazing activities.

Discussion Questions: Why would the British want to make fun of Americans during Colonial America?; How did the horse persuade Doodle to go to town?; How would this story have been different if the pony was the lazy and Doodle wasn’t?

We Flagged: Pony: “Macaroni is just another word for fancy.”
Doodle: “Says you. That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. Macaroni isn’t fancy. It’s macaroni. You know what’s fancy? Lasagna. Lasagna is fancy. Lasagna has all those little ripples in it, and then it gets baked with cheese and tomatoes and vegetables. Then you eat it with some garlic bread. Now, that’s fancy!” (p. 14-15)

Read This If You Loved: Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming, Rabbit and Robot by Cece Bell, Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley

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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!**

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

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The Day the Crayons Quit
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Published June 27th, 2013 by Philomel

Goodreads Summary: Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me 

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

Review: Told through letters, this story of revolt reminds me a bit of Toy Story in that when I finished, I felt like I needed to get out my crayons and use each one and let them know they are loved. This is probably one of my favorite picture books this year (maybe in general) because it promotes so much that I believe in: art, imagination, and caring. This book would be a great addition to Dot Day activities (Sept. 15, 2013).

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Automatically, after reading, I saw that the best way to use this book in the classroom is to first use it to promote imagination. Too many kids aren’t told to use their imagination often any more.

Also, I would use the inanimate object point of views to have students participate in a RAFT writing activity which helps students think about different perspectives. RAFT stands for R: Role, A: Audience, F: Format, T: Topic. In the book, Drew Daywalt was writing as a crayon (R) to their owner (A) in a letter (F) about their use (T). The students could pick their own toy and write a letter to themselves about their use.  So many possibilities!

Discussion Questions: What toy do you use at home more than others? What would this toy say to you? What about a toy you don’t use?; Draw a picture of a zoo or ocean scene, but use your imagination when it comes to size, color, and placement.

We Flagged: “Dear Duncan, It has been great being your FAVORITE color this PAST year. And the year before. And the YEAR before THAT! I have really enjoyed all those oceans, lakes, rivers, raindrops, rain clouds, and clear skies. but the BAD NEWS is that I am so short and stubby, I can’t even see over the railing in the crayon box anymore! I need a break! Your very stubby friend, Blue Crayon”

Read This If You Loved: Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp, The Dot and Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds, Chalk by Bill Thomson, Art & Max by David Weisner, Not a… series by Antoinette Portis, Art by Patrick McDonnell, Perfect Square by Michael Hall, Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

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I think we should all get out some crayons today and color; enjoy your crayons, but make sure to use imagination and don’t show favoritism! 

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Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

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Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin
Author: Liesl Shurtliff
Published April 9th, 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

Review: I love fairy tale retellings! They are so clever and I am so impressed with how an author can read a story and then think up a prequel or a different version of it. This specific retelling has jumped to become one of my favorites because I felt that she has made a wonderful, fantastical world and was able to see Rumpelstiltskin as more than just an antagonist.

I also felt that the book did have a moral, as all fairy tales should, but it is one that creeps up on you at the end and is such a great discussion starter.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book would make a fantastic read aloud! All students will enjoy it and it is just so fun! It will also find a home in many students’ hands by being in the classroom library.

Discussion Questions: Before reading the book, look at the chapter titles and predict what you think each title/the book will be about.; What do you think the moral of Rump is?; Look back at the original story of Rumpelstiltskin. How does the new information that Liesl Shurtliff has given us in Rump change how you view the original story?

We Flagged: “My mother named me after a cow’s read end. It’s the favorite village joke, and probably the only one, but it’s not really true. At least I don’t think it’s true, and neither does Gran. Really, my mother had another name for me, a wonderful name, but no on ever hear it. They only heard the first part. The worst part.” (p. 1)

Read This If You Loved: Rumpelstiltskin by The Grimm Brothers, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso, Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst, The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker, A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, The Other Slipper by Kenechi Udogu

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Rump was a #virtualbookclub book on Twitter. Did you take part in the chat?
What did you learn from the chat? How are you going to use Rump in your class?

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Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

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

 

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Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems
Author: Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator: Carin Berger
Published February 26th, 2013 by Greenwillow Books

Summary: Jack Prelutsky combines inanimate objects with animals to give us a new collection of fun poetry that is accompanied by Carin Berger’s amazing fine artwork.

