Killer Underwear Invasion: How to Spot Fake News, Disinformation & Conspiracy Theories Author: Elise Gravel
Published September 20, 2022 by Chronicle
Summary: A hilarious and timely tool to help kids learn how to tell what news is true and what isn’t
Can peanuts give you super strength? Were unicorns discovered on the moon? Did Martians really invade New Jersey? For anyone who has ever encountered outrageous stories like these and wondered whether they were true, this funny, yet informative book breaks down what fake news is, why people spread it, and how to tell what is true and what isn’t. With quirky illustrations and a humorous tone, Elise Gravel brings her kid-accessible wit to the increasingly important subject of media literacy and equips younger readers with the skills needed to interact with global news.
Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: My kids love this book, and I love the way it allows kids to think about critical literacy! I used excerpts of this in my college class to demonstrate how accessible conversations about critical literacy can be. I also found myself sharing pages of the text with my brother (who said he would be ordering it for his daughter). This book is wholly impressive and critical for classrooms. Teachers could do close readings of the text and pair this text with conversations about disinformation, evaluating sources, etc.
Read This If You Love: Humor, Books about Critical Literacy, Retaliation against Fake News!!
My Pet Feet Author: Josh Funk Illustrator: Billy Yong Anticipated Publication: August 23, 2022 by Simon & Schuster
Goodreads Summary: When the letter R suddenly vanishes, a whole town goes upside-down in this side-splitting picture book of alphabet chaos that’s Can I Be Your Dog? meets P Is for Pterodactyl.
A little girl wakes up one day to find that R, a vital piece of the alphabet, has vanished! Suddenly, she has pet feet instead of a ferret. Flocks of cows replace crows flying in the sky. Giant shoes (not shores!) live on the sandy beaches of her town.
What could have happened to the eighteenth letter of the alphabet? Did it get lost—or stolen? One way or another, the town needs to be saved!
When Trent first read this book, he said (and I quote), “This book should win all the awards! Not just now but forever!” Because of how much he loved the book, we decided to let him and Henry chat about and review the book for us!
Our 8-Year-Olds Chat About the Book:
Henry: Did you notice on the background on the first page that it said “fist place” instead of “first place”? That was so funny!
Trent: Hahahaha! Fist place! Hahahaha! What do you think will happen next because the bees are taking the Zs?
Henry: I would say that…hmm… I don’t know. I think the bees will just be quiet and will say Zs. What do you think?
Henry: Have you seen the mice? Have you seen the mice on most of the pages? There’s a little mouse holding a donut on the pages. I love that! Why do you think they did that?
Trent: I didn’t notice that. Oh look at that! I think they are actually rats.
Henry: Yah! Rats without the Rs.
Trent: They are taking the donuts at the bake shop! What are three words without Rs and what would they say?
Henry: Hmm….[looking around the room] Roar would be oa! Hahahahaha! Grown would be gown! Growl would be gowl! Hahaha! Those are so funny!
Trent: In the book, the doo is the door. The cows are the crows. The cane is the crane.
Henry: Oh. You meant from the book! Hahaha! I just picked words!
Trent: Well we are talking about the book, silly.
Henry: Reading would be eading, like eating. Isn’t that funny?
Henry’s little brother: I love this book!
Henry: The go-carts are go-cats! The feet is ferret! The fist is first! What do you think another good letter missing book would be, like this one, that is just as funny as this one?
Trent: But we are talking about this book!
Henry: I know, but I am talking about how this book is funny and thinking about other ones Josh Funk could make.
Trent: E would be good!
Henry: Oh nice! Like “see” would be “ssssss,” hahaha! I like that. Good one, Trent. “Fled” would be “fld.”
Trent: Oh! Compare the spreads on pages 8 and 20. What is the same and what is different? Bake shop, brake shop. That stuff. I like these ones. Taco caves! What do you think taco caves is?
Henry: Oh! Ha! I don’t know! I don’t know! It sounds so funny!
Trent: It’s taco cravers, I think. If you look at the toon town closely inside the brake shop sign, you see posters. And then they are actually different, too.
