Ling & Ting Share A Birthday by Grace Lin

Share

ling

Ling & Ting Share A Birthday
Author and Illustrator: Grace Lin
Published September 10th, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: Ling & Ting are twins. They share a birthday. They bake cakes, and they make birthday wishes. They tell stories and wrap gifts. They also share a birthday secret!

Have fun with Ling and Ting! They stick together and look alike. But they are not exactly the same.

Review and Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: I am not an expert on early chapter books, but I am trying to read more than I did in the past. What I have noticed is that most early readers have short compelling stories or chapters with interesting characters and often teach a lesson or would make the reader thing. Ling & Ting is no different and is an excellent addition to the early readers I’ve read. Ling & Ting are twins, but are very different people. It is a great opportunity to discuss identity and personality. Also, each chapter of Ling & Ting’s story put them in different situations and are all opportunities to discuss these situations. Finally, Grace Lin gives teachers/students/readers many opportunities to discuss character traits and compare/contrast the two twins.

Discussion Questions: How are Ling & Ting different? The same?; When Ling & Ting didn’t know what to buy for the other twin, what did they do? Do you agree with what they did?

We Flagged: “Ling reads the cookbook very carefully. She mixes butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Ting does not read the cookbook carefully. She mixes butter, sugar, and eggs. Ling and Ting put their cake in the oven. They watch them bake. Ling’s cake bakes golden. Ting’s cake does not.” (p. 17-19)

Read This If You Loved: Penny series by Kevin Henkes, Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems, Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett

Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall

Signature

The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut: Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller

Share

arnie

Bowling Alley Bandit
Author and Illustrator: Laurie Keller
Published June 4th, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.

Goodreads Summary: As Mr. Bing’s new pet “doughnut dog,” Arnie couldn’t be happier. When Mr. Bing joins a bowling league, Arnie gets to go along to practices and competitions. But then Mr. Bing starts rolling gutter balls. Someone or something is behind the madness. Arnie, together with his team of goofball friends, must sort through the shenanigans and solve the mystery. Get ready for some sleuthing and even some magic.

Full of Laurie Keller’s winning charm and silly humor, this chapter book—the first in the series—is sure to please her many fans.

My Review and Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book is going to be loved by kids. It is hilarious and is one rung below Big Nate on the humor, illustrated novel ladder. It is a great book to help readers get from early readers to middle grade illustrated novels. In the classroom, it would be a great book to use to practice prediction as the reader is given clues throughout the book to figure out who the bowling alley bandit is. Also, as a teacher, I personally loved all of the wit, puns, and funny similes in the book! These would be great to read with kids.

Discussion Questions: What other doughnut songs could Arnie sing at karaoke? Think of famous songs and tweak their title or lyrics to make them about doughnuts.

We Flagged: “But of all the great things about the bowling alley, my favorite is that there’s a restaurant inside called the Bowl-o’-Chow and they have a KARAOKE MACHINE! I usually watch Mr. Bing bowl for a while, and then I wander over to the Bowl-o’-Chow to sing a few songs. I was scared to try it at first, but now I’m a regular.

Here are a few of my old standbys:
Living’ la vi-DOUGH loca!
You ain’t nothin’ but a DOUGHNUT-DOG cryin’ all the time.
Fried in the U.S.A.!

And I always end with my signature song:
DOUGHNUT make my brown eyes blue.”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce, Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall

Signature

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

Share

penny

Penny and her Marble
Author and Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Published February 19th, 2013 by GreenwillowBooks

Goodreads Summary: In the third easy-to-read book about Penny the mouse, written by Caldecott Medalist and bestselling author Kevin Henkes, Penny finds a beautiful marble on her neighbor’s lawn and must decide whether or not to keep it. With age-appropriate vocabulary, compelling characters, and a memorable storyline, this is just right for newly independent readers.

Kevin Henkes is known for his mouse characters, including Lilly, Owen, Chrysanthemum, Wemberly, and now Penny! In Penny and her Marble, the third book in the Penny series, Penny finds a marble on Mrs. Goodwin’s yard and takes it home. But does the marble really belong to Penny? Kevin Henkes is a master at creating beautifully illustrated books that resonate with young children. The Penny books are new classics for beginning readers and will appeal to fans of Frog and Toad, Little Bear, and Henry and Mudge.

