Hooray for DNA! How a Bear and a Bug Are a Lot Like Us by Pauline Thompson, Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

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Hooray for DNA! How a Bear and a Bug Are a Lot Like Us
Author: Pauline Thompson
Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
Published April 25th, 2023 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Summary: Bill Nye meets Green Eggs and Ham in this playful and rhythmic nonfiction picture book that introduces readers to the concept of DNA, and celebrates the similarities we share with all life-forms–and each other!

DNA is the ABC
of what makes you, you
and what makes me, me.

Did you know we share DNA with every living thing? Humans, bugs, bears, even a virus–we all have shared DNA hidden inside us!

From a debut author and an award-winning illustrator, here is a bouncy and playful picture book–perfect for the classroom or for story time–about the genetic code that makes up all living things, and reminds us that we’re all more alike than we think.

About the Creators: 

About the author

PAULINE THOMPSON is a Toronto based artist and writer. Her work spans 25 years of creating, exhibiting, and incubation. Her love of popular science is the fuel for her children’s stories. In her spare time, Pauline facilitates writing workshops for Writers Collective of Canada.

About the illustrator

GREG PIZZOLI is the award-winning author and illustrator of many books for kids including the award-winning picture books The Watermelon Seed, Good Night Owl, and The Book Hog. He lives in South Philadelphia with his wife, two daughters, dog, and cats.

Review: What a fun introduction to DNA for young children! The author’s rhyming and rhythmic text lends itself to a read aloud and Pizzoli’s illustrations are as eye catching as always. Along with a great message about humanity, the book delivers a solid introduction to the idea of DNA.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: After reading aloud this book, dive into the back matter! The author has some great resources including more about the science of DNA, an activity comparing and contrasting ourselves and other items, and resources, including videos, that can be used in the classroom. This would be a perfect addition to an early education lesson on DNA!

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is DNA defined in the book?
  • What is something that you were surprised that we share DNA with?
  • What would we be like if we had no tissues or organs?
  • How closely related, DNA-wise, are all humans?
  • What does the book share that each of our unique DNAs lead to?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Science books for children

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**Thank you to Cate at Nicole Banholzer PR for providing a copy for review!**

Nic Blake and the Remarkables #1: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas

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The Manifestor Prophecy
Author: Angie Thomas
Published April 4th, 2023 by Blazer + Bray

Summary: Internationally bestselling superstar author Angie Thomas makes her middle grade debut with the launch of an inventive, hilarious, and suspenseful new contemporary fantasy trilogy inspired by African American history and folklore.

It’s not easy being a Remarkable in the Unremarkable world. Some things are cool—like getting a pet hellhound for your twelfth birthday. Others, not so much—like not being trusted to learn magic because you might use it to take revenge on an annoying neighbor.

All Nic Blake wants is to be a powerful Manifestor like her dad. But before she has a chance to convince him to teach her the gift, a series of shocking revelations and terrifying events launch Nic and two friends on a hunt for a powerful magic tool she’s never heard of…to save her father from imprisonment for a crime she refuses to believe he committed.

“All the brilliance you’d expect from Angie Thomas: a page-turning plot, pitch-perfect characters, heart and substance, and real stakes that real kids will care about—plus magic! This is one of those rare books that will instantly become the best friend you didn’t know you needed. Nic Blake and the Remarkables is nothing short of a triumph. When’s the next installment, please?” — Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

“Packed with humor and bursting with heart and imagination, Nic’s story will enchant readers of all ages!” — B.B. Alston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Amari and the Night Brothers

“Exploding with heart, humor, and all things Black Girl Magic, Nic Blake and the Remarkables is a triumph of friendship and Black Southern folklore and history.’ — Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Marvellers

“This book is no-holds-barred, fly by the seat of your pants (and other methods) trip to the corner of Thrill Street and Wonder Avenue. Nic Blake is amazing!” — Kwame Mbalia, author of the Tristan Strong series

About the Author: Angie Thomas is the author of the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novels The Hate U GiveOn the Come Up, and Concrete Rose as well as Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal for Writing Your Truth. She is also a coauthor of the bestselling collaborative novels Blackout and Whiteout. Angie divides her time between her native Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia. You can find her online at www.angiethomas.com.