Henry: Oh!! Taco cravers! Toon Town. Oh! Tires on Brake Shop! I love this book. Oh! Instead of Brake Shop, it is Bake Shop, Trent! We also fix ties instead of tires, it says. Cool! Haha.
Trent: What could the sequel be called with the Zs? It could be My Pet Zzzs.
Henry: Instead of Zzzs for sleeping, it would just say NOTHING! Ha! Why do you think the Bs are taking the Zs away?
Trent: I already asked you that question. Haha!
Henry: On the final page, page 20, in the corner, near Pam’s Bake Shop, the rats are finally eating the donut. Haha! It’s cute. There’s a dog on top, too!
Trent: Oh yah! I see it!
Henry: On page 15, in the left top corner, there is a shoe!
Trent: I know. The sea shore. Shoe, shore. And the pie is the pier.
Henry: Oh yah!
Trent: Josh Funk told me that the illustrator and him didn’t meet before, and there are jokes in the illustration that he didn’t write. Henry, go to the butt page! The gassy field! Page 13!
Henry: Oh, hahahaha! I love this page. Did Josh Funk put that in?
Trent: I think that the illustrator put that in.
Henry: What is your favorite part about the book?
Trent: I like the gassy field the best.
Henry: Hahahaha! I like how they take out the Rs. And I like the gassy fields. And I like the big, giant cow poop. On page 9, they are chasing the poop. And it says “town hall” and it has the poop in front of it.
Trent: It’s the door. It’s supposed to be the door!
Henry: On page 10, if you look in the corner, the door or doo is even bigger.
Trent: Hahahah poop. Hahaha poop.
Henry: What would you rate this book from 1 to 10?
Trent: 10! 10! 10! It was a really good book.
Henry: Same! I rate it a 10, too! I love the crane. The cane!
Trent: Yah, the cane! I like the cane, too. And I like the cows.
Henry: What kind of kids do you think would like to read this book?
Trent: Kindergarten to third, like us.
Henry: Yah, and fourth grade, too. And kids who like potty talk like me. And words.
Trent: Kids who like funny things would really like this book.
Parent Perspective:Not only does this book allow our kids to play with words, they maintained a long conversation about the book without parent prompts. It offered them so much to talk about. In particular, they loved the humor. It made them laugh, and it made them think about different word combinations. This book pushed our kids as readers because they had to pause and consider where the Rs were missing.
We loved this book and think it would be a wonderful addition to classrooms. Although our kids were limited to their own age group, we think readers of all ages would find great joy in the play on words in this book.
Thank You, Omu! Author & Illustrator: Oge Mora
Published October 2, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: A generous woman is rewarded by her community in this remarkable author-illustrator debut that’s perfect for the Thanksgiving season, perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street.
Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?
About the Author: Oge Mora is a collage artist and storyteller. Her picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, and Ezra Jack Keats Book Award recipient. Her second book, Saturday, won the 2020 Boston Globe—Horn Book Picture Book Award. Oge’s artwork has been applauded by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe. She also recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 list in Arts & Style.
Oge grew up in Columbus, Ohio but resides in Providence, RI. She is a fan of all things colorful, patterned, or collaged, and enjoys creating warm stories that celebrate people coming together.
Review: This is a beautiful and joyous book celebrating community, generosity, and reciprocity. What I like about this book is that everything is freely given: Omu shares her stew out of the kindness of her heart and all of the neighbors return that kindness without being asked or cajoled. I also like this book because it demonstrates how we can and should rely on each other in times of need. Everyone in the book receives and gives help at different points. And this shows how connected, strong communities make everyone’s life better. I think this book is important because there isn’t really any conflict or character growth in the story, instead everyone acts as they should, and this serves as a model for students about how to act and how the world should be.