Review and Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I am a huge fan of Kevin Henkes. I really enjoy everything he writes—he is so talented! His work ranges from picture books to early readers to chapter books to middle grade novels and all that I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed, and Penny and Her Marble was no different. Like the Goodreads summary says, Penny’s story is perfect for our early readers. Her story is one that children will connect with; however, Henkes never talks down to his readers. What struck me was the beautiful language that he used throughout–to describe Penny’s feelings, the marble, the day, etc.

Discussion Questions: If you were Penny, would you have kept the marble?; Is there anything you’ve taken without asking? What did you do?; Like Kevin Henkes does, look at different marbles and use similes to describe them.

We Flagged: “The marble was so blue it looked like a piece of the sky. Penny went to the window and held up the marble. She was right. The marble was like a piece of the sky.” (p. 16-17)

Read This If You Loved: Other Kevin Henkes books, Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik, Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Signature

Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice by Catherine Lewis

Share

Thrice Told Tales

Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice
Author: Catherine Lewis
Published: August 27th, 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

GoodReads Summary: Three Blind Mice. Three Blind Mice. See how they run? No. See how they can make all sorts of useful literary elements colorful and easy to understand! Can one nursery rhyme explain the secrets of the universe? Well, not exactly—but it can help you understand the difference between bildungsroman, epigram, and epistolary.

From the absurd to the wish-I’d-thought-of-that clever, writing professor Catherine Lewis blends Mother Goose with Edward Gorey and Queneau, and the result is learning a whole lot more about three not so helplessmice, and how to fine tune your own writing, bildungsroman and all.

If your writing is your air, this is your laughing gas.*

*That’s a metaphor, friends.

Review: This is one of those books that is so clever, I am depressed that I didn’t come up with the idea myself. Reading and writing teachers will adore the way this book is constructed and be excited to use it in their classrooms. A different writing term is creatively interpreted on each page within the context of the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme. At the bottom of each page, Lewis gives an explanation of the writing term and how it can be employed in writing (see the flagged passage below). I loved the ways Lewis humorously portrayed each term. For example, on the page about style, she takes a line from the nursery rhyme and rewrites it in the style of famous authors like Dickens and Hemingway. As a bonus, I learned about a few literary terms that I didn’t know! It was so fun to read. I shared it with my pre-service teachers, and they also adored it and were excited to use it in their own classrooms.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Teachers can hand-pick terms they want to teach to their students. I wish this book was published when I was teaching because it makes the literary terms very accessible. Teachers can take the terms and ask students to reinterpret them within the context of a different nursery rhyme (or even within the context of a song or movie).

Discussion Questions: How can I rewrite a nursery rhyme to show a literary term?; How can I employ these literary/writing terms to make me a better writer?

We Flagged: “Developing one’s style is like developing a sense of fashion. You may start off by trying on a lot of costume jewelry; big showy ten-dollar words. They’ll get attention all right, but maybe you’ll discover there’s something better out there for you. Perhaps you’ll try a charm bracelet full of dangling modifiers. Or a simple silver bracelet and an onyx ring. Keep experimenting for pleasant combinations, and a truer picture of yourself and your work will begin to emerge” (p. 134).

Read This If You Loved: In the Middle by Nancie Atwell, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Writing Workshop by Ralph Fletcher, Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayres with Christi Overman

Recommended for:

readaloudbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

026F3FBCC8C3913BD3A4D3F6920340D5

What is your favorite book for teaching writing? Can you think of creative ways to use this in the classroom?

 

The Chatswood Spooks #1 & #2 by Notti Thistledore

Share

Halloween

chatswood1 chatswood2

The Chatswood Spooks
Author: Notti Thistledore
Illustrator: Nela Krzewniak
A Frightful Recipe published January 15th, 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Sheets and Ladders published February 17th, 2013 by Crooked Chimney Books

Goodreads Summary (A Frightful Recipe): The Chatswood Spooks are in trouble. If they don’t improve their scare tactics they’ll have to find somewhere else to haunt. But the spooks have lived their entire afterlives at the Chatswood Manor, and are determined to show just how scary they can be.

