Who’s That Dinosaur?: An Animal Guessing Game by Gabrielle Balkan, Illustrated by Sam Brewster

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Who’s That Dinosaur?: An Animal Guessing Game
Author: Gabrielle Balkan
Illustrator: Sam Brewster
Published September 21, 2022 by Phaedon

Summary: A playful, informative introduction to dinosaurs for the youngest readers, by the team behind the bestselling Book of Bones

Set up as a guessing game with visual and narrative clues, Who’s That Dinosaur? invites readers to examine seven skeletons and guess to whom they belong. The answer is provided in a vibrant, foldout reveal, accompanied by an explanation as to why each dinosaur’s body was so special.

It’s a humorous, informative introduction to fossils and dinosaur anatomy, where, in a surprise twist, young children learn how birds are modern-day dinosaurs. A fun and informative introduction to the ever-popular topic of dinosaurs.

Review: This book is such good fun! It is an informational fiction text which really engages its readers. Although this is marketed to younger readers (ages 2-4), My almost 6-year-old had a BLAST reading it. He was able to read the words, so it also offered great vocabulary for him. (My 3-year-old, of course, loved it.) This is a book that would be great for preschool or early elementary school classrooms. It is interactive, engaging, and a very fun read—for adults, too!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: It would be neat to have children create their own interactive pages that fold out. They might pick a dinosaur or animal and research to create their own “Who’s that…” page filled with fun facts.

Flagged Spread:

Read This If You Love: Interactive activity books that are fun and educational

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**Thank you to Phaidon for providing a copy for review!**

A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn by Patricia Newman, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

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A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn
Author: Patricia Newman
Illustrator: Natasha Donovan
Published September 6th, 2022 by Millbrook Press

Summary: A mighty river. A long history.

For thousands of years, the Elwha river flowed north to the sea. The river churned with salmon, which helped feed bears, otters, and eagles. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, known as the Strong People located in the Pacific Northwest, were grateful for the river’s abundance. All that changed in the 1790s when strangers came who did not understand the river’s gifts. The strangers built dams, and the environmental consequences were disastrous.

Sibert honoree Patricia Newman and award-winning illustrator Natasha Donovan join forces to tell the story of the Elwha, chronicling how the Strong People successfully fought to restore the river and their way of life.

About the Creators: 

Patricia Newman’s books inspire young readers to seek connections to the real world. Her titles encourage readers to use their imaginations to solve real world problems and act on behalf of their communities. These books include Sibert Honor title Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem; Orbis Pictus Recommended Book Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean; Bank Street College Best Book Zoo Scientists to the Rescue; Booklist Editor’s Choice Ebola: Fears and Facts; and Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Patricia frequently speaks at schools and conferences to share how children of any age can affect change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Natasha Donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series (written by Brett Huson). She illustrated the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett), which won a Manitoba Book Award and received an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor. She also illustrated Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer which won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA). Natasha is Métis, and spent her early life in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although she moved to the United States to marry a mathematician, she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line. She lives in Washington. www.natashadonovan.com

Review: This book is different than Newman’s other books as it is illustrated and more lyrical than her books of the past; however, there is no need to worry — the book is beautiful! Newman does a fantastic job balancing the narrative of the river and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe with informative information about water, salmon, dams, and other wildlife. Newman’s prose also does amazing justice when it comes to the river’s legacy and the indigenous tribes that relied on, and lost, the river.

To add to Newman’s work, Donovan’s illustrations bring everything to life that Newman shares. Her work is filled with color and life and brings the whole book together.

A spectacular nonfiction picture book that takes the reader on a journey of a river’s legacy filled with lyrical prose and important information.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The publisher has provided a Teaching Guide for The River’s Gifts:

There is also an interview with Patricia Newman that digs deeper into her book:

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Environmental nonfiction picture books

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Patricia Newman and Lerner for providing a copy for review!**

Guest Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon

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Guest Reviewer: Sailor, UCF Elementary Education Student

We Can: Portraits of Power
Creator: Tyler Gordon
Published September 28th, 2021 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Summary: “When I was born, the doctors told my mom that if I did survive I would have lots of health problems and be blind, deaf and severely mentally delayed . . . Boy were they wrong!” —Tyler Gordon

Fifteen-year-old Tyler Gordon’s journey from a regular kid growing up in San Jose, California, to a nationally recognized artist wasn’t without its challenges. For the first six years of his life he was fully deaf, which led to a stutter and bullying. Art gave him a creative outlet for his pain. Then, after painting a portrait of Kamala Harris and posting it on social media, he received a call from the vice president herself! Soon his art was everywhere. He had an interview with the The Today Show. He was the youngest artist featured in the Beverly Center. His portrait of LeBron James graced the cover of TIME Magazine. And that was only the beginning!

Here is a debut picture book by partially deaf prodigy Tyler Gordon, featuring his bold paintings of over 30 icons—musicians, artists, writers, civils rights leaders, sports legends, change-makers, record-setters, and more—alongside short explanations of how these people inspire him.

If Tyler can make art and follow his dreams, you can, too. We all can.

About the Author: Tyler Gordon is a fourteen-year-old painter whose work has been featured in TIME Magazine, Essence, Good Morning America, and ABC News. In 2020, he was awarded the Global Child Prodigy Award. He currently lives in San Jose, California with his family.

Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon is by far one of the best books for children to read. This book provides a lot of historical, and current information, that many people do not know, but should, about very famous and influential people. Tyler Gordon was only 14 years old when his book was published. He relates every single person that he paints to himself and talks about the honorable work that these people have done, walls they have torn down, and glass ceilings they have broken through.

Every single student can relate to this book in some way or another, with over 30 people showcased in We Can: Portraits of Power, students will be able to see themselves through one of them, all of them, or even through Tyler Gordon himself. This book is filled with politicians, artists, athletes, singers, philanthropists, civil rights activists, and many more. This story is able to empower students to be activists for theirs, and other people’s rights, all while also getting them excited and encouraging  them to learn about the history that some of these amazing  people have made, and are continuing to make.

I loved reading this book and looking at the beautiful art that Tyler has done and will continue to do. I cannot wait to see what this young man’s future holds.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon provides many great opportunities for use within the classroom. To start, teachers are able to have students pick their favorite person that Tyler had painted and write why that person was also an inspiration to them.  Teachers can also have students paint a portrait of someone who had has a big impact in their lives,  and. then write about them.

I think that one of the best ideas to pair with We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon. would be to have students make a list of people who they look up to, and people that empower them to be great. After students make their lists, they would go back and write why these people have been so influential in their life, and then finally paint an image of them. Creating their own mini versions of We Can: Portraits of Power.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does Tyler relate to President Biden? Do you know anyone that could also relate to President Biden and Tyler? Why is it good to be able to relate to successful people?
  • How did Tyler’s creativity help him?
  • How did this book inspire you?
  • Who did you relate to in this book? Why?
  • Why did Tyler use athletes, politicians, and historical figures in this book? What did it do to the story that he used  a variety of people?
  • Who do you think is the most important person in this book? Why do you think that? How can you relate to this person?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Art, Diversity, Empowerment

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Sailor, for your review!

Guest Post: Classroom Uses for Latinitas by Juliet Menendez, Lost in the Antarctic by Tod Olson, On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, and Stamped adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul

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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 found for these nonfiction books they read.

Latinitas: Celerating 40 Big Dreamers
Author: Juliet Menendez
Illustrator:
Published

Summary: Dream big with the Latinitas in Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers.

Discover how 40 influential Latinas became the women we celebrate today! In this collection of short biographies from all over Latin America and across the United States, Juliet Menéndez explores the first small steps that set the Latinitas off on their journeys. With gorgeous, hand-painted illustrations, Menéndez shines a spotlight on the power of childhood dreams.

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to singer Selena Quintanilla to NASA’s first virtual reality engineer, Evelyn Miralles, this is a book for aspiring artists, scientists, activists, and more. These women followed their dreams–and just might encourage you to follow yours!

The book features Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juana Azurduy de Padilla, Policarpa Salavarrieta, Rosa Peña de González, Teresa Carreño, Zelia Nuttall, Antonia Navarro, Matilde Hidalgo, Gabriela Mistral, Juana de Ibarbourou, Pura Belpré, Gumercinda Páez, Frida Kahlo, Julia de Burgos, Chavela Vargas, Alicia Alonso, Victoria Santa Cruz, Claribel Alegría, Celia Cruz, Dolores Huerta, Rita Moreno, Maria Auxiliadora da Silva, Mercedes Sosa, Isabel Allende, Susana Torre, Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, Sonia Sotomayor, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Mercedes Doretti, Sonia Pierre, Justa Canaviri, Evelyn Miralles, Selena Quintanilla, Berta Cáceres, Serena Auñón, Wanda Díaz-Merced, Marta Vieira da Silva, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Laurie Hernandez.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are so many ways this book provides an opportunity to be used in the classroom. The book can be used during a history lesson as a resource. The book can also be used on its own for women’s month to learn about all of the Latina women who have made an impact in the world, or this book can also be used for Hispanic Heritage Month. This book could also be a resource if a student is looking to learn more about the women who have impacted their culture or just a Latina woman whose story has caught their attention. This book could also be used for language arts and social studies. This is an excellent book for reading circles, independent reading, or even book clubs. The children can choose a Latina they would like to focus on and write an essay on how they captured their attention or their accomplishments. This book is a quick read with various Latinas that will capture any student’s attention during reading time.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Choose one of the Latinitas highlighted in this book and write about how they inspired you.
  • Juana Azurduy de Padilla is one of the many women who fought for their country’s independence. What are some of the reasons people have fought for a nation’s independence?
  • Pick your favorite subject or topic and find a Latinita that shares that interest. What does she do in that field and how did she get there?
  • Many Latinitas were inspired by other great minds, who inspires you? Why?
  • Where they came from and where they called home heavily impacted the women in this book. How has your identity impacted your life?
  • Compare and contrast two Latinitas from different time periods. What did they have in common? What was different?
  • Explain why the work of an Archeologist, like Zelia Nuttall, is important?
  • Choose one of the Latinitas highlighted in this book and write about how they inspired you.
  • Juana Azurduy de Padilla is one of the many women who fought for their country’s independence. What are some of the reasons people have fought for a nation’s independence?
  • Explain why the work of an Archeologist, like Zelia Nuttall, is important?
  • Pick your favorite subject or topic and find a Latinita that shares that interest. What does she do in that field and how did she get there?
  • Many Latinitas were inspired by other great minds, who inspires you? Why?
  • Where they came from and where they called home heavily impacted the women in this book. How has your identity impacted your life?
  • Compare and contrast two Latinitas from different time periods. What did they have in common? What was different?
  • Compare two women that you read about in this book. Explain any similarities and differences between the two.
  • Write about two examples of Latinitas that had to fight for their education and explain how this was important.

