Forgotten Beasts: Amazing Creatures That Once Roamed the Earth by Matt Sewell

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Forgotten Beasts: Amazing Creatures That Once Roamed the Earth
Author: Matt Sewell
Published October 4th, 2019 by Pavilion Books

Summary: A witty, colorful celebration of the amazing lost creatures of this planet; with a strong message of protection and conservation.

Matt Sewell’s follow-up to the mega-hit The Colorful World of Dinosaurs is a beautifully-illustrated large format look at the amazing beasts that time forgot – from the relatively well known, such as the sabre-toothed tiger and woolly mammoth, to the obscure monsters that walked the earth millions of years ago – many now forgotten. These beasts are arranged chronologically–from the strange invertebrate Opabinia that lived over 500 million years ago, to the Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, that became extinct in 1936. New findings are being made every year, and research is showing us exactly how these beasts looked and how they lived.

Creatures illustrated and described include:

Sabre tooth tigers and woolly mammoths
Glyptodon – an armadillo as big as a VW Beetle car
Megalodon – a monster 60 foot (18m) shark
Water King penguin – a red and grey penguin the size of a man
Ornimegalonyx – a huge Cuban flightless owl, the largest owl that ever existed, at over 3 feet (1m) tall
Deinotherium – a strange-looking and huge, elephant-like creature with tusks positioned on its lower jaw and curved, facing downwards
Short-nosed bear – a massive fearsome bear that kept North America human free
Megatherium – the giant sloth, as large as a modern elephant

Less celebrated than the dinosaurs, the range of beasts is equally impressive, every one a scary, amazing creature that actually stalked the planet. Like the dinosaurs, these beasts are awe-inspiring in their variety, with amazing details not seen on animals today and in a wide variety of furs, feathers and colors, making for a stunning collection of illustrations.

About the Creator: Matt Sewell, who has been described as “the Banksy of the bird world,” is an avid ornithologist and artist. He is the author of OwlsOur Garden BirdsOur Woodland BirdsOur Songbirds, and Penguins and Other Seabirds and has illustrated for the Guardian and Big Issue among many other publications. His art has been exhibited in London, Manchester, New York, Tokyo, and Paris.

Review: What a fascinating introduction to species of animals that used to walk on our Earth. As a reader, mom, and teacher I immediately enjoyed this book. Each spread includes a synthesized blurb about the animal and a large, colorful illustration that definitely catches the eye. While the book is science-driven, it is written in a way that many different levels of scientific understanding would find it interesting. I also really liked the choice of animals that were included because it wasn’t only animals that people know about already.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I want to know more, and Trent wanted to know more, so I think when kids read this, they would want to know more also. So let’s jump off on this curiosity and dive into inquiry!

First, the book starts with a timeline and each animal says what time period they are from, but it does not show the timeline. I would love to take the timeline and place each animal on it.

Also, with the foundational knowledge shared in the book, students can jump into a full on inquiry project about animals of their choice looking at when they lived, what they’re related to in modern time, how they became extinct, etc. Then students can make a presentation for a gallery walk.

Discussion Questions: 

  • When did _______ live?
  • How many years ago was that?
  • What is _______ related to [modern animals]?
  • Why did ______ go extinct?
  • What other animals lived during the same time?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: History, Dinosaurs, Animals

Recommended For: 

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Stop by Kid Lit Frenzy for more Nonfiction Picture Book love!

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**Thank you to Media Master Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

Weird But True: Class Collaborative Research Activity

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My students love the Weird but True books by National Geographic, but one thing they don’t like about the books are the lack of information found in the books. Because of this, as we chatted in class, we decided to make a class “Weird But True” presentation with not only the weird and true facts but with extra information and sources! 

All three of my classes all worked in the same Google Slides presentation and built this amazing document of fascinating facts: 

Weird But True
Please view the Google Slides presentation to see the extra information in the Speaker Notes.

