National Geographic Kids’ Mythical Beasts: 100 Fun Facts About Real Animals and the Myths They Inspire by Stephanie Warren Drimmer & Bling!: 100 Fun Facts About Gems by Emma Carlson Berne

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Mythical Beasts: 100 Fun Facts About Real Animals and the Myths They Inspire
Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Published January 4th, 2022 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Calling all fans of unicorns, dragons, sea monsters, and other mythical creatures! Discover 100 marvelous facts that add to the magic in this new reader for fluent readers.

Key features include:

  • Expert-vetted text appropriate for ages 7 to 9
  • Brilliant and eye-catching National Geographic images
  • 100 fun facts spread throughout the book
  • A fact roundup at the end of each book for kids to review what they’ve learned

Packed with weird-but-true facts and tons of info, this Level 3 reader explores animals that are mistaken for mythical creatures, critters that are almost too weird for reality, and other creatures with incredible abilities. Learn all about these amazing, unbelievable, and downright fantastical beasts!

About the Author: STEPHANIE WARREN DRIMMER writes books and magazine features for kids about everything from the strangest places in space, to the chemistry of cookies, to the mysteries of the human brain. Drimmer has a degree in science journalism from New York University, but she thinks she likes writing for kids because she’s secretly still one herself.

Bling!: 100 Fun Facts About Gems
Author: Emma Carlson Berne
Published January 4th, 2022 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Get ready to be dazzled by some of the shiniest, most colorful, useful—and even dangerous—rocks, minerals, and gems on the planet! In this Level 3 reader, discover fascinating facts about the incredible rocks and minerals under our feet and deep in Earth’s crust. Budding geologists will love reading about how rocks form, learning the names and features of the coolest rocks and minerals, and exploring rare and beautiful gemstones.

Key features include:

  • Expert-vetted text appropriate for ages 7 to 9
  • Brilliant and eye-catching National Geographic images
  • 100 fun facts sprinkled throughout the book*
  • A fact roundup at the end of each book for kids to review what they’ve learned

Packed with weird-but-true facts and tons of cool info, this Level 3 reader explores the incredible world of geology.

About the Author: EMMA CARLSON BERNE writes juvenile, middle grade, and YA fiction and nonfiction for both educational and trade publishers. She has worked on projects with Disney/Lucasfilm Press, American Girl Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Sterling Publishing, Capstone, Rosen, and Alloy Entertainment. Berne lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she is the writer-in-residence for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.


About the Series: This high-interest, educationally-vetted readers series features magnificent National Geographic images accompanied by text written by experienced, skilled children’s book authors. Each reader includes a glossary and interactive features in which kids get to use what they’ve learned in the book. Level 1 readers reinforce the content of the book with a kinesthetic learning activity. Level 2 readers feature slightly higher-level text and additional vocabulary words. Level 3 readers have more layers of information to challenge more proficient readers. For emerging readers, the Pre-reader level introduces vocabulary and concepts, and the Co-reader level provides a collaborative reading experience.

Review: I am such a fan of National Geographic Kids’ books. They do such a great job with engaging material that is perfect for the audience they are aimed for. With these Fact Reader Level 3 books, I really loved the mix of chapters with expository text mixed with text features that add to the text as well as fact lists that will make sure the reader leaves with fun facts to share. Everything that is shared in the books are so interesting and will definitely grab the readers attention. For example, in Bling!  we learn about rocks and minerals in space, different types of rocks, the oldest rocks, difference between rocks and minerals, and geology & archaeology information. Mythical Beasts includes mistaken identities, strange animals that are hard to believe, and animals with mythical powers. Both books are great nonfiction texts that are going to find so many early elementary readers!

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does the table of contents and index help you when reading a nonfiction book?
  • What text features did you notice throughout the book? How did they add to the book?
  • What facts did you learn from the book? What was your favorite fact you learned?
  • What else would you like to learn about the topics?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Geology, Archaeology, Animals, Mythology, Nonfiction

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters for providing copies for review!**

Only One by Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink

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Only One
Authors and Illustrator: Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink
Published April 5, 2022

Summary: This lyrical, environmentally focused picture book showcases the unique beauty of our one and only universe–its galaxies, stars, and planets–as well as our one and only Earth and the precious life it contains.