Recommended For: 

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Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance
Author: Tod Olson
Published January 1st, 2019 by Scholastic

Summary: There wasn’t a thing Ernest Shackleton could do. He stood on the ice-bound Weddell Sea, watching the giant blocks of frozen saltwater squeeze his ship to death. The ship’s name seemed ironic now: the Endurance. But she had lasted nine months in this condition, stuck on the ice in the frigid Antarctic winter. So had Shackleton and his crew of 28 men, trying to become the first expedition ever to cross the entire continent.

Now, in October 1915, as he watched his ship break into pieces, Shackleton gave up on that goal. He ordered his men to abandon ship. From here on, their new goal would be to focus on only one thing: survival.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would make a great book club where students sit in groups and discuss their thoughts about the reading. This would also make an exceptional classroom library book because this could introduce students to survival based books that they may not have a lot of access to and may discover an interest in. This may also make them interested in Narrative Nonfiction that they may not have realized existed before.

This book could be interdisciplinary with science for the climate in the Antarctic and harsh conditions, along with social studies for a nonfiction historic event. Social studies with geography can also be involved as well.

Discussion Questions: 

  • On what day did The Endurance ship slip past the rotting whale carcasses into the South Atlantic?
  • Do you think Shackleton was a good captain for this voyage? Why or why not?
  • How do the images impact the story being told in the story? Do these images give you additional information? Explain how the images impact how you read the story.
  •  Do you think that the cold weather made it more difficult for Shackleton along his crew to survive? What if the weather was hotter, do you think they could’ve survived more easily?
  • Do you think there was a specific action that led to the doom of the voyage? Why do you think this?
  • If you could bring one person with you on this voyage who would you bring and why?
  • What would you do to stay positive in this scenario? Use specific instances from the story in your response.
  • What roles would you assign to each of your classmates on this voyage?
  • How long do you think you and your class would survive in the antarctic? What would be important to think about, based on what you read in the story, when considering how long your survival would be and what you would need.

Recommended For: 

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On the Horizon
Author: Lois Lowry
Published April 7th, 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Summary: From Lois Lowry comes an account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With black-and-white illustrations by Kenard Pak.

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  Composed of poems about individual sailors who lost their lives on the Arizona and about the citizens of Hiroshima who experienced unfathomable horror.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be useful in the classroom to teach about two major historical events that happened. Additionally this book can be used to teach students about citizenship, understanding, and cause and effect.

Students could also use the events in the book to create a newspaper because this gives the students a chance to interview people from the book that went through major historical events and offers a range of perspectives for students to look from.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do you think these events affected her?
  • Why do you think Lois Lowry decided to write about this event?
  • What connections can you make to the events of Horoshima and Pearl Harbor and your life?
  • Why do you think the author chose to write in poems?
  • Writing prompt: What would your feelings have been if you experienced the wars of Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor?
  • Why do you think the author chose the title “On the Horizon?”
  • What do you think Lois Lowry was trying to accomplish by giving different peoples perspectives?
  • How do you think the events of the war made Lois feel during and after the war?
  • What were your feelings when reading about the stories of sailors that lost their lives?

Recommended For: 

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Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
Authors: Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Adapted by: Sonja Cherry-Paul
Published May 11th, 2021 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: This chapter book edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller by luminaries Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is an essential introduction to the history of racism and antiracism in America

RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word. 
But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The book could be incorporated in classrooms as an introduction to a study. This book discusses an ongoing topic that is still controversial today. With a book like this, it opens up a door for students to discuss whether the author made valid points and how we could contribute his theories in today’s society.

The book is told in mostly chronological order when speaking about the evolution of racism throughout history. So the students could draw out a timeline and write the dates and facts they see throughout the story while they read. For this particular book it would be easier for them to do them in pairs.

Discussion Questions: 

  • In the book what actions lead to the civil war?
  • How did literature play a big role with how African American as slaves were viewed by society back then?
  • After reading the book, what part of American History did you learn that you hadn’t previously known?
  • What is the author’s motive for writing this book?
  • Can you name one person in the book that contributed to the author’s point? Why?
  • Who is Nat Turner and what was his role?
  • Why do you think this author mentioned, “This is not a history book?”
  • What form of media such as movies or TV shows  make you rethink about the content of racism after reading this book?
  • Who did the author name as the “world’s first racist person” early in the book?
  • What was the curse theory, and how did it have an effect on the justification of slavery?