This was such a fun and interesting project! It made students check on facts, learn about reliable sources, and learn all sorts of interesting and fun facts!

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Student-Created Interactive Timeline on the Struggle for Equal Rights in America

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When I began planning my research unit for my Advanced Reading classes, I took to asking my students what they would be interested in learning more about, and overwhelmingly they asked to learn about the Civil Rights movement and other aspects of Black American history; however, when we began planning, my students took note that there are many other fights for equal rights in American History, and they asked if we could focus on all of them. That is when this idea unfolded.

I teach three classes of Advanced Reading equaling 47 students. I wanted to make sure students were given choice in their topics and also were choosing topics based on their interests and not who is in their group, so I made different topics/time periods they could choose from and asked them to rate their interests. I then grouped them based on this and the students began to work.

The students began by researching their topic/time period independently and brainstorming a list of everything important that they could find that happened during that time period. Then, as a group they decided which ten or more events they were going to expand on and include in our timeline.

Once they had their events, they collaboratively researched the events creating a paragraph about each (with a link to sources) and an image (with a caption and source) to add to the timeline.

They then each added to our timeline creating what I believe is a resource that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the internet. The timeline begins with 1688 Quaker Petition Against Slavery and ends with the 2019 rejection of Trump’s Border Wall touching on events and people who have changed the course of our history.

Please view it on Sutori, and I hope you find a way to utilize and share it.
(Embedding it puts the whole timeline and it is VERY long.)

Also, please note: If you see anything that I missed (and my colleagues who helped vet the timeline missed) that is incorrect or not written in the most progressive way, please feel free to reach out to me at Kellee.Moye@gmail.com with any comments, questions, or concerns.

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Searching for Lottie by Susan L. Ross

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Searching for Lottie
Author: Susan L. Ross
Publication Date: February 26th, 2019 by Holiday House

Summary: Lottie, a talented violinist, disappears during the Holocaust. Can her grand-niece, Charlie, discover what happened?

A long-lost cousin, a mysterious locket, a visit to Nana Rose in Florida, a diary written in German, and a very special violin all lead twelve-year-old Charlie to the truth about her great-aunt Lottie in this intriguing, intergenerational mystery. 12-year-old middle schooler Charlie, a budding violinist, decides to research the life of her great-aunt and namesake for a school ancestry project. Everyone in Charlie’s family believes Great-Aunt Charlotte (Lottie), a violin prodigy, died at the hands of the Nazis, but the more Charlie uncovers about her long-lost relative, the more muddied Great-Aunt Lottie’s story becomes. Could it be that Lottie somehow survived the war by hiding in Hungary? Could she even still be alive today? In Searching for Lottie, Susan Ross has written a highly personal work of historical fiction that is closely inspired by her own family members whose lives were lost in the Holocaust.

About the Author: Susan Ross grew up in Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, and divides her time between Connecticut and Maine. She attended Brown University and NYU School of Law.

After practicing law, Susan taught legal writing in Brooklyn and in Budapest, and creative writing to kids and adults in Connecticut. She especially loves author visits. There is nothing Susan enjoys more than hanging out in a classroom talking to students about her books and teaching kids about writing and literature!

Kiki and Jacques was inspired by the experience of Somali refugees who moved to Susan’s hometown in Maine. Susan worked with refugee teenagers in writing the book and was greatly moved by their amazing positive energy and hopeful determination.

Searching for Lottie was inspired by stories from members of Susan’s family, whose lives were forever changed by the Holocaust.

Susan teaches writing at Westport Writers Workshop and is a trustee at the Westport Library.

Review: I think historical fiction is one of the most important genres because it makes us relive history in ways that we never could without story. Searching for Lottie is interesting because it is contemporary but also includes a historical narrative as Charlie learns more and more about Lottie. This makes it a great choice for students who may not like historical fiction but are interested in history.