My Review: I love the concept behind this book. It is set up like an informational nonfiction book with each poem being presented like a specimen. Carin Berger’s artwork is full of found objects that were photographed to add to the nonfiction feeling of each poem.   And, of course, Prelutsky adds a sense of humor to each poem as that is what he does.

The creatures that Prelutsky came up with are so clever – SOBCATS who are sad cats, JOLLYFISH who are happy jellyfish, TATTLESNAKE are snakes that won’t stop tattling, and GLOOSE are a bird that keep sticking to everything. And these are just four examples of sixteen in the book.

I cannot review this book without talking about the artwork. I originally chose this book because I saw it on a Mock Caldecott list and I can definitely see why. Carin Berger illustrates this novel with beautiful pieces of artwork. As stated on the copyright page: “The miniature dioramas in this book are assemblages created using a combination of cut paper, found ephemera, vintage engravings (which were scanned, manipulated in Photoshop, and then printed out), beeswax, wire, thread, and wood. Once each piece was made, it was then photographed digitally to prepare the full-color art.” What a fantastic process to discuss with students and it definitely added an essential aspect to the book.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Each poem is its own discussion starter. First, to separate the title creatures into the two words that were combined and looking at what the animals is and what the word is that it was combined with. For example: “Chormorants” is a combination of CORMORANT and CHORES. Then I’d look through the poem and find where the animal is represented and where the combined word plays a role. And on top of that, each poem can be looked at as a poem and look for poetic elements within it.  Each poem is a stand-alone, well done poem that is sure to start a conversation.

Discussion Questions: Which poem is your favorite? Why?; Combine an animal with a word and write a poem about this new creature.; How do you think Berger’s artwork added to the book? How would cartoon illustrations have made the book different?

We Flagged: Every poem is a gem, but this is my favorite-

“PLANDAS sit around all day,
Planning what to do.
Their plans amount to nothing,
For they never see them through.
They plan to run a marathon
Or take a railroad trip.
They plan to cross the ocean
On a wooden sailing ship.
***
They plan to learn to roller-skate,
To juggle, and to fence.
They plan to go to clown school
And cavort in circus tents.
They plan to play the saxophone
And form their own brass bands. . . .
But PLANDAS never do these things –
They just keep making plans.” (p. 21)

Read This If You Loved: Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, My Teacher Likes to Say by Denise Brennan-Nelson,  Lemonade by Bob Raczka

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Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!: Sidekicked by John David Anderson

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We are so happy to be hosting a stop on the Sidekicked blog tour! Walden Pond Press is such a fantastic publisher and we love being able to partake in the hype of their equally wonderful titles. Make sure that, after you stop by our tour stop, you visit the other stops: SIDEKICKED: The Superhero Blog Tour.

Today, for our blog tour stop, I (Kellee) will be reviewing Sidekicked and we’ll also be hosting a giveaway!

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Sidekicked
Author: John David Anderson
Published June 25th, 2013 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: Andrew Bean was born with amazing abilities to sense things (hear, see, taste, touch and smell) better than anyone else on the planet. No wonder that he was recruited to be part of H.E.R.O. program at the middle school: an extracurricular “club” to prep students with super-powers to become the city’s superhero’s sidekicks.  Andrew, along with five other extraordinary middle schoolers including Andrew’s best friend Jenna, join Mr. Martin three times a week to work on their powers and to prepare to be the best sidekick possible. Andrew’s only problem is that his superhero is MIA not even showing up to save him when he is hanging over a pool of acid. However, Andrew’s problem seems like nothing when supervillains escape from high security prison and begin rampaging their town–throwing the sidekicks right in the middle of a super-big problem.

My Review: What a super fun book! I love the concept of H.E.R.O. and how starting in middle school sidekicks are trained to be help to their superhero–talk about career track! This concepts lends to a great story because not only do you have the sidekicks/superhero aspect of the story, but you also are throwing these kids in the middle of middle school- major drama!

Right in the middle of this drama and action is Andrew. What a funny kid! I love his voice and his story. He is a perfect protagonist for this novel (I cannot even imagine the story being told from any of the other sidekick’s POV). He is a bit nerdy, a sweet boy, pretty sarcastic, friends with the the star sidekick, and has some seriously awesome powers (even if they aren’t physical). The nerdy/sweet/sarcastic part gives us a pretty snarky, fun narrator that many people will connect with. Being friends with the star sidekick gives us some insight into her life which is pretty darn exciting and also adds the strong female and a tiny bit of romance. Finally, his type of superpowers lends to the story being told because the whole book is about Andrew figuring out his spot in the mess around him and that includes empowering his superpowers.