Review: This book is a dream of Angie Thomas’s. She wanted to create a book that was for a younger her who LOVED fantasy. This book allows her to world build, and she hopes to bring her readers the same joy that she felt reading fantasy (https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/90215-pw-talks-with-angie-thomas.html), and I am happy to say, that she does just that (and more because she includes history, too)!

Although the world building is great and it is right up the alley for students who love middle grade contemporary fantasy adventures and the pacing is perfect, which keeps the reader reading, it was Nic Blake’s voice that truly sold me. It is fantastic! She is sassy and strong and witty! She is someone you root for right away and also trust as a character, which is important in these types of fantasy novels.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does Nic deal with her life turning upside down? What does this tell you about her character?
  • How does the author intertwine history within her fantasy novel? What do you think her purpose of doing this is?
  • What folklore influences Thomas’s story?
  • What are the different character traits of the trio? How do they complement each other? How do the three of them compare/contrast to the original trio of Nic’s mom, dad, and godfather?
  • How does Nic’s story compare to the hero’s journey?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton, Amari series by B.B. Alston, Tristan Strong series by Kwame Mbalia, Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros, Dragons in a Bag series by Zetta Elliott, Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu

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**Thank you to Spark Point Studio for providing a copy for review!**

Global by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

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Global
Authors: Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin
Illustrator: Giovanni Rigano
Publishing April 11, 2023 by Sourcebooks Young Readers

Summary: Time is running out for Sami and Yuki. Sami and his grandfather live in a village along the Indian Ocean. They earn their living by fishing. But the ocean is rising and each day they bring back fewer and fewer fish. Yuki lives in the far north of Canada where warming temperature are melting the ice. Polar bears have less food to hunt and are wandering into town looking for something to eat. Yuki is determined to do something to help the bears.

Extras:

    • Four pages, written in graphic novel format, that summarize the history of global warming and the climate change movement
    • An author letter
    • Character sketches

Plot Synopsis as put by the authors: 

Book Trailer:

About the Creators:

Eoin Colfer is the author of Illegal as well as the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl series. Eoin lives in Ireland with his family. Learn more at eoincolfer.com

Andrew Donkin is the author of more than sixty books and graphic novels for children and adults. He lives in London. Learn more at andrewdonkin.co.uk.

Giovanni Rigano is an artist and illustrator who has illustrated many graphic novels, including the Artemis Fowl series, The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Illegal. He lives in Como, Italy.

Review: Just like in Illegal, Colfer, Donkin, and Rigano do a beautiful job putting a narrative to a crisis to make it more accessible to children who may not understand how something so big is affecting their life and their world.

In Global, the two stories that are told are half a world apart but are tied in the young people who are willing to fight to make the world a better place amidst what many would find truly unlivable and treacherous times.

These three creators obviously have a mission that they have taken on in spreading information to young minds about about “man-made disaster(s) that most impact vulnerable children who had no hand in causing it,” and they do it so well. I look forward to their next collaboration.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be a great text to read in conjunction with the teaching of climate change because it gives a face and story outside of science to the problems our world is facing. Students could also write their own story in the vein of Global (see below in discussion questions) to connect the science to their life.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the two stories told in Global relate to each other? Why would the authors choose to tell these two specific stories?
  • How do the authors tell the story of climate change without writing a informational nonfiction book?
  • What did you learn about the two settings that you didn’t know before?
  • How is climate change affecting your home? If there was a story like Global about you and your home, what would it be about?

Read This If You Love: Illegal by the same trio of creators, learning about plights faced in our world, graphic novels about serious topics

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing a copy of the book to review!**

Educators’ Guide for The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

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The Marvellers (Marvellverse #1)
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Published: May 3rd, 2022 by Henry Holt and Co.

Summary: Author Dhonielle Clayton makes her middle-grade debut with a fantasy adventure set in a global magic school in the sky.

Eleven-year-old Ella Durand is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, where Marvellers from all around the world come together to practice their cultural arts like brewing Indian spice elixirs, practicing Caribbean steel drum hypnosis, and bartering with fussy Irish faeries. Ella knows some people mistrust her Conjuror magic, often deemed “bad and unnatural,” but she’s eager to make a good impression—and, hopefully, some friends.