Unfortunately, they haven’t counted on having to scare Ivan the Fearless…

The Chatswood Spooks: A Frightful Recipe is the first in the Chatswood Spooks series. Each story is illustrated with detailed line drawings and is bursting with silliness.

Goodreads Summary (Sheets and Ladders): With his sheets, chains and pet spider, Jingo likes to look the part of the classic ghost. So when someone puts their red knickers in with Jingo’s favourite white haunting sheets, Jingo is devastated.

Feeling hurt and unloved, he decides to run away to join the local Carnival. But what Jingo has in spooking skills he lacks in street smarts, and he soon finds himself in trouble…

My Review: A cute (non)scary ghost story early chapter book that features 3 very different ghost personalities. I loved the vocabulary throughout this book that was not overwhelming yet showed that the author was obviously not writing down to her readers. She also had allusions to fairy tales, word play, and onomatopoeias making the narrative more interesting. I also found the author’s humor really rang throughout.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I could definitely see these books being used as a read aloud in a classroom as well as a great mentor text to introduce narrative elements since it has a perfect plot arc, conflict, and interesting characters as well as an introduction into figurative and descriptive language and allusions.

Discussion Questions: Book 1: What do you think the ghosts are going to do to be scarier?; Book 2: Do you think Jingo did the right thing by running away?

We Flagged: “On Tuesday evening Toby, the caretaker of Chatswood Manor, called a meeting. All three Chatswood Manor ghosts were there, as well as two crows and a stone gargoyle.
“That gargoyle is worse than Hansel and Gretel,” muttered Winifred as she swept a trail of rocks from the carpet.
“Ahem!” Toby adjusted his half-moon spectacles and consulted a sheet of paper with a squiggly graph on it. Now, listen up, spooks. You’re here because my research shows that you’re all lazy to the bone!”” (Book #1, Location 5)

“Hauling his battered suitcase along behind him, Jingo wandered out onto Bridges Road. All the way he kept telling himself that the Chatswood ghosts were very disrespectful and didn’t deserve to work with him.” (Book #2, Location 34)

“The moon was starting to drag across the sky when the Ghost Bus appeared. Jingo stuck out his thumb to flad it down. The Ghost Bus was the sort of old-fashioned car that had to be started with a hand crank, and its headlights could only be turned on with a switch near the grille.”(Book #2, Location 40)

Read This If You Loved: Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watts, The Witches by Roald Dahl, Ivy Bean and the Ghost that had to Go by Annie Barrows

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall

Signature

**Thank you to Notti Thistledore for supplying copies of these books for review**

Blog Tour, Review, Giveaway, and Illustrator Interview!: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, Illustrated by Erin McGuire

Share

RB - Blog Tour Banner

We are so excited to be part of The Real Boy Blog Tour hosted by Walden Pond Press!

17349055

The Real Boy
Author: Anne Ursu
Illustrator: Erin McGuire
Published September 24th, 2013 by Walden Pond Press

Goodreads Summary: On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

My Review: I love middle grade high fantasy! It is always amazing to me that an author is able to build an entire world that doesn’t exist and then puts these amazing characters and magic and story into this world. This is exactly what Anne Ursu did with The Real Boy. More importantly than my review of raving and raving about this book is the guest post I have to share today.

This is the second book that Erin McGuire and Anne Ursu collaborated on and Erin’s artwork adds an even more magic to an already magical story. Today, we are lucky to have Erin here to answer some questions about her work.

Kellee: I’d love to know about your past: When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator? Did you go to school for art? etc.

Erin McGuire: I’ve always loved drawing, and all throughout high school I kept sketchbooks, and still do to this day. My mother is a sixth grade teacher, so she often recommended new kid lit to me (she still does!) and always encouraged reading in general. 

As for my education- I attended Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida as an illustration major. While I was a student there, I worked as a student librarian for four years. That was where I discovered Lisbeth Zwerger, Shaun Tan, Adam Rex, and all of the other illustrators who would influence my work.