Join one girl as she leads her friends to a tree-planting ceremony. Along the way, she explains in simple language the value of the universe and Planet Earth. Readers will see the Big Bang, the Milky Way, all the planets in the solar system, as well as Earth’s atmosphere, and the life within it: its oceans, trees, bugs, and seven billion human beings. Finally, the girl and her friends plant a tree–doing one small thing to help their one special planet.

Both informative and inspiring, here is a beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated science picture book about our universe that will encourage young readers and listeners to protect and preserve the environment.

ReviewThe cover drew me right in, and I was NOT disappointed! I loved how this book offered a wide scope of topics within space, science, and the environment, yet it felt very connected by a common theme. This is my book of choice for Earth Day (and every day!). It captured the attention of all three of my own children, who each have different interests. I’ve read it so many times in the last week (to whichever child is requesting it) that I am starting to memorize it! I love how it talks about space, the stars, the Big Bang—yet it also talks about caring and tending for Earth and working together.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to see kids create a spread that could be added to Only One. Maybe, for instance, they might write a spread about protecting water or perhaps they might choose an aspect of space that is of interest. Whatever the choice, they could research the topic before they create their spread. The teacher could post them to a bulletin board or bind them together in a book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What did you learn?
  • Which spreads were most inspiring to you, and why?
  • What is the “Only One” in this book, and why does it matter so much?
  • What is your role in protecting the Earth?

Flagged Spreads:

 

Read This If You Love: Science, Space, Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty; You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

Recommended For: 

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

Charlie & Mouse Lost and Found by Laurel Snyder

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Charlie & Mouse
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Expected Publication August 23, 2021 by Chronicle Books

GoodReads Summary: It’s puppy love! This latest continuation of the award-winning Charlie & Mouse early chapter book series will delight newly independent readers. Lost and Found is full of relatable trials (a lost blanket), surprises (a lost dog), and delights (a new puppy!) and overflows with the series’ signature humor and heart.

Charlie and Mouse are finding surprises in all sorts of unexpected places. After Mouse’s beloved blanket is lost and then found, they find a lost dog (and eventually her owner), seek out some ice cream, and discover a new puppy friend to take home at last.

BROTHERS ARE THE BEST: The Charlie & Mouse books show a sibling friendship and a family dynamic that is kind as well as playful.

AN ANIMAL LOVER’S DELIGHT: Featuring not one but two dogs—one very big and one very small—this fifth book in the Charlie & Mouse series makes a wonderful gift for any canine-loving kid! From going on walks to snuggling up together at the end of a long day, the furry friends in these sweet and silly stories are sure to enchant young animal enthusiasts.

IDEAL FOR NEWLY INDEPENDENT READERS: The interconnected but distinct short stories in this book offer an accessible transition for readers who are just moving into longer books, especially for reluctant readers.

HUMOR WITH HEART: The Charlie & Mouse books bring a fresh, humorous, and heartwarming approach to central themes to which readers of all ages can relate: imagination, creativity, play, and family are fondly celebrated in each of these stories.

WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS: Charlie and Mouse are mixed-race Japanese characters growing up in Hawaii, a setting inspired by the childhood of up-and-coming Asian-American artist Emily Hughes. Every book of this early chapter book series offers an opportunity for young children of many different backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the stories they love.

Perfect for:

• Newly independent readers
• Parents
• Dog lovers

Ricki’s Review: Ahhh, I will read every Charlie & Mouse book that is ever published. This series has captured my heart. In this edition, there’s a lost blanket (Mouse’s) and lost dog. Charlie & Mouse care for the dog and eventually find its owners. There’s just something really special about Charlie & Mouse, as characters. They are charming and sweet, and I just can’t get enough of them. I highly recommend this series for early readers. The books remind me of an updated Frog and Toad in so many ways—the pictures, word spacing, humor, friendship, and charming characters.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: These books beg readers to write their own fan fiction—their own Charlie & Mouse stories. Teachers could allow students to work together or in groups and then bind them together in a class book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What happens to Charlie and Mouse in this book?
  • How does the author use humor to make the story enjoyable to read?
  • What do Charlie and Mouse do with the dog?
  • What does this book teach you?

We Flagged:

“Blanket is missing,” said Mouse after lunch.

“Oh no,” said Charlie. “Where did you leave him?”

“If I knew that,” said Mouse, “he would not be missing.”