Recommended For: 

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Guest Post: Classroom Uses for All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat, Astronaut-Aquanaut by Jennifer Swanson, Call and Response by Veronica Chambers, She Persisted: Claudette Colvin by Lesa Cline-Ransome, and History Smashers: Women’s Rights to Vote by Kate Messner

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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 some of the nonfiction books they read.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team
Author: Christina Soontornvat
Published October 13th, 2020 by Candlewick Press

Summary: An account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight. Twelve young players of the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great for a full class discussion and read aloud. This book has a lot of important themes that would be great for class discussion such as teamwork and will to survive. Additionally, incorporating STEM activities through engineering would be perfect since this book was full of it.  And you can teach chronological order writing from the style of the book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Have you ever been cave diving or experienced jumping into really cold water? Do you think you would be able to stay in the same wet/cold conditions for multiple days? What would help you get through the experience?
  • The Wild Boars were used to working as a team on the field, do you think it was easy for them to keep each other’s hopes up or more difficult? Why?
  • Different experts were called in to help get the team out of the water? Who do you think would be the most helpful in a similar situation? Do you think there are any people who weren’t called in that should’ve been called? Why?
  • The British divers refused to dive into the cave because of safety hazards on June 29th, and 30th. In your opinion do you think they were right, or do you think the Thai military were right in telling them to go in? Why?
  • If you were a family member of one of the thirteen trapped inside, what would you do? Would you call whoever you can think to help or keep yourself busy with aimless tasks or help pump water? Do you think you would remain calm? Why?
  • Draw a scene from the book, why did you choose this scene and how does it make you feel?
  •  Why did the team continue to follow their coach further into the cave although at times it was unsafe?  Who is someone you would follow feeling safe? Why?
  •  How did the maps and diagrams make it easier to understand the operation?
  •  There are many heroes in this book, who is someone in the book you consider a hero? and in your own life?

Recommended For: 

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Astronaut – Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
Author: Jennifer Swanson
Published January 9th, 2018 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Astronaut-Aquanaut explores the world of space and sea science, its differences and its similarities. The book is filled with interesting facts of the preparation and journey of surviving in a remote and hostile environment. The book also includes vivid photographs, as well as detailed accounts of real astronauts and aquanauts.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:This book could be useful in the classroom as a read-aloud book. In addition, this book is great at incorporating science and can be used within a STEM class, if possible. In addition, students are exposed to many after-reading activities that can help them comprehend the information that they had just read from this book in class.

Discussion Questions: 

  • If you were to pick to be an Astronaut or Aquanaut what would you choose? And why?
  • What types of places do you think would be useful for aquanauts to discover? Where and why?
  • If you were an Astronaut how would you describe the similarities of your job to an Aquanaut?
  • Why do you think that these extreme exploration trips put a strain on the human body? And why do you think the body responds that way?
  • If you were an Astronaut what type of experiment would you conduct? And how can that also relate to being an Aquanaut?
  • Why is it important for astronauts to train underwater?
  • Imagine being called for an emergency involving an asteroid that needs to be identified. In what ways do you think this might affect your life as an astronaut, and how you would feel?
  • In what ways do you think that astronauts and aquanauts explore their surroundings?
  • How does understanding pressure, heat, and temperature help us understand space and sea exploration?

Recommended For: 

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Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter
Author: Veronica Chambers
Published August 17th, 2021 by Versify

Summary: Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter written by Veronica Chambers is a powerful outlook on the events of the civil rights movement of 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement captured global attention and spurred thousands of people of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds to stand up for progressive social reform. This book tells the story of how social media networks like Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, as well as every news broadcasting site had come together to educate and inform the world on the systematic racism that has been growing in this country for centuries.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could be used to help students understand a civil rights movements that is still going on today. The book shares information on the past and present situations that have led to this movement and includes pictures.

After reading this text, we would encourage my students to have a group discussion on there feelings towards the book, if the book made them feel a certain way, if they had an eye-opening facts that they would like to share, etc.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Do you remember another time in history when something was as big and powerful as the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • What emotions did you feel while looking at some of the pictures provided in the novel?
  • What are some ways that you can be a leader, like discussed in Chapter 6?
  • What quote in the novel stood out to you?  Why?
  • In what ways do you perceive this movement
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Do you feel you are in a safe and comfortable environment?
  • Do you or do you know of someone who may have been negatively affected by the BLM?
  •  Chapter 10 discusses young leaders. How did these young leaders lead, and why was it effective?

Recommended For: 

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She Persisted: Claudette Colvin
Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Published February 2nd, 2021 by Philomel Books

Summary: Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome, readers learn about the amazing life of Claudette Colvin–and how she persisted.

Before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin made the same choice. She insisted on standing up–or in her case, sitting down–for what was right, and in doing so, fought for equality, fairness, and justice.

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Claudette Colvin’s footsteps and make a difference!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book can be used in the classroom to teach students about the civil rights movement as well as the life of Claudette Colvin. By teaching students about influential people of the civil rights movement. This introduction to figures helps students understand the effect that they had on the movement and also the importance of why the fight was important.

Interdisciplinary uses:

Social Studies: This book can be used to help teach students the importance of behavior between different people. Understanding the importance of treating everyone as equals is essential to promoting peace in society. This book talks about the errors of the past and focuses on how even though we have different genders, races, and looks it is important to remember that we are all the same.

History: This does a great job of going over the history of the civil rights movement. This book touches upon why the movement started, what those who lived through the movement went through in everyday life, as well as talking about important events within the movement.

Political Literacy- This book teaches the students on the importance of persisting. This book goes over the importance of having a voice especially in politics. By knowing your rights and expressing them in society it is possible to make a change.