The cut-paper illustrations, also done by Oge Mora, are colorful and vibrant. This makes the book and the town it depicts feel warm, inviting, and idyllic which draws the reader in and supports the text’s message about the value of community. This book is set within an urban setting, which is a refreshing change of place from the suburbs, and idealized rural and wilderness settings of so many children’s books. And it is important for children to see urban communities as beautiful and valuable.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I think this book is a valuable addition to your classroom library and it is an excellent book for whole class read aloud. This book can be used with the guided questions to prompt discussions about sharing and about the students’ own communities. It is also useful to build a healthy classroom community. Students are going to be asked to share and work together throughout the year. Students can also explore the illustration style while exploring the central theme. For example, students could be tasked to depict a scene of a time when they shared or someone shared with them using cut construction paper. After reading the story students should be able to understand and reflect on their own communities, the members that make it up and how everyone works towards a happy community. You can also discuss the elements of Nigerian American culture that are prevalent in this book, such as the one pot stew and Omu’s name herself.
What does Omu make that has everyone starving?
Why do you think Omu shares with everyone?
How do you think all the characters know each other?
How did the community thank Omu for sharing?
Omu helped her community by sharing! What are things you could share that would help your community? Remember that you can share things that are not physical.
What makes a good neighbor?
Why is sharing important? Can sharing be hard? Why or why not?
Read This If You Love: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Wave Author: Diana Farid
Illustrator: Kris Goto
Published March 29th, 2022 by Cameron Kids
Summary: A coming-of-age novel in verse set in 1980s Southern California, about a Persian American girl who rides the waves, falls, and finds her way back to the shore.
Thirteen-year-old Ava loves to surf and to sing. Singing and reading Rumi poems settle her mild OCD, and catching waves with her best friend, Phoenix, lets her fit in—her olive skin looks tan, not foreign. But then Ava has to spend the summer before ninth grade volunteering at the hospital, to follow in her single mother’s footsteps to become a doctor. And when Phoenix’s past lymphoma surges back, not even surfing, singing, or poetry can keep them afloat, threatening Ava’s hold on the one place and the one person that make her feel like she belongs. With ocean-like rhythm and lyricism, Wave is about a girl who rides the waves, tumbles, and finds her way back to the shore.
“Processing her feelings through music empowers Ava and gives her a new understanding of home and the connections she shares with others. Raw and powerful, this free verse novel honestly explores issues of identity, culture, grief, and hope… Rich, layered, and heart-rending.”―Kirkus Reviews
“Farid’s poetry rides the page like a wave, charting the ups and downs of Ava’s emotions. . .The verse format makes this text extremely accessible, and readers will be delighted to find elements of Ava’s Persian heritage and 1980s childhood also woven throughout.” ―School Library Journal
“Farid brings her expertise as an MD to Ava’s story, simplifying the complexity of lymphoma while packing an emotional punch with the musical references that Ava uses to cope.” ―Booklist
About the Creators:
Diana Farid is the author of When You Breathe, published by Cameron Kids. She is a poet and a physician at Stanford University. She lives in the Bay Area.
Honolulu-based fine artist Kris Goto was born in Japan. She spent most of her adolescence in Hong Kong and New Zealand, where she became inspired by the outside world and a passion for manga.
Review:This book is actually hard for me to write about because it is just so beautiful in all the right ways. It is full of so many emotions, beautiful writing, important topics, characterization, and 80s references. The author’s inclusion of such a specific setting and pop culture references could have easily turned off a reader, but Farid seamlessly blends it into Ava’s story to where it is all part of one amazing package. A package that includes a lot but that is because a 14 year old Persian girl growing up in California would have dealt with a lot: identity, self-love vs. loathing, immigrant experience, expectations, friendship, hobbies, school, racism, family… and on top of that Ava has Phoenix’s and (my favorite character) Room 509’s health to think about, her own broken leg, surfing, music, and a single parent. Add to all of this plot poetry that is robust in its rhythm and variety in a way that makes reading the book an experience, a wonderful reading experience.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to all of the reading discussion that can happen with this book, it is also a wonderful poetry writing mentor text. Each poem has its own format, personality, mood, tone, etc. so students have so many choices about which they would want to be inspired by. Goto’s illustrations show how art can add to poems as well, so students could create their own drawings to accompany their poems. Also, with the inclusion of music, students could turn their poems into songs.