Read This If You Love: The previous Charlie & Mouse Books (See Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3); Frog & Toad series; Books About Friendship; Early Readers Books

Recommended For: 

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Don’t miss out on this one!

Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic by Catherine J. Manning, Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

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Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic
Author: Catherine J. Manning
Illustrator: Melanie Demmer
Published: September 14, 2021 by Workman

Summary: There is magic inside you if you only dare to look.

Dragons are the heroes we need.
They have fires in their bellies, wisdom in their eyes, and hearts big enough to welcome one and all. And now you can be one, too!
In this ingenious book filled with hands-on activities, quests and quizzes, exciting stories, and charming illustrations every young reader will discover firsthand how to slay their fears and find their inner power.
How, in other words, to Be the Dragon, filled with courage, kindness, insight, compassion, positivity, and so much more.
And that is something to roar about!

ReviewRemember how you used to fill out endless surveys as a kid to test out who you were as a person? Mostly As? You are a hero. Mostly Bs? You are a warrior. Mostly Cs? You are a princess Mostly Ds? You are a knight. Now, imagine you had one of these books sooner. Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic is an incredibly clever book that guides kids through quizzes to get to know themselves, crafts and projects to explore their inner magic, and lots of great stories to engage them along the way. Both my 7-year-old and 4-year-old sons were hooked. I caught one of them reading the book in the corner and doing the quizzes on his own because he couldn’t wait until we read it again. This book is very well done and will bring such joy to so many kids.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is easily integrated into classrooms. The quizzes and projects make it a no-brainer as a classroom text.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which quiz was your favorite?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • Which of the nine keys taught you the most?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Quizzes/Surveys; Dragons; Interactive Books

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Ilana at Workman for providing a copy for review**

Sleuth & Solve: Spooky: Decode Mind-Twisting Mysteries Inspired by Classic Creepy Characters by Victor Escandell

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Sleuth & Solve: Spooky: Decode Mind-Twisting Mysteries Inspired by Classic Creepy Characters: What Will You Find?
Published: August 24, 2021 by Chronicle

Summary: Test your wits in this creepy collection of horror-themed mini-mysteries, a follow-up to Sleuth & Solve!

How does one boy discover the lair of Frankenstein’s monster? What is the identity of the werewolf who torments an isolated village? And how do two sisters escape the vengeful Loch Ness Monster?

Welcome to the world of Sleuth & Solve: Spooky, where creepy clues are hidden in every detail and clever twists put your wits to the test. These mind-bending mini-mysteries inspired by classic creepy characters feature familiar fiends as well as terrifying new tales of ghosts, witches, and more! Solving this suite of spooky puzzles takes keen observation, strong logic, and lots of creative thinking. Play solo or with friends, collecting points as you crack each compelling case, decode the solution using a clever cryptograph, and reveal whose sleuthing skills reign supreme!

SCARY STORIES ARE IRRESISTIBLE: From monster-themed birthday parties to Dungeons & Dragons, Stranger Things, and Monsters, Inc., it’s clear that readers of all ages have a perennial predilection for all things monstrous and scary. These tales are perfect for reading alone or together, under the covers or in the dark, around the crackling of a campfire . . . as long as you can crack the case before it’s too late. BOO!

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD MYSTERY: From Encyclopedia Brown to Sherlock Holmes to Clue, mysteries transfix, engage, and entertain! Following the previous two books in the Sleuth & Solve series, this latest smart, age-appropriate take on mysteries for kids will quickly become a family favorite.

A-GAME-IN-A-BOOK: This engaging narrative formula incorporates both a game (players earn points for discerning each answer) and an opportunity to decrypt and decode the clever solutions to each puzzle, adding opportunities for interactivity and upping the stakes of the reading experience.

REINFORCES LOGICAL REASONING SKILLS: These clever mysteries are solved by way of deduction, inference, and logical reasoning, all of which are critical thinking skills crucial to young readers’ intellectual development both in and outside of the classroom.

IDEAL FOR RELUCTANT READERS: With a comic-esque style, unique narrative approach, quirky scenarios, and a compelling mystery/”scary stories” theme, this book packs loads of reluctant reader appeal.