Discussion Questions: 

  • The author cited one inspiration of the novel was the quote “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Why is it important to read books that feature many different main characters?
  • What effect did the death of Delphine have on Claudette Colvin?
  • While Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks protested in very similar ways the story of Rosa Parks is more commonly known. Had you heard of Claudette Colvin before reading this book? Why do you think the story of Rosa Parks is more widely known.
  • When Claudette Colvin was escorted off the bus she repeated that sitting was her constitutional right. Why is knowing your rights important? How does her knowledge of her rights affect the decisions she made in life?
  • In the back of the book there is a list of ways to persist. One the top of the list is to conduct research on how others have brought about change. Why is understanding change in the commonuite important to making a difference in the world?
  • When learning in school Claudette spoke about the attention that was spent on learning about injustice and civil rights. Claudette spoke about how she thought that this was more important and influential than the lessons they had covered in the past. Why is this so?
  • Why do you think Claudette decided to take a stand on the bus?
  • How did Claudette inspire others to take a stand?
  • How did the testimonies of the students on the bus differ from the police officer and other citizens on the bus. Why would they lie?
  • Claudette Colvin was charged with three charges of violating segregation laws, disturbing the peace, and assaulting a police officer. Why do you think one action resulted in multiple charges in court?

Recommended For: 

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History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Dylan Meconis
Published July 7th, 2020 by Random House Books for Children

Summary: Myths! Lies! Secrets! Smash the stories behind famous moments in history and expose the hidden truth. Perfect for fans of I Survived and Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.

In 1920, Susan B. Anthony passed a law that gave voting rights to women in the United States. Right?

Wrong! Susan B. Anthony wasn’t even alive when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Plus, it takes a lot more than one person to amend the constitution.

The truth is, it took millions of women to get that amendment into law. They marched! They picketed! They even went to jail. But in the end, it all came down to a letter from a state representative’s mom. No joke.

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the fight for women’s suffrage.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could be useful in a classroom during a Social Studies lesson where women rights is being talked about and the history behind that time. This book would also be useful to help students relate to the same efforts of current movements like,Black Lives Matter and other current social injustices. It teaches history in clear facts on how women sacrificed and fought on amending the constitution to help them have a right to vote and a voice. It also goes over discrimination and how it still was affected.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did this book help you better understand the movement for women to vote in our country?
  • Why did Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady want the right for every American woman to vote? HH
  • Why was Susan B. Anthony portrayed as the face of the women’s right to vote movement?
  • How did the pictures and sidebars in the book help you understand what you were reading?
  • How did women’s suffrage affect black women?
  • Why do you think Susan B Anthony was used as the poster child for the book?
  • What myths were found during the book and who was supposedly the first woman who spoke about women’s rights?
  • What was the reason for women’s suffrage and the struggle for right for African Americans?
  • How did women exercise political power throughout the book?
  • In the book, how were black women involved in the fight for women’s suffrage?
  • What did Frances Ellen Watkins Harper argue about?
  • In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote an official document outlining what?
  • On page 24, a document called, The Declaration of Sentiments, women listed their demands and read it aloud to a convention at the time. If you had an opportunity to write your demands for this convention, what would they be?
  • From all the women leaders named in the book, who do you think was the most influential? Why?
  • Of the strategies that women used to earn the right to vote in the United States, which do you think was the most successful? Why?
  • After reading the book, what has been the impact of women’s suffrage in the 20th century?
  • Give examples of some of the outcomes that happened when women’s rights activists would protest and picket?
  • What was President’s Wilson’s response to the women’s protests?

Recommended For: 

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Student Voices: Favorite Reads from Derrick T., Gavin Z., Kyan V., Leticia R., and Reed R.

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Favorite Reads

Ten Favorite Fantasy Series by Derrick T., 7th grade

The Fantasy Genre, defined by Britanica.com as “imaginative fiction dependent for effect on strangeness of setting (such as other worlds or times) and of characters (such as supernatural or unnatural beings)”, is my favorite genre of books. I enjoy when an author immerses you in a completely different world, sometimes literally, and these are some of my favorite series in this genre.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians]: A Series Review – greenish bookshelf

Percy finds out he is the son of the ancient Greek god Poseidon! He and his fellow half-bloods (half mortal, half god) go on many quests to save the world from evil mythological creatures.

Curse Workers by Holly Black

Book Review: The Curse Workers Series by Holly Black - The Night Bookmobile

In a world where workers can “curse” someone with a touch, Cassel is the only person in his family without the gift. But something strange is happening, and Cassel must unravel the conspiracy around his life, and the life of someone whose death is his fault.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) (Artemis Fowl, 1): Colfer, Eoin:  9781368036986: Amazon.com: Books

Artemis Fowl is not just a genius, he makes other geniuses seem inept by comparison. And he just discovered a whole world underneath our feet: one full of magic.

Magisterium by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Magisterium Series 5-Book Set: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare: Books:  Amazon.com

Everyone wants to be a magician. Except for Call. His dad has warned him about the danger of magic his whole life, and how he MUST not get into the mages school, the Magisterium. But Call fails at failing, and now must face the dangers of his new school.

Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

The Ranger's Apprentice Series (Complete 12 Book Set) : John Flanagan:  0680474137794: Books - Amazon

Will is an orphan. At his choosing ceremony where he picks his profession, he is denied by all the craftmasters. Except one named Halt.  He is a mysterious ranger, a group of skilled archers who are rumored to dabble in sorcery, and will teach Will how to be a ranger. But being a ranger comes with many risks. Will Will survive?