Students could also make their own mix tapes for different characters in the book using Ava’s and Phoenix’s as examples. Students could then explain why they chose the songs they did for the characters.
The inclusion of Rumi’s poetry could also lead to a poetry study of his poetry which could include historical instruction as well.
Why did the author format __[poem]__ the way she did?
How did music influence Ava’s time during this point in her life?
How do you think Ava’s summer would have been different if she hadn’t broken her leg?
How did Phoenix and Ava’s friendship change over time? What caused their friendship to evolve?
Why does Ava blow up at Phoenix and Naz at the beach?
How does Room 509 play a part in Ava’s summer? What do you think the purpose of this character is?
How did Ava’s mother’s decision to leave Iran to go to medical school transform her life?
Farid included instances of racism in the book. Why is it important that she includes these? What does it show us about our country?
Do you believe Ava has OCD? What parts in the story show you this?
How does Ava both embrace her Persian culture but also resent the pressure it holds?
The author included Farsi throughout the book. Why is this translanguaging important to include when telling Ava’s story.
Find an example of when Farid captured the rhythm of the ocean in her poetry.
Read This If You Love: Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar, Starfish by Lisa Fipps, Benbee and the Teacher Griefer by KA Holt, Open Mic edited by Mitali Perkins
**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review**
Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars Author: Laurie Wallmark Illustrator: Brooke Smart Anticipated Publication: March 2, 2021 by Harry N. Abrams
Goodreads Summary: Decode the story of Elizebeth Friedman, the cryptologist who took down gangsters and Nazi spies.
In this picture book biography, young readers will learn all about Elizebeth Friedman (1892-1980), a brilliant American code breaker who smashed Nazi spy rings, took down gangsters, and created the CIA’s first cryptology unit. Her story came to light when her secret papers were finally declassified in 2015. From thwarting notorious rumrunners with only paper and pencil to counter-spying into the minds and activities of&; Nazis, Elizebeth held a pivotal role in the early days of US cryptology. No code was too challenging for her to crack, and Elizebeth’s work undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. Extensive back matter includes explanations of codes and ciphers, further information on cryptology, a bibliography, a timeline of Elizebeth&;s life, plus secret messages for young readers to decode.
About the Creators:
Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark has written picture-book biographies of women in STEM fields ranging from computer science to mathematics, astronomy to code breaking. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, been chosen as Junior Library Guild Selections, and received awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book, Cook Prize Honor, and Parents’; Choice Gold Medal. She is a former software engineer and computer science professor. She lives in Ringoes, New Jersey. You can find her at lauriewallmark.com. On Twitter: @lauriewallmark, Facebook: @lauriewallmarkauthor, Instagram: @lauriewallmark
Brooke Smart loves telling stories through her illustrations, especially stories about brave women from history. She has always loved to read, and growing up she could be found nightly falling asleep with a book on her chest. Illustrating books as a professional artist is a lifelong dream come true. She is living the busy, tired, happy, wonderful dream in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, their three kids, and their naughty cat named Sunshine. Learn more about her at brooke-smart.com. Instagram: @bookesmartillustration
Ricki’s Review: This book is packed with information! I wasn’t familiar with this Women in STEM series, and now I feel like I need to get all of the books! The book has a great complexity—from the way in which the story is told in an engaging way that draw readers in to the way the illustrations and text are laid on the page. Typically, I give books away after I read and review them, but I am going to have a hard time parting with this one. Elizebeth Friedman’s bravery is simply awe-inspiring. She is a true heroine who needs to be named more frequently in history. Get this book. You truly won’t be disappointed.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book begs to be read in literature circles with other books about heroes/heroines, women in STEM, or powerful people in history. It would ignite powerful conversations about the characteristics of historical and contemporary heroes and heroines.
Check out the Code Breaker, Spy Hunter book page, where you’ll find a trailer, cool activity sheets, and more!
What is one intentional choice the author made in telling this story?
What are the qualities of a hero? Who are some historical and contemporary heroes who inspire you?
What are some of the pivotal moments in Friedman’s life story? How did she change the world for the better?