But Ella discovers that being the first isn’t easy, and not all of the Marvellers are welcoming. Still, she connects with fellow misfits Brigit, a girl who hates magic, and Jason, who is never found without a magical creature or two. Just as Ella begins to find her way at the A.T.I., a notorious criminal escapes from prison, supposedly with Conjurors’ help. Worse, her favorite teacher Masterji Thakur never returns from a research trip, and only Ella seems concerned about his disappearance.

As tensions grow in the Marvellian world, Ella finds herself the target of vicious rumors and growing suspicions. With the help of her new friends, Ella must find a way to clear her family’s name and track down her beloved mentor Masterji Thakur . . . before she loses her place at the A.T.I. forever.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for The Marvellers:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about The Marvellers on The Marvellverse website.

P.S. Number Two comes out in September!!!!!

Recommended For: 

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Educators’ Guide for Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

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Tiny Pretty Things (#1)
Shiny Broken Pieces (#2)
Authors: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Published: May 26th, 2015 & July 12th, 2016 by Harper Teen

Tiny Pretty Things Summary: Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Belles, Dhonielle Clayton, and the author of the highly anticipated Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Sona Charaipotra.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Don’t miss the gossip, lies, and scandal that continues in Tiny Pretty Things’ gripping sequel, Shiny Broken Pieces!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for Cake Creative for Tiny Pretty Things & Shiny Broken Pieces:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces on Cake Creative’s OUR LIBRARY page.

Recommended For: 

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Everybody Counts! by Matt Forrest Esenwine, Illustrated by Emma Graham

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Everybody Counts!
Author: Matt Forrest Esenwine
Illustrator: Emma Graham
Published January 1st, 2023 by Little Fig

Summary: “Everyone is helpful, in large and small amounts. Everybody matters. Everybody counts!”

So begins Everybody Counts!, a creative foreign-language counting picture book. Get a taste of diversity as you explore this far-reaching festival of food and count your way to a full plate of fun.

 Everybody Counts! makes learning numbers fun as young ones discover new foods and languages from around the world. Explore favorite foods from twelve countries. Illustrations highlight the animals and numerical symbols that represent each country.

Review: Esenwine’s Everybody Counts shows the ties between us all as it counts through 12 different languages along with animals from that country sharing now only the language with us but also food and culture of each country. Each spread is so thoughtfully created with colorful illustrations of each animal and their favorite food fill the spread.

Learn more about the book and its creation at Matt Forrest Esenwine’s Cover Reveal Blog Post.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Everybody Counts is created for the classroom with opportunities to learn different languages as well as a guide to share each students’ favorite food and more!

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Counting books, Books about food, Books about different countries

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!!**

The Little Bad Book 2: Even More Dangerous by Magnus Myst

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The Little Bad Book 2: Even More Dangerous
Author and Illustrator: Magnus Myst
Published October 11, 2022 by Delacorte Press

Summary: In this second book in the Little Bad Book interactive series, young readers will be dared to solve tricky puzzles and funny riddles and to become part of the plot in eerily funny stories in order to reveal the Little Bad Book’s secret!

HEY, YOU! PSSST

You might not believe this, but I’ve discovered the biggest secret in the world. Yes, honestly! Should I tell you? Okay. Just be careful! It will be the scariest thing you’ve ever read! I hope you can take it. Can you I bet you can. You’re brave, aren’t you?

Do you dare to read me? Come on–do it–read me!

You are the lucky reader who can discover the secret the little bad book is willing to share. The puzzles and riddles will challenge you, but it is definitely worth it! Go ahead and take a chance! You are the baddest one there is!

Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This interactive book enraptured both of my children (ages 6 and 9). The book breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader. I particularly appreciated the ways in which the book treats the reader as smart, capable people with agency. It also has that mild element of horror that really captures kids’ attention. This is a book that will be well-loved by the most avid readers and will hook readers who don’t typically fall in love with books. It’s extremely accessible. As a parent and teacher, I particularly loved how it tricks kids into math, reading comprehension, and logic puzzles. I was hooked (or tricked), as well. 🙂

Flagged Spreads: 

Read This If You Love: Interactive activity books filled with fun and educational activities

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Cate from Nicole Banholzer Public Relations for providing copies for review!**