I am also a fan of Susan Ross’s writing because she does a fabulous job taking a tough subject and writing a middle grade novel that gives an introduction to the topic without being too mature but also while not sugar coating it. It is so important to have middle grade books for our students that show the real world in an appropriate yet real way.

And it really helps that the stories are interesting and many kids will connect with the conflicts and events the characters take part in.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Searching for Lottie is inspired by true events, specifically those of Susan’s family. She shares much on her website including this background information:

Charlotte Kulka (called Lotte — in English, “Lottie”) was my mother’s teenage cousin. She lived in Prague with her father, a doctor. Her mother passed away when she was little. Tragically, Charlotte and her father both perished, but her beloved aunt, my Cousin Vally Szemere, survived with false papers in Budapest. Vally boarded with a Catholic family who protected her and they became lifelong friends. My middle name was given in Lotte’s memory.

Another relative, Magda Szemere, was a famous young violin soloist in Europe before she, too, was arrested and forever disappeared. I wrote about my bittersweet delight at finding her music in the essay, “Sweet Strings of Sorrow.”

In doing the research for this book, I discovered to my astonishment that her music had been preserved on gramophone recordings and remains available in music archives.

My mother’s cousin, Magda Krizan, survived the war posing as a model and nanny in Hungary — and was a member of the resistance. She escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia with her husband in 1968 and came to America.

My mother, Erika Lencz, escaped Vienna in 1938 with her brother, Erwin. She was twenty years old. My grandparents and nearly all of the rest of her family were lost. Mom worked in a pillow factory in Brooklyn and as a nanny before settling down in Maine with my father, where she ran our family wedding gown shop and had five children.”

Visit http://www.authorsusanross.com/about-searching-for-lottie/ to listen to the recording and view photos.

This information along with Charlie’s project in the book makes me want to ask students to learn about their family (remember to have a plan for any adopted, foster, or other kids with no access to family history!).

Parts of the story also would be a great addition to an orchestra classroom as Charlie and Lottie write about different pieces, specifically the music journal that Lottie kept.

Finally, as with most historical fiction novels, this story would be a fantastic jumping off point for inquiry in the classroom about our world’s past.

Discussion Questions: 

  • After listening to the pieces that Charlie and Lottie share in the book, which piece is your favorite?
  • What other ways did Jews and other ostracized humans escape Nazi-occupied territory during World War II?
  • What traits did Charlie show when researching her namesake?
  • How did the research change her relationship with her brother?
  • Using evidence from the text, how can you tell that Charlie loves music?

Flagged Passages: “‘Lottie was Nana’s sister, right?’

‘Yes, Lottie was several years older. Your nana told me how clever she was; how determined…just like you.’ Mom smiled. ‘And here’s another thing you two have in common–Lottie played the violin. In fact, Lottie played so beautifully that she performed with the Vienna Philharmonic when she was a teenage.’

‘Seriously?’ That was a weird coincidence. Violin was her thing, too. Charlie had begged her parents for lessons when she was still in kindergarten. She’d always loved music, and she liked pop and hip-hop as much as any kid at Hillmont Middle School…but there was something about classical that made her heart skip. She could lose herself in a symphony in a strange way that she never tried to explain to her friends. Only her best friend, Sarah, understood that feeling, but Sarah had moved to Boston over the summer…

‘What else do you know about Lottie?’

‘Well, the family was from Vienna, the capital of Austria. Her father was a math professor at the university.’

‘And…what exactly happened to them.’

Mom hesitated, then let out a long sigh. ‘Honestly, I’m not entirely certain. When the Germans invaded Austria, the Jews were at the mercy of the Nazis. I know that Lottie was lost, along with my grandfather. My grandmother and Nana Rose were lucky to escape. They came to America on a ship.’

‘So Lottie died…right?’ Charlie swallowed hard.

‘Yes, I guess she must have.’ Mom looked uncomfortable.