Other Books by Laurie Wallmark: Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code; Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine; Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor; Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics
**Thank you go Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood Author: Josh Funk Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor Anticipated Publication: October 27, 2020 by Two Lions
Goodreads Summary: Once again, the beleaguered storyteller tries to tell a traditional fairy tale, with little success. Red has some questions about her delivery to Grandma’s house, the wolf calls in sick, and more chaos ensues.
About the Creators:
Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of many popular picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and the It’s Not a Fairytale books, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. He lives in New England with his family. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks and Instagram: @joshfunkbooks.
Edwardian Taylor is the illustrator of multiple children’s books, including Race!, written by Sue Fliess; the Toy Academy chapter books, written by Brian Lynch; and the It’s Not a Fairytale books, written by Josh Funk. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com. Twitter: @edwardiantaylor Instagram: edwardiantaylor Tumblr: Edwardian Taylor
Review:With each book that comes out in this series, I have a long, intense internal debate. I ask myself, “But which one in the series is your favorite NOW?” And I simply cannot decide. Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor’s It’s Not a Fairytale books are the best picture book fairytale retellings that exist. I know that’s a bold statement, but it is the truth. If you’ve missed this series, you must order copies from your nearest bookstore. They are such beautiful, thoughtful texts, and they inspire amazing classroom opportunities and critical thinking.
When I pulled out It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood, I suspect the shrieks of joy from my children could be heard by passersby outside of my house. These books are so cherished in our home. I’ve had It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood about a week, and I think we’ve read it about fifteen times (no exaggeration). Similarly to the other books in the series, Red is smarter than the narrator, and she tells her own story and does so boldly. Readers will laugh aloud as they read it! It offers good critical discussions about the stories we hear and read. I loved it and can’t wait to read it (several times) tomorrow. Thanks so much to Josh and Edwardian for another great book in this series!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great to read as a Readers’ Theatre. Students could read different characters and the narrator aloud to create a powerful effect. Fairy tale retellings offer great opportunities for kids to tell counterstories to the narratives that are popular in society or the media, and teachers might ask students to write retellings and counterstories to those that are commonly told.
How would you describe Red?
How do the author and illustrator work together to create a story?
What aspects of the retelling are different from the traditional fairy tale? What does this make you think about when you consider the original fairy tale? How is the story improved in this retelling?
Unicorns are the Worst! Author: Alex Willan
Published September 29th, 2020 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary: This wildly funny and imaginative picture book celebrates the value of differences as a grumpy goblin gets to know his new unicorn neighbors.
It’s an undeniable fact that unicorns are the worst!
Magic is serious business, but all unicorns do is frolic around, have tea parties, and leave glitter all over the place! They’re nothing like goblins—practical and hard-working, who can put magic to good use! Unicorns aren’t helpful at all.
Or are they?
About the Author: Alex Willan grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was seldom seen without his sketchbook in hand. His love of drawing led him to earn a BFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. Alex has exhibited in art galleries and has painted murals, theater sets, and squirmy kids’ faces, but his true love has always been children’s books. He lives in Chicago with his dog, Harley. Visit him online at Alex-Willan.Squarespace.com.
P.S. If you haven’t read Alex Willan’s Jasper and Ollie, I HIGHLY recommend it as well!!!
Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Happy book birthday to this funny tale! I am a sucker for a funny and unique narrator, and our Goblin in Unicorns are the Worst! fits that bill. You can hear his grumpy voice as he tells of his tales of whoa trying to do his job while unicorns get to just frollick and be happy. You can feel his despair while he gets frustrated with his hardworking life versus the laidback life of the unicorns. But you also witness his realization that his assumptions were wrong. Because the reader has such a connection with him, this realization comes to the reader as well because as you read, you are starting to agree with the goblin. All of this leads to the idea of assumptions, fake news and gossip, propaganda, different points of view on one thing, and envy–all topics that are tough to talk about with young children, but Unicorns are the Worst! gives the perfect context (and is hilarious!).
Read This If You Love: Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea, Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep by Anthony Pearson
**Thank you to Simon Kids for providing a copy for review!**