OH, and just you wait for the last quarter. Holy plot twist Batman! I was very shocked about part of what transpires at the end and I think you and our students will be as well.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is definitely for all middle school classroom libraries! It will find great readership from all types of readers: Alex Rider fans to action/adventure fans to powerful female character fans. All you need to booktalk it, get it into a couple of students’ hands, and it will never be on the shelf. The book would also be great as a read aloud because it is fun and would lend to some great predictions and some discussions about right vs. wrong as well as the choices the characters make. It has humor and action enough to draw in an entire class!

Discussion Questions: Which of the sidekicks’ superpowers would you rather have? Why?; Which of the superheroes would you rather be a sidekick for?; Some superheroes think that they do not need a sidekick- what are your feelings? Is 2 better than 1?; Jenna asks (in Ch. 16) a pretty tough question- what makes someone a good person? After reading Ch. 16, discuss this question.

We Flagged: “It’s Tuesday. It’s Tuesday and I’m in costume, but just barely. That is to say that I have my mask and outfit on, so nobody knows who I am. Or almost nobody at least. Which pretty much sums up my life as a whole. It’s Tuesday, which means it is sloppy joe day in the cafeteria, which is bad enough, but that’s not the worth thing that can happen to you. It’s Tuesday- middle of September, only a month into the new school year- and I’m hovering over Justicia community poo, which two weeks ago was still filled with a dozen drowning bugs and the farewell tinkle from the last toddler to be dragged streaming out of it. Today it is filled with acid. Seriously. Acid.” (p. 9)

Read This If You Love: Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series by William Boniface, Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy series by David Steinberg, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Mal and Chad series by Stephen McCranie

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I know you all want to read this book- it is so good!

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**Thank you to Kellie at Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

Junket is Nice by Dorothy Kunhardt

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Junket is Nice
Author: Dorothy Kunhardt
Published: June 25th, 2013 by NYR Children’s Collection
(First published: 1933)

Summary: An old man with a red beard and red slippers eats junket out of a big, red bowl. All of the people arrive and want to know what he thinks about while he eats his junket. The old man tells them the three things he is NOT thinking about, and the people try to guess what he is thinking. Only the little boy, who arrived last, truly knows what the old man is thinking while he is eating his junket.

Ricki’s Review: Kids will love the crowd’s nonsensical guesses of what the old man is thinking about while he eats his junket–from “a kangaroo jumping over a glass of orange juice so as not to spill it” to “a bear climbing a ladder because his toenails are too long for walking on the ground”–I can imagine a whole class giggling as the people make their guesses.

Dorothy Kunhardt has a very creative imagination that kids are sure to enjoy. The drawings are very humorous, and I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read this picture book–the idea of a “daddy-long-legs holding up his foot for the sun to warm it” is just very silly! Junket is Nice would allow for a lot of great, creative thinking in the classroom. Readers of Pat the Bunny are sure to enjoy this classic.

Kellee’s Review: This book is so full of imagination. The clever, funny animals that the crowd comes up with while trying to guess what the old man is thinking will definitely, like Ricki says, make a whole class giggle. It also will be the most discussed part of the book, I’m sure.  You can tell that Dorothy Kunhardt was full of imagination and wanted to make this book as fun as possible.  Her son remembers her being curious and appreciating the way young people viewed the book, and you can tell by Junket is Nice that she embraced this curiosity and put as much of it into her books as possible.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Teachers could use this book and have students create their own riddles like Kunhardt’s–“What is the old man thinking while he eats his junket?” They could even create their own picture books for their riddles. Alternatively, a teacher might read all the way up to the section of the book that gives the answer to the riddle. Then, each student in the classroom might draw their own creative guess about what the old man is thinking. This would allow students to make predictions, based on the other guesses within the book.

Discussion Questions: What might the old man be thinking about when he eats his junket?; Why might the little boy be the only one who knows what the old man is thinking about?; Was the ending satisfying, or did you wish the old man was thinking about something else?

We Flagged: “‘People why don’t you try and guess what I am thinking about all the time I am eating my junket and if you guess right I will give you something nice'” (p. 16).

Read This If You Loved: Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems, other picture book classics like Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton 

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Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below so you can win your own copy of Junket is Nice!

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**Thank you to Media Masters Publicity for providing copies for us to review**