ReviewThis is a great book for elementary and middle schoolers (or kids/adults of all ages!). I did it with my sons, and they both had a great time decoding the riddles and figuring out the puzzles. We spread out the reading of this book across many days, and we did a section each day. It made for a delightful, connected experience. This is a book that offers so many things at once. It includes a mystery that begs to be solved and a really neat cryptograph (that kids can write secret messages outside of the reading of the book!). The author offers advice for making the reading even spookier (reading at night with a flashlight!). After reading this one, we want to check out the other Sleuth & Solve stories!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a fantastic book to have at a table in the classroom for fast finishers. Kids will be engrossed in decoding the riddles! They don’t need to read/decode them all at once, so this offers many opportunities for working on these while waiting for peers to finish working.

Discussion Questions: Which was your favorite riddle to solve? Who was your favorite character? Which story was your favorite? What creative text features did the author use in this book?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Spooky stories; Activity Books; Brain-teasers; Decoding; Riddles

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Eva at Chronicle for providing a copy for review**

Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean by Patricia Newman, Photography by Annie Crawley

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Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean
Author: Patricia Newman
Photographer: Annie Crawley
Published March 2nd, 2021 by Millbrook Press

Summary: A little more than 70 percent of Planet Earth is ocean. So wouldn’t a better name for our global home be Planet Ocean?

You may be surprised at just how closely YOU are connected to the ocean. Regardless of where you live, every breath you take and every drop of water you drink links you to the ocean. And because of this connection, the ocean’s health affects all of us.

Dive in with author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley—visit the Coral Triangle near Indonesia, the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest, and the Arctic Ocean at the top of the world. Find out about problems including climate change, ocean acidification, and plastic pollution, and meet inspiring local people who are leading the way to reverse the ways in which humans have harmed the ocean.

Planet Ocean shows us how to stop thinking of ourselves as existing separate from the ocean and how to start taking better care of this precious resource.

Scan QR codes to explore the ocean along with Annie Crawley!

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; Junior Library Guild Selection Eavesdropping on Elephants; Bank Street College Best Book Zoo Scientists to the RescueBooklist 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.

Annie Crawley, aka Ocean Annie, travels and works around the world. Trained as a photo and broadcast journalist, her work has been broadcast and published worldwide. From Indonesia to Galapagos, Belize to Papua New Guinea, India to Australia, Annie has explored and documented life on our planet. Based in Seattle, Annie works as a producer, writer, photographer, and motivational speaker. She founded Dive Into Your Imagination, a multimedia company producing books, enhanced eBooks, educator guides, films, motivational art, and more. Annie was the photographer and filmmaker aboard SEAPLEX sponsored by Project Kaisei and Samy’s Camera. Annie specializes in the underwater realm and also works as a photo, video, and scuba diving instructor. She is a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame and created a dive team for kids and teens. Visit her online at www.AnnieCrawley.com and www.anniecrawleyphotography.com.

Praise: 

♥ Junior Library Guild Selection

“Read Planet Ocean with your children and grandchildren to begin the discussion of what humans can do to save our oceans from pollution and acidification. Books like this one help lead the way to a better climate future for all inhabitants of mother earth.” — Jeff Bridges, Academy Award winner and environmentalist

“A compelling and paramount read for all mankind so that we value our ocean resource.” –-Christine Anne Royce, Ed.D., Retiring President (19-20), National Science Teaching Association; Professor of Teacher Education and Co-Director of MAT in STEM Education, Shippensburg University

“The range of nationalities represented and the inclusion of a variety of Indigenous voices make a particularly compelling argument that ocean health is a whole world problem…Worth exploring in depth.” —Kirkus

“They nailed it! Ocean Annie and Patricia Newman have created a positive, action-oriented educational initiative that will inspire the next generation to be good stewards of our ocean planet!” — Jill Heinerth, Underwater Explorer and Explorer in Residence, Royal Canadian Geographical Society

“The book follows [Annie] Crawley, an underwater explorer and photographer, as a knowledgeable guide to three very different regions connected by ocean waters, the Coral Triangle north of Australia, the Salish Sea bordering Washington State and British Columbia, and the Arctic. Newman’s text describes each place visited, while Crawley’s many attractive photos introduce the people and animals affected by environmental changes there…For each region, illustrated features offer the viewpoints of individuals living there. Presenting a good deal of information within a well-organized framework, the book conveys a strong sense of urgency to clean the global ocean and restore the ecosystems it supports.” —Booklist

Review: I am a HUGE fan of Patricia Newman’s books. This is the 6th of her books that I have reviewed here. Want to know why? Because her books fit the mission of our blog–they are wonderful pieces of informational literature and belong in schools and classrooms because kids need these books. Planet Ocean is no different!