K: I’m very interested in knowing about how illustrators and authors work together. Did you get the entire manuscript before beginning? Did you just get snippets? Do illustrations have to be approved before they go in the book? How do you choose what the characters are going to look like? Do you get character descriptions from the author? etc. 

EM: Each project is a bit different depending on how much I’ll be involved. On books where I only do the covers, sometimes I don’t see the manuscript, just a book summary and a list of character descriptions. For Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy, I read the full manuscripts since I’d be illustrating all the interiors as well. Usually the editor or art director will email me a list of scenes they’d like for the interiors. The artwork always goes through an approval process, being approved by the art director, editor, and (in some cases, but not always) the author. 

I did a lot of sketches for the characters to create the look for this world, how the upper and lower classes look different, what the fashion would be, how the rooms should look, etc. All of that was sent to Anne, who gave me some insights into her thought process for the time period and style of the world.

Rarely do I get to work with the author directly, it’s almost always with the editor and art director as middle men. This is intentional, and helps the illustrator focus on their work and sets some limits on how much one can influence the other. 

K: You worked with Anne on Breadcrumbs as well – how did it come about that you became the illustrator for The Real Boy

EM: Breadcrumbs was a really fun project for me, I felt like I was a good fit for that world, and illustrating Anne’s writing felt very natural to me. I think the team felt that I’d be a good fit for The Real Boy as well since I’d done some other fantasy work. My agent asked me if I was interested and I immediately emailed her back an “Absolutely.” As it turns out, I think The Real Boy is now my favorite project ever. It helps that I like drawing cats!

TRB_ill03

K: I noticed that The Real Boy is a mixture of pencil, ink, and possibly water color — How did you choose the style you are going to use for each book? 

EM: The Real Boy felt like a much warmer story than Breadcrumbs. There are so many natural materials, animals, trees, even the magic itself feels natural in the story. I painted all of the Breadcrumbs illustrations digitally, and I didn’t think that same style would make sense for The Real Boy. So for this book, I did all of the illustrations on toned paper in pencil, and a mix of gouache, white chalk, and sometimes ink. All of them were scanned and touched up digitally, but starting out with a more natural drawing felt right for this story.

TRB_ill09

K: I also loved Darkbeast which you illustrated! Like The Real Boy and Breadcrumbs it is a middle grade fantasy novel. Many of the novels you have done the covers for or have illustrated are fantasy, but you also illustrated the new Nancy Drew Diaries — do you like illustrating fantasy or realistic fiction books better? 

EM: It’s really hard to pick a favorite genre, but usually I prefer the stories that have a mix of both worlds (along the lines of Breadcrumbs, where the normal world is affected by fantasy elements in some way). Purely fantasy worlds are fun because you get to create how everything looks, how everyone dresses, and there are fewer rules. I spent a lot of time just gathering reference to create the world for The Real Boy. And I’ve always wanted to draw a fantasy map! 

trb_interiors_map01

The more realistic work I’ve done (Nancy Drew) is fun in a different way because you just get to “go shopping” for those characters. I’ll go online to different clothing sites and pick out outfits for Nancy to wear. Every project has something different about it that appeals to me.

K: What are some other projects you’ve worked on? 

EM: Along with Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy, I’ve worked on the Nancy Drew Diaries series, the Saranormal series, the Higher Power of Lucky series, a picture book called French Ducks in Venice, and covers for many other books. (The whole list is on my website http://www.emcguire.net/).

K: Can you share with us what projects you are working on now? 

EM: I’m still working on Nancy Drew, and other projects that I’m not able to talk about yet. I’m also starting to write my own picture books, which is a totally different challenge, but exciting for me!

It is so fascinating how authors and illustrators work together. It really is magical.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: On top of the amazing world building and history building, Anne Ursu also writes beautifully. There are examples of figurative language usage all throughout the book. It would be an amazing piece of mentor text for writing workshop. Oh, and it would obviously be an amazing read aloud!

Discussion Questions: What makes someone human?; Do you think cats sense things that humans cannot?; If there was magic, do you think it’d make the world a better or worse place?