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

Home - Leigh Bardugo | Author

Alina has never been special. But one day when her friend is in mortal danger, she discovers a new ability that might patch the literal tear in her country. But not everything is as it seems, she soon finds herself in the middle of an evil scheme that’s been in place for over 500 years.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini Collection The Inheritance Cycle Series 4 Books Set  Eldest | eBay

When Eragon finds a blue stone in the forest, he thinks it might mean a little money for his family. He certainly doesn’t think it will be a dragon egg! But after Saphira hatches he is dragged into a plot to save the kingdom from the evil king.

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series 1 - 6 Books Collection  Set by Michael Scott (Alchemyst, Magician, Sorceress, Necromancer, Warlock  & Enchantress): Michael Scott, The Enchantress By Michael Scott  978-0552562577,

Sophie and Josh live normal lives until they discover that Nicholas Flamel is Josh’s boss. And now they are in danger, and Josh and Sophie are magicians! The three of them then go on to stop the Dark Elders from taking over the world.

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

Kingdom Keepers Book Review – R.E. KLINZING

When Finn falls asleep, he becomes a hologram at Disney World! He and the other kingdom keepers must protect the parks from the evil overtakers.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Why Harry Potter Books are Great for School-Aged Readers - Speech Therapy  Centres of Canada

Harry Potter lives with his mean aunt, uncle, and cousin. On his eleventh birthday, a literal giant tells him he is a wizard. Throughout the series he, along with new friends, has to fight his parents murderer, the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

Top Six Sports Books for Kids by Kyan V., 7th grade

These days, there are many sportsbooks to choose from. It can be hard to choose because of a great deal of different genres and sports. This blog post lists my top 6 favorite sportsbooks, fiction, and nonfiction, for kids. Remember the list is not in order! I have read these books and highly recommend them, especially if you love sports!

Pele, The King of Soccer by Eddy Simon and illustrated by Vincent Brascglia

Pelé: The King of Soccer: Simon, Eddy, Brascaglia, Vincent: 9781626727557:  Amazon.com: Books

This book is a perfectly illustrated graphic novel that captures Pele’s crazy life from a young boy to a world champion. It dives into Pele’s childhood and how he became what he is today. I love this book because it proves to everyone that you can come from nothing and still be one of the best soccer players to ever live. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover (The Crossover Series): Alexander, Kwame, Anyabwile, Dawud:  9780544107717: Amazon.com: Books

This book is exceptionally unique because of how it is structured. It’s composed of lots of short stanzas. In a way, it’s almost like a 200-page poem. This book is amazing because it shows how one can change their life with their actions. This book is not only teaching you about basketball, but also life lessons for the future.

Year in Sports 2022 by James Buckley Jr.

Scholastic Year in Sports 2022: Buckley Jr., James: 9781338770254:  Amazon.com: Books

A new book in this series comes out every year. They are action packed, full with statistics and fun facts about every sport you can name. This is one of those books you can read for hours at a tie and read the whole thing 5 times and it would still be interesting.

The Football Fanbook by Gary Gramling

The Football Fanbook (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book): Everything You Need  to Become a Gridiron Know-It-All - Kindle edition by Gramling, Gary, The  Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids. Children Kindle eBooks @

This book is all about football. Everything you could think of about football. This book has fun facts, formations, playbooks, records, strategies, comparisons, and more. I love this book because you can discover so many new things about the amazing sport of football. By the way, there is also a Baseball Fanbook as well.

The United States of Sports by Bill Syken

The United States of Sports: An Atlas of Teams, Stats, Stars, and Facts for  Every State in America (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book): The Editors of  Sports Illustrated Kids, Syken, Bill: 9781547800001:

This book goes state by state and shows you where their sports teams are located, statistics, rivalries, fan favorites, mascots, and the state’s trophy shelf. It also includes college teams. This book goes through all 50 states. I love this book because you can learn about other states, and dive deep into your state’s sports programs.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost (1) (Track): Reynolds, Jason: 9781481450157: Amazon.com: Books

This book is good because everyone can relate to it in one way or another. Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is trying to overcome some difficult challenges in his childhood. With the help of his mentor, Coach Brody he overcomes these difficulties through running track at an elite level.

Thank you for reading my top 6 sports books for kids. I highly recommend reading all of these books! Some of them are so underrated. See you next time — bye!

My Favorite Book Series by Gavin Z., 8th grade

Randoms by David Liss

Randoms (3 book series) Kindle Edition

Very interesting and unique. I haven’t read many books that include leveling systems and skill trees like a video game.

The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris D’Lacey

Chris d'Lacey on Twitter: "Nice cover refresh for The Last Dragon  Chronicles. Hrrr! https://t.co/98t75vtRY2" / Twitter

These books focus on dragons but what’s most interesting is the clay dragons that come to life in this series.

Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland

Wings of Fire: The Complete Collection Series Set (Book 1-15) NEW Paperback  2022 | eBay

Takes place in a different world with 3 moons. They tell the story from the dragons perspective, and interestingly treat humans as “pets.”

The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories Complete Hardcover Gift Set: Colfer, Chris:  9780316556828: Amazon.com: Books

In this series, a pair of twins travel across the fairy tale world and meet many childhood favorites like Jack and the Beanstalk or Cinderella. 