With each of Patricia’s books, I learn new things. I entered this book thinking that I knew all that I could about climate change and the ocean and the effects on our planet, but I left even more knowledgeable and even more scared of the future if we do not make a change. Learning about ocean acidification, the effects on the Arctic, and just how dependent we all are on the ocean was fascinating and change making.

And like Eavesdropping with Elephants, Patricia included QR codes in this book which I believe brings a great interactiveness with the text. It also adds digital literacy with traditional literacy. And Annie Crawley is a great visual storyteller in the linked videos!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The publisher and author share a curriculum guide to go with Planet Ocean on their websites: https://www.patriciamnewman.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Planet-Ocean-Curriculum-Guide.pdf

The guide includes activities for literacy, science, ocean literacy, and sustainability standards.

I’d also like to add that I love Annie’s Pro Tips for Visual Storytelling, and I would love to use these tips to have students create their own visual story!

The book also includes a great “Surfers Welcome” section in the backmatter which gives 7 different websites to further learning!

Why do you need this book in your library? Patricia Newman can explain!

Discussion Questions: 

  • How are maps incorrectly proportioned?
  • Why do we need a healthy ocean?
  • How is your life affected by the ocean?
  • What new word did you learn from the book or glossary?
  • How could you “Go Blue with Annie” in your life?
  • Which of the QR code videos did you enjoy the most? How does this interactive component make the book better?
  • Why does the author include so many different scientists and contributors in the book in the “In Their Own Words” side bars?
  • How do the images and videos add to the information received in the book?
  • What is your favorite animal? How are they affected by the ocean?
  • Why did the Arctic have a whole chapter of the book? What is so important about the Arctic?
  • What do you think the author’s purpose was in creating this book?
  • How does the health of the ocean compare now to the past?

Flagged Passages: 

Read an excerpt on the book’s publisher page!

Read This If You Love: Science, Animals, Learning about Climate Change, Marine science

Recommended For: 

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

Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway!: The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest by Heather Lang, Illustrated by Jana Christy

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The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
Author: Heather Lang
Illustrator: Jana Christy
Published February 9th, 2021 by Calkins Creek

Summary: Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg’s perseverance and creativity allowed her to achieve this goal, but when this fantastic ecosystem started to disappear, Meg needed to act quickly.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head. The colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. As a scientist, Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies– and to be the first scientist to do so. But she encountered challenge after challenge. Male teachers would not let her into their classrooms, the high canopy was difficult to get to, and worst of all, people were logging and clearing the forests. Meg never gave up or gave in. She studied, invented, and persevered, not only creating a future for herself as a scientist, but making sure that the rainforests had a future as well. Working closely with Meg Lowman, author Heather Lang and artist Jana Christy beautifully capture Meg’s world in the treetops.

About the Creators: 

Heather Lang loves to write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her award-winning picture book biographies include Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine.

Jana Christy currently lives in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. She is the illustrator of various titles, including I’m the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up. Visit janachristy.wixsite.com/illustrations.

Review: Heather Lang does an amazing job of the layering in this book ensuring to include many different aspects of Margaret (Meg) Lowman’s life including her passion for the environment, challenges of being a woman in the sciences in 1970s and the barriers that came with the institutional sexism, and someone wanting to be innovative yet being shut down left and right.

The narrative of the story is written in beautiful verses mixed with direct quotes from Lowman and extra side bar notes that includes facts and information that help drive the biography. And finally the illustrations, filled with vibrant blues and greens, bring the story and setting to life for the reader.

The back matter includes an author note sharing about Lang’s interest in Lowman and about meeting and interviewing her, and it includes photos of Lowman and Lang! This shows the reader Lang’s research methods and how the quote throughout the book are primary sources.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: 

Publisher-provided Educator Guide:

Flagged Passages: 

View two spreads from the book by visiting the publisher’s page:

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace, The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle, Over and Under series by Kate Messner, Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang, Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, The Tree Lady by Joseph H. Hopkins

Recommended For: 

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Giveaway!: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t miss the other stops on the tour!

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**Thank you to Boyds Mills & Kane for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**