We Flagged: “Oscar and Callie sat in the library awhile longer, Callie scanning the books for more information, Oscar just sitting inside his mind. There were not answers about the children, but they did not even know what the questions were anymore. The world had ruptured once again. Even history could disappear under your feet.” (p. 185)

“There is a way the truth hist you, both hard and gentle at the same time. It punches you in the stomach as it puts it s loving arms around your shoulder.” (p. 206)

Read This If You Loved: The Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Breadcrumbs by Anne UrsuTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

Recommended For: 

readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall

Don’t forget to visit the other Real Boy Blog Tour Stops: 

Monday, 9/30 – Maria’s Melange – Maria’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Tuesday, 10/1 – There’s a Book – Danielle’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Wednesday, 10/2 – sharpread – Colby Interviews Anne
Thursday, 10/3 – Novel Sounds – Elena’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Friday, 10/4 – Word Spelunking – Aeicha Interviews Anne
Saturday, 10/5 – The Hiding Spot – Sara’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Sunday, 10/6 – The Brain Lair – Kathy’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Monday, 10/7 – Read, Write, Reflect – Anne Talks Oscar with Katherine
Tuesday, 10/8 – Librarian’s Quest – Margie’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Wednesday, 10/9 – Buried in Books – Heather’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Thursday, 10/10 – The Book Monsters – Kristen’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Friday, 10/11 – Cari’s Book Blog – Cari’s Take on The Real Boy + An Interview with Anne
Saturday, 10/12 – Unleashing Readers – Kellee Interviews Illustrator Erin McGuire + Giveaway
Sunday, 10/13 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Gina’s Take on The Real Boy + Giveaway
Monday, 10/14 – Heise Reads and Recommends – Editor Jordan Brown Interviews Anne
Tuesday, 10/15 – Bulldog Readers Blog – The Bulldog Readers Debut Their Book Trailer
GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Kellie at Walden Pond Press for a copy of The Real Boy for review and giveaway, for setting up the blog tour and review, and to Erin McGuire for her wonderful interview!
Signature

Tom T’s Hat Rack by Michele Spry

Share

tom t

Tom T’s Hat Rack
Author: Michele Spry
Illustrator: Peggy A. Guest
Published January 2, 2013 by Spry Publishing

Summary: After Mr. T’s bout of cancer, he has decided that he wants to help make other people’s journeys during their chemo and radiation a bit easier. To do this, he asks his young friend Shelby to help him make a special project. Shelby Summers is one of those young people who understands the golden rule- she is good to all around her because she knows that is the right thing to do. This book shares with us the story of Mr. T and Shelby building their gift for others and what it is like to pay it forward.

My Review: This book’s purpose is more than just a narrative. The author, in her letter to me that came with the book, shared how she hopes the book would inspire others to pay it forward. “This simple act of kindness towards others is so simple to do and encourage others to do.” Too many children are growing up without thinking about this important aspect of humanity. Tom T’s Hat Rack is a great platform for starting that conversation.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: In the back of the book, the author has laid out ways for students to pay it forward just like Mr. T and Shelby. First, there is a brainstorming page to consider how the reader could help his or her community. Then the author’s page shares with the reader the story behind the book (Michele’s inspiration was a friend of hers that was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was still positive and upbeat during his treatment). Finally, the hat rack plans are included so that the readers could make a hat rack for their community just like Mr. T and Shelby. I think that this is an important book because of what it teaches and the conversations that it’ll start. It’ll be perfect for a read aloud or book club in middle elementary grades. You could even combine it with the amazing picture books I’ll list below to make a kindness unit.

Discussion Questions: What can you do to help others in your community? List some ways you can help – big or small – it doesn’t matter as long as you are doing something positive to help others. (p. 91)

We Flagged: “Tonight, Mr. T talked about how he wanted to have Shelby help him with a little project. After going through these tough health issues with his cancer, he decided to do something positive to benefit others. He knew with Shelby’s caring heart, and vision to help people, he and Shelby would be able to accomplish this idea over summer break.” (p. 22)

Read this if you loved: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

Recommended for: 

litcirclesbuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall

Signature

**Thank you to Michele Spry for providing a copy for review**