‘You guess? You don’t know for sure?’ Charlie sat up straight. She searched her mother’s blank face and glanced down at the photo. Lottie’s eyes were bright, with long dark lashes, and they were staring back up at her.

‘The truth is that nobody knows exactly what happened to Lottie…'” (p. 7-9)

Read This If You Love: Music, World War II historical fiction novels, History, Family

Recommended For: 

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

Smithsonian Exploration Station: World Atlas by Josh Farndon

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Smithsonian Exploration Station: World Atlas
Author: Josh Farndon
Published November 6th, 2018 by Silver Dolphin and the Smithsonian

About the Book: Head off on a globetrotting adventure in this interactive atlas! Learn about the diverse cultures, customs, wildlife, and natural beauty that form our world through informative text and full-color photograph. Children will love the hands-on aspect to learning as they blow up their inflatable globe and build the cardstock models of some of the wonders of the world. Smithsonian Exploration Station: World Atlas (ISBN: 978-1626867208) is the perfect way to engage kids in the amazing world around them!

Includes:
56-page fact book
30 stickers with world map poster
1 inflatable globe
3 cardstock models to assemble: the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and a Mayan pyramid

Review: I think the best way to review this exploration set is to show you Trent’s experiences with it as we had an amazing time exploring the world with the globe, map, landmark stickers, and landmark 3D sets:

         

I don’t think anything can show how wonderful a book is other than showing a child completely involved in its purpose. We’re definitely going to get all the sets in the series!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This series (see Ricki’s review of the Solar System set) is made for education. How fascinating would it be to go through the 30 landmarks on the stickers, maybe one a week, and put them on the poster and discuss the landmark. There are ones all around the world which would allow the class to explore so many cultures. Or maybe separate the landmarks and have a different student become an expert on each one and share. There is so much to consider!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Where is _____ located?
  • What landmarks are in ____?
  • What did you learn about ____?
  • How is ___ different than ___?
  • Any Atlas/Geography questions!

Read This If You Love: Interactive sets, Geography, Landmarks

Recommended For: 

**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

Astronaut, Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson

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Astronaut, Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
Author: Jennifer Swanson
Foreword by Fabien Cousteau and Kathryn D. Sullivan
Published January 9th, 2018 by National Geographic Society

Summary: Journey from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the farthest humans have ventured into space and learn what it takes to explore the extremes. You might just be surprised by how similar the domains of ASTRONAUTS and AQUANAUTS really are.

Space and the ocean. If you don’t think they go together, think again! Both deep-sea and space explorers have to worry about pressure, temperature, climate, and most importantly, how to survive in a remote and hostile environment. Join us on an amazing journey as we go up in space with astronauts and dive deep down in the ocean with aquanauts to explore the far-off places of our planet and the solar system.

With a strong tie into STEM topics–such as making connections, making comparisons, and recognizing patterns across content areas–readers will discover the amazing science and incredible innovations that allow humans (and sometimes only machines) to survive in these harsh environments.

Review: First, I want to share this image because it is one of my favorites ever, and I want a poster of it for Trent’s room!

I love the idea of this book! First, from a personal point of view: my son loves animals and space, so this is a perfect book for him. We didn’t read word for word together, but we spent hours over the last couple of weeks flipping through the book, looking at different spreads, reading parts of the book, and answering any questions that Trent had. Also, from a educator point of view: this text is so full of information told in such an interesting way with fun facts, activities, and so much fascinating information! Swanson did a beautiful job making connections between the two professions and scientists and giving equal looks into both. And since the book is for middle grade students, it is essential for it to be written in a way that will be intriguing to readers, and this book is definitely that!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Throughout the book there are questions that can lead to inquiry (see below) and many topics that are introduced that could be further researched. Additionally, there are a few activities throughout such as one on submersibles, docking the ISS, and design your own space suit. The book is also set up for comparing and contrasting looking at exploration in both space and the sea and how they differ and overlap.