A Tale of Magic series by Chris Colfer

A Tale of Magic... Collection by Christopher Colfer | Little, Brown Books  for Young Readers

Taking place in the same world as the Land of Stories, this series happens before that series. Kind of like a prequel but still has really interesting new characters that didn’t appear in the land of stories. 

Favorite Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels by Leticia R., 6th grade

Dawn and the Impossible Three

Dawn and the Impossible Three: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #5):  Full-Color Edition (5) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix): Martin, Ann M.,  Galligan, Gale: 9781338067118: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her frst big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for any baby-sitter.

My opinion: I really enjoyed reading this book. I could really relate to the book! I have felt what Dawn has felt where she was new and was just trying to find a friend. It was really fun reading this book! And I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys graphic novels, and drama books.

Boy-Crazy Stacey

Boy-Crazy Stacey: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #7) (7) (The  Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels): Martin, Ann M., Galligan, Gale:  9781338304510: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Stacey and Mary Anne are baby-sitting for the Pike family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore. Things are great in Sea City: There’s a gorgeous house right on the beach, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand… and the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

My opinion: I loved reading this book because I felt how Mary Anne felt, shes feels like she has so much things to do and so much responsibility and I have felt that way as well. Being stressed constantly could even ruin friendships and relationships.

Claudia and the New Girl

Claudia and the New Girl: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #9) (9)  (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix): Martin, Ann M., Epstein, Gabriela:  9781338304572: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: The Baby-sitters are sick of Ashley, and they think Claudia’s a traitor. Claudia’s got to decide: either the Baby-sitter’s Club or the new girl – one of them has got to go.

My opinion: I enjoyed this book because I could relate to it and learn from it. When I started reading this book, I liked it, but after I got to the middle, I realized that it was trying to show the reader a life lesson; it was that you can always have more than one friend.

Logan Likes Marry Anne

Logan Likes Mary Anne!: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #8) (8) (The  Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels): Martin, Ann M., Galligan, Gale:  9781338304541: Amazon.com: Books

Summary: It’s the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn’t know what to expect from the eighth grade, she’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn’t expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook.

My opinion: I thought that this book was so realistic because everyone goes through this when they go into a new school or any new place everyone feels scared and doesn’t know what to expect. And I think that is a very good book anyone could relate to.

Kristy’s Great Idea

Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #1) (Revised  edition): Full-Color Edition (1) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix):  Telgemeier, Raina, Martin, Ann M., Telgemeier, Raina: 0000545813875:  Amazon.com: Books

Summary: Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun—and make tons of money.

My opinion: I thought this book was super fun because it was explaining how things started and showed the reader the very beginning of things. I think that everybody should read this book first not because its the first book but because it’s descriptive of how things started.

Ten Favorite History Books I’ve Read by Reed R., 7th grade

Today I will be talking about my top ten favorite history books I’ve read. I’m a big fan of history books, and I have read many. I’m into wars and past conflicts. My favorite types of historic books are biographies and expeditions.

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and  Won the Revolutionary War: Thomas B. Allen: 9781426300417 -  Christianbook.com

I love this book because it emphasizes the tough times within the Revolutionary War. I also like how this book talks about the spy work the United States did on Britain. That was one of the ways the United States won the war. I also like how this book talks about how a good leader George Washington was, like how courageous and brave he was. He was also very confident.

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story: Wallace, Sandra Neil,  Wallace, Rich: 9781629794280: Amazon.com: Books

The reason I chose this book is because I wanted to learn more about the North Pole expeditions. One of the main reasons I like this book is because it gives detail about the crew members’ lives aboard the expedition and how they chose to take the expedition. I like this book because it puts into perspective how we didn’t know what was at the top of our planet and this expedition helps the world learn more about the north pole. It’s amazing how brave these men were because the food they ate was disgusting. It was so cold that all the sled dogs died. When you think about it today the only ships that really go up to the north pole are those big icebreakers that have thick metal hulls and these guys were doing it in a wooden boat. 

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Lincoln's Grave Robbers: Sheinkin, Steve: 9780545405720: Amazon.com: Books

No one talks about how Lincoln’s grave was robbed, and I feel that there should be more known about it. I like how it shows the backstory to the grave robbers and why they’re robbing the grave. I like how they introduce the Secret Service because this was around the time that the Secret Service was first getting started and this was one of their big investigations. I like how this book makes the investigation intense like it’s coming down to the wire. 

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Amazon.com: Chasing Lincoln's Killer: 9780439903547: Swanson, James L.:  Books

I love the way the book keeps the chasing aspect through the whole book. I also like the way it feels the climax is going on the whole time in the book, like it never ends until the end. I find it so interesting how John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor and a “good guy” and was so friendly and everything, and how trusting society was back then, like how the president didn’t have very much security and how they just had a little dinky wood fence that would be in someone’s backyard but now there’s a huge metal fence.

The Great Fire by Jim Murphy

Another event that I’m fascinated about is the Chicago fire. It amazes me how Chicago was one of the most developing cities in the midwest and then all of a sudden it just turns into smoldering ashes. I like how the author uses first hand accounts to tell the story and the people that were in the event’s experience. Most of the books that I’ve read about tragic events usually don’t talk about how the city came back but in this book it talks about the people of Chicago and how they powered through. This book really shows how coming together can cause things to get better. 

Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography by Louise Borden

Ski Soldier: A World War II Biography: Borden, Louise: 9781629796741:  Amazon.com: Books

This is probably one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. I’m kinda biased because I love to ski, and I love the snow in general. I have always been into special ops military books and the idea that not many people know about what’s going on. This book is all of that. I like how the book emphasizes the secret operations in the alps and how they were behind enemy lines. Around this time the invention of camouflage was just starting to be used in the military. They used the camouflage in the alps and within their platoon. 

Black and White Airmen: Their True History by John Fleischman

Black And White Airmen: Their True History: Fleischman, John:  9780618562978: Amazon.com: Books

I like how in some of the most racist times in our country’s history the airmen came together to fight in the war. I like how we came together as a country and fought in Europe, for people’s freedom. Its pretty amazing how brave the airmen were because they were practically flying a tin can at 15,000 ft. I like how this book follows both of the characters’ paths in their life and when they meet. 

All Quiet on the Western Front (All Quiet on the Western Front/The Road Back #1) by Erich Maria Remarque

Amazon.com: All Quiet on the Western Front: A Novel: 9780449213940: Erich  Maria Remarque, A W. Wheen: Books

There aren’t very many books I’ve seen that are about the German school boys POV. I think this book is eye opening for me but the things described in this book are unbelievable. These boys go into WWI and see all of the terrible things that are happening. I think if you want to see more of the gorey side of WWI this is the book for you. One of the reasons I chose this book is because I think WWI needs to be more talked about. 

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson: Kennedy, Kostya: 9781250274045:  Amazon.com: Books

I am a baseball fan, and this book is a biography about Jackie Robinson and how he overcame the challenge of African American people not being allowed to play baseball. I like how this book emphasizes his legacy even after his death in 1972. I also like how this book included the death threats and letters written to him about how if he played baseball bad things would happen.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

This is one of my favorite books of all time. This book includes all the little details about the people that got its illness and the super disgusting practices they used at the time. I like how the author uses first hand accounts to portray the yellow fever. I wish we would talk more about the yellow fever in school and just in general as it is one of the most important events in our history that is just forgotten.


Thank you so much to my student voices today and for sharing their favorite reads!

Odd Birds: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Flock by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Gareth Lucas

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Odd Birds: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Flock
Author: Laura Gehl
Illustrator: Gareth Lucas
Published June 14th, 2022 by Abrams Appleseed

Summary: Meet nature’s oddballs in this charming board book about some of the most unique birds in the world!

Backyard birds—move over! Odd Birds introduces babies and toddlers to unusual bird species, including the magnificent frigatebird with a bright red throat pouch and the California condor—the largest flying birds in North America! Gentle rhyming verses provide the comforting repetition that little ones crave, even as their minds are opened to new and fascinating creatures from around the world. At the end of the book, readers will find photographs of each bird, along with more detailed factual information. The eight birds featured are the magnificent frigatebird, blue-footed booby, shoebill stork, ostrich, hoatzin, oilbird, California condor, and burrowing owl.

About the Creators: 

Laura Gehl is a former science teacher who still loves getting kids excited about science and nature . . . now through her books. Ever since reading about a poop-shooting caterpillar many years ago, Gehl has spent time researching and writing about interesting creatures and their behaviors. She is the author of more than two dozen books for young readers, including the Baby Scientist board book series, Odd Beasts, Happy Llamakkah!, Apple and Magnolia, and Happy Owl-Oween!. Gehl lives with her husband and four kids in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where she enjoys observing and exploring in the woods near her home.  Visit Laura at lauragehl.com.

Twitter: @AuthorLauraGehl
Instagram: @authorlauragehl
Facebook: @AuthorLauraGehl

Gareth Lucas is an illustrator and designer living in Essex, England, with his wife and five children. After studying at the University of Brighton School of Art and Central Saint Martins, he has worked on a variety of projects but enjoys nothing more than illustrating animals, birds, and the natural world. When he is not working, he can be heard indulging his other love—the banjo!

Twitter: @GarethLucas
Instagram: @garethlucasart

Review: When I first read about Odd Birds, I had no idea it was a board book. Based on the illustrations I saw and the summary, I assumed it was going to be a longer nonfiction book, but instead it is everything you’d find in nonfiction picture book but put in a small package.

First, scroll down a little bit. LOOK AT THOSE ILLUSTRATIONS! They are beautiful! Lucas has stepped away form the cartoon-ish style of many board books and focused on the realistic beautify of each of these odd birds.

Second, THIS BOARD BOOK HAS BACKMATTER! This is going to add some super longevity to it because it will allow it to be a fun read aloud to the youngest of kids and a learning tool for older kids. And Gehl has not held back in the inclusion of information in the back matter; it is so informative and interesting.

Third, the text is so catchy with great rhythm and rhyme sequence that makes it a wonderful read aloud and will make it a quick into the read aloud rotation.

Check out Betsy Bird’s Fuse 8 post for an amazing in-depth review!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Use this book to lead you and your reader into learning about more odd animals!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which of the odd birds are your favorite?
  • What did you learn from this book?
  • What do you wish you’d learned about the birds?
  • Which illustration was your favorite?
  • How are some of the birds the same? Different?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nonfiction books, Birds

Recommended For: 

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