Discussion Questions: The text is FILLED with books that can lead to phenomenal discussions or inquiry projects such as

  • How does studying the topography of the ocean floor help us understand the space?
  • Why is it important for astronauts to train underwater?
  • What does it feel like during blastoff?
  • What is it like to live in space/under water for a long time?
  • Why and how do we explore?
  • How can studying the ocean help astronauts better understand conditions in space?
  • What can space teach us about the ocean?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Space travel, Science, Marine biology

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to the author for providing a copy for review!**

Blog Tour with Review, Teaching Guide, and Giveaway!: Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson

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Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries
Authors: Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson
Published June 26th, 2018 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: Unbelievable TRUTHS about outrageous people, places and events—with a few outright LIES hiding among them. Can you tell the fakes from the facts?

Did you know that a young girl once saved an entire beach community from a devastating tsunami thanks to something she learned in her fourth-grade geography lesson? Or that there is a person alive today who generates her own magnetic field? Or how about the fact that Benjamin Franklin once challenged the Royal Academy of Brussels to devise a way to make farts smell good?

Welcome to Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries! You know the game: Every story in this book is strange and astounding, but one out of every three is an outright lie.

Can you guess which stories are the facts and which are the fakes? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable! Don’t be fooled by the photos that accompany each story—it’s going to take all your smarts and some clever research to root out the alternative facts.

From a train that transported dead people to antique photos of real fairies to a dog who was elected mayor, the stories in this book will amaze you! Just don’t believe everything you read. . . .

About the Authors:

  

Ammi-Joan Paquette loves caves, hates mushy bananas, and is ambivalent about capybaras. She is the author of the novels The Train of Lost Things, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl as well as the Princess Juniper series and many more. She is also the recipient of a PEN/New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award honor. Joan lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing with her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.

Laurie Ann Thompson loves capybaras, hates caves, and is ambivalent about mushy bananas. She is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books, including Emmanuel’s Dream,  a picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book and a CCBC Choice, among other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family, and you can visit her online at www.lauriethompson.com

Unleashing Readers review of Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! https://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=13591 

ReviewI just love this series for so many reasons! First, it is just so interesting! Even the “lies” include true stories with information switched out to make it not true. There are quizzes and tidbits of information. There is so much to read about and just take in. I am so in awe with the authors who truly find unknown information that is fascinating and will keep kids (and adults!) reading. Also, I think it is so important to teach students/kids (and adults!) how to determine if information being given to us is valid and reliable. Third, I think the authors do a fantastic job including a wide variety of topics to give students who may have different interests interested. And with two books in the series now focusing on two different focuses, it makes it so even more readers will find something they want to learn about. And lastly, I am so glad that the authors are making nonfiction fun! Too many of my students don’t like nonfiction because they find it “boring.” This book is anything but boring.

Teaching Guide:

Flagged Passages: 

Part 1: Hazy Histories

History. Some people think of it as nothing more than a whole bunch of names and events and dates to be memorized. But history is so much more than that. History is people, history is stories, history is fascinating! 

In this section, we’ll spin some amazing tales from ancient history right up to the present day. All of them are remarkable, but remember–one of the stories in each chapter is fake.

Prepare yourself to experience history in a way that you never have before.

Let’s get started!

Chapter 2: Over 1,00 Years Ago

Read This If You Love: Unsolved Mysteries from History series by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple: The Mary Celeste, Roanoke, The Wolf Girlsand The Salem Witch Trials; History’s Mysteries from National Geographic; History; Nonfiction mysteries

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Blog Tour Stops: 

DATE BLOG
6/19 Library Lions Roar
6/20 Geo Librarian
6/21 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
6/21 Roadmap to Reality: Helping Kids Find Their Way in a World of Fake News
6/26 The Official Tumblr of Walden Media
6/26 Bluestocking Thinking
6/27 Unleashing Readers
6/27 Nerdy Book Club
6/27 Writers Rumpus
6/28 The Book Monsters
6/29 Pragmatic Mom

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